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Ranking Methodology and Pitching World View

Making a list like this isn’t easy. Well, that’s a lie: it can be very easy if hastily thrown together without much more than a shallow dive into a nationwide prospect pool. I know I’m just another internet hack making lists that don’t matter so I won’t try to pretend that I’m above anybody else doing the same, but I would like to stress that I don’t take my published rankings lightly. While it’s true that nobody who will ever make a decision on draft weekend takes these rankings into consideration, it’s also true that there are fans, parents, and coaches who have deep personal investments into the hard work of the talented amateurs trying to make their mark on the great game of baseball who very much care about what is being written about their future franchise saviors (no pressure, everybody!), sons, and players. I don’t write it if I can’t back it up. This isn’t meant to be a justification of the ranking itself, but instead a quick look behind the curtain as to how I try to make sense of slotting so many talented guys into one cohesive ranking.

Off the top, I’ll make the obvious admission that I have not personally seen every name on every ranking. Even if I had, as a baseball fan first and a wannabe scout last, it wouldn’t do nearly as much good as I would like. I do take my own firsthand observations into account, but I rely much more heavily on collecting as much publicly issued data as possible (love you, Twitter) and making good use of my modest connections made back in my formative years hanging on the periphery of the game. That last point is critical: I’ve grown to have no problem bugging an area guy who has seen two pitchers multiple times into telling me which arm he prefers going forward. Whenever you see two otherwise similar prospects from a reasonably close geographical area, you can assume that I differentiated between the two using that approach.

My original sorting system (before pressing contacts for info) goes a long way in how the final version of a ranking looks. I don’t try to do too much, basically. Sort by velocity to start. John Manuel of Baseball America mentioned in yesterday’s chat that they are doing research about the very topic of fastball velocity and first round selections; he said that 93 MPH was a possible threshold (the study is not yet completed) for first round consideration in recent years. A guy throwing 90 with projection is nothing to sneeze at, of course, and there are easy arguments to make why he should be ahead of harder throwers, but as a general rule of thumb, I do like to see early round arms capable of hitting 92+. Mitch Hart at 25 is the highest exception for me this year (have him listed at 87-91, topping 92), but many of the usual suspects (projection, command, deception, secondary stuff) help give him a boost.

The Hart example leads me to the next thing I want to see in a young arm: feel for a changeup. Hart’s happens to flash plus, but I’m happy with a teenager who can at least show a usable change. Any more than that is gravy. I love changeups. Hitting = pattern deduction + timing + coordination + violence. A good change can mess with those first two things as much as any offspeed offering. Replicating fastball spin out of the hand is critical, as is maintaining a consistent arm action. Changeups can also keep you healthy. There are certainly some underdeveloped changeups near the top of these rankings, so don’t take the changeup love as gospel but rather as a tie-breaker when things are close. I won’t kill a young guy for not showing a changeup because that automatically assumes he either doesn’t throw one at all (very rare) or can’t be taught one professionally. I will use a plus changeup — Keaton McKinney’s comes to mind — to pump a guy up the board.

I’ll then look at the overall body of work, focusing mainly on the entirety of the pitcher’s arsenal. How many different pitches can you throw for strikes? How many project to be average or better professionally? Is there a pitch you can consistently count on with two strikes? The ability to repeat one’s delivery, overall athleticism, level of deception, mound demeanor, body type, and mileage are all also taken into account. Nothing revolutionary here, but all of these basics must be addressed.

The most difficult thing to assess in HS arms for me is fastball command. It seems like it should be easy, but it isn’t. Much like the challenges evaluators face when assessing a hitter’s plate discipline, the talent gap between these top talents and the rest of the high school field shove certain aspects of the game into the shadows. If you can throw 95 MPH against your average high school hitter, it doesn’t really matter how effective your command is in the zone. Get it over, watch them flail away. Precision isn’t necessary. This same logic is often also used when scouts express frustration about only seeing a HS pitcher’s changeup in the bullpen before the game begins.  If you can throw 95 MPH against your average high school hitter, it doesn’t really make sense to speed up anybody’s bat.

You might now be able to understand why I — and seemingly everybody else — love Brady Aiken. He checks off every conceivable box. His fastball, curve, change, and cutter all show average or better, with the curve being good enough to be a professional separator. He’s an athlete with a sturdy yet still projectable 6-4, 200 pound frame who gets good deception from an easily repeatable delivery all while showing consistent command of his deep, varied four-pitch mix. There’s no such thing as a perfect pitching prospect, and, if there was, Aiken wouldn’t be the first name in the entire universe to come to mind, but for this prep pitching class he has no equal.

2014 MLB Draft: Top 125 High School Pitching Prospects

I have a lot more to say here than just a ranking, I promise. I did, however, want to get this up as soon as possible because, you know, time is money and all that. I actually don’t know how that applies on a free site, but it’s late so let’s run with it. Tomorrow I want to talk a little about my methodology for compiling such a list, as well as brief explanations about why the names at the top are at the top. What I’m most looking forward to is a look at some of this year’s biggest HS pitching wild cards; there are a lot of intriguing names — anecdotally I’d say more than usual, but that’s likely just recency bias messing with my head — that could go anywhere from the mid- to late-first round all the way down to an unsignable spot in the draft. And I’m not just talking about Bryce Montes de Oca, either! Finally, I’d also like to look at some of the story lines that I think may develop as draft weekend — I know it’s Thursday/Friday/Saturday, but can we all agree on calling it draft weekend for simplicity’s sake? — unfolds. So prepare yourself for a HS pitching heavy next few days. Let’s kick it off with a list sure to be outdated in six weeks!

If I forgot somebody obvious, please don’t hesitate to yell at me.

  1. LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic HS, California)
  2. RHP Tyler Kolek (Shepherd HS, Texas)
  3. RHP Grant Holmes (Conway HS, South Carolina)
  4. RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)
  5. RHP Jacob Bukauskas (Stone Bridge HS, Virginia)
  6. RHP Dylan Cease (Milton HS, Georgia)
  7. LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS, Hawaii)
  8. LHP Mac Marshall (Parkview HS, Georgia)
  9. RHP Michael Kopech (Mount Pleasant HS, Texas)
  10. RHP Cobi Johnson (Mitchell HS, Florida)
  11. RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood HS, Florida)
  12. RHP Cameron Varga (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Ohio)
  13. RHP Luis Ortiz (Sanger HS, California)
  14. RHP Spencer Adams (White County HS, Georgia)
  15. LHP Foster Griffin (First Academy, Florida)
  16. RHP Keaton McKinney (Ankeny HS, Iowa)
  17. RHP Scott Blewett (CW Baker HS, New York)
  18. RHP Turner Larkins (Arlington Martin HS, Texas)
  19. RHP Keith Weisenberg (Osceola HS, Florida)
  20. RHP Grant Hockin (Damien HS, California)
  21. RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (Lawrence HS, Kansas)
  22. LHP/OF Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro HS, Arizona)
  23. LHP Carson Sands (North Florida Christian HS, Florida)
  24. RHP Joey Gatto (St. Augustine Prep, New Jersey)
  25. RHP Mitch Hart (Granite Bay HS, California)
  26. RHP Weston Davis (Manatee HS, Florida)
  27. RHP Alex Faedo (Alonso HS, Florida)
  28. LHP Tucker Baca (North Gwinnett HS, Georgia)
  29. RHP Jonathan Teaney (Quartz Hill HS, California)
  30. RHP Jake Nix (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  31. RHP Jake Godfrey (Providence Catholic HS, Illinois)
  32. RHP Brandon Murray (Hobart HS, Indiana)
  33. RHP/3B Ryder Ryan (North Mecklenburg HS, North Carolina)
  34. LHP Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma HS,Tennessee)
  35. LHP Bennett Sousa (Benjamin HS, Florida)
  36. RHP Alex Lange (Lee’s Summit West HS, Missouri)
  37. RHP Ryan Castellani (Brophy Prep, Arizona)
  38. RHP Bryan Dobzanski (Delsea Regional HS, New Jersey)
  39. RHP Austin DeCarr (Salisbury Prep, Massachusetts)
  40. LHP David Peterson (Regis Jesuit HS, Colorado)
  41. RHP Tylor Megill (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  42. RHP Drew Rasmussen (Mount Spokane HS, Washington)
  43. RHP Garrett Fulencheck (Howe HS, Texas)
  44. RHP Cre Finfrock (Martin County HS, Florida)
  45. RHP Marvin Gorgas (East Hampton HS, Connecticut)
  46. RHP Derek Casey (Hanover HS, Virginia)
  47. RHP Blake Bivens (Washington HS, Virginia)
  48. RHP Branden Kelliher (Lake Stevens HS, Washington)
  49. RHP Gage Burland (East Valley HS, Washington)
  50. RHP Brigham Hill (Nacogdoches HS, Texas)
  51. LHP Cameron Bishop (Brea Olinda HS, California)
  52. LHP Willie Rios (St. Bernard HS, Connecticut)
  53. LHP Cody Reed (Ardmore HS, Alabama)
  54. RHP Colton Hock (Bloomsburg Area HS, Pennsylvania)
  55. RHP Garrett Cave (South Sumter HS, Florida)
  56. RHP Mitch Keller (Xavier HS, Iowa)
  57. RHP Jonah Patten (Norwell HS, Indiana)
  58. RHP Andrew Karp (West Orange HS, Florida)
  59. LHP Justin Steele (George County HS, Mississippi)
  60. LHP Devin Smeltzer (Bishop Eustace HS, New Jersey)
  61. RHP Kevin Steen (Oak Ridge HS, Tennessee)
  62. RHP Tommy Doyle (Flint Hill HS, Virginia)
  63. RHP/OF Pat Mahomes (Whitehouse HS, Texas)
  64. LHP/OF Quinn Brodey (Loyola HS, California)
  65. LHP/OF Alex Destino (North Buncombe HS, North Carolina)
  66. RHP Micah Miniard (Boyle County HS, Kentucky)
  67. RHP Kevin Pimentel (Shoreham Wading River HS, New York)
  68. RHP Ricardo Salinas (North Shore HS, Texas)
  69. RHP Spencer Moran (Mountain View HS, Arizona)
  70. RHP Erik Manoah (South Dade HS, Florida)
  71. RHP Zach Schellenger (Devon Prep HS, Pennsylvania)
  72. RHP Stetson Woods (Liberty HS, California)
  73. RHP Brad Depperman (East Lake HS, Florida)
  74. RHP/3B Jake Jarvis (Klein Collins HS, Texas)
  75. RHP Brendan Spagnuolo (Chaminade HS, New York)
  76. RHP Case Rolen (Sherman HS, Texas)
  77. LHP Grant Reuss (Cranbrook Kingswood HS, Michigan)
  78. RHP Braden Webb (Owasso HS, Oklahoma)
  79. RHP Jayce Vancena (Lake HS, Ohio)
  80. RHP Jesse Lepore (Trinity Catholic HS, Florida)
  81. RHP Jeremiah Muhammad (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)
  82. RHP Bryce Dyrda (Oakdale HS, California)
  83. RHP Gabriel Gonzalez (Arbor View HS, Nevada)
  84. RHP Brad Bass (Lincoln-Way Central HS, Illinois)
  85. RHP Doug Norman (Ardrey Kell HS, South Carolina)
  86. LHP Brock Burke (Evergreen HS, Colorado)
  87. RHP Jeff Harding (Cambridge-South Dorchester HS, Maryland)
  88. RHP Brady Feigl (Parkway Central HS, Missouri)
  89. RHP Tanner Houck (Collinsville HS, Illinois)
  90. LHP Jacob Latz (Lemont HS, Illinois)
  91. LHP Daniel Gooden (Griffin HS, Georgia)
  92. RHP Kyle Marsh (Spruce Creek HS, Florida)
  93. RHP Brad Archer (Lebanon HS, Missouri)
  94. RHP Parker Joe Robinson (Serra HS, California)
  95. RHP Matt Ruppenthal (Brother Rice HS, Michigan)
  96. RHP Maverick Buffo (Spanish Fork HS, Utah)
  97. RHP Josh Pennington (Lower Cape May HS, New Jersey)
  98. RHP Danny Siwek (Bonita Vista HS, California)
  99. RHP Bryan Pall (Sandburg HS, Illinois)
  100. LHP Jeider Rincon (Overfelt HS, California)
  101. RHP Ronny Orta (Faith Baptist HS, Florida)
  102. RHP Clarke Schmidt (Allatoona HS, Georgia)
  103. RHP Brett Daniels (Fuquay-Varina HS, North Carolina)
  104. RHP Dan Serreino (Jackson Liberty HS, New Jersey)
  105. LHP Joel Huertas-Ortiz (Carmen Sol HS, Puerto Rico)
  106. RHP Kiko Garcia (St. Augustine HS, California)
  107. RHP Brad Wegman (Great Oak HS, California)
  108. RHP Sam Proctor (Booker HS, Florida)
  109. RHP Luis Alvarado (Montverde Academy, Florida)
  110. RHP Jordan Yamamoto (St. Louis HS, Hawaii)
  111. RHP Griffin Canning (Santa Margarita HS, California)
  112. RHP Luke Dabney (Dripping Springs HS, Texas)
  113. LHP John Gavin (St. Francis HS, California)
  114. RHP Jesse McCord (Spanish Fork HS, Alabama)
  115. RHP Drew Carlton (George Jenkins HS, Florida)
  116. RHP Kyle Wright (Buckhorn HS, Alabama)
  117. RHP Dazon Cole (Pontiac Central HS, Michigan)
  118. RHP Ronald Williams (American HS, Florida)
  119. RHP Trevor Horn (Horizon HS, Arizona)
  120. RHP Keegan Curtis (Davidson HS, Alabama)
  121. RHP Garrett King (Orange Lutheran HS, California)
  122. LHP Reagan Todd (Regis Jesuit Hs, Colorado)
  123. RHP Andrew DiPiazza (Central Regional HS, New Jersey)
  124. RHP Dakody Clemmer (Mountain View HS, Washington)
  125. RHP Grant Schneider (Lake Travis HS, Texas)

Forcing Comps: Carlos Rodon

Spent my Easter morning thinking about Carlos Rodon because that’s a perfectly normal thing to do, right? First, here’s what I wrote about him a few weeks ago…
Fastball not as fast, command way down, slider still awesome (but he uses it a ton, which may or may not be worrisome going forward), and, most frustratingly of all, no real positive gains made in areas that I was concerned about going into the year (he’s not a great athlete, his body is what it is, and his change is still not where you want it to be). When your strengths are not quite as strong and your weaknesses show little to no improvement, things aren’t going so great. Before you could say that his fastball/slider combo was so dominant that he’d be a damn good MLB starter regardless of those negatives — some are more dogmatic about the need for three average or better pitches to be a starter (I once was, to be honest), but reading about how Doc Gooden was messed with by trying too hard to bring along a third pitch after his huge early success with the Mets has me thinking that an above-average to plus FB and a SL that has elicited comparisons to a guy named Carlton would suffice three times through a lineup quite nicely — but now that his FB command has wavered and the overall velocity is down across the board, well, you have to wonder. He’s still a big-time talent and a likely top five lock, but I’d definitely bet the field over him if we’re talking strictly 1-1.

Things move quickly in the world of amateur draft prospects, but I think all that still stands today. Rodon is still a primarily FB/SL pitcher who is struggling (for him) this season in large part due to inconsistent command and decreased velocity. Assuming those two things can be helped in pro ball, where does he fit in at the next level? Let’s explore.

Before going further it’s worth saying that I don’t mean to disregard the non-FB/SL assortment of pitches Rodon offers, but I’ve yet to personally see or hear from somebody I trust about a consistent third big league pitch at this point in his development. Some like the change (“inconsistent, but will flash average or better”), others vouch for the upside of one of his two variations of the curve (harder one used primarily in bullpens, low-80s one occasionally mixed in during games), and I’ve heard a few who think he can differentiate enough between his “true” slider and an even harder low-90s cut-slider to keep hitters off balance with hard, harder, and hardest stuff.

Using the Fangraphs 2013 leaderboards, I found a few guys who got away with FB/SL combos and little else last year: Greg Holland, Patrick Corbin, Chris Archer, and Mike Dunn. None are great fits as direct comparisons, though I guess the two lefthanders (Corbin and Dunn) provide the easiest to see templates to success. Corbin’s slider is a very different version than Rodon’s (nor nearly as firm), and he does mix in a changeup every ten pitches or so. Dunn matches up better across the board (averages 94 MPH with FB and 87 with SL, closer in body type, etc.), but likely represents Rodon’s non-catastrophic injury worst case scenario as a big leaguer. Interesting.

I then looked back at every pitcher in the Fangraphs database that “often” (defined as 15% or more usage) threw a “hard” slider (defined as 85 MPH or more), while also adjusting when possible for handedness (edge for lefthanders, obviously), usage of other pitches (fewer the better), and body type (mostly eliminating sub-six-footers). Not exactly the most scientific approach, but, hey, the price is right. Four names stood out to me.

The best historical comp I could come up with, and it is admittedly a very generous one (and a bit of a stretch using some of the criteria listed above), is former starter/reliever and likely future HOFer John Smoltz. The two share a similar hard fastballs/slider combination that each leans/leaned on heavily, with the biggest stuff exception being Smoltz’s reliance (especially later in his career) on a splitter as a third pitch (10.2% usage). There’s also the thorny issue of handedness being flipped, but that’s something I can personally get past when the rest of the pieces fit. My memory would also say that, despite very similar listed frames (6-3, 220ish to 240ish), the body types weren’t all that close, and, more importantly, the athleticism was a separator in Smoltz’s favor. Still, not the most unrealistic best-case (probably should capitalize and bold that before I get in trouble with the comps are evil crowd: BEST-CASE) scenario comparison out there, I believe. Close, sure, but I could have thrown Koufax, Unit, or Spahn out there instead. (That’s a joke, everybody!). If you want to throw this away because comping anybody to a HOF-caliber player is a waste of time, well, then I wouldn’t blame you. All part of working through this particular thought exercise.

The best comp based off an existing one that I could find is Texas lefthander Robbie Ross. Stay with me on this one. Ross is far more dependent on his fastball than Rodon, but he is at least almost exclusively a FB/SL pitcher. The fact that he has had success going this route is encouraging to me, especially when you consider Rodon’s fastball and slider are both ahead of where Ross is at. The reason I’ve categorized him as a comp based off an existing one is because there have been some that have compared Rodon to Ross’s Texas teammate, Matt Harrison. For various reasons, mostly due to a far better-rounded repertoire, I don’t really see the Harrison comp, though I think the bodies match up fairly well. Ross has a completely different body type, so keep that in mind here. Far from perfect yet again, but I liked seeing a young player succeeding while relying solely on his fastball and slider.

The best college prospect comp I could muster is former Tar Heel and current Red Sox pitcher Andrew Miller. A part of me feels like we’ve seen this Rodon story unfold already, you know? This is a good comp, and, in my opinion, so obvious that I can’t believe the major publications haven’t run with it yet. Miller, though longer, leaner, and more athletic than Rodon, entered his draft year with very similar 1-1 hype. I saw Miller about a dozen times in his last two years at Carolina, and the buzz at every one of his starts was palpable. His fastball was explosive and his slider was even better. Even to an untrained eye like mine you could tell his mechanics needed some ironing out in pro ball, but he was still such an easy prospect to dream on. So, let’s circle back: highly touted lefthander from a major university in North Carolina, plus to plus-plus fastball/slider combination, underdeveloped changeup, and command issues stemming from mechanical inconsistencies. Come on! As a reliever now Miller is exclusively FB/SL after completely ditching the changeup after 2012. If we’re talking floor as a big leaguer, I think Miller is an interesting recent data point to consider. Better than the earlier Mike Dunn floor, and with the added collegiate prospect parallels to boot.

The best overall comp I can come up with is current Giants star lefthander Madison Bumgarner. Hear me out. Outside of Bumgarner’s own interesting career path to date (hard to believe now, but he was an extremely divisive prospect just a few short years ago) and his edge in athleticism, I think the comp is pretty damn near ideal if you keep an open mind towards comps in general. Baseball America had Bumgarner at 92-94 (97 peak) with his fastball pre-draft in 2007 with a “fringe-average” breaking ball at 81 MPH. They also cited his inconsistent mechanics and below-average changeup. After the 2009 season, they made note of plus makeup (“ornery competitor” with “zero fear”). His last prospect year (2010) brought news about his now “outstanding” slider and exceptional “mound savvy.” Does that not sound similar to the path Rodon has been on over these last few years? The frame matches up fairly well (Bumgarner is listed at 6-5, 235) and no starter that I found relies more on his slider than the San Francisco ace (over 34% in his career!). Bumgarner has found a way to mix in more changeups and curveballs than scouting reports anticipated, but that’s a credit to the aforementioned makeup and the excellent developmental staff in the Giants organization. No comp is perfect, but if Rodon straightens himself out in pro ball, I could see him doing Bumgarner-type things. He’ll throw harder, and chances are he won’t have as deep an overall arsenal (though it wouldn’t shock me if better instruction helped fine-tune a better third pitch than we’re currently seeing going forward), but his slider should be a similarly special pitch and nobody disputes his similar competitive zeal for the game. I don’t want to like this comp as much as I do, but it’s not without merit.

The biggest thing that gives me pause is the developmental years Rodon “lost” at college. Bumgarner turned 22 on August 1, 2011. That was the middle of a his first full season as a big league starter, a year he pitched to a 2.67 FIP in 204.2 innings. That’s good. Rodon will likely enter his first full season as a professional (at AA, most likely) at 22 next year. That doesn’t mean Rodon won’t reach the same heights Bumgarner has, but it does give him a long road to catch up. Guess that falls under the “no comp is perfect” caveat. I tried to track what would have been Bumgarner’s “college years” developmentally in the preceding paragraph, but comparing prospects from HS to college guys, pitchers especially, is a fool’s errand. I’m clearly a fool and am quite alright with that.

Job on the line, I don’t think I’d pound the table for the Rodon as Bumgarner comp, but suggesting it as an upside feels optimistically fair, if that makes sense. I did save one comp for last…


Carlos Rodon has disappointed in 2014. His disappointment has more to do with meaningful changes to his professional projection as outlined above, though the industry hype machine that helped build him does seem unfairly quick to tear him down. He’s still a really good pro prospect with many favorable career paths before him, and it isn’t outlandish to believe he winds up as one of the (if not the) best college pitchers from this draft class. He’s also not a sure thing, and that’s before any potential concerns about overuse are brought into play. I think this season is actually a fairly instructive one to keep in mind as he beings his professional journey: enough flashes of ace-caliber stuff to frustrate you that he isn’t better than he is while still putting up consistently above-average results. You want him to be more than he is (perhaps rightfully so), therefore it is hard to appreciate how well he’s actually turned out. If that sounds a little bit like a lefthanded version of Josh Johnson, another hard-throwing FB/SL heavy (88.1% combined usage) pitcher with a checkered injury history, then we’re on the same page.

2014 MLB Draft: High School Pitchers

I’m getting really close to putting out a real deal big board. Exciting times, I know. Before I do that, I figured I’d throw out a list of the top HS arms for the 2014 MLB Draft. My master list has 300+ names so far, so I tried to cut it down to a more reasonable 50+ of the best of the best. This seemed like the best way to get some easy feedback to see if I’m somehow forgetting somebody obvious. Let me know, please.

A few names strongly considered and plenty worthy but cut because I had to draw a line somewhere: Pat Mahomes, Dakody Clemmer, Brett Daniels, Tommy Doyle, Grant Reuss, Jayce Vancena, Jesse Lepore, Willie Rios, Alex Destino, Kevin Pimentel, Brad Bass, Quinn Brodey, Cameron Bishop, Gabriel Gonzalez, Cody Reed, Kyle Marsh, Kevin Steen, Devin Smeltzer, and Jeremiah Muhammad.

The list is in no order. That’s true. I mean, maybe I’ve started moving guys around a very little bit…like, the top four names, but that’s all. No more than that. So don’t read anything into the order just yet. Again, just trying to get a feel for whether or not I have all the major guys covered at this point. Wisdom of crowds, show yourself!

  • LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic HS, California)
  • RHP Tyler Kolek (Shepherd HS, Texas)
  • RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)
  • RHP Grant Holmes (Conway HS, South Carolina)
  • RHP Jacob Bukauskas (Stone Bridge HS, Virginia)
  • RHP Michael Kopech (Mount Pleasant HS, Texas)
  • RHP Dylan Cease (Milton HS, Georgia)
  • RHP Ryan Castellani (Brophy Prep, Arizona)
  • RHP Drew Rasmussen (Mount Spokane HS, Washington)
  • RHP Cameron Varga (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Ohio)
  • LHP Carson Sands (North Florida Christian HS, Florida)
  • RHP Blake Bivens (Washington HS, Virginia)
  • LHP Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma HS,Tennessee)
  • RHP Marvin Gorgas (East Hampton HS, Connecticut)
  • RHP Joey Gatto (St. Augustine Prep, New Jersey)
  • RHP Brigham Hill (Nacogdoches HS, Texas)
  • LHP Bennett Sousa (Benjamin HS, Florida)
  • RHP Alex Faedo (Alonso HS, Florida)
  • RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (Lawrence HS, Kansas)
  • RHP Derek Casey (Hanover HS, Virginia)
  • RHP Branden Kelliher (Lake Stevens HS, Washington)
  • LHP Tucker Baca (North Gwinnett HS, Georgia)
  • RHP Jonathan Teaney (Quartz Hill HS, California)
  • RHP Tylor Megill (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  • RHP Alex Lange (Lee’s Summit West HS, Missouri)
  • RHP Keaton McKinney (Ankeny HS, Iowa)
  • RHP Grant Hockin (Damien HS, California)
  • RHP Spencer Adams (White County HS, Georgia)
  • RHP Jonah Patten (Norwell HS, Indiana)
  • RHP Weston Davis (Manatee HS, Florida)
  • RHP Jake Nix (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  • RHP Turner Larkins (Arlington Martin HS, Texas)
  • RHP Brandon Murray (Hobart HS, Indiana)
  • RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood HS, Florida)
  • RHP Andrew Karp (West Orange HS, Florida)
  • RHP Colton Hock (Bloomsburg Area HS, Pennsylvania)
  • RHP Cobi Johnson (Mitchell HS, Florida)
  • RHP Bryan Dobzanski (Delsea Regional HS, New Jersey)
  • LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS, Hawaii)
  • RHP Garrett Cave (South Sumter HS, Florida)
  • RHP Garrett Fulencheck (Howe HS, Texas)
  • RHP Luis Ortiz (Sanger HS, California)
  • RHP Keith Weisenberg (Osceola HS, Florida)
  • RHP Jake Godfrey (Providence Catholic HS, Illinois)
  • RHP Mitch Hart (Granite Bay HS, California)
  • RHP Cre Finfrock (Martin County HS, Florida)
  • LHP/OF Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro HS, Arizona)
  • RHP Gage Burland (East Valley HS, Washington)
  • RHP Scott Blewett (CW Baker HS, New York)
  • LHP Foster Griffin (First Academy, Florida)
  • LHP David Peterson (Regis Jesuit HS, Colorado)
  • RHP Austin DeCarr (Salisbury Prep, Massachusetts)
  • RHP Mitch Keller (Xavier HS, Iowa)
  • LHP Mac Marshall (Parkview HS, Georgia)

Random First Round College Pitching Musings

Biggest draft story line of late is probably the fall of Carlos Rodon, right? There’s really no sugar-coating it at this point, he simply has not looked good this year. Fastball not as fast, command way down, slider still awesome (but he uses it a ton, which may or may not be worrisome going forward), and, most frustratingly of all, no real positive gains made in areas that I was concerned about going into the year (he’s not a great athlete, his body is what it is, and his change is still not where you want it to be). When your strengths are not quite as strong and your weaknesses show little to no improvement, things aren’t going so great. Before you could say that his fastball/slider combo was so dominant that he’d be a damn good MLB starter regardless of those negatives — some are more dogmatic about the need for three average or better pitches to be a starter (I once was, to be honest), but reading about how Doc Gooden was messed with by trying too hard to bring along a third pitch after his huge early success with the Mets has me thinking that an above-average to plus FB and a SL that has elicited comparisons to a guy named Carlton would suffice three times through a lineup quite nicely — but now that his FB command has wavered and the overall velocity is down across the board, well, you have to wonder. He’s still a big-time talent and a likely top five lock, but I’d definitely bet the field over him if we’re talking strictly 1-1.

Jeff Hoffman’s good yet not great results still don’t consistently match his awesome stuff, but then he goes out and throws like he did against Rice last week and you’re in love all over again. He’s still my number one college arm in the draft, and I think we’re now late enough in the season where I don’t think that’s going to change. Tyler Beede’s results have never been the question; for him, it’s always been about improving his control and sharpening his command. Both areas have been much better this year, but not quite 1-1 better. Still a top ten lock for me, though I can see him being squeezed out of the top five by the growing number of HS arms rising to the top. I’ll have something on HS pitching on Friday.

After those three, all sure to be gone in the first handful of picks, the rest of the college pitching landscape is wide open. Aaron Nola seems to have taken control of the race for fourth place, but he has serious competition right behind him in the way of a trio of lefthanders Brandon Finnegan, Kyle Freeland, and Sean Newcomb. Chris Ellis, Luke Weaver, and Erick Fedde still lurk as good bets to be off the board early, and you can’t rule out the return of the first round reliever if a team falls hard for Nick Burdi. Zech Lemond and Matt Imhof could be next in line. If you’re counting at home, that’s ten college pitchers that I’d currently say are deserving of a first round grade — still debating on those last three names mentioned — compared to the thirteen that went off the board in last year’s first 39 picks (number drops to seven if we only count “true” first round picks and not the sandwich round). That last parenthetical has me thinking — never a good thing if you don’t like rambling tangents — about how tough it is to find any deeper meaning in draft trends. I think there’s some value to looking at historical patterns, but the fact that a) drafting is as much art as it is science, b) not all draft classes are created equal, and c) any evaluation of said trends has to incorporate a beginning and ending that, if we’re being totally honest, holds no meaning beyond whatever the author is hoping to convey. I could say there were ONLY seven first round college pitchers last year and make a point using that information. Or I could say there was an IMPRESSIVE thirteen first round college pitchers selected last year and make a point that way. To take it a step further, what do we do with this information: in 2013, six of the first seven picks of the second round were pitchers from either four-year universities or junior colleges. You’re not impressed if I told you there were seven first round college arms in last year’s draft, but if I said that 19 of the first 46 players were college pitchers (over 40%!), then you’re suddenly very intrigued (or not, your call). Arbitrary endpoints are fun.

So, yeah, Hoffman/Rodon/Beede are still a cut above the rest in terms of draft stock. After that, I have no clue what pro teams will do, but I’ll tell you I like some combination of Nola, Finnegan, Freeland, and Feede. Ellis, Weaver, and Lemond are in the next group. Then, chaos. If I had to pick one name not mentioned in the first round mix as much as deserved — and I could be totally off on this as I’m not nearly as plugged into who is getting hyped up as I once was — is Austin Robichaux. He’s got one of the best combinations of present stuff (mid-90s peak FB, CB flashes plus, average CU), track record (steady but real improvement since first day on campus), and projection (no two paths are alike, but his is a frame that seems capable of putting on some good weigh going forward).

2014 MLB Draft College Outfield Follow List (and Ranking)

I’ve been unrelentingly positive about pretty much all things draft-related in almost all previous position groups for this year’s draft; it’s my nature to be optimistic, and I enjoy highlighting the good in amateur prospects whenever possible, This year’s college outfield class, however, has me really, really stretching to find nice things to say. As always it is important to note that all of the players listed below – literally all of them, even Garrett Brown (phenomenal athlete who has chosen football over baseball for now, though we won’t hold that against him as a person) way down at the bottom – are way, way better at baseball than 99% of any of the people evaluating them, myself included. Any and all criticism is meant only to illuminate greater truths about what I’ve seen, read, and heard, and not to disparage any player personally. Always like getting that out there to preempt some of the hate mail…

Brad Zimmer trumps all comers when it comes to showing a consistent power/speed mix that tantalizes scouts, fans, and whatever it is I am. That’s the good news. I haven’t seen him since this summer, and, after hearing and reading so many positive things about him this spring, I was a little taken aback to see his approach has gone backwards a bit, at least as far as my box score scouting expertise allows. That’s a little disappointing. The (expanded version of the) good news is, lackluster BB/K numbers aside, the man can hit. Projecting above-average plate discipline when the track record isn’t there is often a fool’s errand, but Zimmer is such a smart, gifted hitter that I think his skewed BB/K 2014 ratio is more about him being so locked in all season than a major red flag that would depress his prospect stock. I love a 2-0, 2-1, or 3-1 count as much as anybody, and the idea that a walk is as good as a single (more or less) is one I believe in, but there’s also something to be said for a guy capable of hitting the ball hard so consistently that he’s up there hunting for fastballs to drive. The measured approach to hitting has as much validity as the “see fastball, hit fastball” approach, it just depends on the rest of the player’s natural skill set. Zimmer’s wrists, hand/eye coordination, and balance give him a better than usual shot than other amateurs with similarly lackluster BB/K ratios.

Louie Lechich isn’t Brad Zimmer, but if you miss on the latter in the first round then hitting on the former later would give you a decent approximation of that power/skill starter kit. I know I might be crazy for saying this, and my personal rankings aren’t quite ready to back the statement up, but I think that Lechich is what so many want Derek Fisher to be. We’ll see.

Because the top of the draft is so flush with pitching, I keep coming back to the idea that teams picking in the top ten must be hoping against hope to get a big-time bat that slipped with their second pick. That’s currently where I’m at with Michael Conforto, a hitter likely too good to slip out of the first round but still not quite the stone cold mortal lock to go off the board that early. If a team with an iffy farm system and holes all over the ML roster (like, say, the Phillies) could land a college arm like Jeff Hoffman and then come back around and nab Conforto in the second…yeah, that would be alright with me. I made the indirect comparison between Zimmer and Lechich already, so we’ll go with the obvious next step and compare Conforto and Mike Papi. From here, I see very little that separates the two outside of perceived value. Both look like they could be average or better big league corner guys for a long time in pro ball. As happy as I’d be with Conforto in the second (or late first, really), I’d be just as good with waiting a little bit on Papi before snapping him up in the third or fourth round.

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has talked up Greg Allen enough that I don’t think I can call him my guy, but, damn, I enjoy watching him play as much as any college outfielder on this list. His limited power upside is a real concern, especially in light of my newfound belief that power (or, in this case, even the threat of power) is the best statistical indicator of pro success. I’m drawn to speed/defense/on-base prospect profiles, but without the threat of pop, pro pitchers will undo a lot of what works offensively at the amateur level. Allen’s bat speed works in his favor, but his frame, athletic as it may be, poses a potential problem. I believe in his playable power more than most guys who fit the archetype, but will admit that being burned by players of a similar style over the years has me comparatively lower on Allen than I might have been in 2011. Still a high-level prospect worth following, of course.

The Virginia outfield is just plain silly. Papi is a pro hitter who just so happens to be currently playing college ball. Dating back to high school the aforementioned Fisher has always been a like and not a love for me – a point we’ve had some really good discussions on in the comments section over the years – and I remain of the belief that he has the chance to be a good regular in a corner if everything breaks just right rather than a potential star like some still projecting him as an upper- to mid-first round pick seem to believe. Brandon Downes can do it all athletically, but the all-important hit tool is a serious question. There are pro teams that would gladly trade their AA starting outfields for this group in a second.

I wrote a lot of positive things about Jeff Keller last year, so you know I’m not hopping off the bandwagon now. I wavered some on personal favorite Mark Payton pre-season – heard some not optimistic things about his pro prospects from people who couldn’t praise his ability to succeed in college enough – but I’m ready to pump him back up once I update these rankings pre-draft. Projection is king and Payton doesn’t have it compared to peers, but, man, I’ll take the guy who can run, field, throw, and, most importantly, roll out of bed ready to hit as my fourth outfielder any day. It’s silly to call a fourth-year college outfielder at TEXAS underrated, but I think pro scouts made up their mind on him being a nice college player and little more early on and haven’t been willing to revise that view over the years.

This may be a cop-out, but the new two months will tell us so much about the vast majority of the players outside of the first few. There’s very little separation in that mid-round tier that 2014 performance, the given day(s) a scout sees a guy, and team preference (power vs speed, flashes of plus tool vs well-roundedness, polish vs upside, etc.) will all play major roles in sorting out the jumble come June. I’d say Zimmer has put some distance between himself and the pack, and Conforto appears to be emerging as a strong contender for the second spot, but after that these rankings are as jumbled as any. Looking forward to revising this one after seeing how the season plays out.

  1. San Francisco JR OF Bradley Zimmer
  2. Oregon State JR OF/1B Michael Conforto
  3. Virginia JR OF Mike Papi
  4. Oregon State JR OF/RHP Dylan Davis
  5. Virginia JR OF Derek Fisher
  6. Virginia JR OF/C Brandon Downes
  7. San Diego State JR OF Greg Allen
  8. San Diego rJR OF/LHP Louie Lechich
  9. Dartmouth SR OF Jeff Keller
  10. Arizona State rJR OF Trever Allen
  11. College of Charleston SR OF Brandon Murray
  12. Kentucky JR OF Austin Cousino
  13. South Carolina JR OF Tanner English
  14. North Carolina State JR OF Jake Fincher
  15. Oregon JR OF/3B Scott Heineman
  16. Michigan State JR OF/C Jimmy Pickens
  17. Florida Gulf Coast JR OF/1B Michael Suchy
  18. Southern Mississippi JR OF/LHP Mason Robbins
  19. Bradley JR OF Max Murphy
  20. Texas SR OF Mark Payton
  21. Georgia JR OF/3B Hunter Cole
  22. Fresno State JR OF Jordan Luplow
  23. Long Beach State JR OF/1B Richard Prigatano
  24. Florida JR OF/RHP Justin Shafer
  25. Nevada SR OF Brad Gerig
  26. Binghamton JR OF/C Jake Thomas
  27. Louisiana-Lafayette JR OF Caleb Adams
  28. Cal Poly JR OF Nick Torres
  29. Princeton SR OF/2B Alec Keller
  30. Buffalo rSR OF Matt Pollock
  31. North Carolina A&T SR OF/2B Luke Tendler
  32. Auburn SO OF/2B Jordan Ebert
  33. Louisiana State SO OF Mark Laird
  34. Mississippi JR OF Senquez Golson
  35. Southern Mississippi JR OF Connor Barron
  36. Vanderbilt JR OF Johnny Norwood
  37. Stanford JR OF Dominic Jose
  38. Auburn SO OF/LHP Rock Rucker
  39. Troy JR OF Jo-El Bennett
  40. Washington State rSO OF Ben Roberts
  41. Indiana rJR OF Scott Donley
  42. Pittsburgh JR OF Boo Vazquez
  43. Texas-Arlington rSR OF Matt Shortall
  44. Rice SR OF/1B Michael Aquino
  45. Nebraska SR OF Mike Pritchard
  46. Kansas JR OF Connor McKay
  47. Kansas rSO OF Steve Goldstein
  48. TCU JR OF/RHP Jerrick Suiter
  49. Tennessee JR OF Jonathan Youngblood
  50. South Carolina JR OF/3B Elliot Caldwell
  51. Washington State JR OF/1B Yale Rosen
  52. Central Connecticut State SR OF JP Sportman
  53. The Citadel SR OF Hughston Armstrong
  54. Central Michigan JR OF Nick Regnier
  55. North Carolina State JR OF Bubba Riley
  56. Wake Forest rJR OF Kevin Jordan
  57. Wake Forest SR OF Evan Stephens
  58. Louisville JR OF Michael White
  59. Evansville rJR OF Kevin Kaczmarski
  60. USC rJR OF Omar Cotto Lozada
  61. Mississippi JR OF Auston Bousfield
  62. McNeese State SR OF Jackson Gooch
  63. Louisiana State JR OF Jared Foster
  64. James Madison JR OF/2B Chad Carroll
  65. Louisiana-Lafayette SR OF Seth Harrison
  66. Cal Poly JR OF Alex Michaels
  67. Georgia State rSR OF Chase Raffield
  68. Mississippi JR OF Will Jamison
  69. Alabama JR OF/C Ben Moore
  70. Eastern Michigan rSR OF Sam Ott
  71. Pittsburgh SR OF Casey Roche
  72. Southern JR OF Lance Jones
  73. Cincinnati rSO OF Will Drake
  74. Delaware rSO OF Gary Jones
  75. Louisiana State SR OF Sean McMullen
  76. Miami (Ohio) JR OF Matt Honchel
  77. UCLA JR OF Eric Filia
  78. Toledo rSO OF/SS Dan Zuchowski
  79. Duke rSR OF Ryan Deitrich
  80. Wagner SR OF Chris Smith
  81. Arkansas rSO OF Tyler Spoon
  82. Long Island-Brooklyn SR OF Pete Leonello
  83. Pepperdine rJR OF Bryan Langlois
  84. Oklahoma State JR OF/1B Zach Fish
  85. Virginia Military Institute rJR OF Jordan Tarsovich
  86. Nebraska JR OF Austin Darby
  87. Northern ColoradoJR OF Jensen Park
  88. Louisville SR OF/LHP Cole Sturgeon
  89. Illinois-Chicago rJR OF Jon Ryan
  90. Lamar rSR OF Jude Vidrine
  91. Middle Tennessee State SR OF Trent Miller
  92. Akron rJR OF Devan Ahart
  93. Florida State rSR OF Brett Knief
  94. UAB SR OF Ivan DeJesus
  95. TCU JR OF Cody Jones
  96. Kansas JR OF Michael Suiter
  97. Kansas State JR OF Max Brow
  98. Texas A&M SR OF Krey Bratsen
  99. Utah SR OF Braden Anderson
  100. Texas A&M SO OF JB Moss
  101. UCLA SR OF Brian Carroll
  102. Florida International SR OF Tyler Hibbert
  103. Minnesota JR OF Jake Bergren
  104. Bethune-Cookman SR OF Josh Johnson
  105. Mercer SR OF Derrick Workman
  106. Oklahoma State SR OF Aaron Cornell
  107. Texas rSR OF Matt Moynihan
  108. Towson rSR OF Kurt Wertz
  109. Pittsburgh SR OF/RHP Stephen Vranka
  110. Maryland rJR OF Charlie White
  111. Florida State JR OF Josh Delph
  112. Notre Dame JR OF/1B Ryan Bull
  113. Miami SR OF Dale Carey
  114. Washington State SR OF/LHP Jason Monda
  115. Oregon SR OF Kyle Garlick
  116. West Virginia SR OF Jacob Rice
  117. UNC Wilmington JR OF Luke Dunlap
  118. San Diego State rSO OF Spencer Thornton
  119. North Carolina State JR OF Jake Armstrong
  120. Cal State Fullerton JR OF Austin Diemer
  121. Hawaii JR OF Keao Aliviado
  122. Louisiana-Lafayette JR OF Dylan Butler
  123. Louisiana-Monroe SR OF Dalton Herrington
  124. Davidson SR OF Forrest Brandt
  125. Cincinnati rSO OF Taylor Schmidt
  126. Rutgers SR OF Brian O’Grady
  127. Jackson State SR OF Charles Tillery
  128. Indiana State JR OF Landon Curry
  129. Texas JR OF Taylor Stell
  130. Illinois-Chicago rSO OF/LHP Jeff Boehm
  131. Ball State SR OF Sean Godfrey
  132. Washington rJR OF Will Sparks
  133. Georgia Tech rSO OF Dan Spingola
  134. Clemson JR OF Tyler Slaton
  135. Elon JR OF/C Ryan Cooper
  136. Central Florida JR OF Derrick Salberg
  137. Creighton SR OF Mike Gerber
  138. Cornell SR OF Chris Cruz
  139. Bryant JR OF/C Jordan Mountford
  140. Ohio State JR OF Patrick Porter
  141. Kent State JR OF Alex Miklos
  142. Iowa JR OF/2B Eric Toole
  143. Georgia rJR OF Conor Welton
  144. South Alabama rJR OF Garrett DeGallier
  145. Arkansas-Little Rock SR OF Bryson Thionnet
  146. Maryland rJR OF Mike Montville
  147. Oregon SR OF Connor Hofmann
  148. Louisiana-Lafayette SR OF/2B Ryan Leonards
  149. Oklahoma rJR OF Colt Bickerstaff
  150. Holy Cross SR OF Brandon Cipolla
  151. Jacksonville State SR OF Michel Bishop
  152. Lehigh JR OF/C Justin Pacchioli
  153. Towson SR OF Dominic Fratantuono
  154. Valparaiso SR OF Chris Manning
  155. Stephen F. Austin State SR OF Ricardo Sanchez
  156. Cincinnati SR OF/1B Justin Glass
  157. Miami SR OF/3B Tyler Palmer
  158. Texas JR OF Collin Shaw
  159. Mississippi State SR OF/LHP CT Bradford
  160. Mississippi State JR OF Jake Vickerson
  161. Towson JR OF Peter Bowles
  162. Kansas JR OF Joe Moroney
  163. Rutgers JR OF Vinny Zarrillo
  164. Kennesaw State JR OF Jacob Bruce
  165. Charleston Southern JR OF Bobby Ison
  166. Oral Roberts rSR OF Tyler Boss
  167. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rJR OF/LHP Tyler Ware
  168. San Francisco JR OF Derek Atkinson
  169. Mercer SR OF Sasha LaGarde
  170. Indiana State SR OF/C Mike Fitzgerald
  171. North Carolina Greensboro JR OF Eric Kalbfleisch
  172. Jacksonville State SR OF Griff Gordon
  173. Eastern Illinois JR OF Caleb Howell
  174. Norfolk State SR OF Cameron Day
  175. Clemson SR OF Joe Costigan
  176. UC Santa Barbara rSR OF/1B Joe Epperson
  177. Missouri JR OF Logan Pearson
  178. Delaware State SR OF Aaron Nardone
  179. Florida A&M JR OF Marlon Gibbs
  180. Toledo SR OF Tyler Grogg
  181. James Madison rSR OF/1B Matt Tenaglia
  182. Mount St. Mary’s SR OF Jay Knight
  183. Wichita State rSR OF/LHP Garrett Bayliff
  184. Dayton SR OF Mark Podlas
  185. Winthrop rJR OF TJ Olesczuk
  186. Wichita State rSR OF Micah Green
  187. Xavier rSR OF Mitch Elliot
  188. New Jersey Tech JR OF Ed Charlton
  189. Kansas State rJR OF Mitch Meyer
  190. Northeastern SR OF Connor Lyons
  191. Old Dominion JR OF Josh Eldridge
  192. Florida Atlantic SR OF/1B Tyler Rocklein
  193. St. John’s JR OF Zach Lauricella
  194. Georgia State SR OF Chris Triplett
  195. Western Kentucky SR OF/INF Regan Flaherty
  196. The Citadel SR OF/3B Drew DeKerlegand
  197. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR OF Kyle Danford
  198. Texas A&M SR OF Jace Statum
  199. Canisius SR OF Jesse Kelso
  200. Fairfield SR OF/C Ryan Plourde
  201. Siena SR OF John Rooney
  202. Texas-Pan American SR OF Alex Howe
  203. West Virginia JR OF Bobby Boyd
  204. Virginia Commonwealth SR OF Bill Cullen
  205. Presbyterian rSR OF Nathan Chong
  206. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR OF Luke Meeteer
  207. Akron rJR OF Joey Havrilak
  208. Butler SR OF Marcos Calderon
  209. Wright State SR OF Kieston Greene
  210. Wofford SR OF/INF Josh Hyman
  211. Southeast Missouri State rJR OF Jason Blum
  212. Savannah State JR OF David Richards
  213. Vanderbilt JR OF Will Cooper
  214. Winthrop SR OF Cody Dolan
  215. South Florida rSO OF Buddy Putnam
  216. Alabama State JR OF Waldyvan Estrada
  217. Army JR OF Mark McCants
  218. Murray State SR OF Ty Stetson
  219. Kent State SR OF/LHP TJ Sutton
  220. Western Michigan JR OF/C Jared Kujawa
  221. Mississippi JR OF Braxton Lee
  222. New Mexico State SR OF Quinnton Mack
  223. Radford SR OF Blake Sipe
  224. South Florida JR OF Austin Lueck
  225. Arkansas JR OF Joe Serrano
  226. Creighton SR OF Brad McKewon
  227. Buffalo SR OF Thomas Richards
  228. North Dakota State SR OF Tim Colwell
  229. Utah Valley State JR OF Jordy Hart
  230. High Point SR OF/SS Kyle Brandenburg
  231. Cal State Fullerton JR OF Clay Williamson
  232. Western Carolina JR OF Garrett Brown

2014 MLB Draft College Third Base Follow List (and Ranking)

Third base is a little bit like shortstop in that both position groups have a strong 1-2 punch at the top followed quickly by a lot of intriguing yet imperfect prospects that could be ranked in just about any order from around 3-15. To take the comparison further, both position groups have a slam dunk defensive keeper at the top (Trea Turner, Matt Chapman) ahead of a player with more in the way of defensive questions (Joey Pankake, Taylor Sparks). I happen to think Pankake can stick at shortstop, but I’m far less optimistic about Sparks’ chances of staying in the dirt. Next update will probably have him with the outfielders, but laziness on my end keeps him at the hot corner for now. Chapman’s slow start bums me out, but I’m still a believer in his skill set translating really well to the next level and would think he’s still a big target for teams in the second to third round range looking for their first college bat.

I’ve written an obscene amount on Zach Houchins over the past three years, so, if new, feel free to check the archives for why I continue to talk him up more than any other source out there. The short version is simple: good glove, strong arm, smart hitter, long track record of success. The only knock on him that I’ll cop to is his lack of traditional power at the hot corner, but his experience at different defensive spots could help make him a super-utility man at the next level. Chesny Young has a very similar basic scouting profile, so it’s no shock that I like him more than most as well. Spencer Mahoney is cut from a similar cloth. Dustin DeMuth’s approach has gone so far south this year to the point that his swing at anything remotely resembling a strike style of hitting (3 BB/19 K so far) now overshadows his power upside and underrated athleticism for a big man. Freshmen who can run, defend, flash power, and take a pitch (56 walks!) tend to fall high up on my rankings. Landon Lassiter’s outstanding first year in Chapel Hill still carries more weight than his avert your eyes start to 2014, but, as a player with less of a track record than many of his draft class peers, this situation is one worth monitoring.

Doing the research on this shows that this class clearly lacks a whole lot of impact talent at the top. The next tier down (rounds 3-7 approximately) has a lot of the names covered so far. That leaves us what I think may be this draft’s sweet spot for college third basemen. Senior signs like Shane Kennedy (bonus points for defensive versatility), Michael Hill (legit tools, so-so production to date), Jake Barrios (similar to Kennedy in my mind), Alberto Morales (love the glove), and Sam Koenig (confession: growing up on Scott Rolen has me drawn to big 3B in a weird way…and Koenig at 6-5, 220 qualifies) could all make more noise in pro ball than some of the “bigger” names (relatively speaking) selected ahead of them. I can’t not mention Austin Slater, a former HS star who took a little time to get going but is now doing good work at Stanford.

  1. Cal State Fullerton JR 3B/RHP Matt Chapman
  2. UC Irvine JR 3B Taylor Sparks
  3. Mercer JR 3B/SS Chesny Young
  4. Indiana SR 3B/SS Dustin DeMuth
  5. North Carolina SO 3B/2B Landon Lassiter
  6. East Carolina SR 3B/SS Zach Houchins
  7. Virginia JR 3B Kenny Towns
  8. Florida State JR 3B/OF Jose Brizuela
  9. College of Charleston rJR 3B/OF Brandon Glazer
  10. Valparaiso JR 3B/SS Spencer Mahoney
  11. Oral Roberts JR 3B/C Jose Trevino
  12. Gonzaga JR 3B Mitchell Gunsolus
  13. Clemson SR 3B/2B Shane Kennedy
  14. Long Beach State SR 3B/SS Michael Hill
  15. Stanford JR 3B/OF Austin Slater
  16. Texas Tech SR 3B/SS Jake Barrios
  17. San Diego State JR 3B Ryan Muno
  18. Florida International rJR 3B Josh Anderson
  19. College of Charleston rSO 3B/SS Morgan Phillips
  20. Texas-Pan American SR 3B Alberto Morales
  21. Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR 3B Sam Koenig
  22. James Madison SR 3B/RHP Ty McFarland
  23. Wright State JR 3B Michael Timm
  24. San Diego JR 3B/SS Andrew Daniel
  25. Wichita State rJR 3B Chase Simpson
  26. Mississippi SR 3B/OF Preston Overbey
  27. Washington State rSO 3B Nick Tanielu
  28. Eastern Illinois JR 3B Brant Valach
  29. USC SR 3B Kevin Swick
  30. Duke SR 3B Jordan Betts
  31. Auburn SR 3B/RHP Damek Tomscha
  32. Washington JR 3B Andrew Ely
  33. Florida JR 3B/2B Josh Tobias
  34. Tennessee JR 3B/OF Will Maddox
  35. Louisiana-Lafayette JR 3B Tyler Girouard
  36. Louisiana State SR 3B/SS Christian Ibarra
  37. Cal Poly SR 3B/2B Jimmy Allen
  38. Rice SR 3B Shane Hoelscher
  39. Seton Hall SR 3B Chris Selden
  40. Arkansas State rJR 3B Zach George
  41. Florida rJR 3B/2B Zack Powers
  42. Mississippi State SR 3B Alex Detz
  43. UC Davis SR 3B/2B Steve Patterson
  44. Seton Hall JR 3B Kyle Grimm
  45. Miami SR 3B Brad Fieger
  46. Virginia Commonwealth SR 3B Joey Cujas
  47. Charleston Southern SR 3B/SS Alex Tomasovich
  48. UNC Wilmington SR 3B/C Ryan LaGrange
  49. North Florida JR 3B/RHP Drew Weeks
  50. George Mason SR 3B Blaise Fernandez
  51. Southern Illinois SR 3B Donny Duschinsky
  52. San Francisco JR 3B/2B Brendan Hendriks
  53. Canisius JR 3B Jesse Puscheck
  54. Appalachian State SR 3B Noah Holmes
  55. Western Kentucky SR 3B/SS Scott Wilcox
  56. San Francisco JR 3B Bob Cruikshank
  57. Radford rSO 3B Zach Woolcock
  58. Kansas State rSR 3B RJ Santigate
  59. TCU JR 3B/2B Derek Odell
  60. Portland JR 3B Cody Lenahan
  61. Oregon State SR 3B/RHP Jerad Casper
  62. Utah SR 3B/C TJ Bennett
  63. TCU JR 3B Connor Castellano
  64. Campbell SR 3B Elijah Trail
  65. Georgia Southern SR 3B/2B Ben Morgan
  66. Marist SR 3B Nick McQuail
  67. New Orleans JR 3B Jonathan Coco
  68. Houston Baptist JR 3B/RHP 3B Josh Martinez
  69. Sam Houston State JR 3B/SS Carter Burgess
  70. Old Dominion SR 3B Jordan Negrini
  71. Sacramento State SR 3B Will Soto
  72. Nicholls State SR 3B/RHP Brandon Jackson
  73. Army JR 3B Harold Earls
  74. Delaware State SR 3B/C Cameron Cecil
  75. Miami (Ohio) SR 3B Dan Walsh
  76. Eastern Kentucky SR 3B Bryan Soloman
  77. Belmont rJR 3B Greg Brody
  78. Missouri SR 3B Shane Segovia
  79. South Alabama JR 3B/RHP Bud Collura
  80. Samford rJR 3B Tyler Filliben
  81. Arkansas-Pine Bluff JR 3B/SS Nate Ross
  82. Samford rJR 3B Tripp Martin
  83. Texas A&M JR 3B/RHP Logan Nottebrok






2014 MLB Draft: Top College Pitching GB% Through March

I’ve gotten some good comments and emails lately, and it’s my goal to get back to everybody within the next few days. Just wanted to get that out there just so nobody thinks I’m giving them the cold shoulder. My shoulders are nothing if not warm, so stay tuned.

Quick bit of other site-related news: College third base list just needs to be formatted, but is 99% complete and should be up by Thursday morning. While you wait, here’s the latest info on some of this year’s top collegiate arms in terms of ground ball rates. Sample sizes are still on the smaller side, so I’m thinking I may try to look back over each player’s college career before the next update. We’ll see. As always, if you’d like me to add a player to track, feel free…

NC State LHP Carlos Rodon | 59.7%
East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman | 58.8%
Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede | 47.8%
Florida State RHP Luke Weaver | 61.5%
Mississippi RHP Chris Ellis | 43.3%
UNLV RHP Erik Fedde | 68.9%
LSU RHP Aaron Nola | 41.8%

And by request…

Portland LHP Travis Radke | 46.2%

EDIT: Just because I couldn’t go to bed without at least digging a little deeper, I went through Rodon’s box scores from last year. I can’t guarantee I have every appearance, but I think we’ve got enough here to run with the number. Last year’s GB% for Carlos Rodon was 62.1%, not terribly far off his current 2014 mark. Not sure if I can do this for every pitcher on the list since I quickly realized that doing it with consistent Friday night guys, a position many freshman and sophomores aren’t in no matter how talented (Rodon included), is much easier than having to hunt down starts by guessing correct days, but we’ll see.

2014 MLB Draft College Shortstop Follow List (and Ranking)

Trea Turner is the trendy prospect to pick apart this spring based mostly on the fact he’s been a big name for years and we all tend to overanalyze prospects the longer they’ve been the scene. Actually, that’s not entirely fair: there are valid criticisms about his game, most notably how his swing could limit his future power output against better pitching, so my only real beef with those lower on Turner than most is the insinuation that anybody who likes him as a top ten talent are merely scouting his impressive box scores. I’ll be sticking with my Jacoby Ellsbury (wacky peak year excluded) or Brett Gardner offensive comps for now as I think .300/.350/.400 with 50+ SB in any given year is a reasonable albeit optimistic projection if we’re talking ceiling only. I don’t have any questions about his defensive future, but that’s another area where some worry about his transition in pro ball. I’ve seen him make far too many big league caliber plays – to say nothing of many of the boring, routine plays that count the same – to have any doubts. He’s a shortstop, and potentially a really good one. The fact he could be damn good in center field is a nice though likely unnecessary fallback option. In a down year for college bats, I still think he’s the best option.

There seems to be little consensus about Joey Pankake’s future position; in fact, after asking around, people in the know gave me an even 50/50 split whether or not they thought he could stick up the middle or if he’ll be better served at third base. His placement on this particular list should give you a hint where I’m currently leaning, though I reserve the right to change my mind before June. His relative lack of foot speed – he’s an average at best runner – is why I think some evaluators are turned off at him staying at shortstop, but his first step instincts, arm strength, and athleticism give him a good shot of sticking.

After Turner and Pankake the best college shortstop prospect is…well, I have no idea. I mean, sure, I have some idea, but it’s wide open after those two and probably fair to say that the most honest outcomes for names 3-66 is utility infielder as a professional. Vince Conde and Michael Russell have tons of experience (both starters from day one on campus, more or less) and the requisite positional versatility to profile as potentially strong bench guys at the next level. Julius Gaines, Cole Peragine, and Chris Mariscal were all highly touted prep players who have held their own without lighting the world on fire in college. I have a soft spot for Garrett Mattlage, an underrated prospect with a mature approach to hitting, steady glove, and intriguing power/speed combination. I also like Sutton Whiting, a really good defender and runner who is smart enough to play within himself as a 5-9, 165 pound grinder.

Like the catcher spot, shortstop seems to be a position where a few senior signs get overdrafted in the top ten rounds to help teams stretch their bonus caps to grab higher priced prep talent later. Two-true outcome college star Justin Gonzalez could be that guy, as could the productive Aaron Attaway, the strong-armed Kyle Convissar, or the steady Austin Anderson.

  1. North Carolina State JR SS/OF Trea Turner
  2. South Carolina JR SS/RHP Joey Pankake
  3. Vanderbilt JR SS/2B Vince Conde
  4. North Carolina JR SS/OF Michael Russell
  5. Florida International JR SS Julius Gaines
  6. Texas State JR SS/2B Garrett Mattlage
  7. Rhode Island JR SS Tim Caputo
  8. Stony Brook JR SS Cole Peragine
  9. Florida State rSR SS/3B Justin Gonzalez
  10. Virginia Commonwealth JR SS Vimael Machin
  11. Louisville JR SS/2B Sutton Whiting
  12. Western Carolina SR SS/2B Aaron Attaway
  13. Kansas State JR SS Austin Fisher
  14. San Diego JR SS/2B Austin Bailey
  15. Maryland SR SS Kyle Convissar
  16. Illinois State rJR SS Brock Stewart
  17. Fresno State JR SS Chris Mariscal
  18. Florida Atlantic JR SS Mitch Morales
  19. Florida Atlantic JR SS Ricky Santiago
  20. Arkansas JR SS Brett McAfee
  21. Kentucky JR SS/2B Max Kuhn
  22. Mississippi SR SS Austin Anderson
  23. Washington State rJR SS Trace Tam Sing
  24. Louisville JR SS/2B Zach Lucas
  25. California JR SS Chris Paul
  26. Rutgers SR SS/2B Nick Favatella
  27. Rhode Island SR SS Joe Landi
  28. Missouri State JR SS/C Eric Cheray
  29. San Diego State JR SS/RHP Steven Pallares
  30. Washington JR SS Erik Forgione
  31. Oregon State SR SS/3B Kavin Keyes
  32. Auburn SR SS Dan Glevenyak
  33. Troy SR SS Tyler Vaughn
  34. Texas-San Antonio SR SS/2B RJ Perucki
  35. Western Michigan JR SS/RHP Andrew Sohn
  36. Lamar SR SS Sam Bumpers
  37. Arkansas-Little Rock JR SS/RHP Austin Pfeiffer
  38. Georgia State SR SS Chad Prain
  39. Alabama State JR SS Emmanuel Marrero
  40. Northwestern State JR SS Joel Atkinson
  41. Texas Tech JR SS Tim Proudfoot
  42. Minnesota rJR SS Michael Handel
  43. South Florida rSO SS/2B Nik Alfonso
  44. Southern Mississippi rJR SS Michael Sterling
  45. Gardner-Webb JR SS Ryan Hodge
  46. Central Florida JR SS/3B Tommy Williams
  47. High Point JR SS/2B Mike Miedzianowski
  48. Memphis JR SS Jake Overbey
  49. Eastern Michigan JR SS John Rubino
  50. UNLV JR SS TJ White
  51. Indiana State SR SS Tyler Wampler
  52. Mississippi State JR SS Matthew Britton
  53. The Citadel JR SS Johnathan Stokes
  54. Kent State JR SS Sawyer Polen
  55. Cal State Fullerton SR SS/OF Keegan Dale
  56. Oregon SR SS Kevin Minjares
  57. Columbia SR SS Aaron Silbar
  58. Oklahoma SR SS/2B Hector Lorenzana
  59. Southern Illinois SR SS/2B Jake Welch
  60. Canisius SR SS Ronnie Bernick
  61. Louisville SR SS/3B Alex Chittenden
  62. Northern Colorado JR SS/2B Ryan Yamane
  63. California rJR SS Derek Campbell
  64. California JR SS Brenden Farney
  65. Central Connecticut State SR SS Anthony Turgeon
  66. Southern Mississippi rSO SS Breck Kline

2014 MLB Draft – Prep FAVORITES

Coverage of high school ball is about to blow up around the internet over the next few days with the NHSI starting up today in beautiful Cary, North Carolina. Naturally, the actual list below has nothing to do with that, other than the fact that I have driven those around me — especially the gal who inexplicably chooses to live with me — to the point of insanity with my all too often refrain of “man, I can’t believe I didn’t get that post about Player X before his huge game yesterday got him tons of online ink…now when I mention him, everybody will assume I’m just stealing somebody else’s scouting report and hopping on the bandwagon.” Not saying I don’t keep my eyes glued on Twitter for updates like any good draft fan, just saying that I think I’ve built up enough goodwill around here over the years that most people realize I’m not the crazy reactionary move a guy up 50 spots because one national writer saw four life-altering at bats type of hack. I’m a hack in a million other ways, obviously, but don’t believe that’s one of them. And yet here I sit still getting nervous about people assuming the worst about me hence the need for the preceding disclaimer. Sorry to go all meta on you, just working through some stuff.

There are a few players listed below who will be in Cary — and more than a few have been blown up the last few weeks on the internet already, Bukauskas and Adams being arguably the most notable — but the real purpose here is to highlight quality early-round talents that have caught my eye at one point or another over the past few months. I debated on whether or not to exclude some of the super obvious names on here, but figured it couldn’t hurt to make mention of my affection for the Jackson’s, Gatewood’s, and Aiken’s of the world. It’s also worth noting that the FAVORITE tag gets put on a guy as soon as it feels right; I won’t BS you and say Gatewood has been a FAVORITE since middle school or anything, but hopefully it is understood that the bigger names have had the label slapped on them for many months at this point. Lastly, a player not getting the FAVORITE tag doesn’t mean he isn’t damn good; case in point, an absolute stone cold top of the first round talent in Tyler Kolek isn’t a FAVORITE for whatever reason, but he’s still really awesome and I’d be pretty pleased if he fell to the Phillies at 7.

I also like to use my FAVORITES list as a personal shopping cart of sorts on draft day. If I was a greedy scouting director, I’d be hoping for at least five of these bats and three of the arms signing contracts with my team this summer. Not sure how realistic that is at this point — those numbers are as low as I’m willing to go in my dream world — so it’ll be fun to check back in mid-June to see how possible hitting those targets will be.

Finally, since you know I hate lists without some kind of added value, I am planning on adding notes about why I love as many as these prospects as I can get to throughout the day. Posting will then be fairly light for a few days as I’m off to go watch some of the names below myself starting Thursday…

  • C Alex Jackson
  • C Simeon Lucas
  • C Evan Skoug
  • 1B Jeremy Vazquez
  • 1B Bobby Bradley
  • 2B Max George
  • 2B Isan Diaz
  • 2B Jack Gerstenmaier
  • 2B Shane Mardirosian
  • SS Ti’Quan Forbes
  • SS Josh Morgan
  • 3B Jacob Gatewood
  • 3B Jack Flaherty
  • 3B Charlie Cody
  • OF Braxton Davidson
  • OF Marcus Wilson
  • OF Stone Garrett
  • OF Zach Shannon
  • OF Monte Harrison
  • OF Carl Chester
  • OF Derek Hill
  • OF Jeren Kendall
  • LHP Brady Aiken
  • RHP Dylan Cease
  • RHP Jacob Bukauskas
  • RHP Cameron Varga
  • RHP Jonathan Teaney
  • RHP Keaton McKinney
  • RHP Spencer Adams
  • LHP Kodi Medeiros
  • RHP Sean Reid-Foley
  • RHP Cobi Johnson
  • RHP Bryan Dobzanski

2014 MLB Draft: College Pitching

I’ve been sitting on this list for over a month, forgetting to hit the Publish button and change things up from rough draft to public piece each day. With this past weekend being so crazy for so many Friday night starters around the nation, I figured it’s better to get this first iteration out ASAP before changes are made in June. A few quick notes on what you see below…

I didn’t include pitchers from outside D-1 ball. Not yet. There would certainly be a few additions to this list if I were to add them in. In due time. A few injuries (Troupe, Stephens) and a few risers (like everybody’s new favorite senior Jake Stinnett, ranked 199th on my college pitching list last year for what it’s worth) were not really taken into account, as this list was originally drafted right before the start of the current college season. This has annoyed some people in the past, but it’s how I like it. Barring extreme circumstances, I don’t actually move college guys (HS is a different story) around my personal rankings all that much in the months leading up to the draft. The sites that update big boards every week don’t reflect what actually goes on this time of year in front offices, but, hey, different strokes and all that. Gotta move those draft books somehow, I guess.

As for the list itself…damn, that top ten is a thing of beauty. Not my rankings (though if you want to say that, I won’t stop you), but the quality of the talent available. Even if you quibble with my list — feel free to do so in the comments or via email, by the way — I think there’s enough depth at the top of this year’s pitching class to come up with an outstanding top ten any way you want to break it down. There’s definitely some separation after the top three, but a team drafting late in first round can realistically get their fourth-rated college arm if things line up their way on draft day. Team preference will go a long way in sorting out these pitchers from four on. I’m not sure which pitcher will take that fourth spot come June, but, if pressed today to give a name, I’d say I’m currently leaning Finnegan. I also have to say that I won’t sleep as well tonight knowing I didn’t mention how unhappy I am with Freeland’s low placement. Not sure what I was thinking last month other than the fact I just liked the names above him more (i.e. his ranking is not a knock on him, but a testament to this year’s crazy pitching depth), but I’m 99.99% sure he’ll be significantly higher than this on the next version of a similar list. 

The June list will go way deeper than 72 names (did 500 last year, might do it again this year), but I capped it for now in an attempt to maintain what’s left of my sanity. So many fascinating names didn’t make the cut here, but I’m more than happy to talk about anybody here or not in the comments/via email. Putting this together was a fun little exercise…hope it’s a worthwhile list.

  1. East Carolina JR RHP Jeff Hoffman
  2. North Carolina State JR LHP Carlos Rodon
  3. Vanderbilt JR RHP Tyler Beede
  4. Mississippi JR RHP Chris Ellis
  5. Florida State JR RHP Luke Weaver
  6. UNLV JR RHP Erick Fedde
  7. TCU JR LHP Brandon Finnegan
  8. LSU JR RHP Aaron Nola
  9. Hartford JR LHP Sean Newcomb
  10. San Diego State JR RHP Michael Cederoth
  11. Louisville JR RHP Nick Burdi
  12. Arizona JR RHP Matthew Troupe
  13. Rice JR RHP Zech Lemond
  14. Notre Dame JR RHP Patrick Connaughton
  15. Cal Poly JR LHP Matt Imhof
  16. Oregon State JR LHP Jace Fry
  17. Louisiana-Lafayette JR RHP Austin Robichaux
  18. Fresno State JR RHP Derick Velazquez
  19. Florida rJR RHP Karsten Whitson
  20. Stanford SR RHP AJ Vanegas
  21. Oregon rSO LHP Porter Clayton
  22. Southern Mississippi JR RHP Brad Roney
  23. Evansville JR LHP Kyle Freeland
  24. Hawaii JR LHP Scott Squier
  25. USC JR RHP Wyatt Strahan
  26. Arizona JR RHP Tyler Parmenter
  27. Portland JR LHP Travis Radke
  28. Texas A&M JR RHP Daniel Mengden
  29. North Carolina JR RHP Benton Moss
  30. Miami JR LHP Andrew Suarez
  31. Fresno State JR RHP/OF Jordan Brink
  32. Virginia JR RHP Nick Howard
  33. Mississippi JR RHP Hawtin Buchanan
  34. Southern Illinois JR RHP Sam Coonrod
  35. Texas JR RHP Parker French
  36. Wichita State JR RHP AJ Ladwig
  37. Central Florida JR LHP Eric Skoglund
  38. Rice JR RHP Jordan Stephens
  39. Texas A&M JR RHP Corey Ray
  40. Auburn JR RHP Rocky McCord
  41. Mississippi State JR RHP Jonathan Holder
  42. Kentucky JR RHP Chandler Shepherd
  43. Florida JR RHP Ryan Harris
  44. Arkansas JR RHP Chris Oliver
  45. Texas JR LHP Dillon Peters
  46. North Carolina State JR RHP Logan Jernigan
  47. Clemson SO LHP Matthew Crownover
  48. Mississippi State JR LHP Jacob Lindgren
  49. South Carolina Upstate JR RHP Chad Sobotka
  50. Central Michigan JR RHP Jordan Foley
  51. UNC Wilmington JR RHP Jordan Ramsey
  52. Tulane rJR RHP Randy LeBlanc
  53. Portland JR RHP Kody Watts
  54. North Carolina Greensboro JR RHP Max Povse
  55. Western Illinois JR RHP Tyler Willman
  56. USC JR RHP Nigel Nootbaar
  57. Clemson JR RHP Daniel Gossett
  58. Pepperdine JR LHP Aaron Brown
  59. Illinois State JR RHP Jeremy Rhoades
  60. Mississippi State JR RHP Brandon Woodruff
  61. Charlotte rJR RHP Ryan Butler
  62. Texas rSO RHP John Curtiss
  63. Ohio State rJR RHP/1B Josh Dezse
  64. Oregon JR RHP Jake Reed
  65. Texas JR RHP Lukas Schiraldi
  66. Washington State rJR RHP Scott Simon
  67. Loyola Marymount JR RHP Trevor Megill
  68. Lipscomb rJR RHP Hunter Brothers
  69. Arizona State JR RHP Darin Gillies
  70. Alabama JR RHP Spencer Turnbull
  71. Texas A&M JR RHP Gandy Stubblefield
  72. Louisville JR LHP Joey Filomeno

2014 MLB Draft College Second Base Follow List (and Ranking)

Brian Anderson checks a ton of boxes: arm, defensive versatility, speed, power, size, approach, and bat speed in excess. All aforementioned tools are at least average, so the only real question is how much he’ll actually hit going forward. My total not a comp comparison for him is JaCoby Jones, both in terms of talent level and draft floor. This may be an oversimplification, but Alex Blandino has almost the opposite scouting profile: not crazy toolsy, but born to hit. If he keeps doing what he’s done so far this spring, he’ll likely find himself atop this list by June.

After A and B, there’s C. Branden Cogswell follows Anderson and Blandino because of his solid all-around skill set and outstanding plate discipline. I’m not quite there in proclaiming him, or anybody following him on the list for that matter, a future regular in the big leagues due to his limited power ceiling, but I do enjoy scooping up quick-moving, valuable bench contributors from college after most of the upside gambles are off the board.

As mentioned above, there really is a significant gap between Anderson/Blandino (easy to see starter upside) and the rest of the 2B class (likely backups, but some good ones). I’m not saying that you could put the next dozen names or so and a hat and pull a perfectly acceptable order, but I’m not saying you can’t, either.

I genuinely like the two seniors (Ross Kivett and Kyle Ruchim) as top ten round targets that can both save you some dough and give you a potentially useful role player going forward. Kivett is the more famous prospect – still shocked he didn’t sign as a tenth rounder last year – and his speed, smarts, and sneaky pop make him fun to watch. Ruchim is less well-known, but, in my view, no less talented. I actually had Ruchim as high as fourth on original iterations of this list because of my appreciation of his approach, defense, versatility (fine in both SS and CF in a pinch), and the always comforting fallback plan on the mound (low-90s FB and SL that flashes plus).

The juniors are an interesting class at the top as I think there are more tools here than in most years. Gunnar Heidt’s flashes of power, Austin Davidson’s pedigree, Caleb Whalen’s offensive upside, Casey Turgeon’s glove and baseball IQ, Trent Gilbert’s swing, Grant Kay’s breakthrough, and Frankie Ratcliff’s redemption (I’m cheating since he’s a senior but go with it) are all worth following this spring. Really like Jace Conrad’s underrated speed/glove/approach/experience vibe; Caden Bailey’s tools aren’t quite at that level, but he’s above-average in those areas all the same. There are many others that I’d love to write about like Dante Flores (another pedigree guy), old favorite Steve Wilkerson, Stephen Ventimilia (love his athleticism and energy), and Ivy League star Thomas Roulis, but I need to cut myself off before I put people to sleep. One last name that I’ll be very curious to see gets drafted is Kevin Kramer, a good prospect who is out in 2014 (shoulder) yet still might be worth a mid-round pick if deemed even remotely signable. I’d guess he’s back at UCLA in 2015, but you never know.

  1. Arkansas JR 2B/SS/OF Brian Anderson
  2. Stanford JR 2B/3B Alex Blandino
  3. Virginia JR 2B/SS Branden Cogswell
  4. College of Charleston JR 2B/SS Gunnar Heidt
  5. Pepperdine JR 2B/SS Austin Davidson
  6. Kansas State SR 2B Ross Kivett
  7. Northwestern SR 2B/RHP Kyle Ruchim
  8. Portland JR 2B/OF Caleb Whalen
  9. Florida JR 2B/SS Casey Turgeon
  10. Arizona JR 2B Trent Gilbert
  11. Louisville JR 2B Grant Kay
  12. Houston SR 2B Frankie Ratcliff
  13. Louisiana-Lafayette JR 2B Jace Conrad
  14. Georgia State JR 2B/SS Caden Bailey
  15. Long Island-Brooklyn SR 2B/SS John Ziznewski
  16. USC JR 2B Dante Flores
  17. UC Davis rJR 2B/OF Tino Lipson
  18. North Carolina State JR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge
  19. Clemson SR 2B/SS Steve Wilkerson
  20. Nebraska JR 2B/SS Pat Kelly
  21. Hawaii JR 2B Stephen Ventimilia
  22. Western Carolina JR 2B/3B Brad Strong
  23. Dartmouth JR 2B/SS Thomas Roulis
  24. UCLA JR 2B/3B Kevin Kramer
  25. Mississippi State SR 2B Brett Pirtle
  26. Washington JR 2B/3B Robert Pehl
  27. South Alabama rJR 2B Logan Kirkland
  28. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR 2B Michael Porcaro
  29. Northeastern JR 2B/SS Jason Vosler
  30. UC Riverside JR 2B/OF Joe Chavez
  31. Charlotte JR 2B/SS Mikal Hill
  32. Bradley rSO 2B Chris Godinez
  33. Georgia Tech JR 2B/SS Thomas Smith
  34. UNC Wilmington SR 2B Luis Renvill
  35. Indiana JR 2B/OF Casey Rodrigue
  36. Miami SR 2B/SS Alex Hernandez
  37. Charlotte JR 2B/OF Brad Elwood
  38. Georgia Tech SR 2B/SS Mott Hyde
  39. Maine SR 2B/SS Troy Black
  40. Richmond SR 2B Adam Forrer
  41. Arizona State JR 2B/SS Drew Stankiewicz
  42. South Florida JR 2B/SS Kyle Teaf
  43. San Diego State SR 2B Tim Zier
  44. Georgia JR 2B/SS Nelson Ward
  45. Texas A&M JR 2B/SS Blake Allemand
  46. The Citadel JR 2B Mason Davis
  47. Cal State Bakersfield SR 2B Oscar Sanay
  48. Elon SR 2B/SS Sebastian Gomez
  49. Arkansas-Pine Bluff SR 2B/SS Isias Alcantar
  50. Loyola Marymount JR 2B/SS David Edwards
  51. Oklahoma JR 2B/SS Josh Ake
  52. Texas JR 2B Brooks Marlow
  53. North Carolina Greensboro rSO 2B/OF Benigno Marrero
  54. Tennessee Tech JR 2B/SS Dylan Bosheers
  55. San Jose State SR 2B Jacob Valdez
  56. Wichita State SR 2B/SS Dayne Parker
  57. Oregon SR 2B Aaron Payne
  58. Maryland JR 2B Andrew Amaro
  59. UC Riverside JR 2B/SS Alex Rubanowitz
  60. Youngstown State SR 2B/SS Phil Lipari
  61. Baylor rSR 2B Lawton Langford
  62. UCLA SR 2B/OF Kevin Williams
  63. Stanford SR 2B/RHP Brett Michael Doran
  64. Stanford SR 2B/SS Danny Diekroeger
  65. Oregon State SR 2B/SS Andy Peterson
  66. Tennessee Tech SR 2B/SS Zach Zarzour
  67. Nicholls State SR 2B Phillip Lyons
  68. Monmouth SR 2B/SS Jake Gronsky
  69. Binghamton SR 2B Daniel Nevares
  70. Radford JR 2B Josh Gardiner
  71. Rice JR 2B/SS Ford Stainback
  72. Nebraska-Omaha JR 2B Caleb Palensky
  73. Mississippi State rJR 2B/OF Demarcus Henderson
  74. Oral Roberts JR 2B Matt Brandy
  75. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR 2B Cody Stephens
  76. Wright State SR 2B Joe Ford
  77. North Dakota State SR 2B Wes Satzinger
  78. Siena SR 2B Vince Citro
  79. Kentucky SR 2B Matt Reida
  80. Towson SR 2B Pat Fitzgerald
  81. McNeese State rJR 2B/SS Connor Lloyd
  82. Kansas JR 2B Justin Protacio
  83. Hofstra SR 2B Matt Ford
  84. Georgetown JR 2B Ryan Busch
  85. Central Michigan JR 2B Pat MacKenzie
  86. Xavier SR 2B Selby Chidemo


Title says it all. Stats have been updated through this past weekend. Radke’s only made three starts, but the rest haven’t missed a turn yet. It’s still early enough in the year that I’m happy to add another name or two to the list if anybody has a request. Most recently added player is LSU RHP Aaron Nola. I know stuff like this doesn’t matter, but pretty crazy that in Nola’s first four starts of the year his team won by a combined score of 50-0. After beating a decent Vanderbilt team this past Friday — apparently there was some hype around this game, who knew — his combined score when starting is down to a paltry 54-2. Pretty good.

NC State LHP Carlos Rodon | 67.9%
East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman | 57.7%
Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede | 49.1%
Florida State RHP Luke Weaver | 51.2%
Mississippi RHP Chris Ellis | 43.1%
UNLV RHP Erik Fedde | 64.4%
LSU RHP Aaron Nola | 44.0%

And by request…

Portland LHP Travis Radke | 46.2%

2015 MLB Draft – College Edition

I do a little bit of travelling during the season to try and see as many first round prospects as possible. I’ve seen games in cities all over the country — mostly south and west — and there hasn’t been a bad experience to speak of in the bunch. As a lazy and cheap man, however, getting the opportunity to have a first round talent come to me is really exciting. That’s why I made the horrible in hindsight decision before the season to pass up planning and budgeting for potential trips to see Rodon/Weaver and Beede/Nola (that one really hurts) to see a game 23 minutes from work and 12 minutes from my parents’ home (two birds with one stone!).

For reasons still unclear to me (field conditions?), Villanova and Hartford was scrapped this past Friday. No Sean Newcomb. Instead Villanova played La Salle and Harford went off to play Sacred Heart. Of course, all Newcomb did was go out and dominate an overmatched Sacred Heart lineup (7 IP 2 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K) in front of 101 loyal fans in beautiful Yaphank, New York. Ah, what might have been.

If you can’t already tell, I’m bitter. I had a clear path to Nashville (where I will be later in the year, so at least I have that to look forward to), but passed it up to see a player I would not have otherwise seen this spring. I regret nothing, but, again, still bitter. To give myself a cleanser from the 2014 draft, let’s look at the 2015 draft! That makes sense, right? No? Well it’s already written and my laziness has already been established. I started by trying to pinpoint which college players could be in the mix for the top overall pick in 2015. That approach proved to be too narrow a focus this early in the process, so I just added any potential first round talent. I realized halfway through that I’m incredibly tough on position players, especially with respect to my high — possibly too high — expectations of freshman year production. Some big names with big tools were left out of the mix because of slow starts to their college careers. I think it’s fair to question this line of thinking, so my only defense for now is that it’s incredibly early in the ranking/follow list game to sweat about names being left off. If you’re good, you won’t be overlooked for long. Of course by making a list like this in the first place, any and all criticism is fair game. Best tools/production combo right now is Alex Bregman with Blake Trahan not too far off the trail. I love that they are both in the same state, one at a traditional powerhouse and the other at an on-the-rise upstart; can’t wait to read the eventual Aaron Fitt feature on the two.

The one thing I noticed about the pitching is how oddly grouped it looks to be. Speaking of oddly grouped, the words in that preceding sentence! Ugly writing aside, 2015 could be the year of the loaded pitching staff in college baseball. Vanderbilt, TCU, and UCLA obviously stand out, but there were a half-dozen other schools (at least) that could have easily had three or more names in the early round mix. As for a more general trend, and this is one I hope I’m missing the mark on, it seems to me that 2015 will be a return to power conferences dominating the top of the draft. Loyal readers should know by now that I really do enjoy finding prospects to care about at all schools across the country, big and small, but 2015 appears to be all big name schools, all the time. The only thing I could think to explain it — outside of just being a weird, random blip — is that perhaps smaller school prospects get noticed later in the process. Interesting hypothesis that will be fun to re-visit this time next year.

Players are listed in no order outside of position. Lots of interesting names were left out, but I’m happy to discuss why in the comments or via email.

LSU 2B Alex Bregman
South Carolina 2B Max Schrock
Miami 3B David Thompson
Vanderbilt 3B Xavier Turner
Texas 3B CJ Hinojosa
Louisiana-Lafayette SS Blake Trahan
Clemson OF Steven Duggar
Florida State OF DJ Stewart
North Carolina OF Skye Bolt
Virginia OF Joe McCarthy
Cincinnati OF Ian Happ
Tennessee OF Christin Stewart
Alabama OF Georgie Salem
Vanderbilt OF Rhett Wiseman
Texas OF Ben Johnson

Clemson RHP Clate Schmidt
Duke RHP Michael Matuella
Virginia LHP Nathan Kirby
Houston RHP Jacob Lemoine
Louisville RHP Kyle Funkhouser
Kentucky RHP Kyle Cody
Arkansas LHP Colin Poche
Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Ferguson
Vanderbilt RHP Carson Fulmer
Vanderbilt RHP Walker Buehler
Texas A&M RHP Grayson Long
TCU RHP Riley Ferrell
TCU LHP Alex Young
TCU RHP Mitchell Traver
Arizona State LHP Brett Lilek
Arizona State RHP Ryan Burr
Southern California LHP Kyle Twomey
UCLA RHP James Kaprielian
UCLA RHP Cody Poteet
UCLA LHP Hunter Virant
Iowa RHP Blake Hickman
Cal State Fullerton RHP Justin Garza
Cal State Fullerton RHP Thomas Eshelman
UC Santa Barbara RHP Dylan Hecht
Rice RHP Kevin McCanna

2014 MLB Draft: High School “Dream Team” (Hitters)

Last few days have been hectic, but I’ve been doing some catch-up work on the 2014 HS class in whatever downtime I’ve had. I’ll preface all mentions of prep talent by reminding anybody who will listen that I’m a) not a scout, and b) not a guy with the magical powers of teleportation and therefore don’t stick to the admirable rule of only ranking players I’ve seen in person. That said, I did see way more HS baseball (including everybody listed below) this past summer than damn near anybody in the country not drawing a paycheck for their work, wonderfully devoted parents of players not included. I actually think I saw more HS baseball this summer than I’ve seen in the four — has it been that long? — summers I’ve been running the site put together, though you could argue that’s more of an indictment of my prior laziness/cheapness than anything else. Again, I don’t mention any of that to position myself as any kind of authority on the matter, just providing some context and background.

It should be no surprise that I find the players who currently rank second at each spot way more fascinating to discuss at this juncture, but we have plenty of time to flesh out longer position lists in the coming weeks. I don’t think there are any particularly insightful picks here as I’m fairly certain these align with much of what the internet currently thinks about this class, but I’ll do my best to briefly explain my rationale and hopefully provide something a little bit different from the copy/paste world we live in. First the “team” (2-9 on the diamond only, no pitchers yet) and then me rambling…

C/OF Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo HS, California)
1B Jeremy Vasquez (Martin County HS, Florida)
2B/SS Greg Deichmann (Brother Martin HS, Louisiana)
SS/RHP Nick Gordon (Olympia HS, Florida)
3B/SS Jacob Gatewood (Redwood HS, California)
OF/1B Braxton Davidson (Roberson HS, North Carolina)
OF/RHP Michael Gettys (Gainesville HS, Georgia)
OF Marcus Wilson (Junipero Serra HS, California)

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but after seeing Alex Jackson up close a few times, I never could quite grasp why so many wanted to move him off catcher as soon as the ink dries on his first pro deal. He’s a first round prep catcher for me, but not necessarily a slam dunk first round prep bat (though damn close), if that makes sense. As a point of reference (and not comp), newly minted OF Stryker Trahan’s development path is probably how I’d approach Jackson’s future. Give Jackson a real, honest chance to catch, but be prepared to make the switch if circumstances call for it. If that sounds like common sense, well, that’s because it is.

1B, 2B, and third OF were easily the toughest calls. I know I could have made life much easier by classifying Braxton Davidson as a 1B (where my comp of him to Freddie Freeman works even better), but he’s good enough in an outfield corner that it would be a shame not to at least try him there at first. Jeremy Vasquez doesn’t have the power upside that would make me feel more confident in his spot atop a position list known for the long ball, but he does too many other things so well at the plate — the man can track offspeed stuff like a seasoned vet — that I like the upside regardless.

Greg Deichmann’s placement is dangerous because I think that’s the one spot where I went with my own eyes more than my accrued notes. Maybe I’ll regret it, but there were few players I saw hit the ball as hard and as often as Deichmann did throughout the last nine or so months.

Marcus Wilson’s eye-opening skills (his tools are awesome, obviously, but he was much, much further along as a ballplayer than I was led to believe prior to seeing him live) made me a believer over time, so that’s why I narrowly went with him as the third OF. Still love Stone Garrett, newly fallen for Matt Railey, and extremely impressed with the Zach S’s (Sullivan and Shannon), so expect this race to tighten over time. There’s also Monte Harrison, Scott Hurst, Luke Bonfield, Kevin Bryant, Gareth Morgan, Dalton Ewing, Alex Verdugo, to say nothing of all the speed/range standouts like Carl Chester, Derek Hill, and Todd Isaacs. (I didn’t name everybody at the top, so don’t scream at me for “forgetting” your guy…or do, and we can talk about him in the comments/via email!). It’s a good year for prep outfielders, but, then again, it’s always a good year for prep outfielders, you know?

SS was surprisingly close, but that’s not a knock on the top guy in the least. Nick Gordon in so many ways reminded me of JP Crawford, last year’s 16th overall pick, every time I saw him this summer. All the reports that say he’s bulked up and looks better than ever early this season are nothing but encouraging. Easy first round talent. What made the battle for the top spot close, however, is my enduring infatuation with Ti’Quan Forbes. Not only do I think the gap between Gordon and Forbes is smaller than most, I’ll go the extra step and make the direct and obvious (in my mind) link between the 6-4, 180 pound middle infielder to this class’ other oversized shortstop, none other than Jacob Gatewood. I’m a big Gatewood fan — he’s comfortably atop the 3B rankings, and would have ranked tops at SS or OF if that’s where you happen to think he winds up professionally — but I can’t say that there is nearly as much separation between Forbes and Gatewood as many on the internet currently believe. These next few months will be especially huge for both Gatewood and Forbes, so…we’ll see.

Almost 1,000 words so far and I couldn’t find a way to shoehorn Michael Gettys into the conversation. I’ll say this: the Clint Frazier comp that is now the norm in every report you read on the internet about him could not have felt more real the first time (without hearing that comp, either) I saw him up close. The arm, the smarts, the build, the style of play…it is a very natural fit. I’ll see the industry’s Frazier comp and raise it one better. Watch out now. Person in baseball that I trust (or, as I like to think of him, a PIBTIT) mentioned this one to me and I can’t say I hate it. Michael Gettys, he of the easy plus arm strength, big raw power, ample speed, and quick bat occasionally mitigated by an overly aggressive approach to hitting, reminded him of none other than Yasiel Puig. Love comps, hate comps, no strong feelings about comps because you stumbled across this site by accident and are frantically trying to click the tiny red X to escape the insanity of one man’s thousands of hours spent analyzing teenage ballplayers…but, come on, that’s a pretty cool one to have out there.


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