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2011 MLB Draft: The Other Cole’s

Gerrit Cole isn’t the only Cole expected to get drafted this June. Probably goes without saying that Gerrit is the most promising Cole, but there are three other collegiate Cole’s with mid-round, middle relief upside worth mentioning.

Texas SR RHP Cole Green is the best current pitcher of our Cole trio. His fastball sits consistently between 88-91 FB and he can muscle it up to 92-93 on the rarest of occasions. His biggest strengths are his pinpoint fastball command, plus control, and much improved above-average upper-70s slider that flashes plus. Throw in the fact he is a short righthanded pitcher and it sure sounds like Green will be typecast as a potential relief candidate, right? Short righties who pound the strike zone with that sinker/slider combo always have a chance to fill a bullpen niche in the pros. Then again, Green’s success as a college starter and the improvement of his changeup could help him work as a pro starter. Whether a pro team considers him a potential fifth starter or, more likely, a middle reliever, it is still highly unlikely he’ll approach his 2010 draft status (4th round to Detroit). Lastly, and take this for what it’s worth, every scouting report on Green mentions his reputation as a groundball pitcher, but the data I’ve compiled doesn’t fit that description at all. Wonder what the guys at College Splits would say to that?

BYU SO RHP Taylor Cole has the biggest fastball of the group (94-95 peak) and was the most heavily recruited out of high school. Lost development time has left him with not little besides that big fastball, but there is some promise with both his slider and changeup. A team will have to be really patient with Cole, but his upside, relatively fresh arm, and the unique path he’s taken since graduating from high school all help him stand out amongst his mid-round contemporaries. I know Taylor is a personal favorite of many followers of the draft, so don’t be shocked if his name starts getting bandied about as a high rising helium guy heading into June.

Notre Dame SR RHP Cole Johnson has a fastball that sits 88-92 FB and a good SL. Average fastball (maybe a tick above) and a good secondary pitch combined with a history of strong performance at a well known college program is often a pretty nice recipe for looks as a reliever on draft day. Johnson has the first two things down, but is still working on that pesky bit about having a history of strong performance. Underwhelming college stats to date  (2010: 5.46 K/9 – 3.16 BB/9 – 4.69 FIP – 31.1 IP) have kept his stock down, but his solid start in 2011 could get teams back on the bandwagon.

5 College Baseball Box Scores of Interest (Weekend of 3/4/11)

Winthrop 4 Notre Dame 2

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 4 UNC Wilmington 3

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.

Texas 4 Stanford 3

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.

Nebraska 2 UCLA 1

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.

Florida 1 Miami 0

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).

 

College Baseball Opening Night 2010 – Friday Starters

“Big” Name 2010s

Georgia Tech JR RHSP Deck McGuire – 7 IP 5 H 0 ER 0 BB 10 K
Florida Gulf Coast JR LHSP Chris Sale – 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K
LSU JR RHSP Anthony Ranaudo – 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K
North Carolina JR RHSP Matt Harvey – 5.2 IP 5 H 3 ER 2 BB 3 K
Ohio State JR RHSP Alex Wimmers – 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K
Georgia Tech JR RHRP Kevin Jacob – 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 3 K
Mississippi JR LHSP Drew Pomeranz – 4 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K
Georgia JR RHSP Justin Grimm – 5 IP 4 H 2 ER 3 BB 6 K
Tennessee JR LHSP Bryan Morgado – 5 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 6 K
Baylor JR RHSP Shawn Tolleson – 6 IP 5 H 3 ER 3 BB 11 K

Not really a bad line out of the entire Opening Night starter bunch, I’d say. Pomeranz’s command was shaky, Ranaudo’s stuff wasn’t as sharp as it could have been, and Harvey was all over the place with his control, but, all in all, a darn fine night for college baseball’s aces.

*** Sale only pitched two innings because he’s being saved for this upcoming Wednesday’s huge game at Miami. He was incredibly sharp in this one, hitting the mid-90s with regularity. Sale vs Miami is shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated early season mid-week games in recent memory.

*** Baseball America had Harvey sitting 92-94, touching 96. Lack of control or not, that kind of velocity this early in the season is an excellent sign for Harvey, a pitcher with a history of inconsistent radar gun readings.

*** Best publicly available groundout ratios of the night belong to Harvey (10/1 ground out to air out ratio) and Wimmers (7/1). Use that information anyway you see fit.

“Lesser” Name 2010s

San Diego SR RHSP AJ Griffin – 6 IP 6 H 4 ER 0 BB 8 K
East Carolina JR RHSP Seth Maness – 5.2 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 4 K
Notre Dame JR RHSP Cole Johnson – 5.1 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 2 K
Virginia JR RHRP Tyler Wilson – 3 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 4 K
Clemson JR LHSP Casey Harman – 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K
Louisville JR RHSP Thomas Royse – 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 5 K
Arkansas SR RHSP Michael Bolsinger 5 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K
Florida JR RHSP Tommy Toledo – 3.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 4 K (WP, 2 HBP)

*** Griffin had a bizarre 1/9 ground out to air out ratio. I’m almost positive Griffin was a significant groundball pitcher last year, so it’ll be interesting to see if this one start was an aberration or the start of a larger trend.

*** Johnson has a solid reputation and good stuff, but he still hasn’t been able to harness his natural talents to dominate at the college level. The solid line he put up on Friday is indicative of his college performance thus far. Steady results, uninspiring strikeout numbers.

*** Wilson is coming out of the bullpen because Virginia has a pitching staff that rivals that of some minor league teams, but his stuff is good enough to start professionally. He’s a top ten round player.

“Big” Name 2011s

Vanderbilt SO RHSP Sonny Gray 8 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 8 K
UCLA SO RHSP Gerrit Cole – 6 IP 1 H 2 ER 0 BB 9 K
Texas SO RHSP Taylor Jungmann – 7 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K
Virginia SO LHSP Danny Hultzen – 6 IP 4 H 2 ER 3 BB 4 K
Kentucky SO RHSP Alex Meyer – 5 IP 4 H 2 ER 3 BB 8 K

Totals: 32 IP 19 H 7 ER 8 BB 37 K

Those five 2011 arms are something special. I’ve been toying with a 2011 Mock Draft for a couple of days and every time I do a rough sketch of the first ten to fifteen picks or so, all of the names above appear…but each time I do it, I come up with a new order. I think I like them in the order I have them above, but that’ll change, oh, about ten thousand times between now and next June.

The GO/AO numbers for the quintet: Jungmann – 9/1, Cole – 7/2, Hultzen – 9/3, Gray – 10/4, and Meyer – 2/4.

“Lesser” Name 2011s

Baylor SO RHSP Logan Verrett – 7 IP 9 H 6 ER 1 BB 5 K
Rice SO LHSP Taylor Wall – 3 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 3 K

Verrett and Wall both struggled some in their debuts, but they are still both 2011s well keeping a close on eye, Verrett especially. He’s a pitcher that would be getting a lot more attention (talked about as a serious top of the first half round candidate) if he wasn’t part of such a loaded class. Timing is everything, I suppose.