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2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: West Coast Conference

College baseball starts tomorrow and there is still one team that has yet to post their 2013 rosters online. Alcorn State was the second to last holdout, but they’ve finally caved. We’re just waiting on South Carolina now. Get with it, Gamecocks!

Incidentally, there is a lot of content ready to see the light of day. I’ve long preferred the research aspect of the site over the writing, but I think I’m finally at the point where I’ve done enough homework on the college game to spend more time writing up some more conference draft previews. Happy to take suggestions if anybody’s up for it. I also have some other ideas kicking around my head that might be fun…if I can pull them off. Stay tuned. Until then, let’s talk WCC…

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

C

  • Loyola Marymount SR C Colton Plaia
  • San Diego SR C Dillon Haupt
  • Portland rSR C Beau Fraser
  • Pepperdine rSR C Nate Johnson
  • San Diego rSR C Austin Green
  • San Francisco JR C Zachary Turner
  • Santa Clara SR C Quinton Perry

The WCC has a fun group of veteran catchers with the potential to position themselves as viable mid-round senior sign candidates with strong springs. Colton Plaia is the best of the bunch thanks to his average power, decent plate discipline, and average or better (arm is average, glove is better) defensive ability. Dillon Haupt is a large man (6-5, 225 pounds) who can really throw. Nate Johnson has a picture perfect swing, but he’ll have to put it to use this upcoming season if he wants to hear his name crackled over the speaker phone on draft day. Converted outfielder Austin Green is a really good athlete with intriguing defensive upside behind the dish, but, much like Beau Fraser and Johnson, 2013 represents a make or break season with the bat. I guess calling a college player’s senior season “make or break” is kind of unnecessary, but, let’s face it, unnecessary commentary is what I do best.

1B

  • Portland JR 1B Turner Gill
  • Pepperdine SR 1B Sam Meyer

Turner Gill may get pegged as a first base/corner outfield tweener (not enough bat for 1B, not quite enough foot speed for the OF), but I still can’t help but like the guy as a prospect. I’m fairly predictable about these things, so no big shock that I like a player with good raw power and a solid approach (23 BB/25 K last year).

2B

  • Gonzaga SR 2B Clayton Eslick
  • Loyola Marymount SR 2B Cullen Mahoney
  • Gonzaga SR 2B Steven Halcomb
  • San Francisco SR 2B Jason Mahood
  • Santa Clara SR 2B Justin Viele
  • Brigham Young JR 2B Adam Law

I won’t pretend to know a whole lot about Clayton Eslick other than reading his name in my Word doc here and there over the years, but his 2012 numbers (.350/.469/.447 with 33 BB/15 K in 197 AB) are enough to get me to pay attention in 2013. As much as I’m intrigued by Eslick, I think it’s more than fair to say that Cullen Mahoney’s tools give him the edge in upside.

3B

  • Loyola Marymount JR 3B Kevin Garcia
  • Brigham Young JR 3B Dillon Robinson

Never a good thing when the only notable thing about a position group is the missing name. Astute draft fans, followers of the WCC, or friends/family of the omitted player need not worry: the conference’s best prospect still gets his due, but count me as one of the first willing to accept the reality that Kris Bryant’s best professional position will be right field.

SS

  • San Diego JR SS Logan Davis
  • Santa Clara JR SS Gregory Harisis
  • Loyola Marymount SR SS Joey Boney

Logan Davis has a sterling defensive reputation, Gregory Harisis is coming off a very productive 2012 season (.366/.435/.447 with 13 BB and 19 K), and Joey Boney is named Joey Boney.

OF

  • San Diego JR OF Kris Bryant
  • San Diego rSO OF Louie Lechich
  • Pepperdine SO OF Aaron Brown
  • Brigham Young JR OF Jaycob Brugman
  • Gonzaga SR OF Billy Moon
  • Pepperdine rSO OF Bryan Langlois
  • Loyola Marymount SR OF Matt Lowenstein
  • Pepperdine rSR OF Chris Amezquita
  • San Francisco SR OF Justin Maffei
  • Brigham Young JR OF Kelton Caldwell
  • St. Mary’s SR OF Brenden Kalfus
  • St. Mary’s SR OF Cole Norton
  • Santa Clara JR OF Casey Munoz
  • Santa Clara SR OF Matt Ozanne
  • Loyola Marymount rSR OF Zac Fujimoto
  • San Diego SR OF AJ Robinson
  • San Diego rSR OF Dillon Checkal

I need to go back and do some research on this idea because I find it particularly interesting, but, in the meantime, a crackpot theory: amateur prospects, especially college prospects, with two potential professional defensive landing spots, tend to gravitate towards the less strenuous position sooner rather than later after signing pro contracts. As with most (all?) of my theories, this seems like common sense more than anything. Too often, however, draft season gets us all in a tizzy — happens to me every single year — and we begin dreaming on best case scenarios over the far more likely realities.

I should have applied this logic to Richie Shaffer last year (my head said 1B, my heart wanted so badly to believe 3B…for what I hope is the last time, my stupid heart won out), and I’ll be damned if I’m going to get burned on another similar player this year. Bryant might be able to play 3B at the pro level, but, really, what would you put the odds of him doing so effectively? 25%? Projecting him at his far more likely position seems like the smart way to go. As I’ve said before, I think Bryant will be a well above-average regular in right field if given the chance. I wasn’t a huge fan of his when he was a senior in high school, but the improvement he’s shown since then — the only thing that looks better than his modified swing is his much sleeker physique —  says something about what kind of prospect he is. As a draft prospect, think of him as a safer version of last year’s 39th overall pick, Joey Gallo. His old high school comp of Troy Glaus — one of those so obvious comps that you can’t help but see it — also makes a lot of sense as a pro ceiling. That’s big time.

Bryant’s teammate Louie Lechich hasn’t put up nearly the same numbers that Bryant has so far, but he’s a darn fine prospect in his own right. There is little that Lechich can’t do on the field as he’s one of this year’s class’ underrated five-tool talents. He’s shown average or better with all five tools at one point or another in his amateur days. If the Cal transfer taps into his raw power this year, watch out. Also worth noting my love of old comps that I can’t quit: in Lechich’s case, the comparison — pretty sure it was from Perfect Game, but I forgot to make a note of the origin — was Jim Edmonds. This obviously wasn’t meant to be a direct professional future style of comp (i.e. don’t expect the same numbers and career path), but more of a style, skill set, and physical build comparison. I also think it is fairly obvious that Lechich isn’t quite on the same level of Edmonds, a Hall of Famer in my nonexistent book, but rather a starting point based on the above three points (style, skill set, physical build) for those unfamiliar with his game.

Aaron Brown is a fun prospect because of his upside as a plus glove in CF or a power lefty capable of hitting the mid-90s with relative ease. Unrefined (5 K to every BB as a hitter, almost a walk an inning as a pitcher) doesn’t even begin to define his game, however, so any bet on him at this point is based entirely on his considerable physical gifts.

Quick hits on a few of the rest…Jaycob Brugman has enticing bat speed…Billy Moon is a defensive weapon in CF…Matt Lowenstein has consistently shown off a top of the lineup approach to hitting. All fit in nicely in the draft’s middle rounds with Brugman offering the greatest chance to move up.

P

  • Gonzaga JR LHP Marco Gonzales
  • San Diego JR RHP Dylan Covey
  • San Diego JR RHP Michael Wagner
  • Pepperdine JR RHP Scott Frazier
  • San Francisco JR RHP Alex Balog
  • St. Mary’s JR LHP Jordan Mills
  • Brigham Young JR RHP Adam Miller
  • St. Mary’s JR LHP Ben Griset 
  • Gonzaga rSR LHP Tyler Olson
  • Pepperdine rJR RHP Jared Lee
  • Pepperdine JR RHP Michael Swanner
  • San Diego JR RHP Trevor Bayless
  • Gonzaga JR RHP Arturo Reyes
  • San Diego SO LHP Max Homick
  • San Diego JR LHP Max MacNabb
  • Santa Clara SR RHP Tommy Nance
  • Santa Clara rJR RHP Kenny Treadwell
  • San Francisco rJR RHP Abe Bobb
  • Loyola Marymount SR LHP Justin Grijalva
  • Brigham Young JR RHP Marc Oslund
  • Pepperdine JR RHP Corey Miller
  • Pepperdine SR LHP Alex Najera
  • St. Mary’s JR LHP Ryan Brockett
  • Loyola Marymount SR RHP Aaron Griffin
  • Brigham Young SR RHP Matt Milke
  • Loyola Marymount JR RHP Bret Dahlson
  • San Francisco SR RHP Haden Hinkle
  • St. Mary’s SR RHP Patrick Keane
  • Pepperdine JR RHP Eric Karch
  • Brigham Young JR RHP Desmond Poulson
  • St. Mary’s JR RHP Thomas Cortese
  • Gonzaga rSO RHP Derek Peterson
  • Santa Clara rSR RHP Mike Couch
  • Brigham Young SR LHP Mark Anderson
  • Pepperdine SR LHP Brian McIlhenny
  • Santa Clara SR RHP Brock Simon
  • Pepperdine JR LHP Matt Maurer
  • Gonzaga JR RHP Kenny Smith
  • Santa Clara JR LHP Powell Fansler

I have Marco Gonzales as the top pitching prospect in the conference — a well-earned designation thanks in large part to his phenomenal changeup, arguably the best pitch of its kind in this year’s class — but any of his fellow bold brothers could overtake him by June. (Quick aside: As always, I sincerely hope that this year’s premier two-way college star gets drafted by a National League team. I want to see these two-way pitching prospects hit, damn it.). A full season of good health could help Dylan Covey retake his place at the top of the heap. Scott Frazier’s size, stuff (more sinker/slider than in his high school days, but the flashes of above-average offspeed stuff help round out his repertoire), groundball tendencies, and prep pedigree will keep him in the running for a first day selection. Michael Wagner is my pick for most likely to overtake Gonzales, if it happens at all. Wagner’s potential for four average or better pitches, command, pro build with room yet to grow (6-4, 185 pounds), and strong performances to date (over 8 K/9 through two seasons) make him a favorite.

Alex Balog could move way up between now and June; if so, I could then see him quickly moving through the minors once drafted. Hitters get bad swings off his mid-90s heat, and his offspeed stuff (change, slider) complement it quite well. Jordan Mills has similar stuff, but with a little less fastball (92 peak). Either one of San Diego’s pitchers named Max (Homick and MacNabb) could rise way up as well.

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