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Most Intriguing Pre-Season 2013 MLB Draft Prospect(s)
- JR RHP Drew Van Orden
- rSO 1B Chris Marconcini
- SR C Jeff Kremer
- JR SS Angelo LaBruna
Van Orden is currently my favorite draft-eligible pitcher on the Duke staff. He has the two-pitch reliever stuff (low-90s FB, low-80s SL), size (6-4, 200 pounds), and strong K-rate (8.47 K/9 in 2012) that gives off that aura of future mid- to late-round middle relief prospect.
Marconcini missed the entire 2012 season after tearing his ACL, but hopes to return strong as a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore. His true sophomore season was a success by any measure (.301/.404/.490) as he showed above-average raw power and the ability to defend his position with relative ease. All caveats about him being locked into first base apply as any hope of him moving positions isn’t all that realistic considering his size (6-5, 230 pounds) and recent injury.
Compared to Marconini, both Kremer and LaBruna give you more in terms of positional value, but neither has quite the same power stick. Kremer has long been a personal favorite due to his approach (66 BB to 51 K the past two seasons) and steady presence behind the plate. His lack of raw power has always limited his upside, but I like him as a late-round organizational catcher prospect. Those who saw LaBruna this summer are convinced he’s primed for a big junior season. With the dearth of quality middle infielders at the college level, the opportunity to rise way up draft boards is certainly there. He does do a lot of those classic utility infielder things well – he’s patient at the plate (more walks than strikeouts in 2012) and possesses a good, versatile glove – but the development of the bat will be the difference between top ten round consideration and a return trip to Durham for a senior season.
I’ve heard reasonably positive things about both JR 3B Jordan Betts and JR C Mike Rosenfeld. I’m not quite ready to hang the draftable tag on either player just yet, but the best guys in their area know their names. I liked SR RHP Chase Bebout a lot at this time last year, but his performance fell off a cliff in his junior season. We all know there’s a lot more to evaluating amateur talent than quickly perusing numbers, but going from a 2011 K/9 of 9.93 to a 2012 K/9 of 4.08 is a Soviet Union sized red flag. I’ve also heard some nice things about JR RHP Robert Huber, which is a nice change of pace considering he’s a barely 6-foot tall righty with less than overwhelming stuff. Again, I wouldn’t call any of this group draftable at this point, but they do qualify as names to know just in case.
2014 MLB Draft Name(s) to Know
- SO RHP Andrew Istler
If we ignored draft year, Istler would rank atop these rankings. He’s Duke’s best prospect and a really exciting follow for the next two seasons. What he lacks in size (5-11, 170 pounds), he makes up for with above-average stuff (FB, SL, CU could all be average or better in time), rapidly improving command, and ample athleticism. His numbers last year (6.23 K/9 | 1.56 BB/9 | 3.44 FIP | 52 IP) were quite impressive for a freshman in the ACC. Other 2014 arms of varying intrigue include SO LHP Remy Janco, SO RHP Sarkis Ohanian, SO RHP Nick Piscotty, and, the favorite of the bunch, SO LHP Trent Swart.
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