1. JR LHP Jed Bradley is the obvious headliner. The Ramblin’ Wreck’s lefty ace has a shot to become Georgia Tech’s second straight Friday night starter to go in the top half in the first round in a row. I recently finished ranking 2011’s best college arms — coming soon! — with Bradley coming in as my sixth favorite college pitcher and second overall college lefthander. He’s also the highest ranked pitcher in the ACC and, with apologies to Brad Miller, Harold Martinez, and Levi Michael, the conference’s best overall prospect. In fact, now that I’m looking at my freshly completed rankings — again, coming soon! — I’m realizing that the ACC’s three best 2011 pitching prospects are all lefties. Right now it goes Bradley, Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, [big gap], and Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin. Hey, speaking of lefties…
2. One of the most interesting draft subplots of the upcoming Yellow Jacket season could be the usage of Tech’s trio of lefties who are all decidedly on the bubble — as far as I see it — when it comes to the 2011 draft. SR LHP Taylor Wood, SR LHP Zach Brewster, and JR LHP/1B Jake Davies will all be duking it out for key late inning relief appearances parceled out by the venerable Danny Hall. I thought Brewster, a potential professional LOOGY with some seriously deceptive funk in his delivery, would show enough to get popped late in the draft last year, but he turned out to be my one Georgia Tech swing-and-a-miss during my short-lived Who Will Be Drafted? series. Damn, my guesses on North Carolina were especially brutal. Only 1 out of 7 were correct AND I missed on a player who actually did get picked. Anyway, now that I’ve refreshed the readership on my sterling track record on stuff like this, let me just say that I currently like Davies’ stuff (upper-80s FB, good SL, usable but improving CU) the best of the three, but it’s hard to pick a favorite out of these tightly bunched trio.
3. In an effort to not overextend my reach this year, I’m focusing as much as possible on 2011 while trying to leave the great unknown of 2012 and 2013 alone. Therefore, anything I say about the next two years worth of draft eligible players ought to be taken with a gigantic chunk of salt. For example, if I were to say my favorite Georgia Tech 2012 is SO RHP Buck Farmer and my favorite Georgia Tech 2013 is FR RHP Deandre Smelter, then you might want to think to yourself, “Hey, it’s cool that I now have two names to store away in the back of my head for future drafts — even though I already know all about Smelter, some guy’s 17th highest rated prep player in 2010, from last year’s coverage — but I’ll be sure to do my own homework and/or check back in to this site in the future to learn more about each guy before coming up with any concrete opinions about either player.” Farmer’s low-90s fastball, potential plus breaking ball, and emerging changeup give him the look of a potential solid big league starter. Smelter’s upside is more tantalizing; it’s not crazy to think that he could leave school as a plus fastball, plus slider, plus splitter power pitching prospect in the mold of the player he’s received instruction from, Kevin Brown.
Early 2011 Draft Guesses
JR LHP Jed Bradley, JR RHP Mark Pope, JR 3B Matt Skole, and SR RHP Kevin Jacob (Josh Fields 2.0?) are all stone cold locks to see their names pop up on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker this June. I’m more bullish on JR 2B Connor Winn than most; assuming he has the year I believe he’s capable of having in 2011, he’d probably fall in after those four, but before potential high risk/high reward plays like JR OF Jarrett Didrick, JR RHP/2B Jacob Esch, and JR OF Roddy Jones on my personal rankings. After those eight prospects, we come to the three aforementioned lefthanded relievers, Wood, Brewster, and Davies. If all eleven players get popped, and keep in mind that’s obviously a gigantic if at this point in the process, then that would top last year’s remarkable ten Georgia Tech draft selections. If I was a gambling man, I’d bet on Bradley, Pope, Skole, and Jacob only, and opt to wait and see on how much playing time players like Winn, Didrick, Esch, Jones, Wood, Brewster, and Davies actually get this spring. If I was an optimistic fellow trying to sell you on these guys, I might rave about Didrick’s overflowing tool set (plenty of raw power, above-average speed and range, plus arm), Esch’s opportunity to show his quality stuff on the mound this spring after a disappointing 2010 at second base, and Jones’ borderline unfair NFL speed and athleticism. Since I’m an optimistic betting man, let’s say Bradley, Pope, Skole, Jacob, Winn, Didrick, Esch, Brewster, and Davies all get drafted this June.