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College Team Profiles: Minnesota Golden Gophers

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class.

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.

JR OF/C Mike Kvasnicka (2010) possesses one of the longest swings of any major prospect in the 2010 draft. This is a good thing when he makes contact (I’ve heard both the thwack! of the bat in the Northwoods League and the ping! at Minnesota, both very impressive), but a very bad thing when up against pitchers with effective offspeed stuff. Kvasnicka has struck out 103 times in 438 college at bats. Any regular reader knows that I’m firmly entrenched in the strikeouts are no worse than any other kind of out camp, but that only really applies to big leaguers. There is something to be said for high-K rates being an indicator of poor contact abilities for minor leaguers and amateurs.  If I was told I’d be drafting the current iteration of Kvasnicka, then I’m not sure I’d be too happy selecting a hitter who I won’t think will make enough contact to be a regular. Luckily, nobody is drafting the February version of any potential draft pick. Any team drafting Kvasnicka isn’t getting the Kvasnicka of February, 2010; they’ll get the player he will be someday down the line. Given the fact that Kvasnicka is a plus athlete with a well-rounded toolset (good speed, decent arm, plus raw power), there should be plenty of teams interested to see if he can figure it all out professionally, long swing and strikeouts be damned. His draft stock (already pretty solid – round 4-7 is my current guess) gets a bump if teams buy into his defensive abilities behind the plate.

JR RHP Scott Matyas (2010) has experienced serious success (78 strikeouts in 60.2 college innings) with his 88-91 MPH fastball, good cutter, above-average low-70s curve, and plus command. He’s a good athlete with great size (6-4, 215) that has recovered nicely from high school Tommy John surgery. His mechanics are now a lot cleaner than they were back then, and his durability has gone from a question mark to a strength. He’s a reliever all the way, but a darn good one.

JR RHP Seth Rosin (2010) is build like a tank (6-6, 245) with the heavy artillery (sinking fastball at 88-92 MPH, peaking at 94) to go to battle. He’s secondary stuff (inconsistent mid-70s CB and a low-80s CU that needs a ton of work) currently lags behind, but I know of plenty scouts who believe both pitches will develop into at least usable options by the time he hits the high minors. Those scouts see him as a possible back of the rotation starter down the line, but I think his ceiling is closer to that of Boof Bonser. I know Bonser has 60 big league starts to his credit, but they were largely ineffectual innings. Now that he has switched to the bullpen in Boston, I’ve got a hunch that Bonser’s stuff will play up and make him an effective reliever going forward. Rosin’s future could very well play out the same way. Ineffectual fifth starter or dependable middle reliever? You make the call.

JR RHP Dustin Klabunde (2010) was a more highly sought after prospect coming out of high school than Mike Kvasnicka thanks in large part to a fastball peaking up past 95 MPH. Unfortunately, even after two seasons of college ball, Klabunde still has no idea where the ball is going once it leaves his hand (16 walks in 22.1 innings). I can envision a scenario where a scout sees him on a good day and falls in love with the heat, but not to the point where I’d be confident predicting he gets himself drafted in 2010.

JR RHP Cullen Sexton (2010) gets a lot of love in certain scouting circles, but it’s hard to see why. For a guy who is a reliever all the way, he’d need to have knockout stuff to rise up draft boards. Well, at this point anyway, that’s just not the case. He currently sits 86-90 with his fastball, complementing it with an iffy mid-70s curve with come-and-go command. His college splits page doesn’t reveal much (not a huge sampling of innings for a college reliever), but it is interesting to note that Sexton’s already subpar 5.34 ERA was actually saved by a slew of unearned runs scoring on his watch (7.22 RA). One positive, however, was the fact that in 2009 opponents only slugged .330 off of him. Not sure what any of that means in a larger sense, but figured they were at least worth mentioning. Anyway, Sexton has been picked twice by the Brewers already, so file that player/team match away on draft day.

SR C Kyle Knudson (2010) is a good athlete with a strong arm. He also has some pop and a big league ready frame, but the total tools package still comes up short. He’s not a real prospect at this point, but could get himself a professional job filling out a rookie ball roster if a team is in need of a reliable backstop. Catchers are always in demand, you know.

JR LHP Luke Rasmussen (2010) is a crafty lefthander capable of either starting or relieving. He’s an excellent athlete who has put up decent collegiate numbers thus far, so he earns the right to go on my personal mental follow list. We’ll check back in on his progress as the spring rolls along. As an aside, I love the Pro-Alumni games that some colleges put on. Minnesota’s Pro-Alumni team included Dan Wilson, Jack Hannahan, Robb Quinlan, and Derek McCallum, a personal favorite out of the 2009 draft. Where else could you see that collection of random talent on one field? I’d love to make Pro-Alumni rosters of other colleges, maybe that is something to consider for next offseason. Anyway, to finally bring this all back together, Rasmussen got the start in the Pro-Alumni game for the Gophers. He threw 2.2 perfect innings, striking out two (including Hannahan…though it should be pointed out Hannahan has a career .227/.303/.318 line against lefties).

JR LHP Phil Isaksson (2010) is another pitchability lefthander with a suboptimal fastball (mid-80s) who gets by with good command and an above-average breaking ball (in Isaksson’s case, a curve). Prospects like this are hard to judge. It’s easy to dismiss them because they are so common at this level, but every now and then one slips through the cracks and becomes a legitimate player to watch. I’m not saying Isaksson is one to watch

JR OF Brooks Albrecht (2010) came to Minnesota as a walk-on. He’s done a fine job of taking that opportunity and running with it so far, but this will be a make or break year in his development. We know that he is a good athlete with a big league body, but that’s about it. He is in position to earn more regular time in outfield this year.

SR RHP Allen Bechstein (2010) is one of only two seniors on the Gopher roster. He is a small righthander (6-0, 175) without overpowering stuff coming off a disaster of a junior season (43 hits allowed in 22.1 innings pitched). I’d say something bold here like “I’d walk to Minnesota if Bechstein gets drafted!” but I simply don’t have the guts. What can I say? I’m no Jim Rooker.

JR RHP Scott Fern (2010) has an average fastball and below-average secondary stuff. Hey, did you know there is no such thing as red fern? For anybody who has ever read Where the Red Fern Grows, this is a complete disappointment. Also, Scott Fern isn’t really a pro prospect.

JR RHP Tim Ryan (2010) certainly looks the part (6-5, 200), but his only real claim to fame from a baseball perspective comes from being the son of former Twins general manager Terry Ryan. I’m not one to stir the pot or anything, but does anybody else think a high school prospect who only struck out 37 batters in 55 innings probably wouldn’t be on a major college baseball roster unless he had either a) compromising photos of an AD, or b) a famous last name? That’s how both Billy Rockefeller and Walter Einstein got on the roster at Eastern State Technical University, I heard. Gooooooo ESTU!

JR SS Drew Hanish (2010) has an older brother playing in the Yankees system; that’s as close as he’ll get to professional ball.



  1. Chris says:

    AJ Pettersen is the best SS in the Big Ten. Rosin projects way beyond Bonser levels and is projected as a first three round guy. Overall a nice summary. Thanks for including the Gophers

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Pettersen will be draft-eligible this June, right? If so, that’s a miss on my part. Once I finish writing up all of the seniors and juniors, I get lazy and don’t bother combing through the sophomores to see if any of them are eligible here in 2010. I’ll have to add him in this weekend.

      The comparison to Bonser wasn’t meant to insult Rosin. Heck, Boof was a first round pick back in 2000, a draft spot that Rosin can only dream about. When I see Rosin, I see a pitcher without a current above-average or better secondary pitch at present. Bonser’s slider was/is miles ahead of Rosin’s curve. I acknowledged that many believe he’ll develop the offspeed stuff to pitch in the big leagues as a starter, but that’s something I’d need to see this spring before ranking him any higher on my personal board.

      If it all comes together this spring for Rosin, he could see a rise a little like Indiana’s Eric Arnett’s draft jump from last year. That’s his best case scenario, I think.

  2. Chris says:

    Pettersen , Oshea, and Geason are all DE Sophs. Nice trio of defense there.
    Definitely knew you weren’t insulting Rosin. His off-speed has improved significantly with a nice cutter and change from what we’re hearing. He’ll need to show them this season and, if he does, he will be a very high pick.
    Thanks again for all of your hard work !

  3. Zach says:

    It looks like, early in the year, there may have been some changes in the draft status reports of some of the top Minnesota guys…Maytas, Rosin, and Kvasnicka. Maytas didn’t make an appearance in the four games that the Gophers had this week, reportedly due to pain in his elbow/forearm. Rosin had a better start this week than he showed last week in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, and showed much better control of his plus fastball. And Kvasnicka, after showing scouts his above average catch and throw skills last week in the BT/BE Challenge, had another solid week at the plate with 4 doubles, a triple, and a HR in the Metrodome during the annual DQ Classic. (And he has 10 extra base hits-9 walks-and just 1 strikeout)
    Would you agree that this news could affect any of these three guy’s draft status? Also, is Minnesota really looking like the team that so many thought they were going to be?

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Loving the improvements that Kvasnicka and Rosin have both reportedly made to their games so far. I now think both are solid top five round targets. It would be pretty hard to continue to justify Matyas above Rosin at this point, now that Rosin has shown the improved offspeed stuff he’ll need to start professionally. If he’s healthy now, I think Matyas to the rotation would help both the team’s immediate success and the player’s future draft stock a ton. I know I said I think his future is in the bullpen all the way, but he needs steady innings in front of scouts before the season starts to get too deep. I’d love to see a mid-week start against Alabama, but don’t really see any way that actually happens.

      On the whole, I’m still not quite sure what to make of the Gophers. The starting pitching outside of Rosin has really held them back and, outside of Kvasnicka and Pettersen, they don’t really have true offensive weapons at the moment. Disappointing showing in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, too. Still looks like a three team conference race to me, with Ohio State and Michigan also at the top.

  4. Joe says:

    Maytas is not going to be drafted above Rosin, bot Seth and Kvasnicka should be top 5 rounders while Maytas will likely slide due to signability issues and injury history.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on where O’Shea and Pettersen will go in the draft. I’d imagine AJ will be a top 20 round pick while Nick’s power potential and defense could land him around 25 (assuming his power numbers pick up in the second half of the season. Do those seem like accurate guesses to you?

  5. ..... says:

    First of all I would just like to say that It is really sad that I would even acknowledge the moron that would write something with such little to no validity to anything that he would say. This guy prob just thought it would be a good idea to google search the guys on the Minnesota team and come up with no information outside of that. Also prob got cut from a high school baseball or if he did make the team he is prob that guy that thinks he is good enought to play college but never got asked let alone talked to any big league team Yet if you ask all his fat beer bellied never played a sport friends he told them he should be playing for the twins. Sorry about it worthless blogger. Get a job and move out of your parents basement.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      My sincerest apologies for forcing you to read this free website. I prob think it is a bad idea to even ask this, but is there any specific part of this post (written over 20 months ago, by the way) that you find particularly objectionable? If so, I’d be happy to discuss it in greater detail if you’d like.

      For the record, I was easily the least athletic of all of my “fat beer bellied never played a sport friends,” so in the future if you could just leave them out and instead focus all the hate on me that would be super. Thanks for the comment, and, as always, thanks for being a loyal reader!

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