5 Draft prospects with helium

June 15th, 2021

Normally, the Draft would have concluded by now and MLB Pipeline would be in signing reporting mode. But with three and a half weeks still to go before the Draft begins in Denver, there’s still plenty of time for players to move up boards.

The term for that, “in the industry,” is helium. And these five players, listed below in order of where they will rank in our new Draft Top 250 list, have plenty of it as the Draft looms.

Trey Sweeney, SS, Eastern Illinois
In a year in which college position players who have performed at the plate are at a premium, Sweeney has stood out by hitting .382/.522/.712 with 14 homers and nearly twice as many walks (46) as strikeouts (24). His bat is real -- he has outstanding hand-eye coordination and timing at the plate that allows him to make consistent hard contact -- and could make him the third first-round pick in Eastern Illinois history.

Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon
He began the year known as a college performer who had hit in the shortened 2020 season and started the year hitting for average. By the end of the spring, especially after a huge performance in Regional play, he had proven that not only can he make contact (.392 average), he can impact the ball (.628 SLG), moving him up into top three rounds consideration.

Brody Brecht, RHP, Ankeny (Iowa) HS
Brecht skipped the high school showcase circuit and opted to run track rather than play in Iowa’s unofficial spring league, reinforcing the notion that he was dead set on playing wide receiver at Iowa in the fall. Then he started dealing mid-90s fastballs and plus sliders when Ankeny’s season began in late May, earning Jeff Samardzija comparisons and drawing scouts in droves.

Jackson Merrill, SS, Severna Park (Md.) HS
Teams were flocking in late to see Merrill, who was a bit of a pop-up prospect in Maryland. He’s big (6-foot-2) and athletic, so he “looks the part,” and scouts give him a good chance to stay at shortstop. There’s a feel to hit from the left side of the plate, though he wasn’t truly tested against Maryland high school competition this spring.

James Triantos, SS, James Madison HS (Vienna, Va.)
Another pop-up infielder from the mid-Atlantic region, Triantos isn’t as big as Merrill, but there’s plenty of physicality, with believers thinking he could be a plus hitter in time with surprising pop. Most don’t feel he can stay at short, with a move to second or third likely, but fans who dream see an Alex Bregman type when all is said and done.