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2012 MLB Draft: Who Will Be Drafted? Big East Edition

The Big East had 40 players drafted in last year’s draft. Don’t be thrown off by the incorrect headline (“BIG EAST Sets Record with 41 Players Taken in MLB First-Year Player Draft”) like I was. I counted, and it’s definitely 40. It will be an uphill battle to reach that number in 2012. Below are 35 names that I’m feeling fairly confident will be in the mix this June. Don’t think there are any super controversial names on the list, but flame away if there is anybody you think should be there that isn’t or shouldn’t be there that is.

Catchers

Notre Dame JR C Joe Hudson

Connecticut rSR C Joe Pavone

First Basemen

South Florida SR 1B/OF Todd Brazeal

Second Basemen

Connecticut JR 2B LJ Mazzilli

St. John’s SR 2B/SS Matt Wessinger

Shortstops

Maybe in 2013…

Third Basemen

Connecticut SR 3B Ryan Fuller

Outfielders

St. John’s JR OF Jeremy Baltz

St. John’s rSO OF Kevin Grove

Georgetown SR OF Rand Ravnaas

Connecticut rJR OF Billy Ferriter

Louisville SR OF Stewart Ijames

West Virginia JR OF Brady Wilson

Pitchers

St. John’s JR RHP Kyle Hansen

St. John’s JR RHP Matt Carasiti

Louisville JR RHP Matt Koch

Louisville JR RHP Justin Amlung

Louisville JR RHP Andy Flett

Rutgers rSO RHP Charlie Law

Seton Hall JR RHP Ryan Harvey

St. John’s JR RHP Jerome Werniuk

St. John’s JR RHP Anthony Cervone

Cincinnati JR RHP Zach Isler

Seton Hall JR RHP Frank Morris

Connecticut SR RHP David Fischer

Rutgers JR LHP Rob Smorol

Louisville SR RHP Travis Tingle

South Florida SR LHP Andrew Barbosa

Louisville SO RHP Chad Green

Connecticut JR RHP Ryan Moore

Louisville SR RHP Derek Self

South Florida rSO RHP Ray Delphey

Connecticut SR RHP Scott Oberg

South Florida rSR RHP Derrick Stultz

South Florida rSO RHP Austin Adams

South Florida JR RHP Joe Lovecchio

And here are some other names (17 to be exact) to stored away somewhere deep in the recesses of your baseball loving brains…

Catchers

Cincinnati SR C/OF Braden Kline

First Basemen

Louisville JR 1B/LHP Zak Wasserman

Second Basemen

Cincinnati SR 2B TJ Jones

Shortstops

Villanova SR SS Marlon Calbi

Third Basemen

West Virginia rSR 3B Dan DiBartolomeo

Outfielders

South Florida rJR OF Alex Mendez

Cincinnati JR OF Jake Proctor

West Virginia rSO OF Matt Frazer

Pitchers

Notre Dame SR LHP Joe Spano

Rutgers JR LHP Rob Corsi

Connecticut JR RHP Pat Butler

Rutgers RHP Tyler Gebler

St. John’s SR RHP Kevin Kilpatrick

Notre Dame SR LHP Steve Sabatino

Notre Dame JR RHP Pat Veerkamp

St. John’s JR LHP Sean Hagan

Seton Hall JR RHP Jon Prosinski

2012 MLB Draft All-Big East Prospect Team

The best prospect at each position is featured in our “everyday eight.” The “starting rotation” is made up of pitchers who are all lumped together in one bit lefty/righty/starter/reliever mess. For the “bench,” we tried to follow the guideline of at least one backup catcher, a backup middle infielder (or two), a backup corner infielder (or two), and at least one reserve outfielder (though typically two). Remaining spots went to the best available pitching prospects who are no doubt thrilled to be a part of our “bullpen.” Add it all up and we should have a 25-man roster of interesting 2012 MLB Draft Prospects from the Big East.

Everyday Eight

Notre Dame JR C Joe Hudson

Hudson gets the slightest of edge over the similarly talented C Joe Pavone (Connecticut). I admit that the fifth-year senior Pavone might be the safer bet to be drafted based while Hudson will likely wind up as a 2013 senior sign assuming his bat didn’t transform over this past offseason. Both players profile as defensive-first organizational catchers. These are the types of prospects that you draft knowing that you need somebody capable of helping along young pitching prospects. Deep down, however, there is no shame in hoping that your late-round defensive-first catcher might show enough pop to someday pop up as a viable third catcher worth stashing in AAA.

Louisville JR 1B Zak Wasserman

Wasserman hasn’t done much at Louisville yet (after park/schedule adjustments, he barely slugged his weight in 2011), but his big raw power and pro frame make him the best of an uninspiring group of Big East power hitters.

Connecticut JR 2B LJ Mazzilli

Spoiler alert: Mazzilli isn’t just the best Big East second base prospect, but the best overall position player prospect in the entire conference. His speed, athleticism, and defense all have stood out as I’ve watched him grow in a big way as a hitter over the past two seasons.

Villanova SR SS Marlon Calbi

There’s simply nothing in the way of interesting Big East shortstop prospects this year. Calbi’s strong 2011 season gives him the nod, but he’s really not a viable pro prospect at this point. I debated on cheating and putting St. John’s SR 2B Matt Wessinger at shortstop, where he’s played some in the past, but left him on the bench in favor of the truer shortstop in Calbi.

Connecticut SR 3B Ryan Fuller

Like the man chosen to stand to his left on this fictional team of 2012 prospects, Fuller isn’t a pro prospect in any traditional sense of the term. He does stand a better chance to be drafted due in large part to his athleticism and just enough pop and speed to intrigue as a fill out the roster kind of late round pick.

St. John’s JR OF Jeremy Baltz

St. John’s rSO OF Kevin Grove

Georgetown SR OF Rand Ravnaas

Much has been written about Baltz by the experts already, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. As a corner outfield prospect with little in the way of tools besides his bat, he’ll need to hit a ton as a pro if he ever wants a shot at regular playing time. It is probably worth nothing that I was impressed last year (in an admittedly quick viewing) with his non-hit tools, so much so that I came away thinking he’s universally underrated both as an athlete and as a defender in left. That’s not to say anything but the bat will ever get him in the lineup, and I would never say he’s good at anything but hitting baseballs, but he’s not a total slug out there, either. Grove is under the radar as a redshirt sophomore who has legit pro power and enough ability in a few other areas (average runner, strong enough arm) that he could develop into an interesting draft with more at bats. Ravnaas is more solid college outfielder than intriguing pro prospect, but his skill set is well-rounded and his production has been consistently strong. A more refined approach, especially with two strikes, might be too much to ask at this point for the senior, but a little less aggression (or, more aptly, better controlled aggression) would go a long way.

Bench 

Connecticut rSR C Joe Pavone

The aforementioned Pavone gets a spot on the bench as the Big East’s second best catching prospect thanks to his steady defensive work behind the plate.

South Florida SR 1B/OF Todd Brazeal

Brazeal, an eighth-year senior for the Bulls, has always intrigued with the hit tool, but has never been able to reign in his long swing enough to make consistent enough contact to succeed. Positional versatility (1B, OF, and 3B are all on his resume) could get him drafted, as could his well-earned reputation of being a great teammate and hard worker. Never hurts to fill out low minors rosters with guys like Brazeal.

St. John’s SR 2B/SS Matt Wessinger

Wessinger is a nice college infielder who does enough well across the board to get a look by pro teams in the market for a mid- to late-round senior sign. He’s more second baseman than shortstop, but can handle the left side of the infield well enough in a pinch to profile as a utility guy in a perfect world.

West Virginia rSR 3B Dan DiBartolomeo

DiBartolomeo is another highly productive player who feels like he’s been in college for the better part of a decade now. He fits in nicely on a roster full of high makeup, grinder college players who don’t necessarily project for much in the pros. Still a fun player to watch, though.

Connecticut rJR OF Billy Ferriter

Louisville SR OF/LHP Stewart Ijames

Ferriter and Ijames: two long-time favorites that I’m very close to admitting defeat on. Ferriter can run, defend, and handle the bat, but will need to clean up his approach in a big way if he hopes to make it in pro ball. Ijames has been my guy going on three years now; unfortunately, it is time to face the music and admit he’s more of a college standout than a pro prospect. I’ll always appreciate his solid approach, strong arm, and power to the gaps, but if it hasn’t all come together by now, I’m not sure it ever will. Even if Ijames puts together a big final season for the Cardinals and gets drafted higher than I think this June, he’ll still face the daunting challenge of being one of the few players — I can think of none off the top of my head — that have turned 24 during their first pro season and then went on to big league success.

Starting Rotation

St. John’s JR RHP Kyle Hansen 

St. John’s JR RHP Matt Carasiti 

Louisville JR RHP Matt Koch

Louisville JR RHP Justin Amlung 

Louisville JR RHP Andy Flett 

The Big East is deep in pitching, but lacks the type of early round impact talent that tends to get a conference noticed early on in the season. The depth of talent will change that as the season moves along. Heading up our rotation is the big righthander from St. John’s, Kyle Hansen. Hansen has the three pitches needed to start professionally (low-90s FB that peaks at 94-96, a consistently average low-80s SL that flashes plus, especially when thrown harder, and a raw low-80s CU that has gotten much better since his high school days) and should get the chance to do exactly that, despite what some have said about his delivery being better suited for the bullpen. His teammate Carasiti joins him in our “rotation,” but there is little doubt his pro future is as a reliever. He’s got the heavy hard fastball, good upper-70s slider, and emerging splitter to profile as a fine middle reliever in the big leagues.

The two St. John’s pitchers are joined by our trio of Cardinals. Matt Koch is another reliever all the way. He has similar stuff when compared to Carasiti (arguably a better fastball, though I prefer Carasiti’s slightly slower but more difficult to square up offering), but loses out due to a slightly less exciting overall repertoire (Koch is FB/SL all the way) and less flashes of collegiate dominance. Amlung’s on the border between starter and reliever. He throws four pitches for strikes, but might be best off if he streamlined his arsenal and stuck with his two best pitches, a good sinking fastball and a tight low-80s slider. Flett is a personal favorite who succeeds in large part due to superior fastball command and a good mid-70s curveball. There’s still some projection left in his 6-7, 185 pound frame, so envisioning a future where his low-90s fastball (mostly 90-93) picks up a few ticks isn’t exactly out of line.

My only regret here is leaving off the slew of interesting pitchers for South Florida. Seriously, any one of just about any arm on their staff could have been included. Andrew Barbosa, Ray Delphey, Derrick Stulz, Austin Adams, Trey Dahl (who I recently noticed was no longer listed on the 2012 roster), and Joe Lovecchio are all firmly in the mix to be drafted in 2012, but I’m in a little bit of a continued wait and see mode due to many of their arms having questionable health backgrounds heading into this year. So far, so good for many of the hurlers, both in terms of good health and production. The combined numbers of Stultz, Adams, Delphey, and Lovecchio so far (3-0 record): 24 IP 28 K 10 BB 19 H 3 ER.

The Bullpen

Rutgers rSO RHP Charlie Law 

Seton Hall JR RHP Ryan Harvey

St. John’s JR RHP Jerome Werniuk

St. John’s JR RHP Anthony Cervone                                                                                  

Cincinnati JR RHP Zach Isler

Seton Hall JR RHP Frank Morris

St. John’s is heavily represented in both the rotation and the bullpen on this squad. Charlie Law has been on the radar long enough that it is hard to call him a sleeper, but injuries and erratic command have some forgetting about how solid his three-pitch mix is when on. Werniuk is somewhat similar as another bigger guy (6-5, 210 pounds to Law’s 6-7, 235) with a history of trouble throwing strikes. You could say the same thing about Cervone, come to think of it. Ryan Harvey’s big 2011 season (park/schedule adjusted 15.11 K/9 in 44.2 IP) was more impressive than his raw stuff (upper-80s fastball, plus slider) indicates, but, as you can read, it isn’t like his stuff is bad. His teammate Frank Morris joins him as an athletic projection peak capable of hitting 93-94 with his fastball. Finally, we have Cincinnati’s Zach Isler. Isler is the kind of guy the bullpens were designed for. His stuff isn’t particularly exciting when stretched out over longer appearances, but in short bursts he can let it fly with a fastball hitting 94-95 and an above-average low-80s slider.

Future Rankings: The 2013 MLB Draft and ACC Prospects

I know we’ve been list-heavy here of late, but rankings like these are all part of the larger organizational process of putting together 2012 follow-lists. Those lists will come with what I hope is more meaningful commentary. For now, I’m sticking with some quick thoughts while also opening it up in the comments/email if anybody has a specific question or comment about anything you see.

Next up will be a look at the Big East…

  1. North Carolina SO 3B Colin Moran
  2. North Carolina SO RHP Andrew Smith
  3. Virginia SO LHP Kyle Crockett
  4. Georgia Tech SO 1B/OF Daniel Palka
  5. Georgia Tech SO RHP Matthew Grimes
  6. Georgia Tech SO RHP Dusty Isaacs
  7. Virginia Tech SO 3B Chad Pinder
  8. Georgia Tech SO RHP DeAndre Smelter
  9. Miami SO OF Dale Carey
  10. North Carolina SO LHP Kent Emanuel
  11. Wake Forest rFR OF Kevin Jordan
  12. Miami SO LHP Bryan Radziewski
  13. North Carolina SO C Matt Roberts
  14. Clemson SO 2B/SS Steve Wilkerson
  15. Georgia Tech SO SS Mott Hyde
  16. Virginia SO RHP Artie Lewicki
  17. Wake Forest SO OF James Harris
  18. Georgia Tech SO C Zane Evans
  19. Duke SO 1B Chris Marconcini
  20. Virginia SO OF Mitchell Shifflett

First Impressions 

After the freshman season he had (.351/.462/.577 with 51 walks and 31 strikeouts), Moran just makes sense at the top. He may not have a slam dunk plus tool besides his bat, but his pure hit tool and approach to hitting are strong enough to compensate. Smith has the command of a late round soft-tosser, but the stuff of a high first round pick. If Palka proves athletic enough to handle the outfield, his huge raw power could make him a first round lock. Chad Pinder is a personal favorite with above-average big league regular upside. Losing Marconcini to a torn ACL is a big blow to Duke’s 2012 sleeper team chances. It’s also a bummer for scouts who had been hoping to scope out a potential single-digit round 2013 power bat. Georgia Tech will likely lose ace Buck Farmer to the draft this June, but their 2013 rotation still looks like one of the best in the country.

Opening Weekend 2012

There are already so many well-connected, smart people out there who cover college ball as well as it can conceivably be covered (seriously, just go here and read everything by Aaron Fitt) that I’m not sure how interesting my own insights as an outsider hanging out on the fringe can possibly be. I’m also not a huge fan of moving players’ draft stocks up or down based on three games worth of data, so breaking down the ins and outs of the weekend that was doesn’t hold a ton of value to me. The thought of totally ignoring college baseball’s opening weekend made me guilty, so here are a few stray observations that came to me while shaving last night:

(Quick scheduling note: the week ahead will be more rankings by conference as we get closer to putting together position-by-position follow lists and the first big board of 2012. Just a heads up for those who like to plan ahead.)

*** I don’t think Mark Appel finishes the year atop the majority of team’s draft boards. In fact, I don’t think Appel will be the first college pitcher selected in June. (Because a few emailed and asked: leader of the pack right for me is San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer, a legit dark horse candidate to go 1-1). To take it a step further, I’m actually starting to get a little bit of a Kris Benson vibe when it comes to the Stanford righthander. All that negativity after a pretty damn good start from Appel, too. What kind of comments will the peanut gallery (I’m including myself in said gallery, just to be clear) make if he actually pitches poorly this year?

*** One quick lesson from opening weekend: transitioning college relievers to the rotation is often easier said than done. In Marcus Stroman’s case, there’s no need to worry. He’s a pro reliever moonlighting as a Friday starter to help his college team. There’s also no need to worry across the board since overreacting to one start isn’t wise. However, for a pitcher right on the bubble between starting and relieving like Virginia RHP Branden Kline, Friday night’s start wasn’t one for the old pro resume.

*** I’m not ashamed to highlight the play of long-time favorite Central Florida JR OF Ronnie Richardson. Richardson only went 1 for 8 over the weekend, but still managed a .500 OBP thanks to 6 BB and 1 HBP. Outstanding defense, great speed, loads of arm strength, and a patient approach at the plate make him an intriguing big league backup outfield candidate down the line.

*** I love driving in the city. Switching lanes, avoiding pedestrians, and parallel parking, all while watching out for cops? I was born to do it. Florida SR 1B Preston Tucker, on the other hand, was born to hit. Three extra base hits on opening weekend for the 2012 priority senior sign highlight the point.

*** Tucker’s teammate JR RHP/1B Austin Maddox’s transformation from hitter to pitcher gets a little bit more assured with every passing appearance on the mound. I hate losing his plus raw power as a hitter, but shutdown appearances like Maddox’s four-inning save (three strikeouts) help cushion the blow. Maddox’s mid-90s heat and much improved 81-84 slider make him a potential late inning option worth watching. If nothing else, we’ll all be spared the “can he stick behind the plate?” debate that has driven me crazy over the past few years with Jesus Montero. (NOTE: Yes, I realize nobody else thinks Maddox should ever be tried behind the plate again, but if I was dead-set on drafting him and making him a hitter full-time, he’d be donning the tools of ignorance six days a week in Short-Season ball by mid-June. I’d rank my position preference for him as RHP/C/1B/3B as of now, if you’re wondering.)

*** Another Gator, JR C Mike Zunino couldn’t match Tucker’s power, but I’m sure he got the last laugh by doing the unexpected and swiping his first, and potentially only, base of the year. Who said the likely top-fifteen pick isn’t a five-tool player?

*** Fellow backstop Purdue JR C Kevin Plawecki also showed off his wheels this weekend by not only matching Zunino’s stolen base but doing him one better by legging out a triple. I’m looking forward to seeing how high Plawecki can get on the 2012 college catching rankings, so much so that I think I’ll rank the catchers first.

*** Arkansas JR 3B Matt Reynolds reached base 11 out of 13 times this weekend. That’s really, really good. I think I did that over the course of one week back in Little League, but the majority of my “hits” were misplays by the shortstop and bunt singles. Reynolds’ prospect stock is held back a bit by his lack of raw power, but he’s a line drive machine and a great athlete capable of playing multiple defensive spots really well. I’d hope/assume he gets the chance to settle in at third as a pro, but a team might prefer him at second or even behind the plate.

*** Texas Tech JR OF Barrett Barnes went 7 for 16 with two extra base hits and two stolen bases in four games over the weekend. It’s no getting on base 11 out of 13 times, but it is still really good. More importantly, Barnes showed off the power/speed mix that has scouts excited about his future. Something about guys who can swing the bat, run, and cover ground up the middle that gets baseball types interested. Imagine that.

Early 2012 MLB Draft Rankings: ACC Pitchers and Hitters

Our whirlwind tour of the ACC is just about over. Below are the conference’s top 50 pitching prospects for the 2012 MLB Draft. Below that is the list of the top 50 hitting prospects for the 2012 MLB Draft. I have notes on literally every guy on the list (and dozens more who didn’t make the cut), so feel free to scream at me in the comments or via email. If you do that, we can get into the “how’s” and “why’s” of this particular list’s genesis. That’s why making lists and rankings is hard work. Doing everything that goes into a ranking take so much time and effort that once the list is finalized and I’m proud of what I’ve done, the thought of writing out the rationale on top of everything seems like overkill. But the reader is stuck with only a list, which, if we’re being totally honest, doesn’t add a whole lot of value to the draft conversation. All the fun baseball stuff gets lost along the way. I suppose that’s just the long way of saying, yes, I’d love to add commentary now, but, hey, it’s opening day! Time to watch some real live college baseball for the first time in way too long. Until the games start, enjoy more lists!

Pitchers

  1. Duke JR RHP Marcus Stroman
  2. Georgia Tech JR RHP Buck Farmer
  3. North Carolina JR RHP Michael Morin
  4. Virginia JR RHP Branden Kline
  5. Clemson JR RHP Kevin Brady
  6. Clemson JR RHP Dominic Leone
  7. Clemson JR RHP Scott Firth
  8. Miami JR RHP EJ Encinosa
  9. Georgia Tech JR RHP Luke Bard
  10. North Carolina JR LHP RC Orlan
  11. Miami JR RHP Eric Whaley
  12. Virginia Tech JR RHP Patrick Scoggin
  13. Wake Forest JR LHP Tim Cooney
  14. Miami JR LHP Steven Ewing
  15. Virginia SR LHP Scott Silverstein
  16. North Carolina JR RHP Chris Munnelly
  17. North Carolina JR RHP Cody Penny
  18. Miami JR RHP Eric Nedeljkovic
  19. Florida State SR RHP Hunter Scantling
  20. Wake Forest rJR RHP Daniel Marrs
  21. Clemson rJR LHP Joseph Moorefield
  22. Miami SR LHP Eric Erickson
  23. Clemson rSO RHP Mike Kent
  24. Virginia Tech JR RHP Joe Mantiply
  25. Virginia JR RHP Whit Mayberry
  26. Maryland SR RHP Sander Beck
  27. Maryland SR RHP Brett Harman
  28. Wake Forest SR RHP Michael Dimock
  29. Virginia JR RHP Joel Effertz
  30. Duke SR RHP David Putnam
  31. North Carolina SR RHP Jimmy Messer
  32. NC State JR RHP Chris Overman
  33. Duke JR RHP Chase Bebout
  34. Wake Forest JR LHP Brian Holmes
  35. NC State JR RHP Ethan Ogburn
  36. Virginia SR RHP Justin Thompson
  37. NC State JR RHP Danny Healey
  38. Virginia Tech rSR RHP Marc Zecchino
  39. Wake Forest JR RHP Justin Van Grouw
  40. Virginia Tech JR RHP Clark Labitan
  41. NC State rSR RHP Gary Gillheeney
  42. Florida State SR RHP Adam Simmons
  43. Florida State JR RHP Robert Benincasa
  44. Wake Forest JR LHP Niko Spezial
  45. NC State JR RHP Ryan Wilkins
  46. Boston College rSO RHP Matt Alvarez
  47. Wake Forest SR RHP Gabe Feldman
  48. Clemson JR RHP Jonathan Meyer
  49. Florida State SR LHP Brian Busch
  50. Virginia Tech JR RHP Jake Joyce

Hitters

  1. Clemson JR 1B Richie Shaffer
  2. Florida State JR 1B Jayce Boyd
  3. Florida State JR 2B Devon Travis
  4. Virginia JR SS Stephen Bruno
  5. Miami JR SS Stephen Perez
  6. Georgia Tech SO OF Kyle Wren
  7. Georgia Tech JR OF Brandon Thomas
  8. North Carolina JR 1B/OF Cody Stubbs
  9. North Carolina JR 2B/SS Tommy Coyle
  10. Florida State JR SS Justin Gonzalez
  11. Miami SR C Peter O’Brien
  12. North Carolina SR C Jacob Stallings
  13. Virginia JR SS Chris Taylor
  14. Florida State SR OF James Ramsey
  15. Wake Forest JR OF/RHP Mac Williamson
  16. North Carolina JR OF Chaz Frank
  17. Virginia JR SS/OF Reed Gragnani
  18. Georgia Tech SR 1B/LHP Jake Davies
  19. Virginia Tech rJR 1B/OF Andrew Rash
  20. Wake Forest JR 1B/LHP Matt Conway
  21. Virginia Tech rSO OF Tyler Horan
  22. Duke JR C Jeff Kremer
  23. Virginia Tech rSO C Chad Morgan
  24. Miami SR OF Rony Rodriguez
  25. NC State JR OF Tarran Senay
  26. NC State JR 3B/C Danny Canela
  27. Miami JR OF Chantz Mack
  28. Clemson JR C Spencer Kieboom
  29. Clemson SR OF Brad Felder
  30. NC State SR OF Brett Williams
  31. Georgia Tech SR 2B Conner Winn
  32. Georgia Tech SR OF Jarrett Didrick
  33. Wake Forest JR C Brett Armour
  34. Wake Forest JR SS Pat Blair
  35. NC State rSR OF Ryan Mathews
  36. Clemson SR C Phil Pohl
  37. Virginia SR 1B Jared King
  38. Miami JR 1B Cade Kreuter
  39. Virginia SR 2B Keith Werman
  40. Clemson JR OF Thomas Brittle
  41. Georgia Tech JR 2B Sam Dove
  42. NC State JR SS Matt Bergquist
  43. NC State JR SS Chris Diaz
  44. Maryland SR 3B Tomo Delp
  45. Miami JR 2B/3B Michael Broad
  46. Florid State SR 3B Sherman Johnson
  47. Wake Forest SR 3B/OF Carlos Lopez
  48. Duke SR OF Will Piwnica-Worms
  49. Wake Forest JR 2B Mark Rhine
  50. Clemson SR 3B/SS Jason Stolz

2012 MLB Draft: Who Will Be Drafted? ACC Edition

If you play baseball in the ACC and I think you are likely to get drafted, then congratulations (!!!) because today you’ve made some random internet baseball hack’s 2012 MLB Draft Draftable Talent List! Last year the ACC had 58 players drafted and, as the link points out, the conference has had over 50 players (excuse me, student-athletes) selected in six straight years. Before putting together my list, I mentally put the over/under number at 55.5 ACC players being drafted in 2012. Wouldn’t you know I came up just barely over the over with 56 names? (EDIT: 57 names. Forgot Kyle Wren was eligible as a sophomore. Game changer.) That’s some great fictional odds-making hustle right there. This list isn’t my favorite because I was stuck in between wanting to do two different things. The names are supposed to represent who I think will be drafted this June (so the focus should be on what the experts/insiders/industry types think), but there’s also plenty of my typical off the wall brand of personal preferences scattered throughout. To take a random example right off the top: Michael Morin is third on the pitching list because I personally love him, but the odds of real life baseball executives “agreeing” with me and picking him over guys like Branden Kline and Kevin Brady are not so good. Because I split the difference between the two list-making ideologies, I’ll plainly admit this list isn’t quite what it could be. But, worst case scenario, if all we’re left with is a list of really good prospects to watch in the ACC, then that’s worth something, right?

Pitchers

Duke JR RHP Marcus Stroman

Georgia Tech JR RHP Buck Farmer

North Carolina JR RHP Michael Morin

Virginia JR RHP Branden Kline

Clemson JR RHP Kevin Brady

Clemson JR RHP Dominic Leone

Clemson JR RHP Scott Firth

Miami JR RHP EJ Encinosa

Georgia Tech JR RHP Luke Bard

North Carolina JR LHP RC Orlan

Miami JR RHP Eric Whaley

Virginia Tech JR RHP Patrick Scoggin

Wake Forest JR LHP Tim Cooney

Miami JR LHP Steven Ewing

Virginia SR LHP Scott Silverstein

North Carolina JR RHP Chris Munnelly

North Carolina JR RHP Cody Penny

Miami JR RHP Eric Nedeljkovic

Florida State SR RHP Hunter Scantling

Wake Forest rJR RHP Daniel Marrs

Clemson rJR LHP Joseph Moorefield

Miami SR LHP Eric Erickson

Clemson rSO RHP Mike Kent

Virginia Tech JR RHP Joe Mantiply

Virginia JR RHP Whit Mayberry

Maryland SR RHP Sander Beck

Maryland SR RHP Brett Harman

Catchers

Miami SR C Peter O’Brien

North Carolina SR C Jacob Stallings

Duke JR C Jeff Kremer

Virginia Tech rSO C Chad Morgan

Clemson JR C Spencer Kieboom

First Basemen

Clemson JR 1B Richie Shaffer

Florida State JR 1B Jayce Boyd

North Carolina JR 1B/OF Cody Stubbs

Georgia Tech SR 1B/LHP Jake Davies

Virginia Tech rJR 1B/OF Andrew Rash

Wake Forest JR 1B/LHP Matt Conway

Second Basemen

Florida State JR 2B Devon Travis

North Carolina JR 2B/SS Tommy Coyle

Shortstops

Virginia JR SS Stephen Bruno

Miami JR SS Stephen Perez

Florida State JR SS Justin Gonzalez

Virginia JR SS Chris Taylor

Virginia JR SS/OF Reed Gragnani

Third Basemen

NC State JR 3B/C Danny Canela

Outfielders

Georgia Tech SO OF Kyle Wren

Georgia Tech JR OF Brandon Thomas

Florida State SR OF James Ramsey

Wake Forest JR OF/RHP Mac Williamson

North Carolina JR OF Chaz Frank

Virginia Tech rSO OF Tyler Horan

Miami SR OF Rony Rodriguez

NC State JR OF Tarran Senay

Miami JR OF Chantz Mack

Clemson SR OF Brad Felder

NC State SR OF Brett Williams

For anybody who scrolled down this far, a special treat: 64 more names worthy of consideration for this upcoming draft. These guys are on the bubble for a variety of reasons, but still worth keeping in mind. It is a fun mix of tools-oriented players waiting on a breakout, steady college guys who offer minimal pro projection yet keep producing, and one-time prospects coming off of injury. Here we go…

Pitchers

Wake Forest SR RHP Michael Dimock

Virginia JR RHP Joel Effertz

Duke SR RHP David Putnam

North Carolina SR RHP Jimmy Messer

NC State JR RHP Chris Overman

Duke JR RHP Chase Bebout

Wake Forest JR LHP Brian Holmes

NC State JR RHP Ethan Ogburn

Virginia SR RHP Justin Thompson

NC State JR RHP Danny Healey

Virginia Tech rSR RHP Marc Zecchino

Wake Forest JR RHP Justin Van Grouw

Virginia Tech JR RHP Clark Labitan

NC State rSR RHP Gary Gillheeney

Florida State SR RHP Adam Simmons

Florida State JR RHP Robert Benincasa

Wake Forest JR LHP Niko Spezial

NC State JR RHP Ryan Wilkins

Boston College rSO RHP Matt Alvarez

Wake Forest SR RHP Gabe Feldman

Clemson JR RHP Jonathan Meyer

Florida State SR LHP Brian Busch

Virginia Tech JR RHP Jake Joyce

Clemson SR RHP David Haselden

Maryland SR RHP Michael Boyden

Wake Forest SR LHP Zach White

Florida State JR RHP Scott Sitz

Boston College SR RHP Kyle Prohovich

Catchers

Wake Forest JR C Brett Armour

Clemson SR C Phil Pohl

Miami JR C Alex San Juan

Florida State rSO C Stephen McGee

Virginia JR C Chace Mitchell

First Basemen

Virginia SR 1B Jared King

Miami JR 1B Cade Kreuter

Virginia Tech SR 1B/RHP Ronnie Shaban

Second Basemen

Georgia Tech SR 2B Conner Winn

Virginia SR 2B Keith Werman

Georgia Tech JR 2B Sam Dove

Wake Forest JR 2B Mark Rhine

Clemson SR 3B/SS Jason Stolz

Maryland SR SS/2B Ryan Holland

Shortstops

Wake Forest JR SS Pat Blair

NC State JR SS Matt Bergquist

NC State JR SS Chris Diaz

Maryland SR SS Alfredo Rodriguez

Third Baseman

Maryland SR 3B Tomo Delp

Miami JR 3B/2B Michael Broad

Florid State SR 3B Sherman Johnson

Wake Forest SR 3B/OF Carlos Lopez

Boston College SR 3B Anthony Melchionda

NC State SR 3B/2B Andrew Ciencin

Outfielders

Georgia Tech SR OF Jarrett Didrick

NC State rSR OF Ryan Mathews

Clemson JR OF Thomas Brittle

Duke SR OF Will Piwnica-Worms

NC State SR OF John Gianis

Virginia JR OF/INF Colin Harrington

Virginia Tech SR OF/LHP Jake Atwell

Boston College JR OF Matt McGovern

Florida State JR OF Seth Miller

Boston College SR OF Andrew Lawrence

Maryland JR OF Jordan Hagel

Maryland SR OF/LHP Korey Wacker

2012 MLB Draft All-ACC Prospect Team

The best prospect at each position is featured in our “starting lineup.” The “starting rotation” is made up of pitchers who are all lumped together in one bit lefty/righty/starter/reliever mess. For the “bench,” we tried to follow the guideline of at least one backup catcher, a backup middle infielder (or two), a backup corner infielder (or two), and at least one reserve outfielder (though typically two). Remaining spots went to the best available pitching prospects who are no doubt thrilled to be a part of our “bullpen.” Add it all up and we should have a 25-man roster of interesting 2012 MLB Draft Prospects from the ACC.

More ACC coverage to come on Thursday or Friday, grad school assignments pending…

Everyday Eight

Miami SR C Peter O’Brien

I’m not the world’s biggest O’Brien fan, but his righthanded power (would love to know his splits to see if a future as a lefty mashing platoon and/or bench option could be in the cards) and plus arm give him two big advantages over the rest of the catchers in the conference.

Clemson JR 1B Richie Shaffer

I’ve waffled back and forth on top ACC first base prospect, but am finally settling on a player not even projected to play first this spring. Long-term, however, I’m pretty confident that first base will be Shaffer’s pro home. Then again, from the “take it for what it’s worth” files, one of my sharper buddies who saw Shaffer in fall ball this year deemed him athletic enough to stick at third base, at least through his first few pro seasons. If nothing else, we know he has the arm (94 peak FB on the mound) for it. His plus raw power and whole-fields approach give him the narrow edge over the underrated Jayce Boyd.

Florida State JR 2B Devon Travis

Travis does everything well. Great athlete, excellent defensive instincts, plus speed, strong arm, and a pro-ready leadoff approach to hitting. I think his upside is that of a viable big league starter at second. The biggest concern I have comes down to what worries me about any second base prospect: in the event his bat isn’t strong enough to handle regular at bats, can he add value at any other position on the diamond? Florida State’s infield is excellent, so there hasn’t been the need to try Travis at anywhere besides second. If he can hold down the fort on the left side of the infield, his overall stock is upgraded due to the boost in his projected floor (utility infielder).

Virginia JR SS Stephen Bruno

Search the archives if you don’t believe me, but I’ve been stubbornly in Bruno’s corner for years. He hasn’t done it at the college level yet due in large part to having to pay his dues while waiting for certain members of Virginia’s talented lineup to turn pro, and Chris Taylor’s current hold on the shortstop job will almost currently keep him from ever playing significant time at the position I project him to play at the next level, but Bruno’s tools are louder than most college middle infielders. He could be the rare example of a player who shows more as a pro than he ever showed in college.

NC State JR 3B Danny Canela

Canela is the best of the conference’s weakest 2012 draft position. 2013 is a different story with Colin Moran (North Carolina), Chase Butler (Georgia Tech), Tyler Palmer (Miami), and Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) all positioned to be early round picks. Canela’s strong arm allows him to play a little deeper than others at the hot corner, enabling him to increase his so-so range. To his credit, he makes all the plays on balls hit to him. Offensively, he’s got good strength, solid bat speed, and a decent amount of patience. A creative team might try to maximize his value by trying him as a 3B/1B/C hybrid professionally.

Georgia Tech JR OF Brandon Thomas

Florida State SR OF James Ramsey

Wake Forest JR OF Mac Williamson

(EDIT: Georgia Tech SO OF Kyle Wren is an age-eligible sophomore. He was one of my favorite 2013’s, but now vaults to the top of this year’s ACC outfield class. Kid knows how to hit, has that classic patient leadoff hitter approach, and can run down almost anything in center. Definitely my kind of player.)

Not exactly a banner year for ACC outfielders, but Thomas, Ramsey, and Williamson all do enough well to warrant early round draft consideration in 2012. Thomas, the most heralded outfielder in the conference by a long shot, comes by his high praise honestly. I’ve been told his tools have been consistently overrated by the national media (it is admittedly a minority view, but he’s been described to me as a “tweener” outfielder, i.e. not enough power for a corner, not enough speed for center), so I look forward to seeing him for myself this spring. Even as a tweener, he’s still worth mentioning as a great athlete who put up pretty darn impressive numbers last year as a sophomore. Ramsey’s best tool is easily his bat, though I’m not sure there is enough to it if he’s locked into left field always and forever. This is sort of the Devon Travis dilemma all over again: interesting prospect at one position only who is risky because of the unlikelihood of being able to transition to a utility role. Rumors of improved range (better jumps and increased mobility, most notably) and his forthcoming trial in center field for the Seminoles give some hope that he shows enough this spring to get pro teams believing he can at least hold down the fort at center and right. Williamson is another player who I’ve spent a disproportionate (compared to his prospect stock) amount of time writing about over the years. His tools, most notably the arm and power, continue to shine, and his improved approach in 2011, though not yet quite where you’d like to see in terms of BB/K numbers, is encouraging. Rumors of him being tried behind the plate at Wake Forest seem to be officially dead and buried, but I wonder if a pro team might see things differently.

Starting Rotation

Duke JR RHP Marcus Stroman

Georgia Tech JR RHP Buck Farmer

North Carolina JR RHP Michael Morin

Virginia JR RHP Branden Kline

Clemson JR RHP Kevin Brady

Stroman has a big time arm. His mid-90s heat and plus low-80s slider give him enough to thrive in the back of a bullpen, but Duke’s inclination to try him as a starter means we’re all in for an interesting spring. If he can throw either the changeup or cutter for consistent strikes while maintaining his velocity late into games (even if it is 92-94 rather than 95-97), then we could be opening ourselves up to a whole lot of “short righthander!” backlash. I’m in “wait and see” mode with Stroman the Starter, but, as a reliever, he’s a borderline first round talent. Not for nothing, but I’m decidedly in the indifferent towards height camp, as well as the more or less apathetic about arm action and ugly mechanics club. Height helps, sure. I’ll take a pretty delivery over an ugly one, no doubt. But 100+ years of pro ball has shown that pitchers of all shapes and sizes can succeed, and, as for mechanics, so long as the pitcher can repeat whatever they are doing with consistency, I’m happy enough.

If Farmer’s command is right, he could be in store for a huge spring. At his best, he throws four pitches for strikes, three of them (FB, SL, CU) with plus big league upside. Morin is a personal favorite because of his excellent changeup, my preference for the most important pitch in baseball. I’d like to see him tried as a starter professionally, but when he’s allowed to crank it as in short bursts he reminds me a little bit of long-time Phillies reliever and current Reds closer Ryan Madson. Kline’s currently on the bubble when it comes to how pro teams seem him at the next level. He’s currently a very good relief prospect with the potential to be a very good starting pitching prospect. His fastball is solid and his inconsistent but occasionally great low-80s slider intrigues, but (get ready to hear this a lot in the coming months) his chance to start will depend on the continued progression of his changeup as a reliable third pitch. I’m still not sure how Kevin Brady fell to the 17th round in 2011, but Cleveland’s loss is Clemson’s gain. His fastball (up to 96 this past fall, sitting low-90s) has always been a little too straight for my liking, but arm strength that doesn’t come around as often as many teams would prefer. Brady’s secondaries have never wowed me, though bonus points should be given for the fact he has thrown at least three different non-fastball pitches for strikes at varying points in his development. If he can harness one, he’s a rock solid relief prospect. Harness two, and now we’re talking potential mid-rotation starter.

The Bench

North Carolina SR C Jacob Stallings 

Florida State JR 1B Jayce Boyd 

North Carolina JR 1B/OF Cody Stubbs

I would have been comfortable recommending Stallings as early as round 5 last year, so, yeah, you could definitely say I’m an admirer of his game. He has enough strength and patience to contribute at the plate, and his defense is already pro-quality. He could be 2012’s Curt Casali. Duke JR C Jeff Kremer, Virginia Tech rSO Chad Moran, and Clemson JR Spencer Kieboom round out the catching top five.

Picking Shaffer over Boyd was really tough for me, considering my long-standing affection of Boyd’s plus defense and strong plate discipline. He’s one of 2012’s best natural hitters, but his lack of current power has some worried. A little more meat on his bones could result in some of his drives to the gaps sneaking up and over fences. Georgia Tech SR Jake Davies, Virginia Tech rJR Andrew Rash, and Wake Forest 1B Matt Conway also received consideration here.

I’m excited to see what Stubbs does in a full year of ACC ball. His easy power and reputation as a patient hitter remind me a little bit of old favorite Taylor Ard of Washington State. He likely won’t see much time, if any, playing the outfield for the Tar Heels, but he’ll get a boost if scouts believe he can play anywhere else but first.

North Carolina JR 2B/SS Tommy Coyle 

Miami JR SS Stephen Perez

Coyle is right behind Travis for me, and I could see why someone might rate him as the better prospect based on the fact that Coyle’s defense at short is steady enough to be entrusted with everyday duty this spring for Carolina. He offers the similar upside (starting big league second baseman) with perhaps a higher floor (better track record playing other defensive spots besides second). A cleaned up approach could have Perez in line for a huge draft year. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, speaking strictly on his tools, he is far closer to consensus top college shortstop Deven Marrero than many of the experts believe. His defensive tools are more than adequate to stay at shortstop, but inconsistency making routine plays has hurt him to this point. If he does some on-field growing up, he could sneak his way into the supplemental first.

It was hard leaving solid prospects like Florida State JR SS Justin Gonzalez (really growing on me), Virginia JR SS Chris Taylor (so damn steady across the board), and Georgia Tech SR 2B Conner Winn (anxious to actually see him get on the field) off the list. It was doubly hard not finding a spot for personal favorite Virginia JR Reed Gragnani.

North Carolina JR OF Chaz Frank

We’re going with only one true backup outfielder in Frank so that we could sneak Stubbs’ power bat on to the roster as a 1B/OF swing guy. Frank’s well-rounded offensive game (well, minus the whole power thing) gave him the nod over outfielders with better power reptuations (Virginia Tech’s Tyler Horan, Miami’s Rony Rodriguez, and NC State’s Tarran Senay) who can’t quite match Frank’s defense, speed, and approach to hitting. As nice a prospect as he is, Frank’s inclusion says more about this year’s group of ACC outfielders than it does anything else.

The Bullpen

Clemson JR RHP Dominic Leone 

Clemson JR RHP Scott Firth 

Leone and Firth both throw fastballs that hitters have a hard time squaring up on. They also both throw plus or near-plus changeups. They also both throw solid curveballs. Firth’s hard slider that flashes plus gives a slight advantage, but Leone’s superior performance in 2011 makes him the safer bet going forward.

Miami JR RHP EJ Encinosa 

Encinosa is an example of a guy who just fits his role in the bullpen perfectly. As a starter his stuff is decidedly average, but everything plays up big time for him once he starts letting it go in short bursts. His fastball, both in terms of speed and movement, looks like it is coming from a completely different player. With Marcus Stroman starting, Encinosa could claim the title as best ACC reliever in 2012.

Georgia Tech JR RHP Luke Bard 

With the 387th pick (12th round) in this year’s draft, the Boston Red Sox select Bard, Luke from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

North Carolina JR LHP RC Orlan 

Miami JR RHP Eric Whaley 

Orlan is just me going with my gut. I like his good enough four-seamer, above-average upper-80s cutter, and the two different breaking balls he spins with some consistency. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in tenacity. Eric Whaley is a bit under the radar to those not big on the college game, but his splitter is one of the better pitches of its kind in the amateur ranks. I know I shouldn’t love the splitter like I do, but a childhood of following one — and only one — good Phillie (Curt Schilling) has made me a lifelong fan of the pitch. Whaley has that splitter, a good sinking fastball, a strong track record of success, and a “now” pro body all going for him.

ACC APB

With college baseball just days away, I’m finally hitting the home stretch of my own 2012 MLB Draft preparations. Before content here begins to pick up in a big way, I thought I’d try something on the site that I’ve never thought to try before. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a borderline obsessive completist; if it’s not 100% perfect, to my liking, and complete, it isn’t going to be shared with the world. To that end, I was wondering if anybody out there has any information about the whereabouts of the following players:

  • Virginia JR RHP Ryan Briggs
  • North Carolina SO OF Jeff Bouton
  • North Carolina FR SS Zac LaNeve
  • North Carolina State JR RHP Dane Williams – [heard injuries forced him to give up the game, but haven't been able to confirm]
  • North Carolina State rJR OF Cameron Conner
  • Miami FR OF Jake Lane
  • Maryland SO RHP Austin Kilbourne (thanks to an intrepid commenter, we know Kilbourne has transferred to Shelton State CC in Alabama)
  • Maryland FR LHP Shane Campbell

I hate going through my notes and seeing useful information about legitimate prospects, and then checking and not seeing their names on the roster they used to be on. Drives me bananas. It would be great if I could just delete them and forget they ever existed, but, as mentioned, I’m a crazy person who can’t do that.

ACC Draft Preview should be up early Wednesday morning. I have no idea what the preview will actually consist of, but it’ll be good. Maybe an All-ACC 2012 Draft Team, complete list of potentially draftable players, ’13 and ’14 Futures List, and then a straight top 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 top 2012 Draft prospects list. Does that work? If you’ve got an idea/request/complaint, let me know in the comments/via email…

Early 2012 MLB Draft Thoughts – Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Wake Forest has been an intriguing team to watch for draft fans high on upside due in large part to two names. rJR OF Mac Williamson, a favorite of scouts for years, has long tantalized those who have seen him play with his five (four if you don’t like his hit tool as much as I do) potentially average or better tools. His numbers as a redshirt sophomore (.293/.389/.532 – 27 BB/55 K – 205 AB) give some hope that the improvements shown in approach can help him demonstrate his above-average raw power more easily during game action. Below is some of the older stuff written about Williamson from this very site:

I can’t wait to see if Wake Forest OF Mac Williamson (Round 46) can put it all together in his redshirt junior season. He’s a legit five-tool prospect who has made great strides in his approach to hitting since arriving at Wake Forest. From a pure tools standpoint, I’m not sure there are five better outfielders in all of college baseball. The biggest strike against him for me is the fact he’ll almost be 22 years old by the time next June’s draft rolls around.

Williamson, a potential catching conversion candidate at the pro level, has serious power upside and a plus arm, but his swing at everything approach could prevent him from ever getting the chance to put his crazy raw tools to use. He could very well be viewed as a potential late inning relief prospect because of the reported mid-90s heat to go along with a solid sinker/slider mix.

Fellow redshirt junior RHP Daniel Marrs hasn’t received as much love as Williamson, but that’s because scouts haven’t had the same chance to see him play. From an upside standpoint, however, the hard throwing righthander is right up there with the Demons star outfielder. If the reports of his improved arm strength are true, we might be seeing mid-90s fastballs like he once showed as a prep star. Due to his checkered medical history, I’m not sure what else he currently throws — I know he’s shown a splitter and a slider in addition to his four-seamer and two-seamer in the past — but I do know that his progress will be closely tied to his recovery from his labrum surgery and the subsequent adjustments to his mechanics and repertoire. I wrote about Marrs pretty extensively last year, and much of what I said then holds true today. It bears mentioning that reports about his health are more positive in the here and now compared to last year at a similar juncture:

Three bullet points and no mention of one of my favorite 2011 draft “sleepers,” SO RHP Daniel Marrs. Before injuring his labrum, Marrs was a prospect on the same level of current Phillies minor leaguer (ed. note: now Houston farmhand) Jarred Cosart. His pre-injury power stuff (most notably a 92-94 FB peaking at 97 and a good splitter that worked as CU) could tempt a team into drafting him well before his present stuff (sinking upper-80s FB, rapidly improving cutter) would typically merit. Whether or not he ever recaptures that pre-surgery stuff remains to be seen, but Marrs is good enough to continue to expand his repertoire — the new cutter was a great fall ball surprise, I’m told — if that what it takes to succeed.  

JR LHP Tim Cooney is a strong Friday night starting pitcher with solid stuff (upper-80s fastball, 91 peak; good curve) that plays up due to good command. He also has size (6’3″, 200), handedness (left), and a track record of success in the ACC (8.85 K/9 in 98.2 IP) on his side. Cooney is the early favorite to be the first Wake Forest player off the board this June, though the two upside plays mentioned above (Williamson and Marrs, for those with short-term memory loss and/or too lazy to scroll up) could overtake him with big/healthy springs.

I like JR 1B Matt Conway more than most because of his underrated raw power, keen eye at the plate, and menacing 6’7″, 250+ pound physique. The high expectations with the bat placed on first basemen severely limit his ceiling, but he’s a fun one to track all the same. JR 2B Mark Rhine and JR C Brett Armour didn’t quite live up to sophomore expectations as their classmate Conway, but both are prospects worth knowing. Rhine has a nice swing, decent speed, and strong defensive tools. Armour brings all of those things to the table as well (dude runs well, and not just for a catcher – we’re talking good athlete speed here), but gets bonus points on the overall value side because of his capacity for catching. Armour’s footwork behind the plate combined with his ability to quickly identify the best course of action (get down, shift weight, backhand, etc.) when blocking balls in the dirt could help make him one of college baseball’s better defensive catchers in 2012. Also in the prospect mix is SR 3B Carlos Lopez. The ninth-year senior (could be just me, but it feels like he’s been around forever) is a consistent hitter who has above-average raw power. I don’t think his bat is quite good enough to overcome his other less than thrilling tools, but he’s a darn productive college player any way you look at him.

Wake has a slew of arms that could warrant consideration on draft day(s). The trio of seniors — RHPs Michael Dimock and Gabe Feldman, along with LHP Zach White — all have shown enough at one point or another to at least get in the prospect discussion. There isn’t a single plus velocity fastball in the bunch, but Dimock’s slider and Feldman’s cutter and curve are all weapons when utilized properly. Of the three, Dimock has the best chance of being a late round senior sign.

Other arms to consider include JR RHP Justin Van Grouw and JR LHP Niko Spezial. Much like the situation the three pitchers listed above found themselves in last year, neither Van Grouw or Spezial is a slam dunk to be drafted in 2012. Both guys, however, have a chance. Van Grouw has one of the better (the best?) fastball/slider combos on the staff, and Spezial has above-average heat from the left side. I’d tentatively rank the five like this (in order, but with the caveat that said order is subject to change on a whim): Dimock – Van Grouw – Spezial – Feldman – White.

I won’t lie and pretend to know too much about JR SS Pat Blair or JR LHP Brian Holmes, but their park/schedule adjusted stats are pretty to look at. Blair (.275/.453/.410 – 55 BB/39 K – 178 AB) and Holmes (9.13 K/9 in 69 IP) will both be followed by me this spring for their impressive sophomore numbers alone. More homework is necessary before a more informed opinion can be shared.

For those already bored with the 2012 Draft, the two most interesting names to know for 2013 at this point are both outfielders: SO OF James Harris and rFR OF Kevin Jordan. Harris has all the tools you’d find in a right field prospect including huge raw power, a strong arm, and enough speed and instincts to easily handle the defensive responsibilities the position requires. Kevin Jordan, by all accounts healthy after receiving a kidney from Wake coach Tom Walter exactly one year and one day ago today, is primed for a big first season of college ball. His speed and athleticism should make him a defensive asset in center field. That defense should serve him well while he shakes the rust off his bat. I remember not being quite as in love with Jordan as a prospect out of high school (121st ranked prep prospect in 2010) as other outlets because of concerns about whether or not he’d ever hit enough to be a regular big league player, but his upside is undeniably intriguing.

Stray Junior College Draft Thoughts

Is it possible that three different junior colleges have 2012 MLB Draft eligible 3B/SS left side of the infield combinations better than all but the best and the brightest four-year universities? I don’t have an answer for that because I’m not quite ready to unleash the fury of the first round of 2012 position-by-position rankings (soon, though), but it is a fun thought to ponder on our first day without football this winter. A quick glance at just the schools included in Baseball America’s preseason top 25 would put Stanford, Arkansas, and maybe Arizona and LSU in the mix (and Arizona State if you are willing to consider SS Deven Marrero an entire left side of the infield unto himself), but, again, these are important details that we can sort out another day. For now, let’s just stick to these junior college guys, shall we?

Louisburg (NC) has arguably the biggest name in junior college baseball this year in SS/3B Steve Nyisztor. I loved Nyisztor as a prep prospect, going so far as to throw a poor man’s (and almost certainly ill-advised) Scott Rolen comp on him based largely on body type, swing plane, athleticism, and, yes, defensive upside at the hot corner. Joining him on Louisburg’s left side is 3B Zach Houchins, a steady performer who showed off a little defensive versatility last year when pressed into duty at shortstop. A little versatility would go a long way for Houchins, as I’m not sure there is quite enough bat to carry him as a primary third baseman. Nice looking player all the same.

Two fun facts about Nyisztor, whose name I still can’t spell without looking up: 1) When you search his last name, Google offers to translate the results into Hungarian for you, and 2) WordPress would like to change the obviously misspelled “Nyisztor” to either Nyetwork, Cronyism, Nestorius, or, what is probably most appealing for the young prospect, Historic. One not so fun fact about Nyisztor: according to BA’s esteemed draft tag team Nathan Rode/Conor Glassey on the Twitter, Nyisztor was an unexplained no-show to his first game of the season this past weekend. Insightful analysis alert! Nyisztor’s absence could be easily explained and thus amount to nothing worth getting worked up about, or it could be the start of something unfortunate regarding his playing status this spring. Or maybe it is something in between. We’ll ease up on the speculating until more information is available.

If Nyisztor isn’t junior college ball’s biggest “star,” then Central Arizona 3B Fernando Perez is. Perez has everything he’ll need — above-average arm, good athleticism, quick reaction time, and average foot speed — to be a good defender at third in time. His quick wrists and power projection make him an interesting all-around prospect. To his left stands one of the most gifted defenders in the nation, junior college or otherwise, SS Jorge Flores. Flores is an exceptional defender up the middle, and despite possessing only a tiny bit of gap power in his 5’6″ frame, he finds ways to chip in offensively by making consistent contact, running the bases well, and working deep counts.

Howard (TX) has a pair of potential early round picks in 3B/RHP Kyle Hayes and SS Paul Hendrix. That’s a little bit of a cheat because Hayes’s pro future is on the mound, but, hey, my site my rules. Hayes has the three-pitch mix that could elevate him up boards past guys doomed to long and boring lives in the bullpen (note: lives in the bullpen are often neither actually long nor boring) as a legitimate real life living breathing starting pitching prospect. Hendrix is a similar style of hitter as Flores (contact and on-base over power), though with room to produce a little bit more pop. His defense also isn’t quite on Flores’s level, but, as mentioned, that’s setting a pretty high bar.

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