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2015 MLB Draft – Abbreviated College Shortstop Ranking Sneak Peek

Here’s an unusually short post that would probably be best served via a tweet or three if I had the time management skills to maintain an active Twitter account and actually write worthwhile-ish longer stuff, an arguably not so difficult task that so many actual writers are able to do with seemingly relative ease. I’m not as good a multi-tasker as those guys apparently, which probably explains (in part) why they are where they are and why I’m quietly cranking out material in my teeny tiny little corner of the internet.

(I wrote that “introduction” before I started writing the body of the post found below. I should have known that this thing would go longer than a “tweet or three,” but I’m just that dense. This is why I’m not cut out for Twitter…)

College Shortstop Rankings for the 2015 MLB Draft (April 28, 2015) 

  1. LSU SS/2B Alex Bregman
  2. Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson
  3. Louisiana SS Blake Trahan
  4. Florida SS/CF Richie Martin
  5. San Diego SS Kyle Holder
  6. Arizona SS Kevin Newman
  7. Virginia SS Daniel Pinero
  8. Kennesaw State SS Kal Simmons

I don’t know what it would take to knock Bregman off the top spot, but something pretty drastic would have to go down to get me to consider anybody but him. I’ll take it a step further and throw out there that I’m not unconvinced he’s the top overall prospect in this year’s draft. In fact, the entire impetus of this piece was to get that Bregman take out there for public consumption. Also, finally, I’m now one of the Bregman converts who believes he can make it work, at least long enough to make it worth his drafting team’s while, at shortstop in pro ball. Feels good to escape the dark side for a change.

Of course, this being the year of the college shortstop, it should be no shock that I can both love Bregman and realize that Swanson isn’t too far off his trail. What might surprise is that I think Trahan isn’t too far behind after that. There’s a bit of a gap after those three, so I reserve the right to shuffle those names hourly between now and June. Martin’s athleticism, defensive tools, and offensive approach have been buried a bit due to playing in the SEC shadow of both Bregman and Swanson, but he’s really, really good. Either Martin or Holder could make an honest claim to the third best college shortstop in this class right now, so big finishes to the season could easily put them in the mid- to late-first round mix.

I’ve talked at length about Newman in the comments section, but he’s worth discussing briefly here once again. In short, as many members of the national media have begun talking him up as a potential top ten (or two) player in this class, I’ve actually cooled on him, due largely to concerns about his long-term defensive future. In much the same way that I feel as though pre-injury Nate Kirby got a bum rap due to a below-average start (iffy velo, too many sliders, below-average command) with a lot of national prospect writing heat in the house (what a silly thing to actually type out), Newman seems to have gotten a sizable bump because of a good couple of games in front of some influential media members. I could be entirely wrong here (maybe these ranking changes were made with more behind the scenes intel than publicly divulged to this point) and I acknowledge that moving players up and down the board based on new information is an essential part of the process at this stage of the game. We’ll see. For now, I’ll say that I’d be pretty stunned if Newman is actually a top ten (or two) pick in this draft, barring some underslot pre-draft agreement shenanigans. More to the point, since draft position is secondary to actual on-field future professional performance, I’d be even more surprised if Newman had a career that would place him in the top ten (or two) of the signed members of the 2015 MLB Draft. Again, we’ll see.

I love that this draft class is so loaded with college shortstops that a draft-eligible sophomore listed at 6-5, 210 pounds with startlingly good defensive tools putting up impressive numbers for one of the nation’s best programs has gotten little to no national draft love. I have no clue how those in the game view Pinero as a prospect just yet, but I love the guy. I also now like Simmons a lot (he’s done all you could ask for him so far this year) and not just because mentioning him gives me the opportunity to crow about being the only person on the planet (probably) to publicly rank him as the A-Sun’s second best draft prospect pre-season. Any time I can slip in a Donnie Dewees mention is cool by me.

My next tier down includes about a dozen names, but I’ll limit it to these four for now: Drew Jackson, CJ Hinojosa (big pre-season miss on my end, really though he was set for a monster draft year), Kevin Kramer, and Dylan Bosheers. I also have to give a mention to Scott Kingery, who very well could have wait it takes to transition about two dozen big steps over to his right and play some professional shortstop when it’s all said and done. I tried to stay away from potential shortstop conversion projects for now — mostly because I’m a chicken and not willing to quite stick my neck out there just yet — but Kingery has as strong a case as any 2015 college prospect not currently playing shortstop to successfully make the move in the pros.

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2 Comments

  1. Gordon Jackson says:

    Interesting display of tools Tuesday, as a very disappointing and frustrated Arizona team was allowed to swing away and busted loose against ASU.

    Newman was at his best — six times on base, five hits. He made a play going to his left I didn’t think he could make. He even made a play going to his right, as he was able to take it close to the grass and come around behind it to get a running start on the flipper throw. Often, though, he will bobble those balls he has to move for, so his arm doesn’t get exposed. The scorer always cooperates by not giving him an error.

    But the better SS prospect, IMO, was in the other dugout — Colby Woodmansee. He’s a big kid, and may have to move to third, but has a left-side arm for sure, and some real sting in his bat, though a longer swing than Newman’s and not too many HR’s yet. The HR’s should come, and if he moves to third they’ll have to, but right now I’d imagine he’d be in the first-round conversation for next year.

    If so, surely that will be two left-side infielders in Arizona, as Bobby Dalbec has got to be in the conversation too. Big arm, and I can’t imagine anybody in college has much more raw power. Tuesday he hit the light pole half way up by the 405 sign in right center.

    Kingery hit one over a 30-foot fence by the 410 sign in left center. He’s so locked in on the ball that when he puts a HR swing on it, he gets every bit of it. Five dingers this year, but with four of them 400+ feet, and the other to right, I’d mark him down as having the power tool. His next AB was just as impressive — rifled a shot to right with two strikes on him. He’s one of the best 2-strike hitters I’ve ever seen. His swing is so short and so quick that it never needs altering situationally.

    The more I see of his arm, the more convinced I am he can move to short. Certainly the glove and feet are there. In three years, both as an outfielder and infielder, his arm has always been equal to the play at hand. As he and Newman could be fast-track to the majors possibilities, I really wish they’d switch sides and get at their natural positions.

    The scouts may have made up their minds long since about those two, as they haven’t showed up en masse for the last eight Arizona home games, unless they’re hiding in the stands somewhere. Usually they’re standing up in a row behind home plate.

    It’s sort of amazing that a club can have three of its starting infielders as possible first-round picks, all with good heads on their shoulders, and still be a bad team. But I think these kids have come to believe down deep that their pitchers or coach are usually going to do something to take them out of games.

    • Rob Ozga says:

      Got back to a bunch of comments this morning, but I saved this one for last. Lots to digest. Great stuff as usual. I’m with you 100% on Dalbec, he’s got star upside. I’ve gotten all the usual comps on him so far (Troy Glaus, Pat Burrell), but look forward to seeing him in person a few times in the next year. That kind of righthanded power is good as gold on draft day. Also, I really couldn’t be any more sold on Kingery, so thanks for all those updates. Each time you mention him just bumps him another spot or two up my board. Had somebody mention to me that they like him about the same as Forrest Wall (35th pick last year, tearing up the minors right now) last draft. High praise.

      I was recently asked by a friend about Newman after Callis “mocked” him to the Phillies with the tenth pick. I put him on the Adam Kennedy/Mark Ellis/Mark Loretta continuum of ballplayers. Those are all really useful players, but if that’s your realistic ceiling then top half of the first round seems a bit rich. I also had a scout that had seen him a lot compare him to Joe Panik recently. Thought that was pretty interesting.

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