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Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie
Creighton rJR 1B Reagan Fowler
Butler rSO 2B Chris Maranto
St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos
Seton Hall SR 3B Kyle Grimm
Seton Hall JR OF Zack Weigel
St. John’s SR OF Zach Lauricella
Seton Hall JR OF Derek Jenkins
Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner
St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McCormick
Creighton rSR RHP Max Ising
Georgetown SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck
Xavier rJR RHP Adam Hall
Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie is a pro-level defensive player with enough bat speed, patience, and pop to work himself into a really good backup catcher/workable starting catcher profile. Georgetown JR C Nick Collins is right there with him, though it takes a little more projecting with his glove. On the bright side, his bat is generally regarded as the better of the two. I happen to think the bats are closer to a coin flip at this point, so that’s why the man with the more advanced glove (Rizzie) gets the nod as the top catcher here. While it’s no stunner that we’ve yet to have a Dan Rizzie – or any Rizzie, for that matter – play professional baseball, it took me by surprise (to the point I almost don’t believe my own exhaustive ninety seconds of research on the subject) that there doesn’t appear to have ever been a “Nick Collins” or any variation thereof to ever play affiliated ball. As if I needed another reason to want to see Nick Collins have a big year…
Creighton rJR 1B Regan Fowler is an impressive young hitter who can more than hold his own at first base with the leather. I say it so often that I imagine the dozen or so regular readers of the site skim right over it by now, but the dearth of power bats in this year’s college class will push up players who can actually hit higher than most currently project. Fowler’s track record with the stick and positive scouting reviews as a hitter could make him a sneaky top ten round pick player. That might be a little rich based on recent history – as a draft prospect he reminds me some of Houston’s Casey Grayson, a 21st round pick last year – but his shot at pro ball is coming.
Fowler isn’t the only Big East big bat worth tracking this spring. Villanova JR 1B Max Beermann has the big power befitting a 6-7, 225 pound man. I’ve seen a lot of him already, but look forward to seeing him man first base for the Wildcats in what could be his final college season this year. Without typecasting him too much, his issues at the plate are fairly typical of most long-levered young power hitters. I’ve heard a lot of firsthand buzz about him working hard to clean up his approach (both physical and mental) as a hitter, so I’m higher on him as a draft prospect than perhaps his results to date alone would merit. The only knock on Beermann at the moment says more about me than him. Since seeing him play for the first time a few years back in beautiful Plymouth Meeting, PA, I’ve had intermittent nightmares about a cold, bleak future where Chris Berman is, against all logical odds, still calling the HR Derby. We all die a little inside the first time he unleashes his “Hey” nickname as the poor, unsuspecting slugger goes yard. I’m sorry, Max Beermann; you deserved better.
Seton Hall SR 1B Sal Annunziata gets points for his above-average raw power, underrated athleticism, and potential defensive versatility as a solid glove at first who can moonlight behind the plate and in the outfield. I feel bad riffing on back-to-back player names, but I can’t resist: if you can guess where Sal Annunziata was born and raised, you’ll get free copies of my nonexistent draft book for life. Hint: he’s not from Montgomery, Alabama.
I’m not quite as excited about the rest of the infielders in the conference, but there are still some nice potential late-round prospects here, many of whom have more support from those I’ve talked to than me personally. That’s typically a good sign for a player’s future. St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos stands out as a steady glove with some upside as a hitter. Seton Hall SR SS DJ Ruhlman has a lot of fans listed among those who have seen him most often. Xavier rSO SS Andre Jernigan is in the same boat. On the right side of the infield you have Butler rSO 2B Chris Maranto (average or better hit tool, might be able to play some SS professionally) and Georgetown SR 2B Ryan Busch (similar hit tool, average arm/speed).
Seton Hall JR OF Derek Jenkins has the type of carrying tool (plus speed) to get drafted higher than I currently believe. He’s also a more than capable center field defender who has shown flashes at the plate. His teammate JR OF Zack Weigel is another interesting glove in center, but with enough of a power edge over Jenkins that I think he’s currently the better bet (by a razor thin margin) as a pro. I understand the appeal of Jenkins, however, and acknowledge his looming breakout potential.
On the mound, the Big East offers an array of potential bullpen pieces of varying quality. I’ve stuck with Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner through the good (flashes of dominance in 2013) and the bad (consistently inconsistent control, 2014 season wiped out due to injury), so might as well stick it out to the end. At his best he has the look of a really good big league reliever, flashing a mid-90s fastball and an above-average slider. His stature (5-11, 180 pounds) will turn some teams off, but he more than makes up for his lack of physicality with some of the best athleticism of any pitcher in his class. He’s an arm strength/athleticism gamble at this point, but one I feel comfortable with considering the lack of relative upside among his Big East pitching brethren. His teammate at Xavier, rJR RHP Adam Hall, could make a claim as having comparable upside due to his 6-6, 200 pound frame and fastball that has hit as high as 94. St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McCormick and Georgetown SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck are more in the reliability over flashiness subgroup, but both have the requisite history of missed bats and good enough stuff to make a mark on pro ball. McCormick in particular appeals to me as a sturdily built three pitch potential fifth starter/middle reliever type.
I couldn’t write about the Big East without mentioning one of my favorite stories in college baseball. Creighton rSR RHP Max Ising has taken the long path from junior college reliever to potential MLB draft pick, missing bats and defying the odds at every step along the way. Guys his size (5-9, 190 pounds) don’t often possess big league quality heat (94 peak). In addition to his fastball, Ising throws a pair of useful offspeed pitches (slider/changeup) that can both lead to strikeouts on any given outing. We already know college relievers get pushed down on draft day and we know that righthanders under 6’0” face an uphill battle in convincing pro teams to give them a shot, but if Ising continues to strike batters out at the rate he’s shown as a college player…well, you never know.
2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting
- Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie
- Creighton rJR 1B Reagan Fowler
- Georgetown JR C Nick Collins
- St. John’s SR SS Jarred Mederos
- Butler rSO 2B/SS Chris Maranto
- Seton Hall SR SS DJ Ruhlman
- Xavier rSO SS/3B Andre Jernigan
- Xavier SR C/1B Derek Hasenbeck
- Seton Hall JR OF Zack Weigel
- Villanova JR 1B/RHP Max Beermann
- Seton Hall SR 1B/OF Sal Annunziata
- Seton Hall JR OF Derek Jenkins
- St. John’s SR OF Zach Lauricella
- St. John’s SR SS/2B Bret Dennis
- Seton Hall SR 3B Kyle Grimm
- Georgetown SR 2B Ryan Busch
- St. John’s SR 2B/3B Robert Wayman
- St. John’s JR OF Alex Caruso
- Xavier rSR OF Patrick Jones
- St. John’s SR 1B Matt Harris
- Xavier rSR 1B/OF Brian Bruening
2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching
- Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner
- St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McCormick
- Creighton rSR RHP Max Ising
- Georgetown SR LHP Matt Hollenbeck
- Xavier rJR RHP Adam Hall
- St. John’s JR LHP Alex Katz
- Creighton JR RHP Taylor Elman
- Creighton rSR RHP Jack Rogalla
- St. John’s rJR RHP Joey Christopher
- Villanova rSR RHP Maximo Almonte
- Creighton rJR RHP Tommy Strunc
- St. John’s JR RHP Michael Sheppard
- St. John’s JR LHP Matt Clancy
- St. John’s JR RHP Thomas Hackimer
- Villanova rSR RHP Chris Haggarty
- Villanova SR RHP Kagan Richardson
- Seton Hall JR RHP Luke Cahill