More than 125 nondrafted free agents have signed with pro teams since they were cleared to do so on June 14. That talent pool never has been deeper, a result of the Draft getting shortened to five rounds, though a $20,000 cap on NDFA signings has limited the number of
More than 125 nondrafted free agents have signed with pro teams since they were cleared to do so on June 14. That talent pool never has been deeper, a result of the Draft getting shortened to five rounds, though a $20,000 cap on NDFA signings has limited the number of premium prospects willing to turn pro.
Nevertheless, a number of intriguing players have signed as free agents. We rank the 15 best below, a group that includes five from the Royals and two each from the Cubs, Phillies and Yankees.
• Non-drafted free agent tracker
1) Kale Emshoff, C, Arkansas-Little Rock (Royals)
The lone NDFA signee from MLB Pipeline's Draft Top 200, Emshoff missed all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery but bounced back to hit .417/.527/.800 with seven homers in 17 games this spring. He has plus raw power, showed improvement this year with his hitting ability and plate discipline, and is a fringy-to-average receiver who showed solid arm strength before his elbow reconstruction.
2) Tucker Bradley, OF, Georgia (Royals)
Bradley injured his right (non-throwing) shoulder in the opening series of 2019 and missed the rest of the year, then returned to hit .397/.513/.730 with six homers and eight steals in 18 games this spring. The redshirt junior has three solid tools in his raw power, speed and outfield defense, and he also has been clocked up to 92 mph on the mound in the past.
3) Elijah Dunham, OF, Indiana (Yankees)
A 40th-round choice by the Pirates last year as a sophomore-eligible, Dunham fits the right-field profile with his left-handed power potential and solid arm strength. He batted .390/.493/.559 this year.
4) Matt Mervis, 1B, Duke (Cubs)
With a clean swing, bat speed and left-handed power potential, Mervis would have been a priority senior sign in a normal Draft. He batted .304/.458/.589 in his final season at Duke while also showing a low-90s fastball and an effective slider as a righty reliever.
5) Drew Smith, 2B, Grand Canyon (Brewers)
Smith was the Division-II junior college Player of the Year in 2019 after batting .465/.538/.897 with 18 homers at Northeast (Neb.) CC, then hit .315/.412/.466 after transferring to Grand Canyon. His strengths are making contact and getting on base, and he also possesses average speed and similar defensive ability at the keystone.
6) Noah Skirrow, RHP, Liberty (Phillies)
Skirrow led the Atlantic Sun Conference in strikeout rate (11.5 per nine innings) and earned Cape Cod League All-Star honors last year before posting a 1.96 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 23 innings as a junior. The Canadian right-hander works mainly with a low-90s fastball and an upper-80s cutter and might be best suited for relief work in the long run.
7) John McMillon, RHP, Texas Tech (Royals)
McMillon battled the strike zone throughout his four-year Texas Tech career, but he can reach 100 mph with his heavy fastball and run his slider into the mid-80s. He had 20 strikeouts and eight walks in 9 1/3 innings as a senior, and he also has displayed massive raw power with similar swing-and-miss issues when used as a two-way player in the past. He turned down well-over-slot offers from the Rays as a 21st-rounder out of high school and the Tigers as an 11th-rounder last year.
8) Connor Pellerin, RHP, Tulane (Yankees)
Pellerin worked just four innings this spring, but that was enough time for him to fan 10 batters. Purely a reliever, he generates high spin rates on his 92-96 mph fastball and hard breaking ball, though his command remains inconsistent.
9) Blake Brown, RHP, UNC Asheville (Phillies)
Brown boosted his stock when he pushed his fastball into the upper 90s during workouts after his senior season ended prematurely, and he also features a hard curveball as well. After posting a 6.05 ERA in his first three college seasons, he recorded a 1.89 mark with 26 strikeouts and 18 walks in 19 innings this year.
10) Bradlee Beesley, OF, Cal Poly (Cubs)
Beesley never put up big numbers at Cal Poly, where he hit .286/.352/.380 as a four-year starter, but he did acquit himself well in two summers in the Cape Cod League. He's a contact hitter with plus speed who's capable of playing all three outfield positions.
11) Brian Van Belle, RHP, Miami (Red Sox)
One of the best fifth-year senior prospects available, Van Belle missed his first two seasons at Broward (Fla.) CC recovering from Tommy John surgery but outpitched D-backs supplemental first-rounder Slade Cecconi and Rockies second-rounder Chris McMahon in Miami's rotation the last two years. He posted a 0.68 ERA with a 38/4 K/BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings this spring, thriving thanks to his ability to command four offerings, the best of which is a sinking changeup.
12) Chase Wallace, RHP, Tennessee (Royals)
Wallace worked just 53 innings in his three seasons at Tennessee, missing much of 2019 with a hamstring injury before thriving in the Cape Cod League during the summer, and he logged a 3.50 ERA with 18 whiffs in as many innings this year. His main weapon is a sinker that can climb as high as 94 mph, and he pairs it with a sweeping slider.
13) Saul Garza, C, Louisiana State (Royals)
Garza turned down the Cardinals as a 31st-rounder out of high school in 2017, swatted 23 homers as a Howard (Texas) JC freshman in 2018 and went in the 32nd round to the Royals last June as an LSU sophomore-eligible. A .229/.321/.479 hitter this spring, he stands out most with plus raw power from the right side of the plate and is a fringy defender behind the plate.
14) Zarion Sharpe, LHP, UNC Wilmington (Twins)
A redshirt junior who missed much of 2018 with a shoulder injury and went in the 19th round to the Cardinals a year ago, Sharpe had a 2.18 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings this year. He mixes an 89-94 mph fastball, effective changeup and decent slider while also drawing praise for his competitive makeup.
15) Zack Matthews, RHP, Oklahoma (Astros)
Matthews is all about power with a fastball that touches 98 mph and a cutter/slider that peaks at 90, though both pitches can get flat when he overthrows. He had a 4.50 ERA with six strikeouts in as many innings this spring before blowing out his elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.