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2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: SEC

Why would I want to be signed out in the middle of typing up a post? I hate WordPress.

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

C

  • Mississippi JR C Stuart Turner
  • LSU JR C Tyler Ross
  • Vanderbilt JR C Spencer Navin
  • Auburn JR C Blake Austin
  • Missouri JR C Dylan Kelly
  • Georgia SR C Brett DeLoach
  • Mississippi State SR C Mitch Slauter
  • Arkansas JR C Jake Wise
  • Mississippi JR C Will Allen
  • Alabama JR C Wade Wass
  • South Carolina SR C Dante Rosenberg
  • South Carolina rSO C Patrick Harrington
  • Tennessee JR C Ethan Bennett
  • Texas A&M JR C Troy Stein
  • Georgia JR C Brandon Stephens
  • Missouri SR C Scott Sommerfeld
  • Mississippi State SR C Nick Ammirati

I’ve done enough of these to know that this is an unusually difficult position group to sort out. Turner has emerged as the leader of the pack on the strength of his power upside, high baseball IQ, athleticism, and outstanding defensive skills. I thought I liked him a lot last year when he was at LSU-Eunice until I saw I had him down as the 51st best college catching prospect in the country. That’s actually not as low as it sounds – he’s in good company if you look back at the actual list – but you can take it to the bank that he won’t be anywhere near that low in 2013. Turner’s power and defense combination is enticing, but the latter should be no big surprise in the context of the SEC in 2013. Above-average or better defense behind the plate is the norm in the conference this year. You can rank Navin, Kelly, Slauter, Wise, and Rosenberg any way you desire in terms of overall package, but the fact that each will give you pro-caliber defense from the first day after signing contracts on is undeniable.

Ross is the position’s, and quite possibly conference’s, biggest enigma. I remember first taking a liking to Ross as a high school prospect because of the promise he had shown with the bat. After his freshman year at LSU, all the positive chatter surrounding his prospect stock was about his much improved defensive ability. His maintained those defensive gains through his sophomore season while also showing enough with the bat (.303/.369/.395 with an impressive 23 BB/22 K ratio in 185 AB) to have many projecting a breakout junior campaign. It’s obviously still quite early, but the initial returns aren’t exactly promising. Ross is still talented enough to warrant a high-level follow, but his status as a potential first round sleeper and top college catching prospect can be considered kaput. If Wade Wass didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. If/when he ever gets back on the field for some consistent at bats, he’s one to watch as a possible draft riser.

1B

  • Vanderbilt JR 1B Conrad Gregor 
  • Florida SR 1B Vickash Ramjit
  • Auburn SR 1B Garrett Cooper
  • South Carolina rJR 1B Brison Celek
  • Arkansas rSO 1B Eric Fisher
  • Alabama JR 1B Austen Smith
  • Tennessee JR 1B Scott Price
  • Mississippi State SR 1B Trey Porter
  • Missouri JR 1B Michael McGraw
  • Missouri SR 1B Gavin Stark

Conrad Gregor’s early season power outage obviously doesn’t concern me enough to knock him off his perch atop this particular list. Like many young hitters, Gregor can get himself into trouble chasing bad balls, but what separates him from the field is his exemplary bat speed and pitch recognition skills. Those skills should help him remain a legitimate prospect as a pro, especially if a club views him as a viable defender in an outfield corner. I’m sure it goes without saying at this point, but Gregor’s plate discipline (more walks than strikeouts all three years at Vandy) make him a personal favorite. Another favorite is Ramjit, an underrated player who combines strength, size, power, athleticism, and defense to create an interesting overall package. He’s also either a badass or a bully, depending on the source, so you can add whatever descriptive adjective – I like “fiery” — of your choosing to the mix. Cooper has a nice approach, intriguing size (6-6, 225 pounds), and impressive defensive chops. If there’s such a thing as a sleeper on a list like this, he’s my pick.

Nice things have been said about Celek and Fisher, but both seem like long shots to contribute much if anything in the pros. That should tell you all you need to know about the rest of the list, though it is worth noting that Scott Price has a surprisingly strong backing from those who see him play often. If Cooper was the original sleeper on this list, Price is the Rip Van Winkle.

2B

  • Kentucky JR 2B JT Riddle
  • Georgia SR 2B Kyle Farmer
  • Kentucky JR 2B Paul McConkey
  • Texas A&M JR 2B Charlie Curl
  • South Carolina SR 2B Chase Vergason
  • Alabama SR 2B Kenny Roberts
  • Arkansas SR 2B Jacob Mahan
  • Mississippi State JR 2B Brett Pirtle
  • Mississippi JR 2B Lance Wilson
  • LSU SR 2B Casey Yocom
  • Missouri JR 2B Kendal Keeton
  • Kentucky JR 2B Matt Reida
  • Tennessee JR 2B Taylor Smart
  • Missouri JR 2B Dillon Everett

I really, really like JT Riddle. Since stepping on campus, all he’s done is hit. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with this comp, but a scout friend said that he looks at Riddle and sees the kind of player that JaCoby Jones is supposed to be. Like Jones, Riddle is a really good athlete whom scouts are divided on when it comes to long-term defensive positioning (2B, SS, 3B, CF all in the running). As with Jones, I’m not sure where Riddle eventually winds up, but I do see him as a potentially valuable big league contributor in some capacity. Strong hit tool + mature approach + enough pop/speed + strong arm = good prospect. Math!

Farmer could be a utility infielder (2B/3B/SS) if all goes well. McConkey has some talent, but his swing at everything approach is less than ideal. The fact he can also play a solid 3B helps his cause. Curl looks the part, but whether or not he can actually hit remains an open discussion. As much as I appreciate his defensive versatility and general lunch pail approach to the game, I think we’ll have another college season after this one to keep the conversation going.

Notice that a trio of seniors (Vergason, Roberts, Mahan) hold down the beginning of the end of his year’s rankings. I would expect to see that next year as well, as some of the juniors near the bottom of list move up to the middle due to yearly prospect growth and attrition. That’s sort of the way college second base prospecting works.

3B

  • Arkansas JR 3B Dominic Ficociello
  • Auburn JR 3B Damek Tomscha
  • Mississippi JR 3B Preston Overbey
  • Florida rSO 3B Zack Powers
  • LSU JR 3B Christian Ibarra
  • Mississippi SR 3B Andrew Mistone
  • South Carolina SR 3B LB Dantzler
  • Missouri JR 3B Shane Segovia
  • Georgia SR 3B Curt Powell
  • Alabama SR 3B Brett Booth
  • Mississippi State JR 3B Daryl Norris
  • South Carolina JR 3B Erik Payne

We’d obviously know a good bit more about Ficociello if he could get on the field a little bit more, but his slow start to the 2013 season doesn’t obfuscate the notes accrued on him through his first two college years. It also doesn’t discredit the fine work he put in as a high school prospect: he was in the back of my 2010 top 50, directly ahead of impressive fellows Taijuan Walker and Zach Lee. I don’t view Ficociello as an elite 2013 draft prospect nor does he give off the appearance of a sure-fire future big league regular, but the tools he possesses and the growth he’s shown both give me a good feeling about his future. The first thing that stands out when watching Ficociello from a physical standpoint are his seemingly impossibly quick hands. Forgetting the draft writing thing for a second and speaking solely as a fan of the game, I’d submit that watching Ficociello swing a bat is an experience well worth checking out if at all possible. If his bat isn’t the quickest in the college game, then he’s certainly on the short list. The fair follow-up question, and one I’m in no way qualified to answer, is where is the power production? Ficociello has the frame (6-4, 185 pounds) to put on a little bit more heft, so you’d be selecting him early with the hope that blindingly quick wrists + increased physical strength = long-term power production. Opinions on his defense area all over the place. I’ve been told he’s “maybe a third basemen, likely a first basemen” and “he’s good enough at third that you wonder if he can play some second or short if asked.” He does have experience shifting around the infield; any way you look at that, that’s a plus. Again, I’m not a scout, but what I’ve seen firsthand of his defense at third has been encouraging. Count me in as somebody who likes his hit tool, loves his worth ethic (there’s no true measure for such a thing, but note the improvement in his BB/K numbers from his freshman to sophomore seasons – I was told that was all a major goal of Ficociello’s last year that he worked like crazy at improving), remains intrigued though cautiously so about his power upside, and believes his defense should be no worse than average at third, with the chance to be much better than that and/or solid at all four infield spots.

Since I wrote an entire post’s worth of words on Ficociello, I’ll do my best to be brief with some of the other third base names to know. Tomscha has been a favorite dating back to his high school days, especially after the Phillies drafted him with their last pick in 2010. There’s some question as to how much he’ll ever hit, but his secondary skills — power and patience — are strong, and his defense, athleticism, and arm strength are all top notch. It’s also nice that those last two things — athleticism and arm strength for those with short memories — could help him on the mound if that’s the direction his career eventually takes. Preston Overbey has always had the big-time tools that draw scouts in, but the maddeningly hacktastic approach that turns them off. He’d still be an interesting tools gamble in the mid-rounds, especially if the drafting team moves him to an outfield corner and tells him to just worry about hitting. I can’t quite put my finger on why I like Zack Powers so much, but I do. What he lacks in a carrying tool he makes up for with a steady all-around skill set. Ibarra’s defense is what initially drew me to him, but his strong performance at the plate so far for LSU is cause for more investigation as to what kind of stick he really has. After the top five we get a long run of potential late-round senior signs. Mistone (can also play 2B), Dantzler (power), and Segovia (exceptional defense) stand out as particularly intriguing.

SS

  • Mississippi State JR SS Adam Frazier 
  • Vanderbilt rSO SS Joel McKeithan
  • Texas A&M SR SS Mikey Reynolds
  • Mississippi JR SS Austin Anderson
  • Auburn JR SS Dan Glevenyak
  • Florida SR SS Cody Dent

Not the toolsiest group of shortstop prospects you’ll come across, but a damn fine collection of ballplayers. Frazier typifies this better than anybody: if  you like him — like I obviously do — then you like the approach first and foremost, but acknowledge that he may be stretched to hit for enough pop or show off enough athleticism and arm to prevent a move to second base. If he winds up as a poor man’s Nolan Fontana, another player I liked a lot, then you’ve at least got a potential backup big league middle infielder. Reynolds gives you a similar offensive package — maybe a tick better speed with less plate discipline — but a better chance to stay at shortstop in the pros. Anderson’s impressive start to the season has earned him a Tyler Smith (Oregon State) comp that I like a lot.

The one exception to the “low tools, high grit” (I couldn’t think of a better word than grit here and I hate myself for using it, but I think it gives you some idea what I mean when I use it so I’m keeping it) list is Joel McKeithan. Tools aren’t a worry with McKeithan: he can run, field, and hit for power better than any shortstop prospect in the conference. His issue has, and continues to be, staying on the field long enough to show off his ability. I’ve been a big McKeithan fan for a long time, but even I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever get the chance to see him at his best. Cody Dent plays college baseball for Florida. I’m not 100% sure what compelled me to include him on a prospect list. That’s about all I’m willing to say about him as a player. As always, no matter how ineffective a player is at this level, it should be noted that every player I’ve written about over the past four years is probably better at baseball than I am at any one singular thing.

OF

  • Mississippi State JR OF Hunter Renfroe
  • LSU JR OF Jacoby Jones 
  • Vanderbilt JR OF Tony Kemp 
  • Vanderbilt SR OF Connor Harrell
  • Vanderbilt SR OF Michael Yastrzemski
  • LSU rSR OF Raph Rhymes
  • LSU SR OF Mason Katz
  • Auburn SR OF Ryan Tella
  • Arkansas rJR OF Jacob Morris
  • Florida JR OF Taylor Ratliff
  • Mississippi SR OF Tanner Mathis
  • Texas A&M JR OF Krey Bratsen
  • Mississippi State JR OF CT Bradford
  • South Carolina JR OF Graham Saiko
  • Mississippi State rSO OF Demarcus Henderson
  • Auburn SR OF Cullen Wacker
  • Kentucky SR OF Zac Zellers
  • Missouri SR OF Dane Opel
  • Texas A&M SR OF Brandon Wood
  • Auburn JR OF Jay Gonzalez
  • Arkansas SR OF Matt Vinson
  • Texas A&M JR OF Jace Statum
  • Kentucky JR OF Lucas Witt
  • Mississippi SO OF Will Jamison
  • Georgia JR OF Conor Welton
  • Alabama SR OF Cameron Carlisle
  • Missouri SR OF Brannon Champagne
  • LSU SR OF Alex Edward
  • Vanderbilt rSR OF Jack Lupo
  • Auburn JR OF Hunter Kelley
  • LSU JR OF Sean McMullen
  • Mississippi State JR OF Derrick Armstrong
  • Alabama SR OF Andrew Miller

I just lost about 2,000 words breaking down the five potential first round SEC pitching prospects. Had scout quotes, stuff breakdowns, and statistical analysis. Pardon the language, but I fucking hate WordPress. There is clear separation with the top three, but I think Wahl and Crawford are interchangeable at four/five.

I also lost everything on the outfielders including a full breakdown of Renfroe v Jones. Hours of work gone in an instant.

P

  • Arkansas JR RHP Ryne Stanek
  • LSU JR RHP Ryan Eades
  • Vanderbilt JR LHP Kevin Ziomek
  • Mississippi JR RHP Bobby Wahl
  • Florida JR RHP Jonathon Crawford 
  • Florida JR RHP Karsten Whitson
  • Mississippi JR RHP Mike Mayers
  • Arkansas JR RHP Barrett Astin 
  • Arkansas JR RHP Colby Suggs
  • Kentucky JR LHP Corey Littrell
  • Florida JR LHP Daniel Gibson 
  • Kentucky JR RHP Trevor Gott
  • Florida JR RHP Keenan Kish
  • Florida SO RHP John Magliozzi 
  • Tennessee JR RHP Nick Williams
  • LSU JR RHP Nick Rumbelow 
  • Mississippi State JR RHP Evan Mitchell
  • Auburn JR RHP Dillon Ortman
  • LSU JR RHP Will LaMarche
  • Vanderbilt JR RHP TJ Pecoraro
  • South Carolina JR RHP Forrest Koumas
  • Texas A&M SR RHP Kyle Martin
  • Missouri SR RHP Eric Anderson
  • LSU SR RHP Joey Bourgeois
  • LSU SO LHP Cody Glenn
  • Georgia SO RHP Luke Crumley
  • Tennessee SR RHP Zack Godley
  • LSU JR RHP Kurt McCune
  • Texas A&M rJR RHP Jason Jester
  • LSU JR RHP Joe Broussard
  • South Carolina SR LHP Tyler Webb
  • Mississippi rSO RHP Scott Weathersby
  • Mississippi JR RHP Aaron Greenwood
  • Mississippi SR RHP Brett Huber 
  • Mississippi State SR RHP Kendall Graveman 
  • Missouri JR LHP Rob Zastrynzny
  • Texas A&M rJR RHP Parker Ray
  • South Carolina SR LHP Nolan Belcher
  • Missouri rSO RHP Ryan Yuengel
  • Arkansas rSR LHP Trent Daniel 
  • LSU SR LHP Chris Cotton
  • South Carolina SR RHP Colby Holmes 
  • Georgia rJR LHP Patrick Boling 
  • Mississippi rSR RHP Tanner Bailey
  • Arkansas SR LHP Randall Fant
  • Kentucky SR LHP Jerad Grundy
  • Auburn JR LHP Conner Kendrick
  • Vanderbilt JR LHP Steven Rice 
  • Georgia SR LHP Blake Dieterich
  • Mississippi State rJR RHP Ben Bracewell
  • Texas A&M rJR RHP Rafael Pineda
  • LSU SR LHP Brett Bonvillain
  • Alabama SR RHP Trey Pilkington
  • Texas A&M rSO LHP Nathan Sorenson
  • Kentucky SR RHP Walter Wijas
  • Alabama rSO RHP Cary Baxter
  • Auburn JR LHP Will Kendall
  • Missouri JR RHP Keeton Steele
  • South Carolina SR LHP Adam Westmoreland
  • Georgia SR RHP Bryan Benzor
  • Mississippi State SR LHP Luis Pollorena
  • Vanderbilt rJR LHP Keenan Kolinsky
  • Texas A&M JR RHP Patrick Michon
  • Missouri rJR LHP Jake Walsh
  • Arkansas JR RHP Brandon Moore
  • Auburn JR RHP Jay Wade
  • Mississippi State rJR LHP Chad Girodo
  • Arkansas SR LHP Cade Lynch
  • Alabama rJR LHP Taylor Wolfe
  • Auburn JR LHP Michael O’Neal
  • Alabama SR RHP Tucker Hawley
  • Alabama SR RHP Charley Sullivan
  • Kentucky SO RHP Taylor Martin
  • Mississippi rSO RHP Casey Greene
  • South Carolina rSO RHP Drake Thomason
  • Arkansas JR RHP Jackson Lowery
  • Auburn JR RHP Terrance Dedrick
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