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2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: Conference USA

Going team by team was fun, but the college season is creeping up way too quickly for me to get as many teams done as I’d like. Instead, we’ll take a larger view and go conference by conference. The only thing that will slow me down at this point is incomplete or missing 2013 rosters…North Carolina, Louisville, South Carolina, Oregon State, you are all on notice. Congratulations to Conference USA for being the second conference I’ve seen with every school’s updated roster. So far so good on the Missouri Valley Conference, so as of now they are the leader for next conference up.

Here’s the key for the player lists:

  • Bold = locks to be drafted
  • Italics = definite maybes
  • Underlined = possible risers
  • Plain text = long shots

C

  • Central Florida SR C Ryan Breen
  • UAB SR C/1B Harry Clark
  • Southern Mississippi rJR C Jared Bales 
  • Central Florida SR C Nick Carrillo
  • Southern Mississippi SR C Chase Fowler

Lots of good college catchers, but not much in the way of exciting pro talent. Ryan Breen makes sense to me as a late-round senior sign as he’s a quality defender with a solid approach at the plate.

1B

  • East Carolina JR 1B Chase McDonald
  • Marshall SR 1B Nathan Gomez
  • Rice JR 1B Michael Aquino
  • Southern Mississippi SR 1B Blake Brown
  • Houston SR 1B Casey Grayson
  • Tulane SR 1B Tucker Oakley
  • UAB SR 1B John Frost

He’s not in the same class as college slugger or pro prospect, but watching Chase McDonald takes me back to watching Preston Tucker hit for Florida. Like so many college first basemen, he’s in a tough spot where just about all of his future value as a ballplayer will come down to how much he hits. He has loads of raw power from the right side and I like his patient approach, but it’ll take a team falling in love with his bat to get him drafted high enough to forego a senior season at East Carolina. Nathan Gomez could overtake McDonald as the best first base prospect in the conference. Gomez has the edge in athleticism, defense, and hit tool, and his senior sign status could work to his advantage for budget-conscious clubs. Aquino is a better fit for a corner outfield spot, but it remains to be seen if he’s got the foot speed to make a position switch work. If so, his draft stock will get a nice bounce: his hit tool ranks up there among the best in the conference.

2B

  • Houston JR 2B Frankie Ratcliff 
  • Rice SR 2B Christian Stringer 
  • Tulane SR 2B Brennan Middleton
  • Rice SR 2B Michael Ratterree

I’m really excited to see what the toolsy Ratcliff can do given a full season of Division I action. All the reports on his attitude have been positive which has to be considered a really good sign for a guy once dismissed from the team at Miami. I’m especially curious about his bat/plate discipline, as I’m fairly certain he’ll be more than fine when it comes to speed, defense, and even pop. Neither Stringer nor Middleton have tools that will wow you, but both guys are coming off really productive junior seasons. I like Stringer just a bit more with the bat, but prefer Middleton, who can hold his own at shortstop when called upon, with the glove. Ratteree would be higher — maybe second — if I had confidence he was totally over the yips that have plagued him in the past. Aside from that, he’s always impressed with with his range and raw arm strength. Even if he doesn’t cut it at second base in the long run, his positional versatility should remain a strong point in his favor.

3B

  • East Carolina JR 3B Zach Houchins
  • Rice JR 3B Shane Hoelscher
  • Marshall SR 3B Gray Stafford
  • Central Florida SR 3B Chris Taladay
  • Southern Mississippi SR 3B Travis Creel
  • UAB SO 3B Chase Davis

I’m really excited to see what the toolsy Houchins can do given a full season of Division I action. The Louisburg JC transfer is a strong natural hitter with a plus arm and a good approach. He does occasionally get himself into trouble by attacking too early in the count and swinging at pitchers’ pitches. Stafford’s power and arm strength are intriguing, but a less than ideal hit tool and too many misadventures with the glove keep his stock down. Taladay is interesting thanks to his positional versatility (he can also catch and play corner OF), and Creel is worth a mention due to his excellent defense at third.

SS

  • East Carolina JR SS Jack Reinheimer
  • Tulane SR SS Garrett Cannizaro
  • Southern Mississippi SR SS Isaac Rodriguez
  • Memphis JR SS Ethan Gross

Reinheimer and Rodriguez are both standout defenders with something to prove as hitters heading into 2013. Cannizaro may be in line for a switch to third base professionally, a move that wouldn’t necessarily kill his value if he a) continues to show progress with the bat, and b) becomes  a plus glove at the hot corner.

OF

  • Tulane SR OF Brandon Boudreaux
  • UAB JR OF Ivan DeJesus
  • Marshall rSR OF Isaac Ballou
  • Tulane SR OF Blake Crohan
  • Tulane SR OF Sean Potkay
  • UAB SO OF Jeff Schalk
  • Central Florida SR OF Jeramy Matos
  • Central Florida rSR OF Erik Hempe
  • Houston JR OF Landon Appling
  • UAB SR OF Ryan Ussery
  • Tulane JR OF Andrew Garner
  • Houston SR OF Jake Lueneberg
  • Rice JR OF Brian Smith
  • Memphis rJR OF Derrick Thomas
  • Rice JR OF Keenan Cook
  • UAB JR OF Ryan Prinzing
  • East Carolina JR OF Ben Fultz
  • Houston JR OF Jonathan Davis
  • East Carolina SR OF Chris Gosik
  • Memphis JR OF Ford Wilson
  • East Carolina SR OF Phillip Clark

Conference USA more than holds its own in terms of prospect depth in the infield. That’s the good news. The less good news — also known as bad, but I’m trying to be positive here — is that there’s not much to get worked up about in the outfield. Brandon Boudreaux broke out in a big way last year, going from slugging .333 to .565 from 2011 to 2012. His plate discipline has always been sound — 60 BB/36 K over the past two combined seasons — but he’s now hammering mistakes in a way he didn’t before. All that and we haven’t mentioned his two strongest tools: plus speed and well above-average CF range. Ivan DeJesus brings a better ceiling, but, as so often has it, comes with greater risk. I’ve gotten firsthand reports on him that really bum me out, not because of his ability per se but because of the unfortunate lingering impact of his broken ankle of a couple years ago. DeJesus’ speed was once a carrying tool; now he’s closer to an average speed/average range CF than what he could have been. That said, reports on his physical talent remain largely positive: he’s routinely graded average or better in multiple areas (arm, hit tool, raw power) of his game. His approach, however, continues to limit his offensive production. His plate discipline (30 BB/94 K) has been almost the opposite of Boudreaux’s over the past year, except worse. Maybe his plus-plus speed could have had teams overlook his unrefined swing at everything style of hitting, but now the pressure will be on him to make more skill-based adjustments to his game. I wrote about Ballou before, so I’ll take the lazy man’s way out and just cut/paste:  I’ve long been a fan of Ballou, so it should come as no surprise that I think he’s the closest thing to a position player lock as there is on the Marshall roster. He’s a really pesky hitter (.397 OBP in 2011, .450 in 2012) with an approach that fits well at the top of a lineup. He’s got enough speed and instincts to keep the “leadoff hitting CF” narrative alive, and there could be some yet unseen power in his sturdy 6-2, 200 pound frame.

A few rapid fire observations of the rest of the crew…Tulane’s outfield looks pretty strong in paper heading into 2013…the same could be said about Central Florida, especially if the powerful duo of Matos and Hempe can clean up their approaches a bit…if Landon Appling continues to show he can hold his own defensively as a catcher, his stock should climb…Ryan Ussery may or may not make it in pro ball, but he goes down as one of my favorite college players to follow over the years…I know little to nothing about Rice OF Brian Smith other than that he’s supposedly really really strong.

P

  • Rice JR RHP Austin Kubitza
  • Central Florida JR RHP Ben Lively
  • Marshall JR RHP Aaron Blair
  • Rice JR RHP John Simms
  • Tulane rSO RHP Randy LeBlanc
  • Tulane rSO RHP Tony Rizzotti
  • Tulane rJR RHP Kyle McKenzie
  • Memphis JR LHP Sam Moll 
  • UAB SO LHP Dylan Munger
  • Rice rJR RHP Chase McDowell
  • UAB rJR RHP Ruben Tresgallo
  • Rice rSO RHP Connor Mason 
  • Memphis rSR RHP Heith Hatfield 
  • Tulane SR RHP Tyler Mapes 
  • Houston JR RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon
  • Central Florida rFR RHP Ryan Meyer
  • Central Florida rSO RHP Spencer Davis
  • East Carolina JR RHP Drew Reynolds
  • Southern Mississippi SR RHP Andrew Pierce 
  • Southern Mississippi rSO LHP Jake Drehoff
  • Rice SR RHP Tyler Spurlin
  • Southern Mississippi SR LHP Dillon Day
  • East Carolina rSR LHP Tyler Joyner
  • Southern Mississippi rJR RHP Cameron Giannini
  • Marshall JR RHP Josh King
  • East Carolina SR RHP Andy Smithmyer
  • Central Florida rSR LHP Chris Matulis 
  • Central Florida SR LHP Brian Adkins 
  • Tulane SR RHP Alex Byo 
  • Memphis JR LHP Eric Schoenrock
  • East Carolina rJR RHP Tanner Merritt
  • Marshall SR LHP Wayland Moore
  • East Carolina SR RHP Joseph Hughes
  • UAB SR RHP Ben Bullard
  • Central Florida SR LHP Jimmy Reed
  • Rice SO RHP Evan Rutter
  • Southern Mississippi JR RHP Sean Buchholz
  • Southern Mississippi JR RHP Conor Fisk
  • Tulane JR RHP Alex Facundus
  • Memphis rJR RHP Jonathan Van Eaton
  • Tulane JR LHP Brady Wilson
  • Houston JR RHP Chase Wellbrock
  • Houston SR LHP Matt Hernandez
  • UAB JR RHP Chase Mallard
  • Marshall rJR RHP Ryan Hopkins
  • Central Florida JR RHP Danny Davis
  • Memphis JR RHP Jon Reed
  • Memphis JR LHP Alex Gunn
  • Houston SR RHP Austin Pruitt
  • Memphis rSR LHP Michael Wills
  • Tulane SR LHP David Napoli
  • Southern Mississippi JR RHP Boomer Scarborbough
  • Memphis rSR RHP Clayton Gant
  • Rice SR RHP Jeremy Fant

If Austin Kubitza and John Simms are both healthy throughout the spring, they’ll rank among college baseball’s top 1-2  pitching punches. Kubitza receives most of the accolades — heck, he’s first here after all — but Simms (88-92 FB with big movement, flashes of good mid-70s curve, and nasty splitter) is no slouch. Ben Lively is due for a monster junior season thanks in large part to a fastball that he has learned to command better and better every year. Guys with his frame (6-4, 200 pounds), fastball (great command of 88-93 heat), and multiple usable breaking balls (SL with cutter action and softer mid-70s CB) are fun to watch. At his best, Randy LeBlanc (95 peak FB, flashes above-average CU and CB with more upside than that) has a strong case for the top arm in the conference. Unfortunately, he’s yet to show the durability and command teams look for when monitoring a guy coming off of Tommy John surgery. Now that he’s a full season behind it, watch out. Fellow Tulane redshirt sophomore  Tony Rizzotti, a TCU transfer, has a potent FB/SL combination when on. I’m curious to see where Sam Moll’s control is at in 2013: scouting reports are quite favorable, but results (4.05 BB/9 last season) leave something to be desired.

The current middle class of this pitching group offers a lot to like. There are a lot of transfers (Daniel Ponce de Leon and Spencer Davis) and elbow surgery survivors (Chase McDowell and Connor Mason) with plenty to prove in 2013. The number of hard throwers is also impressive. McKenzie, Tresgallo, Ponce de Leon, and Giannini have all hit the mid-90s at one point or another. I’ll be keeping tabs on Tyler Joyner, a quality arm that is unfortunately out of commission in this his last season of college eligibility. Tommy John surgery may have robbed him of his final year of college ball, but I could still see a pro club that has seen him enough of the years giving him a shot late on draft day.

I made the error of omitting four members of the Marshall pitching staff in the original posting. Thanks to Craig for pointing it out to me in the comments. The big name that was skipped over is RHP Aaron Blair. Smarter people than I have him as clearly the best prospect out of this bunch and I certainly reserve the right to change my mind between now and when final rankings come out in about six months, but, for now, I ‘m intrigued enough by the upside of Kubitza (I still see him as the future star I saw firsthand when he was in high school, I guess) and Lively (old comps die hard: I remember reading a Jeff Samardzija comp on him that has always stuck with me)  — and for a brief moment Simms, before moving Blair above him — to rank Blair any higher. Of the top tier group, I do think it is fairly evident that Blair has the highest floor, which definitely counts for something. It does seem like there has been a recent uptick of guys who fit his profile seeing jumps in stuff and performance during their junior seasons. I mention Matt Barnes below, but I also get a little bit of a Chris Stratton vibe from at similar points of development. If I could predict he’d go in either of those directions, I’d likely be driving something a little more stylish than a Kia Rio. Realizing I can’t make such assumptions, I hedged my bet and put him third, where at least he’s ahead of another big name in Simms. Anyway, here’s what I wrote on Blair earlier this year:

It may not be the most descriptive adjective around, but the word “good” can be found throughout Blair’s scouting notes in my Word doc: good command of a 87-92 FB (93 peak) with good sink; good 74-78 CB; 81-85 CU thrown with good looking arm action;good, sturdy frame (6-5, 220 pounds); good numbers (8.42 K/9 in 2011, 9.04 K/9 and 3.37 FIP in 2012). If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Blair is a pretty darn good prospect, right? At this moment, he looks like a really strong bet to keep progressing until settling into his eventual role as big league mid-rotation starting pitcher. He’s a safe — well, as safe as any inherently risky amateur prospect can be — prospect, not a sexy one. Good across the board, neither great nor lacking in any one area. I liken him to a sturdier version of former Long Beach State and current Milwaukee Brewer RHP Drew Gagnon, a third round pick back in 2011. His profile also reminds me a little bit of Matt Barnes before Barnes velocity spike. I’m not enough of a scout (or a scout at all, really) to place odds on Blair experiencing  a similar increase in stuff — I’m not sure any scout can actually predict this stuff, short of noticing a body desperately in need of better strength and conditioning and/or a major mechanical overhaul — but recognizing the possibility helps me cover myself just in case. Anyway, Blair looks like a good starting pitching prospect with the chance to go pretty good in this June’s draft. Good pitcher, good analysis.

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33 Comments

  1. Craig says:

    How can anyone take this serious when you leave off one of the top CUSA pitchers off your list. Somehow you neglected to put Marshall’s Aaron Blair on your list. Drafted in the 21st round out of HS, lead the Cape Cod league with a 1.17 ERA and ended up 8-0 in the Cape Cod league.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      I think the much more likely scenario is that I made a copy/paste error (especially considering I’ve actually already devoted an entire post to the Marshall team, notes on Blair included), but, no, condescendingly questioning the entire body of work is definitely the right approach to take instead. On a more positive note, thanks for catching my mistake – I’ve updated the post to reflect the changes after adding in the four Marshall pitchers (not just Blair) originally omitted.

  2. Craig says:

    Apologies Rob. Didn’t mean to make the comment about the whole write-up. I had already read your Marshall write-up, so next time I WILL just give you a heads up. If you want to delete my post, I’m ok with that.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Nah, it’s cool…this one’s on me as I took things more personally than I should have. Been a long real life week and I unloaded a little bit on you when you didn’t deserve it. No excuse, of course, so I’m sorry about that. For real though, thanks a ton for catching the mistake – I never would have noticed it otherwise and I hate making dumb slips like that. I’m a really lazy editor, so I’m thankful for having an audience that doesn’t mind doing the job for me — free of charge, at that! — from time to time.

    • Maureen says:

      Hello! I would like to address the person named Craig about his comments and I would like to know who you are and why you think you know my son Ryan Butler. I would also like to ask him to please refrain in speaking (gossiping) about my son. These statements are posted on the Internet and those comments will be there forever. Please refrain talking trash and worry about your own business !

      • Craig says:

        Maureen,

        All I said was your son was in bad graces with the coaching staff. If you were to read all the entries, you could figure out who I am and how I would know anything about your son. After that, I’m not the one that said he was kicked off the team but being in bad graces usually leads to that conclusion.

  3. Bonnie says:

    For the CUSA draft prospect “definites” you have listed in bold, can you also include the round? Much obliged.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Yeah, I can definitely do that. Let me think on it for a bit and I should have something (i.e. total wild guesses) up here in the comments within the next day or two. Good idea.

      • Bonnie says:

        That would be great. Of course, we are all anxious for the start of college baseball, so all the little morsels we can gobble up before then is always fun. Thank you!

    • Rob Ozga says:

      I’ll go with my best guesses as to what round I think they’ll go in, not necessarily where I’d feel best about taking them. That should explain whatever discrepancy there is between the ranking and the round designation. Also, I hate the whole aesthetic of supplemental rounds so I just include those picks into whatever the round before it is, i.e. a guy taken in the supplemental first round is still a first round pick to me.

      Rice JR RHP Austin Kubitza: late first to third/fourth
      Central Florida JR RHP Ben Lively: late second to fifth/sixth
      Marshall JR RHP Aaron Blair: mid-first to third/fourth
      Rice JR RHP John Simms: late second to tenth
      Tulane rSO RHP Randy LeBlanc: fifth to fifteenth
      East Carolina JR SS Jack Reinheimer: seventh to twentieth
      Tulane SR OF Brandon Boudreaux: tenth to thirtieth
      UAB JR OF Ivan DeJesus: seventh to thirtieth

      Few quick explanations: 1) Blair’s relative high floor has me fairly comfortable he’ll actually fall in that range, 2) Simms’ injury history and, fair or not, Rice’s track record of developing healthy arms to the pros has me wimping out and putting an extra wide range of possibilities for him (Kubitza should be in the same boat, but I simply like his arm better), 3) LeBlanc’s wide range is also due to potential injury red flags, and 4) DeJesus’ upside gives him a better chance to go sooner than Boudreaux, though the difference in most likely outcome (backup OF) isn’t all that great to get too worked up over either way.

      I’d also put non-bolded infielders Frankie Ratcliff and Zach Houchins in the tenth to twentieth round range – both guys seem poised for D-1 breakouts in 2013 and, if the draft were today, both would get my seal of approval if my favorite team was targeting a college bat with some upside past the first handful of rounds.

  4. Bonnie says:

    Well, dang! I don’t like the way that shook out at all! haha

    • Rob Ozga says:

      If it’s any consolation, don’t forget that I’m wrong about 98% of the time about these things. Heck, even the smarter people out there who are paid to be “right” about these things aren’t right about them very often a month ahead of the draft, let alone over five months out.

      • Bonnie says:

        Once the season starts and progresses, will you revise your predictions? Also, where do you get your information with reference to players? Meaning, how can you possibly know all the college baseball players that are out there and how do you research
        ?

    • Rob Ozga says:

      I wish I could do a lot more of exactly what you said — revising predictions — but I’m sure they’ll be other, more pressing stuff along the way that may distract me from these specific predictions. I’ll do my best to revisit this stuff at least once before June. I think even if I don’t explicitly come out and revise these specific predictions, the players ranked at or near the top will get covered plenty over the next few months. I tend to start out with a very wide focus, narrow things up a bit as the season gets going (mostly for the sake of time, I’d go crazy following so many guys and keeping up with games), and then try to take a step back and get as wide as possible one last time before draft day(s).

      As for your other question…well…it was a really good one that got me thinking. So here we go…

      The quickest answer is simply this: I’m a big baseball fan who puts a lot of time in effort in trying to learn as much as I can about all phases of the game. The longer answer…

      I’m a nobody in the baseball world who covers amateur ball out of nothing more than a borderline obsessive love of the game. I read, listen, and watch as much coverage of the game as possible, taking copious notes along the way. I email old pals that I know from either real life (more on that later) or from correspondence set up over the years thanks to the site (a few fans of teams that send updates — I try to weed out the homers here — but mostly baseball ops people, from the occasional AD/SID to grounds crew members and, at bigger parks, ushers and PA guys). Everything I learn gets written into a giant Word document with every college team — high school is handled a little differently — and then the notes are eventually distilled and things are written and published on the site. Occasionally I’ll get a friend from pro ball asking about some notes on a particular player, which is pretty cool, but mostly my notes go 95% unused…what goes on the site is, unfortunately, a tiny fraction of what I enjoy about the whole process. That’s the bulk of the work right there.

      Even though I’m a perfectly content baseball outsider, I did think for a brief time I wanted to be a somebody in baseball, but gave it up pretty quickly. I was lucky enough to have a few connections/be seen attending amateur game after amateur game (no easy feat in the cold “spring” New England months) to talk myself into a pair of really basic internships (two separate time periods, two separate teams during my college years). After the second, I was actually offered an entry level position with a team, but opted against it because a) I’m a wimp who was scared of the low pay and instability of the job, b) I legitimately love my chosen profession, and c) I wasn’t willing to move across the country because of a new relationship (still together five years later, by the way). So I wouldn’t call myself a total baseball idiot but I’m also pretty clearly nothing special at this point either…just a guy more passionate about a game than he probably ought to be.

      The college lists I’ve been pumping out over the past few weeks are something new I’ve tried for the site. The lists are created by painstakingly going through every roster player by player. I already have information on a lot of players thanks to free publicly available information (mostly pitching updates from college beat guys on Twitter, e.g. Pitcher X sat 88-92 with a good CB in his win over College Y). I also read literally everything written by Aaron Fitt (best college writer alive, no contest) and the rest of the Baseball America guys, though I try my best (note to self: try harder) to source them if their report is the only one I’m going off of. More often than not, the information I have on a player is from these places; it also includes information from whatever useful nuggets I can get out of my contacts, and from whatever I’ve seen firsthand (I’m not a scout and don’t aspire to be one, but watching baseball isn’t exactly rocket science…still I don’t often hype up what I’ve seen firsthand out of respect for the professionals that do go out and get paid to watch the game). After I do all the “scouting,” (not for nothing, but I rarely if ever use the phrase “scouting reports” when writing up players because, again, I ain’t no scout) I then comb each roster for players that hit certain statistical benchmarks. Guys who aren’t already in my database who hit those benchmarks then get run by my contacts, and, more often than not, get included in the database/college lists published on the site. I hate it when players slip through the cracks — missing on a guy who will get drafted in June who I don’t have listed bothers me way more than when I say Player X is a 3rd round pick and he goes in the 12th — but the country is just too darn big for one person to cover everything on a budget of $0.00.

      This was way longer than I anticipated and I still feel like I didn’t really answer the question. The short answer above probably covers things better than the way too long essay…

      I guess this link also works as a decent explanation, from my very first post on the site almost four years ago:

      https://baseballdraftreport.com/2009/02/01/the-baseball-draft-report-a-method-to-the-madness/

      • Bonnie says:

        Wow. I feel honored that you took that much time to explain your methodology! And I completely and totally understand as I am a college baseball nut as well. I scour the internet every day (mostly trying to find information about my kid), but also to read about what kids are being mentioned. Who do I know? What does the impending season look like? What are the rankings, etc. As you can probably surmise, I have a kid on your CUSA list. You have him slated as a definite lock to be drafted. Based upon the MLB interest he has received over the last 6 months, I would say that you are probably right. The thing that irks me most about all these internet baseball sites (save yours) and all the projected 2013 Draft Prospects lists is that he rarely, if ever, makes them. My husband says I shouldn’t pay attention to those lists, but what parent doesn’t want to see their kid’s name in the conversation? I am hopeful that in the end, it is all guesswork and that my son’s hard work, strong work ethic and love of the game with bring to him all that he has dreamed about since he was 2 years old. Thanks Rob for being the one site that gives me a little hope!

    • Craig says:

      Bonnie, if Jack continues the way he’s been playing, then add in the fact that there is a shortage of middle infielders that are draft eligible this year, he has a great shot at being in the higher range than the lower range of Rob’s guesstimate.

      • Bonnie says:

        Ok, I’ll bite. How the heck did you know that Jack was my kid? I know that he needs to have one heck of a season this year and I can’t even begin to tell you how we’ve all been jonesing for baseball! Baseball offseason is theeee worst! He’s put on 20 pounds since his freshman year and has been working very hard. I’m just hoping that the off-the-field issues of other players don’t plague the team like the year Harrington was kicked off the team. We do not need another 2010. Go Pirates!

      • Craig says:

        All teams have player bio’s on their websites and parent names are included in the bio’s. As for the loooong offseason, I’m with you. I didn’t think February would ever get here.
        I wouldn’t think the suspension/dismissal would change anything about scouts coming to ECU games.
        By the way, just to make it fair, my son is Aaron Blair from Marshall.

        Tell Jack good luck(except that game when he faces Aaron) this season.

      • Bonnie says:

        It won’t let me reply to your most recent comment, so I’ll comment here. I saw Aaron’s profile. He’s a long way from home! Do you get to see him play much? We plan to head up to WV to catch that series. I don’t worry about the scouts coming to the games due to the off the field problems, but a couple of years ago, some off the field issues lead to a player dismissal and it caused a great deal of upheaval. The good news is that Joyner wasn’t slated to play this season due to shoulder surgery. I hope Aaron continues to do well (saw he had a great summer in the Cape – Jack played for the Bourne Braves on the Cape this summer and finished strong, but had a slow start). Were you able to head up to see him at all? What a glorious place the Cape is. We went up right after the 4th of July and had a blast. Got to see the boys do their scout day at Fenway. Jack hit two over the Green Monster! ::::sigh:::: God I love baseball….

      • Craig says:

        Yes, he is a long way from home, but we were able to make it to UAB, Houston, Tulane as well as ECU. Caught a couple of home series(if you call 55 miles from school home) as well. I don’t think we’re going to make it to Beckley for the ECU series though.

      • Bonnie says:

        If you don’t mind my asking (and I’m sure Rob loves that we have kidnapped his baseball blog), how did he come to choose Marshall? Jack had a buddy from high school that went to Marshall to pitch, but was kicked off the team. Ryan Butler. He and Jack played baseball together since they were 8 years old. Won the NC 4A State Championship when they were juniors in high school. My husband and I talk a lot about the kids that all had great potential, but how so few of them are still in the game any longer.

      • Craig says:

        Aaron went to Jupiter, Florida with the Ohio Warhawks his junior year and Marshall saw him there, invited him for an official visit and Aaron loved the small town atmosphere.Funny how many coaches from teams he pitched against asked him the same thing. I remember Ryan Butler. Always in the bad graces of the coaching staff. Went to a JUCO and ended up having TJ surgery.

      • Bonnie says:

        Yes, I know about Ryan’s TJ surgery. I wonder what he will do now? Like I said, he and Jack have been friends for many years and have played ball together since they were 8 years old. I always considered him a “team jumper.” My son played with the same travel team from the time he was 11 until he graduated from high school. Ryan (his family) was always looking for the next best team. I attribute it to work ethic. Jack has a strong one. I think Jack went to Jupiter in the fall of his senior year. He was already committed to ECU at the time. That’s where all the colleges and professional scouts were for that World Wood Bat Tournament, I believe. Man, that was an amazing time. So much fun! I love baseball.

      • Craig says:

        I do know that at the time of his injury, Ryan was rated in the Top 50 for JUCO’s. While I’m at it, congrats to Jack on his CUSA Preseason All-Conference selection. Looking forward to a fun 5 months.

      • Bonnie says:

        Why thank you! I was thrilled (he always seems to be overlooked). I cannot WAIT for this season to hurry up and get started. All the best to Aaron for a successful season for him.

      • Craig says:

        Thanks Bonnie and the same goes for Jack.

  5. Craig says:

    Rob,
    What exactly do you mean when you say the term “highest floor” ?

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Hey Craig,

      When I talk about floor, I’m referring to a prospect’s most likely big league minimum outcome. If a guy’s ceiling is an all-star caliber everyday player, then his floor might be big league backup or AAA veteran perpetually one injury a way from the bigs. If ceiling is best case scenario, then floor is “worst” case scenario (after acknowledging the fact that washing out in A-ball is an unfortunately realistic outcome for anybody).

      As much as anything, floors have a lot to do with specific skill sets: speedy, athletic outfielders tend to have a higher floor than hulking, all-bat sluggers because teams still value the specific skills they possess in the event that not everything goes according to plan in the development process. For pitchers, you might see a really well-rounded arm without knockout stuff have less of an ultimate ceiling but the positives found in his skill set help give him a safer, more narrow set of professional outcomes and thus a higher relative floor. Or you might find a guy so naturally gifted that you know teams will keep giving him chances (thus raising his projected floor) even though he may not reach his ultimate ceiling along the way – like a big fastball guy who never figures out much in the way of secondary offerings yet still is good enough to pitch in the bullpen for somebody somewhere. In many ways, guys praised as having high floors are seen as some of the safest bets in a given talent pool. They are also often players with less upside than other riskier players, though this isn’t always necessarily the case.

  6. Rob Ozga says:

    Been off the grid for a few days, but have to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the takeover of the comment section. Really fun read. Less than two weeks until opening day!

    • Craig says:

      I want to thank you Rob for giving a couple of CUSA parents a forum to chat.

    • Bonnie says:

      Rob, I was worried you were off in a corner pouting or something! 🙂 Yes, thanks for allowing us to squat here! 11 more days…. Craig, who is Marshall facing in their season series opener?

      • Craig says:

        We are playing Old Dominion. We were supposed to be playing in the Coastal Carolina tournament, but that was cancelled because their remodel wasn’t going to be finished. I think I saw ECU was hosting Virginia?

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