With the college season rapidly approaching it’s time to finally admit to myself that I won’t be getting all of these conference previews done in time. I think it was the fact I had finished only three so far had something to do with it. Fortunately, I have a backup plan: lots of largely incoherent observations and notes from my reviewing just about every damn college prospect in the country over the past few months.
So far I’ve gotten around to taking a close look at the following conferences: Big 10, Conference USA, AAC, ACC, Big South, Atlantic Sun, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, Big 12, A-10, and America East. Thanks to the fine folks in charge of maintaining rosters at those team sites (with a few exceptions that just posted in the last 72 hours) that helped make my comprehensive coverage a heck of a lot easier. There are some smaller programs that still don’t have the rosters up, but I can’t kill them too much because, you know, smaller staffs and less general attention to that sort of thing and all. I’d love to finish up the Pac-12 and SEC, but we’re still waiting on Oregon and Mississippi State. Season starts in just over a week, let’s get moving. Alright, that’s enough passive-aggressive whining for one day. Much of my current focus is on position players because a) splitting the workload in half makes it feel like a much less daunting task, and b) I just plain fine hitters more interesting to evaluate than pitchers. Let’s talk outfielders! I’m happy to go into more detail on anybody listed below or any unnamed player from one of the conferences listed above. Or any conference, really, since I’m really just waiting on a handful of teams at this point.
Texas rSR OF Matt Moynihan and Miami OF Dale Carey both frustrate me to no end. Tools are clearly there, especially when you watch them run around in CF, and they both fill out a uniform damn well, but they each have scouts waiting and waiting and waiting for some hint of a breakthrough with the bat. Arm, speed, and defense will always be important, but the bat is king. Time to show something in the batter’s box, boys.
I also have no idea what to do with Wake Forest rJR OF Kevin Jordan and TCU OF Jerrick Suiter, toolsy yet relatively unproductive boom/bust prospects. You could also put Southern Mississippi JR OF Mason Robbins and Southern Mississippi JR OF Connor Barron in that camp. As teammates roaming the outfield together, they are a little bit like the Virginia duo cited below except, you know, not nearly as productive. Bradley JR OF Max Murphy, Binghamton JR OF Jake Thomas, and Northern Colorado JR OF Jensen Park are less confounding: I like them a ton more than I thought I would at the start of the process. They are definitely three of my favorite smaller school prospects to watch.
It should probably come as no shock to anybody who has been around the site over the last few years, but I’m strongly leaning toward ranking Virginia JR OF Mike Papi over his more heralded teammate JR OF Derek Fisher. It’s a combination of being higher on Papi than most while being lower on Fisher at the same time. Both excellent prospects and potential big league players, but I think the gap between the two as hitters is wide enough to overcome the difference in tools (a much smaller difference in my eyes than what the consensus believes, for what it’s worth). JR OF Brandon Downes is a good one as well. Virginia is going to be really, really good, especially offensively.
One of the biggest prospect questions awaiting springtime clarity is what position Kyle Schwarber will eventually settle into down the line. I don’t consider him a potential everyday catcher and while the bat is likely to play at first, I think everybody would much rather see him give it an honest go in the outfield before spending an early first round pick on him. I hope Indiana gives him a little bit of time out from behind the plate to showcase him for curious scouts. Brian Hartong can cover for him in those instances.
Time for a head-to-head statistical throwdown! I toyed with including scouting blurbs for each guy, but I couldn’t find a way to keep it descriptive enough without giving either player away. Scouting consensus is a current heavy lean towards Player B, an opinion that I agree with to a certain point (I’m more of a slight lean at this point). Also, I may or may not have mentioned these two prospects in the preceding two paragraphs…
2012: .311/.423/.415 – 16 BB/16 K – 5/7 SB – 106 AB
2013: .409/.542/.653 – 47 BB/24 K – 6/8 SB – 176 AB
2012: .287/.381/.483 – 31 BB/23 K – 9/12 SB – 230 AB
2013: .366/.457/.647 – 43 BB/36 K – 4/7 SB – 235 AB
Really close, right? Both are projected by most to play outfield professionally, though there are some that think Player A will have to play 1B while Player B will hang at a more important position (said position would give it away, I think). I know I made it painfully obvious, but…any guesses?
One more head-to-head comparison that I think is a little bit more interesting (and a lot less obvious). I’ll include some quick scouting notes this time to spice it up…
Player A: interesting power upside, still largely untapped but swing and actions should led to something; above-average speed, could be more; exceptional athlete; smart hitter; good approach; plus range in CF; really like his arm; leadoff profile at next level; FAVORITE; 6-0, 165 pounds
2012: .312/.385/.403 – 20 BB/40 K – 11/20 SB – 231 AB
2013: .299/.399/.350 – 37 BB/39 K – 26/35 SB – 254 AB
Player B: plus arm, really accurate; personal favorite that I love to watch play, definitely one that grows on you the more you see him up close; good athlete who also has some experience at SS and C; legit CF range; sneaky pop, mostly to gaps at present; plus to plus-plus speed, uses it well; impressive bat speed; FAVORITE; 6-0, 175 pounds
2012: .295/.352/.400 – 19 BB/35 K – 17/24 SB – 210 AB
2013: .317/.406/.358 – 34 BB/40 K – 15/21 SB – 265 AB
Any guesses? Any preferences? A few quick hints because I enjoy these games way too much. First, since you already know the conferences they could potentially be from, we’ll further narrow it down by saying Player A is a west coast player and Player B is on the east coast. I’d also say A has gotten a bit more national attention, but neither guy is a household name outside of the relatively small niche of college ball/draft enthusiasts. In fact, you could say that both guys have been largely overshadowed by more famous teammates: B is on the same team as two of the highest profile college players in recent memory and A has a teammate that can reach triple digits.