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Detroit Tigers 2011 MLB Draft in Review

Detroit 2011 Draft Selections

I’ve done enough of these draft reviews that I’m starting to repeat my repeats. I no longer can keep track of all of the silly claims (best draft, worst draft, whatever) that I’ve made so far. As I’ve surely said before, I’m not a huge fan of a team like Detroit taking so many college guys early on in the draft. When your first high school prospect is drafted in the fifteenth round, you’re doing it wrong.

Of course, you can always redeem yourself by simply drafting well. Whether we’re talking prospects from college, high school, junior college, or Cuba (looking in your direction, Onelki Garcia), the most important part of picking players is picking good players. I don’t like a college heavy approach, but if you are picking quality college players then who am I to complain?

That takes care of the top of Detroit’s draft. The back end was a mess. Brett Harrison, an overslot prep signing in the eighteenth round, was the last high school prospect signed by the Tigers. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but it isn’t good when you essentially stop drafting after round 18. Detroit managed to land a couple potential relief arms and a few org bats, but outside of intriguing 22nd round pick Tommy Collier, there is no impact upside. When you combine that with a college-heavy approach early on, you’re limiting the chances of landing a player who might contribute at or close to a star level in a big time way.

All I can do is throw up my hands and admit defeat when it comes to the Tigers first pick, Arkansas C James McCann. I figured teams would like him a lot more than I did, but never in my wildest fantasies did I think he’d crack the top two rounds. In my pre-draft comment (below), I said I’d spend upwards of a seventh rounder on him, but no more. Detroit obviously thought differently. Luckily for me, this is just the beginning. McCann’s pro career can go a lot of different ways from this point forward, so the jury is far from out when it comes time to determining whether or not this was a smart pick. Despite not being his biggest fan – from a prospect only and nothing personal standpoint – I’ll be rooting for him to exceed my expectations because by all accounts he is a really great guy. Still think he has a really good chance to become a steady professional backup catcher, though playing time might be hard to come by in an organization that has spent five picks in the draft’s top ten rounds over the past two years on catchers. They also have a pretty good young catcher at the big league level who figures to have a lock on the starting job for the foreseeable future.

I was impressed with the much discussed McCann’s well above-average athleticism and solid speed (for a catcher) in my admittedly quick look at him. His hit tool and power tool both project to around average (45 to 55, depending on the day) and his defense is already professional quality. I know I’ve been considered a McCann hater at times, but I think his relatively high floor (big league backup) makes him a worthy pick within the first seven to ten rounds.

There isn’t much to add about Vanderbilt 1B Aaron Westlake that hasn’t already been said. He has one clear big league tool (power) and a second that is average or better (hit), but is held back by the position he plays. If he hits in the minors, he’ll rise up. If he doesn’t hit, he’s sunk. There isn’t much of a speed/defense safety net, though there are some who think he is just athletic enough to be tried at various odd spots (corner OF, 3B, even C) around the diamond. His handedness (left) works in his favor in that he could potentially get platoon/pinch hit at bats against righthanded pitchers.

Westlake is going to hit as a professional, I’m sure of that much. Will he hit enough to hold down an everyday job at first? That’s the million dollar question, I suppose. He should be able to hit well enough against righthanded pitchers to at least work his way into a platoon role down the line. It could also be possible that his drafting team gets creativity with him, and tries him at a few different spots (corner OF, maybe a little third, perhaps some time behind the plate) a la Baltimore’s Jake Fox.

Can’t say I completely understand the selection of Kansas State 3B Jason King this early on (137th overall), but what do I know? King put up good numbers for the Wildcats and has ample power upside, but I don’t think he’ll hit enough to be a regular in an outfield corner, his likely landing spot down the line.

Texas SS Brandon Loy’s defense is big league quality already, so it really is just a matter of whether or not he can do enough damage with the stick to be a regular. With their 5th round pick (159th overall) in 2009, the St. Louis Cardinals took Miami SS Ryan Jackson. Loy, a player with a similar college background, also went off the board in the 5th round (167th overall). As Peter King might say the kids might say, “Just sayin’.”

Loy is a standout defensive player who makes up for his average foot speed with tremendous instincts and a plus arm that helps him execute all of the necessary throws from deep in the hole at short. He’s also a great athlete with awesome hand-eye coordination; that coordination is never more apparent than when he is called on to bunt, something he already does as well as the best big leaguer. I was slow to come around to Loy as a top prospect heading into the year, but the improvements with the bat have me thinking of him in a new light. Like Taylor Motter ranked one spot above him, Loy’s awesome defense should be his ticket to the big leagues, perhaps as a Paul Janish type down the road.

Howard JC OF Tyler Collins is similar from a basic scouting vantage point to Jason King. Both guys have big power, but project best as outfielders unable to play center. Guys like have to, wait for it, hit a ton to keep advancing in pro ball. I do like Collins’ pure hit tool over King’s and he is more of a natural in the outfield, so, you know, there’s that.

I was impressed Detroit got a deal done with Wichita State LHP Brian Flynn, a draft-eligible sophomore that many had pegged as likely to return for one more season with the Shockers. Lefties who are 6-8, 240ish pounds and can reach the mid-90s don’t come around too often, but it wasn’t just Flynn’s questionable signability that dropped him to the 7th round. At this precise moment in time, Flynn is a one-pitch pitcher. Even that one pitch, his fastball, isn’t that great an offering when you factor in his inconsistent ability to harness it. If the slider keeps developing and he shows he can work in the occasional change, then we might have a dark horse starting pitching prospect. If not, Flynn will try to make it in the competitive world of professional relief pitching.

Wichita State SO LHP Brian Flynn: 86-90 FB, peak 92; new peak of 94; command needs work; 6-8, 245 pounds

I lost track of Dallas Baptist OF Jason Krizan from early last season to just this very moment, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see he hit a Division I record for doubles this past year. Considering the only notes I had on him at the start of the year were “big power to gaps,” I can’t help but laugh. Krizan’s 2011 numbers have a distinct video game feel, but his lack of big tools – remember, a comment about his gap power was about the most positive thing said about him from a scouting perspective this past spring – keep him from being as good a prospect as his numbers might have you think. His inability to play center hurts him as well because, stop me if you’ve heard this before, if you want to play a big league corner outfield spot then you have to be able to hit, hit, and hit some more. With the right breaks Krizan could make it as a backup outfielder/pinch hitter, but he’d be stretched as an everyday player.

Kentucky OF Chad Wright profiles very similarly to the guy drafted one round ahead of him. He’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” prospect who is just good enough at everything to be interesting, but not quite good enough at any one thing to be a regular.

Kentucky JR OF Chad Wright (2011): average all around

I’ve written a lot about Vanderbilt C Curt Casali over the years, so I’ll make this brief: Curt Casali is going to play in the big leagues. I’ll go a step further and say he’s a better than 50/50 bet to outproduce the other SEC catcher taken by Detroit in the second round. I know I’m alone on this, but he reminds me a good bit of one-time catcher Josh Willingham at the plate. One thing that could definitely hold him back: I don’t know if he’s athletic enough to move out behind the plate if such a move is necessitated by his surgically reconstructed elbow.

Every game Casali plays is one game further removed from 2009 Tommy John surgery. The difference it has made in his defense behind the plate (more than just big league ready – he’d be in the upper half defensively of pro catchers) and his offense at the plate (near-plus raw power and a phenomenal whole field approach) give him the look of a future big leaguer to me. It is a rare senior that warrants draft consideration before round five, but Casali is an exception. Love this guy.

Barry 1B Dean Green (Round 11) got lost in the shuffle after transferring to Barry from Oklahoma State, but he’s a solid hitter with decent power. Michigan State OF Jeff Holm (Round 12) was a slick pick as one of the nation’s most intriguing senior signs. He has a long track record of excellent production, good speed, a great approach to hitting, and some defensive versatility (he plays a mean first base as well as average D in the outfield corners).

Michigan State SR OF Jeff Holm (2011): great approach; above-average to plus speed; gap power; average arm; average range in corner; has played 1B, but enough foot speed for corner; (340/411/534 – 28 BB/15 K – 22/25 SB – 206 AB)

I wanted all spring to champion Alabama-Birmingham RHP Ryan Woolley (Round 13), but his production (roughly 6 K/9) kept me from throwing any weight behind an endorsement. Down senior year aside, Woolley is a solid relief prospect with a good fastball that plays up in the bullpen and two offspeed pitches (slider and hard change) that flash above-average.

UAB SR RHP Ryan Woolley (2011): 90-91, topping at 92 with FB; has been up to 93-96 with FB; good 12-6 75-77 SL; power 82-83 CU; 6-1, 195 pounds; (6.75 K/9 – 4.64 BB/9 – 4.87 FIP – 64 IP*)

Stratford Academy (GA) OF Tyler Gibson (Round 15) might only have one plus tool, but it’s the right one to have. His big raw power gives him a chance to someday start in a corner, but he’s a long way away from being the player he’ll eventually be.

Green Valley HS (NV) 3B Brett Harrison (Round 18) got six figures mostly for his plus defensive upside and chance for a league average bat. I thought he could stick up the middle, but the Tigers prefer him at third.

My first draft originally had Harrison with the second base prospects, but a quick word from a smart guy suggested I was underselling his defensive upside. I believe a sampling of that quick word included the phrase “unbelievably light on his feet, like he is fielding on a cloud” or something weirdly poetic like that. There isn’t a whole lot there with the bat just yet, but after being told he had a “criminally underrated pure hit tool” I reconsidered and relented. Still not sold on the power ever coming around, but if he can combine an above-average hit tool with solid defense and a good arm, then we’ve got ourselves a nice looking prospect. There is an outside shot Harrison could go undrafted if teams are as convinced as my smart guy seems to be about his commitment to Hawaii.

If one player stands out as a potential late round steal for Detroit, it’s San Jacinto JC RHP Tommy Collier (Round 22). Collier throws two plus pitches already, and, if healthy, has the chance to unleash his nasty slider once again. He has the repertoire to start, but his health might necessitate a full-time switch to the bullpen. Mississippi LHP Matt Crouse (Round 24) is another arm with upside signed later on in the draft. His stuff was down this past spring, but he shows three average or better pitches when right and a projectable frame that could lead to a touch more velocity going forward. Southern California RHP Chad Smith (Round 17), who is equipped with a tidy low-90s heater/low-80s slider combo, could also make it as a reliever in pro ball

Mississippi JR LHP Matt Crouse: 86-88 FB, rare 91-92 peak; above-average CB that he leans on heavily; good CU; very projectable, but mechanics need cleaning up; 6-4, 185 pounds; stuff down this spring

Southern Cal JR RHP Chad Smith (2011): 90-92 FB; 93 peak; 80-84 SL; 6-3, 210

I can’t wait to see what Wichita State has planned for returning senior RHP Mitch Mormann (Round 25). He already has a plus fastball, both in terms of velocity and movement, and a slider that works as a solid second pitch in the bullpen. If his changeup shows progress, he could start this spring. If not, he could be on the short list of top college relievers for the 2012 Draft.

SR RHP Mitch Mormann (2012): 93-95 FB with great sink, 96 peak; average 83-85 SL; raw CU; 6-6, 255 pounds

Minnesota RHP Scott Matyas (Round 27) retired after just four rocky pro appearances, so, yeah, that’s that. He was going to be my sleeper pick, too. Glad I double-checked!

Minnesota SR RHP Scott Matyas: sits 88-91, 94 peak FB; above-average low-70s CB; good cutter; good command; mixes in upper-70s CU; really good athlete; 6-4, 220; Tommy John survivor

Missouri State RHP Dan Kickham (Round 33) might be the best of the sorry lot of players signed by Detroit after the 25th round. His fastball is too straight and his slider more good than great, but he has a chance to rise up in the system with some early pro successes.

Missouri State JR RHP Dan Kickham: 88-92 FB without much movement; average 81-83 SL; reliever; 6-4, 210

Portage HS (MI) 1B Ryan Krill (Round 40) is off to Michigan State. Well, I suppose he’s already there (it is almost November, after all), but you know what I mean. He has the chance to hit right away for a Spartans team that looks pretty decent on paper.

Krill is another prospect I was slow to come around on, but I’m buying into his mix of strong defensive tools, super athleticism, and big upside with the bat. Like Jacob Anderson before him, he’s got the wheels and instincts to play some outfield as a pro. There is enough to like about Krill that you can dream on him being a league average hitter and above-average glove at first down the line if everything works out. That may not sound all that sexy, and there is plenty of risk involved with assuming “everything works out,” but you have to remember how much you have to hit if you want to play first base in the bigs. As much as I like Krill now, I’ll be the first to admit that each and every one of these mid-round high school first basemen will all have to make major strides in pro ball (i.e. have “everything work out”) to begin to reach their upper level projections. Life is tough when you don’t have a fallback plan, I guess.

Final 2011 MLB Draft College Shortstop Rankings

I haven’t offered too much commentary on the position player groups as a whole, but, man, the college shortstop group is weak this year. Miller and Ahmed are the clear top two for me, but both could be moved off the position in pro ball (Miller in CF or 2B, Ahmed in CF or 3B). I’ve liked Motter for a long time, and Brandon Loy has grown on me with every viewing, but I’d only put money on one sure fire (or as close as one can get to “sure fire” when it comes to the draft) long-term starter (Miller).

With some luck, college 2B should be up later today. After that, I’ll be working on high school middle infield prospects. Then on to 3B and OF before finally getting to the most exciting part of this year’s draft, the pitching. All that will be left after that will be a complete big board and then the excitement of draft day.

1. Clemson JR SS Brad Miller

*** 2010: .407/.510/.641 – 53 BB/37 K – 231 AB – 10/12 SB
*** 2011: .439/.546/.614 – 40 BB/28 K – 171 AB – 22/26 SB

Miller goes coast to coast as this season’s top collegiate shortstop prospect, beginning the year at the top spot and very deservedly finishing at number one as well. I’ve long held the position that the current Clemson shortstop has what it takes to stick at the position, an opinion tied far more closely to his defensive tools — most notably the speed and athleticism that give him well above-average range up the middle — than his present, sometimes erratic, ability. At the plate, he’s done everything expected of him and more. I’m admittedly more bullish on his power upside than most and can see him further tapping into said upside to the tune of 15+ homers annually. Even if the power doesn’t quite reach those levels, Miller’s consistent hard contact and good approach should help keep his batting average and on-base percentage at more than acceptable numbers for a starting middle infielder. It may be a popular comp for a lot of players, but I think a comparison between Brad Miller and former ACC star and current Oriole Brian Roberts is apt.

2. Connecticut JR SS Nick Ahmed

*** 2010: .326/.390/.404 – 29 BB/31 K – 267 AB – 34/42 SB
*** 2011: .355/.448/.487 – 22 BB/14 K – 152 AB – 20/26 SB

I try not to let a quick look at a player influence my opinion on him too much, but Nick Ahmed gave off that somewhat silly yet undeniable big league look when I see him play earlier this year. He’s got an easy plus arm, strong defensive tools and athleticism that should play at multiple spots, and enough bat speed to drive good fastballs to the gaps. My only “concern,” if you even want to call it that, is that he’ll outgrow shortstop. The reason why I’m not ready to call that a legitimate concern just yet is because, based on his current tall and lanky frame, I would hope any physical growth he experiences professionally would be accompanied by additional strength, especially in his upper body, to help his eventual power output. In other words, if he gets too big for shortstop then at least he’ll then have the chance of having the power bat needed to play elsewhere.

3. Coastal Carolina JR SS Taylor Motter

*** 2010: .355/.457/.654 – 39 BB/35 K – 214 AB – 11/15 SB
*** 2011: .281/.412/.422 – 43 BB/37 K – 192 AB – 18/20 SB

I can’t even begin to guess where Motter will actually go on draft day, but I’m willing to stick my neck out and say that whatever team winds up with him will get one of the draft’s underrated gems. Like Brandon Loy ranked just below him, Motter’s biggest strengths are his plus glove and plus throwing arm. Any above-average tool besides those two are gravy, though it certainly doesn’t hurt that Motter has an average hit tool and good speed. A couple of really nice things I heard about Motter after talking to people in the know included a description of the  “he simply does not waste at bats” and a glowing report on “his professional knowledge of the strike zone.” Motter obviously doesn’t profile as a Troy Tulowitzki type of power hitter, but with his defense, speed, and command of the strike zone, he won’t have to hit the ball out of the ballpark to someday get a chance as a starting big league shortstop.

4. Texas JR SS Brandon Loy

*** 2010: .294/.399/.383 – 36 BB/37 K – 214 AB – 12/20 SB
*** 2011: .353/.431/.471 – 28 BB/20 K – 221 AB – 12/16 SB

Loy is a standout defensive player who makes up for his average foot speed with tremendous instincts and a plus arm that helps him execute all of the necessary throws from deep in the hole at short. He’s also a great athlete with awesome hand-eye coordination; that coordination is never more apparent than when he is called on to bunt, something he already does as well as the best big leaguer. I was slow to come around to Loy as a top prospect heading into the year, but the improvements with the bat have me thinking of him in a new light. Like Taylor Motter ranked one spot above him, Loy’s awesome defense should be his ticket to the big leagues, perhaps as a Paul Janish type down the road.

5. TCU JR SS Taylor Featherston

*** 2010: .380/.454/.630 – 19 BB/36 K – 216 AB – 5/9 SB
*** 2011: .386/.456/.520 – 16 BB/28 K – 223 AB – 6/11 SB

In much the same way I now link Motter and Loy together in my head, Nick Ahmed and Taylor Featherston stick together as similar prospects in many respects. Like Ahmed, Featherston has good size, above-average athleticism, average speed, and gap power. Featherston also faces similar questions about his eventual defensive landing spot. For now, I like Featherston to stick at shortstop. The defensive strides he has made from his freshman season to today give me reason to believe he has only scratched the surface on what he can do at shortstop. He doesn’t profile as ever having an above-average glove at short as he still has the tendency to do too much in the field at times, but I’d rather see a player going all out to make plays than have a steady, error-free performer who won’t get to nearly as many balls. If his most realistic outcome is as an offensive-minded backup infielder, so bet it.

6. Minnesota JR SS AJ Pettersen

*** 2010: .324/.404/.418 – 26 BB/42 K – 256 AB – 5/9 SB
*** 2011: .377/.428/.466 – 15 BB/17 K – 191 AB – 8/13 SB

In a year when very few college shortstops performed at or near their previous level of play, Pettersen improved across the board. He also improved in the eyes of scouts, turning what was considered an average at best hit tool at the start of the year into something most consider above-average at this point. Like many on the list he could wind up either at 2B or CF in pro ball, but I haven’t seen anything in his defensive game that makes me think he can’t at least start off as a shortstop. Like most players from now to the end of the list, his most likely ceiling is that of a quality big league utility guy.

7. Wichita State JR SS Tyler Grimes

*** 2010: .269/.439/.368 – 37 BB/47 K  – 193 AB – 7/14 SB
*** 2011: .299/.462/.419 – 52 BB/59 K – 234 AB – 25/29 SB

Grimes is another beneficiary of the weak college shortstop class, and is now regarded as one of the most advanced shortstop prospects around. His on-base skills are impressive, as is his defensive skill set, but the hit tool lags behind and his long, all or nothing swing doesn’t make a lot of sense for a player with limited power. I can see the appeal, but not to the point where I’d go around claiming he’ll be a big league regular any time soon.

8. LSU JR SS Austin Nola

*** 2010: .332/.400/.471 – 30 BB/37 K – 259 AB – 1/1 SB
*** 2011: .301/.385/.418 – 29 BB/34 K – 196 AB – 4/7 SB

Nola is a very good defender with just enough bat to give his drafting team hope that he’ll someday hit his way into a starting big league job. No above-average offensive tools (bat, power, speed) make it hard for me to project him as an everyday guy down the line, so I’ll go the broken record route and say, yet again, his most likely outcome is that of a utility infielder.

9. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Kenton Parmley

*** 2010: .363/.412/.553 – 19 BB/21 K – 237 AB – 12/17 SB
*** 2011: .279/.349/.433 – 22 BB/27 K – 208 AB – 8/10 SB

There are a lot of similarities in the upside between Parmley and Austin Nola – both are very good defensive players, average runners, and slightly below-average hitters. While I prefer Nola’s hit tool by a hair, the easiest difference to spot between the two prospects comes down to arm strength; Nola has plenty for shortstop while Parmley has plenty for a right fielder.

10. Michigan SO SS Derek Dennis

*** 2010: .278/.355/.375 – 14 BB/49 K – 176 AB – 7/9 SB
*** 2011: .236/.347/.270 – 20 BB/38 K – 148 AB – 5/6 SB

The 2009 unsigned tenth rounder entered school with the expectation that he’d continue to transform himself into a five-tool shortstop — heard a Danny Espinosa comp on him at one point — capable of doing enough of everything (50s and 55s across the board) to become a good big league starter. So far, not so much. The sum of Dennis’ tools simply do not yet add up to a good ballplayer. That’s alright for now because of the two remaining years of college eligibility Dennis has ahead of him. A team might take a chance on the tools despite his subpar college production, but you’d have to imagine Dennis wouldn’t jump to the pros with his value so low. In other words, if he is offered less than what he turned down in 2009, he’s staying in Ann Arbor at least another year.

11. Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson

*** 2011: .304/.418/.364 – 41 BB/33 K – 214 AB – 22/30 SB

Tomlinson was identified as a sleeper heading into the year and, for the most part, he did not disappoint. The book on him was that he had plus speed, a very good arm, great athleticism, and the tools to be an excellent defensive shortstop. My only concern is his lack of power going forward – not so much in that I’m worried he won’t be a power hitter as a pro (it’s pretty much a given that he won’t be), but more so that he’ll have the bat knocked out of his hands at the next level.

12. James Madison SR SS David Herbek

*** 2010: 315/425/525 – 22 BB/32 K – 181 AB – 13/16 SB
*** 2011: .338/.425/.647 – 21 BB/28 K – 201 AB – 12/16 SB

Last year I wrote: “Herbek is a certifiable draft sleeper. He currently has gap power to all fields, but his beautifully level line drive stroke (reminiscent of Bill Mueller’s righthanded swing) has me thinking there is double digit home run potential if he can add some strength in the coming years.”

I didn’t anticipate that double digit home run totals to come in just over 200 senior year at bats, but there you go. His bat ranks up there with almost any other college shortstop in his class, but the relatively low ranking can be owed to his occasionally spotty defense. As an offense-first infielder off the bench he’ll do just fine.

13. Virginia Military Institute SR SS Sam Roberts

*** 2010: .313/.426/.531 – 42 BB/36 K – 211 AB – 9/16 SB
*** 2011: .342/.441/.500 – 35 BB/29 K – 202 AB – 13/17 SB

Roberts is a do-it-all utility player for VMI that leads off, plays short, and takes the hill every weekend as a starting pitcher. As a college player, there’s little he doesn’t do well and he’s been producing at a big time clip since first stepping on campus. He’s got just enough speed and power to be interesting on offense, and plenty of arm strength to play either spot on the left side of the infield.

14. Lake Erie College JR SS Ryan Rua

*** 2011: .400/.437/.594 – 9 BB/13 K – 170 AB – 19/23 SB

Rua faces the typical level of competition questions that come with playing Division II ball at Lake Erie College, but a strong junior year may have quieted some of the doubters. Some have him ticketed for CF as a pro, but I think his strong arm and above-average range should keep him in the middle infield to start his pro career. His bat isn’t quite as strong as his numbers suggest, though he profiles as an average to slightly below-average, slash and dash hitter down the road.

15. Florida Atlantic SR SS Nick DelGuidice

*** 2010: 294/341/498 – 19 BB/31 K – 245 AB – 3/4 SB
*** 2011: .324/.352/.484 – 11 BB/15 K – 213 AB – 3/5 SB

Never been all that high on DelGuidice’s bat, but his glove continues to impress. I think the leather should be enough to get him drafted, though I’m not sure if his limited ceiling will ever get him listed on Baseball America’s organizational top 30.

16. UCLA JR SS Tyler Rahmatulla

*** 2010: .336/.447/.530 – 42 BB/36 K –  232 AB – 14/21 SB
*** 2011: .250/.354/.294 – 7 BB/15 K – 68 AB – 5/6 SB

Jett Bandy, Ricky Oropesa, Zack MacPhee, and now Tyler Rahmatulla…that’s 4/5th of our Pac-10 all down year draft-eligible prospect team. Rahmatulla has injuries to explain away some of his slippage, but any year when your slugging percentage almost drops by half from the one before it isn’t a good one. A return engagement for a senior year could help him bring his stock back up to his pre-2011 level.

17. Troy SR SS Adam Bryant

*** 2010: .364/.439/.764 – 27 BB/37 K – 250 AB – 4/4 SB
*** 2011: .332/.395/.556 – 23 BB/25 K – 250 AB – 8/11 SB

Bryant is now fully recovered from last season’s labrum surgery and it shows. His defense has always been solid, and there is a surprising amount of power in his bat. He isn’t a top level prospect by any means, but he certainly qualifies as an intriguing senior sign.

18. California JR SS Marcus Semien

*** 2010: .359/.432/.533 – 26 BB/35 K – 195 AB – 5/7 SB
*** 2011: .266/.366/.391 – 26 BB/29 K – 184 AB – 7/11 SB

Semien is considered a draft sleeper by many, but I don’t see it. He probably has the range and arm to stay at short, so that’s a plus, but without much in the way of a hit tool, power, or speed, there isn’t enough there to project him as a big leaguer at this point.

19. South Carolina JR SS Peter Mooney

*** 2011: .271/.380/.383 – 35 BB/25 K – 214 AB – 3/6 SB

Mooney plays a mean shortstop for the defending champs, at times drawing the rare and beautiful “plus-plus” distinction for his glovework. Heard an amusing — probably because I’m a Phillies fan — Freddy Galvis comp on him that got me wondering about where the many age appropriate Latin American prospects who have already been in pro ball for years would be drafted if eligible in 2011. After about 20 minutes of trying to incorporate them into some kind of Alternate Reality Mock Draft, I gave up and came back to Mooney. The Gamecocks shortstop isn’t big (5-7, 150) or toolsy (besides his defense and a strong arm), but he could make it as a defense-first eight- or nine-hole hitter somewhere, someday.

20. UC Irvine JR SS DJ Crumlich

*** 2010: 310/421/422 – 19 BB/14 K – 116 AB – 2/4 SB
*** 2011: .299/.402/.403 – 29 BB/26 K – 201 AB – 4/7 SB

Crumlich has been very consistent since enrolling at UC Irvine. That consistency has been both a blessing — who doesn’t like a steady performer? — and a curse (consistently average or worse tools won’t draw anybody but an area scout down to see you). My guess is that Crumlich gets the chance to display that consistency for one more college season.

21. Oregon JR SS KC Serna

*** 2010: .365/.437/.498 – 23 BB/22 K – 233 AB – 14/22 SB
*** 2011: .234/.347/.299 – 25 BB/28 K – 167 AB – 12/12 SB

Rahmatulla, Semien, and now Serna – three Pac-10 shortstop prospects who underperformed greatly in 2011. Serna’s struggles are more damning, for no other reason than his spotty track record of staying out of trouble away from the diamond. Scouts will overlook character concerns as best they can if you can really, really play; if you can’t, you’ll be labeled as a player that will cause more headaches than you’re worth.

22. Army SR SS Clint Moore

*** 2010: .305/.410/.550 – 20 BB/27 K – 151 AB – 4/7 SB
*** 2011: .274/.367/.571 – 22 BB/45 K – 168 AB – 4/5 SB

Moore has better than you’d think range at short and a third base caliber arm, plus above-average power for a middle infielder. Like many on the list, he profiles best as a — wait for it — offensive-oriented utility guy. Unlike many on the list, he attends a university that requires a commitment beyond just four years of service. While admirable in a way that I can’t adequately describe, it certainly complicates his situation going forward.

23. Long Beach State JR SS Kirk Singer

*** 2010: .356/.435/.541 – 18 BB/26 K – 146 AB – 5/11 SB
*** 2011: .258/.343/.323 – 20 BB/44 K – 155 AB – 3/8 SB

I want to like Kirk Singer because of that sweet, sweet Long Beach State tradition of shortstops, but can’t fully buy in to a player with such an inconsistent bat. Defensively, he is exactly what you’d expect from a Dirtbag – plus arm, above-average lateral quickness, and 100% effort at all times. Maybe I’ve found a way to contradict myself in the space of a short paragraph, but, come to think of it, if I’m picking late and Singer is still out there and signable, his Long Beach pedigree would make him awfully tempting.

24. Southeastern Louisiana JR SS Justin Boudreaux

*** 2010: .309/.418/.543 – 36 BB/41 K – 230 AB – 17/21 SB
*** 2011: .314/.384/.505 – 23 BB/43 K – 220 AB – 14/17 SB

Boudreaux has a strong arm, above-average range, and steady hands. All in all, his defense works. That said, his best tool could be his wonderfully appropriate name; have to love a Boudreaux playing for Southeastern Louisiana.

25. LSU JR SS Tyler Hanover

*** 2010: .344/.421/.445 – 27 BB/26 K – 247 AB – 5/9 SB
*** 2011: .316/.414/.342 – 33 BB/16 K – 193 AB – 5/9 SB

Because I  stupidly forgot my laptop battery at work and won’t be able to plug back in until tomorrow, here are my unedited notes on Hanover instead of the brilliantly crafted paragraph you are all familiar with:

above-average speed, but more impressive as an instinctual base runner; very good defender – arguably his best present tool; competition for best tool includes a shocking plus-plus arm from his smaller frame; just enough pop to keep a pitcher honest, but mostly to the gaps; size gets him in trouble (attempts to do much), but this is inarguably a good college player; little bit of Jimmy Rollins to his game in that he is a little man with a big swing – again, this often gets him in more trouble than it should, as he is far, far less talented than Rollins on his worst day; great range to his right; definite utility future due to experience on left side; can get too jumpy at plate and swing at pithes outside the zone, but generally a patient hitter; 5-6, 155