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2012 MLB Draft: Big West Position Players to Know

Five straight days of posting in a row. I’m as shocked as you are. Let’s wrap the week up with a look at some of the best Big West position players who are eligible for the 2012 MLB Draft. In all honesty, it’s Haniger and then a whole lot of iffy prospects, but, hey, pretend I didn’t write that and read the 727 words below anyway!

Catcher

  • UC Irvine SR C Ronnie Shaeffer

Shaeffer’s slow start knocks him down some in national circles, but he’s still the best of a sorry lot here in the Big West. His defense behind the plate is more than adequate and there’s some upside in his bat, but it is getting close to “put up or shut up” territory for him now.

First Base

  • Cal State Fullerton JR 1B Carlos Lopez
  • UC Irvine SR 1B Jordan Fox

Has anybody ever seen this Carlos Lopez and Wake Forest’s Carlos Lopez in the same place? Both young guys are really, really good college hitters. This Lopez has hit .375/.458/.462 in 104 AB. The other Lopez is hitting for a little bit more power at .359/.480/.689 in 103 AB. Both players have solid track records of success: the two put up similar numbers (Fullerton version: .329/.389/.468 – 16 BB/11 K – 158 AB…Wake Forest version: .287/.373/.567 – 23 BB/51 K – 178 AB) last season, so there is precedent for their strong 2012 performances. The biggest problem with both players, as least in term of their professional prospects, is defense. Neither profiles as a regular in any one defensive spot (this version is likely a 1B/corner OF guy, the other can add a competent 3B to those spots), but have consistently hit enough to get drafted this June.

Second Base

  • UC Irvine SR 2B Tommy Reyes
  • Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Matt Orloff
  • Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Derek Legg

All longshots to be drafted, but I’m feeling generous today, so why not? Reyes is a patient hitter, Orloff is a good defender who can run but has never hit enough to turn himself into a viable draft, and Legg has a cool last name (two G’s!).

Shortstop

  • UC Irvine SR SS DJ Crumlich
  • Cal State Fullerton JR SS Richy Pedroza
  • Cal Poly SR SS Mike Miller
  • Long Beach State JR SS Matt Duffy
  • Cal State Fullerton SR SS Anthony Trajano

There’s not enough power to project any name here as a regular, but both Crumlich and Pedroza are defensive stalwarts who could wind up as utility guys if everything breaks right. If any player listed breaks through in the low minors it’ll be Miller, a really smart hitter with sneaky pop.

Third Base

  • Cal State Northridge rJR 3B Adam Barry

Barry is a great athlete and a former football star who doesn’t quite have the tools one would expect from a two-sport performer. He doesn’t have a ton of power upside nor is he a burner on the base paths, but the possibility that he can hang behind the plate makes him a potential 2013 senior sign.

Outfield

  • Cal Poly JR OF Mitch Haniger
  • Cal State Fullerton JR OF Ivory Thomas
  • UC Irvine rSR OF Chris Ramirez
  • UC Santa Barbara JR OF Brett Vertigan
  • Cal State Fullerton JR OF Anthony Hutting
  • Cal State Fullerton JR OF Austin Kingsolver
  • UC Riverside JR OF David Andriese
  • Cal State Fullerton JR OF Casey Watkins
  • UC Santa Barbara SR OF Lance Roenicke
  • Long Beach State SR OF Jonathan Kim
  • Long Beach State SR OF Brennan Metzger
  • Cal State Northridge OF Miles Williams
  • UC Davis SR OF David Popkins

With above-average power, a strong arm, average speed, good athleticism, and well above-average range, Haniger has the look of a future everyday player in right field. I worry some about his bat – his power is nice, but will he make enough contact? – but in a weak college group of hitters, he’s a standout. After Haniger there is a steep drop off in pro talent. Thomas faces similar questions about his hit tool, but has impressive defensive tools in center field to fall back on if all else fails. He is a good bit behind Haniger as a prospect because of his lack of power upside. There’s yet another decline in talent after Thomas, if you can believe it. Ramirez offers many of the same skills as Thomas (speed, CF defense), just like Vertigan below him. Long story short, the Big West has all the speed and defense you could want, but none of the power (outside of Haniger).

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