1. Cal State Fullerton JR SS Christian Colon
2. Kansas State JR SS Carter Jurica
3. Duke JR SS Jake Lemmerman
4. Long Beach State JR SS Devin Lohman
5. Alabama JR SS Josh Rutledge
6. Virginia Tech JR SS Tim Smalling
7. Rice JR SS Rick Hague
8. James Madison JR SS David Herbek
9. Virginia SR SS Tyler Cannon
10. Arizona State SO SS Drew Maggi
11. Fresno State JR SS Danny Muno
12. East Carolina JR SS Dustin Harrington
13. Francis Marion SR SS Barrett Kleinknecht
14. Old Dominion SR SS Jake McAloose
15. Central Arizona FR SS Sam Lind
16. Virginia Military Institute JR SS Sam Roberts
17. San Francisco SR Derek Poppert
18. Creighton JR SS Elliot Soto
19. Kennesaw State SR SS Tyler Stubblefield
20. Florida Atlantic JR SS Nick DelGuidice
21. North Carolina SR SS Ryan Graepel
22. UT-San Antonio JR SS Ryan Hutson
23. Florida State SR SS Stephen Cardullo
24. Texas Tech SR SS Joey Kenworthy
25. Kansas JR SS Brandon Macias
26. Michigan State JR SS Jonathan Roof
27. Texas A&M JR SS Kenny Jackson
28. Washington State JR SS Shea Vucinich
29. Minnesota SO SS AJ Pettersen
30. San Diego JR SS Zach Walters
Reports on the 30 players listed above with a few extra prospects who didn’t make the list for good measure, after the jump. Stat lines are as of mid-May 2010 and are park/schedule adjusted. They include BA/OBP/SLG, BB/K, and SB/Attempts…
Cal State Fullerton JR SS Christian Colon (.353/.451/.620 – 27/9 – 11/17)
As hard as I’ve been on Colon in the past, there really is no denying his potential as a league average or better big league middle infielder. There are still too many 50s and 55s on his scouting report (speed, arm, range, power) to keep me from rushing out and spending a pick in the top half of the first round on him, but a quick scan of big league rosters gives some real perspective about how valuable a steady fielding shortstop with power to the gaps and excellent plate discipline can be. I liken Colon’s big league upside to Stephen Drew with more patience and less home run power. As Erik Manning’s recent work hammers home, a first round prospect capable of putting up 3.0 WAR in a season is a rare and beautiful thing.
Kansas State JR SS Carter Jurica (.360/.448/.593 – 28/21 – 18/23)
Long Beach State JR SS Devin Lohman (.456/.518/.612 – 18/24 – 7/16)
Duke JR SS Jake Lemmerman (.335/.419/.588 – 25/26 – 8/11)
Virginia Tech JR SS Tim Smalling (.389/.436/.636 – 11/29 – 5/7)
Jurica has always had the right tools to succeed (plus speed, enough pop to keep good pitching honest, impressive athleticism), so it’s no shock to see him finally put it all together in 2010. I like him more than most, but still believe he’s a player who will need a healthy number of at bats in the low minors before figuring things out professionally. Lohman has a similar scouting profile, but less ultimate upside; good, but not great speed and lesser long-term power projection put him below Jurica for me. He’s still a candidate to start professionally if he lands in the right situation. The strong recent history of Long Beach shortstops certainly won’t hurt come draft day. Good size (6-3, 207) and a strong arm make Smalling look like a player capable of playing third professionally, but his skill set is still far better suited for shortstop. Good footwork and soft hands should keep him up the middle going forward, but that aforementioned potential for defensive versatility should help him in his cause for playing time at the next level. It may be a little strange to see a player like Smalling, a guy with a well earned reputation as being more than a little hacktastic listed as a potential big league starter, but his combined hit/power tools rival those of almost any draft-eligible middle infielder in the class. Lemmerman is a speedy, smart base runner with enough untapped potential with the bat to legitimately claim an everyday role professionally someday. Lemmerman is already a plus defender with quick hands, above-average range, and an uncanny knack for turning the double play. The renewed interest in defense should help Lemmerman as much as just about any player in this year’s college class.
Alabama JR SS Josh Rutledge (.402/.446/.594 – 12/29 – 12/14)
Rice JR SS Rick Hague (.332/395/.561 – 21/42 – 6/7)
Rutledge and Hague both have the talent to play big league baseball, but recent chinks in their scouting armor have me a bit bearish on their draft stock. Each player has the defensive tools to stick at short though neither guy is a lock to stay there professionally. Really, and I say this from a complete outsider’s viewpoint, I think it’ll come down to a lot of those unknown intangibles with both prospects. The raw tools are nice – Hague has struggled defensively, but I still think he’s got the hands and feet for short; Rutledge has a pretty swing that generates surprising power when he’s going good at the plate – but each player has had their fair share of ups and downs on the diamond. Without a true plus tool between the pair, certain mystical intangible X-factors (willingness to put extra time in, ability to cope with failure, receptiveness to coaching) could, and I stress could, be what turns either Rutledge or Hague from an inconsistent collegiate player to a legitimate big league contributor.
First Infielder Off the Bench
James Madison JR SS David Herbek (.327/.427/.551 – 17/26 – 10/12)
Virginia SR SS Tyler Cannon (.370/.450/.549 – 27/26 – 10/14)
Fresno State JR SS Danny Muno (.338/.456/.472 – 39/29 – 9/12)
Arizona State SO SS Drew Maggi (.366/.469/.454 – 34/32 – 32/39)
I’d take any of these guys on my big league bench because a) they all can play multiple defensive spots, b) they all bring at least one impressive tool or skill to the table offensively, and c) they all have shown a willingness to take close pitches to get themselves into more advantageous hitter’s counts. As an above-average shortstop and a potential plus defender anywhere else in the infield, Herbek is a certifiable draft sleeper. He currently has gap power to all fields, but his beautifully level line drive stroke (reminiscent of Bill Mueller’s righthanded swing) has me thinking there is double digit home run potential if he can add some strength in the coming years. I’ve compared Cannon to former big league utility infielder Eric Bruntlett (who hit .342/.463/.485 with more walks than strikeouts for Stanford in his third and final year as a college player) in the past, a resemblance many first think of as an insult, but one I consider to be a compliment. Cannon is a proven versatile defender at the college level who, as previously mentioned, doesn’t really have any glaring deficiencies in his tool set, minus a lack of long ball power. His approach is professional quality and his ability to play anywhere, catcher included, should make him an attractive mid-round senior sign. Muno and Maggi both lack any kind of meaningful power, yet get by as prospects on the strength of their clever base running, instinctive feel for the game, and a disciplined approach in every at bat. Maggi’s the more interesting prospect based on his plus speed and better defense, but it’s close.
East Carolina JR SS Dustin Harrington
Francis Marion SR SS Barrett Kleinknecht (.366/.414/.668 – 18/14 – 10/12)
I don’t know what to make of either one of these prospects, other than the fact I like both. Harrington has really good defensive instincts at short and enough pop to have some thinking he’s a credible starting option down the line. I think he’d be stretched as a starter, but could very well hit enough to go from a solid organization player to a decent in-house backup infield call-up option. Questions will have to be answered about his dismissal from the East Carolina squad, however. Kleinknecht has an intriguing mix of power, arm strength, and defensive upside. The biggest question he’ll have to answer will be about his collegiate level of competition. It’s really hard to say if/when these guys will be drafted, but both strike me as possible “Oh yeah, we drafted him five years ago, forgot all about him, and, oh my gosh, now he’s in AAA just one injury away from getting called up to ride the pine for a few weeks” kind of prospects.
Will They Sign?
Central Arizona FR SS Sam Lind
Virginia Military Institute JR SS Sam Roberts (.335/.451/.566 – 38/31 – 9/15)
Lind has a strong glove and a stronger arm who put up really impressive numbers as a junior college freshman. Pro teams have reportedly been hot on his trail this spring as they attempt to gauge his signability for the upcoming draft. The former Missouri Tiger seems a better than 50/50 shot to hear his name called in a few weeks. Roberts is a do-it-all utility player for VMI that leads off, plays short, and takes the hill every weekend as a starting pitcher. As a college player, there’s little he doesn’t do well and he’s been producing at a big time clip since first stepping on campus. The question of how it’ll translate to professional ball remains to be seen, but I’ve heard that some scouts are extremely cool on Roberts signing a pro contract if drafted. We’ll see.
Leadoff Hitter Skillset
Old Dominion SR SS Jake McAloose (.308/.446/.534 – 30/35 – 5/6)
San Francisco SR Derek Poppert (.325/.391/.482 – 19/16 – 11/16)
Kennesaw State SR SS Tyler Stubblefield (.281/.382/.479 – 27/24 – 19/19)
Minnesota State Mankato SR SS Kosuke Hattori (.330/.414/.422 – 28/25 – 35/40)
These prospects all have at least some potential as table setting minor leaguers. McAloose is the best of the bunch due to his big league average power potential. Poppert, Stubblefield, and Hattori all are limited by their lack of strength, but all three have the speed to perhaps warrant a late round flier. The Japanese born Minnesota State Mankato star has drawn rave reviews for his almost supernatural ability to drop bunts anywhere he wants.
Texas Tech SR SS Joey Kenworthy (.314/.443/.457 – 35/14 – 7/12)
Florida State SR SS Stephen Cardullo (.271/.412/.415 – 41/34 – 17/17)
Kansas JR SS Brandon Macias (.279/.328/.413 – 10/24 – 1/2)
Washington State JR SS Shea Vucinich (.260/.371/.418 – 18/24 – 4/6)
UCLA JR SS Niko Gallego (.268/.394/.405 – 21/26 – 17/18)
Opposing fans do a double take when the 5-5, 160 pound Kenworthy steps up to the plate for the first time, but his solid defense and not completely worthless bat (how’s that for a ringing endorsement?) typically give him the last laugh. I wonder if Kenworthy’s draft stock would have been higher if he was a senior coming out of school at the height of post-World Series Angels victory induced David Eckstein craze of a few years ago. His great plate discipline (in no small part due to his teeny tiny strike zone) is exciting, but the lack of physical strength and projection make him a long shot at best.
Cardullo has managed to maintain some of the gains (largely those made in his mature, discipline approach at the plate) while still showing just barely enough of the gap power to keep scouts believing he has enough pop to spend a late-round pick on him. I liken him to a less acclaimed version of former teammate Tony Delmonico, 2008 6th round pick of the Dodgers. Delmonico has seen time behind the plate and on the right side of the infield in the minors so far, a path that could be the best hope for Cardullo (who already has some college experience at both first and second) to follow if he wants to someday crack a big league roster. Without sounding too much like a broken record, defensive value through versatility will be a large part of what gets any of the above players to the big leagues. Steady defense at all five infield defensive spots + professional approach taken to every at bat + gap power + average speed = potential big league utility player. It’s never really that simple, but it’s the best hope a player this far down the list has of ever making it to the show.
Macias has received universal praise for his outstanding work ethic and love of the game, and his big first year playing for South Mountain (in a wood bat league, no less) had scouts thinking they were watching a future everyday shortstop in the making. A disappointing sophomore season chock full of struggles due in large part to a nagging hamstring injury took him off the radar to some degree, but, despite the down year, Macias showed off enough evidence that he’s a player with all five tools (in addition to the aforementioned defensive gifts, Macias has above-average speed and good gap power) present in his game. A lackluster junior campaign has scouts back down on Macias, so much so that it is believed it is in his best interest to return to Lawrence for a senior season. If it is his intent to play pro ball right away, perhaps Kansas’ surprisingly rich recent history of shortstops drafted into the professional ranks will work in his favor. Many talent evaluators look for programs that have coaching staffs with reputations coaching up certain positions or player types; in this way, similar to Devin Lohman and Long Beach State, Kansas’ strong track record developing up the middle types could be Macias’ gain this June.
Reports on Vucinich’s defense vary depending on the day, but most seem to agree his upside with the glove is significant. I’ve even heard some evaluators touting him as a potential plus defender up the middle. Vucinich has shown solid power progression while with the Cougars. That’s the good news. The less good news is centered around Vucinich’s aggressive approach at the plate. His free swinging ways help explain some of power output (swing hard at anything around the plate and sometimes the ball goes very far), but it’s also gotten him in trouble in the past. Something about his skill set has me really curious about locking down some worthwhile comps. Best two I came up with are former Padres starting SS/2B Damian Jackson (44th rounder) and current Red Sox minor leaguer Tug Hulett (14th rounder). Vucinich would be very lucky to split the difference between the two, both in eventual draft landing spot and pro career accomplishments. He may be best served returning to school for a senior season.
Gallego didn’t do much to impress in his first two years with the Bruins, but experience in two quality wood bat summer leagues (Northwoods League and Cape Cod League) and pro baseball bloodlines (father Mike had almost 3,000 big league at bats) make him a good bet to hear his name called on draft day. His decent junior year helps a little, but Gallego’s most realistic outcome remains as an organizational player.
Good Athletes with Enough Skill to Maybe Survive
Michigan State JR SS Jonathan Roof (.320/.380/.469 – 17/24 – 13/18)
Akron SR SS Kevin Haas (.329/.399/.444 – 21/33 – 4/4)
Minnesota SO SS AJ Pettersen (.311/.388/.413 – 20/32 – 3/7)
San Diego JR SS Zach Walters (.268/.330/.412 – 10/16 – 0/0)
Creighton JR SS Elliot Soto (.287/.371/.437 – 23/22 – 7/8)
North Carolina SR SS Ryan Graepel (.329/.462/.506 – 40/21 – 2/3)
UT-San Antonio JR SS Ryan Hutson (.331/.422/.600 – 20/41 – 3/4)
Roof is a very good athlete capable of playing multiple infield spots. I’ve heard a few teams may be thinking about trying him behind the plate professionally, but haven’t been able to confirm it. Haas has a strong bat and a good glove. Pettersen has disappointed in the secondary areas this spring, but his hit tool remains at least average for the position so it’s possible he’ll get popped in the teens all the same. Walters is another good athlete with a strong arm, but players with little speed and power tend to get lost along the way. Soto has the tools to be a plus defender at short. Graepel and Hutson are each in the midst of wonderful college seasons, but offer little projection beyond what they currently are.
Deep Sleepers with Broken Alarm Clocks
UNLV JR Richie Jimenez (.222/.283/.267 – 12/19 – 2/2)
Texas A&M JR SS Kenny Jackson (.282/.393/.311 – 19/17 – 3/6)
The far less heralded, less accomplished version of disappointing college juniors really let me down this year. Rick Hague and Josh Rutledge may get top billing, but these two went from legit mid-round steals to just hoping to be drafted by Wednesday night prospects. Jimenez, when he’s right, is a solid three-tool player (arm, defense, bat) who has at least hinted at some power projection in the past. Jackson was my top rated Big XII shortstop heading into the year. The former Alvin College shortstop reminded me of current Cardinals starter Brendan Ryan. Both players are smooth defenders, possess strong arms, bigger than usual shortstop frames, and enough offensive skills and defensive consistency to provide value as a starter. Instead, his defense never got on track, his offense sputtered, and a return to College Station may be his only chance of ever reaching the lofty double digit power numbers I once thought he had in him.
They’re With Me, Leather
Florida Atlantic JR SS Nick DelGuidice (.304/.359/.495 – 19/25 – 3/3)
Florida International SR SS Junior Arrojo (.276/.409/.346 – 21/30 – 18/20)
UNC Wilmington SR SS Mike Rooney (.292/.393/.347 – 29/21 – 11/12)
Wagner JR SS Brian Martutartus (.309/.371/.463 – 11/30 – 13/16)
South Carolina SR SS Bobby Haney (.230/.298/.311 – 12/20 – 1/1)
Stanford JR SS Jake Schlander (.254/.367/.362 – 23/17 – 1/0)
Plus defenders, all. Unfortunately, only DelGuidice has shown enough consistency with the bat to profile as anything more than organizational filler at this point. I’ve been relatively high on Arrojo (plus base stealer), Rooney (good plate discipline), and Schlander (raw skills to at least be competent as a hitter), but can’t endorse any listed player beyond DelGuidice as top half of the draft possibilities.
Richmond SR SS Victor Croglio (.210/.324/.294 – 11/27 – 3/4)
Arizona JR SS Bryce Ortega (.245/.385/.255 – 17/13 – 11/12)
Lewis-Clark State SR SS Todd Muecklisch (.333/.431/690 – 4/8 – 2/3)
Nova Southeastern JR SS Luis Penate
Muecklisch and Penata flashed some promise this year. Both players qualify as super duper deep sleepers heading into the draft, especially Muecklisch, a guy capable of playing above-average defense with superb bat control. Croglio and Ortega both crashed and burned in 2010. Ortega should return to school in an attempt to resuscitate his barely breathing draft stock. Sadly, Croglio, a senior, doesn’t have that option.