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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Big East

As one of my three “home” conferences, I see a whole lot of Big East baseball. Quick trips are already lined up to see Butler, St. John’s, Creighton, and Villanova, and that’s before traveling beyond twenty minutes from my apartment. Springtime travel often takes me to New York and DC, so I might be able to catch home games at St. John’s and Georgetown as well. There are pros and cons when it comes with attempting to meld nationwide coverage of the draft with first-person “scouting” accounts – we’ll get into that some later – but it’s worth mentioning now so that my pro-Big East agenda can get out there in the open. I’ve only ever lived in the northeastern part of the United States, so I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try to support baseball here any way that I can.

“There are no stars in the Big East, but still some nice players.” That’s my most heard – twice! – refrain from those in the know about this year’s crop of Big East talent. It currently holds up upon further review. Like everyone, I love star-caliber talent; missing out on it this year is a bummer, but that’s how it goes in certain years for mid-majors. Maybe not like everyone – certainly not like anybody who covers the draft publicly like this – I relish the opportunity to find potential fourth outfielders, utility infielders, backup catchers, fifth starters/swingmen, and middle relievers. If those are the kinds of guys you like, then the Big East in 2016 is for you.

Michael Donadio is a really well-rounded outfielder who has flashed at least average ability with all five tools. His power, CF range, and arm might make more bench bat/platoon player than future regular, but it’s still an enticing overall profile. His teammate, Alex Caruso, profiles similarly, though he’s cut more from the classic “fifth outfielder” cloth. He doesn’t have the same kind of pop as Donadio, but he’ll give you outstanding instincts that help him play above his physical tools in center and when running the bases. The outfield pair at Creighton rivals what St. John’s has. Daniel Woodrow and Kevin Connolly both have plus speed (Woodrow might be a touch faster) and easy CF range. Lack of power limits the ceiling for both players, but it’s not a stretch to have the same kind of fifth outfielder future in mind as Caruso.

Creighton’s best pro prospect for 2016 is Nicky Lopez, a slick fielding shortstop with plus speed and serious athleticism. Like the rest of the names at the top his bat might keep him as more utility player than starter. He’s a fine prospect in his own right, so hopefully this doesn’t come across the wrong way…but Lopez benefits greatly from being draft-eligible in 2016 and not 2015. Last year he might have gotten swept away with all the excellent college shortstop prospects getting popped early and often on draft day; this year, he stands out as one of the better options at the position for no other reason than the fact there’s little doubt he’ll stick there as a professional. Harrison Crawford, the man who lines up to Lopez’s right at Creighton, benefits similarly from a watered down third base class. I like him as a steady fielding senior-sign with some pop. I like Reagan Fowler, yet another Creighton infielder, for much the same reasons. Fowler is a prospect that I’ve long liked, so I’m not about to bail after his good (.319 BA with 23 BB/23 K) yet not great (.065 ISO for a 1B) redshirt-junior season. He’s probably a borderline draft pick if looking at things objectively, though a return to his 2014 form would almost certainly intrigue a team enough to give him a go. A friend who liked him said he could have a lefthanded Darin Ruf type of career, if the power comes back around. I apparently compared him to Casey Grayson as a draft prospect last year, so there’s that to consider as well.

Dan Rizzie and Chris Marras are both potential senior-sign catchers with legitimate big league backup upside. Had this to say about Rizzie last year…

Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie is a pro-level defensive player with enough bat speed, patience, and pop to work himself into a really good backup catcher/workable starting catcher profile.

Fair enough. I now like Chris Marras better than Butler’s other Chris M. (Chris Maranto) despite remaining a fan of the latter’s hit tool and approach. I may have expected too much too soon out of him last season, so a rebound year for the now redshirt-junior seems like a strong possibility.

The gap between Rizzie, Marras, and, the favorite of many I talked to, Troy Dixon is minuscule. Dixon is a good glove behind the plate with a strong arm, and early returns on both aspects of his game speak to even more improvement so far this year. Making your existing strengths even stronger is often easier than turning weaknesses into strengths, after all. I talked up the Seton Hall outfielders (Zack Weigel and Derek Jenkins) last year, so I won’t go into great detail this time around. Weigel and Caruso are very similar prospects while Jenkins remains the small, speedy center fielder who has yet to show he has enough power to keep pro pitchers honest.

Finally we get to the Villanova guys. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Villanova is one of the handful of schools within a twenty minute or so drive from my home base. I don’t think I overrate prospects from local schools because of that – maybe Penn a bit since I see them more than any other team – but seeing players over and over again in person is bound to alter the process in some way. I tend to rely on publicly available information and updates from friends in the game more than my own firsthand “scouting” observations, but I’ll maintain that any change in how I usually do things – such as seeing a player fifty times over three or four years versus seeing him five times or less – is going to produce some noise that has to be filtered out if I want to stay consistent with my approach. Being cognizant of the potential bias is important, and I think disclosing such things is helpful to understanding how I arrive at certain conclusions on players.

Of the notable Villanova prospects, I think the one prospect who might have me thinking more of them after seeing him in person a lot (rather than just being a name on a page) is Donovan May. Without having seen him firsthand, there’s little chance he would be included on the rankings below. High priority follow under the team listings? Sure, why not: it’s a fairly low bar and his obvious athleticism, bloodlines, and team-leading number of walks in 2015 are enough to warrant at least some casual interest heading into his draft year. Actually seeing him field, run, throw, and, yes, even hit in person, however, has me a little extra curious about his pro future. It’s not like it’s my first rodeo where I’m easily seduced by an athlete who cuts a fine figure in uniform, but human nature is undeniable: May looks the part, so he’ll get chances when others less suited to sell jeans will not. If he doesn’t start hitting, of course, then all of this is a moot point. I’ve bought in enough to rank him, true, but there’s a reason he’s placed where he is relative to his Big East peers.

Villanova’s best prospect, Todd Czinege, is somebody I very much look forward to honing in on this spring. I’m damn sure he can hit, so the focus will be on his approach, his defense, and how usable his power will be. If he doesn’t get any better, he’s still talented enough at the plate to warrant a draft pick. If he can improve in just one of those areas, I think he becomes a legitimate top ten round threat. And if he can improve two or more of those areas? It’s almost too wild a hypothetical to consider – good baseball player becomes GREAT baseball player overnight! – but rest assured he’d rise very, very high on draft boards around the league. As is, I’ve talked to a few people in the know who think he’s the best hitter in the conference with no real competition for second. That’s high praise.

Turns out there are also pitchers in the Big East this year, too. Hopefully we still have a few words left to spare on these fine young men. The most famous pitcher in the Big East is Thomas Hackimer of St. John’s. The sub six-foot righthander (5-11, 200) has a long track record of missing bats coming out of the pen (9.84 K/9 in 2014, 9.52 K/9 last season) with all kinds of funky stuff (above-average low- to mid-80s SL and average CU) coming at you from an even funkier delivery. He clearly doesn’t fit the classic closer mold, but a recent uptick in velocity (92-93 peak this year, up from his usual 85-90 MPH range) could raise his prospect profile from generic college mid-round righty reliever to potential late-inning option if things keep clicking. I like guys like this a lot on draft day, so consider me a big Hackimer fan…as long as the price remains reasonable. At this rate, he could pitch his way right out of the “undervalued draft steal” category and into “fair value” territory.

Danny Pobreyko isn’t the type to wow, but solid stuff across the board (88-92 FB, above-average breaking ball) and an ideal frame (6-5, 200) put him on the shortlist of top pitching prospects in this conference. For what it’s worth, I originally had him in the top spot before switching back to Hackimer at the last moment. David Ellingson brings similar stuff to the mound, but with less size (6-1, 200). Bigger arms like Matt Smith (93 peak), Ryan McAuliffe (94), and Curtiss Pomeroy (95) could continue to rise with strong springs.

Hitters

  1. St. John’s JR OF Michael Donadio
  2. Creighton JR SS/2B Nicky Lopez
  3. St. John’s SR OF Alex Caruso
  4. Creighton SR 3B Harrison Crawford
  5. Creighton JR OF Daniel Woodrow
  6. Creighton JR OF Kevin Connolly
  7. Xavier SR C Dan Rizzie
  8. Creighton rSR 1B Reagan Fowler
  9. Butler SR C Chris Marras
  10. Villanova JR 2B/3B Todd Czinege
  11. St. John’s JR C Troy Dixon
  12. Butler rJR 2B/SS Chris Maranto
  13. Seton Hall SR OF Zack Weigel
  14. Creighton SR 2B/SS Ryan Fitzgerald
  15. Seton Hall SR OF Derek Jenkins
  16. Villanova SR 1B/RHP Max Beermann
  17. Creighton JR OF Riley Landuyt
  18. Villanova SR SS Eric Lowe
  19. Villanova SR OF/SS Adam Goss
  20. Xavier rJR SS/3B Andre Jernigan
  21. Creighton JR OF Riley Conlan
  22. Villanova JR OF Donovan May

Pitchers

  1. St. John’s SR RHP Thomas Hackimer
  2. Butler JR RHP Danny Pobereyko
  3. Georgetown JR RHP David Ellingson
  4. Georgetown SR RHP Matt Smith
  5. St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McAuliffe
  6. Georgetown SR RHP Curtiss Pomeroy
  7. Creighton rSO RHP Rollie Lacy
  8. Creighton SR RHP Nick Highberger
  9. St. John’s rJR RHP Michael Sheppard
  10. Butler JR LHP Jeff Schank
  11. Creighton SR RHP Taylor Elman
  12. Seton Hall JR RHP Zach Prendergast
  13. Seton Hall JR LHP Anthony Pacillo
  14. Creighton JR RHP Austin Stroschein
  15. Georgetown JR RHP Nick Leonard
  16. St. John’s SR RHP Joey Graziano
  17. Creighton SR RHP Matt Warren
  18. Creighton JR RHP David Gerber
  19. Xavier JR LHP Greg Jacknewitz
  20. St. John’s rSR RHP Joey Christopher

Butler

JR RHP Danny Pobereyko (2016)
rJR RHP Chris Myjak (2016)
SR LHP Nick Morton (2016)
JR LHP Jeff Schank (2016)
SR RHP Tyler Rathjen (2016)
rJR 2B/SS Chris Maranto (2016)
rJR OF Drew Small (2016)
SR C Chris Marras (2016)
SR OF Nick Bartolone (2016)
SO LHP Josh Goldberg (2017)
SO RHP Luke Johnson (2017)
SO SS Garrett Christman (2017)
SO OF Tyler Houston (2017)
SO OF Gehrig Parker (2017)
SO OF/2B Cole Malloy (2017)
FR RHP Quintin Miller (2018)

High Priority Follows: Danny Pobereyko, Jeff Schank, Chris Maranto, Drew Small, Chris Marras

Creighton

SR RHP Nick Highberger (2016)
rSO RHP Rollie Lacy (2016)
JR RHP David Gerber (2016)
SR LHP John Oltman (2016)
SR LHP Will Bamesburger (2016)
SR RHP Matt Warren (2016)
JR RHP Austin Stroschein (2016)
SR RHP Taylor Elman (2016)
JR LHP Jeff Albrecht (2016)
SR RHP Connor Miller (2016)
rSR 1B Reagan Fowler (2016)
JR SS/2B Nicky Lopez (2016)
SR 2B/SS Ryan Fitzgerald (2016)
SR 3B Harrison Crawford (2016)
JR OF Kevin Connolly (2016)
JR OF Daniel Woodrow (2016)
JR OF Riley Conlan (2016)
JR OF Riley Landuyt (2016)
SR OF Brett Murray (2016)
SR C Matt Gandy (2016)
SO RHP Ethan DeCaster (2017)
SO RHP Keith Rogalla (2017)
FR RHP Ty Ramirez (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick Highberger, Rollie Lacy, David Gerber, Matt Warren, Austin Stroschein, Taylor Elman, Connor Miller, Reagan Fowler, Nicky Lopez, Ryan Fitzgerald, Harrison Crawford, Kevin Connolly, David Woodrow, Riley Conlan, Riley Landuyt

Georgetown

JR RHP David Ellingson (2016)
SR RHP Curtiss Pomeroy (2016)
SR RHP Tim Davis (2016)
SR RHP Matt Smith (2016)
JR RHP Simon Mathews (2016)
JR RHP Nick Leonard (2016)
JR OF/RHP Beau Hall (2016)
JR 3B Jake Kuzbel (2016)
SO RHP Kevin Superko (2017
SO RHP Jimmy Swad (2017)
SO OF Austin Shirley (2017)
SO 2B Chase Bushor (2017)
SO 1B Bennett Stehr (2017)

High Priority Follows: David Ellingson, Curtiss Pomeroy, Tim Davis, Matt Smith, Simon Mathews, Nick Leonard

St. John’s

SR RHP Thomas Hackimer (2016)
rJR RHP Michael Sheppard (2016)
rSR RHP Joey Christopher (2016)
SR RHP Joey Graziano (2016)
JR RHP Ryan McAuliffe (2016)
JR LHP Joe Nellis (2016)
rJR RHP Dylan Drawdy (2016)
SR OF Alex Caruso (2016)
JR OF Michael Donadio (2016)
SR 2B Ty Blankmeyer (2016)
JR 3B Robbie Knightes (2016)
JR C Troy Dixon (2016)
rJR 1B Gui Gingras (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Magee (2017)
rFR 1B/RHP David Moyer (2017)
SO OF/3B Jamie Galazin (2017)
SO 2B/SS Jesse Berardi (2017)
SO OF Anthony Brocato (2017)
rFR OF Aidan McDermott (2017)
FR RHP Matthew Messier (2018)
FR RHP Cole Whitney (2018)
FR SS Josh Shaw (2018)
FR 1B Gavin Garay (2018)

High Priority Follows: Thomas Hackimer, Michael Sheppard, Joey Christopher, Joey Graziano, Ryan McAuliffe, Alex Caruso, Michael Donadio, Robbie Knightes, Troy Dixon

Seton Hall

JR RHP Zach Prendergast (2016)
SR RHP Sam Burum (2016)
SR RHP Luke Cahill (2016)
JR LHP Anthony Pacillo (2016)
JR RHP Ryan Testani (2016)
SR OF Derek Jenkins (2016)
SR OF Zack Weigel (2016)
SR 2B Chris Chiaradio (2016)
JR 1B Mikael-Ali Mogues (2016)
JR SS Joe Poduslenko (2016)
SO RHP Chris Morris (2017)
SO RHP Zach Schellenger (2017)
SO RHP Shane McCarthy (2017)
SO RHP Matt Leon (2017)
SO OF Ryan Ramiz (2017)
FR RHP Billy Layne (2018)
FR LHP Cullen Dana (2018)
FR INF Sebastiano Santorelli (2018)
FR INF Anthony Scotti (2018)

High Priority Follows: Zach Prendergast, Sam Burum, Anthony Pacillo, Ryan Testani, Derek Jenkins, Zack Weigel, Mikael-Ali Mogues, Joe Poduslenko

Villanova

JR LHP Hunter Schryver (2016)
SR 1B/RHP Max Beermann (2016)
SR C/OF Emmanuel Morris (2016)
SR 3B/1B Kevin Jewitt (2016)
SR SS Eric Lowe (2016)
SR OF/SS Adam Goss (2016)
JR 2B/3B Todd Czinege (2016)
JR OF Donovan May (2016)
JR C Zander Retamar (2016)
SO LHP Mike Sgaramella (2017)
SO RHP Ryan Doty (2017)

High Priority Follows: Hunter Schryver, Max Beermann, Emannuel Morris, Kevin Jewitt, Eric Lowe, Adam Goss, Todd Czinege, Donovan May

Xavier

JR LHP Brad Kirschner (2016)
JR LHP Trent Astle (2016)
JR LHP Greg Jacknewitz (2016)
SR C Dan Rizzie (2016)
rJR SS/3B Andre Jernigan (2016)
JR 1B Ethan Schmidt (2016)
SR 2B David Morton (2016)
SO LHP Zac Lowther (2017)
SO RHP Garrett Schilling (2017)
SO 3B Rylan Bannon (2017)
SO C Nate Soria (2017)
SO OF Will LaRue (2017)
FR SS/2B Chris Givin (2018)
FR 2B Sam Flamini (2018)

High Priority Follows: Brad Kirschner, Trent Astle, Greg Jacknewitz, Dan Rizzie, Andre Jernigan, Ethan Schmidt

Big East 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie
Creighton rJR 1B Reagan Fowler
Butler rSO 2B Chris Maranto
St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos
Seton Hall SR 3B Kyle Grimm
Seton Hall JR OF Zack Weigel
St. John’s SR OF Zach Lauricella
Seton Hall JR OF Derek Jenkins

Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner
St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McCormick
Creighton rSR RHP Max Ising
Georgetown SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck
Xavier rJR RHP Adam Hall

Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie is a pro-level defensive player with enough bat speed, patience, and pop to work himself into a really good backup catcher/workable starting catcher profile. Georgetown JR C Nick Collins is right there with him, though it takes a little more projecting with his glove. On the bright side, his bat is generally regarded as the better of the two. I happen to think the bats are closer to a coin flip at this point, so that’s why the man with the more advanced glove (Rizzie) gets the nod as the top catcher here. While it’s no stunner that we’ve yet to have a Dan Rizzie – or any Rizzie, for that matter – play professional baseball, it took me by surprise (to the point I almost don’t believe my own exhaustive ninety seconds of research on the subject) that there doesn’t appear to have ever been a “Nick Collins” or any variation thereof to ever play affiliated ball. As if I needed another reason to want to see Nick Collins have a big year…

Creighton rJR 1B Regan Fowler is an impressive young hitter who can more than hold his own at first base with the leather. I say it so often that I imagine the dozen or so regular readers of the site skim right over it by now, but the dearth of power bats in this year’s college class will push up players who can actually hit higher than most currently project. Fowler’s track record with the stick and positive scouting reviews as a hitter could make him a sneaky top ten round pick player. That might be a little rich based on recent history – as a draft prospect he reminds me some of Houston’s Casey Grayson, a 21st round pick last year – but his shot at pro ball is coming.

Fowler isn’t the only Big East big bat worth tracking this spring. Villanova JR 1B Max Beermann has the big power befitting a 6-7, 225 pound man. I’ve seen a lot of him already, but look forward to seeing him man first base for the Wildcats in what could be his final college season this year. Without typecasting him too much, his issues at the plate are fairly typical of most long-levered young power hitters. I’ve heard a lot of firsthand buzz about him working hard to clean up his approach (both physical and mental) as a hitter, so I’m higher on him as a draft prospect than perhaps his results to date alone would merit. The only knock on Beermann at the moment says more about me than him. Since seeing him play for the first time a few years back in beautiful Plymouth Meeting, PA, I’ve had intermittent nightmares about a cold, bleak future where Chris Berman is, against all logical odds, still calling the HR Derby. We all die a little inside the first time he unleashes his “Hey” nickname as the poor, unsuspecting slugger goes yard. I’m sorry, Max Beermann; you deserved better.

Seton Hall SR 1B Sal Annunziata gets points for his above-average raw power, underrated athleticism, and potential defensive versatility as a solid glove at first who can moonlight behind the plate and in the outfield. I feel bad riffing on back-to-back player names, but I can’t resist: if you can guess where Sal Annunziata was born and raised, you’ll get free copies of my nonexistent draft book for life. Hint: he’s not from Montgomery, Alabama.

I’m not quite as excited about the rest of the infielders in the conference, but there are still some nice potential late-round prospects here, many of whom have more support from those I’ve talked to than me personally. That’s typically a good sign for a player’s future. St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos stands out as a steady glove with some upside as a hitter. Seton Hall SR SS DJ Ruhlman has a lot of fans listed among those who have seen him most often. Xavier rSO SS Andre Jernigan is in the same boat. On the right side of the infield you have Butler rSO 2B Chris Maranto (average or better hit tool, might be able to play some SS professionally) and Georgetown SR 2B Ryan Busch (similar hit tool, average arm/speed).

Seton Hall JR OF Derek Jenkins has the type of carrying tool (plus speed) to get drafted higher than I currently believe. He’s also a more than capable center field defender who has shown flashes at the plate. His teammate JR OF Zack Weigel is another interesting glove in center, but with enough of a power edge over Jenkins that I think he’s currently the better bet (by a razor thin margin) as a pro. I understand the appeal of Jenkins, however, and acknowledge his looming breakout potential.

On the mound, the Big East offers an array of potential bullpen pieces of varying quality. I’ve stuck with Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner through the good (flashes of dominance in 2013) and the bad (consistently inconsistent control, 2014 season wiped out due to injury), so might as well stick it out to the end. At his best he has the look of a really good big league reliever, flashing a mid-90s fastball and an above-average slider. His stature (5-11, 180 pounds) will turn some teams off, but he more than makes up for his lack of physicality with some of the best athleticism of any pitcher in his class. He’s an arm strength/athleticism gamble at this point, but one I feel comfortable with considering the lack of relative upside among his Big East pitching brethren. His teammate at Xavier, rJR RHP Adam Hall, could make a claim as having comparable upside due to his 6-6, 200 pound frame and fastball that has hit as high as 94. St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McCormick and Georgetown SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck are more in the reliability over flashiness subgroup, but both have the requisite history of missed bats and good enough stuff to make a mark on pro ball. McCormick in particular appeals to me as a sturdily built three pitch potential fifth starter/middle reliever type.

I couldn’t write about the Big East without mentioning one of my favorite stories in college baseball. Creighton rSR RHP Max Ising has taken the long path from junior college reliever to potential MLB draft pick, missing bats and defying the odds at every step along the way. Guys his size (5-9, 190 pounds) don’t often possess big league quality heat (94 peak). In addition to his fastball, Ising throws a pair of useful offspeed pitches (slider/changeup) that can both lead to strikeouts on any given outing. We already know college relievers get pushed down on draft day and we know that righthanders under 6’0” face an uphill battle in convincing pro teams to give them a shot, but if Ising continues to strike batters out at the rate he’s shown as a college player…well, you never know.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie
  2. Creighton rJR 1B Reagan Fowler
  3. Georgetown JR C Nick Collins
  4. St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos
  5. Butler rSO 2B/SS Chris Maranto
  6. Seton Hall SR SS DJ Ruhlman
  7. Xavier rSO SS/3B Andre Jernigan
  8. Xavier SR C/1B Derek Hasenbeck
  9. Seton Hall JR OF Zack Weigel
  10. Villanova JR 1B/RHP Max Beermann
  11. Seton Hall SR 1B/OF Sal Annunziata
  12. Seton Hall JR OF Derek Jenkins
  13. St. John’s SR OF Zach Lauricella
  14. St. John’s SR SS/2B Bret Dennis
  15. Seton Hall SR 3B Kyle Grimm
  16. Georgetown SR 2B Ryan Busch
  17. St. John’s SR 2B/3B Robert Wayman
  18. St. John’s JR OF Alex Caruso
  19. Xavier rSR OF Patrick Jones
  20. St. John’s SR 1B Matt Harris
  21. Xavier rSR 1B/OF Brian Bruening

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner
  2. St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McCormick
  3. Creighton rSR RHP Max Ising
  4. Georgetown SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck
  5. Xavier rJR RHP Adam Hall
  6. St. John’s JR LHP Alex Katz
  7. Creighton JR RHP Taylor Elman
  8. Creighton rSR RHP Jack Rogalla
  9. St. John’s rJR RHP Joey Christopher
  10. Villanova rSR RHP Maximo Almonte
  11. Creighton rJR RHP Tommy Strunc
  12. St. John’s JR RHP Michael Sheppard
  13. St. John’s JR LHP Matt Clancy
  14. St. John’s JR RHP Thomas Hackimer
  15. Villanova rSR RHP Chris Haggarty
  16. Villanova SR RHP Kagan Richardson
  17. Seton Hall JR RHP Luke Cahill

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Big East Follow List

Butler

rSO 2B/SS Chris Maranto (2015)
JR OF Nick Bartolone (2015)
rSO OF Drew Small (2015)
SR C/1B Ryan Wojciechowski (2015)
SR C Will Amador (2015)
SR RHP Kyle Allen (2015)
JR RHP Chris Myjak (2015)
JR LHP Nick Morton (2015)
SO LHP Jeff Schank (2016)
SO RHP Danny Pobereyko (2016)
FR SS Garrett Christmas (2017)
FR OF Tyler Houston (2017)
FR OF Gehrig Parker (2017)

Creighton

rJR RHP Tommy Strunc (2015)
rSR RHP Max Ising (2015)
rSR RHP Jack Rogalla (2015)
JR RHP Taylor Elman (2015)
JR RHP Nick Highberger (2015)
JR RHP Matt Warren (2015)
rSR C Kevin Lamb (2015)
SO OF Kevin Connolly (2015)
rJR 1B Reagan Fowler (2015)
JR OF Brett Murray (2015)
JR C Joey Mancuso (2015)
SO RHP Rollie Lacy (2016)
SO LHP Jeff Albrecht (2016)
SO 2B/SS Nicky Lopez (2016)
SO OF Daniel Woodrow (2016)
FR RHP Keith Rogalla (2017)

Georgetown

JR C Nick Collins (2015)
SR 2B Ryan Busch (2015)
SR C AC Carter (2015)
SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck (2015)
SR RHP Will Brown (2015)
rSR RHP Jack Vander Linden (2015)
JR RHP Tim Davis (2015)
JR RHP Matt Smith (2015)
SO OF/RHP Beau Hall (2016)
SO RHP David Ellingson (2016)

St. John’s

JR RHP Michael Sheppard (2015)
JR RHP Thomas Hackimer (2015)
SR RHP Joe Kuzia (2015)
JR RHP Ryan McCormick (2015)
rJR RHP Joey Christopher (2015)
JR RHP Cody Stashak (2015)
SR RHP Chris Kalica (2015)
JR LHP Alex Katz (2015)
JR LHP Matt Clancy (2015)
JR RHP Joey Graziano (2015)
SR SS/2B Bret Dennis (2015)
JR OF Alex Caruso (2015)
SR SS Jarred Mederos (2015)
SR OF Zach Lauricella (2015)
SR 1B Matt Harris (2015)
rJR C Tyler Sanchez (2015)
JR 2B Ty Blankmeyer (2015)
SR 2B/3B Robert Wayman (2015)
SO OF Michael Donadio (2016)
SO 3B Robbie Knightes (2016)
SO C Troy Dixon (2016)
FR 1B/RHP David Moyer (2017)
FR 2B Jesse Berardi (2017)
FR LHP Kevin Magee (2017)

Seton Hall

SR 1B/OF Sal Annunziata (2015)
SR 3B Kyle Grimm (2015)
JR OF Zack Weigel (2015)
SR SS DJ Ruhlman (2015)
SR C Alex Falconi (2015)
SR 1B/OF Tyler Boyd (2015)
JR 2B Chris Chiaradio (2015)
JR OF Derek Jenkins (2015)
SR LHP Anthony Elia (2015)
JR RHP Sam Burum (2015)
JR RHP Luke Cahill (2015)
SR LHP Dan Ditusa (2015)
SO LHP Anthony Pacillo (2016)
SO RHP Zach Prendergast (2016)
SO LHP Joe DiBenedetto (2016)
SO RHP Ryan Testani (2016)
SO 1B Mikael-Ali Mogues (2016)
SO SS Joe Poduslenko (2016)
FR RHP Zach Schellenger (2017)
FR RHP Shane McCarthy (2017)

Villanova

rSR RHP Maximo Almonte (2015)
SR LHP Josh Harris (2015)
rSR RHP Chris Haggarty (2015)
SR RHP Kagan Richardson (2015)
JR 1B/RHP Max Beermann (2015)
JR C/OF Emmanuel Morris (2015)
JR 3B/1B Kevin Jewitt (2015)
JR SS Eric Lowe (2015)
JR OF/SS Adam Goss (2015)
SO 3B/2B Todd Czinege (2016)
SO OF Donovan May (2016)
SO LHP Hunter Schryver (2016)

Xavier

JR C Dan Rizzie (2015)
rSR 1B/OF Brian Bruening (2015)
SR C/1B Derek Hasenbeck (2015)
SR 1B/OF Joe Forney (2015)
rSR OF Patrick Jones (2015)
rSO SS/3B Andre Jernigan (2015)
rJR RHP Jacob Bodner (2015)
rJR RHP Adam Hall (2015)
SR LHP Alex Westrick (2015)
SO LHP Brad Kirschner (2016)
FR 3B Rylan Bannon (2017)

2014 MLB Draft (And Beyond) – Big East Follow List

One of the few questions I occasionally get asked is often the simple “I’m seeing ______ this weekend. Do they have anybody worth watching?” Here’s your answer for the Big East

Butler

SR OF Marcos Calderon
JR LHP Eric Stout
SR RHP Billy Laing

Creighton

SR OF Mike Gerber
SR OF Brad McKewon
rJR C Kevin Lamb
rSO 1B Reagan Fowler
JR RHP/2B Jake Peter
rSO RHP Tommy Strunc
rJR RHP Max Ising
SR RHP Bryan Sova
SO RHP Taylor Elman (2015)
SO RHP Nick Highberger (2015)
SO RHP Matt Warren (2015)
FR Jeff Albrecht (2016)

Georgetown

JR LHP Matt Hollenbeck
JR RHP Will Brown
rJR RHP Jack Vander Linden
JR 2B Ryan Busch
SR 1B Steve Anderson
SO C Nick Collins (2015)
SO RHP Tim Davis (2015)
FR David Ellingson (2016)

St. John’s

rSR RHP James Lomangino
rSO RHP Joey Christopher
JR RHP Chris Kalica
JR RHP Joe Kuzia
SR 3B/1B Kyle Lombardo
JR SS/2B Bret Dennis
JR SS Jarred Mederos
JR 1B Matt Harris
JR OF Zach Lauricella
SO LHP Alex Katz (2015)
SO RHP Ryan McCormick (2015)
SO LHP Matt Clancy (2015)
SO RHP Anthony Rosati (2015)
SO RHP Michael Sheppard (2015)
SO RHP Joey Graziano (2015)
SO 2B Ty Blankmeyer (2015)
FR OF Michael Donadio (2016)

Seton Hall

SR 3B Chris Selden
JR 1B/OF Sal Annunziata
JR OF John Beaubien
JR 3B Kyle Grimm
JR RHP Conor Krauss
JR RHP Jose Lopez
SR RHP Josh Prevost
JR LHP Anthony Elia
SO OF Zack Weigel (2015)

Villanova

rJR RHP Maximo Almonte
rJR RHP Matt Lengel
SR LHP Matt Meurer
JR LHP Josh Harris
SR RHP Chris Haggarty
SR OF/1B Connor Jones
SO OF Luke Emling (2015)
SO RHP Max Beermann (2015)
FR OF Donovan May (2016)
FR LHP Hunter Schryver (2016)

Xavier

JR RHP Jacob Bodner
rSO RHP Adam Hall
rSR RHP Vinny Nittoli
JR LHP Alex Westrick
rSR OF Mitch Elliot
rJR 1B/OF Brian Bruening
SR 2B Selby Chidemo
JR C Derek Hasenbeck
JR 1B/OF Joe Forney
rSR 3B Stephen Schoettmer
rFR 3B Andre Jernigan (2015)

2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: Big East

This may be a lean week because of some real life — well, as “real” as grad school can be — paper writing that needs to be done. 2,000+ words about the Big East will have to suffice until then.

  • Bold = locks to be drafted
  • Italics = definite maybes
  • Underlined = possible risers
  • Plain text = long shots

C

  • Pittsburgh SO C Elvin Soto
  • Louisville JR C Kyle Gibson
  • Rutgers SR C Jeff Melillo
  • St. John’s JR C Frank Schwindel
  • St. John’s SR C Danny Bethea
  • Louisville SR C Matt Helms

Elvin Soto’s arm, hands, upside as a defender, and untapped potential at the plate — big things are expected, but worth noting he hit .236/.302/.384 in 216 freshman ABs — could propel him into the discussion as one of this year’s draft few college catchers with big league starter upside. I’m not quite there, but that’s more my issue with his general profile (plus arm, intriguing power, questionable plate discipline) than him as an individual prospect. In fact, I actually initially had him lower than Kyle Gibson. Gibson is a decent upside sleeper play thanks to outstanding athleticism, above-average speed, and a strong arm. There’s still some improvement needed in his defense behind the dish, but you can see that he has the tools to work himself into a dependable backstop in time. I think guys like Gibson (i.e. athletic with a mature approach to hitting) profile better as big league backups than the all-or-nothing power/arm types. Could just be my recent Phillies fandom bias kicking in: love Carlos Ruiz, couldn’t stand Rod Barajas.

The ACC draft preview goes up next, so the comparison of Jeff Melillo to Duke’s Jeff Kremer should make more sense then. I like both guys as mid-round catchers worth stashing in the minors as insurance to your more highly regarded catching prospects. After four, five, even six years of minor league time go by, you suddenly find yourself in possession of a competent catcher who can get on base a bit and is universally well-liked by pitchers. Frank Schwindel (.322/.350/416 in 202 AB) may not have the defensive chops to stay a catcher in pro ball; if that’s the case, slot him in between Gardner and Anderson on the first base list.

1B

  • Notre Dame JR 1B Eric Jagielo
  • Notre Dame JR 1B Trey Mancini
  • Cincinnati JR 1B Justin Glass
  • Louisville SR 1B Zak Wasserman
  • Louisville JR 1B Jeff Gardner
  • Georgetown JR 1B Steve Anderson
  • South Florida SR 1B Jimmy Falla

My one scheduling regret this spring is not getting a chance to see Notre Dame, a team that plays Villanova in South Bend and not nearby in Plymouth Meeting, PA in 2013. Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini alone are well worth making a trek to see the Fighting Irish if you get the chance. Both look the part of potential middle-of-the-order thumpers. Jagielo, whom I’ve knocked down to 1B despite the fact many believe he can play at least a passable 3B, is the marquee attraction right now, but it wouldn’t stun me to see Mancini overtake him as a prospect. Alright, fine, it would be a pretty big shocker…I just wanted to say something controversial for a change. I forget who made the initial comp, but I really like the hitting comparison between Jagielo and Mike Olt. Mancini is more of a prototypical first baseman (a rock solid 6-5, 225 pounds), but both guys are above-average athletes with substantial raw power and impressive plate discipline. I’ve started putting together positional lists of all the conferences I’ve profiled so far, and Jagielo and Mancini are tentatively 1-2 on the rankings, ahead of names like DJ Peterson and Daniel Palka (again, ACC preview coming soon!).

Justin Glass is stuck being the third wheel in this group, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a viable 2013 prospect in his own right. His raw power — emphasis on raw — is on par with any hitter in the conference, Jagielo and Mancini included. If his arm was 100% healthy and a team believed he could handle LF, then Glass’ draft stock should get a nice shot in the arm. The two Louisville guys are interesting, as well: Wasserman is a big man with power befitting his 6-6, 240 pound frame and Gardner’s experience behind the plate and in the outfield could help him with teams looking for a mid-round pick with positional versatility. I’m also impressed with Jimmy Falla, a player who manages to contribute to a college baseball team while moonlighting as the host of a late night talk show.

2B

  • Connecticut SR 2B LJ Mazzilli
  • Louisville JR 2B Ty Young
  • Louisville SR 2B Nick Ratajczak
  • Villanova rSR 2B Tyler Sciacca
  • Georgetown SR 2B Corbin Blakey

LJ Mazzilli’s curious slide down the draft board last year — signability concerns fully acknowledged — makes me hesitant to champion his cause once again, but there’s something about the guy I like. Could be the impressive for a college second baseman tools package (more than enough speed, pop, and contact ability), could be his consistent production (.375/.425/.535 in 2011, .389/.451/.619 in 2012), could be his much improved (in my personal view) defense. I’m pretty loyal to prospects I like, so don’t act shocked when I spend another few months championing the cause of Mazzilli, a future big leaguer in my book. He finished sixth in the college second base rankings last year, and he’s currently second (keep in mind I’ve only been through a dozen or so conferences thus far) only to Lonnie Kauppila. Not bad. Here are a few things I’ve written on Mazzilli over the years:

150. Connecticut JR 2B LJ Mazzilli: above-average speed; good athlete; chance to be really good defender, but isn’t quite there yet – still think he’s better than many of the national outlets are reporting, but I get that there’s plenty of wiggle room in player evaluation; no discernible platoon split; 6-1, 190 pounds; I’ve long championed Mazzilli as a potential big league starting second baseman, so I might as well ride it out: Really impressed by 2B LJ Mazzilli‘s swing and approach at the plate. He has a little toe-tap timing mechanism that reminds me a little bit of Mark Reynolds’ swing, only without the swing-and-miss length. Good speed, good athleticism, and good hands should keep him up the middle, and a little physical maturation at the plate could help turn him into one of those super annoying scrappy middle infielders we all know and love (or hate, depending on the player).

Really impressed by SO 2B LJ Mazzilli‘s swing and approach at the plate. He has a little toe-tap timing mechanism that reminds me a little bit of Mark Reynolds’ swing, only without the swing-and-miss length. Good speed, good athleticism, and good hands should keep him up the middle, and a little physical maturation at the plate could help turn him into one of those super annoying scrappy middle infielders we all know and love (or hate, depending on the player).

The Louisville duo — you see how deep that squad is this year in the way they have multiple guys at seemingly every position…and that’s with no mention of the 2014’s and 2015’s coming up through the pipeline — is impressive from the outside looking in. Ty Young is the tools guy (speed, versatility, sneaky pop) with upside while Nick Ratajczak is the steady, sure-handed defender who posted eye-catching plate discipline numbers last year (28 BB/9 K in 245 AB). Funny that their names match up with their scouting profiles, at least as far as I’m concerned: “Ty Young” sounds like he should have a little flash to his game and “Nick Ratajczak” just feels hard working and dependable. Or maybe I’m just a crazy person. I’m excited to see more of Tyler Sciacca this year, especially after reviewing my notes on him from the handful of times I saw him in person last season. He was definitely a player that grew on me as the season progressed.

3B

  • Seton Hall JR 3B Chris Selden
  • St. John’s SR 3B Sean O’Hare
  • Cincinnati JR 3B Matt Williams
  • Pittsburgh SR 3B Sam Parente

My notes on the quartet above are quite sparse — out of the four I only have enough info on Selden to draw any conclusions about his game — but I’ve heard enough generally positive things (e.g. “He doesn’t stink”) combined with what we know about the college production of each — it ranges from passable (Parente, Williams, Selden) to not too bad at all (O’Hare) — to include the names you see above. That right there is a sentence that makes me feel guilty to all who helped me learn to read and write. Chris Selden has the most to prove of the group — he only had 46 AB last year — but brings the most in the way of physical projection to the table.

SS

  • Rutgers JR SS Nick Favatella
  • Louisville JR SS Alex Chittenden
  • Connecticut JR SS Tom Verdi
  • Seton Hall SR SS Giuseppe Papaccio
  • Pittsburgh SR SS Evan Oswald

Like the third base bunch above, there’s not a lot of information on my end when it comes to these Big East shortstops. Nick Favatella’s production is what stood out for me: .317/.408/.407 in 2011, .342/.424/.491 in 2012 (42 BB/64 K in just under 400 combined AB). I’d venture Alex Chittenden or Tom Verdi will emerge as most scouts’ favorite of the group, but I’m still on the fence on Chittenden’s long-term defensive forecast. Some might be more optimistic and call that impressive defensive versatility (SS/2B/3B), so far be from me to be the bearer of pessimistic spin. Verdi has an interesting pop/speed combo that makes him a worthwhile follow this spring.

OF

  • South Florida JR OF James Ramsay
  • Louisville JR OF Adam Engel
  • Connecticut rSR OF Billy Ferriter
  • Louisville JR OF Cole Sturgeon
  • Pittsburgh JR OF Casey Roche
  • Louisville JR OF Coco Johnson
  • Georgetown SR OF Justin Leeson
  • South Florida rSR OF Alex Mendez
  • Rutgers JR OF Brian O’Grady
  • Seton Hall JR OF Zach Granite
  • Pittsburgh JR OF Stephen Vranka
  • Notre Dame SR OF Charlie Markson
  • Seton Hall SR OF Ryan Sullivan
  • Villanova SR OF Paul Rambaud
  • St. John’s SR OF Jimmy Brennan
  • South Florida SR OF Chad Taylor
  • Villanova JR OF Connor Jones

My guy in Florida raves about James Ramsay’s upside, so he made for an easy choice in the top spot in what appears to be a lackluster group of Big East outfielder talent. Ramsay looks like the only guy you’d draft with the hopes of getting an everyday player, so you’re left looking at flawed prospects who can excel enough in certain areas of their game the rest of the way down. Adam Engel’s speed/instincts (his 38/40 SB mark from last year is as good as I’ve noticed so far), athleticism, and exciting CF range allow him to hold up his end of the bargain. Billy Ferriter, a favorite going on three draft years now, offers a similar, if less “center field-y,” profile. Cole Sturgeon is actually a better direct comparison to Ferriter (above-average speed, potential to be quite good in a corner, flashes of pop/patience at the plate), though there are teams that might put him back on the mound. Same could be said for Alex Mendez, a guy who once sat in the low-90s coming from the left side in high school. Casey Roche is well-rounded, Coco Johnson is fast, and Justin Leeson’s catching past may appeal to teams willing act a little unconventionally.

P

  • Louisville JR RHP Jeff Thompson
  • South Florida JR LHP Nick Gonzalez
  • Pittsburgh JR RHP Matt Wotherspoon
  • Notre Dame JR RHP Dan Slania
  • Villanova JR RHP Pat Young
  • Louisville JR RHP Dace Kime
  • Notre Dame JR RHP Donald Hissa
  • Pittsburgh JR RHP Ethan Mildren
  • St. John’s rJR RHP James Lomangino
  • Louisville JR RHP Chad Green
  • Pittsburgh rSO RHP Joe Harvey
  • Seton Hall SR RHP Jon Prosinski
  • Connecticut JR LHP Brian Ward
  • Cincinnati rJR RHP Christian McElroy
  • Notre Dame JR RHP Cristian Torres
  • St. John’s SR RHP Anthony Cervone
  • Connecticut SR RHP Pat Butler
  • Louisville rSO LHP Kyle McGrath
  • St. John’s SR RHP Jerome Werniuk
  • Rutgers rJR RHP Charlie Law
  • Connecticut SR RHP Ryan Moore
  • Seton Hall JR RHP Brian Gilbert
  • Seton Hall SR RHP Frank Morris
  • St. John’s SR LHP Sean Hagan
  • Rutgers SR LHP Rob Smorol
  • Rutgers SR RHP Tyler Gebler
  • Connecticut JR LHP Anthony Marzi
  • Cincinnati SR LHP Thomas Gentile
  • Notre Dame JR RHP Sean Fitzgerald
  • Louisville JR LHP Cody Ege
  • Connecticut rSO LHP David Mahoney
  • South Florida SR RHP Joe Lovecchio
  • Notre Dame SR RHP Pat Veerkamp
  • Rutgers SR LHP Rob Corsi
  • South Florida JR LHP Nolan Thomas
  • South Florida JR RHP Alex Vetter
  • Pittsburgh rJR RHP JR Leonardi
  • Seton Hall SR LHP Rick Mangione
  • Cincinnati SR RHP Andrew Strenge
  • Connecticut SR RHP Dan Feehan
  • Rutgers SR RHP Jerry Elsing
  • Cincinnati rSO RHP Matt Ring
  • Georgetown SR RHP Charles Steinman
  • Connecticut rSO RHP Carson Cross
  • Villanova JR LHP Matt Meurer
  • Pittsburgh SR LHP Alex Caravella
  • Villanova SR RHP Kevin MacLachlan
  • Villanova JR RHP Matt Lengel
  • Notre Dame SR RHP Adam Norton
  • Connecticut rSR RHP Will Jolin
  • Georgetown SR RHP James Heine
  • Rutgers SR RHP Pat O’Leary
  • Seton Hall SR LHP Greg Terhune
  • Villanova SR RHP Stephen Ostapeck
  • Georgetown JR RHP Alex Baker

I’d describe the Big East’s group of 2013 pitching talent as good, not great. There’s plenty of size — Thompson is 6-6, 250; Gonzalez is 6-4, 220; Young is 6-7, 210; Kime is 6-5, 220 — but not much in the way of arms likely to ever crack a big league rotation. The biggest — and best, for many — pitcher in the conference is Dan Slania. Slania has gotten a lot of love, but my reluctance to promote jumbo-sized (6-5, 275 pounds) relievers without a knockout breaking ball — again, those who love him disagree with me there —  has me lower on him than the majority. I’ve heard the Jonathan Broxton comp, but I think the better point of comparison is Matt Capps. Good prospect, no doubt, but not the potential first day guy I’ve heard others calling him.

Jeff Thompson has the best shot to start in pro ball — 88-92 FB with sink, occasional plus low-80s SL, steady low-80s CU, significant athleticism, strong college track record — so that’s why he’s tops on the list. Pretty simple, really. Nick Gonzalez is a lump of lefthanded clay that I easily envision a pro team taking a chance on earlier than anybody is currently ready to admit. Matt Wotherspoon is underrated and I’m not quite sure why: he can get it up to 93/94/95, flashes a plus breaking ball, and has incorporated a changeup with promise to his repertoire  all while putting up strong numbers (8.38 K/9 in 91.1 IP last season) as the workhorse of the Pittsburgh pitching staff. Nothing about that is flashy, I suppose, but it does sound like a guy who could make a strong mark as an above-average big league reliever, at worst. Putting Pat Young fifth on this list may look silly by June. He’s already getting plenty of buzz from the smart fellows at Baseball America and now finds himself in a great position to fly up draft boards. Incidentally, I mistyped his name initially as “Pay Young.” Soon enough. I’ll be seeing him a ton this spring.

Early 2012 MLB Draft Rankings: Big East Pitchers and Hitters

More lists! More rankings! That’s the bad news. The good news is I’m finally totally 100% done all of my prep work on this year’s college class. Lists have allowed me to buy some time while I sorted through all of the old notes I had, but now I’m ready for something bigger and (hopefully!) better. Henceforth, content will not be all lists all the time. Sure, there will still be lists from time to time, but the stream of never-ending lists without commentary is over.

The Big East is short on hitting and relatively deep on pitching. If, say, 40 players were drafted from the conference this summer (a very, very generous number), then I wouldn’t be shocked if the breakdown was close to 30 pitchers to 10 hitters. As mentioned, however, the depth of the pitching class is relative to the overall weakness of the conference (note: I’m talking prospects only, not quality of college play). It is extremely possible that there won’t be a single big league starting pitching prospect to come out of the Big East in 2012.

It’s also probably worth mentioning that one of the conference’s best prospects no longer actually plays in the conference. Louisburg JC SO 3B Steve Nyisztor, formerly of Rutgers, would be a slam dunk top three position player on the ranking if he had remained in the Big East. He has all the defensive tools to eventually succeed at third base, and his power upside, athleticism, and speed are all average or better. I worry a little about his pitch recognition and overly aggressive approach, but the raw tools are intriguing. So far at Louisburg, he’s hitting .400 with 4 homers and 4 doubles in 55 at bats. There’s been some inconsistency in the field (12 errors in 14 games, yikes), but that is no cause for alarm considering he’s playing at a spot (shortstop) he almost certainly won’t see as a pro. I’d probably slot him between Mazzilli and Baltz in the number two spot, but I’d understand an argument for him either above or behind both guys.

Pitchers

  1. St. John’s JR RHP Kyle Hansen
  2. St. John’s JR RHP Matt Carasiti
  3. Louisville JR RHP Matt Koch
  4. Louisville JR RHP Justin Amlung
  5. Louisville JR RHP Andy Flett
  6. Rutgers rSO RHP Charlie Law
  7. Seton Hall JR RHP Ryan Harvey
  8. St. John’s JR RHP Jerome Werniuk
  9. St. John’s JR RHP Anthony Cervone
  10. Cincinnati JR RHP Zach Isler
  11. Seton Hall JR RHP Frank Morris
  12. South Florida SR LHP Andrew Barbosa
  13. Connecticut SR RHP David Fischer
  14. Rutgers JR LHP Rob Smorol
  15. Louisville SR RHP Travis Tingle
  16. Louisville SO RHP Chad Green
  17. South Florida rSO RHP Austin Adams
  18. South Florida rSR RHP Derrick Stultz
  19. Connecticut JR RHP/OF Ryan Moore
  20. Louisville SR RHP Derek Self
  21. South Florida rSO RHP Ray Delphey
  22. Connecticut SR RHP Scott Oberg
  23. South Florida JR RHP Joe Lovecchio
  24. Connecticut JR RHP Pat Butler
  25. Notre Dame SR LHP Joe Spano
  26. St. John’s JR LHP Sean Hagan
  27. Rutgers JR LHP Rob Corsi
  28. Rutgers RHP Tyler Gebler
  29. St. John’s SR RHP Kevin Kilpatrick
  30. Notre Dame JR RHP Pat Veerkamp

Hitters

  1. Connecticut JR 2B LJ Mazzilli
  2. St. John’s JR OF Jeremy Baltz
  3. St. John’s rSO OF Kevin Grove
  4. St. John’s SR 2B/SS Matt Wessinger
  5. Connecticut SR 3B Ryan Fuller
  6. Louisville JR 1B/LHP Zak Wasserman
  7. Georgetown SR OF Rand Ravnaas
  8. South Florida SR 1B/OF Todd Brazeal
  9. Connecticut rJR OF Billy Ferriter
  10. Louisville SR OF Stewart Ijames
  11. West Virginia JR OF Brady Wilson
  12. Cincinnati SR 2B TJ Jones
  13. South Florida rJR OF Alex Mendez
  14. West Virginia rSR 3B Dan DiBartolomeo
  15. Notre Dame JR C Joe Hudson
  16. Cincinnati JR OF Jake Proctor
  17. Connecticut rSR C Joe Pavone
  18. Connecticut SR 3B Tim Martin
  19. Cincinnati SR C/OF Braden Kline
  20. West Virginia rSO OF Matt Frazer

2012 MLB Draft: Who Will Be Drafted? Big East Edition

The Big East had 40 players drafted in last year’s draft. Don’t be thrown off by the incorrect headline (“BIG EAST Sets Record with 41 Players Taken in MLB First-Year Player Draft”) like I was. I counted, and it’s definitely 40. It will be an uphill battle to reach that number in 2012. Below are 35 names that I’m feeling fairly confident will be in the mix this June. Don’t think there are any super controversial names on the list, but flame away if there is anybody you think should be there that isn’t or shouldn’t be there that is.

Catchers

Notre Dame JR C Joe Hudson

Connecticut rSR C Joe Pavone

First Basemen

South Florida SR 1B/OF Todd Brazeal

Second Basemen

Connecticut JR 2B LJ Mazzilli

St. John’s SR 2B/SS Matt Wessinger

Shortstops

Maybe in 2013…

Third Basemen

Connecticut SR 3B Ryan Fuller

Outfielders

St. John’s JR OF Jeremy Baltz

St. John’s rSO OF Kevin Grove

Georgetown SR OF Rand Ravnaas

Connecticut rJR OF Billy Ferriter

Louisville SR OF Stewart Ijames

West Virginia JR OF Brady Wilson

Pitchers

St. John’s JR RHP Kyle Hansen

St. John’s JR RHP Matt Carasiti

Louisville JR RHP Matt Koch

Louisville JR RHP Justin Amlung

Louisville JR RHP Andy Flett

Rutgers rSO RHP Charlie Law

Seton Hall JR RHP Ryan Harvey

St. John’s JR RHP Jerome Werniuk

St. John’s JR RHP Anthony Cervone

Cincinnati JR RHP Zach Isler

Seton Hall JR RHP Frank Morris

Connecticut SR RHP David Fischer

Rutgers JR LHP Rob Smorol

Louisville SR RHP Travis Tingle

South Florida SR LHP Andrew Barbosa

Louisville SO RHP Chad Green

Connecticut JR RHP Ryan Moore

Louisville SR RHP Derek Self

South Florida rSO RHP Ray Delphey

Connecticut SR RHP Scott Oberg

South Florida rSR RHP Derrick Stultz

South Florida rSO RHP Austin Adams

South Florida JR RHP Joe Lovecchio

And here are some other names (17 to be exact) to stored away somewhere deep in the recesses of your baseball loving brains…

Catchers

Cincinnati SR C/OF Braden Kline

First Basemen

Louisville JR 1B/LHP Zak Wasserman

Second Basemen

Cincinnati SR 2B TJ Jones

Shortstops

Villanova SR SS Marlon Calbi

Third Basemen

West Virginia rSR 3B Dan DiBartolomeo

Outfielders

South Florida rJR OF Alex Mendez

Cincinnati JR OF Jake Proctor

West Virginia rSO OF Matt Frazer

Pitchers

Notre Dame SR LHP Joe Spano

Rutgers JR LHP Rob Corsi

Connecticut JR RHP Pat Butler

Rutgers RHP Tyler Gebler

St. John’s SR RHP Kevin Kilpatrick

Notre Dame SR LHP Steve Sabatino

Notre Dame JR RHP Pat Veerkamp

St. John’s JR LHP Sean Hagan

Seton Hall JR RHP Jon Prosinski

2012 MLB Draft All-Big East Prospect Team

The best prospect at each position is featured in our “everyday eight.” The “starting rotation” is made up of pitchers who are all lumped together in one bit lefty/righty/starter/reliever mess. For the “bench,” we tried to follow the guideline of at least one backup catcher, a backup middle infielder (or two), a backup corner infielder (or two), and at least one reserve outfielder (though typically two). Remaining spots went to the best available pitching prospects who are no doubt thrilled to be a part of our “bullpen.” Add it all up and we should have a 25-man roster of interesting 2012 MLB Draft Prospects from the Big East.

Everyday Eight

Notre Dame JR C Joe Hudson

Hudson gets the slightest of edge over the similarly talented C Joe Pavone (Connecticut). I admit that the fifth-year senior Pavone might be the safer bet to be drafted based while Hudson will likely wind up as a 2013 senior sign assuming his bat didn’t transform over this past offseason. Both players profile as defensive-first organizational catchers. These are the types of prospects that you draft knowing that you need somebody capable of helping along young pitching prospects. Deep down, however, there is no shame in hoping that your late-round defensive-first catcher might show enough pop to someday pop up as a viable third catcher worth stashing in AAA.

Louisville JR 1B Zak Wasserman

Wasserman hasn’t done much at Louisville yet (after park/schedule adjustments, he barely slugged his weight in 2011), but his big raw power and pro frame make him the best of an uninspiring group of Big East power hitters.

Connecticut JR 2B LJ Mazzilli

Spoiler alert: Mazzilli isn’t just the best Big East second base prospect, but the best overall position player prospect in the entire conference. His speed, athleticism, and defense all have stood out as I’ve watched him grow in a big way as a hitter over the past two seasons.

Villanova SR SS Marlon Calbi

There’s simply nothing in the way of interesting Big East shortstop prospects this year. Calbi’s strong 2011 season gives him the nod, but he’s really not a viable pro prospect at this point. I debated on cheating and putting St. John’s SR 2B Matt Wessinger at shortstop, where he’s played some in the past, but left him on the bench in favor of the truer shortstop in Calbi.

Connecticut SR 3B Ryan Fuller

Like the man chosen to stand to his left on this fictional team of 2012 prospects, Fuller isn’t a pro prospect in any traditional sense of the term. He does stand a better chance to be drafted due in large part to his athleticism and just enough pop and speed to intrigue as a fill out the roster kind of late round pick.

St. John’s JR OF Jeremy Baltz

St. John’s rSO OF Kevin Grove

Georgetown SR OF Rand Ravnaas

Much has been written about Baltz by the experts already, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. As a corner outfield prospect with little in the way of tools besides his bat, he’ll need to hit a ton as a pro if he ever wants a shot at regular playing time. It is probably worth nothing that I was impressed last year (in an admittedly quick viewing) with his non-hit tools, so much so that I came away thinking he’s universally underrated both as an athlete and as a defender in left. That’s not to say anything but the bat will ever get him in the lineup, and I would never say he’s good at anything but hitting baseballs, but he’s not a total slug out there, either. Grove is under the radar as a redshirt sophomore who has legit pro power and enough ability in a few other areas (average runner, strong enough arm) that he could develop into an interesting draft with more at bats. Ravnaas is more solid college outfielder than intriguing pro prospect, but his skill set is well-rounded and his production has been consistently strong. A more refined approach, especially with two strikes, might be too much to ask at this point for the senior, but a little less aggression (or, more aptly, better controlled aggression) would go a long way.

Bench 

Connecticut rSR C Joe Pavone

The aforementioned Pavone gets a spot on the bench as the Big East’s second best catching prospect thanks to his steady defensive work behind the plate.

South Florida SR 1B/OF Todd Brazeal

Brazeal, an eighth-year senior for the Bulls, has always intrigued with the hit tool, but has never been able to reign in his long swing enough to make consistent enough contact to succeed. Positional versatility (1B, OF, and 3B are all on his resume) could get him drafted, as could his well-earned reputation of being a great teammate and hard worker. Never hurts to fill out low minors rosters with guys like Brazeal.

St. John’s SR 2B/SS Matt Wessinger

Wessinger is a nice college infielder who does enough well across the board to get a look by pro teams in the market for a mid- to late-round senior sign. He’s more second baseman than shortstop, but can handle the left side of the infield well enough in a pinch to profile as a utility guy in a perfect world.

West Virginia rSR 3B Dan DiBartolomeo

DiBartolomeo is another highly productive player who feels like he’s been in college for the better part of a decade now. He fits in nicely on a roster full of high makeup, grinder college players who don’t necessarily project for much in the pros. Still a fun player to watch, though.

Connecticut rJR OF Billy Ferriter

Louisville SR OF/LHP Stewart Ijames

Ferriter and Ijames: two long-time favorites that I’m very close to admitting defeat on. Ferriter can run, defend, and handle the bat, but will need to clean up his approach in a big way if he hopes to make it in pro ball. Ijames has been my guy going on three years now; unfortunately, it is time to face the music and admit he’s more of a college standout than a pro prospect. I’ll always appreciate his solid approach, strong arm, and power to the gaps, but if it hasn’t all come together by now, I’m not sure it ever will. Even if Ijames puts together a big final season for the Cardinals and gets drafted higher than I think this June, he’ll still face the daunting challenge of being one of the few players — I can think of none off the top of my head — that have turned 24 during their first pro season and then went on to big league success.

Starting Rotation

St. John’s JR RHP Kyle Hansen 

St. John’s JR RHP Matt Carasiti 

Louisville JR RHP Matt Koch

Louisville JR RHP Justin Amlung 

Louisville JR RHP Andy Flett 

The Big East is deep in pitching, but lacks the type of early round impact talent that tends to get a conference noticed early on in the season. The depth of talent will change that as the season moves along. Heading up our rotation is the big righthander from St. John’s, Kyle Hansen. Hansen has the three pitches needed to start professionally (low-90s FB that peaks at 94-96, a consistently average low-80s SL that flashes plus, especially when thrown harder, and a raw low-80s CU that has gotten much better since his high school days) and should get the chance to do exactly that, despite what some have said about his delivery being better suited for the bullpen. His teammate Carasiti joins him in our “rotation,” but there is little doubt his pro future is as a reliever. He’s got the heavy hard fastball, good upper-70s slider, and emerging splitter to profile as a fine middle reliever in the big leagues.

The two St. John’s pitchers are joined by our trio of Cardinals. Matt Koch is another reliever all the way. He has similar stuff when compared to Carasiti (arguably a better fastball, though I prefer Carasiti’s slightly slower but more difficult to square up offering), but loses out due to a slightly less exciting overall repertoire (Koch is FB/SL all the way) and less flashes of collegiate dominance. Amlung’s on the border between starter and reliever. He throws four pitches for strikes, but might be best off if he streamlined his arsenal and stuck with his two best pitches, a good sinking fastball and a tight low-80s slider. Flett is a personal favorite who succeeds in large part due to superior fastball command and a good mid-70s curveball. There’s still some projection left in his 6-7, 185 pound frame, so envisioning a future where his low-90s fastball (mostly 90-93) picks up a few ticks isn’t exactly out of line.

My only regret here is leaving off the slew of interesting pitchers for South Florida. Seriously, any one of just about any arm on their staff could have been included. Andrew Barbosa, Ray Delphey, Derrick Stulz, Austin Adams, Trey Dahl (who I recently noticed was no longer listed on the 2012 roster), and Joe Lovecchio are all firmly in the mix to be drafted in 2012, but I’m in a little bit of a continued wait and see mode due to many of their arms having questionable health backgrounds heading into this year. So far, so good for many of the hurlers, both in terms of good health and production. The combined numbers of Stultz, Adams, Delphey, and Lovecchio so far (3-0 record): 24 IP 28 K 10 BB 19 H 3 ER.

The Bullpen

Rutgers rSO RHP Charlie Law 

Seton Hall JR RHP Ryan Harvey

St. John’s JR RHP Jerome Werniuk

St. John’s JR RHP Anthony Cervone                                                                                  

Cincinnati JR RHP Zach Isler

Seton Hall JR RHP Frank Morris

St. John’s is heavily represented in both the rotation and the bullpen on this squad. Charlie Law has been on the radar long enough that it is hard to call him a sleeper, but injuries and erratic command have some forgetting about how solid his three-pitch mix is when on. Werniuk is somewhat similar as another bigger guy (6-5, 210 pounds to Law’s 6-7, 235) with a history of trouble throwing strikes. You could say the same thing about Cervone, come to think of it. Ryan Harvey’s big 2011 season (park/schedule adjusted 15.11 K/9 in 44.2 IP) was more impressive than his raw stuff (upper-80s fastball, plus slider) indicates, but, as you can read, it isn’t like his stuff is bad. His teammate Frank Morris joins him as an athletic projection peak capable of hitting 93-94 with his fastball. Finally, we have Cincinnati’s Zach Isler. Isler is the kind of guy the bullpens were designed for. His stuff isn’t particularly exciting when stretched out over longer appearances, but in short bursts he can let it fly with a fastball hitting 94-95 and an above-average low-80s slider.