Pittsburgh Pirates: Three College First Basemen To Watch This Year
The risk you take with drafting Ethan Long or a similar prospect is that he’s a first base/designated hitter or bust. You won’t get much defensive value or versatility out of them. But the next player we’ll look at doesn’t come with that kind of risk. He’s a more well-rounded player who doesn’t do anything noticeably below average. That’s Nolan Schanuel.
Now that doesn’t mean Schanuel is a bad hitter. In 521 plate appearances, the first baseman has batted .357/.462/.619. He’s not hit for as much power as Long, but he still has 27 home runs, 28 doubles, and a .262 isolated slugging percentage. But here’s what separates Schanuel from guys like Long. The first is plate discipline. He’s had an excellent 12.9% walk rate but has only struck out 8.3% of the time. He’s also a solid runner with decent athleticism. He’s gone 17/20 in stolen base attempts.
Schanuel can also play the outfield, playing a total of 26 games in the grass between college and summer leagues (like the Cape Cod League). He’s projected to be a main cog in Florida Atlantic University’s outfield next year and has displayed enough athleticism to justify it. He also has a decent arm, which can help him out.
According to MLB Pipeline, Schanuel projects as average or better for all five tools. He also currently ranks as their 64th-best draft prospect as of right now. The left-handed batter has an atypical swing motion, but given his athleticism, advanced approach, and well-rounded profile, he’s a guy to watch as an early-round draft pick this upcoming summer.