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I can’t really remember what made this particular box score stand out, but I must have copied and pasted it into a Word document for a reason. Could it be the 0-4 leadoff performance of the Mick Doyle, also known as college baseball’s best name to university fit? Perhaps. Or it could have been the good pitching matchup between Cole Johnson and Tyler Mizenko that lived up to the billing. Johnson’s talent (slightly above-average fastball and good slider) has too often surpassed his performance on the field. A big senior season could put him in line to be one of the top mid-round senior signs. Then again, and I realize I’m taking this whole “2011 college class has potential to be historically great” thing too far, this could be a historically great group of college pitching senior signs. Off the top of my head (or a Ctrl + F of “SR” of my 2011 college pitching Word doc), the 2011 group of senior sign pitching includes a whole boat load of potential big league middle relievers like Scott Matyas, Tyler Wilson, Brett Harman, Randy Fontanez, Patrick Johnson, Corey Pappel, Thomas Girdwood, TJ Walz, Steven Maxwell, Taylor Hill, Cole Green, Michael Rocha, James Nygren, Tim Kelley, Ryan Woolley, Rick Anton, Brian Dupra, Elliott Glynn, Kevin Jacob, Nick Fleece…the list goes on and on. Mizenko, on the other hand, is a damn fine junior prospect who has struggled with his stuff in the early going. His fastball velocity has been down and his typically sharp slider hasn’t been, well, sharp. I still like Mizenko’s upside as a potential three-pitch starting pitcher.
Villanova ace JR RHP Kyle McMyne is a personal favorite, so I’m always interested to see how he does against quality lineups. Wilmington’s lineup certainly qualifies, especially leadoff hitter Cameron Cockman and three-hole batter Andrew Cain. McMyne, one of the most consistent high velocity arms in the 2011 draft pool, delivered with a strong 7 inning, 10 strikeout outing good enough to get him the win. I’ll hopefully be seeing a lot of McMyne this spring, so expect a few firsthand accounts if all goes according to plan.
It was hard to pick one game out of the big Stanford-Texas. Then I figured, since this is college baseball after all, just go with the Friday night game. You know Taylor Jungmann is a good prospect when the biggest, and arguably only, question about his game focuses on his workload rather than his stuff or performance. The difference between Jungmann and Matt Purke is so minute that it really wouldn’t be a surprise to see team’s prefer the fresher arm (Purke) over the arm that has been “Augied.” We’ll see. Also, weird that a pitcher with Mark Appel’s stuff could ever go 7.1 innings pitched with only 2 strikeouts.
Mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: Trevor Bauer struck out 17 (!) batters in 10 (!) innings. Despite Bauer’s gem, UCLA still managed a way to lose. I wish I had mentioned this before the season started and the UCLA bats went cold, but the Bruins’ lineup is really underwhelming from a prospect standpoint. At first I thought my concerns about the their offense wouldn’t impact the 2011 team from a performance standpoint; certain college programs can be built on quality college hitters just doing enough to win behind excellent pitching and be quite successful. Now I’m officially worried that the lack of offense could hurt UCLA’s on-field bottom line. Outside of a solid prospect outfield (Keefer, Amaral, Gelalich, and Allen), there isn’t a lot of pro upside there.
59 batters stepped to the plate…only 10 reached base. Ground ball machine Hudson Randall (65% of his non-K outs recorded via the grounder) was particularly great on the mound (7 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K).
In absolutely no particular order, 2011 draft prospects that finished last season with over 10 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, minimum 50 total innings pitched. For reference’s sake, prospects expected to go in the top three rounds are in bold…
Kentucky JR RHP Alex Meyer
Missouri State JR RHP Dan Kickham
Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Noe Ramirez
Virginia SR RHP Tyler Wilson
Maryland SR RHP Brett Harman
Vanderbilt JR RHP Sonny Gray
Texas A&M JR RHP John Stilson
Texas JR RHP Taylor Jungmann
Baylor JR RHP Logan Verrett
UCLA JR RHP Gerrit Cole
UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer
Washington JR RHP Andrew Kittredge
Georgia Tech JR LHP Jed Bradley
Virginia JR LHP/1B Danny Hultzen
Mississippi JR LHP Matt Crouse
Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham
Arizona State JR LHP Mitchell Lambson
TCU SO LHP Matt Purke
Northeastern JR LHP Andrew Leenhouts
1. Even for a guy like me who doesn’t quite know what’s up with college baseball, it’s plain to see the talent level at Maryland is on the rise. Former Vanderbilt assistant Erik Bakich has done an incredible job of recruiting since getting hired in 2009. Would you believe me if I told you there could be up to fifteen Terrapins taken in this June’s draft? That’s obviously a perfect world projection where no player gets hurt, stalls in his development, or just plain falls flat on his fast, but the downside (say, a half dozen?) is still a pretty impressive draft output for a school to produce. I’m happy for Maryland, yes, but I’m a little peeved at the timing. See, it wasn’t too long ago that I had all sorts of nice connections down in and around Washington DC. Now that the Maryland program has finally grown into something worth seeing, I’ve lost all but the most tenuous of holds on my one strong Beltway hookup. What a bummer. Timing is everything, I guess.
2. I’m really excited to see what JR 3B Tomo Delp does against ACC pitching this spring. Almost all of the fall buzz about Bryce Harper’s CSN teammate has been positive, especially on the offensive side of the coin. I’m confident his bat will open some eyes, so I’ll be focusing on his progress with the glove. Good things have also been said about JR OF Korey Wacker, a true plus-plus speed guy with good range and a strong arm for centerfield. Yet another transfer who could make an instant draft impact is JR 2B Ryan Holland. He’s similar to Delp in that his bat is his calling card, but it has also been said that Holland’s defense has been more than adequate at second. As an added bonus, he also has experience holding it down at third base and shortstop. The most highly regarded returning Terrapins prospect is JR SS Alfredo Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a really good defender who will definitely stick at short as a pro. He made strides with the bat last spring, but is still almost exclusively a singles hitter at this point. Needless to say, great defense or not, I’m not as high on him as I know some are. JR OF Brandon Padula also could get a shot with a big spring, but he strikes me more as a good college player without a standout tool than a legitimate pro prospect. A lot can change between now and June, however.
3. Five position players mentioned so far, yet not a word on JR OF Matt Marquis. This past summer, a summer forever to be known to many prospect watchers as “The Summer of Trout,” I had a conversation with a friend well connected in the business who told me, and I know he won’t mind me quoting him here, “Matt Marquis was Mike Trout before Mike Trout was Mike Trout.” Pretty cool statement if you ask me. Marquis was a highly sought after high school prospect from New Jersey. He had speed, power to all fields, a strong arm, and an even stronger commitment to a great baseball school in Vanderbilt. A common comparison for each player, as funny as it seems with the benefit of hindsight, was Aaron Rowand. Getting the Trout vibe yet? Fast forward to today. Trout has completely blown up as a professional while Marquis has lagged behind. The second-year Maryland outfielder still offers up that tantalizing blend of above-average speed and raw power, but the production, from Nashville to College Park, has never matched the hype. Teams still hold out hope that he’ll put it all together as an above-average corner outfielder. Count me in as a believer.
Early 2011 Draft Guesses
Delp, Marquis, and Rodriguez are the three surest Maryland position players to be drafted, I think. They are followed by a pair of 50/50 shots in Padula and Holland. Wacker is probably a guy I’ve overrating based on strong tools – reminds me of last winter’s infatuation with Ridge Carpenter – so I’d probably put his odds as the longest to get drafted this year.
SR RHP Brett Harman deserves to be at or near the top of any team’s list of top senior signs. His strong three pitch mix features an upper-80s fastball with sink and a changeup that flashes plus, but it is above-average slider that makes everything else work. He reminds me of a favorite undervalued but effective big leaguer, newly signed Mariner Justin Miller SR LHP Eric Potter should also receive some looks as a mid- to late-round senior sign. His size and stuff remind me a little of his teammate on last year’s squad, Adam Kolarek. Kolarek, an eleventh round pick of the Mets in 2010, was drafted despite some control issues because of his above-average lefty velocity (though he generally sits upper-80s, I’ve personally seen him top out at 93 and I have read he’s been as high as 94) and an above-average mid-80s slider. Potter throws a curve instead of a slider, but the similarities in overall quality of stuff are there if you squint really hard. JR RHP Chuck Ghysels will probably get pigeonholed as a reliever because of his size (5-11, 200), but his three-pitch mix is definitely good enough to get college hitters out multiple times through a lineup. JR RHP Sander Beck throws a knuckle curveball, so you know he’s awesome. I think if your first name is Sander and you throw a knuckle curve, then you should be allowed to skip the minors and go straight to the big leagues. In all seriousness, Beck could be Maryland’s best 2011 draft prospect, even though I have my doubts about his way too hittable straight moving fastball. We’ll see. That’s four interesting pitchers to watch already and I haven’t even mentioned JR RHP Creighton Hoke (two average at worst pitchers already with his low-90s FB and SL) and JR RHP David Carroll (by rule, all 6-8, 235 pound pitchers deserve some love in this space). JR RHP Michael Boyden reminds me of the pitching version of JR OF Brandon Padula, steady yet unspectacular. A pair of senior RHPs Matt Quinn (whoa, I was looking at old notes the other day and realized that I saw him pitch when he was in high school…I had forgotten all about it) and Blair Delean could both sneak into the last few rounds with strong 2010 seasons, though I’d bet on both guys being on the outside looking in come June.
By my count that makes Harman, Beck, Ghysels, Potter, Hoke, Carroll, Delp, Marquis, Rodriguez, and Holland as good bets or better to be drafted with Padula, Wacker, and Boyden as maybes. Very strong group.