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2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Clemson

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 (robozga@gmail.com)…

JR LHP Matthew Crownover (2015)
JR LHP Zack Erwin (2015)
JR RHP Clate Schmidt (2015)
rSO RHP Wales Toney (2015
rJR RHP Patrick Andrews (2015)
rSR RHP Kevin Pohle (2015)
rSR RHP Jake Long (2015)
JR RHP Brady Koerner (2015)
rSR RHP Clay Bates (2015)
rSO RHP Garrett Lovorn (2015)
JR OF Steven Duggar (2015)
SR OF Tyler Slaton (2015)
rSO OF Maleeke Gibson (2015)
JR SS/3B Tyler Krieger (2015)
SO C Chris Okey (2016)
SO LHP Pat Krall (2016)
SO 3B/SS Weston Wilson (2016)
SO SS/2B Eli White (2016)
SO LHP Alex Bostic (2016)
SO RHP Drew Moyer (2016)
rFR 3B Glenn Batson (2016)
rFR OF Reed Rohlman (2016)
FR OF KJ Bryant (2017)
FR LHP Charlie Barnes (2017)
FR OF Drew Wharton (2017)

I like this Clemson team on paper. The pitching looks really promising with up to eight draft-eligible pitchers hitting the low-90s by my last count (I’m sure there are more, but I’m only one man here). Injuries to some of the most talented arms make it tough to truly pick a favorite, but I think it comes down to going with one of the quartet of JR LHP Matthew Crownover, JR LHP Zack Erwin, JR RHP Clate Schmidt, or rSO RHP Wales Toney. The first three names all made significant strides between the 2013 season and last year. Crownover is the most polished (three pitch mix highlighted by my favorite pitch, a good CU) and has the best control, Erwin has the deepest repertoire, good deception, and imposing size (6-5, 200), and Schmidt is the best athlete with the hottest heat (lives in the 90s, peaks at 96). As a draft eligible arm with no real college track record to speak of, the big-armed Toney (95 peak) is the mystery man of the group. All four are definite draft picks in my mind and potentially high ones at that.

The next tier of Clemson pitching is still quite solid. There’s not a lot to go on results-wise (at least of late) when it comes to evaluating rJR RHP Patrick Andrews, rSR RHP Kevin Pohle, and JR RHP Brady Koerner, but all fit the the mid- to late-round middle relief profile at the next level. Andrews and Pohle in particular have that FB/SL combination that pro teams seem to like, but may not miss enough bats to get serious draft consideration barring big 2015 seasons.

JR OF Steven Duggar is as tooled up as just about any college player in the country. His speed, arm, and athleticism all rate with anybody else in the class. Even if the approach (27 BB/51 K last season) never catches up to where you want it, those tools will all play in the big leagues. He’s a ready to roll from day one center field prospect as speed, arm, and defense can take you very far with an up-the-middle profile. He could move from good to great prospect by either showing an improved approach or showing more consistent power. I’m not sure what adjustments it’ll take to help him unlock his considerable raw power in game situations, but if that happens to click, watch out.

Duggar could be flanked in the outfield with a pair of potential 2015 draftees to either side. SR OF Tyler Slaton is a classic undersized senior sign grinder who can run, defend, and battle through at bats enough to get a look. rSO OF Maleeke Gibson has yet to do much on the big stage, but he’s a plus runner with the chance to open some eyes if the stars align. An argument can be made that Duggar, awesome as his tools may be, is not the best 2015 draft prospect in the Clemson lineup. That title could fall to JR SS/3B Tyler Krieger, a big personal favorite. In light of Kyle Seager’s recent massive extension, I think we’re all trying to find “the next Kyle Seager.” I won’t say it’s Krieger, but there are some scouting similarities between the two. I like Krieger for his above-average to plus speed (plays up, too), simple direct swing path, and steady glovework. I’d like to see a little more consistency with his throws this year and a little more pop wouldn’t hurt (that’s the one clear area college Seager has him beat), but Krieger is a rock solid prospect as is. Clemson’s last two recruiting classes have injected even more talent into the program with SO C Chris Okey, SO 3B/SS Weston Wilson, and SO RHP Drew Moyer all showing early signs of promise. I’m also intrigued by SO LHP Alex Bostic, FR OF KJ Bryant, and FR LHP Charlie Barnes. Of both future draft classes, Okey stands out as the biggest potential star but don’t sleep on Wilson or Bostic breaking through this year.

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7 Comments

  1. John says:

    Loaded with talent. Leggett’s going to get the program turned around.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Absolutely agree. Good things coming for that program.

      • Ryan Kantor says:

        Great article! Funny to see the comments now about Jack turning it around. Season was a big flop. Looking for information on Matthew Crownover for an SB Nation article. If you have anything to share on him, it would be appreciated.

      • Rob Ozga says:

        Shows what I know about college ball. At least Krieger, Duggar, Crownover, Erwin, and Koerner have all more or less held serve as prospects, plus Long and Vetzel have emerged as potential late round draft targets for teams that emphasize performance. As for Crownover specifically, here’s what I’ve got…

        JR LHP Matthew Crownover: 87-91 FB, 93-94 peak; above-average 79-83 CU, flashes plus; 71-76 CB with upside (74-76 in 2015); TJ survivor; 6-0, 200 pounds

        I recently got an Adam Morgan comp on Crownover, which I think is pretty fair. You have to account for different breaking balls (Morgan leaned on his slider), but otherwise I like it. Crownover kept runs off the board better than Morgan, but the two had very similar peripherals (7.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9 for Crownover and 7.06 K/9 and 2.85 BB/9 for Morgan). That kind of success pitching in the ACC with average or better stuff across the board is an easy top ten round pick for me with the obvious chance to go higher (top five rounds). To beat the comparison into the ground even more, Morgan went at the end of the third round (120th overall), so I don’t think it would be a shock to see a team value Crownover in a similar fashion this year. I’d probably guess a couple rounds lower, but somewhere between round four and eight feels right to me.

        Just for fun, here’s what I had on him back in his senior year of HS…

        187. LHP Matt Crownover (Ringgold HS, Georgia): 87-90 FB, 91 peak; really good 71-76 straight CU that is near plus; 72-75 CB that is very raw, but flashes above-average; 83 SL; sitting 90-93 (94-95 peak) by late summer, but hasn’t maintained gains in spring; scouts rave about his pitchability; can cut the FB; commands everything well; plus pickoff move; March 2012 TJ surgery; 6-0, 200 pounds

        Held up pretty well, I think.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Well done, man. Enjoyed that a lot. Going straight to Crownover himself for a few quotes was really smart. Keep up the good work. If you ever need anything else, don’t hesitate to ask.

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