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Early April College Hitting Update

It’s Monday and I’m behind on some of the conference “preview” stuff I want to publish, so let’s take a quick look instead at some of the country’s top college hitters so far in 2016. There are an infinite number of ways to approach a topic like this, so I tried to make things easy on myself by coming up with some rules to make it manageable.

First, I used college stats from Friday to sort players into categories. That gave me a one-stop shop for all my stat needs, but it necessitated a look at individual team sites last night to update the numbers to get the most recent information. That’s why you’ll see some inconsistencies between the categories and the stats of the players found under each. Secondly, I decided to focus only on draft-eligible players. That eliminated most sophomores and all freshmen. Those guys will get their fair shake in the years to come. Finally, in what may seem like a direct contradiction to the above at first, I made the cruel executive decision to skip seniors for now. I promise that they’ll get their due in an exercise similar to this closer to the draft, but for now I wanted to hone in on the players seen as better prospects by the majority. I love me a good senior-sign, but that extra year of experience gives them a bit of an unfair statistical boost. So only juniors and draft-eligible sophomores for now.

OBP over .500 and SLG over .700

C/1B Jameson Fisher (Southeastern Louisiana) – .521/.626/.872 with 25 BB/10 K and 6/11 SB in 94 AB
C/1B Zack Collins (Miami) – .416/.581/.688 – with 34 BB/16 K in 77 AB
OF Kyle Lewis (Mercer) – .426/.555/.843 – with 33 BB/17 K and 4/7 SB in 108 AB
OF Adam Groesbeck (Air Force) – .447/.520/.671 with 11 BB/8 K and 12/14 SB in 85 AB
C Logan Ice (Oregon State) – .389/.495/.792 with 14 BB/3 K and 1/1 SB in 72 AB
C Brett Cumberland (California) – .425/.552/.904 with 15 BB/18 K and 3/3 SB in 73 AB
OF Anfernee Grier (Auburn) – .442/.535/.692 with 19 BB/23 K and 14/17 SB in 120 AB
OF Tyler Ramirez (North Carolina) – .394/.508/.670 with 22 BB/21 K and 6/9 SB in 94 AB
1B Dre Gleason (Austin Peay) – .390/.487/.680 with 17 BB/24 K in 100 AB

This is the category you want to be in as a hitter. It’s a spin-off of the .600+ SLG and BB> K group I had last year. On-base skills plus power potential equals big money come draft day. Tools will always matter, but results like the ones these players are putting up will get your foot in the door even if some scouts are dubious about other aspects of your game. Luckily, many of the names on this list are likely very familiar as big-time draft prospects who combine stellar performances with big league caliber tool sets.

I’m not sure anybody doubted Jameson Fisher’s bat coming into this season, but just in case he’s gone out and picked up where he left off in his last healthy season (2014)…and then some. We’re talking a 100 AB or so sample for all of the players listed, so let’s get that caveat out of the way right now. Still, Fisher’s start to the season has been positively Bonds-ian. I haven’t heard anything about his defense this season, but I do know scouts will want to see him behind the plate a little bit more before confidently projecting him as a pro-caliber defender. If he keeps hitting like he has, however, he might get himself into the top few round conversation much like the player one spot below him on the list. I still think Zack Collins is a catcher and I still think he should be talked about as a potential option for the Phillies at 1-1. Same thing with Kyle Lewis, minus the whole catching thing.

Adam Groesbeck, known more for his speed than his potent power/patience blend coming the season, has to be in the top ten round mix at this point. Logan Ice and Brett Cumberland are Pac-12 catchers with top two round bonafides. This class and catchers, man. It’s really unbelievable. Anfernee Grier has gotten some first round buzz of late and while I’m not sure I’d go that high on him yet, he’s certainly holding up his end of the bargain here in 2016. Tyler Ramirez could get dinged some by being an undersized tweener, but teams that believe in him in center should like the all-around offensive profile that comes with it. I don’t have much of a read on what those outside my own bubble think of Dre Gleason. I could see him as a surprising inclusion in the latter half of the draft’s single-digit rounds or being a mid- to late-round pick that winds up going back to school in an attempt to raise his stock as a 2017 senior-sign. I don’t know if teams are buying his bat as real just yet; hopefully he keeps hitting and quiets the doubters.

If we tease out the members who lost their spot over the weekend, we’re left with just three players currently in the .500/.700 club: Jameson Fisher, Kyle Lewis, and Brett Cumberland. Not a bad trio.

OBP over .500

2B Nick Solak (Louisville) – .455/.564/.623 with 19 BB/8 K and 7/8 SB in 77 AB
1B Carmen Benedetti (Michigan) – .372/.526/.570 with 24 BB/11 K and 6/7 SB in 86 AB
3B Sheldon Neuse (Oklahoma) – .392/.500/.686 with 22 BB/22 K and 8/8 SB in 102 AB
2B Cavan Biggio (Notre Dame) – .330/.527/.516 with 34 BB/14 K and 8/8 SB in 91 AB
2B/3B Nick Senzel (Tennessee) – .384/.504/.646 with 24 BB/12 K and 10/11 SB in 99 AB

Nick Solak can flat hit. I’d take him on my team anytime. He’s likely locked in at second in the infield, so I don’t know how high that profile can rise but I have a hunch he’ll be higher on my rankings than he winds up getting drafted in June. I’m more than all right with that. I have a hunch that Carmen Benedetti will go out as a pitcher in pro ball, but I like his bat too much to put it on ice. I like letting two-way players with split-decision futures start as hitters with pitching as a fallback rather than the other way around. Personal preference, obviously, but I think it’s easier to pick pitching back up on the fly. Sheldon Neuse is a deep fly or two away from being in the .500/.700 club. A lot has gone wrong for Oklahoma prospects this year, but Neuse has taken a step forward both at the plate and in the field. I think he’s solidly in the second round mix. Same for Cavan Biggio, the top-ranked college hitter on my way too early 2016 college preview back from March 2015. He was one spot ahead of Neuse. Before I start patting myself on the back too hard — something I really shouldn’t be doing in the first place considering that Biggio and Neuse, much as I love both, aren’t on anybody’s board as the top two college hitters — the next three hitters were Ryan Boldt, Nick Banks, and Chris Okey. Win some, lose some. Nick Senzel has been doing a lot of winning of late. I don’t know if Baseball America’s infatuation with him is more about them or about what they are hearing from big league front offices (my guess is the former in this case), but either way he’s a damn fine player and a legitimate top ten type. I’ve taken to comparing him to Anthony Rendon. That’s pretty special.

SLG over .700

OF Heath Quinn (Samford) – .330/.455/.679 with 22 BB/27 K

Like Neuse just missing the cutoff for .500/.700 by a few bombs, Quinn came into the weekend in need of just a few extra trips to first base (or any other base for that matter) to push his OBP over .500. Along the way his slugging dipped below the .700 line, but we’ll still count it since I used Friday’s numbers to originally sort (through the NCAA stats page) despite displaying stats as of the end of the weekend (via the more quickly updated team sites). Quinn is a physical 6-3, 220 pound outfielder with speed, power, and a solid approach. I’ve heard some speculate that he’s hurt some by the overwhelming presence of Kyle Lewis in his conference, but I think that’s nuts. There’s plenty of scouting love to go around, and the more general exposure the SoCon gets, the better it is for every team and every player.


2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Mountain West

Jacob DeVries felt like a lock to lead the Mountain West pitching group in 2016 throughout the offseason, but recent feedback I’ve gotten seems to point to Griffin Jax being the preferred option of the majority who have seen them both up close. It’s still really, really close, but the reaction to Jax was generally more complimentary than what I heard back on DeVries. For many the choice came down to opting for a little more certainty in Jax (better control, changeup further along) than gambling on the upside of DeVries. I’d personally be tempted by DeVries’s easy velocity (87-94, 96 peak) from the left side and above-average curve, but I’ll go with the people on this one until I re-rank in June. Until then, I’ll just say that DeVries scouting profile reads similarly to Jeff Degano last year. Something to think about.

I’ve followed Jax with a little more interest than I might have otherwise due to the fact that he was originally drafted by my hometown team. The Phillies selected a pair of high school pitchers that they were prepared to go overslot with in 2013: the recently released Denton Keys and Jax. It’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight that Philadelphia made the wrong call in going with Key, but that assumes that they were ever in a position to truly make said decision; after all, it takes two to sign a contract and talking a young man out of a commitment to Air Force can’t be easy. He’s strong, he throws hard (86-94, 96 peak), and he command both his curve and change for quality strikes. It’s a relatively safe mid- to late-rotation starter package with the added upside going forward of a) not having to worry about playing both ways at all (admittedly less of an issue this year, but last year he played some first on non-pitching days), b) shifting towards a pro future that makes baseball your number one priority professionally (for better or worse), and c) being viewed as a still ascending player figuring out just how good he can be on the mound full-time.

Fresno State has a nice collection of pitching that looks better to me the more I consider it. Anthony Arias is a deceptive lefty with a good sinking fastball (88-92) and an upper-70s curve with above-average upside. Jimmy Lambert has upped his game in 2016 with reports of his fastball hitting 94. Tim Borst is off to an excellent bat-missing start with enough of a fastball of his own (88-93) to get draft consideration as a late-round reliever. Dylan Lee throws about as hard from the left side. All in all, it’s a better group than I first gave credit.

Brayden Torres has been a favorite of mine for some time because 6-5, 190 pound lefties that sit in the low-90s with promising offspeed stuff are relevant to my interests. He hasn’t pitched in 2016, so it’s difficult to find the right spot for him on a ranking like this. Michael Fain and Mark Nowaczewski, both out of Nevada, have similarly sparse or ineffective 2016 innings next to their ledgers. Both are big guys already capable of touching the mid-90s with projection left. Both guys also don’t have the type of track record over the years that matches their raw stuff. I’m glad I don’t have to make any real decisions when it comes down to the pitchers in the Mountain West in 2016.

Trenton Brooks has gotten off to a relatively slow start at the plate so far, but I remain firmly on his bandwagon heading into June. His athleticism, defensive upside (CF range and a strong arm befitting a two-way player), and flashes of offensive promise make him a really intriguing future pro, especially if you believe (as I do) that focusing solely on one side of the ball will help take his game to the next level professionally. Between that belief and the possibility he could always be shifted back to the mound down the line if need be – two points that are almost but not quite contradictory – Brooks has a chance to be a better pro than what he’s shown at Nevada.

I’m not yet sure what to make of Chris DeVito as an all-around prospect, but the confidence that he’ll hit as a pro grows by the week. The improvements he has made as a hitter, especially as he’s found a way to retain his big power while significantly decreasing the length of his swing, are real. One friend of mine affectionately refers to him as the “western Zack Collins.” My prospect love for Collins runs far too deep for me to go there, but I still like it. If DeVito can convince pro teams he can catch professionally, there’s no telling how high he can rise. I’m unsure if that’ll be the case – literally unsure: haven’t heard much in either direction about his glove, so I legitimately do not have an updated opinion on the matter – but I look forward to finding out more about his defense in the coming weeks. He’s a potentially great (top five round?) prospect – though I’d caution taking his offensive production with his offensive environments in mind — if he catch, and a good one (round six to ten?) if he’s forced to first base.

DeVito doesn’t stand alone as the only Lobo with big early season numbers. Danny Collier and Jack Zoellner are right there with him. I guess that makes sense that they would travel in packs. In fact, a whole lot of New Mexico hitters are doing big things so far. That’s what I mean when I mention context being important when looking at production. New Mexico hitters are currently hitting a combined .314/.416/.481. That’s not just because they have a strong lineup – though they do – but also because of where they’ve been playing. Case in point, their opponents are hitting .309/.374/.435 against them. It’s still noteworthy what these guys are doing – DeVito’s been on base in every game this season, for example – but understanding the context is key. It’s also important to realize that the players listed high on this list are there for reasons beyond a few good weeks at the plate. DeVito’s aforementioned adjustments at the plate allow his plus raw power to play anywhere. Collier is a good runner and steady defender who gets the most out of his physical abilities. Zoellner has plenty of power of his own, plus the most impressive extended track record of the trio. A big bucket of cold water for fans of DeVito, Collier, and Zoellner comes with the realization all three have struggled in more neutral summer league assignments over the years. Area scouts will really earn their (meager) pay this spring as they attempt to tease out what foundational elements of each prospect’s game will translate to pro ball…and what’s more of a thin air/small park mirage.


  1. Nevada JR OF/LHP Trenton Brooks
  2. New Mexico JR 1B/C Chris DeVito
  3. New Mexico JR OF Danny Collier
  4. New Mexico JR 1B Jack Zoellner
  5. Air Force JR OF/1B Tyler Jones
  6. Air Force JR OF Adam Groesbeck
  7. New Mexico SR SS Jared Holley
  8. Nevada JR 2B Miles Mastrobuoni
  9. Fresno State SR OF/SS Brody Russell
  10. Air Force SR OF/2B Spencer Draws
  11. Fresno State JR OF Austin Guibor
  12. San Jose State SR 2B Ozzy Braff
  13. New Mexico SR SS/2B Dalton Bowers
  14. Fresno State JR SS Scott Silva
  15. New Mexico rSR 2B Michael Eaton
  16. Air Force JR 1B Bradley Haslam
  17. Nevada SR 1B/OF Bryce Greager
  18. San Diego State rSR OF Spencer Thornton
  19. Fresno State rSO C Nick Warren
  20. Fresno State SR 3B/OF Kevin Viers
  21. New Mexico rSO OF Reece Weber
  22. San Diego State rJR C/RHP CJ Saylor
  23. New Mexico JR OF/3B Andre Vigil


  1. Air Force JR RHP Griffin Jax
  2. Air Force JR LHP Jacob DeVries
  3. Fresno State rSO LHP Anthony Arias
  4. Fresno State JR RHP Jimmy Lambert
  5. Fresno State SR RHP Tim Borst
  6. Air Force JR RHP Austin McDaniel
  7. Fresno State SR LHP Dylan Lee
  8. Nevada JR RHP Trevor Charpie
  9. UNLV SR LHP Brayden Torres
  10. Nevada SR RHP Michael Fain
  11. Nevada JR RHP Mark Nowaczewski
  12. New Mexico rSR LHP Alex Estrella
  13. Nevada JR RHP Evan McMahan
  14. New Mexico SR RHP Drew Bridges
  15. Nevada SR RHP Sam Held
  16. UNLV SR RHP Kenny Oakley
  17. Nevada SR LHP Christian Stolo
  18. New Mexico SR RHP Taylor Duree
  19. New Mexico rSR RHP Victor Sanchez
  20. UNLV JR RHP DJ Myers
  21. Air Force SR LHP Trent Monaghan
  22. San Diego State rSO RHP Orlando Meza
  23. San Diego State rSR RHP Dalton Douty
  24. Fresno State rSO LHP Fred Schlichtholz
  25. San Diego State JR LHP Marcus Reyes
  26. San Jose State JR RHP Logan Handzlik
  27. San Diego State JR RHP Mike Diamond
  28. New Mexico JR LHP Fernando Fernandez

Air Force

JR LHP Jacob DeVries (2016)
JR RHP Austin McDaniel (2016)
SR LHP Trent Monaghan (2016)
JR RHP Nathan Stanford (2016)
JR RHP Griffin Jax (2016)
SR OF/2B Spencer Draws (2016)
JR OF/1B Tyler Jones (2016)
JR SS Shaun Mize (2016)
JR 1B Bradley Haslam (2016)
JR OF Adam Groesbeck (2016)
SO RHP Nick Biancalana (2017)
SO SS Tyler Zabojnik (2017)
FR RHP Karter Cook (2018)
FR RHP/1B Tyler Mortenson (2018)
FR 3B Nick Ready (2018)
FR OF Drew Wiss (2018)
FR OF Daniel Jones (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jacob DeVries, Austin McDaniel, Trent Monaghan, Nathan Stanford, Griffin Jax, Spencer Draws, Tyler Jones, Bradley Haslam, Adam Groesbeck

Fresno State

SR RHP Tim Borst (2016)
rSO LHP Fred Schlichtholz (2016)
JR RHP Jimmy Lambert (2016)
SR LHP Dylan Lee (2016)
SR RHP Dominic Topoozian (2016)
JR RHP Mark Reece (2016)
rSO LHP Anthony Arias (2016)
JR SS Scott Silva (2016)
SR OF/SS Brody Russell (2016):
SR 3B/OF Kevin Viers (2016)
rSO C Nick Warren (2016)
JR SS Jesse Medrano (2016)
JR OF Austin Guibor (2016)
JR OF Jake Stone (2016)
SO LHP Ricky Tyler Thomas (2017)
SO RHP Rickey Ramirez (2017)
SO 3B McCarthy Tatum (2017)
SO OF Aaron Arruda (2017)
SO 2B Korby Batesole (2017)
FR LHP Alec Gamboa (2018)
FR SS Jeremiah Burks (2018)
FR C Jake Ackerman (2018)
FR OF Zach Ashford (2018)
FR 3B RJ Cordeiro (2018)

High Priority Follows: Tim Borst, Fred Schlichholtz, Jimmy Lambert, Dylan Lee, Anthony Arias, Scott Silva, Brody Russell, Kevin Viers, Nick Warren, Austin Guibor


SR RHP Michael Fain (2016)
SR RHP Sam Held (2016)
SR LHP Christian Stolo (2016)
SR RHP Zach Wilkins (2016)
SR LHP Cameron Rowland (2016)
JR RHP Mark Nowaczewski (2016)
JR RHP Evan McMahan (2016)
JR RHP Trevor Charpie (2016)
JR OF/LHP Trenton Brooks (2016)
SR 1B/OF Bryce Greager (2016)
SR 2B Justin Bridgman (2016)
JR 2B Miles Mastrobuoni (2016)
SO RHP/1B Jordan Pearce (2017)
SO SS Grant Fennell (2017)
SO OF TJ Friedl (2017)
FR 1B/RHP Cooper Krug (2018)

High Priority Follows: Michael Fain, Sam Held, Christian Stolo, Zach Wilkins, Cameron Rowland, Mark Nowaczewski, Evan McMahan, Trevor Charpie, Trenton Brooks, Bryce Greager, Miles Mastrobuoni

New Mexico

rSR RHP Victor Sanchez (2016)
JR LHP Fernando Fernandez (2016)
rSR LHP Alex Estrella (2016)
SR RHP Taylor Duree (2016)
JR LHP Carson Schneider (2016)
JR RHP Preston Ryan (2016)
rSR LHP Colton Thomson (2016)
SR RHP Drew Bridges (2016)
SR SS/2B Dalton Bowers (2016)
SR SS Jared Holley (2016)
JR OF/3B Andre Vigil (2016)
rSR 2B Michael Eaton (2016)
JR 1B Jack Zoellner (2016)
JR OF Danny Collier (2016)
JR 1B/C Chris DeVito (2016)
rSO OF Reece Weber (2016)
SO RHP James Harrington (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Stevens (2017)
SO OF/LHP Luis Gonzalez (2017)
SO C/3B Carl Stajduhar (2017)
SO 2B/RHP Hayden Schilling (2017)
FR RHP Christian Tripp (2018)
FR RHP/OF Erick Migueles (2018)
FR RHP/OF Austin Treadwell (2018)
FR OF Jacob Westerman (2018)
FR C Jared Mang (2018)
FR OF Austin Bell (2018)

High Priority Follows: Victor Sanchez, Fernando Fernandez, Alex Estrella, Taylor Duree, Colton Thomson, Drew Bridges, Dalton Bowers, Jared Holley, Andre Vigil, Michael Eaton, Jack Zoellner, Danny Collier, Chris DeVito, Reece Weber

San Diego State

JR RHP Mike Diamond (2016)
rSR RHP Dalton Douty (2016)
rSR RHP Brian Heldman (2016)
SR RHP Zack Oakley (2016)
rSO RHP Orlando Meza (2016)
JR LHP Marcus Reyes (2016)
JR RHP Brett Seeburger (2016)
rJR RHP Cody Thompson (2016)
rJR C/RHP CJ Saylor (2016)
rSR OF Spencer Thornton (2016)
rSO OF Tyler Adkison (2016)
JR 2B/SS Andrew Brown (2016)
rFR RHP Harrison Pyatt (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Loptien (2017)
SO SS/RHP Alan Trejo (2017)
SO 3B/RHP David Hensley (2017)
SO OF/2B Denz’l Chapman (2017)
SO OF Chase Calabuig (2017)
SO 2B Justin Wylie (2017)
FR RHP Chris Collins (2018)
FR RHP Jeff Kross (2018)
FR RHP Dustin Jack (2018)
FR 3B Jordan Verdon (2018)
FR INF Niko Navarro (2018)
FR C Dean Nevarez (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mike Diamond, Dalton Douty, Brian Heldman, Zack Oakley, Orlando Meza, Marcus Reyes, Brett Seeburger, Cody Thompson, CJ Saylor, Spencer Thornton, Tyler Adkison

San Jose State

JR RHP Logan Handzlik (2016)
JR RHP Joseph Balfour (2016)
JR LHP Graham Gomez (2016)
SR 2B Ozzy Braff (2016)
JR OF Brett Bautista (2016)
JR C Joe Stefanki (2016)
SR OF Dillan Smith (2016)
SO RHP/INF Josh Nashed (2017)
SO RHP Hilario Tovar (2017)
SO RHP Matt Brown (2017)
rFR RHP Daniel Harris (2017)
SO RHP Josh Goldberg (2017)
SO 3B David Campbell (2017)
SO 1B/OF Shane Timmons (2017)
FR C/1B Brendt Citta (2018)

High Priority Follows: Logan Handzlik, Ozzy Braff, Brett Bautista, Joe Stefanki


SR RHP Kenny Oakley (2016)
SR LHP Brayden Torres (2016)
JR RHP DJ Myers (2016)
SR RHP Ben Wright (2016)
SR RHP Cody Roper (2016)
SO RHP Dean Kremer (2016)
JR OF Keyon Allen (2016)
rJR 2B/OF Justin Jones (2016)
SR C Andrew Yazdanbakhsh (2016)
SO RHP Blaze Bohall (2017)
SO OF/2B Payton Squier (2017)
SO SS Nick Rodriguez (2017)
SO 3B Austin Anderson (2017)
SO C Bryan Menendez (2017)
FR LHP Tevita Gerber (2018)
FR RHP Ryan Hare (2018)
FR 1B/3B Nick Ames (2018)
FR 3B Kyle Isbel (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kenny Oakley, Brayden Torres, DJ Myers, Cody Roper, Keyon Allen, Justin Jones, Andrew Yazdanbakhsh