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Final 2011 MLB Draft College Shortstop Rankings

I haven’t offered too much commentary on the position player groups as a whole, but, man, the college shortstop group is weak this year. Miller and Ahmed are the clear top two for me, but both could be moved off the position in pro ball (Miller in CF or 2B, Ahmed in CF or 3B). I’ve liked Motter for a long time, and Brandon Loy has grown on me with every viewing, but I’d only put money on one sure fire (or as close as one can get to “sure fire” when it comes to the draft) long-term starter (Miller).

With some luck, college 2B should be up later today. After that, I’ll be working on high school middle infield prospects. Then on to 3B and OF before finally getting to the most exciting part of this year’s draft, the pitching. All that will be left after that will be a complete big board and then the excitement of draft day.

1. Clemson JR SS Brad Miller

*** 2010: .407/.510/.641 – 53 BB/37 K – 231 AB – 10/12 SB
*** 2011: .439/.546/.614 – 40 BB/28 K – 171 AB – 22/26 SB

Miller goes coast to coast as this season’s top collegiate shortstop prospect, beginning the year at the top spot and very deservedly finishing at number one as well. I’ve long held the position that the current Clemson shortstop has what it takes to stick at the position, an opinion tied far more closely to his defensive tools — most notably the speed and athleticism that give him well above-average range up the middle — than his present, sometimes erratic, ability. At the plate, he’s done everything expected of him and more. I’m admittedly more bullish on his power upside than most and can see him further tapping into said upside to the tune of 15+ homers annually. Even if the power doesn’t quite reach those levels, Miller’s consistent hard contact and good approach should help keep his batting average and on-base percentage at more than acceptable numbers for a starting middle infielder. It may be a popular comp for a lot of players, but I think a comparison between Brad Miller and former ACC star and current Oriole Brian Roberts is apt.

2. Connecticut JR SS Nick Ahmed

*** 2010: .326/.390/.404 – 29 BB/31 K – 267 AB – 34/42 SB
*** 2011: .355/.448/.487 – 22 BB/14 K – 152 AB – 20/26 SB

I try not to let a quick look at a player influence my opinion on him too much, but Nick Ahmed gave off that somewhat silly yet undeniable big league look when I see him play earlier this year. He’s got an easy plus arm, strong defensive tools and athleticism that should play at multiple spots, and enough bat speed to drive good fastballs to the gaps. My only “concern,” if you even want to call it that, is that he’ll outgrow shortstop. The reason why I’m not ready to call that a legitimate concern just yet is because, based on his current tall and lanky frame, I would hope any physical growth he experiences professionally would be accompanied by additional strength, especially in his upper body, to help his eventual power output. In other words, if he gets too big for shortstop then at least he’ll then have the chance of having the power bat needed to play elsewhere.

3. Coastal Carolina JR SS Taylor Motter

*** 2010: .355/.457/.654 – 39 BB/35 K – 214 AB – 11/15 SB
*** 2011: .281/.412/.422 – 43 BB/37 K – 192 AB – 18/20 SB

I can’t even begin to guess where Motter will actually go on draft day, but I’m willing to stick my neck out and say that whatever team winds up with him will get one of the draft’s underrated gems. Like Brandon Loy ranked just below him, Motter’s biggest strengths are his plus glove and plus throwing arm. Any above-average tool besides those two are gravy, though it certainly doesn’t hurt that Motter has an average hit tool and good speed. A couple of really nice things I heard about Motter after talking to people in the know included a description of the  “he simply does not waste at bats” and a glowing report on “his professional knowledge of the strike zone.” Motter obviously doesn’t profile as a Troy Tulowitzki type of power hitter, but with his defense, speed, and command of the strike zone, he won’t have to hit the ball out of the ballpark to someday get a chance as a starting big league shortstop.

4. Texas JR SS Brandon Loy

*** 2010: .294/.399/.383 – 36 BB/37 K – 214 AB – 12/20 SB
*** 2011: .353/.431/.471 – 28 BB/20 K – 221 AB – 12/16 SB

Loy is a standout defensive player who makes up for his average foot speed with tremendous instincts and a plus arm that helps him execute all of the necessary throws from deep in the hole at short. He’s also a great athlete with awesome hand-eye coordination; that coordination is never more apparent than when he is called on to bunt, something he already does as well as the best big leaguer. I was slow to come around to Loy as a top prospect heading into the year, but the improvements with the bat have me thinking of him in a new light. Like Taylor Motter ranked one spot above him, Loy’s awesome defense should be his ticket to the big leagues, perhaps as a Paul Janish type down the road.

5. TCU JR SS Taylor Featherston

*** 2010: .380/.454/.630 – 19 BB/36 K – 216 AB – 5/9 SB
*** 2011: .386/.456/.520 – 16 BB/28 K – 223 AB – 6/11 SB

In much the same way I now link Motter and Loy together in my head, Nick Ahmed and Taylor Featherston stick together as similar prospects in many respects. Like Ahmed, Featherston has good size, above-average athleticism, average speed, and gap power. Featherston also faces similar questions about his eventual defensive landing spot. For now, I like Featherston to stick at shortstop. The defensive strides he has made from his freshman season to today give me reason to believe he has only scratched the surface on what he can do at shortstop. He doesn’t profile as ever having an above-average glove at short as he still has the tendency to do too much in the field at times, but I’d rather see a player going all out to make plays than have a steady, error-free performer who won’t get to nearly as many balls. If his most realistic outcome is as an offensive-minded backup infielder, so bet it.

6. Minnesota JR SS AJ Pettersen

*** 2010: .324/.404/.418 – 26 BB/42 K – 256 AB – 5/9 SB
*** 2011: .377/.428/.466 – 15 BB/17 K – 191 AB – 8/13 SB

In a year when very few college shortstops performed at or near their previous level of play, Pettersen improved across the board. He also improved in the eyes of scouts, turning what was considered an average at best hit tool at the start of the year into something most consider above-average at this point. Like many on the list he could wind up either at 2B or CF in pro ball, but I haven’t seen anything in his defensive game that makes me think he can’t at least start off as a shortstop. Like most players from now to the end of the list, his most likely ceiling is that of a quality big league utility guy.

7. Wichita State JR SS Tyler Grimes

*** 2010: .269/.439/.368 – 37 BB/47 K  – 193 AB – 7/14 SB
*** 2011: .299/.462/.419 – 52 BB/59 K – 234 AB – 25/29 SB

Grimes is another beneficiary of the weak college shortstop class, and is now regarded as one of the most advanced shortstop prospects around. His on-base skills are impressive, as is his defensive skill set, but the hit tool lags behind and his long, all or nothing swing doesn’t make a lot of sense for a player with limited power. I can see the appeal, but not to the point where I’d go around claiming he’ll be a big league regular any time soon.

8. LSU JR SS Austin Nola

*** 2010: .332/.400/.471 – 30 BB/37 K – 259 AB – 1/1 SB
*** 2011: .301/.385/.418 – 29 BB/34 K – 196 AB – 4/7 SB

Nola is a very good defender with just enough bat to give his drafting team hope that he’ll someday hit his way into a starting big league job. No above-average offensive tools (bat, power, speed) make it hard for me to project him as an everyday guy down the line, so I’ll go the broken record route and say, yet again, his most likely outcome is that of a utility infielder.

9. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Kenton Parmley

*** 2010: .363/.412/.553 – 19 BB/21 K – 237 AB – 12/17 SB
*** 2011: .279/.349/.433 – 22 BB/27 K – 208 AB – 8/10 SB

There are a lot of similarities in the upside between Parmley and Austin Nola – both are very good defensive players, average runners, and slightly below-average hitters. While I prefer Nola’s hit tool by a hair, the easiest difference to spot between the two prospects comes down to arm strength; Nola has plenty for shortstop while Parmley has plenty for a right fielder.

10. Michigan SO SS Derek Dennis

*** 2010: .278/.355/.375 – 14 BB/49 K – 176 AB – 7/9 SB
*** 2011: .236/.347/.270 – 20 BB/38 K – 148 AB – 5/6 SB

The 2009 unsigned tenth rounder entered school with the expectation that he’d continue to transform himself into a five-tool shortstop — heard a Danny Espinosa comp on him at one point — capable of doing enough of everything (50s and 55s across the board) to become a good big league starter. So far, not so much. The sum of Dennis’ tools simply do not yet add up to a good ballplayer. That’s alright for now because of the two remaining years of college eligibility Dennis has ahead of him. A team might take a chance on the tools despite his subpar college production, but you’d have to imagine Dennis wouldn’t jump to the pros with his value so low. In other words, if he is offered less than what he turned down in 2009, he’s staying in Ann Arbor at least another year.

11. Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson

*** 2011: .304/.418/.364 – 41 BB/33 K – 214 AB – 22/30 SB

Tomlinson was identified as a sleeper heading into the year and, for the most part, he did not disappoint. The book on him was that he had plus speed, a very good arm, great athleticism, and the tools to be an excellent defensive shortstop. My only concern is his lack of power going forward – not so much in that I’m worried he won’t be a power hitter as a pro (it’s pretty much a given that he won’t be), but more so that he’ll have the bat knocked out of his hands at the next level.

12. James Madison SR SS David Herbek

*** 2010: 315/425/525 – 22 BB/32 K – 181 AB – 13/16 SB
*** 2011: .338/.425/.647 – 21 BB/28 K – 201 AB – 12/16 SB

Last year I wrote: “Herbek is a certifiable draft sleeper. He currently has gap power to all fields, but his beautifully level line drive stroke (reminiscent of Bill Mueller’s righthanded swing) has me thinking there is double digit home run potential if he can add some strength in the coming years.”

I didn’t anticipate that double digit home run totals to come in just over 200 senior year at bats, but there you go. His bat ranks up there with almost any other college shortstop in his class, but the relatively low ranking can be owed to his occasionally spotty defense. As an offense-first infielder off the bench he’ll do just fine.

13. Virginia Military Institute SR SS Sam Roberts

*** 2010: .313/.426/.531 – 42 BB/36 K – 211 AB – 9/16 SB
*** 2011: .342/.441/.500 – 35 BB/29 K – 202 AB – 13/17 SB

Roberts is a do-it-all utility player for VMI that leads off, plays short, and takes the hill every weekend as a starting pitcher. As a college player, there’s little he doesn’t do well and he’s been producing at a big time clip since first stepping on campus. He’s got just enough speed and power to be interesting on offense, and plenty of arm strength to play either spot on the left side of the infield.

14. Lake Erie College JR SS Ryan Rua

*** 2011: .400/.437/.594 – 9 BB/13 K – 170 AB – 19/23 SB

Rua faces the typical level of competition questions that come with playing Division II ball at Lake Erie College, but a strong junior year may have quieted some of the doubters. Some have him ticketed for CF as a pro, but I think his strong arm and above-average range should keep him in the middle infield to start his pro career. His bat isn’t quite as strong as his numbers suggest, though he profiles as an average to slightly below-average, slash and dash hitter down the road.

15. Florida Atlantic SR SS Nick DelGuidice

*** 2010: 294/341/498 – 19 BB/31 K – 245 AB – 3/4 SB
*** 2011: .324/.352/.484 – 11 BB/15 K – 213 AB – 3/5 SB

Never been all that high on DelGuidice’s bat, but his glove continues to impress. I think the leather should be enough to get him drafted, though I’m not sure if his limited ceiling will ever get him listed on Baseball America’s organizational top 30.

16. UCLA JR SS Tyler Rahmatulla

*** 2010: .336/.447/.530 – 42 BB/36 K –  232 AB – 14/21 SB
*** 2011: .250/.354/.294 – 7 BB/15 K – 68 AB – 5/6 SB

Jett Bandy, Ricky Oropesa, Zack MacPhee, and now Tyler Rahmatulla…that’s 4/5th of our Pac-10 all down year draft-eligible prospect team. Rahmatulla has injuries to explain away some of his slippage, but any year when your slugging percentage almost drops by half from the one before it isn’t a good one. A return engagement for a senior year could help him bring his stock back up to his pre-2011 level.

17. Troy SR SS Adam Bryant

*** 2010: .364/.439/.764 – 27 BB/37 K – 250 AB – 4/4 SB
*** 2011: .332/.395/.556 – 23 BB/25 K – 250 AB – 8/11 SB

Bryant is now fully recovered from last season’s labrum surgery and it shows. His defense has always been solid, and there is a surprising amount of power in his bat. He isn’t a top level prospect by any means, but he certainly qualifies as an intriguing senior sign.

18. California JR SS Marcus Semien

*** 2010: .359/.432/.533 – 26 BB/35 K – 195 AB – 5/7 SB
*** 2011: .266/.366/.391 – 26 BB/29 K – 184 AB – 7/11 SB

Semien is considered a draft sleeper by many, but I don’t see it. He probably has the range and arm to stay at short, so that’s a plus, but without much in the way of a hit tool, power, or speed, there isn’t enough there to project him as a big leaguer at this point.

19. South Carolina JR SS Peter Mooney

*** 2011: .271/.380/.383 – 35 BB/25 K – 214 AB – 3/6 SB

Mooney plays a mean shortstop for the defending champs, at times drawing the rare and beautiful “plus-plus” distinction for his glovework. Heard an amusing — probably because I’m a Phillies fan — Freddy Galvis comp on him that got me wondering about where the many age appropriate Latin American prospects who have already been in pro ball for years would be drafted if eligible in 2011. After about 20 minutes of trying to incorporate them into some kind of Alternate Reality Mock Draft, I gave up and came back to Mooney. The Gamecocks shortstop isn’t big (5-7, 150) or toolsy (besides his defense and a strong arm), but he could make it as a defense-first eight- or nine-hole hitter somewhere, someday.

20. UC Irvine JR SS DJ Crumlich

*** 2010: 310/421/422 – 19 BB/14 K – 116 AB – 2/4 SB
*** 2011: .299/.402/.403 – 29 BB/26 K – 201 AB – 4/7 SB

Crumlich has been very consistent since enrolling at UC Irvine. That consistency has been both a blessing — who doesn’t like a steady performer? — and a curse (consistently average or worse tools won’t draw anybody but an area scout down to see you). My guess is that Crumlich gets the chance to display that consistency for one more college season.

21. Oregon JR SS KC Serna

*** 2010: .365/.437/.498 – 23 BB/22 K – 233 AB – 14/22 SB
*** 2011: .234/.347/.299 – 25 BB/28 K – 167 AB – 12/12 SB

Rahmatulla, Semien, and now Serna – three Pac-10 shortstop prospects who underperformed greatly in 2011. Serna’s struggles are more damning, for no other reason than his spotty track record of staying out of trouble away from the diamond. Scouts will overlook character concerns as best they can if you can really, really play; if you can’t, you’ll be labeled as a player that will cause more headaches than you’re worth.

22. Army SR SS Clint Moore

*** 2010: .305/.410/.550 – 20 BB/27 K – 151 AB – 4/7 SB
*** 2011: .274/.367/.571 – 22 BB/45 K – 168 AB – 4/5 SB

Moore has better than you’d think range at short and a third base caliber arm, plus above-average power for a middle infielder. Like many on the list, he profiles best as a — wait for it — offensive-oriented utility guy. Unlike many on the list, he attends a university that requires a commitment beyond just four years of service. While admirable in a way that I can’t adequately describe, it certainly complicates his situation going forward.

23. Long Beach State JR SS Kirk Singer

*** 2010: .356/.435/.541 – 18 BB/26 K – 146 AB – 5/11 SB
*** 2011: .258/.343/.323 – 20 BB/44 K – 155 AB – 3/8 SB

I want to like Kirk Singer because of that sweet, sweet Long Beach State tradition of shortstops, but can’t fully buy in to a player with such an inconsistent bat. Defensively, he is exactly what you’d expect from a Dirtbag – plus arm, above-average lateral quickness, and 100% effort at all times. Maybe I’ve found a way to contradict myself in the space of a short paragraph, but, come to think of it, if I’m picking late and Singer is still out there and signable, his Long Beach pedigree would make him awfully tempting.

24. Southeastern Louisiana JR SS Justin Boudreaux

*** 2010: .309/.418/.543 – 36 BB/41 K – 230 AB – 17/21 SB
*** 2011: .314/.384/.505 – 23 BB/43 K – 220 AB – 14/17 SB

Boudreaux has a strong arm, above-average range, and steady hands. All in all, his defense works. That said, his best tool could be his wonderfully appropriate name; have to love a Boudreaux playing for Southeastern Louisiana.

25. LSU JR SS Tyler Hanover

*** 2010: .344/.421/.445 – 27 BB/26 K – 247 AB – 5/9 SB
*** 2011: .316/.414/.342 – 33 BB/16 K – 193 AB – 5/9 SB

Because I  stupidly forgot my laptop battery at work and won’t be able to plug back in until tomorrow, here are my unedited notes on Hanover instead of the brilliantly crafted paragraph you are all familiar with:

above-average speed, but more impressive as an instinctual base runner; very good defender – arguably his best present tool; competition for best tool includes a shocking plus-plus arm from his smaller frame; just enough pop to keep a pitcher honest, but mostly to the gaps; size gets him in trouble (attempts to do much), but this is inarguably a good college player; little bit of Jimmy Rollins to his game in that he is a little man with a big swing – again, this often gets him in more trouble than it should, as he is far, far less talented than Rollins on his worst day; great range to his right; definite utility future due to experience on left side; can get too jumpy at plate and swing at pithes outside the zone, but generally a patient hitter; 5-6, 155

Running 2011 MLB Draft Position Player Big Board

As I’m finishing up the position by position rankings (3B coming soon!) I’m also working on finalizing the big board. I figure I might as well update it here every time I add a new position group to the rankings. So far the list only combines draft-eligible catchers, first basemen, second basemen, and shortstops…
  1. Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon
  2. OF Bubba Starling (Gardner-Edgerton HS, Kansas)
  3. C Blake Swihart (Cleveland HS, New Mexico)
  4. SS Francisco Lindor (Montverde Academy, Florida)
  5. OF Josh Bell (Jesuit College Prep School, Texas)
  6. Oregon State SO C Andrew Susac
  7. OF Brandon Nimmo (Cheyenne East HS, Wyoming)
  8. Connecticut JR OF George Springer
  9. SS Trevor Story (Irving HS, Texas)
  10. 3B Javier Baez (Arlington County Day HS, Florida)
  11. Utah JR 1B CJ Cron
  12. 1B Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, California)
  13. 3B Matt Dean (The Colony HS, Texas)
  14. Hawaii JR 2B Kolten Wong
  15. OF Granden Goetzman (Palmetto HS, Florida)
  16. North Carolina JR 2B Levi Michael
  17. 2B Phillip Evans (La Costa Canyon HS, California)
  18. 2B Johnny Eierman (Warsaw HS, Missouri)
  19. 3B Tyler Goeddel (St. Francis HS, California)
  20. Miami-Dade CC SO OF Brian Goodwin
  21. OF Senquez Golson (Pascaagoula HS, Mississippi)
  22. Louisiana State JR OF Mikie Mahtook
  23. SS Tyler Greene (West Boca Raton HS, Florida)
  24. Georgia Tech JR 3B Matt Skole
  25. Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito
  26. OF Carl Thomore (East Brunswick HS, New Jersey)
  27. C Eric Haase (Divine Child HS, Michigan)
  28. C Riley Moore (San Marcos HS, California)
  29. 1B Jacob Anderson (Chino HS, California)
  30. 1B Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS, Florida)
  31. Clemson JR SS Brad Miller
  32. SS Brandon Martin (Santiago HS, California)
  33. OF Roman Quinn (Port St. Joe HS, Florida)
  34. OF Derek Fisher (Cedar Crest HS, Pennsylvania)
  35. 3B Jake Hager (Sierra Vista HS, Nevada)
  36. 3B Chris McFarland (Lufkin HS, Texas)
  37. Connecticut JR SS Nick Ahmed
  38. Alabama JR OF Taylor Dugas
  39. South Carolina JR OF Jackie Bradley
  40. North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard
  41. C Elvin Soto (Xaverian HS, New York)
  42. Vanderbilt SR C Curt Casali
  43. Bethune-Cookman JR C Peter O’Brien
  44. Southern Mississippi JR 3B BA Vollmuth
  45. C Garrett Boulware (TL Hanna HS, South Carolina)
  46. C Cameron Gallagher (Manheim Township HS, Pennsylvania)
  47. C Austin Hedges (JSerra HS, California)
  48. C Nicky Delmonico (Farragut HS, Tennessee)
  49. Arizona JR 3B Andy Burns
  50. Valparaiso JR OF Kyle Gaedele
  51. 2B Trent Gilbert (Torrance HS, California)
  52. OF Williams Jerez (Grand Street HS, New York)
  53. OF Ben Roberts (Missoula Sentinel HS, Montana)
  54. SS Julius Gaines (Luella HS, Georgia)
  55. 1B Dante Bichette (Orangewood Christian HS, Florida)
  56. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker
  57. Miami JR 3B Harold Martinez
  58. Texas Christian JR OF Jason Coats
  59. Coastal Carolina JR SS Taylor Motter
  60. Indiana JR OF Alex Dickerson
  61. 1B Kevin Cron (Mountain Pointe HS, Arizona)
  62. OF Dwight Smith (McIntosh HS, Georgia)
  63. OF Larry Greene (Berrien HS, Georgia)
  64. OF Mason Robbins (George County HS, Mississippi)
  65. OF Billy Flamion (Central Catholic HS, California)
  66. Texas JR SS Brandon Loy
  67. Vanderbilt SR 1B Aaron Westlake
  68. Miami SO OF Zeke DeVoss
  69. Indian River State College SO 2B Corey Spangenberg
  70. St. John’s JR 2B Joe Panik
  71. Louisville JR 2B Ryan Wright
  72. Santa Fe CC FR OF Trey Griffin
  73. Central Arizona CC SO OF Keenyn Walker
  74. 3B Taylor Sparks (St. John Bosco HS, California)
  75. 2B Shon Carson (Lake City HS, South Carolina)
  76. 2B Christian Lopes (Edison HS, California)
  77. SS Connor Barron (Sumrall HS, Mississippi)
  78. OF James Harris (Oakland Technical HS, California)
  79. 1B Rookie Davis (Dixon HS, North Carolina)
  80. 1B Wallace Gonzalez (Bishop Amat HS, California)
  81. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa
  82. Rice JR OF Jeremy Rathjen
  83. San Diego JR C Zach Kometani
  84. C Tyler Marlette (Hagerty HS, Florida)
  85. North Carolina JR C Jacob Stallings
  86. Western Kentucky SO OF Kes Carter
  87. Central Florida SO OF Ronnie Richardson
  88. Kansas State JR OF Nick Martini
  89. Arizona State JR OF Johnny Ruettiger
  90. Nebraska JR 3B Cody Asche
  91. Oklahoma JR C Tyler Ogle
  92. OF Josh Tobias (Southeast Guilford HS, North Carolina)
  93. Coastal Carolina JR 2B Tommy La Stella
  94. C Grayson Greiner (Blythewood HS, South Carolina)
  95. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard
  96. McNeese State JR 2B Jace Peterson
  97. 3B Matt Papi (Tunkhannock HS, Pennsylvania)
  98. OF Sean Trent (Bishop Moore Catholic HS, Florida)
  99. Clemson JR OF Will Lamb
  100. Texas SO OF Cohl Walla
  101. Wichita State SO 1B Johnny Coy
  102. Pittsburgh SR C Kevan Smith
  103. Arkansas JR C James McCann
  104. Georgia JR OF Zach Cone
  105. Virginia JR C John Hicks
  106. James Madison JR C Jake Lowery
  107. 3B Nicholas Howard (St. John’s College HS, Washington DC)
  108. OF Shawon Dunston (Valley Christian HS, California)
  109. OF Charles Tilson (New Trier HS, Illinois)
  110. 2B Dante Flores (St. John Bosco HS, California)
  111. 2B TJ Costen (First Colonial HS, Virginia)
  112. Clemson SR OF Jeff Schaus
  113. Arizona JR C Jett Bandy
  114. C Greg Bird (Grandview HS, Colorado)
  115. C Brandon Sedell (American Heritage HS, Florida)
  116. 3B Austin Slater (The Bolles School, Florida)
  117. 1B Ryan Krill (Portage Central HS, Michigan)
  118. Clemson JR 3B John Hinson
  119. Texas State JR 3B Kyle Kubitza
  120. OF Tyler Gibson (Stratford Academy, Georgia)
  121. OF John Norwood (Seton Hall Prep HS, New Jersey)
  122. TCU JR SS Taylor Featherston
  123. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez
  124. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins
  125. TCU SO 3B Jantzen Witte
  126. Virginia JR 3B Steven Proscia
  127. OF Gabriel Rosa (International Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
  128. Arizona State JR 2B Zack MacPhee
  129. SS Drake Roberts (Brenham HS, Texas)
  130. SS Mikal Hill (Mallard Creek HS, North Carolina)
  131. 3B Patrick Leonard (St. Thomas HS, Texas)
  132. 3B Hunter Cole (Moore HS, South Carolina)
  133. Florida International JR OF Pablo Bermudez
  134. 1B Elliot Richoux (The Woodlands HS, Texas)
  135. 1B Rouric Bridgewater (Diamond Ranch HS, California):
  136. Stetson JR C Nick Rickles
  137. Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer
  138. College of Charleston JR C Rob Kral
  139. C BreShon Kimbell (Mesquite HS, Texas)
  140. C Brett Austin (Providence HS, North Carolina)
  141. C AJ Murray (Westfield HS, New Jersey)
  142. OF Michael Reed (Leander HS, Texas)
  143. 3B Alex Santana (Mariner HS, Florida)
  144. Minnesota JR SS AJ Pettersen
  145. SS Chris Mariscal (Clovis North HS, California)
  146. SS Nico Slater (Jupiter HS, Florida)
  147. SS Mitchell Walding (St. Mary’s HS, California)
  148. Wichita State JR SS Tyler Grimes
  149. LSU JR SS Austin Nola
  150. OF Jo-El Bennett (Houston Academy, Alabama)
  151. Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez
  152. Coastal Carolina SR 3B Scott Woodward
  153. 2B Kevin Kramer (Turlock HS, California)
  154. Kent State JR 3B Travis Shaw
  155. Texas A&M JR 3B Adam Smith
  156. OF Dakota Smith (Lansing HS, Kansas)
  157. Florida International JR 2B Jeremy Patton
  158. Siena JR 2B Dan Paolini
  159. 2B Vicente Conde (Orangewood Christian Academy, Florida)
  160. SS Brett Harrison (Green Valley HS, Nevada)
  161. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Kenton Parmley
  162. Michigan SO SS Derek Dennis
  163. Mercer JR 3B Jacob Tanis
  164. Walters State SO 1B Cody Stubbs
  165. Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele
  166. Oral Roberts JR OF Brandon King
  167. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing
  168. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks
  169. Oklahoma JR 1B Cameron Seitzer
  170. LSU-Eunice FR 1B Hommy Rosado
  171. Western Kentucky SR C Matt Rice
  172. C Daniel Mengden (Westside HS, Texas)
  173. Texas-Pan American JR 3B Vincent Mejia
  174. Wright State JR OF Tristan Moore
  175. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez
  176. 1B Skyler Ewing (Arlington HS, Texas)
  177. Florida State SR OF Mike McGee
  178. Connecticut SR 1B Mike Nemeth
  179. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson
  180. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman
  181. California JR C Chadd Krist
  182. Kent State SR OF Ben Klafczynski
  183. Samford JR C Brandon Miller
  184. Central Florida JR C Beau Taylor
  185. C Taylor Nichols (Faith Academy, Alabama)
  186. C Hunter Lockwood (LD Bell HS, Texas)
  187. C Aramis Garcia (Pines Charter HS, Florida)
  188. Oklahoma State JR 3B Mark Ginther
  189. Minnesota JR 1B Nick O’Shea
  190. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder
  191. C Dylan Delso (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma)
  192. 3B Austin Davidson (Oxnard HS, California)
  193. Auburn SR C Tony Caldwell
  194. Chipola JC SO C Geno Escalante
  195. Kentucky JR C Mike Williams
  196. Florida JR C Ben McMahan
  197. Tennessee SR 3B Matt Duffy
  198. C Bryce Mosier (Valhalla HS, California)
  199. Franklin Pierce JR C Mike Dowd
  200. 3B Ahmad Christian (Trinity Christian Academy, Florida)

2011 MLB Draft First Base Rankings Resource Page

For more on the top twenty college and top fifteen high school 2011 first base prospects…

Final 2011 MLB Draft College First Base Rankings

Final 2011 MLB Draft High School First Base Rankings

…and for a combined top thirty list of all 2011 draft-eligible first base prospects, do you and me both a quick personal favor and tilt your head downward slowly at a 45 degree angle.

  1. Utah JR 1B CJ Cron
  2. 1B Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, California)
  3. 1B Jacob Anderson (Chino HS, California)
  4. 1B Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS, Florida)
  5. 1B Dante Bichette (Orangewood Christian HS, Florida)
  6. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker
  7. 1B Kevin Cron (Mountain Pointe HS, Arizona)
  8. Vanderbilt SR 1B Aaron Westlake
  9. 1B Rookie Davis (Dixon HS, North Carolina)
  10. 1B Wallace Gonzalez (Bishop Amat HS, California)
  11. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa
  12. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard
  13. Wichita State SO 1B Johnny Coy
  14. 1B Ryan Krill (Portage Central HS, Michigan)
  15. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez
  16. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins
  17. 1B Elliot Richoux (The Woodlands HS, Texas)
  18. 1B Rouric Bridgewater (Diamond Ranch HS, California):
  19. Walters State SO 1B Cody Stubbs
  20. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing
  21. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks
  22. Oklahoma JR 1B Cameron Seitzer
  23. LSU-Eunice FR 1B Hommy Rosado
  24. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez
  25. 1B Skyler Ewing (Arlington HS, Texas)
  26. Connecticut SR 1B Mike Nemeth
  27. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson
  28. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman
  29. Minnesota JR 1B Nick O’Shea
  30. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder

Final 2011 MLB Draft College First Base Rankings

1. Utah JR 1B CJ Cron

*** 2010: .467/.518/.873 – 17 BB/23 K – 147 AB
*** 2011: .460/.536/.845 – 29 BB/20 K – 187 AB

I’d put the over/under on college first basemen from this class who get more than 500 PA in a single big league season at 2.5. Cron’s well above-average hit tool and present power make him a safe bet to become a starting first baseman and middle of the lineup bat, so now the challenge (assuming we’re being positive and looking for the over) is finding two more college first basemen with big league starter upside. This won’t be easy…

2. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker

*** 2010: .360/.471/.602 – 47 BB/25 K – 236 AB
*** 2011: .350/.421/.574 – 23 BB/23 K – 223 AB

The case for Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker’s bat is strong; as a hitter, he is as close to big league ready as any player in the 2011 MLB Draft with plus present power and impeccable plate discipline. He’s also been praised for his crazy high baseball IQ and tremendous strength in his forearms, wrists, and hands. Of course, no scouting report on Tucker can be written without mentioning his body. Tucker won’t help whatever team drafts him “sell any jeans,” but he could help them win some ballgames, bad body and all.

In fairness to Tucker, his “bad body” is more about a height deficiency (generous listed at 6-0) than a weight surplus, so the typical concerns that follow less than ideally fit prospects aren’t warranted. In any case, I don’t care much about the “bad body,” especially when weighed against the practical plusses that come with his awesome wrist and hand strength. The unconventional swing mechanics also don’t bother me. If it works, and if it is projected to work going forward, stick with it. Plus power and plate discipline are an easy recipe for a high prospect ranking on this site, but I keep coming back to my general aversion to first base prospects. To be an above-average first baseman in the bigs, you either need to have a special bat, outrageously good defense, or a well above-average mixture of the two. Not sure Tucker falls into any of those three categories, but that doesn’t make him a non-prospect. There is some precedent for a player of Tucker’s skill set and body type going in the first round, believe it or not. In 2008, both Brett Wallace and David Cooper rode the wave of undeniably great college production and plus lefthanded power to become first rounders despite less than ideal body types. Tucker’s shot at the first round has seemingly come and gone, but I’d still pop the advanced college bat as early as the fifth or sixth round.

3. Vanderbilt SR 1B Aaron Westlake

*** 2010: 338/.434/.586 – 34 BB/44 K – 260 AB
*** 2011: .360/.484/.620 – 42 BB/44 K – 200 AB

Westlake is going to hit as a professional, I’m sure of that much. Will he hit enough to hold down an everyday job at first? That’s the million dollar  question, I suppose. He should be able to hit well enough against righthanded pitchers to at least work his way into a platoon role down the line. It could also be possible that his drafting team gets creativity with him, and tries him at a few different spots (corner OF, maybe a little third, perhaps some time behind the plate) a la Baltimore’s Jake Fox.

4. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa

*** 2010: .391/.471/.787 – 35 BB/48 K -235 AB
*** 2011: .355/.444/.527 – 30 BB/39 K – 186 AB

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, say, Preston Tucker could help him become the first college 1B (catching convert CJ Cron excepted) off the board. Scouts want the best players, obviously, but they do have their biases. I think said bias could help Oropesa this June.

5. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard

*** 2011: .311/.379/.519 – 15 BB/21 K – 183 AB

I feel as though my notes on Ard sum up his game pretty well: plus-plus raw power; average at best hit tool; good athlete; wrist injury kept him down in 2010; solid defender; strong track record hitting with wood; some question about ability to hit with funky swing, but just as likely an adjustment will help him tap into his raw power even more. Yeah, that sounds about right.

6. Wichita State SO 1B Johnny Coy

*** 2010: .353/.414/.619 – 11 BB/26 K – 139 AB
*** 2011: .282/.353/.424 – 25 BB/47 K – 238 AB

All of Coy’s raw tools grade out as average or better – 55 speed, 60 arm, 65-70 raw power, average hit tool, and above-average upside at first. I’ve long been a big believer in the big (6-8, 210 pound) righthanded sophomore. His true talent level makes him a target between rounds ten and fifteen, but the unpolished stone that is Johnny Coy’s game could use some extended time in a rock tumbler. Or something like that. He’s raw, is what I’m saying. Big gap between the potential big league regular he could be and the relatively inexperienced former high school hoops star that he is now.

7. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez

*** 2010: .350/.401/.654 – 20 BB/47 K – 260 AB
*** 2011: .290/.388/.495 – 28 BB/38 K – 186 AB

Ramirez has a well deserved reputation as a power hitting first baseman with a plus throwing arm, but what I think I enjoy most about his game is his quality defense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no matter what becomes of Ramirez as a pro, he’ll go down as one of my favorite college players to watch.

8. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins

*** 2010: .319/.431/.602 – 22 BB/42 K – 166 AB
*** 2011: .317/.448/.448 – 37 BB/57 K – 183 AB

Riggins has done a great job of getting his body into better shape over the years, but you have to wonder whether or not the loss of bulk had some impact on the decrease of his power numbers. It could also just be the switch in bats, but you never know. Like Ramirez one spot above, I think I like Riggins’ surprisingly effective defense at first just as much as his above-average raw power.

9. Walters State SO 1B Cody Stubbs

*** 2010: .241/.369/.352 – 20 BB/16 K – 108 AB

Due to a similar positional reclassification (OF to 1B), Stubbs’ prospect stock gets the same artificial boost as fellow first baseman Jacob Anderson’s. Easy to like Stubbs’ power to all fields and above-average athleticism for a big man (6-4, 225). I remember thinking he could be a top five round prospect after three years at Tennessee. Things obviously didn’t work out for Stubbs as a Volunteer, but the talent that led me to that original conclusion hasn’t evaporated. If he slips past round five, as I think he will, you could wind up with a player with high round ability at the cost of a low round pick.

10. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing

*** 2010: .315/.473/.609 – 43 BB/47 K – 184 AB
*** 2011: .274/.365/.440 – 20 BB/44 K – 175 AB

Both the power and approach suffered in 2011 to the point that I expect Channing back for a senior season. A team might roll the dice on a return to glory at the pro level instead.

11. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks

*** 2010: .111/.182/.167 – 2 BB/2 K – 18 AB
*** 2011: .358/.443/.618 – 34 BB/42 K – 204 AB

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 college first baseman, Hicks is a certifiable sleeping giant in the prospect world.

12. Oklahoma JR 1B Cameron Seitzer

*** 2010: .305/.425/.586 – 28 BB/44 K – 210 AB
*** 2011: .316/.417/.454 – 27 BB/28 K – 196 AB

Power and bloodlines will help get Seitzer through the door, but it could be the development of his already much improved two-strike approach that makes or breaks him as a pro.

13. LSU-Eunice FR 1B Hommy Rosado

Can’t help but be enamored with Rosado’s power upside and bat speed, even as the questions about his defensive ability and contact issues remain unanswered. He did enough out of high school to get drafted in the 11th round by Colorado last year. It will be interesting to see what a solid but not spectacular year at LSU-Eunice does to his stock, especially in a much deeper draft class.

14. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez

*** 2010: .359/.414/.540 – 23 BB/22 K – 237 AB
*** 2011: .338/.390/.478 – 12 BB/9 K – 136 AB

All he does is hit, hit, hit no matter what. Lopez has a professional approach at the plate, really quick wrists, and gap power. I can’t speak to his defensive ability, but have heard he has the athleticism to potentially play a utility role at the next level.

15. Connecticut SR 1B Mike Nemeth

*** 2011:  .368/.475/.458 – 41 BB/17 K – 212 AB

Nemeth’s name kept coming up in discussions with people in the know leading up to the publication of this list. He was admittedly off my radar heading into the year, but those 2011 plate discipline numbers are eye popping. After having seen him myself a few times this year, I can say he looked to me like a guy with good power to the gaps with the chance to be an average hitter and above-average defender down the line.

16. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson

*** 2010: .211/.304/.289 – 12 BB/40 K – 90 AB
*** 2011: .295/.360/.576 – 12 BB/41 K – 132 AB

Davidson falling right after Nemeth on the list is funny in a way – Nemeth has a great approach but limited power while Davidson is all power all the time but with a hack at all costs attitude. Been a long time (three years to be exact) since we heard those Jim Thome comparisons…

17. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman

*** 2010: .353/.471/.723 – 51 BB/41 K – 235 AB
*** 2011: .285/.421/.671 – 44 BB/66 K – 207 AB

Hoilman’s raw power is undeniable, but that’s about all he brings to the table. Over half of his senior year plate appearances ended in either a strikeout, walk, or homer. That’s fun.

18. Minnesota JR 1B Nick O’Shea

*** 2011: .336/.378/.550 – 11 BB/15 K – 140 AB

O’Shea does a little bit of everything quite well, but nothing exceptionally well besides perhaps his defense. Still think there is some untapped upside here with the bat and I intuitively just like him as a prospect.

19. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder

*** 2010: .349/.435/.533 – 31 BB/32 K – 212 AB
*** 2011: .330/.417/.500 – 26 BB/36 K – 176 AB

Snieder is another Big 10 prospect that I have a strong intuitively positive feel on. Part of that is probably because I love when a prospect answers questions about his game from year to year. Despite all the positive reports on Snieder’s raw power, I had only graded it out as average at best. This year, despite a slight dip statistically, Snieder has show more of a home run producing stroke and increased physical strength. I still have a hard time believing he’ll leave Northwestern for anything other than an oddly high bonus for whatever middle round he winds up going in.

20. Mississippi JR 1B Matt Snyder

*** 2010: .333/.473/.633 – 28 BB/36 – 147 AB
*** 2011: .301/.428/.534 – 29 BB/38 K – 176 AB

Merely a fun coincidence that the two Snieder’s/Snyder’s are back to back, of course. Positive reports on Snyder’s bat this spring had me give him a slight boost, but his defense, speed, and arm are all really weak. I’ve heard through the grapevine that he is likely to be back for his senior season.

21. Central Florida SR 1B Jonathan Griffin

*** 2011: .347/.398/.653 – 22 BB/45 K – 225 AB

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.

22. Southern Illinois JR 1B Chris Serritella

*** 2010: .351/.438/.604 – 33 BB/52 K – 222 AB

An unfortunate wrist injury has knocked Serritella out of action. Luckily, he retains two full years of  draft eligibility to help rebuild his depressed stock. I still might take a chance on him this year because of his phenomenal track record against righthanded pitching.

23. Belmont SR 1B Nate Woods

*** 2011: .379/.465/.641 – 22 BB/27 K – 195 AB

Woods have overcome a series of injuries to become one of college baseball’s best senior hitters. He’s got pro size, plenty of power, and a really sound approach to hitting.

24. Barry SR 1B Dean Green

*** 2010: .259/.340/.446 – 16 BB/23 K – 166 AB

Green has shown he can hit with wood, and now boasts a shiny trophy after being announced All-Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year.

25. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott

*** 2011: .279/.365/.397 – 23 BB/28 K – 179 AB

Even when I loved Scott as a prospect — and make no mistake about it, I truly loved his pro upside at one time — it appeared it would be his bat and bat only that would keep him advancing in pro ball. He’s not fast, he’s not a good defender, he can’t really throw. On the right day, however, his swing looks so easy and free, like the very best natural born hitters you can think of. Unfortunately, those days seem behind him. I have no clue where (or if) he’ll be picked anymore, but I’m secretly rooting for my favorite team to grab him in the fiftieth and final round.

Final 2011 MLB Draft High School First Base Rankings

Photo Credit: Power Showcase

1. 1B Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, California)

I feel almost the same affinity for Harrison as I did for Nick Castellanos last year. Almost. Castellanos was and is the superior prospect for a handful of reasons, but it is pretty amazing to see the difference in pre-draft ranking between the two relatively similar prospects. Castellanos was my third favorite hitter from the 2010 class, and ranked sixth overall on my last big board before the draft. Harrison, despite the similarities to Castellanos from a scouting perspective, won’t begin to approach such a lofty ranking. That’s not a knock against Harrison’s upside, but rather yet another data point indicating the ridiculous depth of this year’s draft.

Writing about first base prospects is tough because, really, it is all about asking one simple question for each prospect: can he hit enough to play first base in the big leagues? There are occasional issues that need to be sorted out (body type, athleticism, chance of playing somewhere other than first, maybe some consideration for defense at first), but the bat is clearly the most important issue that needs to be addressed. Harrison’s bat looks like it’ll play at first. There are a handful of prospects ranked below that have a case of having more present power than Harrison (most notably Dan Vogelbach), but, for my money, Harrison’s power is the most pro-ready in his class. Harrison has the raw physical strength to hit the ball a long way, a free and easy swing that incorporates his lower half beautifully, and an approach at the plate that enables him to confidently hack away at pitches he likes while letting junk fly right by. If Harrison has convinced a team that he is more than just a first baseman defensively – I’d love to see him get a shot at third, but don’t think his drafting team will agree with me – he’d find himself in a much better position to go off the board in the first. The more likely outcome has him sliding a bit on draft day, and, much like Castellanos in 2010, Harrison could be a major steal if he slips past round one.

2. 1B Jacob Anderson (Chino HS, California)

Anderson has the weird distinction of being a middle of the pack high school outfield prospect – not sure where I’d rank him offhand, but certainly not in the top five – with a prospect stock that is superficially inflated by his ability to play first base. Would you rather be the eighth or ninth ranked prep outfielder or the number two first baseman? It doesn’t actually make a difference, but I know I’d walk around  with a little extra in my step if I was ranked second in something rather than ninth, even if I knew my competition wasn’t as great in the former category. There is a point buried deep within my largely incoherent rambling here, I promise. Anderson is the rare player on this list who is more than capable of playing another position. So why include him with the first basemen? It becomes a question of personal preference: would you rather have an average to slightly below average left field defender or a potential plus glove at first? I’m not sure there is a right answer – though I’m sure the boys at Fangraphs or College Splits could probably figure it out in no time – so it really does come down to personal choice. Because I think Anderson’s bat is so good – plus bat speed, explosive yet efficient hip rotation, great weight transfer and balance, and a slight upper cut that really works with his whole body swing – that he’ll have enough bat to carry him at first.

3. 1B Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS, Florida)

The popular comparison for Dan Vogelbach these days seems to be Prince Fielder. Now I’m as big a fan as comps as you’ll find and I think I get the basic idea behind this particular one – both guys showed plus to plus-plus power and minus to minus-minus (I just made that up…clever, right?) body types as prep stars – but the only way I could get behind comparing Vogelbach to Fielder would be if we specified that it is a “very poor man’s Fielder” comp. Maybe my hesitation to use Fielder as a comp for anybody has to do with using him as a point of reference for what I thought Bryce Harper can and will do as a pro. As a jumping off point for conversation, however, the Fielder comp is very interesting. Vogelbach does have tremendous raw power. He also has a distressingly large body that does not fit what most teams look for in a high school draft pick. Some (but not all) concerns about his body have been put to rest by a combination of his major weight loss in the past year (he’s no longer pushing three bills, so that’s a plus) and his outstanding makeup that has some teams believing he’ll do anything it takes (i.e. continue to work on reshaping his body) to succeed in pro ball. It is easy to envision Vogelbach as a 1B/DH capable of hitting 30 homers if everything goes to plan, but the risk factor here is high.

4. 1B Dante Bichette (Orangewood Christian HS, Florida)

I’ve gone back and forth on Bichette for over a year now. The first thing I noticed when watching him hit is how his inside-out swing looks a lot like his father’s. This is a positive when he’s going well, as it is a really good looking swing that helps him generate plus bat speed and well above-average raw power. It is a negative when he is going poorly because, as much as I like the swing for an experience professional, it may have a little too much length and too many moving parts to allow him to pull it off consistently. I can’t help but wonder what his first pro hitting instructor’s advice will be. I should also note that I’ve slowly come around to the idea that Bichette might be able to stick at third base professionally because of his much improved athleticism and surprising nimbleness.

5. 1B Kevin Cron (Mountain Pointe HS, Arizona)

Cron has made headlines this spring, first as the younger brother of the amazing CJ Cron and then as a pretty damn good draft power hitting draft prospect himself. He’ll likely be picked too high to honor his commitment to TCU, but, man, I’d love to see him take a crack at the college game – the direct statistical comparison you could then make to his brother would be fascinating, I think. Cron the younger caught some in high school, but, like his bro, probably doesn’t have the requisite athleticism to catch at the next level. I’ve heard some quiet buzz about an attempted move to third, but I think that is probably from people who would hate to see his plus arm go to waste at first. Even working under the likely assumption he’s a first baseman in pro ball, Cron is a top five round prospect due to his highly advanced hit tool and gigantic raw power.

6. 1B Rookie Davis (Dixon HS, North Carolina)

My biggest concern with ranking Rookie Davis this high is based on the nagging thought some team will pop him as a pitcher instead of a hitter. Currently equipped with two above-average future pitches (good low-90s fastball and an emerging mid-70s curve), Davis’ future could be on the mound. Like most two-way prospects, I think he’d be best served by giving hitting a go from the start. If that’s the case, then his plus raw power, classic slugger’s frame (6-5, 220), and strong track record hitting with wood could help him get drafted in the first few rounds and give him a chance to become pro baseball’s first ever Rookie.

7. 1B Wallace Gonzalez (Bishop Amat HS, California)

We’re issuing a major upside alert with Wallace Gonzalez, a rare first base prospect that can lay claim to legit five-tool upside. Those tools run the gamut from “wow” (plus raw power and a bazooka – not literally, that would be a “WOW!” tool – attached to his shoulder) to “hmm, didn’t expect that” (watching a 6-5, 220 pound man with 45 speed is cognitive dissonance personified). With great upside often comes great rawness, however. Gonzalez is better known as a football star with intriguing upside as a tight end capable of developing into a dangerous downfield threat. His commitment to the gridiron makes his signability just murky enough that some teams could shy away on draft day. Years of football experience also means less time honing his baseball skills, so the onus will be on his drafting team to really coach him up. At this point in the rankings, a boom or bust prospect like Gonzalez makes a lot of sense.

8. 1B Ryan Krill (Portage Central HS, Michigan)

Krill is another prospect I was slow to come around on, but I’m buying into his mix of strong defensive tools, super athleticism, and big upside with the bat. Like Jacob Anderson before him, he’s got the wheels and instincts to play some outfield as a pro. There is enough to like about Krill that you can dream on him being a league average hitter and above-average glove at first down the line if everything works out. That may not sound all that sexy, and there is plenty of risk involved with assuming “everything works out,” but you have to remember how much you have to hit if you want to play first base in the bigs. As much as I like Krill now, I’ll be the first to admit that each and every one of these mid-round high school first basemen will all have to make major strides in pro ball (i.e. have “everything work out”) to begin to reach their upper level projections. Life is tough when you don’t have a fallback plan, I guess.

9. 1B Elliot Richoux (The Woodlands HS, Texas)

Richoux is a mature hitter with plus raw power and a swing that will need a heavy dose of good coaching to help him optimize his physical strength. He has the benefit and the disadvantage of being heavily scouted over the years. In Richoux’s case, it isn’t the only area guys who know him, but also many front office higher-ups who have travelled to see The Woodlands HS team play over the past few seasons.

10. 1B Rouric Bridgewater (Diamond Ranch HS, California):

Bridgewater’s ranking is probably a little bit unfair because, as a hitter, he’s as gifted as any of the four players listed right above him. The guy can hit any pitch, works a mature whole field approach, and goes into each at bat with a plan in place. The reason he is ranked behind those four prospects has to do with his power upside. Bridgewater’s raw power is considered closer to above-average or good than the good to plus range of Davis, Gonzalez, Krill, and Richoux. I know power isn’t everything, but if there was any position where it is key, it’s obviously first base.

11. 1B Skyler Ewing (Arlington HS, Texas)

Listed as a catcher in most spots, and there is a chance he’ll stick there, but I think his plus raw power will have more of a chance to shine once he loses the tools of ignorance.

12. 1B Michael Gunn (Christian Brothers HS, Arkansas)

Gunn is one of the many intriguing two-way prospects on this list. He’s further ahead as a defender at first than he is at the plate, but a team could buy in to the idea that time away from pitching will help accelerate his development as a hitter.

13. 1B Trevor Gretzky (Oaks Christian HS, California)

I feel like this ranking might catch some heat because so many have completely written off Gretzky as a prospect propped up solely due to his famous father. I think there is something there with the bat, and his athleticism, second only to Wallace Gonzalez’s in this group, will really help in the transition to pro ball. The backlash he’s received in some scouting circles makes me think he’d be a better ballplayer to some if only his name was Trevor Smith.

14. 1B JD Davis (Elk Grove HS, California)

Yet another two-way player likely heading off to college. Davis sports a well-rounded skill set, but no plus tool that will get a scout hot and bothered.

15. 1B Kyle Martin (Wade Hampton HS, South Carolina)

Martin could be worth a flier later on as a power guy with some upside. Like many near the back end of this list, he seems like a safe bet to head off to college to spend a few years getting smart.

2011 MLB Draft Catcher Rankings Resource Page

For more on the top twenty college and high school 2011 catching prospects…

Final 2011 MLB Draft College Catcher Rankings

Final 2011 MLB Draft High School Catcher Rankings

…and for a combined top fifty list of all 2011 draft-eligible catching prospects, just scan downward a few centimeters with your eyeballs.

  1. C Blake Swihart (Cleveland HS, New Mexico)
  2. Oregon State SO C Andrew Susac
  3. C Eric Haase (Divine Child HS, Michigan)
  4. C Riley Moore (San Marcos HS, California)
  5. North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard
  6. C Elvin Soto (Xaverian HS, New York)
  7. Vanderbilt SR C Curt Casali
  8. Bethune-Cookman JR C Peter O’Brien
  9. C Garrett Boulware (TL Hanna HS, South Carolina)
  10. C Cameron Gallagher (Manheim Township HS, Pennsylvania)
  11. C Austin Hedges (JSerra HS, California)
  12. C Nicky Delmonico (Farragut HS, Tennessee)
  13. San Diego JR C Zach Kometani
  14. C Tyler Marlette (Hagerty HS, Florida)
  15. North Carolina JR C Jacob Stallings
  16. Oklahoma JR C Tyler Ogle
  17. C Grayson Greiner (Blythewood HS, South Carolina)
  18. Pittsburgh SR C Kevan Smith
  19. Arkansas JR C James McCann
  20. Virginia JR C John Hicks
  21. James Madison JR C Jake Lowery
  22. Arizona JR C Jett Bandy
  23. C Greg Bird (Grandview HS, Colorado)
  24. C Brandon Sedell (American Heritage HS, Florida)
  25. Stetson JR C Nick Rickles
  26. Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer
  27. College of Charleston JR C Rob Kral
  28. C BreShon Kimbell (Mesquite HS, Texas)
  29. C Brett Austin (Providence HS, North Carolina)
  30. C AJ Murray (Westfield HS, New Jersey)
  31. Western Kentucky SR C Matt Rice
  32. C Daniel Mengden (Westside HS, Texas)
  33. California JR C Chadd Krist
  34. Samford JR C Brandon Miller
  35. Central Florida JR C Beau Taylor
  36. C Taylor Nichols (Faith Academy, Alabama)
  37. C Hunter Lockwood (LD Bell HS, Texas)
  38. C Aramis Garcia (Pines Charter HS, Florida)
  39. C Dylan Delso (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma)
  40. Auburn SR C Tony Caldwell
  41. Chipola JC SO C Geno Escalante
  42. Kentucky JR C Mike Williams
  43. Florida JR C Ben McMahan
  44. C Bryce Mosier (Valhalla HS, California)
  45. Franklin Pierce JR C Mike Dowd
  46. C Kevin White (St. Anne’s Belfield HS, Virginia)
  47. C Connor Lynch (Pope HS, Georgia)
  48. Virginia SR C Kenny Swab
  49. East Carolina JR C Zach Wright
  50. C Drew Stiner (Owasso HS, Oklahoma)

Final 2011 MLB Draft College Catcher Rankings

1. Oregon State SO C Andrew Susac

The biggest takeaway from Susac’s outstanding 2011 season: beware reading too much into small sample freshman year stats, especially when judging a first year college guy’s numbers to those of sophomores and juniors. Susac’s freshman year struggles are but a distant memory at this point. My biggest preseason concern with Susac was his inconsistent defense behind the plate. For a player praised as a college-ready receiver back in his original draft year, I was surprised how raw he looked defensively last year, at least in the early going. Employing the “wait and see” approach that I typically despise was a poor decision on my end. Susac really put it all together this year, showing improvements in all phases of the game – increased power, much better plate discipline, and, most importantly, way more polish catching and throwing. The hamate injury is a mild concern, but it would be a shock if it kept him from being the top college catcher off the board. In a weird way, the injury could be a blessing in disguise for Susac’s draft stock – all the scouts who have already seen him have walked away happy and his excellent numbers stand up just fine as is. The only thing keeping him out of the first round (or, more conservatively, the comp round) could be his signability, though that’s just speculation on my part.

*** 2010: .292/.420/.396 – 16 BB/21 K – 96 AB
*** 2011: .367/.504/.643 – 25 BB/25 K – 98 AB

2. North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard

In an effort to show more power, Maynard’s been more aggressive at the plate this year. I wonder if his positional versatility will help or hurt him in the eyes of pro scouts. He reminds me a little bit of a less athletic Ryan Ortiz, former Oregon State star and current A’s prospect. Ortiz was a sixth rounder in his draft year; that seems like a plausible outcome for Maynard at this point.

*** 2010: .263/.449/.464 – 66/41 BB/K – 209 AB
*** 2011: .346/.431/.509 – 32 BB/37 K – 214 AB

3. Vanderbilt SR C Curt Casali

Every game Casali plays is one game further removed from 2009 Tommy John surgery. The difference it has made in his defense behind the plate (more than just big league ready – he’d be in the upper half defensively of pro catchers) and his offense at the plate (near-plus raw power and a phenomenal whole field approach) give him the look of a future big leaguer to me. It is a rare senior that warrants draft consideration before round five, but Casali is an exception. Love this guy.

*** 2010: .343/.478/.577 – 34 BB/30 K – 175 AB
*** 2011: .311/.389/.467 – 14 BB/13 K – 180 AB

4. Bethune-Cookman JR C Peter O’Brien

Kind of nice when a prospect does almost exactly what everybody expects. Big power, questionable approach, iffy defense…yeah, that’s O’Brien. He doesn’t typically fit the mold of a player I’d like, but O’Brien’s makeup, praised far and wide this spring, makes him an especially intriguing prospect to watch once he enters pro ball. O’Brien is a big lump of very talented, coachable clay. More than any other catcher on this list, he has that boom/bust factor working for him. Pro coaching could do wonders for him. Or his long swing and impatience at the plate will be further exposed against higher quality pitching. Intuitively, I’m more in step with the latter possibility than the former, but I’d love to be wrong.

*** 2010: .371/.432/.718 – 18 BB/40 K – 202 AB
*** 2011: .275/.354/.507 – 22 BB/49 K – 207 AB

5. San Diego JR C Zach Kometani

Some question Kometani’s future behind the plate, but that’s more of a matter of consistency than anything else. I maintain he has the hands and athleticism to turn himself into a pretty good catcher down the line. I’m a little surprised by his modest 2011 power showing because I think there’s more there.

*** 2010: .372/.454/.628 – 11 BB/11 K – 94 AB
*** 2011: .371/.414/.532 – 9 BB/18 K – 186 AB

6. North Carolina JR C Jacob Stallings

There is no question about Stallings’s plus defense; that alone could be his ticket to the show as a backup catcher. Like Kometani, there’s more raw power here than he has shown so far. Stallings isn’t really talked about as a top college catching prospect, but he’s a really talented prospect with a plus-plus arm that could make him an interesting mound conversion if things don’t work out behind the dish.

*** 2010: .336/.447/.493 – 28 BB/33 K – 140 AB
*** 2011: .275/.403/.401 – 41 BB/35 K – 182 AB

7. Oklahoma JR C Tyler Ogle

Big, big season so far for the very well-rounded Ogle. Pro-caliber defense, good arm, level line drive swing, and gap power. The only thing that could ding Ogle (and Bandy, a similarly talented prospect) is the lack of a standout tool. Many teams look for a plus tool — often arm strength or raw power — when they are in the market for college catching. Players who are solid across the board sometimes get overlooked. Ogle’s very consistent college production could help him appeal to more stat-oriented clubs picking in the top ten rounds.

*** 2010: .320/.425/.547 – 24 BB/24 K – 150 AB
*** 2011: .310/.435/.517 – 28 BB/30 K – 174 AB

8. Pittsburgh SR C Kevan Smith

Smith has been awesome at the plate and on the base paths (10/11 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.

*** 2010: .335/.399/.481 – 20 BB/15 K – 233 AB
*** 2011: .359/.438/.582 – 21 BB/15 K – 184 AB

9. Arkansas JR C James McCann

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. His hit tool and power tool both project to around average (45 to 55, depending on the day) and his defense is already professional quality. I know I’ve been considered a McCann hater at times, but I think his relatively high floor (big league backup) makes him a worthy pick within the first seven to ten rounds.

*** 2010: .286/.377/.441 – 19 BB/26 K – 213 AB
***2011: .300/.399/.482 – 24 BB/20 K – 170 AB

10. Virginia JR C John Hicks

Not too long ago I compared Hicks to teammate Kenny Swab and said I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a similar career path, i.e. become an unsignable mid-round pick and go back to school as a senior to boost his stock. I was obviously wrong as it now seems Hicks’ athleticism, plus arm, and emerging power could make him a top ten round selection.

*** 2010: .313/.368/.513 – 17 BB/27 K  – 240 AB
*** 2011: .385/.432/.563 – 16 BB/13 K – 208 AB

11. James Madison JR C Jake Lowery

Lowery has a solid arm and is an above-average defender, but let’s be real here, it is the amazing power uptick that has scouts buzzing this spring.

*** 2010: .296/.372/.516 – 23 BB/40 K – 186 AB
*** 2011: .341/.437/.798 – 35 BB/39 K – 208 AB

12. Arizona JR C Jett Bandy

Hard to explain Bandy’s 2011 collapse, especially when you consider there has been no news of any down tick in his scouting reports. I’m not super concerned about the dip in production for that reason, but Bandy’s signability could become a question if he slips past the first five rounds as expected. He is still exactly the player I’d target past round ten. Even without knowing why he slipped so badly this year, I still think it is safe to say that he didn’t completely forget how to play baseball.

*** 2010: .336/.433/.516 – 22 BB/21 K – 223 AB
*** 2011: .232/.298/.305 – 6 BB/12 K – 177 AB

13. Stetson JR C Nick Rickles

The only negative I had on Rickles heading into the year was a report that his bat speed really tailed off as the year dragged on. Everything else checked out – good athleticism, a natural behind the plate with a great approach at it, and above-average power upside. Hitting close to .400 might not completely answer the bat speed question, but it is a clear step in the right direction.

*** 2010: .293/.331/.413 – 14 BB/23 K – 225 AB
*** 2011: .392/.455/.694 – 23 BB/7 K – 209 AB

14. Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer

Schaffer is a really underrated athlete with ample raw power and great physical strength who might not play the brand of defense pro teams desire. That was the word before the season. Most of the reports I’ve gotten on his 2011 defense indicate he’s getting a teeny bit better every day.

*** 2010: .303/.375/.566 – 21 BB/24 K – 175 AB
*** 2011: .418/.511/.693 – 34 BB/25 K – 189 AB

15. College of Charleston JR C Rob Kral

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.

*** 2010: .353/.493/.623 – 60 BB/32 K – 215 AB
*** 2011: .333/.485/.561 – 53 BB/23 K – 180 AB

16. Western Kentucky SR C Matt Rice

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.

*** 2010: .349/.431/.552 – 32 BB/46 K – 241 AB
*** 2011: .344/.419/.530 – 30 BB/34 K – 215 AB

17. California JR C Chadd Krist

Krist’s defense has been dinged as inconsistent in the past, but having seen him play a couple times in 2011 I have to say I think he’s underrated behind the plate. His arm might not rate above average and his power upside is limited, but he does enough just well enough to have backup catcher upside.

*** 2010: .375/.454/.661 – 27 BB/40 K – 192 AB
*** 2011: .335/.417/.491 – 24 BB/26 K – 173 AB

18. Samford JR C Brandon Miller

Key word in Miller’s scouting reports has been “inconsistent.” He has a strong arm, but very inconsistent accuracy. He has intriguing defensive tools, but inconsistent footwork limits him. Good bat speed, but inconsistent swing setup leads to a too long swing that leaves him exposed by high velocity arms. Good catching could fix this. Or not.

*** 2010: .361/.406/.533 – 13 BB/23 K – 244 AB
*** 2011: .297/.396/.651 – 26 BB/40 K – 172 AB

19. Central Florida JR C Beau Taylor

Taylor’s scouting profile reminds me a great deal of James McCann’s – great defense, flashes of power, better than average plate discipline.

*** 2010: .359/.433/.566 – 23 BB/31 K – 198 AB
*** 2011: .342/.412/.466 – 22 BB/22 K – 193 AB

20. Auburn SR C Tony Caldwell

I had Caldwell pegged as an all defense, no offense non-prospect heading into the year, but his hit tool has made a great deal of progress since last Fall. Even without the emerging bat, Caldwell’s defense might have been enough to get him drafted.

*** 2010: .365/.430/.587 – 18 BB/45 K – 189 AB
*** 2011: 341/.462/.535 – 30 BB/29 K – 170 AB

Final 2011 MLB Draft High School Catcher Rankings

1. C Blake Swihart (Cleveland HS, New Mexico)

The hardest prospects to write about are the ones at the top of lists like this. What more can be said about Swihart that hasn’t already been said? The Texas commit has shown all five tools (hit, power, defense, arm, and speed) this spring, an extreme rarity for a catcher at any level. I realize speed is easily the least important tool you’d need to see in a catching prospect, but Swihart’s average running ability works as a proxy for his outstanding athleticism. In that way, Swihart is the prototype for the next generation of catchers. After an almost decade long flirtation with jumbo-sized backstops (e.g. Joe Mauer and Matt Wieters), baseball is going back towards an emphasis on athleticism and defense behind the dish.

A no-brainer to stick behind the plate (the aforementioned athleticism and reported 95 MPH-caliber arm from the mound will help), Swihart’s biggest tool is his bat. Plus opposite field power and consistent line drives are not the norm for a typical prep prospect, but Swihart’s hit and power tools both project as plus in the future.  I stand by my belief that Swihart will catch for a long time as a professional, but his great athleticism and plus bat might convince a team to fast track Swihart’s development by switching him to third base or right field. It should also be noted that Swihart has a little extra leverage because he’ll be draft-eligible again in 2013 after his sophomore season.

2. C Eric Haase (Divine Child HS, Michigan)

The biggest question mark on Haase is how the Westland, Michigan native wound up committing to Ohio State in the first place. Lack of allegiance to his home state university aside (I kid!), Haase profiles similarly to Blake Swihart, except without Swihart’s switch-hitting ability. Despite the typical risk involved that comes from selecting a cold weather prospect early, he’ll still find his way ranked near the top of some clubs’ draft boards. Strong defensive chops, plus athleticism, a strong pro-ready build, and a balanced swing will do that for a guy.

3. C Riley Moore (San Marcos HS, California)

One of the draft’s fastest risers, Riley Moore does two things really, really well. Moore can throw with the best of them and Moore can hit the ball a long way. Plus arm strength and plus raw power will get a young catcher very far on draft day. Throw in an above-average hit tool and really nifty footwork behind the plate and you’ve got yourself a young player with the potential to be a first division starter.

4. C Elvin Soto (Xaverian HS, New York)

Of my many odd player evaluation biases, one of the weirdest is my affinity for players from non-traditional locales. Something about the possibility of untapped ability just gets me all worked up, I suppose. Like Eric Haase before him, in Soto we have another cold weather prospect with a well-rounded skill set. I see big promise with the bat, a pro-caliber arm, and the potential for plus defense in the very near future.

5. C Garrett Boulware (TL Hanna HS, South Carolina)

Without the benefit of meaningful statistics, two of the most difficult things to assess at the high school level are plate discipline and pitch recognition. Boulware’s patient approach to hitting has gotten raves from everybody I’ve heard from, so, with the absence of BB/K data, I’m ready to take those positive reports and run with them. There is a chance Boulware gets moved off the position, but I think his above-average arm and good but not great hands should keep him a catcher for at least a few years.

6. C Cameron Gallagher (Manheim Township HS, Pennsylvania)

The “local” guy that I’ve seen this year a few times – 90 minutes away is local, right? – has had himself an oddly inconsistent year for a potential top five round draft prospect. He reminds me a good bit of Tyler Marlette, except with a tiny bit (we’re talking teeny tiny) less arm strength and a good bit more raw power and physical strength. So, basically, he reminds me of Marlette except for three pretty big differences – maybe that’s not the best comp after all. Gallagher is still a very raw defender, but steady improvement throughout the spring has led me to believe he can remain a catcher, assuming he doesn’t experience another growth spurt. The raw power is undeniably his biggest strength and there are some who think he’s got enough bat to handle first base if the whole catching thing doesn’t pan out. Not sure I’m buying into the bat that hard, but also not sure he’ll be moving to first any time soon.

7. C Austin Hedges (JSerra HS, California)

I don’t feel too bad about ranking Austin Hedges lower than most because, when it comes down to it, what do these rankings really mean anyway? I hope they are a good resource for fans checking in on their team’s newest draft pick, but they won’t influence what happens on draft day one iota. Despite my lack of love, Hedges is a potential first rounder. Words don’t really do his defense justice, but I’ll give it my best shot all the same. Austin Hedges is already one of the 30 best defensive catchers in the country. I’m talking pro, college, and anything in between. Young catchers who can pull off a plus-plus arm, fantastic hands, and all-around plus receiving ability are few and far between. The bat is the problem. He has a long way to go before being labeled a finished product, but, as of now, I’d have to really squint hard to see a future where Hedges ever hits more than one of the league’s lesser 8-hole hitters. Selfishly, I’d love to see him go to UCLA on the off-chance that he’d get some time on the mound and really put that cannon of a right arm to work.

8. C Nicky Delmonico (Farragut HS, Tennessee)

Delmonico is another player who could realistically sneak into the first round who I’m not quite as high on as others. He’ll get the last laugh on draft day, so I don’t feel too bad breaking him down now. In Delmonico, I don’t see a standout tool. His arm works alright and there is some power upside, but there is no one part of his game that makes you stand up and take notice. In his defense, well, I like his defense. So many had written him off as a catcher, but in my brief looks and the scouting reports I’ve read, I don’t see anything that makes me think he’ll have to move to first anytime soon.

9. C Tyler Marlette (Hagerty HS, Florida)

Marlette has as much upside at the plate as any high school catcher sans Swihart, but questions about his defense continue to suppress his stock. The shame of it is that he has above-average defensive tools – he’s surprisingly natural behind the plate – but lacks the polish that comes with years of practice at the position. The aforementioned upside as a hitter works in much the same way. In batting practice Marlette is a monster, but he’s more of a gap-to-gap hitter in game action thus far. A solid defensive catcher with plus power is a heck of a prospect, of course. An iffy defensive catcher who may or may not stick with gap power is less exciting. This is where teams who have seen Marlette multiple times over a couple of years have a huge leg up on what I do.

10. C Grayson Greiner (Blythewood HS, South Carolina)

Regular readers of the site knew I couldn’t get past the top ten without throwing a major upside play in there somewhere. Greiner is a little bit under the radar, partly because of a really strong commitment to South Carolina. I mentioned earlier that teams are moving away from bigger catchers, but Greiner’s picture perfect 6-5, 220 pound frame could have a few teams backpedaling on that strategy just a wee bit. With that pro-ready frame comes, you guessed it, plus raw power and really intriguing arm strength. With that pro-ready frame also come some mechanical issues that need to be ironed out, but that’s a problem for the minor league instructors, not the faceless baseball draft writer.

11. C Greg Bird (Grandview HS, Colorado)

Bird came into the year a big prospect, but much of the hype that came with catching Kevin Gausman last year seems to have disappeared after Gausman went off to LSU. The Colorado high school catcher has a little bit of Cameron Gallagher to his game. Both prospects are raw defensively with impressive raw power that has been seen firsthand by area scouts at the high school level. That’s an important thing to note, I think. We hear so much about raw power, so it is worth pointing out when a player has plus raw power and average present power. That’s where I think Bird is currently at. There might not be a ton of projection to him, for better or worse.

12. C Brandon Sedell (American Heritage HS, Florida)

Sedell is a pro-ready backstop from a high school program with a deserved reputation of being a pro ballplayer producing factory. His calling card is his tremendous raw power, though it is limited somewhat to the pull side. He won’t win any Gold Gloves for his work behind the plate and his throws down to second won’t evoke comparisons of the Molina brothers, but he sets up a nice target for his pitcher and moves around laterally better than you’d expect from a big guy. He gets bonus points for his extensive experience catching high velocity arms. This may be a little nuts, but I feel as though the recent pros that have come out of American Heritage in recent years (most notably Eric Hosmer, still the most advanced high school bat I’ve ever seen) have brainwashed some scouts into thinking the game comes easy to all prep players there. Sedell isn’t Hosmer, but he’s still a damn fine pro prospect with big league starter upside.

13. C BreShon Kimbell (Mesquite HS, Texas)

Kimbell is unusually strong, very athletic, and a gifted defender. He also has shown big raw power in the past, but inconsistencies with his swing mechanics make his trips to the plate hit or miss, no pun intended. Some good pro coaching could turn him into a high level pro prospect in short order. Also, BreShon – a fella with a name like that is obviously destined for greatness, even though I sometimes read it as Bre$hon.

14. C Brett Austin (Providence HS, North Carolina)

First Austin Hedges, then Nicky Delmonico, and now Brett Austin – my trio of lower than expected rankings is finally complete. It all comes down to what you want in a catcher, I guess. I’ll take defensive ability, raw power, mature hitting actions, and arm strength, in that order. If you don’t have a plus tool in any of those four areas, I’m a little nervous. Austin’s defensive work has been spotty this spring, and he’s not assured of starting his professional career as a catcher. I’d generously give him a 55 on raw power – damn good to be sure, but not on the level of a handful of players ranked above him – and his arm is average on his best day. He’s got impressive athleticism and arguably the best foot speed of any prep catching prospect, so a position switch – second base, maybe? – could actually help his pro standing in my eyes.

15. C AJ Murray (Westfield HS, New Jersey)

Fast-rising prospect poised to make me look stupid for having him this low. Area scouts rave about his athleticism and sheer physical strength.

And now for five more guys that I couldn’t bear to leave out, but knew that if I started to write a little something about them then I’d wind up writing about high school catchers forever. With two weeks until the draft, that’s a no-no. Five additional high school catchers that I’m high on with very brief thoughts on each:

16. C Daniel Mengden (Westside HS, Texas)

A good low-90s fastball has most preferring Mengden on the mound, but I’m going to stubbornly stick by him as the receiving end of a pitcher-catcher battery, thank you very much. Why do I like him as a catcher? Well, you already know he has a plus arm back there and his defensive actions are all very good. I also have liked what I’ve seen out of his swing so far; it is the kind of level, line drive producing swing that might not generate a ton of raw power, but will help him keep the ball off the ground and into the gaps.

17. C Taylor Nichols (Faith Academy, Alabama)

Quick draft day math problem for you: plus power plus plus arm strength minus strong college commitment (no offense South Alabama) equals potential top ten round catching prospect.

18. C Hunter Lockwood (LD Bell HS, Texas)

No weaknesses in Lockwood’s game, just a really solid, well-rounded skill set.

19. C Aramis Garcia (Pines Charter HS, Florida)

Similar to Nichols in that he’s best known for his power bat and power arm.

20. C Dylan Delso (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma)

Like Greg Bird and Brandon Sedell above, Delso has no problems catching high velocity heat. Archie Bradley’s prep catcher approves.

Brief Hiatus

I’ve tried to stave off this announcement for a few days, but I can’t fake my way through any more non-research required pieces (like, say the Alex White retrospective) any longer. An accident at work has left me with my second cracked computer screen in ten months, so things will be quiet on the site for a few days while I find a way to get back into my hard drive. Until I can plug my laptop into a working desktop and/or replace the screen, there will be a slight delay in posting.

To make it up to the three or four loyal readers who’ve read this far, I’m hoping to have a mock draft (my first in what seems like forever) ready to go by the time I’m fully operational again. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for sticking with this site.

Alex White’s Debut

Cleveland’s Alex White made a pretty successful big league debut (6 IP 6 H 2 ER 4 BB 4 K – two of the walks were intentional) on Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Per Fangraphs, he threw around 75% fastballs (both two-seamers and four-seamers), 6% splitters, and 18% sliders with the two fastballs the most successful of his four distinct offerings. In light of his solid debut, I thought a quick retrospective on White was in order. It can be a lot of fun to check in on draft prospects as they evolve into minor leaguers and eventually grow into big leaguers. It was a good idea…in theory. I say that because Alex White’s path the big leagues is a unique one. For White there hasn’t been a whole lot of evolving and growing, at least not on the surface. I don’t mean to downplay all of the work he has put in over the past few years, not do I want to make light of the personal growth and subsequent effect that has had on his professional prospects. I just think it is funny that not much has changed about White over the years from a scouting standpoint. This can be construed as either a positive (stuff has remained above-average across the board, plus he’s had no velocity loss) or a negative (no meaningful improvement in his stuff, with the exception of a slight improvement with his split), depending on how you world view. I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, so I think it is pretty cool that White has stayed true to himself. Sinkers, sliders, splitter. They helped get him drafted out of high school, they helped get him drafted in the first round out of college, and now they’ve helped him reach the big leagues after less than 200 innings pitched in the minors.

Big Board Standing

White started the 2009 draft cycle as the second overall ranked player on my board. His stock held more or less steady throughout the year, dropping only four spots to sixth overall. By June, White was behind only Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Tyler Matzek, Mike Leake, and Tanner Scheppers on the board.

Mock Draft Prognostication  

White wound up going fifteenth overall to Cleveland despite the fact that in each of three 2009 mock drafts he was a top ten pick. I started with him going ninth overall to Detroit, then moved him up to fourth (Pittsburgh), and then finally settled on him winding up with Baltimore at the fifth spot. Three hacks at it, three empty swings.

Commentary (from 2/2009)

A big, strong righthanded pitcher, Alex White stands alone as the best starboard thrower non-Strasburg division in the upcoming draft. Originally a Dodgers draft pick out of high school (413th overall), White has, if nothing else, the Logan White Seal of Approval™. His rumored asking price was somewhere between $850,000 and $1.4 million back in 2006, a pretty good chunk of change to be sure, but it’s still safe to say he made a wise fiscal decision by passing up the pros. Think about all of the good that came from White’s decision to pass on the Dodgers offer. By opting to bet on his talent, he wound up with three partially paid years at one of the nation’s finest universities. At Carolina, White has been able to enjoy the beautiful surrounding area (hard to beat being college-aged and living in Chapel Hill), play at a gorgeous renovated ballpark, and experience all of the, ahem, perks of being a top student-athlete at a southern college campus. To do that all while learning from a top notch coaching staff that has helped him continue his development towards becoming a high first rounder cashing a paycheck that could triple his original salary demands as a high schooler. Alex White: living proof that in these turbulent economic times, the best financial decision we can make is to invest in ourselves. The Baseball Draft Report: come for the baseball, stay for the life lessons…and crazy run-on sentences.

White’s sinking 2-seam fastball regularly registers in the low 90s. White’s straight but heavy 4-seam fastball comes in faster, as he is able to pump it up into the mid-90s. He fits in with many of the other players on this list because he partners up that fastball with the occasionally slurvy slider that is a true weapon. The slider sits in the low 80s and works best when it bears in on the hands of lefthanded hitters. White also throws a good splitter that helps him get both swings and misses and plenty of ground balls. There isn’t a whole lot to find fault in with his actual stuff and he has top of the rotation potential assuming good health.

Commentary 2.0 (from 6/2009)

But I won’t knock the real Indians taking Alex White at 15. Sensational pick. White came into the year as the frontrunner to go number two overall to Seattle, so you know he’s naturally gifted. I buy the talk coming out of Carolina that suggested his struggles on the mound this year were due largely to nagging injuries. Get him healthy and watch him take off – White has the upside of a really good big league number two starting pitcher.

Where Were You When…

I was in the crowd for this one last night, so hopefully you’ll excuse the originally scheduled Alex White retrospective (as well as responses to comments/emails) appearing a little later than originally planned.

Apologies for the ugly layout, I’m working on moving some things around and hope to have it fixed shortly. If you click “Continue Reading” it should look a lot prettier.

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