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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.

Ohio Valley 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Morehead State rSR C Chris Robinson
Jacksonville State JR 1B Paschal Petrongolo
Belmont JR 2B Tyler Fullerton
Tennessee Tech SR SS Dylan Bosheers
Belmont SR 3B Matt Beaty
Eastern Kentucky JR OF Kyle Nowlin
Tennessee Tech JR OF Jake Rowland
Morehead State SR OF Brandon Rawe

Austin Peay State JR RHP Jared Carkuff
Morehead State rJR RHP Aaron Goe
Morehead State JR RHP Tyler Keele
Morehead State rJR RHP Craig Pearcy
Southeast Missouri State JR LHP Alex Winkelman

If Belmont SR 3B/C Matt Beaty doesn’t end up as one of this draft class’ favorites for teams that rely heavily on analytics, then I give up. Beaty has walked more than he has struck out in all three full seasons so far with last year’s line of .352/.478/.536 with 28 BB and 14 K the cherry on top of a wholly impressive statistical run. That’s what I would have written if I didn’t happen to look at what he’s done so far this season. If last year was a cherry this year is another mound of whipped cream on top of that: .415/.495/.805 with 12 BB and 1 K in 82 AB. The sample size is obviously small and the level of competition isn’t exactly the kind to scare a good hitter straight – in fact, (small) he (sample) went (size) just 1-7 combined with a 2B and 2 BB against Notre Dame and Tennessee, though he fared better against solid teams like Bradley and Evansville so who knows – but production like Beaty’s really should get him a tiny bit of fanfare by now. The fact that he’s done this before – not to this extent, but still – makes me think there’s some validity behind his (small sample size) video game numbers. Even without seeing him and knowing next to nothing about his defensive outlook, his is a bat I would stick my neck out for if my team was searching for a senior sign hitter in the eighth, ninth, or tenth rounds that they could give a significant underslot deal.

One of the interesting things I’ve learned over the last decade of drifting in and out of baseball is how varied draft preparation is from team to team. Obviously you’d expect to see a wide variety of attention to detail among individual area and associate scouts – even with team-issued standardized report templates there’s always wiggle room to go off script if you have strong feelings about a player – but it surprised me to hear about how different rooms actually go about discussing players while the draft is going on. I know plenty of teams go in as prepared as you’d hope with everything lined up and ready to go; picking players for them is almost a formality, as they’ve already “picked” who they want and it just becomes a matter of checking for availability and moving on to the next name once one of their guys is taken. Almost all the debating and discussion in those instances have taken place well before the actual draft, so picking players is relatively stress-free outside of hoping certain favorites fall. I’ve also heard a few stories of teams, and obviously we’re talking quite late in the draft, picking players off of one look from an area guy, or, in some cases, sight unseen. In the latter example, the players were selected due to hitting certain statistical benchmarks, or, believe it or don’t, a quick check of the rankings or scouting blurbs at some of the industry leading prospect publications (though I think it’s fair to say the quality has dipped of late, Baseball America remains the go-to for draft coverage within the game – I think Perfect Game’s draft work has lapped them and is the true industry standard right now, but old habits die hard). All this is to say that I think Beaty could wind up as one of those players who gets picked on the strength of his ridiculous college production rather than years of up close and personal scouting trips. That’s not to say that he’s a mystery to pro teams right now – there are too many scouts on the road at any given time for anybody to remain a mystery for long – but rather that he could position himself to get drafted even if an area guy submits a lukewarm (or worse) scouting report on him.

Finally, since I should wrap this Matt Beaty opus up some time before June, a quick word on his defense. It has taken a few years, but I’m just now willing to move off my stubborn insistence of sticking with Beaty as a pro catching prospect. He’s been the starter at third for Belmont for a long time now, so it’s time to acknowledge, despite having a few pro guys tell me they’d only consider drafting him to give him a shot as a catcher, that it’s at least as likely that he’s a pro third baseman than he’s a catcher in the future. I don’t know. I wish I knew more, but I don’t. I haven’t seen him and I haven’t heard from anybody in the last eighteen months or so who had a strong enough take on his defense to move me in either direction. His bat as a catcher is really intriguing. His bat as a third baseman – depending on how well he can pick it there – is still really intriguing, albeit slightly less so. His bat as a first baseman is still worth taking a shot on in the round range for the dollar value that I described earlier. In other words, any good news I hear about his defense between now and June will be considered a pleasant surprise. The bat is what will make or break him, and I’m willing to ride it out to see how he adjusts as a hitter to pro ball no matter what the glove does.

Both Jacksonville State JR 1B Paschal Petrongolo and Morehead State SR 1B Kane Sweeney have power, work deep counts, walk a bunch, and strike out. All that also applies to Southeast Missouri State JR 1B/OF Ryan Rippee, a high upside transfer off to a good start with plus raw power and size (6-6, 230) to dream on. Jacksonville State JR 1B Tyler Gamble, Eastern Kentucky JR 1B/3B Mandy Alvarez, and Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR Alec Saikal (listed at 6-7, 240) have a little less present power than the rest of the first base class, but provide more patience as hitters. I’m about as bullish on this collective group as I can be, so take the following prediction with a grain of salt: at least three first basemen from the OVC get drafted this June. The prediction is a tad less bold when you realize the Ohio Valley has seen a highly impressive dozen players selected in each of the past three MLB Drafts, but still.

I made the choice to headline this piece with Matt Beaty, but I could just have easily opted to kick it off with a couple hundred words on the bizarrely underrated Tennessee Tech SR SS/2B Dylan Bosheers, who is ranked one spot ahead of the big bat of Beaty due to his almost equal bat but clearly more impressive defensive upside. Quite simply, Bosheers was a baffling omission from last year’s draft. He’s done everything asked from him as a college player and then some (.368/.444/.577 with 27 BB/32 K in 234 AB last year), and he has at least two clear average or better professional tools (defense, speed). He’s not just a slap and dash bat, either; he’s got an approach geared towards driving the ball and he’s capable of using the whole field as well as almost any middle infielder in the country. A future pro shortstop with average speed (plays up thanks to his smarts on the bases) and meaningful pop that walks as much as he strikes out has a place in the draft’s top fifteen rounds. I could see him deservedly getting picked in the same range I predicted for Beaty (8th/9th/10th) as a money-saving option senior sign for a smart club that emphasizes college production. Depending on how things shake out the rest of the way, he might wind up even higher than that on my personal board. I like players with the upside of being quality big league infielders, what can I say? I’m not great at analogies, but I think something like [Alex Bregman : Blake Trahan as Blake Trahan : Dylan Bosheers] works.

Morehead State rSR C/OF Chris Robinson is far more athletic than your ordinary catcher with above-average or better speed and defensive tools interesting enough that you can envision him becoming pretty good behind the plate if his drafting team is patient with him. I’m a fan.

Morehead State rJR RHP Aaron Goe is an imposing 6-5, 220 pound strike-throwing machine with enough fastball (88-92) and an above-average breaking ball. When sifting through late round draft candidates from smaller conferences extremes tend to jump out, so Goe’s easy plus control could give him a shot to go higher than expected on draft day. Small samples both years, but his current 0.70 BB/9 is actually up from his 0.69 BB/9 mark from last year. He falls just behind Austin Peay State JR RHP Jared Carkuff in the conference for me based largely on Carkuff’s promising blend of present stuff (90-94 FB, above-average low- to mid-80s SL) and projection (long, lean 6-4, 170 pound frame).

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Tennessee Tech SR SS/2B Dylan Bosheers
  2. Belmont SR 3B/C Matt Beaty
  3. Eastern Illinois SR 3B Brant Valach
  4. Jacksonville State JR 1B Paschal Petrongolo
  5. Morehead State SR 1B Kane Sweeney
  6. Southeast Missouri State JR 1B/OF Ryan Rippee
  7. Morehead State rSR C/OF Chris Robinson
  8. Eastern Kentucky JR OF Kyle Nowlin
  9. Tennessee Tech JR OF Jake Rowland
  10. Morehead State SR OF Brandon Rawe
  11. Eastern Illinois rJR OF/1B Demetre Taylor
  12. Eastern Illinois SR OF Caleb Howell
  13. Belmont SR OF Drew Ferguson
  14. Jacksonville State JR 1B Tyler Gamble
  15. Eastern Kentucky JR 1B/3B Mandy Alvarez
  16. Belmont JR 2B/OF Tyler Fullerton
  17. Murray State SR 2B/OF Anthony Bayus
  18. Southeast Missouri State SR C Cole Ferguson
  19. Tennessee-Martin SR OF/RHP Taylor Douglas
  20. Eastern Illinois JR 2B Mitch Gasbarro
  21. Morehead State SR SS Robby Spencer
  22. Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR OF Denton Reed
  23. Southeast Missouri State JR C Scott Mitchell
  24. Southeast Missouri State JR SS Andy Lack
  25. Eastern Kentucky JR 2B/3B Doug Teegarden
  26. Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR OF Nick Lombardo
  27. Morehead State SR OF Nick Newell
  28. Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR 1B Alec Saikal
  29. Belmont SR C/1B Alec Diamond
  30. Southeast Missouri State rSR OF Jason Blum
  31. Tennessee Tech SR C Jordan Hopkins

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Austin Peay State JR RHP Jared Carkuff
  2. Morehead State rJR RHP Aaron Goe
  3. Morehead State JR RHP Tyler Keele
  4. Morehead State rJR RHP Craig Pearcy
  5. Southeast Missouri State JR LHP Alex Winkelman
  6. Murray State JR RHP Andrew Bramley
  7. Jacksonville State SR RHP Zachary Fowler
  8. Southeast Missouri State SR RHP Ryan Lenaburg
  9. Southern Illinois Edwardsville JR RHP Jarrett Bednar
  10. Tennessee Tech JR RHP Trevor Maloney
  11. Belmont JR RHP Aaron Quillen
  12. Southeast Missouri State SR RHP Travis Hayes
  13. Belmont SR LHP Dan Ludwig
  14. Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR RHP Ryan Daniels
  15. Murray State SR LHP/OF Brock Downey
  16. Tennessee-Martin SR LHP Carter Smith
  17. Eastern Kentucky SR RHP Ben Gullo
  18. Morehead State JR RHP Matt Anderson
  19. Eastern Kentucky SR RHP Cody Creamer