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College Baseball- Could Braden Montgomery Be This Years Wyatt Langford?

College Baseball is cruising along and we inch closer and closer to the MLB Draft less than two months away. Leading up to the draft it’s good to know more about these College athletes from a dynasty aspect so we can have a good idea of who to watch leading up to first-year player drafts. Occasionally we will get prospects who are drafted and debut in the Major Leagues in the same season so this gives us an opportunity to get acquainted. Already we have covered multiple players this season who will be Draft-eligible and could go in the first few rounds. We will continue that today highlighting some of the College athletes to watch right now.

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College Baseball Round-Up

Braden Montgomery, OF Texas A&M

(52 GP, .333/.476/.778, 24 HR, 59 R, 77 RBI, 5 SB)

This isn’t the first time I’ve highlighted Braden Montgomery and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Montgomery has put up fantastic numbers at Texas A&M this season with the hardest-hit rates in all of college baseball. With a lot of the talk being around Charlie Condon’s NCAA-leading home run numbers and Travis Bazzana’s all-around approach, Braden Montgomery just isn’t being talked about enough. Sound familiar? Wyatt Langford was third fiddle to Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews of LSU leading up to the 2023 MLB Draft. Langford’s .373 average, 21 home runs, and 83 RBIs with the Florida Gators were solid but with Skenes and Crews going first and second overall Langford fell to Texas at four.

If you look at Braden Montgomery’s season numbers they parallel that of Langford. In 52 games played Montgomery is slashing .333/.476/.778 with 24 home runs, 59 runs score, 77 RBIs, and five stolen bases. This profile should move quickly similar to Langford and if you look at the draft order for this season Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals could be excellent landing spots. Do not be surprised if Montgomery performs well after the draft and leapfrogs to be a top FYPD pick.

Christian Moore, 2B/OF Tennessee

(51 GP, .380/.446/.774, 23 HR, 56 R, 56 RBI, 1 SB)

One of Tennessee’s best-kept secrets is Christian Moore. The 6’1” second baseman has put together three solid seasons at Tennessee and could be a solid first-round draft pick in July. This season Moore has cut his strikeouts from 31% in 2023 down to 17.7% this season as well as the increase in home runs (17 in 23’ to 23 this season in 12 fewer games played). On the season Moore has played in 51 games slashing .380/.446/.774 with 23 home runs, 56 runs, and RBIs, as well as one stolen base.

Going into the draft Moore is one of the top second basemen available and could be a solid mid to late first-round pick. For dynasty purposes, the increase in power, batting average, and decrease in the strikeout rate is an encouraging sign for Moore going into the draft. Depending on where he is selected and how he fairs in professional ball could raise his FYPD stock.

Nate Knowles, RHP William & Mary

(16 GS, 61.1 IP, 85 K, 12.5 K/9, 1.91 ERA)

Hailing from William & Mary in Williamsburg Virginia Nate Knowles has started to climb my draft rankings. The 6’ right-hander has an easy delivery on the mound typically sitting 91 mph with the fastball. In addition to the fastball Knowles throws a mid-80s cutter with solid movement, the 80 mph change-up has a solid late fade and the nasty 77 mph curveball has an excellent break-in on right-handed batters. In 16 games started for the Tribe Knowles has 85 strikeouts over 61.1 innings pitched, good for a 12.5 K/9 with a solid 1.91 ERA. The earned run average ranks fourth in the NCAA currently behind Arkansas Hagen Smith and Dallas Baptist’s Ryan Johnson.

The walks have been a concern for Knowles at 4.1 BB/9 though it is understandable as he relies on swing and misses outside the zone with the curveball and change-up. With Knowles not being in a major powerhouse school I do not expect him to go early in the MLB Draft. Regardless I believe he will be drafted in the 3-5 round range and could be a fun prospect to watch in an organization that develops pitching well like Cleveland, Houston, or even the New York Mets.

Ryan Prager, LHP Texas A&M

(12 GS, 64 IP, 85 K, 12 K/9, 2.67 ERA)

With a starter build at 6’3” and 200 pounds left-hander Ryan Prager has been solid for the Aggies this season. Prager features a low-90s fastball that can hit 95 mph, the slider comes in at 82 mph with a sweeping movement to it. The change-up comes in at 86 with solid fade and tumble late. These offerings play up thanks to the high arm slot that helps with tunneling out of his hand. After a season lost to injury in 2023 Prager has increased his draft stock tremendously. In 12 games started with the Aggies Prager has 85 strikeouts over 64 innings pitched, good for a 12 K/9, and is sporting a 2.67 ERA. What has stood out so far this season has been the command and control which has helped Prager maintain a 1.5 BB/9.

For dynasty managers, this isn’t a front-of-the-line “Ace” but a solid left-handed pitching prospect who could take a solid step forward once he is drafted. With the production this season as well as the lack of innings on Prager’s arm in College (123.1 innings in two seasons) I would suspect we will see the organization that drafts him build the innings slowly. This could give us opportunities to see Prager rise slowly and potentially improve to a mid-rotation starter long-term.

Ryan Johnson, RHP Dallas Baptist

(13 GS, 90.1 IP, 137 K, 13.68 K/9, 1.79 ERA)

When you look up NCAA pitching leaders Ryan Johnson is constantly near the top of the list. In a draft where Chase Burns of Wake Forest and Hagen Smith of Arkansas get most of the attention, Ryan Johnson is one of my favorites to draft this coming FYPD. Johnson features a five-pitch mix in a fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, and change up with the slider standing out as a true plus offering. We have seen Johnson’s fastball touch 100 mph this season but sits in the mid-90s but the sweeping slider coming in at 83 mph gets a ton of swing and miss. This season Johnson has started 13 games striking out 137 batters over 90.1 innings pitched, good for a 13.68 K/9, and currently has a 1.79 ERA.

Currently, Johnson ranks second in ERA (1.79) and strikeouts (137), third in strikeout to walk rate (12.45), while ranking fourth in WHIP (.84) and Walks per nine (1.10) in all of NCAA play. To me, Johnson has so much upside to be a potential SP 2 long-term. The command and control are among the best in this year’s draft class paired with the strikeout potential makes Ryan Johnson an underrated player to me heading into the MLB Draft.

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