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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Big South

Matt Crohan at the top of the Big South’s pitching pile is easy. He’s really good. I currently have him as the seventh best college arm in this class and a dark horse to crash the top half of the first round this June. It’s a minority opinion to be sure, but I still don’t see what separates him all that much from AJ Puk at this point. After Crohan, however, this list gets difficult to sort in a hurry. Thankfully, it’s not for lack of quality options. The top dozen or so names listed below are all really exciting pro prospects in their own ways.

Parker Bean and Andre Scrubb are both big guys (Bean a little leaner) with mid-90s fastballs and quality offspeed stuff to match. The former’s 2015 was one to forget, but I think his athleticism and the depth of his offspeed stuff (cut-SL, CB, CU) are enticing enough that I can forgive it. Scrubb’s heft and arm action have me leaning towards more of a bullpen future for him – fair or not – but he can throw two breaking balls for strikes, so starting as a pro shouldn’t be off the table. He’s coming off a really impressive 2015 season, so I could see teams that value performance giving him the edge.

The Big South has a pair of pitchers in Devin Gould and Jeremy Walker that had me questioning my own core pitching beliefs. Both are righthanded juniors with sturdy frames and some projection left. Both have fastballs that creep into the mid-90s. Both have average or better sliders with above-average promise. Gould has missed more bats, but has been far too wild. Walker has average to above-average control, but to date hasn’t lit the world on fire with his ability to get swings and misses. Their relative youth and similar stuff sets up an interesting (albeit admittedly flawed) study in what area is more “fixable” in pitching prospects. Is it easier to fix one’s control or the increase one’s ability to miss bats? I send this question around to three BASEBALL MEN. Two opted for the guy with the iffy control but better strikeout numbers while the third claimed the guy with better control and decent K/9 had an easier path towards overall improvement (he also said he’d pay to see a real study done on this…we both freely admitted we were too stupid to figure out the logistics – so many variables! – of such a thing). Anyway, this was one of my conclusions…

Control seems more fixable due to circumstantial stuff — improved mechanics, better/different coaching, having some baseball or non-baseball epiphany between the ears — so I think I’d take the wild guy over the lower-K/lower-BB option. The only thing that gives me pause is that spikes in K/9 (when they happen at all) — again, assuming quality stuff throughout — seem to come with incremental change rather than major overhauls. That 6.50 K/9 to 9.00 K/9 jump can come with just changing a grip on an existing cutter or something since the “new” pitch better complements what you’ve been doing already. Still going with the control guy over the alternative, but it’s close.

Of course, that conversation sent me down a rabbit hole that eventually led to an interesting discussion that expanded on the idea of what the least worrisome flaw a prospect can be. It reminded me of a football coach I once had who swore that he could fix any player’s – he specialized in QB’s, but said he could help anybody – footwork in a matter of weeks. Paxton Lynch, a potential early first round QB in this year’s NFL Draft, has been dinged by many for ugly footwork. When I see some draft experts call this a fatal flaw, I’m reminded of that coach. One man’s fatal flaw is another’s easily correctable foible. For the record, I don’t know nearly enough about correcting a quarterback’s footwork to add much to the Lynch conversation. On one hand, it does seem like something that can be retaught. On the other, I’ve heard and read elsewhere that bad footwork is more of a symptom of something larger (inability to make decisions and read defenses, for example) than a singular physical issue. Scouting and development is hard work, I guess.

Anyway, due to my current belief that below-average control at the amateur level, often stemming from inconsistent mechanics, ineffective coaching, or some unknowable to the outside world mental barrier, is the simpler of the two issues to improve on, the wild Devin Gould gets the edge over the ordinary K/9-ing Jeremy Walker…for now. Your mileage might vary.

Alex Cunningham is a good arm on a good team, so he’ll get plenty of deserved attention all spring long now that he’s fully recovered from a fractured elbow. His command of three pitches (88-95 FB, mid-70s CB, upper-70s CU) should allow him to stay in the rotation professionally. Austin Ross has more of a reliever feel (good FB, plus SL), but with the chance to be a damn fine one. Mitchell Kuebbing has a little less fastball than the aforementioned Gould, so teams might not be as willing to overlook his similar control issues. I’m just a guy on the internet with little to lose, so gambling on his impressive arm – 88-92 FB, breaking ball that flashes plus, changeup that improves with every outing – is a no-brainer for me. I switched the order of these three pitches about a dozen times before finally settling on the ranking you see below. That kind of waffling is indicative of the overall time spent on sorting through these arms. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason why, but Big South pitching has been the hardest conference/position group to organize so far. That’s probably bad news for the conference’s hitters…

I last took Spanish in school a dozen years ago, so forgive me for the few days of excitement when I thought I had a nickname for Michael Paez cued up and ready to leash on the unsuspecting world. Turns out that vocabulary, once my one and only language strength (boooo grammar), had let me down: country in Spanish is país and not paez. Turns out we can’t call him Little Country after all. What we can call him is a damn fine ballplayer, lame nickname or not. Paez was my preferred First Team All-Prospect college player from two weeks ago for a reason. My indirect comp for him — more about how I perceive him as a prospect than a tools/physical comparison — was Blake Trahan, a third round pick of Cincinnati last season. I don’t know that he’ll rise that high in the eyes of the teams doing the picking in June, but there’s nothing in his prospect profile to suggest he doesn’t have a chance to finish around the same range (early second round) on my final big board. In a draft severely lacking in two-way college shortstops, he’s as good as it gets.

Josh Greene uses his plus speed to his advantage both in tracking down balls in center and on the base paths. He’s also one of the many toolsy college outfielders in this class who scouts insist has a better approach at the plate than his BB/K ratios to date suggest. Speed, range for center, leadoff approach, and sneaky pop all add up to a quality prospect too good to be called a sleeper.

Connor Owings and Nate Blanchard are both solid second base prospects coming off good 2015 seasons. Owings has an impressive hit tool and a patient approach while Owings is a strong defender with a similarly keen batting eye. I’m intrigued by Roger Gonzalez, a plus defender behind the plate and a potential contributor at it. The Miami transfer had a fine junior season and now rates as one of this class’s better senior-signs at the position. Tyler Chadwick is a really fun college player who might get dinged by pro teams unsure what to do with him defensively at the next level. It’s hard to believe that being too versatile a player can be seen as a negative by some front offices in 2016, but that’s some of the feedback I’ve gotten on him as a prospect. It’s such a ridiculous notion to me that it feels like a strawman argument to otherwise – especially considering that Chadwick is a good athlete who legitimately can play multiple spots; it’s not like’s a future DH without a position – but here we are. Chadwick’s versatility make him a far more appealing to prospect to me than he otherwise might be for no other reason than the utility he could bring a low-level minor league roster in flux with promotions, demotions, and injuries. That in and of itself gives him value, and that’s even before we get to his sound approach at the plate, average speed, and the possibility he could be nurtured full-time behind the plate as a viable catching prospect.

My quick search didn’t find the whereabouts of former Big South prospects Connor Pate, Al Molina, and Cas Silber. If anybody knows anything – or knows how to Google better than I can, evidently – drop me a line. I did find Dalton Moats, formerly of Coastal Carolina, at Delta State. He’s a good name to know as a three-pitch lefty with projection and velocity.

Hitters

  1. Coastal Carolina JR SS/2B Michael Paez
  2. High Point JR OF Josh Greene
  3. Coastal Carolina SR 2B/OF Connor Owings
  4. Charleston Southern JR 3B/2B Nate Blanchard
  5. Winthrop SR C Roger Gonzalez
  6. Coastal Carolina SR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick
  7. High Point JR 2B/SS Chris Clare
  8. Radford SR OF Shane Johnsonbaugh
  9. High Point SO 1B/OF Carson Jackson
  10. Liberty SR SS Dalton Britt (2016)
  11. Coastal Carolina SR 3B Zach Remillard
  12. Liberty JR OF Will Shepherd
  13. Coastal Carolina JR C/1B GK Young
  14. Liberty JR 3B/1B Sammy Taormina
  15. Coastal Carolina SR OF Anthony Marks
  16. Gardner-Webb SR C Collin Thacker
  17. Radford SR SS/OF Chris Coia
  18. UNC Asheville JR OF/3B Joe Tietjen
  19. Campbell SR OF/RHP Cole Hallum
  20. Radford rSO OF Trevor Riggs
  21. Liberty JR 1B Andrew Yacyk
  22. Liberty JR 2B Eric Grabowski
  23. Radford JR C John Gonzalez
  24. Winthrop rSR OF Anthony Paulsen
  25. Winthrop JR OF/C Babe Thomas
  26. Longwood SR OF Colton Konvicka
  27. Charleston Southern SR OF Sly Edwards
  28. Coastal Carolina SR C/OF David Parrett
  29. Liberty SR OF Aaron Stroosma
  30. UNC Asheville JR OF Kyle Carruthers
  31. Presbyterian SR OF Weston Jackson
  32. UNC Asheville SR C Lucas Owens
  33. Charleston Southern SR SS Cole Murphy
  34. UNC Asheville SR C Pete Guy

Pitchers

  1. Winthrop JR LHP Matt Crohan
  2. Liberty JR RHP Parker Bean
  3. High Point JR RHP Andre Scrubb
  4. Coastal Carolina rJR RHP Alex Cunningham
  5. Longwood JR RHP Mitchell Kuebbing
  6. Radford JR RHP Austin Ross
  7. Coastal Carolina SR RHP Mike Morrison
  8. Longwood JR RHP Devin Gould
  9. Gardner-Webb JR RHP Jeremy Walker
  10. Coastal Carolina rSR RHP Tyler Poole
  11. Radford SR RHP Dylan Nelson
  12. Gardner-Webb SR RHP Brad Haymes
  13. High Point rSR RHP Scot Hoffman
  14. Liberty JR LHP Michael Stafford
  15. Gardner-Webb SR LHP Ryan Boelter
  16. Coastal Carolina JR RHP Andrew Beckwith
  17. Liberty JR RHP Caleb Evans
  18. Liberty SR LHP Victor Cole
  19. Coastal Carolina rSR RHP Adam Hall
  20. Coastal Carolina rSO RHP Nicholas Masterson
  21. Gardner-Webb rSO RHP Andrew Massey
  22. Winthrop rSR LHP Sam Kmiec
  23. Presbyterian JR RHP Ethan Wortkoetter
  24. Liberty JR RHP Jackson Bertsch
  25. Liberty JR RHP Thomas Simpson
  26. Coastal Carolina rSR RHP Patrick Corbett
  27. Liberty SR RHP Carson Herndon
  28. Radford JR RHP Kyle Zurak
  29. Charleston Southern SR LHP Alex Ministeri
  30. Winthrop rSO RHP Zach Cook
  31. Winthrop SR SS/RHP Kyle Edwards
  32. Radford JR RHP Nygeal Andrews
  33. High Point rSR RHP Joe Goodman
  34. Gardner-Webb rSO RHP Wil Sellers
  35. Charleston Southern rSO RHP Wil Hartsell
  36. Longwood JR RHP Ryan Jones
  37. Charleston Southern SR RHP Chayce Hubbard
  38. Longwood JR RHP Luke Simpson
  39. Presbyterian JR LHP Hayden Deal
  40. Charleston Southern rSR RHP Evan Raynor
  41. Radford SR RHP Daniel Bridgeman
  42. Charleston Southern SR RHP Jon Piriz
  43. Winthrop SR RHP Zach Sightler
  44. Radford JR LHP Kyle Palmer
  45. Campbell SR RHP Nick Thayer
  46. Presbyterian SR RHP David Sauer
  47. Campbell JR LHP Andrew Witczak
  48. UNC Asheville SR RHP Corey Randall

Campbell

SR RHP Nick Thayer (2016)
SR RHP Grant Yost (2016)
JR LHP Andrew Witczak (2016)
SR OF/RHP Cole Hallum (2016)
rSR OF/RHP Brian Taylor (2016)
SR C Matt Parrish (2016)
rSR OF Kyle Prats (2016)
SR 2B/SS Anthony Lopez (2016)
SO C JD Andreessen (2017)
FR 1B/OF Michael Van Degna (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick Thayer, Grant Yost, Andrew Witczak, Cole Hallum

Charleston Southern

rSR RHP Evan Raynor (2016)
SR LHP Alex Ministeri (2016)
SR RHP Jon Piriz (2016)
SR RHP Chayce Hubbard (2016)
rSO RHP Wil Hartsell (2016)
SR OF Sly Edwards (2016)
SR 1B Bryan Dye (2016)
SR OF Brandon Burris (2016)
SR SS Cole Murphy (2016)
JR 3B/2B Nate Blanchard (2016)
SR OF Jack Crittenberger (2016)
SR 2B Ryan Maksim (2016)
SO RHP Tyler Weekley (2017)
SO OF Chris Singleton (2017)

High Priority Follows: Evan Raynor, Alex Ministeri, Jon Piriz, Chayce Hubbard, Wil Hartsell, Sly Edwards, Nate Blanchard

Coastal Carolina

rJR RHP Alex Cunningham (2016)
rSR RHP Tyler Poole (2016)
rSR RHP Adam Hall (2016)
rSR RHP Patrick Corbett (2016)
SR RHP Mike Morrison (2016)
rSO RHP Nicholas Masterson (2016)
JR RHP Andrew Beckwith (2016)
rJR SS/RHP Jordan Gore (2016)
JR C/1B GK Young (2016)
JR SS/2B Michael Paez (2016)
SR OF Anthony Marks (2016)
SR C/OF David Parrett (2016)
SR 3B Zach Remillard (2016)
SR 2B/OF Connor Owings (2016)
SR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick (2016)
SO OF Dalton Ewing (2016)
SO RHP Bobby Holmes (2017)
SO RHP Zack Hopeck (2017)
SO 2B/SS Seth Lancaster (2017)
SO 2B/OF Billy Cooke (2017)
SO 1B/3B Kevin Woodall (2017)
FR RHP Jason Bilous (2018)
FR SS/OF Cameron Pearcey (2018)
FR C Kyle Skeels (2018)

High Priority Follows: Alex Cunningham, Tyler Poole, Adam Hall, Patrick Corbett, Mike Morrison, Nicholas Masterson, Andrew Beckwith, Jordan Gore, GK Young, Michael Paez, Anthony Marks, David Parent, Zach Remillard, Connor Owings, Tyler Chadwick, Dalton Ewing

Gardner-Webb

JR RHP Jeremy Walker (2016)
rSO RHP Andrew Massey (2016)
SR LHP Ryan Boelter (2016)
SR RHP Brad Haymes (2016)
rSO RHP Wil Sellers (2016)
SR C Collin Thacker (2016)
SR 1B Patrick Graham (2016)
SR 2B Tyler Best (2016)
JR OF/3B Matt Simmons (2016)
JR OF Jacob Walker (2016)
SR OF Taylor Fisher (2016)
SR OF Evan Hyett (2016)
SO RHP Bradley Hallman (2017)
FR OF Chris Clary (2018)
FR OF Mason Fox (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jeremy Walker, Andrew Massey, Ryan Boelter, Brad Haymes, Wil Sellers, Collin Thacker

High Point

JR RHP Andre Scrubb (2016)
rSR RHP Scot Hoffman (2016)
SR RHP Michael Hennessey (2016)
rSR RHP Joe Goodman (2016)
SR RHP Tyler Britton (2016)
JR OF Josh Greene (2016)
JR 2B/SS Chris Clare (2016)
SO 1B/OF Carson Jackson (2016)
SR OF Tim Mansfield (2016)
SR C Dominic Fazio (2016)
JR OF Luke Parker (2016)
SO 2B Hunter Lee (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Gottfried (2018)
FR C Nick Blomgren (2018)
JR INF Nick Capra (2018)

High Priority Follows: Andre Scrubb, Scot Hoffman, Michael Hennessey, Joe Goodman, Josh Greene, Chris Clare, Carson Jackson

Liberty

SR LHP Victor Cole (2016)
SR RHP Carson Herndon (2016)
JR LHP Michael Stafford (2016)
JR RHP Jackson Bertsch (2016)
JR RHP Thomas Simpson (2016)
JR RHP Shane Quarterley (2016)
JR RHP Evan Mitchell (2016)
JR RHP Cody Gamble (2016)
JR RHP Jordan Scott (2016)
JR RHP Alex Clouse (2016)
JR RHP Caleb Evans (2016)
JR RHP Parker Bean (2016)
SR SS Dalton Britt (2016)
JR 3B/1B Sammy Taormina (2016)
JR OF Will Shepherd (2016)
rSO 3B Dylan Allen (2016)
JR 1B Andrew Yacyk (2016)
SR OF Aaron Stroosma (2016)
JR 2B Eric Grabowski (2016)
SO OF Josh Close (2017)
FR RHP Jack Degroat (2018)
FR RHP Zack Helsel (2018)
FR OF DJ Artis (2018)

High Priority Follows: Victor Cole, Carson Herndon, Michael Stafford, Jackson Bertsch, Thomas Simpson, Jordan Scott, Caleb Evans, Parker Bean, Dalton Britt, Sammy Taormina, Will Shepherd, Andrew Yacyk, Aaron Stroosma, Eric Grabowski

Longwood

JR RHP Devin Gould (2016)
SR RHP Allen Ellis (2016)
SR RHP Travis Burnette (2016)
JR RHP Mitchell Kuebbing (2016)
JR RHP Ryan Jones (2016)
JR RHP Luke Simpson (2016)
SR OF Colton Konvicka (2016)
SR 2B CJ Roth (2016)
JR OF Drew Kitson (2016)
SR 1B Connar Bastaich (2016)
JR C Mac McCafferty (2016)
JR 3B Alex Lewis (2016)
JR OF Janos Briscoe (2016): 6-2, 200 pounds
SO LHP Michael Catlin (2017)
SO RHP Zach Potojecki (2017)
SO SS Mike Osinski (2017)

High Priority Follows: Devin Gould, Mitchell Kuebbing, Ryan Jones, Luke Simpson, Colton Konvicka

Presbyterian

SR RHP David Sauer (2016)
rJR RHP Aaron Lesiak (2016)
JR RHP Ethan Wortkoetter (2016)
JR LHP Brian Kehner (2016)
JR LHP Hayden Deal (2016)
SR OF/1B Peter Johnson (2016)
SR 3B/2B Jacob Midkiff (2016)
JR OF Tyler Weyenberg (2016)
SR OF Weston Jackson (2016)
SO RHP Tanner Chock (2017)
SO RHP Russell Thompson (2017)
SO RHP/3B Ryan Hedrick (2017)
SO INF/OF AJ Priaulx (2017)
SO 1B Nick Wise (2017)

High Priority Follows: David Sauer, Ethan Wortkoetter, Hayden Deal, Jacob Midkiff, Tyler Weyenberg, Weston Jackson

Radford

SR RHP Dylan Nelson (2016)
JR RHP Austin Ross (2016)
SR LHP Mitchell MacKeith (2016)
SR RHP Daniel Bridgeman (2016)
JR LHP Kyle Palmer (2016)
SR LHP Tyler Swarmer (2016)
JR RHP Kyle Zurak (2016)
JR RHP Nygeal Andrews (2016)
SR OF Shane Johnsonbaugh (2016)
JR C John Gonzalez (2016)
SR SS/OF Chris Coia (2016)
SR C Jordan Taylor (2016)
JR INF Danny Hrbek (2016)
rSO OF Trevor Riggs (2016)
SO LHP Zack Ridgely (2017)
FR RHP Brandon Donovan (2018)
FR RHP Ryan Sande (2018)
FR 2B/SS Cody Higgerson (2018)
FR 3B Matt Roth (2018)
FR OF Adam Whitacre (2018)

High Priority Follows: Dylan Nelson, Austin Ross, Daniel Bridgeman, Kyle Zurak, Nygeal Andrews, Shane Johnsonbaugh, Jose Gonzalez, Chris Coia, Jordan Taylor, Danny Hrbek, Trevor Riggs

UNC Asheville

JR RHP Joe Zayatz (2016)
SR RHP Corey Randall (2016)
JR OF/LHP Tanner Bush (2016)
SR C Pete Guy (2016)
SR C Lucas Owens (2016)
JR OF Kyle Carruthers (2016)
JR OF/3B Joe Tietjen (2016)
JR SS Derek Smith (2016)
rJR INF Justin Woods (2016)
SO LHP Jordan Fulbright (2017)
SO RHP Ryan Tapp (2017)
FR LHP Jordan Carr (2018)
FR LHP Zach Greene (2018)

High Priority Follows: Joe Zayatz, Corey Randall, Pete Guy, Lucas Owens, Kyle Carruthers, Joe Tietjen

Winthrop

JR LHP Matt Crohan (2016)
rSR LHP Sam Kmiec (2016)
JR RHP Reece Green (2016)
SR RHP Zach Sightler (2016)
rSO RHP Zach Cook (2016)
SR SS/RHP Kyle Edwards (2016)
rSR OF Jayce Whitley (2016)
rSR OF Anthony Paulsen (2016)
rSR OF Tyler Asbill (2016)
JR OF/C Babe Thomas (2016)
SR C Roger Gonzalez (2016)
rSR 1B Mark Lowrie (2016)
rJR 2B CJ Hicks (2016)
SO LHP Riley Arnone (2017)
SO LHP Freddie Sultan (2017)
SO 2B/3B Mitch Spires (2017)
SO SS Jake Sullivan (2017)
FR RHP Nate Pawelczyk (2018)
FR LHP Thad Harris (2018)
FR OF Hunter Lipscomb (2018)
FR OF Matthew Mulkey (2018)

High Priority Follows: Matt Crohan, Sam Kmiec, Reece Green, Zach Sightler, Zach Cook, Kyle Edwards, Jayce Whitley, Anthony Paulsen, Babe Thomas, Roger Gonzalez

Big South 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

High Point SR C Spencer Angelis
Charleston Southern SR 1B Chase Shelton
Radford SR 2B Josh Gardiner
Coastal Carolina JR 3B Zach Remillard
Liberty JR SS Dalton Britt
Campbell JR OF Cedric Mullins
Longwood JR OF Kyri Washington
Liberty rSR OF Nick Paxton

Liberty SR RHP Ashton Perritt
Longwood SR RHP Aaron Myers
Radford JR LHP Michael Boyle
High Point SR RHP Conor Lourey
Coastal Carolina JR LHP Andrew Schorr

Going with a relative unknown like JR C Casey Schroeder (Coastal Carolina) over a proven bat like SR C Spencer Angelis (High Point) feels like a bit of a boom/bust prognostication at this point, but faith in the Kentucky transfers hit tool, athleticism, and slow yet steady defensive progression wins the day. The overall group of senior catchers in the conference – Angelis, Josh Spano (High Point), Josh Reavis (Radford), Andrew Widell (Charleston Southern) – present a unique and talented collection of potential money-saving signings for teams looking to cut costs while adding a potentially useful minor league contributor (everybody needs catching) with big league backup catching upside.

SR 1B/LHP Chase Shelton (Charleston Southern) might be a better fit in the outfield – he certainly has the arm for it – but that might be asking a bit too much out of a 6-5, 230 pound man. His bat looks pretty good either way. SR 1B Alex Close (Liberty) has been a favorite for some time – not a FAVORITE, but a favorite – because of his playable present power. If an area guy can sell his bosses on Close as a potential 1B/3B/C hybrid, then he could go higher than even I think. The breakout season for JR 3B Zach Remillard (Coastal Carolina) is coming. It has to be since it hasn’t happened yet. That’s infallible logic if I’ve ever heard it. Remillard is a really well-rounded talent who sometimes gets himself in trouble by expanding the zone and trying to do too much at the plate. If he can just ease up just a touch with his overly aggressive approach, then he could begin to produce enough overall offensive value to project as a potential regular at the hot corner. The more realistic forecast is as an offense-first utility player capable of playing 1B, 2B, 3B, and maybe the outfield corners. His teammate at Coastal Carolina, JR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick could eventually play a similar role but with even more positions (like, all of them) added to the mix. He might work better as a 2016 senior sign since many big league teams will ding him because of his lack of size (5-9, 180), but he’s handled the bat well when given a shot and the defensive versatility makes him an intriguing “hole-plugger” for an organization with a lot of minor league moving parts.

I’m not particularly enamored by any of the Big South 2015 shortstops at this point. Enough good things have been said about JR SS Dalton Britt (Liberty) that he takes the top spot over SR SS Ryan Hodge (Gardner-Webb), though I think both profile best as utility infielders/minor league depth in the long run. Britt has the better shot to change that perception if he can find a way to start doing some of the necessary secondary things offensively (pop, patience, speed) beyond hitting for average. The best middle infield prospect in the conference is SR 2B/OF Josh Gardiner (Radford), a strong athlete who does those secondary offensive things just well enough to profile as a sleeper big league talent. JR 2B Connor Owings (Coastal Carolina) could pass him by with a big junior year on the strength of his above-average hit tool.

JR OF Kyri Washington has as much a claim to the top position player spot in his conference as just about any prospect in the country. Evaluating amateur talent is sometimes only as hard as we make it. Your eyes eventually settle into seeing predictable patterns in the players you see and you find yourself getting unusually adept at recognizing the kind of ability that will become universally lauded as pro-caliber. “Always bet on ______” is more than just a snappy one-off line, but a mantra that serves those who watch a disproportionate amount of baseball well as they assess a prospect’s future. In Washington’s case, his athleticism and raw power qualify as abilities that stack up against almost any current big league player. If those are the traits that you value highly – and, really, who doesn’t? – then Washington is just about as good as it gets in college ball this year.

Conversely, anybody who watches a ton of amateur ball can quickly realize the holes in a mega-talented player’s game. If you’re an “always bet on the hit tool, including the consistent ability to make contact, the capacity to make adjustments within an at bat (or at least a game), and a seemingly innate overall feel for the strike zone and resourcefulness to spit on sometimes-strikes that he can’t do anything with,” well, then you might have some trepidation in championing a player who otherwise has first round tools. I’m on the fence as to whether or not how much of what we consider to fall under the plate discipline/approach to hitting umbrella can be taught, but I do believe that Washington is at the age in his baseball development when figuring it out – maybe not completely, but certainly to a degree – is well within the realm of possibility. That possibility on top of the prodigious raw power and plus athleticism is what makes the prospect of gambling on Washington so appealing. I get it. A comparison that I’ve heard and liked – though it admittedly stretches the limits of my personal firsthand baseball watching days – has stacked up Washington favorably to a young Richard Hidalgo.

With all that written on Washington, it seems only fair to spend at least a few words on the man ranked ahead of him. JR OF Cedric Mullins (Campbell) is a highly speculative pick on my end. I’ve never seen him, though, as I’ve said many times before, I’m not sure how much utility such a viewing would even bring. What I’ve heard about him, however, has been thrilling. Mullins has the chance to show premium tools as a defender in center (both range and arm) and on the base paths (plus speed and a great feel for the art of base stealing led to him going 55/59 on his career junior college attempts) this spring. He also brings a patient approach to hitting, both in how he happily accepts free passes (a walk doesn’t feel like such a passive thing when you know you’re taking second and maybe third once you are there) and works pitchers until he’s in counts favorable for fastball hunting. The only tool he ranks below Washington in is raw power, but, as covered above, the emphasis on the raw cannot be taken lightly. In terms of current functional power, the battle tightens quite a bit. It’s an imperfect comp for an imperfect world, but I can see Mullins approximating the value of another former junior college guy like Mallex Smith, though with a bit more pop and a fraction less speed.

One thing that stands out to me in my notes on SR RHP/OF Ashton Perritt (Liberty): “like him more than Aaron Brown.” Ignoring the fact that I don’t think Brown will ever hit enough to make his loud tools work – I much prefer him on the mound, but the Phillies never asked me – that’s still a nice little compliment. Whether I liked it or not (if it hasn’t come across yet, one last time: I really, really didn’t), the Pepperdine star showed enough to convince a team into selecting him with the 81st overall selection in last year’s draft. I suppose I’m not quite bold enough to predict the same draft outcome for the multi-talented Perritt, though I wouldn’t be surprised if a team fell in love with his talent as either a pitcher or hitter and took him earlier than the consensus industry opinion would have you think. I like him on the mound because he comes equipped with a relatively fresh arm capable of hitting the mid-90s,he throws two offspeed pitches with promise (82-84 split-CU and a separate quality low-80s breaking ball), and his athleticism is second to none in this year’s class of college pitching. That very same athleticism could convince a team to stick him in center, a position that would allow him to get the most out of his plus (some have it plus-plus) speed. Either way, he’s a good looking prospect and well worth seeing up close if you get the chance this spring.

The names that follow Perritt are a little less flashy, but no less promising. SR RHP Aaron Myers (Longwood) has gotten consistent results from day one thanks to an impressive blend of size (6-3, 225), pitchability, and stuff (88-92 sinking FB, average yet inconsistent CB, steadily improving CU that seems to get better every outing). JR LHP Michael Boyle (Radford) does man of the things successful young lefties do: spots an upper-80s FB (93 peak), leans on an impressive changeup, works from a deceptive delivery, and maintains good command of three pitches. SR RHP Conor Lourey might just qualify as flashy, but that assumes you’re into hard-throwing (94 peak) 6-7, 250 pound righthanders. JR LHP Andrew Schorr (Coastal Carolina) is a speculative addition, but what I’ve heard about his repertoire has me excited about his upcoming shot at D1 baseball.

Further down the line are names like SR RHP Heath Bowers (Campbell) and JR LHP Andrew Tomasovich (Charleston Southern). Bowers stands out to me for his fastball, a pitch that won’t wow you in terms of speed (mid- to upper-80s) but has enough sink to make good hitters make some really weak contact. I like Tomasovich for his funky lefthanded delivery that makes timing his stuff a task I’m glad I’ll never be asked to do. Mid-tier prospects like these guys need to find niches to survive in pro ball and both Bowers and Tomasovich seem up to the challenge.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Campbell JR OF Cedric Mullins
  2. Longwood JR OF Kyri Washington
  3. Radford SR 2B/OF Josh Gardiner
  4. Coastal Carolina JR 2B Connor Owings
  5. Coastal Carolina JR C Casey Schroeder
  6. High Point SR C/1B Spencer Angelis
  7. Coastal Carolina JR 3B Zach Remillard
  8. Liberty JR SS Dalton Britt
  9. Charleston Southern SR 1B/LHP Chase Shelton
  10. Liberty SR 1B Alex Close
  11. High Point SR C Josh Spano
  12. Coastal Carolina JR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick
  13. Radford SR 1B/3B Hunter Higgerson
  14. Liberty rSR OF Nick Paxton
  15. Radford SR OF Patrick Marshall
  16. UNC Asheville SR 3B/1B Hunter Bryant
  17. Gardner-Webb SR SS Ryan Hodge
  18. Radford rSR C Josh Reavis
  19. Charleston Southern SR C Andrew Widell
  20. Radford JR SS/OF Chris Coia
  21. Campbell rJR C Steven Leonard

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Liberty SR RHP/OF Ashton Perritt
  2. Longwood SR RHP Aaron Myers
  3. Radford JR LHP Michael Boyle
  4. High Point SR RHP Conor Lourey
  5. Coastal Carolina JR LHP Andrew Schorr
  6. Coastal Carolina JR RHP Mike Morrison
  7. Radford JR RHP Dylan Nelson
  8. Campbell SR RHP Heath Bowers
  9. Presbyterian SR LHP Beau Dees
  10. UNC Asheville JR RHP Corey Randall
  11. Charleston Southern JR LHP Andrew Tomasovich
  12. Coastal Carolina rJR RHP Tyler Poole
  13. Gardner-Webb SR RHP Matt Fraudin
  14. Coastal Carolina rJR RHP Patrick Corbett
  15. Liberty SR LHP Shawn Clowers
  16. Liberty SR RHP Carson Herndon
  17. Winthrop JR RHP Joey Strain
  18. Winthrop JR RHP Zach Sightler
  19. Liberty JR RHP Hayden White
  20. Longwood SR LHP Brandon Vick
  21. Coastal Carolina rSO RHP Alex Cunningham
  22. Gardner-Webb JR LHP Ryan Boelter
  23. High Point rJR RHP Scot Hoffman
  24. Presbyterian JR RHP David Sauer
  25. Coastal Carolina SR LHP Austin Kerr
  26. Gardner-Webb JR RHP Brad Haymes
  27. Radford JR RHP Ryan Meisinger
  28. Liberty SR LHP Jared Lyons
  29. Campbell SR RHP Bobby Thorson