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.