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2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: ACC

Imagine a really snappy introduction here. Like something impossibly clever. Funny, too. You’ll be walking around all day thinking about what a snappy, clever, funny introduction you just read on that great baseball draft site. Not only was it a memorable introduction, but it really hooked you. The intro was so good that it got you all excited so that you couldn’t wait to read all the great baseball draft stuff written just centimeters below…and then you finally read the baseball draft stuff and it almost topped — almost, but not quite — topped the introduction. Yeah, imagine that.

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


  • North Carolina JR C Matt Roberts
  • North Carolina JR C Brian Holberton
  • Virginia Tech rJR C Chad Morgan
  • Duke SR C Jeff Kremer
  • Wake Forest SR C Brett Armour
  • Florida State rJR C Stephen McGee
  • Miami SR C Alex San Juan
  • Boston College JR C Nate LaPointe
  • Maryland SR C Jack Cleary
  • Boston College SR C Matt Paré
  • Maryland rSO C Alex Ramsay
  • Wake Forest JR C Charlie Morgan
  • Duke JR C Mike Rosenfeld
  • Florida State JR C Ladson Montgomery

We’re still waiting on Roberts’ first extended stretch of strong college at bats, so take his ranking atop this list as a testament to projection over production. His teammate Holberton has consistently outhit him, but falls just behind based largely on the unknown — at least to me — that is his catching defense. If his drafting team doesn’t want him to catch full-time, he’ll still have intriguing value as Swiss army knife (C/2B/OF) kind of defensive player. I really thought Chad Morgan would be a player thanks to his big power/big arm combo, but time is quickly running out on him. The respective walk rates of Kremer and McGee make me blush.


  • Georgia Tech JR 1B Daniel Palka
  • North Carolina SR 1B Cody Stubbs
  • Duke rSO 1B Chris Marconcini
  • Wake Forest rJR 1B Matt Conway
  • Maryland JR 1B Tim Kiene
  • Virginia rSR 1B Jared King
  • Clemson JR 1B Jon McGibbon

Power hitting prospects are often categorized into two basic categories: guys with power and guys who can hit who also happen to have power. That’s far more simplistic than I probably ought to be, but complicated takes time, energy, and skill that a man like me simply does not possess. Anyway, Palka happens to fall into the latter group, a really encouraging thing with respect to his draft stock. He’s a really good hitter first, and a guy with plus-plus power second. I really wish he was quick enough to handle a little bit of RF in the pros, not just because it would do wonders to his value as a player but also because watching him throw is a real pleasure, but I don’t think the projections of Palka to an outfield corner amount to much more than wishcasting. Still a legitimate early-round prospect with starting caliber upside at first, though the pervasive swing-and-miss element to his game remains a worry. I like Palka more than I love him, if that makes sense.

After Palka you’ve got a deep collection of quality college bats that might have a name or two capable of hanging around the minors long enough to someday pop up as a big league bench bat. Stubbs has power, a good glove, and nice size, but also plenty to prove after a disappointing junior season. Marconcini does similar things well while also having something to prove as he continues to bounce back physically from last year’s ACL injury. Matt Conway rounds out the power/glove/size trio. Kiene has the power, but not quite the patience or defensive chops of the others on the list. I have a soft spot for players that exhibit the kind of patience Jared King has shown throughout his career: his junior year line (.306/.457/.503 with 49 BB/37 K and 13/19 SB) makes for a weird statistical profile for a first baseman, and, while weird alone doesn’t make a player a good prospect, it does keep things interesting.


  • Clemson JR 2B Shane Kennedy
  • Virginia SR 2B Reed Gragnani 
  • Georgia Tech SR 2B Sam Dove 
  • Georgia Tech JR 2B Mott Hyde
  • Miami SR 2B Michael Broad
  • North Carolina State SR 2B Matt Bergquist
  • Wake Forest SR 2B Mark Rhine
  • Wake Forest JR 2B Conor Keniry

I keep waiting for a position that will give me a break where I don’t have to write as much, but damn if the ACC isn’t loaded with intriguing prospects to discuss. The smart money is on none of these players ever getting any consistent at bats at the big league level, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a quality pro or two somewhere in the conference. Kennedy is my favorite because of his overall tools package — hit, power, speed are all a hair above the average mark, and he’s a capable glove anywhere you put him in the infield — but Gragnani lurks as a possible contender to the best ACC second base prospect throne. Of course, calling any of these guys “second basemen” does a bit of disservice to their collective defensive potential.

It is the positional versatility of so many of these players — OF Gragnani, OF Dove, SS Hyde, 3B Broad, SS Bergquist, 3B Rhine — that has me believing there might be a future big league utility infielder or two somewhere hidden in the bunch. If nothing else, spending a pick on one of these players will give you a useful, versatile minor league contributor. That may not be worth a mention from ESPN — all non-first round picks are NP’s not worth spending any time on, obviously — but there’s some hidden value there.


  • Clemson JR SS Steve Wilkerson 
  • Wake Forest SR SS Pat Blair
  • Florida State SR SS Justin Gonzalez 
  • Maryland JR SS Kyle Convissar
  • Miami JR SS Alex Hernandez
  • Duke JR SS Angelo LaBruna

Wilkerson’s hot start is encouraging, but it remains the physical gifts — foot speed, athleticism, agility in the field, quick wrists — that make him a legitimate top ten round draft prospect. Less toolsy, but still talented, Pat Blair is a player I can comfortably identify as one of “my guys.” Reliable glove at either middle infield spot, enough pop to keep pitchers honest, and above-average speed that plays up due to his smarts are all things I can get down with, especially when the guy is a mature, patient hitter. I also like Justin Gonzalez, even though his scouting profile couldn’t be more different. His defense is good enough to keep him at short as a pro, so that’s a huge plus, but his carrying tool has always been his above-average strength and power as a hitter. Forgive me for being a broken record at this point, but Gonzalez seems poised to represent good value — I’m guessing his ceiling is probably rounds 9/10 to a team looking to save some pool money on a senior sign — and could wind up an interesting name to stash in the minors for a few years with the hope something somewhere someday clicks.

Convissar, Hernandez, and LaBruna are all steady gloves first and foremost. I expect to see all three names back on this list next year as senior signs, though Convissar reminds me a little bit of Gonzalez-lite.


  • North Carolina JR 3B Colin Moran
  • Virginia Tech JR 3B Chad Pinder
  • Duke JR 3B Jordan Betts
  • Miami JR 3B Brad Fieger
  • Miami JR 3B Tyler Palmer
  • North Carolina State JR 3B Sam Morgan

Questions about power and defense, two pretty important considerations for a third base prospect, make the battle for top ACC position player a lot closer than many casual draft fans have been led to believe. My appreciation for Moran’s skill set has been on the record for some time. His plate discipline is as good as any amateur’s in the country, his swing is a thing of beauty, and his ability to make in-game and in-at bat adjustments is atypical for a hitter at his level. I think those are all aspects of Moran’s game that give him a clear edge over Pinder. Ah, but what of those aforementioned power and defense? Now you see why Pinder is quickly becoming a household draft name. Even if Pinder was a questionable bat going forward (note: he’s not), his defense the hot corner is good enough to make him an early round pick. Moran’s defense has been discussed ad nauseum across the internet, so my two cents on the topic have to be devalued by now. I’ll only offer the quick and dirty assessment based on what I’ve seen and heard: worst case scenario for Moran as a pro is that his defense is called passable, good enough, or average on his better days. I don’t see him contending for any awards at third, but I don’t think he’s a liability with the glove either. Pinder, on the other hand, should quickly emerge as one of pro ball’s most promising defensive third basemen in short order after signing. If we’re scoring this fight at home, consider defense a decided advantage for Pinder but not quite a knockout blow. That leaves the question of power. I’ll be honest and admit that my longstanding admiration of Moran’s game makes me come off as a bit of an apologist here. To me, power isn’t as much as a separator between the two as defense. It is clear that Pinder has shown more consistent power in his college career than Moran, and I believe he has more raw power to show off going forward. Moran’s lack of recent power — and by recent I mean so far this year and during stretches dating back to last year — can be explained away by injury, a lack of pitches to drive, and a body that only recently morphed from teenager to man. All of this needlessly long paragraph really adds up to is Moran is still the top third base prospect in the ACC (and all of college ball), but Pinder is either a very close second or the 1B to Moran’s 1A. I’ve always been pleased with the idea of Moran to my favorite team (Phillies) in the mid-first (16th), but I’ll amend my pre-season views re: Pinder being selected between rounds two and five. If a team like the Phillies want Pinder, they’d have to take him in the first because he won’t last much longer.

Moran:  In many ways I feel like Moran has been put on the draft landscape just for me. That’s mostly because I’m an unrepentant egotist, but also because I a) love guys who consistently play above their tools, b) am a complete sucker for a pretty lefthanded swing, and c) have the importance of plate discipline, having a plan prior to every at bat, and generally taking a measured yet violent approach to hitting ingrained deep into my pitch black soul. Moran offers up a resounding check mark for each of those qualifications. I think he’s a better version of last draft’s Matt Reynolds with the upside of San Diego 3B Chase Headley.

Pinder: It is way too early to start assigning draft grades, so take the following with a jumbo sized chunk of salt: if you’re a fan of a team in need of a third baseman of the future, then Chad Pinder is as good a non-first round name to follow as any.  If my favorite team misses out on and/or goes a different direction on, say, Colin Moran in the mid-first, then I’d be more than happy with Pinder being the next man up within the round two to five range. Pinder’s defense at third is legitimately exciting to watch. He has really quick feet, a strong arm, and great instincts on the left side of the infield. In a pinch, I’d have no problem playing him up the middle at short, a la a young Ryan Zimmerman. As a hitter, his power is right where you want it for a corner infielder (20+ home run upside) and he’s shown an ability to make critical adjustments game to game as well as pitch to pitch. The big quibble would be his plate discipline — 15 BB/40 K last season — but I think that’s more of a byproduct of how he was pitched in 2012.

I don’t put too much stock into early season numbers, good or bad, but for those that do, none of the other names on the list (Betts to Morgan) have lit the world in fire with big starts. Of the group, I give the edge to Betts because of his enticing blend of power, arm strength, athleticism, and size. Fieger is also a guy worth watching for no other reason than he makes an unusual amount of hard contact. I think it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing a real spike in extra base hits from him.


  • Florida State JR OF Marcus Davis
  • Georgia Tech SR OF Brandon Thomas
  • Virginia Tech rJR OF Tyler Horan
  • Miami JR OF Dale Carey 
  • Clemson rJR OF Thomas Brittle
  • Georgia Tech JR OF Kyle Wren
  • North Carolina State SR OF Brett Williams
  • Wake Forest rSO OF Kevin Jordan
  • Maryland JR OF Mike Montville
  • North Carolina State SR OF Tarran Senay
  • Virginia Tech rSR OF Andrew Rash
  • Wake Forest JR OF James Harris
  • North Carolina SR OF Chaz Frank
  • Miami SR OF Chantz Mack
  • Florida State rSO OF Brett Knief
  • Virginia rJR OF Colin Harrington
  • Maryland SR OF Jordan Hagel
  • North Carolina JR OF Thomas Zengel
  • Wake Forest JR OF Evan Stephens
  • Boston College JR OF Tom Bourdon
  • North Carolina JR OF Parks Jordan
  • Boston College SR OF Matt McGovern
  • Florida State SR OF Seth Miller
  • Clemson JR OF Joe Costigan
  • North Carolina State SR OF Bryan Adametz
  • Maryland rSO OF Charlie White

I’ve been driving the Marcus Davis bandwagon so long that seeing him hit the ground running at Florida State has been nothing short of beautiful. I’d love to get a better read on his defense — LF only is all I’ve heard, but I wonder if that’s more of a body type bias than anything based on skill level — but his bat has the potential to play anywhere you put him. Power, speed, strength, and a refined approach to hitting all add up to a darn fine hitting talent. One caveat worth mentioning because I’ve gotten similar questions about the topic in the past: Davis’ position atop this list shouldn’t be mistaken as a prediction that he winds up as the ACC’s highest rated outfield prospect come June. Egomaniacal as I may be, I realize full well that my own opinions often wrongly diverge with what both the experts and the drafting teams think about many prospects. These lists aren’t predictions about draft day, but rather rankings that show my personal preference if I was in a position to do the drafting. Many of the names below Davis on this list will go higher than he will in this year’s draft, but the team that takes a chance on him will no doubt be pleased with the player — and value — they are getting.

Thomas and Horan both are viable potential starting outfielders, though I can already envision a scouting report on either one a year or two from now calling them “talented fourth outfielders on a championship contending club, or second-division starters.” It’s easy to dream on draft talent (guilty as charged), but pro evaluation tends to paint a more realistic scouting picture. Thomas’ ability to play center makes him the more likely of the two to stick as an everyday guy. Defense is also responsible for the relatively high placements of Carey, Brittle, Wren, Williams, and Jordan, all players ranging from solid CF professionally to “wow” level defensive ability (Carey and Brittle come to mind).

Pretty sure that Chaz Frank and Chantz Mack were separated at birth. Check their 2012 lines head-to-head:

Chaz: .273/.407/.368
Chantz: .295/.410/.367

3,000+ words of writing makes you look for the little things that keep you amused. I also can’t help but be amused by Charlie White’s inclusion on the list. He was a bit of an afterthought, thrown on the list because of some decent numbers in limited at bats and a few nice things said about him by someone in the know. Well it’s only 37 AB so far, but his .432/.611/.541 line with 11 BB/2 K and 15/18 SB look pretty good. Interestingly enough, Maryland as a team has successfully stolen 44 bases in 52 tries. And they’ve been hit by 23 pitches (6 for White alone) while only plunking 10 guys. Alright I’m done.


  • North Carolina JR LHP Kent Emanuel
  • Georgia Tech SR RHP Buck Farmer 
  • North Carolina rSO RHP Andrew Smith
  • Virginia Tech JR RHP Brad Markey
  • Georgia Tech JR RHP DeAndre Smelter
  • Virginia Tech JR LHP Eddie Campbell
  • Virginia JR RHP Artie Lewicki 
  • Georgia Tech JR RHP Matthew Grimes
  • Duke JR RHP Drew Van Orden
  • Georgia Tech JR RHP Dusty Isaacs 
  • Georgia Tech JR C/RHP Zane Evans
  • Miami JR RHP Javi Salas
  • Virginia JR LHP Kyle Crockett
  • North Carolina State rJR RHP Anthony Tzamtzis
  • North Carolina JR LHP Hobbs Johnson
  • Clemson JR RHP Matt Campbell
  • Florida State JR RHP Peter Miller
  • Miami JR LHP Bryan Radziewski
  • Clemson SR RHP Scott Firth
  • North Carolina State SR RHP Ryan Wilkins
  • Miami SR RHP Eric Whaley
  • Maryland JR RHP/3B Jake Stinnett
  • Maryland SR LHP Jimmy Reed
  • Clemson rJR RHP Mike Kent
  • Virginia rSR LHP Scott Silverstein
  • Maryland JR RHP Brady Kirkpatrick
  • Boston College rJR RHP Matt Alvarez
  • North Carolina State SR RHP Ethan Ogburn
  • Georgia Tech JR RHP Jonathan Roberts
  • North Carolina State SR RHP Chris Overman
  • North Carolina JR RHP Shane Taylor
  • Boston College JR RHP Eric Stevens
  • Boston College JR LHP Steve Green
  • Miami JR LHP AJ Salcines
  • Miami SR RHP Eric Nedeljkovic
  • North Carolina SR RHP Chris Munnelly
  • North Carolina State SR RHP Josh Easley
  • Virginia rJR RHP Whit Mayberry
  • Virginia Tech JR LHP Colin O’Keefe
  • Wake Forest SR RHP Justin Van Grouw
  • Virginia Tech SR RHP Joe Mantiply
  • Wake Forest JR RHP Jack Fischer
  • Maryland JR LHP Jamie Pashuck
  • Florida State rSO LHP Evan Geist
  • Maryland rSO LHP Ben Brewster
  • Florida State JR RHP Robby Coles
  • Florida State JR LHP Brandon Johnson
  • Clemson rSR LHP Joseph Moorefield
  • Virginia Tech SR RHP Jake Joyce
  • Clemson SR RHP Jonathan Meyer
  • Clemson JR RHP Kevin Pohle
  • Boston College SO RHP John Gorman
  • Wake Forest SR LHP Niko Spezial
  • North Carolina State rSR LHP Grant Sasser
  • Boston College rSR LHP Nate Bayuk
  • Virginia Tech SR RHP Tanner McIntyre
  • Miami JR RHP Adam Sargent
  • North Carolina JR LHP Tate Parrish
  • Wake Forest JR LHP John McLeod
  • Virginia JR RHP Austin Young
  • Florida State SR RHP Scott Sitz
  • Georgia Tech JR LHP Devin Stanton
  • Boston College SR RHP Hunter Gordon
  • Virginia Tech SR RHP Clark Labitan
  • North Carolina State JR LHP DJ Thomas
  • Florida State rJR RHP Gage Smith
  • Duke SR RHP Chase Bebout
  • Wake Forest JR RHP Nate Jones
  • Georgia Tech SR RHP Clay Dalton
  • Duke JR RHP Robert Huber
  • North Carolina State SR RHP Danny Healey
  • Georgia Tech JR RHP Alex Cruz

Importance of stuff over stats acknowledged, but you have to give it up to what Buck Farmer is doing at Georgia Tech these days. I need to check with the boys at the Fangraphs lab, but I’m pretty sure allowing one run (unearned) in 21 innings to start the year while racking up 30 strikeouts (1 walk) along the way is pretty good. However, big performances by returning senior prospects are often overrated in a way that looks so obvious in hindsight. This isn’t the only reason why Matt LaPorta’s disappointments as a pro makes sense, but I think his letdown was a warning side for many front offices about the dangers of falling in love with a guy an entire year older than the vast majority of the best of his competition. The risk isn’t as great with pitchers, a group that follows a less predictable growth curve than hitters, so Farmer’s hot start shouldn’t be dismissed outright but merely viewed with through a more cautious lens.

As for the rest of the conference, maybe I’m in the minority or maybe I’m not, but I don’t see a lot of high-end pitching prospects here in 2013. There’s no first round pitcher and no one arm that I’d point to with confidence as a near-certainty to reach the big leagues as a starting pitcher. Th

Kent Emanuel does enough well that you could see him filling in a spot in the back of a rotation professionally one day. The aforementioned Farmer’s more consistent velocity, command, and slider makes him another potential starter. I also like Brad Markey’s balanced arsenal — 88-92 FB, good CB, good enough CU — and DeAndre Smelter’s raw stuff (at its peak) matches anybody in the conference. Andrew Smith has the best “now” stuff: a fastball that hits 94 and two breaking balls that he can use for strikeouts when he needs to. If healthy, you could bump up both Lewicki and Grimes a couple notches; as it is, the relatively high placement of two pitchers currently out after Tommy John surgery is an indication that perhaps the ACC is somewhat lacking in star 2013 arms.


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