rSO RHP Trevor Sutton (2016)
JR RHP Nolan Blackwood (2016)
JR RHP Blake Drabik (2016)
SR RHP Matt Ferguson (2016)
SR OF/1B Jake Little (2016)
rSR SS Jake Overbey (2016)
SR C Corey Chafin (2016)
JR OF Darien Tubbs (2016)
JR 3B Zach Schritenthal (2016)
JR OF Chris Carrier (2016)
SO RHP Colton Hathcock (2017)
SO RHP Connor Alexander (2017)
JR RHP Nolan Blackwood intrigues the heck out of me as a big (6-6) lanky (175 pounds) submariner with a legit fastball (88-91) and sustained success keeping runs off the board. His peripherals aren’t anything to write home about (4.11 K/9 last year), but the shiny ERA (0.52) is fun. A few more whiffs and continued success doing whatever he’s doing to get guys out (I’d love to see the batted ball data on him as I suspect he’s getting his fair share of ground ball outs and weak contact) would help him move way up the rankings.
The Jake brothers return in 2016 after disappointing junior seasons. SR OF/1B Jake Little had previously been able to overcome his swing-happy approach, but the bottom fell out for him last year. He’ll need to rebound in a big way to get win back the hearts and minds of the area guys who have stuck with him through his ups and downs. Then there’s rSR SS Jake Overbey, a very interesting case that earned this blurb last year…
Jake Overbey is the most talented player on the roster, so it should go without saying there are many in and around the Memphis program eagerly anticipating his debut for the Tigers. Overbey, the Ole Miss transfer, is an incredibly athletic baseball player with the defensive tools to play up the middle professionally. He’s had a long layoff between steady at bats so there’s really no telling how he’ll perform at the plate, but the upside is fascinating.
Turns out a few years away from facing high-level competition will bring some serious growing pains as Overbey struggled to hit his weight last season. I’ll be curious about him until the day he decides to move on to something different with his life, so count me in as one of his last remaining fans (non-friends and family division, of course). He’s still a great athlete and he can still defend. That’s a start.
Jake Tubbs…wait, no that’s not right. JR OF Darien Tubbs leaps past the field as Memphis’s best position player prospect. He’s got the type of build (5-9, 190) that inspires the “sneaky pop” disclaimer in my notes, but his days of catching opposing pitchers by surprise might be over after his breakout sophomore campaign. Tubbs can run, defend in center, work deep counts, and knock a ball or ten to the gaps when you’re not careful. Tubbs isn’t quite a FAVORITE yet, but he’s as close as you can get without tempting me into holding down the shift key. A friend who knows how much I went on about Saige Jenco over the past year reached out to me to let me know that he believed Tubbs was a better version of the same guy. Fun player.
Beyond the 2016 players, I have to give a quick mention to a pair of really promising arms worth knowing for 2017. I really, really like SO RHP Connor Alexander. He’s got a chance to be a pretty special college pitcher by the time he’s through, not to mention a damn fine MLB Draft prospect. Pairing him with fellow sophomore RHP Colton Hathcock gives Memphis the kind of 1-2 pitching punch a team needs to make some noise in conference play.