School: UCLA; Class: Senior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-0; Weight: 194
Previously Drafted: Texas Rangers, 17th round, 2014
Background: One of my favorite collegiate prospects in recent memory. Period. As I noted in last year’s write up Berg, who has been ridiculously solid during his run with Bruins, was lightly recruited coming out of high school and walked onto one of the top programs in the country and immediately became a dominant force pitching out of the school’s bullpen.
Berg appeared in 50 games as true freshman, throwing 74.0 shutdown innings with an impeccable 63-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio to go along with a 1.46 ERA. The sidewinder upped the ante even high during his sophomore campaign: 78.0 IP, 78 punch outs, 11 walks, 0.92 ERA, and 24 saves.
He continued to steamroll any opponent digging in against him last season as well: 48.0 innings, 35 strikeouts, eight walks, and a 1.50 ERA.
This season, however, Berg has put together his finest season to date. In his first 57.0 innings of work, the 6-foot, 194-pound right-hander has posted an absurd 54-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and allowed five earned runs.
Projection: Admittedly, I was absolutely shocked when Berg last until the 17th round last season. Granted, he’s not going to impact a game the way a potential first or second round pick would, but he has as long of a track record of pure dominance as anyone in college baseball.
And as I noted in a question posed by a reader following that draft last season, MLB teams are still afraid of the unknown. Meaning: his atypical throwing motion.
Now, Berg likely isn’t going to be able to handle left-handers, but he’s a strong candidate to develop into a Joe Smith, Pat Neshek, Brad Ziegler caliber performer.
As far as his draft grade goes, I think nabbing him in the third round, but I would guess a team wouldn’t take him before the fourth, especially considering that’s where the Indians grabbed – and quickly promoted – southpaw reliever Kyle Crockett.
Please. Someone. Anyone. Give Berg a chance.
Ceiling: 1.0-win player
Floor: 1.0-win player
Grade: Fourth Round