1. Hawaii JR 2B Kolten Wong
*** 2010: .438/.507/.647 – 37 BB/19 K – 249 AB – 20/27 SB
*** 2011: .432/.548/.630 – 40 BB/19 K – 192 AB – 22/28 SB
Have to love the consistency shown by Wong from his sophomore year to his junior year, don’t you? Those are some freakishly similar numbers. Wong has above-average or better future grades with three tools (bat, arm, glove) and enough power to the gaps and speed on the bases to keep both pitchers and catchers honest. I’ve gone back and forth deciding whether or not I like him or Levi Michael better, but ultimately think Wong’s higher floor gives him a teeny tiny advantage. I try not to force comps, but something about Kolten Wong’s overall body of work, statistical profile, and scouting outlook remind me of Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz. I’ve heard the Brandon Phillips and Brian Roberts comps, but I keep coming back to Ruiz. I realize that Wong hits lefthanded and has significantly more speed, but I could see him putting up a few 2010 Carlos Ruiz seasons (.302/.400/.447) at his peak.
2. North Carolina JR 2B Levi Michael
*** 2010: .374/.509/.621 – 48 BB/24 K – 214 AB
*** 2011: .321/.475/.480 – 48 BB/30 K – 196 AB – 15/16 SB
I’ve mentioned it before, but it is so incredible to me that it bears repeating: Levi Michael graduated high school early to enroll at UNC mid-year, and then went on to tear it up as a freshman playing as a starter in the ACC. Occasionally we’ll see pitchers do this, and last year we had the whole Bryce Harper skipping his senior year to go destroy wood ball junior college ball thing, but it is still pretty rare to see a hitter do what Michael did in the manner he did (repeat: he smashed the ball all over the place back in 2009 as an 18-year-old) that it is worth pointing out over and over again. Michael has plenty of bat speed, double-digit homer upside, and the footwork and instincts to potentially stick at his junior season college position of shortstop.
3. Indian River State College SO 2B Corey Spangenberg
*** 2010: .345/.391/.553 – 14 BB/46 K – 235 AB – 24/29 SB (at VMI)
*** 2011: .477/.553/.659 – 29 BB – 176 AB – 33/37 SB
If you’re one of the die-hards who have been tracking the 2011 draft for the past few years and not the past few days (not that there is anything wrong with that…), it should come as no shock that I find the rise of Corey Spangenberg from Indian River (Florida) to be one of the most interesting potential draft day subplots. In his most recent mock draft, Jim Callis mentioned Spangenberg as a possibility for San Diego at pick number ten, Florida at fourteen, Oakland at eighteen, and Cincinnati at twenty-seven. Not bad for a player I compared to former Miami 2B Scott Lawson, now a member of the Tampa Bay organization after getting selected in the 29th round last year. Spangenberg was ranked 30th on my preseason listing of college second basemen. So, a comparison to a guy taken in the 29th round last year and a preseason ranking behind a pair of potentially undrafted infielders like Matt Puhl and Ryan Holland for a guy now expected my the leading draft expert to go 14th overall to the Marlins. Whoops.
To be fair, even with the benefit of hindsight, I feel pretty good about at least tacking Spangenberg on to the end of my preseason list of draft-eligible 2B prospects, and am now quite pleased to see the way his draft stock has skyrocketed this spring. I would have guessed his good, but not great overall tool set — his only plus tool is his bat, though I acknowledge that’s the plus tool you want if you’re only blessed with one — would have him off to Miami in time for the 2012 season. So, in a way I was right all along…I just thought Spangenberg would wind up with the Hurricanes, not the Marlins. Others like his speed more than I do, but I’m higher on his defensive upside at second base than most. The total package is made up of average to slightly above-average speed, good base running instincts, gap power, an aggressive approach that he has worked hard to improve, and, as mentioned, a true plus hit tool with the added bonus of having a strong track record with wood bats. Haven’t heard this comp yet, but it just makes too much sense to me right now and I can’t get it out of my head: Corey Spangenberg is the next generation Lonnie Chisenhall.
4. St. John’s JR 2B Joe Panik
*** 2010: .339/.448/.564 – 38 BB/17 K – 227 AB – 6/9 SB
*** 2011: .380/.492/.610 – 38 BB/19 K – 200 AB – 17/21 SB
I do my best not to let a quick look influence my opinion on a player too much, partly because I know I’m just an amateur when it comes to “scouting” players and partly because I trust the second-hand notes and observations that paint a much richer picture of what a player can and can’t do (i.e. data spanning multiple years) over what I may or may not see in one game, three games, or ten games. Without getting anybody I trust to definitively tell me, “yes, Panik is a shortstop in pro ball” and based on a couple firsthand views over the years, I made the decision to slide Panik over to the 2B rankings. With that out of the way, we can see he’s a pretty interesting 2B prospect. Many of my defensive misgivings — iffy first step quickness, good but not great arm, questionable range to his left — go by the wayside if he is moved to second. Looking at his defensive tools through this different light, we see now that his defensive actions are mostly good (hands work, quick transfer, decent “catch up” burst), his arm is plenty strong, and he won’t be asked to cover quite as much ground. The bat is obviously a strength – average or slightly above-average hit tool, arguably the most raw power in the college second base class, and above-average speed (helped by good base running instincts). The total package leaves you with a legit five-tool player, and a player with a chance to contribute, though maybe not excel, in all phases of the game.
5. Louisville JR 2B Ryan Wright
*** 2010: .370/.418/.642 – 21 BB/25 K – 254 AB – 10/11 SB
*** 2011: .338/.426/.583 – 32 BB/30 K – 216 AB – 16/18 SB
Wright’s case is a unique one because, even though his numbers dipped slightly from 2010 to 2011, his stock improved. The smarter people I talked to all came away more impressed with his 2011 approach to the new bats than they were with his “sell out for power” approach with the old aluminum. That sounds like a good sign as he makes the transition to wood. I mentioned Joe Panik, Wright’s Big East buddy, as having arguably the most raw power for a college second baseman, but you could probably flip a coin and be happy with either him or Wright at the top of that list. The difference there is that Panik has tapped into his power and shown pretty much all he can do in that area of his game; Wright, on the other hand, still has just enough untapped raw power that I sometimes wonder if the right organization could help him unlock the key (I use that phrase a lot — “unlock the key” — even though it makes no sense and isn’t listed as a real idiom anywhere. Sounds cool to me, though…) to a 20 homer season down the road. Even if his present gap power is all that we see at the next level, Wright’s solid glove, average foot speed, and promising hit tool will keep getting him chances.
6. Coastal Carolina JR 2B Tommy La Stella
*** 2010: .388/.471/.659 – 34 BB/14 K – 246 AB – 6/6 SB
*** 2011: .417/.496/.686 – 28 BB/16 K – 204 AB – 7/11 SB
The number one knock I heard on La Stella heading into the season was his tendency to get too anxious at the plate and swing at pitcher’s pitches too often. This clearly wasn’t reflected in the numbers — notice the awesome batting averages and BB/K ratios — but it was a concern from smart people who had seen him often. When I receive scouting tips that contradict what the numbers reflect, I get dizzy. Trust the reports from people who are paid to this, banking on the idea that sometimes a scouting observation shows up before a dip in on-field production? Or acknowledge that sometimes even the best see things that sometimes aren’t really there? In La Stella’s case, I’m inclined to go with the latter. La Stella’s pure hit tool is on par with darn near any college prospect in this year’s draft.
7. McNeese State JR 2B Jace Peterson
*** 2010: 345/448/478 – 41 BB/35 K – 232 AB – 35/38 SB
*** 2011: .335/.451/.473 – 44 BB/27 K – 224 AB – 31/41 SB
Funny anecdote on Peterson, courtesy of two of my better sources in the game. The first guy texted me during warmups of a McNeese State game to say something along the lines of, “No clue if he can play, but, wow, what an athlete!” I heard from the second guy later in the season when he said something like, “Here’s a grinder with a great feel for hitting.” The former football star’s athletic ability can’t be questioned and his speed is potentially a game changing tool. The current baseball star has shown a better than expected approach, greatly improved hands at the plate, and enough pop to garner early round consideration.
8. Arizona State JR 2B Zack MacPhee
*** 2010: .380/.483/.647 – 42 BB/36 K – 221 AB – 20/24 SB
*** 2011: .263/.410/.340 – 44 BB/18 K – 194 AB – 22/29 SB
This isn’t quite Jett Bandy bad — notice the still strong BB/K numbers — but the degradation of MacPhee’s once promising prospect stock is still disappointing to see. On the bright side, he still has near plus speed, impressive bat speed, and excellent defensive tools up the middle. I’d love to know whether or not his batting average collapse had something to do with a BABIP-fueled string of bad luck or if he just isn’t making the kind of hard contact he did in 2010. Reports on him struggling to square up on balls this spring have me afraid it is the latter, but that great 2010 season should be enough to have a handful of teams buying into him as a potential utility player.
9. Florida International JR 2B Jeremy Patton
*** 2010: 364/455/567 – 36 BB/23 K – 231 AB – 8/10 SB
*** 2011: .357/.462/.502 – 39 BB/22 K – 213 AB – 6/7 SB
Patton can really, really hit. I don’t know if his other tools will play at the next level, but when judged solely as a hitter it is easy to see him going far. An argument can be made for a couple different offense-first second base prospects ranked below him here, but I like his hit tool as much as I like any one player’s hit tool that comes next.
10. Siena JR 2B Dan Paolini
*** 2010: .373/.441/.821 – 21 BB/28 K – 212 AB – 12/15 SB
*** 2011: .362/.451/.694 – 29 BB/35 K – 196 AB – 13/15 SB
Paolini has more present power than any college middle infielder. The question that remains to be answered is whether or not his long swing will lead to enough hits to make that power useful at the next level. If he doesn’t hit, he’s in trouble – only his power rates as above-average at this point, with the potential for an average hit tool down the road his only other tool of note. There’s a little sleeper Dan Uggla upside here, if everything breaks right. Of course, think about the original Uggla before getting too excited – how many things had to break exactly right for him to become the Dan Uggla we know and love (even as a long-time fan of a rival division team I have to admit his uppercut corkscrew swing is fun to watch) today? Paolini will probably start out around the same place as Uggla, a former 11th round pick.
11. North Carolina A&T JR 2B Marquis Riley
*** 2010: .335/.412/.495 – 22 BB/5 K – 212 AB – 10/12 SB
*** 2011: .324/.405/.493 – 29 BB/4 K – 207 AB – 13/15 SB
For a plate discipline junkie like me, that 29 BB/4 K ratio is a thing of beauty. Reports on his defense are all over the place — “above-average,” “passable,” “erratic” — and there is a ton of upside at the plate, but the combination of that plate discipline and just enough pop to keep the bat from being knocked out of his hands gives me hope.
12. Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Joe Terry
*** 2011: .260/.309/.384 – 4 BB/13 K – 73 AB – 5/8 SB
The much-hyped (by me) hitting machine who last year made hard contact in just about every at bat failed to live up to his Bill Hall (my comp for him last year) billing in 2011. I still like the rest of his skills — good enough speed, loads of arm strength, unconventional fielding motions but underrated at second — and I’m willing to bet that bat wakes up next year. Whether the bat rises and shines in pro ball or back at Fullerton for a senior season remains to be seen.
13. Missouri State JR 2B Kevin Medrano
*** 2010: .443/.512/.614 – 31 BB/24 K – 210 AB – 17/19 SB
*** 2011: .332/.383/.379 – 19 BB/14 K – 190 AB – 13/14 SB
Medrano’s beastly 2010 season was a year to be celebrated, but it seems his 2011 performance is much more in line with the kind of player he is and will be going forward. You might not know it from the numbers above, but his best singular tool is his plus speed. He’s also a steady defender at second with good range, though a below-average throwing arm (50/50 shot on whether it will hang on the left side of the infield) limits his upside as a utility infielder. There isn’t a whole lot of power here — note his 2011 slugging percentage — but that isn’t his game anyway. Medrano is a gifted natural hitter with plus bat speed who does a great job of getting the barrel of the bat on the ball with consistency. His lack of arm strength may be his professional undoing, but his bat and speed will at least give him a chance initially.
14. Tennessee JR 2B Khayyan Norfork: plus speed; 5-10, 170;
*** 2010: .267/.392/.367 – 32 BB/35 K – 180 AB – 15/18 SB
*** 2011: .317/.420/.463 – 29 BB/34 K – 205 AB – 30/34 SB
I wanted so badly to include Norfork on my preseason list, but chickened out at the last minute for reasons still unknown to me. He’s got the prerequisite leadoff man skill set — plus speed, great jumps from first, good bunting skills, some patience, some hit tool — and the defensive versatility to play around the infield. I don’t think he has the bat to ever log consistent starter’s at bats, but unlike a few of the guys chained to 2B now and forever, Norfork should be able to move around the infield in a backup’s role with success.
15. Western Carolina JR 2B Ross Heffley
*** 2010: .345/.405/.429 – 22 BB/30 K – 238 AB – 2/3 SB
*** 2011: .398/.468/.621 – 29 BB/19 K – 211 AB – 3/5 SB
My notes on Heffley always come back to two simple words: good hitter. Ask anybody about Heffley and those will be the first two words out of their mouths. His other tools may not compare to the bat, and there are some unanswered questions about his ability to play anywhere but second base, but many think he’ll continue to be a good hitter, at least through the low minors.
16. Bowling Green JR 2B Jon Berti
*** 2010: .391/.453/.541 – 15 BB/33 K – 220 AB – 29/35 SB
*** 2011: .320/.419/.459 – 22 BB/24 K – 172 AB – 18/23 SB
Berti may not have the bat to prosper as a pro, but his speed, range, arm, and pop all rate as average or better (especially his speed) tools.
17. JR 2B Jon Schwind (Marist): good arm; good defender; above-average speed; some pop; versatile defender
*** 2010: .369/.442/.535 – 16 BB/23 K – 217 AB – 10/11 SB
*** 2011: .322/.422/.505 – 27 BB/24 K – 202 AB – 4/6 SB
Schwind profiles very similarly to Jon Berti, in that both players have underrated tools (above-average speed, some pop, good arm and defense) that are only mitigated by a bat that lacks projection. Schwind’s defensive versatility will help.
18. Auburn SR 2B Dan Gamache
*** 2010: .381/.461/.619 – 26 BB/31 K – 189 AB – 7/9 SB
*** 2011:.314/.432/.485 – 32 BB/31 K – 194 AB – 2/2 SB
The Auburn third baseman works best as a 2B in pro ball where his athleticism could shine. I’m a big fan of his swing and power upside.
19. Florida SR 2B Josh Adams
*** 2010: .239/.333/.416 – 31 BB/47 K – 226 AB – 5/8 SB
*** 2011: .365/.407/.505 – 16 BB/25 K – 200 AB – 1/4 SB
Adams is a long time personal who struggled as one of the veteran anchors of a young Gators lineup last year, but has rebounded a bit in 2011. His scouting reports remain largely favorable, despite his inconsistent performances. Adams will be helped by his positional versatility as he tries to make it in the pros as a utility guy.
20. Cal Poly JR 2B Matt Jensen
*** 2010: .277/.382/.460 – 23 BB/23 K – 137 AB – 3/3 SB
*** 2011: .189/.297/.211 – 13 BB/16 K – 95 AB – 1/2 SB
I really wish I could explain what happened to Jensen this year, but I’ve got nothing. Still really like his bat speed and power upside, and he has apparently made strides as a defender. A big senior season, either back at second or on the mound, could get him drafted in the top ten rounds like his talent probably warrants.
That’s the top twenty, but we’ll add six more for good measure. No commentary on these prospects for now, but I’m happy to add some on request.
21. Michigan State SO 2B Ryan Jones
*** 2010: 283/367/504 – 26 BB/41 K – 226 AB – 19/20 SB
*** 2011: .350/.451/.458 – 32 BB/12 K – 203 AB – 11/19 SB
22. Florida State JR 2B Sherman Johnson
*** 2010: .349/.463/.550 – 47 BB/35 K – 238 AB – 7/10 SB
*** 2011: .271/.429/.369 – 54 BB/42 K – 203 AB – 10/12 SB
23. Florida International JR 2B Garrett Wittels
*** 2010: .413/.465/.541 – 23 BB/18 K – 242 AB – 4/5 SB
*** 2011: .347/.400/.440 – 15 BB/24 K – 225 AB – 11/15 SB
24. Fresno State SR 2B Danny Muno
*** 2010: .329/.444/.500 – 48 BB/33 K – 246 AB – 10/13 SB
*** 2011: .339/.472/.462 – 43 BB/25 K – 186 AB – 12/18 SB
24. UT-San Antonio SR 2B Ryan Hutson
*** 2010: .337/.428/.609 – 24 BB/45 K – 3/5 SB – 184 AB
*** 2011: .316/.404/.572 – 22 BB/25 K – 152 AB – 4/7 SB
26. Virginia JR 2B Keith Werman
*** 2010: .436/.509/.523 – 19 BB/8 K – 149 AB – 11/16 SB
*** 2011: .233/.365/.258 – 25 BB/20 K – 163 AB – 5/8 SB