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2014 MLB Draft: Atlantic 10 Follow Lists

Hey, I’m back.

I’ve got 152 pages of college notes and 56 pages of HS notes (and counting) to somehow translate into coherent, readable content for the site. Also, not for nothing, but I saw about ten times more baseball this past summer than I ever have before. I’m still not a scout (nor will I pretend to be one on the internet), so don’t expect all that much to change with the information presented here. All blurbs and rankings will remain based on a combination of those firsthand observations (hey, even as a non-scout I am a baseball fan with eyes), tips received from friends who do this for a living, and, as always, whatever useful public information is made available by the hard-working folks at the industry leaders, Baseball America and Perfect Game (honesty time: 98% of all “independent” prospect sites on the internet, this one included, would shrivel up and die without the work done by the big boys).

As always, I have no plan for how I want to go forward with getting this info out. I’m starting with follow lists combined with a little bit of commentary on as many players/conferences as I can get to before the start of the college season. Players aren’t listed in any particularly order — other than grouping them as hitters vs pitchers — so don’t read anything into that, though I tried to highlight the best and the brightest in the comments. If I missed anybody that so obviously should have been there, please yell at me in the comments or via email.

I want to publish some updated master lists (big board, position rankings, etc.), but don’t want to do so prematurely (i.e. before I’m ready to add more than just a straight ranking). These lists are being wrapped up as you’re reading this (maybe not literally, I might be sleeping or at work or, and I know this sounds weird, doing something non-baseball related in my free time), so stay tuned for that. As always (note: I’m a bad writer who repeats himself a lot in these write-ups so I might as well prepare you for it now here in the intro), feel free to let me know if there’s anything you want to see on the site and I’ll be more than happy to make it happen.

As always (third time!), thanks for reading. Here’s the A-10!

Dayton

SR OF Mark Podlas
SR 3B/SS Robby Sunderman
JR 1B AJ Ryan
SR OF/1B Ryan Berry
SR LHP Tommy Konrad
rJR RHP Noah Buettgen

Many, myself included, had high hopes for Virginia transfer SR OF Mark Podlas last season. It’s hard to call his debut with Dayton anything but disappointing, but he’s still a good athlete with some juice in his bat. As the best pro prospect on a thin roster, there’s really no sense in giving up on him in what could be a bounceback senior sign season. Forced to pick a pitcher to watch, I’d probably go with rJR RHP Noah Buettgen.

Fordham

SR RHP/OF Tim Swatek
SR 1B Brendan Maghini

Fordham has a bunch of guys on the mound for 2015 worth tracking, but the player catching them, SO C Charles Galiano, is currently my highest priority follow of the group. As far as 2014 value goes, there’s not much to see. I do like SR RHP/OF Tim Swatek, but more as a two-way college guy than a legitimate pro prospect. Fordham would be smart to put him on the mound more, I think.

George Mason

rSR RHP Anthony Montefusco
SR RHP Michael Bowie
JR RHP John Williams
SR LHP Jared Gaynor
SR LHP/OF Jake Kalish
SR 3B Blaise Fernandez
rSR OF Josh Leemhuis
SR 1B/OF Mick Foley
SR C Tucker Tobin

rSR RHP Anthony Montefusco has a deep, varied repertoire of average-ish pitches that could play up in short bursts if converted to the bullpen as a pro. He quietly had an outstanding 2013 season after a really strong 2012 season, so there’s little to argue about with his results to date. SR LHP Jake Kalish qualifies as a deep sleeper.

Of the ten names on my George Mason follow list, all but two are seniors. I don’t venture much into the world of college ball in terms of won/loss records, but you’d have to think such a veteran-laden squad would pose problems for the rest of the league. From a draft perspective, older guys can potentially fit in as senior signs for teams up against the draft budget. SR 3B Blaise Fernandez is my favorite George Mason senior thanks to his power upside, strong arm, and quick reactions at the hot corner.

George Mason also has a fun familiar draft name for wrestling/pop culture fans: SR 1B/OF Mick Foley. I’ve got a hunch that his name alone won’t get him drafted after hitting .136/.255/.193 last season, but all it takes is one cage match fan to pull the trigger on draft day.

George Washington

SR RHP Aaron Weisberg
SR RHP Luke Staub
SR RHP Craig LeJeune
SR LHP/OF Colin Milon
SR OF/RHP Owen Beightol
JR C/OF Xavier Parkmond

SR RHP Aaron Weisberg is a massive man (6-7, 250) with pro-caliber stuff (88-93 FB, good CU, decent breaking ball). You’d like to see more flashes of dominance (his K/9 has settled in the 5 range the past two seasons), but the upside is enough to get him noticed.

La Salle

rSR LHP Shawn O’Neill
SR LHP Dominic Sgroi
rJR RHP Mike McLeod
rJR RHP Shane Hollman
rJR RHP Adam Cherry
JR 1B/RHP Mark Williams
JR OF/LHP Justin Korenblatt

Like Dayton OF Mark Podlas, rSR LHP Shawn O’Neill is another transfer who went from the state of Virginia (Richmond, in O‘Neill’s case) to an A-10 school (a lateral conference move, in O’Neill’s case). Also like Podlas, O’Neill’s first season with his new team was underwhelming. Lefthanders with his kind of stuff – 88-92 FB, pair of good offspeed pitches – typically get noticed in June, down junior season or not. A big season, as I expect, could get him in consideration for one of those 8-9-10 round senior sign spots.

Massachusetts

SR 2B Rob McLam
SR 1B Dylan Begin
SR 3B Nik Campero
rJR OF Adam Picard
JR RHP Andrew Grant
SR RHP DJ Jauss

SR 2B Rob McLam was the closest name to cracking the conference prospect list. Not much else going on here as far as I can tell. Just setting up UMass for one heck of a Cinderella run to Omaha, right?

Rhode Island

JR SS Tim Caputo
SR SS Joe Landi
SR C/1B Pat Quinn
rJR C Shane O’Connell
JR LHP Ty Sterner
SR LHP Nick Narodowy
SR RHP Tyler Bowditch
SR RHP Milan Mantle

It’ll be entertaining to track the upcoming seasons of JR SS Tim Caputo and VCU JR SS Vimael Machin. I think their tools will grade out as fairly similar and their first two seasons are fairly similar:

Machin
2012: .309/.364/.408 – 21 BB/29 K – 1/3 SB – 223 AB
2013: .287/.389/.419 – 22 BB/31 K – 2/3 SB – 167 AB

Caputo
2012: .328/.393/.364 – 16 BB/27 K – 13/15 SB – 195 AB
2013: .317/.395/.396 – 24 BB/29 K – 13/15 SB – 227 AB

SR SS Joe Landi should also get draft consideration with a solid senior season. Big things were expected of him last season, so he has some catching up to do after a down junior year. He has defensive versatility and a sound approach to hitting in his favor; working against him is his lack of power and the aforementioned disappointing 2013 season.

In addition to their pair of shortstop prospects, Rhode Island also has a pair of quality lefthanded pitching prospects. JR LHP Ty Sterner throws hard (94-95 peak), but control issues and a lack of a quality second pitch have hurt him. SR LHP Nick Narodowy doesn’t have quite the same fastball, but could still get some late round/tryout love this summer.

Richmond

JR RHP Ryan Cook
rJR LHP Chris Bates
SR RHP Andrew Blum
JR LHP Zak Sterling
rSO RHP Jonathan de Marte
JR RHP Ray Harron
JR RHP James Lively
SR 3B/OF Nick Poulos
SR 2B Adam Forrer
SR SS Mike Small

In a conference with a ton of relief prospects with big league upside, there’s certainly an argument to be made that JR RHP Ryan Cook is the best. He has the fastball (88-93), above-average SL (82-84), and flashes of dominance to rise up boards with a big spring. Minority, and possibly foolish, opinion: rJR LHP Chris Bates is as good a pro prospect as his more highly acclaimed teammate Cook. Bates sits at a lower velocity (upper-80s, mostly), but can crank it to a similar peak (92-93). His size (6-5, 200 pounds), breaking ball (quality), and performance (9.58 K/9 in 41.1 IP last season) add up to a draftable talent. A pair of “sleepers” if you’re into that kind of thing: rSO RHP Jonathan de Marte and SR 2B Adam Forrer.

SO OF Tanner Stanley (leadoff hitting CF prototype), rFR 1B Matt Dacey (Michigan transfer with serious power), and SO RHP Peter Bayer (promising frame/freshman season results) head up an exciting crop of underclassmen.

St. Bonaventure

SR RHP/1B Joel Rosencrance
SR RHP Asa Johnson

SR RHP/1B Joel Rosencrance is a really fun two-way player to watch. SO RHP Steven Klimek is a worthwhile underclassmen follow for 2015. That’s all I’ve got.

St. Joseph’s

SR RHP Daniel Thorpe
SR LHP Steven Schuler
JR RHP Tim Ponto
SR RHP Jordan Carter
JR RHP James Harrity
SR RHP/1B Mike Muha
JR C Brian O’Keee
JR OF Ryan Pater
JR 3B Stefan Kancylarz
SR OF Chris Hueth
rSR OF Collin Forgey

There are some interesting statistical follows I’ll be tracking this spring for St. Joe’s, but I’m pretty sure I’m most looking forward to seeing JR RHP Tim Ponto (6-8, 220) and SR LHP Steven Schuler (6-0, 150) standing together during the anthem.

Saint Louis

JR RHP James Norwood
rJR LHP Damian Rivera
SR RHP Clay Smith
JR RHP Nick Bates
JR SS Alec Solé
JR 1B Mike Vigliarolo

JR RHP James Norwood doesn’t get enough national love as a prospect, I think. Both his command and control need fine-tuning, but he could be a quick-moving professional reliever (FB up to 95-96, breaking ball with promise) in the right spot. rJR LHP Damian Rivera and SR RHP Clay Smith are both really good college arms (good CU and SL, respectively), but feel like longer shots to make it in pro ball due to a lack of fastball pop. JR SS Alex Solé (smart hitter, versatile defender, little to no power) and JR 1B Mike Vigliarolo (interesting power, underrated athlete, some contact issues) are probably in the same “good college guy, iffy pro prospect” boat, but each has at least the upcoming year to change some minds.

People I’ve talked to are excited about the underclassmen on the Saint Louis roster. SO 3B Braxton Martinez, SO C Jake Henson, SO OF Michael Bozarth, SO LHP Josh Moore, SO RHP Matt Eckelman, and FR RHP Nick Vichio all were mentioned as players to watch.

Virginia Commonwealth

SR OF Bill Cullen
SR 3B Joey Cujas
SR C Chris Ayers
JR SS Vimael Machin
SR LHP Logan Kanuik
JR LHP Heath Dwyer
JR LHP Matt Lees
JR RHP Tyler Buckley
rSR RHP Seth Greene

JR RHP Tyler Buckley has to find a way to bridge the gap between his raw stuff (low-90s FB, good SL) and pedestrian results. I won’t pretend to be experts on all things JR LHP Heath Dwyer and JR LHP Matt Lees, but I’ve heard some positive buzz about each pitcher.

A trio of potential senior signs highlight the VCU lineup. SR OF Bill Cullen gives you good range, sneaky pop, and a strong arm (and a whole lot of swing-and-miss) while SR C Chris Ayers is a capable backstop with a competent stick. The last of the trio, SR 3B Joey Cujas, is my favorite. I’ve heard good things about him from area guys and his collegiate production should get the attention of numbers-centric evaluators. Cujas’ park/schedule adjusted numbers in his career:

2011: .321/.373/.402 – 16 BB/18 K – 209 AB
2012: .413/.494/.570 – 27 BB/16 K – 223 AB
2013: .352/.423/.444 – 15 BB/13 K – 216 AB

I’m not nearly as familiar with Joey Cujas as I’d like to be, so consider his mention equal parts wanting to give him his due for three straight years of raking and me wanting to have a written reminder to dig deeper into his game this spring. To Cujas’ left will be JR SS Vimael Machin, arguably VCU’s most appealing prospect. There’s always a need for legitimate shortstops in pro ball and Machin fits the bill. My primary quibble with his profile to this point is how little his average to slightly above-average speed has shown up in game action (3/6 SB in career). Speed isn’t a must for any prospect, obviously, but it’s a decent proxy for athleticism and, at times, for defensive range up the middle. Again, just a minor concern at this point, but something to keep in mind.

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