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2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Duke Blue Devils

1. The more college profiles I do, the less I realize I have to say about the actual college team being profiled. Duke will be competitive, I’m sure, but they won’t be close to a top division club in the perennially strong ACC. That’s about all I can really tell you about how the Blue Devils will do this year and even that “prediction” (if we can call my patented “maybe they’ll be good, maybe they’ll be beat…who knows?” line a prediction) is one made with limited confidence. What I can tell you, I hope, is that Duke has four players who look like better than average bets to get drafted this June. That has to be good for something, right?

The two best of the four are JR LHP Eric Pfisterer and JR OF Will Piwnica-Worms. Every year there are a number of pitchability lefthanders with three solid pitches and good command who get lost in the mid-round shuffle. Pfisterer, a big recruit two years ago who has lived up to the billing so far, could be part of that mix this year. Steven Proscia’s former high school teammate throws a high-80s/low-90s fastball (peaking at 92 MPH), good changeup, and decent low-70s curveball. Not sure if it is fair to call Piwnica-Worms a sleeper or not, but his combination of solid all around tools and quietly productive 2010 season (.323/.402/.530 – 21 BB/24 K – 217 AB) make him a potential top ten round player in my eyes. I once thought of players like Piwnica-Worms (tweeners who might not hit enough for a corner, but don’t quite have the glove for everyday play in center) as ideal fourth outfielder candidates, but the renewed vigor teams are emphasizing defensive skills makes me wonder. If Piwnica-Worms can play plus defense in a corner — and I’m not saying I know he can or can’t, I don’t know either way — then isn’t it possible a team might consider it worthwhile to play him out there every day?

2. The second quick thought almost always winds up being about a non-2011 draft prospect. Might as well continue the trend. It pains me to make the comparison because a) it’s been done before and b) it’s too easy from a race/build standpoint, but the idea of current Duke RHP/SS Marcus Stroman (2012) playing the role of late career Tom Gordon going forward makes a heck of a lot of sense any way you look at it. The Stroman/Gordon comparison has been bandied about since the former’s prep days, so I took it upon myself to find somebody willing to give me a different comp. I wanted something different not for the  sake of being different for difference’s sake — I love conformity far too much to ever go that route — but because at some point down the line I just got plain bored of hearing the same comp over and over again. Finally, after bothering way too many people, I heard a comp that makes some sense: current Astros reliever Brandon Lyon. Lyon’s a little bit bigger with a bit more mustard on his breaking ball, but it’s a decent starting point, especially for somebody who hasn’t seen Stroman throw.

I’d love to see Stroman continue to progress this year and next, especially as he tries to polish up a third pitch. If he can do that, then he can go into pro ball with the upside of early career Tom Gordon, i.e. a potential above-average professional starting pitcher. I should make clear I haven’t heard any updates on Stroman since last spring. He could be throwing a dynamite changeup, cutter, splitter, or slow curve for all I know, but, as of this moment, all I know is that he’s predominantly a two-pitch guy. I also love him as a middle infield prospect, by the way.

3. Of the teams profiled so far (Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech), I’d rank the current crop of draftable lefthanded pitchers, in order, as Jed Bradley (GT), Austin Stadler (WF), Eric Pfisterer, and Mark Adzick (WF). I’d rank the outfielders, in order, Steven Brooks (WF), Will Piwnica-Worms, and Brian Litwin. My goal is to keep a running list of certain positions of interest, so consider this last thought more for my own edification than anything else. Kind of a ripoff, come to think of it. I’ll make it up in the big finish…

Early 2011 Draft Guesses

The aforementioned Eric Pfisterer and Will Piwnica-Worms should be on many a draft board this spring. I worry each player could get pegged as “great college performer, limited pro upside” types, but big junior years from a scouting perspective (an extra mile or two on Pfisterer’s fastball, some time shaved of  the 60 for Piwnica-Worms, for example) could change it. The other two Duke prospects with a chance to get popped are JR RHP Ben Grisz and JR OF Brian Litwin. Grisz offers a similar repertoire to Pfisterer, but delivers his upper-80s fastball and good lower-80s slider from the right side. I like what I was recently told about Litwin, a player who is, and I’m quoting but really paraphrasing, “strong enough to hit for big power numbers without selling out like a typical slugger, but insistent on taking big hacks every time up all the same.” Litwin’s tools are as good or better than Piwnica-Worms’s across the board, with the great big exception being his hit tool. From a skills standpoint, he also currently falls way behind his buddy in the outfield in the plate discipline department. Few doubt Litwin’s ability, but a below-average present hit tool and a really poor approach to hitting both need to turn around quickly in 2011. As it stands, I think they go off the board in that order: Pfisterer, Piwnica-Worms, Grisz, and Litwin, but you can really flip a coin between the first two. Also can’t completely rule out the potential emergence of JR RHP David Putnam (three decent or better pitches, including a good upper-70s CB) and underrated two-way player SR RHP/INF Dennis O’Grady, a really interesting senior sign possibility who has consistently gotten results at the college level.

 

The Week Ahead…

Baseball Draft Report exclusive! Your humble author’s to-do list from the holiday weekend: 1) Gain 5 pounds (check!), 2) continue to grow hobo beard well past the point accepted in typical workplace (check!), and 3) write some junk about baseball players born in the ’90’s (check!). New plan: 1) Lose the 5 points before Christmas so that I can gain it back guilt-free over the longer holiday break, 2) shave beard so the nice old lady on the subway won’t move to a different train after I get on, and 3) actually publish the junk about baseball players that I worked so diligently on during my time off from work. Exercise regimen begins today, beard is already dead and buried, and the posting schedule for the upcoming week is actually planned in advanced for the first time in months. Here’s where I’m at right now…

Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech are already on display for your viewing pleasure/scornful wrath. Some 2011 draft thoughts on Duke, Virginia, North Carolina State, Miami, Florida State, Maryland, and Cincinnati are 99% done and in the editing stages, so expect to see all of those schools profiled in the next two weeks. I also have 90% of my college position rankings complete, so expect to see a Top (Whatever Number I Decide to Stop At) for college catchers (I know I wrote about them already, but I want to make some revisions already), college first basemen, college second basemen, college third basemen, college shortstops, college outfielders, college lefthanded pitchers, and college righthanded pitchers. I’m also sitting on some pretty weird prep rankings (for these I might start with a pitcher list and a position player list and leave more specific position breakdowns for the spring) that I’d like to roll out soon, so stay tuned for that.

The tentative schedule for the week ahead looks like this, but I’ll throw out this offer to any of my whopping 300 daily readers right now: pick any team from the above list and you’ll see it instantly OR pick any team in all of college baseball (assuming I have an updated 2011 roster…North Carolina, Boston College, and Clemson are killing me!) and you’ll see it either by the end of this week or early next week.

  • Tuesday – Duke 2011 Draft Preview
  • Wednesday – Miami 2011 Draft Preview (Gruden free!)
  • Thursday – 2011 Draft Top College 1B
  • Friday – Florida State 2011 Draft Preview

2011 MLB Draft – Top College Catching Prospects

I mentioned recently how I enjoy this time of year. There’s no doubt that I miss watching baseball regularly, but the inactivity of the winter season lends itself to loads of deep draft thoughts, if such thoughts are actually possible. My deep thoughts of this particular day revolve around the 2011 college catching class, a position group that lacks top level talent but impresses with depth.

Before we get to the rankings, allow me to share another reason why I enjoy this time of year. It’s not just the ability to spend the cold, long winter nights thinking about the draft that has me excited about the winter. It’s the way I look forward to the uncertainty, fluidity, and variety of early season draft rankings. By May, every list you see is more or less the same, with maybe a few random names moved up or down a spot or two to spice things up. In November/December/January, there aren’t enough rankings publicly available to steal ideas even if you wanted to. Originality, for better or worse, rules the day.

This should all make sense after a look at the 2011 college catching prospect rankings. The list is extremely preliminary and subject to change on a whim. The first iteration, with a few notes here and there, are finally ready to see the light of day…

1. Zach Komentani (San Diego)

2. Andrew Susac (Oregon State)

3. Pratt Maynard (North Carolina State)

4. Jeremy Schaffer (Tulane)

5. Jett Bandy (Arizona)

6. CJ Cron (Utah)

Love Komentani’s upside both at the plate and behind it. Plus raw power, super quick wrists, plus throwing arm, raw defender at present but above-average tools should turn into playable skills in time, good athleticism, and overwhelmingly positive results when called upon for both San Diego last spring and this summer’s Prospect League. Maynard’s plate discipline and overall approach to hitting gets me all hot and bothered, but I wonder if his defensive versatility will blind some teams to the fact he is a more than capable defensive catcher. Schaffer, Bandy, and Cron have similar scouting profiles (above-average to plus arm strength, raw defensively but tools to work with, potential above-average bats at position), but Schaffer’s raw power upside gives him the edge for me, despite Cron’s crazy 2010 power display.

Susac not in the top spot is different, but I’m breaking one of my own rules here and opting for the wait and see approach with his 2011 season development. One of my biggest prospecting pet peeves is when someone says “Player X is due for a breakout, look for him to shoot up the rankings next year!” because, really, what does that even tell us? If he plays well this season, then he’s a good prospect? Well, to steal a phrase from fourth grade me, no duh! Susac has the two things teams look for in catching prospects — raw power and raw arm strength — but, based on what I’ve seen and heard dating back to his high school days, Susac strikes me as a five o’clock hitter at this point in his development. Then again, those batting practice displays are pretty darn special, special enough to get him the second overall spot despite his so-so freshman campaign. I think the report on Susac from May 2009 holds up, especially if you ignore the fact I didn’t realize he’d be draft-eligible in 2011:

Andrew Susac (California) – maybe the best arm in class, very quick pop times (1.8 – 1.9 seconds), and an impressive overall all-around defender; very strong, but questionable (at best) swing mechanics; raw power is there, but he is a definite project; would love to see him follow through on his commitment to Oregon State, where he could develop into a potential first rounder in 2012

7. Pete O’Brien (Bethune Cookman)

8. Beau Taylor (Central Florida)

9. Michael Williams (Kentucky)

O’Brien’s all-or-nothing approach and questionable defensive future gives me pause. Mike Williams offers a similar approach at the plate — hacktastic, but plus power upside — and much, much better defensive skills, but loses out in a comparison to O’Brien based largely on the 2010 performance gap between the two.

10. Hommy Rosado (LSU-Eunice)

11. Kevan Smith (Pittsburgh)

12. Christian Glisson (Georgia)

13. Steve Rodriguez (UCLA)

14. John Hicks (Virginia)

I honestly have no idea what to expect out of Rosado going forward, but his awesome power upside has me forgiving reports of his less than thrilling defensive chops. Smith’s upside is unusually high for a college senior because he’s spent so much time away from the diamond while concentrating on something called “football” instead. Glisson and Rodriguez both are line drive hitters with strong catch and throw reputations.

15. Nate Johnson (Pepperdine)

16. Nick Rickles (Stetson)

17. Austin Barnes (Arizona State)

18. Kenny Swab (Virginia)

19. Geno Escalante (Chipola JC)

Johnson this high is purely speculative on my end; love the swing so much that I think he’s due for a big 2011. As a player who profiles as a potential plus-plus defender, Barnes is the opposite end of the spectrum. Escalante, like Susac, was part of the loaded 2009 prep catching class. His report, also from May 2009:

Geno Escalante (California) – defense-first catcher, with a bat that needs plenty of polish to even be considered average; name makes it sound like he should be an East Coast prospect, but he’s a California kid who is committed to attend Cal State Fullerton if he doesn’t get paid; lesser version of Steve Baron in my mind

Lesser version of Steve Baron was perhaps a tad harsh, but I stand by it.

20. Parker Brunelle (Florida State)

21. Chris Schaeffer (North Carolina State)

Brunelle and Schaeffer are both personal favorites, Brunelle especially. As I’ve written before, Brunelle, a top high school prospect way back when, has disappointed since enrolling at Florida State. He’s still an outstanding athlete with a line drive swing, so there may still be some hope he’s another late blooming catching prospect. Unfortunately, the lack of power and an average at best throwing arm represent two major strikes against him. Since publishing that last June, I’ve received multiple positive reports out of Tallahassee, leading me to believe that I had originally undersold his throwing arm and mobility behind the plate. I’d love to get another close look at the high upside senior sign this spring.

22. Taylor Hightower (Mississippi)

23. Ben McMahan (Florida)

24. Adam Davis (Illinois)

Hightower, McMahan, and Davis are all jockeying for position to become 2012’s high character, plus defender senior sign backup catcher type who makes good, a la TCU’s Bryan Holaday.

25. Tyler Ogle (Oklahoma)

26. James McCann (Arkansas)

Way low on both Ogle and McCann relative to what else I’ve read, but both looked like mistake hitters with limited upside to me.

27. Ronnie Shaeffer (UC Irvine)

28. Rafael Lopez (Florida State)

29. Phil Pohl (Clemson)

    Extremely Preliminary 2011 MLB Draft Top 18 College 3B

    I think this might be my favorite part of the draft cycle. The annual winter lull. Major showcases are out of the way, summer is but a distant memory, and we’re still a good three months away from meaningful amateur baseball. Now is the time to sit back, review some notes, and, in a word, learn. I realize this sounds super corny, but that last part, the learning, is what makes this my favorite time of year. I never know as much about this stuff as I think I do, so compiling my initial position rankings always winds up being much harder than anticipated. Not knowing as much as I think I do = the fun part. For example, today I learned that the 2011 draft is incredibly deep at a position that I hadn’t realized: college third basemen. In absolutely no order, check out a list of potential early round college 3B prospects:

    • Steven Proscia (Virginia)
    • Levi Michael (North Carolina)
    • Matt Skole (Georgia Tech)
    • Harold Martinez (Miami)
    • John Hinson (Clemson)
    • Jason Stolz (Clemson)
    • Phil Wunderlich (Louisville)
    • Jason Esposito (Vanderbilt)
    • Cody Asche (Nebraska)
    • Mark Ginther (Oklahoma State)
    • Andy Burns (Arizona)
    • Riccio Torrez (Arizona State)
    • Ricky Oropesa (Southern California)
    • Anthony Rendon (Rice)
    • BA Vollmuth (Southern Mississippi)
    • Johnny Coy (Wichita State)
    • Travis Shaw (Kent State)
    • Tyler Bream (Liberty)

    I stopped at 18 because it’s the 18th of November. If I was the type to ignore cheap gimmicks with my rankings, I might include Kyle Kubitza (Texas State) and Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) to round out the top 20. Kubitza, Channing, Wunderlich, Torrez, Oropesa, Coy, and Shaw are far from locks to stay at the hot corner in pro ball, but I’m confident enough in each player showing enough at the glove to stick, at least initially. There are also a few middle infielders that I consider likely to shift to third professionally sprinkled in with the natural third basemen. Those two considerations may have made the above list a bit of a best case scenario deal, but that’s the nature of these super early guesses.

    Quick 2011 MLB Draft Thoughts – Wake Forest Demon Deacons

    1. Good college teams can sometimes have not so exciting pro prospects. Bad college teams can sometimes have really interesting pro prospects. That kind of cognitive dissonance can be hard for hard core — dare I say, homer? — college baseball fans to accept because the discrepancies between production and projection can be tricky to spot when emotionally invested. So what kind of team will Wake Forest be in 2011? I don’t know nearly enough about the year-to-year dynamics of college baseball to have an opinion about the Wake Forest team’s prospects heading into the 2011 season, but feel confident in declaring, at least on paper, there’s a good amount of talent on the Demon Deacon’s roster, especially on the pitching side. Will the 2011 Wake Forest team be remembered as a bad college group with good pro prospects? Or will those good pro prospects produce enough to make 2011 a season to talk about?

    2. Winston-Salem will be home to two of the highest upside senior signs in 2011, OF Steven Brooks and LHP Mark Adzick. I actually am at a loss for why Steven Brooks doesn’t get more draft love — the Cubs took him in the 17th round last year, part of an overall trend of ACC outfielders (Holt, Grovatt, Rowland, and Schaus) falling way lower than expected — because he’s that rare mix of tools (plus speed, above-average raw power) and skill (great approach at plate, fantastic base runner, above-average range in CF). Adzick (upper-80s FB, very good low-70s CB, solid mid-70s CU) was seen as a potential top five round pick out of high school who fell because of a reported first round asking price. If he’s healthy and getting innings this spring, his stock could skyrocket.

    3. The Demon Deacons also have two of the most intriguing 2011 two-way prospects, JR LHP/1B Austin Stadler and SO OF/RHP Mac Williamson. Stadler’s a pretty typical three pitch lefthander (upper-80s FB, CU, CB) who has a really strong track record of success (8.69 K/9 – 3.32 BB/9 – 3.79 FIP – 78.2 IP) pitching against high level competition. Williamson, a potential catching conversion candidate at the pro level, has serious power upside and a plus arm, but his swing at everything approach could prevent him from ever getting the chance to put his crazy raw tools to use. That’s one way to look at these prospects. Most teams, however, will probably wind up considering Stadler at first base due to his much improved glove, athleticism, approach at the plate, and untapped raw power. Williamson, on the other hand, could very well be viewed as a potential late inning relief prospect because of the reported mid-90s heat to go along with a solid sinker/slider mix.

    Early 2011 Draft Guesses

    Three bullet points and no mention of one of my favorite 2011 draft “sleepers,” SO RHP Daniel Marrs. Before injuring his labrum, Marrs was a prospect on the same level of current Phillies minor leaguer Jarred Cosart. His pre-injury power stuff (most notably a 92-94 FB peaking at 97 and a good splitter that worked as CU) could tempt a team into drafting him well before his present stuff (sinking upper-80s FB, rapidly improving cutter) would typically merit. Whether or not he ever recaptures that pre-surgery stuff remains to be seen, but Marrs is good enough to continue to expand his repertoire — the new cutter was a great fall ball surprise, I’m told — if that what it takes to succeed. After Marrs, I’d rank the Wake Forest pitching prospects, in order, JR RHP Michael Dimock (plus slider and strong performances to date), Stadler, Williamson, and Adzick.  A handful of Wake relievers could garner some interest, but, really, at this point we’re just throwing names against the wall and seeing what sticks. JR LHP Zach White has the classic “everything but the kitchen sink” arsenal of pitches, JR RHP Gabe Feldman has legitimately intriguing stuff (low-90s peak FB, good mid-70s CB, potential plus cutter) but iffy command and a limited track record keep him off the slam dunk draftable list for now, and SR LHP Eli Robins has good stuff, including a good slider, but poor control has held him back so far.

    There is less to be excited offensively, as only the aforementioned Brooks is a lock to get redrafted in 2011. If you count him as a first baseman and not a pitcher, then Stadler would double the number of draftable Demon Deacon hitters. JR 3B/OF Carlos Lopez is my dark horse to go later in the draft to a team willing to bet on his interesting physical tools, including his very quick wrists.

    2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Virginia Tech Hokies

    1. One of the interesting things about previewing college teams heading into 2011 draft season is getting the chance to review what actually went down in 2010. The transition from this year’s draft to the next happens so fast that it can be hard to process what exactly happened between draft day and signing day. To wit, I would have never guessed the Hokies had a whopping 8 players selected in last year’s draft. I see almost no way they match that number this year — honestly, getting  half the amount would be an accomplishment with the talent level of Virginia Tech’s upperclassmen — but that doesn’t take away from the really impressive group of talent that graduated to the professional ranks last year. There’s no Austin Wates, Jesse Hahn, or Mathew Price in this year’s class, but prospects like JR 3B Ronnie Shaban, SR SS Tim Smalling (unsigned 14th rounder last year), and JR RHP Jake Peeling could all go as early as round 7 or 8.

    2. Pretty sure my favorite draft prospect on this year’s Virgina Tech team is a player who has yet to record his first plate appearance with the squad. FR C/OF Chad Morgan (2012 draft eligible after redshirting last season) should get all the at bats he can handle this upcoming year. Morgan has a strong bat, good pop, a plus arm, and enough athleticism to play multiple spots around the diamond. I’ve heard a “shorter Ryan Ortiz” comp that I think is appropriate. He’s one to watch.

    3. It’s funny to see where my opinions diverge with the big boys in the industry because, for reasons I really can’t explain, there seems to be a weird pattern when it comes to our differences. Let me preface this by saying that those actually in the business have way better contacts, resources, and pooled brain power devoted to what they do, so, when in doubt, go with the experts you’ve come to know and trust. Anyway, it seems that there are certain colleges and geographical regions where I consistently fall in line with the experts and certain spots where there are bigger disagreements in player preferences. This year’s group of draft eligible Virginia Tech talent falls under the umbrella of big time divergent opinion. I’m relatively down on Virginia Tech compared to many of the smarter people actually in the business, so, like always, take all this for what really is.

    Early 2011 Draft Guesses

    I only see two solid bets I’d be willing to stick my neck out on to get drafted this year out of the Virginia Tech lineup: Ronnie Shaban and Tim Smalling. Both players are flawed — Shaban lacks a standout tool and Smalling’s approach at the plate leaves much to be desired — but each does enough well — Shaban’s bat could be an above-average tool and his arm is strong while Smalling’s similarly effective bat plays even bigger up the middle — that they should be off the board within the first fifteen rounds. Jake Peeling‘s flaw is more damning as teams tend to be very wary of pitchers coming off of labrum surgery, but an average fastball, above-average slider, and good size could get him back on the prospect radar this spring.  After those three, there is a noticeable gap in Hokie draft eligible talent. SO 1B Andrew Rash has huge righthanded power, but equally large holes in his swing (20 K’s in only 90 AB last year). SO RHP Charlie McCann could be on the outside looking in as he fights for meaningful innings in the early going, but his solid three pitch mix (upper-80s FB, effective slow CB, good CU) should get him on a few follow lists for 2012 and 2013.

    2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

    1. JR LHP Jed Bradley is the obvious headliner. The Ramblin’ Wreck’s lefty ace has a shot to become Georgia Tech’s second straight Friday night starter to go in the top half in the first round in a row. I recently finished ranking 2011’s best college arms — coming soon! — with Bradley coming in as my sixth favorite college pitcher and second overall college lefthander. He’s also the highest ranked pitcher in the ACC and, with apologies to Brad Miller, Harold Martinez, and Levi Michael, the conference’s best overall prospect. In fact, now that I’m looking at my freshly completed rankings — again, coming soon! — I’m realizing that the ACC’s three best 2011 pitching prospects are all lefties. Right now it goes Bradley, Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, [big gap], and Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin. Hey, speaking of lefties…

    2. One of the most interesting draft subplots of the upcoming Yellow Jacket season could be the usage of Tech’s trio of lefties who are all decidedly on the bubble — as far as I see it — when it comes to the 2011 draft. SR LHP Taylor Wood, SR LHP Zach Brewster, and JR LHP/1B Jake Davies will all be duking it out for key late inning relief appearances parceled out by the venerable Danny Hall. I thought Brewster, a potential professional LOOGY with some seriously deceptive funk in his delivery, would show enough to get popped late in the draft last year, but he turned out to be my one Georgia Tech swing-and-a-miss during my short-lived Who Will Be Drafted? series. Damn, my guesses on North Carolina were especially brutal. Only 1 out of 7 were correct AND I missed on a player who actually did get picked. Anyway, now that I’ve refreshed the readership on my sterling track record on stuff like this, let me just say that I currently like Davies’ stuff (upper-80s FB, good SL, usable but improving CU) the best of the three, but it’s hard to pick a favorite out of these tightly bunched trio.

    3. In an effort to not overextend my reach this year, I’m focusing as much as possible on 2011 while trying to leave the great unknown of 2012 and 2013 alone. Therefore, anything I say about the next two years worth of draft eligible players ought to be taken with a gigantic chunk of salt. For example, if I were to say my favorite Georgia Tech 2012 is SO RHP Buck Farmer and my favorite Georgia Tech 2013 is FR RHP Deandre Smelter, then you might want to think to yourself, “Hey, it’s cool that I now have two names to store away in the back of my head for future drafts — even though I already know all about Smelter, some guy’s 17th highest rated prep player in 2010, from last year’s coverage — but I’ll be sure to do my own homework and/or check back in to this site in the future to learn more about each guy before coming up with any concrete opinions about either player.” Farmer’s low-90s fastball, potential plus breaking ball, and emerging changeup give him the look of a potential solid big league starter. Smelter’s upside is more tantalizing; it’s not crazy to think that he could leave school as a plus fastball, plus slider, plus splitter power pitching prospect in the mold of the player he’s received instruction from, Kevin Brown.

    Early 2011 Draft Guesses

    JR LHP Jed Bradley, JR RHP Mark Pope, JR 3B Matt Skole, and SR RHP Kevin Jacob (Josh Fields 2.0?) are all stone cold locks to see their names pop up on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker this June. I’m more bullish on JR 2B Connor Winn than most; assuming he has the year I believe he’s capable of having in 2011, he’d probably fall in after those four, but before potential high risk/high reward plays like JR OF Jarrett Didrick, JR RHP/2B Jacob Esch, and JR OF Roddy Jones on my personal rankings. After those eight prospects, we come to the three aforementioned lefthanded relievers, Wood, Brewster, and Davies. If all eleven players get popped, and keep in mind that’s obviously a gigantic if at this point in the process, then that would top last year’s remarkable ten Georgia Tech draft selections. If I was a gambling man, I’d bet on Bradley, Pope, Skole, and Jacob only, and opt to wait and see on how much playing time players like Winn, Didrick, Esch, Jones, Wood, Brewster, and Davies actually get this spring. If I was an optimistic fellow trying to sell you on these guys, I might rave about Didrick’s overflowing tool set (plenty of raw power, above-average speed and range, plus arm), Esch’s opportunity to show his quality stuff on the mound this spring after a disappointing 2010 at second base, and Jones’ borderline unfair NFL speed and athleticism. Since I’m an optimistic betting man, let’s say Bradley, Pope, Skole, Jacob, Winn, Didrick, Esch, Brewster, and Davies all get drafted this June.

    Back

    Typically, this would be a sad time. A time to go stare out the window, perhaps. Baseball is once again in hiding and it’ll be months before it returns. 2010 was a fun season, but, as the game’s best pitcher once memorably prophesied, “it’s only gonna get funner.” That original “prediction,” if we can really call it that, may not have worked out exactly the way it was intended, but it’s right on the money in this context. Any sadness that such a fun season has come to an end can hopefully be mitigated by the thought that the offseason, specifically all of crazy 2011 Draft coverage you’ll find here, can be even funner.

    For what it’s worth, and I’m sure it’s not much, there may have been a grand total of five days between the 2010 Draft and right this very moment that some work didn’t go into the site in some capacity. Obviously, 99% of that work hasn’t manifested itself into any kind of tangible content to read and/or tear apart here on the site, but things have never stopped churning behind the scenes. I hate that it played out that way, but it was necessary for the long-term survival of the site. Back to work starting Monday morning. It’s gonna be funner.

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