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High Point SR C Spencer Angelis
Charleston Southern SR 1B Chase Shelton
Radford SR 2B Josh Gardiner
Coastal Carolina JR 3B Zach Remillard
Liberty JR SS Dalton Britt
Campbell JR OF Cedric Mullins
Longwood JR OF Kyri Washington
Liberty rSR OF Nick Paxton
Liberty SR RHP Ashton Perritt
Longwood SR RHP Aaron Myers
Radford JR LHP Michael Boyle
High Point SR RHP Conor Lourey
Coastal Carolina JR LHP Andrew Schorr
Going with a relative unknown like JR C Casey Schroeder (Coastal Carolina) over a proven bat like SR C Spencer Angelis (High Point) feels like a bit of a boom/bust prognostication at this point, but faith in the Kentucky transfers hit tool, athleticism, and slow yet steady defensive progression wins the day. The overall group of senior catchers in the conference – Angelis, Josh Spano (High Point), Josh Reavis (Radford), Andrew Widell (Charleston Southern) – present a unique and talented collection of potential money-saving signings for teams looking to cut costs while adding a potentially useful minor league contributor (everybody needs catching) with big league backup catching upside.
SR 1B/LHP Chase Shelton (Charleston Southern) might be a better fit in the outfield – he certainly has the arm for it – but that might be asking a bit too much out of a 6-5, 230 pound man. His bat looks pretty good either way. SR 1B Alex Close (Liberty) has been a favorite for some time – not a FAVORITE, but a favorite – because of his playable present power. If an area guy can sell his bosses on Close as a potential 1B/3B/C hybrid, then he could go higher than even I think. The breakout season for JR 3B Zach Remillard (Coastal Carolina) is coming. It has to be since it hasn’t happened yet. That’s infallible logic if I’ve ever heard it. Remillard is a really well-rounded talent who sometimes gets himself in trouble by expanding the zone and trying to do too much at the plate. If he can just ease up just a touch with his overly aggressive approach, then he could begin to produce enough overall offensive value to project as a potential regular at the hot corner. The more realistic forecast is as an offense-first utility player capable of playing 1B, 2B, 3B, and maybe the outfield corners. His teammate at Coastal Carolina, JR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick could eventually play a similar role but with even more positions (like, all of them) added to the mix. He might work better as a 2016 senior sign since many big league teams will ding him because of his lack of size (5-9, 180), but he’s handled the bat well when given a shot and the defensive versatility makes him an intriguing “hole-plugger” for an organization with a lot of minor league moving parts.
I’m not particularly enamored by any of the Big South 2015 shortstops at this point. Enough good things have been said about JR SS Dalton Britt (Liberty) that he takes the top spot over SR SS Ryan Hodge (Gardner-Webb), though I think both profile best as utility infielders/minor league depth in the long run. Britt has the better shot to change that perception if he can find a way to start doing some of the necessary secondary things offensively (pop, patience, speed) beyond hitting for average. The best middle infield prospect in the conference is SR 2B/OF Josh Gardiner (Radford), a strong athlete who does those secondary offensive things just well enough to profile as a sleeper big league talent. JR 2B Connor Owings (Coastal Carolina) could pass him by with a big junior year on the strength of his above-average hit tool.
JR OF Kyri Washington has as much a claim to the top position player spot in his conference as just about any prospect in the country. Evaluating amateur talent is sometimes only as hard as we make it. Your eyes eventually settle into seeing predictable patterns in the players you see and you find yourself getting unusually adept at recognizing the kind of ability that will become universally lauded as pro-caliber. “Always bet on ______” is more than just a snappy one-off line, but a mantra that serves those who watch a disproportionate amount of baseball well as they assess a prospect’s future. In Washington’s case, his athleticism and raw power qualify as abilities that stack up against almost any current big league player. If those are the traits that you value highly – and, really, who doesn’t? – then Washington is just about as good as it gets in college ball this year.
Conversely, anybody who watches a ton of amateur ball can quickly realize the holes in a mega-talented player’s game. If you’re an “always bet on the hit tool, including the consistent ability to make contact, the capacity to make adjustments within an at bat (or at least a game), and a seemingly innate overall feel for the strike zone and resourcefulness to spit on sometimes-strikes that he can’t do anything with,” well, then you might have some trepidation in championing a player who otherwise has first round tools. I’m on the fence as to whether or not how much of what we consider to fall under the plate discipline/approach to hitting umbrella can be taught, but I do believe that Washington is at the age in his baseball development when figuring it out – maybe not completely, but certainly to a degree – is well within the realm of possibility. That possibility on top of the prodigious raw power and plus athleticism is what makes the prospect of gambling on Washington so appealing. I get it. A comparison that I’ve heard and liked – though it admittedly stretches the limits of my personal firsthand baseball watching days – has stacked up Washington favorably to a young Richard Hidalgo.
With all that written on Washington, it seems only fair to spend at least a few words on the man ranked ahead of him. JR OF Cedric Mullins (Campbell) is a highly speculative pick on my end. I’ve never seen him, though, as I’ve said many times before, I’m not sure how much utility such a viewing would even bring. What I’ve heard about him, however, has been thrilling. Mullins has the chance to show premium tools as a defender in center (both range and arm) and on the base paths (plus speed and a great feel for the art of base stealing led to him going 55/59 on his career junior college attempts) this spring. He also brings a patient approach to hitting, both in how he happily accepts free passes (a walk doesn’t feel like such a passive thing when you know you’re taking second and maybe third once you are there) and works pitchers until he’s in counts favorable for fastball hunting. The only tool he ranks below Washington in is raw power, but, as covered above, the emphasis on the raw cannot be taken lightly. In terms of current functional power, the battle tightens quite a bit. It’s an imperfect comp for an imperfect world, but I can see Mullins approximating the value of another former junior college guy like Mallex Smith, though with a bit more pop and a fraction less speed.
One thing that stands out to me in my notes on SR RHP/OF Ashton Perritt (Liberty): “like him more than Aaron Brown.” Ignoring the fact that I don’t think Brown will ever hit enough to make his loud tools work – I much prefer him on the mound, but the Phillies never asked me – that’s still a nice little compliment. Whether I liked it or not (if it hasn’t come across yet, one last time: I really, really didn’t), the Pepperdine star showed enough to convince a team into selecting him with the 81st overall selection in last year’s draft. I suppose I’m not quite bold enough to predict the same draft outcome for the multi-talented Perritt, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a team fell in love with his talent as either a pitcher or hitter and took him earlier than the consensus industry opinion would have you think. I like him on the mound because he comes equipped with a relatively fresh arm capable of hitting the mid-90s,he throws two offspeed pitches with promise (82-84 split-CU and a separate quality low-80s breaking ball), and his athleticism is second to none in this year’s class of college pitching. That very same athleticism could convince a team to stick him in center, a position that would allow him to get the most out of his plus (some have it plus-plus) speed. Either way, he’s a good looking prospect and well worth seeing up close if you get the chance this spring.
The names that follow Perritt are a little less flashy, but no less promising. SR RHP Aaron Myers (Longwood) has gotten consistent results from day one thanks to an impressive blend of size (6-3, 225), pitchability, and stuff (88-92 sinking FB, average yet inconsistent CB, steadily improving CU that seems to get better every outing). JR LHP Michael Boyle (Radford) does man of the things successful young lefties do: spots an upper-80s FB (93 peak), leans on an impressive changeup, works from a deceptive delivery, and maintains good command of three pitches. SR RHP Conor Lourey might just qualify as flashy, but that assumes you’re into hard-throwing (94 peak) 6-7, 250 pound righthanders. JR LHP Andrew Schorr (Coastal Carolina) is a speculative addition, but what I’ve heard about his repertoire has me excited about his upcoming shot at D1 baseball.
Further down the line are names like SR RHP Heath Bowers (Campbell) and JR LHP Andrew Tomasovich (Charleston Southern). Bowers stands out to me for his fastball, a pitch that won’t wow you in terms of speed (mid- to upper-80s) but has enough sink to make good hitters make some really weak contact. I like Tomasovich for his funky lefthanded delivery that makes timing his stuff a task I’m glad I’ll never be asked to do. Mid-tier prospects like these guys need to find niches to survive in pro ball and both Bowers and Tomasovich seem up to the challenge.
2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting
- Campbell JR OF Cedric Mullins
- Longwood JR OF Kyri Washington
- Radford SR 2B/OF Josh Gardiner
- Coastal Carolina JR 2B Connor Owings
- Coastal Carolina JR C Casey Schroeder
- High Point SR C/1B Spencer Angelis
- Coastal Carolina JR 3B Zach Remillard
- Liberty JR SS Dalton Britt
- Charleston Southern SR 1B/LHP Chase Shelton
- Liberty SR 1B Alex Close
- High Point SR C Josh Spano
- Coastal Carolina JR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick
- Radford SR 1B/3B Hunter Higgerson
- Liberty rSR OF Nick Paxton
- Radford SR OF Patrick Marshall
- UNC Asheville SR 3B/1B Hunter Bryant
- Gardner-Webb SR SS Ryan Hodge
- Radford rSR C Josh Reavis
- Charleston Southern SR C Andrew Widell
- Radford JR SS/OF Chris Coia
- Campbell rJR C Steven Leonard
2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching
- Liberty SR RHP/OF Ashton Perritt
- Longwood SR RHP Aaron Myers
- Radford JR LHP Michael Boyle
- High Point SR RHP Conor Lourey
- Coastal Carolina JR LHP Andrew Schorr
- Coastal Carolina JR RHP Mike Morrison
- Radford JR RHP Dylan Nelson
- Campbell SR RHP Heath Bowers
- Presbyterian SR LHP Beau Dees
- UNC Asheville JR RHP Corey Randall
- Charleston Southern JR LHP Andrew Tomasovich
- Coastal Carolina rJR RHP Tyler Poole
- Gardner-Webb SR RHP Matt Fraudin
- Coastal Carolina rJR RHP Patrick Corbett
- Liberty SR LHP Shawn Clowers
- Liberty SR RHP Carson Herndon
- Winthrop JR RHP Joey Strain
- Winthrop JR RHP Zach Sightler
- Liberty JR RHP Hayden White
- Longwood SR LHP Brandon Vick
- Coastal Carolina rSO RHP Alex Cunningham
- Gardner-Webb JR LHP Ryan Boelter
- High Point rJR RHP Scot Hoffman
- Presbyterian JR RHP David Sauer
- Coastal Carolina SR LHP Austin Kerr
- Gardner-Webb JR RHP Brad Haymes
- Radford JR RHP Ryan Meisinger
- Liberty SR LHP Jared Lyons
- Campbell SR RHP Bobby Thorson