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2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College 3B Follow List

Whatever the term “franchise player” means to you, consider that the upside of Anthony Rendon. Will teams still think this highly of Andy Burns even after he sits out 2011 after transferring in from Kentucky? Adam Smith is a tools gamble much liked highly ranked Oregon State C Andrew Susac; both were highly touted preps who have had up-and-down collegiate careers, but remain highly regarded by most talent evaluators. There are some really good names lower on this list than I anticipated (Hinson, Buechele, Ginther, Asche, Proscia, and Bream, to name a few), but this year’s draft class is just that strong.

  1. Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon
  2. Southern Mississippi JR 3B BA Vollmuth
  3. Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito
  4. Georgia Tech JR 3B Matt Skole
  5. Miami JR 3B Harold Martinez
  6. Arizona JR 3B Andy Burns
  7. Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez
  8. Wichita State JR 3B Johnny Coy
  9. Texas A&M JR 3B Adam Smith
  10. Kent State JR 3B Travis Shaw
  11. Clemson JR 3B John Hinson
  12. Texas State JR 3B Kyle Kubitza
  13. Winthrop JR 3B Chas Crane
  14. Coastal Carolina SR 3B Scott Woodward
  15. Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele
  16. TCU SO 3B Jantzen Witte
  17. Texas JR 3B Kevin Lusson
  18. Texas-Pan American JR 3B Vincent Mejia
  19. San Francisco SR 3B Steven Yarrow
  20. Tarleton State SR 3B Chris Casazza
  21. Oklahoma State JR 3B Mark Ginther
  22. Nebraska JR 3B Cody Asche
  23. Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel
  24. Virginia JR 3B Steven Proscia
  25. Louisiana Tech JR 3B Matt Threlkeld
  26. College of Charleston JR 3B Matt Leeds
  27. Oklahoma City SR 3B Kirk Walker
  28. Baylor SO 3B Cal Towey
  29. Liberty JR 3B Tyler Bream
  30. East Carolina JR 3B Corey Thompson

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College 3B Follow List (Honorable Mentions)

The unrelenting positivity surrounding the promise of the 2011 draft class is bound to get old after a few months (negativity sells, after all), but, for now, it is a heck of a lot of fun. It was a pain in the neck filling out the last few spots on a few of the position lists last spring. This year, however, trimming down the top 30 third baseman list was an absolute chore. I haven’t been following the draft long enough to make any kind of absurd declaration about the quality of this year’s class, but, damn, this is one amazing amateur crop. Here are a few of the quality names that didn’t make my top 30 3B cut…

Mercer JR 3B Jacob Tanis
North Carolina State JR 3B Andrew Ciencin
Auburn JR 3B Creede Simpson
UC Irvine SR 3B Brian Hernandez
Jacksonville State JR 3B Sam Eberle
Tennessee SR 3B Matt Duffy
Southern Mississippi JR 3B Ashley Graeter
Florida State SR 3B Stuart Tapley
Maryland JR 3B Tomo Delp
Michigan JR 3B John Lorenz
Stetson JR 3B Ben Carhart
Clemson JR 3B Jason Stolz
North Carolina Wilmington JR 3B Cameron Cockman
Florida SR 3B Bryson Smith
Penn State JR 3B Jordan Steranka
Georgia JR 3B Colby May

This list gives you a little bit of everything, I think. Before we start I should point out that 34 four-year college third basemen were taken in last year’s draft with 6 more junior college players taken at the position. Tomorrow’s follow list will have 30 third basemen and today’s honorable mention list has 16. That 46 doesn’t include the handful of junior college players that I always seem to overlook. Context!

Hernandez, Duffy, and Smith were all on the Top 30 last year, but got squeezed out of the rankings for one reason or another this year. I called Hernandez a “whole is greater than the sum of his parts” prospect last year, and I think a season similar to the one he had in 2010 (356/421/513) should get him drafted as a late round senior sign if a team buys into his defensive versatility at the next level. Duffy is a big personal favorite who I think could have big league value based on his outstanding glove and nothing more. The comparisons last year were Jack Hannahan and Andy LaRoche, at least in terms of possible career paths. Smith was easily the biggest tumbler from last year’s list. I try not to get into too much of the good old fashioned baseball psychology, but I do wonder if both Smith and fellow 2010 junior Josh Adams struggled last year due to the weight of having to carry a young Gators offense. A return to health after a season of nagging injuries would also help.

Graeter has the chance to shoot way up in the rankings once the season gets started. He’s transferring from Pearl River CC to Southern Mississippi to form one heck of a formidable left side of the infield in Hattiesburg. I liked him more as a pitcher than a position player last year at this time, but solid defensive tools, a plus arm, and intriguing offensive upside make him a legit position player in his own right. Tomo Delp is in a similar situation. His plus bat is now off to Maryland after spending time as Bryce Harper’s junior college teammate.

Stolz and Cockman both have much stronger scouting profiles than their statistical production would lead you to believe. Despite two subpar seasons at Clemson, Stolz’s status as a former prep star has scouts who remember his high school days convinced he’ll turn it around sooner rather than later. Cockman has almost all of the positives you’d want in a prospect (speed, arm, athleticism, and power), but hasn’t had the opportunity to show off his ability at the college level. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jake Tanis is a good defender coming off a sophomore season so impressive (354/417/668) that the Rockies scooped him up in the 2010 draft. He’s been able to translate solid tools into excellent production thus far; a big junior year could get him up into top fifteen round territory.

Thundersnow Day

I’m going to do my best to stick to the original schedule laid forth earlier in the week, but the weather up here in the northeast has my already tenuous internet connection unreliable at best. On the plus side, the thundersnow — seriously, how cool is thundersnow? — has me off from work today, so that means time to catch up on a few of my lapsed draft-related duties. Stay tuned…

2011 MLB Draft – College 2B Commentary

From last year:

College second basemen selected in the first 20 rounds of the MLB Draft need to show exceptional ability in one of three offensive categories –  power, plate discipline, or speed. I know, I was shocked to find out that big league clubs value those things as well. A quick study of early round college second basemen shows that 78% of college 2B taken in the top 20 rounds over the past three years showed standout skills in one of the three aforementioned areas.

I haven’t looked at the numbers from 2010, but that 78% figure runs from 2007-2009. The unscientific standards that I used for power, plate discipline, and speed were: power = minimum .550 SLG, plate discipline = more walks than strikeouts, and speed = 20+ stolen bases. Here’s how this year’s class ranked:

All 3 benchmarks reached: Wong – Michael – MacPhee

2 of 3 reached: LaStella – Medrano – Peterson – Patton – Johnson – Spangenberg

1 of 3 reached: Wright – Werman – Paolini – Wittels – Muno – Berti – Riley – Gamache – Wilson – Wychock – Pena

0 reached: Jensen – Schwind – Luciano – Jones – Black – Puhl – Heffley

Not enough at bats to qualify: Terry – Winn – Holland

I didn’t realize any of that before making my list, so it’s pretty interesting to see the top three on my personal list just so happened to be the only three players to hit on all three statistical benchmarks. Looking back on that 2007-2009 pool of players, the best player during the “study” was Miami JR 2B Jemile Weeks. Weeks put up a junior year line of 363/.452/.641 with a BB/K ratio of 35/38 and stole 22 bases in 23 tries. Compare the following lines [Draft Year – Player: BA/OBP/SLG (BB/K) (SB/SBA)]:

2008 Weeks: 363/452/641 (35/38) (22/23)

2010 Wong: 438/507/657 (37/19) (20/27)

2010 Michael: 374/509/621 (48/24) (22/24)

2010 MacPhee: 380/483/647 (42/36) (20/24)

2010 LaStella: 388/471/659 (34/14) (6/6)

2010 Wright: 370/418/642 (21/25) (10/11)

2010 Medrano: 443/512/614 (31/24) (17/19)

There is more to amateur player evaluation than just numbers, of course. Wong and Michael absolutely have scouting reports on par with the junior year version of Weeks. I’d argue for MacPhee at or near the same point, but that might be just me. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: 2011 is a great draft for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the outstanding quality of collegiate second base prospects. A few quick words on a few other prospects I love…

Joe Terry is one of my favorites. Here’s what I wrote about him last year:

Terry is the quintessential hitting machine who finds a way to make hard contact darn near every time he steps to the plate. He does more than just hit, however; Terry is also an above-average runner with a strong arm who, despite appearing to fight his body sometimes in the field, should settle in as at least an average second baseman with the help of professional coaching. He reinvented himself somewhat in 2010 sacrificing some power for a more patient approach.

Terry has good speed, a strong arm, and a really quick bat. As mentioned, his defense has been questioned in the past, but reports from Fullerton this fall were very favorable. This comparison isn’t perfect, but in terms of potential upside and positional versatility, Terry could have a career that looks a little like Bill Hall’s.

Peterson is a really underrated prospect that has the crazy athleticism of a former football star with the refined plate approach of a professional. With proper coaching, he has definite big league starter upside. Jensen, Johnson, and Werman all have played around the diamond and have shown enough aptitude at various positions to profile as potential utility guys. If Joe Terry is the Taylor Ard of second basemen (junior college transfers on the pro radar for years who are finally playing major college ball), Corey Spangenberg is the Jamie Bruno (prospects in limbo awaiting transfers to big programs). Spangenberg is going to Miami next fall unless a pro team takes a chance on him this June. Maybe it is just the Miami connection clouding my judgment, but I could see a possible Scott Lawson comp here.

2011 MLB Draft – College 1B Commentary

For reference’s sake, the complete list of top 2011 college first basemen. Now some quick thoughts on a few selected players. I’m happy to add extra thoughts on any other player by request.

I think it is more likely they are no future everyday big league first basemen out of this class than there is more than one. That’s not to say we won’t see a future big league star emerge out of this class, but the odds seemed stacked against it. Obviously the players with the best chance are the ones ranked one and two on the list because, well, otherwise they wouldn’t be ranked one and two on the list. Top ranked Tucker has been covered already; number two Oropesa’s strengths (power, defense, arm, chance he could start his career at third) far outweigh his weaknesses (swing can get too long, possibility of potential contact issues down the line).

Channing’s plus power is enticing, but the Brett Wallace body comp scares the heck out of me. Ribera has similarly intriguing power, maybe more appealing if you value present power over raw upside, but the fact there is less projection to his game can be a double edged sword. I guess it should also be mentioned that, despite some internet hotshot like me being a big fan, Ribera went undrafted in 2010. A fact like that begs the simple question: what are the people paid to do this for a living seeing (or not seeing?) that I’m missing?

The only player near the top of the ranking without major college experience could position himself atop the whole list by June. Taylor Ard’s funky swing has some scouts questioning how he’ll transition to big time college ball, but I think it’ll play, especially when it comes to his power upside. His strong track record with wood, underrated athleticism, and aforementioned plus-plus raw power should make up for whatever contact deficiencies he might have to overcome. I’m as excited to see how he adjusts to the Pac-10 as I am any newcomer to the college game and the statistical breakdown between him and Oropesa will be telling.

By sheer coincidence, we have back-to-back-to-back potential-laden, yet disappointing first basemen, all in different draft-eligibility years. First, the sophomore Jamie Bruno. Bruno has all of the tools teams like for in a well-rounded first baseman, but never got on track while at Tulane. He is draft-eligible this year as he sits out while he transfers to LSU. The junior is Georgia 1B Chase Davidson. Davidson was made famous by a Jim Thome comp from his high school days, but, tell me if you’ve heard this before, hasn’t gotten it together at the college level. When locked in, Davidson looks like a potential big league regular, but, as the numbers bear out, he is locked out (opposite of locked in?) far more often. To tap into his big power, he’ll need to find a way to shrink the far too big holes in his swing. Lastly, we have senior 1B Troy Scott from Washington. Whenever you think I might know what I’m talking about, just remember that I thought Scott had a chance to sneak into the first round last year. He is a rebound candidate this year if he can get back to his patient, power hitting ways.

I feel bad leaving anybody out, so here’s a quick ranking of the power upside of each player on the list. Players are ranked in terms of power upside. I realize the two category setup is extremely simplistic, but it’s just a starting point…

Plus: Tucker, Oropesa, Channing, Ribera, Ard, Hoilman, Ramirez, Riggins, Westlake, Seitzer, Leyland, Scott, Davidson, Griffin, Hicks, Diamaduros, Kaupang

Above-Average: Espy, Snyder, Snieder, Serritella, Stadler, Bruno, Skipper, Hook, Haar, Elgie, B. Green, D. Green

2011 MLB Draft – Top 30 College 2B Follow List

I’ll have to sit down and really think about the overall college rankings after I finish, but a quick glance at the 1B list has me thinking there will be at least three college second basemen ahead of the top ranked first baseman Florida JR Preston Tucker. That speaks more to the strength of this year’s college second base class than the weakness of the first basemen. Michael, Wong, MacPhee, and Terry make a really strong quartet of prospects. After that first tier, you have another group that could produce a quality big league regular or two out of the trio of LaStella, Wright, and Medrano. From that point on the list is geared towards prospects with the ceiling of utility infielders. College second base prospects don’t exactly have the greatest of track records in professional ball, but I’m such a fan of this group that I’d be happy with my favorite team taking any of the top 15 prospects listed in the top 10 rounds. 42 college second basemen were taken in the 2010 draft; between this list and the honorable mention list, I’m at 44 (and with a severe lack of junior college guys on my rankings so far, for what it’s worth). Big year for college 2B, is what I’m saying…Not that the inexact science of such a ranking needs to be explicitly stated, but Wong was ahead of Michael on my personal list for the past three months…until last night when I decided to flip the two based on little more than good old fashioned intuition. The two prospects are amazingly close, at least in my eyes. I love Wong’s speed, hit tool, track record with wood, and damn fine present defense. Then there is Michael’s power, amazing freshman season at UNC after enrolling in January, and more impressive long-term defensive upside (something I know I may be in the minority in being a big fan of). This may be a super lame way of settling things, but, with scouting reports that have the two in more or less a dead heat, it may come down to which player performs better on the field in 2011. Novel approach, I know.
  1. North Carolina JR 2B Levi Michael
  2. Hawaii JR 2B Kolten Wong
  3. Arizona State JR 2B Zack MacPhee
  4. Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Joe Terry
  5. Coastal Carolina JR 2B Tommy LaStella
  6. Louisville JR 2B Ryan Wright
  7. Missouri State JR 2B Kevin Medrano
  8. McNeese State JR 2B Jace Peterson
  9. Cal Poly JR 2B Matt Jensen
  10. Florida International JR 2B Jeremy Patton
  11. Florida State JR 2B Sherman Johnson
  12. Virginia JR 2B Keith Werman
  13. Siena JR 2B Dan Paolini
  14. Florida International JR 2B Garrett Wittels
  15. Fresno State SR 2B Danny Muno
  16. Bowling Green JR 2B Jon Berti
  17. Marist JR 2B Joe Schwind
  18. North Carolina A&T JR 2B Marquis Riley
  19. Auburn SR 2B Dan Gamache
  20. Southern SR 2B Curtis Wilson
  21. Georgia Tech JR 2B Connor Winn
  22. Towson SR 2B Chris Wychock
  23. TCU SR 2B Jerome Pena
  24. Central Florida SR 2B Derek Luciano
  25. UT-San Antonio SR 2B Ryan Hutson (EDIT: previously listed with SS group)
  26. Michigan State SO 2B Ryan Jones
  27. Maryland JR 2B Ryan Holland
  28. Oklahoma SR 2B Danny Black (EDIT: signed in 2010, my mistake)
  29. Minnesota SO 2B Matt Puhl
  30. Western Carolina JR 2B Ross Heffley
  31. Indian River State College SO 2B Corey Spangenberg
  32. Georgia JR 2B Levi Hyams

Week Ahead

As always, schedules are tentative, subject to change on a whim, and completely open to suggestions…

Monday: Top 30 College 2B Follow List

Tuesday: College 1B Commentary

Wednesday: College 2B Commentary AND Top 30 College 3B Follow List (Honorable Mentions)

Thursday: Top 30 College 3B Follow List

Friday: College 3B Commentary