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Final 2011 MLB Draft College First Base Rankings

1. Utah JR 1B CJ Cron

*** 2010: .467/.518/.873 – 17 BB/23 K – 147 AB
*** 2011: .460/.536/.845 – 29 BB/20 K – 187 AB

I’d put the over/under on college first basemen from this class who get more than 500 PA in a single big league season at 2.5. Cron’s well above-average hit tool and present power make him a safe bet to become a starting first baseman and middle of the lineup bat, so now the challenge (assuming we’re being positive and looking for the over) is finding two more college first basemen with big league starter upside. This won’t be easy…

2. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker

*** 2010: .360/.471/.602 – 47 BB/25 K – 236 AB
*** 2011: .350/.421/.574 – 23 BB/23 K – 223 AB

The case for Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker’s bat is strong; as a hitter, he is as close to big league ready as any player in the 2011 MLB Draft with plus present power and impeccable plate discipline. He’s also been praised for his crazy high baseball IQ and tremendous strength in his forearms, wrists, and hands. Of course, no scouting report on Tucker can be written without mentioning his body. Tucker won’t help whatever team drafts him “sell any jeans,” but he could help them win some ballgames, bad body and all.

In fairness to Tucker, his “bad body” is more about a height deficiency (generous listed at 6-0) than a weight surplus, so the typical concerns that follow less than ideally fit prospects aren’t warranted. In any case, I don’t care much about the “bad body,” especially when weighed against the practical plusses that come with his awesome wrist and hand strength. The unconventional swing mechanics also don’t bother me. If it works, and if it is projected to work going forward, stick with it. Plus power and plate discipline are an easy recipe for a high prospect ranking on this site, but I keep coming back to my general aversion to first base prospects. To be an above-average first baseman in the bigs, you either need to have a special bat, outrageously good defense, or a well above-average mixture of the two. Not sure Tucker falls into any of those three categories, but that doesn’t make him a non-prospect. There is some precedent for a player of Tucker’s skill set and body type going in the first round, believe it or not. In 2008, both Brett Wallace and David Cooper rode the wave of undeniably great college production and plus lefthanded power to become first rounders despite less than ideal body types. Tucker’s shot at the first round has seemingly come and gone, but I’d still pop the advanced college bat as early as the fifth or sixth round.

3. Vanderbilt SR 1B Aaron Westlake

*** 2010: 338/.434/.586 – 34 BB/44 K – 260 AB
*** 2011: .360/.484/.620 – 42 BB/44 K – 200 AB

Westlake is going to hit as a professional, I’m sure of that much. Will he hit enough to hold down an everyday job at first? That’s the million dollar  question, I suppose. He should be able to hit well enough against righthanded pitchers to at least work his way into a platoon role down the line. It could also be possible that his drafting team gets creativity with him, and tries him at a few different spots (corner OF, maybe a little third, perhaps some time behind the plate) a la Baltimore’s Jake Fox.

4. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa

*** 2010: .391/.471/.787 – 35 BB/48 K -235 AB
*** 2011: .355/.444/.527 – 30 BB/39 K – 186 AB

There’s still too much swing and miss in his approach than I’d like, but the fact Oropesa fits the classic slugging first baseman mold better than, say, Preston Tucker could help him become the first college 1B (catching convert CJ Cron excepted) off the board. Scouts want the best players, obviously, but they do have their biases. I think said bias could help Oropesa this June.

5. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard

*** 2011: .311/.379/.519 – 15 BB/21 K – 183 AB

I feel as though my notes on Ard sum up his game pretty well: plus-plus raw power; average at best hit tool; good athlete; wrist injury kept him down in 2010; solid defender; strong track record hitting with wood; some question about ability to hit with funky swing, but just as likely an adjustment will help him tap into his raw power even more. Yeah, that sounds about right.

6. Wichita State SO 1B Johnny Coy

*** 2010: .353/.414/.619 – 11 BB/26 K – 139 AB
*** 2011: .282/.353/.424 – 25 BB/47 K – 238 AB

All of Coy’s raw tools grade out as average or better – 55 speed, 60 arm, 65-70 raw power, average hit tool, and above-average upside at first. I’ve long been a big believer in the big (6-8, 210 pound) righthanded sophomore. His true talent level makes him a target between rounds ten and fifteen, but the unpolished stone that is Johnny Coy’s game could use some extended time in a rock tumbler. Or something like that. He’s raw, is what I’m saying. Big gap between the potential big league regular he could be and the relatively inexperienced former high school hoops star that he is now.

7. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez

*** 2010: .350/.401/.654 – 20 BB/47 K – 260 AB
*** 2011: .290/.388/.495 – 28 BB/38 K – 186 AB

Ramirez has a well deserved reputation as a power hitting first baseman with a plus throwing arm, but what I think I enjoy most about his game is his quality defense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no matter what becomes of Ramirez as a pro, he’ll go down as one of my favorite college players to watch.

8. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins

*** 2010: .319/.431/.602 – 22 BB/42 K – 166 AB
*** 2011: .317/.448/.448 – 37 BB/57 K – 183 AB

Riggins has done a great job of getting his body into better shape over the years, but you have to wonder whether or not the loss of bulk had some impact on the decrease of his power numbers. It could also just be the switch in bats, but you never know. Like Ramirez one spot above, I think I like Riggins’ surprisingly effective defense at first just as much as his above-average raw power.

9. Walters State SO 1B Cody Stubbs

*** 2010: .241/.369/.352 – 20 BB/16 K – 108 AB

Due to a similar positional reclassification (OF to 1B), Stubbs’ prospect stock gets the same artificial boost as fellow first baseman Jacob Anderson’s. Easy to like Stubbs’ power to all fields and above-average athleticism for a big man (6-4, 225). I remember thinking he could be a top five round prospect after three years at Tennessee. Things obviously didn’t work out for Stubbs as a Volunteer, but the talent that led me to that original conclusion hasn’t evaporated. If he slips past round five, as I think he will, you could wind up with a player with high round ability at the cost of a low round pick.

10. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing

*** 2010: .315/.473/.609 – 43 BB/47 K – 184 AB
*** 2011: .274/.365/.440 – 20 BB/44 K – 175 AB

Both the power and approach suffered in 2011 to the point that I expect Channing back for a senior season. A team might roll the dice on a return to glory at the pro level instead.

11. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks

*** 2010: .111/.182/.167 – 2 BB/2 K – 18 AB
*** 2011: .358/.443/.618 – 34 BB/42 K – 204 AB

If any player on the list can be classified as a big 2011 draft riser, it’s this guy. With arguably the most raw power of any draft-eligible college first baseman, Hicks is a certifiable sleeping giant in the prospect world.

12. Oklahoma JR 1B Cameron Seitzer

*** 2010: .305/.425/.586 – 28 BB/44 K – 210 AB
*** 2011: .316/.417/.454 – 27 BB/28 K – 196 AB

Power and bloodlines will help get Seitzer through the door, but it could be the development of his already much improved two-strike approach that makes or breaks him as a pro.

13. LSU-Eunice FR 1B Hommy Rosado

Can’t help but be enamored with Rosado’s power upside and bat speed, even as the questions about his defensive ability and contact issues remain unanswered. He did enough out of high school to get drafted in the 11th round by Colorado last year. It will be interesting to see what a solid but not spectacular year at LSU-Eunice does to his stock, especially in a much deeper draft class.

14. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez

*** 2010: .359/.414/.540 – 23 BB/22 K – 237 AB
*** 2011: .338/.390/.478 – 12 BB/9 K – 136 AB

All he does is hit, hit, hit no matter what. Lopez has a professional approach at the plate, really quick wrists, and gap power. I can’t speak to his defensive ability, but have heard he has the athleticism to potentially play a utility role at the next level.

15. Connecticut SR 1B Mike Nemeth

*** 2011:  .368/.475/.458 – 41 BB/17 K – 212 AB

Nemeth’s name kept coming up in discussions with people in the know leading up to the publication of this list. He was admittedly off my radar heading into the year, but those 2011 plate discipline numbers are eye popping. After having seen him myself a few times this year, I can say he looked to me like a guy with good power to the gaps with the chance to be an average hitter and above-average defender down the line.

16. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson

*** 2010: .211/.304/.289 – 12 BB/40 K – 90 AB
*** 2011: .295/.360/.576 – 12 BB/41 K – 132 AB

Davidson falling right after Nemeth on the list is funny in a way – Nemeth has a great approach but limited power while Davidson is all power all the time but with a hack at all costs attitude. Been a long time (three years to be exact) since we heard those Jim Thome comparisons…

17. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman

*** 2010: .353/.471/.723 – 51 BB/41 K – 235 AB
*** 2011: .285/.421/.671 – 44 BB/66 K – 207 AB

Hoilman’s raw power is undeniable, but that’s about all he brings to the table. Over half of his senior year plate appearances ended in either a strikeout, walk, or homer. That’s fun.

18. Minnesota JR 1B Nick O’Shea

*** 2011: .336/.378/.550 – 11 BB/15 K – 140 AB

O’Shea does a little bit of everything quite well, but nothing exceptionally well besides perhaps his defense. Still think there is some untapped upside here with the bat and I intuitively just like him as a prospect.

19. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder

*** 2010: .349/.435/.533 – 31 BB/32 K – 212 AB
*** 2011: .330/.417/.500 – 26 BB/36 K – 176 AB

Snieder is another Big 10 prospect that I have a strong intuitively positive feel on. Part of that is probably because I love when a prospect answers questions about his game from year to year. Despite all the positive reports on Snieder’s raw power, I had only graded it out as average at best. This year, despite a slight dip statistically, Snieder has show more of a home run producing stroke and increased physical strength. I still have a hard time believing he’ll leave Northwestern for anything other than an oddly high bonus for whatever middle round he winds up going in.

20. Mississippi JR 1B Matt Snyder

*** 2010: .333/.473/.633 – 28 BB/36 – 147 AB
*** 2011: .301/.428/.534 – 29 BB/38 K – 176 AB

Merely a fun coincidence that the two Snieder’s/Snyder’s are back to back, of course. Positive reports on Snyder’s bat this spring had me give him a slight boost, but his defense, speed, and arm are all really weak. I’ve heard through the grapevine that he is likely to be back for his senior season.

21. Central Florida SR 1B Jonathan Griffin

*** 2011: .347/.398/.653 – 22 BB/45 K – 225 AB

Griffin is the prototypical hulking (6-5, 230) first base slugger with ridiculous raw power and nothing else. You can be one-dimensional when that one dimension is as strong as Griffin’s power tool is, but his battle is still an uphill one.

22. Southern Illinois JR 1B Chris Serritella

*** 2010: .351/.438/.604 – 33 BB/52 K – 222 AB

An unfortunate wrist injury has knocked Serritella out of action. Luckily, he retains two full years of  draft eligibility to help rebuild his depressed stock. I still might take a chance on him this year because of his phenomenal track record against righthanded pitching.

23. Belmont SR 1B Nate Woods

*** 2011: .379/.465/.641 – 22 BB/27 K – 195 AB

Woods have overcome a series of injuries to become one of college baseball’s best senior hitters. He’s got pro size, plenty of power, and a really sound approach to hitting.

24. Barry SR 1B Dean Green

*** 2010: .259/.340/.446 – 16 BB/23 K – 166 AB

Green has shown he can hit with wood, and now boasts a shiny trophy after being announced All-Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year.

25. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott

*** 2011: .279/.365/.397 – 23 BB/28 K – 179 AB

Even when I loved Scott as a prospect — and make no mistake about it, I truly loved his pro upside at one time — it appeared it would be his bat and bat only that would keep him advancing in pro ball. He’s not fast, he’s not a good defender, he can’t really throw. On the right day, however, his swing looks so easy and free, like the very best natural born hitters you can think of. Unfortunately, those days seem behind him. I have no clue where (or if) he’ll be picked anymore, but I’m secretly rooting for my favorite team to grab him in the fiftieth and final round.

College First Basemen Revisited 2.0 – 2011 MLB Draft

First 15 there, next 15 here. Rankings are from the preseason list, numbers are from College Splits (when applicable), and opinions are entirely mine, and thus, probably wrong…

16. Cal Irvine JR 1B Jordan Leyland (.266/.340/.422 – 14 BB/31 K)

I had hoped a return to full health after struggling with a wrist injury last season would allow Leyland to show off his plus raw power.

17. Wake Forest JR 1B Austin Stadler

One at bat, one RBI groundout. That’s all Stadler has done at the plate in 2011. He’s been lit up as a starting pitcher (9.77 ERA in 47 IP), but his underlying numbers aren’t that terrible (4.55 FIP with 8.81 K/9). His season stats and scouting profile both read like Nick Ramirez, only if Ramirez wasn’t quite as good as he is. He’s the Hydrox to Nick Ramirez’s Oreo, if you will.

18. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott (.303/.374/.432 – 14 BB/22 K)

There was a point early last year when Scott was the top ranked college first baseman on my unpublished 2010 draft rankings. Whoops.

19. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson (.275/.342/.451 – 9 BB/33 K)

Remember the Jim Thome comps some threw Davidson’s way back in his high school days? Man, I was all over those. When he is totally locked in and you catch him in just the right light, yeah, maybe you can kind of sort of maybe see the basis for that original comparison, maybe. The problem, as shown through the lens of his less than inspiring season stats, is that Davidson’s time spent locked in isn’t enough to make him a viable pro prospect. That said, guys with his kind of raw power tend to get plenty of chances, and it only takes one team to believe professional coaching can get him back to his pre-college level of performance.

20. LSU SO 1B Jamie Bruno

No stats for Bruno as he sits out the year after leaving Tulane. I don’t think he has a chance to be drafted this year, so consider this aggressive ranking a placeholder for 2012.

21. Embry-Riddle JR 1B Matt Skipper

The well-traveled Skipper is sitting out the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

22. Central Florida SR 1B Jonathan Griffin (.342/.397/.640 – 17 BB/32 K)

Griffin is the prototypical hulking (6-5, 230) first base slugger with ridiculous raw power and nothing else. You can be one-dimensional when that one dimension is as strong as Griffin’s power tool is, but his battle is still an uphill one.

23. South Alabama JR 1B Brad Hook (.298/.430/.460 – 27 BB/32 K)

Hook is yet another versatile performer, logging 37.1 decent innings on the mound in addition to his work at first base. A lot of players are mentioned as having just enough defensive aptitute to handle other positions (most commonly LF, RF, and 3B), but Hook actually has the chance of being average or better in the outfield.

24. San Diego JR 1B Bryan Haar (.320/.364/.410 – 6 BB/30 K)

After mocking eventual 26th rounder to the Phillies in the first round early last year, I really should have been smart enough to wise up and stop falling for prospects from USD. My notes on Haar heading into the season:

might list with either 3B or OF, as he is too good an athlete to restrict to first base; good raw power; good defender; power, speed, and arm strength all rate as above-average for position, but hasn’t lived up to potential as of yet; could play 3B this year with Kris Bryant at first; swing is holding him back as a hitter; great frame, like him a lot; utility future maybe; “Haar has a pro body, good defensive instincts, and an advanced approach at the plate.”

I’m obviously less enthused after his disappointing junior season. We’ll try again with Haar next year.

25. Kansas JR 1B Zac Elgie (.264/.325/.443 – 11 BB/24 K)

Elgie, one of North Dakota’s finest prep ballplayers and arguably the biggest recruit in recent Kansas baseball history, has had an up and down college career to this point. I know of a few pro teams that think he’s got the arm and athleticism to make the conversion to professional catcher.

26. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks (.369/.443/.664 – 22 BB/28 K) (also logged 10.1 IP with good K-rate)

If any player on the list can be classified as a big 2011 draft riser, it’s this guy. With arguably the most raw power of any draft-eligible first baseman, Hicks is a certifiable sleeping giant in the prospect world. yet another intriguing two-way talent. His scouting report reminds me of a catcher — plus to plus-plus raw power and plus arm strength — so it is no surprise that there is some thought he’d work better at third, his occasional college position. He also is a pitching prospect who features an above-average (at times) fastball with what I consider a promising splitter.

27. Wofford JR 1B Konstantine Diamaduros (.313/.360/.388 – 13 BB/17 K)

If we’re looking for silver linings here, at least Diamaduros will have the chance to be on college baseball’s all name team for an extra year after he returns to Wofford in 2012.

28. Ouachita Baptist JR 1B Brock Green (.366/.484/.575 – 29 BB/24 K)

I’ll often compile notes on a player over the course of a few years. One of my bad habits is not dating my notes. So when I look back and see the following notes on Brock Green, I can’t help but laugh. Among a few other tidbits, the notes claim Green is both a “potential plus defender” and possesses an “iron glove.” I suppose they technically could both be true — the upside vs present performance thing — but I’m guessing it is more of an issue of timing than anything.

29. Barry SR 1B Dean Green (.414/.532/.845 – 33 BB/20 K)

Issues with competition aside, Dean Green is straight killing it this year. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has already shown he can hang with the big boys by performing well on the Cape.

30. Oregon SR 1B Stephen Kaupang

Not listed on the Oregon 2011 roster and I couldn’t figure out what in the world happened to him. Anybody know?

College First Basemen Revisited – 2011 MLB Draft

Not every draft is like 2008. Not every draft is like 2008. Not every draft is like 2008. That’s my mantra as I check and recheck the list of 2011 draft-eligible college first basemen. Are you sure this is everybody? There are no Justin Smoak’s, Yonder Alonso’s, or, heck, even Ike Davis’s hiding anywhere? Sure, David Cooper and Allan Dykstra went bust, but there were both highly thought of at the time. This may be over the top negative (it’s what I do best, after all), but I’m not positive there is a slam dunk top five round college first baseman this year, let alone five players capable of cracking the first like in 2008. Incidentally, when looking back over that draft I’m always amazed at the stones, for lack of a better term, Kansas City showed by taking Eric Hosmer third. I know he was an outstanding high school hitter, but taking a prep first baseman before accomplished college talents like Brian Matusz (4th), Buster Posey (5th), and Justin Smoak (11th) took some serious intestinal fortitude. Posey is a stud and both Matusz and Smoak have shown enough promise that we can expect big things going forward, but Hosmer has a chance to be one of the elite middle of the lineup hitters in all of baseball in very short order. The book is far from closed on any of these players, and I’ll acknowledge that Posey would be a tremendous addition to the emerging Royals core, but, man, I have to give credit where credit is due on that pick. Loads of high picks year after year will often lead to good things, but in any sport, especially baseball, you still need to identify the right guy. Hosmer might not have been the only right guy in 2008, but he certainly looks like one of them.

Oh, right. 2011 college first basemen. Here is the original list. I don’t see a clear big league starter in the bunch, though I’m admittedly all aboard the Preston Tucker bandwagon. If any guy winds up starting for a big league team, it’ll be him. The rest look like potential four-corners utility guys (1B/3B/corner OF), pinch hitters, or platoon options. No shame in any of those outcomes, of course, so long as nobody out there is banking on getting a close to the big leagues power hitting college first baseman this year.

1. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker (.361/.424/.627 – 15 BB/18 K)

I wrote a bit about Tucker in the past, so I won’t get into too much detail now. Here are the money quotes from last time, if you’re too cool to click the link:

To be an above-average first baseman in the bigs, you either need to have a special bat, outrageously good defense, or a well above-average mixture of the two. To that end, I’m not sure Tucker, or any other college first baseman in this class, is a prospect that will wind up receiving a first round grade, from me personally or any of the thirty big league scouting departments…

…Late first round seems like his draft ceiling. Fifth round, like fellow SEC 1B Andy Wilkins in 2010, could be his floor, barring injury.

2. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa (.384/.459/.582 – 21 BB/30 K)

There’s still too much swing and miss in his approach than I’d like, but the fact Oropesa fits the classic slugging first baseman mold better than Tucker could help him become the first college 1B off the board. Scouts want the best players, obviously, but they do have their biases. I think said bias could help Oropesa this June.

3. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing (.292/.366/.454 – 11 BB/34 K)

I know for a fact one team preferred Channing to Tucker heading into the season, though I can’t imagine that is still the case after his down showing so far this year.

4. Fresno State SR 1B Jordan Ribera (.206/.293/.382 – 13 BB/30 K)

Take a minute and process Ribera’s 2011 numbers. That’s one complete and utter collapse. I can’t believe that it is entirely the new bats to blame, like some have insinuated. Unlike Channing, Ribera doesn’t have the option of returning to school in 2012, so he can’t do much more than to hold out hope some team saw him at his best in 2010.

5. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard (.301/.374/.431 – 12 BB/15 K)

All of the numbers are park/league adjusted, but sometimes even more context is needed. Ard isn’t your typical college junior. As a former junior college star, Ard’s acquitted himself well enough in his first year of major college ball that I think a team that liked him heading into the season would still be on board now. His upside rivals that of any first baseman in the class.

6. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman (.275/.441/.580 – 38 BB/46 K)

How could you not possibly love this year’s draft Three True Outcome hero? Over half (54% to be precise) of his at bats end in a homer, walk, or strikeout. Cool.

7. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez (.280/.401/.440 – 24 BB/23 K)

I’m really, really fond of Nick Ramirez the college baseball player (his pitching stats: 12.1 IP – 1.51 FIP – 13.86 K/9 – 3.65 BB/9) and think he’s a viable option either at first or on the mound professionally. He has a reputation as a guess hitter, but I’ve heard his approach has gotten much better in 2011. As a pitcher, his upper-70s changeup is a legit out pitch, though it is kind of a shame that it isn’t even the best cambio in his family…

8. UCLA JR 1B Dean Espy (.299/.354/.381 – 10 BB/23 K)

Probably time to start thinking about the 2012 Draft with numbers like that…

9. Vanderbilt SR 1B Aaron Westlake (.377/.505/.596 – 32 BB/33 K) – I can live with ranking a player highly only to see him flame out. I realize the risk that comes with sometimes being too optimistic. I hate it when a player I like but am too chicken to rank appropriately plays great. Pretty sure all of that makes me a bad person – being indifferent if a player struggles, but annoyed when a player succeeds rates seems pretty selfish. If it helps, I always feel guilty about it. Westlake is one such source of annoyance. The Vanderbilt senior ranked as high as second on my original, off the top of my head list, but wound up ninth after I shuffled up some other names that I felt had more upside. Dumb move. All Westlake does is hit.

10. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins (.302/.442/.442 – 29 BB/46 K)

Another personal favorite coming into the year who hasn’t delivered quite what was expected in the power department. Positional versatility could help him make it as one of those four-corners utility guys we talked about earlier.

11. Mississippi SR 1B Matt Snyder (.273/.396/.445 – 21 BB/32 K)

Haven’t seen him myself, but have heard less than nice things about his defense. When scouts wonder if you have what it takes to stick at first, you’d better be able to hit a ton. Snyder is a nice college thumper, but nothing about his scouting profile or college numbers scream big league hitter to me.

12. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder (.352/.450/.544 – 22 BB/24 K)

Snieder is reportedly a tough sign, but I like him as an org guy for a lot of the same reasons I like Western Kentucky C Matt Rice.

13. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez (.329/.400/.447 – 11 BB/7 K)

Only 85 at bats, so we’re dealing with a limited sample but I remain intrigued at Lopez’s skill set and performance to date.

14. Oklahoma JR 1B Cameron Seitzer (.331/.429/.476 – 20 BB/20 K)

I was lower on him than most, and remain cautiously optimistic at best, but I’d remiss if I didn’t point out a lot of positive chatter about Seitzer’s more mature frame and subsequent transformation from guy with big raw power to guy with loads of in-game power, despite what the relatively modest slugging numbers may indicate. He’ll probably go higher than a few names listed above him here, but, hey, it’s my list, right?

15. Southern Illinois JR 1B Chris Serritella

Serritella has missed time due to wrist injury and has a whopping 0 ABs this year. Have to imagine the injury will keep him at Southern Illinois for another season or two.

2011 MLB Draft – Top 50 Corner Infield Prospects

If this list seems like a fairly straightforward combination of two previously published rankings cobbled together to buy some time while other projects are completed, then, well, congratulations because you’re right. In my half-hearted defense, I think there is some value in combining 1B and 3B into one great big “corner infielder” umbrella category due to the high probability that at least a few of the third basemen on the list wind up at first base (Coy and Shaw are two highly ranked names that stand out) sooner rather than later. I also think there is value from a methodological standpoint, at least from a personal ranking philosophy standpoint. One quick observation on said methods: the 1B list is one that looks better when viewed from a college production standpoint (e.g. Troy Channing and Jordan Ribera ranking so highly), while the 3B list skews towards projection and scouting (e.g. the aggressive placement of Andy Burns and Adam Smith). All legitimate rankings in a vacuum, I think, but difficult when attempting to mesh the two lists together. At least the top spot was an easy one to pick…

Working on the college shortstop list. Hoping to get to the revised catching list and then outfielders at some point over the weekend. After wrapping up the position players, we’ll move on to college pitching and, finally, some 2011 high school prospect talk. Once the rankings are all out of the way — my goal this year was to finish them all before the college season, i.e. the unofficial start of “draft season,” and it looks like I’ll get there — then we can get into some of the new, fun ideas that have been kicking around in my head the past few months.

  1. Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon
  2. Southern Mississippi JR 3B BA Vollmuth
  3. Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito
  4. Florida JR 1B Preston Tucker
  5. Georgia Tech JR 3B Matt Skole
  6. Southern California JR 1B Ricky Oropesa
  7. Miami JR 3B Harold Martinez
  8. Arizona JR 3B Andy Burns
  9. Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez
  10. Wichita State JR 3B Johnny Coy
  11. Texas A&M JR 3B Adam Smith
  12. Kent State JR 3B Travis Shaw
  13. Clemson JR 3B John Hinson
  14. St. Mary’s JR 1B Troy Channing
  15. Texas State JR 3B Kyle Kubitza
  16. Winthrop JR 3B Chas Crane
  17. Coastal Carolina SR 3B Scott Woodward
  18. Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele
  19. Fresno State SR 1B Jordan Ribera
  20. Washington State JR 1B Taylor Ard
  21. East Tennessee State SR 1B Paul Hoilman
  22. Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Nick Ramirez
  23. TCU SO 3B Jantzen Witte
  24. Texas JR 3B Kevin Lusson
  25. Texas-Pan American JR 3B Vincent Mejia
  26. San Francisco SR 3B Steven Yarrow
  27. UCLA JR 1B Dean Espy
  28. Vanderbilt JR 1B Aaron Westlake
  29. North Carolina State JR 1B Harold Riggins
  30. Tarleton State SR 3B Chris Casazza
  31. Oklahoma State JR 3B Mark Ginther
  32. Nebraska JR 3B Cody Asche
  33. Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel
  34. Virginia JR 3B Steven Proscia
  35. Louisiana Tech JR 3B Matt Threlkeld
  36. College of Charleston JR 3B Matt Leeds
  37. Mississippi JR 1B Matt Snyder
  38. Oklahoma City SR 3B Kirk Walker
  39. Baylor SO 3B Cal Towey
  40. Liberty JR 3B Tyler Bream
  41. Northwestern JR 1B Paul Snieder
  42. Cal State Fullerton SO 1B Carlos Lopez
  43. Oklahoma JR 1B Cam Seitzer
  44. Southern Illinois JR 1B Chris Serritella
  45. Cal Irvine JR 1B Jordan Leyland
  46. East Carolina JR 3B Corey Thompson
  47. Wake Forest JR 1B Austin Stadler
  48. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott
  49. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson
  50. Mercer JR 3B Jacob Tanis

2011 MLB Draft – College 1B Commentary

For reference’s sake, the complete list of top 2011 college first basemen. Now some quick thoughts on a few selected players. I’m happy to add extra thoughts on any other player by request.

I think it is more likely they are no future everyday big league first basemen out of this class than there is more than one. That’s not to say we won’t see a future big league star emerge out of this class, but the odds seemed stacked against it. Obviously the players with the best chance are the ones ranked one and two on the list because, well, otherwise they wouldn’t be ranked one and two on the list. Top ranked Tucker has been covered already; number two Oropesa’s strengths (power, defense, arm, chance he could start his career at third) far outweigh his weaknesses (swing can get too long, possibility of potential contact issues down the line).

Channing’s plus power is enticing, but the Brett Wallace body comp scares the heck out of me. Ribera has similarly intriguing power, maybe more appealing if you value present power over raw upside, but the fact there is less projection to his game can be a double edged sword. I guess it should also be mentioned that, despite some internet hotshot like me being a big fan, Ribera went undrafted in 2010. A fact like that begs the simple question: what are the people paid to do this for a living seeing (or not seeing?) that I’m missing?

The only player near the top of the ranking without major college experience could position himself atop the whole list by June. Taylor Ard’s funky swing has some scouts questioning how he’ll transition to big time college ball, but I think it’ll play, especially when it comes to his power upside. His strong track record with wood, underrated athleticism, and aforementioned plus-plus raw power should make up for whatever contact deficiencies he might have to overcome. I’m as excited to see how he adjusts to the Pac-10 as I am any newcomer to the college game and the statistical breakdown between him and Oropesa will be telling.

By sheer coincidence, we have back-to-back-to-back potential-laden, yet disappointing first basemen, all in different draft-eligibility years. First, the sophomore Jamie Bruno. Bruno has all of the tools teams like for in a well-rounded first baseman, but never got on track while at Tulane. He is draft-eligible this year as he sits out while he transfers to LSU. The junior is Georgia 1B Chase Davidson. Davidson was made famous by a Jim Thome comp from his high school days, but, tell me if you’ve heard this before, hasn’t gotten it together at the college level. When locked in, Davidson looks like a potential big league regular, but, as the numbers bear out, he is locked out (opposite of locked in?) far more often. To tap into his big power, he’ll need to find a way to shrink the far too big holes in his swing. Lastly, we have senior 1B Troy Scott from Washington. Whenever you think I might know what I’m talking about, just remember that I thought Scott had a chance to sneak into the first round last year. He is a rebound candidate this year if he can get back to his patient, power hitting ways.

I feel bad leaving anybody out, so here’s a quick ranking of the power upside of each player on the list. Players are ranked in terms of power upside. I realize the two category setup is extremely simplistic, but it’s just a starting point…

Plus: Tucker, Oropesa, Channing, Ribera, Ard, Hoilman, Ramirez, Riggins, Westlake, Seitzer, Leyland, Scott, Davidson, Griffin, Hicks, Diamaduros, Kaupang

Above-Average: Espy, Snyder, Snieder, Serritella, Stadler, Bruno, Skipper, Hook, Haar, Elgie, B. Green, D. Green

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College 1B Follow List

Commentary to come, but I didn’t want to hold up on posting some rankings for the silly reason that it takes me forever to come up with new and interesting ways to say “big power upside, but will have to hit a ton to ever make it as a 1B in pro ball.” Rankings are extremely preliminary — I’m already hating the inclusion of Matt Skipper, last seen at NMJC last spring but not on the 2010 Fall roster, for example — but should work as a decent follow list for the spring, if nothing else. Feel free to ask any questions and/or call me in idiot in the comments.
  1. JR 1B Preston Tucker (Florida)
  2. JR 1B Ricky Oropesa (Southern California)
  3. JR 1B Troy Channing (St. Mary’s)
  4. SR 1B Jordan Ribera (Fresno State)
  5. JR 1B Taylor Ard (Washington State)
  6. 1B SR Paul Hoilman (East Tennessee State)
  7. JR 1B Nick Ramirez (Cal State Fullerton)
  8. JR 1B Dean Espy (UCLA)
  9. JR 1B Aaron Westlake (Vanderbilt)
  10. JR 1B Harold Riggins (North Carolina State)
  11. JR 1B Matt Snyder (Mississippi)
  12. JR 1B Paul Snieder (Northwestern)
  13. SO 1B Carlos Lopez (Cal State Fullerton)
  14. JR 1B Cam Seitzer (Oklahoma)
  15. JR 1B Chris Serritella (Southern Illinois)
  16. JR 1B Jordan Leyland (Cal Irvine)
  17. JR 1B Austin Stadler (Wake Forest)
  18. SR 1B Troy Scott (Washington)
  19. JR 1B Chase Davidson (Georgia)
  20. SO 1B Jamie Bruno (LSU)
  21. JR 1B Matt Skipper (New Mexico Junior College) (Embry-Riddle)
  22. SR 1B Jonathan Griffin (Central Florida)
  23. JR 1B Brad Hook (South Alabama)
  24. JR 1B Bryan Haar (San Diego)
  25. JR 1B Zac Elgie (Kansas)
  26. SO 1B DJ Hicks (Central Florida)
  27. JR 1B Konstantine Diamaduros (Wofford)
  28. JR 1B Brock Green (Ouachita Baptist)
  29. SR 1B Dean Green (Oklahoma State) (transferred to Barry)
  30. SR 1B Stephen Kaupang (Oregon)
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