1. Apologies for not being around much of late, but a handful of side projects and the seemingly constant stream of grad school research/paper writing has left me with little time to write for the site. As always, be assured that there’s been lots of updating of materials going on behind the scenes, so get excited for what I like to think is my annual strong content push in the weeks leading up to draft day.
2. Huge thank you to the two individuals who emailed me asking me, in so many words, if I was still in one piece after the recent attacks in Boston. I’ve obviously sent personal emails back — seriously, thanks again — but, egomaniacal fellow that I am, figured that if two strangers were concerned enough to ask then there might be one or two less vocal worriers out there as well. I’m good. My undergrad days in Boston are long gone and I’m a few hundred miles south now. Scary, unimaginably horrible stuff all the same, but I’m good.
3. Personal bookkeeping finally out of the way, how about a list? Here are some ground rules before this thing gets picked apart:
I’ve updated the list as much as possible based on any and all updated scouting information (note: this is still not perfect, as evidenced by the too high ranking of Matt Roberts and the too low ranking of Elvin Soto), but haven’t had a chance to run each prospect’s 2013 numbers through any kind of meaningful statistical testing. Because of this, I strongly considered scrapping the whole ranking aspects of the list and going with a generic alphabetized “follow list” like I’ve done in the past. I’m going with the tentatively ranked list for now because I do think it shows a decent snapshot of where certain players were ranked by me heading into the season.
I’m happy to answer any specific questions and provide any answers about forthcoming changes (e.g. Roberts down, Soto up) in the comments or via email. I’m also planning on slotting in players from elsewhere around college ball, including the juco ranks, in the coming days.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: The list only includes players from the conferences I’ve profiled so far. That would be the Big 10, SEC, ACC, Big East, Ivy, Mountain West, WCC, Sun Belt, Pac 12, WAC, Conference USA, Missouri Valley, and Big 12. As referenced above, players from the rest of college ball will be added in the very near future.
- California JR C Andrew Knapp
- Mississippi JR C Stuart Turner
- LSU JR C Tyler Ross
- North Carolina JR C Matt Roberts
- New Mexico SR C Mitchell Garver
- Texas JR C Jacob Felts
- Dartmouth JR C Jeff Keller
- Vanderbilt JR C Spencer Navin
- Auburn JR C Blake Austin
- Loyola Marymount SR C Colton Plaia
- North Carolina JR C Brian Holberton
- Air Force SR C Garrett Custons
- Oregon State JR C Jake Rodriguez
- Washington State JR C Collin Slaybaugh
- San Diego SR C Dillon Haupt
- Arizona State SR C Max Rossiter
- Southern California JR C Jake Hernandez
- Louisville JR C Kyle Gibson
- Pittsburgh SO C Elvin Soto
- Fresno State SR C Austin Wynns
- Virginia Tech rJR C Chad Morgan
- Cal State Bakersfield JR C Cael Brockmeyer
- Duke SR C Jeff Kremer
- Rutgers SR C Jeff Melillo
- Fresno State rSR C Trent Garrison
- Missouri State SR C Luke Voit
- Missouri JR C Dylan Kelly
- Illinois State JR C Mike Hollenbeck
- Bradley JR C Austin Jarvis
- Georgia SR C Brett DeLoach
- Mississippi State SR C Mitch Slauter
- Arkansas JR C Jake Wise
- Mississippi JR C Will Allen
- Alabama JR C Wade Wass
- Wake Forest SR C Brett Armour
- St. John’s JR C Frank Schwindel
- Florida Atlantic SR C Mike Spano
- Central Florida SR C Ryan Breen
- Texas State rJR C Tyler Pearson
- Louisiana Tech rJR C Kyle Arnsberg
- Texas State SR C Andrew Stumph
- Dallas Baptist SR C Duncan McAlpine
- Baylor SR C Nathan Orf
- Kansas JR C Kai’ana Eldredge
- South Carolina SR C Dante Rosenberg
If you’ve made it this far, thanks. Here’s a quick idea of what the immediate future holds. First, I’ve got a paper that needs to be written between now and Thursday. Once that’s out of the way, things will pick up for a bit. In the meantime, I’m hoping to a) continue updating the college catcher rankings and perhaps move on to other positions, b) finish my thoughts on the SEC, and c) do a little MLB Draft/NFL Draft mock draft remix before Thursday’s first round.
C: Reese McGuire (1)
There really is no such thing as a “lock” this early in the process, but fortune favors the bold — we might be disqualified from bold due to our wimpy use of quotes around lock — so we’ll go ahead and pretend we can see the future anyway. McGuire is the kind of high school catching prospect so far ahead of his peers that he makes me want to compare him against top guys from previous years. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, ponder how high you’d be willing to take a chance on a plus-plus defender with ridiculous athleticism, a pretty swing, and the chance for double-digit home run power.
Too Wide Open to Guess
In no order, any one of the following could break through as the clear cut second prep catcher off the board: Jeremy Martinez, Chris Okey, Nick Ciuffo, Jonathan Denney, and Brian Navaretto. I’ve gone back and forth on the second spot all spring, but, forced to choose on this early date, I’d have Denney and Navaretto just ahead of the pack. I’m only comfortable declaring McGuire is a sure-fire first round pick at this point because of the way pro teams view high school catchers early on in the draft.
This catching class has the potential to be special, but some draft day perspective is key: the last first round with more than two high school catchers selected was 1994 (Paul Konerko, Ramon Castro, and Mark Johnson). I typically don’t care for making projections like this — every draft pool has talent dispersed differently and judging things based solely off historical trends ends up in insisting the Pirates would never take a signablity risk like Jameson Taillon — but I do think there’s something to be said for teams being cautious with projecting young catching early on in the draft. Of all the positions that get hyped up pre-draft by fools like me, catcher is the one spot you consistently fail to see the hype match the selection spot.
Look to 2009, the draft year that many (myself included) will likely be comparing to this 2013 group of catchers before long: Steven Baron went with pick 33 (first prep backstop off the board), Tommy Joseph pick 55, Cameron Garfield pick 74, JR Murphy pick 76, Wil Myers pick 91 (though signability had some to do with it), Max Stassi pick 123, Luke Bailey pick 139 (injury can explain this fall in part), Michael Ohlman pick 326, Andrew Susac pick 497, Gene Escalante pick 856, Mike Zunino pick 873, and Austin Maddox pick 1129. Some of those guys were getting legitimate early round buzz (Stassi, Ohlman, and Maddox stand out) at various points along the process. Draft day has a way of doing weird things to how teams value prep catching. McGuire and one or two others (TBD) will likely constitute this year’s high school catching first round contingent.
As far as the college side goes, well, the less written the better. The names below aren’t necessarily the best of the best at this time, but instead a few names that I think could rise (or, in some cases, continue to rise) up draft boards this spring. Tyler Ross and Andrew Knapp were the first two on my internal big board from a few months ago, but I have a lot more homework to do to have a fuller idea on the entirety of the college catching class. A quick run through revealed a whole lot of players who profile as defense-first backups (Texas JR Jacob Felt fits the bill here) without a great deal of upside at the plate.
In fact, a really strong argument can be made that there are anywhere from a half-dozen (the six names mentioned on this page are a good start) to a baker’s dozen better high school catching prospects better than even the top college backstop. I’m not yet prepared to make that argument — again, I have some homework to do before I can make fun declarative statements that will look insane by June — but it is one that may come up again in this space over the next few months. In no order, here a few of the college names (again, in no particular order and not necessarily a projection of the six best prospects come June) that have caught my eye early on in the process. Worth pointing out that I don’t think any of the players below have a realistic shot to even approach the first round.
- Matt Roberts (North Carolina)
- Tyler Ross (Louisiana State)
- Blake Austin (Auburn)
- Andrew Knapp (California)
- Austin Wynns (Fresno State)
- Matt Sinclair (Angelina JC)