1. Good college teams can sometimes have not so exciting pro prospects. Bad college teams can sometimes have really interesting pro prospects. That kind of cognitive dissonance can be hard for hard core — dare I say, homer? — college baseball fans to accept because the discrepancies between production and projection can be tricky to spot when emotionally invested. So what kind of team will Wake Forest be in 2011? I don’t know nearly enough about the year-to-year dynamics of college baseball to have an opinion about the Wake Forest team’s prospects heading into the 2011 season, but feel confident in declaring, at least on paper, there’s a good amount of talent on the Demon Deacon’s roster, especially on the pitching side. Will the 2011 Wake Forest team be remembered as a bad college group with good pro prospects? Or will those good pro prospects produce enough to make 2011 a season to talk about?
2. Winston-Salem will be home to two of the highest upside senior signs in 2011, OF Steven Brooks and LHP Mark Adzick. I actually am at a loss for why Steven Brooks doesn’t get more draft love — the Cubs took him in the 17th round last year, part of an overall trend of ACC outfielders (Holt, Grovatt, Rowland, and Schaus) falling way lower than expected — because he’s that rare mix of tools (plus speed, above-average raw power) and skill (great approach at plate, fantastic base runner, above-average range in CF). Adzick (upper-80s FB, very good low-70s CB, solid mid-70s CU) was seen as a potential top five round pick out of high school who fell because of a reported first round asking price. If he’s healthy and getting innings this spring, his stock could skyrocket.
3. The Demon Deacons also have two of the most intriguing 2011 two-way prospects, JR LHP/1B Austin Stadler and SO OF/RHP Mac Williamson. Stadler’s a pretty typical three pitch lefthander (upper-80s FB, CU, CB) who has a really strong track record of success (8.69 K/9 – 3.32 BB/9 – 3.79 FIP – 78.2 IP) pitching against high level competition. Williamson, a potential catching conversion candidate at the pro level, has serious power upside and a plus arm, but his swing at everything approach could prevent him from ever getting the chance to put his crazy raw tools to use. That’s one way to look at these prospects. Most teams, however, will probably wind up considering Stadler at first base due to his much improved glove, athleticism, approach at the plate, and untapped raw power. Williamson, on the other hand, could very well be viewed as a potential late inning relief prospect because of the reported mid-90s heat to go along with a solid sinker/slider mix.
Early 2011 Draft Guesses
Three bullet points and no mention of one of my favorite 2011 draft “sleepers,” SO RHP Daniel Marrs. Before injuring his labrum, Marrs was a prospect on the same level of current Phillies minor leaguer Jarred Cosart. His pre-injury power stuff (most notably a 92-94 FB peaking at 97 and a good splitter that worked as CU) could tempt a team into drafting him well before his present stuff (sinking upper-80s FB, rapidly improving cutter) would typically merit. Whether or not he ever recaptures that pre-surgery stuff remains to be seen, but Marrs is good enough to continue to expand his repertoire — the new cutter was a great fall ball surprise, I’m told — if that what it takes to succeed. After Marrs, I’d rank the Wake Forest pitching prospects, in order, JR RHP Michael Dimock (plus slider and strong performances to date), Stadler, Williamson, and Adzick. A handful of Wake relievers could garner some interest, but, really, at this point we’re just throwing names against the wall and seeing what sticks. JR LHP Zach White has the classic “everything but the kitchen sink” arsenal of pitches, JR RHP Gabe Feldman has legitimately intriguing stuff (low-90s peak FB, good mid-70s CB, potential plus cutter) but iffy command and a limited track record keep him off the slam dunk draftable list for now, and SR LHP Eli Robins has good stuff, including a good slider, but poor control has held him back so far.
There is less to be excited offensively, as only the aforementioned Brooks is a lock to get redrafted in 2011. If you count him as a first baseman and not a pitcher, then Stadler would double the number of draftable Demon Deacon hitters. JR 3B/OF Carlos Lopez is my dark horse to go later in the draft to a team willing to bet on his interesting physical tools, including his very quick wrists.