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2009 MLB Draft: College Big Board 1.0

1. Steven Strasburg (RHSP – San Diego State)

Alright, so far this is pretty easy…

2. Alex White (RHSP – North Carolina)
3. Grant Green (SS – Southern California)
4. Dustin Ackley (OF – North Carolina)
5. Kyle Gibson (RHSP – Missouri)

White is a confusing prospect. On one hand, he’s second on the board and, while Green may be very close behind him at number three, is a worthy candidate to go number two overall. On the other hand, if we pretended Strasburg wasn’t draft-eligible this year, would White as the number one pick in the country feel right? That may be a silly way of looking at it, but I can’t help it. Maybe it’s more about my personal hangup about what a number one overall pick should be. I like White a lot and genuinely believe he can front a big league rotation, but it would feel like a weak draft if he went number one overall. Ugh, that makes no sense. I’m just thinking out loud, disregard this paragraph…

6. Mike Minor (LHSP – Vanderbilt)
7. Tanner Scheppers (RHSP – Fresno State/St. Paul Saints)
8. Aaron Crow (RHSP – Missouri/Forth Worth Cats)
9. Andrew Oliver (LHSP – Oklahoma State)

Minor is a personal favorite and higher on this list than he’ll sure be on others – watching Cole Hamels every fifth day the last few years has turned me into a huge backer of lefties with plus changeups. Scheppers is also higher here than he’ll be on most rankings, but, remember, this ranking is based on the assumption of good health into the summer.

10. Josh Phegley (C – Indiana)
11. Mike Leake (RHSP – Arizona State)
12. James Jones (LHSP – Long Island)
13. Kendal Volz (RHSP – Baylor)
14. Mike Nesseth (RHSP – Nebraska)

Phegley as the third ranked college bat may seem a little strange, but his statistical profile is hard to ignore. He heads up an underrated group of college catchers that feature a surprisingly high number of players on the list – well, maybe it isn’t all that surprising, but it was surprising to me as I put the list together, whatever that’s worth. Leake over Volz is a little strange, but it came down to present plus command and movement over potential power plus stuff across the board.

15. Sean Black (RHSP – Seton Hall)
16. Jake Locker (OF – Washington)

Sometimes I have a hard time letting go. I know I previously admitted having Locker = poor man’s Grady Sizemore burned into my brain, but Sean Black this high could be just as egregious a selection. Black was a big prep prospect not too long ago who has failed to live up to the hype at Seton Hall. Loads of raw talent + more difficult playing conditions (subpar team, so-so conference, and colder weather) = potential sleeper prospect. Locker will fall down the list (and eventually off altogether) as other players emerge this spring, but I had to put him way up here as a nod to his prodigious talent.

17. Kentrail Davis (OF – Tennessee)
18. Robbie Shields (SS – Florida Southern)
19. Jared Mitchell (OF – Louisiana State)
20. Kyle Seager (2B – North Carolina)
21. Rich Poythress (1B – Georgia)

Counting Locker at 16th, that gives us sixth straight position players in a row. How about that? These five should all be big league starters if all goes according to plan, though only the two outfielders profile as potential all-stars.

22. Sam Dyson (RHSP – South Carolina)
23. Chris Dominguez (3B – Louisville)

All or nothing, here we come. Dyson’s arm is electric, but his injury history and control both need some cleaning up. Dominguez has his detractors, but two plus tools (arm and power) make him stand out in a weak college class for hitters. If he puts it all together this season, expect crazy power numbers out of Dominguez, especially in Big East play.

24. Ryan Ortiz (C – Oregon State)
25. DJ LeMahieu (SS – Louisiana State)
26. Trevor Coleman (C – Missouri)
27. Robert Stock (C – Southern California)
28. Ryan Jackson (SS – Miami)

Five spots, only two positions. Sorting out the college catchers and middle infielders is one of the trickier things to do in this class. Ortiz is an underrated player because his skillset is so broad. Players like this often get overlooked for not having one standout tool to suck scouts in. LeMahieu is a far better hitter than Jackson, but they are close in the overall rankings because Jackson’s defense is outstanding. Big league front offices realize the importance of quality defense now more than ever, so where Jackson falls on actual draft boards will make an interesting case study in just how focused teams are developing their own standout defenders through the draft. As I already wrote about in the mock draft, Stock = catching version of Sean Black. Of course, baseball is a weird game so there may be more to the story than that simple equation (I like equations, by the way…if you haven’t noticed. We might be able to claim that Stock = Black without the catching disclaimer if the Southern Cal product has a big season on the mound for the Trojans.

29. AJ Pollock (OF/2B – Notre Dame)
30. Jason Stoffel (RHRP – Arizona)
31. Bryan Morgado (LHSP – Tennessee)
32. Kyle Heckathorn (RHSP – Kennesaw State)

Pollock is a hard player to figure, but if the position switch to second base actually sticks, he’ll fly up draft boards this spring. He is a very good basestealer, has playable pop, and is difficult to strike out. Pollock is one of the few I haven’t seen play yet, so I’m just throwing this out there…what about Chone Figgins as a comp?

33. Ben Tootle (RHRP – Jacksonville State)
34. Shawn Tolleson (RHSP – Baylor)
35. Jake Cowan (RHSP – San Jacinto JC)
36. Blake Smith (OF/RHSP – California)

The first junior college player to make the list is a righty with a great frame, 95 MPH fastball, and three plus pitches. Cowan, the former Virginia recruit, will be in contention to be the first juco player picked in 2009.

37. Tyler Lyons (LHSP – Oklahoma State)
38. Jeff Inman (RHSP – Stanford)
39. Ryan Weber (RHSP – St. Petersburg JC)

Weber is the second junior college arm on the list, a fact worth noting because neither the aforementioned Jake Cowan or Weber is Daniel Webb. Webb, the consensus top junior college talent, failed to crack the top fifty. Blazing fastball or not, he was just too raw a prospect for our tastes.

40. Micah Gibbs (C – Louisiana State)
41. Matt Thomson (RHSP – San Diego)
42. Brad Boxberger (RHRP – Southern California)
43. Tommy Medica (C – Santa Clara)
44. Brad Stillings (RHSP – Kent State)
45. Steve Fischback (RHRP – Cal Poly)
46. Nick Hernandez (LHSP – Tennessee)
47. Gavin Brooks (LHSP – UCLA)
48. Jordan Henry (OF – Mississippi)
49. David Hale (RHSP – Princeton)
50. Ben Paulsen (1B – Clemson)

And that’s 50. Not a very inspiring last group, but, let’s be real, it’s not a very exciting year for high-end college talent. I think I picked the wrong year to start doing this…

Check back all weekend long for occasional updates on college baseball’s opening weekend.



  1. […] Who among us can resist the allure of the Big Board? The Top 50 College Draft-Eligibles are HERE, HERE, HERE! […]

  2. […] kept up with some of the top college prospects, below the jump is a look back at our earlier College Big Board 1.0 (just the top 25 this time) with grades based on their performance through the first three weeks of […]

  3. BurGi says:

    How about Ryan Wheeler (and Angelo Songco) (LMU), Brett Jackson (CAL), Ryan Schimpf (LSU), Alex White (T A&M) or Ryan Berry (Rice)?

    How close have they been and don’t u think at least White, Jackson and Wheeler should have been on the list?

    • rfozga says:

      BurGi – good stuff, thanks.

      Alex Wilson was a definite swing and a miss on my part. I took the gutless wait-and-see approach on him (the same approach I’ve knocked before) and got burned big time. His health worried me even though all the information regarding his recovery leading up to the season was positive. To be fair, I did rank Wilson tenth on my list of college righthanded starting pitching prospects. Using that ranking as a guide, he’d actually fall within the top 20 overall college prospects in a revised big board (Big Board 2.0, perhaps?)…

      The more I look at this version of the Big Board, the more I’ve come to realize I know a whole heck of a lot than I let on…there are some placements on the list that I already dislike a lot. It’s not because I’m fickle, I don’t think. Nor is it because I’m making any snap judgments based on small sample sizes. It’s about going through the positional lists, doing a little more research, and making more informed opinions. Well, hopefully more informed decisions…

      Anyway, Wheeler and Songco aren’t really my cup of tea, but I can see arguments putting them (Wheeler more so than Songco) in the 35-50 range. Schimpf is criminally underrated, as are most second basemen not yet in the big leagues, and I think I need to do a more intensive comparison between him and Seager in the near future.

      I went over Berry in an earlier comment, so rather than blab about him again I’ll just go with the cliffnotes version – Berry was another swing and a miss. He was 16th on the list of college righties, but I’d probably move him up to 12th now (actually 13th if Wilson is included). That would make him a top 30 prospect on the revised list.

  4. Joshua B. says:

    I am going to second Brett Jackson (one of the best 5-toolers in the class) and Alex Wilson. I do not know much about Ryan Wheeler outside of reputation, and that is that he is a future first basemen, lacking much more than 20 homerun power.

    I would have Jackson in the top 25, of eligible college players.

    • rfozga says:

      Joshua, I’m slowly coming around to Brett Jackson. Honestly, something about the two Cal guys (Blake Smith being the other) mentally locked me up to the point of inaction when ranking them. Smith went on the list at 36, but that was more of a compromise I made with myself to reconcile the fact I had no idea what to do with such a weird two-way player.

      As for Jackson, he should definitely be in the top 50. I wish I could say I just forgot about him the first time through, but it was an intentional omission – the lack of power (only a .441 SLG last year) and wet noodle throwing arm knocked him down my personal draft board. Upon further review, I think I fixated too much on what he couldn’t do and not enough on his positives – ability to get on base (though his OBP is inflated by high HBP totals), plus speed, plus defense in CF. To pick a player at random, there is no way I would take Micah Gibbs over him right now. That said, I’m not sure I’d go as high as the top 25…but the argument is definitely plausible. I really look forward to seeing where he stacks up when I delve deeper into the college outfield rankings – who will be third behind Ackley and Davis on the list? Jackson, Jared Mitchell, and AJ Pollock are all tightly bunched at present…

      Oh yeah, I’m still planning to get to that comparison between this year’s college righties and last year’s before long – I haven’t forgotten and, quite frankly, I’m still pretty stoked about the idea and can’t wait to get to it.

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