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2015 MLB Draft – Top 100 D1 College Shortstop Prospects

1. LSU JR SS/2B Alex Bregman: can really hit, easy above-average to plus hit tool; average to above-average speed, plays up; average arm, maybe a bit more; average raw power, wears out the gaps; shows all the bat speed you’d want; good approach; interesting defensive tools, still like him more at 2B, where he’s easily above-average to plus but has gotten pretty damn solid at shortstop through hard work, great instincts, and far more natural ability than originally given credit; stronger than he looks; BA comps: Mark Ellis and Dustin Pedroia; old Tony Renda comp; have also thrown out an Aaron Hill comparison; for a long time a Todd Walker comparison seemed so obvious, but if he hits like him and defends like he has this spring, that’s a star; 6-0, 190 pounds

2013: .369/.419/.546 – 25 BB/24 K – 17/18 SB – 282 AB
2014: .316/.397/.455 – 27 BB/21 K – 12/18 SB – 244 AB
2015: .330/.418/.573 – 33 BB/20 K – 32/41 SB – 227 AB

2. Vanderbilt JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson: plus athlete; above-average to plus speed, plays up; good defensive tools, should be average or better at either spot (above-average to plus at second, a tick below that at short); above-average or better hit tool, could be plus; good but not great arm; average at best raw power, but I’m starting to think that undersells it; BA comp: slower Trea Turner; had a lot to prove this spring and did everything asked of him and more; keep coming back to his athleticism as a real difference-maker, he’ll instantly become one of the game’s best athletes upon signing; 6-0, 190 pounds

2014: .333/.411/.475 – 37 BB/49 K – 22/27 SB – 282 AB
2015: .350/.438/.654 – 38 BB/41 K – 14/16 SB – 237 AB

3. Florida JR SS/OF Richie Martin: love his approach; great athlete; above-average to plus speed; plus arm, very accurate; average power upside; steady defender, range flashes plus; quick bat; also good in CF; like his defensive tools; blazing first step; young for class; first round talent who will likely slip past that, but has the physical ability to be an above-average regular shortstop for a long time; 6-0, 180 pounds

2013: .312/.380/.353 – 16 BB/23 K – 7/10 SB – 170 AB
2014: .265/.354/.337 – 27 BB/30 K – 18/20 SB – 249 AB
2015: .290/.397/.420 – 32 BB/31 K – 20/26 SB – 224 AB

4. Louisiana JR SS/2B Blake Trahan: steady glove, plus for some (me); interesting bat, hit tool is there and pop sneaks up on you; good athlete; average or better arm; good approach; easy plus speed, can time out as plus-plus; not the best college hitter in this class, but might be my favorite; speaking of, he gets the all-caps treatment and I’ll even bold it for good measure: FAVORITE; 5-10, 185 pounds

2013: .343/.430/.451 – 30 BB/27 K – 13/13 SB – 213 AB
2014: .355/.455/.465 – 44 BB/37 K – 15/27 SB – 256 AB
2015: .332/.442/.429 – 37 BB/29 K – 17/25 SB – 238 AB

5. San Diego JR SS Kyle Holder: plus athlete; good speed; plus to plus-plus (!) glove; plus arm; BA comps: Walt Weiss (I had this one as well), Deven Marrero, Brendan Ryan; in addition to Weiss, also heard Mike Bordick and Orlando Cabrera as comparisons; will be a big league player for a long as he wants based on his glove alone, though I think there’s enough stick to make him a regular in relatively short order; FAVORITE; 6-1, 185 pounds

2014: .298/.346/.403 – 15 BB/16 K – 7/9 SB – 191 AB
2015: .348/.418/.482 – 19 BB/19 K – 5/11 SB – 224 AB

6. UCLA rJR SS/2B Kevin Kramer: missed 2014 season (shoulder); great athlete; average arm; average speed; steady defender, could be excellent at 2B but gets the job done presently at shortstop; really like his approach; above-average hit tool; short to ball; can also play 3B, so utility future gives him a high floor for a second day pick; 6-0, 200 pounds

2012: .273/.343/.314 – 7 BB/18 K – 1/2 SB – 121 AB
2013: .273/.381/.371 – 31 BB/45 K – 9/18 SB – 245 AB
2015: .328/.431/.478 – 34 BB/34 K – 7/15 SB – 232 AB

7. Virginia SO SS/3B Daniel Pinero: plus defensive tools; really impressive range; average or better arm strength; size is more of a concern (could grow past the point of playing up the middle, long levers will make consistent contact tricky at the plate) than a positive attribute to many, which seems silly since he’s a gifted athlete with above-average body control despite being “too tall” for some; more boom/bust than any name ahead of him at the position, but upside makes it worth it; 6-5, 210 pounds

2014: .261/.372/.286 – 36 BB/31 K – 10/13 SB – 241 AB
2015: .311/.415/.440 – 34 BB/33 K – 6/8 SB – 209 AB

8. Texas JR SS/3B CJ Hinojosa: plus bat speed; average or better speed; average to above-average arm; plus instincts in field and on bases; good glove; above-average power upside; could be catcher convert; reminds me of Kevin Newman in a lot of ways, but with none of the hype (and admittedly a ton less production to date); Aaron Fitt comp: Alex Mejia; has lost a lot of fans over the years, but I loved him out of HS so I’m sticking with him as a solid future pro today; 5-9, 180 pounds

2013: .330/.390/.435 – 19 BB/25 K – 3/4 SB – 191 AB
2014: .298/.373/.376 – 29 BB/32 K – 5/7 SB – 242 AB
2015: .244/.322/.410 – 22 BB/24 K – 4/7 SB – 205 AB

9. Kennesaw State JR SS Kal Simmons: strong arm; plus defender in all phases; plus range; average at best speed; average or better power; BA comp: John McDonald; made encouraging strides with the bat this spring; could be nice fallback for teams that like Kyle Holder but miss out on him early; 6-0, 200 pounds

2013: .278/.332/.332 – 14 BB/30 K – 4/7 SB – 187 AB
2014: .272/.332/.313 – 23 BB/33 K – 3/4 SB – 268 AB
2015: .269/.380/.443 – 31 BB/34 K – 15/19 SB – 212 AB

10. Stanford JR SS/RHP Drew Jackson: plus to plus-plus arm; good defensive tools; great athlete; above-average to plus speed; average raw power; has also played OF; 88-92 FB; plus 82 SL; another boom/bust prospect, but with the added fallback plan of giving pitching a shot if the bat doesn’t come around; 6-3, 200 pounds

2013: .207/.337/.232 – 14 BB/21 K – 6/8 SB – 82 AB
2014: .167/.254/.213 – 10 BB/27 K – 1/4 SB – 108 AB
2015: .320/.396/.388 – 15 BB/22 K – 6/8 SB – 147 AB

11. Tennessee Tech SR SS/2B Dylan Bosheers: good glove, plus upside; power upside; smart base runner; above-average speed; have to like a guy who has literally always hit; 6-0, 180 pounds

2012: .246/.376/.356 – 25 BB/32 K – 1/5 SB – 191 AB
2013: .306/.371/.491 – 19 BB/40 K – 6/7 SB – 216 AB
2014: .368/.444/.577 – 27 BB/32 K – 8/12 SB – 234 AB
2015: .337/.424/.576 – 29 BB/20 K – 4/4 SB – 205 AB

12. Loyola Marymount SO SS David Fletcher: really good defensive tools, plus upside; has it all as a defender; smart; average arm; average speed, more quick than fast defensively; little to no power at this point, but could find enough pop to make him a viable regular down the line; fascinating BA comp: Justin Turner; 5-10, 175 pounds

2014: .329/.357/.374 – 13 BB/22 K – 17/21 SB – 222 AB
2015: .308/.385/.416 – 23 BB/18 K – 14/17 SB – 221 AB

13. Oklahoma State JR SS/2B Donnie Walton: steady glove, flashes better; good speed; good approach; not a guy who wows you with tools, but good enough across the board to profile as a big league contributor; 5-10, 175 pounds

2013: .298/.381/.367 – 25 BB/30 K – 7/10 SB – 188 AB
2014: .310/.407/.405 – 38 BB/36 K – 7/10 SB – 252 AB
2015: .346/.422/.512 – 19 BB/22 K – 3/3 SB – 127 AB

14. Pacific JR SS/OF Brett Sullivan: above-average speed; good approach; great athlete; held his own on Cape; FAVORITE; 6-1, 180 pounds

2013: .239/.279/.353 – 12 BB/22 K – 6/10 SB – 201 AB
2014: .357/.391/.536 – 16 BB/10 K – 9/12 SB – 207 AB
2015: .275/.314/.492 – 11 BB/21 K – 6/10 SB – 193 AB

15. Clemson SO SS/2B Eli White: good athlete; above-average to plus speed; really good defensive tools; above-average arm; quick bat; shares some similarities to Daniel Pinero, but doesn’t have quite the same offensive upside or polish; 6-3, 180 pounds

2014: .143/.244/.200 – 4 BB/13 K – 1/1 SB – 35 AB
2015: .291/.375/.399 – 24 BB/56 K – 10/16 SB – 223 AB

16. Louisiana-Monroe JR SS Kodie Tidwell: strong arm; good defensive tools; interesting bat; 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: .217/.274/.291 – 16 BB/42 K – 4/8 SB – 189 AB) (2014: .284/.402/.358 – 37 BB/48 K – 7/11 SB – 204 AB) (2015: .311/.412/.492 – 33 BB/35 K – 3/9 SB – 193 AB)

17. Virginia Commonwealth SR SS Vimael Machin: good speed; good range; playable hitter; 5-10, 175 pounds (2012: .309/.364/.408 – 21 BB/29 K – 1/3 SB – 223 AB) (2013: .287/.389/.419 – 22 BB/31 K – 2/3 SB – 167 AB) (2014: .307/.421/.417 – 30 BB/21 K – 2/2 SB – 199 AB) (2015: .336/.393/.444 – 24 BB/24 K – 6/13 SB – 232 AB)

18. Tennessee JR SS AJ Simcox: good range; steady defender; strong arm; strong hit tool; average raw power, currently to gaps; average or better speed; BA comps: Jordy Mercer and Hunter Dozier; breakout still hasn’t happened, but still has the chance to be better pro than track record would suggest; 6-3, 185 pounds (2013: .267/.327/.300 – 13 BB/32 K – 8/11 SB – 180 AB) (2014: .270/.342/.275 – 21 BB/33 K – 13/18 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .293/.362/.378 – 19 BB/30 K – 15/18 SB – 188 AB)

19. Rice JR SS/OF Leon Byrd: plus-plus speed; gap power; good arm; really good range in CF; can also play 2B; disappointing draft season makes him a potential steal this year since his talent level remains top five round quality; 5-7, 170 pounds (2013: .288/.430/.348 – 44 BB/37 K – 9/15 SB – 233 AB) (2014: .258/.363/.319 – 28 BB/28 K – 5/9 SB – 163 AB) (2015: .244/.318/.337 – 19 BB/45 K – 5/5 SB – 193 AB)

20. Louisiana Tech rJR SS/2B Taylor Love: great approach; good defensive tools; good speed; 6-1, 190 pounds (2014: .320/.365/.423 – 14 BB/17 K – 11/17 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .288/.385/.429 – 22 BB/25 K – 8/13 SB – 191 AB)

21. Florida International SR SS Julius Gaines: good defender; above-average arm; good speed; hasn’t hit enough and may never will, but could work as defensive backup; 5-11, 165 pounds (2012: .228/.282/.259 – 14 BB/31 K – 8/11 SB – 189 AB) (2013: .307/.374/.335 – 22 BB/39 K – 7/15 SB – 212 AB) (2014: .288/.337/.336 – 18 BB/26 K – 8/9 SB – 226 AB) (2015: .287/.331/.342 – 16 BB/36 K – 9/14 SB – 237 AB)

22. Appalachian State JR SS/OF Dillon Dobson: above-average raw power; average hit tool; average speed; really good athlete; strong; steady glove; has also seen time at 1B, 3B, and 2B; bat is appealing enough that future as a super-sub isn’t out of question; 6-1, 220 pounds (2013: .238/.290/.388 – 11 BB/49 K – 10/15 SB – 206 AB) (2014: .299/.364/.545 – 20 BB/46 K – 4/5 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .317/.357/.577 – 11 BB/32 K – 4/5 SB – 208 AB)

23. East Tennessee State JR SS Jordan Sanford: good athlete; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .231/.333/.385 – 5 BB/6 K – 0/0 SB – 39 AB) (2014: .367/.462/.489 – 10 BB/11 K – 2/5 SB – 90 AB) (2015: .307/.389/.416 – 17 BB/24 K – 2/5 SB – 166 AB)

24. Cal Poly JR SS Peter Van Gansen: strong arm; really steady glove; 5-8, 170 pounds (2013: .258/.357/.298 – 24 BB/29 K – 0/3 SB – 178 AB) (2014: .286/.427/.320 – 40 BB/25 K – 2/3 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .314/.388/.414 – 26 BB/14 K – 2/4 SB – 220 AB)

25. Illinois rSO SS Adam Walton: above-average to plus speed; above-average range; good approach; could be plus defender; good athlete; 6-1, 185 pounds (2014: .329/.380/.423 – 11 BB/25 K – 13/20 SB – 149 AB) (2015: .293/.354/.409 – 21 BB/30 K – 11/17 SB – 242 AB)

26. Texas Tech rSO SS/2B Cory Raley: average at best arm; average at best range; still should be good enough to stick at SS; could be really good at 2B; plus to plus-plus speed; raw bat; great athlete; Texas A&M transfer; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: .350/.408/.486 – 17 BB/34 K – 3/6 SB – 183 AB)

27. Cal State Northridge rJR SS Yusuke Akitoshi: good athlete; 6-1, 180 pounds (2015: .286/.367/.410 – 25 BB/51 K – 11/15 SB – 210 AB)

28. Bradley JR SS Tyler Leffler: interesting bat; below-average speed; above-average arm; much improved defender, now really good; good athlete; no idea what to make of a player who had such a nice sophomore year followed up by a down junior year; 6-3, 185 pounds (2013: .298/.372/.377 – 13 BB/28 K – 4/5 SB – 151 AB) (2014: .354/.464/.470 – 16 BB/25 K – 2/6 SB – 181 AB) (2015: .193/.308/.255 – 23 BB/35 K – 4/6 SB – 192 AB)

29. Central Michigan SR SS Sawyer Polen: good defender; good athlete; 6-0, 180 pounds (2012: .278/.374/.419 – 25 BB/58 K – 3/5 SB – 198 AB) (2013: .291/.390/.350 – 32 BB/50 K – 6/8 SB – 234 AB) (2014: .244/.356/.343 – 17 BB/33 K – 12/16 SB – 172 AB) (2015: .298/.410/.403 – 26 BB/30 K – 15/16 SB – 191 AB)

30. TCU rJR SS Keaton Jones: plus defender; average speed; no power; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .189/.307/.213 – 24 BB/43 K – 7/11 SB – 169 AB) (2013: .258/.382/.286 – 31 BB/44 K – 2/3 SB – 182 AB) (2014: .266/.341/.290 – 24 BB/35 K – 9/12 SB – 241 AB) (2015: .254/.333/.333 – 20 BB/35 K – 8/11 SB – 189 AB)

31. Miami JR SS/RHP Brandon Lopez: 91 FB; plus arm; good defender; really quick bat; 6-1, 165 pounds (2013: .249/.330/.271 – 20 BB/35 K – 5/7 SB – 181 AB) (2014: .233/.320/.275 – 24 BB/27 K – 6/11 SB – 189 AB) (2015: .308/.438/.392 – 28 BB/21 K – 1/2 SB – 130 AB)

32. Texas A&M SR SS/2B Blake Allemand: plus speed; steady glove; good athlete; interesting pop; 5-10, 175 pounds (2013: .263/.379/.323 – 31 BB/38 K – 17/25 SB – 217 AB) (2014: .290/.397/.319 – 34 BB/30 K – 5/10 SB – 207 AB) (2015: .356/.438/.507 – 28 BB/16 K – 6/7 SB – 205 AB)

33. Toledo JR SS Deion Tansel: steady glove; 5-8, 150 pounds (2013: .302/.393/.343 – 18 BB/14 K – 10/12 SB – 169 AB) (2014: .306/.374/.347 – 18 BB/11 K – 10/16 SB – 219 AB) (2015: .324/.413/.388 – 12 BB/8 K – 12/18 SB – 170 AB)

34. Lamar JR SS Stijn van derMeer: strong glove; 6-3, 170 pounds (2015: .351/.401/.441 – 19 BB/13 K – 6/9 SB – 222 AB)

35. Notre Dame JR SS Lane Richards: good defender; strong arm; good speed; good athlete; 6-0, 185 pounds (2013: .242/.296/.304 – 15 BB/32 K – 2/4 SB – 207 AB) (2014: .254/.294/.339 – 5 BB/13 K – 1/1 SB – 118 AB) (2015: .264/.314/.409 – 16 BB/30 K – 5/7 SB – 208 AB)

36. Central Florida SR SS/3B Tommy Williams: good enough arm and range for SS (average); good athlete; can also play 2B and 3B; questionable bat; above-average speed; some pop; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .230/.302/.309 – 14 BB/49 K – 2/4 SB – 152 AB) (2014: .263/.350/.469 – 25 BB/52 K – 16/24 SB – 224 AB) (2015: .318/.407/.544 – 33 BB/57 K – 5/8 SB – 217 AB)

37. Gardner-Webb SR SS Ryan Hodge: strong hit tool; limited power upside; strong arm; smart defender, but may not be quick enough for SS; good speed; can also play 2B and 3B; 6-1, 165 pounds (2012: .300/.368/.385 – 18 BB/36 K – 16/20 SB – 213 AB) (2013: .217/.344/.280 – 26 BB/38 K – 19/24 SB – 175 AB) (2014: .298/.354/.331 – 6 BB/24 K – 13/15 SB – 151 AB) (2015: .305/.363/.424 – 12 BB/48 K – 17/20 SB – 203 AB)

38. Mississippi State SR SS Matthew Britton: plus-plus arm; plus range; above-average speed; 6-0, 200 pounds (2012: .177/.293/.185 – 18 BB/27 K – 3/3 SB – 124 AB) (2014: .233/.340/.278 – 17 BB/32 K – 5/7 SB – 133 AB) (2015: .286/.388/.476 – 6 BB/5 K – 2/4 SB – 42 AB)

39. North Carolina JR SS/OF Alex Raburn: great athlete; 5-10, 175 pounds (2013: .208/.309/.250 – 5 BB/8 K – 1/2 SB – 48 AB) (2014: .263/.363/.326 – 13 BB/19 K – 3/3 SB – 95 AB) (2015: .243/.344/.355 – 19 BB/26 K – 2/5 SB – 152 AB)

40. Auburn JR SS Cody Nulph: good athlete; steady glove; strong arm; intriguing upside with bat; average at best power; good approach; Pepperdine transfer; 6-0, 180 pounds (2015: .260/.319/.356 – 13 BB/44 K – 1/3 SB – 208 AB)

41. Arkansas rJR SS Brett McAfee: very good athlete; plus speed; really good defensive tools; above-average arm; gap power; 5-11, 190 pounds (2013: .244/.305/.321 – 12 BB/35 K – 6/8 SB – 156 AB) (2014: .277/.339/.362 – 4 BB/7 K – 0/0 SB – 47 AB) (2015: .273/.331/.367 – 10 BB/29 K – 3/4 SB – 128 AB)

42. USC JR SS Blake Lacey: plus defender; old Adam Everett comp; 6-0, 180 pounds (2013: .328/.368/.407 – 10 BB/31 K – 3/6 SB – 189 AB) (2014: .281/.331/.353 – 11 BB/22 K – 3/5 SB – 139 AB) (2015: .297/.323/.359 – 9 BB/36 K – 9/12 SB – 209 AB)

43. Dallas Baptist SR SS Nash Knight: 6-0, 195 pounds (2013: .222/.352/.292 – 32 BB/44 K – 5/7 SB – 185 AB) (2014: .217/.349/.307 – 36 BB/51 K – 5/6 SB – 212 AB) (2015: .310/.396/.401 – 25 BB/40 K – 2/2 SB – 197 AB)

44. UNC Asheville rSR SS/RHP Tommy Houmard: upper-80s FB; good breaking ball; CU; good glove; strong arm; 6-2, 190 pounds (2011: 6.20 K/9 | 49.1 IP) (2013: .321/.393/.440 – 18 BB/21 K – 1/4 SB – 184 AB) (2013: 6.51 K/9 | 5.20 BB/9 | 5.24 FIP | 27.2 IP) (2014: .273/.382/.352 – 25 BB/25 K – 1/1 SB – 176 AB) (2015: .361/.444/.463 – 28 BB/31 K – 2/5 SB – 216 AB)

45. Northern Illinois JR SS Brian Sisler: good athlete; 6-2, 190 pounds (2014: .304/.406/.369 – 29 BB/19 K – 5/8 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .309/.406/.431 – 30 BB/23 K – 6/8 SB – 188 AB)

46. Penn JR SS Ryan Mincher: 6-1, 185 pounds (2014: .271/.376/.436 – 21 BB/25 K – 2/5 SB – 133 AB) (2015: .328/.414/.484 – 15 BB/8 K – 1/1 SB – 122 AB)

47. Texas Southern SR SS Robert Garza: 5-10, 170 pounds (2015: .358/.457/.549 – 22 BB/27 K – 13/18 SB – 162 AB)

48. Nebraska-Omaha JR SS/2B Clayton Taylor: 6-4, 190 pounds (2013: .328/.440/.418 – 22 BB/18 K – 8/13 SB – 122 AB) (2015: .308/.403/.490 – 25 BB/32 K – 3/4 SB – 198 AB)

49. East Carolina SR SS/2B Hunter Allen: 6-0, 180 pounds (2014: .308/.362/.316 – 8 BB/9 K – 1/2 SB – 117 AB) (2015: .353/.411/.418 – 20 BB/13 K – 4/8 SB – 201 AB)

50. Utah JR SS Cody Scaggari: good defender; good athlete; 5-10, 180 pounds (2014: .288/.370/.356 – 8 BB/14 K – 4/6 SB – 104 AB) (2015: .252/.316/.376 – 15 BB/18 K – 8/16 SB – 202 AB)

51. San Diego SR SS/2B Austin Bailey: good athlete; steady glove; 5-10, 170 pounds (2012: .261/.341/.329 – 18 BB/19 K – 2/4 SB – 161 AB) (2013: .301/.407/.408 – 18 BB/16 K – 2/4 SB – 103 AB) (2014: .328/.391/.402 – 21 BB/29 K – 3/3 SB – 204 AB) (2015: .314/.398/.396 – 29 BB/37 K – 2/6 SB – 207 AB)

52. Jacksonville SR SS Angelo Amendolare: 5-9, 170 pounds (2014: .278/.352/.368 – 20 BB/18 K – 16/22 SB – 209 AB) (2015: .366/.441/.480 – 27 BB/28 K – 20/20 SB – 227 AB)

53. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Branden Boggetto: 5-11, 180 pounds (2015: .318/.396/.583 – 27 BB/40 K – 4/10 SB – 242 AB)

54. Morehead State SR SS Robby Spencer: 5-10 (2014: .323/.408/.475 – 20 BB/27 K – 1/4 SB – 223 AB) (2015: .340/.404/.537 – 25 BB/38 K – 0/1 SB – 244 AB)

55. Texas-Arlington SR SS Travis Sibley: 5-8, 150 pounds (2013: .333/.408/.373 – 13 BB/26 K – 3/5 SB – 177 AB) (2014: .271/.339/.327 – 16 BB/26 K – 3/3 SB – 199 AB) (2015: .345/.398/.474 – 16 BB/21 K – 3/4 SB – 232 AB)

56. Oakland JR SS Mike Brosseau: good glove; 5-10, 190 pounds (2013: .252/.329/.291 – 17 BB/18 K – 1/4 SB – 151 AB) (2014: .321/.383/.432 – 14 BB/9 K – 0/0 SB – 162 AB) (2015: .287/.364/.470 – 17 BB/24 K – 6/9 SB – 202 AB)

57. St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos: good glove; 5-11, 185 pounds (2014: .362/.403/.475 – 10 BB/20 K – 2/3 SB – 141 AB) (2015: .244/.322/.381 – 21 BB/34 K – 3/6 SB – 176 AB)

58. San Diego State JR SS/OF Danny Sheehan: 6-0, 180 pounds (2015: .310/.376/.453 – 17 BB/24 K – 9/10 SB – 245 AB)

59. Texas-San Antonio JR SS Tyler Straub: 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: .340/.391/.463 – 12 BB/26 K – 12/15 SB – 162 AB)

60. Mississippi State SR SS Seth Heck: steady glove; average at best speed; 5-10, 170 pounds (2014: .299/.407/.338 – 26 BB/23 K – 5/6 SB – 204 AB) (2015: .287/.389/.309 – 21 BB/24 K – 6/7 SB – 178 AB)

61. Jackson State SR SS Gary Thomas: steady glove; good speed; 6-1, 185 pounds (2013: .271/.367/.329 – 19 BB/20 K – 11/15 SB – 170 AB) (2014: .276/.337/.362 – 9 BB/18 K – 12/16 SB – 152 AB) (2015: .365/.427/.414 – 18 BB/15 K – 20/27 SB – 203 AB)

62. Liberty JR SS Dalton Britt: good glove; strong hit tool; 6-0, 200 pounds (2014: .299/.348/.348 – 16 BB/30 K – 6/9 SB – 221 AB) (2015: .294/.355/.436 – 21 BB/43 K – 10/11 SB – 218 AB)

63. Alabama A&M SR SS/2B Julio Nunez: good glove; 6-0, 215 pounds (2013: .279/.378/.369 – 17 BB/24 K – 7/11 SB – 111 AB) (2014: .332/.411/.543 – 23 BB/25 K – 14/20 SB – 199 AB) (2015: .327/.411/.593 – 26 BB/46 K – 1/1 SB – 199 AB)

64. USC rSO SS Reggie Southall: good athlete; good glove; 5-11, 170 pounds (2014: .250/.325/.309 – 8 BB/19 K – 1/3 SB – 68 AB) (2015: .230/.343/.301 – 18 BB/35 K – 10/11 SB – 113 AB)

65. Grand Canyon JR SS Paul Panaccione: 5-10, 190 pounds (2014: .256/.314/.301 – 13 BB/23 K – 20/23 SB – 176 AB) (2015: .376/.440/.493 – 26 BB/32 K – 7/12 SB – 221 AB)

66. Central Arkansas JR SS Logan Preston: 6-1, 215 pounds (2015: .222/.343/.460 – 24 BB/31 K – 1/4 SB – 176 AB)

67. Lipscomb SR SS Grant Massey: steady glove; 5-10, 180 pounds (2014: .322/.427/.463 – 40 BB/44 K – 14/18 SB – 242 AB) (2015: .345/.402/.441 – 18 BB/33 K – 18/21 SB – 229 AB)

68. Alabama State rSR SS PJ Biocic: 5-9, 185 pounds (2015: .343/.496/.423 – 31 BB/19 K – 7/10 SB – 175 AB)

69. West Virginia SR SS Taylor Munden: 5-11, 190 pounds (2014: .261/.329/.372 – 22 BB/32 K – 13/17 SB – 218 AB) (2015: .266/.321/.468 – 17 BB/36 K – 11/15 SB – 222 AB)

70. North Dakota SR SS Tyler Follis: 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .338/.419/.410 – 24 BB/40 K – 2/3 SB – 210 AB) (2013: .277/.373/.310 – 18 BB/34 K – 2/2 SB – 155 AB) (2014: .331/.374/.362 – 8 BB/25 K – 4/8 SB – 130 AB) (2015: .404/.462/.505 – 18 BB/30 K – 6/10 SB – 188 AB)

71. Minnesota rSR SS Michael Handel: average speed; quick bat; steady glove; 6-1, 185 pounds (2012: .290/.371/.361 – 18 BB/26 K – 8/12 SB – 155 AB) (2013: .281/.361/.385 – 20 BB/31 K – 9/10 SB – 192 AB) (2014: .261/.345/.405 – 18 BB/20 K – 2/4 SB – 153 AB) (2015: .328/.380/.469 – 13 BB/35 K – 7/7 SB – 177 AB)

72. Samford rSO SS Danny Rodriguez: 5-10, 180 pounds (2014: .236/.317/.255 – 7 BB/9 K – 1/1 SB – 55 AB) (2015: .289/.389/.426 – 29 BB/35 K – 3/5 SB – 190 AB)

73. Princeton JR SS Billy Arendt: 5-11, 170 pounds (2014: .225/.301/.326 – 13 BB/23 K – 2/3 SB – 129 AB) (2015: .299/.356/.431 – 13 BB/16 K – 2/3 SB – 144 AB)

74. Central Arkansas SR SS/1B Nate Ferrell: steady glove; 6-1, 180 pounds (2014: .309/.402/.371 – 25 BB/33 K – 0/1 SB – 178 AB) (2015: .242/.311/.411 – 8 BB/12 K – 0/0 SB – 95 AB)

75. UC Irvine JR SS Mikey Duarte: 5-11, 165 pounds (2015: .345/.416/.429 – 18 BB/20 K – 1/4 SB – 226 AB)

76. Seton Hall SR SS DJ Ruhlman: 6-1, 185 pounds (2014: .351/.421/.481 – 19 BB/35 K – 15/20 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .275/.406/.437 – 22 BB/36 K – 14/16 SB – 142 AB)

77. Sacramento State SR SS Scotty Burcham: 5-11, 185 pounds (2014: .300/.351/.367 – 18 BB/42 K – 8/12 SB – 237 AB) (2015: .329/.382/.465 – 22 BB/34 K – 16/22 SB – 243 AB)

78. New Jersey Tech SR SS/2B Mike Rampone: 5-10, 190 pounds (2012: .286/.373/.390 – 22 BB/23 K – 4/6 SB – 210 AB) (2013: .278/.351/.359 – 19 BB/29 K – 7/11 SB – 198 AB) (2014: .314/.418/.468 – 27 BB/25 K – 7/8 SB – 156 AB) (2015: .317/.375/.413 – 17 BB/23 K – 7/10 SB – 189 AB)

79. Northern Colorado SR SS/2B Ryan Yamane: 5-9, 175 pounds (2012: .258/.408/.342 – 42 BB/28 K – 5/11 SB – 190 AB) (2013: .243/.339/.296 – 29 BB/21 K – 7/11 SB – 206 AB) (2014: .220/.333/.252 – 27 BB/29 K – 5/10 SB – 159 AB) (2015: .400/.476/.527 – 8 BB/8 K – 1/3 SB – 55 AB)

80. Indiana JR SS/2B Nick Ramos: good glove; 6-1, 170 pounds (2013: .228/.265/.446 – 3 BB/17 K – 0/1 SB – 92 AB) (2014: .260/.291/.367 – 7 BB/36 K – 4/6 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .252/.333/.374 – 13 BB/29 K – 2/3 SB – 115 AB)

81. South Carolina JR SS Marcus Mooney: steady glove; strong arm; average speed; 5-8, 160 pounds (2014: .274/.380/.330 – 28 BB/30 K – 2/6 SB – 215 AB) (2015: .213/.275/.296 – 7 BB/13 K – 2/4 SB – 108 AB)

82. Hawaii JR SS Jacob Sheldon-Collins: good defender; 5-10, 170 pounds (2015: .295/.341/.355 – 7 BB/13 K – 2/2 SB – 166 AB)

83. Massachusetts-Lowell SR SS Danny Mendick: can play anywhere; 5-10, 170 pounds (2014: .314/.405/.478 – 18 BB/16 K – 11/11 SB – 159 AB) (2015: .321/.408/.455 – 19 BB/16 K – 14/17 SB – 156 AB)

84. UC Santa Barbara SR SS Peter Maris: can also play 2B and 3B; 5-10, 170 pounds (2014: .271/.350/.340 – 20 BB/30 K – 16/22 SB – 203 AB) (2015: .300/.369/.377 – 23 BB/25 K – 5/9 SB – 207 AB)

85. Central Michigan rJR SS Joey Houlihan: steady defender; 6-1, 185 pounds (2012: .247/.300/.329 – 5 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 73 AB) (2013: .164/.325/.179 – 15 BB/19 K – 1/1 SB – 67 AB) (2015: .265/.382/.394 – 26 BB/40 K – 4/5 SB – 170 AB)

86. New Mexico JR SS Jared Holley: plus glove; good speed; 5-8, 175 pounds (2013: .248/.365/.280 – 16 BB/22 K – 3/5 SB – 157 AB) (2014: .314/.379/.358 – 7 BB/16 K – 3/4 SB – 137 AB) (2015: .254/.342/.357 – 12 BB/24 K – 1/1 SB – 126 AB)

87. Delaware State SR SS/RHP David Kimbrough: good athlete; strong arm; 5-11, 190 pounds (2014: .370/.439/.407 – 8 BB/17 K – 11/11 SB – 108 AB) (2015: .304/.392/.348 – 17 BB/17 K – 14/21 SB – 135 AB)

88. Xavier rSO SS/3B Andre Jernigan: strong; good athlete; good defensive tools; approach needs work; 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: .252/.304/.362 – 6 BB/44 K – 16/20 SB – 210 AB)

89. Hofstra rSR SS Dalton Rouleau: good glove; 5-10, 185 pounds (2014: .259/.328/.333 – 7 BB/5 K – 7/7 SB – 54 AB) (2015: .278/.402/.358 – 31 BB/39 K – 13/17 SB – 176 AB)

90. Rhode Island SR SS Tim Caputo: good speed; strong enough arm; steady defender; strong hit tool; 5-8, 150 pounds (2012: .328/.393/.364 – 16 BB/27 K – 13/15 SB – 195 AB) (2013: .317/.395/.396 – 24 BB/29 K – 13/15 SB – 227 AB) (2014: .268/.335/.306 – 9 BB/21 K – 8/9 SB – 183 AB) (2015: .269/.342/.309 – 18 BB/19 K – 10/11 SB – 175 AB)

91. UNC Wilmington rSO SS Kennard McDowell: really good glove; strong arm; 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: .293/.322/.445 – 6 BB/55 K – 4/5 SB – 191 AB)

92. BYU SO SS Tanner Chauncey: 6-1, 175 pounds (2012: .328/.373/.405 – 10 BB/8 K – 5/7 SB – 131 AB) (2015: .335/.408/.364 – 23 BB/14 K – 2/3 SB – 173 AB)

93. Texas Tech SR SS Tim Proudfoot: accurate arm; steady defender; 5-11, 190 pounds (2012: .217/.286/.343 – 16 BB/47 K – 4/5 SB – 207 AB) (2013: .216/.307/.313 – 23 BB/29 K – 1/1 SB – 176 AB) (2014: .309/.369/.356 – 16 BB/14 K – 1/1 SB – 149 AB) (2015: .232/.276/.304 – 7 BB/16 K – 1/2 SB – 112 AB)

94. Nebraska SR SS Steven Reveles: average arm; good base runner; good speed; good glove; 5-9, 175 pounds (2014: .262/.329/.321 – 14 BB/18 K – 4/6 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .255/.293/.327 – 2 BB/9 K – 4/4 SB – 55 AB)

95. Maine JR SS Brett Chappell: good athlete; 5-10, 185 pounds (2015: .316/.369/.421 – 19 BB/38 K – 1/1 SB – 190 AB)

96. Radford JR SS/OF Chris Coia: good defender; 5-11, 180 pounds (2013: .253/.314/.287 – 10 BB/42 K – 9/12 SB – 174 AB) (2014: .275/.359/.328 – 17 BB/17 K – 21/29 SB – 189 AB) (2015: .308/.387/.359 – 16 BB/26 K – 11/17 SB – 195 AB)

97. Kansas State JR SS Tyler Wolfe: 5-11, 185 pounds (2015: .287/.397/.364 – 34 BB/25 K – 3/4 SB – 195 AB)

98. Holy Cross JR SS Nick Lovullo: 5-11, 180 pounds (2013: .203/.312/.286 – 12 BB/25 K – 1/3 SB – 133 AB) (2014: .266/.374/.308 – 21 BB/24 K – 9/12 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .278/.410/.392 – 31 BB/29 K – 7/11 SB – 176 AB)

99. Wofford JR SS Alec Paradowski: 5-9, 165 pounds (2013: .277/.369/.356 – 19 BB/36 K – 10/15 SB – 191 AB) (2014: .280/.402/.370 – 35 BB/20 K – 12/17 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .278/.407/.389 – 42 BB/40 K – 14/17 SB – 234 AB)

100. Nevada SR SS Kyle Hunt: 5-11, 180 pounds (2012: .228/.371/.311 – 21 BB/34 K – 9/14 SB – 167 AB) (2013: .208/.340/.240 – 16 BB/26 K – 5/5 SB – 125 AB) (2014: .244/.382/.383 – 26 BB/34 K – 6/9 SB – 193 AB) (2015: .261/.407/.381 – 33 BB/37 K – 4/6 SB – 176 AB)

*****

101. St. John’s SR SS/2B Bret Dennis: 6-1, 180 pounds (2012: .288/.403/.317 – 12 BB/30 K – 1/1 SB – 104 AB) (2013: .146/.343/.233 – 25 BB/27 K – 1/2 SB – 103 AB) (2014: .346/.420/.433 – 10 BB/18 K – 2/4 SB – 127 AB) (2015: .262/.342/.338 – 6 BB/13 K – 0/1 SB – 65 AB)

102. Michigan State rSR SS Ryan Richardson: 6-0, 190 pounds (2013: .280/.402/.302 – 24 BB/20 K – 5/8 SB – 189 AB) (2014: .278/.344/.324 – 9 BB/25 K – 13/17 SB – 216 AB) (2015: .293/.366/.383 – 13 BB/26 K – 7/12 SB – 222 AB)

103. Albany JR SS Trevor DeMerritt: good speed; power upside; good glove; 5-8, 175 pounds (2015: .256/.307/.310 – 9 BB/18 K – 8/10 SB – 129 AB)

104. Hartford SR SS Trey Stover: steady glove; 5-9, 170 pounds (2015: .301/.372/.405 – 16 BB/32 K – 5/7 SB – 163 AB)

105. Delaware SR SS Brock Niggebrugge: strong arm; 5-10, 180 pounds (2013: .256/.330/.333 – 14 BB/22 K – 1/6 SB – 180 AB) (2014: .191/.240/.191 – 3 BB/6 K – 2/2 SB – 47 AB) (2015: .301/.394/.363 – 15 BB/16 K – 2/4 SB – 113 AB)

106. Western Kentucky SR SS Cody Wofford: good glove; 6-1 (2014: .288/.329/.462 – 9 BB/27 K – 2/8 SB – 156 AB) (2015: .238/.310/.371 – 19 BB/46 K – 6/10 SB – 202 AB)

107. Southern Mississippi rSR SS Michael Sterling: plus speed; good range; strong arm; good glove; 5-11, 180 pounds (2012: .280/.480/.336 – 22 BB/28 K – 11/15 SB – 125 AB) (2013: .123/.210/.137 – 3 BB/21 K – 1/1 SB – 73 AB) (2014: .241/.345/.269 – 18 BB/54 K – 7/10 SB – 216 AB) (2015: .254/.382/.296 – 21 BB/31 K – 16/23 SB – 169 AB)

108. Charlotte SR SS Derek Gallelo: good speed; 5-10, 180 pounds (2012: .270/.324/.270 – 13 BB/12 K – 2/4 SB – 159 AB) (2013: .284/.325/.326 – 5 BB/13 K – 2/3 SB – 141 AB) (2014: .283/.345/.333 – 17 BB/19 K – 4/5 SB – 180 AB) (2015: .254/.309/.302 – 4 BB/9 K – 2/3 SB – 63 AB)

109. Missouri State SR SS Joey Hawkins: good glove; 5-11, 175 pounds (2015: .272/.329/.344 – 18 BB/35 K – 4/6 SB – 224 AB)

110. Bowling Green SR SS Brian Bien: steady glove; 6-0, 170 pounds (2014: .351/.400/.401 – 16 BB/18 K – 17/24 SB – 202 AB) (2015: .283/.324/.341 – 9 BB/15 K – 6/8 SB – 173 AB)

111. Stetson JR SS/2B Tyler Bocock: steady glove; average arm; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .254/.346/.286 – 19 BB/27 K – 0/5 SB – 185 AB) (2014: .273/.347/.361 – 16 BB/28 K – 5/7 SB – 238 AB) (2015: .229/.299/.298 – 15 BB/26 K – 0/2 SB – 188 AB)

112. Marshall SR SS Sergio Leon: good glove; 5-10, 175 pounds (2014: .221/.289/.238 – 17 BB/35 K – 6/9 SB – 181 AB) (2015: .261/.295/.351 – 8 BB/43 K – 9/12 SB – 188 AB)

113. Buffalo JR SS Bobby Sheppard: good speed; good glove; power upside; 6-0, 180 pounds (2015: .270/.341/.287 – 16 BB/23 K – 11/12 SB – 178 AB)

114. Southern Mississippi rJR SS/OF Breck Kline: good athlete; plus-plus arm; 5-11, 185 pounds (2013: .154/.196/.173 – 3 BB/16 K – 2/2 SB – 52 AB) (2014: .256/.344/.316 – 14 BB/24 K – 1/1 SB – 133 AB) (2015: .157/.250/.216 – 4 BB/16 K – 0/0 SB – 51 AB)

115. Northwestern State SR SS Joel Atkinson: good defender; strong arm; gap power; 5-8, 160 pounds (2014: .202/.363/.229 – 25 BB/25 K – 8/11 SB – 188 AB) (2015: .245/.336/.333 – 19 BB/28 K – 5/5 SB – 204 AB)

116. Akron SR SS Matt Rembielak: plus glove; 5-10, 180 pounds (2012: .222/.310/.244 – 21 BB/33 K – 1/1 SB – 180 AB) (2013: .250/.308/.284 – 16 BB/41 K – 4/5 SB – 208 AB) (2014: .240/.314/.286 – 16 BB/25 K – 1/1 SB – 154 AB) (2015: .233/.287/.264 – 11 BB/33 K – 2/2 SB – 159 AB)

117. Houston Baptist JR SS Louie Payetta: 5-11, 175 pounds (2015: .307/.352/.395 – 11 BB/21 K – 5/8 SB – 215 AB)

118. Prairie View A&M SR SS Walter Wells: 5-9, 180 pounds (2014: .265/.349/.353 – 20 BB/24 K – 7/10 SB – 170 AB) (2015: .290/.419/.392 – 34 BB/24 K – 8/11 SB – 176 AB)

119. Quinnipiac SR SS Scott Donaghue: 5-10, 165 pounds (2013: .267/.314/.390 – 12 BB/20 K – 2/3 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .294/.374/.393 – 24 BB/22 K – 5/5 SB – 201 AB)

120. Villanova JR SS Eric Lowe: 5-9, 175 pounds (2014: .207/.331/.220 – 24 BB/27 K – 5/5 SB – 150 AB) (2015: .328/.411/.339 – 23 BB/23 K – 10/13 SB – 177 AB)

121. Samford JR SS Frankie Navarette: 5-10, 175 pounds (2013: .231/.325/.327 – 10 BB/27 K – 6/7 SB – 104 AB) (2014: .340/.412/.388 – 10 BB/13 K – 5/9 SB – 103 AB) (2015: .291/.381/.381 – 17 BB/27 K – 4/4 SB – 134 AB)

122. South Dakota State JR SS Jesse Munsterman: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: .333/.433/.373 – 7 BB/6 K – 1/2 SB – 51 AB)

123. BYU JR SS Hayden Nielsen: 5-11, 175 pounds (2015: .342/.381/.404 – 13 BB/28 K – 6/9 SB – 225 AB)

124. Old Dominion rJR SS Jason McMurray: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014*: .390/.457/.594 – 11 BB/19 K – 18/20 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .251/.340/.351 – 14 BB/37 K – 4/7 SB – 171 AB)

125. Tennessee-Martin JR SS Matt Hirsch: 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: .286/.417/.349 – 32 BB/39 K – 2/2 SB – 175 AB)

126. College of Charleston SR SS Champ Rowland: plus arm strength; well above-average defensive tools; 5-11, 170 pounds (2015: .284/.341/.353 – 17 BB/27 K – 2/4 SB – 204 AB)

127. Evansville JR SS Shain Showers: 5-11, 190 pounds (2014: .294/.380/.450 – 17 BB/29 K – 7/11 SB – 160 AB) (2015: .239/.313/.350 – 19 BB/37 K – 3/5 SB – 180 AB)

128. Elon SR SS Andy Moore: 5-11, 175 pounds (2014: .260/.372/.308 – 22 BB/22 K – 1/4 SB – 146 AB) (2015: .285/.425/.329 – 36 BB/31 K – 4/5 SB – 158 AB)

129. Oral Roberts SR SS Dean Wilson: 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: .298/.375/.348 – 17 BB/23 K – 3/6 SB – 161 AB)

130. James Madison rJR SS Kyle Weston: 6-0, 190 pounds (2014: .300/.358/.420 – 15 BB/41 K – 5/10 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .263/.345/.356 – 22 BB/32 K – 3/3 SB – 194 AB)

131. Miami (Ohio) SR SS Ryan Eble: 6-0, 170 pounds (2014: .317/.395/.489 – 16 BB/28 K – 4/9 SB – 139 AB) (2015: .235/.329/.374 – 18 BB/43 K – 3/6 SB – 179 AB)

132. Texas-Pan American SR SS Jesus Garcia: 5-9, 180 pounds (2015: .307/.410/.360 – 25 BB/40 K – 5/10 SB – 189 AB)

133. Bucknell SR SS Greg Wasikowski: 5-11, 180 pounds (2015: .264/.358/.357 – 20 BB/39 K – 5/7 SB – 140 AB)

134. St. Peter’s JR SS Jon Kristoffersen: 6-1, 175 pounds (2014: .305/.349/.395 – 12 BB/52 K – 6/7 SB – 220 AB) (2015: .266/.333/.391 – 18 BB/49 K – 8/9 SB – 192 AB)

135. Middle Tennessee State SR SS Austin Bryant: 6-1, 175 pounds (2014: .293/.363/.371 – 16 BB/18 K – 2/5 SB – 140 AB) (2015: .249/.327/.382 – 14 BB/38 K – 2/4 SB – 217 AB)

136. Indiana State rSR SS/2B Derek Hannahs: 6-1, 185 pounds (2013: .298/.373/.309 – 11 BB/5 K – 4/6 SB – 94 AB) (2014: .301/.345/.333 – 13 BB/22 K – 3/3 SB – 183 AB) (2015: .273/.368/.337 – 24 BB/32 K – 2/3 SB – 172 AB)

137. Florida International JR SS/2B Rey Perez: 5-8, 175 pounds (2015: .267/.373/.302 – 15 BB/10 K – 2/5 SB – 86 AB)

138. South Alabama JR SS Ryan Raspino: 5-9, 180 pounds (2015: .266/.363/.310 – 22 BB/23 K – 6/7 SB – 184 AB)

139. North Dakota JR SS Daniel Lockhert: 5-11, 180 pounds (2013: .253/.301/.356 – 4 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 87 AB) (2014: .242/.324/.308 – 9 BB/26 K – 1/2 SB – 120 AB) (2015: .265/.306/.359 – 5 BB/35 K – 1/2 SB – 117 AB)

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600 SLG and BB > K Club

The college update is up to 59.36% complete. Still shooting to get it all wrapped up by Monday. As pumped as I am for this year’s draft to get here, I’m already thinking about projects to work on throughout the rest of the summer. One such project will be my attempt to figure out if there are any statistical benchmarks that correlate to professional success for college prospects. I’m particularly intrigued with doing this with finding the minimum requirements for college pitchers, but some work for hitters might also be fun. That led me to coming up with the mostly arbitrary stat deadlines of a .600 or better slugging percentage AND more walks than strikeouts. I hope to do this a bit more scientifically in the future, but figured these guidelines would make for an interesting look at some of college ball’s top performers in time for this year’s draft. Who are our .600+ SLG and more BB than K hitters?

Again, I’m only about 60% of the way done. If a player is missing it is very possible that I simply haven’t gotten to his team yet. Out of thousands of names, only eight so far hit those high standards…

Illinois SR 1B David Kerian
South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin
Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi
Florida International 3B/2B Edwin Rios
Memphis SR 1B Tucker Tubbs
Cincinnati JR 2B/OF Ian Happ
Miami JR 3B/OF David Thompson
Evansville rSR OF Kevin Kaczmarski

Kerian, Martin, and Tubbs are all rock solid senior signs. Benintendi and Happ are top half of the first round talents. Thompson is a gigantic favorite that I’d consider as early as the second round. Kaczmarski, like Benintendi, were originally missed when I went through my notes because of their slugging percentages that begin with 7’s and not 6’s. That’s production right there. Rios is easy to like as a steady fielding, strong armed, above-average power hitting third baseman. I haven’t gotten any worthwhile recent reports on his defense at third, but one of the last notes I have on him is a scout comparing his overall defensive ability (arm, range, hands, instincts, etc.) to Maikel Franco, an underrated defender in many of those areas.

Nevada SR 1B Austin Byler
Florida State JR OF DJ Stewart
Vanderbilt JR SS Dansby Swanson

These guys all just barely missed the cut. Byler is another first base senior sign to add to the mix. Swanson is Swanson. Stewart remains a guy that I’ll likely have higher than in most other places because I believe in the bat so much. It’s a stretch and not an advisable strategy, but a team picking around ten or so in the first round could conceivably walk away from the first three rounds of the draft with Happ, Stewart, and Thompson. Heck, the Astros could potentially go Swanson (2), Happ (5), and Stewart (37) if they wanted to go all-in on crazy productive college bats. Again, I wouldn’t necessarily advise any team do such a thing — diversification is key when building a draft portfolio — but it could be possible. Brendon Sanger of Florida Atlantic, another player I really really really like, also just missed.

2015 MLB Draft – Abbreviated College Shortstop Ranking Sneak Peek

Here’s an unusually short post that would probably be best served via a tweet or three if I had the time management skills to maintain an active Twitter account and actually write worthwhile-ish longer stuff, an arguably not so difficult task that so many actual writers are able to do with seemingly relative ease. I’m not as good a multi-tasker as those guys apparently, which probably explains (in part) why they are where they are and why I’m quietly cranking out material in my teeny tiny little corner of the internet.

(I wrote that “introduction” before I started writing the body of the post found below. I should have known that this thing would go longer than a “tweet or three,” but I’m just that dense. This is why I’m not cut out for Twitter…)

College Shortstop Rankings for the 2015 MLB Draft (April 28, 2015) 

  1. LSU SS/2B Alex Bregman
  2. Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson
  3. Louisiana SS Blake Trahan
  4. Florida SS/CF Richie Martin
  5. San Diego SS Kyle Holder
  6. Arizona SS Kevin Newman
  7. Virginia SS Daniel Pinero
  8. Kennesaw State SS Kal Simmons

I don’t know what it would take to knock Bregman off the top spot, but something pretty drastic would have to go down to get me to consider anybody but him. I’ll take it a step further and throw out there that I’m not unconvinced he’s the top overall prospect in this year’s draft. In fact, the entire impetus of this piece was to get that Bregman take out there for public consumption. Also, finally, I’m now one of the Bregman converts who believes he can make it work, at least long enough to make it worth his drafting team’s while, at shortstop in pro ball. Feels good to escape the dark side for a change.

Of course, this being the year of the college shortstop, it should be no shock that I can both love Bregman and realize that Swanson isn’t too far off his trail. What might surprise is that I think Trahan isn’t too far behind after that. There’s a bit of a gap after those three, so I reserve the right to shuffle those names hourly between now and June. Martin’s athleticism, defensive tools, and offensive approach have been buried a bit due to playing in the SEC shadow of both Bregman and Swanson, but he’s really, really good. Either Martin or Holder could make an honest claim to the third best college shortstop in this class right now, so big finishes to the season could easily put them in the mid- to late-first round mix.

I’ve talked at length about Newman in the comments section, but he’s worth discussing briefly here once again. In short, as many members of the national media have begun talking him up as a potential top ten (or two) player in this class, I’ve actually cooled on him, due largely to concerns about his long-term defensive future. In much the same way that I feel as though pre-injury Nate Kirby got a bum rap due to a below-average start (iffy velo, too many sliders, below-average command) with a lot of national prospect writing heat in the house (what a silly thing to actually type out), Newman seems to have gotten a sizable bump because of a good couple of games in front of some influential media members. I could be entirely wrong here (maybe these ranking changes were made with more behind the scenes intel than publicly divulged to this point) and I acknowledge that moving players up and down the board based on new information is an essential part of the process at this stage of the game. We’ll see. For now, I’ll say that I’d be pretty stunned if Newman is actually a top ten (or two) pick in this draft, barring some underslot pre-draft agreement shenanigans. More to the point, since draft position is secondary to actual on-field future professional performance, I’d be even more surprised if Newman had a career that would place him in the top ten (or two) of the signed members of the 2015 MLB Draft. Again, we’ll see.

I love that this draft class is so loaded with college shortstops that a draft-eligible sophomore listed at 6-5, 210 pounds with startlingly good defensive tools putting up impressive numbers for one of the nation’s best programs has gotten little to no national draft love. I have no clue how those in the game view Pinero as a prospect just yet, but I love the guy. I also now like Simmons a lot (he’s done all you could ask for him so far this year) and not just because mentioning him gives me the opportunity to crow about being the only person on the planet (probably) to publicly rank him as the A-Sun’s second best draft prospect pre-season. Any time I can slip in a Donnie Dewees mention is cool by me.

My next tier down includes about a dozen names, but I’ll limit it to these four for now: Drew Jackson, CJ Hinojosa (big pre-season miss on my end, really though he was set for a monster draft year), Kevin Kramer, and Dylan Bosheers. I also have to give a mention to Scott Kingery, who very well could have wait it takes to transition about two dozen big steps over to his right and play some professional shortstop when it’s all said and done. I tried to stay away from potential shortstop conversion projects for now — mostly because I’m a chicken and not willing to quite stick my neck out there just yet — but Kingery has as strong a case as any 2015 college prospect not currently playing shortstop to successfully make the move in the pros.

SEC 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team – HITTERS

First Team

Louisiana State JR C Chris Chinea
South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin
Louisiana State JR 2B Alex Bregman
Vanderbilt JR SS Dansby Swanson
Florida SR 3B Josh Tobias
Florida JR OF Harrison Bader
Louisiana State JR OF Andrew Stevenson
Tennessee JR OF Christin Stewart

Second Team

Georgia JR C Zack Bowers
Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel
South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock
Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom
Florida SR 3B Josh Tobias
Tennessee JR OF/LHP Vincent Jackson
Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman
Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi

There are so many prospects here that I’m going to do my best to touch on as many as possible as we whip around the diamond. There are some quoted bits from previous entries when applicable so this isn’t entirely original content, but it’s over 6,000 words…and that’s before we get to the pitching. Buckle up.

LSU JR C Chris Chinea is a good athlete with a big raw power and a solid defensive reputation. His teammate SR C Kade Scivicque joins him in what has to be one of college ball’s top catching tandems. It would hardly be a surprise to see the talented Scivicque get selected before Chinea with the former’s senior sign status giving him the edge for teams that view them as comparable talents. I look at Texas A&M SR C Mitchell Nau in a similar way to Scivicque: both are solid senior signs that should come relatively cheaply, provide a steadying presence for young arms, and give you a chance at a big league backup catcher down the line.

Alabama SO C Will Haynie has obvious upside in his 6-5, 230 pound frame. Catchers built like that with plus raw power and plus arm strength get chances even when the overall package – Haynie struggled badly last season and has only made modest improvements in 2015 — doesn’t amount to what you’d expect. A team might bet on his tools higher than expected, but I think the most realistic outcome would be a return to Tuscaloosa in 2016. No need to rush Haynie just because he’s a draft-eligible sophomore, though I suppose the question as to whether or not his development would be better served in college or in the pros going forward is one worth asking. I typically side with the pro side on matters like these, but Haynie needs the kind of at bats that playing every day in the SEC would give him. He’s almost too raw a player to take on the pros right now; I’d worry that he’d get lost in the shuffle of pro ball as even the best player development staffs can only take on so many projects at any one time.

Georgia JR C Zack Bowers can’t match Haynie in terms of sheer mass (Bowers is listed at 6-1, 200), but offers a similarly appealing plus raw power/plus arm strength package. His glove remains a work in progress, but the strides he has made as a hitter this year have been encouraging. He’s still going to swing and miss more than you’d like, but there’s a chance with continued work he can get that aspect under enough control to put his big raw power to use. I’ve personally moved away from the arm/power catcher archetype in recent years (I know lean towards athleticism and plate discipline), but the upside of a player like Bowers is undeniable. To an extent, how much you like Bowers (and Haynie, for that matter) comes down to how much confidence you have in your player development staff working with these kinds of players. If you believe that you can coach up defense and approach, then the raw talent of the arm/power catchers supersedes any concerns. I can buy that defense can always be improved – the Cubs sure seem to think so – but changing a guy’s approach at the plate is a gigantic challenge.

If he can convince teams that he can work defensively as a four-corners (1B/3B/LF/RF) prospect, then South Carolina JR 1B Kyle Martin could wind up drafted higher than most other straight college first basemen in his class. He has the athleticism and arm strength to pull off such a move, though it remains to be seen if the primary first baseman can make the transition in pro ball. As a hitter he’s improved every season – especially in the power department – enough to make a case that he could just keep mashing enough to get a shot down the line even if he’s locked into first base only. Of course, we say it every year and it bears repeating yet again: the tremendous offensive demands of the position makes projecting any amateur first basemen as a regular a long shot. Guys who can play multiple spots – like Martin potentially, as well as LSU SR 1B Conner Hale (who has also seen time at 2B and 3B), Georgia JR 1B Morgan Bunting (3B/OF…when he plays), and Auburn JR 1B Dylan Smith (OF…when he plays) – tend to wind up the most interesting prospects on draft day.

I liked Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel last season as a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore, so it should be no shock that I like him again as a draft-eligible redshirt junior. Power, strength, and enough patience make him one of college ball’s better first base prospects. When I wonder here about why certain guys don’t get talked about more, I sometimes stop and think, “Well, how much have I publicly praised the player?” Almost always, I haven’t. I’ve thought about him a lot and maybe fired off some behind-the-scenes type things about the guy, but never given him the public recognition he deserves. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad I did this conference previews even if they did monopolize much of my free time over the past few months. There are so many more players that aren’t projected to be top ten picks that baseball fans should know about, and a quality first base prospect at one of the best programs in the country is one of them.

And now for something totally different. Mississippi SR 1B Sikes Orvis is one of college ball’s most famous names. His colorful personality, noteworthy facial hair (since lopped off, sadly), egg-like bod, and near weekly appearances on ESPN’s coverage of the SEC make him a worthy ambassador for the game and one of the most well-known players to casual college baseball/draft fans (if you’re an athlete who my wife recognizes on TV as she flicks by, then you’re famous). On top of all that, he’s also a pretty good college baseball player. He’s a better athlete and defender than his body suggests, and his power bat is nothing to mess with. The profile is a long shot to ever top out as anything but a 4A slugger, but it’ll be a fun ride. Equally entertaining plus-sized Mississippi State rSR 1B Wes Rea is in the same boat. I don’t know how high he’ll climb in the minors, but all eyes will be on the 6-5, 275 pound ATHLETE at every minor league park he sets foot in. That’s more than most mid-round prospects can say, so I’d argue he’s already ahead of the game.

LSU JR 2B/SS Alex Bregman and South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock have been covered already, so I’ll be brief with each here. On Bregman…DID YOU KNOW that as of 4/3/15, he has more home runs (7) than strikeouts (5)? That’s good, right? His defense has also universally lauded this spring, enough so that some smart people are starting to lead the Bregman as pro shortstop charge once again. Two things about that: 1) I think whatever team drafts him does so with playing him at shortstop for at least the remainder of 2015 and possibly even 2016. I’m not sure what happens after that, but my hunch is that he’ll be given every shot to stay at shortstop despite what haters like me write. I mean, if Corey Seager is still technically a shortstop, then why won’t a team stick with Bregman at the six-spot as long as possible? 2) As a “hater,” I’m encouraged about the positive reports about his defense, but more so because now I’m more sure than ever that he could be a plus glove at second rather than a future pro shortstop. Any way you look at it his improved defense is a good thing even if it does muddle the Bregman narrative up a bit.

That wasn’t particularly brief, so I’ll try again with Schrock. I’ve read in multiple places how Schrock has been a disappointment this year for South Carolina. We’re not talking from a draft perspective, but from a 2015 college production point of view. His batting average is over fifty points lower so far this year, so I guess that has to be why I keep hearing about his struggles this year. It’s certainly not about his OBP because, lower average or not, he’s getting on base at a higher clip this year (.379) than he did last year (.366). You could fairly point to his decrease in power so far this year, but it’s not so far off – especially with the added OBP value – to say he’s having a down year relative to what he’s done in the past. From a draft prospect perspective I was hoping for last year’s numbers plus improvements across the board (I’m selfish like that), but he’s hardly been disappointing through 105 at bats. I know this doesn’t have much to do with anything, but I feel better for getting that off my chest.

Alabama JR 2B/SS Mikey White’s power breakout has had many talking him up as a possible third baseman as a professional. I don’t think the power spike is real – he’s a really good hitter, but not somebody I would have had down for much more than average power going forward – but it’s the scouts he has to convince, not me. I had somebody smart (and, because I know he wouldn’t mind me saying this, also super old) recently compare him to a righthanded Graig Nettles. That feels a little rich for me – Nettles’ raw numbers don’t blow you away, but he’s a borderline HOF third baseman if going off of JAWS – but it’s an interesting comparison to a historically underrated player who once made the transition from second base to third. Lost in this whole conversation is White’s potential to remain at shortstop. Like those who will fight you to the death on Alex Bregman’s future position, there are some college baseball loyalists who will get very mad if you suggest White will have to move out of the six-spot as a pro. Believe it or not, I understand where those fans of White’s game are coming from: he’s as hard working as any prospect you’ll find, a tremendous team leader, and his baseball instincts are off the charts. Do those intangibles make up for average at best foot speed and suboptimal range? Despite the leading question, White has more of a shot to stick a shortstop for a few years than I had thought coming into the year. I still think either second or third makes more sense, and I’m not entirely sold on the bat being good enough to make him an everyday player, but the comparisons to former Alabama star Josh Rutledge…wait, this felt familiar so I searched my site for my last Rutledge reference and turns out I’ve written almost all this before. Turns out writing 10,000 words a week about college baseball for two months on end leaves you with mush for brains. Here’s my section on White from January…

It goes against a lot of what I’ve written previously, most notably in the LSU preview when discussing Alex Bregman, so don’t read too much into my listing of JR 2B/SS Mikey White’s two most likely pro positions in that precise (2B/SS) order. White could very well wind up sticking at short as a professional; in fact, I reserve the right to switch that up a half-dozen times in my mind (and in print!) over the next few months. Working very much for him are his tremendous instincts, which rank among the best I’ve seen at the amateur level. Though impossible for the amateur eye to quantify, he’s one of those players who always seems to be in the middle of the action on the field, almost always doing something positive after finding himself in the right place at the right time. Watch him for a game or even a series and you might chalk it up as a coincidence, but we’ve now got two years of college, plenty of high-level summer ball, and, depending on who you are lucky enough to talk to, a year or more of tracking him in high school to go off of at this point. If his preternatural ability to be at the right place at the right time is just a coincidence, then I no longer understand the meaning of the word.

There’s a perfectly reasonable and logical Josh Rutledge comp out there (can’t recall the origin) for White that I don’t hate, though I think White is a truer traditional middle infielder (better glove, less power) than Rutledge ever was. There’s also been a Nolan Fontana comparison floating around with Baseball America as the source. I think the Fontana comp is a little bit stronger (both players relying as much on smarts and positioning than raw athleticism as defenders), but, like all comps, it’s still imperfect: Fontana always had an elite approach as a hitter as well as, in my personal view, a surer path to remain at shortstop professionally. The best comparison that comes to mind for me is current Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer. Both guys have good size, strong arms, and have been universally praised over the years for having high baseball IQs. All that, and their sophomore year numbers aren’t all that far off…

JM: .299/.359/.481 – 15 BB/28 K – 5/7 SB
MW: .300/.399/.443 – 27 BB/44 K – 3/5 SB

Mercer followed that up with another quality season highlighted by a power spike significant enough to get him popped with the 79th overall pick in 2008. He then experienced a slow and steady climb through the Pirates minor league system before breaking through as a legitimate regular at short for Pittsburgh in 2013. If Mikey White follows the same path then we can pencil him as a third round pick this June with the chance to hit the big leagues by 2020. Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me, though I think you could at least argue that he’ll be a faster riser but with more of a utility upside. The latter was often said about Mercer throughout the earliest portion of his career, so you never know.

White has blown past what Mercer did his junior season, especially from a power standpoint. I’ve touched on the veracity of the realness of that power before, but without much evidence against it I’m inclined to believe something good is going on with either his swing, strength, or some combination thereof. A third round selection might be a little light based on what White has done so far this year, though I remain skeptical of a heretofore non-power bat hitting for this kind of pop with the kind of plate discipline red flags evident in White’s game.

I’m about as confused on White as I’ve been on a college player so far this season. I’m no scout, but, as a baseball fan, he is exactly the kind of player I feel like I legitimately need to see more of with my own two eyes in order to better understand his strengths and weaknesses. I want to keep putting him into certain restrictive places in my mind – he’s a scrappy utility player with a “true middle infield” glove, he’s an underappreciated (by me!) power hitter who will be best at third, he’s an overrated mirage, he’s an underrated grinder – but he doesn’t seem to fit nicely in any one player archetype. Mikey White has broken me, and I think that’s a good thing. I lean towards him turning into a potential quality utility player with a chance to play regularly at second with continued progress, but will likely go back and forth a few more times between now and June.

I haven’t heard a player get the “he’ll be a better pro than college player” treatment in a long time quite like Tennessee JR SS AJ Simcox. I’m not sure how to take that exactly. It almost sounds like a dig on the Tennessee coaching staff, but I find that hard to believe knowing what I do about the people they have in place there. I think it’s more likely explained by the differences in the pro grind – all baseball, all the time – versus the multitude of various interested parties pulling one’s attention away from the day in college. I don’t know anything specific to Simcox here, for the record. He could be as focused as can be and simply in need of an all-encompassing baseball environment because of personal preference.

It’s just now occurred to me that the SEC shortstops have a pretty clear tier system. It gets even more clearly defined if we include maybe shortstops like Bregman and White. The top tier includes Vanderbilt JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson and Bregman, then there’s Florida JR SS/OF Richie Martin and White, then a big step down to Simcox, Auburn JR SS Cody Nulph, and Mississippi State SR SS Seth Heck, and a final tier of South Carolina JR SS Marcus Mooney, Arkansas rJR SS Brett McAfee, and whomever else I missed.

I’m still holding out on JR 3B Xavier Turner (formerly of Vanderbilt, though technically he’s still enrolled at school there and just not playing ball this year) as the conference’s best third base prospect. That’s as much as because of Turner’s talent (ample athleticism, bat speed in spades, and average or better raw power, speed, and arm strength) as it is the relative void at the position without him. I had Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom as the next in line, but his transition to the SEC hasn’t been all that it could be so far. He still gives you intriguing power, defensive upside, and size. Since it was a close battle for second pre-season anyway, I don’t’ feel too bad about editing my list a bit and flipping Florida SR 3B/2B Josh Tobias to the two spot for now. Tobias has always flashed talent (above-average speed, more pop than his size suggests, and a steady, versatile glove), so it’s been nice to see him put together a strong senior season. As a senior sign with a possible utility future (the approach keeps him from being a starter for me), he could find his way into the late single-digit rounds. Similar things apply to Texas A&M JR 3B/SS Logan Taylor, another versatile defender (potentially plus at third, average at both short and second) with some pop who could find a role off a big league bench one day.

I want to say that Florida JR OF Harrison Bader can do a little bit of everything, but that would be a lie. Harrison Bader can do a lot of everything. He’s a legitimate five-tool player and I’ll fight anybody who says otherwise. I’d take him over any bat in the conference not named Bregman or Swanson without a second thought. Above-average raw power, above-average to plus speed, and the ability to play center make him a lot like Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman to me, but with a markedly better approach at the plate. If he’s there in the second, it’s an easy call. Also, I’m not a scout and smarter people have disagreed with me, but I love his swing. It’s not conventionally pretty, but his lower half and upper half are coordinated really well and there’s just enough of an uppercut (but not too much) to suggest his power surge is real.

LSU JR OF Andrew Stevenson could step into a AA lineup tomorrow (just in time for opening day!) because his defense in center (plus-plus), speed (plus), and hit tool (above-average) are all professional quality right now. He’s one of those players that it would be very hard to imagine not someday carving out a big league role for himself on the basis of his defensive prowess and game-changing speed on the base paths alone. When you add in that hit tool, his emerging pop, and an improved approach at the plate, it’s easy to envision him maturing into a table-setting leadoff hitter guaranteed to give you years of positive defensive and base running value in the bigs. I was high on Stevenson before writing this paragraph, but now I’m more pumped about him than ever.

Tennessee JR OF Christin Stewart just keeps getting better and better and better as a hitter. With an above-average hit tool and honest plus raw power, his breakout season (happening right now!) was only a matter of time. I’ve been hard on him in the past because of my perceived disconnect between his consistently praised approach at the plate and below-average BB/K ratios (1/2 for most of his first two seasons), but I’m starting to buy in. When I hear this is a below-average draft, I think of players like Stewart who have emerged as worthwhile top three round picks – not just in this draft, but in any draft – and smile. If a down draft means a few pitching prospect have gotten injured and no stone cold mortal lock for 1-1 exists, then I guess this draft isn’t very good. If it means that there will be future big league regulars selected out of college as late as the fifth round, then I feel like we’re not on the same page. I try not to cheerlead, but the bad draft stuff is just laziness from paid professionals who really ought to try digging a little deeper.

I’ve written a lot about many SEC prospects already (links to the teams that had rosters in early are found below), but there are a few players I’d like to quickly revisit based on updated information and performance. I didn’t realize it until after the fact that almost every blurb has a BUT in it, so I did my best to sneak one into each.

  • Tennessee JR OF/LHP Vincent Jackson – still love the tools, but where’s the power?
  • Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman – status unchanged (solid tools across the board), but approach still holds him back
  • Auburn JR 2B/OF Jordan Ebert – hoping his early season struggles are more attributable to bad BABIP luck, but his BB/K is still strong enough to give me hope that he’ll hit
  • LSU JR OF Mark Laird – now view him as Stevenson without the ceiling, but still a ML player
  • Tennessee SR OF Jonathan Youngblood – tools remain elite, but hasn’t played at all; could see a fan raging about his IDIOT team drafting somebody with such “bad” college numbers without knowing how damn toolsy Youngblood actually is just as easily as he could go undrafted
  • Alabama JR OF Georgie Salem – had a hunch that he was in line for a breakout season, but I’ve been told (haven’t seen him in person this year) he’s actually regressed at the plate and looks lost at times

I didn’t get to a few SEC schools that were late to post rosters, so special mention should be made about outfielders from Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama. Here are their quick blurbs, all decidedly BUT free…

  • Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi – well-rounded with above-average speed, solid pop, CF range, and a live bat; somehow leading the nation in homers as of this writing at only 5-10, 175 pounds, which says about his strength and swing
  • Alabama SO OF Casey Hughston – swings and misses too much for my taste, though he’s still one of the draft’s best athletes and power hitters who is having a giant second season
  • Kentucky JR OF Kyle Barrett – reminds me a little bit of Laird as a speedy center fielder with fourth outfielder upside, might be a better all-around player
  • Kentucky JR OF Ka’aI Tom – size and tools don’t blow you away, yet he’s found a way to produce at every stop

LSU

Wherever he lands defensively, Bregman is going to hit. The ability to play one of the middle infield spots and hit while doing it is what makes him as close to a first round lock as there is in this college class. If that sounds like exceedingly simple analysis, well, that’s because it is. He has an easy to identify above-average or better hit tool, average to above-average speed that plays up due to his impressive feel for the game, average raw power with an emphasis on splitting the gaps, plenty of bat speed, and a consistently smart approach at the plate. There aren’t a lot of holes you can poke in his game from an offensive standpoint. One thing I’ve found particularly fascinating about Bregman as a prospect is the response you get when his name comes up within the game. I think I’ve heard more comps on Bregman than literally any player I can remember. Something about his game just evokes that “every man” feeling deep inside talent evaluators, I guess. Take a look at the list I currently have of comps I’ve personally heard for Bregman: Mike Lansing, Mark Ellis (BA has used this), Robby Thompson, Orlando Hudson, Tony Renda, Randy Velarde, Bill Mueller, Jose Vidro, Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Baerga, Ray Durham, Jhonny Peralta, and Mark DeRosa. There’s also the increasingly popular Dustin Pedroia comp, which makes sense on the surface but is a scary comparison for anybody due to the unique set of circumstances (or, more plainly, an obsessive/borderline maniacal drive to be great) that has led to Pedroia’s rise in the game. I’ve also heard the cautionary comp of Bobby Crosby, though I’m not sure I buy the two being all the similar at similar points in their respective development. A statistical look comparing Bregman and Crosby makes for an interesting conversation starter (if, you know, you’re friends with other obsessive college baseball/draft fans)…

AB: .344/.408/.504 – 51 BB/46 K – 28/35 SB – 526 AB
BC: .340/.417/.496 – 70 BB/103 K – 40/51 SB – 635 AB

Top is Bregman so far, bottom is Crosby’s career college numbers. It would have worked better if I had left out the BB/K ratios, but that would have been intellectually dishonest and I’m far too morally upstanding to stoop to statistical manipulation to make a point. I’d never dream of doing such a thing. Hey, look at this comparison…

AB: .369/.419/.546 – 25 BB/24 K – 17/18 SB – 282 AB
AH: .329/.391/.550 – 20 BB/20 K – 10/11 SB – 222 AB

The top is Bregman’s first year at LSU, the bottom is Aaron Hill’s first year at LSU. Notice how I didn’t say freshman year: Hill transferred from Southern Illinois to LSU after his freshman season. Since we’ve already gone down this dark and twisted road of statistical manipulation, let’s go even deeper…

AB: .316/.397/.455 – 27 BB/21 K – 12/18 SB – 244 AB
AH: .299/.375/.463 – 15 BB/27 K – 6/7 SB – 134 AB

Those would be Bregman and Hill’s “other” college season; more specifically, you’re looking at Hill’s freshman year at Southern Illinois and Bregman’s more recent season. I’m not sure what could be gained from comparing these two seasons, but, hey, look how similar! Jokes aside — though, seriously, those are some freaky similar numbers — I think the comparison between Alex Bregman and Aaron Hill is probably the most apt comp out there at this point. If the numbers don’t sway you, just check Hill’s playing card from his draft year at Baseball America…

In a draft thin on shortstops, Hill is one of the few with legitimate offensive potential. There are questions as to whether he can handle that position all the way up to the majors, but he’ll get the shot to prove he can’t. His instincts and gritty makeup get the most out of his tools–which aren’t lacking. He has enough arm to make plays from the hole, along with range and quickness. He’s not flashy but gets the job done. At worst, the Southeastern Conference player of the year will be an all-around second baseman. Offensively, he has a beautiful swing, above-average speed and control of the strike zone. He doesn’t have plus home-run power, but he can hit the occasional longball and line balls into the gaps.

I don’t normally post full sections like that, but come on! Replace Hill for Bregman and that’s pretty much spot-on! Well, the bit about this being a draft thin on shortstops might not work that well — if the 2015 draft is strong at any one position player group in the college game, it’s shortstop — but still. Interesting to me that this quick scouting report glossed over Hill’s offensive promise much in the same way I coincidentally (I swear!) did with Bregman above. It’s almost as if it was a foregone conclusion that Hill would hit enough to play somewhere, just like how many, myself included, view Bregman today. I like Bregman to hit a little bit more than Hill, run a little bit better than Hill, and field a little bit better than Hill. Otherwise, I think the comparison is pretty damn good.

Tennessee

Of all the teams profiled so far, none have a 1-2 outfield punch of 2015 draft prospects quite like Tennessee’s duo of JR OFs Christin Stewart and Vincent Jackson. Neither are likely first round prospects, so there are imperfections in their respective games that will be watched closely this spring. Stewart betrayed his patient, pro-ready approach last season in an effort to produce gaudier power numbers. It’s hard to blame him what with power being the most coveted singular tool in baseball these days, but the cost might prove to be greater than what it winds up being worth. On one hand, the change in approach worked as Stewart’s slugging percentage jumped about one hundred points from his freshman season. Unfortunately, the major dip in plate discipline — Stewart’s K/BB almost doubled from his first season to his sophomore year (1.48 to 2.80) — now creates a new question in his game that will need to be answered on the field before June. If all of that sounds overly negative, well, it’s not supposed to. Consider it more of a reality check for a really strong prospect than anything else. I’m still very much a believer in Stewart’s raw power (legitimately plus), hit tool (solidly above-average), and overall approach to hitting, past year production be damned.

The current number two to the top ranked Stewart is Vincent Jackson. Jackson is an outstanding athlete with considerable tools — in particular, his power stacks up quite well with Stewart’s and his plus speed blows him away — who has yet to blow scouts away at Tennessee. Inconsistent performance or not, his size and skill set evoke comparisons to two-time All-Star Alex Rios, a lofty comp at first blush but a little more palatable when you remember Rios’ earliest scouting reports and slow to manifest power as a young professional. Jackson’s blend of size, speed, raw power, athleticism, and defensive upside (above-average arm and range at present) combine to make a pretty enticing prospect. In other words, he’s also pretty good.

Alabama
Georgia
Mississippi
Arkansas
Vanderbilt

Swanson broke out last season in a big, big way. His first real test at the college level was hardly a test at all as he hit .333/.411/.475 with 37 BB and 39 K in 282 AB. He also added 22 steals in 27 attempts for good measure. The numbers obviously speak for themselves, but it’s still nice when the scouting reports back it up. Swanson can really play. I’ll indirectly piggyback a bit on Baseball America’s Trea Turner (with less speed) comp and reuse one of my comps for Turner last year for Swanson. It actually fits a lot better now, so I don’t feel too bad going to the Brett Gardner well in back-to-back drafts. The package of athleticism, speed, defensive upside at a critical up-the-middle spot with an above-average hit tool and average-ish power (little less, probably) works out to a consistently above-average regular with the chance for stardom — certainly flashes of it — within reach.

There’s a bit of a gap between Vanderbilt’s (draft) class of 2015 and Wiseman, but that speaks to the strength of having four likely first round picks more so than any major deficits in Wiseman’s game. I’ve run into two interesting schools of thought about Wiseman while putting this together. The first, and I’ll admit that this was my initial view from the start, is that he’s still more tools than skills right now. The tools are quite strong, but the fact that they haven’t turned into the skills many expected by now gives some pause. Still, those tools that were clear to almost all going back to his high school days are still real and still worth getting excited about. The breakout could come any day now for him and when it does we’ll be looking at a potential first-division regular in the outfield. The opposing view believes that Wiseman’s development has gone as scripted and what we’re seeing right now is more or less what we’re going to get with him. He’s a great athlete and a far more cerebral hitter than given credit, but the tools were overstated across the board at the onset of his amateur career and now we’re seeing expectations for him correcting themselves based on what he really is. There really are no pluses in his game and no carrying tool that will help him rise above his future fourth outfielder station. I’m a believer that it’s always wise to bet on athletes having the light bulb turn on before too long, so count me in as still leaning closer to the former (and my original) position. I do understand the concerns about Wiseman potentially topping out as a “tweener” outfield prospect — he hasn’t shown the power yet to work in a corner, but that’s where he’s clearly best defensively — so going on the first day might be off the table. He’s still an intriguing blend of production (good, not mind-blowing) and tools (same) who could wind up a relative bargain if he slips much later than that. I could see him both being ranked and drafted in the same area that I had him listed (110th overall) out of Buckingham Browne & Nichols.

In any event, I don’t think Wiseman’s viewed by many as quite the prospect he was back in high school and a good part of that was the way many — me included — viewed his rawness, age, and relative inexperience as a New England high school product as positives. We all are guilty of assuming there are concretely meaningful patterns we can expect from prospect development and that all young players will continue to get better with age and experience. Development is not linear and can be wildly unpredictable. Some guys are as good as they are going to get at 17 while others don’t figure it out (unfortunately) until way after their physical peak. This speaks to the heart of what makes assessing and drafting amateurs so much fun. We’re all just trying to gather as much information on as many players as possible and then making the best possible guesses as to what we’ll wind up with.

Auburn

The surest bet in the Auburn lineup is JR OF/2B Jordan Ebert. Ebert doesn’t get enough love as one of the college game’s best pure hitters. That above-average or better hit tool combined with enough pop and speed allow him to potentially profile as an above-average regular offensively. I think his glove will play at any of the spots he’s tried — 2B, 3B, OF — but think his value will likely lie in his ability to play multiple spots — especially those where he can show off his plus arm — well. If you only knew what I just wrote about Ebert, you’d surely think he’s a big-time 2015 draft prospect, but, at least for now, an overly aggressive approach at the plate (31 BB/54 K) holds back his appeal to a degree. I still like him quite a bit; quite simply, guys with hit tools like his are not to be dismissed. If Ebert can settle in to a spot defensively (likely a corner OF spot), flash a touch more power, and clean up his approach a bit, he’ll become a prime candidate to become one of college ball’s fastest risers in 2015. I still think a pro team will try to keep him in the dirt for as long as humanly possible after signing. As an outfielder, he profiles as a high-level backup, especially if he can hang in center a bit. As an infielder, however, he’s a potential everyday contributor.

Missouri

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting

(This was my pre-season list with a few minor tweaks where I could remember to update certain position rankings. Outside of the first five picks or so, it doesn’t really reflect where I’m at roughly three months after putting it together initially. I considered not publishing it at all and waiting until I have time to do a full revision to get it up, but so long as everybody understands it is already a bit dated I figured there’s no harm sharing. Consider it a glorified follow list, if nothing else.)

  1. Vanderbilt JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson
  2. Louisiana State JR 2B/SS Alex Bregman
  3. Florida JR OF Harrison Bader
  4. Louisiana State JR OF Andrew Stevenson
  5. Florida JR SS/OF Richie Martin
  6. Tennessee JR OF Christin Stewart
  7. South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock
  8. Tennessee JR OF/LHP Vincent Jackson
  9. Alabama JR 2B/SS Mikey White
  10. Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman
  11. Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi
  12. Auburn JR OF/2B Jordan Ebert
  13. Louisiana State JR OF Mark Laird
  14. Alabama SO OF Casey Hughston
  15. Tennessee SR OF Jonathan Youngblood
  16. Kentucky JR OF Kyle Barrett
  17. Tennessee JR SS AJ Simcox
  18. South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin
  19. Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel
  20. Florida SR 3B/2B Josh Tobias
  21. Auburn JR SS Cody Nulph
  22. Alabama JR OF Georgie Salem
  23. Alabama JR 2B/RHP Kyle Overstreet
  24. Louisiana State JR C Chris Chinea
  25. Alabama SO C Will Haynie
  26. Mississippi SR 1B/C Sikes Orvis
  27. Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom
  28. Kentucky JR OF Ka’ai Tom
  29. Texas A&M JR OF/1B Jonathan Moroney
  30. Arkansas rJR OF Tyler Spoon
  31. South Carolina JR SS Marcus Mooney
  32. South Carolina JR 2B/SS DC Arendas
  33. Georgia JR C Zack Bowers
  34. Louisiana State SR C Kade Scivicque
  35. Arkansas SR OF Joe Serrano
  36. Louisiana State SR 1B/3B Conner Hale
  37. Texas A&M SR 2B/SS Blake Allemand
  38. Texas A&M SR 3B/RHP Logan Nottebrok
  39. Arkansas rJR SS Brett McAfee
  40. Vanderbilt JR OF/RHP Kyle Smith
  41. Auburn JR OF Sam Gillikin
  42. Mississippi State rSR 1B Wes Rea
  43. Texas A&M JR C/OF Boomer White
  44. Georgia JR 1B Morgan Bunting
  45. Kentucky rSO OF Storm Wilson
  46. Auburn JR 1B/OF Dylan Smith
  47. Tennessee JR OF Chris Hall
  48. Mississippi State rSO OF Cody Brown
  49. Alabama JR 3B Daniel Cucjen
  50. Mississippi State SR SS Seth Heck
  51. Texas A&M JR 3B/SS Logan Taylor
  52. Texas A&M JR 1B/RHP Hunter Melton
  53. Texas A&M SR C Mitchell Nau
  54. Kentucky JR C Zach Arnold
  55. Texas A&M JR OF JB Moss
  56. Georgia SR OF/RHP Heath Holder

Happ, Swanson, Bregman…and Youkilis

It only makes sense to start at the top, so let’s get right to it. If you’re confused, check out these rankings from yesterday and things should begin to make a little bit more sense.

At this point, I personally see a clear line of demarcation separating the top four with the rest of the class. We’ll get to the fourth guy in due time, though you might have already guessed that based on the title above. The big three at the top should be no surprise since all have the chance to be above-average hitters at up-the-middle defensive positions. I don’t think there is a bad way to order Ian Happ, Dansby Swanson, and Alex Bregman at this time. You can parse out the numbers, read every scouting report that hits the web, and see them as often as you’d like up close and personal (or on the tube), but ultimately picking a favorite from that trio comes down to personal preference (or bias, if willing to go down that road). The relative merits for each prospect are pretty clear and clean, though, as always, there is some overlap in each guy’s pros and cons. Happ is the tooliest and most physically gifted natural hitter, all of which adds up to giving him the most offensive upside of the three. Swanson is the surest bet to stay at the king of all defensive positions – well, prince might be more accurate since catchers still hold the highest throne* — and should hit enough to give you an above-average regular at shortstop. Bregman is the guy who will not be outworked – I’m always hesitant to cite makeup as a particularly meaningful selling point, but Bregman is a unique case – with the chance to play a really solid second base while consistently ranking in the top five at his position in OBP. The overlap for the three is considerable, as Swanson is plenty toolsy in his own right, Bregman has a well-earned above-average to plus hit tool, and nobody has a bad thing to say about Happ and Swanson’s work ethic, willing acceptance of coaching, and overarching desire to be great. Like all prospects, there are questions that will need surer answers before we start talking top ten lock for any of these players. Happ will have to convince a team he’ll be a trustworthy glove somewhere worthwhile (2B or CF), Swanson has plenty to prove with only one full college season under his belt and even less time actually manning shortstop, and Bregman needs to show that last year’s dip in production was more about bad BABIP luck in a small sample than anything more ominous that could create some doubt about his upside with the stick.

I’ve written and comped both Happ and Bregman already this season. I’ll try not to make a habit of quoting myself, but since Happ is currently in the top spot and I have to imagine that many missed my Cincinnati Bearcats preview published just three days before Christmas…

A switch-hitting Michael Brantley with the chance to stick in the dirt. That’s one of the ways JR OF/2B Ian Happ was described to me recently. I like it. Happ is a really well-rounded player with no tool worse than average who is quick, strong, and athletic. He controls the strike zone well (career 79 BB/67 K), swipes bags at a high success rate (44 SB at 81% success), and has exposure to a variety of different positions on the diamond. That last point is a little bit of a spin job by me, but I think he’s a talented enough player to figure things out defensively at whatever spot his pro teams wishes to play him. That’s the biggest — only? — question surrounding Happ’s game. A guy with the upside to hit .280+ with strong on-base skills, pop to hit double-digit homers regularly (20ish as a ceiling?), and the speed to swipe 25+ bases every season through his prime strikes me as a very valuable offensive player at any position on the diamond. I’d trot him out at second base for as long as possible because I think he’s got the hands, instincts, and athleticism to stay up the middle. If that doesn’t work, my next stop for him would be center. Others think he could work at third, an outfield corner (why there and not center doesn’t make sense to me, but what do I know), or even shortstop if given enough reps. That kind of positional versatility (or uncertainty if you’re the negative sort) brings to mind a fairly obvious comp: Ben Zobrist. Zobrist’s unusual place in today’s game — players capable of playing well at so many different defensive spots are a rarity, plus he’s a really late-bloomer who has exceeded even the loftiest expectations scouts may have once had for him — make him a hard player to comp anybody to, but here we are. Feel free to stick with Brantley as a possible outcome if you find Zobrist objectionable.

As for Bregman, my comp on him was a better pro version of Aaron Hill. That’s potentially a very valuable player. A new one that I’ve heard from somebody smarter than myself in the game since publishing the original piece containing the Hill 2.0 comp is Howie Kendrick. My Swanson comp is the one I have the least amount of confidence in, but I’ll repeat it anyway: the shortstop version of Brett Gardner. Just going off those comparisons alone, it’s pretty obvious why Happ, Swanson, and Bregman are all battling back and forth to be the first position player off the board this June.

One of the best reasons I have for keeping up the site year after year is the enjoyment I get out of building a larger scouting database that allows for player comparisons over the years that highlight individual growth and development. I have the terrible memory of a man twice my age or whatever animal is the opposite of an elephant (a bee hummingbird?), so I often forget that I’ve seen a player before unless I consult my notes first. This upcoming draft will be the seventh I’ve covered with this site, so you’ll forgive me if things start to blend in just a bit by now. This is all a long way of saying that both Bregman and Swanson have been on the radar for years, so it’s worth checking to see what kind of prospects they were once upon a time. Unsurprisingly, the two were ranked very, very closely here as high school seniors. Bregman, the “gifted natural hitter” out of New Mexico who was “talented at all defensive spots” who “wowed me with his hitting ability,” ranked as the 2012 MLB Draft’s 62nd best hitting prospect according to this very site. Swanson, the “good athlete” with “good defensive tools” out of Georgia, ranked 75th. The only HS hitters that fell in between the two of them are familiar names: Bralin Jackson, Ty Moore, Skye Bolt, Brett Phillips, and AJ Simcox. Jackson and Phillips have both flashed ability at the pro level (especially Phillips), and Moore, Bolt, and Simcox all will be in the top ten round mix this summer. The highest ranked hitters before getting to Bregman on that list still in school, by the way: CJ Hinojosa (7), David Thompson (26), Braden Bishop (51), and Rhett Wiseman (55).

(I’m not sure where else to put this in this already too-long missive, but re-reading my notes on Bregman as a high school prospect makes me really want to see him tried at catcher again. I honestly think it could work. It’s doubtful any team would have the guts to take him as high as you’d need to and then risk losing his bat with a position switch, but if he falls to the late first round or beyond then I think the risk/reward of such a move could be worth it. What I wish more than anything would be for LSU to throw him back there for a few games this year, but the odds of that happening are even less than Jonathan Papelbon getting a poem published in the New Yorker. I can’t help but think that Bregman was tried as a catcher sooner rather than later as a college player in an alternate universe somewhere and everything worked out as he became Buster Posey 2.0 and almost all of this post would have been rendered irrelevant as there’d be no doubt that Bregman would be the odds-on favorite to go 1-1 this June…)

Happ is the obvious omission from the high school tangent above. I completely missed on him, a fact that would bother me even if he didn’t play his high school ball just a few short hours across the state of Pennsylvania from where I currently sit. Not happy about being late to a guy in my own backyard, though I take some solace in the fact that there doesn’t appear to be much public evidence of anybody liking him all that much back then. I really like the Brantley comparison and can see the argument for wanting to make him into a next generation model of Ben Zobrist. The Zobrist comp got me thinking, which is always a dangerous thing, so then I began trying to imagine a Cincinnati player who can play multiple positions and all of a sudden these numbers emerged from out of thin air…

.330/.451/.511 – 81 BB/70 K – 45/56 SB – 489 PA
.358/.439/.533 – 80 BB/56 K – 63/74 SB – 831 PA

Top is Happ to date. Bottom is current Pirate and former Bearcat Josh Harrison’s career numbers while at Cincinnati. I chalk the similarities here up more to coincidence than anything, but you have to admit the similarities are striking. Happ is bigger, stronger, faster, and more disciplined as a hitter. His offensive upside is still considerably more impressive than Harrison’s, outstanding 2014 season (which may or may not be an outlier when it’s all said and done) notwithstanding. Defensively, the comparison might have some merit has Harrison has defied the expectations of many by working himself into a solid second/third baseman and a passable corner outfielder. That’s clearly something for the athletic and, in my view, more than capable Happ to aspire towards.

Now for a quick recess that demonstrates why I don’t post nearly as often as I’d like. I tend to think of myself as being a fairly focused individual, but once I get going down a baseball-related rabbit hole there’s really no coming back until I’ve at least fired off an email about my findings to my always patient brother. I wouldn’t say I’m easily distracted, but it all started with Happ, then Harrison, then another Cincinnati great…

.352/.491/.717 – 63 BB/27 K – 285 PA

That’s what Kevin Youkilis did as a junior at Cincinnati in 2000. That June he went UNDRAFTED. It took basically doing the whole thing again (.405/.529/.714 with 59 BB/21 K in 273 PA) to get taken with the 243rd overall pick after his senior year. He got $12,000 to sign. What’s craziest to me is that, bad body and an acknowledgement that less emphasis was placed on plate discipline back then aside, a guy could hit 37 homers in his last two combined years of college and still not crack the top 200 picks. I know the offensive climate was different, both professionally and in college ball, but a guy could be four hundred pounds and hit with the bat wedged in between his legs and I’d still advocate taking him awfully high if he showed power like that. Youkilis hit a homer in every 11.6 at bat those last two years at Cincinnati. That’s positively Ruthian…literally. It’s an apples and oranges comparison, but, as a big leaguer, Ruth hit a home run every 11.76 AB. Mark McGwire is tops on the big league career list at 10.61. That’s wild. Even wilder were McGwire’s junior season numbers at USC. Good gravy. The man hit .387/.488/.871 with 32 home runs in 67 games. He socked a dinger once every 7.8 AB. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Barry Bonds hit .368/.447/.713 with 23 homers in 62 games (10.7 HR/AB) as a junior. Finally, because I’m a native Philadelphian and I couldn’t find Ryan Howard’s college power numbers in my exhaustive three minutes of frantic Google searching, in three years at UCLA, Chase Utley hit .342/.401/.620 with a home run every 14.1 at bat. His junior year was pretty nasty: .382/.430/.689 with 27 BB/35 K (and 10 HBP) and 15/16 SB.

I know I said finally already, but, I’m a native Philadelphia and therefore required to subject myself to one of the city’s all time “what if” scenarios, let’s look at Mr. JD Drew. His junior season…

.455/.599/.961 – 84 BB/37 K – 32/42 SB – 317 PA

That’s a home run every 7.5 at bat. Eric Valent, the guy the Phillies got the next year with the comp pick for not signing Drew, hit .336/.430/.800 (36 BB/37 K) his junior year. That’s 30 homers in 57 games. One home run for every 7.3 at bats. For ERIC VALENT. College baseball used to be so weird.

Last one of these (I think): .463/.555/.879 with 57 BB and 29 K in 317 PA (9.9 AB/HR). That’s Buster Posey’s junior year. As a ridiculously athletic catcher (he played a solid shortstop in the series I saw him as a freshman) with minimal wear and tear on his knees. And Tampa still took Tim Beckham with the first overall pick. Alvarez, Hosmer, and Matusz were all defensible at the time, but Beckham was a reach then that has obviously grown into a massive disaster in hindsightWe know all too well that stats aren’t everything and Alvarez was a hugely hyped (deservedly so) power bat from a scouting standpoint, but his.  junior line of .317/.415/.593 with 28 BB/28 K in 195 PA is dwarfed by Posey’s. A little nuts that in that head-to-head comparison there really wasn’t a ton of pro-Posey buzz at the time. Says more about what kind of player people believed Alvarez was going to be than anything else, I think. Wish my site had been around back then so that I could have Posey as the clear number one overall prospect. Alvarez and Posey weren’t the only head-to-head college hitting comparables you could have pointed to that season. Yonder Alonso hit .370/.527/.777 with 76 BB/35 K in 292 AB (8.8 AB/HR). Justin Smoak hit .383/.498/.757 with 57 BB/28 K in 295 PA (10.2 AB/HR). I’d love to watch a 30 for 30 on the 2008 MLB Draft. If they need a tighter focus then they could just keep in on that year’s class of college first basemen. Three in the first thirteen, five in the first eighteen, and six in the first twenty-three: Alonso, Smoak, Wallace, Cooper, Davis, Dykstra.

Last one for real (probably): Anthony Rendon got on base 51% of the time as a college player at Rice. A .510 OBP in 886 PA. Insane. He’s the only player listed to experience life in the BBCOR and bad ball era, and even then it was only for his final season. I’ll repeat: college baseball used to be weird.

* I’m not an endnote guy, but I really wanted to get back to this without further cluttering up what already figured to be a meandering train of thought kind of piece. All things otherwise equal, I think I’d actually argue that a shortstop prospect holds more value than a catching prospect, despite what we know about positional adjustments and scarcity. The logic is fairly straightforward: unless you’re 100% sure the prospect will stick behind the plate, you have to be prepared for a switch to a position that will almost certainly end up on the negative side of the positional adjustment ledger. Most (not all, but most) former catchers move to first base or a corner outfield spot. Most former shortstops, however, move, well, wherever they darn well please. Major League Baseball as we know it is a game of former shortstops. If you’re not able to hack it at short, the first moves are often to other positive value positions such as second base, third base, and center field. Given the choice of two otherwise equally talented big league shortstop and catcher, I’d take the catcher. Given the choice of two otherwise equally talented amateur shortstop and catcher, I’ll roll the dice on the shortstop. Goes back to the personal preference thing I mentioned earlier.

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Vanderbilt

JR RHP Walker Buehler (2015)
JR RHP Carson Fulmer (2015)
rJR LHP Philip Pfeifer (2015)
SO LHP John Kilichowski (2015)
JR RHP Tyler Ferguson (2015)
JR OF/RHP Kyle Smith (2015)
JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson (2015)
JR 3B Xavier Turner (2015)
JR OF Rhett Wiseman (2015)
rJR 1B Zander Wiel (2015)
JR 2B/SS Tyler Campbell (2015)
SO OF/1B Bryan Reynolds (2016)
SO C Jason Delay (2016)
SO OF/INF Nolan Rogers (2016)
SO RHP Hayden Stone (2016)
SO LHP Ben Bowden (2016)
rFR RHP Jordan Sheffield (2016)
SO C Karl Ellison (2016)
SO RHP/LHP Aubrey McCarty (2016)
rFR OF/INF Tyler Green (2016)
rFR OF Drake Parker (2016)
SO OF/2B Ro Coleman (2016)
FR 3B/SS Will Toffey (2016)
FR OF Jeren Kendall (2017)
FR RHP Brendan Spagnuolo (2017)
FR SS Liam Sabino (2017)
FR RHP Joey Abraham (2017)
FR RHP Matt Ruppenthal (2017)
FR RHP Collin Snider (2017)
FR RHP Kyle Wright (2017)
FR C Tristan Chari (2017)
FR 3B Joey Mundy (2017)

If JR RHP Walker Buehler, JR RHP Carson Fulmer, JR SS Dansby Swanson, JR RHP Tyler Ferguson, and JR OF Rhett Wiseman were your favorite big league team’s top five prospects heading into the season, I think you’d feel all right. Brewers, Angels, Tigers, Marlins (this year), and Rays fans know all too well what I’m talking about there. Buehler wasn’t in Keith Law”s final top 100 prospects back in 2012 and he ranked 50th on Baseball America’s list. Here, however, Buehler came in at 28th with the following text accompaniment:

28. RHP Walker Buehler (Henry Clay HS, Kentucky): classic case of a plus pitchability arm who one day wakes up to big league quality stuff; his upper-80s FB (91-92 peak) has jumped to a steady 90-94, peaking 95-96; best offsped pitch is an above-average 76-78 CB with plus upside, one of the best of its kind in the class – even more effective when he throws it a little harder (78-82); third pitch is a straight CU with tumble that at times is his best offering; hardly going out on a limb, but Buehler is one of my favorite prep arms in this year’s class: smarts, three big league pitches, and repeatable mechanics all add up to a potential quality big league starter; 6-1, 165 pounds

Since then all Buehler has done is dominate the SEC, add a second plus breaking ball (80-85 SL) and further refined his mechanics, command, and pitchability. The only thing he hasn’t done since his high school days is grow. For some teams this could present a problem, but I don’t see anything in his delivery (to say nothing of his awesome athleticism) to knock him for standing in at his present height and weight of 6-1, 160 pounds. What stands out to me above all else about Buehler’s progression over the years is the first line in the quoted section above. Young pitchers are probably too easily categorized as “pitchers” or “throwers” at an early age. Being a pitcher who is called a pitcher should not be newsworthy, but many use it as a shorthand for praising a guy’s command, smarts, and, at times, offspeed stuff while knocking his velocity. Calling a pitcher a thrower has a more obvious pejorative tone; throwers can do just that (often quite hard), but do so without understanding many of the nuances of what it truly takes to get more advanced hitters out. My favorite pitching prospects are the guys who don’t have the knockout fastballs at an early age, but develop it in their late-teens. Throwing in the mid- to upper-80s is more than enough to get even most good high school hitters out, but short fastballs like that get exposed against bigger programs and on the showcase circuit. When a stacked lineup is staring you in the face, you have to learn to be crafty and think along with the hitters by putting emphasis on the art of changing speeds, pitching backwards (more opportunities to throw offspeed stuff), and relying on refining command. If you just so happen to one day wake up and find your arm is now capable of throwing 91 MPH, then 93 MPH, then finally mid-90s heat, so much the better. The skills that you relied on before won’t disappear; if you use it wisely, you’ve only added another weapon to your arsenal.

Beyond his smarts, pitchability, command, athleticism, and groundball tendencies, Buehler sticks out to me for having two legitimate, distinct above-average to plus breaking balls. They can run into each other at times — I’ve seen an unhealthy amount of baseball in my life and consider myself reasonably bright, but distinguishing between curves, sliders, and even cutters isn’t a personal strength — especially when they are both in the low-80 MPH range, but there’s enough separation between his mostly upper-70s curve (77-83, really) and his “hard CB” from high school (then 78-82) that is now a fully formed 80-85 slider that both get swings and misses. I will say that in my experience viewing him and talking to smarter people who have seen him way more, the two pitches don’t often seem to be in that above-average to plus range within the same game. I’d like to chart a few of his starts to test the validity of this claim, but it’s been said to me that he’ll figure out which breaking ball is working early in the game and then lean on it almost exclusively as his breaker of choice throughout the game. The ability to spin two quality breaking balls on top of an impressive fastball (90-94, 96 peak) and average mid-80s sinking changeup that flashes much better on top of all of Buehler’s previous strengths and two arguable weaknesses (size and inconsistencies with his breaking balls) make him a difficult pitcher to find an instructive comparable player for. Some of the names I’ve tossed out as ceiling comparisons over the past few years include Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, and Julio Teheran. All of those work and don’t work for various reasons, I think. I also think I like Buehler so much as a prospect that I’m cool with dropping the Zack Greinke with a harder curve comp that’s been on my mind with him for a while now. It’s not meant to be a comparison we all get crazy carried away with — Greinke was already in the big leagues at Buehler’s current age, after all — but in terms of the total present prospect package of stuff, pitchability, build, and frame, I think it works very well.

Fulmer has had almost as much success as Buehler through two college seasons with their only significant difference coming in the former’s more common bouts of wildness. It’s not the kind of wildness that raises any kind of red flags, but rather something that falls somewhere between the typical developmental path of an electric young arm and the potential start of a long, fruitful run of being “effectively wild” from now until the day he retires. That aside, the biggest real question about Fulmer will be future big league role. I’d like to think I’ve long shown a willingness to allow players to play themselves from bigger roles (starting, up-the-middle defensive spots, etc.) to smaller roles, so it should be no shock that I’d run Fulmer out as a starter for as long as he shows he is capable of holding down the job in pro ball. A big part of believing in Fulmer as a starter is the fact that his stuff does not appear to appreciably suffer in longer outings. He has the three pitches he’ll need to go through lineups multiple times (mid-90s FB, honest 99 peak; plus low-80s breaking ball; mid-80s changeup with promise) and more than enough deception in his delivery to make him a tough matchup in almost any circumstance. There is some fair cause for concern that his delivery — I’m not expert on on these things and I mostly only care that it’s repeatable, but it’s rough enough that even I can see what the fuss is about — won’t allow him to hold up throwing 200+ innings a season. This isn’t the only reason why Buehler is universally regarded as the better prospect (see the silly amount of fawning I do over him above for more), but it’s a big one. Not all drafts are created equal, but I have a hard time imagining Fulmer falling too far on draft day one year after a very similar pitcher in Grant Holmes went 22nd overall.

Ferguson is sometimes the forgotten man when people discuss Vanderbilt’s awesome pitching. On just about any other staff in the country he’d be the unquestioned Friday night starter. The greater likelihood that he’ll remain in a rotation has me wondering if we’ll all look back on the pre-season draft rankings and wonder how he fell below Fulmer. I’m not sure I’m gutsy enough to make that call right now, but it’s super close. If Ferguson shows a better changeup (currently interesting but undeniably raw) than he has to date, I think the bandwagon will get very full, very quickly. He presently throws gas just like Buehler and Fulmer (90-95, 97 peak) with a pair of above-average breaking balls in his own right (above-average low- to mid-80s cut-SL and a mid- to upper-70s CB). He’s also the most conventionally looking big league starting pitcher of the trio (6-3, 225) with amusingly similar peripherals through two seasons, especially when looked through a park/schedule adjusted prism (7.71 K/9 and 3.51 BB/9 in year one; 7.60 K/9 and 3.51 BB/9 last year). Big, strong, and consistent with good stuff from a top flight program known for churning out good big league pitchers? What’s not to like? If he misses a few more bats and shows a little something extra with the changeup, he’s an easy first rounder.

Swanson broke out last season in a big, big way. His first real test at the college level was hardly a test at all as he hit .333/.411/.475 with 37 BB and 39 K in 282 AB. He also added 22 steals in 27 attempts for good measure. The numbers obviously speak for themselves, but it’s still nice when the scouting reports back it up. Swanson can really play. I’ll indirectly piggyback a bit on Baseball America’s Trea Turner (with less speed) comp and reuse one of my comps for Turner last year for Swanson. It actually fits a lot better now, so I don’t feel too bad going to the Brett Gardner well in back-to-back drafts. The package of athleticism, speed, defensive upside at a critical up-the-middle spot with an above-average hit tool and average-ish power (little less, probably) works out to a consistently above-average regular with the chance for stardom — certainly flashes of it — within reach.

There’s a bit of a gap between Vanderbilt’s (draft) class of 2015 and Wiseman, but that speaks to the strength of having four likely first round picks more so than any major deficits in Wiseman’s game. I’ve run into two interesting schools of thought about Wiseman while putting this together. The first, and I’ll admit that this was my initial view from the start, is that he’s still more tools than skills right now. The tools are quite strong, but the fact that they haven’t turned into the skills many expected by now gives some pause. Still, those tools that were clear to almost all going back to his high school days are still real and still worth getting excited about. The breakout could come any day now for him and when it does we’ll be looking at a potential first-division regular in the outfield. The opposing view believes that Wiseman’s development has gone as scripted and what we’re seeing right now is more or less what we’re going to get with him. He’s a great athlete and a far more cerebral hitter than given credit, but the tools were overstated across the board at the onset of his amateur career and now we’re seeing expectations for him correcting themselves based on what he really is. There really are no pluses in his game and no carrying tool that will help him rise above his future fourth outfielder station. I’m a believer that it’s always wise to bet on athletes having the light bulb turn on before too long, so count me in as still leaning closer to the former (and my original) position. I do understand the concerns about Wiseman potentially topping out as a “tweener” outfield prospect — he hasn’t shown the power yet to work in a corner, but that’s where he’s clearly best defensively — so going on the first day might be off the table. He’s still an intriguing blend of production (good, not mind-blowing) and tools (same) who could wind up a relative bargain if he slips much later than that. I could see him both being ranked and drafted in the same area that I had him listed (110th overall) out of Buckingham Browne & Nichols.

In any event, I don’t think Wiseman’s viewed by many as quite the prospect he was back in high school and a good part of that was the way many — me included — viewed his rawness, age, and relative inexperience as a New England high school product as positives. We all are guilty of assuming there are concretely meaningful patterns we can expect from prospect development and that all young players will continue to get better with age and experience. Development is not linear and can be wildly unpredictable. Some guys are as good as they are going to get at 17 while others don’t figure it out (unfortunately) until way after their physical peak. This speaks to the heart of what makes assessing and drafting amateurs so much fun. We’re all just trying to gather as much information on as many players as possible and then making the best possible guesses as to what we’ll wind up with.

Vanderbilt has good players beyond their special top five. rJR 1B Zander Wiel’s success in limited at bats in 2013 had me really excited to see what he could do with steady playing time in 2014. The results were more good than great, but I remain encouraged about his future. Like Wiseman, toolsy JR 3B Xavier Turner has held his own (and more, at times) in two years as a mainstay in the Commodores lineup. His offensive skill set doesn’t necessarily scream professional third baseman (more speed and gap power at present), but that doesn’t mean it won’t play at the next level. Also like Wiseman, I’d stick with Turner this year because it never hurts to bet on athleticism. He’s an elite athlete with the kind of strength and speed blend even a fine physical specimen such as myself can appreciate. It’s awful hard to top a college left side of the infield of Swanson and Turner…hopefully there’s some good news coming regarding the latter’s suspension that will make that infield a reality.

1/20/15 EDIT: SO LHP John Kilichowski is eligible for this year’s draft. FR 3B/SS Will Toffey is eligible for next year’s draft.