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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Batted Ball Data 2011

Requirements for this are super simple: 1) pitchers must be eligible for the 2011 MLB Draft, 2) pitchers must have allowed 15 batted balls in play, 3) pitchers must either be above or below my arbitrarily decided upon standards (over 75% ground ball percentage, under 40% ground ball percentage). It should also be noted that it has only been two weeks, so, really, we’re going on about as little meaningful data as possible here. First, the ground ball machines…

Arizona JR RHP Kyle Simon: 92.0%
Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson: 91.3%
Oregon State JR RHP Sam Gaviglio: 80.8%
Villanova JR RHP Kyle McMyne: 77.8%
Connecticut SR LHP Elliot Glynn: 77.3%
Oregon JR RHP Madison Boer: 75.0%
UAB SR RHP Ryan Woolley: 75.0%

Simon and Stilson have combined for 44 ground balls out of 48 batted ball outs. That’s crazy. Stilson’s power stuff has gotten plenty of pub, but Simon’s underrated grounder-inducing repertoire (plus fastball movement, good splitter, much improved slider) should have him moving up draft boards this spring. Extra credit for the lefthanded Glynn cracking the list.

UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole: 38.1%
Alabama JR LHP Adam Morgan: 31.3%
North Carolina SR RHP Patrick Johnson: 30.0%
North Carolina State JR RHP Cory Mazzoni: 29.6%

I have no explanation why Cole doesn’t get more ground ball outs. Going off memory, I’m pretty sure he had a very low ground ball percentage last year as well.

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Quick Statistical Look at 2011 MLB Draft Pitching Prospects

In absolutely no particular order, 2011 draft prospects that finished last season with over 10 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, minimum 50 total innings pitched. For reference’s sake, prospects expected to go in the top three rounds are in bold…

Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer

Missouri State JR RHP Dan Kickham

Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez

Virginia SR RHP Tyler Wilson

Maryland SR RHP Brett Harman

Vanderbilt JR RHP Sonny Gray

Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson

Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann

Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett

UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole

UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer

Washington JR RHP Andrew Kittredge

Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley

Virginia JR LHP/1B Danny Hultzen

Mississippi JR LHP Matt Crouse

Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham

Arizona State JR LHP Mitchell Lambson

TCU SO LHP Matt Purke

Northeastern JR LHP Andrew Leenhouts

College Baseball’s Best Pitching Prospect Performances (2/19/11 and 2/20/11)

Southern Cal JR RHP Austin Wood (2011): 5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K

LSU FR RHP Kevin Gausman (2012): 5.2 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 6 K

Georgia Tech FR RHP DeAndre Smelter (2013): 1.1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K

San Diego FR RHP Dylan Covey (2013): 7 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 7 K

UCLA FR RHP Adam Plutko (2013): 6 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K

Florida FR RHP Karsten Whitson (2013): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K

  • Six really successful major college debuts for six outstanding prospects. It is a little funny to me that the most college ready freshman, Dylan Covey, had the least successful of the freshman quintet. Gausman, Smelter, and Whitson are similar in the way each can dial up mid-90s fastballs to pair with their potential plus power breaking balls (curve for Gausman, sliders for Smelter and Whitson). In any other year Austin Wood would be getting all kinds of high first round buzz; as is, he’s lost in the shuffle of the many more established 2011 college pitching stars.

South Carolina JR LHP Bryan Harper (2011): 1.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K

Troy JR LHP Garrett McHenry (2011): 3.2 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (6/1 GO/AO)

  • Wood’s debut may have been the biggest of any junior transfer prospect, but it only seems right to turn the spotlight on the first major college game pitched by Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother and former teammate. After all the Bryce Hype of 2010, let the Year of Bryan begin! McHenry also made his debut and, while I can’t pretend to know much about him as a prospect, his debut really impressed me. What can I say, I’m a sucker for multi-inning saves…

TCU JR RHP Kyle Winkler (2011): 7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K

UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer (2011): 7.2 IP 2 H 0 ER 4 BB 10 K

  • It is unbelievable to me that these two are number two starters on their college teams. Easy prediction that has already begun to come to fruition: Trevor Bauer will be one of 2011’s most divisive draft prospects.

Liberty SO RHP Blake Forslund (2011): 4 IP 6 H 5 ER 4 BB 5 K

Arizona JR RHP Kyle Simon (2011): 7.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 0 BB 13 K

Arizona SO RHP Kurt Heyer (2012): 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 8 K

  • Simon’s sinker, slider, splitter repertoire must have been really working for him…

Wichita State JR LHP Charlie Lowell (2011): 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K

Oklahoma State SO LHP Andrew Heaney (2012): 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K

  • Lowell, like Austin Wood, is another prospect that would get a lot more love in a less stacked draft class. Another lefty with plus velocity? Yawn…

Clemson SO RHP Kevin Brady (2011): 5.1 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K

Mississippi JR RHP David Goforth (2011): 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K

Oregon JR RHP Madison Boer (2011): 8 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K

  • For all the great 2011 college pitching available this June, there doesn’t appear to be a high number of high round reliever follows out there. I’ve never been good at predicting which college starting pitchers pro teams will prefer as relievers, but these three seem like prime candidates to make the move to the pen at some point. We’ll see…

South Florida SR LHP Andrew Barbosa (2011): 6 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K (against Florida)

Vanderbilt SR RHP Taylor Hill (2011): 7.1 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 8 K

UNC-Wilmington SR RHP Daniel Cropper: 7 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 12 K

  • On a good day, Hill has three above-average pitches. He’s Vanderbilt’s fifth best pitching prospect. Vanderbilt is really good. Great to see Cropper healthy and throwing so well…

Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez (2011): 7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K

Vanderbilt JR LHP Grayson Garvin (2011): 8.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 10 K

Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer (2011): 7 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 13 K

  • Broken record alert! Any other year, these three are first round locks and Meyer would be considered as close to a top ten guarantee as possible. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that a team like Washington, picking 6th overall and 1st in the supplemental first (34th overall) could walk away from the draft with two potential quick moving top of the rotation starting pitching prospects (Sonny Gray and Alex Meyer, for example)…

Texas A&M SO RHP Michael Wacha (2012): 6 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K

Texas SO LHP Hoby Milner (2012): 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 10 K

  • Which 2012 pitching prospect from the great state of Texas do you prefer? The high velocity righthander? Or the lefty with the deeper all-around arsenal?

Cal State Fullerton SO RHP Dylan Floro (2012): 4.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (out of the bullpen…)

Arizona State JR LHP Kyle Ottoson (2011): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K (out of the bullpen…)

  • 10.1 IP and no earned runs out of the bullpen? Have to love college baseball…

Best Bats of College Baseball’s Opening Weekend (2/18/11 to 2/20/11)

1. Arguably the biggest story to come out of college baseball’s opening weekend (from a prospect standpoint…and before news of Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham’s season-ending finger injury came to the surface) centered on the decision to have Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito play shortstop. Bigger still, he went out and played it well. Fun question of the day: if Esposito can show to scouts that he can at least play a league average big league shortstop, then he’ll go [fill-in-the-blank] in the 2011 MLB Draft. Top half of the first round, no doubt…right? Top ten? Higher? I know Ryan Zimmerman is the name often thrown around when talking Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon, but I think it is a really natural comparison for Esposito.

2. Other notable position “switches”: LSU 3B FR JaCoby Jones played 2B, Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer played 3B (a spot where he has some prior experience), and Washington SR 1B Troy Scott played 3B (ditto). Schaffer and Scott are mid-round guys here in 2011, but Jones has first round upside in 2013. I want to sit down and do preliminary rankings for 2012 and 2013 sometime before this June.  In a vacuum, Jones has top ten potential, but I’ll need to see where he stacks up in what looks to be a strong 2013 draft class.

3. The LSU staff has three years to move JaCoby Jones around the infield, and, as mentioned, Schaffer and Scott are mid-round guys at best. That leaves the position switch with the most immediate and significant draft prospect consequence as the move of Utah JR C CJ Cron playing first base all weekend long. The switch was not entirely unexpected – Cron’s defense behind the plate has never been his strong suit, plus he has played 1B for the Utes in the past – but the buzz surrounding it makes it seem less and less likely that Cron will don the tools of ignorance much at all in 2011.

A few completely random interesting hitting lines of the weekend, complete with equally random commentary…

College of Charleston JR “C” Rob Kral (2011): 667/714/778 (6-9, 2B, RBI, 5 R, 4 BB/0 K)

  • Kral may not be a catcher professionally, but, man, can he hit. Great patience and great power typically leads to great things…

North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard (2011): 538/571/692 (7-13, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R)

Mississippi SR C Miles Hamblin (2011): 444/643/778  (4-9, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB/3 K, 3/3 SB)

Oklahoma SO 2B Max White (2012): 467/556/667 (7-15, 3 2B, 6 R, 4 RBI, 3 HBP, 1/1 SB)

  • As great as that line looks, White’s defense at second drew the most praise over the weekend. Pretty amazing considering White is a converted outfield learning the position as he goes.

Tennessee JR 2B Khayyan Norfork (2011): 556/667/1.222 (5-9, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1/2 SB)

  • I ignored all of the positive buzz coming out of Tennessee’s fall/winter practices and, even though it has only been one weekend, I regret it. I did say this: “Khayyan Norfork might just be the player primed to make the biggest rise up draft boards of the players listed.” Really nice blend of speed, pop, and defense…

Florida SO SS Nolan Fontana (2012): 750/786/833 (9-12, 2B, 5 R, 2 HBP, K, 1/1 SB)

Clemson JR SS Brad Miller (2011): 375/643/375 (3-8, 5 R, 2 RBI, 6 BB/0 K, 4/4 SB)

  • Didn’t have the power numbers of many players on the list, but easy to love that BB/K ratio.

Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson (2011): 583/667/583 (7-12, 6 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB/1 K, 5/6 SB)

Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez (2011): 462/462/1.231 (6-13, 3 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, 4 R, 2-2 SB)

Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele (2011): 625/700/1.188 (10-16, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R)

Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel (2011): 455/500/1.364 (5-11, 2 HR, 2 3B, 7 RBI, 5 R)

Texas FR 3B Erich Weiss (2013): 818/824/1.273 (9-11, 2 3B, 2B, 7 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB/0 K, 1/1 SB)

Southern Carolina JR OF Jackie Bradley (2011): 583/615/1.083 (7-12, HR, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 4 R)

UAB JR OF Jamal Austin (2011): 462/462/538 (6-13, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 3/4 SB)

Kent State SR OF Ben Klafczynski (2011): 538/571/538 (7-13, RBI, 2 R)

Stanford FR OF Austin Wilson (2013): 500/500/750 (6-12, HR, 4 RBI, R, 1/1 SB)

  • With the first pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees select…

LSU JR OF Mikie Mahtook (2011): 444/545/1.778 (4-9, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)

  • I tried to limit the list to one player per college, but leaving fellow Tigers JaCoby Jones and Tyler Hanover off pained me greatly. Mahtook’s decision to only hit home runs could really pay off this year…

Honorable Mention! Virginia SR C Kenny Swab (2011): 000/571/000 (0-6, 5 R, 6 BB, 2 HBP, 2/2 SB)

Honorable Mention 2.0! Any JMU player. Five different players slugged over 1.100 over the weekend: Tenaglia, Herbek, Foltz, Knight, and Lowery. I was most impressed with SO OF Johnny Bladel’s 533/720/733 (6/3 BB/K and 5/5 SB) line. He’s my very early super sneaky 2012 first round possibility.

Friday Night Lights – College Baseball’s Best Pitching Prospect Performances (2/18/11)

1. I am a long way away from actually finalizing my college pitching rankings, but I’m pretty much locked in on who will sit atop the list. As impressive as Texas Christian SO LHP Matt Purke (4 shutout innings) and Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann (9 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K, only 95 pitches) performed, UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole (9 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 11 K) is the man. Better believe they’ll be more on him to come over the next few weeks.

2. Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson was only omitted from the previous entry because he slipped my mind, but, really, the guy belongs in the top college arm discussion with the likes of Cole, Purke, Jungmann, et al.  Perhaps it is for the best that the least well known major college pitcher gets his own space, so we can fully appreciate his sustained run of dominance. Stilson’s 2010 season (14 K/9) was the stuff of legend, and his transition to starting on Friday nights (6 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K) has started with a bang. My favorite part of his Friday line: 18 outs recorded, 9 via strikeout, 9 via groundball, 0 fly balls. He’s a starter all the way for me, despite the sentiment that he is too much of a two-pitch thrower to get through the lineup multiple times. I’ve heard too many positive things about both his changeup and his slider to believe differently.

3. Washington State JR LHP Adam Conley opened some eyes by peaking at 95-96 MPH on Friday. My earliest notes on him have him sitting 86-88 with a peak between 90-92. Amazing what some time working with a great college staff can do for a kid. Credit should also be given to Conley (by all accounts a really hard worker), as well as the natural maturation that comes with growing into a sturdy 6-3, 185 pound frame (up 15 pounds from his freshman year).

4. The Cole Hamels’ clones just keep coming. It isn’t just Conley with the mid-90s heat and a plus changeup. Virginia JR LHP Danny Hultzen (check out his Friday night two-way line: 2-4, BB, 3 RBI and, more importantly, 6.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K) and Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley (he pitched Saturday, but I’m cheating to make a point…5.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K) both offer outstanding four-pitch arsenals that include that magic mid-90s fastball and plus change combo that I love. Heck, all three of these guys were big favorites before they bumped up their velocity because of the way they reminded me of Vanderbilt’s Mike Minor, one of my favorite draft prospects of the past few years. Here’s what I said about Minor on his draft day, by the way:

LOVE Mike Minor – good enough velocity, plus change, either the curve or the slider will be a plus pitch down the line (I think), great command, very good athlete, smooth delivery, repeatable mechanics, pitched at an outstanding program. This pick will get panned by everybody, but they are wrong – Minor is an absolute keeper. I had him at 18 on my big board, so maybe I’m full of it by saying he was a great pick at 7…but, factoring in signability, it’s a very good, very safe pick.

5. Hultzen may be the best junior two-way player in the land, but Florida SO LHP/1B Brian Johnson has to be tops of the sophomore class. His Friday looked very similar to Hultzen’s: (2-4, 2 2B, RBI, R and 6 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K. Bonus fact: Johnson faced the minimum number of batters in his 2011 debut. Hultzen is a pitcher all the way, but Johnson is seen as talented enough to go either way at this point.

6. Really happy to see Notre Dame SR RHP Brian Dupra healthy and pitching well (7 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 5 K) once again. Dupra looked like a top five round lock heading into his junior year, but injury and ineffectiveness forced him into returning for his senior year in an attempt to reestablish his draft stock. I haven’t heard anything about his stuff on Friday, but if it reached pre-injury levels (mid-90s FB, hard cutter, good low-80s SL), then he could position himself as one of the top college power pitching prospects, as well as easily the most desirable college pitching senior sign.

7. Another interesting draft prospect and college senior, Oklahoma SR RHP Michael Rocha, put on a show this Friday: 7 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 7 K. Rocha doesn’t have near the velocity of Dupra at his best, but thrives on his funky breaking stuff, good command, and high pitching IQ. Rocha’s one-hit performance was matched by Alabama JR LHP Adam Morgan, who put up the following line: 5.1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K. Unlike the power fastball lefties mentioned above, Morgan instead follows in the footsteps of the more typical, pitchability style of crafty college lefties. The lack of a big fastball stings a little less when you have a plus curve, a pitch that I think ranks in the top ten of its type amongst 2011 college draft prospects.

8. The college pitching in Texas this year is Gottfried Leibniz level deep. Jungmann and Stilson may be the headliners, but fellow Lone Star ballers Texas State JR RHP Carson Smith and Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett could wind up at the tail end of the first round with big springs. Their respective debuts (Smith: 2 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 4 K; Verrett: 3 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 3 K) weren’t as pretty as I’m sure they would have liked, but both continued to show the first round quality stuff they’ve grown famous for. Smith has the frame (6-5, 220) and a fastball to dream on, while Verrett potential for four above-average pitches is tantalizing.

9. Two of my favorite Conference USA prospects put up unique lines that deserve a little love. Check out the Friday line for Southern Miss SR RHP Todd McInnis: 8 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K. Very good line, right? What makes that performance truly exception, assuming there wasn’t a typo on the box score, is the following: he threw 45 pitches! Is that even possible? At least 21 pitches were thrown to get those 7 strikeouts. That leaves 24 pitches to get the 17 remaining outs. Incredible, if true. The line for Central Florida SR LHP Nick Cicio was impressive, if significantly less rare: 3 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K. That’s an example of how a college lefty straight out of central casting (mid-80s fastball, good change, slurvy breaking pitch) can dominate out of the pen.

10. Think we could all agree that a line of [9 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K] would make for a darn fine outing by any starting pitcher. It also works as a pretty great combined line shared by two legit mid- to late-round 2011 draft prospects. In a performance reminiscent of peak years Legion of Doom, or, my sentimental personal favorite, The Natural Disasters, Wichita State SR RHP Tim Kelley (5 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K) and SO LHP Brian Flynn (4 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K) tag teamed to shut down the opposition on Friday night. Both pitchers profile best as middle relievers professionally, with Flynn getting more current buzz due to his readymade WWF size and strength (6-8, 240…so big I had to double check on the website to make sure I didn’t copy it wrong in my notes).

***

Bonus! Stanford SO RHP and potential 2012 top ten pick Mark Appel (5.2 IP 8 H 2 ER 1 BB 4 K) didn’t quite light the world on fire with his opening night line, but the velocity pickup in his stuff (FB now peaking in the upper-90s, SL now peaking mid-80s) had everybody taking notice. If he can integrate his changeup (plus potential there) more as the season goes on, he’ll head into 2012 on the short list of candidates to go in the top three. Back in February 2009 I had him as the 9th best prep righthander, sandwiched between Daniel Tuttle and Matt Graham. This was his quick writeup:

Appel’s strong verbal commitment to Stanford will drop him down draft boards, but he is a great athlete, with a wiry frame with room to fill out, an impressive hard slider, solid change, and the ability to play around with his fastball (mostly by cutting and sinking it). The Cardinal normally get their man, so Appel’s signability will be something to keep on eye on.

Weekly Plan of Attack

Every year I forget how labor intensive poring over a weekend’s worth of college baseball box scores can be. That sounds kind of whiny — since when is reading about baseball “labor intensive?” — but please don’t consider it as a complaint. Instead, take it as the reason why other rankings and features will be on the back burner for a couple of days. I’ll almost definitely scale back on the college baseball reviews in the future, for my own sanity if nothing else, but still figured that opening weekend deserved the crazy obsessive treatment for old time’s sake. Here’s my current plan for the week ahead…

Monday: Weekly Plan of Attack (i.e. what you are currently reading…)
Tuesday: Friday “Night” College Baseball Review
Wednesday:  Saturday College Baseball Review and Sunday College Baseball Review
Thursday: General Weekend Conclusions and Quick Statistical Look at 2011 MLB Draft Pitching Prospects
Friday: Interesting GO/AO Ratios (Week One)

All the while I’ll be working on finishing up the rankings for college outfielders and college pitchers, both of which are much bigger tasks than I had originally believed/hoped. My current college pitching follow list is at 425, while my current outfielder list clocks in at a slightly more manageable 163. Fun times ahead…

College Baseball’s Opening Day

I think making long-standing emotional investments in teams, players, and coaches is what makes following sports so compelling. Not exactly a ground breaking statement, I’m sure, but it does help set up the following: I prefer to keep my writing limited to the things, like stats, scouting blurbs, and rankings, that I can understand and analyze, and as devoid of subjective emotion as possible. Objectivity at any cost, that’s my goal. To that end, I have no favorite college or high school team. There is no player I prefer to succeed any more than his competitors. My rooting interest in amateur baseball is simple: I root for growth. In my paying gig, I work everyday to help aid in the growth and development of young people. It can be a frustrating daily endeavor because growth and development aren’t always easy to see in real time. The frustration is a small price to pay, however, when weighed against the satisfaction of seeing even the slightest proof of progress. That is what has drawn me to following amateur ballplayers. Every time I see a prospect play is an opportunity to see him get better right in front of my very eyes. That’s what makes opening weekend so great, at least for me. We’re at the start of another season of endless possibilities.

Follow all the action throughout the weekend here and be sure to check in on Tuesday for a weekend recap. Until then, enjoy the start of another year of baseball.