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2014 MLB Draft Review: Philadelphia Phillies

1.7 RHP Aaron Nola

What’s the most important pitch in baseball? I’ll accept just about damn near any answer here* with a cogent argument, but I’ll take the fastball all day. LOVE the changeup, really like the curve, can appreciate a good slider, and all the extras (sinkers, splitters, cutters, forkballs, etc.) are lots of fun, but I’ve always been a believer in the magic of pitching off the fastball. It’s nice when years of anecdotal observations from being around the game match up with super smart guy research, but that’s what first led me to and then confirmed my need to see a good fastball from a young pitcher before moving on to anything else. Being as simplistic as possible, I think we can break down the fastball to three main areas of good/bad/ugly: velocity, movement, and command. Hit on two of those three — command ideally being one of the two — and you’re instantly on follow lists. Go three for three and now we’re talking an easy plus pitch good enough to get you to AA all by its lonesome.

Nola’s fastball is an easy plus pitch and the reason why he’s well worth the seventh overall pick in a pitching-rich draft. The ability to spot an 87-94 FB (95-96 peak) with plus movement at any quadrant at any time is pretty damn special. I really think he could use his fastball 80% of the time or more and get hitters out through AA. His 82-85 CU gives him another consistent above-average (plus for me in most looks) offering and he commands two breaking balls each with the upside of showing average or better in any given game. He’s really good. The comp that I keep going back to over and over again is Kris Medlen. I’ll take it. As far as recent draft prospects go, he reminds me a good bit of a shorter Kyle Gibson with a lower arm slot.

Semi-bold prediction: Aaron Nola starts a game in the majors in 2015.

*Except strike one. That’s dumb. You’re dumb if you think that. Conversely, if you said the eephus we could be best buds in no time. Also, Nola once did this:

2.47 LHP Matt Imhof

I like Imhof, but don’t love him. I like that he pitches off the fastball (88-92 FB, 94-95 peak), a pitch he commands well that plays up due to solid deception in his delivery. I felt his changeup improved a great deal as the year went on, so I like that. I like his size and physicality. I like his track record of setting hitters up and sitting hitters down. I don’t love that the changeup, though improved, still needs a ton of work before I’d call it a consistent average or better pitch. I don’t love the underdeveloped breaking ball, though others, namely Marti Wolever, deem it presently “above-average.” On balance, there’s enough here to be excited about at this point in the draft. Everybody calling Imhof a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher has it right, I think.

3.81 OF Aaron Brown

It’s absolutely a mistake turning him out as a hitter and not a pitcher, but they are the paid professionals and I’m just a guy on the internet so we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out. Not a direct comparison by any means, but I think there are some similarities pre-draft to former Phillies second round pick Anthony Gose. Brown’s raw tools and current non-hitting baseball skills are undeniably impressive: easy CF range, great instincts on the bases and in the outfield, plus raw power, plus arm strength, the works. His approach is what makes him such a presently ineffective hitter, and, glass half-empty guy I am, I don’t think he’ll ever improve enough in this area to be anything but a minus big league bat. Maybe the speed, glove, arm, and flashes of power make him a useful backup down the line, but I can just as easily see him never escaping AA with his swing at anything remotely close style of hitting. I literally can not recall any hitter with a K/BB ratio as ugly as his amounting to anything professionally. Do not like this pick one iota. Hope I’m wrong.

Semi-bold prediction: Brown reaches the big leagues only after converting back to a pitcher, where he’s currently got the following repertoire: 88-92 FB (94-95 peak), average mid-80s SL, flashes better; better than expected low-80s CU; occasional CB.

4.112 RHP Chris Oliver

One of the few names I think casual draft fans might know, what with him getting a DWI two days before the draft. Like Brown, he’s another college “tools” guy who hasn’t performed as hoped since HS. Just 59 strikeouts (36 BB) in 93.1 IP this past season. He threw only 30ish innings his first two years combined. The scout side of me wants very badly to look past the iffy performance record, but it won’t be easy. I ultimately think he’s a reliever (his role those first two seasons), but he started this past year. I think that explains his down tick in K/9 this year; like many guys, his stuff plays way up in short bursts. I could see him firing away in the bullpen and having great success with some mechanical tweaks as a pro. My notes do make him sound pretty damn good, so I can get where the Phillies were coming from here: 88-94 FB, 96-97 peak; average at best 80-82 CU; average to above-average 85-88 SL; 78-81 CB; 6-4, 180 pounds. Undeniably great value at this point in the draft. Nice pick.
5.142 1B Rhys Hoskins

Hoskins could be Darin Ruf. I actually like his value in a vacuum, but without having a board stacked up like in year’s past it is hard to determine how many other similar players I would have preferred, not that my own take is gospel or anything. I appreciate how Hoskins cleaned up his approach since his sophomore season. The power will definitely play (above-average to plus raw), he has good size (6-4, 225), and I actually think he’s nimble enough to hang in an outfield corner (LF, most likely) more so than your usual college 1B (like Ruf). Not a guy who moves the needle, but a good enough pick.

6.172 LHP Brandon Leibrandt

Nola, Imhof, and Leibrandt: all college juniors, all from elite programs, all Cape Cod standouts, all with plus fastball command. Interesting. Leibrandt is a crafty lefty straight out of central casting: mid-80s FB (84-88), above-average to plus mid-70s CU, average SL, average CB, and that aforementioned command. The results have been unimpeachable to date, so that’s a plus. Do you know who else lived 84-88 (per Baseball America’s pre-draft report) with his fastball before being selected by the Phillies? JA Happ. Hmm. I won’t go so far and call it a direct comp (Leibrandt has better control, for example), but I think that’s sort of Leibrandt’s best case career trajectory professionally. I’d take that out of a sixth round pick. Solid selection.

7.202 – SS Emmanuel Marrero

Don’t get it. Glove is obviously legit, but he can’t hit. Maybe he’s the next Troy Hanzawa. Cool.

8.232 – RHP Sam McWilliams

Size (6-7, 200), heat (up to 94), and ready to sign. Everything you’d want in an eighth round HS selection.

9.262 – RHP Matt Hockenberry

Saw him a lot over the years at Temple, but never thought all that much of him. Certainly never thought he’d be a top ten round pick, but here we are. One of literally hundreds of college arms with ordinary fastballs (88-92), decent command, and usable secondaries. Maybe he’s one of the few that break through and make it as a reliever. Probably not.

10.292 – OF Matt Shortall

I want to like Shortall more than I do, though I still like him as an underslot senior sign gamble with better tools than your usual underslot senior sign gamble. Strong arm, enough speed, makes good hard contact, really intriguing power, good glove in a corner, solid pedigree (Tulane transfer), nice size (6-3, 210). The approach is still a mess, but that’s easier to swallow with a tenth round pick than a third rounder. Just saying.

And the rest…

11.322 – SS/2B Drew Stankiewicz – probably the best ’14 prospect on a decent ASU team; good not great numbers; announced as a SS, but more of a 2B profile defensively; not my preferred college middle infielder left on the board, but not a pick to hate on

12.352 – LHP Austin Davis – scout pick for sure, as ’14 numbers (only season of D1 experience) weren’t pretty; really impressive stuff: 88-92 FB, 94-95 peak, 78-82 SL with upside, good 78-82 CU, low- to mid-70s CB; pro body (6-5, 240 pounds); will need to spend a little of those 9th/10th round savings on him since he’s got two more years of eligibility as leverage, but have heard he’d rather turn pro than return to school assuming the money is there

13.382 – RHP Nathan Thornhill – senior sign who has seen his velocity regress over the years (once hit 94-95, now mostly lives 88-90); also shows CB and 76-81 CU, both flash average or better; above-average command; really solid college performer who lacks dominance in track record or stuff, but a decent pick with the chance to be a good reliever in time

14.412 – OF Chase Harris – well-rounded senior sign with chance to be average or better across all five tools; bit of a tweener since he can’t really play CF, but should be nice organizational soldier for a few years in a Steve Susdorf kind of way; raw numbers are a bit misleading, considering park/schedule adjustments playing at New Mexico

15.442 – RHP Jared Fisher – pathetic peripherals in ’13 got a little better in ’14, but still more a scouting pick than a numbers guy; have him up to 93 with his FB and he has good size (6-4, 235 pounds); hard to find positives in this one, but (count the qualifiers) we can maybe take some solace in the fact there’s a chance he came recommended at least in part by Pat Gillick (four?)

16.472 – RHP Calvin Rayburn – first college guy they stumped me on, no notes on him in my database; D2 player with average numbers, good size, and a funky arm action; some digging reveals he works upper-80s with a lot of cutters and sliders, plus the occasional change; another senior…

17.502 – 3B Damek Tomscha – had an honest laugh when I heard he was the pick, as the Phillies have been after him forever, and, as yet another senior sign, they appear to finally have gotten him (update: he’s already signed); drafted him in the 50th round in 2010, but he was a much better prospect than his draft standing would have you believe; Marlins drafted him out of Iowa Western CC in round 36 the next year and then the Cubs gave him a shot in the 19th round in ’12, but he didn’t sign because a) both teams wanted him to pitch, and b) he wanted to honor his commitment to Auburn; I like his athleticism, glove, and arm strength at third, and he has the chance to hit with a little pop as a pro; nice gamble at this point, I approve

18.532 – C Sean McHugh – good idea of the strike zone, but neither the hit tool or power stand out; not a big believer in his glove, but does have some experience in the outfield if need be; similar to the Stankiewicz pick in that I think the idea behind it was sound, but I don’t love the actual player choice

19.562 – LHP Joey DeNato – crazy successful college arm who will go down as an all-time great for Indiana; scouting profile is almost identical to fifth round pick Brandon Leibrandt (mid-80s FB, relies on good to plus CU, pair of breaking balls that flash average, stellar command), which is either good news or bad news depending on your outlook on life; only major differences between the two are size (Leibrandt is 6-4, 200 and Denato is 5-10, 180) and class (Denato is, you guessed it, a senior)

20.592 – 2B Derek Campbell – taken from my notes: “good athlete, good arm, good glove, weak bat”; numbers support those claims; fifth senior in a row and not a particularly inspiring one at that

21.622 – 2B Tim Zier – second straight college senior 2B from the state of California, so that’s fun, sixth senior in a row; wrote about him last year on the site “rock steady glove, never gives away at bats, smart base runner” and all those things still apply

22.652 – RHP Ryan Powers – finally, a junior – big moment; another college starter with average numbers, good size (6-5, 210), and not a whole lot in the stuff/projection department

23.682 – C Joel Fisher – second senior catcher from the Big 10 in six picks; can’t hit a lick; almost like the Emmanuel Marrero pick, except Fisher isn’t in the same universe as Marrero’s plus glove; it’s the 23rd round, so, whatever, but, short of doing an area guy a favor or something, this is really an indefensible pick

24.712 – RHP Preston Packrall – got nothing on Packrall, the Phillies second D2 pick of the day; for clarity’s sake, whenever I mention numbers for pitchers, I’m pretty much just honing in on K/9 and BB/9, which is apparently the complete opposite way the Phillies must be looking at things since Packrall has a shiny 2.12 ERA and a just super 11-0 record (Tampa, a traditional D2 power, went a decent 54-4), but just 45 K in 80.2 IP; all I can say positively is that he’s from a HS in Clearwater, so presumably they know him better than anybody else would; also, hey, another senior…

25.742 – RHP Bryan Sova – college reliever with so-so peripherals but pretty traditional numbers; sub-six foot righthander short on stuff; another senior…

26.772 – RHP Jacques de Gruy – don’t have him in my notes, but that’s an incredible name so I’m a big fan of the pick already; I do have six other draft-eligible Furman pitchers in my database and twelve total players, not really sure what that says about de Gruy, if anything; ugly ERA, but peripherals more in line with what I want to see (66 K in 69 IP…never mind the 31 BB)

27.802 – LHP Scott Harris – heard this pick over the radio and did my best to guess where Buena Vista University (first D3 player they picked) could be before deciding on California just ahead of Florida…well, turns out it’s in Iowa, naturally; stocky fellow at 6-0, 240, but 81 K/22 BB in 68 IP sounds good to me, and he’s a JUNIOR (!)…

28.832 – RHP Tanner Kiest – attended Chaffey CC where he put up 70 K/39 BB in 48.1 IP; had a rough year based on traditional metrics, averaging just over 4 IP per start; solidly built at 6-3, 200 pounds and those peripherals are fun, so maybe you’ve got yourself a nice little relief sleeper here

29.862 – SS Al Molina – a HIGH SCHOOL PICK, hard to believe; I’ve heard some teams prefer him on the mound; also heard they have a good feel about his signability, but we’ll see

30.892 – RHP Brandon Murray – we’ve officially got ourselves a run of HS picks; really, really big fan of Murray, and would love to have seen him prioritized as their top 11-40th round overslot pick, unrealistic as my hope may have be; plus FB (89-94, 95-98 peak), average low-80s CU, two usable breaking balls, good athleticism, good size (6-4, 200), lots to like; both his command and control are a work in progress, to put it as generously as possible; commitment to South Carolina (where he could be a first round pick in three years) seems very likely to be honored, and I know he’s said that’s his plan, but still expect to see a late run at him on the off chance he changes his teenage mind

31.922 – RHP Shane Gonzales – he’s a ghost, apparently…

32.952 – OF Tom Flacco – fun trends emerging: three out of four HS picks, five straight non-four year college picks, and six straight non-D1 picks; like Molina, Flacco is a NJ HS product; unlike Molina, Flacco has a famous brother who plays a pretty popular sport that all but guarantees Western Michigan will have a new QB and the Phillies will come up empty

33.982 – RHP James Harrington – I was kidding with the “run of HS picks” comment earlier, but now we can officially call off the dogs re: THE PHILLIES WIN-NOW APPROACH = ALL COLLEGE PLAYERS meme; another guy who, if signable (and I think he is), would be a great addition to the system: 88-90 FB, mid-70s CB, upper-70s CU, good athleticism, and room to grow (6-2, 170)

34.1012 – C Scott Tomassetti – nifty little pick from Bryce Harper’s old school, CC of Southern Nevada; underwhelming numbers considering the context, but all my notes on him back in his UNLV days are positive (big power, lots of arm strength); like Tomscha they know him well as Tomassetti was originally an unsigned Phillies draft pick out of HS

35.1042 – OF Thomas Gamble – third HS player taken from New Jersey; son of Eagles VP of Player Personnel Tom Gamble, grandson of the late great Harry Gamble; very unlikely to sign

36.1072 – C Blake Wiggins – hopefully not the only Wiggins drafted by a Philadelphia team this month; had him as a physical SS with power upside in my notes; announced as a catcher, a position where many projected he could be tried professionally; strong Arkansas commit, but open to signing depending on the cash

37.1102 – RHP Rags Rogalla – HS pitcher with good size who…yeah, I’ve got nothing; system is currently really lacking in players named Rags, so he’s pretty much a much sign

38.1132 – RHP Kollin Schrenk – see Rags, but with added bonus of being son of GCL pitching coach Steve Schrenk; with luck, could be traded for Tadahito Iguchi equivalent years from now; heard he’s ready to sign

39.1162 – OF Keenan Eaton – HS hitter from Colorado who is a good defender in CF with lots of bat speed, but Vanderbilt doesn’t often see 39th round picks escape Nashville; the fact that you could muster up an argument that he’s the best position player prospect drafted by the Phillies in this entire draft is yet another reason why the MLB Draft is the craziest draft in all the land

40.1192 – SS Jesse Berardi – NY HS infielder who exists; have heard conflicting reports re: his signability, but my gut says he’s off to St. John’s


Alex Jackson and Jakson Reetz

A minor bout with writer’s block (and Louisville playing ten minutes from my apartment for three games) has had me silent of late, so I’m going with the old approach of just picking a random topic and writing until something worthwhile comes out. Whether or not I succeeded here is up for debate (as always), but it does feel good to get back in the swing of things.

Quick aside before we talk HS catchers…I put out some feelers (including my first tweet!) as to whether or not the brains behind College Splits have designs on updating their statistical database for the 2014 season, but have yet to hear back. If anybody knows anything on that front, I’d greatly appreciate an update. Not only does College Splits have certain bits of info that no other site has, but it also has all of said info in one convenient place. The thought of clicking around a couple hundred team websites looking for updated stats does not really appeal to me anymore. Getting too old for that, you know?


I’ve written it before and I’ll surely write it again, but I like Alex Jackson as a catcher going forward. I think he’s good enough defensively at present with enough athleticism and general baseball aptitude to continue to progress behind the plate. My older notes on him reveal what I think will continue to become an accepted truth among industry folk: “not sure of the origin of the ‘not a catcher’ talk, but if he looks like a catcher, fields like a catcher, and leads like a catcher…”

I also think Jackson’s bat is very interesting, but not quite on the level of other prospects transitioned to the outfield in a rush to get them to the big leagues. The latter consideration isn’t reason enough to prevent moving him — if not being Bryce Harper disqualified a catcher from moving off the position to speed up a big league timeline, then we’d have thousands of pro catchers and empty outfields — but it does raise the question about what kind of player you’re really getting if you see Jackson as a top five type of prospect. I say very good to great bat with average to slightly above-average catcher defense. As a hitter — and, I suppose, as potential former catcher — I can see some similarities shared between Jackson and former catcher Paul Konerko. I’d like that comp more if I hadn’t used it twice already (CJ Cron and Kyle Schwarber, but you’ve memorized all my comps by now, right?), though I still think it works here in terms of offensive ceiling (adjusted for era, of course). The bat should play in a corner spot, but it could only be categorized as potentially special if Jackson is left alone and allowed to continue catching.

Just about the only thing I don’t love about Jakson Reetz is the spelling of his first name. His athleticism, arm strength, and hit tool are all top notch tools. Reetz was on my short (well, short-ish) list of FAVORITES that I saw play this past summer. The list has held up fairly well — he was joined at the time by Braxton Davidson, Kel Johnson, Jack Flaherty, Keaton McKinney, Ti’Quan Forbes, and Touki Toussaint — and the specific mention of Reetz’ foot speed, opposite field power, approach at the plate, and, again, athleticism made him one of the standouts among the standouts. In what I still consider a relatively weak year for college catching, — full disclosure: I still have plenty of work to do in finalizing college grades, so I could be way off and you can ignore me if you like — Reetz has a chance to go much, much higher than I think many currently anticipate. A bolder man than I might be tempted to jump him to the top of these rankings, but being locked in at the second spot behind a talent like Jackson and ahead of names like Chase Vallot, Simeon Lucas, Evan Skoug, JJ Schwarz, Bryce Carter, Michael Cantu, and on and on and on isn’t a bad spot to be. I don’t want to get the hype train rolling along too briskly just yet, but a source I trust threw down a “righthanded poor man’s version of Joe Mauer” comp on Reetz that exceeded even my loftiest of expectations of what others see in him. I mean, I thought I liked him, but wow. More realistic yet no less valid comps that I like: “better version of Brandon Inge” (that’s from a source) and my own Russell Martin. I can also buy Blake Swihart if you wanted to use a recent draft example as a frame of reference. Reetz is a really good player.

LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS, Hawaii)

Burning Question: can he continue to start in professional ball?

Internet Hack’s Answer: Sure. Exciting answer, right? Arm slot and lack of physicality are both fair arguments for the “he’s a reliever” crowd, but pitchers with his kind of stuff should be stretched out and given as many chances as possible to continue starting in the pros. I doubt that response is going to help those who think I’m overly simplistic in my approach to looking at draft talent, but I’m always going to err on the side of “hey, let’s not complicate things, alright?” whenever given the choice. Medeiros has great stuff. He’s gotten great results. He’s a good athlete who is very comfortable being the kind of pitcher he is. Draft him high and let him do this thing. I think he can start, others think he have to relieve; I’m not so baseball stupid to realize that there’s a wide value gap between starting pitchers and relievers, so drafting him too high only to see him up in the pen would be a disappointment on some level, true. It’s just amazing to me that in all the people I’ve talked to, all the smart people who obsess about the draft online all year long, and all the voices inside my own head that won’t shut up when I see Medeiros pitch, I haven’t heard or read or imagined a single person who doubted whether or not Medeiros will consistently get hitters out one day at the big league level. Starter or reliever? Fair question. Will he get guys out? Please, do you really have to ask? For any high school pitcher, that’s an amazing compliment. For a low arm slot 6-0, 180 pound lefthander from Hawaii, it’s really something.

My “not a comp” comparison in terms of recent amateur pitchers with similar general profiles is current Astros minor leaguer Lance McCullers. The righthanded McCullers didn’t have quite the same arm slot questions — hence the “not a comp” caveat — but I think in terms of raw stuff, physical stature, and the overarching “can he or can’t he start?” narrative, it fits. McCullers had a little more giddyup on the fastball (Medeiros sits 88-93, touches 94-95), but Medeiros’ overall fastball grades out very similarly thanks to his uncanny inability (in a good way) to throw any fastball on a direct line to home plate. The young lefty has movement you can’t teach, and it helps an already very good fastball work as plus to plus-plus. Couple that with a wipeout 78-83 slider (a tick softer than McCullers’, yet no less devastating), a surprisingly effective changeup (78-85, above-average upside but will flash plus presently on occasion), and an eagerness to establish ownership on the inner-half of the plate, and you’ve got yourself a first round talent. The “not a comp” comp McCullers’ draft selection — supplemental first, 41st overall — represents a good ballpark draft range (give or take a few picks) for Medeiros.

I could end things here. We’ve at least partially addressed the concerns surround Medeiros, we’ve covered what he throws, and we’ve even offered up a half-hearted yet not awful (I’m not humble, clearly) frame of reference in the person of Lance McCullers. I could end things here, but I can’t. I’ve spent more time away from the site thinking about Medeiros than any other player in this entire draft class. He’s quite easily in my personal top ten most fascinating 2014 MLB Draft prospects to watch going forward. I can sometimes get so wrapped up in this little draft world that I fail to check in enough on how certain guys are doing in pro ball — though I happened to see today that Curt Casali was tearing up AA, damn near brought a tear to my eye — but you can be sure I’ll follow Medeiros no matter where he lands.

The arm slot thing is what gets me, mostly because I didn’t really care all that much about arm slot as recently as six months ago. I’m not sure I necessarily care now — the homework that I’ve done has led me to my personal conclusion that, like a pitcher’s mechanics in general, any arm slot can be effective in any role as long as the pitcher is comfortable with it — but I do find the mountain of available research on the topic pretty darn interesting. I realize I’m years late to this, but I can’t tell you how many hours have been lost these last few months thanks to the work done at Texas Leaguers and Brooks Baseball. Anytime you find something online that makes you a little bit mad you weren’t smart enough to figure out on your own — I’m pathetic when it comes to technology, so those kinds of data pulls are nothing short of miraculous to me — you know you’ve found something worthwhile. Between my own research and a few helpful contacts around the game, the arm slot/stuff comps I’ve heard that I find most instructive are Jake Diekman, a shorter Rich Hill, and, even though he was used for Brady Aiken already, Madison Bumgarner. Interesting group.

Three more fun names I’ll throw out there, more about stuff and potential pro impact than release point: Francisco Liriano, Scott Kazmir, and Jose Quintana. I don’t mean to dilute the already suspect nature of prospect/player comparisons, but I see a lot of Medeiros in a lot of different guys. It happens. The fact that none of the three come all that close from an arm slot perspective bugs me, but the stuff and stature of each guy feels on point. I think any of those three could be fair representations of Medeiros’ ceiling as a starting pitcher (Quintana is my favorite, I think) while a potentially dominant reliever like Diekman should be the floor.

Dylan Cease, Luis Ortiz, and Bryce Montes de Oca

Dylan Cease has first round stuff, but the injury concerns are a major red flag. I’m not a scouting director nor do I want to play one on the internet, but, if you’ll indulge me just one time, I will admit that, job on the line, I would not have the guts to take a top 30ish pick on a pitcher with a partially torn UCL who hasn’t pitched since March. It’s easy to say “wow, he’ll be a great value pick and we can get a first round talent at a reduced price in terms of picks and cash once he starts slipping,” but actually pulling the trigger is a different thing altogether. You only get so many early round selections as a decision-maker in this game, so you’d better be damn sure you’ll hit on those top choices. We’ll have to assume that whatever team selects Cease early has done extensive homework on his condition, but any arm that has already undergone an injury like his is at a higher risk for more trouble going forward.

His plus fastball (easy heat at 90-95, 97 peak), plus breaking ball (Frankie Piliere compares it to AJ Burnett’s while others have deemed it a huge work in progress; I’m with Piliere here), underrated changeup, plus command, athleticism, and freaky strength (pound-for-pound he might be the strongest pitcher in this year’s class) all give him considerable upside, but none of that is of practical use if he’s not healthy. Best case scenario can go either one of two ways: 1) the Platelet-Rich Therapy is effective (like Zach Greinke’s, as cited in the article linked above) and he’s back throwing gas in no time, or 2) surgery is required, but recovery goes well and he returns as good as new (more or less) by mid-season next year. The second scenario isn’t ideal for any high pick, but it’s all about the long view with draft prospects. Worst case scenario is…well, you know. I don’t want to make more of a “small tear of the UCL” than deserved, but every human responds differently to injury and, despite medical breakthroughs so amazing they border on inconceivable, there are no guarantees. This is not a great comp in terms of stuff, but more of a future potential impact/body type/athleticism/injury history point of reference: Cease reminds me a little bit of Rich Harden.

Luis Ortiz has first round stuff, but the injury concerns are a major red flag. I’m not a scouting director nor do I…yeah, you get the point. I lumped the two pitchers together for a reason, after all. Ortiz offers similar stuff to Cease, but with a quality slider instead of a curve as his primary breaking ball. The body has a little more bulk than Cease, and it’s not necessarily good weight, but everybody I’ve talked to has been very complimentary about how hard Ortiz has worked to improve his physique over the past calendar year. I think Grant Holmes is probably the closest physical comp to him in this class, but that’s where the comparison would end for me. I don’t have a good comp for Ortiz so I won’t force one — first time for everything, I guess — but I will say that stuff-wise the aforementioned Cease/Harden comparison makes less sense than an Ortiz/Harden (both slider reliant) comp. Not so much in body type/athleticism, of course.

Unlike Cease, Ortiz is back and throwing. He’s not yet where he was pre-injury, but it’s a process. As for the injury itself, published reports have it as a “forearm strain.” Anecdotally, it seems that forearm strain is code for something else altogether, but speculating beyond that won’t get us anywhere. It is obviously encouraging that he’s back, and we can choose to spin his early struggles due to rust rather than any lingering discomfort. I sincerely hope that’s the case, but I still think it is fair to have Ortiz as a big injury red flag until we see more.

Bryce Montes de Oca is a different animal altogether. Montes de Oca has already had Tommy John surgery, so the road map to his recovery — more accurately continued recovery as he’s already back and throwing well for Lawrence HS — is far more clearly defined. The injury still puts him in the high-risk, red flag category going forward, but he’ll have a few more appearances to show scouts he’s back at or near 100% before the draft. The stuff is pretty much what you’d expect from a young, raw 6-8, 265 pound power pitching mountain of a man: plus fastball (88-94 with serious sink, 96-97 peak), mid-70s curve with promise, and a hard mid-80s change that needs work. The upside is tantalizing, though it is worth noting that (anecdotal observation alert!) young pitchers built like Montes de Oca often take longer to develop if they can develop the kind of body control and ability to harness their stuff at all. I’m as guilty as oohhing and aahhing at guys built like Montes de Oca as much as anybody, so realizing the challenges bigger pitchers face from an athletic standpoint should help temper expectations back down to more reasonable levels. He’s still a premium amateur talent.

Three high upside high school righthanded pitchers who flash above-average big league starter stuff. Three worrisome recent injuries. Three major draft wild cards. June 5-6-7 can’t come soon enough.

Jacob Bukauskas

I didn’t intend to write 1,000+ words on one pitcher, but here we are. Let’s talk everybody’s favorite reclassified young arm, Jacob Bukauskas…

Since day one at this site I’ve championed pitchers of all sizes, tossing aside the traditional belief that short righthanders should be pushed down on draft day. It’s been great to see big league teams seemingly become more open-minded towards shorter righthanders in recent years, no doubt due to my massive influence on front offices across baseball. Teams are realizing that making hard and fast rules about height, weight, and frame requirements serves only to limit one’s prospective talent pool. There will always be worries about shorter pitchers, ranging from the interesting yet unproven belief that short pitchers can’t get the same kind of downward plane as taller guys (accepted as fact by many, but I’m not there yet and I’d love to see the raw data on it) to the patently absurd fears about injury risks and general quality of stuff (“Shorter pitchers are just as effective and durable as taller pitchers“). We’re all human and as such we are all — well, most of us — drawn to pitchers that remind us of other successful pitchers. It’s not our fault, it’s just how our brains are wired. The vast majority of successful pitchers in big league history have fit the traditional height/weight mold preferred by the old guard, so it’s no shock that we look for familiar body types when searching for the next big thing. As much as I like to think I am capable of looking past physical measurements alone, there’s no way I can cop to being without my own scouting biases. Awareness of said biases can lead to over-corrections, and now you see how this whole conversation can unravel in a hurry. Deep down, like everybody else, I have a mental image of what I want my ideal pitching prospect to look like. Over time, I’ve tried to grow more open-minded towards all shapes and sizes. Then one day I wake up and realize I’m giving smaller guys the benefit of the doubt when I might not do the same for otherwise similar traditionally built player. So then I move back towards appreciating a 6-5, 220 pound specimen and the cycle repeats. Now my brain hurts, so let’s go back and see if we can extract a cogent point out of that mess. 

Do you get the feeling at any point there that I was building towards a massive BUT? I hope so. We’re talking J-Lo/Kardashian/Minaj/Antonio Bastardo territory here. Was that lame reference worth forever having “biggest butt celebrity” in my browser history? I’m leaning yes. I do love short pitchers. I think there was a huge imbalance even just a few short years ago ripe to be exploited by smart front offices. The gap has closed of late, but there’s still some Moneyball-type identification of undervalued asset potential here. Let teams battle for the perfectly proportioned pitching prospects while waiting back and scooping up the oddballs who can give you similar results once the ball leaves the hand. I do love short pitchers, but there are a few things to consider on a case-by-case basis when evaluating them that may not be worth worrying about otherwise.

Fastball plane, injury risks, and quality/diversity of stuff aren’t things I will personally ding a shorter player for without specific evidence pertaining to a specific player. No generalizing if I can help it. One thing that I legitimately worry about when it comes to shorter pitchers, especially those on the stockier side, is how much growth is left in their game. Physical projection is critical when evaluating players who won’t play meaningful big league roles for five+ years down the line. It’s not quite real estate’s location, location, location, but a familiar scouting refrain is projection, projection, projection. Performance matters, obviously, and I think I do a decent job of highlighting that, especially with college players with more meaningful track records, but it’s not about what a guy has done in the past but rather a projection about what he will do in the future.

Stone Bridge HS RHP Jacob Bukauskas (6-0, 200 pounds) doesn’t have what I’d call a stocky frame by any stretch, but it is a build that looks more or less how it will look for the first dozen or so years (if he’s lucky) of his professional career. I actually think his body isn’t a concern going forward — he’s a good athlete who obviously works hard to stay in really good shape — but that alone doesn’t mean we’ll ever see a serious uptick in stuff once he hits pro ball, as many automatically assume for all younger amateurs. Obvious counterpoint is obvious: if the present stuff is good enough, then why worry? Dylan Bundy, Grant Holmes, and Bukauskas all showed the kind of premium stuff as prep pitchers to warrant early first round draft consideration. Bundy cashed in, Holmes looks like a really good bet to do the same, and Bukauskas, if you believe the hype over the past few weeks, could very well make it a trio of high achievers.

What’s tough about Bukauskas — and you can attribute this to his frame, or not — is the wide variance of stuff he’s shown from start to start. At his best, the early first round consideration makes complete sense. His fastball is hot (mid-90s, rumors of triple-digit peak early in the spring), his mid-80s changeup will flash plus, and his low-80s slider does the same. On other days, the buzz surround Bukauskas seems more about the novelty of his reclassification; scouts get draft fatigue like anybody else, so when there’s suddenly somebody new to consider the excitement of a shiny new toy can surpass the reality of a good yet not great prospect. Even at reduced velocity (88-92ish, 95 peak), Bukauskas would merit top three round consideration thanks to the flashes he has shown with the secondary offerings (though, in fairness, there are starts when those flashes are few and far between compared to his better days), the freaky high pitching IQ he’s demonstrated with every trip to the mound, and his relative youth.

I may be giant hypocrite, but Bukauskas’ size and ability to add to his frame in a positive way worries me. I’m not proud to say it, but I’d feel much better about his draft ranking if he three inches taller with a little more room to fill out. However, even with a frame that offers little in the way of projection you can see the makings of a mid-rotation or better starting pitcher based solely on present stuff, command, and pitchability. The total package is undeniably impressive, all six feet of it.

Grant Holmes and Touki Toussaint

We covered 1 and 2 on this list the other day, so why not check in with 3 and 4 today? I still want to explore the idea of high school pitching wild cards, something I was hoping to do in a quick piece covering a bunch of names. Once I started going on Grant Holmes and Touki Toussaint, however, I couldn’t stop until I emptied as much as I could from the notebook. Here we go…

RHP Grant Holmes (Conway HS, South Carolina)

What makes him a wild card: he’s currently listed at 6-1, 210 pounds and will have to overcome the dreaded short/stocky righthanded pitcher stigma

Let’s get right to it with Holmes, an outstanding young pitcher with present stuff (easy plus fastball velocity and sink, above-average breaking ball that flashes plus, above-average hard changeup that flashes plus, good yet inconsistent command that takes him from a really good prospect to a great one when working) rivaled by very few in his class. Comps aren’t for everybody, but I find general body type and stuff comparisons useful for developing a frame of reference for players that many reading might never see until they hit the big leagues. Baseball America has used both Chad Billingsley and Eric Gagne as comps for Holmes in the past, but I personally enjoy the Bartolo Colon comparison (forget who mentioned this one, but as a fan of Colon’s, both the young version and the jolly older iteration) most of all. I’ve also heard “husky Sonny Gray,” Yovani Gallardo, and, an excellent blast from the past, former Astros righthander Wade Miller. Alright, I won’t lie: “husky Sonny Gray” isn’t something I’ve heard but one that I’ve come up with. You could think of those names as Holmes’ comp continuum if so inclined: floor (Miller/Gagne), happy medium (Gallardo/Billingsley), and ceiling (thicker Gray). A name that also keeps coming back to me is Wil Crowe, currently a freshman at South Carolina. Crowe, who really should see a doctor about those two lost inches from his pre-draft listed height, has a similar body type, assortment of pitches (though Holmes’ fastball-breaking ball-changeup are all an easy half-grade or more higher than Crowe’s, no disrespect for Gamecock intended), and command. I’m not sure how Crowe fits in to a discussion on Holmes — really, Holmes should be brought up when talking Crowe, noting that he could be a lesser version of the 2014 draft star with continued growth at USC — but I like giving a quality college guy a mention whenever possible so we’ll let it stand.

I think there’s some merit to the popular Dylan Bundy comparison, especially as it pertains to his draft stock. Bundy may not have been the first short prep righthander to go high in the draft, but he has gone his part and more to break through the glass ceiling for the demographic. Bundy’s tremendous early success as a professional – injury notwithstanding – ought to allay some concerns about Holmes’ pro future. I’m not saying that’s logical necessarily, as one man’s accomplishments have no bearing on another’s future, but front offices like having a recent example to cite when justifying a pricey early round selection to the big bosses. That pesky little “injury notwithstanding” note that I slipped in there could give some teams pause; much like how teams could foolishly believe Bundy’s success will help Holmes, there could be some fear that the O’s young hurler’s injury will doom Holmes’ right arm before long. I haven’t heard or read any reasonable person claim Bundy’s injuries have had anything to do with not being 6-3, 220 pounds, so hopefully that’s not the case. Just throwing it out there. I’d be surprised if Holmes matches Bundy’s draft standing (4th overall), but that’s more because of the strength at the top of this year’s draft than a knock on Holmes. That being said, Bundy was still the superior draft prospect; again, not a knock on Holmes, just highlighting how darn impressive Bundy was as an amateur.

Also, and this is similar to what you’ll read below about Toussaint, it should be noted that there have been positive reports about Holmes’ dedication to getting his body in shape over the past few months. Young guys can right present wrongs, and development is as important, if not more so, than straight talent acquisition.

RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)

What makes him a wild card: his command can charitably be called “inconsistent,” though recent reports have him heading in the right direction.  

I’ve long believed that consistent command begins with consistent mechanics which is aided by repetition and athleticism. Nobody will deny Toussaint’s considerable athletic gifts, so the prospect of improved command comes down to the fairly simple fix of going out and getting innings in. Overly simplistic? Probably. A viable enough potential solution that I’d be willing to use an early first round pick on a pitcher with his kind of stuff? Without a doubt. I’m bullish on Toussaint.

I’m not envious of the big league front office that has to make a decision between a raw yet intriguing prospect like Toussaint and a polished strike-thrower like LSU’s Aaron Nola. The presence of those two players in the same draft pool is why I find the MLB Draft the most fascinating major draft to follow. The two young men will likely grade out as very similar prospects (say, 5th-25th ranked) on many draft boards, but the only real similarity between the two carbon-based lifeforms (well, I guess that’s a second similarity) share is handedness. You could not dream up two better highly ranked opposites. You have the young HS power arm with the flashy stuff who lacks the present ability to properly harness it versus the wily college star with stuff that doesn’t excite but the command of a seasoned big league veteran. That’s as interesting  a story line in this year’s draft as you’ll find, and I can’t wait to track each young player’s respective professional career. However, I want to be careful to not pigeonhole either player into a needlessly constricting archetype. Narratives are great fun, but let’s be as accurate as we can. Toussaint’s command, while admittedly a work in progress, is far from a lost cause, and the strides he’s shown to this point — remember how limited his experience on the diamond is — are very encouraging. Nola is the guy with the plus-plus command, but that’s sometimes said in almost a pejorative manner: he’s not a junkballer relying on guile and precision, but rather a pitcher with really good — not great, but still really good — stuff that does play up because of pinpoint command. Draft weekend couldn’t come soon enough, I love this stuff.

I’m fairly sure I’m on record as calling Toussaint’s curve one of the best prep breaking balls I have ever personally seen. That pitch alone is a separator between him and many of his peers. His fastball is another easy plus pitch thanks to serious movement (it’s a tough one to elevate) and mid-90s heat. Throw in the “other stuff” (cut-SL, split-CU, truer cutter, harder splitter) that appears and reappears depending on the outing, add the aforementioned athleticism, and you’ve got yourself an elite skill set to work with. I’ve taken to calling him the HS version of Tyler Beede, a fairly obvious comparison due to each pitcher’s ongoing issues with throwing quality strikes, but I think an amalgamation of Lucas Sims, CJ Edwards, and, my personal favorite (and a guy Toussaint could look to as a developmental role model), Robert Stephenson gives some idea about what kind of player we’re talking about.

Brady Aiken, Jeff Hoffman (if healthy), Carlos Rodon, and Tyler Kolek make up my current top tier of pitching talent. Not too far behind them are Holmes, Beede, and Toussaint, currently in that order but very much subject to change. I’d be comfortable running with those seven players as my top seven overall players on the board, though there is room for a certain high school bat (or two…) to break through yet.

Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek

I’m realizing now that it might be easier to just write about the high school pitchers that aren’t wild cards. I’ll still get to those wild cards later this week, but let’s first talk about the two clear cut top names on just about everybody’s HS pitching list.

First we have Brady Aiken, the polished yet still ascending lefthander drawing heady yet not totally undeserved comps to a young Clayton Kershaw. Those comps, by the way, are fascinating to me because, while I acknowledge the danger in hyping up any HS arm to that degree, it is a pretty damn good reference point. Per Baseball America’s pre-draft scouting report, Kershaw went from a second/third round pick to the consensus number one high school prospect after emerging as a senior. That doesn’t sound entirely dissimilar to Aiken’s last six months developmentally. The frames are really similar (6-4, 200ish pounds with weight distributed similarly), deliveries both smooth, performances equally dominating, and, most importantly, the two have/had stuff that matches up well (Kershaw’s 90-96 FB and plus CB are both cited in the BA report). Both were/are also considered exceptional athletes with above-average or better deception and command, not to mention potentially decent hitting pitchers. They also both share the strong chance for a third above-average pitch in a changeup, though Aiken’s experimental mid- to upper-80s cutter gives him one extra pitch to play with than a young Kershaw. I’ve tried to get somebody to go on the record and say that the Aiken/Kershaw comparison is ridiculous, but nobody is willing to go that far. Doesn’t make them clones, of course, but it’s not as outlandish as comparing any 17-year old to the best American pitcher alive seems at first.

Looking back at things I’ve done for the site over the years reveals some some similarities between Aiken and Matt Krook (Oregon), Max Fried (Padres), James Paxton (Mariners), and Henry Owens (Red Sox). One comp that I’ve heard that I like is a young, pre-cutter Andy Pettitte. I could see that. I think a more physical Matt Moore is the comp I’m going with. Aiken is a little bigger, little stronger, and a little more advanced as a pitcher at the same age, but I think that’s a pretty good match.

We also have Tyler Kolek. So much is made every year about how amateur coaches mistreat star pitchers, selfishly preferring to extract as much present value from the gifted arms handed to them rather than doing whatever possible to ensure long, healthy, and well-paid careers for the young men with the actual talent and big league dreams. I don’t personally harp on it too much because I find the moralizing — and, yeah, I just re-read my previous sentence and can see the hypocrisy, thanks — positively draining after a while. Blowing up Twitter with virtual disappointed finger wags at coaches who run guys out for 130+ pitch outings doesn’t do a damn bit of good, so just stick with mentioning what happened, why it’s not good, how it could impact the prospect’s draft stock, and save the morally superior routine for something that really matters. ANYWAY, with so much focus on the coaching staffs that chew arms up and spit them out, it’s only right to highlight a school doing right by its star player. By all accounts, the staff at Shepherd HS in Texas has taken every measure to keep Tyler Kolek happy, healthy, and throwing gas. It’s a win-win-win situation (team, player, sport) that deserves more recognition than it has received.

Kolek’s most popular comp is Jonathan Gray. Again, like the Aiken/Kershaw comp, there is a reason why this particular comp has picked up steam. Man strength, plus-plus heat, plus hard breaking ball, usable change, and a better idea on how to pitch than most young power arms are all qualities that the two young pitchers share. Many of Gray’s comps from last year — think of a continuum moving from Garrett Richards to Gerrit Cole to Roger Clemens — apply to Kolek this year. A pre-injury Dustin McGowan goes down as one of the most interesting comps I have heard for Kolek. You could also add on any other big Texan to his comp list; my preferences are the very obvious Josh Beckett and the slightly less obvious but no less applicable Homer Bailey. Another fun one I’ve heard: the decidedly un-Texan RHP Andy Benes. As with any high school pitcher there is a wide range of outcomes, but the kind of present stuff that Kolek shows has made me a believer that whatever path he winds up on will be a good one.

There really aren’t a lot of recent draft comps for a 6-6, 250+ pound prep righty capable of hitting triple digits, so any name you read here is admittedly a stretch. Fifteen minutes through the archives and all I’ve got are Archie Bradley, Chris Jenkins, and Lucas Giolito. I’d say that’s two shining beacons of light sandwiched between a cautionary tale. Like everybody, I liked Bradley a ton and LOVED Giolito, so I think a spot in between them in terms of amateur draft stock is fair (i.e. I’d rank them Giolito, Kolek, Bradley). You could make a case for Kolek being behind Bradley as a draft prospect (better athlete), but I prefer each of Kolek’s most often used pitches (FB/breaking ball/CU) better at this point than Bradley’s at a similar stage of development. If you’re telling me that I can get Kolek’s current repertoire and give him Bradley’s developmental track as a pitcher, then I’m thinking long and hard about using a top three pick on him. It’s certainly possible.

I’ve gotten over most of my worries about Kolek’s maxed out frame and limited athleticism, and learned to appreciate his explosive fastball (nothing below 94 much of the spring, easy upper-90s peak), nasty mid- to upper-80s cut-slider, and super firm changeup as being a blend of pro-ball ready stuff that will give him the rare high HS pitcher floor. The upside is obvious and tantalizing, but when your worst case scenario (injuries excepted) is becoming a dominant closer, you’re a pretty good prospect.

Ranking Methodology and Pitching World View

Making a list like this isn’t easy. Well, that’s a lie: it can be very easy if hastily thrown together without much more than a shallow dive into a nationwide prospect pool. I know I’m just another internet hack making lists that don’t matter so I won’t try to pretend that I’m above anybody else doing the same, but I would like to stress that I don’t take my published rankings lightly. While it’s true that nobody who will ever make a decision on draft weekend takes these rankings into consideration, it’s also true that there are fans, parents, and coaches who have deep personal investments into the hard work of the talented amateurs trying to make their mark on the great game of baseball who very much care about what is being written about their future franchise saviors (no pressure, everybody!), sons, and players. I don’t write it if I can’t back it up. This isn’t meant to be a justification of the ranking itself, but instead a quick look behind the curtain as to how I try to make sense of slotting so many talented guys into one cohesive ranking.

Off the top, I’ll make the obvious admission that I have not personally seen every name on every ranking. Even if I had, as a baseball fan first and a wannabe scout last, it wouldn’t do nearly as much good as I would like. I do take my own firsthand observations into account, but I rely much more heavily on collecting as much publicly issued data as possible (love you, Twitter) and making good use of my modest connections made back in my formative years hanging on the periphery of the game. That last point is critical: I’ve grown to have no problem bugging an area guy who has seen two pitchers multiple times into telling me which arm he prefers going forward. Whenever you see two otherwise similar prospects from a reasonably close geographical area, you can assume that I differentiated between the two using that approach.

My original sorting system (before pressing contacts for info) goes a long way in how the final version of a ranking looks. I don’t try to do too much, basically. Sort by velocity to start. John Manuel of Baseball America mentioned in yesterday’s chat that they are doing research about the very topic of fastball velocity and first round selections; he said that 93 MPH was a possible threshold (the study is not yet completed) for first round consideration in recent years. A guy throwing 90 with projection is nothing to sneeze at, of course, and there are easy arguments to make why he should be ahead of harder throwers, but as a general rule of thumb, I do like to see early round arms capable of hitting 92+. Mitch Hart at 25 is the highest exception for me this year (have him listed at 87-91, topping 92), but many of the usual suspects (projection, command, deception, secondary stuff) help give him a boost.

The Hart example leads me to the next thing I want to see in a young arm: feel for a changeup. Hart’s happens to flash plus, but I’m happy with a teenager who can at least show a usable change. Any more than that is gravy. I love changeups. Hitting = pattern deduction + timing + coordination + violence. A good change can mess with those first two things as much as any offspeed offering. Replicating fastball spin out of the hand is critical, as is maintaining a consistent arm action. Changeups can also keep you healthy. There are certainly some underdeveloped changeups near the top of these rankings, so don’t take the changeup love as gospel but rather as a tie-breaker when things are close. I won’t kill a young guy for not showing a changeup because that automatically assumes he either doesn’t throw one at all (very rare) or can’t be taught one professionally. I will use a plus changeup — Keaton McKinney’s comes to mind — to pump a guy up the board.

I’ll then look at the overall body of work, focusing mainly on the entirety of the pitcher’s arsenal. How many different pitches can you throw for strikes? How many project to be average or better professionally? Is there a pitch you can consistently count on with two strikes? The ability to repeat one’s delivery, overall athleticism, level of deception, mound demeanor, body type, and mileage are all also taken into account. Nothing revolutionary here, but all of these basics must be addressed.

The most difficult thing to assess in HS arms for me is fastball command. It seems like it should be easy, but it isn’t. Much like the challenges evaluators face when assessing a hitter’s plate discipline, the talent gap between these top talents and the rest of the high school field shove certain aspects of the game into the shadows. If you can throw 95 MPH against your average high school hitter, it doesn’t really matter how effective your command is in the zone. Get it over, watch them flail away. Precision isn’t necessary. This same logic is often also used when scouts express frustration about only seeing a HS pitcher’s changeup in the bullpen before the game begins.  If you can throw 95 MPH against your average high school hitter, it doesn’t really make sense to speed up anybody’s bat.

You might now be able to understand why I — and seemingly everybody else — love Brady Aiken. He checks off every conceivable box. His fastball, curve, change, and cutter all show average or better, with the curve being good enough to be a professional separator. He’s an athlete with a sturdy yet still projectable 6-4, 200 pound frame who gets good deception from an easily repeatable delivery all while showing consistent command of his deep, varied four-pitch mix. There’s no such thing as a perfect pitching prospect, and, if there was, Aiken wouldn’t be the first name in the entire universe to come to mind, but for this prep pitching class he has no equal.

2014 MLB Draft: Top 125 High School Pitching Prospects

I have a lot more to say here than just a ranking, I promise. I did, however, want to get this up as soon as possible because, you know, time is money and all that. I actually don’t know how that applies on a free site, but it’s late so let’s run with it. Tomorrow I want to talk a little about my methodology for compiling such a list, as well as brief explanations about why the names at the top are at the top. What I’m most looking forward to is a look at some of this year’s biggest HS pitching wild cards; there are a lot of intriguing names — anecdotally I’d say more than usual, but that’s likely just recency bias messing with my head — that could go anywhere from the mid- to late-first round all the way down to an unsignable spot in the draft. And I’m not just talking about Bryce Montes de Oca, either! Finally, I’d also like to look at some of the story lines that I think may develop as draft weekend — I know it’s Thursday/Friday/Saturday, but can we all agree on calling it draft weekend for simplicity’s sake? — unfolds. So prepare yourself for a HS pitching heavy next few days. Let’s kick it off with a list sure to be outdated in six weeks!

If I forgot somebody obvious, please don’t hesitate to yell at me.

  1. LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic HS, California)
  2. RHP Tyler Kolek (Shepherd HS, Texas)
  3. RHP Grant Holmes (Conway HS, South Carolina)
  4. RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)
  5. RHP Jacob Bukauskas (Stone Bridge HS, Virginia)
  6. RHP Dylan Cease (Milton HS, Georgia)
  7. LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS, Hawaii)
  8. LHP Mac Marshall (Parkview HS, Georgia)
  9. RHP Michael Kopech (Mount Pleasant HS, Texas)
  10. RHP Cobi Johnson (Mitchell HS, Florida)
  11. RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood HS, Florida)
  12. RHP Cameron Varga (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Ohio)
  13. RHP Luis Ortiz (Sanger HS, California)
  14. RHP Spencer Adams (White County HS, Georgia)
  15. LHP Foster Griffin (First Academy, Florida)
  16. RHP Keaton McKinney (Ankeny HS, Iowa)
  17. RHP Scott Blewett (CW Baker HS, New York)
  18. RHP Turner Larkins (Arlington Martin HS, Texas)
  19. RHP Keith Weisenberg (Osceola HS, Florida)
  20. RHP Grant Hockin (Damien HS, California)
  21. RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (Lawrence HS, Kansas)
  22. LHP/OF Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro HS, Arizona)
  23. LHP Carson Sands (North Florida Christian HS, Florida)
  24. RHP Joey Gatto (St. Augustine Prep, New Jersey)
  25. RHP Mitch Hart (Granite Bay HS, California)
  26. RHP Weston Davis (Manatee HS, Florida)
  27. RHP Alex Faedo (Alonso HS, Florida)
  28. LHP Tucker Baca (North Gwinnett HS, Georgia)
  29. RHP Jonathan Teaney (Quartz Hill HS, California)
  30. RHP Jake Nix (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  31. RHP Jake Godfrey (Providence Catholic HS, Illinois)
  32. RHP Brandon Murray (Hobart HS, Indiana)
  33. RHP/3B Ryder Ryan (North Mecklenburg HS, North Carolina)
  34. LHP Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma HS,Tennessee)
  35. LHP Bennett Sousa (Benjamin HS, Florida)
  36. RHP Alex Lange (Lee’s Summit West HS, Missouri)
  37. RHP Ryan Castellani (Brophy Prep, Arizona)
  38. RHP Bryan Dobzanski (Delsea Regional HS, New Jersey)
  39. RHP Austin DeCarr (Salisbury Prep, Massachusetts)
  40. LHP David Peterson (Regis Jesuit HS, Colorado)
  41. RHP Tylor Megill (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  42. RHP Drew Rasmussen (Mount Spokane HS, Washington)
  43. RHP Garrett Fulencheck (Howe HS, Texas)
  44. RHP Cre Finfrock (Martin County HS, Florida)
  45. RHP Marvin Gorgas (East Hampton HS, Connecticut)
  46. RHP Derek Casey (Hanover HS, Virginia)
  47. RHP Blake Bivens (Washington HS, Virginia)
  48. RHP Branden Kelliher (Lake Stevens HS, Washington)
  49. RHP Gage Burland (East Valley HS, Washington)
  50. RHP Brigham Hill (Nacogdoches HS, Texas)
  51. LHP Cameron Bishop (Brea Olinda HS, California)
  52. LHP Willie Rios (St. Bernard HS, Connecticut)
  53. LHP Cody Reed (Ardmore HS, Alabama)
  54. RHP Colton Hock (Bloomsburg Area HS, Pennsylvania)
  55. RHP Garrett Cave (South Sumter HS, Florida)
  56. RHP Mitch Keller (Xavier HS, Iowa)
  57. RHP Jonah Patten (Norwell HS, Indiana)
  58. RHP Andrew Karp (West Orange HS, Florida)
  59. LHP Justin Steele (George County HS, Mississippi)
  60. LHP Devin Smeltzer (Bishop Eustace HS, New Jersey)
  61. RHP Kevin Steen (Oak Ridge HS, Tennessee)
  62. RHP Tommy Doyle (Flint Hill HS, Virginia)
  63. RHP/OF Pat Mahomes (Whitehouse HS, Texas)
  64. LHP/OF Quinn Brodey (Loyola HS, California)
  65. LHP/OF Alex Destino (North Buncombe HS, North Carolina)
  66. RHP Micah Miniard (Boyle County HS, Kentucky)
  67. RHP Kevin Pimentel (Shoreham Wading River HS, New York)
  68. RHP Ricardo Salinas (North Shore HS, Texas)
  69. RHP Spencer Moran (Mountain View HS, Arizona)
  70. RHP Erik Manoah (South Dade HS, Florida)
  71. RHP Zach Schellenger (Devon Prep HS, Pennsylvania)
  72. RHP Stetson Woods (Liberty HS, California)
  73. RHP Brad Depperman (East Lake HS, Florida)
  74. RHP/3B Jake Jarvis (Klein Collins HS, Texas)
  75. RHP Brendan Spagnuolo (Chaminade HS, New York)
  76. RHP Case Rolen (Sherman HS, Texas)
  77. LHP Grant Reuss (Cranbrook Kingswood HS, Michigan)
  78. RHP Braden Webb (Owasso HS, Oklahoma)
  79. RHP Jayce Vancena (Lake HS, Ohio)
  80. RHP Jesse Lepore (Trinity Catholic HS, Florida)
  81. RHP Jeremiah Muhammad (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)
  82. RHP Bryce Dyrda (Oakdale HS, California)
  83. RHP Gabriel Gonzalez (Arbor View HS, Nevada)
  84. RHP Brad Bass (Lincoln-Way Central HS, Illinois)
  85. RHP Doug Norman (Ardrey Kell HS, South Carolina)
  86. LHP Brock Burke (Evergreen HS, Colorado)
  87. RHP Jeff Harding (Cambridge-South Dorchester HS, Maryland)
  88. RHP Brady Feigl (Parkway Central HS, Missouri)
  89. RHP Tanner Houck (Collinsville HS, Illinois)
  90. LHP Jacob Latz (Lemont HS, Illinois)
  91. LHP Daniel Gooden (Griffin HS, Georgia)
  92. RHP Kyle Marsh (Spruce Creek HS, Florida)
  93. RHP Brad Archer (Lebanon HS, Missouri)
  94. RHP Parker Joe Robinson (Serra HS, California)
  95. RHP Matt Ruppenthal (Brother Rice HS, Michigan)
  96. RHP Maverick Buffo (Spanish Fork HS, Utah)
  97. RHP Josh Pennington (Lower Cape May HS, New Jersey)
  98. RHP Danny Siwek (Bonita Vista HS, California)
  99. RHP Bryan Pall (Sandburg HS, Illinois)
  100. LHP Jeider Rincon (Overfelt HS, California)
  101. RHP Ronny Orta (Faith Baptist HS, Florida)
  102. RHP Clarke Schmidt (Allatoona HS, Georgia)
  103. RHP Brett Daniels (Fuquay-Varina HS, North Carolina)
  104. RHP Dan Serreino (Jackson Liberty HS, New Jersey)
  105. LHP Joel Huertas-Ortiz (Carmen Sol HS, Puerto Rico)
  106. RHP Kiko Garcia (St. Augustine HS, California)
  107. RHP Brad Wegman (Great Oak HS, California)
  108. RHP Sam Proctor (Booker HS, Florida)
  109. RHP Luis Alvarado (Montverde Academy, Florida)
  110. RHP Jordan Yamamoto (St. Louis HS, Hawaii)
  111. RHP Griffin Canning (Santa Margarita HS, California)
  112. RHP Luke Dabney (Dripping Springs HS, Texas)
  113. LHP John Gavin (St. Francis HS, California)
  114. RHP Jesse McCord (Spanish Fork HS, Alabama)
  115. RHP Drew Carlton (George Jenkins HS, Florida)
  116. RHP Kyle Wright (Buckhorn HS, Alabama)
  117. RHP Dazon Cole (Pontiac Central HS, Michigan)
  118. RHP Ronald Williams (American HS, Florida)
  119. RHP Trevor Horn (Horizon HS, Arizona)
  120. RHP Keegan Curtis (Davidson HS, Alabama)
  121. RHP Garrett King (Orange Lutheran HS, California)
  122. LHP Reagan Todd (Regis Jesuit Hs, Colorado)
  123. RHP Andrew DiPiazza (Central Regional HS, New Jersey)
  124. RHP Dakody Clemmer (Mountain View HS, Washington)
  125. RHP Grant Schneider (Lake Travis HS, Texas)

Forcing Comps: Carlos Rodon

Spent my Easter morning thinking about Carlos Rodon because that’s a perfectly normal thing to do, right? First, here’s what I wrote about him a few weeks ago…
Fastball not as fast, command way down, slider still awesome (but he uses it a ton, which may or may not be worrisome going forward), and, most frustratingly of all, no real positive gains made in areas that I was concerned about going into the year (he’s not a great athlete, his body is what it is, and his change is still not where you want it to be). When your strengths are not quite as strong and your weaknesses show little to no improvement, things aren’t going so great. Before you could say that his fastball/slider combo was so dominant that he’d be a damn good MLB starter regardless of those negatives — some are more dogmatic about the need for three average or better pitches to be a starter (I once was, to be honest), but reading about how Doc Gooden was messed with by trying too hard to bring along a third pitch after his huge early success with the Mets has me thinking that an above-average to plus FB and a SL that has elicited comparisons to a guy named Carlton would suffice three times through a lineup quite nicely — but now that his FB command has wavered and the overall velocity is down across the board, well, you have to wonder. He’s still a big-time talent and a likely top five lock, but I’d definitely bet the field over him if we’re talking strictly 1-1.

Things move quickly in the world of amateur draft prospects, but I think all that still stands today. Rodon is still a primarily FB/SL pitcher who is struggling (for him) this season in large part due to inconsistent command and decreased velocity. Assuming those two things can be helped in pro ball, where does he fit in at the next level? Let’s explore.

Before going further it’s worth saying that I don’t mean to disregard the non-FB/SL assortment of pitches Rodon offers, but I’ve yet to personally see or hear from somebody I trust about a consistent third big league pitch at this point in his development. Some like the change (“inconsistent, but will flash average or better”), others vouch for the upside of one of his two variations of the curve (harder one used primarily in bullpens, low-80s one occasionally mixed in during games), and I’ve heard a few who think he can differentiate enough between his “true” slider and an even harder low-90s cut-slider to keep hitters off balance with hard, harder, and hardest stuff.

Using the Fangraphs 2013 leaderboards, I found a few guys who got away with FB/SL combos and little else last year: Greg Holland, Patrick Corbin, Chris Archer, and Mike Dunn. None are great fits as direct comparisons, though I guess the two lefthanders (Corbin and Dunn) provide the easiest to see templates to success. Corbin’s slider is a very different version than Rodon’s (nor nearly as firm), and he does mix in a changeup every ten pitches or so. Dunn matches up better across the board (averages 94 MPH with FB and 87 with SL, closer in body type, etc.), but likely represents Rodon’s non-catastrophic injury worst case scenario as a big leaguer. Interesting.

I then looked back at every pitcher in the Fangraphs database that “often” (defined as 15% or more usage) threw a “hard” slider (defined as 85 MPH or more), while also adjusting when possible for handedness (edge for lefthanders, obviously), usage of other pitches (fewer the better), and body type (mostly eliminating sub-six-footers). Not exactly the most scientific approach, but, hey, the price is right. Four names stood out to me.

The best historical comp I could come up with, and it is admittedly a very generous one (and a bit of a stretch using some of the criteria listed above), is former starter/reliever and likely future HOFer John Smoltz. The two share a similar hard fastballs/slider combination that each leans/leaned on heavily, with the biggest stuff exception being Smoltz’s reliance (especially later in his career) on a splitter as a third pitch (10.2% usage). There’s also the thorny issue of handedness being flipped, but that’s something I can personally get past when the rest of the pieces fit. My memory would also say that, despite very similar listed frames (6-3, 220ish to 240ish), the body types weren’t all that close, and, more importantly, the athleticism was a separator in Smoltz’s favor. Still, not the most unrealistic best-case (probably should capitalize and bold that before I get in trouble with the comps are evil crowd: BEST-CASE) scenario comparison out there, I believe. Close, sure, but I could have thrown Koufax, Unit, or Spahn out there instead. (That’s a joke, everybody!). If you want to throw this away because comping anybody to a HOF-caliber player is a waste of time, well, then I wouldn’t blame you. All part of working through this particular thought exercise.

The best comp based off an existing one that I could find is Texas lefthander Robbie Ross. Stay with me on this one. Ross is far more dependent on his fastball than Rodon, but he is at least almost exclusively a FB/SL pitcher. The fact that he has had success going this route is encouraging to me, especially when you consider Rodon’s fastball and slider are both ahead of where Ross is at. The reason I’ve categorized him as a comp based off an existing one is because there have been some that have compared Rodon to Ross’s Texas teammate, Matt Harrison. For various reasons, mostly due to a far better-rounded repertoire, I don’t really see the Harrison comp, though I think the bodies match up fairly well. Ross has a completely different body type, so keep that in mind here. Far from perfect yet again, but I liked seeing a young player succeeding while relying solely on his fastball and slider.

The best college prospect comp I could muster is former Tar Heel and current Red Sox pitcher Andrew Miller. A part of me feels like we’ve seen this Rodon story unfold already, you know? This is a good comp, and, in my opinion, so obvious that I can’t believe the major publications haven’t run with it yet. Miller, though longer, leaner, and more athletic than Rodon, entered his draft year with very similar 1-1 hype. I saw Miller about a dozen times in his last two years at Carolina, and the buzz at every one of his starts was palpable. His fastball was explosive and his slider was even better. Even to an untrained eye like mine you could tell his mechanics needed some ironing out in pro ball, but he was still such an easy prospect to dream on. So, let’s circle back: highly touted lefthander from a major university in North Carolina, plus to plus-plus fastball/slider combination, underdeveloped changeup, and command issues stemming from mechanical inconsistencies. Come on! As a reliever now Miller is exclusively FB/SL after completely ditching the changeup after 2012. If we’re talking floor as a big leaguer, I think Miller is an interesting recent data point to consider. Better than the earlier Mike Dunn floor, and with the added collegiate prospect parallels to boot.

The best overall comp I can come up with is current Giants star lefthander Madison Bumgarner. Hear me out. Outside of Bumgarner’s own interesting career path to date (hard to believe now, but he was an extremely divisive prospect just a few short years ago) and his edge in athleticism, I think the comp is pretty damn near ideal if you keep an open mind towards comps in general. Baseball America had Bumgarner at 92-94 (97 peak) with his fastball pre-draft in 2007 with a “fringe-average” breaking ball at 81 MPH. They also cited his inconsistent mechanics and below-average changeup. After the 2009 season, they made note of plus makeup (“ornery competitor” with “zero fear”). His last prospect year (2010) brought news about his now “outstanding” slider and exceptional “mound savvy.” Does that not sound similar to the path Rodon has been on over these last few years? The frame matches up fairly well (Bumgarner is listed at 6-5, 235) and no starter that I found relies more on his slider than the San Francisco ace (over 34% in his career!). Bumgarner has found a way to mix in more changeups and curveballs than scouting reports anticipated, but that’s a credit to the aforementioned makeup and the excellent developmental staff in the Giants organization. No comp is perfect, but if Rodon straightens himself out in pro ball, I could see him doing Bumgarner-type things. He’ll throw harder, and chances are he won’t have as deep an overall arsenal (though it wouldn’t shock me if better instruction helped fine-tune a better third pitch than we’re currently seeing going forward), but his slider should be a similarly special pitch and nobody disputes his similar competitive zeal for the game. I don’t want to like this comp as much as I do, but it’s not without merit.

The biggest thing that gives me pause is the developmental years Rodon “lost” at college. Bumgarner turned 22 on August 1, 2011. That was the middle of a his first full season as a big league starter, a year he pitched to a 2.67 FIP in 204.2 innings. That’s good. Rodon will likely enter his first full season as a professional (at AA, most likely) at 22 next year. That doesn’t mean Rodon won’t reach the same heights Bumgarner has, but it does give him a long road to catch up. Guess that falls under the “no comp is perfect” caveat. I tried to track what would have been Bumgarner’s “college years” developmentally in the preceding paragraph, but comparing prospects from HS to college guys, pitchers especially, is a fool’s errand. I’m clearly a fool and am quite alright with that.

Job on the line, I don’t think I’d pound the table for the Rodon as Bumgarner comp, but suggesting it as an upside feels optimistically fair, if that makes sense. I did save one comp for last…


Carlos Rodon has disappointed in 2014. His disappointment has more to do with meaningful changes to his professional projection as outlined above, though the industry hype machine that helped build him does seem unfairly quick to tear him down. He’s still a really good pro prospect with many favorable career paths before him, and it isn’t outlandish to believe he winds up as one of the (if not the) best college pitchers from this draft class. He’s also not a sure thing, and that’s before any potential concerns about overuse are brought into play. I think this season is actually a fairly instructive one to keep in mind as he beings his professional journey: enough flashes of ace-caliber stuff to frustrate you that he isn’t better than he is while still putting up consistently above-average results. You want him to be more than he is (perhaps rightfully so), therefore it is hard to appreciate how well he’s actually turned out. If that sounds a little bit like a lefthanded version of Josh Johnson, another hard-throwing FB/SL heavy (88.1% combined usage) pitcher with a checkered injury history, then we’re on the same page.

2014 MLB Draft: High School Pitchers

I’m getting really close to putting out a real deal big board. Exciting times, I know. Before I do that, I figured I’d throw out a list of the top HS arms for the 2014 MLB Draft. My master list has 300+ names so far, so I tried to cut it down to a more reasonable 50+ of the best of the best. This seemed like the best way to get some easy feedback to see if I’m somehow forgetting somebody obvious. Let me know, please.

A few names strongly considered and plenty worthy but cut because I had to draw a line somewhere: Pat Mahomes, Dakody Clemmer, Brett Daniels, Tommy Doyle, Grant Reuss, Jayce Vancena, Jesse Lepore, Willie Rios, Alex Destino, Kevin Pimentel, Brad Bass, Quinn Brodey, Cameron Bishop, Gabriel Gonzalez, Cody Reed, Kyle Marsh, Kevin Steen, Devin Smeltzer, and Jeremiah Muhammad.

The list is in no order. That’s true. I mean, maybe I’ve started moving guys around a very little bit…like, the top four names, but that’s all. No more than that. So don’t read anything into the order just yet. Again, just trying to get a feel for whether or not I have all the major guys covered at this point. Wisdom of crowds, show yourself!

  • LHP Brady Aiken (Cathedral Catholic HS, California)
  • RHP Tyler Kolek (Shepherd HS, Texas)
  • RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs Christian HS, Florida)
  • RHP Grant Holmes (Conway HS, South Carolina)
  • RHP Jacob Bukauskas (Stone Bridge HS, Virginia)
  • RHP Michael Kopech (Mount Pleasant HS, Texas)
  • RHP Dylan Cease (Milton HS, Georgia)
  • RHP Ryan Castellani (Brophy Prep, Arizona)
  • RHP Drew Rasmussen (Mount Spokane HS, Washington)
  • RHP Cameron Varga (Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Ohio)
  • LHP Carson Sands (North Florida Christian HS, Florida)
  • RHP Blake Bivens (Washington HS, Virginia)
  • LHP Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma HS,Tennessee)
  • RHP Marvin Gorgas (East Hampton HS, Connecticut)
  • RHP Joey Gatto (St. Augustine Prep, New Jersey)
  • RHP Brigham Hill (Nacogdoches HS, Texas)
  • LHP Bennett Sousa (Benjamin HS, Florida)
  • RHP Alex Faedo (Alonso HS, Florida)
  • RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (Lawrence HS, Kansas)
  • RHP Derek Casey (Hanover HS, Virginia)
  • RHP Branden Kelliher (Lake Stevens HS, Washington)
  • LHP Tucker Baca (North Gwinnett HS, Georgia)
  • RHP Jonathan Teaney (Quartz Hill HS, California)
  • RHP Tylor Megill (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  • RHP Alex Lange (Lee’s Summit West HS, Missouri)
  • RHP Keaton McKinney (Ankeny HS, Iowa)
  • RHP Grant Hockin (Damien HS, California)
  • RHP Spencer Adams (White County HS, Georgia)
  • RHP Jonah Patten (Norwell HS, Indiana)
  • RHP Weston Davis (Manatee HS, Florida)
  • RHP Jake Nix (Los Alamitos HS, California)
  • RHP Turner Larkins (Arlington Martin HS, Texas)
  • RHP Brandon Murray (Hobart HS, Indiana)
  • RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Sandalwood HS, Florida)
  • RHP Andrew Karp (West Orange HS, Florida)
  • RHP Colton Hock (Bloomsburg Area HS, Pennsylvania)
  • RHP Cobi Johnson (Mitchell HS, Florida)
  • RHP Bryan Dobzanski (Delsea Regional HS, New Jersey)
  • LHP Kodi Medeiros (Waiakea HS, Hawaii)
  • RHP Garrett Cave (South Sumter HS, Florida)
  • RHP Garrett Fulencheck (Howe HS, Texas)
  • RHP Luis Ortiz (Sanger HS, California)
  • RHP Keith Weisenberg (Osceola HS, Florida)
  • RHP Jake Godfrey (Providence Catholic HS, Illinois)
  • RHP Mitch Hart (Granite Bay HS, California)
  • RHP Cre Finfrock (Martin County HS, Florida)
  • LHP/OF Alex Verdugo (Sahuaro HS, Arizona)
  • RHP Gage Burland (East Valley HS, Washington)
  • RHP Scott Blewett (CW Baker HS, New York)
  • LHP Foster Griffin (First Academy, Florida)
  • LHP David Peterson (Regis Jesuit HS, Colorado)
  • RHP Austin DeCarr (Salisbury Prep, Massachusetts)
  • RHP Mitch Keller (Xavier HS, Iowa)
  • LHP Mac Marshall (Parkview HS, Georgia)

Random First Round College Pitching Musings

Biggest draft story line of late is probably the fall of Carlos Rodon, right? There’s really no sugar-coating it at this point, he simply has not looked good this year. Fastball not as fast, command way down, slider still awesome (but he uses it a ton, which may or may not be worrisome going forward), and, most frustratingly of all, no real positive gains made in areas that I was concerned about going into the year (he’s not a great athlete, his body is what it is, and his change is still not where you want it to be). When your strengths are not quite as strong and your weaknesses show little to no improvement, things aren’t going so great. Before you could say that his fastball/slider combo was so dominant that he’d be a damn good MLB starter regardless of those negatives — some are more dogmatic about the need for three average or better pitches to be a starter (I once was, to be honest), but reading about how Doc Gooden was messed with by trying too hard to bring along a third pitch after his huge early success with the Mets has me thinking that an above-average to plus FB and a SL that has elicited comparisons to a guy named Carlton would suffice three times through a lineup quite nicely — but now that his FB command has wavered and the overall velocity is down across the board, well, you have to wonder. He’s still a big-time talent and a likely top five lock, but I’d definitely bet the field over him if we’re talking strictly 1-1.

Jeff Hoffman’s good yet not great results still don’t consistently match his awesome stuff, but then he goes out and throws like he did against Rice last week and you’re in love all over again. He’s still my number one college arm in the draft, and I think we’re now late enough in the season where I don’t think that’s going to change. Tyler Beede’s results have never been the question; for him, it’s always been about improving his control and sharpening his command. Both areas have been much better this year, but not quite 1-1 better. Still a top ten lock for me, though I can see him being squeezed out of the top five by the growing number of HS arms rising to the top. I’ll have something on HS pitching on Friday.

After those three, all sure to be gone in the first handful of picks, the rest of the college pitching landscape is wide open. Aaron Nola seems to have taken control of the race for fourth place, but he has serious competition right behind him in the way of a trio of lefthanders Brandon Finnegan, Kyle Freeland, and Sean Newcomb. Chris Ellis, Luke Weaver, and Erick Fedde still lurk as good bets to be off the board early, and you can’t rule out the return of the first round reliever if a team falls hard for Nick Burdi. Zech Lemond and Matt Imhof could be next in line. If you’re counting at home, that’s ten college pitchers that I’d currently say are deserving of a first round grade — still debating on those last three names mentioned — compared to the thirteen that went off the board in last year’s first 39 picks (number drops to seven if we only count “true” first round picks and not the sandwich round). That last parenthetical has me thinking — never a good thing if you don’t like rambling tangents — about how tough it is to find any deeper meaning in draft trends. I think there’s some value to looking at historical patterns, but the fact that a) drafting is as much art as it is science, b) not all draft classes are created equal, and c) any evaluation of said trends has to incorporate a beginning and ending that, if we’re being totally honest, holds no meaning beyond whatever the author is hoping to convey. I could say there were ONLY seven first round college pitchers last year and make a point using that information. Or I could say there was an IMPRESSIVE thirteen first round college pitchers selected last year and make a point that way. To take it a step further, what do we do with this information: in 2013, six of the first seven picks of the second round were pitchers from either four-year universities or junior colleges. You’re not impressed if I told you there were seven first round college arms in last year’s draft, but if I said that 19 of the first 46 players were college pitchers (over 40%!), then you’re suddenly very intrigued (or not, your call). Arbitrary endpoints are fun.

So, yeah, Hoffman/Rodon/Beede are still a cut above the rest in terms of draft stock. After that, I have no clue what pro teams will do, but I’ll tell you I like some combination of Nola, Finnegan, Freeland, and Feede. Ellis, Weaver, and Lemond are in the next group. Then, chaos. If I had to pick one name not mentioned in the first round mix as much as deserved — and I could be totally off on this as I’m not nearly as plugged into who is getting hyped up as I once was — is Austin Robichaux. He’s got one of the best combinations of present stuff (mid-90s peak FB, CB flashes plus, average CU), track record (steady but real improvement since first day on campus), and projection (no two paths are alike, but his is a frame that seems capable of putting on some good weigh going forward).

2014 MLB Draft College Outfield Follow List (and Ranking)

I’ve been unrelentingly positive about pretty much all things draft-related in almost all previous position groups for this year’s draft; it’s my nature to be optimistic, and I enjoy highlighting the good in amateur prospects whenever possible, This year’s college outfield class, however, has me really, really stretching to find nice things to say. As always it is important to note that all of the players listed below – literally all of them, even Garrett Brown (phenomenal athlete who has chosen football over baseball for now, though we won’t hold that against him as a person) way down at the bottom – are way, way better at baseball than 99% of any of the people evaluating them, myself included. Any and all criticism is meant only to illuminate greater truths about what I’ve seen, read, and heard, and not to disparage any player personally. Always like getting that out there to preempt some of the hate mail…

Brad Zimmer trumps all comers when it comes to showing a consistent power/speed mix that tantalizes scouts, fans, and whatever it is I am. That’s the good news. I haven’t seen him since this summer, and, after hearing and reading so many positive things about him this spring, I was a little taken aback to see his approach has gone backwards a bit, at least as far as my box score scouting expertise allows. That’s a little disappointing. The (expanded version of the) good news is, lackluster BB/K numbers aside, the man can hit. Projecting above-average plate discipline when the track record isn’t there is often a fool’s errand, but Zimmer is such a smart, gifted hitter that I think his skewed BB/K 2014 ratio is more about him being so locked in all season than a major red flag that would depress his prospect stock. I love a 2-0, 2-1, or 3-1 count as much as anybody, and the idea that a walk is as good as a single (more or less) is one I believe in, but there’s also something to be said for a guy capable of hitting the ball hard so consistently that he’s up there hunting for fastballs to drive. The measured approach to hitting has as much validity as the “see fastball, hit fastball” approach, it just depends on the rest of the player’s natural skill set. Zimmer’s wrists, hand/eye coordination, and balance give him a better than usual shot than other amateurs with similarly lackluster BB/K ratios.

Louie Lechich isn’t Brad Zimmer, but if you miss on the latter in the first round then hitting on the former later would give you a decent approximation of that power/skill starter kit. I know I might be crazy for saying this, and my personal rankings aren’t quite ready to back the statement up, but I think that Lechich is what so many want Derek Fisher to be. We’ll see.

Because the top of the draft is so flush with pitching, I keep coming back to the idea that teams picking in the top ten must be hoping against hope to get a big-time bat that slipped with their second pick. That’s currently where I’m at with Michael Conforto, a hitter likely too good to slip out of the first round but still not quite the stone cold mortal lock to go off the board that early. If a team with an iffy farm system and holes all over the ML roster (like, say, the Phillies) could land a college arm like Jeff Hoffman and then come back around and nab Conforto in the second…yeah, that would be alright with me. I made the indirect comparison between Zimmer and Lechich already, so we’ll go with the obvious next step and compare Conforto and Mike Papi. From here, I see very little that separates the two outside of perceived value. Both look like they could be average or better big league corner guys for a long time in pro ball. As happy as I’d be with Conforto in the second (or late first, really), I’d be just as good with waiting a little bit on Papi before snapping him up in the third or fourth round.

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has talked up Greg Allen enough that I don’t think I can call him my guy, but, damn, I enjoy watching him play as much as any college outfielder on this list. His limited power upside is a real concern, especially in light of my newfound belief that power (or, in this case, even the threat of power) is the best statistical indicator of pro success. I’m drawn to speed/defense/on-base prospect profiles, but without the threat of pop, pro pitchers will undo a lot of what works offensively at the amateur level. Allen’s bat speed works in his favor, but his frame, athletic as it may be, poses a potential problem. I believe in his playable power more than most guys who fit the archetype, but will admit that being burned by players of a similar style over the years has me comparatively lower on Allen than I might have been in 2011. Still a high-level prospect worth following, of course.

The Virginia outfield is just plain silly. Papi is a pro hitter who just so happens to be currently playing college ball. Dating back to high school the aforementioned Fisher has always been a like and not a love for me – a point we’ve had some really good discussions on in the comments section over the years – and I remain of the belief that he has the chance to be a good regular in a corner if everything breaks just right rather than a potential star like some still projecting him as an upper- to mid-first round pick seem to believe. Brandon Downes can do it all athletically, but the all-important hit tool is a serious question. There are pro teams that would gladly trade their AA starting outfields for this group in a second.

I wrote a lot of positive things about Jeff Keller last year, so you know I’m not hopping off the bandwagon now. I wavered some on personal favorite Mark Payton pre-season – heard some not optimistic things about his pro prospects from people who couldn’t praise his ability to succeed in college enough – but I’m ready to pump him back up once I update these rankings pre-draft. Projection is king and Payton doesn’t have it compared to peers, but, man, I’ll take the guy who can run, field, throw, and, most importantly, roll out of bed ready to hit as my fourth outfielder any day. It’s silly to call a fourth-year college outfielder at TEXAS underrated, but I think pro scouts made up their mind on him being a nice college player and little more early on and haven’t been willing to revise that view over the years.

This may be a cop-out, but the new two months will tell us so much about the vast majority of the players outside of the first few. There’s very little separation in that mid-round tier that 2014 performance, the given day(s) a scout sees a guy, and team preference (power vs speed, flashes of plus tool vs well-roundedness, polish vs upside, etc.) will all play major roles in sorting out the jumble come June. I’d say Zimmer has put some distance between himself and the pack, and Conforto appears to be emerging as a strong contender for the second spot, but after that these rankings are as jumbled as any. Looking forward to revising this one after seeing how the season plays out.

  1. San Francisco JR OF Bradley Zimmer
  2. Oregon State JR OF/1B Michael Conforto
  3. Virginia JR OF Mike Papi
  4. Oregon State JR OF/RHP Dylan Davis
  5. Virginia JR OF Derek Fisher
  6. Virginia JR OF/C Brandon Downes
  7. San Diego State JR OF Greg Allen
  8. San Diego rJR OF/LHP Louie Lechich
  9. Dartmouth SR OF Jeff Keller
  10. Arizona State rJR OF Trever Allen
  11. College of Charleston SR OF Brandon Murray
  12. Kentucky JR OF Austin Cousino
  13. South Carolina JR OF Tanner English
  14. North Carolina State JR OF Jake Fincher
  15. Oregon JR OF/3B Scott Heineman
  16. Michigan State JR OF/C Jimmy Pickens
  17. Florida Gulf Coast JR OF/1B Michael Suchy
  18. Southern Mississippi JR OF/LHP Mason Robbins
  19. Bradley JR OF Max Murphy
  20. Texas SR OF Mark Payton
  21. Georgia JR OF/3B Hunter Cole
  22. Fresno State JR OF Jordan Luplow
  23. Long Beach State JR OF/1B Richard Prigatano
  24. Florida JR OF/RHP Justin Shafer
  25. Nevada SR OF Brad Gerig
  26. Binghamton JR OF/C Jake Thomas
  27. Louisiana-Lafayette JR OF Caleb Adams
  28. Cal Poly JR OF Nick Torres
  29. Princeton SR OF/2B Alec Keller
  30. Buffalo rSR OF Matt Pollock
  31. North Carolina A&T SR OF/2B Luke Tendler
  32. Auburn SO OF/2B Jordan Ebert
  33. Louisiana State SO OF Mark Laird
  34. Mississippi JR OF Senquez Golson
  35. Southern Mississippi JR OF Connor Barron
  36. Vanderbilt JR OF Johnny Norwood
  37. Stanford JR OF Dominic Jose
  38. Auburn SO OF/LHP Rock Rucker
  39. Troy JR OF Jo-El Bennett
  40. Washington State rSO OF Ben Roberts
  41. Indiana rJR OF Scott Donley
  42. Pittsburgh JR OF Boo Vazquez
  43. Texas-Arlington rSR OF Matt Shortall
  44. Rice SR OF/1B Michael Aquino
  45. Nebraska SR OF Mike Pritchard
  46. Kansas JR OF Connor McKay
  47. Kansas rSO OF Steve Goldstein
  48. TCU JR OF/RHP Jerrick Suiter
  49. Tennessee JR OF Jonathan Youngblood
  50. South Carolina JR OF/3B Elliot Caldwell
  51. Washington State JR OF/1B Yale Rosen
  52. Central Connecticut State SR OF JP Sportman
  53. The Citadel SR OF Hughston Armstrong
  54. Central Michigan JR OF Nick Regnier
  55. North Carolina State JR OF Bubba Riley
  56. Wake Forest rJR OF Kevin Jordan
  57. Wake Forest SR OF Evan Stephens
  58. Louisville JR OF Michael White
  59. Evansville rJR OF Kevin Kaczmarski
  60. USC rJR OF Omar Cotto Lozada
  61. Mississippi JR OF Auston Bousfield
  62. McNeese State SR OF Jackson Gooch
  63. Louisiana State JR OF Jared Foster
  64. James Madison JR OF/2B Chad Carroll
  65. Louisiana-Lafayette SR OF Seth Harrison
  66. Cal Poly JR OF Alex Michaels
  67. Georgia State rSR OF Chase Raffield
  68. Mississippi JR OF Will Jamison
  69. Alabama JR OF/C Ben Moore
  70. Eastern Michigan rSR OF Sam Ott
  71. Pittsburgh SR OF Casey Roche
  72. Southern JR OF Lance Jones
  73. Cincinnati rSO OF Will Drake
  74. Delaware rSO OF Gary Jones
  75. Louisiana State SR OF Sean McMullen
  76. Miami (Ohio) JR OF Matt Honchel
  77. UCLA JR OF Eric Filia
  78. Toledo rSO OF/SS Dan Zuchowski
  79. Duke rSR OF Ryan Deitrich
  80. Wagner SR OF Chris Smith
  81. Arkansas rSO OF Tyler Spoon
  82. Long Island-Brooklyn SR OF Pete Leonello
  83. Pepperdine rJR OF Bryan Langlois
  84. Oklahoma State JR OF/1B Zach Fish
  85. Virginia Military Institute rJR OF Jordan Tarsovich
  86. Nebraska JR OF Austin Darby
  87. Northern ColoradoJR OF Jensen Park
  88. Louisville SR OF/LHP Cole Sturgeon
  89. Illinois-Chicago rJR OF Jon Ryan
  90. Lamar rSR OF Jude Vidrine
  91. Middle Tennessee State SR OF Trent Miller
  92. Akron rJR OF Devan Ahart
  93. Florida State rSR OF Brett Knief
  94. UAB SR OF Ivan DeJesus
  95. TCU JR OF Cody Jones
  96. Kansas JR OF Michael Suiter
  97. Kansas State JR OF Max Brow
  98. Texas A&M SR OF Krey Bratsen
  99. Utah SR OF Braden Anderson
  100. Texas A&M SO OF JB Moss
  101. UCLA SR OF Brian Carroll
  102. Florida International SR OF Tyler Hibbert
  103. Minnesota JR OF Jake Bergren
  104. Bethune-Cookman SR OF Josh Johnson
  105. Mercer SR OF Derrick Workman
  106. Oklahoma State SR OF Aaron Cornell
  107. Texas rSR OF Matt Moynihan
  108. Towson rSR OF Kurt Wertz
  109. Pittsburgh SR OF/RHP Stephen Vranka
  110. Maryland rJR OF Charlie White
  111. Florida State JR OF Josh Delph
  112. Notre Dame JR OF/1B Ryan Bull
  113. Miami SR OF Dale Carey
  114. Washington State SR OF/LHP Jason Monda
  115. Oregon SR OF Kyle Garlick
  116. West Virginia SR OF Jacob Rice
  117. UNC Wilmington JR OF Luke Dunlap
  118. San Diego State rSO OF Spencer Thornton
  119. North Carolina State JR OF Jake Armstrong
  120. Cal State Fullerton JR OF Austin Diemer
  121. Hawaii JR OF Keao Aliviado
  122. Louisiana-Lafayette JR OF Dylan Butler
  123. Louisiana-Monroe SR OF Dalton Herrington
  124. Davidson SR OF Forrest Brandt
  125. Cincinnati rSO OF Taylor Schmidt
  126. Rutgers SR OF Brian O’Grady
  127. Jackson State SR OF Charles Tillery
  128. Indiana State JR OF Landon Curry
  129. Texas JR OF Taylor Stell
  130. Illinois-Chicago rSO OF/LHP Jeff Boehm
  131. Ball State SR OF Sean Godfrey
  132. Washington rJR OF Will Sparks
  133. Georgia Tech rSO OF Dan Spingola
  134. Clemson JR OF Tyler Slaton
  135. Elon JR OF/C Ryan Cooper
  136. Central Florida JR OF Derrick Salberg
  137. Creighton SR OF Mike Gerber
  138. Cornell SR OF Chris Cruz
  139. Bryant JR OF/C Jordan Mountford
  140. Ohio State JR OF Patrick Porter
  141. Kent State JR OF Alex Miklos
  142. Iowa JR OF/2B Eric Toole
  143. Georgia rJR OF Conor Welton
  144. South Alabama rJR OF Garrett DeGallier
  145. Arkansas-Little Rock SR OF Bryson Thionnet
  146. Maryland rJR OF Mike Montville
  147. Oregon SR OF Connor Hofmann
  148. Louisiana-Lafayette SR OF/2B Ryan Leonards
  149. Oklahoma rJR OF Colt Bickerstaff
  150. Holy Cross SR OF Brandon Cipolla
  151. Jacksonville State SR OF Michel Bishop
  152. Lehigh JR OF/C Justin Pacchioli
  153. Towson SR OF Dominic Fratantuono
  154. Valparaiso SR OF Chris Manning
  155. Stephen F. Austin State SR OF Ricardo Sanchez
  156. Cincinnati SR OF/1B Justin Glass
  157. Miami SR OF/3B Tyler Palmer
  158. Texas JR OF Collin Shaw
  159. Mississippi State SR OF/LHP CT Bradford
  160. Mississippi State JR OF Jake Vickerson
  161. Towson JR OF Peter Bowles
  162. Kansas JR OF Joe Moroney
  163. Rutgers JR OF Vinny Zarrillo
  164. Kennesaw State JR OF Jacob Bruce
  165. Charleston Southern JR OF Bobby Ison
  166. Oral Roberts rSR OF Tyler Boss
  167. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rJR OF/LHP Tyler Ware
  168. San Francisco JR OF Derek Atkinson
  169. Mercer SR OF Sasha LaGarde
  170. Indiana State SR OF/C Mike Fitzgerald
  171. North Carolina Greensboro JR OF Eric Kalbfleisch
  172. Jacksonville State SR OF Griff Gordon
  173. Eastern Illinois JR OF Caleb Howell
  174. Norfolk State SR OF Cameron Day
  175. Clemson SR OF Joe Costigan
  176. UC Santa Barbara rSR OF/1B Joe Epperson
  177. Missouri JR OF Logan Pearson
  178. Delaware State SR OF Aaron Nardone
  179. Florida A&M JR OF Marlon Gibbs
  180. Toledo SR OF Tyler Grogg
  181. James Madison rSR OF/1B Matt Tenaglia
  182. Mount St. Mary’s SR OF Jay Knight
  183. Wichita State rSR OF/LHP Garrett Bayliff
  184. Dayton SR OF Mark Podlas
  185. Winthrop rJR OF TJ Olesczuk
  186. Wichita State rSR OF Micah Green
  187. Xavier rSR OF Mitch Elliot
  188. New Jersey Tech JR OF Ed Charlton
  189. Kansas State rJR OF Mitch Meyer
  190. Northeastern SR OF Connor Lyons
  191. Old Dominion JR OF Josh Eldridge
  192. Florida Atlantic SR OF/1B Tyler Rocklein
  193. St. John’s JR OF Zach Lauricella
  194. Georgia State SR OF Chris Triplett
  195. Western Kentucky SR OF/INF Regan Flaherty
  196. The Citadel SR OF/3B Drew DeKerlegand
  197. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR OF Kyle Danford
  198. Texas A&M SR OF Jace Statum
  199. Canisius SR OF Jesse Kelso
  200. Fairfield SR OF/C Ryan Plourde
  201. Siena SR OF John Rooney
  202. Texas-Pan American SR OF Alex Howe
  203. West Virginia JR OF Bobby Boyd
  204. Virginia Commonwealth SR OF Bill Cullen
  205. Presbyterian rSR OF Nathan Chong
  206. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR OF Luke Meeteer
  207. Akron rJR OF Joey Havrilak
  208. Butler SR OF Marcos Calderon
  209. Wright State SR OF Kieston Greene
  210. Wofford SR OF/INF Josh Hyman
  211. Southeast Missouri State rJR OF Jason Blum
  212. Savannah State JR OF David Richards
  213. Vanderbilt JR OF Will Cooper
  214. Winthrop SR OF Cody Dolan
  215. South Florida rSO OF Buddy Putnam
  216. Alabama State JR OF Waldyvan Estrada
  217. Army JR OF Mark McCants
  218. Murray State SR OF Ty Stetson
  219. Kent State SR OF/LHP TJ Sutton
  220. Western Michigan JR OF/C Jared Kujawa
  221. Mississippi JR OF Braxton Lee
  222. New Mexico State SR OF Quinnton Mack
  223. Radford SR OF Blake Sipe
  224. South Florida JR OF Austin Lueck
  225. Arkansas JR OF Joe Serrano
  226. Creighton SR OF Brad McKewon
  227. Buffalo SR OF Thomas Richards
  228. North Dakota State SR OF Tim Colwell
  229. Utah Valley State JR OF Jordy Hart
  230. High Point SR OF/SS Kyle Brandenburg
  231. Cal State Fullerton JR OF Clay Williamson
  232. Western Carolina JR OF Garrett Brown

2014 MLB Draft College Third Base Follow List (and Ranking)

Third base is a little bit like shortstop in that both position groups have a strong 1-2 punch at the top followed quickly by a lot of intriguing yet imperfect prospects that could be ranked in just about any order from around 3-15. To take the comparison further, both position groups have a slam dunk defensive keeper at the top (Trea Turner, Matt Chapman) ahead of a player with more in the way of defensive questions (Joey Pankake, Taylor Sparks). I happen to think Pankake can stick at shortstop, but I’m far less optimistic about Sparks’ chances of staying in the dirt. Next update will probably have him with the outfielders, but laziness on my end keeps him at the hot corner for now. Chapman’s slow start bums me out, but I’m still a believer in his skill set translating really well to the next level and would think he’s still a big target for teams in the second to third round range looking for their first college bat.

I’ve written an obscene amount on Zach Houchins over the past three years, so, if new, feel free to check the archives for why I continue to talk him up more than any other source out there. The short version is simple: good glove, strong arm, smart hitter, long track record of success. The only knock on him that I’ll cop to is his lack of traditional power at the hot corner, but his experience at different defensive spots could help make him a super-utility man at the next level. Chesny Young has a very similar basic scouting profile, so it’s no shock that I like him more than most as well. Spencer Mahoney is cut from a similar cloth. Dustin DeMuth’s approach has gone so far south this year to the point that his swing at anything remotely resembling a strike style of hitting (3 BB/19 K so far) now overshadows his power upside and underrated athleticism for a big man. Freshmen who can run, defend, flash power, and take a pitch (56 walks!) tend to fall high up on my rankings. Landon Lassiter’s outstanding first year in Chapel Hill still carries more weight than his avert your eyes start to 2014, but, as a player with less of a track record than many of his draft class peers, this situation is one worth monitoring.

Doing the research on this shows that this class clearly lacks a whole lot of impact talent at the top. The next tier down (rounds 3-7 approximately) has a lot of the names covered so far. That leaves us what I think may be this draft’s sweet spot for college third basemen. Senior signs like Shane Kennedy (bonus points for defensive versatility), Michael Hill (legit tools, so-so production to date), Jake Barrios (similar to Kennedy in my mind), Alberto Morales (love the glove), and Sam Koenig (confession: growing up on Scott Rolen has me drawn to big 3B in a weird way…and Koenig at 6-5, 220 qualifies) could all make more noise in pro ball than some of the “bigger” names (relatively speaking) selected ahead of them. I can’t not mention Austin Slater, a former HS star who took a little time to get going but is now doing good work at Stanford.

  1. Cal State Fullerton JR 3B/RHP Matt Chapman
  2. UC Irvine JR 3B Taylor Sparks
  3. Mercer JR 3B/SS Chesny Young
  4. Indiana SR 3B/SS Dustin DeMuth
  5. North Carolina SO 3B/2B Landon Lassiter
  6. East Carolina SR 3B/SS Zach Houchins
  7. Virginia JR 3B Kenny Towns
  8. Florida State JR 3B/OF Jose Brizuela
  9. College of Charleston rJR 3B/OF Brandon Glazer
  10. Valparaiso JR 3B/SS Spencer Mahoney
  11. Oral Roberts JR 3B/C Jose Trevino
  12. Gonzaga JR 3B Mitchell Gunsolus
  13. Clemson SR 3B/2B Shane Kennedy
  14. Long Beach State SR 3B/SS Michael Hill
  15. Stanford JR 3B/OF Austin Slater
  16. Texas Tech SR 3B/SS Jake Barrios
  17. San Diego State JR 3B Ryan Muno
  18. Florida International rJR 3B Josh Anderson
  19. College of Charleston rSO 3B/SS Morgan Phillips
  20. Texas-Pan American SR 3B Alberto Morales
  21. Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR 3B Sam Koenig
  22. James Madison SR 3B/RHP Ty McFarland
  23. Wright State JR 3B Michael Timm
  24. San Diego JR 3B/SS Andrew Daniel
  25. Wichita State rJR 3B Chase Simpson
  26. Mississippi SR 3B/OF Preston Overbey
  27. Washington State rSO 3B Nick Tanielu
  28. Eastern Illinois JR 3B Brant Valach
  29. USC SR 3B Kevin Swick
  30. Duke SR 3B Jordan Betts
  31. Auburn SR 3B/RHP Damek Tomscha
  32. Washington JR 3B Andrew Ely
  33. Florida JR 3B/2B Josh Tobias
  34. Tennessee JR 3B/OF Will Maddox
  35. Louisiana-Lafayette JR 3B Tyler Girouard
  36. Louisiana State SR 3B/SS Christian Ibarra
  37. Cal Poly SR 3B/2B Jimmy Allen
  38. Rice SR 3B Shane Hoelscher
  39. Seton Hall SR 3B Chris Selden
  40. Arkansas State rJR 3B Zach George
  41. Florida rJR 3B/2B Zack Powers
  42. Mississippi State SR 3B Alex Detz
  43. UC Davis SR 3B/2B Steve Patterson
  44. Seton Hall JR 3B Kyle Grimm
  45. Miami SR 3B Brad Fieger
  46. Virginia Commonwealth SR 3B Joey Cujas
  47. Charleston Southern SR 3B/SS Alex Tomasovich
  48. UNC Wilmington SR 3B/C Ryan LaGrange
  49. North Florida JR 3B/RHP Drew Weeks
  50. George Mason SR 3B Blaise Fernandez
  51. Southern Illinois SR 3B Donny Duschinsky
  52. San Francisco JR 3B/2B Brendan Hendriks
  53. Canisius JR 3B Jesse Puscheck
  54. Appalachian State SR 3B Noah Holmes
  55. Western Kentucky SR 3B/SS Scott Wilcox
  56. San Francisco JR 3B Bob Cruikshank
  57. Radford rSO 3B Zach Woolcock
  58. Kansas State rSR 3B RJ Santigate
  59. TCU JR 3B/2B Derek Odell
  60. Portland JR 3B Cody Lenahan
  61. Oregon State SR 3B/RHP Jerad Casper
  62. Utah SR 3B/C TJ Bennett
  63. TCU JR 3B Connor Castellano
  64. Campbell SR 3B Elijah Trail
  65. Georgia Southern SR 3B/2B Ben Morgan
  66. Marist SR 3B Nick McQuail
  67. New Orleans JR 3B Jonathan Coco
  68. Houston Baptist JR 3B/RHP 3B Josh Martinez
  69. Sam Houston State JR 3B/SS Carter Burgess
  70. Old Dominion SR 3B Jordan Negrini
  71. Sacramento State SR 3B Will Soto
  72. Nicholls State SR 3B/RHP Brandon Jackson
  73. Army JR 3B Harold Earls
  74. Delaware State SR 3B/C Cameron Cecil
  75. Miami (Ohio) SR 3B Dan Walsh
  76. Eastern Kentucky SR 3B Bryan Soloman
  77. Belmont rJR 3B Greg Brody
  78. Missouri SR 3B Shane Segovia
  79. South Alabama JR 3B/RHP Bud Collura
  80. Samford rJR 3B Tyler Filliben
  81. Arkansas-Pine Bluff JR 3B/SS Nate Ross
  82. Samford rJR 3B Tripp Martin
  83. Texas A&M JR 3B/RHP Logan Nottebrok






2014 MLB Draft: Top College Pitching GB% Through March

I’ve gotten some good comments and emails lately, and it’s my goal to get back to everybody within the next few days. Just wanted to get that out there just so nobody thinks I’m giving them the cold shoulder. My shoulders are nothing if not warm, so stay tuned.

Quick bit of other site-related news: College third base list just needs to be formatted, but is 99% complete and should be up by Thursday morning. While you wait, here’s the latest info on some of this year’s top collegiate arms in terms of ground ball rates. Sample sizes are still on the smaller side, so I’m thinking I may try to look back over each player’s college career before the next update. We’ll see. As always, if you’d like me to add a player to track, feel free…

NC State LHP Carlos Rodon | 59.7%
East Carolina RHP Jeff Hoffman | 58.8%
Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede | 47.8%
Florida State RHP Luke Weaver | 61.5%
Mississippi RHP Chris Ellis | 43.3%
UNLV RHP Erik Fedde | 68.9%
LSU RHP Aaron Nola | 41.8%

And by request…

Portland LHP Travis Radke | 46.2%

EDIT: Just because I couldn’t go to bed without at least digging a little deeper, I went through Rodon’s box scores from last year. I can’t guarantee I have every appearance, but I think we’ve got enough here to run with the number. Last year’s GB% for Carlos Rodon was 62.1%, not terribly far off his current 2014 mark. Not sure if I can do this for every pitcher on the list since I quickly realized that doing it with consistent Friday night guys, a position many freshman and sophomores aren’t in no matter how talented (Rodon included), is much easier than having to hunt down starts by guessing correct days, but we’ll see.