In the fifth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Dodgers took Utah pitcher Riley Otteson. I wasn’t able to get a good feel for Otteson to rank him this year, but what stands out to me is the lack of strikeout production despite obvious arm strength. Given his advanced age, I’m guessing that Otteson represents saving on slot, and the Dodgers are adding some arm strength on the relative cheap.
He has an average slider on his highlight reel that has short depth but might lack deception. He’s been a reliever in the past and might fit best as a reliever in the near future.
I love the Wills Montgomerie pick in the sixth round for the obvious reason that I picked him in my mock draft! As I mentioned there, Montgomerie brings a physical build with arm strength and high spin. His fastball has riding life up in the zone and he will flash a plus breaking ball.
He was one of the better strikeout producers in Division I and should bring strikeouts to either the rotation or in relief. He’s old for his class but still a little raw mechanically, so while I think he has upside, this is a small concern.
Seventh-rounder Zach Pop represents solid value as a collegiate reliever with plus arm strength but mixed results. Pop’s low slot fastball has plus sink and he can touch the upper 90’s. His slider will flash plus, but given the slot he can lose shape on the pitch and cause it to slurve. Pop has flashes a solid changeup but doesn’t throw it for strikes enough. Despite the build, Pop is likely a reliever at this point, lacking enough control to work deep into games.
With a plus fastball, you would expect more strikeouts in relief beyond just 20 in 20 innings, and the 14 walks give you pause. Pop’s upside is in middle relief and as a relief prospect that has experienced arm soreness this spring, could be a below slot signee.
The Dodgers went more data driven in round eight with one of the better college performers on my big board in Rylan Bannon. The Xavier third baseman hit .339 and 15 home runs while stealing 17 bases in 18 attempts. He’s smallish for a corner infielder and the physical tools might not lead to a seamless translation of performance to the pro game, but he’s a better athlete than the typical “numbers” guy.
Bannon has a long swing with big high extension and bat speed could be an issue against better pro pitching. Bannon is a plus defender at third baseman and has the footwork and fluidity to kick over even to short for spells, but might profile best as an eventual utility type with third and second his best fits.
By the eighth and ninth round of the draft, the Dodgers typically target senior signs to save some slot money, and this year was no exception. Ninth-rounder Connor Strain was not on my radar, but led Evansville in ERA and appears to have a quick arm from a low slot that reportedly generates low-90s sinkers.
He was followed in the tenth round by Kentucky senior Zach Reks, who hit .352 for the Super Regional Wildcats, and has a grinder reputation that might reach a fourth outfield ceiling.