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Mailbag!

MAIL TIME!

Photo Credit: Quiz Law

One of the most appealing aspects of doing the blog thing is the ability to actually interact with people who care about college/high school ball and the draft. I like the diverging opinions people seem to have about the placement of players on some of the lists posted thus far. The comments have been of excellent quality and they always give me a chance to reevaluate how I’ve assessed a particular player’s value as a prospect – sometimes it takes nothing more than a kick in the butt from a different perspective than mine to remind me that, hey, Player X should/shouldn’t be ranked where he is…so long as there is some kind of reasoning to back it up, I’m always willing to listen and potentially change my mind.

To those that have comments featured in the mailbag, please let me know if you want attribution and I’ll add your name and a link or whatever so that you get proper credit. I wanted to do it right off the bat, but I figured I’d play it safe and ask just in case. I’m not sure if there will be any interest in this, but it’s something I feel like trying – my apologies to anybody who actually reads my responses in the comments and catches on that these are essentially re-runs…I’m not tryinig to pull a fast one, just wanted to give good comments (and hopefully well reasoned responses) the proper amount of recognition they deserve.

Reader comments/questions along with my answers after the jump…

Ryan Berry Rice dominated over at least 2-3 guys on this list just last weekend. Beginning of the season and people are already talking supplemental 1st round for him. Aka Bryan Price of last year. Probably hit around 8-10 on this list.

You may be right. Would you believe that Ryan Berry was literally the last man to be cut from my list of top 15 college righthanded starters? He was 16th on the list, no lie. Keep in mind that it’s a very, very good year for college righthanded starters. Berry’s omission from the original list was more about the 15 players ahead of him than anything he has or hasn’t done as a prospect.

Berry has gotten off to a fine start for Rice and is indeed beginning to get some top two round buzz. I agree with Aaron Fitt from BA when he says that although Berry’s got a fine arm, he needs to show he can pitch at a high level over a longer stretch of time before we can pencil him in as a top-60 pick guy. Looking back at my particular list, I’d probably slot him in between Sean Black and Sam Dyson at the 11th overall spot. I get the arguments in favor of him, so your opinion that he should be bumped up to somewhere between 8-10 is valid – in my most optimistic of placements, he’d be 8th overall (between Mike Nesseth and Kendal Volz). I guess it comes down to upside and likelihood of reaching it – Berry has less of the former, but a greater chance at the latter; a player like Dyson or Nesseth (to name just two names from the list) have more upside, but a bigger gap in what they are as amateurs and what they could be as pros.

Berry’s stuff is good, not great. He throws a low-90s fastball (hitting 93, but not often), a very good curve (low-80s) and a rapidly improving slider (mid-80s) that works best as a chase pitch at present. He gets high marks for his command (absolutely pounds the zone with his fastball), mental makeup, and the huge season he put up as a freshman thrust immediately into the starting rotation. There is clearly a lot to like about Berry’s game, but knocks against him include his lack of projection and an underwhelming (but sneaky) fastball. Also, fair or not, he’ll have to contend with the stigma of being a starting pitching prospect from Rice. His arm will be checked, rechecked, and then checked again before a team will invest a high signing bonus on him.

Again, Berry’s omission from the original list was more about the 15 players ahead of him than anything he has or hasn’t done because, after going through the pros and cons of his game, it’s pretty obvious there is more to like than dislike about Berry as a prospect.

How about Ryan Wheeler (and Angelo Songco) (LMU), Brett Jackson (CAL), Ryan Schimpf (LSU), Alex White (T A&M) or Ryan Berry (Rice)?

How close have they been and don’t u think at least White, Jackson and Wheeler should have been on the list?

Alex Wilson was a definite swing and a miss on my part. I took the gutless wait-and-see approach on him (the same approach I’ve knocked before) and got burned big time. His health worried me even though all the information regarding his recovery leading up to the season was positive. To be fair, I did rank Wilson tenth on my list of college righthanded starting pitching prospects. Using that ranking as a guide, he’d actually fall within the top 20 overall college prospects in a revised big board (Big Board 2.0, perhaps?)…

The more I look at this version of the Big Board, the more I’ve come to realize I know a whole heck of a lot than I let on…there are some placements on the list that I already dislike a lot. It’s not because I’m fickle, I don’t think. Nor is it because I’m making any snap judgments based on small sample sizes. It’s about going through the positional lists, doing a little more research, and making more informed opinions. Well, hopefully more informed decisions…

Anyway, Wheeler and Songco aren’t really my cup of tea, but I can see arguments putting them (Wheeler more so than Songco) in the 35-50 range. Schimpf is criminally underrated, as are most second basemen not yet in the big leagues, and I think I need to do a more intensive comparison between him and Seager in the near future.

I went over Berry above, so rather than blab about him again I’ll just go with the cliffnotes version – Berry was another swing and a miss. He was 16th on the list of college righties, but I’d probably move him up to 12th now (actually 13th if Wilson is included). That would make him a top 30 prospect on the revised list.

I’m slowly coming around to Brett Jackson. Honestly, something about the two Cal guys (Blake Smith being the other) mentally locked me up to the point of inaction when ranking them. Smith went on the list at 36, but that was more of a compromise I made with myself to reconcile the fact I had no idea what to do with such a weird two-way player.

As for Jackson, he should definitely be in the top 50. I wish I could say I just forgot about him the first time through, but it was an intentional omission – the lack of power (only a .441 SLG last year) and wet noodle throwing arm knocked him down my personal draft board. Upon further review, I think I fixated too much on what he couldn’t do and not enough on his positives – ability to get on base (though his OBP is inflated by high HBP totals), plus speed, plus defense in CF. To pick a player at random, there is no way I would take Micah Gibbs over him right now. That said, I’m not sure I’d go as high as the top 25…but the argument is definitely plausible. I really look forward to seeing where he stacks up when I delve deeper into the college outfield rankings – who will be third behind Ackley and Davis on the list? Jackson, Jared Mitchell, and AJ Pollock are all tightly bunched at present…

Thanks to all those who read and comment – this place wouldn’t be around without you.

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1 Comment

  1. kaldream says:

    I follow the Arizona Diamondbacks and live in the California League. We attended a baseball game last week in Stockton playing Visalia. We sat in the second row next to the batting circle. On two separate events, Keon Broxton made no attempt in extending his hand to a teammate after hitting home runs. I guess his focus is outstanding.

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