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2012 MLB Draft: Big 10 Pitchers to Know

Three giant tiers of Big 10 pitching can be found mere centimeters below this paragraph. I know what you’re thinking: what a great time to be alive. The first group is made up of pitchers whom I’d cautiously list as “likely” to get drafted in June, but, really, there is little to no consensus about which pitchers will have the best pro future from this conference. Even the “likely” list is full of names that could wait a very, very long time on draft day, if they get picked at all. In an attempt to clarify the muddled Big 10 pitching picture, I talked to a few cold weather baseball moles who have seen multiple guys on the list up close. I had hoped that their head-to-head (arm-to-arm?) comparisons would shed a little light on the subject, but, no, the wildly different viewpoints I got back have just confused me even more. A few of their insights, all of which I personally disagree with: 1) Wittgren is a stone cold lock to be drafted, but is by no means a professional starting pitching prospect; 2) Oakes is severely underrated and has a chance to be the first Big 10 pitcher off the board, and 3) there will be more Big 10 senior pitchers taken early on than juniors, due to a combination of the new draft rules and the relative strength of the senior class.

Tier 1

  1. Purdue JR RHP Nick Wittgren
  2. Illinois JR RHP Matt Milroy
  3. Nebraska JR RHP Thomas Lemke
  4. Michigan JR RHP Ben Ballantine
  5. Purdue JR RHP Brad Schreiber
  6. Michigan rSR RHP Kolby Wood
  7. Nebraska JR RHP Travis Huber
  8. Michigan State rSO RHP Michael Theodore
  9. Michigan State SR RHP Tony Bucciferro
  10. Ohio State rJR RHP Brad Goldberg
  11. Michigan SR RHP Brandon Sinnery
  12. Michigan rSR RHP Travis Smith
  13. Minnesota JR RHP TJ Oakes
  14. Iowa JR LHP Matt Dermody
  15. Penn State rSO LHP Joe Kurrasch
  16. Ohio State JR RHP Brett McKinney
  17. Indiana SR RHP Chad Martin
  18. Michigan State JR RHP Tony Wieber
  19. Nebraska JR RHP Kyle Hander
  20. Illinois JR RHP Kevin Johnson
  21. Ohio State SR LHP Andrew Armstrong
  22. Illinois rJR RHP Bryan Roberts
  23. Penn State JR RHP John Walter

There’s definitely some talented arms scattered throughout the Big 10 this year, but the majority profile as relievers at the next level. The best bet to reach the bigs as a starting pitcher is current Boilermakers reliever Wittgren, who has had success based largely on a strong three-pitch mix (low-90s fastball, good mid-70s curve, and average upper-70s change) and command well suited for a starter. Milroy’s above-average stuff (big fastball, wipeout slider) has not been nearly consistent enough to help him actually produce on the field. Lemke and Ballentine are both blessed with great size (6’7” and 6’8” respectively) and solid stuff (upper-80s fastballs, good changeups), but, like Milroy, haven’t put up particularly impressive starts to their 2012 campaigns. Ballentine’s teammate Wood is impressive (plus FB movement, nasty SL, splitter that flashes plus), but not on the mound enough to show off his wares. Schreiber is a speculative pick based on his outstanding fastball, a legitimate plus-plus pitch explosive offering. His lack of a consistent second pitch would hold him back even if healthy, but scouts will no doubt be hesitant to recommend him based on limited pre-Tommy John surgery looks last season.

Tier 2 is full of “maybes,” while Tier 3 is chock full of longer shots picked mostly due to solid college production.

Tier 2

  • Northwestern rJR RHP Zach Morton
  • Purdue SR RHP Lance Breedlove
  • Minnesota SR RHP Austin Lubinsky
  • Michigan rSO LHP Logan McAnallen
  • Michigan JR RHP Kyle Clark
  • Indiana SO LHP Joey DeNato
  • Illinois SR RHP Will Strack
  • Northwestern JR RHP Luke Farrell
  • Minnesota JR RHP Drew Ghelfi

Tier 3

  • Michigan SR RHP Kevin Vangheluwe
  • Purdue rSR LHP Calvin Gunter
  • Northwestern SR RHP Michael Jahns
  • Indiana JR RHP Jonny Hoffman
  • Penn State JR RHP Neal Herring
  • Northwestern SR RHP Francis Brooke
  • Northwestern JR LHP Jack Havey
  • Penn State JR RHP Steven Hill
  • Penn State SR LHP Mike Franklin
  • Purdue SR LHP Blake Mascarello
  • Purdue SR RHP Joe Haase
  • Purdue rJR RHP Robert Ramer
  • Nebraska JR RHP Tyler Niederklein
  • Nebraska JR RHP Dylan Vogt
  • Iowa SR LHP Jarred Hippen
  • Iowa SR RHP Nick Brown
  • Michigan rJR LHP Bobby Brosnahan
  • Minnesota JR RHP Billy Soule
  • Michigan State SR RHP Tim Simpson
  • Michigan State JR RHP Andrew Waszak
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