Time to wrap up what seems like my first five post week in forever. Because the new layout only shows one post at a time (not sure I like this quirk, but I’m willing to try it out), here’s a quick review of the week that was:
- Game Notes: Connecticut @ Villanova
- College Catchers Revisited 2.0 – 2011 MLB Draft
- College First Basemen Revisited – 2011 MLB Draft
- College First Basemen Revisited 2.0 – 2011 MLB Draft
I’m going to spend the weekend celebrating my momentous week by watching some amateur ball and getting back to all the wonderful readers who have left a whole bunch of comments and emails. Before getting to that, however, how about a real quick list of prep players that I’ve read or heard linked to the first round over the past few weeks? Obviously, we won’t have an all high school first round this year — although a first round composed entirely of college pitching can’t be ruled out — so not every player listed will be a first rounder. It is also possible that they’ll be a first rounder or five from the high school ranks that isn’t even on my list. As the Vikings showed yesterday, predicting the draft is as inexact a science (always wondered why you hear that phrase associated with sports more than almost any other professional field) as you can get…
Quick disclaimer and a request. First, this isn’t a list any kind of ranking or a personal top prospect list. It’s just an aggregation of all kinds of draft info accrued over the past few weeks. If somebody, somewhere said Shon Carson could be drafted “late in the first” or something like that, I took note and added a new name to the list. Simple as that. Here’s the request: if I left anybody off (looking over my list again, I’d guess I’m probably light on the pitching side) that has been linked to the first round elsewhere, please don’t hesitate to yell at me in the comments.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS, Florida)
- 1B Nick Delmonico (Farragut HS, Tennessee)
- 2B Phillip Evans (La Costa Canyon HS, California)
- 2B Johnny Eierman (Warsaw HS, Missouri)
- 2B Shon Carson (Lake City HS, South Carolina)
- 3B Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, California)
- 3B Javier Baez (Arlington County Day HS, Florida)
- C Austin Hedges (JSerra HS, California)
- C Blake Swihart (Cleveland HS, New Mexico)
- SS Francisco Lindor (Montverde Academy, Florida)
- SS Julius Gaines (Luella HS, Georgia)
- OF Billy Flamion (Central Catholic HS, California)
- OF Brandon Nimmo (Cheyenne East HS, Wyoming)
- OF Charles Tilson (New Trier HS, Illinois)
- OF Granden Goetzman (Palmetto HS, Florida)
- OF Derek Fisher (Cedar Crest HS, Pennsylvania)
- OF Dwight Smith (McIntosh HS, Georgia)
- OF Josh Bell (Jesuit College Prep School, Texas)
- OF Shawon Dunston (Valley Christian HS, California)
- OF Sean Trent (Bishop Moore Catholic HS, Florida)
- OF Bubba Starling (Gardner-Edgerton HS, Kansas)
- OF Josh Tobias (Southeast Guilford HS, South Carolina)
- LHP Daniel Norris (Science Hill HS, Tennessee)
- LHP Henry Owens (Edison HS, California)
- LHP Jake Cave (Kecoughtan HS, Virginia)
- RHP Archie Bradley (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma)
- RHP Dillon Howard (Searcy HS, Arkansas)
- RHP Dylan Bundy (Owasso HS, Oklahoma)
- RHP Joe Ross (Bishop O’Dowd HS, California)
- RHP Jose Fernandez (Alonso HS, Florida)
- RHP Robert Stephenson (Alhambra HS, California)
- RHP Taylor Guerrieri (North Augusta HS, South Carolina)
- RHP Tyler Beede (Lawrence Academy, Massachusetts)
First 15 there, next 15 here. Rankings are from the preseason list, numbers are from College Splits (when applicable), and opinions are entirely mine, and thus, probably wrong…
16. Cal Irvine JR 1B Jordan Leyland (.266/.340/.422 – 14 BB/31 K)
I had hoped a return to full health after struggling with a wrist injury last season would allow Leyland to show off his plus raw power.
17. Wake Forest JR 1B Austin Stadler
One at bat, one RBI groundout. That’s all Stadler has done at the plate in 2011. He’s been lit up as a starting pitcher (9.77 ERA in 47 IP), but his underlying numbers aren’t that terrible (4.55 FIP with 8.81 K/9). His season stats and scouting profile both read like Nick Ramirez, only if Ramirez wasn’t quite as good as he is. He’s the Hydrox to Nick Ramirez’s Oreo, if you will.
18. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott (.303/.374/.432 – 14 BB/22 K)
There was a point early last year when Scott was the top ranked college first baseman on my unpublished 2010 draft rankings. Whoops.
19. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson (.275/.342/.451 – 9 BB/33 K)
Remember the Jim Thome comps some threw Davidson’s way back in his high school days? Man, I was all over those. When he is totally locked in and you catch him in just the right light, yeah, maybe you can kind of sort of maybe see the basis for that original comparison, maybe. The problem, as shown through the lens of his less than inspiring season stats, is that Davidson’s time spent locked in isn’t enough to make him a viable pro prospect. That said, guys with his kind of raw power tend to get plenty of chances, and it only takes one team to believe professional coaching can get him back to his pre-college level of performance.
20. LSU SO 1B Jamie Bruno
No stats for Bruno as he sits out the year after leaving Tulane. I don’t think he has a chance to be drafted this year, so consider this aggressive ranking a placeholder for 2012.
21. Embry-Riddle JR 1B Matt Skipper
The well-traveled Skipper is sitting out the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
22. Central Florida SR 1B Jonathan Griffin (.342/.397/.640 – 17 BB/32 K)
Griffin is the prototypical hulking (6-5, 230) first base slugger with ridiculous raw power and nothing else. You can be one-dimensional when that one dimension is as strong as Griffin’s power tool is, but his battle is still an uphill one.
23. South Alabama JR 1B Brad Hook (.298/.430/.460 – 27 BB/32 K)
Hook is yet another versatile performer, logging 37.1 decent innings on the mound in addition to his work at first base. A lot of players are mentioned as having just enough defensive aptitute to handle other positions (most commonly LF, RF, and 3B), but Hook actually has the chance of being average or better in the outfield.
24. San Diego JR 1B Bryan Haar (.320/.364/.410 – 6 BB/30 K)
After mocking eventual 26th rounder to the Phillies in the first round early last year, I really should have been smart enough to wise up and stop falling for prospects from USD. My notes on Haar heading into the season:
might list with either 3B or OF, as he is too good an athlete to restrict to first base; good raw power; good defender; power, speed, and arm strength all rate as above-average for position, but hasn’t lived up to potential as of yet; could play 3B this year with Kris Bryant at first; swing is holding him back as a hitter; great frame, like him a lot; utility future maybe; “Haar has a pro body, good defensive instincts, and an advanced approach at the plate.”
I’m obviously less enthused after his disappointing junior season. We’ll try again with Haar next year.
25. Kansas JR 1B Zac Elgie (.264/.325/.443 – 11 BB/24 K)
Elgie, one of North Dakota’s finest prep ballplayers and arguably the biggest recruit in recent Kansas baseball history, has had an up and down college career to this point. I know of a few pro teams that think he’s got the arm and athleticism to make the conversion to professional catcher.
26. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks (.369/.443/.664 – 22 BB/28 K) (also logged 10.1 IP with good K-rate)
If any player on the list can be classified as a big 2011 draft riser, it’s this guy. With arguably the most raw power of any draft-eligible first baseman, Hicks is a certifiable sleeping giant in the prospect world. yet another intriguing two-way talent. His scouting report reminds me of a catcher — plus to plus-plus raw power and plus arm strength — so it is no surprise that there is some thought he’d work better at third, his occasional college position. He also is a pitching prospect who features an above-average (at times) fastball with what I consider a promising splitter.
27. Wofford JR 1B Konstantine Diamaduros (.313/.360/.388 – 13 BB/17 K)
If we’re looking for silver linings here, at least Diamaduros will have the chance to be on college baseball’s all name team for an extra year after he returns to Wofford in 2012.
28. Ouachita Baptist JR 1B Brock Green (.366/.484/.575 – 29 BB/24 K)
I’ll often compile notes on a player over the course of a few years. One of my bad habits is not dating my notes. So when I look back and see the following notes on Brock Green, I can’t help but laugh. Among a few other tidbits, the notes claim Green is both a “potential plus defender” and possesses an “iron glove.” I suppose they technically could both be true — the upside vs present performance thing — but I’m guessing it is more of an issue of timing than anything.
29. Barry SR 1B Dean Green (.414/.532/.845 – 33 BB/20 K)
Issues with competition aside, Dean Green is straight killing it this year. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has already shown he can hang with the big boys by performing well on the Cape.
30. Oregon SR 1B Stephen Kaupang
Not listed on the Oregon 2011 roster and I couldn’t figure out what in the world happened to him. Anybody know?
Not every draft is like 2008. Not every draft is like 2008. Not every draft is like 2008. That’s my mantra as I check and recheck the list of 2011 draft-eligible college first basemen. Are you sure this is everybody? There are no Justin Smoak’s, Yonder Alonso’s, or, heck, even Ike Davis’s hiding anywhere? Sure, David Cooper and Allan Dykstra went bust, but there were both highly thought of at the time. This may be over the top negative (it’s what I do best, after all), but I’m not positive there is a slam dunk top five round college first baseman this year, let alone five players capable of cracking the first like in 2008. Incidentally, when looking back over that draft I’m always amazed at the stones, for lack of a better term, Kansas City showed by taking Eric Hosmer third. I know he was an outstanding high school hitter, but taking a prep first baseman before accomplished college talents like Brian Matusz (4th), Buster Posey (5th), and Justin Smoak (11th) took some serious intestinal fortitude. Posey is a stud and both Matusz and Smoak have shown enough promise that we can expect big things going forward, but Hosmer has a chance to be one of the elite middle of the lineup hitters in all of baseball in very short order. The book is far from closed on any of these players, and I’ll acknowledge that Posey would be a tremendous addition to the emerging Royals core, but, man, I have to give credit where credit is due on that pick. Loads of high picks year after year will often lead to good things, but in any sport, especially baseball, you still need to identify the right guy. Hosmer might not have been the only right guy in 2008, but he certainly looks like one of them.
Oh, right. 2011 college first basemen. Here is the original list. I don’t see a clear big league starter in the bunch, though I’m admittedly all aboard the Preston Tucker bandwagon. If any guy winds up starting for a big league team, it’ll be him. The rest look like potential four-corners utility guys (1B/3B/corner OF), pinch hitters, or platoon options. No shame in any of those outcomes, of course, so long as nobody out there is banking on getting a close to the big leagues power hitting college first baseman this year.
1. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker (.361/.424/.627 – 15 BB/18 K)
I wrote a bit about Tucker in the past, so I won’t get into too much detail now. Here are the money quotes from last time, if you’re too cool to click the link:
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…
…Late first round seems like his draft ceiling. Fifth round, like fellow SEC 1B Andy Wilkins in 2010, could be his floor, barring injury.
2. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa (.384/.459/.582 – 21 BB/30 K)
There’s still too much swing and miss in his approach than I’d like, but the fact Oropesa fits the classic slugging first baseman mold better than Tucker could help him become the first college 1B off the board. Scouts want the best players, obviously, but they do have their biases. I think said bias could help Oropesa this June.
3. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing (.292/.366/.454 – 11 BB/34 K)
I know for a fact one team preferred Channing to Tucker heading into the season, though I can’t imagine that is still the case after his down showing so far this year.
4. Fresno State SR 1B Jordan Ribera (.206/.293/.382 – 13 BB/30 K)
Take a minute and process Ribera’s 2011 numbers. That’s one complete and utter collapse. I can’t believe that it is entirely the new bats to blame, like some have insinuated. Unlike Channing, Ribera doesn’t have the option of returning to school in 2012, so he can’t do much more than to hold out hope some team saw him at his best in 2010.
5. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard (.301/.374/.431 – 12 BB/15 K)
All of the numbers are park/league adjusted, but sometimes even more context is needed. Ard isn’t your typical college junior. As a former junior college star, Ard’s acquitted himself well enough in his first year of major college ball that I think a team that liked him heading into the season would still be on board now. His upside rivals that of any first baseman in the class.
6. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman (.275/.441/.580 – 38 BB/46 K)
How could you not possibly love this year’s draft Three True Outcome hero? Over half (54% to be precise) of his at bats end in a homer, walk, or strikeout. Cool.
7. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez (.280/.401/.440 – 24 BB/23 K)
I’m really, really fond of Nick Ramirez the college baseball player (his pitching stats: 12.1 IP – 1.51 FIP – 13.86 K/9 – 3.65 BB/9) and think he’s a viable option either at first or on the mound professionally. He has a reputation as a guess hitter, but I’ve heard his approach has gotten much better in 2011. As a pitcher, his upper-70s changeup is a legit out pitch, though it is kind of a shame that it isn’t even the best cambio in his family…
8. UCLA JR 1B Dean Espy (.299/.354/.381 – 10 BB/23 K)
Probably time to start thinking about the 2012 Draft with numbers like that…
9. Vanderbilt SR 1B Aaron Westlake (.377/.505/.596 – 32 BB/33 K) – I can live with ranking a player highly only to see him flame out. I realize the risk that comes with sometimes being too optimistic. I hate it when a player I like but am too chicken to rank appropriately plays great. Pretty sure all of that makes me a bad person – being indifferent if a player struggles, but annoyed when a player succeeds rates seems pretty selfish. If it helps, I always feel guilty about it. Westlake is one such source of annoyance. The Vanderbilt senior ranked as high as second on my original, off the top of my head list, but wound up ninth after I shuffled up some other names that I felt had more upside. Dumb move. All Westlake does is hit.
10. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins (.302/.442/.442 – 29 BB/46 K)
Another personal favorite coming into the year who hasn’t delivered quite what was expected in the power department. Positional versatility could help him make it as one of those four-corners utility guys we talked about earlier.
11. Mississippi SR 1B Matt Snyder (.273/.396/.445 – 21 BB/32 K)
Haven’t seen him myself, but have heard less than nice things about his defense. When scouts wonder if you have what it takes to stick at first, you’d better be able to hit a ton. Snyder is a nice college thumper, but nothing about his scouting profile or college numbers scream big league hitter to me.
12. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder (.352/.450/.544 – 22 BB/24 K)
Snieder is reportedly a tough sign, but I like him as an org guy for a lot of the same reasons I like Western Kentucky C Matt Rice.
13. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez (.329/.400/.447 – 11 BB/7 K)
Only 85 at bats, so we’re dealing with a limited sample but I remain intrigued at Lopez’s skill set and performance to date.
14. Oklahoma JR 1B Cameron Seitzer (.331/.429/.476 – 20 BB/20 K)
I was lower on him than most, and remain cautiously optimistic at best, but I’d remiss if I didn’t point out a lot of positive chatter about Seitzer’s more mature frame and subsequent transformation from guy with big raw power to guy with loads of in-game power, despite what the relatively modest slugging numbers may indicate. He’ll probably go higher than a few names listed above him here, but, hey, it’s my list, right?
15. Southern Illinois JR 1B Chris Serritella
Serritella has missed time due to wrist injury and has a whopping 0 ABs this year. Have to imagine the injury will keep him at Southern Illinois for another season or two.
I wanted to follow up on last week’s post comparing the preseason ranking of college catchers with what they’ve done so far in 2011. That post looked at the top ten ranked players only; today we check on the catchers ranked 11-30. All stats come once again from College Splits with the exception of the junior college and DII numbers. Players aren’t listed in any particular order, other than being grouped together for my personal convenience.
(I’m still working out some kinks on the redesign. I like it well enough so far, but there are things I want to improve on. Pretty sure I don’t like that only one post shows up at a time, I think the text looks a little squished, and the tools in the background might be a little a) esoteric, or b) straight up ugly…haven’t decided yet. If anybody has any thoughts, feel free to comment or email me…I’m pretty useless when it comes to this kind of stuff, so any input, nice or not so nice, is welcomed.)
- Arkansas JR C James McCann: 296/396/478 (17 BB/13 K)
- California JR C Chadd Krist: 368/442/552 (17 BB/20 K)
- Auburn SR C Tony Caldwell: 315/426/537 (17 BB/21 K)
- Virginia JR C John Hicks: 379/429/522 (12 BB/12 K)
- Georgetown SR C Erick Fernandez: 330/414/539 (10 BB/12 K)
I’d argue that all of the players above are doing just about what most followers of the draft (i.e. dorks like me) thought they would do in 2011. In other words, if you liked one of these guys before the year, chances are you like him just the same, if not a smidgen more, right about now. I was impressed with the much discussed McCann’s well above-average athleticism and solid speed (for a catcher) in my admittedly quick look at him.
Florida JR C Ben McMahan only has 39 at bats so far. While I still believe in him from a scouting standpoint, his aggressive ranking looks like a big swing and miss at this point. Taylor Hightower was another potential sleeper heading into the year who I still hold out hope for, but have to admit has left me feeling a little down on my prognosticating abilities. His numbers (.305/.414/.424 – 8 BB/12 K) are an improvement over his disastrous 2010 stats, but, like fellow SEC member McMahan, he just doesn’t have the plate appearances to draw any conclusions one way or another. Still think both guys play big league caliber defense, a talent good enough to at least warrant backup big league catcher upside, but improvement with the bat will ultimately determine their respective ceilings.
UCLA JR C Steve Rodriguez and Central Florida JR C Beau Taylor have both suffered from a power outage so far in 2011. I tend to be crazy optimistic on almost every player’s draft stock, but it seems like both Rodriguez and Taylor won’t have much of a choice but to return to school in 2012. Nothing wrong with getting that degree, of course.
Pittsburgh SR C Kevan Smith: 387/463/621 (14 BB/10 K)
Smith has been awesome at the plate (see above) and on the base paths (10/10 SB). It is great to see a player with such special physical gifts who is able to translate raw upside into big time college production. I never really have much of a clue how actual big league front offices view draft prospects and I haven’t heard any buzz about Smith’s draft stock, but I sure like him. Definitely on my short list of top senior signs.
College of Charleston JR C Rob Kral: 342/509/542 (43 BB/15 K)
Kral’s defense is the big concern, but there are no doubts whatsoever about the bat. Unfortunately, Kral doesn’t have the luxury of moving off catcher due to his lack of height and mobility. He reminds a little bit of Eric Arce in that way. I think his draft ceiling might be right around where Dan Black of Purdue went in 2009 (16th round). Should be no surprise that a guy with that kind of plate discipline qualifies as a personal favorite of mine.
Wofford JR C Mac Doyle: 298/398/582 (16 BB/30 K)
Doyle’s always had a bit of an “all or nothing” swing and this year is no different.
Michigan JR C Coley Crank: 273/367/479 (15 BB/34 K)
One of my updated reports on Crank reads simply: “Gets in his own way defensively; feasts on average or worse fastballs and nothing else.” Not super encouraging…
- LSU-Eunice FR C Hommy Rosado: 355/467/600 (20 BB/29 K)
- Chipola JC SO C Geno Escalante: 357/416/545 (9 BB/17 K)
- Franklin Pierce JR C Mike Dowd: 378/432/593 (12 BB/4 K)
It’s tricky to put junior college numbers in context, but let’s try. That .355 BA looks wonderful, and I take nothing away from it, but keep in mind Rosado is only sixth on his team in terms of batting average. However, he’s second on the team in SLG. He’s also incorrectly placed on this list, as it turns out, seeing as he’s played almost exclusively at third this spring. With 10 errors and below-average range at the hot corner, he’s likely a man without a position. Next stop, first base. Escalante is the other junior college guy on the list; his numbers are obviously a notch below Rosado’s even with his added year of post-high school experience. Dowd, our lone Division II star on the list, has managed the strike zone brilliantly for Franklin Pierce while also ranking second among qualifiers in both BA and SLG. His arm may be his only above-average tool, but his bat, gap power, and defense should all play just fine at the next level.
Samford JR C Brandon Miller: 318/397/742 (16 BB/27 K)
Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer: 410/471/669 (13 BB/16 K)
Miller is a really underrated athlete with ample raw power and great physical strength, but, like so many near the bottom of these rankings, might not play the brand of defense pro teams seek out this time of year. You could probably say the same about Schaeffer, except the reports I’ve gotten on his defense all indicate he’s getting a teeny bit better every day.
Western Kentucky SR C Matt Rice: 348/432/529 (25 BB/22 K)
Rice is a definite riser in my mind; very little chance he winds up as 2011′s Mr. Irrelevant (last overall pick in draft) like he was in 2010. He’s still a late-rounder, but he makes a lot of sense in the larger context of the draft. Sure, the ultimate goal is to draft as many potential big league contributors as possible. We all know that much. Come rounds 25 and on, however, you’re mixing and matching prep athletes with upside and signability questions and org players needed to fill out minor league rosters. Rice strikes me as a perfect org guy – great teammate, wonderful influence on his peers, and not totally devoid of talent in his own right.
Virginia SR C Kenny Swab: 327/481/446 (22 BB/19 K) 9/9 SB
Swab is a personal favorite from last year that I consistently overrate. Love his mix of plate discipline, above-average pop, and defensive versatility.
JR OF George Springer looked nothing like the player I had read so much about this spring. His results may not have been what you’d like to see, but the improved process stood out. Good pro coaching will do wonders for him, though it will be really interesting to see how much tinkering his future employer will really want to do after investing a hefty bonus in the college version of Springer’s swing. He looks a little bow-legged in the photo above, but it isn’t a great representation of his swing setup because it captures him just as he started his stride. I had great video of him swinging the bat, but it disappeared into the ether during a file conversion. As for Springer’s swing, again, I’m not a scout, but I was really impressed with his balance at the plate, both in his approach and follow through. I didn’t like his collapsed back elbow, but found many of his flaws to be those decidedly under the “Coach Him Up and He’ll Be Alright” umbrella. This may be a cop-out, but the rise of so many other prospects could really be a boon for Springer’s career. Taking him in the top ten scares the heck out of me, but if he slips closer to the middle or end of the round, watch out. Lowered expectations + more stable pro organization, especially at the big league level (less need to rush him) = transformation from overrated to underrated almost overnight.
Another quick note I’ll pass along without much comment: George Springer cares. I realize this is a dangerous game to play because, really, how can we ever know such a thing, but George Springer (his name just sounds better when you use the first and the last) cares, or, at worst, is one heck of an actor. I’d never get on a player for not reacting to a strikeout with anger (and, by extension, showing that they care) because, as a quiet guy myself, I know demonstrative displays of emotion shouldn’t be the standard by which we judge effort and dedication. But the way Springer reacted to an early strikeout — pacing back and forth in front of the bench seemingly in search of a tunnel to pop into and blow off some steam (soon enough, George) until finally settling to the far end of the dugout, just off to the side, where he took a knee, closed his eyes, and started pantomiming his swing — really stood out to me. Probably nothing, but there you go.
None of that changes my view of George Springer the prospect, by the way. Just thought it was a relatively interesting tidbit worth passing along. I have to admit that I do kind of love the idea of a player with a wOBA approaching .500 getting that worked up over a bad at bat. Or maybe I love the way a player who is is clearly pressing at the plate has still somehow managed to put up a league/park adjusted triple slash of .386/.482/.667 (as of mid-April).
Two pro comparisons for Springer came immediately to mind. The first is 100% physical and in no way any kind of projection of future pro value. Something about Springer’s body, swing, and overall on-field demeanor reminded me a great deal of Florida’s Mike Stanton. Again, the two are very different players, but the physical similarities were interesting. A comp like that is probably why most people don’t like comps, but they’ll live.
The second comparison is much, much better, I think. Springer’s upside and overall tools package remind me so much of Minnesota minor leaguer Joe Benson that it’s scary. File that one away…
He’s no speed demon on the basepaths, he won’t approach double digit homers as a pro, and he’s not build like a prototypical professional outfielder, but, boy, JR OF John Andreoli can swing the bat. The way he controls the bat through the zone is a sight to behold. Some of the guy’s hits couldn’t have been rolled by hand into holes any better than he hits them. Beyond the pure hit tool, I asked around about certain players before the game, and almost to a man I was told to watch out for Andreoli’s bunting. One gorgeous second inning push bunt for a single might not be stone cold proof of anything, but it gave the pregame prognostication a little extra weight. He’s a well above-average defender in a corner that might be stretched some in center, though I’m not so sure his 55ish speed wouldn’t also work up the middle. Andreoli is probably nothing more than a late round organizational player at this point, but he could make for an interesting senior sign in 2012.
SR LHP Greg Nappo‘s upper-80s fastball plays up because of good deception in his delivery. It is still probably a below-average pitch on balance because the command isn’t quite what you’d hope it would be coming from a typical pitchability lefty. He relied quite heavily on the heater, mixing in occasional cutters and an average slow curve that he could drop into the strike zone more easily as the game went on. He’s also probably an organizational guy at this point, but he can always take pride that he’s the player featured in my header.
SO OF Billy Ferriter disappointed me a bit. Definite pro body, but he made a habit of swinging at junk and watching meaty fastballs go by. Small sample size, I know, but scouts made note that he’s made a habit of getting himself out all year long. Still like the upside, but have to keep telling myself he is only in his second year college ball. He’s draft-eligible this year, but unlikely to sign.
Really impressed by SO 2B LJ Mazzilli‘s swing and approach at the plate. He has a little toe-tap timing mechanism that reminds me a little bit of Mark Reynolds’ swing, only without the swing-and-miss length. Good speed, good athleticism, and good hands should keep him up the middle, and a little physical maturation at the plate could help turn him into one of those super annoying scrappy middle infielders we all know and love (or hate, depending on the player).
Still think I prefer JR UTIL Kevin Vance as part of a battery, whether that be behind the plate or on the mound, than at the hot corner. I like his above-average fastball/plus curveball combo and plus command as a potential relief arm down the line. If he sticks as a position player, I think that arm would be best served as a catcher. Surprised to see his batting line as weak as it is because I really liked his level, powerful, and well-balanced swing. A team could gamble on his upside, but it is starting to look like his down junior year could keep him a Husky for another season.
Villanova JR LHP Kyle Helisek has one of the most extreme wrist wraps/curls in the back during his delivery that I can remember. I won’t pretend to be an expert on pitching mechanics, but his windup looked painful to me. My main focus on the day was watching the Connecticut bats, so I didn’t notice much more than that, but I’ll probably see Helisek a few more times before the end of the year and/or next season.
I’m way more excited about JR SS Nick Ahmed‘s pro prospects after a weekend watching him play. My favorite sequence came after a 1-1 bunt attempt. Ahmed was hit with a pitch, but the umpire ruled he didn’t pull the bat back as he attempted to bunt for a hit. It wasn’t until he was halfway down the first base line until the umpire actually made the call. Ahmed was visibly upset with the call and kept repeating “no chance, no chance…” as he took to himself and anybody that would listen. Fast forward to later in the at bat: 3-2 count, fastball up in the zone, home run drilled deep and gone to left. No woofing afterwards, just a quick sprint around the bases, and back to the dugout. I’m still not totally sold on his power upside, but think he’ll hit enough to be league average with the bat assuming he plays a premium defensive position. On that note…
Ahmed is more difficult to judge in the field. He doesn’t look like a traditional shortstop (listed at 6-2, 205, though he was eye-to-eye with the 6-3 Springer), but he’s got a plus arm (not a direct comparison, but he has a similar flick of the wrist style throw to Jose Reyes) and more than enough athleticism to range in both directions. If he’s not a pro shortstop, and I really think he is, then he’d be best served moving to center, so as to better utilize his athleticism and surprising first step quickness, with third base as a backup to the backup. He has a long way to go before he becomes the player he’ll eventually be (if you can follow that), but I feel pretty comfortable slapping a big league utility guy floor on him.
Exciting week ahead for the site. Always knew that entering a profession with a spring break would pay off down the line…
Here’s my new plan of attack for the next few weeks:
- I spent the weekend braving the elements to get a firsthand look at a few top 2011 draft prospects, namely George Springer, Nick Ahmed, Matt Barnes, and Kyle McMyne. Notes from the Connecticut-Villanova series will be up as soon as I get a free minute to figure out how to get the pretty pictures and video from my camera to the computer…
- As suggested in the comments, I’m going to take a look back at my “preseason” college position player rankings and see where players rank as we head into May.
- More high school stuff and more in-depth analysis of the 2011 college pitching class.
- I’m also toying with the idea of doing some quick prospect profiles. Maybe something like 500 word capsules describing a player’s strengths, weaknesses, and final draft standing prognostication. We’ll see.
- It could be quiet on the main page this week because I really want to use some of my time off from work to update some of the behind the scenes ins and outs of the site. A few minor design tweaks could also be on the horizon…
Love how two labor-intensive numbers-based activities — taxes and report cards — seem to pop up seemingly out of nowhere every year around the same time, yet I somehow always find a way to sleep on both just long enough to give myself one hectic early April. With both out of the way, comments (i.e. Justin Gominsky time) and emails will be addressed by Wednesday night. In the meantime, in anticipation of Baseball America’s revised top 50 2011 draft prospects, here’s a list of my own top 50. Their list will be better, but what the heck. Should probably point out that this isn’t a true top 50 because I prefer to separate pitchers and hitters until the last possible second, but 25 + 25 = 50 so I think I’m in the clear. It was a pain in the neck figuring out how to place the pitchers…
1. RHP Gerrit Cole
2. LHP Jed Bradley
3. RHP Taylor Jungmann
4. RHP Trevor Bauer
5. LHP Matt Purke
6. RHP Sonny Gray
7. RHP Archie Bradley
8. LHP Danny Hultzen
9. RHP Dylan Bundy
10. LHP Daniel Norris
11. LHP Henry Owens
12. RHP Matt Barnes
13. RHP Kyle Smith
14. RHP Taylor Guerrieri
15. LHP Tyler Anderson
16. LHP Andrew Chafin
17. RHP Michael Kelly
18. RHP Dillon Howard
19. LHP Jake Cave
20. RHP Nick Burdi
21. RHP John Stilson
22. LHP Josh Osich
23. RHP Carson Smith
24. LHP Sam Stafford
25. RHP Scott McGough
1. 3B Anthony Rendon
2. OF Bubba Starling
3. OF George Springer
4. C Blake Swihart
5. OF/3B/1B Travis Harrison
6. OF Josh Bell
7. C Andrew Susac
8. OF Jackie Bradley
9. SS Francisco Lindor
11. 2B Kolten Wong
12. 3B Javier Baez
13. OF Brian Goodwin
14. OF Mikie Mahtook
15. OF Josh Tobias
16. OF Billy Flamion
17. 2B Levi Michael
18. C Austin Hedges
19. SS Phil Evans
20. 3B Chris McFarland
21. OF Brandon Nimmo
22. C Tyler Marlette
23. OF Jacob Anderson
24. SS Tyler Greene
25. 3B BA Vollmuth
This should hardly come as a surprise, but lately I’ve been having difficulty coming up with original ideas to write about. To remedy that, I sat myself in a dark room, put on some Enya, closed my eyes, and tried to focus on the most pressing draft concern whacking around inside my skull. Nineteen hours later, it hit me. One of my favorite things to do, something I do with baseball, basketball, and football each year, is create a really quick, informal big board that ranks every amateur draft prospect up until my favorite team first goes on the clock. The lists are somewhat team specific — for example, an Eagles version for the 2011 NFL Draft might have a defensive back or two higher than they’d be on a more general big board — but they work to give an overarching idea of how I value particular players in any given draft. Last year, as a fan of the Sixers, it was pretty simple ranking the 2010 NBA Draft’s top two prospects. This year, thanks to the regular season success of the Phillies and their signing of free agent starter Cliff Lee, my personal MLB Draft prospect list needs to be 39 players deep.
Despite sometimes trying to fake my way through, I really don’t consider myself an authority on the draft in any way. Some have asked if this site is a means to an end for me, and, if so, what exactly would I like that end to be. It may sound disingenuous, but I literally have no aspirations for this site beyond what it currently is. Sure, I want to write more, write better, and continue to tinker with how the material is presented, but, beyond all that, this is more than enough for me. Also doesn’t hurt that nothing bigger or better is on the horizon. For me, covering the draft is a fun way to blow off steam. My hope is this recent rediscovery (novel idea: write what I find fun and interesting, not what I think I should be writing) will help with my nasty case of blogger’s block. A list like this would typically be deemed unworthy of the site and instead sent to one of my similarly obsessed baseball friends, but now I’m thinking what the heck…
JR RHP Alex Meyer from the University of Kentucky got me thinking over the weekend. His 2011 numbers are outstanding (only quibble would be his higher than you’d like BB total) and the scouting reports have been largely unchanged going on three years now (plus fastball, inconsistent breaking ball that flashes plus, huge command issues). Many of the buzz words that describe him could also describe any number of hard throwing potential bullpen conversion candidates like John Stilson, Anthony Meo, Carson Smith, Kyle McMyne, Jack Armstrong, Carter Capps, Ian Gardeck, Jeff Ames, Burch Smith, Austin Wood, and Dixon Anderson: pro body, strong performance, 1.5 plus pitches, considerable upside, sometimes unclear where the ball is going. Sorting where Meyer stands amongst those players is something that will come in due time, but, for the time being, far simpler question: if Alex Meyer were available at pick 39, the first pick of my favorite team, would I be excited to see said favorite team, the Phillies, announce his name? My first impression is, yes, he’d be an interesting risk to take at pick 39 with the an upside that rivals that of many of his supplemental round contemporaries. My second impression is, no, pick 39 is too early to roll the dice on a pitcher more likely to wind up in the bullpen than in the rotation. Both thoughts might be too simplistic in their analysis, but you get the idea. Judging players in a vacuum is interesting, but unrealistic; the whole point of holding a draft is to compare and contrast players within the context of their peers, right? To do that, we must rank ‘em up. I’d take any one of these guys with the 39th overall pick, thank you very much…
Super Early Top 39
RHP Sonny Gray
RHP Taylor Jungmann
RHP Gerrit Cole
RHP Trevor Bauer
LHP Jed Bradley
LHP Danny Hultzen
LHP Matt Purke
RHP Matt Barnes
LHP Tyler Anderson
LHP Andrew Chafin
RHP Archie Bradley
RHP Taylor Guerrieri
RHP Kyle Smith
RHP Dylan Bundy
RHP Michael Kelly
RHP Dillon Howard
LHP Daniel Norris
LHP Henry Owens
LHP Jake Cave
C Andrew Susac
C/1B CJ Cron
2B Levi Michael
2B Kolten Wong
3B Anthony Rendon
OF George Springer
OF Jackie Bradley
OF Brian Goodwin
OF Mikie Mahtook
C Blake Swihart
C Austin Hedges
SS Francisco Lindor
SS Phil Evans
3B Chris McFarland
3B Javier Baez
OF/3B/1B Travis Harrison
OF Bubba Starling
OF Josh Tobias
OF Brandon Nimmo
OF Josh Bell
Struggling with a mean case of writer’s block, so the old standby that is the arbitrary list rears its ugly head once again. 17 of the most intriguing hitting and fielding prospects from the world of high school baseball. Again, like the previous list of prep pitchers, this is not necessarily a ranking of the best high school prospects because, let’s be honest, I don’t really know what I’m talking about anyway, especially when it comes to prep guys. These are all just players that have caught my eye for one reason or another. Almost all of the players listed are really well thought of by front office types and big boy draft analysts alike, so don’t get the idea that I think I’m reinventing the iPad here (been told that updated references will appeal to a younger demographic and, judging by my complete lack of social media presence, irregular posting schedule, lazy attitude towards adding pictures, and resistance to doing weekly mock drafts, it should be clear that I’m all about trying to generate the page views!).
I don’t know why I added that last parenthetical point, let alone the terrible iPad “joke.” Maybe the pressure of writing whatever and whenever I want has finally gotten to me. My editor can be really demanding, you know? Thankfully, the money and fame make it all worth it in the end. And just in case anybody is out there waiting on pins and needles (couldn’t think of a more modern way to say that): I’ll be sure to post updates on all comments and the stray email or two in my inbox within the next 48 hours. Promise.
Like the pitching, this works best as a follow list for fans of the draft looking for names to do more homework on potential first day picks. In no order — besides alphabetically — 17 prep position players that I like:
OF/1B Jacob Anderson (Chino HS, California)
3B Javier Baez (Arlington County Day HS, Florida)
OF Josh Bell (Jesuit College Prep School, Texas)
OF Shon Carson (Lake City HS, South Carolina)
SS Phillip Evans (La Costa Canyon HS, California)
OF Billy Flamion (Central Catholic HS, California)
C Cameron Gallagher (Manheim Township HS, Pennsylvania)
SS Tyler Greene (West Boca Raton HS, Florida)
OF/1B Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, California)
SS Francisco Lindor (Montverde Academy, Florida)
C Tyler Marlette (Hagerty HS, California)
3B Chris McFarland (Lufkin HS, Texas)
C Daniel Mengden (Westside HS, Texas)
OF Brandon Nimmo (Cheyenne East HS, Wyoming)
OF Bubba Starling (Gardner-Edgerton HS, Kansas)
C Blake Swihart (Cleveland HS, New Mexico)
2B/OF Josh Tobias (Southeast Guilford HS, South Carolina)
I’m not done talking about college prospects by any stretch, but with the draft a little over two months away I figured now is the time to start ramping up coverage of 2011′s best high school prospects. To kick things off, a list of 17 of my favorite prep arms. All usual caveats (not a complete list, still early in the process, haven’t seen any player live) apply, so feel free to add a name or two that I’m missing.
Honestly, I’m not sure what the point of this list is, if there is a point at all. These aren’t necessarily the best 17 high school pitching prospects (although they might be), they aren’t ranked in order, and there are definitely names missing that I want to add but will hold off on in the interest of time and space. Plus, and I’ll be as transparent as possible here, there really aren’t ground breaking names on this list. So I like Bradley, Bundy, and Norris; doesn’t everybody? Yeah, most if not all the names below are pretty well established at or near the top of any prep pitching list at this point, but, to be fair, there is a perfectly good reason for that. All of these pitchers are really good.
Guess the point here is a simple, oft-repeated one: this works best as a follow list for fans of the draft looking for names to do more homework on potential first day picks.
RHP Archie Bradley (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma)
RHP Bryan Brickhouse (The Woodlands HS, Texas)
RHP Dylan Bundy (Owasso HS, Oklahoma)
RHP Nick Burdi (Downers Grove HS, Illinois)
LHP Jake Cave (Kecoughtan HS, Virginia)
RHP Jose Fernandez (Alonso HS, Florida)
RHP Taylor Guerrieri (North Augusta HS, South Carolina)
RHP Dillon Howard (Searcy HS, Arkansas)
RHP Michael Kelly (West Boca Raton Community HS, Florida)
RHP Jorge Lopez (Academia la Milagrosa, Puerto Rico)
RHP Dillon Maples (Pinecrest HS, North Carolina)
RHP Christian Montgomery (Lawrence Central HS, Indiana)
LHP Daniel Norris (Science Hill HS, Tennessee)
LHP Henry Owens (Edison HS, California)
LHP Philip Pfeifer (Farragut HS, Tennessee)
RHP Kyle Smith (Lake Worth HS, Florida)
RHP Robert Stephenson (Alhambra HS, California)
Three important things to keep in mind when perusing this list:
1 – This list took a longer than usual time to put together, so consider it a “preseason” ranking in that it is more focused on an overall scouting and production body of work rather than a quick “Who’s Hot?/Who’s Not?” take. There is value in the latter, but I tend to take the long view when it comes to prospecting. That said, there will absolutely be some player movement between now and June as I weigh the most recent scouting notes and 2011 statistics more heavily. I’m stubborn (Rendon is going first overall, I’d bet my non-existent house on it) and willing to ride with players that I like for years before jumping ship, but not so stubborn that I’ll ignore the most recent takes.
2 – I want to delve more into the why’s and how’s of the list as next week unfolds. I also want to explain my general methodology for ranking prospects again for anybody interested. Be on the lookout for both things. In the meantime, some general points on actual player placement on the list:
- After researching this further, I’d now argue the 2011 college outfield class is not nearly as top heavy as I once believed. Despite his perceived early season struggles, Springer’s raw tools still give him the best chance to be a well above-average regular here, hence the number one ranking. After him, however, there are a lot of players with tools that grade out closer to good than great. I don’t think I’d slap a top 15 overall grade on any other outfielder here in a regular draft year, let alone one as talented as 2011. Staying within the top ten, Zach Cone’s ranking stands out as one that could look too aggressive by June. Blame that on my optimism preseason, back when I bought into him as a player with three non-hitting tools (speed, arm, defense) as above-average with an underrated swing and interesting (.684 park/league adjusted 2010 slugging) power upside. The lack of plate discipline and overarching rawness to his game probably should have been red flags, but I’m willing to wait him out just a little bit longer, despite the fact he doesn’t fit the mold for “my” kind of prospect. For “my” kind of prospect, see the guys sandwiched between Cone on the list…
- There are a lot of similar players lumped in between 20 and 50 overall. To name two completely random (yeah, right…) examples of this, check out Jeff Schaus (22) and Justin Gominsky (49). Schaus is arguably the more well-rounded prospect and a guy who gets extra credit for putting up stellar numbers throughout his college career. I really like his odds of playing big league baseball down the line, but think he will make it as a backup instead of a starting caliber player. Gominsky, on the other hand, has a lesser track record of collegiate success, but offers substantial edges in upside and athleticism. He may have the greater chance of emerging as a big league starting outfielder, but also carries more risk as a prospect and is thus just a tick less likely to actually reach the majors, in my opinion. Guess it boils down to the floor/ceiling debate, at least partially.
- As mentioned, there is very little separation from 20 to 50 on the list. I hate to take the conservative approach — something I believe I’ve only done once before, and that blew up in my face with my ill-fated “wait and see” preseason ranking of Andrew Susac — but that’s the best way I can analyze those 30 or so prospects at this point. In six weeks, after we have a little bit more meaningful data to chew on and a few updated scouting reports, things will be much clearer. Hopefully. To reemphasize this point one last time, most of the legwork in compiling this list was done preseason. The fact that Gominsky’s 2011 numbers match what Schaus has done so far is not lost on me, and, should things continue this way, will be reflected in an updated ranking.
- The top four seem largely agreed upon by many in the business. Five and below is anybody’s guess. Really fun year for college outfielders because of the depth of the class and the wide-ranging skill sets found within. Do you prefer a potential righty mashing platoon player who may struggle in the field? Or would you rather a top 2010 high school prospect trying to make the quick turnaround and improve on his disappointing draft standing of last year? Reserve outfielder upside with a relatively strong chance of reaching it? Or swing for the fences, so to speak, with a power bat or speed demon more likely to contribute a substantial number of big league at bats as a starter but with the cost of flaming out by AA? Like any prospect list, no matter how much logic and reason goes into its creation, sometimes it just comes down to personal preference and good old fashioned intuition. I’m at peace with that.
3 – I’m no authority, just a guy hopelessly devoted to his baseball hobby. Not saying I’m a dummy and the ranking itself is worthless — if that was the case then I wouldn’t waste a month plus trying to get the “perfect order” — but merely saying, as plain as I can, this whole thing below is best used as a starting point. If nothing else, it is an opportunity to learn about a few players you may not have known about yesterday. Hate the rankings? Feel free to use them as a follow list instead, or, as always, feel free to ask questions and/or call me a no-nothing idiot in the comment section or via email. And if I’ve omitted anybody’s personal favorite, please let me know as gently as possible. Chances are it was a copy/paste oversight on my end and not a malicious attempt to tear down everything that you love in life.
EDIT #1: Forgot about Jamal Austin, but addressed his pros and cons in the comment section. He’s been added to the list.
- Connecticut JR OF George Springer
- South Carolina JR OF Jackie Bradley
- Miami-Dade CC SO OF Brian Goodwin
- Louisiana State JR OF Mikie Mahtook
- Valparaiso JR OF Kyle Gaedele
- Indiana JR OF Alex Dickerson
- Alabama JR OF Taylor Dugas
- Georgia JR OF Zach Cone
- Kansas State JR OF Nick Martini
- Clemson JR OF Will Lamb
- Texas SO OF Cohl Walla
- Arizona State JR OF Johnny Ruettiger
- Texas Christian JR OF Jason Coats
- Rice JR OF Jeremy Rathjen
- Central Florida SO OF Ronnie Richardson
- Santa Fe CC FR OF Trey Griffin
- Central Arizona CC SO OF Keenyn Walker
- Louisville JR OF Stewart Ijames
- Wright State JR OF Tristan Moore
- Miami SO OF Zeke DeVoss
- Florida International SR OF Yoandy Barroso
- Clemson SR OF Jeff Schaus
- Kent State SR OF Ben Klafczynski
- Texas Christian JR OF Brance Rivera
- College of Charleston SR OF Cole Rakar
- Oregon State SO OF Garrett Nash
- Western Kentucky JR OF Kes Carter
- Georgia JR OF Peter Verdin
- Florida State SR OF Mike McGee
- Arkansas JR OF Collin Kuhn
- Oral Roberts JR OF Brandon King
- Arizona State JR OF Zach Wilson
- Wake Forest SR OF Steven Brooks
- Florida International JR OF Pablo Bermudez
- Rice JR OF Michael Fuda
- McNeese State JR OF Lee Orr
- Northern Colorado JR OF Jarod Berggren
- Pepperdine JR OF Brian Humphries
- Illinois JR OF Willie Argo
- Washington JR OF Caleb Brown
- Florida State JR OF James Ramsey
- Cornell JR OF Brian Billigen
- Baylor JR OF Brooks Pinckard
- Vanderbilt JR OF Joe Loftus
- Arkansas JR OF Jarrod McKinney
- Fresno State JR OF Dusty Robinson
- Tallahassee CC FR OF D’Monte Grissom
- Southern Poly JR OF DeMarcus Tidwell
- Minnesota JR OF Justin Gominsky
- Miami JR OF Nate Melendres
- Louisiana State JR OF Trey Watkins
- Angelo State SO OF Joe Leftridge
- Georgetown JR OF Rand Ravnaas
- North Carolina JR OF A&T Xavier Macklin
- Tennessee Tech SR OF Chad Oberacker
- Mississippi SR OF Matt Smith
- Manhattan SR OF Mike McCann
- Rutgers SR OF Michael Lang
- Michigan State SR OF Jeff Holm
- Missouri JR OF Ryan Gebhart
- Cal Poly JR OF Bobby Crocker
- Georgia State SR OF Mark Micowski
- Duke JR OF Will Piwnica-Worms
- UNC Wilmington JR OF Andrew Cain
- Coastal Carolina JR OF Daniel Bowman
- Texas Christian JR OF Aaron Schultz
- UAB JR OF Jamal Austin
- Mississippi JR OF Zach Kirksey
- Southern JR OF Rodarrick Jones
- Florida State JR OF Taiwan Easterling
- Connecticut SO OF Billy Ferriter
- Gonzaga JR OF Royce Bollinger
- Arizona State JR OF Andy Workman
- Oklahoma JR OF Chris Ellison
- Sam Houston State SR OF Mark Hudson
- Hawaii JR OF Collin Bennett
- Marshall SO OF Isaac Ballou
- Oral Roberts SR OF Nick Baligod
- Kansas JR OF Jason Brunansky
- Washington State JR OF Derek Jones
- Arizona JR OF Steve Selsky
- Walters State SO OF Cody Stubbs
- Azusa Pacific JR OF Brent Warren
- Southern Mississippi JR OF Kameron Brunty
- Lower Columbia Basin JC SO Ben McQuown
- San Diego JR OF Austin Green
- UC Irvine SR OF Drew Hillman
- Connecticut JR OF John Andreoli
- South Carolina JR OF Adam Matthews
- Stephen F. Austin JR OF Bryson Myles
- Maine JR OF Taylor Lewis
- Shippensburg SO OF Cody Kulp
- Auburn SR OF Justin Fradejas
- Maryland JR OF Matt Marquis
- San Diego State JR OF Brandon Meredith
- Memphis JR OF Drew Martinez
- Stetson JR OF Spencer Theisen
- Pittsburgh SR OF John Schultz
- Florida JR OF Tyler Thompson
- Arizona State SR OF Matt Newman
- The Citadel JR OF Nick Orvin