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LSU Tigers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

I had started this a few months ago, but now all of the 2010 draft-eligible Tigers (unless I’m missing anybody, of course) are complete. Check it out. For those not to be bothered clicking a link, some quick thoughts about LSU’s 2010 draft class below the link…

LSU Tigers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

Ranaudo is obviously the big prize and a heck of a prospect despite some of the hemming and hawing I’ve done about his place among the very top talents of the 2010 draft. I think he’s suffering from a little bit of overanalysis, a fate that all too often befalls the cream of the draft crop. I know I’m guilty of some of this microanalysis; high profile high school stars turned college prospects like Ranaudo wind up being in the scouting spotlight for four years, minimum. Call it reverse shiny new toy syndrome. Rusty old toy syndrome? No, that’s too negative sounding. Overlooked old prospect syndrome? I like it. That way, when you miss on a good college player because you’ve spent too much time focusing on his flaws and not appreciating all the good things he brings to the table, you can just chalk it up to OOPS.

It’s a shame that Jones is going to the NFL, but it’s hard to fault a guy with a rock solid second round grade and clear impact potential on the gridiron. I’d do cartwheels if he fell to the Eagles in the third, by the way. I mentioned in the writeup that I think Landry better prepare himself for a season of Jared Mitchell comparisons, but I now wonder if his stock will rise up that high in the eyes of the majority. Players with a plus raw power/plus athleticism combination are right in my wheelhouse, so I’m willing to stick with Landry for better or worse this spring.

Gibbs’ status as a prospect has vacillated between underrated to overrated back to underrated in my head all over the past two months. His strengths play into a lot of what I value highly from a catching prospect (strong defense, experience catching high profile arms, good plate discipline), but one of his biggest perceived (by me) weaknesses (in-game power) may have been overstated (again, by me). Long story short, I like Gibbs now more than ever, but still think he’ll end up being a steal in rounds 2-3 rather than a reach in round 1 or the supplemental first.

I’m very optimistic about Dishon, less so about Bradshaw, and pretty much in line with the consensus view on Ross. The idea that at least one of Dean, Gaudet, or Koeneman can make it as a big league bench bat someday appeals to me, as does the thought of Ben Alsup usurping the role of “next Lou Coleman” right out from Bradshaw’s nose. Lastly, I’m excited to see Blake Dean, the best of the aforementioned potential big league bench bats, give first base a whirl this season. All the reports from Baton Rogue are encouraging enough that I’d like to see the big guy at work.

College Team Profiles: Minnesota Golden Gophers

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class.

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.


JR OF/C Mike Kvasnicka (2010) possesses one of the longest swings of any major prospect in the 2010 draft. This is a good thing when he makes contact (I’ve heard both the thwack! of the bat in the Northwoods League and the ping! at Minnesota, both very impressive), but a very bad thing when up against pitchers with effective offspeed stuff. Kvasnicka has struck out 103 times in 438 college at bats. Any regular reader knows that I’m firmly entrenched in the strikeouts are no worse than any other kind of out camp, but that only really applies to big leaguers. There is something to be said for high-K rates being an indicator of poor contact abilities for minor leaguers and amateurs.  If I was told I’d be drafting the current iteration of Kvasnicka, then I’m not sure I’d be too happy selecting a hitter who I won’t think will make enough contact to be a regular. Luckily, nobody is drafting the February version of any potential draft pick. Any team drafting Kvasnicka isn’t getting the Kvasnicka of February, 2010; they’ll get the player he will be someday down the line. Given the fact that Kvasnicka is a plus athlete with a well-rounded toolset (good speed, decent arm, plus raw power), there should be plenty of teams interested to see if he can figure it all out professionally, long swing and strikeouts be damned. His draft stock (already pretty solid – round 4-7 is my current guess) gets a bump if teams buy into his defensive abilities behind the plate.

JR RHP Scott Matyas (2010) has experienced serious success (78 strikeouts in 60.2 college innings) with his 88-91 MPH fastball, good cutter, above-average low-70s curve, and plus command. He’s a good athlete with great size (6-4, 215) that has recovered nicely from high school Tommy John surgery. His mechanics are now a lot cleaner than they were back then, and his durability has gone from a question mark to a strength. He’s a reliever all the way, but a darn good one.

JR RHP Seth Rosin (2010) is build like a tank (6-6, 245) with the heavy artillery (sinking fastball at 88-92 MPH, peaking at 94) to go to battle. He’s secondary stuff (inconsistent mid-70s CB and a low-80s CU that needs a ton of work) currently lags behind, but I know of plenty scouts who believe both pitches will develop into at least usable options by the time he hits the high minors. Those scouts see him as a possible back of the rotation starter down the line, but I think his ceiling is closer to that of Boof Bonser. I know Bonser has 60 big league starts to his credit, but they were largely ineffectual innings. Now that he has switched to the bullpen in Boston, I’ve got a hunch that Bonser’s stuff will play up and make him an effective reliever going forward. Rosin’s future could very well play out the same way. Ineffectual fifth starter or dependable middle reliever? You make the call.

JR RHP Dustin Klabunde (2010) was a more highly sought after prospect coming out of high school than Mike Kvasnicka thanks in large part to a fastball peaking up past 95 MPH. Unfortunately, even after two seasons of college ball, Klabunde still has no idea where the ball is going once it leaves his hand (16 walks in 22.1 innings). I can envision a scenario where a scout sees him on a good day and falls in love with the heat, but not to the point where I’d be confident predicting he gets himself drafted in 2010.

JR RHP Cullen Sexton (2010) gets a lot of love in certain scouting circles, but it’s hard to see why. For a guy who is a reliever all the way, he’d need to have knockout stuff to rise up draft boards. Well, at this point anyway, that’s just not the case. He currently sits 86-90 with his fastball, complementing it with an iffy mid-70s curve with come-and-go command. His college splits page doesn’t reveal much (not a huge sampling of innings for a college reliever), but it is interesting to note that Sexton’s already subpar 5.34 ERA was actually saved by a slew of unearned runs scoring on his watch (7.22 RA). One positive, however, was the fact that in 2009 opponents only slugged .330 off of him. Not sure what any of that means in a larger sense, but figured they were at least worth mentioning. Anyway, Sexton has been picked twice by the Brewers already, so file that player/team match away on draft day.

SR C Kyle Knudson (2010) is a good athlete with a strong arm. He also has some pop and a big league ready frame, but the total tools package still comes up short. He’s not a real prospect at this point, but could get himself a professional job filling out a rookie ball roster if a team is in need of a reliable backstop. Catchers are always in demand, you know.

JR LHP Luke Rasmussen (2010) is a crafty lefthander capable of either starting or relieving. He’s an excellent athlete who has put up decent collegiate numbers thus far, so he earns the right to go on my personal mental follow list. We’ll check back in on his progress as the spring rolls along. As an aside, I love the Pro-Alumni games that some colleges put on. Minnesota’s Pro-Alumni team included Dan Wilson, Jack Hannahan, Robb Quinlan, and Derek McCallum, a personal favorite out of the 2009 draft. Where else could you see that collection of random talent on one field? I’d love to make Pro-Alumni rosters of other colleges, maybe that is something to consider for next offseason. Anyway, to finally bring this all back together, Rasmussen got the start in the Pro-Alumni game for the Gophers. He threw 2.2 perfect innings, striking out two (including Hannahan…though it should be pointed out Hannahan has a career .227/.303/.318 line against lefties).

JR LHP Phil Isaksson (2010) is another pitchability lefthander with a suboptimal fastball (mid-80s) who gets by with good command and an above-average breaking ball (in Isaksson’s case, a curve). Prospects like this are hard to judge. It’s easy to dismiss them because they are so common at this level, but every now and then one slips through the cracks and becomes a legitimate player to watch. I’m not saying Isaksson is one to watch

JR OF Brooks Albrecht (2010) came to Minnesota as a walk-on. He’s done a fine job of taking that opportunity and running with it so far, but this will be a make or break year in his development. We know that he is a good athlete with a big league body, but that’s about it. He is in position to earn more regular time in outfield this year.

SR RHP Allen Bechstein (2010) is one of only two seniors on the Gopher roster. He is a small righthander (6-0, 175) without overpowering stuff coming off a disaster of a junior season (43 hits allowed in 22.1 innings pitched). I’d say something bold here like “I’d walk to Minnesota if Bechstein gets drafted!” but I simply don’t have the guts. What can I say? I’m no Jim Rooker.

JR RHP Scott Fern (2010) has an average fastball and below-average secondary stuff. Hey, did you know there is no such thing as red fern? For anybody who has ever read Where the Red Fern Grows, this is a complete disappointment. Also, Scott Fern isn’t really a pro prospect.

JR RHP Tim Ryan (2010) certainly looks the part (6-5, 200), but his only real claim to fame from a baseball perspective comes from being the son of former Twins general manager Terry Ryan. I’m not one to stir the pot or anything, but does anybody else think a high school prospect who only struck out 37 batters in 55 innings probably wouldn’t be on a major college baseball roster unless he had either a) compromising photos of an AD, or b) a famous last name? That’s how both Billy Rockefeller and Walter Einstein got on the roster at Eastern State Technical University, I heard. Gooooooo ESTU!

JR SS Drew Hanish (2010) has an older brother playing in the Yankees system; that’s as close as he’ll get to professional ball.

Wichita State Shockers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

Another day, another (mostly) completed College Team Profile. All of the 2010 draft-eligible Shockers, from Coy to Gilmore, can now lay claim to at least getting a little attention from this tiny corner the internet. You can find the updated list by either scrolling down the page a bit or clicking right here:

Wichita State Shockers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

So far, I’ve completed 2010 College Team Profiles on Virginia, Stanford, and 90% of LSU. Those are some of the best of the best programs college baseball has to offer, bursting at the seams with easily identifiable talent all over the diamond. Wichita State, a damn fine program in its own right, can’t exactly claim to match the star power of those potential top-ten schools on a consistent basis, but still offers up an intriguing mix of high risk, high upside prospects, highlighted (see what I did there?) by draft-eligible freshman Johnny Coy and draft-eligible sophomore Jordan Cooper. I’m personally a much bigger believer in Coy than I am in Cooper, but the consensus opinion still regards Cooper as the top draft-eligible Shocker. Maybe I just really want to see an NBA-sized MLB third baseman whose name isn’t Ryan Minor, I don’t know.

Coy and Cooper are locks to be drafted and really smart bets to be drafted quite high. After those two, however, things get far dicier for Wichita’s 2010 draft-eligibles. Ryan Jones and Tim Kelley should both find their way onto team’s draft boards in the mid-rounds (10-20, I’d guess), but, really, those are the only four players I feel 100% confident will get drafted off the Wichita State roster. Two of my favorite sleepers (Preston Springer and Cobey Guy) need to have the big seasons I’m predicting they will to get serious draft love; Springer’s bat is one to watch and his value will shoot up if a team believes he can handle third again, while Guy’s above-average stuff and sterling collegiate numbers ought to get him noticed by somebody, somewhere. A couple of two-way players, Mitch Caster and Clint McKeever, round out the list of Shockers with at least a glimmer of hope to be drafted in 2010. Caster is the better prospect, but McKeever could latch on with a club in the last few rounds for his versatility, if nothing else.

Tyler Fleming has been drafted twice by Texas already (2006 and 2007), so would it really surprise anybody to see the Rangers spend a late pick on him? Fleming wouldn’t normally be a player to keep an eye on, but he clearly is on the radar of at least one big league team that we know of.

One guy I’ve actually heard positive things about since initially posting the list has been Will Baez. I still question his power, but his upside at second base was described to me as being a “reverse Carlos Ruiz.” Ruiz made the switch from second base to catcher shortly after being signed by the Phillies. Baez is one year removed from making the full-time switch from catching to playing second. In other words, Baez could be a prospect as a player with a limited ceiling with the bat, but a strong enough glove at his new position to provide net positive value. That doesn’t jive with my assessment of his defense (“shaky”), but, like I said, I’ve heard positive things about his progress this past fall/winter, especially with the glove.

I’m surprised about the weird idiosyncratic writing tics that I completely miss while writing, but then suddenly appear so clearly to me after finishing one last edit. Like, I’m just now realizing I used the word “moonlighting” twice in a span of seven players. Not sure if that is more of an indictment of my writing ability (poor on a good day) or the piece-meal approach I take to doing these profiles (spreading out the writeups over the course of a week or so). I’d normally go back and edit one of them out, but moonlighting is such a cool word that I’m inclined to just let it stand.

Stanford Cardinal 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

Now that I’ve finally finished combing through all of the Stanford 2010 draft-eligible players, let’s take a moment to reflect on what kind of prospects could be coming to a local minor league ballpark near you…

Stanford Cardinal 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

Stanford’s big draft score will come in 2012, but the 2010 class isn’t without talent. Kiilsgaard is a tools guy with the kind of elite athleticism that makes you think he may just figure it out. Walsh’s biggest current flaw — poor power production — is a killer for most prospects, but the positive scouting reports on his power projection puts him in prime position to vault into the early rounds this June. I’m high on Kaskow and Marshall, but not too keen on Pracher. After those five prospects, things get dicey. Thompson, Schlander, Jones, and maybe Moon could all be late round picks, but I wouldn’t put any of their individual odds better than 50/50 at this point. The next group (Giuliani, Bannister, Gaylor, Clauson, Clowe) is made up of marginal talents who will need a lot of luck if they want to be considered as even undrafted rookie ball bodies.

Virginia Cavaliers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

Just a quick reminder that the College Team Profiles are designed to be an ongoing project meant to be continously updated. They are published as incomplete works in-progress, so try not to be concerned if a guy isn’t listed. That said, I always appreciate somebody pointing out when somebody they want to see isn’t on yet, especially when they then go on to plead the case of the omitted player. The explanation for the process of the College Team Profiles was never made explicit by me here on the main page, and I apologize for any confusion. I suppose that doesn’t really make this a reminder, but rather a clarification. Sorry. From this point forward I’m going to start with 2010 prospects for each university and then fill in the 2011 and 2012 players when I can. When I finish the complete set of 2010 players, I’ll provide a handy link and some quick thoughts for anybody still interested. It may look a little something like this…

Virginia Cavaliers 2010 Draft-Eligible Prospects

I think I’m probably too high on Grovatt, too low on Cannon, and all over the place with the pitchers, especially the four draft-eligible arms that fall in behind Morey. You could probably randomly reorder those four pitchers and the outcome wouldn’t necessarily look better or worse than what I’ve currently got. Not exactly something I’d want to put on my dust jacket (“Rankings almost as good as randomized lists!”), but it’s the truth. I’m also pretty sure my guesses at what round each player will be drafted in aren’t worth any more than the digital ink they are printed in. That aspect of the reports should get better in time, however, as we begin to get a better feel of the draft’s overall talent level. Like Lastings Milledge, Parker has true star potential, but there is a sizable gap between where he is now and where he needs to be if he wants to hit his ceiling. I really like that comp, in case you haven’t noticed. Grovatt, Morey, and Wilson all speak to me in a way that is hard to explain. As much as I consider myself to be a “high upside trumps up all” kind of guy, I like the idea of filling up a system with valuable role players (often high floor prospects) almost as much. If you can save on the margins (4th outfielders, back of the rotation starters, above-average middle relief), then you can use that saved cash on either retaining your own star-caliber players or trying to obtain a missing piece free agent on the open market. Guess this is just a way of saying it’s best to diversify your drafting to maximize your return – some upside early, some high floor guys in the middle, some high upside signability concerns late, etc.

I’m a little worried that I mention ten potential players from Virginia (from Parker down to Cannon) as being draft-worthy, but the number seems to be in line with what some big schools have done in recent years. The SEC has a breakdown of players drafted listed by each school in the conference, and a quick look revealed Florida had 10 guys selected last year while Georgia had 11 players picked. I feel better now about my high number. This is a damn fine Virginia team, so it makes sense that they’d bombard the 2010 MLB Draft with high quality prospects.

College Team Profiles: Wichita State Shockers

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class.

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.


2010

FR 3B/1B Johnny Coy (2010) has taken a long, strange trip to get to this point, but the eventual payoff could very well make it all worth it. Coy’s story began as a two-sport high school star, regarded by many as a better basketball prospect than baseball. After getting drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round, protracted and sometimes testy (allegedly) negotiations between player and team led to the two sides opting to go their separate ways. Coy’s older brother was reportedly heavily involved with negotiations, strongly pushing his bro to either a) get every last penny from the Phillies as possible (making him a greedy villain to many) or b) go to school and get a quality education. Coy wound up enrolling at Arizona State, but never made it to baseball season. He left the Sun Devils to move closer to home after his father suffered a stroke in late 2008. That led him to Wichita State. As a Shocker, Coy can now focus on honing his considerable baseball skills. All of his raw tools grade out as average or better – 55 speed, 60 arm, 65-70 raw power, average hit tool, and, perhaps most controversially, above-average upside with the glove at third. I remember not believing for a second that he’d ever stick at third after seeing video of him in high school, but all of the noise regarding his defensive progress coming out of Wichita has been positive. I’m a big believer in the big (6-8, 210 pound) righthanded freshman. As mentioned, Coy was a 7th round pick by the Phillies back in 2008. A good spring will get him three or four rounds higher than that, I think. All the typical signability concerns apply (Coy has three more seasons of eligibility left after this one), but the timing seems right for Coy to jump to pro ball, especially if his raw tools come together as quick as I believe.

SO RHP Jordan Cooper (2011) is coming off a fantastic freshman season and should once again thrive as Wichita State’s Saturday starter. His hard work on campus has helped him further develop his pro body and clean up his loose, easy, and repeatable throwing mechanics. He has a low-90s fastball, decent slider, an emerging changeup, and a curve still in its infancy. There isn’t a standout pitch in his arsenal just yet, but the ability to throw four (though closer to three and a half) pitches for strikes make him appealing as a potential back of the rotation starter. Another big year in 2010 ought to get him consideration as a top-five round pick, but, again, I’m not sure his limited upside will quite warrant such a lofty draft pick.

JR 1B Preston Springer (2010) is a big-time breakout candidate heading into 2010. In a year bereft of interesting college bats, Springer is a certifiable sleeper, a junior college transfer with a pro frame, above-average lefthanded power, and impressive plate discipline. He’ll play first base this spring for the Shockers, but he has defensive experience all over the diamond.  If his defense is even passable at third (something scouts may need to find out through pre-game infield practice, talking to former coaches, referencing old reports, or good old fashioned guesswork), then we’ve got ourselves a prospect worth getting excited about. I know his arm strength will play at the position, but his hands, range, and footwork are all question marks at this point. I’m out on an island putting Springer this high up on the list, but I believe in his bat.

SR OF Ryan Jones (2010) heads into the 2010 season with much to prove after a disappointing junior season knocked him all the way down to the 39th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Jones’s season wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but it is fair to point out that he didn’t make the substantial gains from sophomore to junior year that many had hoped to see. He’s back for his senior year and primed for a season that could shoot him into the first fifteen rounds of the draft. Jones is an outstanding corner outfielder (typically playing right), athletic enough to get by when needed in center. He fits the mold as one of those smartly aggressive hitters, a player happy to spit on pitches he knows he can’t handle while not being bashful with his cuts on balls in his wheelhouse. This approach got him in trouble last year as he began to rapidly expand his idea of what pitch types and locations he could handle, but coaches close to him believe they have themselves a more patient, more mature, and, hopefully, more dangerous hitter now that he has another year of at bats under his belt. I like him as yet another tweener, a player who maybe shouldn’t play center regularly but who also doesn’t have the power bat needed to play a corner every day; tweeners have value when used properly, but the limited big league ceiling of guys with fourth outfielder upside tends to give many scouting staffs’ pause. Betting on college seniors to go early in the draft and then eventually reach the big leagues isn’t the smartest thing to do, but Jones has enough untapped upside to at least consider him as one of the select few within the group who has a shot to do both.

SR RHP Cobey Guy (2010) has some serious sleeper potential. His low-90s fastball and above-average slider give him the two strong pitch base that any good reliever needs. Guy’s swing-and-miss stuff has worked at every level (starting at Arkansas Fort Smith, relieving in limited innings last year at Wichita State), striking out 196 batters in just 154 innings pitched. If he can quickly lay claim to a key spot in the Wichita pen, then the exposure could help scouts take notice of his raw stuff and get him picked late this June.

JR RHP/OF Mitch Caster (2010) is a two-way prospect coming off a season where he did very little of note (.231/.308/.265 in 117 at bats, only 5.1 innings pitched) either way, but his scouting reports have remained positive all the same. He is a far better prospect as a pitcher than as a hitter due in large part to a fastball peaking at 92 MPH and a slider that flashes plus when on. He’s also a fine athlete capable of consistently repeating his loose and easy delivery. Like so many other prospects profiled thus far, Caster has the makings of two above-average or better pitches and thus has to be taken at least somewhat seriously as a potential middle relief piece going forward. Unlike a lot of those prospects, however, Caster gets a little extra credit for the potential for untapped pitching ability because of his time spent moonlighting in the outfield for the Shockers.

JR RHP Tim Kelley (2010), the ace of the Shockers staff, typically sits in the high-80s with an average changeup. He has a well earned reputation as a strike thrower with plus command.  Kelley is a bit of enigma, a guy with the size scouts want (6-6, 215), but not the velocity. He looks like he should throw harder, but so far the guns haven’t exactly been lit up when he takes the bump. That’s not to say he still can’t be a pro prospect, but it does put a pretty tight cap on his upside. Armed with a below-average velocity fastball and no real plus breaking ball, Kelley might have to hope a professional conversion to middle relief will unlock enough of a bump in his stuff to keep food on his table. Check out the comparison between Kelley and Saturday starter Jordan Cooper’s 2009 numbers. They are some bizarrely close statistics:

Player                 ERA   W-L   APP  GS  CG SHO/CBO SV    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  2B  3B  HR   AB B/Avg   WP HBP  BK  SFA SHA

11 Cooper, Jordan...  2.78   8-6    15  13   3   0/3    0  97.0  87  35  30  20  91   9   1   7  351  .248    6  15   0    2  10
36 Kelley, Tim......  2.86   5-4    14  14   3   1/0    0  94.1  83  40  30  22 102  20   0   8  356  .233   11  10   0    3   5

If we arbitrarily lump WPs and HBPs together as something called “uncontrollable pitches,” they are even more similar. Weird. Keep in mind Kelley is a year ahead of Cooper from an experience standpoint. Also keep in mind that Kelley redshirted his first season as a Shocker, so he actually is two calendar years older than Cooper.

SO RHP Remington Johnson (2010) was arguably the Shockers most dominant reliever last year, striking out 33 batters in only 21.1 innings pitched. He enters 2010 as a prime candidate to get saves out of the Wichita State bullpen. He is draft-eligible after redshirting in 2008, but probably won’t get a serious look from scouts until 2011 or 2012 due to his lack of overwhelming size (6-0, 198), stuff, and a non-stuffy old white guy first name.

SR 1B/RHP Clint McKeever (2010) has one of the best stories in all of college baseball, going from a walk-on cut from his dream school (Oklahoma State), to transferring to Wichita State, to then hitting an extra inning grand slam to beat – who else? – the OK State Cowboys. Seriously, how cool is that? McKeever’s bat makes him a darn fine college ballplayer, but it’ll probably his arm that gets him a shot in pro ball. With a fastball that touches the low-90s and a pretty good slider, McKeever has an outside shot to make it as a reliever down the line. As a huge fan of former big league two-way guy Brooks Kieschnick, I’d like nothing more than to see a player with legitimate talent both ways get a chance professionally. McKeever may not have the ability to do it — his fastball velocity has remained more or less stagnant since high school and his hitting, while impressive for a college player, won’t play as a big league starting position player – but it’ll happen somewhere, someday.

SO RHP Grant Muncrief (2010) will reportedly be ready for the start of the season after having Tommy John surgery this past April. The ten month recovery is one of the fastest that I can remember, so please excuse me if I’m not entirely sold on the idea that he’ll be game-ready from the get-go. The draft-eligible sophomore has generated some good buzz from the coaching staff, but it’s really hard to get a read on his long-term potential due to the injury. I’d guess he is a player we’ll be talking about again next year after an up-and-down sophomore year convinces him to stick around Wichita for at least another season.

JR RHP Justin Kemp (2010) made one of the best catches of the…wait, wrong sport…and wrong Justin Kemp. Sorry. The baseball playing Kemp isn’t likely to achieve the same level of athletic success as his namesake. The lightly recruited righthander is coming off a year of low-leverage relief innings for the Shockers, striking out 16 batters in 25.2 innings pitched.

SR RHP Tyler Fleming (2010) will be 24 years old by the time of the draft. What’s with Wichita State and all of these old guys? I know a lot are due to medical redshirts, but some of the ages on this club make it seem like a AAA roster. Fleming shouldn’t be a prospect, but he was drafted by the Rangers twice (20th round in 2006, 39th round in 2007) out of junior college, so you never know. If totally recovered from shoulder surgery, you’ll be able to find him pitching out of the back of the Shockers bullpen and moonlighting as the team’s backup infielder in 2010.

SR OF Travis Bennett (2010) comes to Wichita State from Northern Iowa (RIP) with the reputation of a player with a solid-average hit tool and an iron glove. He’s currently angling for some time in the outfield for the Shockers, but I’ve got a hunch he’ll settle in as the team’s primary DH once the season gets rolling. Without any real positional value, he’s not a pro prospect.

SR 2B Will Baez (2010) has a father named Wilson and a sister named Wilcania. Will’s full first name is Wilsisky. How about that? His first year playing major college ball went well enough for the Shockers (.275/.425/.368), but it is hard to project a player with only 12 extra base hits in 182 at bats as a pro prospect, especially for a middle infielder coming off a year of shaky defense at second base.  I do appreciate the additional 52 times on base (42 BBs, 10 HBPs) and the guts it takes a converted catcher to give it a go at second, but without any power he won’t get drafted.

SR LHP Logan Hoch (2010) currently is on the mend after shoulder surgery sidelined him in 2009. He’s a good college lefthanded reliever (52 K’s in 45.1 IP during his last healthy year, 2008) with limited upside professionally. As a redshirt senior he’ll be 23 years old by draft day. Old college lefty relievers have to be outstanding to get a look professionally, something Hoch is not.

SO OF Kevin Hall (2010) writes a weekly column about life as a college ballplayer that is probably worth checking out on a regular basis. I mean, sure, he’s no Michael Schwimer, but Hall’s blog is off to a pretty solid start. I like his future as a writer a little more than as a prospect, despite the fact that Hall has a lot of the skills needed to be a solid college leadoff hitter; in fact, he hits a lot of the right notes (good speed and good range in center) in that respect. Unfortunately, there are centerfields with leadoff hitter profiles with far better tools out there.

SR OF Bret Bascue (2010) turned 23 this past December. He hasn’t shown much in his college career – little to no power, poor plate discipline, and average at best outfield defense. He’ll battle for time in Wichita State’s crowded outfield this spring, but he isn’t a pro prospect.

SR C Cody Lassley (2010) doesn’t have what it takes to be considered a pro prospect. To his credit, he has made significant improvements since signing with Wichita State, enough so to now be able to call himself a decent college catcher. Plus, he has somebody writing about him on the internet. That’s kind of cool, right?

JR UT Ryan Engrav (2010) should help Wichita State with his ability to play multiple positions, but his bat isn’t strong enough to make him a pro prospect. He should settle in as the Shockers’ primary rightfielder to start the season.

SR INF Taylor Gilmore (2010) will be the Shockers four-corners (1B/3B/LF/RF) utility guy in 2010. He doesn’t have a pro future.

2011

SO SS Tyler Grimes (2011) has spent the offseason working on a pretty nifty trick. He’s learning how to switch hit. That’s a far more impressive feat that whatever the heck I did between my freshman and sophomore years of college. That reminds me of a funny story…[story edited in order to maintain appearance that, yes, this is a family friendly website]…and that was the summer we learned a valuable lesson about Jon Favreau, organic peaches, nasty sunburns, and the power of love. Anyway, Grimes is coming off a darn fine freshman campaign. College numbers don’t tell the whole story, but a quick comparison between the freshman year numbers of the Wichita State shortstop and the consensus top college shortstops of 2009 and 2010 is interesting. Last season Grimes hit .294/.399/.467. In his freshman year, Grant Green, the top college shortstop off the board in 2009, hit .316/.388/.491. In Christian Colon’s first season, he hit .329/.406/.444. This ignores park factors, competition, and a slew of other important things to consider, but the raw rate stats are all pretty similar. Again, college numbers don’t tell the whole story. Grimes’s tools don’t match up with either Green’s or Colon’s, but he does appear to be a legitimate pro prospect in his own right. Grimes’s plus defense (good hands, great range, plus arm) will get him looks regardless of his development with the bat.

2012

FR 3B Nate Goro (2012) has a quick bat, a little bit of pop (he’s no power hitter, but he did break Ryan Howard’s Missouri state high school homerun record), and exciting instinctual actions in the field. He received rave reviews on his defense throughout the fall, pulling himself into a tight battle with Johnny Coy for the starting job at the hot corner. It’s hard to project him for more than 10-15 homerun upside as a professional, but a lot of that will depend on how he fills out in school. If the bat catches up to the glove, he is a top five round player by 2012. If he’s seen as more of a defensive whiz than a complete starting caliber player, downgrade him another five rounds or so. Either way, he has three seasons to improve. I like his chances.

FR 2B Walker Davidson (2012) injured his knee in the fall, so the amount of playing time he’ll get this spring is up in the air. He has received praise from the coaching staff for his defense, but the bat currently lags behind. He’s currently the leading candidate to replace Will Baez as the Shockers starting second baseman in 2011.

College Team Profiles: Virginia Cavaliers

One of the most popular (fine, the only) question I’ve been emailed since starting this site up goes a little something like this: I’m going to see ____ University/College/State play this weekend and I was wondering if there was anybody with a professional future that would be worth watching. The College Team Profiles are designed to preemptively answer any and all questions about the prospects from a particular college team…or maybe just open up a whole new debate full of new, even more confusing questions. We’ll see. The next three draft classes for one particular school are featured, with the players ranked in order (from greatest to least greatest) within each class. As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.

2010

JR OF Jarrett Parker (2010) is one of the best of the many 2010 toolsy lottery ticket kind of players. I haven’t been doing this draft thing for that long, so it is hard for me to compare talent levels from class to class, but it seems that this year has a high number of mid-round high upside, high flameout potential players. I also haven’t been doing this writing thing long, as you can see from the mess that was that last sentence. Anyway, as mentioned, Parker is one of the very best of the so-called (by me) “lottery ticket” group, so he isn’t necessarily included in the mid-round subsection. In fact, many see him as a candidate to go in the first round. It’s easy to see why.  His mix of tools and big-time sophomore numbers would make him a top-three round guy right now. Continued incremental improvements in his game his junior year will push his draft stock even higher. I’ll make a scary cross-race comparison here and claim Parker has a similar skill set as Lastings Milledge. He has plus power potential, an above-average arm, good speed, and the defensive chops to be a well above-average corner outfielder or a steady stopgap in center. Like Milledge, he struggles against breaking balls to the point that it’s hard not to see him as a 100+ strikeout big league hitter at this point. However, and I try my best to sandwich the bad news in between good news when I can, two big assets in Parker’s favor are his big league ready frame (6-4, 210 after packing on serious muscle), and the seemingly ever-increasing athleticism and agility (honed by practicing yoga) that should help him withstand the rigors of the professional grind.  Additionally, Parker improved his walk rate from his freshman year to his sophomore year, and continued the positive trend during his otherwise disappointing campaign on the Cape this summer. I like that.

JR OF Dan Grovatt (2010) has a very patient approach at the plate, power to the gaps, average speed, and a good enough arm to play right field professionally. Sounds good, right? It should because Grovatt is a top five round caliber talent. My only worry is that his more good than great toolset makes him too similar a prospect to former Florida State standout Jack Rye. Rye was one of my all-time favorite college players and a guy I touted as a draft sleeper, but his pro numbers, especially his power indicators, haven’t exactly set the world on fire so far. The comparison is probably unfair – one player’s struggles don’t really have anything to do with another’s future – but, having seen both play, the similarity between the two seemed worth pointing out. However, the two aren’t clones of one another, either. Grovatt is the better athlete and defensive player, and he has more upside with the bat, especially in the power department. Those are all pretty important points in Grovatt’s favor. It’ll take more time and research to see where exactly Grovatt stacks up when compared to fellow 2010 college outfielders, but I have the feeling that he’ll grade out higher here than in most spots. His well-rounded game and extensive big-time college experience make him a good bet to hit the ground running professionally. I’d peg his upside as that of a solid everyday corner outfielder (defense included) with a still valuable floor as a good fourth outfielder.

JR RHP Robert Morey (2010) will, if nothing else, always have a big win over Stephen Strasburg in the opener of the 2009 Irvine Regional. Fortunately for him, however, he won’t have to limit himself to that one particular game when someday regaling his grandkids about his playing days. A low-90s fastball, above-average slider, and an emerging straight changeup, plus his status as the Saturday starter for a championship caliber college team, should get him into the top ten rounds this June as a future back of the rotation starter.

JR RHP Tyler Wilson (2010) will probably be the Cavalier most directly impacted by Cody Winiarski’s arrival on campus. The opportunity to slide into the vacant weekend starting spot would have done wonders for Wilson’s 2010 draft stock. Even without the starting gig, he’ll get noticed as Virginia’s primary reliever, the bullpen ace relied upon to pitch multiple innings at a time whenever called upon. His plus command, good athleticism, and easy, repeatable arm action help him thrive in the role. Additionally, Wilson’s solid three-pitch mix (fastball sitting 90-92 and topping out at 94, good sinking high-70s change, average slider) gives credence to the idea he has value either in the bullpen or as a starter. I like him a lot, and believe he’ll be a top-ten round guy in June.

JR RHP Kevin Arico (2010) had himself a breakout season as Virginia’s closer in 2009. His bread and butter is a plus low-80s slider that he has no problem throwing over and over and over again. The first time I saw Arico pitch I walked away pretty impressed with myself for finally finding a player that I could compare to Kiko Calero. After seeing him throw a few more times since then, I think I’m now ready to upgrade the comp a smidge to now qualify Arico for a Chad Qualls type of ceiling. There is little to no chance his final draft standing rivals Qualls’s (you’d think last names ending with the letter s would annoy me, but, brother let me tell you, nothing is worse than a name ending in z), but he could still find himself as a top 12-15 round pick who could be a quick mover for the team that takes the plunge. There should be some concern about a player so reliant on one specific skill, but Arico’s results against high level competition should help assuage most clubs’ worry.

JR INF/OF Phil Gosselin (2010) heads into the 2010 season as the man without a position. The 2009 First-Team All-ACC second baseman has been working out in leftfield almost exclusively this fall, but has also apparently been told to be ready to fill in just about anywhere (3B, 2B, maybe SS, in that order) as needed this spring. It’s rare that a college supersub would be a legit draft prospect, but Gosselin is just that. He is a slightly below-average infielder with an average arm (2B being his most likely pro landing spot if a team prefers him in the infield), who will almost certainly be first tried in the outfield as a pro. I’m not sure if that is the best way to maximize Gosselin’s pro value. He doesn’t have the glove/range for center, and doesn’t have the bat for a corner. If he isn’t a starting caliber outfielder, why not at least give him a shot in the infield? If he can bump his defense up to at least average in the infield, then you’ve got yourself a player who can help you stretch the limits of your 25-man roster, especially in the NL.

JR C/1B/OF Kenny Swab (2010) and his Cavalier teammate John Hicks (2011) – separated at birth? Swab figures to have the inside track on the primary backup catching job, but should also see time at first base, right field (to take advantage of his plus arm), and designated hitter. He’s got a live bat with above-average power potential, but it’ll take some serious lineup juggling from Brian O’Connor to get him the at bats he’ll need to boost his draft stock. As is, Swab is a potential 10-20th round player based on upside alone.

SR LHP Neal Davis (2010) goes into his senior season as Virginia’s top lefthanded relief pitcher, a player able to skillfully mix and match fastballs, sliders, and changeups to get hitters out. His most recent season was arguably his least successful – certainly his least dominating – so he heads into 2010 with plenty to prove. His big league frame (6-6, 210) and past success in a highly competitive conference (he struck out nearly a batter an inning [39 in 40] while only allowing 7 earned runs in 40 relief innings [1.58 ERA] in 2008) combined with intriguing stuff (sits in the high-80s to low-90s with the fastball and has an above-average mid-70s slider) make him another second half of the draft option for a team looking for a warm A-ball body on the cheap. I know I do this a lot, but I’d be remiss to write this much about Davis without mentioning the possibility that his stuff and frame would actually play well as a starting pitcher professionally.

JR RHP Cody Winiarski (2010) comes to Virginia via noted talent factory Madison Area Technical College. After doing a little bit of homework on him, I’ve found that he is a player with a whole lot of adamant supporters. Someone who saw him pitch on multiple occasions while at MATC raved about his potential plus changeup. Another admitted that while he had never actually seen Winiarski throw himself, he had heard very positive things from others about his command and general pitchability. Winiarski doesn’t have as much room for error as some pitchers with bigger fastballs, but the praise he has gotten from those who have seen him firsthand makes me a believer in his pro prospects. Assuming he holds down the last weekend starting job as expected, watch out for Winiarksi as a potential top-15 round arm this June.

SR INF Tyler Cannon (2010) reminds me of a better version of Missouri’s Greg Folgia, a player picked a round higher in 2009. Cannon is solid in all phases of the game, but lacks fluidity on defense at any position. Between his lack of a true defensive home and his steady, but unspectacular bat, Cannon has many believing his professional role will be that of a super-sub capable of playing literally every position on the diamond, including catcher. His college counting stats (through his first two seasons) match up with Eric Bruntlett’s in almost an eerie way, but the comparison falls apart when you look at each player’s rate stats. Anyway, I’d say that the Bruntlett comp may actually be a tad optimistic at this point. Cannon’s collegiate track record isn’t quite as strong as Bruntlett’s (though another big season like Cannon had last year would close the gap) and he lacks Bruntlett’s tremendous Civil War reenactor (that may be the single ugliest looking word in the English language) style beard, but I’d bet on enough marginal improvements as he progresses into his mid-20s to see him getting a chance as a AAAA utility guy good enough to position himself as a potential callup when injuries to the more talented players occur. His big junior year gives him something to build on heading into 2010, and the continued increase of talented infielders to the Cavalier program ought to give him more of an opportunity to show off the defensive versatility that will be his best shot at someday playing big league baseball.

SR C Franco Valdes (2010) plays exceptional defense behind the plate. He’s adept at blocking balls in the dirt, athletic enough to get out of his crouch to pounce on anything in front of him, and has a strong enough arm to keep potential base stealers honest. He also has one heck of a reputation when it comes to handling a pitching staff. However, and this is a biggie, his offense (career OBP = .301) leaves much to be desired. However, and this is may or may not be a biggie depending on how you feel about this sort of thing, he does have the benefit of draft pedigree (15th round pick of Detroit back in 2006) on his side. I never know how much stock to put into previous draft standing, especially when we’re talking about a college junior or senior who was drafted in a late round three or four years prior. So much can change in the span of three or four seasons, you know? Valdes certainly isn’t a 15th round caliber player anymore, mainly due to the stalled development of his offensive game, but the fact he was previously drafted makes me hesitant to claim he has no shot at all this time around. At best, he’s worth nothing more than a late late late round flier at this point.

JR OF John Barr (2010) is as nondescript a prospect as you’ll find. It’s nothing personal – in fact, I saw Barr play in high school, and I tend to form weird (non-creepy!) attachments to players I’ve seen early on – but nothing about his game stands out as being an average or better big league tool. His numbers dipped from his freshman year to his sophomore season, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt as he was recovering from shoulder surgery for much of 2009.

INF JR Corey Hunt (2010) has to be a big believer in the idea that timing is everything, if for not other reason than to help him ease his troubled head at night. In a different era of Virginia baseball it’s possible Hunt could have come in, gotten playing time early, established himself as a useful defense-first middle infielder with above-average on-base skills, and pushed his draft stock up enough by his senior season to be a worthwhile 20ish round or so pick. Instead, he has been behind some pretty good veteran infielders to start off his Cavalier career and he’ll be behind some really impressive youngsters to end his career. Without regular playing time he’ll be a very difficult player for scouts to assess come June. The lack of track record and standout tools make him a non-prospect at this point.

JR INF/OF Tyler Biddix (2010) has one of the most underrated names in all of college baseball. K’Nex, Lego, Megatendo, Fischertechnik, Biddix, Uberstix, Blockos…which ones are real building block toys and which ones are fake? Pretty sure the end table I bought from Ikea a few months ago was a Biddix. Damn, the Ikea joke was a better one than the K’Nex/Uberstix one, wasn’t it? Wish I would have thought of it first. Anyway, I have no doubt that the real Biddix (the person) is a better prospect than the flimsy table, but not by enough to make him a draftable prospect.

2011

SO INF/C Keith Werman (2011) did his best Pat Venditte impression while in high school, pitching a seven-inning complete game both lefthanded (3.1 innings) and righthanded (3.2 innings). That fun fact from the Virginia baseball website may have absolutely no bearing on Werman’s prospect stock, but it’s undeniably cool. What is relevant about his prospect stock is the fact he is a plus defender at second base who also has experience at shortstop and catcher dating back to his prep career. He can also handle the bat (.400/.481/.457 line in 70 at bats) enough to keep himself in the mix for a starting spot in 2010. Werman’s draft upside may be limited by his size (5-7, 150 – not saying judging him on size is fair, but it’s the reality), but the universal praise he earned last year as a sparkplug second leadoff hitter (the nice way of saying 9-hole hitter) for Virginia down the stretch should continue to get him noticed on the college level. The gap between Werman and Stephen Bruno is more perception than reality.

2012

FR SS Reed Gragnani (2012) is yet another talented young prospect expected to see significant time in a loaded Virginia infield. His game right now revolves largely around his well above-average speed, excellent athleticism, and impressive range up the middle, but he is no slouch with the bat either. Early comps include Brian Roberts (if he develops as is) and Ryan Zimmerman (if he bulks up and gains power). Gragnani’s brother, Robbie, grew four inches during his college tenure at Virginia Commonwealth, so that Ryan Zimmerman developmental path isn’t totally out of the question. That’s not to say that the only thing standing in the way between Gragnani and future big league All-Star status is a couple of inches and some muscle, but he’s a good player with high round talent all the same.

FR SS Stephen Bruno (2012) was one of the rarest of the rare coming out of high school – a prep player actually expected to stay at shortstop as a pro. We always hear about how pretty much every worthwhile big leaguer was the star shortstop/pitcher of his high school team, but it never registered how often these players were forced to move off the position after signing that first pro deal. I mean, Frank Thomas was a shortstop in high school* because, let’s be honest, that’s just where you put the best athlete at that level. I remember watching Billy Rowell play shortstop in high school. He positioned himself about 3 steps out on the outfield grass, basically admitting to all in attendance he had no range and instead relying exclusively on his rocket arm to gun people down at first. Rowell wasn’t a pro prospect as a shortstop, but he played shortstop on his high school team because, quite simply, if he didn’t, then who would? Bruno was a top ten round talent in 2009 who fell to the Yankees in the 26th round due to a very strong commitment to Virginia. He’ll stick at shortstop throughout his career due to his plus range, slightly above-average speed, and Speedy Gonzalez quick hands. He has flashed present power, launching a couple of 450 bombs his senior year of school, but lacks the overall strength to do it on a consistent basis. That last point may not seem like a huge deal for a middle infield prospect, but it does speak to the general concerns about Bruno’s future. Some players are projects based on the development of their tools, an area that Bruno grades out fairly well across the board (in addition to the aforementioned defensive skills, he has a 55 arm), but other players are projects based on their physical development. That’s where Bruno is at right now. He has worked his tail off to improve in each of the five tools (most notably speed and arm strength), but it’ll be the way is body fills out (keeping in mind he is 5-9, 165) that will make him into either a first round caliber guy or not.

***Frank Thomas may or may not have been a shortstop in high school. I actually have no idea. I just thought he was a good example for the point I was trying to make. Now I realize that making stuff up doesn’t help my argument at all, but it’s my site and I get to be as bad a writer and as big a liar as I want to be. Maybe Jim Thome would have been a better example; I bet he played shortstop in high school…

UPDATE: Found something! Go here, or just trust this excerpt: “In baseball, he was a 6-2, 175-pound shortstop. The Cincinnati Reds were interested but never drafted him. So Thome enrolled at Illinois Central College, where he played baseball and basketball. The Indians drafted him in the 13th round in 1989, one of the smartest selections they ever made.”

FR SS Chris Taylor (2012) might have hit himself into regular playing time after mashing the ball throughout the fall. One rumored starting infield for Virginia has Steven Proscia at first, Keith Werman at second, Tyler Cannon sliding back over to third, and Taylor getting regular time at short. Taylor has plus raw power and intriguing defensive tools, but comes to school with a bit less fanfare as fellow freshman infielders Gragnani and Bruno.