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2014 MLB Draft: Atlantic Sun Follow Lists

Players aren’t listed in any particularly order — other than grouping them as hitters vs pitchers — so don’t read anything into placement, 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.

East Tennessee State

SR 1B/LHP Clint Freeman
JR SS Jordan Sanford
JR SS Chris Riopedre
JR RHP Jimmy Nesselt
SR RHP Will Chesney
SR OF Dylan Tritsch

There has to be a home in pro ball for SR 1B/LHP Clint Freeman, right? There’s enough flashes of power, defensive versatility (he’s athletic enough to hang in an OF corner, I think), and a viable fallback option of moving to the mound to justify a mid- to late-round selection. Can’t say I see anybody else on the roster jumping off the page in the same way, unfortunately. JR SS Jordan Sanford or SR RHP Will Chesney, maybe?

Florida Gulf Coast

JR OF/1B Michael Suchy
JR OF Adam Eggnatz
rJR SS/RHP Alex Diaz
JR 3B/RHP Zack Tillery
rSO RHP/OF Brady Anderson
JR RHP Jack English
SR LHP Ryan Atwood

In a college class lacking in power – feel like that’s something we’ve repeated more years than not – JR OF/1B Michael Suchy’s impressive size/strength/swing geared for power combination bears watching. He also does enough well athletically that he should have no problem sticking in the outfield, perhaps even in right field. Like so many young power hitters, Suchy’s swing can get long, but, from what I’ve gathered, he’s improved his balance and overall approach quite a bit since enrolling. Fun, somewhat odd head-to-head prospect comparison between two guys with vaguely similar scouting profiles:

Florida State JR OF Michael Suchy

2012: .211/.319/.244 – 16 BB/40 K – 5/5 SB – 123 AB
2013: .327/.396/.487 – 23 BB/46 K – 7/11 SB – 226 AB

Michigan State JR OF Jimmy Pickens

2012: .268/.362/.448 – 13 BB/46 K – 2/3 SB – 183 AB
2013: .297/.372/.523 – 19 BB/39 K – 6/10 SB – 195 AB

JR RHP Jack English doesn’t have the size most teams want in a righthanded pitching prospect, but his present stuff is quite strong (90-93 FB, flashes plus 75-77 CB). I’d like to see rJR SS/RHP Alex Diaz unleashed on the mound to better put his similarly hot fastball to use, but I can understand the coaching staff wanting to keep his plus glove at short. If his bat shows any signs of life, then he becomes really interesting as a position player really fast.

rSO RHP/OF Brady Anderson missed last season due to an ACL injury, so his return to form may take a little bit of time. The real shame of his injury – besides the fact that leg injuries are absolutely no fan at all, said the has-been in need of a new hip – is that Anderson, despite modest speed numbers in his freshman season, could really, really run. If his fallback is on the mound, he remains a nice prospect if healthy: 88-92 FB (94 peak), good upper-70s SL, shows a CU, good athleticism (again, if healthy).

I don’t yet have a great read on the Florida Gulf Coast underclass prospects, but, for now, a pair of sophomore infielders, Nick Rivera and Tyler Selesky, sit atop my 2015 follow list.


JR RHP Alex McRae
SR LHP Will Flor
SR RHP Adam Maxon
SR RHP Zach Gordon
JR RHP Jeff Tanner
SR C Drew Luther
JR OF Cameron Gibson

JR RHP Alex McRae has been a true workhorse since his taking the ball his first day on campus. I appreciate his fastball (88-92, spots it well) and his frame is one you can see growing into something sturdy, but, for all his innings-eating success thus far, his peripherals (4.47 K/9 in 2012, 4.29 K/9 in 2013) don’t exactly scream pro prospect. There’s too much good here to write him off this early in his development, but whether or not he can take matters into his own hands (arm?) this season will tell us something. McRae wasn’t the unanimous winner of “best Jacksonville pitching prospect” (yes, I asked multiple people who know about this stuff that question…and actually got back a few non-sarcastic answers!): SR LHP Will Flor also received some love. Now you know.

Excited to see what SO 1B/OF Conor Marabell and SO OF Dylan Dillard (looking to build on a really nice freshman year) do this season.

Kennesaw State

JR C Max Pentecost
JR OF Jacob Bruce
SR OF Bo Way
rJR OF Chris McGowan
JR 3B Matt Bahnick
JR LHP Will Solomon
rJR RHP Justin McCalvin
JR RHP Nathan Harsh

You can’t really follow amateur ball and not love what JR C Max Pentecost brings to the table. Catchers who flash all five tools (none worse than average) who are assured to stick behind the plate long-term have that kind of effect on people. I’ve long posited a theory that there are two central types of amateur catching prospects: plus arm/plus power oversized (and often stiff) all-or-nothing players and well-rounded, athletic smaller framed players. Pentecost clearly falls more into the latter group than the former. He’s really athletic, runs well (and not just for a catcher, either!), and throws well. I’m lighter on the bat that most – though average hit tool and average raw power are nothing to dismiss, especially for a catcher – but that’s more of a product of me being not 100% ready to buy his outstanding run on the Cape this summer as the “real” Pentecost. If that power spike is real, and many smarter than me seem to have bought in, I could see Pentecost getting some warranted Jonathan Lucroy comps. That would make him a no-brainer first rounder, right?

Pentecost will be joined in the lineup by a crowded outfield. JR OF Jacob Bruce, SR OF Bo Way, and rJR OF Chris McGowan all do enough well to at least enter the draft discussion at this point. I’d set the over/under on drafted outfielders from this group at 0.5. I’d put that number higher for members of the pitching staff as I think each one of JR LHP Will Solomon, rJR RHP Justin McCalvin, and JR RHP Nathan Harsh is draft-worthy. Solomon has above-average stuff and his lefthandedness going for him. McCalvin and Harsh both put up eye-popping 2012 numbers while showing, you guessed it, above-average stuff. McCalvin has the better present secondary stuff (his SL is a good one, flashes plus) and higher peak FB velocity (93ish vs. 90ish), but Harsh has the edge in projectability (Harsh goes 6-6, 230 vs. McCalvin’s 6-0, 180 pounds). All good, all draftable.

A strong group of underclass talent is usually the telltale sign of a healthy program. Astute observations aside, Kennesaw State really does have one heck of a nice thing going. Almost any of their 2015 class could emerge as the next early round candidate, but smart money right now goes to SO OF Alex Liquori. If you prefer SO RHP Jordan Hillyer, SO RHP Kendall Hawkins, SO SS Kal Simmons, or SO RHP Travis Bergen, well, I couldn’t really argue.


JR 1B Griffin Moore
SR OF Chad Shannon
SR OF Drew Adams
JR OF Jonathan Allison
JR 1B/RHP Tyson Ashcraft
JR RHP Jaesung Hwang
rJR RHP Hunter Brothers
rJR RHP Will Blalock

JR 1B Griffin Moore got slapped with the FAVORITE tag from me based on a few looks over the years, positive commentary from old pals who have seen him more than that, and assorted observations from the industry leaders (BA and PG). I stand by it because of his power upside, bat speed, strong arm, steady glove, frame (6-4, 200), and patient approach. There’s really a lot to like there. Unfortunately, he followed up his .226/.308/.285 freshman year with a .205/.375/.313 sophomore year. No doubt that this upcoming year is a big one for him.

Doing this year-round – even when I’m not posting – gets me occasionally behind on which prospects sign and which prospects return to school. Based on raw stuff and the occasional flashes of dominance I figured there was little chance I’d see Hunter Brothers name pop up on the Lipscomb roster in 2014. Here he is, though, despite being draft-eligible last season and equipped with a fastball peaking at 96-97 MPH and a mid-80s SL that flashes plus. Control remains his biggest bugaboo, but his big league reliever upside is undeniable. rJR RHP Will Blalock has a less famous last name, but similar profile and upside. JR RHP Jaesung Hwang has less exciting peak stuff, but his well-rounded arsenal could make him a potential fifth starter/swingman prospect in either this draft or next. rFR RHP Dalton Curtis is one to watch for 2015.


JR 3B/SS Chesny Young
SR C Austin Barrett
SR OF Derrick Workman
SR OF Sasha LaGarde
SR 1B Nick Backlund
SR 2B/SS Michael Massi
SR RHP/2B DJ Johnson
SR RHP Brandon Barker
JR RHP Ben Lumsden
JR RHP Dmitri Kourtis

I don’t know enough about college ball as an entity that exists beyond my draft Draft DRAFT worldview, but, damn, the Atlantic Sun looks like a really fun, really competitive conference on paper. I know it’s not one of the big boys, but there are some really good looking teams here, and the amount of depth to be found compares quite well with any mid-major (or whatever we’re calling them these days) conference I’ve looked at so far. Mercer, a school I don’t typically think of as one of the more talented compared to Kennesaw State and Florida Gulf Coast, exemplifies the depth this conference has to offer. Again, I’m just talking prospects here and not college won/loss results.

Max Pentecost has gotten all the headlines (deservedly so, of course), but don’t sleep on JR 3B/2B Chesny Young, a second early-round bat from the Atlantic Sun. As a draft prospect, he reminds me a little bit of old favorite Kolbrin Vitek. Young’s glove is stronger and his power less prodigious, but the basic template – positional versatility, well-rounded skill set, mature approach, smaller school background – is there. If he can play second base, as some believe, then his lack of raw power won’t be as big an issue for teams worried about traditional offensive roles for the starting eight (a bad habit of mine that I’m trying to break one weird wonderful prospect at a time).

SR C Austin Barrett looks like one of the better mid- to late-round organizational catcher prospects who may eventually hang around AAA long enough to make it as a serviceable big league backup catcher. I’ve always had a soft spot for those guys. SR OF Derrick Workman shows three big league tools (speed, arm, pop), but his approach is one of the most hacktastic (78 K, 71 K, and 59 K through three seasons) in all of amateur ball. SR OF Sasha LaGarde has a little more usable speed, a little less power, and similar swing-and-miss issues (55 K last year). SR 1B Nick Backlund joined the 50 K club, but he may have enough power to make it worth some team’s while in the later rounds.

I like both JR RHP Ben Lumsden and JR RHP Dmitri Kourtis a lot. Lumsden is a hard thrower (94 peak) with good size and a track record of success (2013: 7.97 K/9 | 1.79 BB/9 | 3.78 FIP | 55.1 IP). Kourtis may just qualify as a “sleeper” — I hate that term so much, yet use it all the time — even though he’s a pretty well-known name in the scouting community. What gives him “sleeper” potential for me is how high I think he can rise between now and June. What’s not to like about a guy who gets ground balls, lives 88-92 (touching 93), throws a mean changeup (flashes plus), and is coming off a strong season (2013: 8.02 K/9 | 2.00 BB/9 | 3.25 FIP | 67.1 IP)? The name of the game is missing bats and getting diplomatic ground ball outs, and Kourtis does both quite well.

North Florida

JR 3B Trent Higginbothem
rJR OF Alex Bacon
SR 1B/C Ryan Roberson
JR 3B/RHP Drew Weeks
SR RHP David Trexler
SR RHP Tyler Moore
SO RHP Corbin Olmstead
SO OF Donnie Dewees
SO 2B/SS Kyle Brooks
rFR SS Patrick Ervin
FR RHP Bryan Baker

SR 1B/C Ryan Roberson isn’t really a prospect unless he can stay behind the plate. I still like him as a college hitter. JR 3B Trent Higginbothem is probably North Florida’s best hitting prospect and a certifiable “sleeper” — everybody is a sleeper! — if he hits as expected in 2014. SR RHP Tyler Moore is probably North Florida’s best overall 2014 prospect and a certifiable “sleeper” — sorry! — if healthy in 2014. Moore has performed at every turn since stepping on campus and his stuff, while not overwhelming, is strong enough (88-92 FB, really good breaking ball) to make it in pro ball. FR RHP Bryan Baker is probably North Florida’s best overall prospect (draft year be damned).

Northern Kentucky

SR LHP Matt Jefferson
JR LHP Cody Cooper

A pair of lefthanded arms stood out to me among the rest when looking at Northern Kentucky: SR LHP Matt Jefferson and JR LHP Cody Cooper. Hard to put either in the draftable range at this point, but that’s why they play the games, right?

South Carolina Upstate

JR RHP Chad Sobotka
SR LHP David Roseboom
SR C Luke Weber
SR OF Tyler Lesch

Very easy to see why JR RHP Chad Sobotka is getting some loud early draft buzz. Size (6-6, 200), heat (90-94, 95-96 peak), a second knockout pitch (82-85 SL), and the ability to miss bats (9.77 K/9 in 2012, 10.61 K/9 in 2013) all have his arrow pointing up. Refining his stuff to include an effective softer pitch could make him a starter at the next level, but he may be one of those guys best left to let it fly out of the pen. Either way, his control needs some tightening up. Easy single digit round prospect no matter his future role, I think.

With Sobotka pitching out of the pen to this point, SR LHP David Roseboom is technically the best starting pitching prospect on the roster. He’s carried a heavy load the past two years and figures to use his average fastball, plus SL, and CU with promise to do much of the same in 2013. A year closer to his freshman season should get him drafted.


JR C Garrett Russini
JR SS/2B Tyler Bocock
SR SS/2B K’Shawn Smith
SR OF Kyle Zech
JR 1B/OF Tanner Blackman
rSR RHP Kurt Schluter
SR LHP Austin Perez
rSO RHP Ben Rakus
JR RHP Josh Powers
rSO RHP Tyler Warmoth

JR C Garrett Russini has a little Atlantic Sun helium as a 2014 breakout candidate, according to those in the know. His defense is solid and the bat has a good deal of untapped upside. With a surprisingly impressive — surprising in that he hasn’t been scooped up by a pro team yet — four-pitch mix, rSR RHP Kurt Schluter is one of 2014’s best potential senior signs. SR LHP Austin Perez has done well for himself, but is short on stuff. rSO RHP Ben Rakus and JR RHP Josh Powers haven’t been as sharp — in terms of peripherals, mostly — but have the kind of size and stuff that could get them noticed with an uptick of bats missed.

SO 1B/C Pat Mazeika is already one of my favorite underclass bats to watch.


1 Comment

  1. […] like the Atlantic 10, I already covered the Atlantic Sun in detail a few weeks ago. Read that, read this, read both, read neither…the choice is […]

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