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2017 America East All-Draft Team (Hitters)

C – Erik Ostberg
1B – Casey Baker
2B – Ben Prada
SS – Ben Bengtson
3B – TJ Ward
OF – Toby Handley, CJ Krowiak, Andrew Casali

The only tier one player in the conference this year is Erik Ostberg, a hitting machine with a strong arm behind the plate and solid speed on the basepaths. The man is currently hitting an even .500, so any questions about his bat can be referred right back to that nice round figure. I feel a little bit about Ostberg as I do Drew Ellis of Louisville. In both cases, the bat is so appealing that I’m willing to overlook some of the defensive questions. If Ostberg can catch — I think he can, for what it’s worth — then he’s a slam dunk top hundred prospect for me (probably…I shouldn’t say things like that without actually beginning to set up a board). If he can’t, then he’s strong enough with the stick to remain a viable prospect somewhere lower (first base, presumably) on the defensive spectrum. I’m all-in on Ostberg.

In almost any other year, a player like Hunter Dolshun would get the honors as top catcher in the conference. Again, it may be a bit too early to make such broad proclamations, but I feel good about the claim that Dolshun is one of the physically strongest players in his class. You know you’re getting that tremendous strength, plus raw power, and a patient hitter when taking a shot on Dolshun. You may or may not know what you’re getting defensively; some I’ve chatted up are sold that he can make it work behind the plate while others think he’s a little too stiff. I think he’s good enough back there, but, really, it may not matter all that much depending on how far he drops. At some point in the draft you know you’re getting imperfect prospects and I think that’s the range when Dolshun will likely go off the board. Can he catch? Don’t know for sure, but I’ll sure as heck not stress about it either way once he slips past the first few rounds (or later if a team doesn’t buy him as a high-value senior-sign in rounds eight/nine/ten).

I know little about both Christopher Bec and Zack Bright, but both had the kind of draft year production that gets you on the radar. Evan Harasta, Jason Agresti, and David Real are all quality mid- to late-round options as well. Harasta has more power than he’s shown, Agresti is a good albeit too aggressive hitter, and Real, a transfer from Arizona, shows strong control of the strike zone.

Casey Baker gets the nod over some stiff competition in an unusually deep year of America East first base prospects. Justin Yurchak is the clear 1b to Baker’s 1a, but the latter narrowly edges out the former on the basis of slightly more interesting raw power. You really can’t go wrong with either pick, though. I’ve long been a fan of David MacKinnon for similar reasons (hit tool, approach, athleticism, defense) while also being a little wary of him going forward for the same potential fatal flaw (lack of pop for the position). I’m more excited to take natural hitters with some power upside rather than huge power guys without much of a clue how to consistently make contact, so keep that potential bias in mind as you peruse my rankings.

Ben Bengtson (1-1 potential if draft standing was based on likelihood I spell your name wrong between now and June) has a long history of big offense with more than enough athleticism and bat speed (plus a fine approach) to give confidence he’s more than beating up on inferior pitching. The high level of certainty he sticks at shortstop — as close to a lock as it gets in this college class for me — is icing on the cake. Ben Prada takes second base based on the two sweetest words in the English language; I couldn’t find any other noteworthy 2017 America East middle infielders outside of Prada, Bengtson, and Paul Rufo, but I’m open to suggestions if you know of anybody I’m missing. TJ Ward could belong with that group if a team believes he can play shortstop in the pros. I like him best at third, clearly.

I know I’ve referenced this before, but I can’t help but do it again.

Toby Handley has always been known as a quality runner who could catch and throw in center field. His senior year power spike is something smart teams should be looking into as much as feasible this spring. Change in approach? Change in swing? Change in body? Or just a combination of a smaller sample and advanced age working in concert to inflate his output? I don’t have the answers yet. In the past I’ve been incredulous about big senior season jumps like this (.089 ISO to .235 ISO), but I randomly happened to look back at what I wrote about Garrett Stubbs, a huge pro favorite at the moment, when he was a senior at USC. I had the same questions about his senior year power boost; no two players follow identical developmental paths so maybe this isn’t as instructive a flashback as I’d like to think, but so far so good with the “realness” of Stubbs’s growth. Handley isn’t Stubbs 2.0, of course; I’m just saying that dismissing a senior year bump, something I’ve done too readily in the past, can cause you to miss out on some pretty good players. Don’t sleep on Handley just because he’s a senior is the overarching message, I suppose.

Andrew Casali hasn’t made quite the same senior season power gains — if anything he’s showing less this year — but he offers a similar package of speed and defense in center field. Casali also makes a ton of contact and has a keen awareness of what constitutes a ball vs a strike. Everything good about Casali applies just as easily to CJ Krowiak. A pre-season FAVORITE, Krowiak is an easy plus runner and defender in center who is both a sensational athlete and a true student of the game. I think the best is yet to come for him.

Other prospects that received consideration…

C – Hunter Dolshun, Christopher Bec, Evan Harasta, Jason Agresti, David Real, Zack Bright
1B – Justin Yurchak, Jamie Switalski, David MacKinnon, Andrew Gazzola, Brendan Skidmore
2B – N/A
SS – Paul Rufo
3B – N/A
OF – Connor Powers, Tyler Schwanz, Colby Maiola, Nick Campana, Collin Stack

2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – America East

Five America East players were drafted in last year’s MLB Draft. Thirty players from the America East have been selected over the past five years. Draft trends aren’t typically my preferred entry point when discussing a conference’s present talent levels, but, lacking a hook otherwise, let’s focus in on the five or six top names that could wind up repping the conference this June.

Right off the top, I’m fairly comfortable declaring that Stephen Woods is the most talented 2016 MLB Draft prospect in the America East. That may or may not be enough to make him the best prospect, but it certainly puts him in the mix. Woods has a big-time arm (95-96 peak) with an intriguing curve and an unusually firm yet effective changeup. All of that was enough to make him a sixth round pick out of high school. His biggest issue has always been control: he walked 9.9 batters per nine his freshman year, 7.0 batters per nine last year, and sits at 6.1 in the early going this season. Any team drafting Woods with a single-digit round pick will have to weigh his raw stuff against his wild ways. Look at his early 2016 line: 13.1 IP 16 H 11 ER 9 BB 25 K. What in the world do we make of that? Really good stuff + elite ability to miss bats + well below-average control + inconsistent (at best) track record of run prevention = I have no idea and I’m glad I’m not paid to make a definitive statement about his draft future. A selection anywhere from as high as round five to as low as the twenties wouldn’t surprise me at this point. When it doubt it never hurts to gamble on arm strength guys with pedigree like Woods, but know that his eventual pro future will be dictated far more on development than an accurate scouting report.

In addition to Woods, I count no less than a dozen 2016 draft prospects that throw 90 MPH or better. That benchmark alone isn’t enough to get a player drafted these days, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Cameron Stone (plus CU), Mike Bunal (athleticism), David Drouin (above-average CB), Tyler Honahan (lefty pitchability), and Kyle Gauthier (plus command) are just some of the young arms that throw hard and bring something else impressive to the table. An argument could be made that Jeff Gelinas, the projectable righty out of Maine, has the most upside out of any draft-eligible arm in the conference. I bring it up because, as luck would have it, a baseball friend of mine based out of the Boston area actually made that argument to me when I was asking around about this list. Gelinas has a big arm (up to 94) and plenty of untapped upside, but many of the same issues as Woods (control, obviously) without the same offspeed refinement.

Still lacking an obvious angle to discuss the America East hitting prospects, let’s go with a quick breakdown of the three outfielders at the top. Here’s where I have Toby Handley, Ian Strom, and Jack Parenty…

Hit: Handley, Parenty, Strom
Power: Parenty, Strom, Handley
Speed: Strom, Handley, Parenty
Glove: Strom, Handley, Parenty
Arm: Strom, Handley, Parenty

If you’ve come to this site knowing nothing about these three players, which guy do you like best? Handley is the hitter, Parenty has the most pop, and Strom brings the most appealing all-around athletic profile. A case could be made for any of the three as the conference’s top hitting prospect in 2016. I went with the hitter for now, but reserve the right to make the swap for the athlete with the funky swing who glides around in center with the best that college ball has to offer.

Hitters

  1. Stony Brook JR OF Toby Handley
  2. UMass-Lowell JR OF/LHP Ian Strom
  3. Stony Brook SR OF Jack Parenty
  4. Hartford JR 1B/3B David MacKinnon
  5. Stony Brook JR 1B/OF Casey Baker
  6. Maine JR OF Tyler Schwanz
  7. UMBC JR C Hunter Dolshun
  8. Maine SR C Kevin Stypulkowski
  9. Albany rJR C/1B Evan Harasta
  10. Binghamton JR OF/1B Brendan Skidmore
  11. UMBC SR SS Kevin Lachance
  12. UMBC JR OF Andrew Casali
  13. Binghamton rSO INF Justin Yurchak
  14. UMBC rSR 1B Anthony Gatto
  15. Maine SR 3B/SS Brett Chappell
  16. Binghamton SR 2B Reed Gamache
  17. Hartford SR OF Chris DelDebbio
  18. Albany SR OF Will Miller
  19. Hartford SR 2B/SS Aaron Wilson
  20. Albany SR SS Trevor DeMerritt
  21. Albany JR OF Eric Mueller
  22. UMBC rJR OF/RHP Tim Kelly
  23. Stony Brook rJR C David Real
  24. Albany rJR 3B Matt Hinchy
  25. UMass-Lowell SR OF Joe Consolmagno
  26. Stony Brook SR 3B Johnny Caputo
  27. Binghamton JR C Edward Posavec
  28. Maine SR 1B Brenden Geary
  29. UMBC rSR OF Nick Naumann
  30. UMBC rSO 3B Mitchell Carroll
  31. Binghamton JR OF Darian Herncane
  32. UMass-Lowell JR 1B/3B Zack Tower

Pitchers

  1. Albany JR RHP Stephen Woods
  2. Stony Brook JR RHP Cameron Stone
  3. Binghamton SR RHP/OF Mike Bunal
  4. Hartford rSO RHP David Drouin
  5. Stony Brook SR LHP Tyler Honahan
  6. Hartford SR RHP Kyle Gauthier
  7. Maine JR RHP Jeff Gelinas
  8. Hartford JR RHP John LaRossa
  9. Hartford SR RHP Jacob Mellin
  10. Hartford JR RHP Brian Stepniak
  11. UMBC SR RHP Conrad Wozniak
  12. Maine SR RHP Charlie Butler
  13. Albany JR RHP JT Genovese
  14. UMBC rSO RHP Patrick Phillips
  15. UMBC SR RHP Denis Mikush
  16. Albany JR RHP Joe Romero
  17. Binghamton rSO RHP Jacob Wloczewski
  18. Hartford SR RHP Brian Murphy
  19. Binghamton rJR RHP Jake Cryts
  20. Maine SR RHP Logan Fullmer
  21. UMass-Lowell JR RHP Steve Xirinachs
  22. UMBC JR RHP Cory Callahan
  23. Maine SR RHP Jake Marks
  24. Hartford SR RHP Sam McKay

Albany

JR RHP Stephen Woods (2016)
rJR RHP Ryan Stinar (2016)
JR LHP Marcus Failing (2016)
JR RHP Joe Romero (2016)
JR RHP JT Genovese (2016)
SR SS Trevor DeMerritt (2016)
SR 2B Karson Canaday (2016)
rJR 3B Matt Hinchy (2016)
SR OF Will Miller (2016)
rJR C/1B Evan Harasta (2016)
JR OF Eric Mueller (2016)
FR 2B Pat Lagravinese (2018)
FR SS Kevin Donati (2018)
FR C Matt Codispoti (2018)

High Priority Follows: Stephen Woods, Joe Romero, JT Genovese, Trevor DeMerritt, Karson Canaday, Matt Hinchy, Will Miller, Evan Harasta, Eric Mueller

Binghamton

rJR RHP Jake Cryts (2016)
rSO RHP Jacob Wloczewski (2016)
SR RHP/OF Mike Bunal (2016)
JR OF/1B Brendan Skidmore (2016)
rSO INF Justin Yurchak (2016)
SR 2B Reed Gamache (2016)
SR 3B David Schanz (2016)
JR C Edward Posavec (2016)
JR OF Darian Herncane (2016)
SO RHP Jake Erhard (2017)
SO LHP/1B Nick Wegmann (2017)
SO C/1B Jason Agresti (2017)
SO OF Chris McGee (2017)
SO OF/2B CJ Krowiak (2017)
SO 3B/1B Luke Tevlin (2017)
FR RHP Nick Gallagher (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jake Cryts, Jacob Wloczewski, Mike Bunal, Brendan Skidmore, Justin Yurchak, Reed Gamache, Edward Posavec, Darian Herncane

Hartford

SR RHP Sam McKay (2016)
SR RHP Brian Murphy (2016)
SR RHP Kyle Gauthier (2016)
SR RHP Jacob Mellin (2016)
JR RHP John LaRossa (2016)
rSO RHP David Drouin (2016)
JR RHP Brian Stepniak (2016)
JR 1B/3B David MacKinnon (2016)
SR 2B/SS Aaron Wilson (2016)
SR OF Chris DelDebbio (2016)
SR C/1B Billy Walker (2016)
JR 2B/3B Dalton Ruch (2016)
SO RHP Kevin Tise (2017)
SO C Erik Ostberg (2017)
SO 3B/SS TJ Ward (2017)
SO SS/3B Ben Bengtson (2017)
SO OF Nick Campana (2017)
FR RHP Justin Cashman (2018)
FR RHP Billy Devito (2018)
FR RHP Seth Pinkerton (2018)
FR OF Ashton Bardzell (2018)
FR 3B Chris Sullivan (2018)

High Priority Follows: Sam McKay, Brian Murphy, Kyle Gauthier, Jacob Mellin, John LaRossa, David Drouin, Brian Stepniak, David MacKinnon, Aaron Wilson, Chris DelDebbio

Maine

JR RHP Zach Winn (2016)
SR RHP Logan Fullmer (2016)
SR RHP Jake Marks (2016)
SR RHP Charlie Butler (2016)
JR RHP Jeff Gelinas (2016)
JR OF Tyler Schwanz (2016)
SR C Kevin Stypulkowski (2016)
SR 3B/SS Brett Chappell (2016)
SR 1B Brenden Geary (2016)
SR 2B Shane Bussey (2016)
SO RHP Chris Murphy (2017)
SO RHP Justin Courtney (2017)
SO RHP John Arel (2017)
SO LHP Connor Johnson (2017)
SO RHP Clay Conaway (2017)
SO 2B Alex Cabrera (2017)
FR SS Jeremy Pena (2018)
FR 2B Danny Casals (2018)

High Priority Follows: Logan Fullmer, Jake Marks, Charlie Butler, Jeff Gelinas, Tyler Schwanz, Kevin Stypulkowski, Brett Chappell, Brenden Geary

Stony Brook

SR LHP Tyler Honahan (2016)
SR RHP Tim Knesnik (2016)
SR RHP Chad Lee (2016)
JR RHP Cameron Stone (2016)
JR OF Toby Handley (2016)
SR 3B Johnny Caputo (2016)
SR OF Jack Parenty (2016)
JR 1B/OF Casey Baker (2016)
rJR C David Real (2016)
SO C Drew Bene (2017)
SO 1B Malcolm Nachmanoff (2017)
SO 1B/3B Andruw Gazzola (2017)
SO 2B/SS Bobby Honeyman (2017)
SO SS Jeremy Giles (2017)
FR RHP Bret Clarke (2018)

High Priority Follows: Tyler Honahan, Cameron Stone, Toby Handley, Johnny Caputo, Jack Parenty, Casey Baker, David Real

Massachusetts – Lowell

JR RHP Steve Xirinachs (2016)
JR OF/LHP Ian Strom (2016)
JR 1B/3B Zack Tower (2016)
SR OF Joe Consolmagno (2016)
SO RHP Andrew Ryan (2017)
SO RHP Nick Kuzia (2017)
SO RHP Tim Fallon (2017)
FR OF Michael Young (2018)
FR OF Chris Sharpe (2018)
FR 1B/OF Steve Passatempo (2018)

High Priority Follows: Steve Xirinachs, Ian Strom, Zack Tower, Joe Consolmagno

UMBC

rSR LHP Joe Vanderplas (2016)
SR LHP Kevin Little (2016)
SR RHP Conrad Wozniak (2016)
JR RHP Cory Callahan (2016)
SR RHP Denis Mikush (2016)
rSO RHP Patrick Phillips (2016)
rJR OF/RHP Tim Kelly (2016)
JR 1B/LHP Connor Hax (2016)
SR SS Kevin Lachance (2016)
rSR 1B Anthony Gatto (2016)
JR C Hunter Dolshun (2016)
JR OF Andrew Casali (2016)
rSR OF Nick Naumann (2016)
rSO 3B Mitchell Carroll (2016)
SO RHP Matt Chanin (2017)
SO C Zack Bright (2017)
SO 1B Jamie Switalski (2017)
FR 3B AJ Wright (2018)

High Priority Follows: Joe Vanderplas, Conrad Wozniak, Cory Callahan, Denis Mikush, Patrick Phillips, Tim Kelly, Kevin Lachance, Anthony Gatto, Hunter Dolshun, Andrew Casali, Nick Naumann, Mitchell Carroll