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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Virginia Cavaliers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

Just a quick reminder that the College Team Profiles are designed to be an ongoing project meant to be continously updated. They are published as incomplete works in-progress, so try not to be concerned if a guy isn’t listed. That said, I always appreciate somebody pointing out when somebody they want to see isn’t on yet, especially when they then go on to plead the case of the omitted player. The explanation for the process of the College Team Profiles was never made explicit by me here on the main page, and I apologize for any confusion. I suppose that doesn’t really make this a reminder, but rather a clarification. Sorry. From this point forward I’m going to start with 2010 prospects for each university and then fill in the 2011 and 2012 players when I can. When I finish the complete set of 2010 players, I’ll provide a handy link and some quick thoughts for anybody still interested. It may look a little something like this…

Virginia Cavaliers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

I think I’m probably too high on Grovatt, too low on Cannon, and all over the place with the pitchers, especially the four draft-eligible arms that fall in behind Morey. You could probably randomly reorder those four pitchers and the outcome wouldn’t necessarily look better or worse than what I’ve currently got. Not exactly something I’d want to put on my dust jacket (“Rankings almost as good as randomized lists!”), but it’s the truth. I’m also pretty sure my guesses at what round each player will be drafted in aren’t worth any more than the digital ink they are printed in. That aspect of the reports should get better in time, however, as we begin to get a better feel of the draft’s overall talent level. Like Lastings Milledge, Parker has true star potential, but there is a sizable gap between where he is now and where he needs to be if he wants to hit his ceiling. I really like that comp, in case you haven’t noticed. Grovatt, Morey, and Wilson all speak to me in a way that is hard to explain. As much as I consider myself to be a “high upside trumps up all” kind of guy, I like the idea of filling up a system with valuable role players (often high floor prospects) almost as much. If you can save on the margins (4th outfielders, back of the rotation starters, above-average middle relief), then you can use that saved cash on either retaining your own star-caliber players or trying to obtain a missing piece free agent on the open market. Guess this is just a way of saying it’s best to diversify your drafting to maximize your return – some upside early, some high floor guys in the middle, some high upside signability concerns late, etc.

I’m a little worried that I mention ten potential players from Virginia (from Parker down to Cannon) as being draft-worthy, but the number seems to be in line with what some big schools have done in recent years. The SEC has a breakdown of players drafted listed by each school in the conference, and a quick look revealed Florida had 10 guys selected last year while Georgia had 11 players picked. I feel better now about my high number. This is a damn fine Virginia team, so it makes sense that they’d bombard the 2010 MLB Draft with high quality prospects.

2010 MLB Draft College Conference Position Breakdowns – ACC Outfielders

Pick a conference, pick a position, pick a draft year, and go. That’s basically the formula for the 2010 MLB Draft College Conference Position Breakdowns. Nothing fancy, just a quick snapshot of where the college talent is and a quicker way of disseminating 2010 draft-eligible player information to the masses. Three quick facts worth remembering as you read – 1) All rankings are preliminary and subject to change, 2) The current rankings are the top X amount of guys, but players at the back end will be added intermittenly until all players are ranked, and 3) I can’t really think of a third thing to remember, but they say you’re always supposed to list things in three, so here you go…

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.
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1. JR OF Jarrett Parker (2010 – Virginia) is one of the best of the many 2010 toolsy lottery ticket kind of players. I haven’t been doing this draft thing for that long, so it is hard for me to compare talent levels from class to class, but it seems that this year has a high number of mid-round high upside, high flameout potential players. I also haven’t been doing this writing thing long, as you can see from the mess that was that last sentence. Anyway, as mentioned, Parker is one of the very best of the so-called (by me) “lottery ticket” group, so he isn’t necessarily included in the mid-round subsection. In fact, many see him as a candidate to go in the first round. It’s easy to see why.  His mix of tools and big-time sophomore numbers would make him a top-three round guy right now. Continued incremental improvements in his game his junior year will push his draft stock even higher. I’ll make a scary cross-race comparison here and claim Parker has a similar skill set as Lastings Milledge. He has plus power potential, an above-average arm, good speed, and the defensive chops to be a well above-average corner outfielder or a steady stopgap in center. Like Milledge, he struggles against breaking balls to the point that it’s hard not to see him as a 100+ strikeout big league hitter at this point. However, and I try my best to sandwich the bad news in between good news when I can, two big assets in Parker’s favor are his big league ready frame (6-4, 210 after packing on serious muscle), and the seemingly ever-increasing athleticism and agility (honed by practicing yoga) that should help him withstand the rigors of the professional grind.  Additionally, Parker improved his walk rate from his freshman year to his sophomore year, and continued the positive trend during his otherwise disappointing campaign on the Cape this summer. I like that.
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2. JR OF Tyler Holt (2010 – Florida State)
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3. JR OF Jeff Rowland (2010) is probably the single toolsiest player on the Georgia Tech roster. His plus speed, above-average power potential, gorgeous lefthanded swing, and above-average defense in center will comfortably get him into the top five rounds. His speed and ability to play center give him the edge over the similarly talented bat of Virginia OF Dan Grovatt.
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4. JR OF Jeff Schaus (2010 – Clemson)
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5. JR OF Dan Grovatt (2010 – Virginia) has a very patient approach at the plate, power to the gaps, average speed, and a good enough arm to play right field professionally. Sounds good, right? It should because Grovatt is a top five round caliber talent. My only worry is that his more good than great toolset makes him too similar a prospect to former Florida State standout Jack Rye. Rye was one of my all-time favorite college players and a guy I touted as a draft sleeper, but his pro numbers, especially his power indicators, haven’t exactly set the world on fire so far. The comparison is probably unfair – one player’s struggles don’t really have anything to do with another’s future – but, having seen both play, the similarity between the two seemed worth pointing out. However, the two aren’t clones of one another, either. Grovatt is the better athlete and defensive player, and he has more upside with the bat, especially in the power department. Those are all pretty important points in Grovatt’s favor. It’ll take more time and research to see where exactly Grovatt stacks up when compared to fellow 2010 college outfielders, but I have the feeling that he’ll grade out higher here than in most spots. His well-rounded game and extensive big-time college experience make him a good bet to hit the ground running professionally. I’d peg his upside as that of a solid everyday corner outfielder (defense included) with a still valuable floor as a good fourth outfielder.
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6. JR OF Chris Epps (2010 – Clemson)
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7. JR OF Kyle Parker (2010 – Clemson)
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8. JR OF Chase Burnette (2010 – Georgia Tech) can play. His sophomore .351/.447/.691 line (albeit in only 97 at bats) shows the promise he has at the plate. On top of that, he’s a very good athlete with solid speed and an accurate outfield arm. In the past Burnette’s draft stock might have been dinged by teams that considered him to be a tweener – not quite a good enough defender for center, not quite the bat of a big league slugger in a corner. However, as more and more front offices begin to properly value defense, perhaps the market for a potential league average bat with an above-average glove will see a bump on draft day.
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9. JR OF Addison Johnson (2010 – Clemson)
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10. SR OF Wilson Boyd (2010 – Clemson)
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11. JR OF Steven Brooks (2010 – Wake Forest)
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12. SR OF Gabriel Saade (2010 – Duke) is a difficult player to figure out. He went into his junior year as a legitimate pro prospect, a versatile defender capable of playing anywhere up the middle (2B, SS, CF) coming off of two solid years playing every day in the ACC (.269/.354/.456 as a freshman, .286/.376/.483 as a sophomore). His junior year didn’t quite go according to plan, unless Saade’s plan was to hit .237/.339/.333. If that was the case, then his plan really couldn’t have gone any better. The big dip in numbers is concerning, especially the total disappearance of power, but there are some positives to glean from his 2009 performance. His K/BB ratio has dipped each season (2.26 to 1.96 to 1.33) and his stolen base numbers have remained consistently stellar (46/54 collegiately, including his stint in the Valley League). If he can bounce back to his pre-junior levels of production, something many scouts think he is capable of doing if he stops being so darn pull-happy, then he has a shot at being an interesting senior sign (round 15-25, maybe) for a team believing in his future as a steady fielding big league utility player.
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13. SR OF/C Steve Domecus (2010 – Virginia Tech)
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14. JR OF Ben Bunting (2010 – North Carolina) brings two plus tools to the table – plus speed and plus defense. I’m a pretty big Tyler Holt fan, so please consider the following statement a compliment: Bunting is the homeless man’s version of Holt. Of course, while Holt has the upside of a big league starter, Bunting’s ceiling is probably that of a speedy fifth outfielder.
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15. SR OF Jay Dantzler (2010 – Georgia Tech) looks like a pretty solid senior sign candidate to me. In many ways he is an older version of fellow Georgia Tech outfielder Chase Burnette. Both players are good athletes, have decent arms, and have shown enough promise with the bat to at least get him a few looks here and there from scouts. His junior year numbers (.281/.397/.579) show a player with tons of patience and emerging power. But if he really is an older version of Burnette, then the elephant of the room becomes bigger, louder, and, yes, even brighter. It’s a big loud glowing elephant, and that elephant is age. Dantzler will be 23 years old by draft day. Even still, a big senior year could get him drafted in the last half of the draft.
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16. SR OF Robbie Anston (2010 – Boston College)

College Team Profiles: Wichita State Shockers

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class.

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.


2010

FR 3B/1B Johnny Coy (2010) has taken a long, strange trip to get to this point, but the eventual payoff could very well make it all worth it. Coy’s story began as a two-sport high school star, regarded by many as a better basketball prospect than baseball. After getting drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round, protracted and sometimes testy (allegedly) negotiations between player and team led to the two sides opting to go their separate ways. Coy’s older brother was reportedly heavily involved with negotiations, strongly pushing his bro to either a) get every last penny from the Phillies as possible (making him a greedy villain to many) or b) go to school and get a quality education. Coy wound up enrolling at Arizona State, but never made it to baseball season. He left the Sun Devils to move closer to home after his father suffered a stroke in late 2008. That led him to Wichita State. As a Shocker, Coy can now focus on honing his considerable baseball skills. All of his raw tools grade out as average or better – 55 speed, 60 arm, 65-70 raw power, average hit tool, and, perhaps most controversially, above-average upside with the glove at third. I remember not believing for a second that he’d ever stick at third after seeing video of him in high school, but all of the noise regarding his defensive progress coming out of Wichita has been positive. I’m a big believer in the big (6-8, 210 pound) righthanded freshman. As mentioned, Coy was a 7th round pick by the Phillies back in 2008. A good spring will get him three or four rounds higher than that, I think. All the typical signability concerns apply (Coy has three more seasons of eligibility left after this one), but the timing seems right for Coy to jump to pro ball, especially if his raw tools come together as quick as I believe.

SO RHP Jordan Cooper (2011) is coming off a fantastic freshman season and should once again thrive as Wichita State’s Saturday starter. His hard work on campus has helped him further develop his pro body and clean up his loose, easy, and repeatable throwing mechanics. He has a low-90s fastball, decent slider, an emerging changeup, and a curve still in its infancy. There isn’t a standout pitch in his arsenal just yet, but the ability to throw four (though closer to three and a half) pitches for strikes make him appealing as a potential back of the rotation starter. Another big year in 2010 ought to get him consideration as a top-five round pick, but, again, I’m not sure his limited upside will quite warrant such a lofty draft pick.

JR 1B Preston Springer (2010) is a big-time breakout candidate heading into 2010. In a year bereft of interesting college bats, Springer is a certifiable sleeper, a junior college transfer with a pro frame, above-average lefthanded power, and impressive plate discipline. He’ll play first base this spring for the Shockers, but he has defensive experience all over the diamond.  If his defense is even passable at third (something scouts may need to find out through pre-game infield practice, talking to former coaches, referencing old reports, or good old fashioned guesswork), then we’ve got ourselves a prospect worth getting excited about. I know his arm strength will play at the position, but his hands, range, and footwork are all question marks at this point. I’m out on an island putting Springer this high up on the list, but I believe in his bat.

SR OF Ryan Jones (2010) heads into the 2010 season with much to prove after a disappointing junior season knocked him all the way down to the 39th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Jones’s season wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but it is fair to point out that he didn’t make the substantial gains from sophomore to junior year that many had hoped to see. He’s back for his senior year and primed for a season that could shoot him into the first fifteen rounds of the draft. Jones is an outstanding corner outfielder (typically playing right), athletic enough to get by when needed in center. He fits the mold as one of those smartly aggressive hitters, a player happy to spit on pitches he knows he can’t handle while not being bashful with his cuts on balls in his wheelhouse. This approach got him in trouble last year as he began to rapidly expand his idea of what pitch types and locations he could handle, but coaches close to him believe they have themselves a more patient, more mature, and, hopefully, more dangerous hitter now that he has another year of at bats under his belt. I like him as yet another tweener, a player who maybe shouldn’t play center regularly but who also doesn’t have the power bat needed to play a corner every day; tweeners have value when used properly, but the limited big league ceiling of guys with fourth outfielder upside tends to give many scouting staffs’ pause. Betting on college seniors to go early in the draft and then eventually reach the big leagues isn’t the smartest thing to do, but Jones has enough untapped upside to at least consider him as one of the select few within the group who has a shot to do both.

SR RHP Cobey Guy (2010) has some serious sleeper potential. His low-90s fastball and above-average slider give him the two strong pitch base that any good reliever needs. Guy’s swing-and-miss stuff has worked at every level (starting at Arkansas Fort Smith, relieving in limited innings last year at Wichita State), striking out 196 batters in just 154 innings pitched. If he can quickly lay claim to a key spot in the Wichita pen, then the exposure could help scouts take notice of his raw stuff and get him picked late this June.

JR RHP/OF Mitch Caster (2010) is a two-way prospect coming off a season where he did very little of note (.231/.308/.265 in 117 at bats, only 5.1 innings pitched) either way, but his scouting reports have remained positive all the same. He is a far better prospect as a pitcher than as a hitter due in large part to a fastball peaking at 92 MPH and a slider that flashes plus when on. He’s also a fine athlete capable of consistently repeating his loose and easy delivery. Like so many other prospects profiled thus far, Caster has the makings of two above-average or better pitches and thus has to be taken at least somewhat seriously as a potential middle relief piece going forward. Unlike a lot of those prospects, however, Caster gets a little extra credit for the potential for untapped pitching ability because of his time spent moonlighting in the outfield for the Shockers.

JR RHP Tim Kelley (2010), the ace of the Shockers staff, typically sits in the high-80s with an average changeup. He has a well earned reputation as a strike thrower with plus command.  Kelley is a bit of enigma, a guy with the size scouts want (6-6, 215), but not the velocity. He looks like he should throw harder, but so far the guns haven’t exactly been lit up when he takes the bump. That’s not to say he still can’t be a pro prospect, but it does put a pretty tight cap on his upside. Armed with a below-average velocity fastball and no real plus breaking ball, Kelley might have to hope a professional conversion to middle relief will unlock enough of a bump in his stuff to keep food on his table. Check out the comparison between Kelley and Saturday starter Jordan Cooper’s 2009 numbers. They are some bizarrely close statistics:

Player                 ERA   W-L   APP  GS  CG SHO/CBO SV    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  2B  3B  HR   AB B/Avg   WP HBP  BK  SFA SHA

11 Cooper, Jordan...  2.78   8-6    15  13   3   0/3    0  97.0  87  35  30  20  91   9   1   7  351  .248    6  15   0    2  10
36 Kelley, Tim......  2.86   5-4    14  14   3   1/0    0  94.1  83  40  30  22 102  20   0   8  356  .233   11  10   0    3   5

If we arbitrarily lump WPs and HBPs together as something called “uncontrollable pitches,” they are even more similar. Weird. Keep in mind Kelley is a year ahead of Cooper from an experience standpoint. Also keep in mind that Kelley redshirted his first season as a Shocker, so he actually is two calendar years older than Cooper.

SO RHP Remington Johnson (2010) was arguably the Shockers most dominant reliever last year, striking out 33 batters in only 21.1 innings pitched. He enters 2010 as a prime candidate to get saves out of the Wichita State bullpen. He is draft-eligible after redshirting in 2008, but probably won’t get a serious look from scouts until 2011 or 2012 due to his lack of overwhelming size (6-0, 198), stuff, and a non-stuffy old white guy first name.

SR 1B/RHP Clint McKeever (2010) has one of the best stories in all of college baseball, going from a walk-on cut from his dream school (Oklahoma State), to transferring to Wichita State, to then hitting an extra inning grand slam to beat – who else? – the OK State Cowboys. Seriously, how cool is that? McKeever’s bat makes him a darn fine college ballplayer, but it’ll probably his arm that gets him a shot in pro ball. With a fastball that touches the low-90s and a pretty good slider, McKeever has an outside shot to make it as a reliever down the line. As a huge fan of former big league two-way guy Brooks Kieschnick, I’d like nothing more than to see a player with legitimate talent both ways get a chance professionally. McKeever may not have the ability to do it — his fastball velocity has remained more or less stagnant since high school and his hitting, while impressive for a college player, won’t play as a big league starting position player – but it’ll happen somewhere, someday.

SO RHP Grant Muncrief (2010) will reportedly be ready for the start of the season after having Tommy John surgery this past April. The ten month recovery is one of the fastest that I can remember, so please excuse me if I’m not entirely sold on the idea that he’ll be game-ready from the get-go. The draft-eligible sophomore has generated some good buzz from the coaching staff, but it’s really hard to get a read on his long-term potential due to the injury. I’d guess he is a player we’ll be talking about again next year after an up-and-down sophomore year convinces him to stick around Wichita for at least another season.

JR RHP Justin Kemp (2010) made one of the best catches of the…wait, wrong sport…and wrong Justin Kemp. Sorry. The baseball playing Kemp isn’t likely to achieve the same level of athletic success as his namesake. The lightly recruited righthander is coming off a year of low-leverage relief innings for the Shockers, striking out 16 batters in 25.2 innings pitched.

SR RHP Tyler Fleming (2010) will be 24 years old by the time of the draft. What’s with Wichita State and all of these old guys? I know a lot are due to medical redshirts, but some of the ages on this club make it seem like a AAA roster. Fleming shouldn’t be a prospect, but he was drafted by the Rangers twice (20th round in 2006, 39th round in 2007) out of junior college, so you never know. If totally recovered from shoulder surgery, you’ll be able to find him pitching out of the back of the Shockers bullpen and moonlighting as the team’s backup infielder in 2010.

SR OF Travis Bennett (2010) comes to Wichita State from Northern Iowa (RIP) with the reputation of a player with a solid-average hit tool and an iron glove. He’s currently angling for some time in the outfield for the Shockers, but I’ve got a hunch he’ll settle in as the team’s primary DH once the season gets rolling. Without any real positional value, he’s not a pro prospect.

SR 2B Will Baez (2010) has a father named Wilson and a sister named Wilcania. Will’s full first name is Wilsisky. How about that? His first year playing major college ball went well enough for the Shockers (.275/.425/.368), but it is hard to project a player with only 12 extra base hits in 182 at bats as a pro prospect, especially for a middle infielder coming off a year of shaky defense at second base.  I do appreciate the additional 52 times on base (42 BBs, 10 HBPs) and the guts it takes a converted catcher to give it a go at second, but without any power he won’t get drafted.

SR LHP Logan Hoch (2010) currently is on the mend after shoulder surgery sidelined him in 2009. He’s a good college lefthanded reliever (52 K’s in 45.1 IP during his last healthy year, 2008) with limited upside professionally. As a redshirt senior he’ll be 23 years old by draft day. Old college lefty relievers have to be outstanding to get a look professionally, something Hoch is not.

SO OF Kevin Hall (2010) writes a weekly column about life as a college ballplayer that is probably worth checking out on a regular basis. I mean, sure, he’s no Michael Schwimer, but Hall’s blog is off to a pretty solid start. I like his future as a writer a little more than as a prospect, despite the fact that Hall has a lot of the skills needed to be a solid college leadoff hitter; in fact, he hits a lot of the right notes (good speed and good range in center) in that respect. Unfortunately, there are centerfields with leadoff hitter profiles with far better tools out there.

SR OF Bret Bascue (2010) turned 23 this past December. He hasn’t shown much in his college career – little to no power, poor plate discipline, and average at best outfield defense. He’ll battle for time in Wichita State’s crowded outfield this spring, but he isn’t a pro prospect.

SR C Cody Lassley (2010) doesn’t have what it takes to be considered a pro prospect. To his credit, he has made significant improvements since signing with Wichita State, enough so to now be able to call himself a decent college catcher. Plus, he has somebody writing about him on the internet. That’s kind of cool, right?

JR UT Ryan Engrav (2010) should help Wichita State with his ability to play multiple positions, but his bat isn’t strong enough to make him a pro prospect. He should settle in as the Shockers’ primary rightfielder to start the season.

SR INF Taylor Gilmore (2010) will be the Shockers four-corners (1B/3B/LF/RF) utility guy in 2010. He doesn’t have a pro future.

2011

SO SS Tyler Grimes (2011) has spent the offseason working on a pretty nifty trick. He’s learning how to switch hit. That’s a far more impressive feat that whatever the heck I did between my freshman and sophomore years of college. That reminds me of a funny story…[story edited in order to maintain appearance that, yes, this is a family friendly website]…and that was the summer we learned a valuable lesson about Jon Favreau, organic peaches, nasty sunburns, and the power of love. Anyway, Grimes is coming off a darn fine freshman campaign. College numbers don’t tell the whole story, but a quick comparison between the freshman year numbers of the Wichita State shortstop and the consensus top college shortstops of 2009 and 2010 is interesting. Last season Grimes hit .294/.399/.467. In his freshman year, Grant Green, the top college shortstop off the board in 2009, hit .316/.388/.491. In Christian Colon’s first season, he hit .329/.406/.444. This ignores park factors, competition, and a slew of other important things to consider, but the raw rate stats are all pretty similar. Again, college numbers don’t tell the whole story. Grimes’s tools don’t match up with either Green’s or Colon’s, but he does appear to be a legitimate pro prospect in his own right. Grimes’s plus defense (good hands, great range, plus arm) will get him looks regardless of his development with the bat.

2012

FR 3B Nate Goro (2012) has a quick bat, a little bit of pop (he’s no power hitter, but he did break Ryan Howard’s Missouri state high school homerun record), and exciting instinctual actions in the field. He received rave reviews on his defense throughout the fall, pulling himself into a tight battle with Johnny Coy for the starting job at the hot corner. It’s hard to project him for more than 10-15 homerun upside as a professional, but a lot of that will depend on how he fills out in school. If the bat catches up to the glove, he is a top five round player by 2012. If he’s seen as more of a defensive whiz than a complete starting caliber player, downgrade him another five rounds or so. Either way, he has three seasons to improve. I like his chances.

FR 2B Walker Davidson (2012) injured his knee in the fall, so the amount of playing time he’ll get this spring is up in the air. He has received praise from the coaching staff for his defense, but the bat currently lags behind. He’s currently the leading candidate to replace Will Baez as the Shockers starting second baseman in 2011.

College Team Profiles: Virginia Cavaliers

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class. As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.

2010

JR OF Jarrett Parker (2010) is one of the best of the many 2010 toolsy lottery ticket kind of players. I haven’t been doing this draft thing for that long, so it is hard for me to compare talent levels from class to class, but it seems that this year has a high number of mid-round high upside, high flameout potential players. I also haven’t been doing this writing thing long, as you can see from the mess that was that last sentence. Anyway, as mentioned, Parker is one of the very best of the so-called (by me) “lottery ticket” group, so he isn’t necessarily included in the mid-round subsection. In fact, many see him as a candidate to go in the first round. It’s easy to see why.  His mix of tools and big-time sophomore numbers would make him a top-three round guy right now. Continued incremental improvements in his game his junior year will push his draft stock even higher. I’ll make a scary cross-race comparison here and claim Parker has a similar skill set as Lastings Milledge. He has plus power potential, an above-average arm, good speed, and the defensive chops to be a well above-average corner outfielder or a steady stopgap in center. Like Milledge, he struggles against breaking balls to the point that it’s hard not to see him as a 100+ strikeout big league hitter at this point. However, and I try my best to sandwich the bad news in between good news when I can, two big assets in Parker’s favor are his big league ready frame (6-4, 210 after packing on serious muscle), and the seemingly ever-increasing athleticism and agility (honed by practicing yoga) that should help him withstand the rigors of the professional grind.  Additionally, Parker improved his walk rate from his freshman year to his sophomore year, and continued the positive trend during his otherwise disappointing campaign on the Cape this summer. I like that.

JR OF Dan Grovatt (2010) has a very patient approach at the plate, power to the gaps, average speed, and a good enough arm to play right field professionally. Sounds good, right? It should because Grovatt is a top five round caliber talent. My only worry is that his more good than great toolset makes him too similar a prospect to former Florida State standout Jack Rye. Rye was one of my all-time favorite college players and a guy I touted as a draft sleeper, but his pro numbers, especially his power indicators, haven’t exactly set the world on fire so far. The comparison is probably unfair – one player’s struggles don’t really have anything to do with another’s future – but, having seen both play, the similarity between the two seemed worth pointing out. However, the two aren’t clones of one another, either. Grovatt is the better athlete and defensive player, and he has more upside with the bat, especially in the power department. Those are all pretty important points in Grovatt’s favor. It’ll take more time and research to see where exactly Grovatt stacks up when compared to fellow 2010 college outfielders, but I have the feeling that he’ll grade out higher here than in most spots. His well-rounded game and extensive big-time college experience make him a good bet to hit the ground running professionally. I’d peg his upside as that of a solid everyday corner outfielder (defense included) with a still valuable floor as a good fourth outfielder.

JR RHP Robert Morey (2010) will, if nothing else, always have a big win over Stephen Strasburg in the opener of the 2009 Irvine Regional. Fortunately for him, however, he won’t have to limit himself to that one particular game when someday regaling his grandkids about his playing days. A low-90s fastball, above-average slider, and an emerging straight changeup, plus his status as the Saturday starter for a championship caliber college team, should get him into the top ten rounds this June as a future back of the rotation starter.

JR RHP Tyler Wilson (2010) will probably be the Cavalier most directly impacted by Cody Winiarski’s arrival on campus. The opportunity to slide into the vacant weekend starting spot would have done wonders for Wilson’s 2010 draft stock. Even without the starting gig, he’ll get noticed as Virginia’s primary reliever, the bullpen ace relied upon to pitch multiple innings at a time whenever called upon. His plus command, good athleticism, and easy, repeatable arm action help him thrive in the role. Additionally, Wilson’s solid three-pitch mix (fastball sitting 90-92 and topping out at 94, good sinking high-70s change, average slider) gives credence to the idea he has value either in the bullpen or as a starter. I like him a lot, and believe he’ll be a top-ten round guy in June.

JR RHP Kevin Arico (2010) had himself a breakout season as Virginia’s closer in 2009. His bread and butter is a plus low-80s slider that he has no problem throwing over and over and over again. The first time I saw Arico pitch I walked away pretty impressed with myself for finally finding a player that I could compare to Kiko Calero. After seeing him throw a few more times since then, I think I’m now ready to upgrade the comp a smidge to now qualify Arico for a Chad Qualls type of ceiling. There is little to no chance his final draft standing rivals Qualls’s (you’d think last names ending with the letter s would annoy me, but, brother let me tell you, nothing is worse than a name ending in z), but he could still find himself as a top 12-15 round pick who could be a quick mover for the team that takes the plunge. There should be some concern about a player so reliant on one specific skill, but Arico’s results against high level competition should help assuage most clubs’ worry.

JR INF/OF Phil Gosselin (2010) heads into the 2010 season as the man without a position. The 2009 First-Team All-ACC second baseman has been working out in leftfield almost exclusively this fall, but has also apparently been told to be ready to fill in just about anywhere (3B, 2B, maybe SS, in that order) as needed this spring. It’s rare that a college supersub would be a legit draft prospect, but Gosselin is just that. He is a slightly below-average infielder with an average arm (2B being his most likely pro landing spot if a team prefers him in the infield), who will almost certainly be first tried in the outfield as a pro. I’m not sure if that is the best way to maximize Gosselin’s pro value. He doesn’t have the glove/range for center, and doesn’t have the bat for a corner. If he isn’t a starting caliber outfielder, why not at least give him a shot in the infield? If he can bump his defense up to at least average in the infield, then you’ve got yourself a player who can help you stretch the limits of your 25-man roster, especially in the NL.

JR C/1B/OF Kenny Swab (2010) and his Cavalier teammate John Hicks (2011) – separated at birth? Swab figures to have the inside track on the primary backup catching job, but should also see time at first base, right field (to take advantage of his plus arm), and designated hitter. He’s got a live bat with above-average power potential, but it’ll take some serious lineup juggling from Brian O’Connor to get him the at bats he’ll need to boost his draft stock. As is, Swab is a potential 10-20th round player based on upside alone.

SR LHP Neal Davis (2010) goes into his senior season as Virginia’s top lefthanded relief pitcher, a player able to skillfully mix and match fastballs, sliders, and changeups to get hitters out. His most recent season was arguably his least successful – certainly his least dominating – so he heads into 2010 with plenty to prove. His big league frame (6-6, 210) and past success in a highly competitive conference (he struck out nearly a batter an inning [39 in 40] while only allowing 7 earned runs in 40 relief innings [1.58 ERA] in 2008) combined with intriguing stuff (sits in the high-80s to low-90s with the fastball and has an above-average mid-70s slider) make him another second half of the draft option for a team looking for a warm A-ball body on the cheap. I know I do this a lot, but I’d be remiss to write this much about Davis without mentioning the possibility that his stuff and frame would actually play well as a starting pitcher professionally.

JR RHP Cody Winiarski (2010) comes to Virginia via noted talent factory Madison Area Technical College. After doing a little bit of homework on him, I’ve found that he is a player with a whole lot of adamant supporters. Someone who saw him pitch on multiple occasions while at MATC raved about his potential plus changeup. Another admitted that while he had never actually seen Winiarski throw himself, he had heard very positive things from others about his command and general pitchability. Winiarski doesn’t have as much room for error as some pitchers with bigger fastballs, but the praise he has gotten from those who have seen him firsthand makes me a believer in his pro prospects. Assuming he holds down the last weekend starting job as expected, watch out for Winiarksi as a potential top-15 round arm this June.

SR INF Tyler Cannon (2010) reminds me of a better version of Missouri’s Greg Folgia, a player picked a round higher in 2009. Cannon is solid in all phases of the game, but lacks fluidity on defense at any position. Between his lack of a true defensive home and his steady, but unspectacular bat, Cannon has many believing his professional role will be that of a super-sub capable of playing literally every position on the diamond, including catcher. His college counting stats (through his first two seasons) match up with Eric Bruntlett’s in almost an eerie way, but the comparison falls apart when you look at each player’s rate stats. Anyway, I’d say that the Bruntlett comp may actually be a tad optimistic at this point. Cannon’s collegiate track record isn’t quite as strong as Bruntlett’s (though another big season like Cannon had last year would close the gap) and he lacks Bruntlett’s tremendous Civil War reenactor (that may be the single ugliest looking word in the English language) style beard, but I’d bet on enough marginal improvements as he progresses into his mid-20s to see him getting a chance as a AAAA utility guy good enough to position himself as a potential callup when injuries to the more talented players occur. His big junior year gives him something to build on heading into 2010, and the continued increase of talented infielders to the Cavalier program ought to give him more of an opportunity to show off the defensive versatility that will be his best shot at someday playing big league baseball.

SR C Franco Valdes (2010) plays exceptional defense behind the plate. He’s adept at blocking balls in the dirt, athletic enough to get out of his crouch to pounce on anything in front of him, and has a strong enough arm to keep potential base stealers honest. He also has one heck of a reputation when it comes to handling a pitching staff. However, and this is a biggie, his offense (career OBP = .301) leaves much to be desired. However, and this is may or may not be a biggie depending on how you feel about this sort of thing, he does have the benefit of draft pedigree (15th round pick of Detroit back in 2006) on his side. I never know how much stock to put into previous draft standing, especially when we’re talking about a college junior or senior who was drafted in a late round three or four years prior. So much can change in the span of three or four seasons, you know? Valdes certainly isn’t a 15th round caliber player anymore, mainly due to the stalled development of his offensive game, but the fact he was previously drafted makes me hesitant to claim he has no shot at all this time around. At best, he’s worth nothing more than a late late late round flier at this point.

JR OF John Barr (2010) is as nondescript a prospect as you’ll find. It’s nothing personal – in fact, I saw Barr play in high school, and I tend to form weird (non-creepy!) attachments to players I’ve seen early on – but nothing about his game stands out as being an average or better big league tool. His numbers dipped from his freshman year to his sophomore season, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt as he was recovering from shoulder surgery for much of 2009.

INF JR Corey Hunt (2010) has to be a big believer in the idea that timing is everything, if for not other reason than to help him ease his troubled head at night. In a different era of Virginia baseball it’s possible Hunt could have come in, gotten playing time early, established himself as a useful defense-first middle infielder with above-average on-base skills, and pushed his draft stock up enough by his senior season to be a worthwhile 20ish round or so pick. Instead, he has been behind some pretty good veteran infielders to start off his Cavalier career and he’ll be behind some really impressive youngsters to end his career. Without regular playing time he’ll be a very difficult player for scouts to assess come June. The lack of track record and standout tools make him a non-prospect at this point.

JR INF/OF Tyler Biddix (2010) has one of the most underrated names in all of college baseball. K’Nex, Lego, Megatendo, Fischertechnik, Biddix, Uberstix, Blockos…which ones are real building block toys and which ones are fake? Pretty sure the end table I bought from Ikea a few months ago was a Biddix. Damn, the Ikea joke was a better one than the K’Nex/Uberstix one, wasn’t it? Wish I would have thought of it first. Anyway, I have no doubt that the real Biddix (the person) is a better prospect than the flimsy table, but not by enough to make him a draftable prospect.

2011

SO INF/C Keith Werman (2011) did his best Pat Venditte impression while in high school, pitching a seven-inning complete game both lefthanded (3.1 innings) and righthanded (3.2 innings). That fun fact from the Virginia baseball website may have absolutely no bearing on Werman’s prospect stock, but it’s undeniably cool. What is relevant about his prospect stock is the fact he is a plus defender at second base who also has experience at shortstop and catcher dating back to his prep career. He can also handle the bat (.400/.481/.457 line in 70 at bats) enough to keep himself in the mix for a starting spot in 2010. Werman’s draft upside may be limited by his size (5-7, 150 – not saying judging him on size is fair, but it’s the reality), but the universal praise he earned last year as a sparkplug second leadoff hitter (the nice way of saying 9-hole hitter) for Virginia down the stretch should continue to get him noticed on the college level. The gap between Werman and Stephen Bruno is more perception than reality.

2012

FR SS Reed Gragnani (2012) is yet another talented young prospect expected to see significant time in a loaded Virginia infield. His game right now revolves largely around his well above-average speed, excellent athleticism, and impressive range up the middle, but he is no slouch with the bat either. Early comps include Brian Roberts (if he develops as is) and Ryan Zimmerman (if he bulks up and gains power). Gragnani’s brother, Robbie, grew four inches during his college tenure at Virginia Commonwealth, so that Ryan Zimmerman developmental path isn’t totally out of the question. That’s not to say that the only thing standing in the way between Gragnani and future big league All-Star status is a couple of inches and some muscle, but he’s a good player with high round talent all the same.

FR SS Stephen Bruno (2012) was one of the rarest of the rare coming out of high school – a prep player actually expected to stay at shortstop as a pro. We always hear about how pretty much every worthwhile big leaguer was the star shortstop/pitcher of his high school team, but it never registered how often these players were forced to move off the position after signing that first pro deal. I mean, Frank Thomas was a shortstop in high school* because, let’s be honest, that’s just where you put the best athlete at that level. I remember watching Billy Rowell play shortstop in high school. He positioned himself about 3 steps out on the outfield grass, basically admitting to all in attendance he had no range and instead relying exclusively on his rocket arm to gun people down at first. Rowell wasn’t a pro prospect as a shortstop, but he played shortstop on his high school team because, quite simply, if he didn’t, then who would? Bruno was a top ten round talent in 2009 who fell to the Yankees in the 26th round due to a very strong commitment to Virginia. He’ll stick at shortstop throughout his career due to his plus range, slightly above-average speed, and Speedy Gonzalez quick hands. He has flashed present power, launching a couple of 450 bombs his senior year of school, but lacks the overall strength to do it on a consistent basis. That last point may not seem like a huge deal for a middle infield prospect, but it does speak to the general concerns about Bruno’s future. Some players are projects based on the development of their tools, an area that Bruno grades out fairly well across the board (in addition to the aforementioned defensive skills, he has a 55 arm), but other players are projects based on their physical development. That’s where Bruno is at right now. He has worked his tail off to improve in each of the five tools (most notably speed and arm strength), but it’ll be the way is body fills out (keeping in mind he is 5-9, 165) that will make him into either a first round caliber guy or not.

***Frank Thomas may or may not have been a shortstop in high school. I actually have no idea. I just thought he was a good example for the point I was trying to make. Now I realize that making stuff up doesn’t help my argument at all, but it’s my site and I get to be as bad a writer and as big a liar as I want to be. Maybe Jim Thome would have been a better example; I bet he played shortstop in high school…

UPDATE: Found something! Go here, or just trust this excerpt: “In baseball, he was a 6-2, 175-pound shortstop. The Cincinnati Reds were interested but never drafted him. So Thome enrolled at Illinois Central College, where he played baseball and basketball. The Indians drafted him in the 13th round in 1989, one of the smartest selections they ever made.”

FR SS Chris Taylor (2012) might have hit himself into regular playing time after mashing the ball throughout the fall. One rumored starting infield for Virginia has Steven Proscia at first, Keith Werman at second, Tyler Cannon sliding back over to third, and Taylor getting regular time at short. Taylor has plus raw power and intriguing defensive tools, but comes to school with a bit less fanfare as fellow freshman infielders Gragnani and Bruno.

College Team Profiles: Stanford Cardinal

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class.

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.


2010

JR OF Kellen Kiilsgaard (2010) is another high upside, high risk collegiate outfielder that could put himself in position to be a top-three round pick with a big junior season. He’s a plus athlete with plus raw power and plus speed. Plus (sorry, I couldn’t resist), he’s got the tools to be an above-average defensive outfielder, although his slingshot throwing motion may limit him to leftfield professionally. The tools haven’t manifested themselves in the same way they have in other players in his class (for all his speed and athleticism he only swiped one bag last season), but Kiilsgaard, a football player compared to Jake Locker coming out of high school, deserves the benefit of the doubt due to his limited experience on the diamond. His future draft position will most likely be somewhere between round five and ten, but, as mentioned, the talent level is high enough to push him up to the end of round three.

JR 2B Colin Walsh (2010) reminds me a little bit of present day Luis Castillo, also known as Luis Castillo after losing his wheels. He’s got a pretty swing that has scouts projecting more power in his future than he has shown thus far.  Hopefully that little bit of pop begins to show up in 2010 because another year of slugging .376 won’t cut it. He has an outstanding glove at second that may actually be good enough to work at shortstop, giving hope that he can be a utility infielder in the mold of Marco Scutaro someday. If even just a little bit more power shows up this year, he could find himself off the board within the first 7 or 8 rounds this June.

JR 1B Jonathan Kaskow (2010) is exactly the kind of player that makes the College Team Profiles worthwhile. If you were to just scan the Stanford roster, check out the statistics from the past few years, and maybe take a glance at one of the giants of the industry’s (namely BA or PG) top 100/200/300 list of draft-eligible players, you’d totally miss out on a prospect like Jonathan Kaskow. I’m not knocking those methods of learning about prospects, by the way; for years that was almost exactly what I would do before watching a college/high school game, and, quite honestly, those are still my go-to moves in a pinch today. The exclusion of Kaskow from any top prospect list at this point is warranted, but if prospecting is all about being ahead of the curve, then I’m happy to help get Kaskow’s name out there now before he blows up in his junior season at Stanford. Plus raw power from both sides of the plate, smooth defense at first, big league ready size (6-4, 225), and a mature approach to hitting all help make Kaskow a sleeper to rise way up the draft charts this spring. In a down year for college hitting, a big bat like this can make up a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

JR RHP Michael Marshall (2010) is a big (6-3, 240) rubber armed Texan highly skilled in both throwing low-90s fastballs by hitters and turning around on low-90s fastballs at the plate.  He also throws a quality breaking ball and a decent change, pitches good enough to make some wonder if he could someday start. Truthfully, he had me at big rubber armed Texan. Marshall might be one of those “who?” type of players that wind up having more success working consistent innings with professional coaching than they ever could have at the college level.

JR RHP Alex Pracher (2010) sits in the high-80s with a fastball that will touch the low-90s when he needs it. He rounds out his arsenal with two solid secondary offerings, a slider and a changeup, plus a curve that probably should be scrapped. Projection is the big word when it comes to Pracher, as scouts see his 6-3, 175 pound frame and envision a day when the fastball sits in the low-90s deep into games. I’m not sold on that day ever coming, and actually think Pracher works best in relief, three solid pitches be damned. I’m actively trying to be more pessimistic in this scouting blurbs (not everybody is a top ten round pick, after all), and Pracher gives me the opportunity to break from convention and wonder why a particular player is as highly regarded by the consensus as he is. I normally see three average or better pitches and think, “well, at worse he has the upside as a big league starter…and that’s pretty darn good,” but I can’t get on board the Pracher bandwagon for some reason.

SR RHP Kyle Thompson (2010) is a deep, deep, deep sleeper, not unlike a hungover hibernating bear. How did the bear get so drunk in the first place? I’ll never tell. College relievers with 12.1 innings pitched through three healthy seasons don’t typically warrant more than a quick dismissal of their pro prospects, but any player who learned under the watchful eye of Mark Gubicza is alright by me. I know Thompson has been used only out of the bullpen for the Cardinal, but his stuff (low-90s fastball, above-average change, and usable breaking ball) would play better as a starter. Late round senior signs don’t normally have the upside of a middle reliever, let alone a fifth starter, but that’s what I see in Thompson. It’ll take a good pitching coach to help him unlock the potential of his stuff, but there is enough already there to make him a worthy late round (40+) pickup.

JR SS Jake Schlander (2010) can really pick it at shortstop, but his inability to make consistent contact, hit for power, and get on base regularly put a damper on his pro prospects. He’s started since day one at Stanford, putting up lines of .232/.307/.256 and .232/.285/.324 his first two seasons. Those are stunningly bad numbers. However, as mentioned, Schlander can really pick it at shortstop. I mean, he can really pick it. Plus range, flawless hands, strong arm, he has it all. He’s like the John McDonald of the college game. John McDonald is a career .238/.276/.317 hitter in the bigs. John McDonald hit .261/.321/.329 in the minors. John McDonald just signed a two year contract that will guarantee him three million dollars. I won’t say that Schlander will ever be a big leaguer making coin like that, but I do feel comfortable predicting that he’ll be on draft boards either this summer or next. He’ll get a chance to show off his defensive versatility this season as Kenny Diekroeger swipes the starting shortstop job away, a blessing in disguise for Schlander’s pro prospects. Expect a forward thinking front office, maybe Seattle or Boston, to pop Schlander late (round 35+) against all offensive odds before he graduates.

JR C Zach Jones (2010) is a bit of an enigma – a potential above-average defender behind the plate who doubles as an outstanding athlete and fantastic baserunner. I like guys who break the mold, and players who can legitimately catch AND steal double digit bases are a rarity. I also like guys who can hit, something Jones hasn’t proven he can do. His defense may be enough to get him drafted, but it won’t be until very late…and it may not be until his senior year.

SR INF Min (Brian) Moon (2010) can play any infield position, but has been slowed his entire career with Stanford with one nagging injury after another. The inconsistent playing time has prevented him from showing off his above-average defense and intriguing raw power, but he may not get the needed at bats to get noticed in time for the draft this June.

JR OF Dave Giuliani (2010) ought to be in the running for some playing time in Stanford’s wide open outfield. A big junior year could get him noticed as a potential above-average big league backup outfielder option down the line. Giuliani does a lot right on defense (average in center, above-average on the corners, plus a very strong arm) and on the base paths (55 speed), but has a lot to prove with the bat. His lack of playing time his first two seasons at Stanford make him a good bet to stick around campus through his senior year.

SR RHP Cory Bannister (2010) may have impressive bloodlines (he’s Brian’s brother and Floyd’s son), but he isn’t a pro prospect. Short, fringy stuff, poor numbers, and coming off of Tommy John surgery? Not going to cut it. Name recognition might be his only shot at a professional career.

SR INF Adam Gaylord (2010) would need a minor miracle to even get on a big league club’s draft radar this June. Scrappy college middle infielders normally receive more than their fair share of love from scouts, but no amount of grit can make a 10-54 BB to K ratio with absolutely no power (18 extra base hits in 287 at bats) appealing. Come to think of it, a minor miracle probably still won’t be enough for Gaylord to play pro ball after graduation, but he’ll always have the degree from Stanford to fall back on.

JR RHP Andrew Clauson (2010) hasn’t pitched in live game action since 2007. He isn’t a pro prospect, despite a fastball that has been clocked as high as 92 in the past.

JR C Ben Clowe (2010) offers up solid defensive tools, but doesn’t bring much else to the table. He has been leapfrogged on the depth chart by Zach Jones, a pretty damning sign for any player hoping to someday get paid to play. Clowe isn’t a bad college ballplayer, especially if he is your backup backstop, but that puts pretty far off any scouting director’s radar.

JR RHP Danny Sandbrink (2010) just doesn’t miss enough bats with his fastball, curveball, and changeup combo to justify a spot in the draft this June. His disastrous 2009 season (ERA over 7.00 with a 22/16 strikeout to walk ratio in 33 innings) puts him behind a slew of more talented arms in the Stanford pitching staff pecking order.

JR OF Kellen McColl (2010) would be a potential first round prospect if only for a few alterations to his last name. Kellen McColl doesn’t have much of a chance of getting drafted at all. Kellen McCool, however, now that’s a player a smart scouting director would jump at the chance to pay millions of dollars. McColl doesn’t have a starting job heading into 2010 (though his above-average speed and solid defense could get him some time in left now that Toby Gerhart will spend the spring prepping for the NFL Draft) and should probably just go ahead now and make plans for June 7-9 that don’t revolve around following the draft online.

SR OF/HB Toby Gerhart (2010) will spend the spring working out in preparation for the NFL Draft this June. Followers of the site know I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to drafts in any of the major sports, so when I’m not writing something for this site, I tend to be scouring the internet for any kind of useful information re: the NFL Draft. As an aside, nice a prospect as Gerhart may be on the gridiron, I’d rather my favorite team take one of the other two high profile baseballers in this year’s draft. Give me Chad Jones in the second/third round area, and Riley Cooper late, but thanks but no thanks on Gerhart, assuming he goes as high as many outlets are projecting. I’m not hating on the player per se, but rather currently thinking his value isn’t in line with where he’ll probably wind up going on draft day. Anyway, he’s at the bottom of the 2010 rankings because he chose football over baseball, truly an unforgivable sin.

2011

SO OF Jack Mosbacher (2011) is officially listed as a sophomore despite not playing for the Cardinal as a freshman. Typically players who don’t get into any actual games get the redshirt tag, whether or not it was a planned redshirt season or not. Mosbacher could be listed as a redshirt freshman, but is instead referred to as a sophomore. His draft year remains the same either way, so there really isn’t any point talking about this, but these are the things you need to ramble on about to fill space in a paragraph that is supposed to be about a guy named Mosbacher. To his credit, Mosbacher actually sounds like a fascinating person (involved in multiple theater productions, interested in a career in public service, and has parents who were both tremendous athletes) and a prospect with some upside (above-average speed and arm, enough defensive tools to play centerfield, leadoff hitter profile). We’ll see.

SO INF Justin Schwartz (2011) has enough speed to be a pretty useful college infielder, especially in a backup role. Without any kind of college data or meaningful scouting reports or ever having him seen in person (sadly I’ve never been able to visit Beverly Hills HS, where Schwartz attended), I really don’t have anything more to add here. Paragraphs like this should serve as a reminder why you, the reader, will never have to pay a dime to read this site.

2012

FR SS Kenny Diekroeger (2012) will be linked to 2010 draft prospect LeVon Washington because they were the first two (unsigned) picks of the Rays, but Washington’s upside doesn’t begin to scrape the bottom of Diekroeger’s. Washington is considered a top half of the 2010 first round pick by some; I don’t like him quite that much, but he’s a legit high round prospect all the same. If Diekroeger is significantly better, like I believe he is, then what’s his ultimate draft position upside? His plus-plus athleticism and speed, big league ready frame, and high likelihood he sticks up the middle defensively gives him a place in the top ten of my hypothetical 2012 MLB Mock Draft. He is a little raw both at the plate and in the field, but, wow, that athleticism. You’re always gambling on tools-oriented guys like this, but that athleticism is special enough to outweigh much of the risk. He just looks like a player that will figure it all out before too long.

FR 1B/OF Justin Ringo (2012) is one of the top incoming first base/corner outfield/big bat prospects in the nation. He has plus lefthanded power, ridiculous bat speed, and a compact yet thunderous swing. His early rise to fame has helped him develop a very patient approach to the plate, a trait he has been forced to concentrate on dating back to the frequent pitch-arounds of his sophomore season. All college players were excellent high school players, but it isn’t everyday that a player gets that kind of respect that early in his prep career. Ringo rarely swings at a bad ball and strikes out way less than your typical power hitting prospect. That’s partially because of the aforementioned experience watching garbage pitches go by, but also explained by the fact Ringo isn’t a typical power hitting prospect; he’s a great hitter who just so happens to have great power. He could join Diekroeger in the 2012 first round.

FR INF Eric Smith (2012) may be a name that gets lost amidst the huge names of the consensus top three 2010 Stanford recruiting class, but that would be a mistake. Smith played two years of high school baseball at shortstop after starting out by playing one at third base, but could shift over to the hot corner as he fills out. His plus arm and quick reaction time should play well there. Few players across the country put up high school numbers quite like Smith’s, a testament to his uncanny ability to make consistent hard contact at the plate. I know high school numbers rank absurdly low on the great big list of things that make prospects appealing, but numbers as ridiculous as Smith’s were can get a largely unrecognized player on a scout/recruiting coordinator watch list, for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. Once on the watch list, positive scouting reports (e.g. consistent hard contact) can paint a slightly more meaningful picture of what kind of player we’re talking about. I won’t pretend to know any more about Smith than what has already been said (intriguing defensive tools, plus arm, consistent hard contact), but it’s a start.

College Team Profiles

So far…

The UNC and Texas editions were from last year, so expect both to be updated in the coming weeks. The LSU one is current, but needs to be finished. My goal is to knock a few of these out a week from now all the way until the draft in June, but they’ll be published as works in progress rather than finished products. So, maybe I start by picking three college teams at random — say, Vanderbilt, UC-Riverside, and Toledo — and then add three or four players to each team profile a day. This way we can spread around the brief scouting blurbs that normally come with each profile among multiple teams instead of just one.

Important Interjection —> The College Team Profiles aren’t meant to replace whatever day-to-day content you’d normally see around here. I’d rather they supplement the good stuff than replace anything. So if this sounds boring or not all that useful in the grand scheme of things, don’t worry. Plenty of rankings, lists, and mocks will still be ready to go.

Anyway, the actual point of this post is pretty simple – are there any teams you’d want to see done first? Top 10 teams? Big conference schools? Smaller schools? Teams with talented players eligible for the 2010 draft? Or teams with younger talent who won’t be ready until 2011 or 2012? Any preferences?

2010 MLB Mock Draft 1.0

1.1 Washington Nationals: C Bryce Harper – College of Southern Nevada

Steven Strasburg is going first overall in this draft. Book it. One man by his lonesome may not be able to turn a baseball team’s on-field fortunes around, but it only takes one superstar to revive public interest in a moribund franchise. If nothing else, Strasburg has the kind of arm that makes every fifth day a must-see event. He’s got the oft-cited, but impossible to quantify “it”…wait, whoops. This was the intro to my first mock of 2009. Luckily it still works with a couple of easy tweaks. Let’s try it out…

Bryce Harper is going first overall in this draft. Book it. Two men may not be able to turn a baseball team’s on-field fortunes around, but it only takes one superstar position player and one superstar starting pitcher to revive interest in a moribund franchise. Harper has such a head start on gaining the national media’s attention that he’ll be sure to draw fans ranging from obsessively devoted to insouciantly (ooo…all that SAT vocab studying from five years ago paid off!) indifferent to the ballpark, for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. Heck, I’d go.

I realize I may be 100% crazy with this theory, but here goes nothing. The signing of Ivan Rodriguez is a strong data point indicating the Nationals already have made up their mind about the number one pick. Clearly the timeline doesn’t quite work out just right (nearly impossible Rodriguez is still be on the team by the time Harper joins), but it is possible somebody in the Washington front office thinks it would be swell if Harper could spend time with Rodriguez in his first spring training as a professional in 2011. Maybe I’m just trying too hard to wrap my head around the incomprehensible…

Special power, special arm, above-average contact skills, above-average potential as a receiver, and average running speed. That’s Bryce Harper.

1.2 Pittsburgh Pirates: RHSP Jameson Taillon – The Woodlands HS (TX)

There are plenty of different ways to approach a given pick in a mock draft. You can look at a team’s recent drafting history in an attempt to discern notable patterns and trends. You can look at organizational strengths and weaknesses to help partially rule out or narrow down certain positions of interest, e.g. knowing with a high degree of certainty that Houston wasn’t taking a catcher, especially a college catcher, in the first couple of rounds last year. You can also just look at the draft board, check what individual talent is there, and just line up the best player available with whatever team happens to be picking. I try to combine all three components in every mock I do, but I’m slowly coming to realize the last part, the one about staying true to the draft board and slotting players in that way, is probably the surest way to get a mock draft looking like the eventual real deal in June.

That’s why Taillon to Pittsburgh makes sense to me. He’s currently the second highest ranked draft-eligible player on the board. If Pittsburgh sees that the same way, they’ll take Taillon without hesitation, Tony Sanchez signability pick be damned.

I love the willingness of the Pirates to take high upside fliers late in the draft. I go back and forth too much on these things to really have a meaningful draft philosophy of my own, but, if I had to align myself with a pro club’s approach to drafting, I think there would be a lot of similarities between what I would do and what the Huntington Pirates have done over the past two years. Then again, I’ve never been a Tony Sanchez guy at all, dating back to watching him play extensively over the past three years in person along the parking garage ramp at Boston College. Guess that just goes to show how hard it is to really understand what certain clubs will wind up doing on draft day.

1.3 Baltimore Orioles: RHSP AJ Cole – Oviedo HS (FL)

I promise I won’t quote myself all that much going forward, but my positive feelings towards the direction of the Orioles have only gone stronger in the past year. Here’s what I said in last year’s first mock:

Matt Weiters, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and the fifth pick in the draft. That’s a foundation for something; I don’t know what exactly, but something.

We now know who that fifth pick turned out to be (Matt Hobgood) and we can count newly added and/or 2009 breakthrough prospects like Josh Bell, Zach Britton, Brandon Erbe (he’s more of a reemergence than a breakthrough guy, actually), and a decent haul from outside the first round including Mychal Givens, Justin Dalles, Ryan Berry, Jake Cowan, and Mike Ohlman all as part of the core of the next great Orioles team. On top of all that, of course, is the pick that will produce the highest drafted O’s prospect since Ben McDonald (my goal is to mention him as often as possible, apparently) in 1989. Since 2001, Baltimore has averaged roughly the seventh overall pick in the draft, but they’ve never been higher than 4th. Those two number four overall picks were LHSPs Brian Matusz and Adam Loewen. Ole Miss lefthander Drew Pomeranz and Florida Gulf Coast lefty Chris Sale are potential candidates to uphold my worthless trend of Baltimore taking lefthanded pitchers when they get top four draft picks, but I’m thinking they eschew any kind of recent drafting trends and go for broke by picking the top available talent on the board. AJ Cole, come on down.

1.4 Kansas City Royals: RHSP Kaleb Cowart – Cook County HS (GA)

The Royals always seem like a wild card at the top of the draft, a team willing to go in whatever direction the available talent dictates. 2010 looks to be a draft top heavy in pitching. Cowart has the greatest likelihood of rising up the draft boards of all the “big name” prep arms this side of the Taillon/Cole duo. The vicious movement he gets on his two offspeed offerings (high-80s slider, low-80s split-fingered change) combined with his plus athleticism make him a solid bet to stave off his prep righty competition and claim a spot in the top ten.

1.5 Cleveland Indians: LHSP Drew Pomeranz – Ole Miss

I concede. I have a very hard time seeing Pomeranz as a top half of the first round caliber prospect, let alone a top five pick at this point, but so many publications have him in the top ten that I think I have to relent. I swear I’m not trying to lose whatever renegade street cred I’ve built up (if any), but one of the stated goals for this site was to act as a resource in consensus building when it comes to draft prognostications across the internet. I want to drop Pomeranz, but that wouldn’t be a true reflection of where his present stock stands. If everybody wants to call Pomeranz an elite prospect, fine. I figure the very least I can do is keep his name up high until I can do some more homework on him and definitely say, one way or another, that he will or won’t be picked within the first X number of picks.

In other Indians related news, I ripped the franchise’s 2001-2005 drafts to shreds in this space last year, ending with this conclusion that still makes me laugh to this day (yes, I’m that egotistical):

Soooo…what am I doing wasting my time with this site anyway? Perhaps a better question is what are you doing wasting your time reading this site? Turns out the best way to attempt to rebuild a franchise isn’t though the draft; no, who has the time to go through all that trouble scouting and signing a bunch of kids? All you really have to do is haven an extra Bart Colon hanging around to trade and, poof, you’ve got a farm system to be proud of.

I didn’t hate the top of Cleveland’s draft last year, but, man, did they go heavy with college guys or what? Anyway, I just found it a little funny that the Indians have dealt three Bart Colon’s (CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez) in the past two seasons at least in part to replenish a farm system that has been handicapped by poor drafting year after year. Santana, Hagadone, Brantley, Carrasco, Knapp, Marson, Todd, Barnes, Donald, LaPorta, Masterson…all players acquired in one trade or another in recent seasons. They’ve done a commendable job with their international scouting, but, jeez louise, there isn’t a whole lot of drafted talent to be found in any of their published top prospect lists.

1.6 Arizona Diamondbacks: RHSP Kyle Blair – San Diego

My favorite draft-eligible college prospect had to find a way to get himself into the top ten, right? An above-average fastball that sits in the low-90s, a plus mid-70s curve, and a good low-80s change make for a potent mix in my book. Blair was a big recruit coming out of high school who hasn’t disappointed since joining the Toreros. Love the USD staff, by the way. Blair, Sammy Solis (another potential first rounder), and AJ Griffin (my favorite senior sign, by far) make up one heck of a three-headed monster. Or three-armed monster. Six-armed monster? As for Blair, yes, this is a generous placement on the mock, but it’s defensible not only because of that present three pitch mix but also the chance his peak fastball velocity perks up in the spring. If he is topping out at 94-95 once the season starts, watch out.

1.7 New York Mets: RHP Jesse Hahn – Virginia Tech

Hahn has a huge heater that has helped him hike up his heretofore humble hold amidst fellow hurlers in the draft hierarchy. The best fastball in the 2010 class has been clocked a steady 96-98 with true plus life. Unfortunately for Hahn, there isn’t a whole lot else in his bag of tricks at this point in his development. To his credit, he does throw a curve and a change that both have average potential down the line. Additionally, he has thrown both a slider and a cutter at intermittent points in the past. Neither pitch caught on, but it’s nice to know that Hahn has experience messing around with them at the very least. If one of those four pitches develops into at least a big league average pitch this spring, Hahn will assure himself a spot in the first round as a reliever. If he shows enough with two of those pitches (at least proving they have the potential to be league average weapons, even if they aren’t quite there by June), he’ll go even higher still. Aroldis Chapman has a slider that is already better than any of Hahn’s secondary stuff and a change has shown a ton of potential, but if you squint really hard you can begin to see some similarities between the two.

1.8 Houston Astros: RHSP Deck McGuire – Georgia Tech

Possessing truly one of the great baseball names of the 2010 MLB Draft, Deck McGuire’s scouting profile reads a lot like the man picked two spots ahead of him. His fastball sits 88-91 MPH (peaks at 93) with enough great sink that makes it an above-average pitch despite the less than thrilling velocity. His out pitch is a hard high-70s CB that is in the running for best curve in the college class. His impressive change makes for a fantastic third option, especially when stacked against the typical so-so third pitches you see from amateur prospects at his level. McGuire’s biggest flaws are his off-and-on control and his iffy mechanics, two issues that are very commonly seen in tandem. If a team sees a way to clean up his arm action and help him gain a more consistent release point, he’ll hear his name called in the top fifteen picks on draft day.

1.9 San Diego Padres: RHSP Brandon Workman – Texas

2010 = Year of the College Curveball. First Blair, then McGuire, now Workman. Workman’s version of the pitch is another plus offering, a 77-78 MPH nasty 12-6 hook. His fastball isn’t too shabby either, comfortably sitting in the low-90s with a pretty consistent peak of 95 MPH and has reached 98 in the past. The only issue I have with Workman are the similarities between how he looked as a high school senior and how he looks today. Coming out of high school he had a high velocity fastball and a curve with plus potential. That’s good. What he didn’t have was a quality third pitch and non-cringe worthy throwing mechanics. There has been some noise about a changeup being worked on, but I haven’t personally seen enough proof of the pitch to give it the Baseball Draft Report stamp of approval. There has also been some reports that Workman has cleaned up his mechanics a little bit since enrolling at Texas. If he has, I’m not seeing it. That’s not to say he hasn’t, I’m literally just saying that I can’t really tell the difference between the video I saw of him as a prep player and the real life version of Workman I saw pitch live last year. I’m neither trained to notice such things nor do I worry too much about mechanics in general (remember my mechanics creed – so long as it is repeatable, I’m happy), but I figured it was worth mentioning. Flaws from high school shouldn’t still exist after two full years in college, right? Could be a red flag, could be nothing.

Also, I learned today that one of the Padres team colors is officially called “sand.” Can’t decide if that’s awesome or sad. Because it’s the Padres and I already sort of pity them a little bit, I think I’m going with awesome.

1.10 Oakland Athletics: 3B Nick Castellanos – Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)

Arguably the best high school position player in this year’s class winds up joining up with one of baseball’s premier farm systems. Castellanos is the first high school bat off the board for a lot of reasons. He reminds me a lot of Josh Vitters, but with easier to project power potential and a better, more professionally approach at the plate. So, he is like Vitters, a former third overall pick in the draft, but better in the two biggest areas of concern on his game. He’s Super Vitters.

Total unsubstantiated rumor department brings us this little tidbit – Oakland has a thing for Brandon Workman. Just throwing that out there.

1.11 Toronto Blue Jays: SS Christian Colon – Cal State Fullerton

I’m not quite stubborn/bold enough to put Colon where I really think he’ll wind up in June, so I’ll defer to the experts and keep Colon in the first half of the first round for now. I guess that sort of makes Colon the Drew Pomeranz of position player prospects, huh?  Everything I said a few months ago holds up today:

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.

I’m totally nuts for maybe possibly almost thinking Gary Brown, Colon’s teammate at Fullerton, is the better pro prospect, right? Brown’s gigantic edge in speed and added pop might just make up for Colon’s clear advantage in both overall defense upside and contact skills, but your mileage might vary.

1.12 Cincinnati Reds: OF Austin Wilson – Harvard Westlake HS (CA)

Honest to goodness, I had a dream last night that I finally published this mock. It was marvelous. After staring at this Word document for over ten days, it was a joy to finally rid my brain of the incessant, nagging thoughts of “who goes where?” and “is this guy ?” and “what’s the damn point of doing a mock over six months and a full amateur season before the actual event?” I hit the tiny PUBLISH button and breathed the sweetest sigh of relief known to man. Then, without warning, my dream turned into terrifying nightmare. The delight my dream-time self was feeling over getting this stinking mock done quickly turned to dread as I realized I forgot to include Austin Wilson. I checked, double-checked, triple-checked…and he was nowhere to be found. Apparently there was neither an edit nor a delete feature in my nightmare, so the omission of Wilson was forced to stand as an ugly black mark against my draft forecasting soul for all of eternity. Maybe I take all this draft stuff too seriously…

Wilson could be this year’s Donovan Tate. Wilson could be this year’s Brian Goodwin. I obviously lean much closer to the Tate side of things, but I’m a sucker for 6-4, 200 pound outfielders rocking the plus power/plus arm combo. The comps for Wilson range from silly (Dave Winfield) to topical (Andre Dawson) to “man, I feel old comparing high school kids to players I loved when I was 10″ (Juan Gonzalez, Moises Alou) to intriguingly ultra-modern and therefore ultra-hip (Mike Taylor, Mike Stanton) all the way to completely made up by me just now (Shawn Green, Ellis Burks). It goes without saying that Wilson hitting his ceiling would be blessed to have a career like any of the players listed above (minus the minor leaguers, I suppose), but they do provide some context into what has been said about Wilson’s upside as a prospect so far. The two current minor league comps stick out to me as particularly interesting; Mike Stanton is a comp that mixes Wilson’s most immediate “realistic” upside as top minor league prospect with an equally plausible estimation of his tools (power, arm, good enough speed, should be good defenders in the corner), and Mike Taylor’s name serves as a reminder that Stanford commits like Wilson are always a pain in the neck to get signed.

I was looking over the Cincinnati organizational depth chart to see what kind of future lineup the Reds could throw out if they decided to add Wilson into the mix. They’ve gotten so much good press this offseason as a team on the rise that I was curious to see what kind of future starting 8 they might be able to field. Instead of fleshing out the idea, I became distracted by one name. Todd Frazier. Now I’ve seen a lot of Mr. Frazier over the years, from his high school days right on through his junior year at Rutgers. Through those years, one thing in particular stood out to me about Frazier’s game. Get ready for some seriously hard hitting prospect analysis here. Ready? Sure? Todd Frazier could be Peyton Manning’s body double, if the need for such a thing ever arises. Saw him in high school, remember thinking he looked like he could be the long lost missing Manning brother. By his last year at Rutgers, he was no longer just a random no-name honorary Manning. No, he was Peyton Manning. He is Peyton Manning.

The Ohio high school pitcher I have going fourteenth overall may also make sense if you’re into regional ties impacting drafting strategy. If I had realized the connection beforehand, maybe I would have made Stetson Allie the pick here for the Reds. Maybe next time.

1.13 Chicago White Sox: RHSP Dylan Covey – Maranatha HS (CA)

Remember how my angle for the Cincinnati pick was going to be about the way they are suddenly a team getting a ton of positive buzz? I really can’t tell you how many different places have come out and said the Reds are the Central’s second best team heading into 2010, as well as the team best positioned to take over St Louis when the Cardinals realize spending 98% of your payroll (figure may not be exact) on two players. I’m not necessarily disputing either idea, just pointing out that it has been interesting to see so many sources from all across the baseball landscape (from analytical types to scouty types) all hyping up the Reds lately. Well…

Covey is a little bit like the Reds. He’s the prospect that has gotten a huge groundswell of support over the past few weeks from just about everybody with a keyboard and an opinion on amateur baseball. Just wait, they said. Watch him pitch, they said. His stock will soar, they said. Good call, internet. Covey could have very easily been swapped with Cowart at the number four spot in this draft. If we accept that all pitching prospects come with major questions, maybe we should work towards finding the prospect with the easiest questions to answer. This isn’t a great strategy in general as I tend to be more of a “focus on what a player can do rather than what he can’t do” kind of fellow, but it does serve a useful purpose when comparing so many similarly talented players like the ones featured in this year’s prep righthanded pitching crop. Covey’s questions include inconsistent in-game mechanics, inconsistent command start to start, and a body type that doesn’t inspire much projection going forward. Mechanics can always be tweaked, his command has looked sharper every time I’ve seen him, and the body isn’t anywhere close to Sir Sidney Ponson levels of bad.

1.14 Milwaukee Brewers: RHSP Stetson Allie – St Edward HS (OH)

Back to Gary Brown and Christian Colon for a minute because a couple of comps occurred to me today. How about Brown as Shane Victorino and Christian Colon as a slightly less hacktastic Placido Polanco capable of playing shortstop? Neither comp is perfect, but I think the tools of each player matches up pretty well with their respective big league comparisons.

The ghost of Jack Z would be very proud of this Allie pick for Milwaukee. Big, hard throwing, erratic, and a difficult sign. Sounds about right.

1.15 Texas Rangers: RHSP Cam Bedrosian – East Coweta HS (GA)

I only quote myself because I know 95% of readers only come to check out the mock drafts anyway:

I’ll willingly admit I like Bedrosian more than most talent evaluators do a the moment. One of the reasons I think I like him more than others is simple – short righties don’t scare me. I know I’ve made the Bedrosian/Kyle Drabek comparison before, and I’m happy to mention again in print here. Bedrosian’s 6-0, 195 pound frame doesn’t bother me much at all because it is compact and muscular in all the right places, most notably the legs. His arm action is a thing of beauty with a consistent landing spot and a very smooth, repeatable delivery. Bedrosian’s fastball is a potential plus big league offering, already sitting 90-93 and hitting 95-96, and his curve is on the very short list of the very best high school secondary pitches I’ve had the pleasure of watching. Beyond those two plus/potential plus pitches, Bedrosian can mix in a mid-70s CU and a really exciting high-80s splitter that could grow into a big league strikeout pitch in time. Power stuff (FB, hard CB, SF) combined with at least the occasional appearance of that changeup makes Bedrosian a rare bird among young pitchers. I’m often quick to dismiss bloodlines as a reason for liking one prospect over another, but Bedrosian’s cerebral approach to pitching has pretty clearly been influenced by having a former professional ballplayer as a father.

Drabek had the off the field issues to contend with, but it makes me a little concerned that I have Bedrosian, a wonderful prospect but one with a lesser grade than Drabek at similar points in their development, going higher than Drabek did in his draft year. This one may be a case of letting my own personal take get in the way of making the most accurate mock possible. Oh well, I love this guy. I think he makes some sense for the Rangers here as they continue to build up their young pitching stockpile. In some ways a pick like this is reminiscent of the Michael Main selection in 2007. In other ways, it so totally isn’t. Yeah, think about that one for a while. It’s like a paradox wrapped in poor grammar wrapped by questionable syntax wrapped in a vest.

1.16 Chicago Cubs: RHSP Alex Wimmers – Ohio State

I saw Wimmers a lot last year and every time I saw him I had a similar thought – “hey, this guy is better than I thought coming in.” Good fastball, good sinking changeup, and a plus curve make him a good bet as a first rounder. Speaking of good bets, I made my first group of tiers today while at a meeting at work. This was newsworthy for a couple different reasons. First, while paying more attention on sketching out my rankings than I did on what the presenter was telling me about various co-teaching models, I technically got paid to write about baseball. I’m a professional baseball writer! Second, and actually somewhat seriously, there are a lot of talented players at the top of this year’s draft class. The “lock” group for first rounders was bigger than I remember it being last year, as was the “very likely” group. Without spoiling any surprises, Wimmers was just barely on the outside looking in on that “very likely” to go in the first round group. I’d say that’s a pretty strong indication that the first round isn’t as barren as some have claimed.

1.17 Tampa Bay Rays: LHSP Chris Sale – Florida Gulf Coast

I’d love to check in on Sale’s actual groundball numbers. Every scouting report him mentions his ability to induce weak contact for easy ground outs. That’s an excellent trait for a pitcher to have. Do the scouting reports jive with’s really happening on the field? I mentioned how everybody considers Ranaudo a groundball pitcher because he is big guy who throws on what appears to be a downward plane, but the numbers don’t support it. Sale’s reports mention the groundballs specifically, so I’m way more inclined to believe that he has the skill. Time to start digging through the game logs!

This may be as low as we see Sale on a mock on this site all year. His stuff is going to be too good to keep him from suffering from any post-helium backlash.

1.18 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: RHSP Karsten Whitson – Chipley HS (FL)

It took seventeen full picks to get here, but we made it. The Angels taking Karsten Whitson is the first pick that I can look at and honestly say I have nothing of value to add with my commentary. Whitson has a definite first round fastball, but closer to tenth round caliber secondary stuff and throwing mechanics. The Angels can afford to gamble on such a player with the first of their nine (again, the numbers may not be accurate) first round picks.

1.19 Detroit Tigers (just kidding, it’s now the Houston Astros): 3B Zack Cox – Arkansas

It feels almost dirty not giving Detroit a hard throwing high school righthander, especially in a year with plenty of worthy candidates at this spot. Allie and Whitson both could be possibilities, as could college righthanders Hahn, Workman, and Matt Harvey. Luckily, I can now guarantee Detroit won’t be picking a hard throwing righty in this spot. No way, no how. Now I’m looking for players that would make sense for Houston that won’t screw up any picks later in the first round. Zack Cox makes some sense, but the added leverage the draft-eligible sophomore has makes me a little leery of keeping in this spot. LeVon Washington maybe? Could Ed Wade overrule Bobby Heck’s team of scouts and demand a guy like Kevin Jacob here? They’ve had some success with two-way players before, so maybe Bryce Brentz could fit?

1.20 Boston Red Sox: SS Yordy Cabrera – Lakeland HS (FL)

Is it too late to change this pick to Rob Brantly? I really wanted to include him in the mock so I could make my Rob Brantly = Derek Norris comp that I’ve been so eagerly waiting to unveil. Oh well. I’ve also heard a completely unsubstantiated rumor that links Boston to Virginia outfielder Jarrett Parker, a player with scouting reports that sort of remind me of a poor man’s Ryan Westmoreland. Justin O’Conner could also be a name that makes sense in this spot. I wouldn’t have matched the Red Sox up with Rey Fuentes last year, so I’m not even sure I’m qualified to comment on this pick any furt…

Anyway, let’s talk Yordy. I have to admit that while he isn’t one of my favorite prep bats in this class, I’d be happy to see my favorite team draft Yordy if given the chance. Why? Come on! Yordy! Who among us could possibly resist rooting for a Yordy? It’s impossible question to answer because nobody has ever even tried. I’m powerless to not root for a Yordy. I’d never buy a jersey of a player from a team I didn’t root for (that’s a lie…I’d never buy a jersey period, regardless of team), but I’d definitely consider getting a snazzy Yordy! t-shirt if/when he makes it to the show AND successfully petitions MLB to allow him to just put Yordy on the back of his jersey.

1.21 Minnesota Twins: Anthony Wolters – Rancho Buena Vista HS (CA)

Finally, one that feels right. A first round grade player that fits a position of need for an organization with a track record of drafting guys with similar skill sets early in the draft. A far more advanced Dustin Pedroia is the most commonly used comp. It works in a lot of ways, I think. Wolters has an advanced approach at the plate, phenomenal hands, an accurate arm, and well above-average range. Many are already moving him off of short as a professional, but I haven’t seen anything in his game to think he can’t at least start his career off as at least a league average shortstop defensively. Again, Justin O’Conner also fits the bill here.

1.22 Texas Rangers: Stefan Sabol – Aliso Niguel HS (CA)

Still not sure what position Sabol will eventually call home, but he’ll be a good one wherever he winds up. Actually, that first part is a lie. I do that a lot, apparently. Anyway, it’s not a total lie, but more of a nod to the scouting world consensus that seems to go back and forth on Sabol’s most likely eventual position. So allow me to amend that sloppy opening sentence by changing it up to say while many aren’t sure what position Sabol will play as a professional, I, however would bet a good chunk of change he sticks behind the plate for a good long while. His speed and athleticism (Sabol possesses arguably the best body of any amateur, college guys included) have already earned him Jason Kendall comps, but a comp like that ignores his significantly higher ultimate upside in the power department. The very same speed and athleticism are the reasons why I think so many want to prematurely move him out from behind the dish. True, he is athletic enough to play a variety of different positions, but, like Bryce Harper, his value is highest staying right where he is until he proves he can’t handle catching. He has a true plus arm that will play anywhere, above-average speed that could serve him well in the outfield (you know, just in case), and average to above-average big league power potential.

1.23 Florida Marlins: RHSP Deandre Smelter – Tattnall County HS (GA)

It would be easy to lose track of a player like Smelter in the midst of so many other similarly talented prep righties, but that would be a mistake. Smelter can do just about everything you want to see out of a young pitching prospect. His fastball sits 89-93 MPH with a peak velocity of 97. I’ve seen that peak a lot lower in some places, but I trust the number. Of course, and this is huge, always remember that high school peak velocities almost always come from one inning relief showcase outings. It goes without saying that the 97 wouldn’t hold up as a starter, but nobody does that anyway. Tangent aside, let’s just settle on the fact that Smelter has a strong enough present fastball that he’s actually been criticized for being too reliant on it at times. When he isn’t just blowing it by hitters, he throws an excellent splitter (82-84 MPH) that could be a big league out pitch in time. To go a step further, I’d go out on the limb and say that Smelter’s splitter has the potential to be one of the signature pitches of this year’s draft class; it reminds me a little bit of the split Kevin Brown used to throw to lefties. His repertoire also features a low-80s changeup and a high-70s slider. The slider is currently the better pitch, but it needs serious tightening up going forward.

He is a legitimate three sport high school star (baseball, football, and basketball), a fact that is readily apparent the first time you see him pitch. It’s clear just from watching him that his overall athleticism is off the charts, but it’s just as clear that his delivery and arm action are all kinds of raw. His herky jerky delivery will almost certainly need some polish as a professional. And, yes, herky jerky is the professional term, thankyouverymuch. Anyway, since I’m not an expert on pitching mechanics in the least, here’s my basic theory on what I personally look for out of a pitcher’s throwing motion, reprinted from the first mock I did last year:

A pet scouting theory on mechanics of mine can be summed up like this: The most direct path to smooth, consistent, and repeatable delivery is through outstanding athleticism. Anecdotally, it seems that plus athletes tend to “figure things out” mechanically more often than other pitchers. It could be an offshoot of the great size debate – again, anecdotally it seems pitchers in the 6-0 to 6-3 range tend to be more athletic than the larger, “classic” pitcher’s frame guys (pitchers 6-4 and up). The scouting bias against short pitchers, righthanders especially, has turned them into a valued underappreciated commodity. It’s more than just that, however; these shorter pitchers, once more anecdotally, seem to have better control of their more athletic bodies, and thus smoother, easier to repeat deliveries. Smooth, easy to repeat deliveries lead not only to cleaner injury records but also increased velocity.

Just a pet theory, nothing more. Honestly, my knowledge of pitching mechanics isn’t really at the level where I should be coming up with any half-baked theories. All I look for (or, more honestly, all I really know how to look for) in a young pitcher is repeatability. Even if the motion looks weird and, in some extreme cases, painful, the question I always come back to is can he repeat it every time? If he can, sign him up. If not, back to the drawing board.

So there you have it. Herky jerky delivery or not, Smelter’s outstanding athleticism gives him a better than average chance at figuring things out as a professional. So says me, anyway.

1.24 San Francisco Giants: OF Brian Ragira – Martin HS (TX)

They have to continue their attempts to balance out the arms with some bats in the system, right? Ragira offers up a similar skill set to Anthony Wolters: above-average speed, professional approach at the plate, legit up the middle defense, and a better than average arm. Future Kevin Goldstein Top 11 Fun Fact about Brian Ragira (pick one, or combine two or more for added fun!): his full name is Brian Aosa Mogaka Ragira, he is of Kenyan descent, and his father lived in the next tribe over from where Barak Obama’s father grew up. I’d bet money on it. As awesome a name as Brian Aosa Mogaka Ragira is, can we all agree that it is simply no match for the greatest name in the history of names, Mr. Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo?

1.25 St Louis Cardinals: LHSP Sammy Solis – San Diego

Brian Matusz-lite. The four-pitch mix (low-90s fastball, plus change, above-average slider and curve) is extremely enticing, as is his frame and the low mileage on his arm. The bulging disc in his lower back that knocked him out for most of the 2009 season is just about the only reason why I can see him flying under the radar at this point because he has everything you’d want in a pitching prospect otherwise.

1.26 Colorado Rockies: OF Josh Sale – Bishop Blanchett HS (WA)

Too low? Probably, but I’m still having a hard time getting an actual read on where Sale’s prospect stock currently stands. What I do know is that the man is a hitter. He hits, hits, hits, and hits. He isn’t a slug in the field, but many scouts still believe that he probably profiles best as a big league leftfielder. Boy, first Ragira and now Sale; I’m starting to realize that Goldstein is going to have it really easy with this year’s high school class. If he needs a head start on his fun facts for Sale’s future top 11 piece, he can take the following tidbits free of charge: Sale’s full name is Joshua Ezkiel Gasu Sale and his dad is a native Samoan famous for being a champion power lifter.

1.27 Philadelphia Phillies: 3B Victor Sanchez – San Diego

As a Phillies fan, I can’t help but wonder if sometimes I lean closer towards wishful thinking than objective analysis when it comes time to making a pick for the hometown team. I probably have no business giving the Phillies a college bat in the first round, but, really, I probably have no business making any of these guesses and you’re still reading all the way down here at pick 27, right?

In order for Sanchez to go in the first he is going to have to put together a big junior year. Now that’s true of just about any guy on the mock, doubly so for any player projected to go here at the back end of the first, but Sanchez is facing a more critical 2010 season than most after missing the majority of the 2009 season with a shoulder injury. He’ll need to build on his strong 2009 start if he wants to showcase his considerable talents. At his best Sanchez displays plus raw power, a good offensive approach, and enough defensive abilities to stick at third long-term.

1.28 Los Angeles Dodgers: RHSP Matt Harvey – North Carolina

After Harvey’s hot start last season, I wrote the following on March 1, 2009:

[W]hat is the likelihood, if it exists at all, that Matt Harvey reaches the same level of hype other elite college pitchers (Strasburg, Price, and Prior, to name a few) had heading into his draft year?

Uhh, I’m going to have to go out on a limb here and say that the likelihood isn’t all that good. Controversial answer, I know. It’s probably weird having Matt Harvey in the first round at this point, but, if anything, I actually feel weird about having him this low. A really, really good rule to follow when tracking draft prospects is to remember that once a player shows you a skill, it is his to own. There are obvious exceptions to this, major injuries being the most obvious, but good players just don’t plain forget how to do good things on the field. Elite prospects who don’t sign out of high school tend not to drop too far after three years of college, even if those three years are so-so.

The most recent reports on Harvey have been largely positive: 90-93 sitting velocity with fastball, 94-95 peak velocity, plus 77-80 CB, and a solid sinking low-80s change. The biggest problem with Harvey’s game seems to be his bizarre velocity inconsistency with his fastball. One day you’ll see him pitching in the mid-90s, the next he’ll be down to maxing out at 86 (86!), and then he’ll be back up to sitting 88-90, but still not hitting 96 like before…until the next time out when he suddenly has regained those lost 10 MPH on the fastball. What the heck is that? It’s not even a start-to-start phenomenom, either; Harvey has experienced sudden velocities dips and gains in-game as well. I have no idea what to make of Harvey. If the right scouting director sees him on the right day, he’ll go high. If not, he’ll be lumped in with the rest of the college guys who project as relievers hoping to get a spot in the first five rounds.

I like the idea of the Dodgers taking Harvey one pick before the Angels, the team that couldn’t get him signed back in 2007. I wonder what Harvey’s career would have looked like so far if he would have signed out of high school. He’s a prime candidate for an Alternate Reality Crystal Ball…

1.29 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: LHSP James Paxton – Kentucky

Pretty uneventful past couple of months for Paxton, huh? As we wait and see whether Paxton’s legal team decides to appeal to NCAA’s decision to keep him off the Kentucky roster in 2010, we can take some time to speculate on his professional future. I know I already made the comparison earlier in the mock with Jesse Hahn, but Paxton and Aroldis Chapman probably match up better from an overall talent perspective. Like Chapman, Paxton’s realistic floor is that of a late inning, shutdown reliever. That’s clearly not a floor to be taken lightly. Paxton’s current two-pitch combo (fastball at 92-98 MPH, low-80s plus slider) make him a good enough to pitch in the big leagues right now. The issues with Paxton come down to fastball command and the lack of a consistent third pitch (the change is a work in progress). Getting a chance to address those issues in the SEC this upcoming season could potentially do Paxton’s draft stock a world of good, especially considering the way he directly addressed one of the biggest concerns to his game (control) in 2009 by nearly cutting his BB/9 in half.

If Paxton’s floor is a big league reliever, his upside is a front of the rotation anchor, especially if he shows progress with the changeup this season. I’m always in favor of trying pitchers as starters first and position players at more demanding defensive positions before moving them elsewhere. Paxton’s ability to hold his velocity late (I’ve seen him hitting the high-90s as late as the sixth inning, for what it’s worth) make him worth trying as a starter until he proves that his stuff plays better in the bullpen…or not.

1.30 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 3B/2B Kolbrin Vitek – Ball State

Vitek’s tools all grade out similarly to fellow small school sensation Bryce Brentz. They both have plus bat speed, good plate discipline, and plus power potential. They are also both two-way players who have had success on the mound collegiately, though only Vitek could actually pull of the trick of being a legit draft prospect as either a hitter or pitcher. In addition to a glove/arm combination that will definitely play at third professionally, Vitek does all the little things well that make scouts (and wannabe’s like me) very happy. He is a sensational base runner, works deep counts, and has one of the coolest names this side of Yordy Cabrera. Vitek’s utter dominance of the Great Lakes League this past summer sealed the deal for me. He may not be a first rounder in June, but he is as good a bet as any college hitter in the 2010 to be an impact player in the big leagues.

I only have the Angels taking one high school player out of their three first round picks. That seems like a mistake now, but I tried to err on the side of sure-fire signability. That is something that will almost certainly be adjusted in future mocks. In a strange twist, this is the second year in a row the Angels have had back-to-back picks in the first round. Stranger still, I “drafted” for the Angels in last year’s MVN MLB Outsider: 2009 Mock Draft. My picks last year were Tyler Skaggs and Everett Williams – two high school players! You would think I wouldn’t stray too much from the formula that worked last year, but I’m just not that smart. Next mock for the Angels will be better, I promise.

Speaking of my picks last year for the now-defunct MVN site, check it out:

A closing thought as I run up against the maximum word threshold – watch out for the Angels popping University of Washington OF/QB Jake Locker with an early mid-round pick (early as round 4, late as round 7). Adenhart, Trumbo, and Walden were all risky signability picks, but Eddie Bane and his staff did their homework to know exactly how much each player needed to sign on the dotted line. Locker’s commitment to football and time away from baseball make him as risky a signability pick as any player in the draft, but his raw tools are good enough that some team will call an all-out blitz in an attempt to get him signed. That team will be the Angels, you heard it here first.

The Angels took him in the tenth round. That led to this, probably the coolest bit of mainstream exposure the site has enjoyed since starting up early last year. I’ve long daydreamed of being referred to as “this guy here” and now I can say I’ve truly accomplished something in my life.

1.31 Tampa Bay Rays: OF Bryce Brentz – Middle Tennessee State

Super Nintendo numbers (.465/.535/.930) and comparisons to Nick Markakis’s two-way skill set have gotten Brentz a disproportionate amount of pub when compared to other draft prospects, but, hey, any time a casual baseball fan knows the name of  a draft prospect months in advance we have to consider that a strong indicator of the rapid growth of MLB draft coverage. Brentz has special bat speed and should be an above-average defender in right field professionally. I’d love to take closer look at the game-by-game breakdown of Brentz’s ’09 numbers to see the types of pitchers he is doing the most of his damage off of, though the sample sizes involved may not yield any kind of meaningful conclusions. With six months between now and then draft, I’m sure I’ll be able to delve a little deeper into Brentz’s numbers one way or another.

1.32 New York Yankees: SS Garin Cecchini – Barbe HS (LA)

Always important to end on a high note, and I like this match between team and player. Cecchini is an outstanding athlete with a good arm, above-average speed, and very impressive lefthanded power. If you believe he’ll stick at short, then the Yankees can finally claim to have a worthy successor to Derek Jeter in the pipeline. Robbie Aviles, a New York native, is another name that fits here quite well.

Happy New Year

The plan was to have the very first mock draft of 2010 up and ready for the new year, but — and really what else is new? — plans changed. Here’s the new plan for the upcoming week. Expect to see the following…

  • 2010 Mock Draft
  • Completed LSU College Team Profile
  • Completed Top 25 High School Righthanded Pitching Prospects List, with commentary

After that, I’m up for anything. I really like doing the College Team Profiles, but they chew up my daily alloted baseball writing time very, very quickly. I thought the quick scouting blurbs on Jameson Taillon and AJ Cole worked pretty well, so maybe I can do a couple more of those on some other top prep prospects. Positional rankings are always good (e.g. Top 20 High School Middle Infielders), and I would also like to rework some of the Big Board rankings now that I’ve had some time to catch up on everything.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated, as always. And now for a quick sneak peak at the aforementioned first mock of 2010…

1. Washington – Bryce Harper (really going out on a limb here, I know)

5. Cleveland – Drew Pomeranz (don’t love the player, but having a very difficult time getting a read on any kind of drafting patterns out of Cleveland)

10. Oakland – Nick Castellanos (love the player, but risky matching the A’s up with a high schooler)

15. Texas – Cam Bedrosian (again, love the player and am willing to stick my neck out that he’ll be a first rounder even as his stock has slipped in comparison to some of those other high upside prep righties)

20. Boston – Yordy Cabrera (wild card drafting team gets one of 2010′s wild card talents)

25. St Louis – Sammy Solis (anticipating a big spring out of Solis as he anchors what could be a potentially epic USD pitching staff)

30. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Kolbrin Vitek (you know I’m not one to play the “different for the sake of different” card, but I do like to mention certain players as late first round possibilities that may not quite get exposure on a larger stage…ready for your turn in the spotlight, Mr.Vitek?)

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