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2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Oklahoma

JR RHP Blake Rogers (2015)
rJR LHP Adam Choplick (2015)
JR RHP RHP Corey Copping (2015)
JR RHP Ralph Garza (2015)
rSR RHP Robert Tasin (2015)
JR LHP Jeffrey Curran (2015)
JR LHP/1B Jacob Evans (2015)
JR C/RHP Anthony Hermelyn (2015)
JR OF Hunter Haley (2015)
rSR OF Taylor Alspaugh (2015)
SR 2B/SS Josh Ake (2015)
JR OF Craig Aikin (2015)
JR 3B Kolbey Carpenter (2015)
SO RHP Alec Hansen (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Sheldon Neuse (2016)
SO OF Cody Thomas (2016)
SO RHP Jake Elliott (2016)
SO 1B Austin O’Brien (2016)

I always tell myself I’ll stay out of the overrated/underrated game because I really don’t know enough about the consensus view on college baseball to make such proclamations, but this year’s Oklahoma pitching staff appears underrated to me based on the ratio of talent on hand and the relative quiet surrounding their arms found in print over the past few months. rJR LHP Adam Choplick remains as raw as a fourth-year college player can get, but the size (6-8, 260), fastball (low-90s, 94 peak), underrated (there I go using that word again) athleticism, and flashes of dominance (maybe not in terms of run prevention, but back to back seasons with more than a strikeout per inning and walk rates within reason are nothing to sneeze at) make him one of college baseball’s sleeping giants in terms of draft prospects. Choplick is the main reason why I find the Sooner staff underrated nationally, but not the only reason. I like both JR RHPs Blake Rogers and Corey Cropping as potential middle relievers at the highest level. I like JR LHP Jacob Evans (upper-80s heat that plays up because of pinpoint command, low-70s CB flashes plus, solid CU) a little bit more than. I also like JR LHP Jeffrey Curran even though I know little to nothing about him right now, but as a lefthander with size and seemingly some projection left (6-3, 165) his 2014 numbers (8.54 K/9 and 0.68 BB/9 in 26.1 IP) get him on the follow list. If your pitching staff can go five deep with reasonable pro prospects, that’s a quality group.

I’m less enthused about Oklahoma’s lineup, though there are still some draft-worthy talents sprinkled in. As a center fielder with average or better speed, pop, arm strength, range, and athleticism, JR OF Hunter Haley might have the highest ceiling of the class. He’s struggled with finding the right approach at the plate (27 BB/78 K in his career), but there’s no denying his physical gifts. JR C Anthony Hermelyn could get a look as a reasonably athletic catching prospect with a decent hit tool. JR OF Craig Aikin should wind up similarly regarded, only as a backup outfielder type with decent speed and a patient approach. JR 3B Kolbey Carpenter might the best blend of hit tool/power/patience on the team (at least in terms of 2015 prospects), so he’ll be closely watched this spring to see if last year’s small sample size bump in production was for real.

That just about covers the 2015 draft as far as I can tell. Now we can get to the crown jewels of this Oklahoma roster. As much as I like the 2015 class, the 2016 group has two players with star upside that will make Norman a destination for scouts from all over the country. SO RHP Alec Hansen has a huge arm (90-96 FB, 98 peak) with an above-average hard slider (mid-80s) that flashes plus and some feel for a slower breaking ball in the mid- to upper-70s. Like any large human who pitches, he’ll have to continue to work to refine his delivery and command (the two so often go hand-in-hand). Hansen also showed some serious wildness last year (10.32 BB/9) in his very short sample of a debut (11.1 IP), so that will have to be monitored each time he takes the mound this spring. There’s a long way to go between what he is and what he will be, so teams will have to keep a close eye on him as they straddle that thin line between high risk and major reward. SO 3B/RHP Sheldon Neuse is more of a sure thing with a ceiling that arguably matches Hansen’s. Even though I list him as a primary third baseman, Neuse has a legit shot at sticking at shortstop professionally. I remember following him in high school and thinking that he’d be at least average at short and potentially plus at third. Those thoughts haven’t changed after one year of college. I also liked him better on the mound. That opinion is far more debatable and at this point I’d strongly lean towards sending him out as a position player. He was very impressive on the mound as a freshman (8.25 K/9 and 3.00 BB/9 in 12 IP), but truly outstanding as a hitter (.304/.369/.521 with 27 BB/31 K in 240 AB). Neuse has a huge leg up on the majority of his 2016 competition when it comes to locking down a spot in next year’s first round.

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1 Comment

  1. […] brief note on Choplick, can’t forget that beauty) while totally forgetting I’ve covered Kansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State already. So, read those if you want more on any of those schools. I think […]

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