My schedule for the next few weeks isn’t totally set in stone just yet, but I do know that I’ll be on assignment (lots of good amateur ball to watch in August) and won’t be around much this coming week. Fear not, as I’m ready with a nifty little backlog of draft retrospectives that should be up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So, really, this announcement isn’t much of an announcement at all, other than to say the summer schedule I’ve slowly tried to phase in (M/W/F) will continue at least through the end of August. Thanks for sticking with the site.
In simpler, far more innocent times, a young scamp with nothing but a few connections, a love of baseball, and a dream sat down in his mother’s basement to rank a bunch of first basemen a few weeks in advance of the 2009 MLB Draft. If I had to do it all over again I think Singleton would be on top, followed closely by Jeff Malm and then Telvin Nash.
If we forget about my list and look strictly at where the players were selected on draft day, we’d have an order of Nash (3rd Round), Malm (5th), Singleton (8th), Geoffrey Baldwin (11th), Corey Davis (15th), and Ronald Sanchez (16th). Nash, Malm, Singleton, and Baldwin are all covered below, but I had to do some digging on Davis and Sanchez.
Assuming I found the right Corey Davis, he’s coming off a season where he hit .397/.486/.662 with 26 BB and 26/27 SB as a sophomore at Walters State CC. Not bad, right? Sanchez, however, signed out of high school and is currently hitting below .200 without a homer in almost 300 professional at bats so far for Houston. He is far too young to write off completely — a theme you’ll find throughout these rankings — but it’s probably not a positive that he has more errors at first (11) than extra base hits (9) as a pro.
The rankings below are from 2009 and don’t reflect current value. Stats are current as of earlier this week. New commentary comes first and the old scouting blurb is in beautiful navy.
1. Jeff Malm | Tampa Bay Rays | 5th Round Pick (2009)
.308/.439/.633 – 19 BB/27 K – 120 AB
Love it or hate it, Tampa has a developmental philosophy that they stick to almost no matter what. They stand by their strict slow and steady developmental path unlike any organization I can remember. Malm has gone from a short stint in one Rookie league (GCL Rays) in 2009, a longer (200 AB) run with another Rookie league team in 2010 (Princeton Rays), and is now in Short Season ball, where he is flourishing. He’ll be 21 going into what is hopefully his first shot at full season ball next spring. I’ll admit to being pretty stunned Malm couldn’t crack an admittedly loaded Tampa Bay top 30, at least according to Baseball America. I’m a huge Baseball America defender, but, come on, Malm really wasn’t good enough a prospect to rank ahead of Leslie Anderson (28th ranked in organization) on their system-wide first base depth chart?
good size (6-2, 220); plenty of pop to stick at first long-term; above-average defensive player with a fantastic throwing arm; not sure he couldn’t stick in RF if given enough reps with professional instruction and if he puts enough time in the gym; part of a star studded Southern Cal class that will never set foot on campus including Jiovanni Mier, Brooks Pounders, and Matt Davidson; judging solely by the bat and no other tool, he stacks up surprisingly well with other prep players including Myers, Bailey, Borchering, Davidson, and maybe an unnamed outfielder or two to be determined…
2. Colton Cain | Pittsburgh Pirates | 8th Round (2009)
3.13 ERA – 95 IP – 74 K/26 BB – 0.89 GO/AO
Cain is pitching well as a youngster (20 all season) in Low A with the added bonus of still not having a ton of mileage on his arm. His solid 2011 performance was preceded by good performances last year (strong peripherals). I like pitchers like Cain: guys with good enough fastballs to keep getting looks and secondaries that will either click and become legit big league pitches all at once or…not. Of course there is some middle ground between the two outcomes, but not as much as one might think. If you’re patient you may wind up with a three-pitch starting pitcher, but the risk here is fairly self-evident.
first thing that stands about about Cain is his very pretty lefthanded stroke; like a lot of the players on this list has an unusually strong arm for a first base prospect; because of that raw arm strength many scouts like him at least as much on the mound as at the plate; I like him as the prototypical two-way high school player that has the potential to really emerge once he concentrates on hitting full time; Texas commit
3. Jonathan Singleton | Philadelphia Phillies | 8th Round (2009)
.284/.387/.406 – 53 BB/79 K – 303 AB
Long-term readers of the site may remember that I’m a Phillies fan. I try my best to be fair and balanced, but I’m only human. Well this human is an unabashed Singleton fan. He absolutely killed it his first two pro seasons, and is now hitting pretty well after a slow start. I’ve always walked away impressed with his gorgeous swing, excellent balance, and overall approach to hitting. I have no insider knowledge on what the Phillies think about his eventual defensive home, but he looked far more competent in left field than I had expected. Long the subject of trade rumors, wherever he winds up next year — left or first, Philadelphia or Houston — he’ll hit. Bonus points for being likely to start his age 20 season at AA next year.
very real plus power, both raw and present; many rough edges to his game, but he impressed many scouts this spring with his willingness to work towards improving his approach; can get too pull heavy at times, but again that raw power is hard to ignore; intriguing potential pick because he possesses a bat with the clear upside of a first baseman without needing a potential position switch to enhance his value, something that is surprisingly rare among non-elite (high first round) prep first basemen; well above average defender who has gotten better around the bag with every passing year of his prep career; Long Beach State commit
4. KC Hobson | Toronto Blue Jays | 6th Round (2009)
.252/.355/.328 – 51 BB/56 K – 326 AB
Funny how well Hobson’s pre-draft scouting reports match up with his pro performance so far: his approach has always been sound but his power upside remains in question. Hobson still gets high marks for his hit tool and overall approach, so his once high stock has remained mostly unchanged.
not enough foot speed to play anywhere but first base, so the pressure is really on Hobson’s bat becoming a major weapon; gap power that projects to home run power down the line, but his swing mechanics may need retooling after signing to untap power potential; yet another plus arm; Texas A&M commit
5. Telvin Nash | Houston Astros | 3rd Round (2009)
.287/.400/.487 – 26 BB/46 K – 150 AB
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see the raw Nash hitting as well as he so far in 2011. As a righthander with significant power, he’s very much one of the brightest spots in a weak Astros system. For the record, he’s played as much OF as 1B this year.
above-average power potential and a strong arm; outstanding athlete with well above-average foot speed who should be capable of playing a corner outfield spot with little problem; Kennesaw State commit
6. Ethan Bright
Bright was last seen (by me, at least) putting up a line of .348/.408/.449 (6 BB/16 K) in 89 AB for Hinds CC after his dismissal from Mississippi State. Sorry I can’t offer much more than that, but probably not as sorry as Bright, who has thus far missed out on chance of being the eight player with the last name Bright to be drafted to a big league team.
in what is probably more of a weird coincidence than anything else, Bright has been compared to a couple of Canadian stars – his body has been compared to Justin Morneau’s (6-5, 230) and his bat control has been compared to Larry Walker’s; average power potential for the position (20ish homer peak), but the aforementioned ability to control the zone is intriguing; Mississippi State commit
7. Geoffrey Baldwin | Kansas City Royals | 10th Round (2009)
Baldwin struggled mightily in 2010 (.460 OPS in 174 AB) but much of that can be forgiven as rumors of family issues swirled. In what is likely not a coincidence, Baldwin has not played at all in 2011 and is currently on the Restricted List.
potential plus defense and a well above-average athlete; slow runner who is stuck at first; yes, he’s got a strong arm; with a frame that suggests future growth, Baldwin’s potential alone would probably put him fourth on the list, but it takes a little wishcasting to picture a future where he puts it all together; a Nebraska commit
8. Breck Ashdown
From undrafted to Oregon State and now to Notre Dame, Ashdown has seen it all. He’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore at Notre Dame and 23 years old by the time the 2012 MLB Draft rolls around.
ML-frame (6-4, 210); potentially above-average defensively with a plus throwing arm; above-average athlete with, you guessed it, above-average speed on the basepaths; bat has been more good than great, but his frame does lead some to believe more power is coming; all told, he’s a well-rounded prospect that does a lot of things well, but doesn’t feature that one stand out tool that makes him look like a sure-fire future big league first baseman; Oregon State commit who may be best taking his plus arm to Corvallis as a two-way player
9. Rudy Flores
.300/.378/.500 – 27 BB/60 K – 230 AB
Flores has shown big power since stepping on campus at Florida International and is now one of the better college first base prospects around. I saw him on tape this past year and came away impressed with his bat speed, pretty swing, and above-average present lefthanded power.
excelled against high level competition, but questions remain about the development of his bat at the professional level; good lefty power, good frame (6-3, 205), and a good arm (high-80s fastball), but borderline top ten round pick who may not get paid enough to sway him from following through on his commitment to Florida International
10. Kelly Dugan | Philadelphia Phillies | 2nd Round (2009)
.268/.320/.348 – 8 BB/24 K – 5/5 SB – 138 AB
After the draft I upgraded Dugan’s ceiling from Casey Kotchman (see below) to a poor man’s Lance Berkman in an attempt to talk myself into the selection (again, Phillies fan here), but he’s three years in and still in Short Season ball. That isn’t encouraging. My man on the scene who has seen a lot of Dugan since he signed has been effusive in his praise — mainly, that everything he hits is right on the nose and he’s got that special line drive sound working for him — but the numbers aren’t pretty. It was a massive overdraft at the time, and it doesn’t look any better with the benefit of hindsight.
my personal dilemma with Dugan is fairly simple…the main reason I have him higher than most is also the thing that scares me from putting him any higher; watch Dugan swing a bat and you can see he has the innate ability to wait, wait, wait…and then snap his wrists through the zone; spin that another way and you can say he lacks appropriate pull power for a first baseman due to a slow bat; a professional conditioning program and a tweak or two to his swing setup could give him that split second of bat speed missing to make him a doubles machine reminiscent of a young Casey Kotchman; I’d take the big money and go forth towards reaching my ultimate dream 99 times out of 100, but if I had a scholarship to play baseball in Malibu for Pepperdine like Dugan has…well, I’d have to think long and hard about that one – we’ll see what he does in a few months
I wish I could go back and compare this list with other seniors drafted in 2009, but there doesn’t appear to be a draft database that gets that specific and I don’t have the patience/time/energy to sort through the names myself. It is still pretty interesting to see what some of the top seniors from 2009 are up to now, so let’s dive right in and check on the players from my All Senior Prospect Team (Class of ’09):
C Preston Clark
Not exactly setting the world in fire with this first name, but I couldn’t dig up anything on Preston Clark after his senior season at Texas.
1B Luke Anders | Texas A&M | San Francisco Giants | 32nd Round (2009)
.251/.346/.423 – 35 BB/63 K – 267 AB
Every organization has a Luke Anders or two bouncing around the minors. He’s a very typical college slugger just a bit too old for his level but still doing just enough with the bat to “protect” some of the younger prospects around him. The line you see above is for a 24 year old in High A, by the way. Not super old for his league, but first base is a really tough position to make an impression and time might be running out on Anders. Also, his last name makes me think of Workaholics, a show I like way more than I probably should.
2B Seth Henry | Tulane | Tampa Bay Rays | Undrafted Free Agent
Henry struggled in both ’09 and ’10 and has since been released. Unfortunate ending, for sure, but I give any undrafted player who manages to catch on with a big league organization a ton of credit for chasing that dream.
3B Chris Dominguez | Louisville | San Francisco Giants | 3rd Round (2009)
.284/.326/.465 – 24 BB/110 K – 391 AB
Dominguez was the most exciting senior hitter on my list at the time, a position backed up by his lofty third round draft selection. His above numbers are his combined line between High A and AA as a 24 year old. I still love the tools — most notably his big raw power and plus-plus arm — and think his floor remains solid four-corners power hitting utility guy.
SS Ben Orloff | UC Irvine | Houston Astros | 9th Round (2009)
.317/.398/.411 – 17 BB/16 K – 8/14 SB – 202 AB
Orloff has played really well this year, as his numbers attest, but it is very curious to me that a 24 year old has gone through the system so slowly. I couldn’t be totally off here, mostly on account of me not knowing anything pertaining to the inner workings of the Houston farm system, but it makes no sense to have Orloff still in Low A.
OF Cory Harrilchak | Elon | Atlanta Braves | 14th Round (2009)
.243/.316/.374 – 31 BB/50 K – 9/16 SB – 305 AB
Harrilchak is an easy player to root for; as a fan of a division rival, consider that the highest of praise. He’ll never hit for much power, but all of his other four tools are at least average and he’s the type of player that will work to have those average tools play up. He’s 23 years old and in AA, but it won’t be too long until he’s a backup outfielder somewhere in the big leagues.
OF Ryan Lollis | Missouri | San Francisco Giants | 37th Round (2009)
.288/.371/.374 – 26 BB/33 K – 5/8 SB – 219 AB
Lollis has a similar line to Orloff, but, unfortunately also like Orloff, he’s spent most of 2011 in Low A as a 24 year old.
OF Matt Long | Santa Clara | Los Angeles Angels | 30th Round (2009)
.304/.386/.531 – 46 BB/64 K – 18/28 SB – 382 AB
Long has hit well as a 24 year old in High A, but it should be pointed out that he is doing this in the very hitter friendly Cal League. Call me crazy, but I think there is enough power, speed, and plate discipline here to make him an interesting sleeper. His defensive ability, of which I have no idea of, could make or break him as he moves up the chain.
RHP Scott Bittle | Mississippi | St. Louis Cardinals | 4th Round (2009)
8.44 ERA – 5.1 IP – 6 K/8 BB – 0.29 GO/AO
I’m almost too bummed out to write anything about Bittle, one of my all-time favorite college pitchers to watch. He was consistently banged up in college, wound up with a nasty shoulder injury in the pros, and is now 24 and just getting his feet wet in Short-Season ball. At least he was when I originally wrote that earlier this week. He’s since been released. Such a bummer.
RHP Preston Guilmet | Arizona | Cleveland Indians | 9th Round (2009)
1.74 ERA – 41.1 IP – 45 K/7 BB – 0.86 GO/AO
Guilmet’s funky delivery, abundance of offspeed slop, and consistently outstanding strikeout/walk numbers has me looking forward to the Preston Guilmet, MLB reliever era. He turns 24 today and is thus far killing it in High A. Part of me regrets picking him over Adam Warren (Yankees), but I still loyal to my guy.
RHP Louis Coleman | Louisiana State | Kansas City Royals | 5th Round (2009)
1.88 ERA – 43 K/17 BB – 38.1 IP
What can you say about Coleman? He’s currently lighting it up in the big leagues and is hopefully on the precipice of a ten year big league career.
LHP Miers Quigley | Alabama
Sometimes banking on a top prep arm rediscovering what once made them so great doesn’t work out. Swing and a miss…
LHP Chris Rusin | Kentucky | Chicago Cubs | 4th Round (2009)
3.96 ERA – 88.2 IP – 56 K/17 BB – 2.03 GO/AO
Rusin was good in both 2009 and 2010 and is one of the quicker movers on this list now that he’s made it to AAA. Most of his year has been spent in AA, so keep that in mind when looking at his combined numbers above. Between his high draft pedigree, good enough peripherals for a potential reliever, and interesting ground ball numbers, we could be looking at a future big league bullpen piece.
LHP Wes Musick | Houston | Colorado Rockies | 9th Round (2009)
5.34 ERA – 28.2 IP – 31 K/12 BB – 0.77 GO/AO
Musick was dealt back home to Houston in the Matt Lindstrom trade. His ERA may not be pretty, but the K/BB ratio looks good for a young lefty pitching mostly in High A.
The original list of top 2009 junior college prospects is here. I added current minor league numbers and some quick commentary for each player. There were definitely some misses on the original list, but mostly in the way of omissions, as you’ll read at the end of the post. The ten guys on the actual original list, however, all wound up drafted or at four-year university the next year. That might not sound like much, and maybe it isn’t, but for one of the very first lists I ever put together (and with a relatively early post date of February at that) it wasn’t too terrible.
1. RHP Jake Cowan | San Jacinto CC | Baltimore Orioles | 10th Round (2009)
4.46 ERA – 36.1 IP – 37 K/16 BB – 0.87 GO/AO
The numbers put up in seven starts aren’t bad by any stretch, but the fact that Cowan is 23 years old and still pitching in Short-Season A Ball for the New York-Penn League’s Aberdeen IronBirds isn’t exactly ideal. I’m still a believer in Cowan, though it was interesting to read that he leans so heavily on his curve and change rather than his above-average fastball.
2. RHP Ryan Weber | St. Petersburg CC | Atlanta Braves | 17th Round (2009)
2.68 ERA – 43.2 IP – 32 K/8 BB – 1.76 GO/AO
Weber’s done a solid job at an age-appropriate level — he’ll be 21 next month and in the Low A South Atlantic League — but a recent injury has landed him on the 7-Day DL. It comes at a bad time as he’s been stretched out to start after starting the year in the bullpen. Weber still looks like a future big league reliever to me, though it may take a trade to reach that ceiling. Hard to project any Low A arm into Atlanta’s big league bullpen this far out considering how stacked their young bullpen looks already.
3. RHP Daniel Webb | Northwest Florida State CC | Toronto Blue Jays | 18th Round (2010)
5.97 ERA – 57.1 IP – 45 K/23 BB – 2.16 GO/AO
The Low-A Lansing Lugnuts starter has been on the shelf since early June. Worth noting that he has been much better against righthanders than lefties. Webb still throws hard, but his command problems stemming from an inconsistent release point persist to this day.
4. RHP Kendall Korbal | Blinn CC | San Diego Padres | 21st Round (2009)
I called him Kendal Korban back in 2009. Pretty impressive that I was able to mess up both his first name and his last name, if you think about it. Injuries have set Kendall Korbal back to the point he has yet to throw a professional inning. The always informative MadFriars.com filled in some of the blanks. Cliff Notes version: Tommy John surgery was needed right after Korbal’s signing, rehab didn’t go quite as planned, and he has since been released. None other than Paul DePodesta was pretty excited about him pre-injury:
“20 years old and 6’6″, 210 lbs, Kendall has a fastball that reaches 93 and the makings of solid secondary pitches. He could end up as a starter or a reliever with power stuff.”
I remember command being an issue pre-injury and, as often noted, the comeback from Tommy John surgery often impacts command as much as velocity. Sounds like this could have been the case here. He’s young enough that he could resurface if healthy.
5. LHP Shawn Sanford | Palomar CC
Sanford transferred to San Diego State, but fell off the map after the 2010 season. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. At first I thought he shrunk a few inches, learned how to throw righthanded, transferred to South Florida, and got himself drafted by the Giants. Wrong Shawn Sanford.
6. LHP Mike Rayl | Palm Beach CC | Cleveland Indians | 15th Round (2009)
2.83 ERA – 82.2 IP – 84 K/13 BB – 0.89 GO/AO
Rayl has put up the best pro numbers of any player on the list so far with over a strikeout per inning and 17 good starts as a 22-year old in Low-A. 6’5″ lefties with consistently strong performances get noticed in time. He won’t reach the heights of his 2009 draft peers — Alex White and Jason Kipnis have both already reached the big leagues — but shouldn’t be completely dismissed as a future bullpen arm down the line.
7. LHP Chad Bell | Walters State CC | Texas Rangers | 14th Round (2009)
3.35 ERA – 37.2 IP – 34 K/15 BB – 1.29 GO/AO
Finally we get a prospect playing above Low-A ball! Bell has pitched well out of the bullpen for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in High-A. Interesting to note that he has rarely been called in to pitch just one inning (or less) instead often going two full innings or more. I had Bell pegged as a pitchabilty lefthander with just barely enough stuff to survive going forward, but an uptick in fastball velocity (sitting 88-92 with the chance for more), a much improved curveball, and a reliably steady change make him a worthy challenger for big league innings down the road.
8. LHP Patrick Corbin | Chipola CC | Los Angeles Angels | 2nd Round (2009)
3.84 ERA – 119.2 IP – 111 K/26 BB – 1.34 GO/AO
Now we’re cooking. Tyler Skaggs may have been the centerpiece that went to Arizona in the Dan Haren, but Corbin is no slouch. I suppose you don’t need me telling you this, considering his lofty draft status and Baseball America’s top ten prospect ranking (9th on Arizona’s list, to be exact). I thought he’d fit best in a big league bullpen back in the day, and I still kind of do, but the possibility that he can take his darting fastball, above-average slider, and much improved changeup to a big league rotation is now very real. His strong AA performance keeps him on track to make his big league debut at some point in 2012.
9. LHP Kevin Gelinas | Central Arizona CC
Not only did I like Gelinas as a junior college pitcher, I liked him as a college pitcher after he transferred to UC Santa Barbara. His is a sad story, however, as the once promising and twice drafted (’09 and ’10) lefthander couldn’t stay healthy enough to make it three years in a row. I’ve looked in to see if he had latched on as an undrafted free agent anywhere, but haven’t found anything positive to report. Injuries, man – hate ’em.
10. OF Runey Davis | Howard CC | Chicago Cubs | 12th Round (2009)
.353/.461/.600 – 16 BB/27 K – 85 AB – 4/6 SB
Two subpar years have all been erased by Davis’s recent dominant run for the Idaho Falls Chukars. Alright, not really…but it’s a start. Davis was let go by the Cubs and added to the Royals squad this past March, but his quality 2011 numbers have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt considering his age (22) and current level of play. If his speed plays as well as I thought then he could still make it to the bigs somewhere, someday considering the way teams tend to be patient with true centerfielders with plus tools.
The next five players on my original list were OF David Stewart (Grayson County CC), RHP Brett Bruening (Grayson County CC), RHP Rey Cotilla (Miami-Dade CC), C Miles Hamblin (Howard CC), and RHP Jason Townsend (Chipola CC). Out of those five, I’d say Townsend, who wound up a 31st round pick of the Pirates by way of the University of Alabama, qualifies as the most promising prospect.
Limiting my search to the top five rounds only, I found six other junior college players worth mentioning: Evan Chambers, Keon Broxton, Brett Wallach, Randy Henry, Mycal Jones, and Darrell Ceciliani. Broxton and Jones are the best prospects of the bunch, though neither inspired me to write anything more about them now.
More 2012 thoughts to come (plus responses to anybody who hit me up via email or in the comment section), but I wanted to start the week off with something totally different. I’ve already spent tons of time this summer doing homework so I could best look forward to next year’s draft class, but now want to switch it up and look back at prior draft classes to see what has happened to some of the big names of the past two years. The year-round nature of a draft site doesn’t always allow for much retrospection, so I figured it would be interesting to take advantage of the mid-summer lull by digging into the archives in sort of a “Where Are They Now” kind of way.
First up, a look at what the top junior college prospects of 2009 are up to now. Thrilling, I know. Should be ready by mid-day…
As I sat down over the weekend to at least begin to attempt to justify some of the odder placements from last Friday’s 2012 initial top 100 list, I found myself struck with the weirdest case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced. There was plenty to talk about — a defense of Lance McCullers at the top, the super high top ten rankings of a pair of college guys from Texas schools, a higher than usual number of draft-eligible sophomores primed to crash the first round — but for some reason my mind kept coming back to 2008, the year I started to look at the draft less in terms of specific players I had personally seen play and more in a comprehensive, 30 team/50 round way. I’ve also always been a sucker for a good hook, so the allure of any type of draft-related “Year of the _____” appealed to me. The 2008 draft was built up as the “Year of the First Baseman,” and, though the results have been predictably mixed thus far, on balance I think the hype has been justified. I became so stuck on this one thought — early round first basemen of the recent past and how they stack up to the four first basemen on my top 100 — that I couldn’t get to anything else.
What I think I’ve always been fascinated about with respect to first base prospects is the high stakes gamble that comes with taking a first baseman early on draft day. If your athletic five-tool up-the-middle draft prospect doesn’t hit as expected, you’ve still got — wait, let me get my calculator — four tools, including defense and the ancillary positional value boost, remaining. If your first base prospect doesn’t hit (and hit a ton), then you’re left with nothing but regret. I also like the fact that college first baseman represent arguably the safest possible investment early on in the draft. Close reading shows that we’ve gone from “high stakes gamble” to “safest possible investment” in a single paragraph. Studies (that I can’t seem to be able to Google up right now) have shown that elite college hitters (with the numbers to back up said “eliteness”) tend to translate very well to the pro game. That’s what made 2008 so thrilling for me, I guess. Justin Smoak and Yonder Alonso had that power/plate discipline blend that made them look like ready-made big league regulars even on draft day. College teammates Brett Wallace and Ike Davis both seemed likely to settle in as starters as well. It wasn’t crazy to think Allan Dykstra and David Cooper would be hitting 25+ bombs a year. If any of their bats betrayed them, however, then poof! any hope of a real big league career would be gone.
As I’ve written before, this past year didn’t have a Smoak, Alonso, or even a Wallace, at least not until it became clear CJ Cron wouldn’t be capable of donning the tools of ignorance as a pro. Even still, Cron, as impressive a hitter as he is, was seen as a prospect closer in pre-draft stature to Davis than one of ’08’s bigger names. A comparison, rough as it is, between Baseball America’s very early draft preview (taken from the Prospect Handbook published in January each year) and this year’s current rising group of first base prospects (according to me) provides some context to the discussion. Included are only players who wound up as first, supplemental first, or second round picks:
Draft Year: Player Name (ranking)
2008: Smoak (3), Alonso (5), Dykstra (24), Wallace (28), Cooper (55), Davis (68)
2009: Rich Poythress (33)
2011: Cron (40)
2012: Jayce Boyd (25), Christian Walker (27), Richie Shaffer (38), Max Muncy (69)
The upcoming draft won’t have six college first baseman taken in the first round nor will it have two (or three, depending on how some felt about Wallace at the time) potential franchise cornerstones who happen to play first, but it does have a handful of young men who just might have enough bat to play first base everyday at the highest level. Without getting too deep into the scouting profiles of Boyd, Walker, Shaffer, and Muncy (plenty of time for that in the next 11 months, plus I’ve already gone into some detail on Boyd here and Shaffer there), I thought a “quick” look at how all twelve of these college first basemen stack up from both the statistical and scouting sides could be interesting.
To keep the comparisons going, I’ve provided the basic information for all eight of those first, supplemental first, and second round college first base picks from the past three drafts, plus the four players listed in my early top 100 for 2012. All stat lines are raw, unfortunately, as we don’t have access to park/league/schedule adjusted stats going back a few years. Keep in mind that the batting lines are also really tough to compare on account of the BBCOR bats debuting in 2011. Also included are quotes taken from the aforementioned Baseball America Prospect Handbook, as chosen by yours truly. All quotes for the prospects from 2008 and 2009 are from the prospect’s first year out of college. The CJ Cron entry has quotes pulled from Baseball America’s draft preview, and the quotes on the current college players are ones that I’ve managed to get on record from the always entertainingly nebulous “industry insiders.”
You may be wondering “what’s the point?” after reading though the comparison below. Truthfully, I’m not sure there is one. I had originally hoped some wonderful epiphany about college first base prospects would come to me, either in the form of a statistical trend or a certain scouting similarities. Heck, you know as much as I like to “force” comps that I’m dying to match up some of the 2008-2011 players with a 2012 counterpart, but I’m really not sure I see a fit. As it is, I think what we have here is context.
Yonder Alonso | 2008 | Cincinnati | 1.7 | University of Miami
FR – .295/.373/.492 – 32 BB/37 K – 244 AB
SO – .376/.519/.705 – 64 BB/31 K – 210 AB
JR – .370/.534/.777 – 76 BB/35 K – 211 AB
- “rare hitter who has both plus power and the swing and pitch awareness to hit for a high average as well”
- “allergic to strikeouts”
- “yet to prove that he can recognize and hit a quality breaking ball”
- “below-average athlete and runner”
- “soft hands and adequate range should allow him to develop into at least an average defender”
Justin Smoak | 2008 | Texas | 1.11 | University of South Carolina
FR – .303/.407/.586 – 40 BB/39 K – 244 AB
SO – .315/.434/.631 – 54 BB/40 K – 260 AB
JR – .383/.505/.757 – 57 BB/28 K – 235 AB
- “well-above-average power”
- “Gold Glove potential at first base”
- “below-average speed”
- “projects as a middle-of-the-order power hitter”
Brett Wallace | 2008 | St. Louis | 1.13 | Arizona State University
FR – .371/.439/.583 – 17 BB/26 K – 151 AB
SO – .423/.500/.719 – 37 BB/34 K – 253 AB
JR – .410/.526/.753 – 48 BB/33 K – 239 AB
- “one of the best pure hitters in the minors”
- “balanced, level swing creates consistent line drives”
- “Think batting champ with the ability to be a big bopper”
- “average arm and surprising footwork”
- “below-average athleticism, speed, and agility”
David Cooper | 2008 | Toronto | 1.17 | University of California
FR – .305/.337/.404 – 9 BB/18 K – 151 AB
SO – .382/.450/.627 – 30 BB/21 K – 204 AB
JR – .359/.449/.682 – 37 BB/35 K – 220 AB
- “tremendous barrel awareness and excellent hand-eye coordination”
- “should produce high batting averages”
- “could develop average power and hit 18-20 homers per season”
- “below-average athlete and poor runner”
- “offers limited range and slow reactions at first base”
Ike Davis | 2008 | New York Mets | 1.18 | Arizona State University
FR – .329/.387/.542 – 20 BB/58 K – 240 AB
SO – .346/.400/.532 – 26 BB/39 K – 231 AB
JR – .385/.457/.742 – 31 BB/34 K – 213 AB
- “considered a slick defensive first baseman – the type who could contend for a Gold Glove some day”
- “strong arm”
- “below-average speed”
Allan Dykstra | 2008 | San Diego | 1.23 | Wake Forest University
FR – .324/.479/.670 – 51 BB/32 K – 185 AB
SO – .310/.479/.615 – 57 BB/33 K – 226 AB
JR – .323/.519/.645 – 62 BB/45 K – 186 AB
- “plus-plus raw power and plate discipline”
- “should hit for some average as well”
- “above-average arm”
- “below-average athlete, runner, and defender at first base”
Rich Poythress | 2009 | Seattle | 2.51 | University of Georgia
FR – .282/.354/.410 – 17 BB/31 K – 156 AB
SO – .374/.461/.626 – 46 BB/40 K – 265 AB
JR – .376/.473/.764 – 42 BB/39 K – 237 AB
- “power is his standout tool”
- “controls the strike zone and doesn’t try to pull everything”
- “ought to hit for a decent average”
- “below-average range and fringy arm”
- “doesn’t have much speed”
- “Some scouts who saw him in college wonder if his power will play against better velocity”
CJ Cron | 2011 | Los Angeles Angels | 1.17 | University of Utah
FR – .337/.380/.557 – 14 BB/31 K – 246 AB
SO – .431/.493/.817 – 17 BB/23 K – 197 AB
JR – .434/.517/.803 – 31 BB/21 K – 198 AB
- “doesn’t move well at first base and is a bottom-of-the-scale runner”
- “above-average hitter”
- “legitimate 80 raw power that translates into at least above-average usable power”
Jayce Boyd | 2012 | ranked 25th | Florida State University
FR – .326/.394/.507 – 27 BB/38 K – 227 AB
SO – .335/.415/.515 – 34 BB/32 K – 233 AB
- “plus raw power, maybe a touch less”
- “potential award winner with glove at first base”
- “such a naturally gifted hitter that he could probably do it with his eyes closed”
Christian Walker | 2012 | ranked 27th | University of South Carolina
FR – .327/.384/.518 – 18 BB/18 K – 226 AB
SO – .361/.442/.556 – 32 BB/26 K – 241 AB
- “plus hit tool with enough strength and loft to hit 20+ homers at next level”
- “currently a shaky defender, but upside to be average”
Richie Shaffer | 2012 | ranked 38th | Clemson University
FR – .323/.415/.525 – 18 BB/36 K – 158 AB
SO – .315/.438/.577 – 44 BB/53 K – 222 AB
- “recovered from broken hamate to show true plus power”
- “good present defender with the chance to be excellent”
- “strong arm”
Max Muncy | 2012 | ranked 69th | Baylor University
FR – .300/.374/.500 – 24 BB/48 K – 230 AB
SO – .322/.428/.511 – 37 BB/36 K – 227 AB
- “far from the prototypical slugging first base prospect”
- “good athlete, good defender, average runner”
- “line drive machine who specializes in squaring up and making consistent solid contact”
- “development of power will make or break him…bat currently profiles as much better at his high school position [catcher]”
(February 15, 2012 EDIT – Since this is the site’s current most Google friendly landing spot, I believe a “thanks for stopping by, stranger” is in order. So, thanks for stopping by, stranger. I also want to apologize for the dated list. What you see below was originally published in July of last year, so expect to see a whole host of changes in the upcoming updated big board to be released shortly.)
(May 21, 2012 EDIT – Be sure to stop over to the 2012 MLB Draft Rankings Index for more up to date information and rankings. Players are added literally every day of the week, so check in early and often…or not, I get paid the same (not at all!) either way.)
How I Learned to Stave Off Baseball Withdrawal and Love the All-Star Break
As much as I hate not having meaningful baseball to watch for three whole days right smack dab in the middle of summer, I can’t deny that my productivity gets an unusual spike in mid-July every year. Behold below, the fruit of this year’s All-Star break labor. I typically hate running lists without any kind of explanatory remarks, but I didn’t want to hold up publishing this out of fear that the extra time “adding commentary” would actually wind up as time spent adding, subtracting, and rearranging names. Perhaps some justification will come next week and/or in the comments section if the opportunity arises.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first ranked list of 2012 draft prospects floating around the internet. That leaves me very vulnerable to looking clueless once the industry leaders start putting together their rankings — keeping my fingers crossed that Baseball America’s first 2012 draft ranking doesn’t include a player in their top ten that I completely whiffed on in my top hundred — but also puts me out ahead of any of the classic “you’ve just taken BA/PG’s lists, changed a few names, and called it a day” complaints that crop up in my Inbox from time to time. If there is something egregious in my ranking, whether it be the placement of a player or a prospect’s omission, feel free to let me know so we can make the next overall ranking that much better. I’ll spare you my old rant about rankings being living, breathing, evolving organisms, especially when published eleven months ahead of draft day.
As for the list itself, well, I shudder to think about how silly it will look by next spring. The amount of projection that goes into a project like this is ridiculous. Performance matters, of course, but much more weight is given to tools, athleticism, body type, swing mechanics, and, for pitchers, raw stuff and throwing motion. The high rankings of UCLA SO RHP Scott Griggs and Vanderbilt SO LHP Sam Selman are two great examples of projection over production, while the absence of Florida SO RHP Hudson Randall (a player who didn’t miss the list by as much as had expected, by the way) shows why sometimes production isn’t the end-all, be-all in ranking prospects.
Lastly, this list is just one man’s opinion. Based on firsthand observations, statistical research, crosschecking with old allies in the business, and reading publicly available scouting reports, I’d like to think it is a pretty well-informed opinion. Like all of my rankings, the emphasis is on where I’d draft each player and not where I necessarily think each player will be drafted. Here we go…
- RHP Lance McCullers (Jesuit HS, Florida)
- Stanford SO RHP Mark Appel
- OF Nick Williams (Galveston Ball HS, Texas)
- 3B Trey Williams (Valencia HS, California)
- LSU FR RHP Kevin Gausman
- Florida SO C Mike Zunino
- RHP Lucas Giolito (Harvard Westlake HS, California)
- TCU SO C Josh Elander
- Texas Tech SO OF Barrett Barnes
- Arizona State SO SS Deven Marrero
- Texas A&M SO RHP Michael Wacha
- Georgia Southern SO OF Victor Roache
- RHP Walker Weickel (Olympia HS, Florida)
- RHP Taylore Cherry (Butler HS, Ohio)
- OF Albert Almora (Mater Academy, Florida)
- SS Addison Russell (Pace HS, Florida)
- James Madison SO OF Johnny Bladel
- Rutgers SO 3B Steve Nyisztor
- Kentucky SO LHP Taylor Rogers
- Arkansas FR RHP Ryne Stanek
- Texas A&M SO OF Tyler Naquin
- Stanford SO SS Kenny Diekroeger
- RHP Ryan Burr (Highlands Ranch HS, Colorado)
- SS/RHP Carlos Correa (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico)
- Florida State SO 3B/1B Jayce Boyd
- RHP Clate Schmidt (Allatoona HS, Georgia)
- South Carolina SO 1B Christian Walker
- Jacksonville SO OF Adam Brett Walker
- Stanford SO OF Jacob Stewart
- Florida Atlantic SO RHP RJ Alvarez
- OF Vahn Bozoian (Ayala HS, California)
- RHP/1B Joey Gallo (Bishop Gorman HS, Nevada)
- Florida SO LHP Brian Johnson
- Florida SO SS Nolan Fontana
- Georgia Tech SO RHP Buck Farmer
- RHP Lucas Sims (Brookwood HS, Georgia)
- RHP/1B Kayden Porter (Spanish Fork HS, Utah)
- Clemson SO 1B Richie Shaffer
- St. John’s SO OF Jeremy Baltz
- RHP Tyler Gonzalez (Madison HS, Texas)
- LHP Hunter Virant (Camarillo HS, California)
- Stanford SO 3B Stephen Piscotty
- UCLA SO RHP Scott Griggs
- Duke SO RHP Marcus Stroman
- Virginia SO RHP Branden Kline
- RHP Ty Hensley (Santa Fe HS, Oklahoma)
- 3B David Thompson (Westminster Christian HS, Florida)
- OF Anthony Alford (Petal HS, Mississippi)
- RHP Carson Fulmer (All Saints’ Academy HS, Florida)
- North Carolina SO RHP Michael Morin
- Arizona State SO RHP Jake Barrett
- Vanderbilt SO LHP Sam Selman
- UCLA FR RHP Eric Jaffe
- Buffalo SO C Tom Murphy
- OF Josh Henderson (Home School, Virginia)
- Connecticut SO 2B LJ Mazzilli
- OF Rhett Wiseman (Buckingham Browne & Nichols HS, Massachusetts)
- SS CJ Hinojosa (Klein-Collins HS, Texas)
- Arizona SO RHP Kurt Heyer
- St. John’s SO RHP Kyle Hansen
- Samford SO LHP Lex Rutledge
- Stanford SO OF Tyler Gaffney
- Vanderbilt SO OF Connor Harrell
- OF Jesse Winker (Olympia HS, Florida)
- RHP Jamie Callahan (Dillon HS, South Carolina)
- Maine SO RHP Jeff Gibbs
- LHP Max Fried (Montclair Prep HS, California)
- Virginia Commonwealth SO RHP Blake Hauser
- Baylor SO 1B Max Muncy
- 3B Corey Oswalt (James Madison HS, California)
- College of Charleston FR OF Daniel Aldrich
- TCU SO OF Kyle Von Tungeln
- Florida SO LHP Steven Rodriguez
- 3B Austin Dean (Klein HS, Texas)
- Mississippi State SO RHP Chris Stratton
- Miami SO SS Stephen Perez
- 2B/C Alex Bregman (Albuquerque Academy, New Mexico)
- C Chris Harvey (Germantown Academy, Pennsylvania)
- 3B Rio Ruiz (Bishop Amat HS, California)
- California SO LHP Justin Jones
- LHP Matt Crownover (Ringgold HS, Georgia)
- Texas SO LHP Hoby Milner
- SS Gavin Cecchini (Barbe HS, Louisiana)
- RHP Carson Kelly (Westview HS, Oregon)
- Coastal Carolina SO RHP/SS Josh Conway
- LHP Matthew Smoral (Solon HS, Ohio)
- Clemson SO RHP Dominic Leone
- Oklahoma State SO LHP Andrew Heaney
- Monmouth SO RHP Pat Light
- RHP Cody Poteet (Christian HS, California)
- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi FR RHP Justin Meza
- SS Jesmuel Valentin Diaz (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy)
- College of Charleston SO LHP Christian Powell
- Oregon SO LHP Christian Jones
- Cal State Fullerton SO RHP Dylan Floro
- 1B Keon Barnum (King HS, Florida)
- Arizona State SO RHP Brady Rodgers
- Texas SO OF/C Jonathan Walsh
- Georgia Southern SO RHP Chris Beck
- Arkansas SO RHP DJ Baxendale