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2010 MLB Draft: Top 30 College Shortstop Prospects

1. Cal State Fullerton JR SS Christian Colon
2. Kansas State JR SS Carter Jurica
3. Duke JR SS Jake Lemmerman
4. Long Beach State JR SS Devin Lohman
5. Alabama JR SS Josh Rutledge
6. Virginia Tech JR SS Tim Smalling
7. Rice JR SS Rick Hague
8. James Madison JR SS David Herbek
9. Virginia SR SS Tyler Cannon
10. Arizona State SO SS Drew Maggi
11. Fresno State JR SS Danny Muno
12. East Carolina JR SS Dustin Harrington
13. Francis Marion SR SS Barrett Kleinknecht
14. Old Dominion SR SS Jake McAloose
15. Central Arizona FR SS Sam Lind
16. Virginia Military Institute JR SS Sam Roberts
17. San Francisco SR Derek Poppert
18. Creighton JR SS Elliot Soto
19. Kennesaw State SR SS Tyler Stubblefield
20. Florida Atlantic JR SS Nick DelGuidice
21. North Carolina SR SS Ryan Graepel
22. UT-San Antonio JR SS Ryan Hutson
23. Florida State SR SS Stephen Cardullo
24. Texas Tech SR SS Joey Kenworthy
25. Kansas JR SS Brandon Macias
26. Michigan State JR SS Jonathan Roof
27. Texas A&M JR SS Kenny Jackson
28. Washington State JR SS Shea Vucinich
29. Minnesota SO SS AJ Pettersen
30. San Diego JR SS Zach Walters

Reports on the 30 players listed above with a few extra prospects who didn’t make the list for good measure, after the jump. Stat lines are as of mid-May 2010 and are park/schedule adjusted. They include BA/OBP/SLG, BB/K, and SB/Attempts…

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2010 MLB Draft: Pac-10 Shortstops

It’s purely coincidental that the first three conferences I’ve looked at have exactly four potential draft picks who play shortstop apiece. Weird. The order of these four really could be picked out of a hat and look about as good as what I’ve got here; we’re talking about a group of tightly bunched, similarly talented future utility guys, so I guess it makes sense that they are so close. Let’s see who is worth knowing in the Pac-10…

Stanford JR SS Jake Schlander
Height, Weight: 6-2, 195

FR – .232/.307/.256 (24 BB/41 K; 3-3 SB)
SO – .232/.288/.324 (16 BB/41 K; 3-4 SB)
JR – .283/.420/.472 (12 BB/7 K; 1-1 SB)

Jake Schlander can really pick it at shortstop, but his inability to make consistent contact, hit for power, and get on base regularly through his first two college seasons has put a damper on his pro prospects. He’s started since day one at Stanford, putting up lines of .232/.307/.256 and .232/.285/.324 in his freshman and sophomore year. Those are stunningly bad numbers. However, as mentioned, Schlander can really pick it at shortstop. I mean, he can really, really pick it. Plus range, flawless hands, strong arm; defensively, Schlander has it all. His defense is so good that I felt comfortable predicting that he’d be on draft boards back when his offensive numbers were, and I say this with all due respect, straight up horrible. One month into the college season Schlander’s bat has show such unexpected signs of life that it may be time to start recalibrating his final draft position’s ceiling. Before the season I wrote this: “Expect a forward thinking front office, maybe Seattle or Boston, to pop Schlander late (round 35+) against all offensive odds.” If the offensive gains can be maintained, Schlander could see his draft stock jump up 20 rounds. Too drastic a reaction to a small sample of early season plate appearances? Perhaps, but I’m alright with jumping the gun a bit when the tools are there to justify it.

Washington State JR SS Shea Vucinich
Height, Weight: 6-0, 183

FR – .316/.357/.440 (8 BB/34 K; 2-5 SB)
SO – .230/.341/.377 (27 BB/41 K; 8-10 SB)
JR – .358/.460/.604 (6 BB/13 K; 3-4 SB)

Reports on Vucinich’s defense vary depending on the day, but most seem to agree his upside with the glove is significant. I’ve even heard some evaluators touting him as a potential plus defender up the middle. He also has shown good power potential throughout his career with the Cougars. That’s the good news. The less good news is centered around Vucinich’s aggressive approach at the plate. His free swinging ways help explain some of power output (swing hard at anything around the plate and sometimes the ball goes very far), but it’s also gotten him in trouble in the past. Something about his skill set had me really curious about locking down some worthwhile comps. Best two I came up with are former Padres starting SS/2B Damian Jackson (44th rounder) and current Red Sox minor leaguer Tug Hulett (14th rounder). It wouldn’t surprise me to see Vucinich split the difference between the two, both in eventual draft landing spot and pro career accomplishments.

Arizona JR SS Bryce Ortega
Height, Weight: 5-11, 175
Birth Date: 9/22/88 (Age-21 season)

FR – .326/.409/.429 (25 BB/24 K; 13-15 SB)
SO – .324/.420/.438 (31 BB/32 K; 16-18 SB)
JR – .258/.390/.274 (11 BB/4 K; 9-9 SB)

Ortega put up very consistent numbers in his first two full seasons at Arizona, but has taken a step backwards in the power department in the early going of 2010. As a matter of fact, he’s the only one of the four players listed who has experienced a decline in his performance so far in 2010. The most commonly cited reason for Ortega’s early season struggles relate back to his transition from shortstop (a position he is more than capable of playing, for the record) to second base; not sure I buy it, but it’s a thought. Strong base running and good patience have long been the bedrocks of his offensive game, so it’s good to see those areas remain consistent despite his 2010 contact and power deficiencies. Patience at the plate, a two-year track record of pop (2010 be damned), excellent base running instincts, and a versatile glove fit the potential utility infielder mold pretty well, don’t you think?

UCLA JR SS Niko Gallego
Height, Weight: 5-11, 180
Birth Date: 12/29/88 (Age-21 season)

FR – .317/.378/.415 (2 BB/7 K; 1-2 SB)
SO – .273/.361/.326 (16 BB/34 K; 6-10 SB)
JR – .305/.411/.542 (8 BB/8 K; 5-5 SB)

Gallego didn’t do much to impress in his first two years with the Bruins, but experience in two quality wood bat summer leagues (Northwoods League and Cape Cod League) and pro baseball bloodlines (father Mike had almost 3,000 big league at bats) make him a good bet to hear his name called on draft day. The quality start in 2010 certainly doesn’t hurt his prospect stock, but, again, his pro future maxes out at utility player. He doesn’t quite have dear old dad’s glove, but may have more upside in his bat than the .239/.320/.328 career line put up by his father. Speaking of comparisons to Mike Gallego, enjoy this quote from former Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy on comparing Gallego the senior to Dustin Pedroia:

I’ve been trying to figure it out and I can’t. Mike Gallego is a good friend of mine and I used to tell him that he reminded me of Gags. That used to piss Pedroia off. He would say ‘Mike [expletive] Gallego, are you [expletive] me?’ and he would say that all the way back when he was a freshman. Can you imagine a freshman in college baseball reacting like that when you’re comparing him to a Major Leaguer…but that’s exactly the way Pedro is.

2010 MLB Draft: Big 12 Shortstops

I’m digging these quick looks at different 2010 MLB Draft position groups, so let’s keep it going with a look at the handful of Big 12 draft-eligible shortstops of note. I think this group is actually a touch better on the whole than the ACC quartet, but I’m probably splitting hairs with that assessment considering the most probable career path of the eight players listed so far would be considered under the umbrella category of “utility player of varying value.” Speaking of the ACC list from yesterday, a comp for one of the players on the list came to mind last night: Tim Smalling as the college version of Tampa’s Reid Brignac. Bit of a stretch, perhaps, but there are some similar tool-based similarities between the two. Just a thought.

Texas A&M JR SS Kenny Jackson
Height, Weight: 6-4, 195
Birth Date: 7/2/89 (Age-20 season)

JR – .421/.511/.447 (7 BB/4 K; 1-1 SB)

The former Alvin College shortstop reminds me of current Cardinals starter Brendan Ryan. Both players are smooth defenders, possess strong arms, bigger than usual shortstop frames, and enough offensive skills and defensive consistency to provide value as a starter. Jackson hasn’t put up big power numbers in 2010, but showed off enough pop prior to joining the Aggies to have some observers (myself included) buy in to his double digit home run potential as a professional. Like the vast majority of the college shortstops on this list, Jackson’s clearest path to the big leagues will be as a utility player with a strong glove. Unlike so many of the others, however, Jackson has clear starter upside at the position if he continue to tap into his above-average tools.

Kansas State JR SS Carter Jurica
Height, Weight: 5-11, 185
Birth Date: 9/23/88 (Age-21 season)

FR – .240/.329/.360 (15 BB/23 K; 9-14 SB)
SO – .353/.437/.492 (26 BB/45 K; 23-32 SB)
JR – .432/.495/.662 (11 BB/9 K; 10-13 SB)

In a weak college shortstop class, Carter Jurica should see his stock soar this spring. He has always had the right tools to succeed (plus speed, enough pop, good athlete), but has put everything together in a big way so far this season. The raw tools are there for Jurica to succeed professionally, but it’ll take a team buying in to his long-range projection if he wants to sneak up into the top ten rounds this June.

Kansas JR SS Brandon Macias
Height, Weight: 5-10, 183
Birth Date: 10/10/88 (Age-21 season)

JR – .213/.261/.262 (3 BB/10 K; 0-0 SB)

There is certainly an argument that could be made for Macias to sit atop this particular shortstop list, what with his excellent defensive tools and true plus arm strength and accuracy, but the early season struggles of the former Arizona State enrollee and South Mountain CC shortstop give me pause. Macias has received universal praise for his outstanding work ethic and love of the game, and his big first year playing for South Mountain (in a wood bat league, no less) had scouts thinking they were watching a future everyday shortstop in the making. A disappointing sophomore season chock full of struggles due in large part to a nagging hamstring injury took him off the radar to some degree, but, despite the down year, Macias showed off enough evidence that he’s a player with all five tools (in addition to the aforementioned defensive gifts, Macias has above-average speed and good gap power) present in his game. Kansas has a surprisingly rich recent history of shortstops drafted into the professional ranks, a factor that can only help Macias this June. Many talent evaluators look for programs that have coaching staffs with reputations coaching up certain positions or player types; in this way, Kansas’ strong track record developing up the middle types could be Macias’ gain this June.

Texas Tech SR SS Joey Kenworthy
Height, Weight: 5-5, 160
Birth Date: 6/6/88 (Age-22 season)

FR – .182/.262/.255 (4 BB/6 K; 1-1 SB)
SO – .313/.431/.411 (39 BB/20 K; 5-6 SB)
JR – .335/.363/.417 (12 BB/24 K; 5-7 SB)
SR – .303/.444/.461 (14 BB/8 K; 3-6 SB)

No, Kenworthy isn’t the water boy, scorekeeper, or equipment manager, thanks so much for asking. Opposing fans do a double take when the 5-5, 160 pound Kenworthy steps up to the plate for the first time, but his solid defense and not completely worthless bat (how’s that for a ringing endorsement?) typically give him the last laugh. I wonder if Kenworthy’s draft stock would have been higher if he was a senior coming out of school at the height of post-World Series Angels victory induced David Eckstein craze of a few years ago. As it stands, his draft prospects are touch and go, but a continuation of his improved senior year numbers might be enough to sneak him into the last few rounds this year.

2010 MLB Draft: ACC Shortstops

I’ve started to make some prospect rankings lists, but am realizing that there are some really tight competitions in certain conferences and position groups. Last night I was rolling along as I put together a list of the best 2010 draft eligible position players in the ACC until I hit a roadblock at around the tenth spot. There were four shortstops on my shortlist that hadn’t been included, so I figured, hey, why not tease that ranking out a bit to see how the four players ranked head to head to head to head?

Virginia Tech JR SS Tim Smalling
Height, Weight: 6-3, 207
Birth Date: 10/14/87 (Age-22 season)

FR – .288/.389/.397 (21 BB/27 K; 1-4 SB)
SO – .250/.309/.442 (17 BB/61 K; 6-8 SB)
JR – (transferred in from Arkansas; sat out 2009 season)
rJR – .436/.482/.667 (5 BB/7 K; 2-3 SB)

Smalling is, perhaps somewhat ironically, the biggest of the four shortstops on our list. It’s ironic because his name has “small” in it. Clever observation, right? Anyway, that size (6-3, 207) and a strong arm make him look like a player capable of playing third professionally, but his skill set is still far better suited for shortstop. Good footwork and soft hands should keep him up the middle going forward, but that aforementioned potential for defensive versatility should help him in his cause for playing time at the next level. It may be a little strange to see a player like Smalling, a guy with a reputation as being more than a little hacktastic, atop this list, but his combined hit/power tools top that of any other draft-eligible middle infielder in the conference. Admittedly, Smalling’s plate discipline doesn’t look all that promising when judging solely by the numbers above, but scouts have given him high grades in his pitch recognition so far in 2010. He’s done a much better job at laying off balls he knows he can’t do much with (note the drop of strikeouts so far) and hammering pitches in his happy fun-time hitting zone (hard to argue with his power indicators thus far). Smalling’s total package of above-average offensive and defensive skills could get him into the top 5 rounds this June.

Duke JR SS Jake Lemmerman
Height, Weight: 6-2, 185
Birth Date: 5/4/89 (Age-21 season)

FR – .283/.353/.373 (15 BB/24 K; 5-7 SB)
SO – .287/.355/.448 (20 BB/32 K; 13-16 SB)
JR – .293/.391/.520 (11 BB/14 K; 4-5 SB)

Lemmerman, the youngest and best defensive player of our quartet, is a good runner (22-28 career SB) with enough untapped potential with the bat to legitimately claim an everyday role professionally someday. Lemmerman is already a plus defender with quick hands, above-average range, and an uncanny knack for turning the double play. If his strong offensive start to 2010 is for real, as many believe, he could hear his name called anywhere between rounds 5 through 8 on draft day. The renewed interest in defense should help Lemmerman as much as just about any player in this year’s college class.

Virginia SR SS Tyler Cannon
Height, Weight: 6-0, 205
Birth Date: 8/30/87 (Age-22 season)

FR – .279/.350/.354 (20 BB/46 K; 8-12 SB)
SO – .252/.324/.345 (23 BB/45 K; 14-17 SB)
JR – .351/.451/.489 (35 BB/41 K; 17-19 SB)
SR – .368/.442/.566 (10 BB/12 K; 0-2 SB)

Cannon is solid in all phases of the game, but lacks fluidity on defense at any one given position. Between his lack of a true defensive home and his steady, but unspectacular bat, he has many believing his professional role will be that of a super-sub capable of playing literally every position on the diamond, including catcher. I’ve compared him to current big league utility infielder Eric Bruntlett (who hit .342/.463/.485 with more walks than strikeouts for Stanford in his third and final year as a college player) in the past, a resemblance many first think of as an insult, but one I consider to be a compliment. Cannon is a proven versatile defender at the college level who, as previously mentioned, doesn’t really have any glaring deficiencies in his tool set, minus a lack of long ball power.

It seems that the majority of area scouts like Cannon better than I do, so it really wouldn’t be a shock to see Cannon go first out of the players listed. I’ll stick to my guns and insist on liking the guys listed above due largely to their greater probability of sticking at shortstop professionally, but I can see how Cannon would be a player who would grow on you with repeated viewings. After all, my “insulting” comp Bruntlett went in the 9th round back in 2000. That seems like the area of the draft that Cannon’s final projection will likely be in June.

Florida State SR SS Stephen Cardullo
Height, Weight: 6-0, 200
Birth Date: 8/31/87 (Age-22 season)

FR – .273/.308/.545 (1 BB/2 K; 0-0 SB; limited at bats)
SO – .387/.473/.613 (11 BB/14 K; 2-3 SB; limited at bats)
JR – .376/.476/.612 (45 BB/46 K; 20-24 SB)
SR – .324/.449/.437 (13 BB/13 K; 5-5 SB)

Cardullo’s defense is arguably the weakest of this bunch, but his junior year numbers are simply too wonderful to be ignored. Those numbers are made all the more impressive when you consider Cardullo started with Florida state as a walk-on who only earned 73 at bats through the end of sophomore year. The junior year breakout came completely out of nowhere, but Cardullo has managed to maintain some of the gains (largely those made in his mature, discipline approach at the plate) while still showing just enough of the gap power to keep scouts believing he has enough pop to spend a 15th to 20th round pick on him. I liken him to a less acclaimed version of former teammate Tony Delmonico, 2008 6th round pick of the Dodgers. Delmonico has seen time behind the plate and on the right side of the infield in the minors so far, a path that could be the best hope for Cardullo (who already has some college experience at both first and second) to follow if he wants to someday crack a big league roster. Without sounding too much like a broken record, defensive value through versatility will be a large part of what gets any of the above players to the big leagues. Steady defense at all five defensive spots + professional approach taken to every at bat + gap power + average speed = potential big league utility player.

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