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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Batted Ball Data 2011

Requirements for this are super simple: 1) pitchers must be eligible for the 2011 MLB Draft, 2) pitchers must have allowed 15 batted balls in play, 3) pitchers must either be above or below my arbitrarily decided upon standards (over 75% ground ball percentage, under 40% ground ball percentage). It should also be noted that it has only been two weeks, so, really, we’re going on about as little meaningful data as possible here. First, the ground ball machines…

Arizona JR RHP Kyle Simon: 92.0%
Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson: 91.3%
Oregon State JR RHP Sam Gaviglio: 80.8%
Villanova JR RHP Kyle McMyne: 77.8%
Connecticut SR LHP Elliot Glynn: 77.3%
Oregon JR RHP Madison Boer: 75.0%
UAB SR RHP Ryan Woolley: 75.0%

Simon and Stilson have combined for 44 ground balls out of 48 batted ball outs. That’s crazy. Stilson’s power stuff has gotten plenty of pub, but Simon’s underrated grounder-inducing repertoire (plus fastball movement, good splitter, much improved slider) should have him moving up draft boards this spring. Extra credit for the lefthanded Glynn cracking the list.

UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole: 38.1%
Alabama JR LHP Adam Morgan: 31.3%
North Carolina SR RHP Patrick Johnson: 30.0%
North Carolina State JR RHP Cory Mazzoni: 29.6%

I have no explanation why Cole doesn’t get more ground ball outs. Going off memory, I’m pretty sure he had a very low ground ball percentage last year as well.

Quick Statistical Look at 2011 MLB Draft Pitching Prospects

In absolutely no particular order, 2011 draft prospects that finished last season with over 10 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, minimum 50 total innings pitched. For reference’s sake, prospects expected to go in the top three rounds are in bold…

Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer

Missouri State JR RHP Dan Kickham

Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez

Virginia SR RHP Tyler Wilson

Maryland SR RHP Brett Harman

Vanderbilt JR RHP Sonny Gray

Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson

Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann

Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett

UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole

UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer

Washington JR RHP Andrew Kittredge

Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley

Virginia JR LHP/1B Danny Hultzen

Mississippi JR LHP Matt Crouse

Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham

Arizona State JR LHP Mitchell Lambson

TCU SO LHP Matt Purke

Northeastern JR LHP Andrew Leenhouts

College Baseball’s Best Pitching Prospect Performances (2/19/11 and 2/20/11)

Southern Cal JR RHP Austin Wood (2011): 5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K

LSU FR RHP Kevin Gausman (2012): 5.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 6 K

Georgia Tech FR RHP DeAndre Smelter (2013): 1.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

San Diego FR RHP Dylan Covey (2013): 7 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 7 K

UCLA FR RHP Adam Plutko (2013): 6 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K

Florida FR RHP Karsten Whitson (2013): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K

  • Six really successful major college debuts for six outstanding prospects. It is a little funny to me that the most college ready freshman, Dylan Covey, had the least successful of the freshman quintet. Gausman, Smelter, and Whitson are similar in the way each can dial up mid-90s fastballs to pair with their potential plus power breaking balls (curve for Gausman, sliders for Smelter and Whitson). In any other year Austin Wood would be getting all kinds of high first round buzz; as is, he’s lost in the shuffle of the many more established 2011 college pitching stars.

South Carolina JR LHP Bryan Harper (2011): 1.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K

Troy JR LHP Garrett McHenry (2011): 3.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (6/1 GO/AO)

  • Wood’s debut may have been the biggest of any junior transfer prospect, but it only seems right to turn the spotlight on the first major college game pitched by Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and former teammate. After all the Bryce Hype of 2010, let the Year of Bryan begin! McHenry also made his debut and, while I can’t pretend to know much about him as a prospect, his debut really impressed me. What can I say, I’m a sucker for multi-inning saves…

TCU JR RHP Kyle Winkler (2011): 7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K

UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer (2011): 7.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 10 K

  • It is unbelievable to me that these two are number two starters on their college teams. Easy prediction that has already begun to come to fruition: Trevor Bauer will be one of 2011’s most divisive draft prospects.

Liberty SO RHP Blake Forslund (2011): 4 IP 6 H 5 ER 4 BB 5 K

Arizona JR RHP Kyle Simon (2011): 7.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 13 K

Arizona SO RHP Kurt Heyer (2012): 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K

  • Simon’s sinker, slider, splitter repertoire must have been really working for him…

Wichita State JR LHP Charlie Lowell (2011): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K

Oklahoma State SO LHP Andrew Heaney (2012): 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K

  • Lowell, like Austin Wood, is another prospect that would get a lot more love in a less stacked draft class. Another lefty with plus velocity? Yawn…

Clemson SO RHP Kevin Brady (2011): 5.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K

Mississippi JR RHP David Goforth (2011): 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K

Oregon JR RHP Madison Boer (2011): 8 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K

  • For all the great 2011 college pitching available this June, there doesn’t appear to be a high number of high round reliever follows out there. I’ve never been good at predicting which college starting pitchers pro teams will prefer as relievers, but these three seem like prime candidates to make the move to the pen at some point. We’ll see…

South Florida SR LHP Andrew Barbosa (2011): 6 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K (against Florida)

Vanderbilt SR RHP Taylor Hill (2011): 7.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K

UNC-Wilmington SR RHP Daniel Cropper: 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 12 K

  • On a good day, Hill has three above-average pitches. He’s Vanderbilt’s fifth best pitching prospect. Vanderbilt is really good. Great to see Cropper healthy and throwing so well…

Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez (2011): 7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K

Vanderbilt JR LHP Grayson Garvin (2011): 8.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 10 K

Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer (2011): 7 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 13 K

  • Broken record alert! Any other year, these three are first round locks and Meyer would be considered as close to a top ten guarantee as possible. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that a team like Washington, picking 6th overall and 1st in the supplemental first (34th overall) could walk away from the draft with two potential quick moving top of the rotation starting pitching prospects (Sonny Gray and Alex Meyer, for example)…

Texas A&M SO RHP Michael Wacha (2012): 6 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K

Texas SO LHP Hoby Milner (2012): 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K

  • Which 2012 pitching prospect from the great state of Texas do you prefer? The high velocity righthander? Or the lefty with the deeper all-around arsenal?

Cal State Fullerton SO RHP Dylan Floro (2012): 4.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (out of the bullpen…)

Arizona State JR LHP Kyle Ottoson (2011): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K (out of the bullpen…)

  • 10.1 IP and no earned runs out of the bullpen? Have to love college baseball…

Best Bats of College Baseball’s Opening Weekend (2/18/11 to 2/20/11)

1. Arguably the biggest story to come out of college baseball’s opening weekend (from a prospect standpoint…and before news of Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham’s season-ending finger injury came to the surface) centered on the decision to have Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito play shortstop. Bigger still, he went out and played it well. Fun question of the day: if Esposito can show to scouts that he can at least play a league average big league shortstop, then he’ll go [fill-in-the-blank] in the 2011 MLB Draft. Top half of the first round, no doubt…right? Top ten? Higher? I know Ryan Zimmerman is the name often thrown around when talking Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon, but I think it is a really natural comparison for Esposito.

2. Other notable position “switches”: LSU 3B FR JaCoby Jones played 2B, Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer played 3B (a spot where he has some prior experience), and Washington SR 1B Troy Scott played 3B (ditto). Schaffer and Scott are mid-round guys here in 2011, but Jones has first round upside in 2013. I want to sit down and do preliminary rankings for 2012 and 2013 sometime before this June.  In a vacuum, Jones has top ten potential, but I’ll need to see where he stacks up in what looks to be a strong 2013 draft class.

3. The LSU staff has three years to move JaCoby Jones around the infield, and, as mentioned, Schaffer and Scott are mid-round guys at best. That leaves the position switch with the most immediate and significant draft prospect consequence as the move of Utah JR C CJ Cron playing first base all weekend long. The switch was not entirely unexpected – Cron’s defense behind the plate has never been his strong suit, plus he has played 1B for the Utes in the past – but the buzz surrounding it makes it seem less and less likely that Cron will don the tools of ignorance much at all in 2011.

A few completely random interesting hitting lines of the weekend, complete with equally random commentary…

College of Charleston JR “C” Rob Kral (2011): 667/714/778 (6-9, 2B, RBI, 5 R, 4 BB/0 K)

  • Kral may not be a catcher professionally, but, man, can he hit. Great patience and great power typically leads to great things…

North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard (2011): 538/571/692 (7-13, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R)

Mississippi SR C Miles Hamblin (2011): 444/643/778  (4-9, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB/3 K, 3/3 SB)

Oklahoma SO 2B Max White (2012): 467/556/667 (7-15, 3 2B, 6 R, 4 RBI, 3 HBP, 1/1 SB)

  • As great as that line looks, White’s defense at second drew the most praise over the weekend. Pretty amazing considering White is a converted outfield learning the position as he goes.

Tennessee JR 2B Khayyan Norfork (2011): 556/667/1.222 (5-9, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1/2 SB)

  • I ignored all of the positive buzz coming out of Tennessee’s fall/winter practices and, even though it has only been one weekend, I regret it. I did say this: “Khayyan Norfork might just be the player primed to make the biggest rise up draft boards of the players listed.” Really nice blend of speed, pop, and defense…

Florida SO SS Nolan Fontana (2012): 750/786/833 (9-12, 2B, 5 R, 2 HBP, K, 1/1 SB)

Clemson JR SS Brad Miller (2011): 375/643/375 (3-8, 5 R, 2 RBI, 6 BB/0 K, 4/4 SB)

  • Didn’t have the power numbers of many players on the list, but easy to love that BB/K ratio.

Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson (2011): 583/667/583 (7-12, 6 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB/1 K, 5/6 SB)

Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez (2011): 462/462/1.231 (6-13, 3 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, 4 R, 2-2 SB)

Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele (2011): 625/700/1.188 (10-16, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R)

Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel (2011): 455/500/1.364 (5-11, 2 HR, 2 3B, 7 RBI, 5 R)

Texas FR 3B Erich Weiss (2013): 818/824/1.273 (9-11, 2 3B, 2B, 7 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB/0 K, 1/1 SB)

Southern Carolina JR OF Jackie Bradley (2011): 583/615/1.083 (7-12, HR, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 4 R)

UAB JR OF Jamal Austin (2011): 462/462/538 (6-13, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 3/4 SB)

Kent State SR OF Ben Klafczynski (2011): 538/571/538 (7-13, RBI, 2 R)

Stanford FR OF Austin Wilson (2013): 500/500/750 (6-12, HR, 4 RBI, R, 1/1 SB)

  • With the first pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees select…

LSU JR OF Mikie Mahtook (2011): 444/545/1.778 (4-9, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)

  • I tried to limit the list to one player per college, but leaving fellow Tigers JaCoby Jones and Tyler Hanover off pained me greatly. Mahtook’s decision to only hit home runs could really pay off this year…

Honorable Mention! Virginia SR C Kenny Swab (2011): 000/571/000 (0-6, 5 R, 6 BB, 2 HBP, 2/2 SB)

Honorable Mention 2.0! Any JMU player. Five different players slugged over 1.100 over the weekend: Tenaglia, Herbek, Foltz, Knight, and Lowery. I was most impressed with SO OF Johnny Bladel’s 533/720/733 (6/3 BB/K and 5/5 SB) line. He’s my very early super sneaky 2012 first round possibility.

Friday Night Lights – College Baseball’s Best Pitching Prospect Performances (2/18/11)

1. I am a long way away from actually finalizing my college pitching rankings, but I’m pretty much locked in on who will sit atop the list. As impressive as Texas Christian SO LHP Matt Purke (4 shutout innings) and Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann (9 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K, only 95 pitches) performed, UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole (9 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K) is the man. Better believe they’ll be more on him to come over the next few weeks.

2. Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson was only omitted from the previous entry because he slipped my mind, but, really, the guy belongs in the top college arm discussion with the likes of Cole, Purke, Jungmann, et al.  Perhaps it is for the best that the least well known major college pitcher gets his own space, so we can fully appreciate his sustained run of dominance. Stilson’s 2010 season (14 K/9) was the stuff of legend, and his transition to starting on Friday nights (6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K) has started with a bang. My favorite part of his Friday line: 18 outs recorded, 9 via strikeout, 9 via groundball, 0 fly balls. He’s a starter all the way for me, despite the sentiment that he is too much of a two-pitch thrower to get through the lineup multiple times. I’ve heard too many positive things about both his changeup and his slider to believe differently.

3. Washington State JR LHP Adam Conley opened some eyes by peaking at 95-96 MPH on Friday. My earliest notes on him have him sitting 86-88 with a peak between 90-92. Amazing what some time working with a great college staff can do for a kid. Credit should also be given to Conley (by all accounts a really hard worker), as well as the natural maturation that comes with growing into a sturdy 6-3, 185 pound frame (up 15 pounds from his freshman year).

4. The Cole Hamels’ clones just keep coming. It isn’t just Conley with the mid-90s heat and a plus changeup. Virginia JR LHP Danny Hultzen (check out his Friday night two-way line: 2-4, BB, 3 RBI and, more importantly, 6.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K) and Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley (he pitched Saturday, but I’m cheating to make a point…5.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K) both offer outstanding four-pitch arsenals that include that magic mid-90s fastball and plus change combo that I love. Heck, all three of these guys were big favorites before they bumped up their velocity because of the way they reminded me of Vanderbilt’s Mike Minor, one of my favorite draft prospects of the past few years. Here’s what I said about Minor on his draft day, by the way:

LOVE Mike Minor – good enough velocity, plus change, either the curve or the slider will be a plus pitch down the line (I think), great command, very good athlete, smooth delivery, repeatable mechanics, pitched at an outstanding program. This pick will get panned by everybody, but they are wrong – Minor is an absolute keeper. I had him at 18 on my big board, so maybe I’m full of it by saying he was a great pick at 7…but, factoring in signability, it’s a very good, very safe pick.

5. Hultzen may be the best junior two-way player in the land, but Florida SO LHP/1B Brian Johnson has to be tops of the sophomore class. His Friday looked very similar to Hultzen’s: (2-4, 2 2B, RBI, R and 6 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K. Bonus fact: Johnson faced the minimum number of batters in his 2011 debut. Hultzen is a pitcher all the way, but Johnson is seen as talented enough to go either way at this point.

6. Really happy to see Notre Dame SR RHP Brian Dupra healthy and pitching well (7 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 5 K) once again. Dupra looked like a top five round lock heading into his junior year, but injury and ineffectiveness forced him into returning for his senior year in an attempt to reestablish his draft stock. I haven’t heard anything about his stuff on Friday, but if it reached pre-injury levels (mid-90s FB, hard cutter, good low-80s SL), then he could position himself as one of the top college power pitching prospects, as well as easily the most desirable college pitching senior sign.

7. Another interesting draft prospect and college senior, Oklahoma SR RHP Michael Rocha, put on a show this Friday: 7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K. Rocha doesn’t have near the velocity of Dupra at his best, but thrives on his funky breaking stuff, good command, and high pitching IQ. Rocha’s one-hit performance was matched by Alabama JR LHP Adam Morgan, who put up the following line: 5.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K. Unlike the power fastball lefties mentioned above, Morgan instead follows in the footsteps of the more typical, pitchability style of crafty college lefties. The lack of a big fastball stings a little less when you have a plus curve, a pitch that I think ranks in the top ten of its type amongst 2011 college draft prospects.

8. The college pitching in Texas this year is Gottfried Leibniz level deep. Jungmann and Stilson may be the headliners, but fellow Lone Star ballers Texas State JR RHP Carson Smith and Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett could wind up at the tail end of the first round with big springs. Their respective debuts (Smith: 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K; Verrett: 3 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 3 K) weren’t as pretty as I’m sure they would have liked, but both continued to show the first round quality stuff they’ve grown famous for. Smith has the frame (6-5, 220) and a fastball to dream on, while Verrett potential for four above-average pitches is tantalizing.

9. Two of my favorite Conference USA prospects put up unique lines that deserve a little love. Check out the Friday line for Southern Miss SR RHP Todd McInnis: 8 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K. Very good line, right? What makes that performance truly exception, assuming there wasn’t a typo on the box score, is the following: he threw 45 pitches! Is that even possible? At least 21 pitches were thrown to get those 7 strikeouts. That leaves 24 pitches to get the 17 remaining outs. Incredible, if true. The line for Central Florida SR LHP Nick Cicio was impressive, if significantly less rare: 3 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K. That’s an example of how a college lefty straight out of central casting (mid-80s fastball, good change, slurvy breaking pitch) can dominate out of the pen.

10. Think we could all agree that a line of [9 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K] would make for a darn fine outing by any starting pitcher. It also works as a pretty great combined line shared by two legit mid- to late-round 2011 draft prospects. In a performance reminiscent of peak years Legion of Doom, or, my sentimental personal favorite, The Natural Disasters, Wichita State SR RHP Tim Kelley (5 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K) and SO LHP Brian Flynn (4 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K) tag teamed to shut down the opposition on Friday night. Both pitchers profile best as middle relievers professionally, with Flynn getting more current buzz due to his readymade WWF size and strength (6-8, 240…so big I had to double check on the website to make sure I didn’t copy it wrong in my notes).

***

Bonus! Stanford SO RHP and potential 2012 top ten pick Mark Appel (5.2 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K) didn’t quite light the world on fire with his opening night line, but the velocity pickup in his stuff (FB now peaking in the upper-90s, SL now peaking mid-80s) had everybody taking notice. If he can integrate his changeup (plus potential there) more as the season goes on, he’ll head into 2012 on the short list of candidates to go in the top three. Back in February 2009 I had him as the 9th best prep righthander, sandwiched between Daniel Tuttle and Matt Graham. This was his quick writeup:

Appel’s strong verbal commitment to Stanford will drop him down draft boards, but he is a great athlete, with a wiry frame with room to fill out, an impressive hard slider, solid change, and the ability to play around with his fastball (mostly by cutting and sinking it). The Cardinal normally get their man, so Appel’s signability will be something to keep on eye on.

Weekly Plan of Attack

Every year I forget how labor intensive poring over a weekend’s worth of college baseball box scores can be. That sounds kind of whiny — since when is reading about baseball “labor intensive?” — but please don’t consider it as a complaint. Instead, take it as the reason why other rankings and features will be on the back burner for a couple of days. I’ll almost definitely scale back on the college baseball reviews in the future, for my own sanity if nothing else, but still figured that opening weekend deserved the crazy obsessive treatment for old time’s sake. Here’s my current plan for the week ahead…

Monday: Weekly Plan of Attack (i.e. what you are currently reading…)
Tuesday: Friday “Night” College Baseball Review
Wednesday:  Saturday College Baseball Review and Sunday College Baseball Review
Thursday: General Weekend Conclusions and Quick Statistical Look at 2011 MLB Draft Pitching Prospects
Friday: Interesting GO/AO Ratios (Week One)

All the while I’ll be working on finishing up the rankings for college outfielders and college pitchers, both of which are much bigger tasks than I had originally believed/hoped. My current college pitching follow list is at 425, while my current outfielder list clocks in at a slightly more manageable 163. Fun times ahead…

College Baseball’s Opening Day

I think making long-standing emotional investments in teams, players, and coaches is what makes following sports so compelling. Not exactly a ground breaking statement, I’m sure, but it does help set up the following: I prefer to keep my writing limited to the things, like stats, scouting blurbs, and rankings, that I can understand and analyze, and as devoid of subjective emotion as possible. Objectivity at any cost, that’s my goal. To that end, I have no favorite college or high school team. There is no player I prefer to succeed any more than his competitors. My rooting interest in amateur baseball is simple: I root for growth. In my paying gig, I work everyday to help aid in the growth and development of young people. It can be a frustrating daily endeavor because growth and development aren’t always easy to see in real time. The frustration is a small price to pay, however, when weighed against the satisfaction of seeing even the slightest proof of progress. That is what has drawn me to following amateur ballplayers. Every time I see a prospect play is an opportunity to see him get better right in front of my very eyes. That’s what makes opening weekend so great, at least for me. We’re at the start of another season of endless possibilities.

Follow all the action throughout the weekend here and be sure to check in on Tuesday for a weekend recap. Until then, enjoy the start of another year of baseball.

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College Catcher Follow List

I’m pretty sure this is my favorite list so far because of how wide open it is. For the sake of discussion, let’s say the consensus industry top five consists of Cron, O’Brien, Bandy, Susac, and McCann, in some order. Assuming that’s true, how much really separates the sixth best prospect (using my list as a guide, that could be Kometani, Casali, Maynard) from a prospect currently ranked in the mid- to late-teens (any of the smaller school prospects work, so insert names like Rosado, Dowd, and Escalante here)? Without getting too much into my relatively low ranking of McCann (for now), I can at least acknowledge that this general viewpoint (the lack of separation between any two prospects within the top 20ish) played a large role.

Judging catching is also fun because it opens up the always entertaining debate of floor vs. ceiling. Top ranked CJ Cron has a high ceiling (plus bat, capable catcher), but a low floor (if it turns out he can’t catch as a pro, will the bat play anywhere else?). Steve Rodriguez, a player ranked way down at 17th, has a much lower ceiling (plus defender, just enough bat to play everyday), but a more traditional backup catcher skill set that should serve him well when teams come looking for a cheap, defense-first backup catcher. What an interesting group of catchers…

  1. Utah JR C CJ Cron
  2. San Diego JR C Zach Kometani
  3. Bethune-Cookman JR C Peter O’Brien
  4. Arizona JR C Jett Bandy
  5. Vanderbilt SR C Curt Casali
  6. North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard
  7. North Carolina JR C Jacob Stallings
  8. Oregon State SO C Andrew Susac
  9. Oklahoma JR C Tyler Ogle
  10. Kentucky JR C Mike Williams
  11. Florida JR C Ben McMahan
  12. Pittsburgh SR C Kevan Smith
  13. California JR C Chadd Krist
  14. College of Charleston JR C Rob Kral
  15. LSU-Eunice FR C Hommy Rosado
  16. Arkansas JR C James McCann
  17. UCLA JR C Steve Rodriguez
  18. Franklin Pierce JR C Mike Dowd
  19. Chipola JC SO C Geno Escalante
  20. Central Florida JR C Beau Taylor
  21. Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer
  22. Samford JR C Brandon Miller
  23. Virginia JR C John Hicks
  24. Georgetown SR C Erick Fernandez
  25. Wofford JR C Mac Doyle
  26. Michigan JR C Coley Crank
  27. Western Kentucky SR C Matt Rice
  28. Virginia SR C Kenny Swab
  29. Auburn SR C Tony Caldwell
  30. Mississippi JR C Taylor Hightower

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College Catcher Follow List (Honorable Mentions)

Though generally regarded as one of the weakest, if not the weakest, position groups of this year’s college class, this year’s crop of college catching intrigues me all the same. What the 2011 catching group lacks in sure fire first round talent it makes up for it with tremendous depth. If it is a future backup catcher you want, this is the class for you. I think I’ve talked about this before, but my theory on what teams look for in a good backup catcher is simple. Teams look for a) all or nothing hitters with plus power, b) acclaimed defenders, typically with plus arms, and c) well-rounded prospects with scouting grades between 40 to 50 (roughly) in at least four of the five graded tools. I realize that describes a wide range of prospects, but it’s all I’ve got for now. Here are a few of the players who just missed the top 30…

  • Cal State Bakersfield JR C Jeremy Rodriguez | tremendous plate discipline, but no standout physical tools
  • Valdosta State JR C Christian Glisson | former Georgia Bulldog offers well-rounded tool set with solid defense, line drive producing swing, and enough power to keep pitchers honest
  • North Carolina State SR C Chris Schaeffer | similar to Glisson, but swing will need some adjusting at next level
  • Baylor JR C Joey Hainsfurther | converted infielder needs more experience behind plate; despite this, shows very good defensive tools
  • Stetson JR C Nick Rickles | natural receiver, but bat speed has been questioned
  • Mississippi SR C Miles Hamblin | once touted by me as a potential top three round candidate (Spring ’09), still shows above-average raw power and average defensive ability
  • Pepperdine JR C Nate Johnson | possesses one of the sweetest swings in college ball
  • Arizona State SR C Xorge Carrillo | heads into 2011 healthy and looking to get drafted for a fourth time
  • East Carolina JR C Zach Wright | strong arm, untapped upside in bat
  • Central Arizona SO C Max Rossiter | on short list of top 2011 junior college position players; like his bat more than fellow JC prospect Hornback
  • San Jacinto SO C Ryan Hornback | on short list on top 2011 junior college position players; like his glove/arm more than fellow JC prospect Rossiter
  • Fordham SR C Chris Walker | coming off really strong junior season (393/440/607 – 17 BB/16 K – 219 AB)
  • Marshall SR C Victor Gomez | big fastball hitting power hitter with some questions about his eventual defensive home
  • East Tennessee State JR C Derek Trent | quick bat and above-average athleticism
  • James Madison JR C Jake Lowery | productive, good defender
  • Illinois JR C Adam Davis | as much potential as any to rise up boards this spring; plus throwing arm with plus upside as defender
  • Miami JR C David Villasuso | similar profile as Gomez, big power/strong arm/may or may not have hands to catch regularly
  • Connecticut SR C Joe Pavone | outside candidate for spot near the bottom of top 30 before tearing his ACL last week
  • Florida State SR C Rafael Lopez | excellent prep player who has been merely good collegiately
  • Texas A&M SR C Kevin Gonzalez | outstanding defender with limited upside with bat; made great strides with stick in 2010, so continued development can’t be ruled out

2011 MLB Draft – Top 50 Middle Infield Prospects

Just like last Monday’s combined list of corner infielders, expect this time we do it up the middle. If I had to ballpark it, I’d say there could be about one dozen or so future big league starters and then a whole lot of potential utility guys. Here’s the plan for the week ahead:

Monday: Top 50 College MIF Ranking
Tuesday: Top 30 College C Follow List (Honorable Mentions)
Wednesday: Top 30 College C Follow List
Thursday: Top 30 College C Follow List Commentary
Friday: Wide open, but I was leaning towards cobbling together some kind of quick college baseball preview…

After all that is done, I’ll finally tackle college OFs, RHPs, and LHPs. I know things have gotten very list heavy around here of late, but we’re almost through. Until then, another list!

  1. North Carolina JR 2B Levi Michael
  2. Hawaii JR 2B Kolten Wong
  3. Clemson JR SS Brad Miller
  4. Arizona State JR 2B Zack MacPhee
  5. Coastal Carolina JR SS Taylor Motter
  6. St. John’s JR SS Joe Panik
  7. Connecticut JR SS Nick Ahmed
  8. Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Joe Terry
  9. Coastal Carolina JR 2B Tommy LaStella
  10. Louisville JR 2B Ryan Wright
  11. Michigan SO SS Derek Dennis
  12. Missouri State JR 2B Kevin Medrano
  13. UCLA JR SS Tyler Rahmatulla
  14. TCU JR SS Taylor Featherston
  15. Oregon JR SS KC Serna
  16. McNeese State JR 2B Jace Peterson
  17. Virginia Military Institute SR SS Sam Roberts
  18. Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson
  19. Long Beach State JR SS Kirk Singer
  20. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Kenton Parmley
  21. Cal Poly JR 2B Matt Jensen
  22. Florida International JR 2B Jeremy Patton
  23. Florida State JR 2B Sherman Johnson
  24. Virginia JR 2B Keith Werman
  25. Siena JR 2B Dan Paolini
  26. Lake Erie College SS Ryan Rua
  27. Florida International JR 2B Garrett Wittels
  28. California JR SS Marcus Semien
  29. Vanderbilt SO SS Sam Lind
  30. Fresno State SR 2B Danny Muno
  31. Troy SR SS Adam Bryant
  32. Army SR SS Clint Moore
  33. South Carolina JR SS Peter Mooney
  34. Georgia Tech JR 2B Connor Winn
  35. Bowling Green JR 2B Jon Berti
  36. Tampa JR SS Taylor Wrenn
  37. James Madison SR SS David Herbek
  38. Marist JR 2B Jon Schwind
  39. Southeastern Louisiana JR SS Justin Boudreaux
  40. North Carolina A&T JR 2B Marquis Riley
  41. Auburn SR 3B Dan Gamache
  42. Virginia Tech JR SS Ronnie Shaban
  43. LSU JR SS Austin Nola
  44. Texas JR SS Brandon Loy
  45. LSU JR SS Tyler Hanover
  46. Southern SR 2B Curtis Wilson
  47. Towson SR 2B Chris Wychock
  48. Virginia Tech SR SS Tim Smalling
  49. TCU SR 2B Jerome Pena
  50. Oklahoma JR SS Caleb Bushyhead

2011 MLB Draft – College SS Commentary

Brad Miller and Joe Panik ranking in the top three is completely unoriginal. As a man who ate a delicious PB&J every day from second to sixth grade knows, believe me when I say sometimes boring works. Of course, even a simple-minded PB&J fan like me knows you have to mix it up every now and then. I’m not talking a fluffernutter level of radical change here; think more along the lines of adding potato chips for that extra salty crunch. This list’s chips comes in the form of one Taylor Motter. Motter’s defense is outstanding and his knowledge of the strike zone rivals that of any of his peers. I think his 2011 season and subsequent draft standing will remind many of what Kansas State’s Carter Jurica did in 2010.

Nick Ahmed (who I actually prefer on the mound, believe it or not) and Derek Dennis are both tools gambles at this point. Either player is capable of a Christian Colon rise up the board this spring, though it seems unlikely a team will reach on either quite the way the Royals did on Colon. I prefer the bats of Featherston and Serna over those of Ahmed and Dennis, but the much greater possibility of the latter pair playing an above-average shortstop professionally ultimately gave them the edge.

You could also lump Sam Roberts in with the aforementioned Featherston/Serna group. The VMI star has produced every year and shows no signs of stopping heading into 2011. He has many of the archetypal utility player attributes, including an arm strong enough for third, the athleticism to play up the middle, and more than sufficient power to the gaps. He’s not the only senior mid-round shortstop candidate; Adam Bryant (finally 100% healthy and showing above-average raw power), Clint Moore (very good defender with the makeup you’d expect from an Army man), and David Herbek (poor man’s Bill Mueller upside) all have the talent to find a home on a big league bench if everything breaks right.

Kelby Tomlinson, Sam Lind, and Peter Mooney are all very much on the scouting radar despite not having a single major college at bat among them. Tomlinson and Mooney, he of the potential plus-plus glove, both look like starters from day one. Austin Nola, Brandon Loy, and Tyler Hanover all could have been back end of the top ten prospects in a different year.

It wouldn’t be a college shortstop list without the requisite Long Beach State prospect. This year it’s Kirk Singer’s turn in the spotlight. He possesses many of the same talents of last year’s third rounder, Devin Lohman, right down to the strong arm, above-average hands, and questions about the bat.

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College SS Follow List

The difference between Miller, Motter, and Panik is slight enough that ranking them was nothing more than a flip of my very rare, three-sided coin. I feel much more strongly that Miller, Motter, and Panik are in fact the top three college shortstop prospects. All three players have the defensive tools to stick at short (Miller is probably the most questionable, but count me as a believer), and, at minimum, all profile as average big league players capable of playing anywhere in the infield as a pro. After that, things are wide open. Shortstop and catcher are both really tricky positions to judge as an outsider because many pro teams have very specific types of players they target at those spots. In this case, I tried to err on the side of defense, athleticism, and likelihood of staying at the position professionally, but a few prospects with more bat than glove (e.g. Featherston and Serna) offered skill sets too intriguing to ignore. I’m hoping tomorrow’s expanded commentary on this list will shed some light on the thought process behind many of the picks, but I’m happy to answer any questions in the meantime. Until then, here’s what I’ve got…

  1. Clemson JR SS Brad Miller
  2. Coastal Carolina JR SS Taylor Motter
  3. St. John’s JR SS Joe Panik
  4. Connecticut JR SS Nick Ahmed
  5. Michigan SO SS Derek Dennis
  6. UCLA JR SS Tyler Rahmatulla
  7. TCU JR SS Taylor Featherston
  8. Oregon JR SS KC Serna
  9. Virginia Military Institute SR SS Sam Roberts
  10. Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson
  11. Long Beach State JR SS Kirk Singer
  12. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Kenton Parmley
  13. Lake Erie College SS Ryan Rua
  14. California JR SS Marcus Semien
  15. Vanderbilt SO SS Sam Lind
  16. Troy SR SS Adam Bryant
  17. Army SR SS Clint Moore
  18. South Carolina JR SS Peter Mooney
  19. LSU JR SS Austin Nola
  20. Texas JR SS Brandon Loy
  21. LSU JR SS Tyler Hanover
  22. Tampa JR SS Taylor Wrenn
  23. James Madison SR SS David Herbek
  24. Southeastern Louisiana JR SS Justin Boudreaux
  25. Virginia Tech JR SS Ronnie Shaban
  26. Virginia Tech SR SS Tim Smalling
  27. Oklahoma JR SS Caleb Bushyhead
  28. South Florida JR SS Sam Mende
  29. Minnesota JR SS AJ Pettersen
  30. Wichita State JR SS Tyler Grimes

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College SS Follow List (Honorable Mentions)

I realize I say something similar to the following every time a new list is published, but this time it is true: compiling the 2011 list of top college shortstop prospects took me longer than any other position so far. Here are a few players that didn’t make the cut, but are still interesting enough to follow during the 2011 season. I’d bet that only the seniors on this particular list will get serious draft consideration this June (and even then, we’re talking late round interest at best) while the juniors get their time in the sun in June of 2012. Despite the lack of potential pro talent, there are some excellent college players here that deserve notice.

Illinois JR SS Josh Parr
Missouri State JR SS Travis McComack
Florida Atlantic SR SS Nick DelGuidice
Bethune-Cookman JR SS Alejandro Sanchez
Liberty JR SS Matt Williams
Dartmouth JR SS Joe Sclafani
Wagner SR SS Brian Martutartus
Tennessee JR SS Zach Osborne
Maryland JR SS Alfredo Rodriguez
Cal State Fullerton SO SS Matt Orloff
UC Irvine JR SS DJ Crumlich
Ball State SR SS TJ Baumet
Kansas SR SS Brandon Macias
Radford JR SS Jeff Kemp
Utah SR SS Michael Beltran
Oregon State JR SS Carter Bell
UNLV SR SS Richie Jimenez
Kent State JR SS Jimmy Rider
BYU JR SS Austin Hall
Jacksonville State SR SS Blake Seguin
Western Kentucky JR SS Logan Robbins
Arkansas JR SS Tim Carver
UC Riverside SR SS Trevor Hairgrove
Sonoma State SR SS Alex Todd

Three names that pained me more than others to leave off the top thirty list: Parr, McComack, and Sclafani. Parr is a really good athlete with plus defensive tools, but his inability to control the strike zone presents a concern going forward. There is enough rawness in his hitting approach to think he is due for that big sophomore to junior year breakout at the plate. He definitely has the potential to make me look stupid for not finding a spot for him earlier. McComack is another good defender with a plus arm. He has a lot of the required skills (arm for third, range for short, instincts at second) needed to thrive as a defensive-first utility infielder if everything breaks right. Sclafani has the potential to emerge as a premium 2012 senior sign after he graduates from Dartmouth.

Underclassmen OsborneRodriguez, Orloff, and Crumlich all are well above-average with the leather, but find themselves in similar positions as 2010 juniors DelGuidice and Macias; if they follow the same pattern, we’ll be talking about that quartet once again in 2012.

Baumet and Bell are both talented players without long-term professional defensive homes. Baumet’s outstanding arm may eventually get him tried on the mound, but Bell seems like he could be out of luck professionally.

Random Draft and Minor League Ball Question

One simple question for this Monday: is there any college program in the country that you would be willing to trade your favorite MLB team’s top ten ranked minor league prospects in order to acquire their (the college program’s) top ten ranked amateur prospects? I ask that knowing full well that there are but a handful of people out there with intimate knowledge of ten prospects in all of college baseball, let alone ten players on just one team. I figured if there was anybody out there who could answer this question, it would be here. Maybe consider the question a different way first: would you be willing to risk losing your top ten minor league prospects for the draft haul Tampa is about to cash in on? Assume bonus demands aren’t part of this particular equation. The breakdown would be…

OUT: ten top minor leaguers

IN: the following picks in the first “two” rounds – 24, 31, 32, 38, 41, 42, 52, 56, 59, 60

I’m not saying there is a college program that currently has ten potential top 60 picks on its roster, but I think the basic idea here is the same. Do you trade the pro prospects who you know and love for a new crop of untested amateur ballers, more or less sight unseen? The strength of certain 2011 college programs and players makes this question more difficult than it may first appear.

I know Houston isn’t at the way bottom of most prospect rankings this year, but I think it is fair to say that their system is still not particularly strong, right? I don’t mean to pick on them, it’s just that they were one of the first teams to pop into my head. Would the Astros ever in a billion years consider trading their top ten minor league guys for, I don’t know, Rice’s top ten pro prospects? Rice wouldn’t be one of the schools I would pick for this exercise, but perhaps the presence of a marquee talent like Anthony Rendon would make the trade something to consider. The idea can be expanded even further; what if you could set the terms on how many players both teams would be giving up? Would Houston trade their top prospect (RHP Jordan Lyles) for Rice’s top prospect (Rendon)? If that’s a yes, and I’m pretty sure it would be, then how many players would you have to extend it to until it became a no? Would Houston trade their top two prospects (Lyles and Delino Deshields, according to Baseball America) for Rice’s top two prospects (Rendon and…I don’t know…a young arm like one of FR RHPs John Simms or Austin Kubitza…or maybe the toolsy JR OF Jeremy Rathjen)? How far do you have to go to end trade talks? Lots of questions, but I’m really curious as to whether or not I’m as far off the mark as I think I could be. I don’t want to be the stereotypical draft loving guy who overrates amateur prospects (see this all the time with fans of the minors…”I want my team to get Greinke, but no way would I consider moving any prospect in the top 20!!!), but I also think one of the best ways to draw prospect loving fans deeper into the draft/college ball is to tie minor league prospecting closer to amateur evaluation. I clearly need more time to flesh this whole idea out.

I do have one college team in mind that seems particularly stacked in talent. They are the team that actually got me thinking about this whole thought exercise in the first place. This team probably isn’t that hard to guess as I’m not alone in hyping them heading into 2011, but, from a prospect standpoint, they are really hard to beat. Freshmen to juniors, hitters and pitchers, good blend of star upside and high floor talent…what more could you want? College position rankings won’t stop, but in the coming days I’m also hoping to come back to this thought and do some minor league/college ball comparing and contrasting.

2011 MLB Draft – Top 50 Corner Infield Prospects

If this list seems like a fairly straightforward combination of two previously published rankings cobbled together to buy some time while other projects are completed, then, well, congratulations because you’re right. In my half-hearted defense, I think there is some value in combining 1B and 3B into one great big “corner infielder” umbrella category due to the high probability that at least a few of the third basemen on the list wind up at first base (Coy and Shaw are two highly ranked names that stand out) sooner rather than later. I also think there is value from a methodological standpoint, at least from a personal ranking philosophy standpoint. One quick observation on said methods: the 1B list is one that looks better when viewed from a college production standpoint (e.g. Troy Channing and Jordan Ribera ranking so highly), while the 3B list skews towards projection and scouting (e.g. the aggressive placement of Andy Burns and Adam Smith). All legitimate rankings in a vacuum, I think, but difficult when attempting to mesh the two lists together. At least the top spot was an easy one to pick…

Working on the college shortstop list. Hoping to get to the revised catching list and then outfielders at some point over the weekend. After wrapping up the position players, we’ll move on to college pitching and, finally, some 2011 high school prospect talk. Once the rankings are all out of the way — my goal this year was to finish them all before the college season, i.e. the unofficial start of “draft season,” and it looks like I’ll get there — then we can get into some of the new, fun ideas that have been kicking around in my head the past few months.

  1. Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon
  2. Southern Mississippi JR 3B BA Vollmuth
  3. Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito
  4. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker
  5. Georgia Tech JR 3B Matt Skole
  6. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa
  7. Miami JR 3B Harold Martinez
  8. Arizona JR 3B Andy Burns
  9. Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez
  10. Wichita State JR 3B Johnny Coy
  11. Texas A&M JR 3B Adam Smith
  12. Kent State JR 3B Travis Shaw
  13. Clemson JR 3B John Hinson
  14. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing
  15. Texas State JR 3B Kyle Kubitza
  16. Winthrop JR 3B Chas Crane
  17. Coastal Carolina SR 3B Scott Woodward
  18. Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele
  19. Fresno State SR 1B Jordan Ribera
  20. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard
  21. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman
  22. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez
  23. TCU SO 3B Jantzen Witte
  24. Texas JR 3B Kevin Lusson
  25. Texas-Pan American JR 3B Vincent Mejia
  26. San Francisco SR 3B Steven Yarrow
  27. UCLA JR 1B Dean Espy
  28. Vanderbilt JR 1B Aaron Westlake
  29. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins
  30. Tarleton State SR 3B Chris Casazza
  31. Oklahoma State JR 3B Mark Ginther
  32. Nebraska JR 3B Cody Asche
  33. Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel
  34. Virginia JR 3B Steven Proscia
  35. Louisiana Tech JR 3B Matt Threlkeld
  36. College of Charleston JR 3B Matt Leeds
  37. Mississippi JR 1B Matt Snyder
  38. Oklahoma City SR 3B Kirk Walker
  39. Baylor SO 3B Cal Towey
  40. Liberty JR 3B Tyler Bream
  41. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder
  42. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez
  43. Oklahoma JR 1B Cam Seitzer
  44. Southern Illinois JR 1B Chris Serritella
  45. Cal Irvine JR 1B Jordan Leyland
  46. East Carolina JR 3B Corey Thompson
  47. Wake Forest JR 1B Austin Stadler
  48. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott
  49. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson
  50. Mercer JR 3B Jacob Tanis
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