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2017 Big Ten All-Draft Team (Hitters)

First Team

C – Matt Byars
1B – Alex Troop
2B – Mason McCoy
SS – Kevin Smith
3B – Luke Miller
OF – Zach Jancarski, Miles Lewis, Brandon Hughes

Second Team

C – Harrison Wenson
1B – Drew Lugbauer
2B – Dan Durkin
SS – Jalen Washington
3B – Micah Coffey
OF – Mike Carter, Tre’ Gantt, Logan Sowers

Matt Byars is the kind of senior-sign catching prospect I like. His is a defense forward profile (plus arm, well above-average mobility behind the plate, strong feel for the rhythms of the game) with enough offensive upside (average raw power, back-to-back solid years of production) to give you something at the plate. Harrison Wenson isn’t that far behind, but buying on him takes more of a leap of faith with both his glove and his approach. The power and arm strength are both legit. A friend compared him to a budget version of current Phillies catcher and 2010 third round pick Cameron Rupp. Their college numbers to date…

.246/.325/.439 with 27.0 K% and 8.0 BB%
.302/.385/.489 with 20.7 K% and 10.3 BB%

Wenson on top, Rupp on bottom. I’d say stylistically it holds up, but that’s about it. Both are big, strong old school catchers known more for raw power and arm strength than graceful movements or soft hands behind the dish. Rupp was and is a much better player, though. I’m not in love with this as a comparison, but it came from somebody smart so figured there’s no harming sending it along. I personally disagree with it — though, again, if you’re just trying to close your eyes and picture what Wenson looks like it’s not a terrible proxy — so feel free to do the same. Or not. It’s a free country…for now. Political hot take!

Every last person I’ve talked to this spring has told me in no uncertain terms I’m nuts for preferring Alex Troop as a hitter rather than a pitcher. I give up. While I still think Troop has a fine future as a position player — enough so that ranking him atop his position here was a no-brainer for me — at some point the consensus broke me. I don’t think it’s going with the herd just to do it; as much as I try to remain independent and unmoved by others (within reason) in my prospect views, there are occasionally times when I can admit that maybe I’ve gone a little too far. When everybody thinks you are nuts, it’s possible that they are wrong and you’re right…but it’s also possible they know things you don’t, you learn from it, and you adjust your views accordingly. That’s where I’m at with Troop. I think he’s a wonderful college hitter with the chance to be an average or better regular at first or in an outfield corner in pro ball, but his value on the mound is too great to ignore. His changeup alone makes keeping him pitching a good idea. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s got imposing size (6-5, 210 pounds), room to add to his fastball (86-92 MPH presently), a usable breaker, and a nice mix of performance (almost a strikeout per inning this year) and projection (that size, his two-way pedigree, and cold weather background all point to better days ahead).

Beyond two-way star Troop, there are plenty of truer first base options in the Big 10. The first name to jump out is Drew Lugbauer, a somewhat ironic mention considering the argument to be made about him not being a “true first base” option either. Lugbauer, experienced at both catcher and third base in addition to first, has been one of the more confounding players in this class for me. I’ve yet to get to the point where I’m comfortable locking him in to a long-term defensive spot. Some say he can catch, some think he’s a first baseman only, and others think he could hang as a four-corners style utility player. I have no idea, so, erring on the side of caution (and siding with the most vocal group of outside opinions), he slots into first base on these lists. It goes without saying that Lugbauer is a whole lot more interesting as a catcher or multi-position threat, but there’s at least a glimmer of a chance his bat plays at first as is. His plus to arguably plus-plus raw power is enough to rank him among the top handful of college players in this class and his strength to all fields is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed to teams that preach that type of hitting approach.

Right there with Lugbauer is Jake Adams. The big righty has monster raw power, above-average athleticism around the bag, and questions to answer about his propensity for swinging and missing. All in all, it’s a tantalizing mid-round profile with more than enough upside to justify the downside of a 30ish K% guy who doesn’t get out of High-A. I’m in.

Any of the first basemen beyond these three are draftable talents depending on what you like, but in the interest of time we’ll hone in on just one more. Nebraska’s Scott Schreiber is a really interesting player who could wind up a steal for a team with a long memory. Schreiber’s 2017 hasn’t been great — an admittedly odd thing to say for a guy hitting .325, but his power and approach have both gone south after a breakout sophomore season — so teams that saw him at his best previously could be rewarded by his plus raw power, strong arm, and potential positional versatility (outfield corners are both an option). He’s behind a few other guys at the moment, but with a far enough slide on draft day he could wind up a really slick value.

I’m a little surprised that I didn’t write about Mason McCoy last year. Could have something to do with him just having a decent first year at Iowa, but, regardless, he’s my kind of player. There’s nothing particularly flashy about McCoy’s game — average hit tool, average or better speed, average at best arm — but he’s, pardon the term, a gamer who gets the most out of his tools. It’s a strong utility profile that I think will play at the next level, though I’d be a little concerned about the arm being a touch short for the left side. Beyond that, McCoy can hold his own.

If you know what to make of Kevin Smith these days, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Scouts who know things (or think they know things, which is really all any of us can claim in this line of work) won’t shut up about the guy. Everybody seemed to love him after a great freshman season (sure, I could see that), more or less stayed on the bandwagon after a solid if concerning sophomore season (that 16 BB/49 K red flag was a bit too bright for me), and then fell back in love harder than ever after his successful (but still concerning) turn on the Cape this past summer. So what do the scouts see in Smith, a player that I have in my notes as “deeply polarizing” among those I’ve spoken to, that the numbers may not pick up? For starters, he’s a rock solid defender at shortstop with easy above-average range and sure hands that allow him to make damn near every play hit near him. He’s got enough arm to handle throws deep in the hole and athleticism to get to them in the first place. That strong defensive foundation makes him a worthwhile follow off the bat. He becomes even more interesting once you factor in his true above-average raw power, a rarity for a middle infielder at the amateur level even in the age of tool inflation (something I’m guilty of, I admit).

It’s the approach that kills me. I’ve spoken a few times about hitters that scouts believe will turn their underwhelming BB/K numbers around with continued reps. That’s Smith. His reputation as a hitter is very strong, and the vast majority of feedback I’ve received on him as been positive. “He’ll figure it out,” is a familiar refrain. Maybe. I bought into it with Kyle Lewis last year, but Smith’s track record is tough to ignore. Even his star turn on the Cape came with an overall 9 BB/39 K disclaimer.

Whenever I stumped on player like I am with Smith, I like to turn to my old familiar (unpopular) friend: Mr. Comp. Check out a couple of college lines…

.265/.333/.443 with 16.9 K% and 7.9 BB%
.310/.367/.473 with 9.5 K% and 7.2 BB%

Top is Smith (so far), bottom is Zack Cozart at Mississippi. Cozart is the name that has been mentioned by Baseball America as a point of comparison for Smith in the past. Pretty good comp, I think. Tools line up fairly well and production isn’t completely off the mark. Cozart went to Cincinnati with pick 79 in 2007. I’ll offer a potential high-end comparison for Smith that I like a lot…

.265/.333/.443 with 16.9 K% and 7.9 BB%
.285/.367/.428 with 14.8 K% and 11.3 BB%

Top is still Smith, bottom is now Marcus Semien at Cal. I think Semien is the kind of hitter that Smith can be at his best. Semien fell to to the sixth round in 2011. I think Smith has too many fans to drop that far this year, but stranger things have happened. The closest stylistic and statistical comp I found was this one…

.265/.333/.443 with 16.9 K% and 7.9 BB%
.303/.391/.458 with 17.2 K% and 8.6 BB%

Top remains Smith, bottom is this guy per Baseball America’s pre-draft scouting report

Defensively, his range is fair and his glove work is unorthodox, but he does possess a strong arm. While he handled shortstop well for Team USA last summer, Espinosa is not a pure shortstop and may be better suited to second base or as a utility player. His intelligent and aggressive baserunning masks raw speed that is only average. A switch-hitter, Espinosa has always been stronger from his natural right side, but improved from the left this year. He takes a wicked cut at anything close, and when he squares a pitch up he can produce screaming drives to all fields. Most scouts want to see more plate discipline and patience from Espinosa, who’s considered a streak hitter. His lack of overwhelming tools will keep him out of the first two rounds, but he has a lot of attributes scouts love, including the knack to make those around him better.

I was going to redact the name and make it a big unveil here, but what’s a couple of centimeters of suspense (less on mobile, I’d assume) really worth? So the mystery guy is Danny Espinosa. I think Smith and Espinosa — the 87th overall pick in 2008, for what it’s worth — are similar ballplayers in a lot of ways. Smith gets the slim defensive edge at the same point in their respective development while Espinosa was arguably the better all-around athlete. Beyond that, I think they are close. Now sometimes comparisons are based on career outcomes and sometimes they are more closely aligned with pure physical ability; this one feels closer to the latter category as I think a team drafting Smith as early as I think it’ll take to get him will be doing so with the hope they get a more consistent offensive performer. That said, Espinosa’s 11.0 fWAR to date is nothing to be sad about; if anything, an outcome like that is a major success once you realize a college hitter selected in the draft’s top 100 picks providing greater than 10 WAR over a career is at just 6.9%. If Smith really is Espinosa, that’s a major win. If he’s Espinosa with a better bat, then he’s a potential star-caliber player in terms of overall value. If you think of Espinosa as something closer to Smith’s ceiling (with the obvious risk he never makes the big leagues at all factored in), then that changes the math yet again.

The average draft position of the three comps was 122nd overall. The fourth round feels like a fair spot for Smith at this juncture, though the dearth of collegiate middle infield talent and typical draft day shortstop inflation could push him up closer to that Cozart/Espinosa early third round range. I think that’s where he likely lands (if not earlier), but I’m still not sure if that’s where he’ll eventually be ranked here.

It should come as no surprise that I love a prospect who has played quality defense at both shortstop and catcher. Who couldn’t love a weird profile like that, right? That’s Jalen Washington, Ohio State’s current shortstop and former catcher. Washington was good at both spots with the athleticism to play just about anywhere else on the diamond. I mean, if you can play well at both short and catcher, where can’t you play? His offensive profile is a little shakier — lots of pop and good speed, but little feel for hitting and an iffy approach — so bringing him into the fold would require plenty of patience with the bat while his defensive versatility keeps him in the lineup. I don’t know what kind of upside you’re getting with Washington, but he’d sure be a fun gap-filler in the minors as he tries to figure out the whole hitting thing.

Luke Miller is an awesome athlete with a big arm (up to 94 off the mound in the past) and just as much power (whatever the power equivalent to a low-90s fastball would be, I guess). I’m intrigued as I get for an inexperienced draft-eligible sophomore who has put up ugly BB/K numbers to date. Many (but not all) of the same things can be said for Micah Coffey, another athletic power bat with less than ideal plate discipline. In a weak year for third basemen not only in the Big Ten but also across the country, imperfect players with upside like these stand out.

I don’t want to say how long I deliberated on picking six outfielders out of the Big Ten’s solid if unspectacular 2017 class. Let’s just settle on “way too long” and move on. In the end, I tried my best to balance tools/projection and skills/production. That’s kind of the whole point of what we do here anyway, so I guess that sort of goes without saying. Zach Jancarski is a gifted center fielder with above-average speed and the ability to grind out at bats as well as the best leadoff types in college baseball. Miles Lewis joins big Jake Adams as the second player here with North Dakota ties. He’s a plus athlete with easy to identify physical gifts (tons of speed and range) who keeps improving daily at some of the game’s finer points. If signable (he’s a redshirt-sophomore), I’d do what I could to talk my bosses into giving him a shot at pro ball this year before he blows up in the college ranks next season. Brandon Hughes‘s inclusion on the first team makes it clear I have a thing for Michigan State two-way talents (Hughes has been 88-91 as a lefty off the mound in the past) who seem to be wildly underrated as hitters. Like our first two outfielders mentioned, Hughes can defend in center and swipe bags with above-average to plus speed. He’s got a little more power and a little less swing-and-miss than you’d think for a prospect rarely mentioned as one of draft’s top sleepers. That changes now: Hughes is probably too good to be called a sleeper, but I’m doing it anyway. He’s a really good young player.

On the second team, the focus moved more towards finding bats at any cost. Tre’ Gantt is the exception as yet another interesting up-the-middle talent who can run. Mike Carter and Logan Sowers, however, are examples of what it looks like to bet on bats. Though they go about things very differently, the two young hitters should both hear their names called during the draft next month. Sowers is the more conventional prospect as a big (6-4, 220) powerful athlete who can thrill with a long ball just as readily as disappoint with a three strikeout night. The 5-10, 180 pound Carter can’t match Sowers’s thump, but the line drive machine from Rutgers has a hit tool that is quietly one of this class’s best.

Leaving off highly productive outfielders like Tom Marcinczyk, Jordan Smith, Johnny Slater, Joe Hoscheit, and Alex Krupa was tough. All have done enough to warrant serious draft consideration. This should be a pretty happy draft year for fans of the Big 10.

Others receiving consideration…

C – Tyler Cropley, Justin Morris
1B – Jake Adams, Zack McGuire, Toby Hanson, Scott Schreiber, Nick Cieri
2B – Jake Bivens, Jake Schleppenbach, Evan Warden, Luke Pettersen, Tony Butler, Brandon Gum
SS – Michael Brdar, Harry Shipley
3B – Matt Hoeg
OF – Tom Marcinczyk, Jordan Smith, Pat McInerney, Chris Whelan, Johnny Slater, Joe Hoscheit, Matt Hopfner, Alex Boxwell, Craig Dedelow, Dan Chmielewski, Matt Stemper, Luis Alvarado, Laren Eustace, Alex Krupa, Madison Nickens

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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Big Ten

I see tiers that have developed in the Big 10 that put a fairly clear delineation between prospect groups. The big four hitters at the top — Ryan Boldt, Carmen Benedetti, Ronnie Dawson, Troy Montgomery — appear close to impenetrable in terms of holding on to their rankings through the end of the season. The order of that four may shift, but the names seem pretty safely ensconced at the top. At the very top is Boldt, still. Despite hitting well over .300 and controlling the strike zone as a college player, Boldt’s bandwagon has emptied some over the years. The biggest knock on him has always been about the utility of his average to above-average raw power; scouts saw it in him, but rarely was he able to put it use in game action. I can’t speak to that directly having not seen him in a few years now, but it certainly sounds like there have been signs of him slowly yet surely getting closer to being able to consistently tap into his natural power lately. That edge helps bump his stock up from top three round player to potential first round talent (again). We already know he’s an excellent athlete with above-average to plus speed, easy center field range, and a pretty, balanced, and efficient swing that allows for lots of hard contact. All of that and an above-average hit tool add up to a potential quality regular. If you throw in the possibility of power, he’s even more appealing; better yet is the realization of that power, something that some scouts have seen and now swear by while others remain unconvinced it’s more than a hot streak. I’m cautiously optimistic about his power gains being real, but that’s hardly going out on a ledge with a prospect that has Boldt’s type of plate coverage and aptitude to make adjustments (e.g., his newfound aggressiveness in hitter’s counts [fastball hunting early, finally] and tweaks to his swing). I stand by my older comps to him: as a prospect he reminds me of David Dahl and I can see his career path going a similar way as Randy Winn’s. Seeing a really good prospect and an underrated everyday player as comps should make clear what I think about Boldt.

Carmen Benedetti is such a favorite of mine that I didn’t even bother with dropping the FAVORITE designation in my notes on him; it’s just assumed. He’s not the best prospect in this class, but he has a case for being one of the best players. I’ve compared him to Florida’s Brian Johnson (now with the Boston Red Sox) in the past and I think he’s legitimately good enough both as a pitcher and a hitter to have a pro future no matter what his drafting team prefers. As with Johnson, I prefer Benedetti getting his shot as a position player first. I’m a sucker for smooth fielding first basemen with bat speed, above-average raw power, and the kind of disciplined approach one might expect from a part-time pitcher who can fill up the strike zone with the best of them. If he does wind up on the mound, I won’t object. He’s good enough to transition to the rotation professionally thanks to a fine fastball (90-94), above-average 77-80 change, a usable curve, and heaps of athleticism. I get that I like Benedetti and this draft class more than most, but the fact that a prospect of his caliber isn’t likely to even approach Johnson’s draft position (31st overall) says something about the quality and depth of the 2016 MLB Draft.

Interestingly enough, I found this from four years ago when looking back at what was written about Brian Johnson on this site…

I tend to err on the side of “pitch first, hit second,” but Brian Johnson is a better position player prospect for me right now so that’s where he sits. I believe in the power enough that I think his bat could be enough to hold down an everyday job at first in the big leagues someday. Check a first base minor league prospect ranking to see how rare that is these days.

My position on two-way players has done a 180 since then. Now I’d rather start a 50/50 prospect out as a hitter first because of my belief that it’s easier to get back into pitching later on. I have nothing to back that up other than anecdotal evidence, so feel free to call me out on it if it seems nuts. I’ve tried to get a few smart baseball people on the record with their thoughts on the debate, but almost every single response is some variation of “well, it depends on the circumstances since every case is different.” That’s true! But that’s also exactly what I’m getting at with the question: if we were to eliminate all other variables, which would you choose then? Still can’t get an answer. Maybe I’m asking it wrong. Whatever.

Both Ohio State outfielders are excellent prospects who haven’t received their proper due nationally. I don’t think there’s any malicious intent behind them being still below the radar – there are only so many hours in a day to write about all the wonderful amateur players across the country – but it’s still a shame that the pair are often ignored whenever conversations about top college outfielders do come up. Dawson is a man among boys with big league strength and prodigious raw power. He’s an aggressive hitter, but more selective and controlled than his reputation might have you think. Montgomery is built just a little differently – he stands in at 5-10, 180 pounds, giving the OSU faithful a fun visual contrast to Dawson’s stacked 6-2, 225 pound frame – but is an area scout favorite for his smart, relentless style of play. Every single one of his tools play up because of how he approaches the game, and said tools aren’t too shabby to begin with. Montgomery can hit, run, and field at a high level, and his lack smaller frame belies power good enough to help him profile as a regular with continued overall development. I’m bullish on both Buckeyes.

The next tier down is filled with catching prospects. This really wasn’t intentional, though the obvious observation that up-the-middle defenders tend to rank higher than corner bats (at least non-transcendent types) as a matter of fact isn’t lost on me. Stop me if you’ve heard this out of me before: I don’t know much about _____, but what I do know I like. In this case, that’s Austin Athmann. Notes on him are limited (“strong arm, promising bat”), but his performance this year has made getting to know him better a high priority.

I’m in on Nick Cieri’s bat, but his defense is clearly behind the other catchers mentioned. I think Harrison Wenson has passed him as a similarly talented offensive player who has made real strides defensively in the last year. Both players will be hurt some by the tremendous college catching class that surrounds them – teams won’t have to settle for defensive question marks who can hit this year, at least in the top five or so rounds – but pro-caliber bats like theirs won’t last long on draft day all the same. Jason Goldstein is one of those all-around catching prospects that teams should like a lot on draft day, but all indications point towards that being a minority view than a consensus around baseball. I liked Goldstein a lot last year, I still like him this year, and it’s fine that he’ll likely be drafted much later than where he’ll be ranked on my board. He’s a heady defender with enough arm strength to profile as a big league backup at worst.

The one non-catcher in the group is Jordan Zimmerman. The offseason buzz on Zimmerman was that he was a good runner with an above-average arm and a chance to hit right away. All true so far. The only issue I have with Zimmerman as a prospect is where he’ll play defensively as a professional. I had him as a second baseman in my notes throughout the offseason, but he’s played a ton of first base so far for the Spartans. If he’s athletic enough to make the switch to second as a pro, then he’s a prospect of note. If not, then all the standard disclaimers about his bat needing to play big to keep finding work as a first baseman apply. I believe in the bat and skew positive that he can handle a non-first infield spot (again, likely second), but those beliefs don’t change the fact that I need to find out more about him.

After these first two tiers, things are extremely muddled. I like Craig Dedelow as an underrated hitter with playable center field range and interesting size. Adam Walton and Joel Booker are strong enough defenders to stick in pro ball for a long time. Same could be said for Nick Sergakis, one of college ball’s biggest surprises so far this season. Nothing about Sergakis’s profile makes sense, but he deserves a load of credit for going from decent college player to actual draft prospect seemingly overnight.

It’s not a straight line comparison, but if you squint you can see some parallels between the Big 10’s top hitting prospect (Boldt) and top pitching prospect (Mike Shawaryn). Both were graced with high expectations – Boldt out of high school, Shawaryn coming into the year – and have stumbled some to quite live up to them. Boldt started as a big-time prospect, hit more good than great for the better part of two years (I’d argue that point, but it’s the narrative), and is now arguably on the precipice of a return to draft prospect glory. Shawaryn’s national breakout wasn’t fully realized until a few weeks into his sophomore season (though, for the sake of clarity and/or ego, he was a FAVORITE on this site as a HS senior coming out of Gloucester Catholic in Jersey), so the hype train on him has been more sudden and less the slow burn of Boldt’s rise and fall (and rise).

Shawaryn’s big 2015 (10.71 K/9 and 1.71 ERA in 116.0 IP) set him up as a potential first round pick coming into the year, but a slight dip in production and stuff has many cooler on him now than before. He’s always been in that ten to fifteen range for him as a 2016 college arm, so the recent downtick in stuff isn’t something I’m too worked up about. At his best, he’s got enough fastball (87-94, 95 peak), a changeup with big upside, and a breaking ball that seemingly improves every time out (even as he’s had some rocky starts this year). Breaking down his individual pitches is obviously important, but the main selling point with Shawaryn was always going to be his above-average to plus command, standout control, and deceptive motion. Assuming his decline is more fatigue – he’s approaching almost 250 college innings in his career; for context’s sake, that’s about a hundred more than AJ Puk and over twice as many as Alec Hansen – than injury (though separating the two can be tricky without proper pre-draft medical screening), Shawaryn might be the perfect candidate for a team in round two (or three if they are lucky) willing to draft a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher with the intent not to pitch him competitively the summer after signing. Draft him, sign him, get him working with your top player development staffers, and focus more about 2017 rather than getting onto the field immediately. If it turns out he’s feeling good and looking good sooner rather than later, so be it. But he’s the type of smart young pitcher that could begin his first professional season at High-A without much concern. That’s the path I’d consider taking with him, but maybe I’m making more out of a few good rather than great starts than I really ought to.

Despite all the words and attention spent on Shawaryn, I gave very serious consideration to putting Cody Sedlock in the top spot. Properly rated by many of the experts yet likely underrated by the more casual amateur draft fans, Sedlock is a four-pitch guy – there is a weirdly awesome high number of these pitchers in the Big 10 this year — with the ability to command three intriguing offspeed pitches (SL, CB, CU) well enough for mid-rotation big league potential. I try not to throw mid-rotation starter upside around lightly; Sedlock is really good. Jake Kelzer is an incredible athlete who just so happens to be 6-8, 235 pounds. Those two things alone are cool, but together are really damn exciting. Enough of a fastball (88-92, 94 peak…but could play up in shorter bursts) and a nasty hard slider (87-88) give him a chance to be a quick-moving reliever, but the overall package could be worth trying as a starter first.

A pair of fourth-year lefthanders has flown a little bit under the radar this season despite being relatively famous prospects prior to 2016. Cameron Vieaux and Dalton Sawyer are both big (6-5, 200 pounds and 6-5, 215 pounds, respectively) men with big league stuff. Vieaux throws hard, can spin two effective breaking balls, and knows when to drop in his improving low-80s change. I think he can remain in the rotation professionally. Sawyer seems destined for the bullpen, a spot where his fastball (up to 94), mid-70s breaker, and effectively wild ways could get him to the big leagues sooner rather than later. Evan Hill (6-5, 190) doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking of the many long and lean lefties in the conference (for proof of that just look at the start of this paragraph: there was clearly no intent to include him at the onset, so I’m calling an audible to wedge him in without deleting or rewriting any of my exhausting two minutes of previous work), but he’s a prospect good enough to make the Vieaux/Sawyer pairing a trio. I didn’t know I had such a thing for tall lefties until now, but here we are.

Brett Adcock doesn’t have the size as Vieaux, Sawyer, or his teammate Hill, but his stuff is no less impressive. Lefties that can throw four pitches for strikes with his kind of track record of success, both peripherally (10.29 K/9 in 2014, 9.50 K/9 in 2015) and traditionally (2.87 ERA in 2014, 3.10 ERA in 2015), have a tendency to get noticed even when coming in a 6-0, 215 package. I had somebody describe him to me as “Anthony Kay without the killer change,” an odd comparison that kind of works the less you think about it. Adcock has a good fastball (88-92, 94 peak) and two average or better breaking balls (77-81 SL is fine, but his 75-78 CB could be a big league put away pitch) in addition to an upper-70s changeup that is plenty usable yet hardly on par with Kay’s dominant offering. If Kay is a borderline first round talent (he is), then surely Adcock could find his way into the draft’s top five or so rounds. That might be too aggressive to some, so I’ll agree to knocking down expectations to single-digit rounds and calling it even.

Any pre-draft list of “fastest moving” potential draftees that doesn’t include Dakota Mekkes is one I’ll look at with a suspicious eye. Mekkes may not be one of the biggest names in college relief, but he’s one of the best. I’ll go closer upside with him while acknowledging his most likely outcome could be a long career of very effective, very well-compensated middle relief. Either way, I think he’s as close to a lock to be a useful big league pitcher as any reliever in this class.

Hitters

  1. Nebraska JR OF Ryan Boldt
  2. Michigan JR 1B/LHP Carmen Benedetti
  3. Ohio State JR OF Ronnie Dawson
  4. Ohio State JR OF Troy Montgomery
  5. Illinois SR C Jason Goldstein
  6. Michigan JR C Harrison Wenson
  7. Michigan State JR 2B Jordan Zimmerman
  8. Maryland JR C/1B Nick Cieri
  9. Minnesota JR C Austin Athmann
  10. Indiana JR OF Craig Dedelow
  11. Illinois rJR SS/2B Adam Walton
  12. Iowa SR OF Joel Booker
  13. Ohio State rSR 3B Nick Sergakis
  14. Michigan JR OF Johnny Slater
  15. Michigan rSR OF Matt Ramsay
  16. Nebraska SR 2B/SS Jake Placzek
  17. Indiana SR 3B Brian Wilhite
  18. Ohio State JR C Jalen Washington
  19. Maryland JR OF Madison Nickens
  20. Purdue SR OF/RHP Kyle Johnson
  21. Maryland SR OF Anthony Papio
  22. Ohio State rJR OF/1B Jake Bosiokovic
  23. Purdue rSR 1B/LHP Kyle Wood
  24. Nebraska JR 1B/LHP Ben Miller
  25. Rutgers JR OF Mike Carter
  26. Iowa JR 2B/3B Mason McCoy
  27. Iowa SR C Daniel Aaron Moriel
  28. Penn State JR OF Nick Riotto
  29. Minnesota SR OF Dan Motl
  30. Penn State rSR OF Greg Guers
  31. Rutgers JR OF Tom Marcinczyk
  32. Ohio State SR 1B/OF Zach Ratcliff
  33. Ohio State SR OF/LHP Daulton Mosbarger
  34. Rutgers rSR 3B/1B Chris Suseck
  35. Illinois JR OF/1B Pat McInerney
  36. Indiana JR OF Alex Krupa
  37. Indiana JR 2B Tony Butler
  38. Minnesota rJR OF/C Matt Stemper
  39. Nebraska SR C Taylor Fish
  40. Northwestern SR 1B/OF Zach Jones
  41. Ohio State SR 3B/1B Troy Kuhn
  42. Iowa SR SS/RHP Nick Roscetti
  43. Minnesota SR 2B/SS Connor Schaefbauer
  44. Michigan State SR 3B/SS Justin Hovis
  45. Penn State SR OF James Coates
  46. Penn State rJR 3B Christian Helsel
  47. Nebraska JR 2B Jake Schleppenbach
  48. Michigan JR SS Michael Brdar
  49. Indiana SR SS/2B Nick Ramos

Pitchers

  1. Maryland JR RHP Mike Shawaryn
  2. Illinois JR RHP Cody Sedlock
  3. Michigan State rJR LHP Cameron Vieaux
  4. Indiana rJR RHP Jake Kelzer
  5. Michigan JR LHP Brett Adcock
  6. Minnesota SR LHP Dalton Sawyer
  7. Iowa SR RHP/1B Tyler Peyton
  8. Michigan SR LHP Evan Hill
  9. Illinois SR RHP Nick Blackburn
  10. Michigan State rSO RHP Dakota Mekkes
  11. Maryland SR RHP Jared Price
  12. Indiana JR RHP Luke Stephenson
  13. Indiana rJR RHP Thomas Belcher
  14. Maryland JR LHP Tayler Stiles
  15. Maryland rSO RHP Ryan Selmer
  16. Indiana SR RHP Evan Bell
  17. Indiana SR LHP Caleb Baragar
  18. Michigan JR RHP Mac Lozer
  19. Illinois SR LHP JD Nielsen
  20. Michigan State JR RHP Walter Borkovich
  21. Michigan State JR LHP Joe Mockbee
  22. Maryland SR LHP Robert Galligan
  23. Indiana rSR LHP Kyle Hart
  24. Michigan State rSO RHP Ethan Landon
  25. Iowa SR RHP Tyler Radtke
  26. Minnesota JR RHP Toby Anderson
  27. Michigan State rSO RHP Jake Lowery
  28. Nebraska SR RHP Colton Howell
  29. Nebraska JR RHP Derek Burkamper
  30. Ohio State rJR RHP Shea Murray
  31. Nebraska JR LHP Max Knutson
  32. Minnesota JR RHP/OF Matt Fiedler
  33. Nebraska JR RHP Jake Hohensee
  34. Purdue JR RHP Matt Frawley
  35. Ohio State JR LHP/OF Tanner Tully
  36. Iowa rJR LHP Ryan Erickson
  37. Nebraska SR RHP Jeff Chesnut
  38. Indiana rSO LHP Austin Foote
  39. Iowa SR RHP Calvin Mathews
  40. Indiana JR LHP Sullivan Stadler
  41. Iowa rSO RHP CJ Eldred
  42. Minnesota rSR LHP Jordan Jess
  43. Maryland JR RHP Mike Rescigno
  44. Indiana rJR RHP Kent Williams
  45. Indiana SR LHP Will Coursen-Carr
  46. Minnesota JR RHP Cody Campbell
  47. Michigan JR RHP Keith Lehmann
  48. Michigan JR RHP/OF Jackson Lamb
  49. Ohio State SR RHP Jake Post
  50. Penn State SR LHP Nick Hedge
  51. Purdue rSR RHP Gavin Downs
  52. Michigan JR RHP/SS Hector Gutierrez
  53. Northwestern SR LHP Jake Stolley
  54. Ohio State rSO RHP Adam Niemeyer
  55. Ohio State rSR LHP Michael Horejsei
  56. Ohio State SR LHP John Havird
  57. Purdue JR RHP Alex Lyons
  58. Northwestern JR RHP Josh Davis
  59. Northwestern SR LHP Reed Mason
  60. Purdue rSR RHP Shane Bryant

Illinois

SR RHP Nick Blackburn (2016)
JR RHP Cody Sedlock (2016)
SR LHP JD Nielsen (2016)
rSR RHP Andrew Mamlic (2016)
rSR RHP Charlie Naso (2016)
SR C Jason Goldstein (2016)
rJR SS/2B Adam Walton (2016)
JR OF/1B Pat McInerney (2016)
JR 1B/OF Matthew James (2016)
SR 2B Michael Hurwitz (2016)
FR RHP/1B Luke Shilling (2018)
FR RHP Brendan Meissner (2018)
FR 3B/OF Brenden Spillane (2018)
FR OF Doran Turchin (2018)
FR INF Jalin McMillan (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick Blackburn, Cody Sedlock, JD Nielsen, Andrew Mamlic, Charlie Naso, Jason Goldstein, Adam Walton, Pat McInerney, Matthew James

Indiana

rJR RHP Jake Kelzer (2016)
rSR LHP Kyle Hart (2016)
rJR RHP Thomas Belcher (2016)
SR RHP Evan Bell (2016)
SR LHP Caleb Baragar (2016)
SR LHP Will Coursen-Carr (2016)
rJR RHP Kent Williams (2016)
JR LHP Sullivan Stadler (2016)
rSO LHP Austin Foote (2016)
JR RHP Luke Stephenson (2016)
JR OF Craig Dedelow (2016)
SR SS/2B Nick Ramos (2016)
JR OF Alex Krupa (2016)
JR 2B Tony Butler (2016)
JR 1B/SS Austin Cangelosi (2016)
SR 3B Brian Wilhite (2016)
SO RHP Brian Hobbie (2017)
SO OF Logan Sowers (2017)
SO 3B Isaiah Pasteur (2017)
SO OF Laren Eustace (2017)
FR RHP Jonathan Stiever (2018)
FR RHP Chandler Sedat (2018)
FR INF Luke Miller (2018)
FR C Ryan Fineman (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jake Kelzer, Kyle Hart, Thomas Belcher, Evan Bell, Caleb Baragar, Will Cousen-Carr, Kent Williams, Sullivan Stadler, Austin Foote, Luke Stephenson, Craig Dedelow, Nick Ramos, Alex Krupa, Tony Butler, Austin Cangelosi, Brian Wilhite

Iowa

SR RHP/1B Tyler Peyton (2016)
SR RHP Calvin Mathews (2016)
rJR LHP Ryan Erickson (2016)
rSO RHP CJ Eldred (2016)
SR RHP Tyler Radtke (2016)
SR RHP Luke Vandermaten (2016)
rJR RHP/SS Josh Martsching (2016)
SR OF Joel Booker (2016)
JR 2B/3B Mason McCoy (2016)
SR SS/RHP Nick Roscetti (2016)
SR C Jimmy Frankos (2016)
SR C Daniel Aaron Moriel (2016)
SO RHP Nick Gallagher (2017)
SO 1B/3B Grant Klenovich (2017)
FR RHP Cole McDonald (2018)
FR RHP Shane Ritter (2018)
FR RHP Sammy Lizarraga (2018)
FR RHP/SS Daniel Perry (2018)
FR RHP/2B Zach Daniels (2018)
FR OF Robert Neustrom (2018)
FR OF Luke Farley (2018)
FR 2B Mitch Boe (2018)

High Priority Follows: Tyler Peyton, Calvin Mathews, Ryan Erickson, CJ Eldred, Tyler Radtke, Joel Booker, Mason McCoy, Nick Roscetti, Daniel Aaron Moriel

Maryland

JR RHP Mike Shawaryn (2016)
JR LHP Tayler Stiles (2016)
SR LHP Robert Galligan (2016)
SR RHP Jared Price (2016)
JR RHP Mike Rescigno (2016)
rSO RHP Ryan Selmer (2016)
JR C/1B Nick Cieri (2016)
SR OF Anthony Papio (2016)
JR OF Madison Nickens (2016)
SO RHP Brian Shaffer (2017)
SO RHP Taylor Bloom (2017)
rFR RHP Tyler Brandon (2017)
SO SS Kevin Smith (2017)
SO C Justin Morris (2017)
SO OF Zach Jancarski (2017)
SO OF Kengo Kawahara (2017)
SO OF Jamal Wade (2017)
rFR 2B/SS Andrew Bechtold (2017)
FR RHP John Murphy (2018)
FR LHP Andrew Miller (2018)
FR RHP Hunter Parsons (2018)
FR RHP Cameron Enck (2018)
FR LHP Zach Guth (2018)
FR RHP Truman Thomas (2018)
FR OF Marty Costes (2018)
FR 2B/OF Nick Dunn (2018)
FR SS AJ Lee (2018)
FR OF/1B Nick Browne (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mike Shawaryn, Tayler Stiles, Robert Galligan, Jared Price, Mike Rescigno, Ryan Selmer, Nick Cieri, Anthony Papio, Madison Nickens

Michigan

JR LHP Brett Adcock (2016)
SR LHP Evan Hill (2016)
JR RHP Mac Lozer (2016)
JR RHP Keith Lehmann (2016)
JR RHP/SS Hector Gutierrez (2016)
JR RHP/OF Jackson Lamb (2016)
JR LHP/1B Carmen Benedetti (2016)
JR OF Johnny Slater (2016)
JR C Harrison Wenson (2016)
JR SS Michael Brdar (2016)
rSR OF Matt Ramsay (2016)
SR OF Cody Bruder (2016)
SO RHP Ryan Nutof (2017)
SO RHP Bryan Pall (2017)
SO LHP Oliver Jaskie (2017)
SO RHP Jayce Vancena (2017)
rFR LHP Grant Reuss (2017)
SO LHP Michael Hendrickson (2017)
SO C/3B Drew Lugbauer (2017)
SO SS/2B Jake Bivens (2017)
FR LHP/OF William Tribucher (2018)
FR RHP Troy Miller (2018)
FR OF Jonathan Engelmann (2018)
FR 2B Ako Thomas (2018)

High Priority Follows: Brett Adcock, Evan Hill, Mac Lozer, Keith Lehmann, Hector Gutierrez, Jackson Lamb, Carmen Benedetti, Johnny Slater, Harrison Wenson, Michael Brdar, Matt Ramsay

Michigan State

rJR LHP Cameron Vieaux (2016)
rSO RHP Dakota Mekkes (2016)
rSO RHP Ethan Landon (2016)
JR RHP Walter Borkovich (2016)
JR LHP Joe Mockbee (2016)
rSO RHP Jake Lowery (2016)
SR OF/2B Kris Simonton (2016)
JR 2B Jordan Zimmerman (2016)
SR 3B/SS Justin Hovis (2016)
rSO C Chad Roskelly (2016)
SO LHP Keegan Baar (2017)
SO RHP Andrew Gonzalez (2017)
SO LHP/1B Alex Troop (2017)
SO OF/LHP Brandon Hughes (2017)
SO 1B Zack McGuire (2017)
FR SS Royce Ando (2018)
FR 3B Marty Bechina (2018)

High Priority Follows: Cameron Vieaux, Dakota Mekkes, Ethan Landon, Walter Borkovich, Joe Mockbee, Jake Lowery, Kris Simonton, Jordan Zimmerman, Justin Hovis

Minnesota

SR LHP Dalton Sawyer (2016)
JR RHP Toby Anderson (2016)
rSR LHP Jordan Jess (2016)
rSR RHP Ty McDevitt (2016)
JR RHP Cody Campbell (2016)
JR RHP Brian Glowicki (2016)
rJR RHP Tim Shannon (2016)
JR RHP/1B Tyler Hanson (2016)
JR RHP/OF Matt Fiedler (2016)
JR C Austin Athmann (2016)
SR 2B/SS Connor Schaefbauer (2016)
SR OF Dan Motl (2016)
rJR OF/C Matt Stemper (2016)
rJR C/OF Troy Traxler (2016)
rJR OF Jordan Smith (2016)
SO LHP Lucas Gilbreath (2017)
SO RHP Reggie Meyer (2017)
SO OF Alex Boxwell (2017)
SO 1B/C Toby Hanson (2017)
SO 3B Micah Coffey (2017)
FR RHP Ben Humbert (2018)
FR INF Terrin Vavra (2018)

High Priority Follows: Dalton Sawyer, Toby Anderson, Jordan Jess, Cody Campbell, Matt Fiedler, Austin Athmann, Connor Schaefbauer, Dan Motl, Matt Stemper

Nebraska

JR LHP Max Knutson (2016)
SR RHP Colton Howell (2016)
SR RHP Jeff Chesnut (2016)
JR RHP Derek Burkamper (2016)
JR RHP Jake Hohensee (2016)
JR 1B/LHP Ben Miller (2016)
JR OF Ryan Boldt (2016)
SR 2B/SS Jake Placzek (2016)
SR C Taylor Fish (2016)
JR 2B Jake Schleppenbach (2016)
rSR SS Steven Reveles (2016)
SO RHP Zack Engelken (2017)
SO RHP Garett King (2017)
SO LHP/OF Jake Meyers (2017)
SO 1B/3B Scott Schreiber (2017)
SO OF Elijah Dilday (2017)
SO OF/3B Luis Alvarado (2017)
FR RHP Chad Luensmann (2018)
FR RHP Sean Chandler (2018)
FR RHP Matt Waldron (2018)
FR LHP Ryan Connolly (2018)
FR INF Alex Henwood (2018)
FR C Jesse Wilkening (2018)

High Priority Follows: Max Knutson, Colton Howell, Jeff Chesnut, Derek Burkamper, Jake Hohensee, Ben Miller, Ryan Boldt, Jake Placzek, Taylor Fish, Jake Schleppenbach

Northwestern

JR RHP Josh Davis (2016)
SR LHP Reed Mason (2016)
SR LHP Jake Stolley (2016)
JR RHP Joe Schindler (2016)
JR RHP Pete Hofman (2016)
JR OF/LHP Matt Hopfner (2016)
SR 1B/OF Zach Jones (2016)
SR 3B/OF Jake Schieber (2016)
JR OF/C Joe Hoscheit (2016)
rJR OF RJ Watters (2016)
SO RHP Justin Yoss (2017)
SO RHP Tommy Bordignon (2017)
FR 1B Willie Bourbon (2018)
FR SS Jack Dunn (2018)

High Priority Follows: Josh Davis, Reed Mason, Jake Stolley, Joe Schindler, Zach Jones

Ohio State

rJR RHP Shea Murray (2016)
SR RHP Jake Post (2016)
SR LHP John Havird (2016)
rSR LHP Michael Horejsei (2016)
rSO RHP Adam Niemeyer (2016)
rSO RHP Kyle Michalik (2016)
JR LHP/OF Tanner Tully (2016)
rSO RHP/1B Curtiss Irving (2016)
SR OF/LHP Daulton Mosbarger (2016)
JR OF Ronnie Dawson (2016)
JR OF Troy Montgomery (2016)
SR 1B/OF Zach Ratcliff (2016)
rJR OF/1B Jake Bosiokovic (2016)
SR 3B/1B Troy Kuhn (2016)
SR 3B Craig Nennig (2016)
rSR 3B Nick Sergakis (2016)
rSR 1B/3B Ryan Leffel (2016)
SR 2B L Grant Davis (2016)
JR C Jalen Washington (2016)
SO RHP Seth Kinker (2017)
SO C Jordan McDonough (2017)
SO OF Tre’ Gantt (2017)
FR 3B Brady Cherry (2018)
FR RHP Ryan Feltner (2018)

High Priority Follows: Shea Murray, Jake Post, John Havird, Michael Horejsei, Adam Niemeyer, Tanner Tully, Daulton Mosbarger, Ronnie Dawson, Troy Montgomery, Zach Ratcliff, Jake Bosiokovic, Troy Kuhn, Craig Nennig, Nick Sergakis, Jalen Washington

Penn State

SR RHP Jack Anderson (2016)
SR LHP Nick Hedge (2016)
JR RHP Tom Mullin (2016)
SR RHP Jared Fagnano (2016)
JR OF Nick Riotto (2016)
rSR OF Greg Guers (2016)
SR OF James Coates (2016)
rJR 3B Christian Helsel (2016)
JR SS Jim Haley (2016)
SR 1B/3B Tyler Kendall (2016)
SO RHP Nick Distasio (2017)
SO RHP Sal Biasi (2017)
SO LHP Taylor Lehman (2017)
FR RHP Justin Hagenman (2018)
FR RHP Eli Nabholz (2018)
FR LHP Blake Hodgens (2018)
FR C Ryan Sloniger (2018)
FR 3B/SS Conlin Hughes (2018)
FR 2B Connor Klemann (2018)
FR OF Austin Riggins (2018)
FR 3B Willie Burger (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick Hedge, Tom Mullin, Nick Riotto, Greg Guers, Christian Helsel

Purdue

rSR RHP Gavin Downs (2016)
rSR RHP Shane Bryant (2016)
JR RHP Matt Frawley (2016)
JR RHP Alex Lyons (2016)
rSR 1B/LHP Kyle Wood (2016)
SR OF/RHP Kyle Johnson (2016)
JR 2B/C Cody Strong (2016)
SR C/OF Jack Picchiotti (2016)
rSR OF/2B Brett Carlson (2016)
SO RHP Tanner Andrews (2017)
SO SS/2B Harry Shipley (2017)
SO OF Alec Olund (2017)
FR LHP Kyle Ostrowski (2018)
FR 3B Jackson McGowan (2018)
FR C/OF Nick Dalesandro (2018)

High Priority Follows: Gavin Downs, Shane Bryant, Matt Frawley, Alex Lyons, Kyle Wood, Kyle Johnson, Jack Picchiotti

Rutgers

SR LHP Howie Brey (2016)
rJR LHP Max Herrmann (2016)
rJR RHP Kevin Baxter (2016)
JR LHP Ryan Fleming (2016)
rJR RHP Kyle Driscoll (2016)
JR RHP Colin Bohnert (2016)
JR RHP/2B Gaby Rosa (2016)
JR SS/RHP Christian Campbell (2016)
rSR 3B/1B Chris Suseck (2016)
SR 3B/C RJ Devish (2016)
JR C/1B Chris Folinusz (2016)
JR OF Mike Carter (2016)
JR OF Tom Marcinczyk (2016)
rSR 2B/SS John Jennings (2016)
SO RHP John O’Reilly (2017)
SO RHP Ryan Wares (2017)
SO INF Kyle Walker (2017)
SO 3B Milo Freeman (2017)
FR OF Jawuan Harris (2018)
FR 3B Serafino Brito (2018)

High Priority Follows: Max Herrmann, Chris Suseck, Mike Carter, Tom Marcinczyk, John Jennings

2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: Big Ten

I have some stray SEC thoughts, plus a tiered first round big board coming up over the next few days. Good times ahead. As for the mountain of text below, well, I’ll just say the position players in the Big Ten are a group only a mother could love. Some interesting arms led by a potential first day lefty, but all in all not a thrilling collection of talent. How’s that for a hard sell? Now read it!

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

C

  • Nebraska SO C Tanner Lubach
  • Minnesota JR C Matt Halloran
  • Iowa SR C Dan Sheppard
  • Michigan State JR C John Martinez
  • Michigan rJR C John DiLaura
  • Illinois rSO C Kelly Norris-Jones
  • Michigan State JR C Joel Fisher
  • Purdue JR C Sean McHugh
  • Michigan rJR C Zach Johnson
  • Penn State JR C Alex Farkes
  • Nebraska JR C Corey Stringer
  • Minnesota rSR C Kurt Schlangen

I can talk/write a lot – some would say too much – but I’ve got very little to say about this group of catching prospects. Lubach was a guy that I was told had the highest ceiling of any draft-eligible Big Ten catcher, and Halloran and Sheppard have gotten some buzz for their work behind the plate. That’s the nice, scout-approved news. The numbers tell a different story. Of the dozen names listed above, I think you can charitably call nine of the twelve as having below-average starts to the 2013 season. Schlangen has been decent. Fisher and McHugh, both players designated as C/1B in my notes, are the only two “catchers” that have gotten off to strong statistical starts, and McHugh’s “hot start” is only passable when viewed through the prism of park/schedule adjustments. For anybody who cries “small sample size,” well, true enough. However, a quick look back at last year reveals a larger pattern of underwhelming performance across the board. Halloran was good (.340/.415/.440) and Martinez solid (.317/.385/.430), but only McHugh has been a consistent collegiate performer. Long story short, the Big Ten likely doesn’t have a 2013 MLB Draft prospect who currently dons the tools of ignorance.

1B

  • Minnesota JR 1B Alex LaShomb
  • Michigan JR 1B Brett Winger
  • Northwestern SR 1B Jack Havey

Three big guys, three non-prospects. Havey, the leanest of the three (6-3, 200 pounds), is off to the best start this spring of the group.

2B

  • Northwestern JR 2B Kyle Ruchim
  • Indiana SR 2B Michael Basil
  • Ohio State rSR 2B Ryan Cypret
  • Iowa rSO 2B Jake Mangler
  • Penn State SR 2B Luis Montesinos

I rarely cut players from my lists after I’ve committed to them either because of a nice scouting note or the achievement of certain statistical benchmarks (see the catching list if you don’t believe me), but I dropped a few Big Ten second basemen from the original draft because including them would be a stretch that I’m not yet able to make. After a few more months of yoga, maybe…

It was all doom and gloom when it came time to editing my lists. I also made a last minute decision to switch Kyle Ruchim from the pitching list to this one. He’s excelled in both areas as a Wildcat (pitching: 12.05 K/9 in 2011, 11.57 K/9 in 2012, 9.53 K/9 so far in 2013), but, fair or not, he’d face an uphill battle as a 5-10, 180 pound righthanded reliever if limited to the mound as a pro. As a second baseman, he gives you a really steady glove, average speed, enough power to the gaps to keep pitchers honest (and subsequently help him maintain strong BB/K numbers), and, as you’d expect from a guy once clocked at 93 MPH, a strong arm. Finding underrated two-way college talent like Ruchim is what makes doing this conference draft previews worth it for me. Remember his name on draft day.

3B

  • Indiana JR 3B Dustin DeMuth
  • Illinois rJR 3B Jordan Parr
  • Ohio State rSR 3B Brad Hallberg
  • Minnesota SR 3B Ryan Abrahamson

Finally, a decent prospect group to talk about. Dustin DeMuth is a player that I had multiple Midwest contacts tell me was a big-time sleeper to watch coming into the season. I’d say so far, so good. DeMuth has gone out and done a lot of the things he was expected to do: hit with power, field his position well, and show a far more aggressive than ideal approach at the plate. The first two are reasons to be excited about him in an intriguing ball of clay to mold kind of way, especially if a team thinks they can curtail, or, at worst, more positively channel his hacktastic ways. Parr is another good athlete with above-average raw power who, like DeMuth, brings the added dimension of defensive versatility. Hallberg is a steady college performer who may get a late look as an organizational guy. Abrahamson has an intriguing frame (6-4, 190 pounds) and some talent yet to be fully tapped.

SS

  • Ohio State SR SS Kirby Pellant
  • Illinois JR SS Thomas Lindauer
  • Minnesota rSO SS Michael Handel
  • Minnesota rSR SS Troy Larson

Pellant does enough well across the board (speed, throw, footwork) that he should get a look as a mid- to late-round potential utility infielder option. It’s an imperfect comp, but consider Pellant somewhat similar to Adam Frazier but with a lesser stick. Lindauer and Handel are probably looking at a future similar to Larson’s present, i.e. hoping for a late-round senior sign selection.

OF

  • Michigan JR OF Michael O’Neill
  • Michigan SR OF Patrick Biondi
  • Minnesota rJR OF Dan Olinger 
  • Nebraska SR OF Chad Christensen 
  • Nebraska SR OF Josh Scheffert
  • Minnesota JR OF Bobby Juan
  • Michigan State SR OF Jordan Keur
  • Illinois SR OF Justin Parr
  • Purdue SR OF Stephen Talbott 
  • Nebraska JR OF Mike Pritchard 
  • Michigan State SO OF Jimmy Pickens 
  • Nebraska rJR OF Kash Kalkowski
  • Nebraska SR OF Rich Sanguinetti
  • Minnesota SR OF Andy Henkemeyer
  • Indiana SR OF Justin Cureton
  • Illinois SR OF Davis Hendrickson
  • Ohio State JR OF Tim Wetzel
  • Ohio State rJR OF Mike Carroll
  • Penn State rJR OF Steve Snyder
  • Iowa JR OF Taylor Zeutenhorst

Michael O’Neill hasn’t gotten the degree of draft buzz yet that I expect we’ll see build over the next few weeks, but he’s a really intriguing talent with big league tools. I’m hoping to have more on him in the not too distant future; until then, let me just say that if I was the one doing the picking, O’Neill would terrify me as a potential top three round pick. Here are some choice snippets from what Baseball America has to say about the 6-2, 200ish pound righthanded hitting outfielder for Michigan:

  • “excellent athlete”
  • “best tool is his speed”
  • “well above-average runner”
  • “should hit for average because of a smooth stroke”
  • “average power”
  • “average center fielder”
  • “arm is a tick above average”
  • “isn’t particularly polished for a college draftee”

The big worry about this player is his lack of plate discipline. Striking out 1.65 times for every BB as an amateur isn’t a good thing. Waaaaaait, a second here. Were we talking about Michael O’Neill here? Whoops. All of the above is about 2010 second round pick Ryan LaMarre. I’m so tricky! Sure, all of the above also applies to O’Neill with the one notable exception being his ever more concerning lack of plate discipline (3.04 K/BB). It should also be noted that O’Neill’s swing, a little on the long and clunky side, hasn’t garnered as many favorable reviews as LaMarre’s once did. Consider me much closer to “like” than “love” when it comes to O”Neill (I prefer him to LaMarre, if that means anything to you), and even that may be generous at this point. The tools are loud and he could succeed in the right environment (patience will be key with him from a developmental standpoint), but he’ll wind up far lower on my rankings than he’ll fall on the industry leaders big boards.

After O’Neill the race for second Big Ten outfield prospect drafted looks as tight as tight can be. His Michigan teammate Pat Biondi is as good a name as any to slot into spot number two. He’s not a star nor does he give off a “future starter” vibe, but his speed, range, and pesky on-base skills and bat control should give him a chance to make it as a handy backup in time. Olinger has a nice looking swing, decent power, and a good approach, but no carrying tool that would make him a potential regular. Chad Christensen looks great on paper – speed, pop, all kinds of defensive flexibility – but issues with an all-or-nothing approach to hitting persist. Same could be said for his Nebraska teammate Kash Kalkowski. One name to watch is Bobby Juan, especially if a team makes the decision to stick his plus arm on the mound full-time.

P

  • Minnesota JR LHP Tom Windle
  • Ohio State JR RHP Josh Dezse
  • Minnesota JR LHP DJ Snelten
  • Purdue rJR RHP Brad Schreiber
  • Michigan State JR RHP David Garner 
  • Northwestern SR RHP Luke Farrell
  • Indiana JR LHP Joey DeNato
  • Ohio State rSR RHP Brad Goldberg
  • Ohio State JR RHP Jaron Long 
  • Illinois rSO RHP Reid Roper
  • Indiana rSO RHP Aaron Slegers 
  • Nebraska SR RHP Kyle Hander
  • Ohio State SR RHP Brett McKinney
  • Northwestern rSR RHP Zach Morton
  • Ohio State JR RHP Greg Greve
  • Penn State rSR RHP David Walkling
  • Illinois SR RHP Kevin Johnson
  • Iowa SR LHP Matt Dermody
  • Penn State JR LHP Greg Welsh
  • Indiana JR LHP Brian Korte 
  • Michigan JR RHP Alex Lakatos
  • Minnesota rJR RHP Alex Tukey 
  • Nebraska JR RHP Brandon Pierce
  • Illinois JR RHP Ronnie Muck
  • Michigan State JR LHP Jeff Kinley
  • Michigan SR RHP Ben Ballantine 
  • Michigan State rJR RHP Michael Theodore
  • Michigan SR RHP Kyle Clark
  • Minnesota SR RHP Billy Soule
  • Michigan State SR RHP Andrew Waszak
  • Minnesota SR RHP Drew Ghelfi
  • Michigan rJR LHP Logan McAnallen
  • Michigan State SR LHP Trey Popp
  • Penn State SR RHP Neal Herring
  • Indiana JR RHP Matt Dearden
  • Northwestern JR RHP Ethan Bramschreiber
  • Minnesota JR RHP Alec Crawford
  • Nebraska JR LHP Tyler King
  • Northwestern JR LHP Dan Tyson
  • Illinois rSR RHP Bryan Roberts
  • Nebraska SR RHP Dylan Vogt
  • Indiana JR RHP Ryan Halstead
  • Northwestern JR RHP Jack Quigley
  • Penn State SR RHP Steven Hill
  • Purdue rSR RHP Robert Ramer
  • Ohio State SR LHP Brian King
  • Illinois rSO RHP Drasen Johnson
  • Nebraska JR RHP Christian Deleon
  • Nebraska JR LHP Zach Hirsch
  • Nebraska SR RHP Tyler Niederklein
  • Penn State rSO RHP TJ Jann
  • Illinois rSO LHP Rob McDonnell

Tom Windle isn’t this year’s sexiest draft prospect, but he still stands a fine chance of making it as a sturdy back of the rotation option in short order. His 87-92 (93-94) fastball has a ton of natural movement, he can spin two average or better breaking balls (way more 78-84 sliders than curves, and that’s a good thing – the slider is one of my favorite singular pitches of this class), and an improved yet still underdeveloped mid-80s changeup. This is a forced comp and I apologize in advance, but I see a little bit of Mike Minor minus the nasty changeup when I watch Windle. Other, perhaps better comparisons: Clayton Richard (but lighter) and Wade Miley (but taller). Those last two comps work pretty darn well from cumulative stuff standpoints, I think. In fact, put the three guys in a blender (note: not literally, they’d die) and you wind up with a delicious Tom Windle cocktail.

Josh Dezse hasn’t pitched this year due to injury, but fits in as a high-level follow the minute he steps back on the mound. One sentence doesn’t really do Dezse’s upside credit. Nor does that second sentence, come to think of it. A scout before the year told me he thought Desze looked like the second coming of Tom Wilhelmsen on the mound at times last season.  Windle’s teammate DJ Snelten has just recently returned from injury; his first two years weren’t as productive as you’d expect from a guy with stuff good enough to start one day at the big league level. Brad Schreiber has been thrown back into the mix after missing all of last year thanks to Tommy John surgery. He still flashes back of the bullpen type stuff, but inconsistent control remains his bugaboo.

Now that the season has started I feel guilty if I don’t at least peruse the current numbers before publishing these conference follow lists. I don’t put a ton of stock on about a half of a season’s worth of data, but recent performances, whether positive or negative, can sometimes be a reflection of meaningful changes from a scouting perspective. Anyway, I happened to notice that I ranked Kevin Johnson and Matt Dermody back to back. Then I checked their 2013 numbers:

Johnson: 6.23 K/9 – 2.08 BB/9 – 3.79 FIP – 47.2 IP
Dermody: 6.27 K/9 – 2.09 BB/9 – 3.91 FIP – 47.1 IP

Neat!

You’d think I had some Northwestern connection (I don’t!) with the way I love Luke Farrell and Zach Morton. Farrell has always pitched well, has good size, and a fastball/curve/change trio that is good enough to get out big league hitters. I really like his fastball. Morton is the athlete I wish I could have been. Joey DeNato doesn’t have the same kind of physicality of the Northwestern guys, but darn if he doesn’t keep getting hitters out with his outstanding secondary stuff (change mostly). Jaron Long doesn’t quite have the same offspeed stuff, but he can still cutter teams to death when called upon. Brad Goldberg is a little like Brad Schreiber: big arm, intriguing upside, control remains a mess. I expected big things out of both Alex Lakatos (athleticism, size, heat, slider) and Brandon Pierce, but can’t say either has set the world on fire so far in 2013. Reid Roper is like Kyle Ruchim in that both are Big Ten 2B/RHP who do both jobs darn well. I like Roper a touch more on the mound than as a hitter, but can see why Illinois likes having his bat in the lineup. Fun player.