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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Los Angeles Angels

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Los Angeles in 2016

27 – Matt Thaiss
56 – Brandon Marsh
137 – Nonie Williams
197 – Connor Justus
181 – Francisco Del Valle
252 – Jordan Zimmerman
264 – Troy Montgomery
272 – Cole Duensing
280 – Chris Rodriguez
345 – Brennon Lund
378 – Andrew Vinson
382 – Mike Kaelin

Complete List of 2016 Los Angeles Angels Draftees

And now a few words on some Angels draft picks…

1.16 – C Matt Thaiss

One of the fun things about the draft for me is finding out how my opinions stack up against real live MLB decision-makers. I thought I was super into Matt Thaiss (27) this spring. I thought his pre-draft ranking (27, just in case you missed it the first time) was indicative of how much I liked him. I thought that actual teams would look at his questionable defensive future behind the plate and downgrade him in a way that I didn’t. I thought that his greatest offensive strengths, namely a special awareness of balls and strikes with the added dimension of knowing what to do with those “good” strikes he battles so hard to see when ahead in the count, would be undervalued (slightly) by big league teams chasing upside and athleticism instead. Turns out, I thought wrong. I may have been super into Matt Thaiss relative to the draft boards of 29 other teams (or not, who really knows), but my interest in him paled in comparison to where the Angels valued him.

That creates an interesting dynamic that I find hard to properly explain. I really like Matt Thaiss. His bat stacks up with just about any college hitter in this class. As a catcher, this pick would make all the sense in the world. The Angels would have picked him sooner than I might have, but, hey, an offensive catcher with a long history of stellar production? Sign me up. Oh, for this situation to be so simple. The Angels decision to have Thaiss shift from catcher to first base makes judging his offensive future a little trickier. Yes, Thaiss will hit. He’ll probably even hit a lot. But the bar is obviously raised with such a position switch. Will he hit enough to bring value as a regular first baseman?

A positive offensive score at first base this year (per Fangraphs) requires a .270/.350/.410 (give or take) line. That’s what David Freese has done so far. I don’t see why Thaiss couldn’t do that, but the Angels surely didn’t use the sixteenth overall pick on a player that breaks even offensively. You figure you want at least a top ten offensive first baseman at that point in the draft, right? The bar there this year is right around a .270/.350/.500 line, not unlike what Sean Rodriguez, Carlos Santana, and Hanley Ramirez (ranked 10th, 11th, and 12th, respectively, in wRC+ among 1B) have done so far in 2016. That line feels within reach for Thaiss as well, though the power would take a little bit of a leap of faith at this point to get there. One of the benchmarks mentioned above (Carlos Santana) has joined old school cool comp Wally Joyner (heard this more than once in the spring) as possible career paths that would have to be viewed as favorable outcomes for the young lefty slugger. I think you take six years of Santana or Joyner at first base with the sixteenth overall pick in a vacuum, though I understand the trepidation some Angels fans surely feel passing up higher upside teenage bats such as Delvin Perez, Nolan Jones, Blake Rutherford, and Carter Kieboom. It’s a solid B pick if you like Thaiss as I do, but I can see it argued down to something closer to the C range (maybe a C+) when you factor in position, ceiling, and what else was on the board. Future upside gambles in rounds two and three made the relative safety of this pick a little easier to swallow.

Now that Thaiss seems locked in as a first baseman, his potential defense behind the plate could be something that forever goes down as one of baseball’s little mysteries. As such, it’s easy to stand on my side of the aisle and claim that Thaiss could hack it as a big league backstop because it’s likely to go down as a wholly unverifiable assertion. I can never be totally wrong now! I’ll go to the grave believing Thaiss could have made it work as a catcher, but that no longer matters. The Angels want him hitting, so first base it is. I think he can clear the offensive bar and become an above-average regular there; that’s pretty appropriate value for a mid-first round pick, right?

2.60 – OF Brandon Marsh

There’s Mickey Moniak, Blake Rutherford, and Alex Kirilloff. Everybody had those three as their top prep outfielders in this class. The fourth spot was very much up for grabs. Some liked Will Benson, others liked Dylan Carlson, and others still preferred Taylor Trammell. Certainly decision-makers with the Indians, Cardinals, and Reds, respectively, believed those guys were best. I liked Brandon Marsh (56). Here’s what was said about him back in May 2016…

My current lean is Brandon Marsh, the highly athletic plus to plus-plus runner out of Georgia. We know he’s got four average or better tools (you can add a plus arm, average or better raw power, and easy center field range to his hot wheels), but, like many prospects of his ilk, we don’t know how his bat will play against professional pitching. Between the swing, the bat speed, and his approach to date, there are lots of encouraging signs, so gambling you at least get an average-ish hit tool out of him seems more than fair. Combined with his other tools, that player is a potential monster.

Obviously nothing since then would have happened to change my mind. If Marsh hits, he’s a monster. If not, he’s got enough physical gifts to keep rising up and potentially serve a useful big league role. That’s one of the nice perks about drafting athletes; the speed and defense gives them a little bit more floor than many otherwise assume. Doubling up with the guy picked one round after Marsh gives the Angels two boom/bust potential center fielders if they are patient. I like the diversification of selecting Marsh (upside!), Nonie Williams (upside!), and Matt Thaiss (safety?) with their first three picks.

3.96 – SS Nonie Williams

Raw. Raw. Raw, raw, raw. And raw. That’s what I’ve heard from those who saw Nonie Williams (137) play this past summer. Makes sense based on what we saw from him in the calendar year leading up to the draft, but always interesting to get confirmation (or a dissenting view, it’s all good) from pro eyes. The tools and athleticism are eye-popping, and his approach improved enough over the course of his spring season that I thought he might hit the ground running a little bit more than he did in pro ball. No matter, as the 18-year-old has plenty of time to turn his plus speed, average to above-average raw power from both sides of the plate, and quick bat all to work for him offensively. I’m very much in on Williams, but it’s going to take some time.

4.126 – RHP Chris Rodriguez

Chris Rodriguez (280) has a big-time arm. You get the “big-time arm” treatment when you have two potential plus pitches (90-95 FB, impressive hard cut-SL) and youth (17 when drafted) on your side. There’s really no telling where Rodriguez will go from here, but with those two pitches at the ready he’s off got a chance to make some noise. It’s easy to envision him as a nasty late-inning reliever if something softer can’t be developed over the years, though (of course) the Angels will make every effort to develop him as a starter first.

5.156 – SS Connor Justus

A “friend” of mine who is actually a great big jerk likes to point out how much I liked Kyle Holder in last year’s draft every time we talk. He tried to talk me out of it by saying he thought Holder would never hit enough to make any kind of impact at the big league level. We’ll see. I bring it up because he was insistent this spring that anybody who liked Holder last year (as I did) should be all about Connor Justus (197) in 2016. I think he’s right. Justus can play. There are no questions here about his ability to stick at short; in fact, he’ll do more than just stick there, he’ll thrive there. That alone makes him a prospect of some value, so anything you get with the bat is gravy. Something between a reliable fielding utility type and an average or so regular feels like a realistic outcome. I like that value in round five quite a bit.

6.186 – RHP Cole Duensing

If you’re an Angels fan, you have to be excited about the front office drafting and signing both Chris Rodriguez and Cole Duensing (272) in the first six rounds. I mean, I’m not an Angels fan and I’m excited so that should tell you something. Duensing is long on projection with a frame (6-4, 180 pounds) that seems ready willing and able to pack on a few good pounds and up his already solid (88-92, 94 peak) fastball velocity a few ticks before we call him a finished product. His slider looks like a potential weapon as is and his athleticism is exactly where you want it to be for a prep righthander.

7.216 – 2B Jordan Zimmerman

Jordan Zimmerman (252) is a nice prospect. His draft ranking shows that I like him. Forthcoming words will confirm this. So please don’t take this the wrong way. But…

.422/.478/.639 in 92 PA
.154/.236/.208 in 148 PA

Top is Zimmerman in rookie ball. Bottom is Zimmerman in Low-A. Plenty of guys have come back from slow starts in full-season ball, so, again, this isn’t a knock on Zimmerman as a prospect. All I’m trying to say is DAMN pro baseball is tough. Zimmerman is a really good hitter. His rookie ball numbers line up nicely with his junior year stats at Michigan State. He can hit. But the jump to a full-season league is no joke. Anyway, here what was written about Zimmerman in April…

The one non-catcher in the group is Jordan Zimmerman. The offseason buzz on Zimmerman was that he was a good runner with an above-average arm and a chance to hit right away. All true so far. The only issue I have with Zimmerman as a prospect is where he’ll play defensively as a professional. I had him as a second baseman in my notes throughout the offseason, but he’s played a ton of first base so far for the Spartans. If he’s athletic enough to make the switch to second as a pro, then he’s a prospect of note. If not, then all the standard disclaimers about his bat needing to play big to keep finding work as a first baseman apply. I believe in the bat and skew positive that he can handle a non-first infield spot (again, likely second), but those beliefs don’t change the fact that I need to find out more about him.

Zimmerman played exclusively second in his debut, both in rookie ball and Low-A. That’s a promising sign. Getting back to those rookie ball/college ways AND continuing to play a passable second base would make Zimmerman some kind of prospect. A potential big league player even. If that’s the case, then he’ll be the second player with that name with that name to get to the highest level. Not that one, though. Jordan Zimmermann is one of a kind. We’re talking Jordan Zimmerman, reliever on the 1999 Mariners. Go win yourself a bar bet with that one.

8.246 – OF Troy Montgomery

OF Troy Montgomery (264) is such a good ballplayer. Underrated for almost all of his three years at Ohio State, his pro debut opened seriously opened some eyes around the game. Here was the chatter from April…

Montgomery is built just a little differently – he stands in at 5-10, 180 pounds, giving the OSU faithful a fun visual contrast to Dawson’s stacked 6-2, 225 pound frame – but is an area scout favorite for his smart, relentless style of play. Every single one of his tools play up because of how he approaches the game, and said tools aren’t too shabby to begin with. Montgomery can hit, run, and field at a high level, and his lack smaller frame belies power good enough to help him profile as a regular with continued overall development. I’m bullish on both Buckeyes.

I just really like Montgomery. Sometimes guys you just plain like are the hardest to write about. Love Montgomery, love this pick. I think Montgomery is a future regular with sneaky star upside.

9.276 – C Michael Barash

It was surprising to me to see Michael Barash go before a few other college catching favorites, but his nice debut in Low-A has made the Angels look pretty smart so far. He certainly has the defensive chops to remain behind the plate — as noted below, he was the only one of the four college catchers selected by Los Angeles to play regularly as a catcher this season — so the onus will be on his bat to see how high up the system he’ll advance. If he keeps hitting, I could see him logging some time as a big league backup down the line.

10.306 – RHP Andrew Vinson

Andrew Vinson (378) does a lot well. His fastball is fine if a tad short (86-91), his offspeed is solid (CB and CU), he’s a really good athlete, and he put up stellar numbers every single season he was at Texas A&M. I could see him soaking up innings as a starter in the low-minors before eventually getting shifted to the bullpen in the high-minors, a spot that should give him his best shot at pitching in the big leagues one day. I have a hard time betting against a guy coming off consecutive dominant years in the SEC — 9.00 K/9 and 1.97 BB/9 in 2015 (2.11 ERA), 10.19 K/9 and 1.48 BB/9 in 2016 (2.40 ERA) — with just enough stuff that shows he did it with more than just smoke and mirrors. Vinson is my kind of senior-sign.

11.336 – OF Brennon Lund

We go way back with Brennon Lund (345), as you can see from these notes from his high school days…

OF Brennon Lund (Bingham HS, Utah): quick bat; really good defender; CF range; plus speed; leadoff profile; above-average to plus arm; great athlete; not a ton of power, but enough; plays within himself offensively; 5-10, 180 pounds

That evaluation was enough to rank him exactly one spot ahead of fellow prep outfielder Corey Ray. Old rankings are fun. In the not-so-distant past (March 2016), this was said…

Lund is putting it all together this year for BYU. In his case, “all” refers to plus speed, easy center field range, a plus arm, and above-average raw power. My soft spot for Jones has to be evident because the player I just described in Lund sounds pretty damn exciting. I’d consider it a minor upset if he doesn’t overtake the field as the second highest WCC hitter drafted (and ranked by me) this June.

He wound up the fifth highest WCC hitter drafted behind Bryson Brigman (87), Gio Brusa (185), and Nate Nolan (236), and Joey Harris (274). So there’s your minor upset. His solid debut, much of which was spent in Low-A, reinforces his upside as a potential average-ish regular player or damn fine backup piece. I think the tools are starter quality while his approach might make him more of a bench bat.

12.366 – LHP Bo Tucker

Here we have an age-eligible sophomore pitcher who I had no idea was an age-eligible sophomore pitcher. There are limits to my knowledge, it appears. Here were my notes on him from my 2017 MLB Draft file…

SO LHP Bo Tucker (2017): 87-90 FB; good CU; good 75 CB; good deception; 6-4, 210 pounds (2015: 8.13 K/9 – 4.65 BB/9 – 31.0 IP – 2.03 ERA) (2016: 8.61 K/9 – 3.88 BB/9 – 53.1 IP – 3.71 ERA)

It’s a little weird (and encouraging!) how steady his peripherals have remained. You can see what he did in his first two years at Georgia. Then he did this in his pro debut: 8.33 K/9 – 3.45 BB/9 – 31.1 IP – 5.17 ERA. Could be an interesting matchup lefty if he can keep it up.

14.426 – OF Francisco Del Valle

OF Francisco Del Valle (181) has monster lefthanded power and loads of strength in his 6-1, 190 pound 18-year-old frame. There is a very long way from what he could be from where he is now, but the upside is exciting. Prototypical boom/bust prospect that is outstanding value this late in the game.

15.456 – RHP Mike Kaelin

I love Mike Kaelin (382), as that number in parentheses may suggest. Undersized righthanded relievers who can crank it up to 95 are almost always going to be favorites in my book. Add on to that Kaelin’s long history of missing bats (12.14 K/9 in 2015, 11.31 K/9 in 2016) and impeccable control, and the Angels very well could have just nabbed a handy middle reliever in round fifteen.

16.486 – SS Keith Grieshaber

The name Keith Grieshaber did not ring a bell at first, but after a quick search it all came back to me. I’m not 100% sure if this is the only draft site on the internet to have Keith Grieshaber notes, but I can’t imagine the list is very long…

2B/SS Keith Grieshaber (Marquette HS, Missouri): good athlete; good speed; good arm; good bat speed; power upside; 6-2, 185 pounds

Those were his notes after his high school season wrapped up in 2014. He went from there to Arkansas before eventually finding a home at Jefferson JC. A good redshirt-freshman season there gave the middle infielder notoriety to get drafted in the sixteenth round by the Angels. I’ll be curious to learn more about his defense, but the bat is enough to get my attention for now.

17.516 – OF Zach Gibbons

You can skip down to the John Schuknecht to save a little time here. Like Schuknecht, Zach Gibbons torched pro pitching in his first shot playing in the Pioneer League. Like Schuknecht, Gibbons was a 22-year-old beating up on teenage pitching in a short-season league. We don’t really know what it all means just yet, but we do know it’s better to hit than to not hit. Gibbons brings interesting power and a strong arm to the fold, and his plate discipline indicators were consistently excellent over his years at Arizona. He’s off to a good start. Let’s see if he can keep it up.

19.576 – SS Cody Ramer

In part of the pre-draft notes on Cody Ramer here, it was said that he “has flashed more pop than thought possible” noting that “whether or not it is sustainable is the question.” Ramer’s most substantial run of playing time before his breakthrough senior season at Arizona came during his sophomore campaign. That year he hit .250/.392/.290 in 124 AB. In his senior season, he hit .356/.452/.494. That’s some transformation. Questioning the realness of said changes felt more than fair at the time, but we’re getting close to the point that maybe accepting the new Cody Ramer would be a smart move. His more than solid (and completely out of nowhere) senior year ISO of .138 was actually lower than the .154 ISO he had in his pro debut. Small samples all around, but certainly encouraging. If Ramer is anything close to the hitter he has shown himself to be in his last 250 or so AB split between Arizona and the pros, then his utility player upside could tick up to potential big league regular at second base.

20.606 – C Jack Kruger

Jack Kruger was the third of four college catchers taken by the Angels in 2016. It might not seem like it, but that’s a lot. I remember wondering on draft weekend how they’d find a way to get each guy enough reps behind the plate to keep them developing as backstops. Well, it turns out that doing so wasn’t part of the plan after all. Matt Thaiss played first base and first base only. Brennan Morgan saw some time behind the plate, but the majority of his on-field innings were at first. Michael Barash actually caught, so that’s cool. And here we have Kruger, who might be a catcher…or not. Maybe he’s a utility guy who can catch. Maybe he’s just a plain old regular utility guy. No matter where he lands defensively, I think he can hit. From April 2016…

Jack Kruger, the best of the bunch, is an advanced bat and consistently reliable defender behind the plate. He’s got the best shot at playing regularly in the big leagues, especially if you’re buying into his hit tool and power both playing average or better. I think I do, but his “newness” as a prospect works against him some. Of course, like almost all real draft prospects, Kruger isn’t new. Here was his quick report written on this very site back in 2013…

C Jack Kruger (Oaks Christian HS, California): outstanding defensive tools, very strong presently; gap power

For area guys covering him this spring, however, he’s “new.” From limited at bats as a freshman at Oregon to solid but unspectacular junior college numbers at Orange Coast to his solid and borderline spectacular start to 2016 at Mississippi State, there’s not the kind of extended track record that some teams want to see in a potential top ten round college bat. Maybe I’m overstating that concern – he was a big HS prospect, Orange Coast College is a juco that gets lots of scout coverage, he played well last summer in the California Collegiate League, and both Oregon and Mississippi State are big-time programs – but players have slipped on draft day for sillier reasons. Any potential fall – no matter the reason — could make Kruger one of the draft’s better catching value picks.

I think getting Kruger in round twenty qualifies as enough of a fall to call him one of the draft’s better catching value picks. Of course, that assumes he’ll be tried behind the plate again. Kruger played only designated hitter in his debut pro season. I think he can catch, but the backup plan of him hopping around the diamond as needed is fun, too. He’s versatile enough to play a variety of positions including both second base and third base. I haven’t seen enough of Kruger to feel great about this comparison, but a lot of the notes I have on him remind me of what we were saying about Austin Barnes back in his Arizona State days. Have to like that in the twentieth round.

21.636 – OF LJ Kalawaia

I know nothing of LJ Kalawaia except for his stellar senior year stats (.396/.493/.578 with 40 BB/32 K and 23/31 SB), plus speed, and muscle-packed 5-11, 180 pound frame. As I always say (and will likely repeat a few times before this very draft review concludes), if you’re going to take a chance on a mid- to late-round college guy, find an ultra-productive one. Kalawaia fits the bill.

23.696 – OF Torii Hunter

Notre Dame rSO OF Torii Hunter: plus-plus speed; CF range; 40th round pick to Twins lock; 6-0, 190 pounds (2016: .182/.308/.182 – 2 BB/6 K – 2/2 SB – 11 AB)

That’s what I wrote about Hunter before the draft. The speed and range are legit, but my Minnesota prediction can be tossed out. My only solace comes in the wondering if the Twins were actually planning on taking Hunter later, but were cut off at the pass by the Angels. If that’s the case, I don’t think anybody could blame the Twins for being caught flat-footed. Never in my wildest imagination could I have seen Hunter going in the twenty-third round. Thirty-third? Maybe. I had assumed he was a final three round nepotism pick. Not only did the Angels take him with a “real” pick, but they also gave him $100,000 to sign. Whether or not he ever suits up for an Angels affiliate remains to be seen. He’s currently in the midst of his redshirt-junior season as a wide receiver on the Notre Dame football team. He can a) enter the NFL Draft in 2017, b) return to Notre Dame for a final post-grad season in 2017, or c) give up football for baseball and report for spring training next year. He could also combine option a or b with option c, assuming all parties involved are cool with the agreement. The first option seems most likely considering Hunter is set to graduate at the halfway point of the current school year. From there, who knows if or when he’ll return to the diamond.

So there you go: 235 words on a football player coming off a draft year of 11 whole at bats who may or may not ever play a single inning in pro baseball. I regret nothing.

24.726 – C Brennan Morgan

We’ll know more about Brennan Morgan after he gets challenged with full-season ball next year, but so far so good. He hit for the Orem Owlz just like he did for the Kennesaw State Owls. I guess you can think of him as the twenty-fourth round version of Matt Thaiss. Both are accomplished college hitters that I think are good enough to catch a little bit (admittedly a minority opinion at this point), but played tons of first base to kick off their pro careers. Even at first, Morgan’s bat could make him an actual prospect in this system. Maybe you can turn this mid-round pick into a platoon bat down the line. That are worse outcomes here.

25.756 – OF Cameron Williams

I can’t say with any certainty what the Angels saw in Cameron Williams, but if I had to guess I’d lean towards his burgeoning power and solid speed tempting them into taking a mid-round chance on him. Too much swing-and-miss for me personally, but I saw Williams up close far less than Los Angeles did. Like, take the number of times they saw him and subtract that by itself. That’s how many times I saw Williams play this past year.

26.786 – OF Derek Jenkins

Speed and center field range are the calling cards for Derek Jenkins. His complete lack of power could be his undoing. Check him out through his years at Seton Hall: .023 ISO in 2014, .018 ISO in 2015, and .039 ISO in 2016. Predictably, his biggest problem in pro ball as a rookie came in the way of a .009 ISO. That’s one double 127 plate appearances. Not going to cut it.

27.816 – RHP Greg Belton

If results are your thing, then Greg Belton is a guy to know. The Sam Houston State alum has a knack for sitting down a batter per inning with decent control to boot. His stuff mostly fits the generic righthanded reliever mold (88-93 MPH fastball, solid curve), but a changeup that flashes plus could be a separator for him in the pros. Like many of the Angels later round college picks, time is against him. Belton will be 24-years-old to start his first full pro season in 2017.

29.876 – RHP Blake Smith

Size (6-5, 230), heat (up to 94-95), and a potent breaking ball (knuckle-curve in my notes, but I’ve seen it listed as a few different things elsewhere) give Blake Smith a chance to keep pitching late in games as a pro. He’ll have to curtail some of his wildness to hit that ceiling, but his physical gifts are impressive and his mound presence imposing.

31.936 – RHP Johnny Morell

I could have sworn I’ve written about Johnny Morell at some point here, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Kind of a shame, as the $100,000 prep righthander has more promise than most draftees taken this late in the process. Doug Miller wrote a really cool story about Morrell and his relationship with Ryan Madson; come for the heartwarming tale, stay for the details about Morell’s stuff (e.g., fastball up to 94).

32.966 – RHP Doug Willey

All I have on Doug Willey in my notes on the site: “Franklin Pierce transfer.” Good senior year numbers at Arkansas, too. He’ll be 25 (!) in January.

33.966 – LHP Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly had a fantastic final season for UC Santa Barbara: 14.37 K/9 and 3.50 BB/9 in 20.2 IP. His debut with the Angels had solid peripherals (maybe a little too wild) and ugly run prevention stats. He’ll be 24-years-old next April, so his career will really have to get moving quickly if he has a shot in this game. I’m rooting for him because I root for everybody, but I don’t quite know what to do with a player who’s name is a living reminder of this. Can’t tell if it makes me like him more or less. I’m leaning…more.

34.1026 – LHP JD Nielsen

You could do worse than a lefty with size (6-6, 240) and a solid breaking ball in the thirty-fourth round. JD Nielsen can run it up to the upper-80s and has consistently found a way to miss bats while a member of the Fighting Illini. Interesting thing that may not actually be all the interesting: Nielsen walked over twice as many batters in half as many innings as a pro than he did as a college senior. He walked five guys in thirty innings as a senior before walking eleven guys in fifteen innings as a pro.

35.1056 – RHP Sean Isaac

Sean Isaac was an absolute workhorse for Vanguard this past spring. He averaged over seven innings per start and accounted for almost 40% of his team’s strikeouts on the mound. He whiffed over one hundred more batters than his next closest teammate. That’s all I really know about him. Fangraphs has him incorrectly listed as “Sean Issac,” so I guess there’s that, too. Get it together, Fangraphs!

36.1086 – SS Jose Rojas

Vanguard University is fifteen minutes away from Angel Stadium. I think that’s noteworthy, but maybe that’s just me. I go back and forth when it comes to teams using multiple picks from players from the same school (pros: they’ve seen them often and know them best; cons: the odds that an entire nation’s [plus Canada and Puerto Rico] worth of prospects both attend a small local university seem…remote), but I realize I’m just one tiny voice railing against a fairly obscure draft idiosyncrasy that nobody else seems to worry too much about. Anyway, Jose Rojas had a really nice season at Vanguard (.361/.430/.673 – 30 BB/14 K – 16/18 SB) and a solid pro debut. He played both second and third in said debut, so a long shot future as a utility guy seems like the dream here. This means nothing at all, but it intrigued me: his favorite player, per the Vanguard website, is Mo Vaughn. Fun favorite player to have.

37.1116 – OF John Schuknecht

Coming off a legitimately great debut as a professional, John Schuknecht is ready for a bigger challenge. Many times a great debut from a late round pick is not much more than the vagaries of small sample size leaning to the positive, but it’s still worth it to explore a bit deeper just in case. I can’t imagine the pressure late round picks must feel in their first few months in pro ball. A bad debut often means an offseason release. A good debut, like Schuknecht’s, can get you a longer look during instructs and potentially set you up for a full season “sink or swim” assignment. Hope Schuknecht is ready to dive into the deep end.

38.1146 – OF Tyler Bates

As far as I can tell, Tyler Bates is the first player drafted out of East Texas Baptist in forty years. He hit .407/.495/.751 (22 BB/19 K and 12/15 SB) in his final season as a Tiger. Then he went out and had a fine debut in the AZL. He’s got my attention.

39.1176 – 2B Richard Fecteau

Richard Fecteau is the second ever draftee from Salem State. Though listed as a second baseman during the draft, the 22-year-old infielder played the majority of his innings at third base in his debut. He struggled adjusted to pro pitching in his debut, but at least managed to keep his reputation as a patient, smart hitter very much intact. Between that and his senior line of .393/.478/.601 (24 BB/11 K and 14/15 SB), I’m intrigued enough to put him on the super duper mega deep sleeper list. I like these last two picks by the Angels a lot. Taking highly productive small school players shows that they value these late round picks.

40.1206 – 1B Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson was one of five fortieth round picks to sign this year across baseball. That alone is pretty cool to me. The last signed fortieth round pick to reach the big leagues is Brandon Kintzler, a still active reliever out of Dixie State who has pitched in the big leagues with both Milwaukee and Minnesota. That was back in 2004. Since then there have been plenty of quality players drafted in the last round (many have gone back to school and eventually reached the big leagues), but none have reached the majors using their round forty draft position as their jumping off point. Anderson and his four fortieth round brothers will attempt to be the first to climb the major league mountain in a dozen years. The odds are obviously against them, but the precedent set by Kintzler and others like him give the glimmer of hope needed to make a run at it. Lost in this somewhat is the fact that Anderson is a pretty decent prospect. The approach isn’t what you’d want, but his power is legit. Can’t argue with getting a guy with a clear big league tool with pick 1206.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

David Oppenheim (USC), David Hamilton (Texas), Robbie Peto (North Carolina), Anthony Molina (Northwest Florida JC), Troy Rallings (unsigned as he recovers from TJ surgery, but out of college eligibility and the Angels still hold his rights)

If Rallings does eventually sign, he’d be a fine addition to the system. He’s one of the best of this year’s sinker (88-92)/slider (78-84) reliever archetype with pinpoint control and a long track record of success as a collegiate closer at Washington. If the recovery goes well, I think he’s a future big league pitcher.

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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – ACC (PART TWO)

For Part One, see there. For Part Two, see…here.

Zack Collins over Corey Ray won’t happen on draft day and that’s fine. I’m taking the man who might have the best all-around offensive profile of any amateur hitter in the country if my neck is on the line. That was not intended to rhyme, but we’ll let it stand. I really do like Corey Ray: he can run, he has pop, his approach has taken a major step forward, and he should be able to stick in center for at least the first few years of club control. I mean, you’d be a fool not to like him at this point. But liking him as a potential top ten pick and loving him as a legit 1-1 candidate are two very different things.

I don’t have much to add about all of the good that Ray brings to the field each game. If you’ve made your way here, you already know. Instead of rehashing Ray’s positives, let’s focus on some of his potential weaknesses. In all honesty, the knocks on Ray are fairly benign. His body is closer to maxed-out than most top amateur prospects. His base running success and long-term utility in center field may not always be there as said body thickens up and loses some athleticism. Earlier in the season Andrew Krause of Perfect Game (who is excellent, by the way) noted an unwillingness or inability to pull the ball with authority as often as some might like to see. Some might disagree that a young hitter can be too open to hitting it to all fields – my take: it’s generally a good thing, but, as we’ve all been taught at a young age, all things in moderation – but easy pull-side power will always be something scouts want to see. At times, it appeared Ray was almost fighting it. Finally, Ray’s improved plate discipline, while part of a larger trend in the right direction, could be a sample size and/or physical advantage thing more than a learned skill that can be expected each year going forward. Is he really the player who has drastically upped his BB% while knocking his K%? Or is just a hot hitter using his experience and intimidating presence – everybody knows and fears Corey Ray at the college level – to help goose the numbers? It should also pointed out that Ray’s gaudy start only ranks him seventh on the Louisville team in batting average, fourth in slugging, and ninth in on-base percentage. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s worth noting.

(I mentioned weaknesses I’ve heard, so I think it’s only fair to share my thoughts on what they mean for him going forward. I think he’s a center fielder at least until he hits thirty, so that’s a non-issue for me. The swing thing is interesting, but it’s not something I’m qualified to comment on at this time. And I think the truth about his plate discipline likely falls in between those two theories: I’d lean more towards the changes being real, though maybe not quite as real as they’ve looked on the stat sheet so far this year.)

So what do we have with Ray as we head into June? He’s the rare prospect to get the same comp from two separate sources this spring. Both D1Baseball and Baseball America have dropped a Ray Lankford comp on him. I’ve tried to top that, but I think it’s tough to beat, especially if you look at Lankford’s 162 game average: .272/.364/.477 with 23 HR, 25 SB, and 79 BB/148 K. Diamond Minds has some really cool old scouting reports on Lankford including a few gems from none other than Mike Rizzo if you are under thirty and don’t have as clear a picture of what type of player we’re talking about when we talk about a young Ray Lankford. One non-Lankford comparison that came to mind – besides the old BA comp of Jackie Bradley and alternatives at D1 that include Carlos Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson – was Charlie Blackmon. It’s not perfect and I admittedly went there in part because I saw Blackmon multiple teams at Georgia Tech, but Ray was a harder player than anticipated to find a good comparison for (must-haves: pop, speed, CF defense; bonus points: lefthanded hitter, similar short maxed-out athletic physique, past production similarities) than I initially thought. I think Blackmon hits a lot of the targets with the most notable difference being body type. Here’s a quick draft year comparison…

.396/.469/.564 – 20 BB/21 K – 25/30 SB – 250 AB
.331/.398/.611 – 18 BB/20 K – 31/36 SB – 157 AB

Top is Blackmon’s last year at Georgia Tech, bottom is Corey Ray (so far) in 2016. Here is Blackmon’s 162 game average to date: .287/.334/.435 with 16 HR, 29 SB, and 32 BB/98 K. Something in between Lankford (great physical comp) and Blackmon (better tools comp) could look like this: .280/.350/.450 with 18 HR, 27 SB, and 50 BB/120 K. That could be AJ Pollock at maturity. From his pre-draft report at Baseball America (I’d link to it but BA’s site is so bad that I have to log in and log out almost a half-dozen times any time I want to see old draft reports like this)…

Pollock stands out most for his athleticism and pure hitting ability from the right side. He has a simple approach, a quick bat and strong hands. Scouts do say he’ll have to stop cheating out on his front side and stay back more on pitches in pro ball…He projects as a 30 doubles/15 homers threat in the majors, and he’s a slightly above-average runner who has plus speed once he gets going. Pollock also has good instincts and a solid arm in center field.

Minus the part about the right side, that could easily fit for Ray. For good measure, here’s the Pollock (top) and Ray (bottom) draft year comparison…

.365/.445/.610 – 30 BB/24 K – 21/25 SB – 241 AB
.331/.398/.611 – 18 BB/20 K – 31/36 SB – 157 AB

Not too far off the mark. I’m coming around on Pollock as a potential big league peak comp for Ray. I think there are a lot of shared traits, assuming you’re as open to looking past the difference in handedness as I am. A friend offered Starling Marte, another righthanded bat, as an additional point of reference. I can dig it. Blackmon, Pollock, and Marte have each had above-average offensive seasons while showing the physical ability to man center field and swipe a bunch of bags. I also keep coming back to Odubel Herrera as a comparable talent, but I’m not sure I’m ready to go there just yet. He fits that overall profile, though. A well-rounded up-the-middle defender with above-average upside at the plate and on the bases who has the raw talent to put up a few star seasons in his peak: that’s the hope with Ray. The few red flags laid out above are enough to make that best case scenario less than a certainty than I’d want in a potential 1-1 pick, but his flaws aren’t so damning that the top ten (possibly top five) should be off the table.

So if Ray is worth a potential top five/ten pick, then what does that mean for the player ranked ahead of him? I’m close to out of superlatives for Zack Collins’s bat. If he can catch, he’s a superstar. If he can’t, then he’s still a potential big league power bat capable of hitting in the middle of the championship lineup for the next decade. I realize first basemen aren’t typically sought after at the top of the draft. There are perfectly valid reasons for that. But any time you have the chance at a potential top five bat at any given position, I think it’s all right to bend the rules a little. Positional value is important, but so is premium offensive production. Collins hitting and hitting a lot as a professional is one of the things I’m most sure about in this draft class.

Nick Solak is an outstanding hitter. He can hit any pitch in any count and has shown himself plenty capable of crushing mistakes. His approach is impeccable, his speed above-average, and his defense dependable. I think he’s the best college second baseman in this class. His teammate Blake Tiberi is just as exciting to me. I think there’s a legit plus hit tool there and his athleticism is fantastic for an infielder. Every other physical tool should be at least average. I think Tiberi could be a future big league regular at third. These Louisville hitters are really, really good.

Chris Okey’s play isn’t the cause for his drop in stock, but rather the stellar work of almost every single catcher at the top of this class previously thought to be either slightly ahead of him or behind him. If he’s still a top five college catcher, then maybe he’s fifth. I’d have a hard time putting him ahead of Collins, Matt Thaiss, Logan Ice, and Jake Rogers, so fifth seems like his new draft ceiling. Again, not an indictment of his season per se but merely the reality that others have held serve or passed him by. Meanwhile Preston Palmeiro hasn’t lit the world on fire so much that his stock should rise, but the shallowness of this year’s first base class helps him stay firmly in the top five mix at the position.

Kel Johnson and Willie Abreu are similar prospects who have gone in different directions this spring. Both have massive raw power with massive holes in their swings. Johnson, the “newer” of the two prospects, is seen as the ascending hitter while Abreu, after three long years at Miami, is a victim of prospect fatigue. They make for a fascinating draft day pair.

Ben DeLuzio and Jacob Heyward are like the anti-Johnson/Abreu pair. This year they’ve shown impressive plate discipline while underwhelming in the power department. They have both flashed average or better raw power in the past, so the hope that they will eventually put it all together remains.

There were a few players I thought could do big things before the season that have not done big things this year. That’s about the least eloquent thing I’ve ever written, but you know what I mean. My anticipated breakout for Kyle Fiala has not come. I don’t know what to make of him right now. Nate Mondou’s approach has stepped forward, but his power has fallen back. That’s confusing. And the two Clemson bats I’ve long liked, Weston Wilson and Eli White, still have lots to work on. A little bit of late season magic would do all of these players some good. I’ll be rooting for them.

Meanwhile, Connor Jones, TJ Zeuch, and Zac Gallen are the only names among the elite pitchers in the conference that I think are sure-fire professional starting pitchers over the long haul. I’m bullish on Justin Dunn being able to remain in the rotation and Kyle Funkhouser still has that upside, but that’s about it beyond the obvious names. That sums up the ACC in 2016 pitching for me: few starting pitching locks, tons of relievers, and no real consensus after the top guy…who I actually am less sure about than most.

I’ve gone back and forth on Jones a few times throughout the draft process. For as much as I like him, there’s something about his game doesn’t quite add up just yet. He checks every box you’d want in a near-ML ready starting pitching prospect, but it’s hard to get too excited about a pitcher who has never truly dominated at the college level. My big question about Jones is whether or not he has that second gear that will allow him to consistently put away big league hitters in times of trouble. His stuff is perfectly suited to killing worms; in fact, his sinker, slider, and splitter combination has resulted in an impressive 65.25 GB% in 2016. But he’ll have to miss more bats to be more than a back of the rotation starter at the highest level. His K/9 year-by-year at Virginia: 6.55, 8.77, and 6.79. Those aren’t the kinds of numbers you’d expect out of a guy being talked up in some circles as a potential top ten pick and first college pitcher selected in the draft. This evaluation of Jones is a little bit like the scattered thoughts on Corey Ray shared above in that it highlights how tough it can be when you’re one of the top prospects in the country. Potential top half of the first round prospects get nitpicked in a way that mid-round players never will. Jones, like Ray, is an excellent prospect, but because a) everybody already knows the top two dozen or so “name” draft prospects are excellent and continuously talking about how great they are is tired, and b) the greater investment in top prospects necessitates a more thorough examination of their total game, getting picked apart more than most comes with the territory.

TJ Zeuch has come back from injury seemingly without missing a beat. I’m a big fan of just about everything he does. He’s got the size (6-7, 225), body control, tempo, and temperament to hold up as a starting pitcher for a long time. He’s also got a legit four-pitch mix that allows him to mix and match in ways that routinely leave even good ACC hitters guessing.

Even though North Carolina posts their rosters so late in the winter that I can’t give them a proper preview, I still managed to touch on Zac Gallen some…

It’ll be really interesting to see how high Gallen will rise in the real draft come June. He’s the kind of relatively safe, high-floor starting pitching prospect who either sticks in the rotation for a decade or tops out as a sixth starter better served moving to the bullpen to see if his stuff plays up there. This aggressive (pretend) pick by Boston should point to what side of that debate I side with. Gallen doesn’t do any one thing particularly well — stellar fastball command and a willingness to keep pounding in cutters stand out — but he throws five (FB, cutter, truer SL, CB, CU) pitches for strikes and competes deep into just about every start. There’s serious value in that.

That holds up today. Gallen’s profile seems like the type who gets overlooked during the draft, overlooked in the minors, and overlooked until he’s run through a few big league lineups before people begin to get wise. That’s all entirely anecdotal, but sometimes you’ve got to run with a hunch.

I came very close to putting Justin Dunn in the top spot. If he continues to show that he can hold up as a starting pitcher, then there’s a chance he winds up as the best pitching prospect in this conference by June. I’d love to see a better change-up between now and then as well. I’m pretty sure I’m out of words when it comes to Kyle Funkhouser. I hold out some hope that he’ll be a better pro than college pitcher because his raw stuff at its best is really that good, but there’s just so much inconsistency to his game that I can’t go all-in on him again. Maybe he’s fulfills the promise he showed last year, maybe he winds up more of a consistently inconsistent fifth starter/swingman type, or maybe he’s destined to a life of relief work. I no longer have any clue where his career is heading. I feel liberated.

If either Funkhouser or Dunn winds up in the bullpen over the long haul, they’ll join a whole bunch of other ACC arms who might fit best as late-inning relievers in the pro ranks. Bailey Clark could keep starting, but most of the smarter folk I talk to seem to think he’ll fit best as a closer in the pros. At his best his stuff rivals the best Jones has to offer, but the Virginia righthander’s command edge and less stressful delivery make him the better bet to remain in the rotation. I personally wouldn’t rule out Clark having a long and fruitful career as a starting pitcher, but I’ll concede that the thought of him unleashing his plus to plus-plus fastball (90-96, 98 peak and impossible to square up consistently) over and over again in shorter outings is mighty appealing. Truer relievers like Zack Burdi (who I think I like better than his brother), AJ Bogucki, Bryan Garcia, Spencer Trayner, and Jim Ziemba will all be valued in different ways come draft day, but all have the present ability to be quick movers and early contributors.

I don’t normally say stuff like this, but here we go: I really like how the ACC hitting list came out. If you listen to me about any one specific list this spring, this should probably be the one.

Hitters

  1. Miami JR C/1B Zack Collins
  2. Louisville JR OF Corey Ray
  3. Virginia JR C Matt Thaiss
  4. Wake Forest JR 1B/RHP Will Craig
  5. Louisville JR 2B/OF Nick Solak
  6. Louisville rSO 3B/SS Blake Tiberi
  7. Notre Dame JR 2B/3B Cavan Biggio
  8. Clemson JR C Chris Okey
  9. North Carolina State JR C/3B Andrew Knizner
  10. North Carolina JR OF Tyler Ramirez
  11. North Carolina State JR 1B/OF Preston Palmeiro
  12. Georgia Tech SO OF/1B Kel Johnson
  13. Miami JR OF Willie Abreu
  14. Virginia JR SS/3B Daniel Pinero
  15. Georgia Tech JR SS Connor Justus
  16. Florida State JR OF/SS Ben DeLuzio
  17. Miami JR OF Jacob Heyward
  18. Notre Dame JR 2B/SS Kyle Fiala
  19. Wake Forest JR 2B/OF Nate Mondou
  20. Clemson JR 3B/SS Weston Wilson
  21. Clemson JR SS/2B Eli White
  22. Wake Forest JR C Ben Breazeale
  23. North Carolina JR OF Tyler Lynn
  24. Virginia Tech rJR OF Saige Jenco
  25. Florida State SR 2B/SS John Sansone
  26. Florida State JR 1B/C Quincy Nieporte
  27. Louisville JR C Will Smith
  28. Louisville JR OF Logan Taylor
  29. Clemson rSO OF/1B Reed Rohlman
  30. Miami SR SS Brandon Lopez
  31. Boston College SR 3B/SS Joe Cronin
  32. North Carolina JR OF Adam Pate
  33. Georgia Tech JR OF Ryan Peurifoy
  34. Georgia Tech JR C Arden Pabst
  35. Florida State JR C/OF Gage West
  36. Miami JR 2B/SS Johnny Ruiz
  37. North Carolina SR SS/2B Eli Sutherland
  38. Florida State JR SS/2B Matt Henderson
  39. Georgia Tech JR OF Keenan Innis
  40. Boston College JR SS/3B Johnny Adams
  41. Boston College JR C Nick Sciortino
  42. Duke JR C Cristian Perez
  43. Notre Dame SR SS Lane Richards
  44. Georgia Tech SR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez
  45. Virginia SR C Robbie Coman
  46. Wake Forest SR OF/2B Joey Rodriguez
  47. Notre Dame SR OF/LHP Zac Kutsulis
  48. Louisville JR OF Colin Lyman
  49. Duke rJR OF/1B Jalen Phillips
  50. Notre Dame JR C Ryan Lidge
  51. North Carolina State SR C Chance Shepard
  52. Pittsburgh SR OF/LHP Aaron Schnurbusch
  53. Pittsburgh JR OF Nick Yarnall
  54. Pittsburgh JR C Caleb Parry
  55. Notre Dame rSO OF Torii Hunter
  56. North Carolina State SR 3B/SS Ryne Willard
  57. Louisville SR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum
  58. Miami rJR 1B/OF Chris Barr
  59. Clemson rSO 3B Glenn Batson
  60. Clemson rJR OF Maleeke Gibson

Pitchers

  1. Virginia JR RHP Connor Jones
  2. Pittsburgh JR RHP TJ Zeuch
  3. Boston College JR RHP Justin Dunn
  4. Duke JR RHP Bailey Clark
  5. Louisville JR RHP Zack Burdi
  6. North Carolina JR RHP Zac Gallen
  7. Louisville SR RHP Kyle Funkhouser
  8. North Carolina JR RHP AJ Bogucki
  9. Miami JR RHP Bryan Garcia
  10. North Carolina JR RHP Spencer Trayner
  11. Clemson SR RHP Clate Schmidt
  12. Louisville JR LHP Drew Harrington
  13. Wake Forest JR RHP Parker Dunshee
  14. Clemson rSO LHP Alex Bostic
  15. Duke rSO LHP Jim Ziemba
  16. Boston College JR RHP Mike King
  17. Wake Forest SR RHP/C Garrett Kelly
  18. Virginia JR RHP Alec Bettinger
  19. North Carolina State JR RHP Joe O’Donnell
  20. North Carolina State JR LHP Ryan Williamson
  21. Georgia Tech JR RHP/3B Brandon Gold
  22. Florida State JR LHP Alec Byrd
  23. Florida State rSO RHP Ed Voyles
  24. Florida State rSR RHP Tyler Warmoth
  25. Clemson rSR RHP Patrick Andrews
  26. Duke rSO RHP Karl Blum
  27. Georgia Tech JR RHP Matthew Gorst
  28. North Carolina SO RHP/1B Ryder Ryan
  29. Miami SR RHP Enrique Sosa
  30. North Carolina State rSR RHP Kyle Smith
  31. Miami JR LHP Danny Garcia
  32. North Carolina rSR RHP Chris McCue
  33. Virginia Tech JR RHP Aaron McGarity
  34. North Carolina State JR RHP Cory Wilder
  35. Virginia rSO RHP Jack Roberts
  36. North Carolina State rJR RHP Johnny Piedmonte
  37. Clemson JR LHP Pat Krall
  38. Boston College SR LHP Jesse Adams
  39. Duke rSR RHP Brian McAfee
  40. North Carolina State SR LHP Will Gilbert
  41. Louisville JR RHP Jake Sparger
  42. Georgia Tech rSR RHP Cole Pitts
  43. Georgia Tech JR RHP Zac Ryan
  44. Boston College SR RHP John Nicklas
  45. Georgia Tech SR LHP/OF Jonathan King
  46. Florida State rJR LHP Alex Diese
  47. Virginia rJR LHP/OF Kevin Doherty
  48. Pittsburgh SR RHP Aaron Sandefur
  49. Florida State rSO RHP Andy Ward
  50. Wake Forest rSO RHP Chris Farish
  51. North Carolina State rJR RHP Karl Keglovits
  52. Virginia Tech JR RHP Luke Scherzer
  53. Virginia Tech rSO RHP Ryan Lauria
  54. North Carolina State rSR LHP Travis Orwig
  55. North Carolina JR LHP Zach Rice
  56. Notre Dame SR RHP David Hearne
  57. Miami rSO RHP Andy Honiotes
  58. Florida State rSO RHP Taylor Blatch
  59. Duke rSR RHP Kellen Urbon
  60. Clemson rSO RHP Drew Moyer
  61. Clemson rJR RHP Wales Toney
  62. Clemson rJR RHP/1B Jackson Campana
  63. North Carolina State rJR LHP Sean Adler
  64. Wake Forest JR RHP Connor Johnstone
  65. Florida State rSR RHP Mike Compton
  66. Duke rSR LHP Trent Swart
  67. Louisville SR RHP Anthony Kidston
  68. Wake Forest JR RHP John McCarren
  69. Virginia JR RHP Tyler Shambora
  70. Miami SR LHP Thomas Woodrey
  71. Virginia Tech rJR LHP Kit Scheetz
  72. Virginia SR LHP David Rosenberger
  73. Notre Dame JR RHP Ryan Smoyer
  74. Virginia JR RHP Holden Grounds
  75. Notre Dame SR LHP Michael Hearne
  76. Pittsburgh JR RHP Matt Pidich
  77. Florida State rSO RHP Will Zirzow
  78. Duke SR LHP Nick Hendrix
  79. Notre Dame SR RHP Nick McCarty
  80. Miami JR RHP Cooper Hammond
  81. Pittsburgh JR RHP Sam Mersing
  82. North Carolina State rSO LHP Cody Beckman
  83. Virginia Tech rSR LHP Jon Woodcock
  84. Georgia Tech JR LHP Ben Parr
  85. Wake Forest rSR RHP Aaron Fossas
  86. North Carolina State rSR RHP Chris Williams

Boston College

SR LHP Jesse Adams (2016)
SR RHP John Nicklas (2016)
JR RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
JR RHP Mike King (2016)
JR RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2016)
SR 3B/SS Joe Cronin (2016)
SR OF Logan Hoggarth (2016)
SR C Stephen Sauter (2016)
JR SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
JR C Nick Sciortino (2016)
JR OF/RHP Michael Strem (2016)
SO RHP Brian Rapp (2017)
SO RHP/OF Donovan Casey (2017)
SO 2B/3B Jake Palomaki (2017)
FR RHP Jacob Stevens (2017)
FR C Gian Martellini (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jesse Adams, John Nicklas, Justin Dunn, Mike King, Joe Cronin, Johnny Adams, Nick Sciortino, Michael Strem

Clemson

SR RHP Clate Schmidt (2016)
rSR RHP Patrick Andrews (2016)
rJR RHP Wales Toney (2016)
rJR RHP Garrett Lovorn (2016)
rSO LHP Alex Bostic (2016)
JR LHP Pat Krall (2016)
JR LHP Andrew Towns (2016)
rSO RHP Drew Moyer (2016)
rJR RHP/1B Jackson Campana (2016)
JR C Chris Okey (2016)
JR SS/2B Eli White (2016)
JR 3B/SS Weston Wilson (2016)
rSO OF/1B Reed Rohlman (2016)
rSO 3B Glenn Batson (2016)
rJR OF Maleeke Gibson (2016)
rJR 1B/OF Andrew Cox (2016)
FR LHP Jake Higginbotham (2017)
SO LHP Charlie Barnes (2017)
rFR RHP Alex Eubanks (2017)
SO RHP Paul Campbell (2017)
SO 3B/2B Adam Renwick (2017)
SO OF Chase Pinder (2017)
rFR OF KJ Bryant (2017)
SO SS Grayson Byrd (2017)
SO OF Drew Wharton (2017)
SO C Robert Jolly (2017)
SO C/1B Chris Williams (2017)
FR RHP Ryley Gilliam (2018)
FR RHP Zach Goodman (2018)
FR RHP Graham Lawson (2018)
FR RHP/1B Brooks Crawford (2018)
FR RHP Tom Walker (2018)
FR RHP Andrew Papp (2018)
FR C Jordan Greene (2018)
FR SS/2B Grant Cox (2018)
FR OF Seth Beer (2018)

High Priority Follows: Clate Schmidt, Patrick Andrews, Wales Toney, Alex Bostic, Pat Krall, Drew Moyer, Jackson Campana, Chris Okey, Eli White, Weston Wilson, Reed Rohlman, Glenn Batson, Maleeke Gibson

Duke

JR RHP Bailey Clark (2016)
rSO RHP Karl Blum (2016)
rSO LHP Jim Ziemba (2016)
rSR RHP Brian McAfee (2016)
SR LHP Nick Hendrix (2016)
rSR RHP Conner Stevens (2016)
JR LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2016)
rSR LHP Trent Swart (2016)
rSR RHP Kellen Urbon (2016)
rJR OF/1B Jalen Phillips (2016)
JR C Cristian Perez (2016)
SO LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
SO LHP Mitch Stallings (2017)
SO RHP/SS Ryan Day (2017)
SO 3B/RHP Jack Labosky (2017)
SO 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
SO 3B/SS Max Miller (2017)
SO 2B/OF Peter Zyla (2017)
SO OF Michael Smicicklas (2017)
SO OF Evan Dougherty (2017)
FR RHP Al Pesto (2018)
FR OF Keyston Fuller (2018)
FR OF Kennie Taylor (2018)
FR OF Jimmy Herron (2018)
FR SS Zack Kone (2018)
FR SS Zack Kesterson (2018)
FR OF Griffin Conine (2018)

High Priority Follows: Bailey Clark, Karl Blum, Jim Ziemba, Brian McAfee, Nick Hendrix, Conner Stevens, Trent Swart, Kellen Urbon, Jalen Phillips, Cristian Perez

Florida State

rSR RHP Mike Compton (2016)
rJR LHP Alex Diese (2016)
rSO RHP Taylor Blatch (2016)
JR LHP Alec Byrd (2016)
rSO RHP Andy Ward (2016)
rSO RHP Ed Voyles (2016)
JR RHP Jim Voyles (2016)
rSO RHP Will Zirzow (2016)
rSR LHP Matt Kinney (2016)
rSR RHP Tyler Warmoth (2016)
JR OF/SS Ben DeLuzio (2016)
JR 1B/C Quincy Nieporte (2016)
SR 2B/SS John Sansone (2016)
JR C/OF Gage West (2016)
JR 1B/OF Hank Truluck (2016)
JR SS/2B Matt Henderson (2016)
JR C Bryan Bussey (2016)
FR LHP/OF Tyler Holton (2017)
SO RHP Cobi Johnson (2017)
rFR RHP Andrew Karp (2017)
SO RHP Drew Carlton (2017)
SO OF/RHP Steven Wells (2017)
SO C/1B Darren Miller (2017)
SO SS/3B Dylan Busby (2017)
SO SS/2B Taylor Walls (2017)
FR RHP Cole Sands (2018)
FR LHP Jared Middleton (2018)
FR RHP Chase Haney (2018)
FR RHP Ronnie Ramirez (2018)
FR RHP Dillon Brown (2018)
FR C Caleb Raleigh (2018)
FR C/OF Jackson Lueck (2018)
FR OF Donovan Petrey (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mike Compton, Alex Diese, Taylor Blatch, Alec Byrd, Andy Ward, Ed Voyles, Jim Voyles, Will Zirzow, Matt Kinney, Tyler Warmoth, Ben DeLuzio, Quincy Nieporte, John Sansome, Gage West, Hank Truluck, Matt Henderson

Georgia Tech

JR LHP Ben Parr (2016)
JR RHP Matthew Gorst (2016)
SR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2016)
JR RHP/3B Brandon Gold (2016)
JR RHP Zac Ryan (2016)
rSR RHP Cole Pitts (2016)
JR LHP Tanner Shelton (2016)
JR RHP Matt Phillips (2016)
SO OF/1B Kel Johnson (2016)
JR OF Keenan Innis (2016)
JR OF Ryan Peurifoy (2016)
JR C Arden Pabst (2016)
JR SS Connor Justus (2016)
SR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez (2016)
SO RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)
SO 2B Wade Bailey (2017)
SO 3B/C Trevor Graport (2017)
FR RHP Jonathan Hughes (2018)
FR RHP Tristin English (2018)
FR RHP Bobby Gavreau (2018)
FR RHP Keyton Gibson (2018)
FR RHP Jake Lee (2018)
FR RHP Micah Carpenter (2018)
FR RHP Burton Dulaney (2018)
FR C Joey Bart (2018)
FR OF/1B Brandt Stallings (2018)
FR 2B/SS Carter Hall (2018)
FR 2B/SS Jackson Webb (2018)

High Priority Follows: Ben Parr, Matthew Gorst, Jonathan King, Brandon Gold, Zac Ryan, Cole Pitts, Kel Johnson, Keenan Innis, Ryan Peurifoy, Arden Pabst, Connor Justus, Matt Gonzalez

Louisville

SR RHP Kyle Funkhouser (2016)
JR RHP Zack Burdi (2016)
JR LHP Drew Harrington (2016)
SR RHP Anthony Kidston (2016)
JR RHP Jake Sparger (2016)
rSR RHP Ryan Smith (2016)
JR RHP Shane Hummel (2016)
JR OF Corey Ray (2016)
rSO 3B/SS Blake Tiberi (2016)
JR 2B/OF Nick Solak (2016)
JR OF Logan Taylor (2016)
JR OF Colin Lyman (2016)
JR C Will Smith (2016)
SR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum (2016)
rSO OF/C Ryan Summers (2016)
SO RHP Kade McClure (2017)
SO RHP Lincoln Henzman (2017)
SO RHP Sean Leland (2017)
SO LHP/1B Brendan McKay (2017)
SO C Colby Fitch (2017)
SO SS/2B Devin Hairston (2017)
FR RHP Riley Thompson (2017)
FR RHP Sam Bordner (2018)
FR RHP Bryan Hoeing (2018)
FR RHP Noah Burkholder (2018)
FR LHP Adam Wolf (2018)
FR OF Josh Stowers (2018)
FR INF Devin Mann (2018)
FR OF Chris Botsoe (2018)
FR C Zeke Pinkham (2018)
FR SS Daniel Little (2018)
FR 3B Drew Ellis (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kyle Funkhouser, Zack Burdi, Drew Harrington, Anthony Kidston, Jake Sparger, Corey Ray, Blake Tiberi, Nick Solak, Logan Taylor, Colin Lyman, Will Smith, Dan Rosenbaum, Ryan Summers

Miami

SR LHP Thomas Woodrey (2016)
JR RHP Cooper Hammond (2016)
JR RHP Bryan Garcia (2016)
JR LHP Danny Garcia (2016)
SR RHP Enrique Sosa (2016)
rSO RHP Andy Honiotes (2016)
JR C/1B Zack Collins (2016)
JR OF Willie Abreu (2016)
JR OF Jacob Heyward (2016)
SR SS Brandon Lopez (2016)
rJR 1B/OF Chris Barr (2016)
JR 2B/SS Johnny Ruiz (2016)
JR INF Randy Batista (2016)
JR 1B Edgar Michelangeli (2016)
SO LHP Michael Mediavilla (2017)
SO RHP Jesse Lepore (2017)
rFR RHP Keven Pimentel (2017)
rFR RHP Devin Meyer (2017)
rFR LHP Luke Spangler (2017)
SO OF Carl Chester (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Cabezas (2018)
FR RHP Frankie Bartow (2018)
FR 3B Romy Gonzalez (2018)

High Priority Follows: Thomas Woodrey, Cooper Hammond, Bryan Garcia, Danny Garcia, Enrique Sosa, Sandy Honiotes, Zack Collins, Willie Abreu, Jacob Heyward, Brandon Lopez, Chris Barr, Johnny Ruiz

North Carolina

JR RHP AJ Bogucki (2016)
JR RHP Zac Gallen (2016)
JR LHP Zach Rice (2016)
rSR RHP Chris McCue (2016)
JR RHP Spencer Trayner (2016)
SO RHP/1B Ryder Ryan (2016)
JR OF Tyler Ramirez (2016)
JR OF Tyler Lynn (2016)
JR OF Adam Pate (2016)
SR SS/2B Eli Sutherland (2016)
SO RHP JB Bukauskas (2017)
SO RHP Jason Morgan (2017)
SO RHP Hansen Butler (2017)
SO RHP Brett Daniels (2017)
SO LHP/1B Hunter Williams (2017)
SO OF/1B Brian Miller (2017)
SO 3B/SS Zack Gahagan (2017)
SO SS/2B Logan Warmoth (2017)
FR 3B/RHP Kyle Datres (2017)
FR LHP Brendon Little (2018)
RHP Taylor Sugg (2018)
FR RHP Cole Aker (2018)
FR RHP Rodney Hutchison (2018)
FR C/RHP Cody Roberts (2018)
FR C Wyatt Cross (2018)
FR C Brendan Illies (2018)
FR OF Josh Ladowski (2018)
FR SS Utah Jones (2018)
FR OF Brandon Riley (2018)

High Priority Follows: AJ Bogucki, Zac Gallen, Zach Rice, Chris McCue, Spencer Trayner, Ryder Ryan, Tyler Ramirez, Tyler Lynn, Adam Pate, Eli Sutherland

North Carolina State

JR RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
rJR LHP Sean Adler (2016)
rJR RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2016)
JR RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
rSR LHP Travis Orwig (2016)
SR LHP Will Gilbert (2016)
rJR RHP Karl Keglovits (2016)
rSR RHP Kyle Smith (2016)
rSR RHP Chris Williams (2016)
rSO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
JR LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
JR C/3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
JR 1B/OF Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SR 3B/SS Ryne Willard (2016)
SR C Chance Shepard (2016)
rSO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO LHP Brian Brown (2017)
SO RHP Evan Brabrand (2017)
SO RHP/3B Evan Mendoza (2017)
SO RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
rFR OF Storm Edwards (2017)
SO OF Josh McLain (2017)
SO 3B/SS Joe Dunand (2017)
SO 2B Stephen Pitarra (2017)
SO OF Brock Deatherage (2017)
SO OF Shane Shepard (2017)
FR SS/OF Xavier LeGrant (2018)

High Priority Follows: Joe O’Donnell, Sean Adler, Johnny Piedmonte, Cory Wilder, Travis Orwig, Will Gilbert, Karl Keglovits, Kyle Smith, Chris Williams, Cody Beckman, Ryan Williamson, Andrew Knizner, Preston Palmeiro, Ryne Willard, Chance Shepard,

Notre Dame

SR RHP Nick McCarty (2016)
SR RHP David Hearne (2016)
SR LHP Michael Hearne (2016)
JR RHP Ryan Smoyer (2016)
JR LHP Jim Orwick (2016)
JR LHP Scott Tully (2016)
SR RHP Connor Hale (2016)
SR OF/LHP Zac Kutsulis (2016)
JR 2B/3B Cavan Biggio (2016)
JR 2B/SS Kyle Fiala (2016)
SR SS Lane Richards (2016)
JR C Ryan Lidge (2016)
rSO OF Torii Hunter (2016)
SR C/OF Ricky Sanchez (2016)
SO RHP Brad Bass (2017)
SO LHP Sean Guenther (2017)
SO RHP Brandon Bielak (2017)
SO RHP Peter Solomon (2017)
SO RHP Evy Ruibal (2017)
SO OF Jake Johnson (2017)
FR RHP Connor Hock (2018)
FR RHP Chris Connolly (2018)
FR OF/RHP Matt Vierling (2018)
FR 3B Jake Singer (2018)
FR OF Connor Stutts (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick McCarty, David Hearne, Michael Hearne, Ryan Smoyer, Scott Tully, Zac Kutsulis, Cavan Biggio, Kyle Fiala, Lane Richards, Ryan Lidge, Torii Hunter, Ricky Sanchez

Pittsburgh

JR RHP TJ Zeuch (2016)
SR RHP Aaron Sandefur (2016)
JR RHP Sam Mersing (2016)
rSO LHP Josh Mitchell (2016)
JR RHP Matt Pidich (2016)
SR OF/LHP Aaron Schnurbusch (2016)
SR C Alex Kowalczyk (2016)
rJR OF Jacob Wright (2016)
JR INF Ron Sherman (2016)
JR OF Nick Yarnall (2016)
JR C Caleb Parry (2016)
JR C Manny Pazos (2016)
rSO OF Frank Maldonado (2016)
SO RHP Isaac Mattson (2017)
SO 3B/SS Charles LeBlanc (2017)
FR LHP Clayton Morrell (2018)
FR RHP Derek West (2018)
FR OF Yasin Chentouf (2018)

High Priority Follows: TJ Zeuch, Aaron Sandefur, Sam Mersing, Matt Pidich, Aaron Schnurbusch, Alex Kowalczyk, Jacob Wright, Ron Sherman, Nick Yarnall, Caleb Parry, Frank Maldonado

Virginia

JR RHP Connor Jones (2016)
JR RHP Alec Bettinger (2016)
rSO RHP Jack Roberts (2016)
SR LHP David Rosenberger (2016)
JR RHP Tyler Shambora (2016)
JR RHP Holden Grounds (2016)
rJR LHP/OF Kevin Doherty (2016)
JR C Matt Thaiss (2016)
SR C Robbie Coman (2016)
JR SS/3B Daniel Pinero (2016)
SO RHP Tommy Doyle (2017)
SO RHP Derek Casey (2017)
SO LHP Bennett Sousa (2017)
SO OF/LHP Adam Haseley (2017)
SO 3B Charlie Cody (2017)
SO 2B/OF Ernie Clement (2017)
SO 2B Jack Gerstenmaier (2017)
SO C/2B Justin Novak (2017)
SO 1B/RHP Pavin Smith (2017)
FR OF Doak Dozier (2017)
FR RHP Evan Sperling (2018)
FR LHP Daniel Lynch (2018)
FR LHP Connor Eason (2018)
FR RHP Grant Sloan (2018):
FR OF/RHP Cameron Simmons (2018)
FR 3B Ryan Karstetter (2018)
FR 2B/SS Andy Weber (2018)
FR 3B/1B Nate Eikhoff (2018)
FR OF Jake McCarthy (2018)
FR INF Jon Meola (2018)

High Priority Follows: Connor Jones, Alec Bettinger, Jack Roberts, David Rosenberger, Tyler Shambora, Holden Grounds, Kevin Doherty, Matt Thaiss, Robbie Coman, Daniel Pinero

Virginia Tech

rJR LHP Kit Scheetz (2016)
rSR LHP Jon Woodcock (2016)
JR RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
JR RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
rSO RHP Ryan Lauria (2016)
rJR 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2016)
rJR OF Saige Jenco (2016)
rSR OF Logan Bible (2016)
JR OF Mac Caples (2016)
JR 3B/SS Ryan Tufts (2016)
SR C Andrew Mogg (2016)
rSO OF Nick Anderson (2016)
rSO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO LHP Packy Naughton (2017)
SO OF/3B Max Ponzurik (2017)
SO C Joe Freiday (2017)
FR RHP Nic Enright (2018)
FR RHP Culver Hughes (2018)
FR RHP Cole Kragel (2018)
FR RHP Payton Holdsworth (2018)
FR LHP/1B Patrick Hall (2018)
FR RHP Tim Salvadore (2018)
FR OF/1B Stevie Mangrum (2018)
FR C/OF Stephen Polansky (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kit Scheetz, Jon Woodcock, Aaron McGarity, Luke Scherzer, Ryan Lauria, Phil Sciretta, Saige Jenco, Mac Caples, Ryan Tufts, Nick Anderson

Wake Forest

SR RHP/C Garrett Kelly (2016)
rSR RHP Aaron Fossas (2016)
JR RHP Parker Dunshee (2016)
rSO RHP Chris Farish (2016)
JR RHP Connor Johnstone (2016)
JR RHP John McCarren (2016)
rSO RHP Parker Johnson (2016)
JR 1B/RHP Will Craig (2016)
JR C Ben Breazeale (2016)
SR OF/2B Joey Rodriguez (2016)
JR 2B/OF Nate Mondou (2016)
rSR OF Kevin Conway (2016)
JR OF Jonathan Pryor (2016)
SO RHP Drew Loepprich (2017)
SO RHP Donnie Sellers (2016)
SO OF Stuart Fairchild (2017)
SO 1B Gavin Sheets (2017)
SO OF Keegan Maronpot (2017)
SO SS/2B Drew Freedman (2017)
SO SS/2B Bruce Steel (2017)
FR LHP Tyler Witt (2018)
FR RHP Griffin Roberts (2018)
FR RHP Rayne Supple (2018)
FR 3B/SS John Aiello (2018)

High Priority Follows: Garrett Kelly, Aaron Fossas, Parker Dunshee, Chris Farish, Connor Johnstone, John McCarren, Parker Johnson, Will Craig, Ben Breazeale, Joey Rodriguez, Nate Mondou, Kevin Conway, Jonathan Pryor

EDIT: Sellers is a 2016 draft-eligible sophomore. Fastball up to 95 with a solid slider. He’ll be included on future lists.

2016 MLB Draft Prospects – Georgia Tech

JR LHP Ben Parr (2016)
JR RHP Matthew Gorst (2016)
SR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2016)
JR RHP/3B Brandon Gold (2016)
JR RHP Zac Ryan (2016)
rSR RHP Cole Pitts (2016)
JR LHP Tanner Shelton (2016)
JR RHP Matt Phillips (2016)
JR OF Keenan Innis (2016)
JR OF Ryan Peurifoy (2016)
JR C Arden Pabst (2016)
JR SS Connor Justus (2016)
SR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez (2016)
SO OF/1B Kel Johnson (2016)
SO RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)
SO 2B Wade Bailey (2017)
FR RHP Jonathan Hughes (2018)
FR RHP Tristin English (2018)
FR RHP Bobby Gavreau (2018)
FR RHP Keyton Gibson (2018)
FR RHP Jake Lee (2018)
FR RHP Micah Carpenter (2018)
FR C Joey Bart (2018)
FR OF/1B Brandt Stallings (2018)
FR 2B/SS Carter Hall (2018)
FR 2B/SS Jackson Webb (2018)

JR OF Ryan Peurifoy has made enough incremental progress as a hitter over the past few years that I’m buying him as a potential 2016 breakout prospect. He’s an unusually instinctual player with above-average range and foot speed that both play up even more than that thanks to his innate feel for the game. His best physical tool has always been his arm, a real weapon that is plus in both strength and accuracy. He still might wind up a tweener who doesn’t quite have the power for a corner or the quicks for center, but that’s not the kiss of death that it was once. In today’s testing world, a “tweener” can do quite well for himself with teams who put a premium on outfield defense in left and right field. Put me down for thinking Peurifoy has a reasonable fourth outfielder floor with the chance to be one of those plus glove/decent bat starting corner outfielders if it all breaks right. He’s joined in the outfield by JR OF Keenan Innis, a decent runner with some power who could also enjoy a breakout junior season of sorts.

The infield has three potential draft picks in JR C Arden Pabst, JR SS Connor Justus, and SR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez. Pabst is the most interesting to me at this moment because of a steady defensive presence and as yet untapped raw power. Justus is an outstanding defender who will need to do more at the plate to creep up into the early round draft conversation. Gonzalez is another gifted defensive player who has to show a lot more offensively to be thought of as a viable draft prospect. He checks many of the physical boxes, but his approach (13 BB/52 K) is holding him back in a major way.

I’m less enthusiastic about Georgia Tech’s pitching prospects, but there are still a few potential relief arms to track this spring. My favorite Georgia Tech arm is attached to the body of JR RHP/3B Brandon Gold. Gold is a good athlete — no surprise coming from a two-way talent who might be seen as a primary third baseman by some teams — with the kind of stuff that you wonder if it might play up once asked to focus on pitching full-time. He’s been up to the low-90s with a nice changeup and average or better command, so there’s a good base to work with here.

JR LHP Ben Parr looked promising after an impressive freshman season, but things went completely off the tracks for him last year. He’s maintained the same mid- to upper-80s fastball with advanced command profile, so a return to his debut year form ought to get him in the draft conversation once more. JR RHP Zac Ryan has the one-two punch (FB/CB) and enough of a track record to get a look in pro ball. SR LHP Jonathan King has decent stuff, but no real projection left and a three year run of declining strikeout numbers. rSR RHP Cole Pitts is a Tommy John survivor with inconsistent control, but the kind of size (6-5, 235) that could interest teams.

I don’t think I have much in the way of biases when it comes to liking or not liking college teams, but re-reading this quickly before hitting publish has me thinking this skews a little bit negative. I swear it’s not personal, though I suppose my dislike for bees might be subconsciously torpedoing things. So, in the spirit of positivity , allow me to say that the future at Georgia Tech looks quite bright thanks to a loaded freshman class. I don’t think it’s premature to have RHP Tristin English, RHP Jonathan Hughes, OF/1B Brandt Stallings, and C Joey Bart as the top four prospects on the team (apologies to OF/1B Kel Johnson, who is a fine prospect and exactly what many of us thought he was, good and bad) before they’ve played their first college game. We’ll wait to figure out the order of those four until we get a bit closer to 2018…

1/5/15 EDIT

Slipped my mind that Kel Johnson is a draft-eligible sophomore. Here are his HS scouting notes…

OF/1B Kel Johnson (Home School, Georgia): above-average to plus power upside, easy power during BP; sprays ball all over; more power than hit tool; slow; below-average arm; uncanny similarities to Hunter Pence physically; 6-4, 215 pounds

The Pence comparison was and is physical only; like, the two look similar but don’t have the same game. As a freshman Johnson did pretty much as expected: tons of power with lots of swing and miss. I’d actually say his contact skills were better than what we could have hoped. I’m cautiously optimistic heading into his second college season though the aforementioned swing and miss issues and defensive questions (maybe a LF, likely a 1B) are red flags.

Stacked up against ACC prospects from teams profiled as of this edit, I’d tentatively have him behind teammate Ryan Peurifoy as well as Willie Abreu (Miami), Jacob Heyward (Miami), Ben DeLuzio (FSU), and Saige Jenco (Virginia Tech). Could probably argue him all the way up to second on that list if so inclined.