I’m 41% finished with updating my college database. Without context that sounds neither good nor bad, but it’s something. Putting together the database is a long, tedious process that I start off enjoying (that first 10% flies by!), come to hate as the monotony and pointlessness of the whole endeavor sets in (this is reserved for those last thoughts as I drift to bed each night), begin to enjoy again after getting a weird rush of adrenaline that defies reason (every percentage point closer pumps me up…the human brain is weird), all before getting to the annual slog once I’m through doing all the big-time conferences until that one night when there’s no turning back in the work where I catch myself staying up well past my bedtime as I update players in the SWAC wondering how my life has come to this. What kills me about the whole thing is that every waking minute I’m not updating the database feels like a wasted opportunity. That’s sick. I need help. Any and all of those pesky non-essential yet obviously essential day-to-day tasks like eating, showering, commuting to/from work, and sleeping just get in the way of getting this whole thing over with. It shouldn’t be something to endure because I’m choosing to do it at no financial gain, but I’m human and sometimes combing through old box scores and obsessively checking my phone to hear back from somebody and finding old game recaps that I’ve saved since February but never got around to read feels like a silly way to spend one’s energy. But then, finally, it’s done and I’m happy and I get a million mean comments and emails and I’m still happy but in a different “haters gonna hate” kind of way and then the draft comes and goes and I go to sleep for the rest of June.
I broke my finger at around this time last year and it made updating the site nearly impossible for a few weeks — what would normally take me hours would have taken me days, and this info is time-sensitive after all — so I choose to embrace the craziness of the next few days and be thankful I’m in a position to have enough free time to pursue a hobby that I enjoy this much. I really hope that everybody else can get even a fraction of the enjoyment from reading that I do from putting this information together. Drafts really are the best, once you get past how arbitrary and anti-employee they are. I’m morally bankrupt, so I’m good to go.
The reason for those two paragraphs is to say that I’ll be pretty quiet with daily posts until that update is complete. My current personal deadline is by the end of this week. The dream is to wake up on June 1, one week before draft day, with all of my information and notes as finalized as humanly possible. That’ll give me the full week to roll out my final rankings and player notes. I’ll still respond to comments/emails and update the non-D1 player lists, so don’t take the absence of daily content as me falling off the face of the earth. I’m still here and willing to chat, so drop me a line whenever. I’ll probably also chime back in at some point with the updated list for high school outfielders (still working on that) and a great big thing on high school pitching that is just so massive I can’t even process how to relay the intel. It might just be me throwing down my notes on the page and leaving it up to you to decide from there. That could be fun. We’ll see.
(Seconds after scheduling this post, I remembered this. One of the reasons for writing this was to pose a question that has bugged me for months: who is the draft’s second best high school pitching prospect? I like Kolby Allard a ton, so he’s my number one. Don’t think I’m budging on that in the next two weeks. After that I’ve got nothing. Nikorak is probably the consensus choice, I like Hooper way more than most (saw him on his best days, I guess…though I’m not sure I like him $4 million worth), and Everett/Burrows/Russell all have really good cases. Is it crazy to pump up one of the projection righthanders all the way up to the second spot? I’m thinking somebody like Chandler Day, Jackson Kowar, Triston McKenzie, Tristan Beck, or Brady Singer here. I don’t think I’d look at a ranking with any of those guys in the top three and automatically dismiss it. Not nearly enough has been mentioned about how crazy this year’s HS pitching class is. There is no consensus. It’s going to be chaos. I can’t wait. Except, you know, if I was drafting I’d do just that: wait. Think of the quality of arm that could be had in the second, third, or even fourth rounds.)
Now for some actual (non-parenthetical) baseball talk. I haven’t looked at a single draft ranking other than my own rough drafts, but I think I consume enough college/draft content on the whole to have some feel for where the consensus seems to lean. Keep that in mind when I talk about underrated or overrated players. I don’t literally no where players are rated elsewhere, so I’m kind of arguing against a strawmaw each time. I think I’m a bit more informed than most who rant and rave about imaginary points of view, but that’s up to you to decide.
Anyway, since I loathe going meta with site updates without providing any additional content while I’m bitching and whining about how hard life running a draft website for fun is, here are a few scattered thoughts about a few draft prospects from a few college teams. We’re hitting Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Louisville today. These teams were chosen for the ultra-scientific reason that they are literally the first six teams that I have in my Word document. I’d love to do these for every single college team (and with a little more depth, too), but that’s just not feasible between now and June 8. I mean, the goal for today was to get a paragraph going for every team in the ACC, but I couldn’t even do that before tiring out. This will have to do for now…
Chris Shaw is really good. I keep going back and forth with whether or not he’s better than Casey Gillaspie. My gut feel was yes, but my more measured take was not quite. I’m not sure what that means, if anything. I remain weirdly into Blake Butera as a late-round senior that could hang around pro ball a few years based on his glove, approach, and makeup. There are also a host of interesting late-round relief types like John Gorman, Jeff Burke, Jesse Adams, and John Nicklas that I’d give draftable grades to.
Clemson’s top guys are all not talked about for my liking. Steven Duggar, Tyler Krieger, and the top of their rotation (Matthew Crownover and Zack Erwin) are all fine players. I get the reasons for the relative quiet for each — Duggar is a tools guy who some tired of waiting on, Krieger is swallowed up by the weird and wonderful (and out of nowhere…seriously, it’s been years since we’ve seen an American group of legitimate future big league shortstops all enter pro ball at once) college shortstop class that surrounds him, and the two lefties are both low-velocity arms compared to comparable pro prospect peers — but each player has big league ability. Eli White is another intriguing draft name for Clemson that I’m not sure many realize is a draft-eligible sophomore this season.
Like everybody else, I have no idea what to make of Michael Matuella right now. I’ve heard (and made) a lot of the comparisons to previously injured amateur arms that were still drafted high in the first round, but I don’t think any truly fit. Matuella is a favorite, obviously, but the injury and the lack of a track record make him a very scary (and unique) selection if you’re considering him in the draft’s first dozen picks. After that point, I think the gamble makes a lot more sense. A good 2015 MLB Draft prop bet would be which side accumulates more career WAR: Matuella or the rest of the current Duke roster eligible to be picked this year. Sarkis Ohanian (nasty cutter) and Andrew Istler (will throw any pitch in any count) are two of the better non-closing relievers out there, plus Kenny Koplove has the stuff, athleticism, and funky arm action to miss bats at the highest level. I’d still take Matuella over three relievers and a collection of other parts, but it’s not crazy to go with the latter package considering the boom/bust nature of Matuella’s future.
I’ve mentioned a lot of comps for DJ Stewart in the past, so I’ll just throw out a “Matt Olson level production” comparison I got on him recently and leave it at that. I believe in that bat and the rankings will reflect that. After Stewart there is a pretty steep drop in terms of prospect quality on the Florida State roster. Chris Marconcini is probably my second favorite hitter on the Seminoles. Mike Compton, who I love watching, is more of a great college starter than a viable pro prospect, but he does enough well (movement, deception, command) that a team that prioritizes those things, as well as certain performance indicators, could give him an honest shot. I know he’s not going to get the chance to play pro ball, but I’d be surprised if Jameis Winston isn’t drafted at some point. Though I’m on record of believing in him as a real prospect, I think the novelty factor is why he’ll wind up being taken late.
Matt Gonzalez was never a favorite of mine, but it’s still a bummer to see him struggle in his first draft-eligible season at Georgia Tech. The tools are solid and the glove is legit, but without major changes to his approach I’m not sure he’s worth burning an early pick on.
I’ve written about why Kyle Funkhouser intrigues me the way he does before, though I still will likely remain the low man on him as he enters pro ball. The narrative on him was kind of weird this spring as he was kind of the guy we all thought he was coming into the year, but the spin — and I was guilty of doing some of this myself — was that he was answering some of the pre-season questions about his game. I worried about his command, control, and third pitch coming into the season, and I still have worries about each of those areas today.