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October Baseball

Confession time – I’m a Phillies fan. Knowing that, I hope it is understandable why posting here has been sporadic at best over the past month. I thought I’d be able to be a real person (like, you know, go to work every day), obsessively follow the Phillies through October/early November, and begin posting semi-regularly again. I underestimated my baseball fandom, a mistake I won’t soon make again.

Thanks to all who have stuck with the site what with all of our “short breaks” over the past few months. I’ve been quietly pouring over all kinds of random scouting reports, watching video and live action at both high school showcases and college fall ball, and doing the best I can to convince my limited contacts to spill their guts about the new crop of draft-eligible talent. New thrice-weekly posting offseason posting schedule will be rolled out soon, along with plenty of new college and high school player profiles.

What’s Next?

I’m a guy who likes a good plan. I’m also a guy who likes making plans only to forget them mere seconds after committing to them. In an effort to remedy that second problem of mine, here’s what’s in store over the next few weeks…

  • 2010 Mock Draft 1.0
  • Position Breakdowns (Top Tens)
  • College Team Profiles
  • Class of 2011 Quick Preview

I’m sure I’m forgetting other good stuff I’ve either a) promised in the past, or b) should have thought of, but can’t come up with at the moment because, well, I stink at thinking off the top of my head like this. What am I missing?

Top 50 2010 MLB Draft Prospects – Expanded Version

I had way too difficult a time attempting to group the top 50 2010 MLB Draft prospects into meaningful tiers, so instead I grouped them in a way that made it easier for me to come up with common things to talk about under each tier. I’ve been gone a few months, but I’m still as lazy a writer as ever.

While reading my off the cuff blurbs, please do keep in mind that I’m way behind on my college coverage right now. Anything I say about a college prospect should be taken with a humongous block of salt. Conversely, I’ve done my homework on these high school guys. So you should listen to me there, if you know what’s good for you. Or not. Your call. It’s just that last year I was way ahead on college players vs. high school players, and this year I wanted to make a concerted effort to focus more on the more mysterious side of the draft spectrum first. I’ve spent a lot of my time “off” going through high school scouting reports, watching video, checking out showcases, and talking to people in baseball way more well connected about this stuff than I’ll ever be. All of that has been done with an emphasis on this year’s group of high school prospects. Hopefully, some of that knowledge will come across in the coming days, weeks, and months. Alright, enough about me…let’s talk about the prospects.

C Bryce Harper

The Harper backlash has already begun in some corners of the internet, but I’m going to be oh so bold and stick with him as the top draft prospect heading into 2010. Keep in mind this is coming from the same guy who totally called Stephen Strasburg as the top pick last year. Amazing prediction, am I right? Now you see why I have to disappear for months at a time during the draft offseason – I’m working hard coming up with such bold, innovative predictions that allow me to stand out amongst the crowd of all the other amateur draft prognosticators. I should really start charging for my brilliant insight…

RHP Jameson Taillon
3B Nick Castellanos
RHP AJ Cole
OF Austin Wilson

Picking Harper for the top spot was a piece of cake. Picking Taillon right behind him is almost as easy. A piece of pie, if you will. Taillon’s extensive arsenal of quality pitches (heavy FB, nasty low-80s SL, near-plus high-70s CB, occasional splitters and CUs) and high level of high school competition put him above the rest of this year’s impressive crop of teenage righthanded pitching. After last year’s lackluster prep position player class, I’m admittedly a little bit desperate for some exciting high school bats to emerge this spring. To that end, I throw my full support behind both Castellanos and Wilson as legit high first round caliber talents. By the way, I hate pie. I don’t mean I hate Taillon – I’m through with that lame metaphor. I mean actual pie. Apple is alright, I guess. Lemon meringue is probably my favorite. The rest? No, thank you. Makes Thanksgiving dessert a bit of a downer for me, but, on the bright side, it allows me more freedom to eat as much of the dinner portion of the meal as I can possibly stuff down my throat.

RHP Anthony Ranaudo
RHP Karsten Whitson
LHP Drew Pomeranz
RHP Brandon Workman
RHP Stetson Allie

Ranaudo is lower here than even I expected, but the upside of the five names in front of him partially explains his low standing. I also have personal reservations about big guys that don’t throw nearly as hard as expected. There is plenty of tape on him floating around, so I’ll need to take a closer look and break him down in the near future. Workman has been a fascination of mine since the Phillies failed to sign him coming out of high school, so I feel confident in his placement based on his outstanding raw stuff and physical build. Allie is ahead of Whitson on talent alone at this point, but the up and down results that Allie puts up make him a very difficult player to accurately access.

INF/OF/RHP Yordy Cabrera
RHP Deck McGuire
3B Zack Cox

Something about those draft eligible sophomores always intrigues me. I haven’t talked to many people who think Cabrera will stick at shortstop professionally, but he’s so darn talented across the board that I’d be willing to gamble on him being productive wherever he winds up on the diamond.

RHP Jesse Hahn
LHP Chris Sale

The two big names from the Cape are still a mystery to me as far as their prospect standing goes. They are both very good prospects, of course, but the question of how good remains to be answered. Yes, I realize I could write that exact same blurb about every player on this list, especially the college guys. I may have worked too hard to cover up my high school blindspots. Time to get back to studying the college game for a bit, starting with the high upside, high flameout possibilities listed above.

RHP Cameron Bedrosian
RHP Kyle Blair
RHP Matt Harvey

Undersized righthander with a hot fastball and an excellent curve with big league bloodlines? If it hasn’t been made before, I’m happy to be the first to throw out the Kyle Drabek/Cameron Bedrosian comparison. Blair and Harvey have seen their respective stocks drop a ton in the past calendar year. I’m a believer in the rule that once you show a skill, you own that skill. Neither Blair nor Harvey has been seriously injured. Neither Blair nor Harvey has forgotten how to throw a baseball with nasty stuff.

RHP Dylan Covey
RHP Kaleb Cowart
MIF Anthony Wolters
C/OF Stefan Sabol
OF Bryce Brentz
LHP James Paxton

Wolters and Sabol could both be impact players at up the middle defensive positions as professionals, with Wolters having a chance to be a truly special defender at second base in time. Brentz and Paxton might have cases as having the highest upsides of any position player and pitcher in the collegiate ranks, respectively.

RHP Zach Lee
RHP Peter Tago
RHP Jesus Valdez
RHP AJ Vanegas
RHP Justin Grimm
OF Angelo Gumbs
OF Brian Ragira
C Rob Brantly

Valdez doesn’t have quite the velocity of some pitchers in his class, but the movement he gets on his fastball makes it a legit plus pitch going forward. Vanegas may be a quick riser as a professional; prep pitchers that can throw four pitches for consistent strikes tend to move fast. I think I have Ragira too low in this spot. He is a legit CF prospect with an above-average big league quality arm, in addition to a mature beyond his years approach at the plate. Brantly is another draft-eligible sophomore with tremendous upside; in a pretty good year for college catching, he’s the top four-year college backstop on my board.

OF Levon Washington
SS Rick Hague
SS Christian Colon

Let’s talk Christian Colon for a minute, shall we? I guess my lack of love for his game comes from me severely underrating the value of a league average big league shortstop (a rookie mistake on my part, I admit) and also being less than impressed when seemingly every scouting report about Colon begins and ends with talk about his personality, leadership, and the way he makes the most of his average at best tools. No doubt Colon’s makeup is totally off the charts and his defensive chops make him a slam dunk to stick at short professionally, but I tend to focus more on the “average at best tools” part of that discussion than the “personality” and “leadership.” I’m both ready and willing to convinced I’m totally wrong on Colon, but that’s where things stand now. For what it’s worth, I’ve only seen Colon play once since watching him in person in high school, so maybe I’m judging him unfairly based on my limited and outdated memory of his skills. Also, for what it’s worth, I have a scouting buddy who has seen Colon play a ton from his junior year of high school until this past summer and he absolutely loves everything about Colon’s game.

RHP Kevin Gausman
RHP DeAndre Smelter
RHP Tyrell Jenkins
OF Leon Landry
3B Victor Sanchez

Keyvius Sampson was my guy from day one last year. This year’s version might be Tyrell Jenkins. Jenkins has a lot of nice things going for him on paper – good velocity, sharp breaking ball (slider), very athletic, and a great amount of projection going forward. Sanchez seems like he is getting lost in the shuffle as another formerly highly touted high school prospect who has battled injuries and inconsistency at the college level. Since I love making unfounding comparisons, let’s call Sanchez the hitting equivalent of the previously mentioned Matt Harvey and Kyle Blair combo platter. Landry is a total upside play here, but I trust the LSU coaching staff like few others.

1B Christian Yelich
SS Sean O’Brien
1B/3B Kris Bryant
RHP Aaron Sanchez
RHP Nick Tepesch
INF Zach Alvord

If I had to pick one guy on my list to drop off over the course of the season, I’d probably go with Yelich. That naturally begs the question of why he is on the list in the first place. Yelich is like the hitting version of Stetson Allie, an up and down prospect that can look like a late first rounder one day and a fifth round lottery ticket on the next. It gets repeated every year, but it’s important: prep players limited to first base need to be able to hit, hit, and hit some more to be taken seriously as a draft prospect. I realize I have O’Brien lower than Colon on this list, but I’m not quite sure why. I’m a man who loves upside, and O’Brien’s ceiling is higher than just about any other shortstop in this year’s class. Of course, I’m also a realistic enough fellow who can readily admit that Colon is a much more certain bet to reach his upside than O’Brien. In one of the most spot-on comps of the year, scouts have compared Kris Bryant to a young Troy Glaus on more than one occasion. It’s only been 24 hours since I posted this list, but I think I’m already ready to knock Alvord off…

RHP Robbie Aviles
C Micah Gibbs
SS/RHP Justin O’Conner
LHP Jessie Biddle

I think Justin O’Conner could wind up as this year’s Casey Kelly, a ridiculously talented two-way player picked late in the first round by a team willing to pony up the big bucks for his services. In the end, however, I think O’Conner will deviate from the Kelly plan by proving himself to be a better hitter than pitcher. Biddle is the token prep lefthanded pitcher on the list. I felt bad about not including any young lefties on the 2010 list after the totally stacked 2009 class, so I threw lefties everywhere a bone with Biddle’s inclusion.

Big Board 1.0: Top 50 2010 MLB Draft Prospects

I know this qualifies as a way, way, way too early look at the top 50 2010 MLB Draft prospects, but it seems like as good a way as any to get back into the swing of things here as we begin to prepare for another exciting draft season. This list is extremely preliminary (especially the rankings of the collegiate players and the prep righthanded pitchers), but I needed to get something down in print to better organize myself going forward. Next on the agenda, modifying this list by adding in player value tiers and brief commentary justifying some of the rankings. Stay tuned for that…
  1. C Bryce Harper
  2. RHP Jameson Taillon
  3. 3B Nick Castellanos
  4. RHP AJ Cole
  5. OF Austin Wilson
  6. RHP Anthony Ranaudo
  7. RHP Karsten Whitson
  8. LHP Drew Pomeranz
  9. RHP Brandon Workman
  10. RHP Stetson Allie
  11. INF/OF/RHP Yordy Cabrera
  12. RHP Deck McGuire
  13. 3B Zack Cox
  14. RHP Jesse Hahn
  15. LHP Chris Hale
  16. RHP Cameron Bedrosian
  17. RHP Kyle Blair
  18. RHP Matt Harvey
  19. RHP Dylan Covey
  20. RHP Kaleb Cowart
  21. MIF Anthony Wolters
  22. C/OF Stefan Sabol
  23. OF Bryce Brentz
  24. LHP James Paxton
  25. RHP Zach Lee
  26. RHP Peter Tago
  27. RHP Jesus Valdez
  28. RHP AJ Vanegas
  29. RHP Justin Grimm
  30. OF Angelo Gumbs
  31. OF Brian Ragira
  32. C Rob Brantly
  33. OF Levon Washington
  34. SS Rick Hague
  35. SS Christian Colon
  36. RHP Kevin Gausman
  37. RHP DeAndre Smelter
  38. RHP Tyrell Jenkins
  39. OF Leon Landry
  40. 3B Victor Sanchez
  41. 1B Christian Yelich
  42. SS Sean O’Brien
  43. 1B/3B Kris Bryant
  44. RHP Aaron Sanchez
  45. RHP Nick Tepesch
  46. INF Zach Alvord
  47. RHP Robbie Aviles
  48. C Micah Gibbs
  49. SS/RHP Justin O’Conner
  50. LHP Jessie Biddle
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