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2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Clemson Tigers

1. Clemson’s 2008 group of signees included Kevin Brady, David Haselden, Will Lamb, Brad Miller, Scott Weismann, Jason Stolz, Ethan Martin, and Chris Dwyer. I realize you can do that with the recruiting class of a major college program almost any year, but something about this class intrigued me. A college rotation of Dwyer, Martin (who I loved as a high school prospect), and Brady would have been fun.

2. SO RHP Kevin Brady confounds me. He’s good, no doubt, but I’m not yet sure how good. I’ve heard some smart people put forth convincing arguments against Brady as a premium draft arm (not enough movement on fastball, inconsistent slider, curve and change too far behind fastball/slider), but I’m leaning towards the thought that Brady is better than that. How good is it? I’m thinking really, really good (dominating numbers, good command of 90-92 FB that touches 94-95, good slider when he has it working, improving changeup) with the potential to vault into the top three rounds with a big spring.

3. The biggest reason why it took me so long to finish writing about Clemson is Brad Miller. See, I’m a big fan of his and I think he’s one of the best middle infield prospects in this year’s draft. Or that’s what I thought, at least. I thought he was one of the best and was going to write that, but then I figured, hey, it’s my site so why not put off finishing up the Clemson team report for a day while I put together my list of top college middle infield prospects. That way I can make a declarative statement about Brad Miller’s place on my personal middle infield rankings. As of now, I have Miller as college baseball’s best shortstop prospect and somewhere in the top three (with Kolten Wong and Levi Michael) when stacked against all college middle infielders.

Early 2011 Draft Guesses

The aforementioned Kevin Brady isn’t the only Clemson draft-eligible sophomore of note. SO LHP Joseph Moorfield hasn’t gotten a lot of notice outside of Pickens County, but lefties with low-90s and four usable pitches don’t often get overlooked for long. His control is probably his biggest question mark right now; it’ll probably be the key in determining his role for the upcoming season which in turn could be the key in determining his 2011 draft stock. JR RHP Scott Weismann is a big favorite of mine because of his strong power arsenal that I think will really play up pitching out of the bullpen professionally. From a filthy sinking low-90s fastball to a hard low-80s slider, every pitch that Weismann throws moves. Throw in a good splitter and you’ve got yourself a prospect to watch. Weismann might get downgraded by some teams turned off by classic short righthanded pitcher bias, but his stuff plays. As one of the smartest amateur pitchers you’d ever hope to see, JR RHP David Haselden has a chance to make a move this spring. I haven’t personally seen him throw, but I’ve heard his offspeed stuff is strong and his fastball command is even stronger. Interested in learning more about him in the coming months.

It’s a shame there are a lot more interesting outfielders to sort through than shortstops or else I would be able to make some kind of declaration about JR OF/LHP Will Lamb. I don’t know where he’ll eventual rank when compared to a pretty deep crop of college outfielders, but I do know it will darn high. He’s big and strong enough to drive balls out without necessarily having to try (always a good thing to look for in a young hitter), he has elite range and first step quickness in the outfield, and his arm is a legitimate weapon in center. The word is that the majority of scouts have told him they prefer his upside on the mound (6-5 projectable lefties with low-90s velocity and two present average secondary pitches), but I still like his upside as a position player. I think he’s got a chance to be this year’s Brett Eibner. If only SR OF Jeff Schaus pitched, he’d be Clemson’s carbon copy of Florida State’s Mike McGee, a senior who consistently produces at a level greater than the sum of his tools. There are a lot of averages in a Schaus scouting report — power and speed, to name two — but he’s a gifted natural hitter with a smart approach at the plate who possesses just enough of every relevant tool to remain intriguing. There’s definite fourth outfielder potential here.

JR 3B Jason Stolz has a strong reputation in scouting circles despite having no standout tools (his arm and defensive versatility are probably his two best attributes) and poor college production to this point. JR C Phil Pohl actually reminds me a lot of a catching version of Stolz; great promise once upon a time, but now relegated to backup duty. Either prospect could be drafted, but I think neither will leave Clemson until after their senior seasons. SR OF Addison Johnson is out until early 2011 with a torn ACL, a injury that is really a tough blow for a speed guy to take. Fellow SR OF Chris Epps is a nice college leadoff hitter, but his pro profile is a mess. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not sure even a fifty round draft will find room for a fast (but not plus) runner who is limited to a leftfield because of a weak arm and poor outfield instincts without power.

JR 3B John Hinson is a prospect I spent a lot of time thinking about last summer after he was drafted by the Phillies. Here’s some of what I said back then: Hinson was a highly touted prospect out of high school who was considered advanced enough after his freshman year to be asked to play for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League. Back surgery cost him all of his 2009 season, but the fully recovered version of Hinson put up a 2010 statistical line that reads a lot like Pittsburgh’s Joe Leonard’s work this season. A plus hit tool combined with above-average speed and power will get you far professionally, but people smarter than myself that I talked with told me some teams question his ability to play any one particular spot in the infield with the consistency needed of a regular. Based on the limited looks of Hinson that I’ve seen, I can’t say that I necessarily agree with that assessment, but his defensive skillset (good athlete, iffy arm) may make him better suited for second base than third. At either spot, he’s got the bat to make him a potential regular with a couple breaks along the way.

Early 2011 Draft Guesses…for real this time

Miller, Lamb, and Brady should be early round selections. Weismann, Schaus, and Hinson are also locks to get taken. After that, things aren’t so clear. I like Moorefield, but I’m not so sure about him to put him with the locks. Stolz and Pohl are both solidly in the maybe pile at this point with longer shots like Johnson, Epps, and Haselden next up. I’m putting fictional money on Miller, Lamb, Brady, Weismann, Schaus, Hinson, Stolz, and Pohl even though I prefer Moorefield as a prospect over the last two names on the list.

2010 MLB Draft College Conference Position Breakdowns – ACC Outfielders

Pick a conference, pick a position, pick a draft year, and go. That’s basically the formula for the 2010 MLB Draft College Conference Position Breakdowns. Nothing fancy, just a quick snapshot of where the college talent is and a quicker way of disseminating 2010 draft-eligible player information to the masses. Three quick facts worth remembering as you read – 1) All rankings are preliminary and subject to change, 2) The current rankings are the top X amount of guys, but players at the back end will be added intermittenly until all players are ranked, and 3) I can’t really think of a third thing to remember, but they say you’re always supposed to list things in three, so here you go…

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.
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1. JR OF Jarrett Parker (2010 – Virginia) is one of the best of the many 2010 toolsy lottery ticket kind of players. I haven’t been doing this draft thing for that long, so it is hard for me to compare talent levels from class to class, but it seems that this year has a high number of mid-round high upside, high flameout potential players. I also haven’t been doing this writing thing long, as you can see from the mess that was that last sentence. Anyway, as mentioned, Parker is one of the very best of the so-called (by me) “lottery ticket” group, so he isn’t necessarily included in the mid-round subsection. In fact, many see him as a candidate to go in the first round. It’s easy to see why.  His mix of tools and big-time sophomore numbers would make him a top-three round guy right now. Continued incremental improvements in his game his junior year will push his draft stock even higher. I’ll make a scary cross-race comparison here and claim Parker has a similar skill set as Lastings Milledge. He has plus power potential, an above-average arm, good speed, and the defensive chops to be a well above-average corner outfielder or a steady stopgap in center. Like Milledge, he struggles against breaking balls to the point that it’s hard not to see him as a 100+ strikeout big league hitter at this point. However, and I try my best to sandwich the bad news in between good news when I can, two big assets in Parker’s favor are his big league ready frame (6-4, 210 after packing on serious muscle), and the seemingly ever-increasing athleticism and agility (honed by practicing yoga) that should help him withstand the rigors of the professional grind.  Additionally, Parker improved his walk rate from his freshman year to his sophomore year, and continued the positive trend during his otherwise disappointing campaign on the Cape this summer. I like that.
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2. JR OF Tyler Holt (2010 – Florida State)
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3. JR OF Jeff Rowland (2010) is probably the single toolsiest player on the Georgia Tech roster. His plus speed, above-average power potential, gorgeous lefthanded swing, and above-average defense in center will comfortably get him into the top five rounds. His speed and ability to play center give him the edge over the similarly talented bat of Virginia OF Dan Grovatt.
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4. JR OF Jeff Schaus (2010 – Clemson)
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5. JR OF Dan Grovatt (2010 – Virginia) has a very patient approach at the plate, power to the gaps, average speed, and a good enough arm to play right field professionally. Sounds good, right? It should because Grovatt is a top five round caliber talent. My only worry is that his more good than great toolset makes him too similar a prospect to former Florida State standout Jack Rye. Rye was one of my all-time favorite college players and a guy I touted as a draft sleeper, but his pro numbers, especially his power indicators, haven’t exactly set the world on fire so far. The comparison is probably unfair – one player’s struggles don’t really have anything to do with another’s future – but, having seen both play, the similarity between the two seemed worth pointing out. However, the two aren’t clones of one another, either. Grovatt is the better athlete and defensive player, and he has more upside with the bat, especially in the power department. Those are all pretty important points in Grovatt’s favor. It’ll take more time and research to see where exactly Grovatt stacks up when compared to fellow 2010 college outfielders, but I have the feeling that he’ll grade out higher here than in most spots. His well-rounded game and extensive big-time college experience make him a good bet to hit the ground running professionally. I’d peg his upside as that of a solid everyday corner outfielder (defense included) with a still valuable floor as a good fourth outfielder.
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6. JR OF Chris Epps (2010 – Clemson)
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7. JR OF Kyle Parker (2010 – Clemson)
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8. JR OF Chase Burnette (2010 – Georgia Tech) can play. His sophomore .351/.447/.691 line (albeit in only 97 at bats) shows the promise he has at the plate. On top of that, he’s a very good athlete with solid speed and an accurate outfield arm. In the past Burnette’s draft stock might have been dinged by teams that considered him to be a tweener – not quite a good enough defender for center, not quite the bat of a big league slugger in a corner. However, as more and more front offices begin to properly value defense, perhaps the market for a potential league average bat with an above-average glove will see a bump on draft day.
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9. JR OF Addison Johnson (2010 – Clemson)
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10. SR OF Wilson Boyd (2010 – Clemson)
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11. JR OF Steven Brooks (2010 – Wake Forest)
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12. SR OF Gabriel Saade (2010 – Duke) is a difficult player to figure out. He went into his junior year as a legitimate pro prospect, a versatile defender capable of playing anywhere up the middle (2B, SS, CF) coming off of two solid years playing every day in the ACC (.269/.354/.456 as a freshman, .286/.376/.483 as a sophomore). His junior year didn’t quite go according to plan, unless Saade’s plan was to hit .237/.339/.333. If that was the case, then his plan really couldn’t have gone any better. The big dip in numbers is concerning, especially the total disappearance of power, but there are some positives to glean from his 2009 performance. His K/BB ratio has dipped each season (2.26 to 1.96 to 1.33) and his stolen base numbers have remained consistently stellar (46/54 collegiately, including his stint in the Valley League). If he can bounce back to his pre-junior levels of production, something many scouts think he is capable of doing if he stops being so darn pull-happy, then he has a shot at being an interesting senior sign (round 15-25, maybe) for a team believing in his future as a steady fielding big league utility player.
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13. SR OF/C Steve Domecus (2010 – Virginia Tech)
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14. JR OF Ben Bunting (2010 – North Carolina) brings two plus tools to the table – plus speed and plus defense. I’m a pretty big Tyler Holt fan, so please consider the following statement a compliment: Bunting is the homeless man’s version of Holt. Of course, while Holt has the upside of a big league starter, Bunting’s ceiling is probably that of a speedy fifth outfielder.
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15. SR OF Jay Dantzler (2010 – Georgia Tech) looks like a pretty solid senior sign candidate to me. In many ways he is an older version of fellow Georgia Tech outfielder Chase Burnette. Both players are good athletes, have decent arms, and have shown enough promise with the bat to at least get him a few looks here and there from scouts. His junior year numbers (.281/.397/.579) show a player with tons of patience and emerging power. But if he really is an older version of Burnette, then the elephant of the room becomes bigger, louder, and, yes, even brighter. It’s a big loud glowing elephant, and that elephant is age. Dantzler will be 23 years old by draft day. Even still, a big senior year could get him drafted in the last half of the draft.
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16. SR OF Robbie Anston (2010 – Boston College)

All Draft-Eligible Sophomore Team

We’ve covered the 2011 freshmen. We’ve covered the 2010 sophomores. We’ve even dipped our toe into the 2009 college draft pool by looking at a few of the top seniors eligible to be picked four months from now. Time to finally dive right in and take a look at some potential impact talents available to your favorite team this June. Draft-eligible sophomores ready and raring to get picked in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft after the jump, but be forewarned, writeups may be more less detailed than in other classes due to the crazy amount of virtual ink expected to be spilled for these players over the next few months… (more…)