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.