After 3 straight raw-high upside talents, the Angels changed course in Round 5 as they grabbed shortstop Connor Justus from Georgia Tech. Justus was considered about a top 125 prospect so getting him in the 5th round was a great value pick and many pundits applauded the pick for the Angels. In his time at Georgia Tech, he was always praised for his above average defense but the bat really came around in this past season. After hitting .249/.349/.308 in 2015, he batted a dramatically better .324/.442/.486, prompting the shortstop to shoot up draft rankings. Justus doesn’t necessarily have any big standout tools but the Angels love that he should stick at shortstop or potentially at 2nd base and his improvement at the plate opened some eyes.
Pros: Highly instinctual player; Plus defender at a premium position; Good first step; Above average arm strength; Good baserunner; Clean, easy swing with simple mechanics; Could be a sneaky solid gap to gap hitter; Solid plate discipline; Defense should carry him to the majors
Cons: Bat is well behind the glove; Clean swing but lacks thump; Swing plane will limit home run output; Up until 2016, bat was poor; Bat could limit him to utility role
Grading the Pick: The Angels did quite well in the 5th round to grab a guy who should reach the majors one day based on his glove alone. Connor Justus is a very instinctual defensive player whose awareness and first step help him reach many baseballs. His plus arm strength gives him the ability to make plays many shortstops cannot make. What makes Justus intriguing is the huge improvement he showed with the bat in his last season. It could either be random noise or Justus really took a step forward and has turned himself into a solid or at least useful bat. With his defense, he doesn’t have to rake to become a viable major league starter. If he can couple an average or near average bat along with his plus defense, it’s not out of the question for Justus to become a solid everyday shortstop at some point in the future. Realistically, Justus will probably be a below average hitter based on his below average in game power and ability to make hard contact but this last season changed some of those doubts. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly Justus develops because the glove is pretty special but he may need time to continue working towards becoming a useful hitter. My Grade: 8/10
Plate Discipline: 40/45
Defensive Ability: 60/65