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2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Rutgers Scarlet Knights

SR OF Michael Lang’s scouting profile screams potential fourth outfielder. Above-average in many phases of the game (speed, arm strength, range) with consistent strong production at the plate (.378/.471/.700 – 27 BB/39 K – 11/15 SB – 230 AB), not to mention one of the finest people I’ve talked to/people who say ridiculously nice things about him ratios I’ve come across. Yes, Lang’s PITT/PWSRNTAH stat is simply off the charts. Regular readers of the site know I try to straddle that fine line when it comes to makeup – not wanting to be completely dismissive of it, not willing to use it to make blanket statements defending or denouncing any particular prospect’s ranking – but I do think it makes an interesting tie-breaker during equally talented player comparisons, especially for prospects who aren’t expected to be regulars in the big leagues. Call me naïve, but sometimes I like to think of the business of baseball like I would any other job market that exists in our world. If I had final say on draft day, I’d always stop and ask myself this very simple question: Do you feel confident hiring this man to join your company? Lang’s done enough on the field, shown enough of a projectable skill set, and is by all accounts a potential model employee.

JR RHP Charlie Law is a projection pick all the way at this point. The potential for three big league average or better pitches (88-92 FB with sink, above-average CU that really impressed me when I saw him in high school, raw CB with promise) and a great frame (6-7, 235) make him one of college baseball’s most intriguing mystery men. With only 36 innings pitched through his first two seasons as a Scarlet Knight, Law has a lot to prove in 2011. I personally find his height interesting because it is one of those rare attributes that is both very clearly a positive (downward plane, some potential for more heat, better suited for durability, etc.) and a negative. I haven’t seen him since high school, so don’t take this as gospel, but his height often appeared to throw his mechanics out of sync which in turn hurt the way he commanded his fastball.

I really, really liked SR OF Brandon Boykin last year, but the more time he spends away from the infield the less I seem to like his prospect stock. Despite his plus speed and impressive pop for his size, I’d still rank him behind Lang.  JR RHP Nathaniel Roe is well off the radar for many draft fans at this point, but he throws two good secondary pitches (low-70s CB and mid-70s CU) and might be able to get a look despite a below-average heater.

Those are the top four prospects on my Rutgers board at this point. Law and Lang are locks to get drafted. Boykin is a solid maybe. Despite my appreciation, Roe might be viewed as a 2012 senior sign more than anything else. After that, it’s lottery ticket time. The very athletic SR LHP Sean Campbell is probably the only other Rutgers pitcher with a shot to get drafted. Two grip and rip players, JR OF Ryan Kapp and JR 3B/1B Russ Hopkins, are both really strong college power hitters not exactly known for their plate discipline. Picking one over the other is tricky. I think Hopkins has a better chance of figuring things out at the plate, but the possibility he won’t stick at 3B in the pros is scary. Kapp’s strong track record with wood and enviable present power make me happy, but corner outfielders who can’t control the strike zone aren’t exactly in high demand these days, Dayton Moore excepted. Kapp by a hair, but the two are awfully close.

JR RHP Willie Beard, after throwing up a less than stellar 8.57 FIP in 35.2 IP last season, needs a better junior season to get back on the map. Insightful commentary, I know. The point I am clumsily trying to make is that Beard, a player who scouts actually said nice things about as a freshman, is not without talent despite his poor sophomore season. I don’t think he is a draftable talent – short righthanded pitchers either need above-average stuff, dominating numbers, or, in many instances, both to get noticed – but he can be filed away as a deep, deep, deep  sleeper if you’re into that sort of thing.

Lastly we come to two draft-eligible sophomores with enough untapped upside to deserve mention. SO OF/LHP Steven Zavala and SO C Justin Olsen both flashed enough talent as prep players to warrant some consideration here in 2011. The key word there is some; do keep in mind that non-premium draft-eligible sophomores typically don’t hear their names called on draft day

2011 MLB Draft Prognosis

Lang and Law are definites, Boykin is a strong maybe, Kapp and Hopkins are weak maybes, and Campbell, Roe, Olsen, and Zavala are long shots. That covers the prediction part of things. As far as my own prospect tastes, I’d personally rank them Law, Lang, Boykin, Roe, Kapp, Hopkins, Olsen, and Zavala, in order.



  1. popflyguy says:

    Thanks for the rundown here and it is a good one. I like your thoughts on the players, good insight. A few thoughts and questions if you don’t mind…Law is a very big kid and his potential upside is clearly worth investing in for a pitcher so I’m with you on all that. But do you think his lack of strong play will play a deeper part or will they just take him on that great size alone? Didn’t see him much last season.

    Lang has been a good surprise for RU, not bad for a walk-on. You had him a draftable lock last season, wonder why he didn’t go? I watched RU several times last season and while he started off pretty slow, he picked up and got back in the race down the stretch. The big leaders/bats for the team were Biserta and Nyzstor with a good part of the way with solid help from Boykin and then later on from Lang and Kapp. So do you see him in the middle or late rounds? Also you mentioned him as a 4th OF for some team but somehow I think this kid will surprise again if given another big chance. Your thoughts?

    I notice you keep speaking of Boykin as an infielder though he didn’t play infield last season and probably won’t this season as well. I think he has established himself as a speedy CF. Clearly he’s quite athletic and still has the ability to play infield but even if he doesn’t I see this flexibility as a real asset to a pro team, as they can do with him what they think is best despite how RU plays him. He has very good tools and upside. He showed some real pop with the bat and is scary on the bases. I think teams will look to his overall athletic flexibility, OF or even IF. Further thoughts?

    All-in-all, I pretty much agree with your 1-2-3 view of Law, Lang, Boykin. Law for sheer size/potential as a pitcher, Lang for just consistently getting it done over the long haul for the Knights, and Boykin for flexible athletism and solid potential. We differ slightly in that I see them all as” locks.” Can’t see why the next level wouldn’t be interested in them all as it won’t take a lot ($) to get some pretty good talent especially in Lang and Boykin as they are seniors now, correct?

    Finally here I see possibilities also for Kapp, Hopkins and perhaps Sean Campbell. Kapp can rake but I agree needs to be a bit more disciplined at the plate. You want a bit more play for his size in Hopkins but he can do some things out there and may really be more of a 1B than a 3B. What do you think? Campbell just needs to be given more real opportunity. He has some real ability that a pro team just might take a chance on.

    Thanks again for the rundown on the Scarlet Knights, how far do you think they go this season? Do they have enough to make it back to the Big East Tournament? I surely hope so.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Hey, thanks for commenting and glad you enjoyed the post. I tried to hit on all the major points, but I’m afraid I wound up asking more questions than answering them…

      Law is tough to evaluate because all we have to go on is projection. If the draft were to be held tomorrow I couldn’t even begin to guess what round he’d go in. His 2011 season is as big as almost any college prospect’s prospect stock that I can think of off the top of my head. His size and stuff will get him drafted no matter what, but his 2011 performance could be the difference between going in the top 5 rounds versus going somewhere between rounds 20 to 30. Again, total guesses on my end…he’s a unique player to evaluate.

      I was stunned Law didn’t get picked last year, definite miss on my part. He’s one of my favorite college players playing one of my favorite prospect roles – always found guys who profile as big league backups more interesting to talk about than future stars. Looking forward to seeing more of him this spring before I’m ready to hang a round on him yet. Gun to my head? Maybe somewhere between 10-20 with a big year? Seems like senior signs begin going off the board around that point as certain teams begin to realize they need to get a few cheap bodies into the organization who will quickly sign on the dotted line. Then again, and I realize he wasn’t a senior, Jaren Matthews went way, way lower than I ever would have guessed last year. Maybe I’m just way off with Rutgers guys in general. Anyway, I’m interested to hear what you think Lang’s ultimate upside could be.

      Boykin had a lot more value in my eyes back when he played some middle infield, but the way he has remade himself into a good CF is impressive. Haven’t seen or heard anything about his defense our there…any thoughts? I guess I keep harping on his ability to play 2B because I think the super utility path is probably his only way to the big leagues, but above-average to plus defense in center would go a long way in and of itself. Also, you mention his speed…fastest guy on the team? What do you think?

      I wimped out on calling Boykin a lock after getting burned by Lang last year, but, yeah, you’re probably right in that Law, Lang, and Boykin are all deserving of lock status. You’re reasons for each are also spot on, great synopsis of what teams will be attracted to in each guy. The other players in the mix (guys like Kapp, Hopkins, Campbell, etc.) are all plenty talented, but, if I’m being completely honest here, I don’t know a whole lot about each beyond what’s already up. Not a lot of buzz beyond Law, Lang, and Boykin, though I do have one friend with pretty solid Big East connections who says, based on what he’s heard, Justin Olsen should be a lock… not sure what to make of that one, but it’s a prediction to store away, I suppose.

      I’m actually pretty bullish on Rutgers chances on making some noise in the Big East. Solid college pitching staff with a potential ace in the hole in Law, really strong lineup with a good blend of power, speed, and star power (Steve Nyisztor), and a good coaching staff. I wish I could give a more informed answer. I tend to focus on pro futures more than college outcomes, but, after doing a quick look around the Big East notes I have, it’s probably a good sign to see Rutgers stacking up well from a prospect standpoint. Only Connecticut and Louisville are clearly stronger when it comes to 2011 draft-eligible players, in my opinion. Obviously pro potential doesn’t always translate to college success (Law being a good example of this), but it’s something.

  2. RUDrew says:

    Rob, Knights might be interesting this next season. They lost some guns in Biserta and Matthews but return some decent-enough bats as well. I like your thoughts on the team and if these guys can come through a bit, who knows. Not saying we’ll win the Big East Tournament but if they can just get there, you never know.

    Likewise here, I didn’t see Law much last season, maybe hurt. Hope he’s good now as they could really use him on the mound. Lang is a sparkplug that won’t quit and Boykins keeps showing that he’s got what it takes out there. Lang is fast and Boykin is even faster I saw. With them in the outfield, you’ve got great speed and cover. Look forward to these guys making it to the next level.

    Good to have a Nyisztor out there, kids the real deal. And with others like Kap and Hopkins along with some strong pitching could give us a good go of it.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Definitely agree on that first point. If Rutgers can get themselves into the tournament, anything can happen. I think they’ll get in, but we’ll see. That is a pretty awesome 1-2 punch in the outfield with the speedy Lang and the speedier Boykin covering all that ground. This may be a tough question to answer, but I’m curious as to what you think of Boykin’s instincts in center…he’s fast, but is he getting good jumps on balls? I haven’t heard anything either way, just curious since I know he is relatively knew to the outfield.

      Steve Nyisztor really is something, isn’t he? Super early, but I think he’s a 2012 first rounder.

  3. RUDrew says:

    Rob, I watched RU several times at home last season and caught a game up in Connecticut as well while visiting family up there, and saw real potential growing in that outfield with Lang and Boykin. Lang has been solid in RF to me but I didn’t know if Boykin would pan out coming from the infield. It takes real ability to go from playing 2B to playing CF, would you agree? It certainly doesn’t happen everyday that’s for sure. The games I saw Boykin in CF he looked good, like that’s where he belonged all the time. I saw his jumps on the ball get better everytime out at RU. He made a crazy catch in Connecticut I remember, also hit a homerun up there against their big gun pitcher Price(?) I think. If you don’t have his speed and overall athleticism then you don’t make a catch like that one and that’s a very big outfield in CT as you know. He’s coming from playing infield all his life to roaming the outfield now so there was a learning curve I suppose. I think he learned it pretty fast to my eye. He could also play LF easy enough but in the middle at RU seems more appropriate.

    And yes, Nyisztor is a gem. Still can’t see how this boy wasn’t at least drafted out of highschool? But I agree, he’s a top rounder for sure.

  4. popflyguy says:

    And thank you for your response and good conversation and insight as well. Incidentally, this a nice website on the college game, draft possibilities and player potential. Good job!

    I like Law, I mean how could you not? He’s big and I agree again with you that that’s about all you need for the Pros to give him a shot and he’s got a bit more to him than that. Let’s hope he spills some of that greater potential out on the RU field next season.

    Assumed you meant that you were stunned by “Lang” not getting picked last year, again me too. He’s a workhorse and gets it done out there. I’m sure the scouts were interested in him but who knows what happened that he didn’t get picked. I thought somewhere in the middle rounds for sure but then again I thought Matthews would’ve been gone early, at least between the 4th – 12th rd somewhere, certainly not where he was taken late. Another mystery to me.

    And I understand your point on Boykin but I guess they had to make room in that infield for Nyistor and weren’t going to move the senior SS Betteridge, so Boykin was the movable object it seemed because of his athletic ability and speed. Makes sense. He got hurt early on last season and was off the field but in the lineup as he was hitting real good for the Knights and producing runs. Not sure why he wasn’t returned to the OF once he was better? I saw him later on and he was throwing fine and seemed ready to go. Noticed he played the OF all summer in Northwoods, so he should be more than ready for next season. You never know, but I bet the scouts see him as a multi-position sort of player, a good OF/IF guy, and as a senior now a real bargain for some team to pickup with his abilities. He’s quite promising, and yes I’d say without a doubt he’s the fastest kid on the team, and most times the fastest kid on the field of both teams in a game. He’s very fast and quite strong looking too.

    And thanks but I’m no scout or nothing, I just call it the way I see it and that’s what it looks like to me as to Law, Lang and Boykins playing and going to the next level. I think the real potential is there in all of them and the scouts should see it well enough no matter how they play at this point. It’s a different game in the Minors, kids can play more free and teams let them do so to see more thoroughly what a player can do beyond the restraints of a college coach with different things to think about, like winning. So, like you, I can still see Boykin in someone’s infield at 2B but it’s nice to be able to also play some good outfield for teams, even more options to you than the average one position player. Good problem to have, don’t you think?

    And I like RU in the Big East next season too as Coach Hill and his staff does a fine job of getting his boys ready and riding them down the stretch for all it’s worth. He’s a great motivator that’s been doing this for a long time to the good. The others you mention here could make it too. Hopkins is a big boy and I like the Olsten kid too. Good call by your friend. Might be a few other surprises in there as I expect Kapp to hit big like Biserta did last season from LF. Couldn’t quite understand why he didn’t play more last season swinging such a good stick whenever they gave him a chance but I’m just an old alum and umpire and will leave the coaching to the coaches and the scouting to the scouts. But it’s good to talk about this stuff in real ways here. I wish all the boys well going forward into the New Year and season.

  5. Kevin Jones says:

    Nice job on Rutgers. Have you had a chance to put together the Western Carolina information yet? The 2011 roster is on the WCU website under 2011 WCU Baseball Quick Facts, should replace the 2010 Roster soon.

  6. RedDan says:

    Interesting. I do think the three guys here Lang Law Boykin are good prospects and should get a shot. The rest are real “iffy” to me. I don’t think any eligible sophomores will be considered. Wildcards are Hopkins and Kapp. Nyisztor will be the next bigtime player from RU since Frazier. I think they will make the Big East Tourny next season behind some perhaps up & down play, they might even be able to deliver a surprise or two.

  7. Kevin Andrews says:

    Hey guys, i love the insight everyone is giving on the players. Overall, i think this is a pretty good potential draft list for the 2011 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Just some notes:

    Law Scares me because he is very injury prone. Unfortunately, he has only played one season at RU, but his projectability is through the roof. He is every scouts dream. He brings a big body, with a fastball that reaches 92 MPH. As long as Law is healthy and draft eligible, he is a lock.

    Lang is an athletic outfielder who can get to pretty much any ball in the outfield. He covers a lot of ground with a plus arm, plus speed, can hit for power/contact, and hes a smart player. I say Lang is a lock, all he has to do is show off his speed, his arm, and hit for average, and his name will be called in June.

    Now lets talk about Boykin. He is very athletic, which makes up for his descent(at best) reads from the outfield. When he gets a hold of one, hes got some pop, but i think as far as athleticism goes, hes right up there with the very best. He has a descent arm from the outfield, but he wont need to rely on it, as long as he puts up good numbers as a leadoff man(which he should be batting) he will get quality looks from scouts.

    Roe is a questionable pick. He has good stuff, but is very inconsistent. I am still unsure of what his role will be this season, maybe coming out of the bullpen is a good option for him. He has good off speed, which was said in an earlier post, and a fastball that can reach up to 90 mph. His only deterrent would be his size, but he makes up for it with a good lower half presence. If Roe can put up numbers this year for the knights, he may have options at the next level.

    Kapp is an absolute beast. His projectability is much like Law and sky’s the limit for him He has a good arm from the outfield, and pop like no other. In my opinion, he is a lock this year and i can see him going very early in the draft, enough said.

    Hopkins is a big boy. Scouts will flock to watch him play this spring. He is big and athletic, and plays a pretty solid third base. If he gets into one, its gonna go a long way. scouts are going to want to see more power out of Hopkins, and if he can do that, there is no way he will be overlooked. I say Hopkins has a real shot at big things this year.

    As far as the draft eligable sophomores, Zavala needs to get healthy, and Olsen needs to see more time. I don’t think either have the experience yet, but give them a couple games and who knows what can happen. Both players had excellent prep careers, which will help their causes and bring some attention their way as they roll into the 2011 season.

    Nyizstor will be a first rounder in 2012. The kid is the real deal, and hes a tough player. Expect big things out of him. Joining him as a Freshman All American in 2010 is sophomore Tyler Gebler, who will also contribute big this season after coming off a season where he broke the single season save record. Gebler will also be a candidate in the 2012 draft.

  8. PopFlyGuy says:

    Well Rob, I must say that I am quite surprised here as both you and I got it wrong. It is uncanny to me that no RU player got selected in the draft. I really thought Lang and Boykin for sure. Lang had another very good year in his career and Boykin was a bit choppy but came on real strong the last month or so. In that time he and Lang were RU’s best hitters. Not sure how neither one got drafted. I was sure scouts would see the very evident potential in Boykin where on the next level he might’ve flourished behind his athleticism and speed. And Lang, well that defies rationale to explain how no team saw that boy good enough to play on the next level. He did everything he had to do to show himself as a standout player. He’s one of the very best players to ever play for RU as to the many record players they have. He led his team in BA and was the most consistent player by far over any other player in the RU lineup in the past 3-4yrs of play, even the kids that went to the pros last year and the year before. I really just don’t understand it. He and Boykin were leaders or top achievers on the team in several categories and were actually tied in HRs and Steals. Think Boykin was 2nd on the team in slugging behind Lang as well. Don’t see how a team couldn’t use such players with tools like these boys have. Lang for shown consistency and Boykin on athletic promise and potential. How do you select high school kids in the late rounds over two such polished D1 players? Any thoguhts Rob???

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