Mushy: The 2024 Canton Draft in Retrospect

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Updated: March 23, 2017

It’s better late than never for a draft review, right? With hindsight being 20/20, here’s a take on the draft that will forever be known as Canton’s Mushy draft, after all of the signings have been made and most of the players signed have made their professional debuts.

Mushy – Eww!

 

1-3 SP Mark Ray, Arizona

Many observers were shocked to see the Longshoremen spend the #3 overall pick on a hurler who will be unable to pitch until the start of the 2026 season at the earliest.  Ray went down with a torn rotator cuff at the end of March that was expected to cost him the rest of the 2024 season and the entire 2025 season.  There is no questioning his ability pre-injury, as Ray parlayed a high nineties cut fastball and a four-pitch repertoire into an 18-3 record and a 1.29 ERA over the course of his college career. Observers initially questioned whether the Longshoremen had picked Ray with the intention of not signing him in order to get the 1-4 pick in next year’s draft. Assistant GM Jay Wells dismissed that idea when asked by reporters: “Look, Mark Ray is a special person and a special talent, the kind of talent that only comes along every few years. He’s a hard worker, and we trust that he will do everything he can to come back to what he was before.”  Ray signed a $4.6 million bonus which is believed to be a record for any professional athlete with the nickname “Mushy”.

2-4 1B Carlos Bruno, Southern Miss

You could see hundreds of mouths silently forming the word “Reach” when Carlos Bruno’s name was announced as the Longshoremen’s second round pick. The hulking first baseman had a nice career for the Confederates, peaking as a junior with a 270/374/518 campaign in which he hit 15 home runs. He traded power for pitch recognition during his senior season and hit 293/414/438 with 7 homers.  The lefty hitter profiles as a tweener in the majors, not hitting for enough power or average to stick at an offense-first position like 1B. His professional debut was a moderately successful one, as he hit 264/361/360 in full season A Middle Bass. He is expected to start the 2025 season in AA.

3-3 CF Harry McFadden, Rutgers

The third round saw another odd pick for the Longshoremen, as they tabbed a centerfielder who (A) got worse offensively as his career progressed at Rutgers, culminating in a 203/309/312 senior season, and (B) isn’t yet a plus-plus defensive centerfielder. Scouts were mixed on the switch-hitter, some believing that his hitting and defense will develop enough that he could turn into an All-Leather caliber centerfielder with a good enough bat, and others scratching their head about him being picked so high. McFadden split his first pro season between SS-A and full season-A, but a crowded outfield on both teams saw him get only 107 plate appearances. He showed some limited promise, parlaying good plate discipline into a 271/368/313 line for Akutan Island, and a 214/353/214 line after being promoted to Middle Bass, where he is expected to start the 2025 season.

3-19 MR Brodie Ackland, Aoyama Gakuin (iCol)

Another third round pick, another head scratcher, as Ackland was an undistinguished middle reliever for the not so-Mighty Missionaries. At best, the righty throws hard and induces groundballs, but looking for ROOGYs in the middle of the third round is not a well-embraced draft strategy.  Ackland threw 21 innings for SS-A Akutan Island, recording 1 save, and compiling a 2.95 ERA and a 3.70 FIP. He’s on the bubble of being promoted to full season ball to start 2025.

3-25 CF Kane Cobbledick, Meiji University

Chuckles abounded in the room when Cobbledick’s name was mentioned, most from the sixth grade boys in attendance, but a few from scouts.  Like McFadden before, Cobbledick had some supporters (athletic supporters, maybe, in Cobbledick’s case) and some detractors. Those that liked him touted an advanced defensive game in centerfield and blazing speed on the bases.  Those that didn’t like him cited a bat that degraded over the course of his college career, culminating in a 237/326/263 senior season. Alas, Cobbledick didn’t sign and will re-enter the 2025 draft.

4-3 3B Yvan Thériault, Asia University

For various reasons, Theriault may be the biggest name to come out of this draft for the Longshoremen.  The right-handed hitting third baseman was a 4-year starter for the Geckos, and improved every year at the plate while consistently delivering All-Leather quality defense at the hot corner. Pressed into leadoff duty as a senior, Yvan turned in his best season with a 307/393/542 campaign that saw him hit 10 home runs. Theriault had a rough intro at full season A Middle Bass, hitting 234/301/342. He will be asked to repeat the level in 2025.

5-3 3B Derrek Groves, Moody HS

Groves was a signability question, being courted by several colleges.  The switch-hitting third baseman is the full package, able to hit and field well on the high school level. His parents prevailed, however, in saying that he would go to a four year college. Groves broke off negotiations early to enroll at Marshall.

6-3 1B Dustin Turner, USC

An All-American as a sophomore and a senior, and a member of the USBCA Champion USC Travelers to cap his collegiate career, Turner appears to be a solid power prospect with no platoon split – an attractive target for a Longshoremen organization that has had major platoon problems at the major league level the last few seasons. Whether Turner can make enough contact to make the bigs is a real question, but if he can, expect him to be a fast mover.  His debut at Akutan Island was not promising; handed a spot in the starting lineup, Turner struggled to a putrid 170/283/176 line while seeing a steady diet of high school and lower level college draftees.

7-3 RF Joe Barber, South Caldwell HS

Scouts love Barber’s bat, and as a left-handed pull hitter, his swing would appear to be tailor-made for Svab Memorial’s friendly right field confines. Defense is a question, but for only the second high school player drafted by the Longshoremen in this draft, he should be given a long runway to find out. Like his AI teammate Dustin Turner, Barber’s pro debut was a disastrous one.  While starting all 81 games for the Longshoremen’s lowest affiliate, Barber put up slash stats of 160/213/167.

8-3 SS Kenkichi Hakui, Stanford

Hakui’s glove would appear to be projectible to PEBA, but scouts differ substantially on the offensive profile of a player who batted sparingly in his college career. As an 8th round pick from college without a great statistical or scouting pedigree, Hakui was unlikely to have a long leash , but his contract demands proved to be too great for the cost-conscious Longshoremen to bear.

9-3 C Porter Tatum, Chiben HS

Most scouts believed that Tatum would be a true prospect bat, but most also believed that he would eschew a signing bonus to go to college.  Those same scouts were shocked when Tatum signed for a slot bonus and reported to Akutan Island. He has a good command of the plate and profiles to be a high average hitter, but you wouldn’t know it by his debut, as he struggled to a 191/233/266 season in the Aleutian Islands.  If you are looking for a bright spot, Akutan Island will have a new hitting coach this season. Also, Tatum showed decent defensive chops despite his reputation as a butcher behind the plate.

10-3 CF Manny Herrera, Palm Beach Garden HS

Herrera is an odd duck, and if the Longshoremen had been able to sign him, he would have been a steal at this late point of the draft. A plus fielder, he hit well in pro camps and on summer league teams, but struggled for his high school team.

11-3 MR Chris Cash, East Rutherford HS

This feels like a thrown away pick; Cash reportedly wanted to go to Rutgers to play college baseball, and frankly, his prospect status could use some marinating.  Even had he signed (and he didn’t),  at present he’d be a long shot to make the majors unless he can perfect a curve that is his best pitch and add 5-6 miles per hour to his fastball to keep hitters honest.  As is, at press time, he was still awaiting a scholarship offer to play college baseball.

12-3 CL  Michael Barnes, James River HS

Like Cash a round before, Barnes was a high school reliever rumored to be headed to college. He will try to help his future draft status as he matriculates at Louisville after refusing to consider contract offers from the Longshoremen.  If he had signed out of high school, he would have been a long shot to make the majors with a repertoire and a mechanics that are both in need of growth.

13-3 MR Ignacio Villarreal, UAB

Move along, nothing to see here. Villarreal was a year removed from his college career at UAB, going undrafted in the 2023 draft before being plucked in the 2024 draft’s nether reaches.  He likely will never make the majors, despite a solid first season against younger competition.  In 35 relief appearances in SS-A ball, he put up a 2.29 ERA in 55 innings, but with underwhelming peripherals (22 BB, 36 K).

14-3 SP David Acevedo, Minnesota

Acevedo is likely a filler reliever or starter who might start his career with a bang, then falter against more seasoned opponents. He pitched well in his one season for the Lucky Rodents, going 3-1 in 11 starts with a 3.09 ERA, and followed that up with a 5.40 ERA against SS-A hitters. Acevedo will likely be one of the first 2024 draftees to be released this winter as the organization completes its review of minor league rosters and makes promotion/demotion decisions.

15-3 MR Kevin Smith, Minnesota

A lefty with a four-pitch repertoire but not enough oomph on the fastball, Smith will likely provide back-of-the-rotation service in the low minors for a couple of years before finding a different career. He made 9 pedestrian starts and 3 poor relief appearances for Akutan Island, compiling a 3.62 ERA in the process.