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2018 MLB Draft Profile – Duke

OF Griffin Conine is hitting .211 through eleven games as of this writing. This is normally the time where you expect me to bring up how there’s more to life than batting average (true) and an eleven game sample is not something to get worked up over (true, again). Instead, let’s go the other way. In fact, let’s go the other way completely. Conine hitting .211 at this stage of the season is important. Not only that, it’s a good thing. Hear me out. For most hitters, hitting .211, small sample or not, would be a disaster. However, Conine’s .211 is far from an empty .211. His complete triple slash: .211/.354/.421. He’s still walking at an impressive clip (just about one per game) and his ISO is north of .200. The mini-lesson is here is that Conine is such a damn good hitter that he can provide offensive value even when the hits aren’t falling. Conine can be an above-average hitter even when batting .211. Imagine him at .250. Or .275. Or even .300. When you consider many, myself included, think Conine has a plus hit tool then that means big league seasons hitting .280+ could very well be in his future. Give me that with his plus raw power (25+ homers), average to above-average speed (closer to average raw, but it definitely plays up), the athleticism and arm strength to excel in right field…yeah, I’m pretty happy with that. Perfect Game has mentioned two-thirds of the Mets outfield as possible comps (Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce) while I’ve gotten “better Phil Plantier” as a possibility. The Conforto comparison is particularly interesting when you look at their respective sophomore seasons…

.328/.447/.526 – 41 BB/47 K – 6/11 SB
.298/.425/.546 – 41 BB/45 K – 9/9 SB

Conforto on top, Conine on bottom. Pretty close! Conforto went tenth overall in 2014. That may be a little rich for Conine in this particular class, but it’s not crazy. As one of this class’s cleanest prospects — seriously, there’s no real hole in his game to pick at unless you want to ding him for not being able to play center — Conine offers some of the same high floor certainty that makes Seth Beer appealing to me. High floor, good shot at being an above-average regular, and a chance of a star peak. Pretty, pretty good.

Also good: OF Jimmy Herron. I love watching Herron play baseball and think he’s one of the draft’s best outfield talents. If I had to nitpick, I guess I’d question whether or not his arm is consistently strong and accurate enough to play regularly in center field. Besides that, he’s golden. Herron can run, defend, and, most importantly, hit. He makes a ton of quality contact with enough pop to keep opposing pitching honest and a discerning eye that has led him to a very comforting career (so far) 66 BB/63 K mark. Herron’s final ranking on this site is very likely going to wind up higher than anywhere else on the internet. He’s really good.

OF Kennie Taylor has many of the same strengths (speed, CF range, athleticism) and weaknesses (arm strength) as Herron, but is a step behind him as a hitter, especially in the plate discipline department. His tool set may be too good for teams to pass up this June, but I think his game looks even better as a potential 2019 senior-sign. Up-the-middle defenders who can run tend to get more benefit of the doubt as seniors since it’s fairly easy to envision roles for them in pro ball.

I love SS/3B Zack Kone almost as much as I love Herron. His approach is a definite work in progress — though early returns are promising — but the physical gifts are all there. He’s a no-doubt shortstop with enough arm and speed to play the position well in the pros. As a hitter, he’s begun to make the leap as he’s begun to find more of his natural power while fighting through longer, better at bats so far this spring. His defense gives him a high floor (utility infielder?) while his offensive upside is enough to make him a potential starter in the big leagues. It’s repeated all the time, but it’s true: with very few exceptions, college shortstops who can remain at the position in pro ball are a dying breed. Kone is an exception.

C Chris Proctor is a nice little sleeper — in as much as any starting ACC catcher can be a sleeper — who doesn’t wow as a defender, but gets the job done behind the dish. Same can be said for him as a hitter, though a quality start to 2018 could suggest an expected power uptick coming to fruition is more real than not. It doesn’t add up to a potential starter for me, but there are some big league tools to work with all the same.

3B/RHP Jack Labosky has long been a favorite, but I’ve cooled on him a bit now that it’s becoming clearer his approach is always going to be a little more “grip it and rip it” than I personally like. That doesn’t make Labosky a lesser prospect on the whole, just less appealing to me personally. I’d still go to bat for his athleticism, power, and defensive talent even though he’s more of a solid mid- to late-round candidate than a sleeper top ten round senior-sign pick like I may have once thought. 2B/SS Max Miller is a sensational defensive player who can’t hit. I don’t know if the former will outweigh the latter for some teams, but my hunch is probably not. 2B/OF Peter Zyla‘s positional versatility makes him a little interesting, especially if a team is willing to try him behind the plate again.

LHP Chris McGrath is a wild lefty with a nice enough fastball/slider combo. LHP Mitch Stallings has a touch less velocity (87-91 as opposed to McGrath peaking at 93), but has a more well-rounded arsenal including a solid 79-81 changeup. RHP Al Pesto was great in 2016, but that feels like a long time ago for the junior pitcher. Jimmy’s nephew (probably) has enough of a fastball/slider mix to at least get in the conversation as a potential relief prospect if he can get back on the mound. RHP Hunter Davis has similar stuff, but I like him a little less since he offers no lame Bob’s Burgers joke for me to make. RHP Ethan DeCaster is a ton of fun as a sidearmer with a long track record of success as a Creighton Bluejay. I can’t speak to his stuff (yet!), but he’s definitely a player worth investigating this spring.

Years of waiting for RHP/SS Ryan Day to break out might finally be paying off. The senior pitcher is off to a sizzling start so far in 2018. I’ve long been a believer in his athleticism (he was once a standout defender at short with as impressive an arm for the position as you’ll find) and his fastball/slider one-two punch is among my favorite of its kind in his class. Day’s fastball doesn’t have premium velocity at 87-92 (94 peak), but the movement he routinely gets on it makes it a plus pitch. His slider is more of a cut-slider and is a really tough pitch for opposing hitters to square up. At 82-85, it’s already an average offering with plus upside as he works to refine it. A fastball known as much for movement and command as velocity + a knockout secondary pitch + elite athleticism = an easy Baseball Draft Report FAVORITE.

SR LHP Chris McGrath (2018)
SR LHP Mitch Stallings (2018)
JR RHP Al Pesto (2018)
JR RHP Hunter Davis (2018)
rSR RHP Ethan DeCaster (2018)
SR RHP/SS Ryan Day (2018)
SR 3B/RHP Jack Labosky (2018)
JR OF Jimmy Herron (2018)
JR OF Griffin Conine (2018)
JR OF Kennie Taylor (2018)
JR SS/3B Zack Kone (2018)
JR C Chris Proctor (2018)
SR 2B/SS Max Miller (2018)
SR 2B/OF Peter Zyla (2018)
SR 1B/OF Michael Smicicklas (2018)
SO LHP Graeme Stinson (2019)
SO LHP Adam Laskey (2019)
SO RHP Coleman Williams (2019)
SO LHP Bill Chillari (2019)
SO RHP Cam Kovachik (2019)
SO RHP/1B Matt Mervis (2019)
SO C Chris Dutra (2019)
SO OF Chase Creek (2019)
SO 3B Erikson Nichols (2019)
FR RHP Bryce Jarvis (2020)
FR RHP Josh Nifong (2020)
FR OF Steve Mann (2020)
FR C/1B Mike Rothenberg (2020)
FR 1B Chris Crabtree (2020)
FR 1B Joey Loperfido (2020)

2017 MLB Draft Report – Duke

Lefthanders that stand 6-10, 230 pounds are always a lot of fun, especially when they attack hitters from a really funky angle with more power (85-90, 92 peak) than most sidearmers we see. That’s James Ziemba. Karl Blum is plenty big in his own right — not 6-10, 230, but 6-5, 210 ain’t nothing to mess with — with quality stuff (88-93 heat, average or better 79-81 breaking ball) and little to no idea where anything is going. Chris McGrath is a good arm (93 peak, good SL) that needs innings. Mitch Stallings can get it up to 90 MPH with a nice 79-81 changeup. Luke Whitten is like a much smaller Ziemba in that he’s got an effective fastball (87-93) and slider (low-80s) combo that comes at you from a much lower slot than the norm. I have nothing on Nick Hendrix — a rarity for an accomplished fifth-year college player at a major university — but his peripherals are always good so maybe there’s something there. If you’re scoring at home, that’s six potentially draftable pitchers for Duke with five of them bringing it from the left side.

The seventh intriguing 2017 arm for Duke might be my favorite of the bunch. What Ryan Day lacks in stature (5-11, 165) he more than makes up for in arm strength (90-94 FB) and athleticism. I’ll admit to some trepidation with him as his general effectiveness has consistently overshot his mediocre peripherals, but two-way talents like Day are often guilty of blooming later rather than sooner. He’s one to watch for sure. An eighth intriguing 2017 arm is also Duke’s first intriguing 2017 bat. Two-way Jack Labosky is either a third baseman or a righthanded pitcher depending on where you stand. Like fellow ACC two-way standout Donovan Casey at Boston College, Labosky’s best bet in the pros is on the mound. Based on a quick check with some smarter people I’ve asked that’s a bit of a minority view, but I’m sticking with it for now. While I appreciate Labosky’s thump and defensive prowess at the hot corner, I think his sinking fastball (89-90 MPH) and diving change (79-80 MPH, flashes plus) make him a better long term bet as a pitcher. That’s an opinion highly subject to change with three months of daylight separating us from draft day.

Maybe it’s me overvaluing versatility, but I can’t help be a little intrigued at Peter Zyla and his history at second, outfield, and catcher. He could be a useful 2018 senior-sign if teams are less enamored with versatility than I am. My notes on Jalen Phillips include the question “time to bail?” so you might have some clue as to where I’m leaning on him. The long-awaited breakout simply hasn’t happened…yet. Time is clearly running out for the redshirt-senior. In a similar vein, Justin Bellinger felt poised for a monster 2017 after making a ton of progress as a hitter from his freshman to sophomore seasons. So far, not so much. Still, it’s way too early to give up on him; quite the opposite, in fact, as he remains one of the most appealing first base prospects in this college class, early struggles or not. Hard not to fall for his size, power, and underrated feel for hitting when he’s at his best.

As much as I try to stay away from publicly commenting on future classes — not for the lame claim it’s “too early” that others use, but for the fact these already long pieces would be untenably long — I can’t help but throw a little love Jimmy Herron‘s way. Herron, an early FAVORITE for 2018, is legit. Plus runner, plus arm strength, intriguing power upside, great approach…it’s a really appealing package. From both a tools and performance standpoint, Griffin Conine isn’t all that far behind. Future looks great for the Blue Devils outfield.

*****

rJR RHP Karl Blum (2017)
rJR LHP James Ziemba (2017)
rSR LHP Nick Hendrix (2017)
JR LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
SR LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2017)
JR LHP Mitch Stallings (2017)
JR LHP Luke Whitten (2017)
JR RHP/SS Ryan Day (2017)
JR 3B/RHP Jack Labosky (2017)
JR 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
rSR OF/1B Jalen Phillips (2017)
JR 2B/SS Max Miller (2017)
JR 2B/OF Peter Zyla (2017)
JR OF Michael Smicicklas (2017)
SO RHP Al Pesto (2018)
SO RHP Hunter Davis (2018)
SO OF Griffin Conine (2018)
SO OF Kennie Taylor (2018)
SO OF Jimmy Herron (2018)
SO SS Zack Kone (2018)
SO SS Zack Kesterson (2018)
SO C Chris Proctor (2018)
FR LHP Adam Laskey (2019)
FR LHP Graeme Stinson (2019)
FR RHP Coleman Williams (2019)
FR LHP Bill Chillari (2019)
FR RHP Cam Kovachik (2019)
FR RHP/1B Matt Mervis (2019)
FR C Chris Dutra (2019)
FR OF Chase Creek (2019)
FR 3B Erikson Nichols (2019)

2016 MLB Draft – ACC

If you’re one of the small handful of daily readers, you can go ahead and skip this post. You’ve already seen it. Not that you needed my permission or anything, but you’re free to pass all the same. The intent here is to get all of the college content in one place, so below you’ll find everything I’ve written about the 2016 class of MLB Draft prospects currently playing in the ACC. Then I’ll have a college baseball master list post that will centralize everything I’ve written about the 2016 MLB Draft college class all in one place. It’s a rare bit of inspired organizational posting around here, so I’m trying to strike while motivated…

ACC Overview Part 1
ACC Overview Part 2
Boston College

Clemson
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Miami
North Carolina State
Notre Dame
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – ACC Follow List

Boston College 

JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw (2015)
JR 3B/SS Joe Cronin (2015)
SR 2B/SS Blake Butera (2015)
SR RHP John Gorman (2015)
SR LHP Nick Poore (2015)
JR RHP Jeff Burke (2015)
JR LHP Jesse Adams (2015)
SO RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
SO RHP Mike King (2016)
SO C Nick Sciortino (2016)
SO SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
SO RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2016)

Clemson

JR LHP Matthew Crownover (2015)
JR LHP Zack Erwin (2015)
JR RHP Clate Schmidt (2015)
rSO RHP Wales Toney (2015)
rJR RHP Patrick Andrews (2015)
rSR RHP Kevin Pohle (2015)
rSR RHP Jake Long (2015)
JR RHP Brady Koerner (2015)
rSR RHP Clay Bates (2015)
rSO RHP Garrett Lovorn (2015)
JR RHP/3B Jackson Campana (2015)
JR OF Steven Duggar (2015)
SR OF Tyler Slaton (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Andrew Cox (2015)
rSO OF Maleeke Gibson (2015)
JR SS/2B Tyler Krieger (2015)
SO C Chris Okey (2016)
SO LHP Pat Krall (2016)
SO 3B/SS Weston Wilson (2016)
SO SS/2B Eli White (2016)
SO LHP Alex Bostic (2016)
SO RHP Drew Moyer (2016)
rFR 3B Glenn Batson (2016)
rFR OF Reed Rohlman (2016)
FR OF KJ Bryant (2017)
FR LHP Charlie Barnes (2017)
FR OF Drew Wharton (2017)
FR OF Chase Pinder (2017)

Duke

JR RHP Michael Matuella (2015)
SR RHP Sarkis Ohanian (2015)
SR RHP Andrew Istler (2015)
SR LHP Trent Swart (2015)
rJR LHP Remy Janco (2015)
rJR RHP Conner Stevens (2015)
JR LHP Nick Hendrix (2015)
rSR LHP Dillon Haviland (2015)
rSO RHP James Marvel (2015)
JR RHP/SS Kenny Koplove (2015)
rSR C Mike Rosenfeld (2015)
rSO OF Jalen Phillips (2015)
SR 2B Andy Perez (2015)
SO RHP Bailey Clark (2016)
SO RHP Karl Blum (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2016)
SO C Cristian Perez (2016)
FR 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
FR LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
FR SS Ryan Day (2017)
FR 3B Jack Labosky (2017)
FR LHP Mitch Stallings (2017)

Florida State

JR OF DJ Stewart (2015)
rSR 1B Chris Marconcini (2015)
JR 2B/SS John Sansone (2015)
SR C Daniel De La Calle (2015)
SR OF Josh Delph (2015)
rJR RHP Mike Compton (2015)
SR LHP Bryant Holtmann (2015)
JR RHP/OF Jameis Winston (2015)
JR LHP Alex Diese (2015)
JR LHP Dylan Silva (2015)
SR LHP Billy Strode (2015)
SO RHP Taylor Blatch (2016)
SO LHP Alec Byrd (2016)
SO RHP Boomer Biegalski (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Ward (2016)
rFR RHP Ed Voyles (2016)
SO RHP Jim Voyles (2016)
SO OF/SS Ben DeLuzio (2016)
SO 1B/C Quincy Nieporte (2016)
SO C/OF Gage West (2016)
SO INF Hank Truluck (2016)
FR RHP Cobi Johnson (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Karp (2017)
FR RHP Drew Carlton (2017)
FR SS/3B Dylan Busby (2017)
FR SS/2B Taylor Walls (2017)
FR C/1B Darren Miller (2017)
FR OF/RHP Steven Wells (2017)

Georgia Tech

SR 1B/C AJ Murray (2015)
rJR OF Dan Spingola (2015)
JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez (2015)
rSO 1B Cole Miller (2015)
SR 2B/SS Thomas Smith (2015)
JR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2015)
SR RHP Cole Pitts (2015)
SO OF Ryan Peurifoy (2016)
SO RHP Zac Ryan (2016)
SO C Arden Pabst (2016)
SO OF Keenan Innis (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Brandon Gold (2016)
SO LHP Ben Parr (2016)
SO SS Connor Justus (2016)
FR OF/1B Kel Johnson (2017)
FR LHP Daniel Gooden (2017)
FR RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)

Louisville

JR RHP Kyle Funkhouser (2015)
rSO LHP Josh Rogers (2015)
rSO LHP Robert Strader (2015)
JR RHP/1B Anthony Kidston (2015)
SR 2B/SS Zach Lucas (2015)
JR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum (2015)
SR OF Michael White (2015)
SR SS/2B Sutton Whiting (2015)
SO RHP Zack Burdi (2016)
SO LHP Drew Harrington (2016)
SO RHP Jake Sparger (2016)
SO OF Corey Ray (2016)
SO 2B Nick Solak (2016)
rFR 3B/SS Blake Tiberi (2016)
rFR OF/C Ryan Summers (2016)
SO OF Colin Lyman (2016)
SO C Will Smith (2016)
rFR OF Mike White (2016)
FR LHP/1B Brendan McKay (2017)
FR SS Devin Hairston (2017)
FR RHP Lincoln Henzman (2017)
FR RHP Kade McClure (2017)
FR C/1B Colby Fritch (2017)

Miami

JR 3B/1B David Thompson (2015)
JR 3B/OF George Iskenderian (2015)
SR C Garrett Kennedy (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Chris Barr (2015)
JR OF Ricky Eusebio (2015)
JR SS/RHP Brandon Lopez (2015)
rJR LHP Andrew Suarez (2015)
JR LHP Thomas Woodrey (2015)
JR RHP Enrique Sosa (2015)
SO 1B/C Zack Collins (2016)
SO OF Willie Abreu (2016)
SO RHP/1B Derik Beauprez (2016)
SO OF Jacob Heyward (2016)
SO LHP Danny Garcia (2016)
SO RHP Bryan Garcia (2016)
SO SS Sebastian Diaz (2016)
SO 2B Johnny Ruiz (2016)
SO RHP Cooper Hammond (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Honiotes (2016)
FR OF Carl Chester (2017)
FR OF Justin Smith (2017)
FR LHP Michael Mediavilla (2017)
FR RHP Jesse Lepore (2017)
FR RHP Keven Pimentel (2017)
FR LHP Luke Spangler (2017)
FR RHP Devin Meyer (2017)

North Carolina

SR RHP Benton Moss (2015)
JR RHP Reilly Hovis (2015)
JR RHP Trent Thornton (2015)
rJR RHP Chris McCue (2015)
SR RHP Trevor Kelley (2015)
JR RHP Taylore Cherry (2015)
JR OF Skye Bolt (2015)
JR OF Josh Merrigan (2015)
JR 3B/2B Landon Lassiter (2015)
JR C Korey Dunbar (2015)
JR SS/OF Alex Raburn (2015)
SO RHP/SS Spencer Trayner (2016)
SO RHP AJ Bogucki (2016)
SO RHP Zac Gallen (2016)
SO LHP Zach Rice (2016)
SO C Adrian Chacon (2016)
SO 1B Joe Dudek (2016)
SO 2B/SS Wood Myers (2016)
SO OF Tyler Ramirez (2016)
SO OF Adam Pate (2016)
FR 3B/RHP Ryder Ryan (2016)
FR 1B/LHP Hunter Williams (2017)
FR SS/3B Zack Gahagan (2017)
FR RHP JB Bukauskas (2017)
FR RHP Hansen Butler (2017)
FR RHP Jason Morgan (2017)
FR OF/2B Logan Warmoth (2017)
FR RHP Brett Daniels (2017)
FR INF Brooks Kennedy (2017)

North Carolina State

JR RHP Jon Olczak (2015)
JR RHP Curt Britt (2015)
rJR LHP Travis Orwig (2015)
JR RHP Karl Keglovits (2015)
JR LHP Brad Stone (2015)
rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2015)
SR OF Jake Fincher (2015)
JR SS Ryne Willard (2015)
SR OF Bubby Riley (2015)
SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge (2015)
SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong (2015)
JR C Chance Shepard (2015)
SO RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
SO 3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
SO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO 1B Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SO RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
SO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
FR RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
FR RHP Evan Mendoza (2017)
FR OF Storm Edwards (2017)
FR 3B Joe Dunand (2017)

Notre Dame

rSR RHP Cristian Torres (2015)
JR RHP Nick McCarty (2015)
SR RHP Scott Kerrigan (2015)
JR RHP David Hearne (2015)
JR LHP Michael Hearne (2015)
JR LHP/OF Zac Kutsulis (2015)
SR OF/LHP Robert Youngdahl (2015)
SR 3B Phil Mosey (2015)
SR OF/1B Ryan Bull (2015)
SR OF Mac Hudgins (2015)
SR OF Blaise Lezynski (2015)
SR OF Conor Biggio (2015)
JR SS Lane Richards (2015)
JR C/OF Ricky Sanchez (2015)
SO RHP Ryan Smoyer (2016)
SO 2B/SS Kyle Fiala (2016)
SO 2B/3B Cavan Biggio (2016)
SO C Ryan Lidge (2016)
rFR OF Torii Hunter (2016)
FR RHP Peter Solomon (2017)
FR RHP Brad Bass (2017)
FR RHP Brandon Bielak (2017)
FR LHP Sean Guenther (2017)

Pittsburgh

SR OF Boo Vazquez (2015)
SR 1B Eric Hess (2015)
SR SS/2B Matt Johnson (2015)
JR C Alex Kowalczyk (2015)
JR RHP Marc Berube (2015)
JR RHP Aaron Sandefur (2015)
JR LHP/OF Aaron Schnurbusch (2015)
SR RHP Hobie Harris (2015)
SO RHP Sam Mersing (2016)
SO RHP TJ Zeuch (2016)
FR 3B/SS Charles LeBlanc (2017)

Virginia

JR OF Joe McCarthy (2015)
JR 2B/3B John LaPrise (2015)
SO SS/3B Daniel Pinero (2015)
SR 3B Kenny Towns (2015)
JR C/RHP Robbie Coman (2015)
JR LHP Brandon Waddell (2015)
JR LHP Nathan Kirby (2015)
JR RHP Josh Sborz (2015)
JR LHP David Rosenberger (2015)
SO RHP Connor Jones (2016)
SO C Matt Thaiss (2016)
SO RHP Jack Roberts (2016)
SO RHP Alec Bettinger (2016)
FR 2B Jack Gerstenmaier (2017)
FR 1B/RHP Pavin Smith (2017)
FR RHP Derek Casey (2017)
FR RHP Tommy Doyle (2017)
FR OF/LHP Adam Haseley (2017)
FR LHP Bennett Sousa (2017)
FR 3B Charlie Cody (2017)
FR C/2B Justin Novak (2017)
FR OF Christian Lowry (2017)
FR 2B/OF Ernie Clement (2017)

Virginia Tech

rSO OF Saige Jenco (2015)
SR 2B/SS Alex Perez (2015)
rSR OF Kyle Wernicki (2015)
rJR OF Logan Bible (2015)
SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden (2015)
rSO 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2015)
SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica (2015)
rSO LHP Kit Scheetz (2015)
rJR LHP Jon Woodcock (2015)
SO RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
SO SS Ricky Surum (2016)
SO RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
SO 3B Ryan Tufts (2016)
SO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO 3B/OF Miguel Ceballos (2016)
SO RHP Ryan Lauria (2016)
FR C Joe Freiday (2017)
FR 3B Max Ponzurik (2017)

Wake Forest

JR RHP/C Garrett Kelly (2015)
SR RHP Matt Pirro (2015)
rSO LHP Max Tishman (2015)
rJR RHP Aaron Fossas (2015)
rSR OF Kevin Jordan (2015)
JR OF/2B Joey Rodriguez (2015)
JR OF Luke Czajkowski (2015)
SO C Ben Breazeale (2016)
rFR RHP Chris Farish (2016)
SO 2B/OF Nate Mondou (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Will Craig (2016)
SO RHP John McCarren (2016)
SO RHP Connor Johnstone (2016)
SO RHP Parker Dunshee (2016)
FR OF Stuart Fairchild (2017)
FR INF Bruce Steel (2017)
FR 1B Gavin Sheets (2017)
FR SS Drew Freedman (2017)

2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Duke Blue Devils

1. The more college profiles I do, the less I realize I have to say about the actual college team being profiled. Duke will be competitive, I’m sure, but they won’t be close to a top division club in the perennially strong ACC. That’s about all I can really tell you about how the Blue Devils will do this year and even that “prediction” (if we can call my patented “maybe they’ll be good, maybe they’ll be beat…who knows?” line a prediction) is one made with limited confidence. What I can tell you, I hope, is that Duke has four players who look like better than average bets to get drafted this June. That has to be good for something, right?

The two best of the four are JR LHP Eric Pfisterer and JR OF Will Piwnica-Worms. Every year there are a number of pitchability lefthanders with three solid pitches and good command who get lost in the mid-round shuffle. Pfisterer, a big recruit two years ago who has lived up to the billing so far, could be part of that mix this year. Steven Proscia’s former high school teammate throws a high-80s/low-90s fastball (peaking at 92 MPH), good changeup, and decent low-70s curveball. Not sure if it is fair to call Piwnica-Worms a sleeper or not, but his combination of solid all around tools and quietly productive 2010 season (.323/.402/.530 – 21 BB/24 K – 217 AB) make him a potential top ten round player in my eyes. I once thought of players like Piwnica-Worms (tweeners who might not hit enough for a corner, but don’t quite have the glove for everyday play in center) as ideal fourth outfielder candidates, but the renewed vigor teams are emphasizing defensive skills makes me wonder. If Piwnica-Worms can play plus defense in a corner — and I’m not saying I know he can or can’t, I don’t know either way — then isn’t it possible a team might consider it worthwhile to play him out there every day?

2. The second quick thought almost always winds up being about a non-2011 draft prospect. Might as well continue the trend. It pains me to make the comparison because a) it’s been done before and b) it’s too easy from a race/build standpoint, but the idea of current Duke RHP/SS Marcus Stroman (2012) playing the role of late career Tom Gordon going forward makes a heck of a lot of sense any way you look at it. The Stroman/Gordon comparison has been bandied about since the former’s prep days, so I took it upon myself to find somebody willing to give me a different comp. I wanted something different not for the  sake of being different for difference’s sake — I love conformity far too much to ever go that route — but because at some point down the line I just got plain bored of hearing the same comp over and over again. Finally, after bothering way too many people, I heard a comp that makes some sense: current Astros reliever Brandon Lyon. Lyon’s a little bit bigger with a bit more mustard on his breaking ball, but it’s a decent starting point, especially for somebody who hasn’t seen Stroman throw.

I’d love to see Stroman continue to progress this year and next, especially as he tries to polish up a third pitch. If he can do that, then he can go into pro ball with the upside of early career Tom Gordon, i.e. a potential above-average professional starting pitcher. I should make clear I haven’t heard any updates on Stroman since last spring. He could be throwing a dynamite changeup, cutter, splitter, or slow curve for all I know, but, as of this moment, all I know is that he’s predominantly a two-pitch guy. I also love him as a middle infield prospect, by the way.

3. Of the teams profiled so far (Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech), I’d rank the current crop of draftable lefthanded pitchers, in order, as Jed Bradley (GT), Austin Stadler (WF), Eric Pfisterer, and Mark Adzick (WF). I’d rank the outfielders, in order, Steven Brooks (WF), Will Piwnica-Worms, and Brian Litwin. My goal is to keep a running list of certain positions of interest, so consider this last thought more for my own edification than anything else. Kind of a ripoff, come to think of it. I’ll make it up in the big finish…

Early 2011 Draft Guesses

The aforementioned Eric Pfisterer and Will Piwnica-Worms should be on many a draft board this spring. I worry each player could get pegged as “great college performer, limited pro upside” types, but big junior years from a scouting perspective (an extra mile or two on Pfisterer’s fastball, some time shaved of  the 60 for Piwnica-Worms, for example) could change it. The other two Duke prospects with a chance to get popped are JR RHP Ben Grisz and JR OF Brian Litwin. Grisz offers a similar repertoire to Pfisterer, but delivers his upper-80s fastball and good lower-80s slider from the right side. I like what I was recently told about Litwin, a player who is, and I’m quoting but really paraphrasing, “strong enough to hit for big power numbers without selling out like a typical slugger, but insistent on taking big hacks every time up all the same.” Litwin’s tools are as good or better than Piwnica-Worms’s across the board, with the great big exception being his hit tool. From a skills standpoint, he also currently falls way behind his buddy in the outfield in the plate discipline department. Few doubt Litwin’s ability, but a below-average present hit tool and a really poor approach to hitting both need to turn around quickly in 2011. As it stands, I think they go off the board in that order: Pfisterer, Piwnica-Worms, Grisz, and Litwin, but you can really flip a coin between the first two. Also can’t completely rule out the potential emergence of JR RHP David Putnam (three decent or better pitches, including a good upper-70s CB) and underrated two-way player SR RHP/INF Dennis O’Grady, a really interesting senior sign possibility who has consistently gotten results at the college level.