Prospects In Person: Columbia University

March 4, 2024

With a pretty recent history in the MLB Draft, Columbia University may have a few reasons to once again keep an eye on a unique little ballpark tucked away in uptown Manhattan.

Having sent Weston Eberly to the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round just last year, not to mention Andy Blake heading to the Angels organization as a UDFA, it’s clear that there are some big league eyes a quick turn down 218th Street at Satow Stadium. A recent FSS Plus visit unearthed some more hidden Ivy League gems, with a few intriguing arms really popping

Payton Soske was likely the most promising of those arms, as he made relatively quick work of Marist in Game One of a doubleheader to close out the game in the ninth inning. A six-foot-four, 195-pound righthander out of Illinois, Soske is still just 18 years old as a true freshman, and was sitting at 91-93 on the gun with an average slider and changeup. With some room to add on his frame and given his age, he remains projectable and could continue to develop into perhaps a premium arm by the time he’s eligible for the 2026 MLB Draft.

J.D. Ogden (pictured) was Columbia’s Game Two starter and mostly sat 91-93 on the gun, while touching 95 early in his outing. A six-foot-five, 220-pound southpaw, it’s an intriguing package, as quality lefties certainly don’t grow on trees these days. A senior, Ogden may profile as a potential UDFA target for some teams this year if he could ever put it all together; he’s struggled significantly with command over his collegiate career and during a stop at the MLB Draft League in Trenton with more walks (60) than strikeouts (48) over his NCAA run. Perhaps an organization with access to the raw data would see enough to work with, but the clock is ticking for him to show his upside.

Jack Cooper would be hard to ignore, having gone 5-for-8 with seven RBI over the course of the Lions doubleheader with Marist. Listed as a catcher, the six-foot-1, 220-pounder played first base for both games and seems to have found a spot in the lineup after seeing little action over the last two years. Columbia’s cleanup man impressed throughout at the plate, working to his pull side in most of his AB’s. He was an on-base machine, but also homered late in the second game. A well-below average runner at 4.48 from home to first, he did hustle to get there and could also find himself on the UDFA radar as a potential sink or swim guy at a complex league affiliate as a depth player with experience at multiple positions, but he’d really need to hit to access that ceiling.

Andy Leon, Miles Blackwell were also intriguing on Sunday. Leon, a junior RHP, is coming off Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors, and sat in the high 80’s, showing incredibly fast tempo on the bump and some confidence with a “shoo” move of sorts after strikeouts. Pitchability arm who would likely need to add some velo to get an opportunity at the next level but would compete. Blackwell is a 5-foot-11, 230-pound catcher who has played sparingly over his collegiate career. Thick lower half on the frame, strong arm and defender, aggressive behind the plate. Didn’t get to see enough with the stick.

Mike Ashmore
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