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2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Alabama

JR OF Georgie Salem (2015)
JR 2B/SS Mikey White (2015)
JR 2B Kyle Overstreet (2015)
JR OF Ryan Blanchard (2015)
JR 3B Daniel Cucjen (2015)
SO OF Casey Hughston (2015)
SO C Will Haynie (2015)
rSO RHP Mike Oczypok (2015)
JR 3B/RHP Chance Vincent (2015)
JR RHP Will Carter (2015)
rJR RHP Jake Hubbard (2015)
SR LHP Taylor Guilbeau (2015)
SR LHP Jonathan Keller (2015)
JR RHP Ray Castillo (2015)
rSO LHP/OF Colton Freeman (2015)
JR RHP/C Mitch Greer (2015)
SO RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (2016)
SO RHP Nick Eicholtz (2016)
SO LHP Thomas Burrows (2016)
SO OF William Elliott (2016)
FR OF Jamal Howard (2017)
FR SS Chandler Avant (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Dipiazza (2017)

It goes against a lot of what I’ve written previously, most notably in the LSU preview when discussing Alex Bregman, so don’t read too much into my listing of JR 2B/SS Mikey White’s two most likely pro positions in that precise (2B/SS) order. White could very well wind up sticking at short as a professional; in fact, I reserve the right to switch that up a half-dozen times in my mind (and in print!) over the next few months. Working very much for him are his tremendous instincts, which rank among the best I’ve seen at the amateur level. Though impossible for the amateur eye to quantify, he’s one of those players who always seems to be in the middle of the action on the field, almost always doing something positive after finding himself in the right place at the right time. Watch him for a game or even a series and you might chalk it up as a coincidence, but we’ve now got two years of college, plenty of high-level summer ball, and, depending on who you are lucky enough to talk to, a year or more of tracking him in high school to go off of at this point. If his preternatural ability to be at the right place at the right time is just a coincidence, then I no longer understand the meaning of the word.

There’s a perfectly reasonable and logical Josh Rutledge comp out there (can’t recall the origin) for White that I don’t hate, though I think White is a truer traditional middle infielder (better glove, less power) than Rutledge ever was. There’s also been a Nolan Fontana comparison floating around with Baseball America as the source. I think the Fontana comp is a little bit stronger (both players relying as much on smarts and positioning than raw athleticism as defenders), but, like all comps, it’s still imperfect: Fontana always had an elite approach as a hitter as well as, in my personal view, a surer path to remain at shortstop professionally. The best comparison that comes to mind for me is current Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer. Both guys have good size, strong arms, and have been universally praised over the years for having high baseball IQs. All that, and their sophomore year numbers aren’t all that far off…

JM: .299/.359/.481 – 15 BB/28 K – 5/7 SB
MW: .300/.399/.443 – 27 BB/44 K – 3/5 SB

Mercer followed that up with another quality season highlighted by a power spike significant enough to get him popped with the 79th overall pick in 2008. He then experienced a slow and steady climb through the Pirates minor league system before breaking through as a legitimate regular at short for Pittsburgh in 2013. If Mikey White follows the same path then we can pencil him as a third round pick this June with the chance to hit the big leagues by 2020. Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me, though I think you could at least argue that he’ll be a faster riser but with more of a utility upside. The latter was often said about Mercer throughout the earliest portion of his career, so you never know.

The breakout season for JR OF Georgie Salem has to come one of these days, right? The highly touted prep star can run down balls in center while flashing plus speed (but not always) and serious raw power, but all his tools, athleticism, and bat speed hasn’t produced the big year so many have expected. I have a strong hunch that this is his year, but nothing concrete to base it on. Analysis! JR 2B Kyle Overstreet is the third Alabama position player with a shot to get drafted. He’s got decent power, a decent approach, and the chance to be a useful bench bat if used properly, especially if he can occasionally handle work behind the plate as speculated.

JR RHP Will Carter throws hard and has the frame to throw even harder. I’m bullish on his upside. I’m even higher on rJR RHP Jake Hubbard, a three-pitch potential back-end starter with a hard sinking fastball (up to 94), plus changeup, and a breaking ball that flashes above-average. SR LHPs Taylor Guilbeau and Jonathan Keller both have fastballs good enough to get a look as 2015 senior signs. Guilbeau’s fastball is a weapon because of the legit plus movement he consistently gets on it. Honestly, the pitch occasionally moves too much for his own good. That might sound a little bit like a throwaway line, but his persistent control problems (career BB/9 approaching 6) give it a little bit of real world validity. Keller has the more traditionally accepted low-90s fastball that scouts expect out of a “real” pitching prospect. JR RHP Ray Castillo has a similar fastball (88-93, 95 peak), but compliments it better with two offspeed pitches that can flash above-average or better. Consistency and control have been his chief bugaboos to date; in a way, he’s like the pitching version of Georgie Salem (big promise, but still waiting on a complete season). rSO LHP/OF Colton Freeman and JR RHP/C Mitch Greer are both good athletes with interesting stuff (FB/breaking ball), so we’ll see if an increase in innings is in the works, and, if so, whether or not the strong scouting profiles will help result in a mutually beneficial situation for the team and the prospects.

The future of the program looks exceptionally strong with a number of talented underclassmen in the pipeline. A trio of sophomore arms (RHPs Geoffrey Bramblett and Nick Eicholtz and LHP Thomas Burrows) all came up big last year when called upon, and all bring something unique to the table as prospects (athleticism, projection, and command, respectively). Fellow sophomores C Will Haynie (power, strength) and Casey Hughston (athleticism) also remain key pieces of the Alabama future despite a crazy amount of swing-and-miss (quick mental math says they combined to strike out almost a third of their almost three hundred at bats in 2015) shown by each last year. FR OF Jamal Howard and FR SS Chandler Avant seem poised to have strong three year runs as up-the-middle contributors.

1/20/15 EDIT: Both SO OF Casey Hughston and SO C Will Haynie are eligible for the 2015 MLB Draft. That makes this team a lot more interesting in the short-term.

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