Baseball season is in full swing, and neither of our favorite Southwest Ohio teams, the Miami RedHawks or the Cincinnati Reds are looking too hot. It doesn’t look like a World Series is in either of team’s future in 2023, but thankfully we’re just a couple of short months away from the MLB Amateur Draft. While Miami doesn’t have a Sam Bachman this year, it may have a few players with chances at futures in pro ball.
Scouts Brian Sakowski and Dan Zielinski III shared their thoughts on Miami’s prospects this year. Sakowski is a national crosschecker (basically the scout who checks all the other scouts’ work) for Perfect Game, the world’s largest and one of its most trusted scouting services. Zielinski is the founder of the Baseball Prospect Journal.
Between the two scouts, they mentioned four players who stand out.
Tyler Chadwick, junior right-handed pitcher, 6-foot-5, 225 pounds
Chadwick was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 19th round of the 2022 MLB Draft. He spent the 2022 season at Iowa Western Community College and decided to come to Miami in 2023 instead of playing pro ball.
“When it comes to Chadwick, he has great size and the raw potential is there for him,” Zielinski said. “But he hasn’t been able to throw strikes and limit his walks.”
Chadwick has 27 walks in 21.2 innings pitched this season. He hasn’t had a good year by any account and hasn’t even pitched since April 15 at Ohio University.
“Chadwick has obviously been disappointing,” Sakowski said. “I don't know if there's any other way to say it. I still really really like premium stuff at times. And he's huge. He throws hard and all those things, and the data checks out. So I would imagine that he's going to have a chance to sign if he wants to.”
Sakowski thinks that if he gets drafted, it will probably be in the last ten rounds or so. He doesn’t expect Chadwick to get a massive signing bonus. Both scouts agree that Chadwick’s pure arm talent is his best tool and command is his biggest weakness.
“Tyler Chadwick has a starter’s body,” Zielinski said. “He’s 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6, prototypical starter. And that quality fastball is really his big trait.”
Ryland Zaborowski, redshirt-sophomore third baseman, 6-foot-6, 235 pounds
Zaborowski is leading the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in home runs with 19 in just 181 at bats in 2023. He’s fifth in the conference in on-base plus slugging (OPS) with a 1.114.
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“I would imagine the swing-and-miss concerns teams,” Sakowski said. “We're not entirely sure where he's going to play defensively long term. He’s had 17 bombs. The exit velocities are really, really good. He's huge and as athletic as he is, I’d probably say round eight to 12 for him.”
Both scouts said Zaborowski’s best tool is his power. Sakowski said his biggest weakness is the swing-and-miss in his game (he has 52 strikeouts this season). Zielinski says he’d like to see him improve his fielding. Otherwise he thinks Zaborowski will end up moving to first base in the pros, where his impressive arm won’t be as much of a factor.
“The thing that’s really impressive with Ryland is his ability to drive the ball to all fields,” Zielinski said. “I think a team is going to view him as someone it could get into its professional development system and be able to build on his impressive exit velocities and continue to increase his power potential.
Hudson Leach, junior right-handed pitcher, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds
Leach transferred to Miami from Creighton in 2022. He has a 3.86 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 30.1 innings pitched so far this season.
“I think Leach goes on day two,” Sakowski said. “Maybe seventh round, somewhere around there. I think that there are some teams who would like to see him start. His delivery works well and he's got multiple pitches he throws for strikes. I think the quality of the secondary stuff is what stands out there. He's got a good fastball, but the cutter is really good.”
Sakowski said that Leach didn’t quite come out of nowhere, but that he looks like a different player than his reputation was three months ago. He said that if anything is holding him back, it’s his limited track record and experience as a starter in college baseball.
Connor Oliver, junior left-handed pitcher, 6-foot-2, 170 pounds
Oliver transferred to Miami from Texas Christian in 2022. Before that, he played at Wichita State then Wabash Valley College. In 2022, he has pitched to a 3.63 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 62 innings.
“Oliver, I don't know whether he would be better suited to sign cheap on day three or just come back and be the Miami ace again next year,” Sakowski said. “Either way, I think he's gonna play pro baseball. I saw him against NIU and he looked good. 90 degree day and he had double digit Ks. He had good stuff.”
Sakowski said that Oliver is pitching the best he ever has at Miami, and that his slider is his best pitch. He thinks that all four of the players listed in this article will get the chance to play pro ball one day.
As for next year? Keep an eye on sophomore outfielder Zach MacDonald, Sakowski says, especially if he can cut down on the strikeouts.
The 2023 MLB amateur draft will take place in Seattle, Washington, from July 9-11. The first round will be broadcast on ESPN during primetime on July 9, and the rest can be streamed on MLB.com.