Whatever the term “franchise player” means to you, consider that the upside of Anthony Rendon. Will teams still think this highly of Andy Burns even after he sits out 2011 after transferring in from Kentucky? Adam Smith is a tools gamble much liked highly ranked Oregon State C Andrew Susac; both were highly touted preps who have had up-and-down collegiate careers, but remain highly regarded by most talent evaluators. There are some really good names lower on this list than I anticipated (Hinson, Buechele, Ginther, Asche, Proscia, and Bream, to name a few), but this year’s draft class is just that strong.
- Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon
- Southern Mississippi JR 3B BA Vollmuth
- Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito
- Georgia Tech JR 3B Matt Skole
- Miami JR 3B Harold Martinez
- Arizona JR 3B Andy Burns
- Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez
- Wichita State JR 3B Johnny Coy
- Texas A&M JR 3B Adam Smith
- Kent State JR 3B Travis Shaw
- Clemson JR 3B John Hinson
- Texas State JR 3B Kyle Kubitza
- Winthrop JR 3B Chas Crane
- Coastal Carolina SR 3B Scott Woodward
- Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele
- TCU SO 3B Jantzen Witte
- Texas JR 3B Kevin Lusson
- Texas-Pan American JR 3B Vincent Mejia
- San Francisco SR 3B Steven Yarrow
- Tarleton State SR 3B Chris Casazza
- Oklahoma State JR 3B Mark Ginther
- Nebraska JR 3B Cody Asche
- Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel
- Virginia JR 3B Steven Proscia
- Louisiana Tech JR 3B Matt Threlkeld
- College of Charleston JR 3B Matt Leeds
- Oklahoma City SR 3B Kirk Walker
- Baylor SO 3B Cal Towey
- Liberty JR 3B Tyler Bream
- East Carolina JR 3B Corey Thompson
The unrelenting positivity surrounding the promise of the 2011 draft class is bound to get old after a few months (negativity sells, after all), but, for now, it is a heck of a lot of fun. It was a pain in the neck filling out the last few spots on a few of the position lists last spring. This year, however, trimming down the top 30 third baseman list was an absolute chore. I haven’t been following the draft long enough to make any kind of absurd declaration about the quality of this year’s class, but, damn, this is one amazing amateur crop. Here are a few of the quality names that didn’t make my top 30 3B cut…
Mercer JR 3B Jacob Tanis
North Carolina State JR 3B Andrew Ciencin
Auburn JR 3B Creede Simpson
UC Irvine SR 3B Brian Hernandez
Jacksonville State JR 3B Sam Eberle
Tennessee SR 3B Matt Duffy
Southern Mississippi JR 3B Ashley Graeter
Florida State SR 3B Stuart Tapley
Maryland JR 3B Tomo Delp
Michigan JR 3B John Lorenz
Stetson JR 3B Ben Carhart
Clemson JR 3B Jason Stolz
North Carolina Wilmington JR 3B Cameron Cockman
Florida SR 3B Bryson Smith
Penn State JR 3B Jordan Steranka
Georgia JR 3B Colby May
This list gives you a little bit of everything, I think. Before we start I should point out that 34 four-year college third basemen were taken in last year’s draft with 6 more junior college players taken at the position. Tomorrow’s follow list will have 30 third basemen and today’s honorable mention list has 16. That 46 doesn’t include the handful of junior college players that I always seem to overlook. Context!
Hernandez, Duffy, and Smith were all on the Top 30 last year, but got squeezed out of the rankings for one reason or another this year. I called Hernandez a “whole is greater than the sum of his parts” prospect last year, and I think a season similar to the one he had in 2010 (356/421/513) should get him drafted as a late round senior sign if a team buys into his defensive versatility at the next level. Duffy is a big personal favorite who I think could have big league value based on his outstanding glove and nothing more. The comparisons last year were Jack Hannahan and Andy LaRoche, at least in terms of possible career paths. Smith was easily the biggest tumbler from last year’s list. I try not to get into too much of the good old fashioned baseball psychology, but I do wonder if both Smith and fellow 2010 junior Josh Adams struggled last year due to the weight of having to carry a young Gators offense. A return to health after a season of nagging injuries would also help.
Graeter has the chance to shoot way up in the rankings once the season gets started. He’s transferring from Pearl River CC to Southern Mississippi to form one heck of a formidable left side of the infield in Hattiesburg. I liked him more as a pitcher than a position player last year at this time, but solid defensive tools, a plus arm, and intriguing offensive upside make him a legit position player in his own right. Tomo Delp is in a similar situation. His plus bat is now off to Maryland after spending time as Bryce Harper’s junior college teammate.
I’m going to do my best to stick to the original schedule laid forth earlier in the week, but the weather up here in the northeast has my already tenuous internet connection unreliable at best. On the plus side, the thundersnow — seriously, how cool is thundersnow? — has me off from work today, so that means time to catch up on a few of my lapsed draft-related duties. Stay tuned…
College second basemen selected in the first 20 rounds of the MLB Draft need to show exceptional ability in one of three offensive categories – power, plate discipline, or speed. I know, I was shocked to find out that big league clubs value those things as well. A quick study of early round college second basemen shows that 78% of college 2B taken in the top 20 rounds over the past three years showed standout skills in one of the three aforementioned areas.
I haven’t looked at the numbers from 2010, but that 78% figure runs from 2007-2009. The unscientific standards that I used for power, plate discipline, and speed were: power = minimum .550 SLG, plate discipline = more walks than strikeouts, and speed = 20+ stolen bases. Here’s how this year’s class ranked:
All 3 benchmarks reached: Wong – Michael – MacPhee
2 of 3 reached: LaStella – Medrano – Peterson – Patton – Johnson – Spangenberg
1 of 3 reached: Wright – Werman – Paolini – Wittels – Muno – Berti – Riley – Gamache – Wilson – Wychock – Pena
0 reached: Jensen – Schwind – Luciano – Jones – Black – Puhl – Heffley
Not enough at bats to qualify: Terry – Winn – Holland
I didn’t realize any of that before making my list, so it’s pretty interesting to see the top three on my personal list just so happened to be the only three players to hit on all three statistical benchmarks. Looking back on that 2007-2009 pool of players, the best player during the “study” was Miami JR 2B Jemile Weeks. Weeks put up a junior year line of 363/.452/.641 with a BB/K ratio of 35/38 and stole 22 bases in 23 tries. Compare the following lines [Draft Year – Player: BA/OBP/SLG (BB/K) (SB/SBA)]:
2008 Weeks: 363/452/641 (35/38) (22/23)
2010 Wong: 438/507/657 (37/19) (20/27)
2010 Michael: 374/509/621 (48/24) (22/24)
2010 MacPhee: 380/483/647 (42/36) (20/24)
2010 LaStella: 388/471/659 (34/14) (6/6)
2010 Wright: 370/418/642 (21/25) (10/11)
2010 Medrano: 443/512/614 (31/24) (17/19)
There is more to amateur player evaluation than just numbers, of course. Wong and Michael absolutely have scouting reports on par with the junior year version of Weeks. I’d argue for MacPhee at or near the same point, but that might be just me. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: 2011 is a great draft for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the outstanding quality of collegiate second base prospects. A few quick words on a few other prospects I love…
Joe Terry is one of my favorites. Here’s what I wrote about him last year:
Terry is the quintessential hitting machine who finds a way to make hard contact darn near every time he steps to the plate. He does more than just hit, however; Terry is also an above-average runner with a strong arm who, despite appearing to fight his body sometimes in the field, should settle in as at least an average second baseman with the help of professional coaching. He reinvented himself somewhat in 2010 sacrificing some power for a more patient approach.
Terry has good speed, a strong arm, and a really quick bat. As mentioned, his defense has been questioned in the past, but reports from Fullerton this fall were very favorable. This comparison isn’t perfect, but in terms of potential upside and positional versatility, Terry could have a career that looks a little like Bill Hall’s.
Peterson is a really underrated prospect that has the crazy athleticism of a former football star with the refined plate approach of a professional. With proper coaching, he has definite big league starter upside. Jensen, Johnson, and Werman all have played around the diamond and have shown enough aptitude at various positions to profile as potential utility guys. If Joe Terry is the Taylor Ard of second basemen (junior college transfers on the pro radar for years who are finally playing major college ball), Corey Spangenberg is the Jamie Bruno (prospects in limbo awaiting transfers to big programs). Spangenberg is going to Miami next fall unless a pro team takes a chance on him this June. Maybe it is just the Miami connection clouding my judgment, but I could see a possible Scott Lawson comp here.
For reference’s sake, the complete list of top 2011 college first basemen. Now some quick thoughts on a few selected players. I’m happy to add extra thoughts on any other player by request.
I think it is more likely they are no future everyday big league first basemen out of this class than there is more than one. That’s not to say we won’t see a future big league star emerge out of this class, but the odds seemed stacked against it. Obviously the players with the best chance are the ones ranked one and two on the list because, well, otherwise they wouldn’t be ranked one and two on the list. Top ranked Tucker has been covered already; number two Oropesa’s strengths (power, defense, arm, chance he could start his career at third) far outweigh his weaknesses (swing can get too long, possibility of potential contact issues down the line).
Channing’s plus power is enticing, but the Brett Wallace body comp scares the heck out of me. Ribera has similarly intriguing power, maybe more appealing if you value present power over raw upside, but the fact there is less projection to his game can be a double edged sword. I guess it should also be mentioned that, despite some internet hotshot like me being a big fan, Ribera went undrafted in 2010. A fact like that begs the simple question: what are the people paid to do this for a living seeing (or not seeing?) that I’m missing?
The only player near the top of the ranking without major college experience could position himself atop the whole list by June. Taylor Ard’s funky swing has some scouts questioning how he’ll transition to big time college ball, but I think it’ll play, especially when it comes to his power upside. His strong track record with wood, underrated athleticism, and aforementioned plus-plus raw power should make up for whatever contact deficiencies he might have to overcome. I’m as excited to see how he adjusts to the Pac-10 as I am any newcomer to the college game and the statistical breakdown between him and Oropesa will be telling.
By sheer coincidence, we have back-to-back-to-back potential-laden, yet disappointing first basemen, all in different draft-eligibility years. First, the sophomore Jamie Bruno. Bruno has all of the tools teams like for in a well-rounded first baseman, but never got on track while at Tulane. He is draft-eligible this year as he sits out while he transfers to LSU. The junior is Georgia 1B Chase Davidson. Davidson was made famous by a Jim Thome comp from his high school days, but, tell me if you’ve heard this before, hasn’t gotten it together at the college level. When locked in, Davidson looks like a potential big league regular, but, as the numbers bear out, he is locked out (opposite of locked in?) far more often. To tap into his big power, he’ll need to find a way to shrink the far too big holes in his swing. Lastly, we have senior 1B Troy Scott from Washington. Whenever you think I might know what I’m talking about, just remember that I thought Scott had a chance to sneak into the first round last year. He is a rebound candidate this year if he can get back to his patient, power hitting ways.
I feel bad leaving anybody out, so here’s a quick ranking of the power upside of each player on the list. Players are ranked in terms of power upside. I realize the two category setup is extremely simplistic, but it’s just a starting point…
Plus: Tucker, Oropesa, Channing, Ribera, Ard, Hoilman, Ramirez, Riggins, Westlake, Seitzer, Leyland, Scott, Davidson, Griffin, Hicks, Diamaduros, Kaupang
Above-Average: Espy, Snyder, Snieder, Serritella, Stadler, Bruno, Skipper, Hook, Haar, Elgie, B. Green, D. Green
- North Carolina JR 2B Levi Michael
- Hawaii JR 2B Kolten Wong
- Arizona State JR 2B Zack MacPhee
- Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Joe Terry
- Coastal Carolina JR 2B Tommy LaStella
- Louisville JR 2B Ryan Wright
- Missouri State JR 2B Kevin Medrano
- McNeese State JR 2B Jace Peterson
- Cal Poly JR 2B Matt Jensen
- Florida International JR 2B Jeremy Patton
- Florida State JR 2B Sherman Johnson
- Virginia JR 2B Keith Werman
- Siena JR 2B Dan Paolini
- Florida International JR 2B Garrett Wittels
- Fresno State SR 2B Danny Muno
- Bowling Green JR 2B Jon Berti
- Marist JR 2B Joe Schwind
- North Carolina A&T JR 2B Marquis Riley
- Auburn SR 2B Dan Gamache
- Southern SR 2B Curtis Wilson
- Georgia Tech JR 2B Connor Winn
- Towson SR 2B Chris Wychock
- TCU SR 2B Jerome Pena
- Central Florida SR 2B Derek Luciano
- UT-San Antonio SR 2B Ryan Hutson (EDIT: previously listed with SS group)
- Michigan State SO 2B Ryan Jones
- Maryland JR 2B Ryan Holland
Oklahoma SR 2B Danny Black(EDIT: signed in 2010, my mistake)
- Minnesota SO 2B Matt Puhl
- Western Carolina JR 2B Ross Heffley
- Indian River State College SO 2B Corey Spangenberg
- Georgia JR 2B Levi Hyams
As always, schedules are tentative, subject to change on a whim, and completely open to suggestions…
Monday: Top 30 College 2B Follow List
Tuesday: College 1B Commentary
Wednesday: College 2B Commentary AND Top 30 College 3B Follow List (Honorable Mentions)
Thursday: Top 30 College 3B Follow List
Friday: College 3B Commentary
Sorry for the misleading title. As you can see this post, for now, is not actually any kind of top 30 follow list. The lack of recent content was beginning to agitate me and I wanted to keep this as a placeholder until the real list is ready. Expect that to be ready by Thursday night. I really want to get all this preseason college stuff out before the college season starts — novel idea, right? — so I’ve spent more time fine tuning the college rankings at the expense of writing about high school prospects and churning out smaller daily tidbits.
So, college 2B rankings will be done later tonight, followed by more college rankings, lists, and quick scouting profiles over the next few weeks. Then we’ll transition back to more general draft talk, e.g. big boards, player updates, high school rankings, and, maybe, a mock draft. Thanks for sticking with it.
UPDATE: Almost ready, but there are a few stumbling blocks. Figured I’d get them out there and see if anybody had any thoughts…
1. I moved LSU JR Tyler Hanover and UCLA JR Tyler Rahmatulla from the original second base list to the forthcoming shortstop list. Feeling pretty good there, but could be convinced otherwise.
2. I currently have Clemson JR Brad Miller with the shortstops, but am now second guessing myself and considering moving him to the second base list. Really not sure about that one. Probably should have just done a middle infield ranking and called it a day…
3. Where in the world does Arizona State JR Riccio Torrez project to play professionally? I’ve seen or heard legitimate sources have him pegged as a 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, corner OF, and potential catching conversion. I’m personally debating between 2B and 3B, but, again, could be convinced I’m missing the boat entirely on his future position. Leaning towards 3B, for what it’s worth.
4. I had my list almost done before I checked last year’s list one last time. Big mistake. As far as I can tell, Adams, Luciano, Hopkins, Valenzuela, LePage, Riley, Brown, and Wilson are all players from last year’s list who are back in school in 2011. Now my list is 45 prospects deep…time to start making some cuts.
UPDATE 2.0: A few players who didn’t make the Top 30 cut…
Oklahoma State SR 2B Tom Belza (EDIT: signed in 2010, my mistake)
Georgia JR 2B Levi Hyams
Arkansas JR 2B Bo Bigham
Texas JR 2B Jordan Etier
Southern California SR 2B Joe De Pinto
Tennessee JR 2B Khayyan Norfork
Purdue JR 2B Eric Charles
Southeastern Louisiana SR 2B Cass Hargis
Cincinnati JR 2B TJ Jones
Illinois SR 2B Pete Cappetta
Richmond JR 2B/SS Adam McConnell
Arizona SR 2B Rafael Valenzuela
Sam Houston State SR 2B Braeden Riley
Florida SR 2B Josh Adams
One of the few things I’ve learned from a quick review of some of last year’s draft lists is that fewer mid-round middle infield college prospects sign than expected. At this point, I’d be pretty surprised if any of the juniors listed above are in professional organizations next year at this time. Of the juniors, I like Charles and Jones, largely due to their above-average skills with the leather. In addition to having one of the best names in amateur baseball, Khayyan Norfork might just be the player primed to make the biggest rise up draft boards of the players listed. Barring crazy productive final seasons, I’d say the seniors on the list are all in the same “hoping to catch on as a late round fill out the organizational depth chart senior sign” boat. Belza had the best 2010 of the group (EDIT: probably why he was drafted in 2010…again, my mistake), De Pinto played pretty well despite coming back from an ACL injury, and Adams was pretty highly thought of heading into last season.
- JR 1B Preston Tucker (Florida)
- JR 1B Ricky Oropesa (Southern California)
- JR 1B Troy Channing (St. Mary’s)
- SR 1B Jordan Ribera (Fresno State)
- JR 1B Taylor Ard (Washington State)
- 1B SR Paul Hoilman (East Tennessee State)
- JR 1B Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton)
- JR 1B Dean Espy (UCLA)
- JR 1B Aaron Westlake (Vanderbilt)
- JR 1B Harold Riggins (North Carolina State)
- JR 1B Matt Snyder (Mississippi)
- JR 1B Paul Snieder (Northwestern)
- SO 1B Carlos Lopez (Cal State Fullerton)
- JR 1B Cam Seitzer (Oklahoma)
- JR 1B Chris Serritella (Southern Illinois)
- JR 1B Jordan Leyland (Cal Irvine)
- JR 1B Austin Stadler (Wake Forest)
- SR 1B Troy Scott (Washington)
- JR 1B Chase Davidson (Georgia)
- SO 1B Jamie Bruno (LSU)
- JR 1B Matt Skipper (
New Mexico Junior College) (Embry-Riddle)
- SR 1B Jonathan Griffin (Central Florida)
- JR 1B Brad Hook (South Alabama)
- JR 1B Bryan Haar (San Diego)
- JR 1B Zac Elgie (Kansas)
- SO 1B DJ Hicks (Central Florida)
- JR 1B Konstantine Diamaduros (Wofford)
- JR 1B Brock Green (Ouachita Baptist)
- SR 1B Dean Green (
Oklahoma State) (transferred to Barry)
- SR 1B Stephen Kaupang (Oregon)
How high can (and, in a more philosophical universe, should) a “bad body” first baseman with unconventional swing mechanics rise up draft boards? The case for Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker’s bat is strong; as a hitter, he is as close to big league ready as any player in the 2011 MLB Draft with plus present power and impeccable plate discipline. He’s also been praised for his crazy high baseball IQ (“crazy high” = technical scouting terminology) and tremendous strength in his forearms, wrists, and hands. Of course, no scouting report on Tucker can be written without mentioning that body. Tucker won’t help whatever team drafts him “sell any jeans,” but he could help them win some ballgames, bad body and all.
In fairness to Tucker, his “bad body” is more about a height deficiency (generous listed at 6-0) than a weight surplus, so the typical concerns that follow less than ideally fit prospects aren’t warranted. In any case, I don’t care much about the “bad body,” especially when weighed against the practical plusses that come with his awesome wrist and hand strength. The unconventional swing mechanics also don’t bother me. If it works, and if it is projected to work going forward, stick with it. Plus power and plate discipline are an easy recipe for a high prospect ranking on this site, but I keep coming back to my general aversion to first base prospects. To be an above-average first baseman in the bigs, you either need to have a special bat, outrageously good defense, or a well above-average mixture of the two. To that end, I’m not sure Tucker, or any other college first baseman in this class, is a prospect that will wind up receiving a first round grade, from me personally or any of the thirty big league scouting departments. He does have a chance to be a big league contributor, with the ceiling of an upper echelon second division (lots of qualifiers, I know) starting first baseman.
Then again, I could be wrong in this assessment. Wouldn’t be the first time, right? There is some precedent for a player of Tucker’s skill set and body type going in the first round. In 2008, both Brett Wallace and David Cooper rode the wave of undeniably great college production and plus lefthanded power to become first rounders despite less than ideal body types. Late first round seems like his draft ceiling. Fifth round, like fellow SEC 1B Andy Wilkins in 2010, could be his floor, barring injury.
- For the first time since the 1995 MLB Draft (Darin Erstad, Jose Cruz, and Geoff Jenkins), there will be three “college” OFs taken in the first dozen picks.
Let’s call it “college” and college to allow for the inclusion of junior colleges in addition to the more traditional definition of college, four-year universities. From a purely prospecting perspective, the abolition of the draft-and-follow rule all but renders the difference between four-year universities and junior colleges moot, levels of competition excepted. Just wanted to nip this potential loophole in the bud before getting called out for it.
That 1995 draft was pretty great, by the way. All sorts of big names with extended periods of success at the big league level like Erstad, Cruz, Kerry Wood, Todd Helton, Jenkins, Matt Morris, Roy Halladay, and, if you’re feeling generous, Mark Redman went in the top 17 that year. For what it’s worth — almost assuredly nothing — all but Wood and Halladay were college prospects. We’re not talking future Hall of Famers here, but Erstad, Cruz, Helton, Jenkins, Morris, and, yes, even Redman make up a great group of first round college talent. Apologies for the tangent, back to the prediction. See it all, after the jump…
- Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon will be the first overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft.
Not exactly the boldest of statements, I know. This first prediction of 2011 is a tad lame at face value, so, if nothing else, consider it my personal attempt at curtailing some of this “the top of the 2011 draft is wide open” talk that I’ve read over the past few months. To me, this is a prediction that doesn’t really need to be made because Rendon going to Pittsburgh is as much of a lock as any projected pick can be six months out. However, this isn’t the universally accepted truth that I expected it to be by this point. Rendon is the best prospect in this year’s draft by a wide enough margin that I have to believe that there are only three realistic reasons why somebody would question it at this point…
1. Desire to be different in an effort to stand apart from the pack and draw traffic (a tactic I pass no judgment on, by the way)
2. Lack of faith in Pittsburgh’s front office to make the “right” choice
3. General restlessness after incredibly predictable first overall picks in 2009 and 2010
As mentioned, the first reason is cool with me. For some, it gets pretty darn boring when one prospect stands so far above the rest. When that’s the case, it is only natural to shake things up and claim another prospect superior. As an added bonus, and perhaps the real reason some consistently love to take the contrary point, if you’re right about an off the wall prediction, then you look like a genius. If you’re wrong, well, at least you went down in a blaze of glory.
There are some interesting, and hopefully less cynical, reasons why somebody might think Rendon would slip. In the interest of fairness, here they are…
1. Rendon’s recovery from injury (practices have reportedly gone quite well, but some choose to wait until the games start to pass final judgment…)
2. Genuine appreciation of his draft competition, most notably the two high profile college pitching prospects UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole and TCU LHP Matt Purke
3. Any baseball talk in winter is a good thing, manufactured or not
All legitimate reasons in my view, but nothing there is evidence enough that he’ll go anywhere but first overall. The second reason is the most intriguing because both Cole and Purke are outstanding prospects who deserve to at least be in the conversation at this point, but, really, it ends there. They deserve to be in the conversation and nothing more. There are some really strong prep pitchers who might otherwise make a run for the top spot, but none of the big names — you’ll see which names in due time, I promise — really stack up to Cole and Purke, let alone Rendon. Same thing goes for the strong group of college position players this year. The idea floated by some that George Springer is in the mix to go first overall boggles my mind. Really nice prospect, no doubt, but comparing the two players, both statistically and from a scouting perspective, isn’t fair. The quick notes I have on Rendon, all taken prior to the 2010 season:
SO 3B Anthony Rendon (2011): special power, could be plus-plus in-game by graduation; can be inconsistent with glove, but truly excellent defensive tools (great hands, above-average mobility); weakest tool is speed, which is merely average; plus arm; rare discipline at plate, approaches every at bat like a professional; very popular Ryan Zimmerman comp, but has also been compared to Evan Longoria and Gordon Beckham
And then he went out and did this (slash lines are park/league adjusted): .407/.544/.832 with 68/21 BB/K and 15/19 SB
Most amazingly, Rendon did his best Joe Dimaggio impression by putting up the following (these aren’t park/league adjusted, just raw totals): 26 HR/22 K
- Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon will be the first overall pick of the 2011 MLB Draft.