Hey, all. It’s that time of year. We’re doing team-by-team college prospect previews for as long as I have the sanity to keep rolling ‘em out. Feel free to request a team/conference and I’ll put it at the top of the list. Also, as always, don’t hesitate to tell me how wrong I am in the comments or via email (email@example.com)…
JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw (2015)
JR SS Joe Cronin (2015)
SR 2B/SS Blake Butera (2015)
SR RHP John Gorman (2015)
SR LHP Nick Poore (2015)
JR RHP Jeff Burke (2015)
JR LHP Jesse Adams (2015)
SO RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
SO RHP Mike King (2016)
SO SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw is the big draw here. In terms of 2015 draft prospects, you could actually call him the only draw at the present moment. I like both SR 2B/SS Blake Butera and JR SS Joe Cronin a little bit, and the two of them should be good college table-setters for Shaw, but the BC lineup on the whole isn’t exactly stacked, especially by ACC standards. There are some interesting pitchers to monitor including strong senior sign candidate RHP John Gorman and statistical favorite JR LHP Jesse Adams, but the best two arms on the staff from where I’m sitting are both 2016 prospects (SO RHPs Justin Dunn [huge fan of his] and Mike King).
So, back to Shaw. The raw power is up there with any other player in this class. It’s shown up in the numbers (.329/.393/.502 last season at BC and a 30 HR full season pace on the Cape) and in games/BP. He’s big and strong and has a knack for hitting the ball hard. The power alone will get him drafted in the top five rounds without worry. Those who have fully bought in have touted him as a first round caliber prospect. I’m personally conflicted on Shaw as a draft prospect as I really, really like what I’ve seen with my eyes (beautiful swing that somehow manages to be both compact and powerful all at once with really quick hands and unusual looseness for a big man), but the overly aggressive approach at the plate (21 BB/38 K last season followed by a worse 13 BB/37 K ratio on the Cape) is a major red flag going forward. The fake scout in me can see a breakthrough coming in that area thanks to said components for an above-average hit tool, significant plate coverage, and his well-earned reputation as being a student of hitting, but, at the same time, I’ve got a reputation as a “numbers don’t lie” internet writer to uphold. I’d hate to hedge and say I’m waiting on him flipping his BB/K numbers around before pumping him up as a potential top two round pick with big league regular upside, but I think that’s where I’m at right now. I’d love to know what College Splits has on him when it comes to his performance against Friday night starters to date.
Now for the fun part. As a high-profile draft prospect, Shaw has garnered all kinds of interesting player comps over the past few months. Perfect Game has thrown out Garrett Anderson (as a hitter), Casey Gillaspie, and Chris Davis as comparable players for various reasons. I’ve personally heard a pair of “classic” player comps that I found neat: Harold Baines and Steve Garvey. The one modern hitting comp I’ve heard is Torii Hunter, which I kind of like because it speaks to Shaw’s ability as a hitter first and a slugger second. His swing at 2:07 in this clip is what I keep coming back to when I think of that, though I realize cross-handedness hitter comparisons are doomed from the start. That’s the stroke of a hitter who just happens to be strong and hit for power and not necessarily a power hitter’s mighty hack. Finally, two of my own (and therefore, my favorite) comps: first, a comp so logical that I’m stunned it hasn’t been made yet. I lived in Boston for a few years, so I can tell you firsthand how tricky (but not impossible) it is to see quality amateur baseball on a consistent basis in the frigid winter months early in the college season. The stories that I heard from older scouts in the area who talked often about Carlos Pena playing at Northeastern line up quite nicely with what I’ve seen, read, and heard about Shaw. For the record, here is each guy’s sophomore season line…
.309/.398/.600 – 26 BB/34 K – 175 AB
.329/.393/.502 – 21 BB/38 K – 207 AB
Top is Pena, bottom is Shaw. Not perfect, but not crazy different, either. My favorite comp, however, has nothing to do with geography. Check out these sophomore seasons…
.346/.400/.532 – 26 BB/39 K – 231 AB
.329/.393/.502 – 21 BB/38 K – 207 AB
Bottom is Shaw once again. The top is a guy who BA said the following about pre-draft: “struggled with wood in the Cape in 2007″…”excellent raw power”… “above-average at first base”… “plus arm”…”below-average speed.” I’d knock Shaw a grade lower in all non-bat grades across the board (average glove, above-average arm, slow), but for the most part it checks out. The player in question is the newest member of the Oakland Athletics and former first round pick (18th overall) Ike Davis. That seems like Shaw’s draft ceiling and it just might be his most realistic professional outcome.