We’re officially one day out from the MLB Draft— scheduled to begin Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET on MLB Network and ESPN— and despite the selection process being cut down from 40 rounds to five (160 total picks), two Buckeyes are still likely to hear their names called early on.
Junior catcher Dillon Dingler and redshirt sophomore left-handed pitcher Seth Lonsway are coming to an MLB field near you (whenever the players and league can agree on a season, that is) which is a pretty big deal for Ohio State.
As Gene noted in his profile of Lonsway, not too many high-level MLB prospects have come out of Ohio State in recent years. Nick Swisher (2002), Cory Luebke (2007) and J.B. Shuck (2008) have been the biggest names to come out of Columbus over the last two decades.
Fast-forward to 2020, Dingler and Lonsway are looking to break the decade-long drought of early-round Ohio State draft picks.
As mentioned above, Gene recapped Lonsway’s path to the MLB Draft and what the experts are saying about the lefty, which you can check out here. Lonsway is expected to be a top-50 pick, and is said to have one of the best curveballs in the 2020 Draft.
However, you can expect to hear his teammate’s name called first, as Dingler is positioned as one of the top catchers—and thus a potential top-25 pick— in this year’s draft class.
Dingler entered the 2020 season as Baseball America’s Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, and despite the season being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, he lived up to his preseason hype. In just 13 games, Dingler— a Canton, Ohio native— tied with Indiana’s Grant Richardson for the Big Ten lead with five home runs. His .760 slugging percentage ranked second in the conference and 23rd nationally.
For the year, Dingler led the team with a .340 (17-for-50) batting average to go along with a team-high four doubles, a triple, five home runs, 14 RBI and 12 runs scored. During Ohio State’s win at North Florida on March 10, he also became the first Buckeye in three years to hit three long balls in one game.
For his efforts above, Dingler was named a Third Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, becoming the 54th All-American in Ohio State baseball history.
Dingler’s success this spring gives him a chance to become the third first-round pick in Ohio State history, following Nick Swisher (2002) and Alex Wimmers (2010), according to his scouting report on MLB.com.
The MLB ranks Dingler as the No. 24 overall prospect, and rates his arm strength, athleticism and mobility as well above-average, proven by his performance behind the plate. Over his three collegiate seasons, Dingler threw out 21 out of 42 base-stealers.
Here’s what the rest of his MLB.com scouting report says:
“While Dingler batted just .267/.362/.396 in his first two college seasons, he controls the strike zone well and has plus raw power, so he should be able to hold his own as a right-handed hitter. He ran a sub-6.6-second 60-yard dash during the Buckeyes’ scout day this fall, though he probably won’t maintain plus speed as he stays behind the plate. In addition to his physical tools, he also offers strong makeup and was voted an Ohio State captain as a sophomore.”
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has Dingler going 23rd overall to the Indians, noting that “catchers who can stay behind the plate are hard to find and Dingler is athletic with excellent defensive skills. He could go a few picks earlier.”
Mayo is not alone in his projection. Ian Smith of Prospects 365 has Dingler going No. 22 overall to the Washington Nationals and the Athletic’s Keith Law has Dingler going 20th to the Milwaukee Brewers in his most recent mock draft.
One major league area scout even told The Repository that “the floor for him is a big leaguer. The ceiling could be an All-Star if the offense clicks.”
Whichever team gets Dingler is getting the whole package. He was a two-time captain for the Buckeyes. He was a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete. He was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten. And, despite some critique regarding his history of “not making tons of contact” at bat, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound catcher’s physical performance is undoubtedly at the MLB-level.
To watch Dingler come off the board, be sure to tune in Wednesday for the first night of the Draft, which will include the first 37 picks, covering the whole first round and Competitive Balance Round A.