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.
JR OF Gary Brown (2010 – Cal State Fullerton) reminds me of three established big leaguers, all for different reasons. He resembles Shane Victorino for his defensive range in center, plus speed, and intriguing power/speed combo. I see some Chone Figgins (pre-2009 breakout, mostly) in the way he’ll be an incredibly valuable player due to defensive versatility despite having only an average arm. At his very best, however, I can see some young Johnny Damon in his game, especially if his power potential comes around the way I expect it will. Brown has legit plus speed, untapped raw power, and a good but not great throwing arm. He’s a joy to watch on the bases and his defense is excellent in centerfield, although some think he has the natural fielding actions to make a move to second base a possibility. He is expected to be the veteran anchor in a Fullerton outfield where he’ll be flanked by freshman Anthony Hutting and two-way sophomore Tyler Pill, and backed up by Casey Watkins and Ivory Thomas, a pair of promising freshmen. Continued development could push him up into the late first round, but his most likely draft ceiling is late supplemental first/early second. I’m not saying he is a better baseball player than teammate Christian Colon, but I think the gap is much closer than the majority of people think. In fact, I think Brown’s superior tools actually make him a better bet to be a well above-average player than Colon.
JR OF Ridge Carpenter (2010 – Cal State Northridge) is a big personal favorite. He has a five-tool ceiling, with speed and potential plus defense in center being his calling cards. His good approach, in addition to the aforementioned speed, make him a potential leadoff hitter, but his game is much more than the slash and dash style so many other college leadoff hitters employ. He has enough current pop — his .679 slugging percentage trumped his next closest junior college teammate by a whopping 185 points, how’s that for context? – and a big league frame (6-2, 190) that make me think his easy swing will continue to generate power as he gets more reps against top level pitching. He has what it takes to be a top five round player, I think.
JR OF Mark Haddow (2010 – UC Santa Barbara) offers up plus power potential, but also strikeouts about as much as you’d expected from a raw college player with plus power potential. Luckily, power isn’t his only claim to fame. Haddow can also rely on his solid athleticism, better than you’d think speed, and slightly above-average big league right field arm. He has the raw tools to dramatically rise up draft boards, but first needs to take a more disciplined approach at the plate to show big league clubs he’d cut it as something more than a backup outfielder professionally. If he begins even to hint at improvement in those deficient areas in his game, I’d bet good money some team out there will draft him with the idea that he’ll be a big league starter in right someday.
JR OF Nick Longmire (2010 – Pacific) is an above-average athlete who has demonstrated good range in centerfield. If you’ve read enough of these blurbs, you’d know that the combination of athleticism and good defense in center can give a prospect a huge head start on the competition. Longmire takes his head start and runs with it. He has above-average power potential, good bat speed, and success with wood bats from summer league play. He profiles best as a fourth outfielder capable of doing a little bit of everything pretty well. I’ve heard a Jay Payton comp thrown his way and, despite Payton’s far more decorated collegiate career, I don’t think I hate it from a tools standpoint.
SR OF Luke Yoder (2010 – Cal Poly) was a gymnast for 13 years. Now that we’ve got that bit out of the way, we can talk about Yoder the ballplayer. His strong points include a good power/patience blend, heady base running, and, yes, impressive athleticism due in no small part to all those years on the balance beam. The case against his prospectdom include his age (he’ll turn 23 one month after the draft) and his sometimes shaky outfield defense. As a mid- to late-round senior sign, he’d make sense for a team looking for a potentially quick moving backup outfielder/AAAA bench bat depth piece. It’s also important to note that Yoder has been drafted twice already
JR OF Brett Morgan (2010 – UC Davis) joins the Aggies after two seasons at San Joaquin Delta College, where he’ll go from being coached by one brother (Reed Peters) to another (Rex Peters). Now that we’ve got our fun fact quota for the day out of the way, let’s talk about this talented juco transfer. Morgan is another player that fits the classic leadoff hitter archetype – plus speed, good approach at the plate, solid hit tool, and good defense up the middle. I’ve heard really good things about him, but we’re obviously in wait-and-see mode until he actually gets some big time college at bats.
SR OF Michael Hur (2010 – UC Riverside) has had scouts eagerly waiting on his power potential for years now, finally breaking through last season. However, questions still linger about whether it was the first step toward a continued power surge or a fluky one year spike. There have been enough concerns from those smarter than I that Hur doesn’t have the physical strength to ever be much more than the occasional gap power hitter professionally. I suppose to take that viewpoint would be to make the claim that last season was a power outlier. On top of that, Hur doesn’t really have any standout tools to speak of. He has average range and a decent throwing arm. He’ll be a late round senior sign.
JR OF Todd Eskelin (2010 – Cal State Northridge) only has a limited of college at bats to his credit, but it hasn’t stopped him from producing when called upon. Real above-average power potential is there, but it’ll be interesting to see if his swing for the fences approach works once pitchers get more of a read on his strengths and weaknesses. Without much else to say, how about checking out a funny typo from the “Personal” section of the Cal State Northridge website? There it informs us that Eskelin’s “favorites include television show ‘Smallville’ and eggs.” I had a roommate in college who Netflixed every episode of Smallville (pretty sure he had a crush on Tom Welling), but I never got into it; Eggs on the other hand, now that’s quality TV.
SR OF TJ Mittelstaedt (2010 – Long Beach State) might be able to play second base professionally, a potential boon to his erstwhile lackluster draft standing. He has a strong arm, good present power, and good plate discipline, but the real key in differentiating himself from so many similar college outfielders will be whether or not a team wants to gamble on him as an infielder.
JR OF Ryan Fisher (2010 – UC Irvine) has a good frame (6-3, 210), steady college production, good power, and a nice swing. He’s yet another non-starter in the corner outfield, so his value is inherently limited. However, all of that changes quickly if he can play third base or second base as some think. Fisher as a left fielder…no thanks. Fisher as a second baseman…I’m intrigued.
SR OF Cory Olson (2010 – UC Irvine) is a good defender, shows solid leadoff hitter skills (great approach, decent speed) and enough pop to keep pitchers honest. His tools cup doesn’t runneth over, but he is a well-rounded player that offers enough in the way of secondary skills to make him a worthwhile prospect to watch. I also happen to like this quote: “It sounds simple, but I try to only swing at strikes and pitches in the zone of my swing,” said Olson. “If I get a hit, I get a hit, and if I get out, I get out. I don’t put pressure on myself. I see through the ball and let the bat do the work.” Any player more focused on process than results is alright in my book.
SR OF Adam Melker (2010 – Cal Poly) has shown decent gap power, a good approach at the plate, and versatility in the field. He’s a step behind fellow Big West senior outfielders Michael Hur (better tools) and TJ Mittelstaedt (might be able to play second), but still in the running for a late round senior sign draft selection.
JR OF DJ Gentile (2010 – Cal Poly) gets the lightning round treatment. Shows some promise with the bat! Once a 43rd round pick of Cleveland! Not a good defender!
SR OF Sean Madigan (2010 – UC Irvine) returns to action this spring after missing almost all of 2009 with an injury. He put up decent numbers his first two seasons, flashing the occasional power and decent all-around tools. He’s a long shot to get drafted, but it’ll come down to his senior year production more than anything.
JR OF Christian Ramirez (2010 – UC Irvine) has some pop, some patience, some speed, and some pretty nothing special pretty uninspiring defensive scouting reports. I bet we’ll have a similar conversation about Ramirez this time next year.
SR OF Dillon Bell (2010 – UC Irvine) has one of the prettiest lefthanded swings in all of college baseball. Beautiful swing, decent production…something doesn’t quite add up there. His value will be tied up almost entirely in his bat, so the production needs to take a jump from decent to fantastic if he wants to get drafted late.
JR OF Derek Eligio (2010 – UC Santa Barbara) flashed some pop, above-average speed, and impressive range in center while at Santa Ana College, above-average speed. Scouts and coaches have both said he improved markedly from his freshman to his sophomore season, so there is some hope he’ll see another jump in offensive output in 2010.
JR OF Jono Grayson (2010 – Cal Poly) gets a mention here as a potential late round flier. The accomplished slotback, wide receiver, and return man will attempt to crack the Cal Poly outfield in 2010. He has a good high school track record, but is currently slated to start off as a backup. His plus athleticism makes him a name worth storing away in the deepest darkest recesses in your mind.
SR OF Ryan Tregoning (2010 – UC Santa Barbara) is a big guy (6-3, 200) who had an accomplished junior college career, coming to Santa Barbara with a strong reputation as a hitter. He was more aggressive than expected with Santa Barbara in 2009, getting away from his patient juco ways. If he can get himself more regular playing time in 2010, it’ll be interesting to see if he goes back to waiting on something to drive rather than hacking away at the first ball within eight inches off the plate. Even if he reverts back to the patient, powerful junior college version of himself questions will remain about what else he offers besides a bat.