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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Conference USA

Nothing against Conference USA, but putting this together was a lot more fun than it had any right to be. Looking at some of the individual teams had me putting this off for a bit, but it turns out that Conference USA has some really cool prospects this year. Case in point: the top tier hitting prospects – we’ll loosely define that as the first five, but it could be expanded to around nine if so inclined – all have clear top ten round upside. CJ Chatham is an intriguing modern shortstop who has opened eyes throughout the game with his huge start to 2016. In no means is it a direct comparison, but what he’s doing so far is similar to what Kyle Lewis has done at Mercer. Chatham, like Lewis, has done everything possible to turn a perceived weakness (approach) into a strength. Going from a 8 BB/39 K as a freshman and 10 BB/28 K as a sophomore to his draft year 10 BB/7 K ratio is something worth getting excited about. With Chatham’s seemingly improved approach, scouts can now freely focus on the other positives in his game (above-average range, above-average to plus arm, a 6-4, 185 pound frame to dream on) and begin forecasting a big league regular out of the overall package. In a class with a serious talent void at the top of the college shortstop rankings, Chatham has emerged as a legit contender to be the very first off the board and a top hundred pick. He’s that good.

Riley Delgado does it with far less size (and, for many, projection), but there’s no denying his consistent ability to grind out extended at bats that ultimately (more often than not) end with him on base. An approach like his matched with sneaky pop and steady defense makes him an easy draft target for me. Delgado gives me a lot of the same positive vibes that I felt with Dylan Bosheers last season. While I still hold out hope for Bosheers in 2016 and beyond, I think Delgado is both the better draft prospect and long-term professional player.

I believe in the bat of Nick Walker, so his prospect stock will come down more to learning more about his defensive future than anything else. The former shortstop is seen as a future outfielder by many, but if he can take the positive traits that made shortstop work for him in the first place – athleticism, arm strength, high baseball IQ – and turn into an above-average or better outfielder, then he remains plenty interesting as a prospect. A pair of senior-signs round out the top five in the persons of Danny Hudzina and Tim Lynch. I’ve long coveted the raw power of Lynch, one of this class’s most impressive hitters by any measure. His hot start to 2016 just makes me believe he’s even more underrated than I did a month ago; senior or not, all he does is crush baseballs.

Hudzina is a similarly talented hitter – more hit than power if we’re comparing him head-to-head with Lynch – who gets the edge because of his fascinating defensive versatility. I asked a few smart people about his long-term defensive home and each response gave me a new position to consider. Most preferred him at his present position of third base, a spot where he is really good already. Others thought he was athletic enough to handle short in a pinch, thus making his future position “utility infielder” more so than any one permanent spot. I also heard second base more than once, which made sense considering he has prior experience there. He also has experience behind the plate, so speculation that he’ll one day return to the catcher position will always be there. That was the most intriguing response, not only because of the idea itself (hardly a novel thought) but because of the conviction the friend who suggested it presented the thought (i.e., it wasn’t like he said that’s what should happen with him, he was saying that a switch to catcher will happen to him in the pros). Despite the certainty of that one friend, I’m still on the third base bandwagon with the idea of him being athletic enough to handle any infield spot (including third catcher duties) in play. All in all, offensively and defensively (wherever he may wind up), I think Hudzina has a big league skill set.

The run of Florida Atlantic prospects really begins just outside the top five. Chatham is the headliner now, but Stephen Kerr, Esteban Puerta, and Christian Dicks are all serious draft prospects in their own right. Kerr is a burner with plus to plus-plus speed and really intriguing defensive tools. Lack of a big-time arm might keep him at second rather than short as a professional, but the physical ability to be plus there in time helps soften the blow of a permanent position switch. A strong case could be made that Kerr is at least average or better in four of the five classic tools: in order, they’d go speed, glove (above-average to plus at second), hit tool (chance for above-average), and arm (plays up enough to call it average). The one obvious thing he lacks is power. Whether or not he continues to find ways to drive the occasional mistake pitch to keep the opposition honest could determine if his ceiling is honest big league regular or up-and-down utility guy. I’m bullish on his future.

Puerta is a fine young hitter with just the right blend of power and patience to make a mark on pro ball. Dicks doesn’t have a carrying tool, but has a card full of tools flirting in and around the average mark. He’s a well-rounded ballplayer with good athleticism and a track record of quality production. Further down the list is another Florida Atlantic product, Billy Endris. Endris is a good college player who has built a decent case over the last year plus that he’s got enough to warrant a late look in the draft.

Esteban Tresgallo, a Miami transfer, has seen his plate discipline indicators go backwards in the early going, but has enough of a track record, prospect pedigree, and favorable scouting notes (steady glove, nice power, enough athleticism) to deserve a mid- to late-round pick. Logan Sherer is a power bat who might finally be tapping into every bit of his 6-3, 250 pound frame. Taylor Love, Zach Rutherford, and Geonte Jackson all intrigue me as potential bat-first bench contributors capable of playing a multitude of defensive spots.

You’ll notice the cluster of Rice guys near the bottom of the hitter list. I did what I could to separate them, but no matter how often I left the list and came back to it, they always clumped together. Quite honestly, I’m sure what to say about that lineup right now. None of the 2016 draft-eligible guys are hitting. It’s ugly. They are like the anti-Florida Atlantic. No player exemplifies the frustration of what’s gone down with the Rice hitters as well as Hunter Kopycinski, a fine defender who came into the season with just enough of an offensive track record to get some late-round senior-sign org catcher love. He’s currently off to an oh-for-thirty start. Charlie Warren’s lack of pop clouds his pro future. Grayson Lewis and Conor Tekyl have the gloves to succeed, but time is running out on their bats. If you’re looking for a bat out of Rice good enough to contribute professionally, then you’re much better off waiting on Ryan Chandler (2017) and Ford Proctor (2018).

The good news for Rice is that their ace is very clearly the best pitching prospect in the conference. Jon Duplantier is awesome. There are only so many college baseball and draft writers out there and there are a ton of quality players to write about, but it still surprises me that Duplantier has managed to go (kind of) under the radar this spring. I mean, of course Duplantier has been written about plenty and he’s regarded by almost anybody who matters as one of the top college arms in this class – not to mention I’m guilty of not writing about him until now myself – but it still feels like we could all be doing more to spread the word about how good he really is. Here’s what I wrote about him in his draft capsule last year…

175. Rice SO RHP Jon Duplantier: 87-94 FB, 95 peak; good CU; good 73-75 CB; average 82-85 SL, flashes above-average when harder; good command; great athlete; fascinating draft case study as a hugely overlooked injured arm that one scout described to me as “every bit as good as Dillon Tate when on” and another said his injury was a “blessing in disguise” because it saved him from further abuse at the hands of Coach Graham; 6-4, 210 pounds

His fastball has since topped out as high as 97-98 and more consistently sits in the mid- to upper-band of that velocity range (90-94). His command has continued to improve and his breaking balls are both showing more consistency. I’ve heard his change has backed up some – more of a future average pitch at 82-84 than anything – but seeing as that’s just one of three usable offspeed pitches, it’s not the end of the world. Duplantier is big, athletic, and getting better by the day. I don’t know if that all adds up to a first round selection in this class, but it is damn close if not.

After Duplantier, you can pretty much put the next dozen or so names in a hat and hope for the best. I like the big arm of Nick Hartman (FB up to 96, good 76-78 CB), the projection left for Cody Crouse (6-6, 215 pounds with an intriguing split-change), and the potentially quick-moving reliever profiles of Garrett Ring, Adam Atkins, and David McKay. Sean Labsan is a good prospect as both a lefty pitcher and an outfielder with power; if nothing else, he deserves attention as one of the college game’s best true two-way players.

Ben Morrison does a lot of things really well – 90-94 FB, low-80s SL that flashes plus, shows both athleticism and deception in his delivery – but hasn’t had the chance to show it off in 2016. The curious case of Andrew Dunlap continues to leave me with more questions than answers about his pro future. The two-way prospect hasn’t had the chance to get back on the mound yet and is now listed solely as a DH on the Rice team site. I’m not sure whether it’s health-related or just stalled development, but my old notes on him and a fastball that flirted with triple-digits seem less relevant by the day. His teammate, the veteran Blake Fox, has been effective over the years despite not missing a ton of bats. The chance that he’ll begin to do so after making the switch to relief in the pros makes him an enticing mid- to late-round gamble. It wasn’t my intent to close out with so many Rice prospects; I guess it’s just a team filled with interesting – they may not be great, but they are certainly interesting – prospects. Josh Pettite falls into that very category. He’s recovering from a UCL injury that will force him to the bench all year long, but I could see a team doing their homework on his signability all the same. His freshman season was up and down, but the ups were enough when combined with his solid stuff and pro bloodlines to temp a team into taking him late if he’s ready to move on to pro ball.


  1. Florida Atlantic JR SS/RHP CJ Chatham
  2. Middle Tennessee State JR SS Riley Delgado
  3. Old Dominion JR OF/SS Nick Walker
  4. Western Kentucky SR 3B Danny Hudzina
  5. Southern Mississippi SR 1B Tim Lynch
  6. Florida Atlantic JR 2B/SS Stephen Kerr
  7. Florida Atlantic rJR 1B/OF Esteban Puerta
  8. Florida Atlantic SR OF Christian Dicks
  9. UAB rSR C Esteban Tresgallo
  10. Charlotte JR 1B/RHP Logan Sherer
  11. Louisiana Tech rSR OF/SS Taylor Love
  12. Old Dominion SO SS Zach Rutherford
  13. Florida International JR C JC Escarra
  14. Middle Tennessee State JR OF Brad Jarreau
  15. Marshall JR OF Corey Bird
  16. Florida Atlantic SR OF Billy Endris
  17. Texas-San Antonio SR 3B/OF Geonte Jackson
  18. Texas-San Antonio SR C/OF Kevin Markham
  19. Texas-San Antonio SR OF Matt Hilston
  20. Florida International rJR C Zack Soria
  21. Southern Mississippi JR C Chuckie Robinson
  22. Old Dominion SR OF Connor Myers
  23. Louisiana Tech SR OF Bryce Stark
  24. Texas-San Antonio SR 3B/SS Tyler Straub
  25. Florida International SR 2B Austin Rodriguez
  26. Marshall SR 2B/3B Aaron Bossi
  27. UAB rSR OF Griffin Gum
  28. Florida Atlantic rSO OF Jose Bonilla Traverso
  29. Charlotte rJR 2B/SS Luke Gibbs
  30. Middle Tennessee State rSO 2B Aaron Aucker
  31. Southern Mississippi SR OF/3B Chase Scott
  32. Old Dominion rSR SS Jason McMurray
  33. Rice JR OF Charlie Warren
  34. Rice JR OF Dayne Wunderlich
  35. Rice SR 2B/3B Grayson Lewis
  36. Rice SR C Hunter Kopycinski
  37. Rice SR 1B Connor Tekyl
  38. Old Dominion rSR 3B/SS Nick Lustrino


  1. Rice rSO RHP Jon Duplantier
  2. Old Dominion JR RHP Nick Hartman
  3. Florida International JR RHP Cody Crouse
  4. Middle Tennessee State SR RHP Garrett Ring
  5. Florida Atlantic JR LHP/OF Sean Labsan
  6. Louisiana Tech SR RHP Adam Atkins
  7. Florida International JR RHP Williams Durruthy
  8. Florida Atlantic rSO RHP David McKay
  9. Florida Atlantic JR RHP Colyn O’Connell
  10. Western Kentucky JR RHP Ben Morrison
  11. Marshall SR RHP Chase Boster
  12. Marshall SR RHP JD Hammer
  13. UAB JR LHP Thomas Lowery
  14. Rice rSO RHP/C Andrew Dunlap
  15. Marshall JR RHP Burris Warner
  16. Southern Mississippi rSR LHP Cody Livingston
  17. Rice SR LHP Blake Fox
  18. Southern Mississippi SR RHP Jake Winston
  19. Marshall JR LHP Parker Danciu
  20. Rice SR LHP Austin Solecitto
  21. Charlotte SR RHP Micah Wells
  22. UAB rJR RHP Cory Eller
  23. Southern Mississippi SR RHP Nick Johnson
  24. Western Kentucky rJR RHP Kevin Elder
  25. Southern Mississippi SR RHP Connor O’Brien
  26. UAB rJR LHP Dylan Munger
  27. Old Dominion JR RHP Sam Sinnen
  28. Charlotte rJR LHP Sean Geoghegan
  29. Southern Mississippi rSR LHP Luke Lowery
  30. Charlotte rJR RHP Brandon Casas
  31. Middle Tennessee State rSO RHP Reid Clements
  32. Middle Tennessee State SR RHP Nate Hoffmann
  33. Middle Tennessee State JR RHP/OF Caleb Smith
  34. Rice SO RHP Josh Pettite
  35. Florida International rSR RHP Robby Kalaf
  36. Southern Mississippi rSR RHP Cord Cockrell
  37. Western Kentucky SR RHP Josh Bartley
  38. Old Dominion JR RHP Adam Bainbridge


rJR RHP Brandon Casas (2016)
rJR LHP Sean Geoghegan (2016)
SR RHP Micah Wells (2016)
rJR LHP JD Prochaska (2016)
SR RHP Nate Traugh (2016)
JR RHP Brandon Vogler (2016)
JR 1B/RHP Logan Sherer (2016)
rJR C Nick Daddio (2016)
rJR 2B/SS Luke Gibbs (2016)
JR OF TJ Nichting (2016)
JR C Derek Fritz (2016)
JR OF/1B Zach Jarrett (2016)
SO LHP Matt Horkey (2017)
SO LHP Jacob Craver (2017)
SO LHP Josh Maciejewski (2017)
SO 2B/OF Brett Netzer (2017)
FR OF Reese Hampton (2018)

High Priority Follows: Brandon Casas, Sean Geoghegan, Micah Wells, Luke Gibbs

Florida Atlantic

JR RHP Colyn O’Connell (2016)
SR RHP Robbie Coursel (2016)
SR LHP Brandon Rhodes (2016)
rSO RHP David McKay (2016)
rSR LHP Devon Carr (2016)
JR LHP/OF Sean Labsan (2016)
JR RHP/C Cameron Ragsdale (2016)
JR SS/RHP CJ Chatham (2016)
SR OF Billy Endris (2016)
SR OF Christian Dicks (2016)
rJR 1B/OF Esteban Puerta (2016)
SR 2B/1B Brett Lashley (2016)
rSO OF Jose Bonilla Traverso (2016)
JR C Kevin Abraham (2016)
JR 2B/SS Stephen Kerr (2016)
SO RHP Alex House (2017)
SO RHP Mark Nowatnick (2017)
SO RHP Marc Stewart (2017)
FR RHP Kyle Marman (2018)

High Priority Follows: Colyn O’Connell, David McKay, Devon Carr, Sean Labsan, Cameron Ragsdale, CJ Chatham, Billy Endris, Christian Dicks, Esteban Puerta, Brett Lashley, Jose Bonilla Traverso, Stephen Kerr

Florida International

JR RHP Cody Crouse (2016)
rSR RHP Robby Kalaf (2016)
JR RHP Williams Durruthy (2016)
JR RHP Chris Mourelle (2016)
JR RHP Michael Agis (2016)
JR LHP Alex Demchak (2016)
rJR C Zack Soria (2016)
SR SS/2B Rey Perez (2016)
JR C JC Escarra (2016)
JR 2B/SS Irving Lopez (2016)
JR OF Christian Khawam (2016)
JR OF Kenny Meimerstorf (2016)
JR INF Zack Files (2016)
JR 1B/3B Nick Day (2016)
SO RHP Garrett Cave (2017)
SO RHP Andres Nunez (2017)
SO OF Jack Schaaf (2017)
FR RHP Nate Pearson (2018)

High Priority Follows: Cody Crouse, Robby Kalaf, Williams Durruthy, Michael Agis, Alex Demchak, Zack Soria, Austin Rodriguez, Rey Perez, JC Escarra, Irving Lopez

Louisiana Tech

rJR LHP Phillip Diehl (2016)
SR RHP Adam Atkins (2016)
SR RHP Adam Derouen (2016)
JR LHP Mark Baughman (2016)
JR LHP Braden Bristo (2016)
SR LHP Tyler Clancy (2016)
JR LHP Jorge Flores (2016)
rSR OF/SS Taylor Love (2016)
SR OF Bryce Stark (2016)
SR OF JD Perry (2016)
SR 3B Mason Paxton (2016)
JR 2B Chandler Hall (2016)
JR 1B Marshall Boggs (2016)
JR C Jonathan Washam (2016)
JR INF Jordan Washam (2016)
rJR OF Sean Ullrich (2016)
SO C Brent Diaz (2017)
FR OF/RHP J’Mar Smith (2018)

High Priority Follows: Adam Atkins, Taylor Love, Bryce Stark, JD Perry


SR RHP Chase Boster (2016)
SR RHP JD Hammer (2016)
SR LHP Caleb Ross (2016)
JR RHP Burris Warner (2016)
JR LHP Parker Danciu (2016)
SR RHP Heston Van Fleet (2016)
SR LHP Sam Hunter (2016)
rSO RHP Fernando Guerrero (2016)
JR OF Corey Bird (2016)
SR 1B Ryne Dean (2016)
JR C Sam Finfer (2016)
SR 2B/3B Aaron Bossi (2016)
rSO OF Cory Garrastazu (2016)
rJR OF Billy Sager (2016)
SR OF DJ Gee (2016)
SO 3B Tyler Ratliff (2017)
FR LHP Josh Shapiro (2018)

High Priority Follows: Chase Boster, JD Hammer, Caleb Ross, Burris Warner, Parker Danciu, Heston Van Fleet, Corey Bird, Ryne Dean, Aaron Bossi

Middle Tennessee State

SR RHP Garrett Ring (2016)
SR RHP Nate Hoffmann (2016)
SR RHP Sam Alton (2016)
SR LHP Tyler Troutt (2016)
rSO RHP Reid Clements (2016)
JR RHP/OF Caleb Smith (2016)
rSO 2B Aaron Aucker (2016)
JR SS Riley Delgado (2016)
JR OF Brad Jarreau (2016)
JR 1B Kevin Dupree (2016)
SO RHP Blake Stansbury (2017)
SO LHP Jake Wyrick (2017)
SO 2B Kevin Sullivan (2017)
FR RHP AJ Spencer (2018)
FR OF Austin Dennis (2018)

High Priority Follows: Garrett Ring, Nate Hoffmann, Reid Clements, Caleb Smith, Aaron Aucker, Riley Delgado, Brad Jarreau

Old Dominion

rJR LHP Jake Josephs (2016)
SR RHP Thomas Busbice (2016)
JR RHP Nick Hartman (2016)
JR LHP Turner Bishop (2016)
JR RHP Sam Sinnen (2016)
JR LHP Joey Benitez (2016)
JR RHP Adam Bainbridge (2016)
JR OF/SS Nick Walker (2016)
SR OF Connor Myers (2016)
SO SS Zach Rutherford (2016)
rSR 3B/SS Nick Lustrino (2016)
rSR SS Jason McMurray (2016)
JR C/1B Kurt Sinnen (2016)
JR C Kyle Beam (2016)
SO RHP Culver Lamb (2017)
SO LHP Nate Matheson (2017)
SO OF Justin Hayes (2017)
FR RHP Brett Smith (2017)
FR 3B Seth Woodard (2018)
FR OF Will Morgan (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick Hartman, Sam Sinnen, Adam Bainbridge, Nick Walker, Connor Myers, Zach Rutherford, Nick Lustrino, Jason McMurray


rSO RHP Jon Duplantier (2016)
SR LHP Blake Fox (2016)
SR LHP Austin Solecitto (2016)
SO RHP Josh Pettite (2016)
rSO RHP/C Andrew Dunlap (2016)
SR 1B Connor Tekyl (2016)
JR OF Charlie Warren (2016)
SR 2B/3B Grayson Lewis (2016)
JR OF Dayne Wunderlich (2016)
SR C Hunter Kopycinski (2016)
SO RHP/3B Dane Myers (2017)
SO RHP Glenn Otto (2017)
SO RHP Ricky Salinas (2017)
SO RHP Willy Amador (2017)
SO OF Ryan Chandler (2017)
SO SS/OF Tristan Gray (2017)
FR RHP Zach Esquival (2018)
FR RHP Brent Schwarz (2018)
FR SS Ford Proctor (2018)
FR INF Kendal Jefferies (2018)
FR C Dominic DiCaprio (2018)
FR C Gavin Johnson (2018)
FR RHP Jackson Parthasarathy (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jon Duplantier, Blake Fox, Austin Solecitto, Josh Pettite, Andrew Dunlap, Connor Tekyl, Charlie Warren, Grayson Lewis, Dayne Wunderlich, Hunter Kopycinski

Southern Mississippi

rSR RHP Cord Cockrell (2016)
rSR LHP Luke Lowery (2016)
rSR LHP Cody Livingston (2016)
SR RHP Jake Winston (2016)
SR RHP Nick Johnson (2016)
SR RHP Connor O’Brien (2016)
SR 1B Tim Lynch (2016)
JR C Chuckie Robinson (2016)
SR OF/3B Chase Scott (2016)
SR 2B Nick Dawson (2016)
JR OF/1B Dylan Burdeaux (2016)
SO LHP Kirk McCarty (2017)
SO 3B/RHP Taylor Braley (2017)
SO OF Daniel Keating (2017)
rFR 1B Hunter Slater (2017)
FR RHP Walker Powell (2018)

High Priority Follows: Cord Cockrell, Luke Lowery, Cody Livingston, Jake Winston, Nick Johnson, Connor O’Brien, Tim Lynch, Chuckie Robinson, Chase Scott


rJR LHP Dylan Munger (2016)
rJR RHP Cory Eller (2016)
JR LHP Thomas Lowery (2016)
rJR LHP Adam Lamar (2016)
rSR C Esteban Tresgallo (2016)
rSR OF Griffin Gum (2016)
SR C Mitch Williams (2016)
SR 2B/3B Evan Peterson (2016)
SR 2B/SS Adam Smith (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Ruggles (2017)
FR RHP Tanner Graham (2018)
FR RHP Garrett Whitlock (2018)
FR RHP Kyle Davis (2018)

High Priority Follows: Dylan Munger, Cory Eller, Thomas Lowery, Esteban Tresgallo, Griffin Gum

Texas-San Antonio

SR RHP Patrick Herbelin (2016)
JR RHP Andre Shewcraft (2016)
SR LHP Nolan Trabanino (2016)
SR RHP Aaron Burns (2016)
SR 3B/OF Geonte Jackson (2016)
SR 3B/SS Tyler Straub (2016)
SR C/OF Kevin Markham (2016)
SR OF Matt Hilston (2016)
JR 3B/SS CJ Pickering (2016)
JR OF JT Gilmore (2016)
SO RHP Chance Kirby (2017)
SO INF/RHP Ben Brookover (2017)
SO OF Trent Bowles (2017)

High Priority Follows: Patrick Herbelin, Geonte Jackson, Tyler Straub, Kevin Markham, Matt Hilston, CJ Pickering, JT Gilmore

Western Kentucky

SR LHP John Harman (2016)
SR LHP Austin King (2016)
rJR RHP Kevin Elder (2016)
SR RHP Josh Bartley (2016)
JR RHP Cody Coll (2016)
JR RHP Sam Higgs (2016)
JR RHP Ben Morrison (2016)
JR LHP Ryan Thurston (2016)
SR 3B Danny Hudzina (2016)
rJR 3B/SS Leiff Clarkson (2016)
rJR 1B Thomas Peter (2016)
rJR OF Zach Janes (2016)
JR C Hunter Wood (2016)
JR OF Paul Murray (2016)
rSO OF Harrison Scanlon (2016)
SO OF Kaleb Duckworth (2017)
SO INF Steven Kraft (2017)
FR SS Steven DiPuglia (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kevin Elder, Josh Bartley, Cody Coll, Ben Morrison, Danny Hudzina, Leiff Clarkson


Conference USA 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Rice SR C John Clay Reeves
Florida Atlantic rSO 1B Esteban Puerta
Charlotte SR 2B Brad Elwood
Louisiana Tech rJR SS Taylor Love
Florida International JR 3B Edwin Rios
Florida Atlantic JR OF Brendon Sanger
Florida Atlantic JR OF Roman Collins
Middle Tennessee State JR OF Ronnie Jebavy

Rice SO RHP Jon Duplantier
Rice rJR RHP Jordan Stephens
Texas-San Antonio JR RHP Brock Hartson
Florida Atlantic JR RHP Seth McGarry
Rice rFR RHP Andrew Dunlap

A pair of solid senior signs in John Clay Reeves (Rice) and Michael Adkins (Middle Tennessee State) highlight Conference USA’s 2015 crop of draft-eligible catchers. Reeves is a mature defender with enough pop to profile somewhere between a fringe starter or high-level backup. As an elite defender and light bat, Adkins fits the more traditional future backup catcher profile. A gamble on upside at the position could lead you to rJR C Esteban Tresgallo (UAB), a steady glove with as yet unrealized promise at the plate. The Miami transfer held his own as a freshman (.243/.335/.379 in 140 AB), but almost two years of lost developmental time make him a far bigger mystery at this point than most (maybe all) fourth-year college players. It could be a good year for Estebans in C-USA as another hitter by the same first name ranks as my favorite first base prospect in the conference. That would be rSO 1B Esteban Puerta (Florida Atlantic), a smart, patient hitter with breakout potential. He gets the nod over a thin overall group, though the power upsides of JR 1B Ryne Dean (Marshall) and SR 1B Ryan Church (Western Kentucky) are fun to dream on.

Neither SR 2B/OF Brad Elwood (Charlotte) nor SR 2B/SS Ford Stainback (Rice) experienced the breakthrough junior season that many (like me) expected in 2014. Both players seemed on the verge of finding a way to combine their steady defense, plate discipline, and emerging pop into something draft-worthy, but saw their numbers take a dive in their first year of collegiate draft-eligibility. Elwood missed a significant portion of the season due to injury, so his dip in production can be more easily explained away; the clearer explanation as to why he slumped in 2014 is partially why I have him ahead of Stainback on this list. Another more substantial reason is Elwood’s edge in power, though neither player figures to have anything but below-average power as a professional. We’re now at over 100 words on two players with utility infielder ceilings with very long roads ahead to even get to that point, so let’s call it a day and move on.

I’m a big fan of rJR SS/2B Taylor Love (Louisiana Tech) for his blend of patience, speed, defense, and sneaky pop. Along with JR SS/OF Leon Byrd (Rice), he’s probably the player with the highest probability of reaching his destiny as a big league utility infielder on the list. Byrd has a strong argument for top prospect in the middle infield group due to his plus speed and positional versatility (2B, SS, CF). He has the exact type of skill set that is easy to see working in the big leagues for years. In between Love and Byrd stands rJR SS Jason McMurray (Old Dominion), a speculative inclusion that ranks highly for the overwhelmingly positive things I’ve heard about his power/speed mix.

Then there’s SR SS Julius Gaines (Florida International), a player that ranks among the most famous in all of college baseball for those that obsessively follow this stuff as much as I assume anybody currently reading does. Gaines has been on the prospect radar for as long as my sleep-deprived mind can remember. I actually had Gaines ranked as high as fifth among all college shortstops on a mid-season shortstop follow list from last year. That’s after having him ranked fifth in the 2011 HS shortstop rankings. It should be mentioned, however, that said list turned out to be littered with busts from every angle. I don’t even know how I’d answer if somebody asked me how to retroactively rank the HS shortstops from 2011. It would go Francisco Lindor (big gap), Trevor Story (another gap), and…somebody else. Chris Mariscal, maybe? Anyway, I think a lot of what was said about Gaines back in high school holds true today…

There are about a dozen prep shortstops who can realistically lay claim to “potential big league shortstop,” a statement that is more about their defensive futures than any kind of upside at the plate. When projecting shortstops long-term, defense is king. If there is one thing we are sure Gaines can do, it’s defense. How the bat develops is a whole other story, but his range and hands at short are so good that his hit tool is almost an afterthought. Almost.

Gaines can still field, throw, and run (though not as efficiently as you’d like to see), but the jury remains out on how much upside he brings with the stick. The track record to this point suggests his bat will keep his ultimate ceiling in utility infielder territory, but a big senior season could change smart minds in a hurry. I can’t personally talk about Gaines without mentioning that he was part of what I have to believe will go down as a historically great 2011 Boston Red Sox draft class. Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts were all taken within Boston’s first eight picks. Underrated and potentially useful big leaguers Travis Shaw and Noe Ramirez (also within those first eight picks) were also brought into the fold. That class also produced one of the stronger things written on this site, though I don’t personally take much credit for seeing great things ahead then as it didn’t take a genius to appreciate what the Sox were doing in real time.

I’m very curious to see what path JR 3B/2B Edwin Rios eventually takes as he embarks on a pro career. He’s a viable defensive option at third, second, or a corner outfield spot, and the ability to play all those spots could be his ticket to a long career. I’ve gotten mixed reviews on his glove at each spot as some have argued him as a third baseman only (too slow for an outfield corner, not athletic enough for second), some have said he could work as a “big second baseman,” and others have lobbied for him moving out of the dirt entirely in order to fast track a bat that they believe in more than most. I’d send him out as a primary third baseman for now, but not before working him out at second to see what he’s got going on at the keystone up close. The bat should play quite nicely at either infield spot; so much so, in fact, that the argument that he could even profile as an average or better hitter as a left fielder is not without merit. Rios has many fans who swear by his hit tool and raw physical strength, but I’m a little hesitant (as always) to prop up a guy with so much swing-and-miss to his game. If Rios can clean up his approach a bit, then he could find himself in the top five round mix as a power bat with the chance to play an important defensive position. If not, then he’ll fall back into the much larger collection of big power/questionable approach hitters who may be a good pro hitting instructor away from figuring it out or…not. I lean towards the former since I’m a sunny optimist (and, more honestly, because a lot of smart people I know have vouched for Rios blowing up this year), so stay tuned.

Rios’ teammate at Florida International rSR 3B Josh Anderson is a pretty darn solid ballplayer in his own right. I’d actually go so far as to call him one of my favorite under-the-radar prospects in college ball and a potential high-level senior sign come June. He’s a natural born hitter with average raw power, average defense at third, above-average athleticism and a really strong arm. I haven’t seen or read anything about this, so consider it entirely my own speculation but I wonder if a team might draft him somewhere between rounds six to ten with the dual purpose of saving a little bit of money and stealing an undervalued asset who could be a prime candidate to convert to catching. Anderson is already 22, so maybe he’s past the age when a difficult position switch makes sense – calling a 22-year old “past the age…” when I’m 10 months short of 30 pains me, if you were wondering – but the physical profile, current defense skill set, and makeup all add up to a potentially very rewarding gamble. A player who has made the opposite move over the years, but should still receive draft consideration as a senior sign is SR 3B/1B Bre’shon Kimbell (Louisiana Tech). The former acclaimed high school catcher has had a career that oddly parallels the aforementioned Julius Gaines. Both Kimbell and Gaines went from serious high school prospects to big fish in relatively small ponds (no offense intended towards FIU and La Tech) before underwhelming on the whole during their time at school despite showing flashes of what made them so highly sought after once upon a time. Like Gaines, the quick report on Kimbell from high school holds true today…

Kimbell is unusually strong, very athletic, and a gifted defender. He also has shown big raw power in the past, but inconsistencies with his swing mechanics make his trips to the plate hit or miss, no pun intended. Some good pro coaching could turn him into a high level pro prospect in short order. Also, BreShon – a fella with a name like that is obviously destined for greatness, even though I sometimes read it as Bre$hon.

I’d most like to see a team go all-in on Kimbell one way or another. If that means moving him back behind the plate and doing whatever possible to make catching work for him, so be it. If it means fully embracing his weird but wonderful defensive profile (C, 1B/3B, LF/RF), then even better. Interestingly enough, the two names below Kimbell on this list could experience similar professional fates. JR 3B PJ Higgins and rJR 3B/SS Nick Lustrino (Old Dominion, both) are both multi-talented defenders capable of playing a variety of spots around the diamond. Higgins is the closer comparison as he’s seen as a potential C/2B/3B/OF at the next level. Lustrino is more of an infielder at present, but I’ve heard from interested observers who saw him dating back to his Temple days that he could be an interesting catching conversion project if he finds a team willing to take a risk on him.

SR OF Connor Barron completes the triumvirate of top notch high school prospects from 2011 turned last chance senior sign types in 2015. Barron, like Julius Gaines and Bre’Shon Kimbell before him, was a high school prospect that everybody knew and loved. He was a primary shortstop back in the day who just so happened to fall one spot behind Gaines on the 2011 HS shortstop rankings. Back then I’m fairly sure I was the low man on him out of just about anybody, but that was mostly the byproduct of me getting to him as a prospect kind of late and having less information on him than most of his peers. Here’s the old report…

It is easy to see why Barron has been one of the draft’s fastest risers this spring. He has great speed, a strong arm, and a big league frame that makes projecting his bat an easy relative to many of his draft class peers. The Reid Brignac comps are popular, and with good reason.

There were two truly embarrassing typos in the three quoted sentences above. Both were legitimate typing errors rather than me being an ungood writing guy, but still. I debated on whether to leave them or not before deciding to save myself some shame by fixing them. ANYWAY. Barron remains as tooled-up as ever, but the results to date have simply not been good. All those who saw him this past summer came away encouraged, so there’s hope yet that he’ll fulfill at least some of the promise he showed as a teen. Right now he’s the classic do-everything player who literally can do it all as a ballplayer….except hit. Years of experience following baseball has me convinced that – you might want to sit down for this revelation – hitting is a really, really important part of the game. If Barron’s progress is real, watch out. If not, then I think the smart thing to do is to spend a little time appreciating how fantastic an athlete he is while also contemplating how even athletes in the top .001% of the country’s population can struggle with a skill that I maintain is the hardest repeatable act in sport. Hitting is really, really hard. Anthony Hewitt, a plus-plus athlete with all-world makeup, defines this line of thought perfectly. Reflecting on this is what makes baseball such a great game.

JR OF/2B Brandon Sanger (Florida Atlantic) is a lot of fun to watch as a hitter. He’s a high-contact bat with above-average raw power and average or better speed. Beyond that, Sanger is the kind of player that is tough for me to write about because he’s just so darn well-rounded that his game borders on boring at times. He gets on base so often that you begin to take for granted his outstanding plate discipline. He wears out the gaps as well as almost any other hitter in the country. If he could be counted on playing average or better defense at second base professionally – and I’m not ruling this out, but hedging my bets with the corner outfield projection because that’s what people who have seen him more than I have recommended – then he’d be at or near the top of my list of “Why are we not including this guy among the nation’s best position player prospects?” players. As a corner outfielder he’s a little less exciting, but still one of my favorite bats to watch this spring.

If you’ve read previous lists, you might have come to realize that I don’t fear recent transfers who haven’t proven anything at the D1 level. The fact that this list features JR OF Roman Collins (Florida Atlantic) and JR OF Ronnie Jebavy (Middle Tennessee State) in the all-prospect outfield should reinforce the point. Collins is a guy who falls out of bed ready to hit each morning. I don’t doubt that his big raw power will continue to play against more advanced arms. Jebavy is best known for his extreme athleticism, speed, arm strength, and center field range. Both players haven’t done it on the big stage yet, but have shown enough ability over the years to earn their spot here.

Rice has some pitching. Let’s get that out of the way first. The rest of the conference has some quality arms – JR RHP Brock Hartson (Texas-San Antonio), JR RHP Kyle Miller (Florida Atlantic), rSO LHP Dylan Munger (UAB), and rSO RHP Gianni Zayas (Florida International) stand out as favorites – but it’s still Rice’s world and every other pitching staff is playing for second. SO RHP Jon Duplantier (Rice) has all the elements of a big league starting pitcher: size (6-4, 210), arm speed (87-94 FB, 95 peak), a varied and effective offspeed mix (good CU and CB, average but improving SL), and developing command. His control is the only thing at this point holding him back. rJR RHP Jordan Stephens (Rice) doesn’t have that problem, but instead faces questions about his return from Tommy John surgery and his relative lack of size and physicality (6-1, 185 pounds). If his curve finds its way back as he returns to full health, he’s got a shot to overtake Duplantier as the conference’s highest drafted arm. rFR RHP Andrew Dunlap (Rice) makes up for his lack of height (5-11, 210 pounds) and relative inexperience on the mound with a blazing fastball (lives mid-90s, 97-98 peak) that has proven unusually difficult to square up. rJR RHP Matt Ditman (Rice) doesn’t bring the same heat (upper-80s, mostly), but consistently has put up video game numbers (10.04 K/9 and 1.57 BB/9 with a 1.83 ERA in 68 IP last year) while leaning on a nasty spike-curve. A little bit further down the list are JR LHP Blake Fox (Rice) and JR RHP Kevin McCanna (Rice), a pair of pitchers that fit the textbook definition of “crafty” (mid-to upper-80s FB, offspeed pitches for days, love to work backwards, stellar command) down to the letter. SR RHP Trevor Teykl (Rice) is the last Owl listed, but there’s really no shame in that since he’d be many schools’ top 2015 pitching prospect. His size (6-7, 225 pounds), fastball (88-92), and results (8.54 K/9 and 1.62 BB/9 in 77 IP) all reflect well on his pro prospects.

Lighting round for the non-Rice arms of note! Hartson has an outstanding mid-80s changeup and overall profile that reminds me some of my old favorite Nick Tropeano. JR RHP Seth McGarry (Florida Atlantic) should be a quick-moving reliever with his power stuff (mid-90s FB, 97 peak and plus low-80s SL). Miller is a two-way player who hasn’t pitched a ton but has a fresh arm, plenty of athleticism, and has flashes a legit fastball (mid-90s) when given a shot. Munger is another crafty lefty with a good frame and really strong first year numbers. Zayas might be a little lost in the shuffle as an incoming transfer from NC State, but the possibility of three above-average or better pitches with solid command is in play.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Florida Atlantic JR OF/2B Brendon Sanger
  2. Florida Atlantic JR OF Roman Collins
  3. Florida International JR 3B/2B Edwin Rios
  4. Middle Tennessee State JR OF Ronnie Jebavy
  5. Florida International rSR 3B Josh Anderson
  6. Western Kentucky JR OF/LHP Anderson Miller
  7. Louisiana Tech rJR SS/2B Taylor Love
  8. Rice SR C John Clay Reeves
  9. Old Dominion rJR SS Jason McMurray
  10. Rice JR SS/OF Leon Byrd
  11. Florida International SR SS Julius Gaines
  12. Southern Mississippi SR OF Connor Barron
  13. Florida Atlantic JR OF Christian Dicks
  14. Southern Mississippi JR 3B/1B Chase Scott
  15. Louisiana Tech SR 3B/1B Bre’shon Kimbell
  16. Old Dominion SR OF/1B Taylor Ostrich
  17. Western Kentucky SR SS Cody Wofford
  18. Middle Tennessee State SR C/RHP Michael Adkins
  19. UAB rJR C Esteban Tresgallo
  20. Florida International SR OF/1B Brian Portelli
  21. Old Dominion JR 3B PJ Higgins
  22. Old Dominion rJR 3B/SS Nick Lustrino
  23. Charlotte SR 2B/OF Brad Elwood
  24. Rice SR 2B/SS Ford Stainback
  25. Rice SR OF/1B Kirby Taylor
  26. Florida Atlantic SR SS Ricky Santiago
  27. Charlotte SR SS Derek Gallelo
  28. Florida Atlantic rSO 1B Esteban Puerta
  29. Marshall JR 1B Ryne Dean
  30. Western Kentucky SR 1B Ryan Church
  31. Middle Tennessee State SR SS Austin Bryant
  32. Western Kentucky rSR C Ryan Messex
  33. UAB JR C Mitch Williams
  34. Southern Mississippi SR C Austin Roussel
  35. Middle Tennessee State SR SS Dustin Delgado
  36. Southern Mississippi JR SS/1B Tim Lynch

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Rice SO RHP Jon Duplantier
  2. Rice rJR RHP Jordan Stephens
  3. Texas-San Antonio JR RHP Brock Hartson
  4. Florida Atlantic JR RHP Seth McGarry
  5. Rice rFR RHP/C Andrew Dunlap
  6. Rice rJR RHP Matt Ditman
  7. Florida Atlantic JR RHP Kyle Miller
  8. UAB rSO LHP Dylan Munger
  9. Rice JR LHP Blake Fox
  10. Rice JR RHP Kevin McCanna
  11. Middle Tennessee State SR LHP Johnathan Frebis
  12. Middle Tennessee State JR RHP/OF Heath Slatton
  13. Marshall JR RHP Chase Boster
  14. Rice SR RHP Trevor Teykl
  15. Southern Mississippi SR RHP Christian Talley
  16. Southern Mississippi rJR LHP Cody Livingston
  17. Marshall rSR RHP Kolin Stanley
  18. Marshall JR RHP Michael Taylor
  19. Florida International rSO RHP Gianni Zayas
  20. Middle Tennessee State JR RHP Garrett Ring
  21. Middle Tennessee State rSR RHP Keaton Baker
  22. Southern Mississippi rJR RHP/3B James McMahon
  23. Florida International JR LHP Brandon Diaz
  24. Middle Tennessee State rJR LHP Brandon Zajac
  25. Rice JR RHP Ryan McCarthy
  26. Charlotte JR RHP Brandon Casas
  27. Florida Atlantic SR RHP Drew Jackson
  28. Florida Atlantic SR RHP Cody Mizelle
  29. Charlotte rSO LHP Sean Geoghegan
  30. Charlotte JR RHP Micah Wells
  31. Florida Atlantic SR RHP Reily Monkman
  32. Florida Atlantic rSR LHP Bo Logan
  33. Marshall JR LHP Sam Hunter
  34. Rice JR RHP Austin Orewiler
  35. UAB SR RHP Alex Luna

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Conference USA Follow List


JR RHP Brandon Casas (2015)
rSO LHP Sean Geoghegan (2015)
JR RHP Micah Wells (2015)
JR RHP Nate Traugh (2015)
rSO LHP JD Prochaska (2015)
SR 2B/OF Brad Elwood (2015)
SR SS Derek Gallelo (2015)
rSO C Nick Daddio (2015)
rSO 2B/SS Luke Gibbs (2015)
SO RHP/1B Logan Sherer (2016)
SO OF TJ Nichting (2016)
SO INF Zach Jarrett (2016)
SO OF Eric Eason (2016)
SO RHP Brandon Vogler (2016)
FR INF Brett Netzer (2017)

Florida Atlantic

JR OF/2B Brendon Sanger (2015)
SR SS Ricky Santiago (2015)
JR OF Billy Endris (2015)
JR OF Christian Dicks (2015)
JR OF Roman Collins (2015)
rSO 1B Esteban Puerta (2015)
JR RHP Seth McGarry (2015)
SR RHP Cody Mizelle (2015)
SR RHP Drew Jackson (2015)
SR RHP Reily Monkman (2015)
rSR LHP Bo Logan (2015)
JR LHP Brandon Rhodes (2015)
JR RHP Kyle Miller (2015)
JR RHP Robbie Coursel (2015)
SO 2B/SS Stephen Kerr (2016)
SO LHP Sean Labsan (2016)
rFR RHP David McKay (2016)
SO OF Jose Bonilla Traverso (2016)
SO C Kevin Abraham (2016)
SO SS/RHP CJ Chatham (2016)
FR C Ryan Miller (2017)

Florida International

SR SS Julius Gaines (2015)
JR 3B/2B Edwin Rios (2015)
JR OF Brandon Cody (2015)
JR C Zack Soria (2015)
SR OF/1B Brian Portelli (2015)
rSR 3B Josh Anderson (2015)
rSO RHP Gianni Zayas (2015)
JR LHP Charles Cormier (2015)
JR LHP Brandon Diaz (2015)
JR RHP Dillon Maya (2015)
rJR RHP Robby Kalaf (2015)
JR RHP Danny Dopico (2015)
JR RHP Maleko Galusha (2015)
SO C JC Escarra (2016)
SO OF Brandon Gomez (2016)
SO RHP Cody Crouse (2016)
SO RHP Williams Durruthy (2016)
SO RHP Chris Mourelle (2016)
FR RHP Garrett Cave (2017)
FR 3B/1B Mitchell Robinson (2017)
FR OF Jack Schaaf (2017)
FR RHP Andres Nunez (2017)
FR OF/1B Spencer Levine (2017)
FR RHP David Lee (2017)

Louisiana Tech

rJR SS/2B Taylor Love (2015)
SR 3B/1B Bre’shon Kimbell (2015)
rSR OF Colby Johnson (2015)
JR OF Bryce Stark (2015)
SR OF/LHP Steven Blanchard (2015)
SR RHP Phil Maton (2015)
SR RHP Austin Greer (2015)
JR LHP Phillip Diehl (2015)
rSR RHP Laetten Galbraith (2015)
SO LHP Mark Baughman (2016)
SO 2B Chandler Hall (2016)
SO LHP Braden Bristo (2016)
FR C Brent Diaz (2017)


JR RHP Chase Boster (2015)
rSR RHP Kolin Stanley (2015)
JR RHP Michael Taylor (2015)
SR RHP Matt Margaritonda (2015)
rJR RHP Lance Elder (2015)
rSR RHP Josh King (2015)
SR RHP Clint Wilson (2015)
JR RHP JD Hammer (2015)
JR LHP Alex Thackston (2015)
JR LHP Caleb Ross (2015)
JR LHP Sam Hunter (2015)
SR 2B/SS Andrew Dundon (2015)
rSR 1B TJ Diffenderfer (2015)
JR 1B Ryne Dean (2015)
SR SS Sergio Leon (2015)
SO OF Corey Bird (2016)
SO OF Cory Garrastazu (2016)
FR INF Tyler Ratliff (2017)

Middle Tennessee State

JR OF Ronnie Jebavy (2015)
SR C/RHP Michael Adkins (2015)
SR OF Jared Allen (2015)
SR 3B/OF Jake Ingold (2015)
SR SS Dustin Delgado (2015)
SR SS Austin Bryant (2015)
JR RHP/OF Heath Slatton (2015)
SR LHP Johnathan Frebis (2015)
rSR RHP Keaton Baker (2015)
rJR LHP Brandon Zajac (2015)
rSR LHP Nathan Foriest (2015)
SR RHP Kooper Kessler (2015)
JR RHP Garrett Ring (2015)
JR RHP Nate Hoffman (2015)
SO RHP/OF Caleb Smith (2016)
FR RHP Blake Stansbury (2017)

Old Dominion

SR OF/1B Taylor Ostrich (2015)
rJR 3B/SS Nick Lustrino (2015)
rJR SS Jason McMurray (2015)
SR OF Josh Eldridge (2015)
SR C Mike Perez (2015)
JR 3B PJ Higgins (2015)
JR OF Connor Myers (2015)
JR LHP Jake Josephs (2015)
rSR RHP Victor Diaz (2015)
JR RHP Thomas Busbice (2015)
JR RHP Kyle Majette (2015)
JR LHP Jared Koenig (2015)
SO RHP Nick Hartman (2016)
SO LHP Turner Bishop (2016)
SO RHP Sam Sinnen (2016)
SO LHP Joey Benitez (2016)
SO C/1B Kurt Sinnen (2016)
SO SS/OF Nick Walker (2016)
FR LHP Nate Matheson (2017)


SO RHP Jon Duplantier (2015)
rJR RHP Matt Ditman (2015)
JR RHP Kevin McCanna (2015)
rJR RHP Jordan Stephens (2015)
JR LHP Blake Fox (2015)
JR RHP Ryan McCarthy (2015)
JR RHP Austin Orewiler (2015)
SR RHP Trevor Teykl (2015)
rFR RHP/C Andrew Dunlap (2015)
JR 1B/RHP Connor Tekyl (2015)
SR C John Clay Reeves (2015)
JR C Hunter Kopycinski (2015)
SR OF John Williamson (2015)
JR SS/OF Leon Byrd (2015)
SR 2B/SS Ford Stainback (2015)
JR 3B Grayson Lewis (2015)
SR OF/1B Kirby Taylor (2015)
SO OF Charlie Warren (2016)
FR RHP Josh Pettite (2016)
SO RHP Austin Orewiler (2016)
FR OF/SS Tristan Gray (2017)
FR RHP Ricky Salinas (2017)
FR RHP Glenn Otto (2017)
FR OF Ryan Chandler (2017)

Southern Mississippi

SR OF Connor Barron (2015)
rSR SS Michael Sterling (2015)
rJR SS/OF Breck Kline (2015)
JR 3B/1B Chase Scott (2015)
JR 2B Nick Dawson (2015)
SR 1B/C Matt Durst (2015)
JR SS/1B Tim Lynch (2015)
SR C Austin Roussel (2015)
rJR RHP/3B James McMahon (2015)
SR RHP Christian Talley (2015)
rJR RHP Cord Cockrell (2015)
rJR LHP Luke Lowery (2015)
rJR LHP Cody Livingston (2015)
JR RHP Jake Winston (2015)
JR RHP Cody Carroll (2015)
SR RHP Ryan Milton (2015)
JR RHP Nick Johnson (2015)
SO INF/OF Dylan Burdeaux (2016)
FR LHP Kirk McCarthy (2017)


SR OF/1B Jeff Schalk (2015)
rJR OF Griffin Gum (2015)
JR C Mitch Williams (2015)
JR 2B/3B Evan Peterson (2015)
rJR C Esteban Tresgallo (2015)
SR 3B Nathan Vincent (2015)
SR OF/RHP Chase Davis (2015)
rSO LHP Dylan Munger (2015)
rJR RHP James Naile (2015)
SR RHP Alex Luna (2014)
JR RHP Cory Eller (2015)
rSR RHP Johnny Lieske (2015)
JR RHP Adam Lau (2015)
SO LHP Thomas Lowery (2016)

Texas-San Antonio

JR RHP Brock Hartson (2015)
SR RHP Logan Onda (2015)
JR LHP Nolan Trabanino (2015)
SR RHP Boone Mokry (2015)
SR RHP Jeremy Filipek (2015)
JR RHP Nolan Savage (2015)
SR LHP Cody Brannon (2015)
SR C John Bormann (2015)
JR C/OF Kevin Markham (2015)
JR 1B/3B Geonte Jackson (2015)
JR 2B/OF Jesse Baker (2015)
SR 3B/SS Horacio Correa (2015)
JR SS Tyler Straub (2015)
SR C Grant Gibbs (2015)
SO INF/C Mitchell Matulia (2016)
SO OF Logan Kinder (2016)
SO RHP Andre Shewcraft (2016)

Western Kentucky

rSR C Ryan Messex (2015)
SR 1B Ryan Church (2015)
SR OF Philip Diedrick (2015)
SR SS Cody Wofford (2015)
rSO 3B/SS Leiff Clarkson (2015)
JR OF/LHP Anderson Miller (2015)
rSR RHP Tate Glasscock (2015)
JR LHP John Harman (2015)
JR LHP Austin King (2015)
rSO RHP Kevin Elder (2015)
JR RHP Josh Bartley (2015)
SR RHP Brennan Pearson (2015)
SO RHP Cody Coll (2016)
SO RHP Sam Higgs (2016)
SO C Hunter Wood (2016)
SO RHP Ben Morrison (2016)
FR OF Kevin Duckworth (2017)

2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: Conference USA

Going team by team was fun, but the college season is creeping up way too quickly for me to get as many teams done as I’d like. Instead, we’ll take a larger view and go conference by conference. The only thing that will slow me down at this point is incomplete or missing 2013 rosters…North Carolina, Louisville, South Carolina, Oregon State, you are all on notice. Congratulations to Conference USA for being the second conference I’ve seen with every school’s updated roster. So far so good on the Missouri Valley Conference, so as of now they are the leader for next conference up.

Here’s the key for the player lists:

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


  • Central Florida SR C Ryan Breen
  • UAB SR C/1B Harry Clark
  • Southern Mississippi rJR C Jared Bales 
  • Central Florida SR C Nick Carrillo
  • Southern Mississippi SR C Chase Fowler

Lots of good college catchers, but not much in the way of exciting pro talent. Ryan Breen makes sense to me as a late-round senior sign as he’s a quality defender with a solid approach at the plate.


  • East Carolina JR 1B Chase McDonald
  • Marshall SR 1B Nathan Gomez
  • Rice JR 1B Michael Aquino
  • Southern Mississippi SR 1B Blake Brown
  • Houston SR 1B Casey Grayson
  • Tulane SR 1B Tucker Oakley
  • UAB SR 1B John Frost

He’s not in the same class as college slugger or pro prospect, but watching Chase McDonald takes me back to watching Preston Tucker hit for Florida. Like so many college first basemen, he’s in a tough spot where just about all of his future value as a ballplayer will come down to how much he hits. He has loads of raw power from the right side and I like his patient approach, but it’ll take a team falling in love with his bat to get him drafted high enough to forego a senior season at East Carolina. Nathan Gomez could overtake McDonald as the best first base prospect in the conference. Gomez has the edge in athleticism, defense, and hit tool, and his senior sign status could work to his advantage for budget-conscious clubs. Aquino is a better fit for a corner outfield spot, but it remains to be seen if he’s got the foot speed to make a position switch work. If so, his draft stock will get a nice bounce: his hit tool ranks up there among the best in the conference.


  • Houston JR 2B Frankie Ratcliff 
  • Rice SR 2B Christian Stringer 
  • Tulane SR 2B Brennan Middleton
  • Rice SR 2B Michael Ratterree

I’m really excited to see what the toolsy Ratcliff can do given a full season of Division I action. All the reports on his attitude have been positive which has to be considered a really good sign for a guy once dismissed from the team at Miami. I’m especially curious about his bat/plate discipline, as I’m fairly certain he’ll be more than fine when it comes to speed, defense, and even pop. Neither Stringer nor Middleton have tools that will wow you, but both guys are coming off really productive junior seasons. I like Stringer just a bit more with the bat, but prefer Middleton, who can hold his own at shortstop when called upon, with the glove. Ratteree would be higher — maybe second — if I had confidence he was totally over the yips that have plagued him in the past. Aside from that, he’s always impressed with with his range and raw arm strength. Even if he doesn’t cut it at second base in the long run, his positional versatility should remain a strong point in his favor.


  • East Carolina JR 3B Zach Houchins
  • Rice JR 3B Shane Hoelscher
  • Marshall SR 3B Gray Stafford
  • Central Florida SR 3B Chris Taladay
  • Southern Mississippi SR 3B Travis Creel
  • UAB SO 3B Chase Davis

I’m really excited to see what the toolsy Houchins can do given a full season of Division I action. The Louisburg JC transfer is a strong natural hitter with a plus arm and a good approach. He does occasionally get himself into trouble by attacking too early in the count and swinging at pitchers’ pitches. Stafford’s power and arm strength are intriguing, but a less than ideal hit tool and too many misadventures with the glove keep his stock down. Taladay is interesting thanks to his positional versatility (he can also catch and play corner OF), and Creel is worth a mention due to his excellent defense at third.


  • East Carolina JR SS Jack Reinheimer
  • Tulane SR SS Garrett Cannizaro
  • Southern Mississippi SR SS Isaac Rodriguez
  • Memphis JR SS Ethan Gross

Reinheimer and Rodriguez are both standout defenders with something to prove as hitters heading into 2013. Cannizaro may be in line for a switch to third base professionally, a move that wouldn’t necessarily kill his value if he a) continues to show progress with the bat, and b) becomes  a plus glove at the hot corner.


  • Tulane SR OF Brandon Boudreaux
  • UAB JR OF Ivan DeJesus
  • Marshall rSR OF Isaac Ballou
  • Tulane SR OF Blake Crohan
  • Tulane SR OF Sean Potkay
  • UAB SO OF Jeff Schalk
  • Central Florida SR OF Jeramy Matos
  • Central Florida rSR OF Erik Hempe
  • Houston JR OF Landon Appling
  • UAB SR OF Ryan Ussery
  • Tulane JR OF Andrew Garner
  • Houston SR OF Jake Lueneberg
  • Rice JR OF Brian Smith
  • Memphis rJR OF Derrick Thomas
  • Rice JR OF Keenan Cook
  • UAB JR OF Ryan Prinzing
  • East Carolina JR OF Ben Fultz
  • Houston JR OF Jonathan Davis
  • East Carolina SR OF Chris Gosik
  • Memphis JR OF Ford Wilson
  • East Carolina SR OF Phillip Clark

Conference USA more than holds its own in terms of prospect depth in the infield. That’s the good news. The less good news — also known as bad, but I’m trying to be positive here — is that there’s not much to get worked up about in the outfield. Brandon Boudreaux broke out in a big way last year, going from slugging .333 to .565 from 2011 to 2012. His plate discipline has always been sound — 60 BB/36 K over the past two combined seasons — but he’s now hammering mistakes in a way he didn’t before. All that and we haven’t mentioned his two strongest tools: plus speed and well above-average CF range. Ivan DeJesus brings a better ceiling, but, as so often has it, comes with greater risk. I’ve gotten firsthand reports on him that really bum me out, not because of his ability per se but because of the unfortunate lingering impact of his broken ankle of a couple years ago. DeJesus’ speed was once a carrying tool; now he’s closer to an average speed/average range CF than what he could have been. That said, reports on his physical talent remain largely positive: he’s routinely graded average or better in multiple areas (arm, hit tool, raw power) of his game. His approach, however, continues to limit his offensive production. His plate discipline (30 BB/94 K) has been almost the opposite of Boudreaux’s over the past year, except worse. Maybe his plus-plus speed could have had teams overlook his unrefined swing at everything style of hitting, but now the pressure will be on him to make more skill-based adjustments to his game. I wrote about Ballou before, so I’ll take the lazy man’s way out and just cut/paste:  I’ve long been a fan of Ballou, so it should come as no surprise that I think he’s the closest thing to a position player lock as there is on the Marshall roster. He’s a really pesky hitter (.397 OBP in 2011, .450 in 2012) with an approach that fits well at the top of a lineup. He’s got enough speed and instincts to keep the “leadoff hitting CF” narrative alive, and there could be some yet unseen power in his sturdy 6-2, 200 pound frame.

A few rapid fire observations of the rest of the crew…Tulane’s outfield looks pretty strong in paper heading into 2013…the same could be said about Central Florida, especially if the powerful duo of Matos and Hempe can clean up their approaches a bit…if Landon Appling continues to show he can hold his own defensively as a catcher, his stock should climb…Ryan Ussery may or may not make it in pro ball, but he goes down as one of my favorite college players to follow over the years…I know little to nothing about Rice OF Brian Smith other than that he’s supposedly really really strong.


  • Rice JR RHP Austin Kubitza
  • Central Florida JR RHP Ben Lively
  • Marshall JR RHP Aaron Blair
  • Rice JR RHP John Simms
  • Tulane rSO RHP Randy LeBlanc
  • Tulane rSO RHP Tony Rizzotti
  • Tulane rJR RHP Kyle McKenzie
  • Memphis JR LHP Sam Moll 
  • UAB SO LHP Dylan Munger
  • Rice rJR RHP Chase McDowell
  • UAB rJR RHP Ruben Tresgallo
  • Rice rSO RHP Connor Mason 
  • Memphis rSR RHP Heith Hatfield 
  • Tulane SR RHP Tyler Mapes 
  • Houston JR RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon
  • Central Florida rFR RHP Ryan Meyer
  • Central Florida rSO RHP Spencer Davis
  • East Carolina JR RHP Drew Reynolds
  • Southern Mississippi SR RHP Andrew Pierce 
  • Southern Mississippi rSO LHP Jake Drehoff
  • Rice SR RHP Tyler Spurlin
  • Southern Mississippi SR LHP Dillon Day
  • East Carolina rSR LHP Tyler Joyner
  • Southern Mississippi rJR RHP Cameron Giannini
  • Marshall JR RHP Josh King
  • East Carolina SR RHP Andy Smithmyer
  • Central Florida rSR LHP Chris Matulis 
  • Central Florida SR LHP Brian Adkins 
  • Tulane SR RHP Alex Byo 
  • Memphis JR LHP Eric Schoenrock
  • East Carolina rJR RHP Tanner Merritt
  • Marshall SR LHP Wayland Moore
  • East Carolina SR RHP Joseph Hughes
  • UAB SR RHP Ben Bullard
  • Central Florida SR LHP Jimmy Reed
  • Rice SO RHP Evan Rutter
  • Southern Mississippi JR RHP Sean Buchholz
  • Southern Mississippi JR RHP Conor Fisk
  • Tulane JR RHP Alex Facundus
  • Memphis rJR RHP Jonathan Van Eaton
  • Tulane JR LHP Brady Wilson
  • Houston JR RHP Chase Wellbrock
  • Houston SR LHP Matt Hernandez
  • UAB JR RHP Chase Mallard
  • Marshall rJR RHP Ryan Hopkins
  • Central Florida JR RHP Danny Davis
  • Memphis JR RHP Jon Reed
  • Memphis JR LHP Alex Gunn
  • Houston SR RHP Austin Pruitt
  • Memphis rSR LHP Michael Wills
  • Tulane SR LHP David Napoli
  • Southern Mississippi JR RHP Boomer Scarborbough
  • Memphis rSR RHP Clayton Gant
  • Rice SR RHP Jeremy Fant

If Austin Kubitza and John Simms are both healthy throughout the spring, they’ll rank among college baseball’s top 1-2  pitching punches. Kubitza receives most of the accolades — heck, he’s first here after all — but Simms (88-92 FB with big movement, flashes of good mid-70s curve, and nasty splitter) is no slouch. Ben Lively is due for a monster junior season thanks in large part to a fastball that he has learned to command better and better every year. Guys with his frame (6-4, 200 pounds), fastball (great command of 88-93 heat), and multiple usable breaking balls (SL with cutter action and softer mid-70s CB) are fun to watch. At his best, Randy LeBlanc (95 peak FB, flashes above-average CU and CB with more upside than that) has a strong case for the top arm in the conference. Unfortunately, he’s yet to show the durability and command teams look for when monitoring a guy coming off of Tommy John surgery. Now that he’s a full season behind it, watch out. Fellow Tulane redshirt sophomore  Tony Rizzotti, a TCU transfer, has a potent FB/SL combination when on. I’m curious to see where Sam Moll’s control is at in 2013: scouting reports are quite favorable, but results (4.05 BB/9 last season) leave something to be desired.

The current middle class of this pitching group offers a lot to like. There are a lot of transfers (Daniel Ponce de Leon and Spencer Davis) and elbow surgery survivors (Chase McDowell and Connor Mason) with plenty to prove in 2013. The number of hard throwers is also impressive. McKenzie, Tresgallo, Ponce de Leon, and Giannini have all hit the mid-90s at one point or another. I’ll be keeping tabs on Tyler Joyner, a quality arm that is unfortunately out of commission in this his last season of college eligibility. Tommy John surgery may have robbed him of his final year of college ball, but I could still see a pro club that has seen him enough of the years giving him a shot late on draft day.

I made the error of omitting four members of the Marshall pitching staff in the original posting. Thanks to Craig for pointing it out to me in the comments. The big name that was skipped over is RHP Aaron Blair. Smarter people than I have him as clearly the best prospect out of this bunch and I certainly reserve the right to change my mind between now and when final rankings come out in about six months, but, for now, I ‘m intrigued enough by the upside of Kubitza (I still see him as the future star I saw firsthand when he was in high school, I guess) and Lively (old comps die hard: I remember reading a Jeff Samardzija comp on him that has always stuck with me)  — and for a brief moment Simms, before moving Blair above him — to rank Blair any higher. Of the top tier group, I do think it is fairly evident that Blair has the highest floor, which definitely counts for something. It does seem like there has been a recent uptick of guys who fit his profile seeing jumps in stuff and performance during their junior seasons. I mention Matt Barnes below, but I also get a little bit of a Chris Stratton vibe from at similar points of development. If I could predict he’d go in either of those directions, I’d likely be driving something a little more stylish than a Kia Rio. Realizing I can’t make such assumptions, I hedged my bet and put him third, where at least he’s ahead of another big name in Simms. Anyway, here’s what I wrote on Blair earlier this year:

It may not be the most descriptive adjective around, but the word “good” can be found throughout Blair’s scouting notes in my Word doc: good command of a 87-92 FB (93 peak) with good sink; good 74-78 CB; 81-85 CU thrown with good looking arm action;good, sturdy frame (6-5, 220 pounds); good numbers (8.42 K/9 in 2011, 9.04 K/9 and 3.37 FIP in 2012). If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Blair is a pretty darn good prospect, right? At this moment, he looks like a really strong bet to keep progressing until settling into his eventual role as big league mid-rotation starting pitcher. He’s a safe — well, as safe as any inherently risky amateur prospect can be — prospect, not a sexy one. Good across the board, neither great nor lacking in any one area. I liken him to a sturdier version of former Long Beach State and current Milwaukee Brewer RHP Drew Gagnon, a third round pick back in 2011. His profile also reminds me a little bit of Matt Barnes before Barnes velocity spike. I’m not enough of a scout (or a scout at all, really) to place odds on Blair experiencing  a similar increase in stuff — I’m not sure any scout can actually predict this stuff, short of noticing a body desperately in need of better strength and conditioning and/or a major mechanical overhaul — but recognizing the possibility helps me cover myself just in case. Anyway, Blair looks like a good starting pitching prospect with the chance to go pretty good in this June’s draft. Good pitcher, good analysis.