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2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Arkansas

JR RHP Trey Killian (2015)
rSR RHP Jackson Lowery (2015)
SR RHP Jacob Stone (2015)
rJR OF Tyler Spoon (2015)
JR 2B Max Hogan (2015)
rJR SS Brett McAfee (2015)
SR OF Joe Serrano (2015)
rJR 3B Mike Bernal (2015)
SR OF/C Krisjon Wilkerson (2015)
JR 3B Bobby Wernes (2015)
JR C Tucker Pennell (2015)
JR SS Matt Campbell (2015)
JR 2B/SS Rick Nomura (2015)
rFR C Carson Shaddy (2016)
SO INF Clark Eagan (2016)
SO LHP/INF Trent Hill (2016)
SO RHP Zach Jackson (2016)
SO RHP Dominic Taccolini (2016)
SO RHP Cannon Chadwick (2016)
SO RHP James Teague (2016)
SO OF Andrew Benintendi (2015)
FR OF Luke Bonfield (2016)
FR C Nathan Rodriguez (2017)
FR RHP Keaton McKinney (2017)
FR RHP Jonah Patten (2017)
FR 3B Blake Wiggins (2017)
FR C/1B Chad Spanberger (2017)
FR LHP Kyle Pate (2017)
FR OF Keith Grieshaber (2017)
FR LHP Ryan Fant (2017)

JR RHP Trey Killian’s performances through two year are confusing. His first year was quite strong (8.59 K/9 and 2.95 BB/9), but he did it in limited innings (36.2). Last year he proved to be more of a workhorse (94 IP) and he did a great job of keeping runs off the board (2.30 ERA), but he missed way less bats (5.94 K/9) yet wound up improving his control (1.72 BB/9). Good, less good, good, good, less good, good…you see how he can confuse even the most brilliant internet baseball writers, right? His track record, stuff (88-92 FB, 94 peak; good cutter; really good yet underused low-80s CU; above-average slider; usable curve), command, and athleticism all add up to strong back of the rotation starter material, so maybe I’m overthinking it with him anyway. Or maybe I’m still waiting on a year when he combines really good peripherals with really good run prevention and we all point to him as a guy who figured it out enough to get the bump to middle of the rotation material. That’s my hope — I want to say expectation, but I’m not quite there — for Killian in 2015. He’s the best returning arm on the Arkansas staff either way, though SR RHP Jacob Stone (capable of hitting the mid-90s and throws an occasional plus breaking ball) and rSR RHP Jackson Lowery both could get drafted afterwards. Stone (0.94 ERA in 38.1 IP) and Lowery (almost a strikeout per inning) boast strong numbers that help bolster their cause.

rJR OF Tyler Spoon and SR OF Joe Serrano, “eighth-year seniors” both, are talented guys who have yet to quite live up to the lofty expectations foisted upon them by no-nothing know-it-alls like myself. Spoon has a lot of 5’s on his scouting card, so it’s still possible he could get a look going forward as a backup outfielder type professionally. Neither Spoon nor Serrano has a strong arm, but they are solid all-around college players otherwise. The two were twins last year, by the way. They were so similar that I actually had to double-check the numbers because I assumed I had made a mistake…

Spoon: .256/.350/.363 – 29 BB/37 K – 5/7 SB – 234 AB
Serrano: .289/.366/.351 – 29 BB/37 K – 5/7 SB – 228 AB

Are we sure that Spoon and Serrano aren’t really just one outfielder somehow duping us into thinking it’s two guys? Joeler Spoonano? No? Stick to baseball and not awful, embarrassing attempts at humor? Fair enough. Moving on. Still kind of think Spoonano is funny, but whatever. I’m very interested to see what the double-play combination of JR 2B Max Hogan and rJR SS Brett McAfee can do in a full season together. Both could have utility futures in the big leagues with big junior seasons. There’s a lot of depth up the middle for Arkansas, as both JR SS Matt Campbell and JR 2B/SS Rick Nomura have gotten some positive buzz this fall. Much of the rest of the buzz coming out of Arkansas lately has been about the highly talented underclassmen coming up behind this year’s draft class. Big names like SO RHP Zach Jackson, SO RHP Dominic Taccolini, SO OF Andrew Benintendi lead the way while a loaded freshman class that includes OF Luke Bonfield, RHP Keaton McKinney, RHP Jonah Patten, 3B Blake Wiggins tops it off. I’m personally excited to see what less heralded prospects like SO INF Clark Eagan and FR C/1B Chad Spanberger have in store as well.

I’m still stunned that SO LHP Colin Poche left the program for Dallas Baptist over the summer. It’s great that he’s closer to home and I’m sure he has all kinds of reasons for doing what he’s doing — he’s set to miss the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery anyway, so not a bad time to transfer and miss a year — but it’s rare to see a player as talented as he is and as close to the draft finish line make such a big change. Really, really like that Dallas Baptist team this year, for what it’s worth. This is about Arkansas, however, so…they’re good, too! Really should have closed with me praising the underclass talent instead of whatever this was. At least I didn’t end with another Spoonano reference…

4/20/15 EDIT

I never went back and mentioned Andrew Benintendi as being draft-eligible in 2015, but he is. That’s good news for me because Benintendi is awesome and getting him one step closer to pro ball makes me happy. He’s more ballplayer than tools freak, so teams that value big amateur production will have him higher than others. That said, he’s plenty talented: above-average or better hit tool, above-average or better speed, solid pop, enough range for center, and a disciplined approach at the plate. He’s really damn good. Baseball America has compared him to Austin Cousino in the past, but Benintendi’s huge sophomore season (.370/.475/.733 with 30 BB/24 K in 146 AB as of this edit) should vault him past Cousino’s 2014 draft spot (80th overall). I’ve heard from some that think I’m too rich on Benintendi’s tools and that’s fine, but I’m buying him as a prospect all the way.

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6 Comments

  1. Chris Slade says:

    Cody Ross back when he played CF for the Marlins as a possible comp for Benintendi?

    • Rob Ozga says:

      I like it. Feels like a reasonable ceiling for what his overall value as a player could look like. Here’s some on Ross from an old BA scouting report at around the same age of Benintendi…

      A competitive player, Ross never takes at-bats off, runs the bases hard and hustles as a corner outfielder. His bat is surprisingly live and he consistently drives the ball. Ross doesn’t strike out as much as most power hitters. His arm is both strong and accurate. His size is a concern, especially given that he has only average speed. His power is good but not great, and he doesn’t have one tool which stands out. He’ll need to show a little more patience at the plate as he advances.

      I could dig it, especially when you get to his CF days as you mentioned. 55 hit, 55 to 60 speed, 50 range, 50 power…just a really well-rounded prospect. Asked around a bit today and didn’t get any comp better than Ross, though one guy who likes him a lot less than I do said his ceiling reminds him more of a Jason Michaels type (fourth outfielder/platoon bat). Still feel like I don’t know enough about him yet to be honest, but there seem to be far more positives than negatives to his game. Could see him hitting his way into the supplemental first if he keeps this up.

  2. Kyle Goings says:

    Andrew Benintendi, the “best player you’ve never heard of.” I’ll admit the name was unknown to me until Perfect Game & Kiley McDaniel’s recent draft updates… but wow. I’ve been watching all the video and reading all the (very limited) content I can to get caught up on this guy. I too think he’s a serious prospect, and he’s a guy I could see the Giants “reaching” for in the first round. I would not be upset if that happened.

    Jeff Ellis had a nice writeup about Benintendi over at Scout.com recently. He comp’d him to Kole Calhoun, another “smaller” outfielder without one standout tool. All Calhoun did was blow through the minors as an 8th round pick. Never a top 100 prospect. If Benintendi could produce something similar to Ross or Calhoun, he’d be one heck of a steal. And for what it’s worth, all the interviews I’ve watched of the guy leave me impressed with his personality/demeaner. Never seems to let the game get bigger than it should be. I’m a fan, that’s for sure.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Quality comment, thanks for chiming in. I’d agree that Benintendi feels like the kind of prospect that the Giants could “reach” for, maybe even get panned a bit by the internet over (though with Benintendi’s production, I’m not sure the overlap of stat-minded individuals and internet draft experts exists enough to truly bash the pick), and then eventually wind up with yet another quality regular. It’s not a comp per se, but shades of the Joe Panik pick from a few years back. The one comp I did recently get — and I like Ellis’s Calhoun comparison, thanks for bringing that to my attention — was to former Notre Dame standout and current Diamondbacks outfielder AJ Pollock. Here’s Baseball America’s pre-draft report on him…

      While there’s debate as to whether he’s a true first-round talent, with a shortage of quality college hitters he should get selected in the bottom third of the round. Six-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Pollock stands out most for his athleticism and pure hitting ability from the right side. He has a simple approach, a quick bat and strong hands. Scouts do say he’ll have to stop cheating out on his front side and stay back more on pitches in pro ball. Those who like Pollock say that the rest of his tools are solid, while those who don’t say he doesn’t have another plus tool and question his power. He projects as a 30 doubles/15 homers threat in the majors, and he’s a slightly above-average runner who has plus speed once he gets going. Pollock also has good instincts and a solid arm in center field.

      Reads a lot like Benintendi to me, except for handedness.

      Incidentally, since I mentioned Panik, I recently heard his name brought up as a comp for Arizona 2B/SS Kevin Newman. I’ll have to think more on that, but I didn’t hate it at first listen.

  3. […] gets mixed reviews on his tools, with some liking him a lot but some publications, like Baseball America, have him pegged more as a second rounder.  If his […]

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