Now that football has wrapped up and the D1 college season is just eleven short days away, I think it’s time to come out of my semi-planned hibernation of the past few weeks. Time away from posting hasn’t meant time away from baseball draft work; quite the contrary, really. My college prep work is finally complete and my college notes Word document now stretches 186 pages and 129,856 words. Finding a way to turn those notes into something worth reading is the challenge we’ll tackle together these next two weeks. I have no concrete plan as to how I want to get the information I’ve accumulated out there, so any and all suggestions as to what you — yes, YOU! — want to see are appreciated. I’ll come up with something otherwise — conference previews? — but I’d rather do something by request…and not just because I don’t have anything pre-written in what could be a busy real life work week otherwise.
Until then, here are my (first annual?) College Prospect All-American Teams. The name says it all, but just in case…College PROSPECT All-American Teams. For the purpose of these teams, we care only about who will wind up the best professional prospects come June. Let’s do it…
C Zack Collins – Miami
1B Will Craig – Wake Forest
2B Nick Senzel – Tennessee
SS Michael Paez – Coastal Carolina
3B Bobby Dalbec – Arizona
OF Kyle Lewis – Mercer
OF Buddy Reed – Florida
OF Corey Ray – Louisville
RHP Alec Hansen – Oklahoma
LHP Matt Krook – Oregon
RHP Connor Jones – Virginia
LHP AJ Puk – Florida
RHP Dakota Hudson – Mississippi State
Filling my pretend team with Collins, Craig, Senzel, Dalbec, and the outfielders were pretty easy for me at this point. I love (Collins, Craig, Senzel, Lewis) or like (Dalbec, Reed, Ray) all of them as first round talents this June, though even getting three of them (I’ll guess two of the outfielders and Dalbec as the wild card) into the first thirty or so picks is probably more realistic knowing how I tend to value certain types different than actual scouting directors might. Fans of teams picking in the top ten dreaming of a quick fix college bat should follow all of them, but with the clear understanding that every single name there (save Craig) has a lot to prove this spring at the plate, especially in the strike zone discipline/approach facets of the game. I’m too lazy to do the math, but I’m pretty sure there is about 3,241 (rough estimate) strikeouts combined courtesy of those hitters. Paez is probably the name that jumps out for many, but it’s a really shallow year for college shortstops…and Paez is pretty damn good. More on him in the coming weeks.
There’s so much college pitching in this year’s class that there’s even less of a chance of coming up with a “right” order of players than usual. Like many, I love the healthy versions of both Hansen and Krook, so their placement on top of the rankings mountain is a bet on continued good health from right this second to early June. Jones was my top college player last March when I made a list like this, but I dropped him to seventh college pitcher on my most recent update in October. Without realizing it until now, it appears I’ve split the difference (more or less) with his current placement in the three spot. I still can’t get enough of that Masahiro Tanaka comp I heard for him. Puk is such a good prospect that I don’t feel too bad in nitpicking him here by pointing out his inconsistent secondaries (unlike the others listed, I haven’t seen a reliable plus offspeed pitch from him yet), up-and-down control, and good but not great athleticism. The fact that he can have all of those question marks — all very fixable issues, it’s worth noting — and still rank so highly says something about how overwhelming his strengths are. Hudson is all upside at this point; he reminds me of Taijuan Walker in more than a few ways.
C Sean Murphy – Wright State
1B Pete Alonso – Florida
2B JaVon Shelby – Kentucky
SS Logan Gray – Austin Peay State
3B Sheldon Neuse – Oklahoma
OF Bryan Reynolds – Vanderbilt
OF Jake Fraley – Louisiana State
OF Nick Banks – Texas A&M
RHP Cal Quantrill – Stanford
LHP Matt Crohan – Winthrop
RHP Zach Jackson – Arkansas
RHP Robert Tyler – Georgia
LHP Garrett Williams – Oklahoma State
I could see a lot of the guys on this team outperforming their first team counterparts over the long haul. There’s a little more certainty with some of the names, but not quite the same degree of upside. Murphy, arguably the draft’s best two-way catcher, stands out as an example of this. You could also probably lump Reynolds and Fraley in the category, especially when compared to fellow SEC-er Buddy Reed.
From talking to smart people around the game lately, I think I might wind up the high guy on Crohan. I see a lefty with size, velocity, athleticism, and a nasty cut-slider. I also see a guy who does a lot of the same things AJ Puk does well, but with far less hype. One of my favorite snippets of my notes comes in the Jackson section: “if he fixes delivery and command, watch out.” Well, duh. I could have said that about just about any upper-echelon arm in this age demographic. With Jackson, however, it reinforces just how special his stuff is when he’s right. I don’t think this college class has a pitch better than his curveball at its best.
C Matt Thaiss – Virginia
1B Carmen Beneditti – Michigan
2B Cavan Biggio – Notre Dame
SS Colby Woodmansee – Arizona State
3B Lucas Erceg – Menlo (CA)
OF Ryan Boldt – Nebraska
OF Stephen Wrenn – Georgia
OF Ronnie Dawson – Ohio State
LHP Eric Lauer – Kent State
RHP Michael Shawaryn – Maryland
RHP Daulton Jefferies – California
RHP Kyle Serrano – Tennessee
RHP Kyle Funkhouser – Louisville
There are too many good players and far too spots. Leaving out some of this year’s catching class breaks my heart, but ultimately I’m more excited at the ridiculous depth at that spot than at any pretend tough decision I had to make on what will turn out to be a meaningless list anyway. Second base wound up a tougher call than I expected when trying to weigh the relative pros and cons of Biggio, Nate Mondou, Bryson Brigman (who might be a worthwhile SS after all), Kyle Fiala, Nick Solak, and Ryne Birk. Woodmansee felt like the right choice over a few other deserving peers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a trio I didn’t select (Daniel Pinero, Stephen Alemais, Ryan Howard OR Errol Robinson, Trever Morrison, Eli White) wound up the better bet by June. I had originally planned to make this a D1 only list, but figured the more the merrier so Erceg, the Cal transfer, got the call. That’s partly because I really like Erceg (as both a hitter and a pitcher, though I think I’m in the minority who prefers him currently with the bat) and partly because the pickings at third base are slim. Three of the next four names under consideration at the hot corner are draft-eligible sophomores: Greg Deichmann, Will Toffey, and Blake Tiberi. Beneditti, the choice at first over a similarly lackluster field, is also a two-way player who many prefer on the mound long-term. I liken him to a better Brian Johnson, the former Gator and current Red Sox lefthander. In a fun twist, I preferred Johnson as a hitter as well back in the day.
The similarities between Shawaryn and Jefferies are uncanny. Both guys should rank among the quickest movers in this year’s college starting pitching class once they make the move to pro ball. Pitchers considered who just missed the cut were numerous, but a few fun names include Corbin Burnes, Jake Elliott, Bailey Clark, and John Kilichowski, my personal favorite of the many outstanding Vanderbilt arms.
Once the season is over, I think it will play out that there will be a few players that you should have included. Here are my dark horses: Voyles & Nieporte (FL State), Solak (Louisville), Robinson (Miss), Baker (Texas), Sheffield, Delay & Toffey (Vandy), Ewing (Coastal Carolina), Brigman (San Diego), and Stephens (UCLA). We’ll see how it pans out.
Jim or Ed? I like both, though I’m assuming Jim since he’s the one who pitched (and pitched well) last season. Nieporte is a great name in a largely unimpressive first base group. He could rise way up with a big draft season. Love the approach and I’m bullish on his power. Solak is a personal favorite who just missed out on one of these teams. Robinson was also just barely edged out, though I think he has a stronger case in what looks to be a weaker shortstop class.
I’m not sure which Baker you’re referring to here. If it’s Joe Baker on Texas, then I’m really impressed…he’s about as dark a horse as you can get. I’d love to know more about him if he’s the guy since my notes on him are very limited. If it’s Luken Baker from TCU, then I’d agree that he’d be deserving of a mention…except that this list is for 2016 draft prospects only. In fact, that would also disqualify Joe Baker come to think of it. Unless he’s a draft-eligible sophomore and I missed it, which is entirely possible.
Sheffield was briefly considered, but I’m admittedly lower on him than most other outlets. You could certainly make a case for him being in that same class as at least Serrano and Funkhouser (whom I’m also apparently lower on than most) because they are all big stuff, questionable command/control types at the moment. I like Delay a good bit — seems like anybody who saw him on the Cape came away in love — but the catching group is too strong. Toffey was a late cut when I added Erceg to the mix. He’s in that immediate next tier down with guys like Deichmann, Gaa, Tiberi, and Wilson for me.
I’m a fan of Stephens’s hit tool, but think he might wind up as a fourth outfielder ceiling tweener by the time it’s all said and done. No real standout tool that I see at this time. Brigman would have been on the Third Team if I was more certain that he could make it work at shortstop. In an odd twist many wouldn’t expect, second base is a deeper, more talented position than shortstop this year at the college level.
Dalton Ewing is another favorite. There was no room for him here, but he’s got the kind of upside that could make him a first day pick if he explodes as expected. Fantastic athlete. Love that he’s getting recognized early as a draft-eligible sophomore.
As usual, you have great insight on a vast number of players. I meant Jim Voyles and the TCU Baker. I saw Delay in the Cape too and he was very impressive. Ewing, although hurt last year, has unlimited upside as far as I can tell. Thanks again. Great stuff! Joe
One more I forgot to mention – Lee Miller at Davidson. Batted over 0.350 for the past 2 seasons and has some power and speed. While he isn’t in a power conference and is a senior, I think he should be in the mix. Thoughts?
I admittedly don’t have a ton on him, but what I do have is positive. The power production certainly stands out, though I’d feel better about him as a hitter with prettier BB/K rates. Productive enough guy that I think he’s firmly in the draftable senior-sign range for now with a chance to rise higher with a big final season.
No Chris Okey? I’ve read that scouts are souring on him a bit but still?
What’s your take?
This is a great question. Okey was fourth behind Collins, Murphy, and Thaiss. I’ve probably read and heard many of the same things you’ve read, and I tend to believe there is some legitimacy to the claims. I’ve been told that Okey is a “low energy” type who can get “sloppy” with the little things, especially defensively. I haven’t seen that personally in my views, but since it’s out there publicly it’s data worth taking into account. For now, that’s all it really is to me: just one data point out of many to consider. I still think there are more positives than negatives surrounding his game and could see him going on the first day of the draft with a decent spring. His two-way ability is hard to ignore.
I would love to see some stuff on conferences and guys the world might necessarily know about right now that could be sleepers in the upcoming draft. Ex: Colonial, Atlantic 10 etc.. Obviously everyone loves covering the power conferences but I think it is important some of these other places get some notoriety.
Done and done. I’ll start working on these and hopefully they’ll begin rolling out beginning later this week. Thanks for the suggestion!
Mid major conferences like Ohio Valley. Maybe name each team and a list of prospects.
Love it. Think I’m starting with the Southland then doing some order of the Sun Belt, American, and Big East. Maybe Southern and WAC after that. Eventually I’ll get to every conference (mostly going small to mid-major to the big guns) with full prospect follow lists for each and some commentary about the top guys.
Do you have any idea where Tylor Megill went. He was at Loyola Marymount, but he’s not on their roster anymore. I have him, Gage Burland of Gonzaga, and David Peterson of Oregon as some “sleeper” picks.
Megill is at Cypress CC in California. First start was a good one: 5 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K. Good name to follow this spring. Teams love size and he’s got plenty.
Burland is a really nice sleeper as a draft-eligible sophomore. He’ll fly up boards with a big year, especially if said big year comes in part due to an improved change. Great 1-2 punch with him and Bailey on that staff.
Peterson is awesome. I’ve toyed with the idea of putting together a 2017 and 2018 draft list as part of a college preview. He’d be pretty high on that 2017 list for sure. That Oregon rotation is stacked.
Awesome I was wondering were Megill went for quite a while. I’m thinking he could go in the 3-4 round range. I’m feeling Burland will be top 10 rounds with a chance to climb. Any thoughts?
I could see Megill’s talent potentially pushing him up to those heights, but it’s going to be a loaded group of top five round college pitchers this year. Then again, 31 college/JC/”unknown” pitchers (Aiken/Nix) went in the top three rounds last year with 10 more going by the start of round five. I know that’s just one year’s worth of data, so it’s not foolproof methodology but I think we can use it to claim that you need to rank in the top 30-40 college arm range (give or take) to wind up as a top four round pick. Certainly doable for a guy like Megill even in a class like this.
Burland definitely has a top ten round arm. Looking forward to seeing it get some real innings this year.
[…] as of games played on March 12 or March 13 depending on when the games ended yesterday. I used this post to frame the […]