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Running 2016 MLB Draft Notes – College Edition

I’m trying something different this year that may or may not work. This is the time of year where things typically get quiet on the site as I work behind the scenes to frantically get everything ready with my final rankings. This year, however, as I update my rankings off the site, I’ll try to add a few words for each team about what I’m seeing as I’m looking at final regular season stats and my most recent scouting notes. This might slow me down too much to make it a viable option once we start getting to the biggest and best conferences, but we’ll try to keep it up as long as possible. I’ll also add some up to the minute rankings updates as we go. For example, my current top prospect at each offensive position is…

Jackson State C Carlos Diaz
Cornell 1B Cole Rutherford
Columbia 2B Will Savage
Nebraska-Omaha 3B Clayton Taylor
Long Beach State SS Garrett Hampson
Nebraska-Omaha OF Cole Gruber
Lehigh OF Jacen Nalesnik
Brown OF Rob Henry

My hunch is that none of these guys will remain in the top spot much longer (some have already been displaced as I’ve gotten lazy in updating the notes portion below), but it’s cool to see them at the top for now. I’ve got the Ivy, Patriot, SWAC, Summit, Horizon, and New York Tech, our lone D1 independent, finalized so far. The Big West was mostly done before I hit a snag that made me hit the pause button. I’m in the middle of the MEAC now. Two plus weeks to go until the draft…better get moving.

Updated to include the Horizon (forget to add those players to the rankings earlier) and MEAC…

Wright State C Sean Murphy
Cornell 1B Cole Rutherford
Columbia 2B Will Savage
Nebraska-Omaha 3B Clayton Taylor
Long Beach State SS Garrett Hampson
Nebraska-Omaha OF Cole Gruber
Florida A&M OF Dylan Dillard
Lehigh OF Jacen Nalesnik

Ohio Valley is now done. There are a lot of teams in that conference. With seven conferences done, here’s a look at the top three (five for OF) for each position…

C – Sean Murphy (Wright State), Tyler Lawrence (Murray State), Carlos Diaz (Jackson State)
1B – Keaton Wright (Southern Illinois Edwardsville), Cole Rutherford (Cornell), Zach Sterry (Oakland)
2B – Will Savage (Columbia), Mike Garzillo (Lehigh), Larry Barraza (Grambling State)
3B – Logan Gray (Austin Peay), Mandy Alvarez (Eastern Kentucky), Clayton Taylor (Nebraska-Omaha)
SS – Garrett Hampson (Long Beach State), Mitch Roman (Wright State), Mike Brosseau (Oakland)
OF – Dan Holst (Southeast Missouri State), Kyle Nowlin (Eastern Kentucky), Cole Gruber (Nebraska-Omaha), Dylan Dillard (Florida A&M), Chase Hamilton (Austin Peay)

Ivy

Brown

I had high hopes for Rob Henry, a FAVORITE, coming into the year, but his draft season has been a bit of a disappointment after his big sophomore campaign. Jake Levine intrigues me now that he’s coming off a second solid season. Austin French looks like one of the best arms the Ivy Leagues has to offer in this draft. Christian Taugner is intriguing as an upper-80s fastball guy who figures to keep getting better as his Tommy John surgery falls further back into his rear view mirror.

Columbia

Hello, Will Savage. His junior season has me going from liking him to loving him. I can’t wait to see how high he gets on the overall second base rankings. Higher here than anywhere else, I’d bet. Nick Maguire could get looks as a big first baseman with obvious power (above-average) and sneaky athleticism. Shane Adams and Robb Paller have hit their way into the draft conversation. George Thanopoulous could get some sinker/slider love.

Cornell

Michael Byrne is wild, but intriguing. Peter Lannoo has better stuff than he’s shown. The odds of Cole Rutherford being drafted by the same team that drafts his little brother are off the board; it would be more than a courtesy pick, as big bro can hit. Tommy Wagner catches my eye as an infielder who makes tons of contact.

Dartmouth

I’m 100% all-in on Duncan Robinson. He’s a big-time talent who seems to get better with every start. Definitely one of this class’s top senior-signs. Joe Purritano slide back just enough in his senior season that I’m now on the fence about him getting drafted or not. Thomas Roulis profiles similarly to Will Savage, but not quite as well.

Harvard

There’s not a lot here to love for 2016. Sean Poppen and Nick Scahill are both fine. Poppen has the more interesting scouting profile while Scahill has the better (yet more limited) peripherals over the years.

Penn

Tim Graul stood out both on the stat page and on the field (saw him close to a dozen times) this spring. Jake Cousins should challenge Duncan Robinson as the top Ivy League pitcher off the board. He’s really good.

Princeton

Cameron Mingo and Keelan Smithers were rotation mainstays for the champion Tigers in 2016, but neither made the necessary step from a draft perspective to earn serious consideration this June. Dan Hoy’s presence adds to the conference’s deepest position at second base.

Yale

Chasen Ford was an arm I had reasonably high hopes for coming into the season, but he’s continued his pattern of having underwhelming periperhals that are incongruent with his solid stuff. Meanwhile Richard Slenker made the leap from steady regular to potential draft pick with a monster junior season.

Patriot

Army

Ben Smith didn’t play in 2016, but he’s done enough offensively and with the glove to warrant some late round draft consideration. Kris Lindner can run some and has shown some on-base skills.

Bucknell

Joe Ogren can hit. Brett Smith can run. Danny Rafferty can throw. And Andrew Andreychik might have enough fastball (upper-80s at present) to make it worth seeing if it’ll play up in the bullpen.

Holy Cross

The Jon Escobar breakthrough has happened. The righthander capable of hitting 96 (90-94 sitting) missed bats (12.11 K/9) and got his control in check (4.50 BB/9, not great but a vast improvement). If it keeps clicking, he’s a big league reliever. Nick Lovullo had an odd season. He only hit .225, but bolstered his OBP with a whopping 40 walks. I’ve always liked his approach, athleticism, and reliable defense up the middle, so I’ll overlook that .225 (and the dismal 6/15 SB success rate) and keep him on my draft board. He’ll make a fine future Red Sox minor leaguer.

Lafayette

Michael Coniglio has no power, but his speed, approach, and CF defense give him enough of a pro skill set to to get a shot in the late rounds. I saw him over one weekend at Penn and came away pleased at his all-around game. David Bednar is a really good looking arm that has the stuff to keep starting in pro ball. Not every team may be sold on his size or delivery as a starter, but he’s got the arm speed, depth of arsenal, and demeanor to stay in the rotation.

Lehigh

We know what Mike Garzillo is by now as a draft prospect: real power, useful speed, a strong arm, and a “grip it and rip it” approach. It’s not my favorite profile, but there’s a place for it in pro ball. If Jacen Nalesnik could catch, he’d be something really worth watching it. As it is, he’s an outfielder with promise all the same. John Scarr can catch and his favorite thing about Lehigh is “definitely the chocolate milk,” so, yeah, you could say I like him. As a staff, the Mountain Hawks walked almost five batters per nine. More like Mountain Walks, am I right? Brandon Kulp could go down as the worst statistical performing pitcher to get drafted this spring. If not him, then maybe Kevin Long.

(Non-draft related, but Mark Washington had a 1.80 ERA despite walking 27 batters [with 24 strikeouts] in 45 innings. College baseball, man.)

Navy

There’s so much to like with this year’s Navy team. Luke Gillingham is the big name as the crafty lefty who has carved up opposing hitters for four straight seasons. When his current year (8.87 K/9 and 1.96 ERA) is seen as a “down season,” in some circles, it says something about his overall track record to date. I think he’s got enough going for him (85-89 FB, low-70s CB that flashes above-average, a much improved CU) that his plus command and deception will keep him pitching professionally for as long as he’d like. Seniors Sam Sorenson and Andrew Bartek have almost as impressive credentials, as do juniors George Coughlin and Kyle Condry. The position players at Navy are no less impressive. Robert Currie has speed, CF range, and a track record of hitting. Sean Trent has a nice power and athleticism blend. Leland Saile has two above-average tools in his power and arm strength. And Adrian Chinnery is an experienced catcher with a mature approach at the plate and a strong defensive reputation. All in all, it’s an excellent group.

SWAC

Alabama A&M

JT O’Reel is interesting as a middle infielder who makes a crazy amount of contact. Ty Russell is a first baseman with reasonable power. Both are 50/50 shots at best to get drafted, but at least that’s something. Same goes for big John Burchell on the mound.

Alabama State

How real is Dillon Cooper’s senior season breakout? Is he an older hitter destroying younger pitching? Or has there been real change in his skill set? That’s something somebody who has seen him play a lot more than I have will have to decide. From the outside looking in, I have no idea what to think. I lean towards the positive, but that could be my desperation to find any worthwhile mid-round bat than anything else. Alabama State has a boatload of pitching talent coming off of big draft seasons. I like Angel Alicea, the athletic two-way guy with a good fastball (90-93) and slider (80-82) combination, best of all. He’s put up some eye-popping (13.99 K/9!) numbers this year. Arguments could be made for Tyler Howe, Joseph Camacho, Hunter McIntosh, and Michael Tellado as the next man up, but I’d put sinker/slider standout Austin Bizzle right behind Alicea on my target list.

Alcorn State

Moses Charles doesn’t have much in the way of pop, but his above-average hands, speed, and approach make him a worthwhile senior-sign. Having a cool name doesn’t hurt either. Walter Vives is a decent catching prospect for a lot of the same reasons.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff

A trio of Golden Lion bats have some draft upside (Michael Bradley, Joshua Williams, Jaqueese Moore) for teams willing to roll the dice on hitters who performed well in small samples. Jeremiah Figueroa, the highest upside arm on the staff, didn’t pitch at all in 2016 yet still could hear his name called based on the strength of his mid-90s heater. Anthony Bowmaker stands out as the best of a crowded group of impressive draft-eligible arms who took the mound for the Golden Lions in 2016.

Grambling State

There could be three infielders selected here: 2B/SS Larry Barraza, SS Wesley Drain, and 3B Daniel Barnett. Barraza and Drain were both on the radar heading into the year, but Barnett’s 2016 (408/.504/.647 with 34 BB/17 K) has been a revelation. Tanner Raiburn is a small lefty who has missed lots of bats with solid velocity.

Jackson State

Sam Campbell couldn’t build on a big sophomore season, but scouts who saw him and liked him then might overlook his down draft year. Carlos Diaz, a Miami transfer, has the defensive chops to stay behind the plate and intriguing offensive upside. Cornelius Copeland’s stellar junior season should be enough to get him noticed. Jevon Jacobs was a pre-season FAVORITE who remains one of my guys on the strength of his 88-92 FB, above-average SL, and considerable athleticism. Jamal Wilson can crank it up to the mid-90s. Jesse Anderson has a pro arm, but very inconsistent control.

Mississippi Valley State

Drew Wheeler and Arrington Smith were considered, but I don’t think any Delta Devils will be drafted this year.

Prairie View A&M

Angel Avalos and Shannon Washington appear to have the best shot to get some draft love, but I wouldn’t bet on either guy at this point.

Southern

Jose DeLa Torre is a hitting machine. Dondrayas Harris, Troy Lewis, and J’Markus George all also are in the draft mix.

Texas Southern

Ryan Lazo as a center fielder is interesting to me because of his plus speed (38/38 on steals this year), plus athleticism, and obvious ability to cover a lot of ground very quickly in the outfield. Ryan Lazo as a second baseman, the position where he played in 2016, takes that existing interest up another notch. Javier Valdez, Christopher Scroggins, and Richard Alamo give the lineup a few extra names with viable draft hopes to track. Robert Pearson has some middle relief upside on the mound.

Summit

IPFW

Greg Kaiser is a bat-first middle infielder with power, speed, and a swing if it’s close (or kind of close) approach. Brandon Soat has a chance for three average or better tools with his arm, speed, and raw power. Evan VanSumeren is a natural hitter who makes a lot of contact.

Nebraska-Omaha

There aren’t many senior-signs with the kind of thump that Clayton Taylor provides. The third base prospect can really swing it, but his skills go beyond his above-average raw power. Taylor has hit for three years running, has shown a willingness to wear opposing pitchers out, can play any of the infield positions in a pinch, and can even swipe the stray bag or two on unsuspecting batteries. I’d be rooting for my team to draft Taylor in this class. Cole Gruber will enter pro ball with two clear big league tools with his speed (43/50 SB this year) and CF range. I think he’s a solid mid- to late-round target. Tyler Fox’s decent stuff (85-90 FB, three usable offspeed pitches) could play up enough in shorter bursts professionally to hang around a bit.

North Dakota State

There are a lot of pitchers on this staff with standout peripherals. I think the most interesting of the bunch are Alex Rogers (upper-80s FB that he commands well), Brian VanderWoude (above-average changeup, good size), Parker Trewin (above-average slider, but one of the older players in this draft), and Sean Terres (another good slider).

Oral Roberts

I like this group of Oral Roberts hitters maybe more than I should. Nick Rotola is an intriguing potential utility player with a nice blend of defense, speed, athleticism, and contact skills. I’ve long been fascinated by Brent Williams’s upside as a hitter; his 2016 had good (.310 BA and .478 SLG) and not so good (.344 OBP after just 13 BB/33 K). Rolando Martinez has flashed some pop and on-base skills of his own. Noah Cummings has hit since first arriving on campus. On the pitching side, Kyler Stout stands out for his solid stuff despite a rough 2016 season. I’m also curious about two-way player Holden Cammack.

South Dakota State

Paul Jacobson and Jesse Munsterman are potential late-round senior-signs on the strength of their decent bats and up-the-middle defensive profiles. Andrew Clemen is in the same boat as a righthanded pitcher capable of living 88-92 with a pair of usable secondaries. Ryan Froom and Ethan Kenkel both might have to wait until they are potential senior-signs themselves in 2017, but each guy has shown enough in the way of pro stuff to get some draft attention sooner rather than later.

Western Illinois

Joe Mortillaro throws hard and with sink. Nick Milligan can match his 94 MPH heat. Preston Church does it more with deception and offspeed, but he’s no slouch in the velocity department as a lefty who can run it up to 91. I could see Adam McGinnis and Chris Tschida being handy pros to have around due to the fact both can play multiple spots on the diamond. I think both have more work to do offensively before getting their shot as 2017 senior-signs.

Horizon

Illinois-Chicago

Connor Ryan has more stuff than results. Jake Dahlberg and Trevor Lane both do the effectively wild thing well. I think I like Gabe Dwyer and David Cronin best among the bats, but could see the two redshirt-sophomores staying two more seasons each. Then they’d be the same age as current redshirt-senior and decent draft prospect Conor Philbin.

Northern Kentucky

Not much here. Maybe Logan Spurlin as a late-round catcher. Or Aric Harris as a late-round arm. Late-round is the common factor, I guess.

Oakland

Connor Fannon hasn’t pitched much in three years, but his size and breaking ball make him worth some late round consideration. I’ve long liked the approach of Zach Sterry, a damn good hitter with legitimate average or better raw power. Mike Brousseau has a ton of quality college at bats to his name; he deserves a shot in pro ball. By the way, I don’t believe the Oakland (California) A’s have ever drafted a player from the Oakland (Michigan) Grizzles. Might I suggest a late-round pick on Brousseau in 2016?

Valparaiso

This roster is full of players who are just good enough to get some draft consideration without having any one player anywhere approaching a draft lock. I actually have twelve draft-eligible maybes that I’m going back and forth on including in the final rankings. Dalton Lundeen is probably the best pitching prospect thanks to his size, decent velocity (85-88 as a starter), and long track record of success. I have Luke Syens, an outfielder on the roster who didn’t pitch at all this year, as having a low-90s fastball and average or better breaking ball in my notes. Assuming I didn’t just make that up, he’s pretty interesting if you want to go mega-deep sleeper. Josh Clark or Shea Molitor might be the best hitters, though I guess you could make a case for Jake Hanson if you’re a believer in small sample breakthroughs.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Eric Solberg is talented enough to play pro ball, but it might take another season of proving that at the college level first. Luke Meeteer is no longer afforded that luxury, though it shouldn’t really matter as his speed, pop, and patience all add up to a definite pro for me. Jay Peters and Brian Keller both live in the low-90s and should be drafted in the mid-rounds.

Wright State

I’ll say this about more than a few guys before June 9th, but Sean Murphy will become one of the draft’s best values the moment he falls out of the first round. I think he’s going to be a really good big league starting catcher for a long time. I kept that short and sweet for now because Murphy’s teammate Mitch Roman deserves some attention as well. Roman hasn’t received anywhere close to the same notoriety as potential first round teammate, but he’s still a really damn good draft prospect. He’s a fine hitter with above-average speed and a strong arm. There are some defensive questions that still need answering, but I don’t see why a utility infield floor isn’t within reach. The Wright State staff is chock full of pitchers with pinpoint control. Jesse Scholtens, Robby Sexton, and Jack Van Horn all have BB/9’s between 1.60 and 1.63. All are legit prospects, especially Scholtens and Sexton. I’d also throw undersized sidearming lefthander EJ Trapino as a potential late-round draft sleeper. Derek Hendrixson combines both traits – undersized with impeccable control – and could hear his name called even after missing the entirety of the past season.

Youngstown State

I don’t have a great feel for which Penguin(s) are on the draft radar, so put me down for Kevin Yarabinec as being the most likely to be selected. He’s got big league reliever stuff, but not the kind of track record of a typical draft pick. A team that buys Andrew Kendrick’s power could take a shot on him, but with two years of eligibility remaining he seems like a safe bet to stick around campus.

Independent

New York Tech

Joe Daru has hit for a fascinating blend of power and speed this year. The approach isn’t where you want it to be, but when talking late-round possibilities you can’t have it all. Louis Mele has the longer track record of hitting for power and a slightly more agreeable approach, but nowhere near the same speed. Both are definite maybes late in the draft.

Big West

Cal Poly

Justin Calomeni has a chance to be one of the fastest movers in this class. Slater Lee is probably a better 2017 senior-sign candidate than a real 2016 draft threat, but it could happen. Brett Barbier has some defensive questions to answer, but the bat looks good enough to give him a go in the pro game.

Cal State Fullerton

There are a ton of quality arms here worth watching on draft day: Chad Hockin, Miles Chambers, Blake Quinn, Henry Omaña, Dylan Prohoroff, Scott Serigstad, and Maxwell Gibbs. Offensively names like Josh Vargas, Timmy Richards, Tanner Pinkston, and Dalton Blaser stand out as the best of the bunch.

Cal State Northridge

Yusuke Akitoshi and Branden Berry both look like solid organizational guys who might just give you a bit more than that. Like Fullerton, there are a ton of pitchers here that should be on boards around the league. Conner O’Neil and Kenny Rosenberg are the best of the bunch. I’m finally ready to quit Spencer O’Neil.

Hawaii

I don’t want to talk about it. Josh Rojas was a disaster. Marcus Doi was a disaster. Josh Pigg was a disaster. At least Jacob Sheldon-Collins and Brendan Hornung held up their end of the bargain. Matt Valencia was the definition of effectively wild in 2016: 10.43 K/9  and 5.79 BB/9 in 23.1 IP led to a 0.39 ERA.

Long Beach State

The obvious headliner here is Garrett Hampson, a slick fielding middle infielder with averages (give or take) dotting his scouting card in all areas except power. If you really believe in him, there could be enough here for a decent regular. Even if you don’t, then a potential utility future seems like a relatively safe bet. Fellow infielder Zach Domingues has long been a FAVORITE for his outstanding approach, but even I have to finally admit that the power deficiency is going to be too much for him overcome as a prospect. College guys who walk twice as much as whiff will always hold a special place in my heart, dimmed pro future or not. Eric Hutting came close to getting a spot in the rankings based on his defense, but the bat just isn’t enough. Austin McGeorge is one of the better arms that nobody seems to be talking about. He’s got enough stuff – not great, but enough at 88-92 with an average or better low-80s slider – that a team that emphasizes performance (13.89 K/9) should take him sooner than the majority might expect. Josh Advocate, Kyle Brown, and Ty Provencher all could have done enough themselves to get drafted. Lucas Jacobsen is a new name for me, but he’s a lefthander with size who missed bats. I’m intrigued. Keep in mind that Long Beach’s home park plays huge; their pitchers may not be quite what they seem and their hitters could have a little more upside than they’ve shown.

UC Davis

There are a few names worth some draft consideration on the UC Davis roster – I have five if we’re being precise – but I think Cameron Olson is probably the most appealing. His power and arm give him two big league tools, but his defense and approach at the plate remain rough around the edges. I think it’s an overall package worth spending a pick on, but mid-round college catchers tend to get picked largely on the strength of their defense, an area that remains a work in progress for Olson. We’ll see.

UC Irvine

There’s not a ton here to love, but…I just realized that the Big West season has another weekend to go. Figured that they’d wrap up the same time as the other conferences even without a tournament of their own, but was very wrong. I’m pausing on this conference for now, though I think all of the notes from above still stand. I just don’t want to have to look up stats for all these teams again after they wrap up regular season play in a few days. We’ll come back to this in about a week.

UC Riverside

UC Santa Barbara

MEAC

Bethune-Cookman

I liked Demetrius Sims coming into the year. Still do, but now it might be best for him to remain in school for at least another season to further refine his approach at the plate. Nathan Bond is a fun potential senior-sign who has shown consistent on-base skills over the years. Clay Middleton is a steady defender behind the plate and a useful contributor at it; in a class awash with college catching, I think he fits in the mid-rounds for a team willing to do a deep dive into the MEAC. Same goes for Michael Cruz, certified hitting machine. Cruz hit at on in junior college and really didn’t miss a beat in his first year for the Wildcats. I’m very intrigued. Alex Seibold and Zach Olszewski both hit the low-90s with nice breaking balls, so projecting some middle relief on their futures isn’t out of line. German Hernandez won’t blow it by anybody, but he’s got some sinker/slider appeal.

Coppin State

Any opportunity I can get to tout the merits of a player named George Dragon, I’m taking it. It’s a tough profile as a first baseman/corner outfielder (maybe), but who am I to doubt a Dragon? Never seen a minute of Game of Thrones, by the way. John Kraft slugged .741 this year. He went from .383 as a sophomore to .328 as a junior to .741. Good luck with that evaluation, scouts.

Delaware State

Jaylen Zielecki has some interesting tools to work with (arm, speed, athleticism), but is probably a year away with the bat. Cameron Onderko was a preseason sleeper that never really woke up. I like OF/RHP Chris Gonzalez, a former Delaware State standout who hit pretty well at Mercyhurst after transferring this past year. Figured I’d give him a mention here since my forthcoming Mercyhurst section might get overlooked otherwise.

Florida A&M

I’m a big fan of this roster. Jacky Miles gives the draft yet another viable mid- to late-round college catcher who can stick at the position and give you a little something offensively. Marlon Gibbs is a great athlete with tons of bat speed. Dylan Dillard is a well-rounded corner outfielder with some thump. Undersized second baseman Alec Wong has always had a mature approach and steady glove, but added an extra layer of senior season pop this year. There are a ton of interesting arms, but no slam dunk draft picks. I like JoJo Durden best since he’s got the crafty level thing down pat. I really wanted to tout Brandon Fleming and his upper-70s submarined fastball and Frisbee sliders, but his senior season didn’t quite go as planned. Still a fun college story, so at least there’s that.

Maryland-Eastern Shore

Nobody jumps off the page, but Mike Escanilla could get a late look as a dependable defensive middle infielder with a little bit of bat and speed.

Norfolk State

Robbie Hiser didn’t pitch in 2016, but he still might be the Spartans best prospect. Guys with low-90s fastballs tend to be remembered even when they aren’t actually on the mound consistently. Devin Hemmerich is his top challenger as an upper-80s lefty coming off three stellar seasons. Denathan Dukes is the most intriguing position player prospect.

North Carolina A&T

I have Timothy Ravare, Danny Garrett, and Robert Peck listed as the maybes from the team that inspired this line from an email from me: “Just wrote up a prospect for a 13-41 North Carolina A&T team with a 7.26 ERA. Notable because that ERA led the team.” Rough year for the Aggies.

North Carolina Central

Andrew Vernon is legit. Good fastball, good slider, and great results. Love him as a mid- to late-round reliever. Alex Dandridge isn’t half-bad, either. James Dey was one of college ball’s most effective yet overlooked two-way performers. He’s a viable prospect as either a catcher or a righthanded reliever. Carlos Ortiz is probably the team’s best hitting prospect, but I’m partial to Ellington Hopkins, a 5-6, 175 pound do-everything utility guy. I’m already putting him down as one of my favorite players in college ball for 2017.

Savannah State

Charles Sikes can hit some. His power has gone backwards each year since 2014, but he’s still a draft possibility in this class devoid of big-time bats.

Ohio Valley

Austin Peay

Bats everywhere. I love this team. Logan Gray’s approach never took the step forward I was hoping to see (his sophomore to junior numbers are eerily similar), but he’s still so tooled up otherwise that he’s more than justified being a long-time FAVORITE. This class is dying for real third base prospects, so a raw yet highly athletic guy like Gray is very much welcomed. I like Ridge Smith a lot as a potential Swiss Army knife do-everything defensive prospect at the next level. He can catch, play first and third, and even hang in the outfield. Dre Gleason has loads of power and strength, two things lacking in this class. Garrett Copeland is one of the best second base prospects in the country that nobody talks about. He’s got nice speed, pop, and a sound approach at the plate. Cayce Bredlau (limited at bats in 2016) and Chase Hamilton both have shown enough athletically and over the years to warrant some draft consideration. Alex Robles is an underrated two-way player who is good enough to either play third or pitch at the next level. Jared Carkuff definitely has the stuff (90-94 FB, above-average 82-84 SL) to make some noise in the pros. I’m glad I gave myself unofficial space limits on this whole exercise because I could have gone on even longer about the prospects on this team.

Belmont

The top two hitters here slid back a bit in 2016, but still should get drafted based on their tools and overall track record. Tyler Walsh can really run and defend up the middle, but he’s a long lever kind of hitter prone to swinging and missing. If a team thinks they can tweak his hitting mechanics some, he could be a “where did this guy come from?” player in the pros. Tyler Fullerton has similar pop and a similarly inconsistent approach at the plate. I’m intrigued by Brennan Washington as a big arm/big power late-round gamble. Aaron Quillen has now had two years of excellent peripherals and solid stuff (88-92 FB) to go with it.

Eastern Illinois

Matt Wivinis headlines this squad. Armed with a solid sinker (88-92, 93 peak), a slider that flashes above-average, and a fastball he’s shown some ability to cut, he could be one of those late-round relief prospects who moves slowly and steadily up the pro ladder. I thought Demetre Taylor was primed for a monster final college season, but the powerful outfielder was more good than great. Still think there’s a home for him late in the draft somewhere.

Eastern Kentucky

Kyle Nowlin, Mandy Alvarez, and Doug Teegarden are three of the best senior-signs at their respective positions in the country. I’m fascinated to see how Nowlin’s high BB% and K% will translate to pro ball; maybe it’s a cop-out, but I think he’s either going to be a really good player or a total washout with little middle ground. Alvarez does so much well at the plate that I think he’ll make whatever team is willing to bet on his defense remaining solid at the hot corner very happy. Teegarden isn’t normally mentioned in the same breath as the other two, but as a reliable middle infielder with some pop and an approach that should translate well to pro ball, he’s a good one. Alex Hamilton is the best junior prospect on the team. He’s been hit around the past two years, but has kept his peripherals solid and flashed some nice stuff (88-91 FB, above-average SL) from the left side.

Jacksonville State

There are some interesting hitters here for teams that weigh performance heavily. I still favor Paschal Petrongolo due to his power, strength, and name. Gavin Golsan’s best running abilities could get him on the radar. Justin Hoyt has been the definition of effectively wild these past two years. His most recent year: 11.67 K/9, 5.00 BB/9, 1.00 ERA. Nate Sylvester loves whole numbers: 9.00 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, and 3.00 ERA in 39.0 innings.

Morehead State

Jimmy Wright had a small sample breakout in 2016. Alex Stephens is a good athlete with some bat speed at third base. Ryan Kent is a well-rounded outfielder with a solid approach. Those guys are the undercard for the impressive collection of pitching assembled at Morehead State. Matt Anderson is a favorite that proved this year he’s ready for pro ball. With a solid fastball (88-92, 94 peak), plus change, and an average or better breaking ball, I think he can keep starting in the pros. He’s one of the best senior-sign out there from both a stuff and performance perspective. Tyler Keele has a well above-average fastball (87-94, 95 peak) that grades higher than the velocity might suggest thanks to the movement he gets on it. With two interesting yet inconsistent offspeed pitches, there’s hope he can make his way to a big league bullpen one day. Patrick McGuff and Craig Pearcy have also flashed pro stuff in the past.

Murray State

Tyler Lawrence gets lost in the overwhelming amount of college catching in this class, but the ability is there for him to be a productive big league player for a long time. I buy the bat in a big way and think he has some sneaky potential star upside. Adam Bauer is an intriguing blend of power, approach, and steady, and at 6-4, 190 pounds he has the body to dream on. Brandon Gutzler has my attention as a small sample size superstar: .385/.474/.723 with 8 BB/9 K in just 65 AB makes him one of the draft’s low-key mystery men for teams that weigh performance heavily. Andrew Bramley has a good arm and stuff that can help him miss a lot of bats (12.70 K/9 this past year), but is crazy wild. If you think it can be fixed, then he’s on the board as a mid-round potential reliever. I have no notes on Tyler Anderson or Ryan Dills, but both young men have eye-popping peripherals. Good enough for an internet hack like me!

Southern Illinois Edwardsville

I love Keaton Wright. Nobody is talking about him because nobody (with very few exceptions) talks about players outside of the first hundred or so best prospects in the draft (not to mention that not many spend much time on Southern Illinois Edwardsville), but they should be. He’s on my current short list of best college first base prospects in this entire class. If there’s a mid- to late-round college first baseman that shocks everybody years down the line with how he lasted that long in the draft, he’ll be it. Admittedly the chances of this are low – we’re all looking for the next Paul Goldschmidt, but that might have been a once in a lifetime find – though that’s not a reason to quit looking. PJ Schuster, Connor Buenger, and Jarrett Bednar all have quality stuff, but all had curiously terrible draft years.

Southeast Missouri State

Of the many interesting bats on the Redhawks roster, three stand out to me. Dan Holst is the best all-around talent with plus speed, an average or better hit tool, some real pop, and just enough range in center to profile as a viable defender in all three outfield spots. His arm might be a little light for right, but that’s getting down to nit-picking territory. He’s a really good player. Garrett Gandolfo also jumped off the page for me. He’s crushed the ball in back-to-back seasons. Then there’s Chris Osborne. I don’t know what kind of pro Osborne will be (or if he’ll be one at all), but I can’t not mention a player who slugged .803 this past year. Of the six pitchers I have in my draft pile, I like Joey Lucchesi best. Big lefthanders with low-90s fastballs, deceptive deliveries, and senior years when they strike out over 13 batters per nine are easy to like. Clay Chandler, Robert Beltran, and Justin Murphy are all also worthy of a draft pick this year.

Tennessee Tech

Tennessee transfer Jake Rowland seemed primed for a big draft year, but never got the chance to get things going. That may have opened the door for another Jake (Farr) to overtake him as the team’s best position player prospect. The best prospect overall is probably one of Trevor Maloney or Jake Usher. Usher’s edge in control gives him the advantage, but it’s close.

Tennessee-Martin

Collin Edwards was a pre-season FAVORITE, but the redshirt-sophomore will likely have to wait another year or two to hear his name called.

Northeast

Bryant

I’m sure I’ve said it about three teams already, but this right here is my favorite roster so far. Matt Albanese has average or better big league regular upside and should be in the conversation with the second tier of college outfielders with a chance to sneak into the draft’s top two or three rounds. Cole Fabio is a FAVORITE who ranks as one of the better second base prospects in the class. Robby Rinn is a dependable bat with lots of the strength and power. I really like how he’s continuously found ways to get better as a player over the years. Dan Cellucci, Buck McCarthy, and AJ Zarozny are all reliable up-the-middle defenders who can give you a little something extra with the bat. Brandon Bingel has to be on the short list of any best two-way college player ranking. And even Zach Wood, a player not on my radar coming into the year, has found a way to do enough with the bat to give him at least a shot at a late-round selection. For those of you not counting along at home, that’s eight hitters with a chance to be drafted off the 2016 Bryant Bulldogs squad. Impressive stuff. On the pitching side, unless you really like James Davitt and his mid-80s heat and average or better changeup, I’d recommend waiting a year for future first round pick James Karinchak.

Central Connecticut State

We needed another good defensive catcher with a strong class in this college class, right? And another plus athlete with serious wheels in the outfield? Need another one of those too. The Blue Devils best two hitting prospects, Connor Fitzsimmons and Franklin Jennings, both fit the mold of what we’ve come to expect as this draft’s biggest strengths.

Fairleigh Dickinson

Logan Frati is a good enough arm to get drafted and hang around in pro ball for a few years. John Giakas had some sterling stats in his senior season swan song. Ryan Brennan has a cannon for an arm – he doubled as the team’s closer – and some interesting offensive skills. Matt McCann is an up-the-middle glove who makes a lot of contact and has a solid approach.

Long Island-Brooklyn

There are a lot of pitchers on this roster with enough stuff for the pros, but none that have put up the kind of numbers we’ve come to expect with a potential draft pick. By virtue of not pitching much (1.1 inning) in 2016, I guess Bobby Maxwell is the best of the lot. There are some bats worth considering late, most notably Tommy Jakubowski and Brian Lamboy. The latter appeals to me as any hitter who has pulled off a 54 BB/18 K ratio over his final two college seasons might.

Mount St. Mary’s

Not a ton here. I’d be stunned if they had anybody drafted this year, but Chad Diehl, Ryan Owens, or Tyler Post stand the best chance.

Sacred Heart

I really liked Zack Short coming into the year. I still like him, but selling a team on him would be a tougher task now that he’s coming off the worst of his three college seasons to date. It wasn’t a bad year, but just not his best work. I believe in him defensively being able to stick at shortstop and think there’s a chance his all-around offensive game is enough to potentially make him a regular. As promising as that is, Jason Foley tops him as the team’s best current prospect. His split-change is one of the better pitches in the class. Armed with that pitch, a solid fastball (88-93), and an average or better upper-70s curve, Foley could be a back of the rotation starter or late inning reliever.

Wagner

Austin Goeke and Mike Adams are both good arms that could do good things in pro ball. Goeke has the better size (6-5, 200), better offspeed pitch (above-average change), and better recent run of success (7.49 K/9 in 2016). Adams has a bit more present velocity. Offensively, Nick Mascelli and Ben Ruta have some utility player upside.

MAAC

Canisius

Jake Lumley and Anthony Massicci give this team a pair of middle infield prospects worth drafting. Iannick Remillard is a strong senior-sign candidate on the strength of a fastball that lives between 88-93 and a pair of worthwhile offspeed pitches (slider and split-change).

Fairfield

I don’t have any draft-worthy arms here for 2016, but there are a handful (up to five) of hitting prospects that could slip into the very late rounds. Among them I like Jake Salpietro best, though I’d be surprised if any Stags are drafted this year.

Iona

I have Matt Byrne and Alex Fishberg both down as possible picks, but both are pretty extreme long shots.

Manhattan

Joey Rocchietti and Matt Simonetti have pro stuff, but down draft years (the former’s peripherals were merely decent and the latter didn’t pitch) might necessitate a return engagement in 2017. Shawn Kanwisher, a guy I know next to nothing about otherwise, has such a good looking 2016 (10.47 K/9, 2.94 BB/9, 2.57 ERA in 49.0 IP) that a team that knows more (and likes more) about him than just his stat line could be interested on draft day. I personally remain interested in Jose Carrera, the tiny potential utility infielder with above-average speed and more arm strength and pop than his 5-6, 145 pound frame suggests. Senior-sign first baseman/outfielder Christian Santisteban is one of my favorite late-round hitting targets.

Marist

Scott Boches, Graham McIntire, and Joey Aiola all have a shot to be drafted. All have their ups and downs as prospects. Boches has size (6-6, 200) and a good fastball (low-90s), but an inconsistent track record. McIntire is a good runner with questionable power. Aiola is a steady glove with speed and a patient approach, but is likely locked into second base.

Monmouth

Shaine Hughes is my kind of hitter. I don’t know how signable he’ll be as a redshirt-sophomore, but he’ll be higher on my board than anywhere else. I also like a lot of the hitters on this roster. Anthony Ciavarella, Frank Trimarco, and Ricky Dennis all have pro stuff. Ciavarella and Trimarco are both lefties with good offspeed pitches (CB for former, CU for latter), and Dennis has solid heat (87-90), good control, and intriguing size (6-8, 220).

Niagara

Hard to find a Purple Eagle with a realistic draft hope this year, though Michael Fuhrman’s power gives him an outside chance. Cody Eckerson is an undersized redshirt-sophomore lefty who pitched well enough this year to maybe get a little love from a numbers-inclined team.

Quinnipiac

Rapid fire takes on a deceptively loaded Bobcats roster. Joseph Burns, a St. John’s transfer, is a smart hitter with a big-time arm at third. Mike Palladino is an athletic center fielder with speed who has never been able to put it all together as a hitter. Lou Iannotti runs well – and not just for a catcher – and is a standout defender behind the dish. Matt Batten is another really good glove at either short or second with solid speed and a good approach. Rob Pescitelli has intriguing size and has hit consistently well over the years. Alex Vargas is a confusing prospect: mid-90s heat, small stature (5-11, 190), and wild as it gets (13.34 BB/9). Thomas Jankins doesn’t have that velocity (he’s 88-90), but the confidence he has in his three offspeed pitches makes him a damn fine mid-round prospect. Greg Egan, Justin Thomas, and Matthew Osieja all do just enough well to stay on the draft radar.

Rider

It’s all about Vincenzo Aiello for Rider. Now necessarily because he’s a sure-fire draft prospect – he isn’t, but his three-pitch mix (88-92 FB, 74-78 breaking ball, CU) and size make him interesting enough – but because it’s a relatively thin year for the Broncs.

Siena

Kyano Cummings intrigues me as a lefty with a plus splitter. Chris Amorosi has an above-average changeup. Bryan Goossens has flashed better stuff (88-92, 94 peak) than his results have shown. Fred Smart and Ryne Martinez are hitters with some promise, though Martinez’s 2016 left a great deal to be desired. I think the best guy here is Dan Swain, a really underrated outfielder with athleticism, speed, and considerable pop.

St. Peter’s

There’s probably not a draft-worthy player here. Rob Moore hit really well, so he’s got an outside shot. Jon Kristoffersen is a sure-handed shortstop with some offensive upside.

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