1. One of the interesting things about previewing college teams heading into 2011 draft season is getting the chance to review what actually went down in 2010. The transition from this year’s draft to the next happens so fast that it can be hard to process what exactly happened between draft day and signing day. To wit, I would have never guessed the Hokies had a whopping 8 players selected in last year’s draft. I see almost no way they match that number this year — honestly, getting half the amount would be an accomplishment with the talent level of Virginia Tech’s upperclassmen — but that doesn’t take away from the really impressive group of talent that graduated to the professional ranks last year. There’s no Austin Wates, Jesse Hahn, or Mathew Price in this year’s class, but prospects like JR 3B Ronnie Shaban, SR SS Tim Smalling (unsigned 14th rounder last year), and JR RHP Jake Peeling could all go as early as round 7 or 8.
2. Pretty sure my favorite draft prospect on this year’s Virgina Tech team is a player who has yet to record his first plate appearance with the squad. FR C/OF Chad Morgan (2012 draft eligible after redshirting last season) should get all the at bats he can handle this upcoming year. Morgan has a strong bat, good pop, a plus arm, and enough athleticism to play multiple spots around the diamond. I’ve heard a “shorter Ryan Ortiz” comp that I think is appropriate. He’s one to watch.
3. It’s funny to see where my opinions diverge with the big boys in the industry because, for reasons I really can’t explain, there seems to be a weird pattern when it comes to our differences. Let me preface this by saying that those actually in the business have way better contacts, resources, and pooled brain power devoted to what they do, so, when in doubt, go with the experts you’ve come to know and trust. Anyway, it seems that there are certain colleges and geographical regions where I consistently fall in line with the experts and certain spots where there are bigger disagreements in player preferences. This year’s group of draft eligible Virginia Tech talent falls under the umbrella of big time divergent opinion. I’m relatively down on Virginia Tech compared to many of the smarter people actually in the business, so, like always, take all this for what really is.
Early 2011 Draft Guesses
I only see two solid bets I’d be willing to stick my neck out on to get drafted this year out of the Virginia Tech lineup: Ronnie Shaban and Tim Smalling. Both players are flawed — Shaban lacks a standout tool and Smalling’s approach at the plate leaves much to be desired — but each does enough well — Shaban’s bat could be an above-average tool and his arm is strong while Smalling’s similarly effective bat plays even bigger up the middle — that they should be off the board within the first fifteen rounds. Jake Peeling‘s flaw is more damning as teams tend to be very wary of pitchers coming off of labrum surgery, but an average fastball, above-average slider, and good size could get him back on the prospect radar this spring. After those three, there is a noticeable gap in Hokie draft eligible talent. SO 1B Andrew Rash has huge righthanded power, but equally large holes in his swing (20 K’s in only 90 AB last year). SO RHP Charlie McCann could be on the outside looking in as he fights for meaningful innings in the early going, but his solid three pitch mix (upper-80s FB, effective slow CB, good CU) should get him on a few follow lists for 2012 and 2013.