The Phillies kicked off day 2 with the 83rd pick in the draft. There was a run of 7 HS players up to their pick where they doubled up on California college starters, this time in Cal State Fullerton RHP Connor Seabold. Based on pre-draft rankings he is a bit of an overdraft like Howard, sitting in the back of the top 200 for both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline. However, Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs had him up at 100 on his top 100.
Seabold is going to get a lot of comps to current Phillies RHP Thomas Eshelman because both are control oriented righties from the same school. Seabold has a bit less command than Eshelman, but still probably has the best command in this year’s class. He throws harder than Eshelman (who is sitting 89-91 in pro ball), with MLB having him 92-94 with his fastball. Like Eshelman, he lacks the impact secondary pitches to be more than a backend starter. However, the Phillies could fast track him like they did with Eshelman and he could be able to contribute in the majors by 2019.
It does feel a little bit early for him in this draft, but if he makes the majors as a starting pitcher it is great value for this point in the draft. I would expect him to be slightly underslot, but we won’t know until he signs his contract. I would expect him to start in at least Lakewood.
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Cal State Fullerton has a reputation for developing starters who really know how to pitch. They might not light up radar guns, but their stuff plays up because of their command and control. Seabold, the Titans’ Friday night starter this spring, fits that mold perfectly, and some increased velocity late in the spring further helped his stock.
Like with many Fullerton starters before him, most recently 2015 draftee Thomas Eshelman, Seabold was operating with a fastball that barely scraped average, a heater that sat in the 88-90 mph range, but played up because of his command. Late in the year, though, Seabold was up to 92-94 and maintained his velocity throughout a complete-game victory against Long Beach State. He throws a solid changeup and a usable, albeit fringy, breaking ball. But all of it plays up because of his plus control, which is perhaps the best among pitchers in this class.
A proven track record at a top college program is nothing to dismiss. If the velocity spike is for real, Seabold might even have a little more ceiling than anticipated. Eshelman went in the second round in 2015. Seabold doesn’t project to go that early, but could be a few rounds behind his predecessor.
Seabold is the latest in the long line of command-oriented Fullerton righthanders with decorated track records that includes the likes of Dylan Floro and Noe Ramirez. Drafted by the Orioles in the 19th round out of high school, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Seabold started all three years for the Titans and was their ace as a junior. Seabold’s fastball sits 87-88 mph and touches 92. His curveball is fringe-average and he shows feel for an average changeup. Where the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Seabold stands out is his control, which drew an 80 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale from one evaluator and ranks among the best in his draft class. Seabold’s poise and control make him a safe bet to reach the majors in the eyes of some evaluators, although many question how effective he will be there with his modest raw stuff. An accomplished collegian with a three-pitch mix and command, Seabold projects to go around the fifth round.
Seabold has fringe stuff but throws lots of strikes and has flashed the kind of surgical command he’ll need to get by with his secondaries in pro ball.