Who is the best draft-eligible college catcher in all the land? We’re going to find out tournament-style! Robert Stock shocked the world…or the 400 people who read this site a day…and won a spot in the Final Four yesterday. Today, four more participants face off in our very special Mike Ivie Regional after the jump…
Mike Ivie Regional
1. Trevor Coleman
4. Miles Hamblin
2. Diego Seastrunk
3. Mark Fleury
Coleman is a tough player to rate at this point because, despite a decent toolset, he has really scuffled so far in 2009. Amidst the struggles, he has maintained his discerning eye at the plate and flashed plus arm strength, and his stock gets a boost with his ability to switch-hit. Additionally, his experience catching hard throwing, high end pitching prospects (Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson, Nick Tepesch) will allow teams to easily project his conversion to catching professional arms. On the downside, scouts are more than a little worried about his low contact rate this spring and that plus arm is often negated by an inconsistent release point.
Hamblin has above-average power potential and a live bat, plus he has the added advantage of being close to a sure bet of sticking behind the plate as a professional. His outstanding performance this season for a dominant junior college team has scouts buzzing. Lefty power, a great catcher’s frame, strong throwing arm (mid-80s fastball in high school), and a mature approach at the plate…don’t let the lack of pedigree bother you, Hamblin is a good prospect; so good a prospect, in fact, that I’d take him over Coleman, thank you very much.
The second matchup in this regional includes one of the two most intriguing head-to-heads of this little tournament. Seastrunk and Fleury are two of the most underrated big-time college catchers in the 2009 class. Each player comes from schools that churn out good to great big league players on a consistent basis, so it’s no surprise that scouts see both players as professional-ready. Fluery’s above-average power, strong throwing arm, and solid defensive reputation make him an easy top ten round caliber collegiate catching prospect. I don’t see how some publications have him way below Coleman on their pre-draft lists. They are actually similar prospects in a lot of ways. They each have plenty of experience catching hard throwing future professionals, have above-average or better arms, and neither has really set the world on fire with their performances at the plate this spring. On the whole, Coleman has the longer track record of success, a stronger arm, and a better overall approach at the plate, but Fleury has more power potential and less wear and tear on his knees.
I haven’t seen or heard this comp elsewhere, so take it for what it’s worth (not much), but Seastrunk’s scouting profile and video remind me of a lesser version of Ryan Doumit. That’s high praise. Seastrunk is the kind of player who’s overall package exceeds the sum of his parts. Of course, it’s not exactly like his parts are all that shabby. I love, love, love the way Seastrunk has transitioned to the role of full-time catcher this spring. Seastrunk’s combination of an above-average arm, gap power, and plus makeup (he’s a tireless worker and a great team player) has me believing his tools will play as a professional. He isn’t a natural behind the plate, but the instincts I’ve seen from him in going down to get balls in the dirt lead me to believe he’ll be an above-average defender before long. This is one of the most intriguing matchups to me for a reason – both players have high floors and high ceilings. I eventually can see Seastrunk filling a supersub role (not unlike Doumit before he broke out) and Fleury filling the righty mashing role as the lefthanded hitting catcher in a platoon. The more natural catcher gets the slight edge, so Fleury takes it at the buzzer.
4. Miles Hamblin
2. Mark Fleury
Another situation where the two players being compared are quite similar…I swear I didn’t rig it like this, it’s just how it worked out. In a bit of a reversal from what I said before (pedigree being overrated and all that), I’ll give Fleury the slight edge here because of his experience playing against top college competition. I suppose there is a distinction there after all – the comment on pedigree was more about “hey, don’t knock a guy just because he is at the juco level because there are a lot of singularly talented players at junior colleges,” while the level of competition claim is more about the simple reality that, across the board, the players are consistently more advanced in a major college conference. Fleury’s experience facing some of the ACC’s excellent Friday starters this year is part of the reason he wins the closest matchup yet. And, yes, I know I always say it’s the “closest matchup yet.” Anyway, Fleury is going to the Final Four. Two are in, two more to go…