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2018 MLB Draft Profile – Georgia Tech

From a stuff standpoint Tommy John surgery survivor RHP/1B Tristin English profiles very similarly to RHP Jonathan Hughes. Both guys have fastballs that can hit 96 MPH (87-94 regularly) with average or better sliders. Hughes has the edge with his third pitch, another average or better offering (changeup), but English’s top tier athleticism tip the scales back to him. There are some who prefer English as a hitter, but I think his future, as is the case with most guys who can throw mid-90s heat, is on the mound. Like Hughes there are still plenty of kinks to be worked out, but the upside is considerable. For what it’s worth, I LOVED English coming out of Pike County HS in 2015. The love has cooled a bit — two years away from the mound will do that — but remembering why he was considered such a big-time prospect in the first place can help rekindle those old feelings. A young, healthy English flashed a plus slider, promising curve, and usable changeup, all in addition to that fastball that topped out in the mid-90s. If he can get back to that just a little bit — he’s already there with the aforementioned fastball and slider — then he has a chance to be pretty special.

Patience is needed with Hughes as he also works himself back from Tommy John surgery. Patience and understanding. Hughes’s raw stuff (good!) has long outpaced his peripherals (bad!) all while putting up impressive run prevention stats (good…but maybe not all that predictive). It’s a damn confusing overall package. His return to the mound so far in 2018 just muddles the waters even more. Hughes has upped his K/9 to a still below-average 6.28 while his BB/9 has rocketed to 9.42. It’s a really small sample, but the fact he’s done that and still has an ERA of just 2.08 is pretty wacky. I have no idea what to make of Hughes just yet. The good news is we might not need to make any grand conclusions on him considering his three years of eligibility left. It would be a major upset if he used all three years, but certainly not a stretch to see him back at a fine academic institution like Georgia Tech for his academic senior year in 2019.

RHP Patrick Wiseman is a super deep sleeper who hasn’t pitched much at all since enrolling due to a variety of injuries. When healthy, the 6-5, 225 pound hurler can run his fastball up to 95 MPH. RHP Bailey Combs, RHP Jake Lee (16.45 K/9 + 1.94 BB/9 = 11.57 ERA in 9.1 IP, somehow), and RHP Micah Carpenter all live in the upper-80s with decent secondary stuff. RHP Keyton Gibson is a half-grade ahead in both velocity (89-93) and overall prospect stock.

C/1B Joey Bart is really good. I know a lot of people who think he’s the best college catching prospect and a potential first round pick. I can’t disagree. He’s part of the large group of college catchers all battling it out to be the first of their kind off the board. Bart’s power and arm strength are exactly what teams are drawn to at the position. His approach has taken a big step forward early this season — something many smart onlookers (i.e., not me but the people who occasionally tell me things) expected on some level — and if it’s a real change and not a small sample blip, then his already high stock will shoot up even higher. I still think there are some rough edges defensively that need polishing, but the same can honestly be said of just about any 21-year-old catching prospect with the offensive talent to start in the big leagues.

It’s stunning to me to see 2B/SS Wade Bailey back at Georgia Tech after the junior season he had. Pro ball’s loss is our gain (temporarily) as we get to talk about Bailey for another few months before losing him to minor league prospect writers who specialize in super duper deep sleepers. Bailey is good at second, playable at short, and has hit every single season of his life. I like prospects like that.

SS/OF Carter Hall is a lot of fun for a lot of reasons. My favorite reason is that I honestly don’t know what to make of him yet. He’s a redshirt-sophomore who figures to remain in school at least another year and likely longer than that — guys who go to school to play for their dad don’t tend to leave early — so we at least have a year or three to figure it out. Hall is also fun because he’s a blazing fast runner with the kind of defensive chops to handle both middle infield spots and chase down balls in the gaps in center. A player like that who has impressed in his small sample opportunities at the plate gets interesting in a hurry. I’m here for Carter Hall even if it means waiting a year or two until his signability comes into clearer focus.

I’m just about out of words to say about 1B/OF Kel Johnson. He’s a really good college player who was burdened with outsized expectations going back to his prep days, but he’s now settled into a really tough 1B/LF only righthanded power bat with way too much swing-and-miss in his game. That’s a really, really tough profile to love.

The ultra-athletic OF Chase Murray is a really good looking young hitter who can run and defend. The leap he’s made in his approach is really exciting as Murray has gone from striking out in 20.5 % of his plate appearances to doing the same in just 8.8% of his plate appearances so far in 2018. It’s a really small sample (25 AB), but C Kyle McCann hitting .400/.583/1.120 is so good that I can’t not mention it. I have a weird suspicion that those numbers will dip some as the year progresses, but with two carrying tools (above-average power, plus arm) he’s a fun backstop to track heading into next year’s draft. RHP Garrett Gooden and LHP Connor Thomas are good 2019 prospects, but RHP/SS Xzavion Curry is potentially a great one.

rSO RHP Jonathan Hughes (2018)
rSO RHP/1B Tristin English (2018)
SR RHP Patrick Wiseman (2018)
rSR RHP Ben Schniederjans (2018)
SR RHP Jared Datoc (2018)
JR RHP Robert Winborne (2018)
JR RHP Micah Carpenter (2018)
JR RHP Jake Lee (2018)
JR RHP Keyton Gibson (2018)
JR RHP Bailey Combs (2018)
JR C/1B Joey Bart (2018)
SR 1B/OF Kel Johnson (2018)
SR 2B/SS Wade Bailey (2018)
rSO SS/OF Carter Hall (2018)
SO RHP Garrett Gooden (2019)
SO LHP Connor Thomas (2019)
SO RHP/SS Xzavion Curry (2019)
SO RHP/2B Austin Wilhite (2019)
SO LHP/OF Nick Wilhite (2019)
SO C Kyle McCann (2019)
SO OF Chase Murray (2019)
FR RHP Hugh Chapman (2020)
FR LHP Brant Hurter (2020)
FR LHP/OF Will Shirah (2020)
FR SS/RHP Oscar Serratos (2020)
FR OF Colin Hall (2020)
FR OF Baron Radcliff (2020)
FR INF Luke Waddell (2020)
FR OF Michael Guldberg (2020)
FR OF Colin Hall (2020)

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2017 MLB Draft Report – Georgia Tech

The 2017 pitching crop at Georgia Tech is fairly uninspired. If/when Patrick Wiseman gets on the mound for some steady innings, that could change. He’s got imposing size (6-5, 230) and a big fastball (88-93, 95 peak) when right. Jonathan King is yet another ACC crafty lefty who might appeal to some — upper-80s fastball, two quality offspeed pitches, deceptive, athletic — but as a 24-year-old (in a week) redshirt-senior coming off an arm injury who didn’t miss a ton of bats when healthy…I mean, there’s no nice way to really finish that story. Ben Parr (85-90 FB) and Zac Ryan (85-92 FB, good 78-80 CB/SL) could get looks as relief prospects in the pros; I give the edge to Parr as a lefty with better size and a more impressive track record.

On the other side of the ball, the name that jumps out right away is Trevor Craport. I really like Trevor Craport. I like him so much that we’re almost at the point where I’m actively seeking out bad news about him to temper my expectations for him. Craport had a quietly great 2016 season and is doing more of the same so far in 2017. His power, arm strength, and athleticism are all average or better. He’s a competent glove at third base who also has intriguing upside as a catching conversion project if his drafting team so desires. There’s just a ton to like about his game. In a lackluster third base college class, he has a great shot to rise way up boards this spring.

Wade Bailey is a rock solid middle infielder in a class in need of some good prospects there. He’s a good defender at second with solid speed, quick hands, and a little more pop than his frame might suggest. I approve. I also approve (to a slightly lesser degree) of Ryan Peurifoy, a personal favorite heading into last year who completely fell apart in all phases of the game. He’s rebounded just enough in the early going this year that I’m comfortable vouching for him as a draft-worthy potential big league backup outfielder. He’s got the speed, arm, and defensive instincts for the job, so it’ll be up to him to continue to be a non-zero offensively to get his shot or not. Coleman Poje is only in my notes because of 28 reasonably interesting at bats last year (.214/.314/.429 for those curious). His power and manageable BB/K ratio so far in 2017 has me thinking he’s done a better Kel Johnson impression than Kel Johnson himself. I’m intrigued.

Speaking of Kel Johnson, it’s about time we addressed the biggest name in the Ramblin’ Wreck 2017 draft universe. Johnson’s plus power puts him among a select group of amateur prospects in this class. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, impressive as that power might be, he’s looking more and more like a one-tool prospect with every empty plate appearance. All the power in the world can’t help you when you swing and miss like he does. Toss in a highly questionable defensive forecast and I think you’re looking at a platoon player/bench bat at best. He’d be an undeniably fun one of those, so at least there’s that. I’m out on him unless he comes much cheaper than anticipated on draft day. Or he starts socking dingers left and right between now and June. Either way.

*****

SR LHP Ben Parr (2017)
SR RHP Zac Ryan (2017)
JR RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)
rJR RHP Ben Schniederjans (2017)
JR RHP Jared Datoc (2017)
rSR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2017)
JR 3B/C Trevor Craport (2017)
JR 2B/SS Wade Bailey (2017)
JR 1B/OF Kel Johnson (2017)
SR OF Ryan Peurifoy (2017)
SR OF Keenan Innis (2017)
rSR OF Coleman Poje (2017)
SO RHP Jonathan Hughes (2018)
SO RHP Tristin English (2018)
SO RHP Burton Dulaney (2018)
SO RHP Micah Carpenter (2018)
SO RHP Jake Lee (2018)
SO RHP Keyton Gibson (2018)
SO RHP Bailey Combs (2018)
SO RHP Robert Winborne (2018)
SO C Joey Bart (2018)
SO OF/1B Brandt Stallings (2018)
SO SS/2B Carter Hall (2018)
FR RHP Garrett Gooden (2019)
FR LHP Connor Thomas (2019)
FR LHP Jay Shadday (2019)
FR RHP/SS Xzavion Curry (2019)
FR RHP/2B Austin Wilhite (2019)
FR LHP/OF Nick Wilhite (2019)
FR C Kyle McCann (2019)
FR OF Chase Murray (2019)
FR 2B/SS Parker McCoy (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)

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – 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 INF Connor Justus (2016)
FR OF/1B Kel Johnson (2017)
FR LHP Daniel Gooden (2017)

This is the first team I’ve profiled that doesn’t have a strong built-in hook to work off of. For a below-average, lazy writer such as myself, this is an unwelcome turn of events. There are a few “maybes” scattered throughout the roster, but no one player that truly captures the imagination. I had hoped SR 1B AJ Murray could be that guy once upon a time, but the move off of catcher and good but not great college career has him more in the late round, organizational player mix at this point. rJR OF Dan Spingola can run, defend, and throw, plus he’s flashed enough power (.319/.384/.451 in 257 AB last year) to put himself in the draft mix. rSO Cole Miller has the frame and approach of a potential draft pick, but the jury is still out as to what kind of college player he’ll be. I like SR 2B/SS Thomas Smith (all he does is hit) more than just about anybody outside of his immediate circle of friends and family, but he’s still a limited overall player with an uphill battle to get noticed by more influential people than I come June. The biggest name in the group is JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez. Gonzalez has all the tools to be a potential regular third baseman at the big league level one day, but still needs ample polish to start turning said tools into skills. He’s a super safe bet to be the first — and maybe only — Yellow Jacket off the board this June. His stiffest challenger right now is either Murray, Spingola, or, if his debut season goes as planned, Miller, though one can’t rule out either JR LHP Jonathan King (crafty lefty who leans on a low-80s change) or SR RHP Cole Pitts (good size, decent track record, coming off Tommy John surgery) stepping in as the next man up.

Sophomore position players Ryan Peurifoy (outfielder with a plus arm) and Arden Pabst (well-rounded catcher who is very reliable defensively) show promise, and SO RHP Zac Ryan (88-92 FB) did good things last year (29 K/16 BB in 30.2 IP). FR OF/1B Kel Johnson, better known as Hunter Pence’s body double, could also make some noise in the coming years.

2013 MLB Draft Preview: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Most Intriguing Pre-Season 2013 MLB Draft Prospect(s)

  1. JR 1B/OF Daniel Palka
  2. JR RHP Matthew Grimes
  3. JR RHP/OF DeAndre Smelter
  4. SR OF Brandon Thomas
  5. JR RHP Dusty Isaacs
  6. JR C/RHP Zane Evans
  7. SR RHP Buck Farmer
  8. JR OF Kyle Wren
  9. JR SS Mott Hyde

I didn’t grow up around college baseball, I didn’t go to a school with college baseball, and I have no vested interest in seeing any particular college team succeed or fail. In my world, college sports only as an elaborate minor league system to the professional game. I sometimes feel like a big hypocrite for viewing college athletics that way – the players are exploited something awful and the NCAA is corrupt – and there’s a part of me that misses out on having a strong collegiate rooting interest (seeing so many high school pals go off to schools with huge sporting culture and tremendous game day atmospheres like Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina, and Miami made me a little jealous during my fairly lame hockey or bust years at Boston University), but I’m still mostly alright with watching games to focus more on future pros and not outcomes. That’s all a long way of saying the following: I have no idea whether or not Georgia Tech has the horses to make a run deep into college baseball’s postseason, but I’m fairly sure they have a bunch of future professional players littered across the roster.

I think it is fair to say that Georgia Tech’s high hopes for 2013 took a bit hit with the news of Matt Grimes’ recent Tommy John surgery. The same injury to Grimes not only puts a dent in the upcoming Yellow Jackets season, but it also is a major blow to the young righthander’s draft stock. Completely healthy, it wasn’t a stretch to have Grimes off the board by the end of the draft’s first day. Injured, well, that’s a completely different story, as much for the potential long-term ramifications on his arm’s health (neither as big a deal as some want to make it nor as minor a procedure as others now suggest) as the lost year of development. Grimes stuff is the kind that you often see described as electric: explosive low- to mid-90s fastball mixed with a very good hard slider. Another year of college would have helped him threefold: improve his raw yet promising changeup, find a way to gain some consistency and body control for his 6-6 frame’s delivery, and make gains in the areas of command and control. Now teams will be left with whatever impressions they have from his high school days and his freshman year (Grimes only pitched 18.2 innings last year).

Palka has as much raw power as any player in college baseball. He’ll obviously have to eliminate some of the swing and miss to his game, something I think he has a better than you’d expect chance of happening based solely on his lofty collegiate strikeout totals. He’s a better natural hitter than he’s shown. I’ll be watching him closely this spring to see if he has improved on his ability to square up on balls that aren’t right down the middle of the plate. His plate coverage and ability to drive balls on the periphery of the zone are critical to bumping up his current below-average hit tool grade. I like Palka quite a bit, but, as always, take caution when dreaming on any bat-first prospect that isn’t a mortal lock to hit a ton as a professional.

Smelter gives off a pretty serious Phillippe Aumont vibe to me. That would be the Aumont of today (i.e. a reliever, but potentially a very good one) and not the Aumont of his draft year (i.e. a potential top of the rotation, Kevin Brown type of starter). Smelter needs innings this spring (he’s pitched only 23.2 innings at Georgia Tech) if he wants to get himself back on the early round draft radar like he was back in his prep days. There could be a team out there that likes him more as a power/speed outfield prospect, though I’ve yet to talk to anybody willing to go on record with that opinion.

Thomas was classified as a “poor man’s Barrett Barnes” in my draft notes last year. I think the comparison to the 45th overall pick in 2012 holds up pretty well: tweener-OF who may or may not have the instincts for CF (I think Thomas is more likely to stick up the middle than Barnes) or have enough raw power to start in a corner for a first-division club. If he does wind up as a leftfield-only kind of guy, I could see him putting up similar overall value as Gerardo Parra: good speed, some pop, outstanding defense. I’ve also heard a Matt Joyce ceiling thrown his way, assuming he maintains some of his recent power gains.

Isaacs may lack the premium size that teams want in a starting pitching prospect, but his stuff plays just fine in the rotation. He’ll give you three average or better pitches highlighted by a fastball that can get up to 94 and a plus slider when he commands it. It is hard to identify a sleeper prospect this early in the process, but Isaacs may qualify.

Evans is a legitimate prospect as either a catcher or a righthanded pitcher. I like him a smidge more as a position player because of his burgeoning power and strong defensive chops. On the mound, he has the chance for three average or better pitches (FB, CB, CU) in time.

Farmer is one of college baseball’s most confusing cases. At his best he looks like a legitimate big league pitcher with a nice fastball (have seen it up to 94), low-80s slider that flashes plus, and a good changeup with serious sink. He’s always put up strong numbers (9.30 K/9 in 2011, 10.29 K/9 in 2012) and has a sturdy 6-4, 225 pound frame. The confusion begins with the uneven reports on his stuff from start to start. When his velocity slips to the upper-80s, his slider gets loopy, and his changeup flattens out, he’s pretty darn ordinary. I’m not sure we’ll ever see the really good version of Farmer again – the very fact that this is an open question speaks to the doubts surrounding his pro future. Ultimately, I can see a little bit of Mark Pope and Seth Blair in his game, though not necessarily in terms of actual draft stock, but in terms of professional outcomes. All three can be categorized as steady college starting pitchers with big league fifth starters upside, with the acknowledgment that each is far more likely to pitch in middle relief, if at all, in the big leagues.

Wren was a big favorite after his sensational freshman season (.355/.429/.464 – 32 BB/30 K – 265 AB), but regressed almost across the board in 2012. One area he remained strong in was his outstanding plate discipline. I still like him as a speedy CF with the upside as a top of the lineup bat (and a hopeful floor of fifth outfielder), so I’ll be watching him closely in 2013. Rounding out the best Georgia Tech hitters is Hyde, a true shortstop with speed and the chance to hit for double-digit home runs as a pro. That’s a heck of a package and one that would deserve a much higher ranking than you see here. Astute readers will put two and two together and realize that the odds of Hyde reaching his ceiling are low.

Off the beaten prospect path a bit is where you’ll find guys like JR RHP Jonathan Roberts, SR 2B/OF Sam Dove, JR RHP/3B Alex Cruz, SR RHP Clay Dalton, and JR LHP Devin Stanton. Each player does enough well to stay on the map, but nothing so spectacularly that you can call them high priority 2013 follows. Roberts’ tools are probably the loudest of the bunch (wild mid-90s fastballs get a guy noticed), though I have a soft spot for the steady across the board Dove. After that you have three young pitchers who will need to impress the Georgia Tech coaching staff enough just to get meaningful innings before worrying about showing off for pro scouts.

2014 MLB Draft Name(s) to Know

  1. SO C AJ Murray
  2. SO RHP Cole Pitts

There isn’t a ton to love about Georgia Tech’s group of 2014 prospects. SO C AJ Murray, a favorite from his draft year, has the tools (power, arm, speed) to be an early round pick. His future will seemingly come down to opportunity (i.e. can he get the at bats needed to keep progressing) and defense. I’m less concerned about the latter (he’s athletic enough that I think he’ll eventually get it) than the former (Evans and fellow SO Connor Lynch are strong competition). SO RHP Cole Pitts’ slower than you’d like development of a reliable breaking ball is what currently keeps him behind Murray on this list. His fastball and change are more than enough to currently get by (7.38 K/9 in 78 freshman innings) in the ACC, but it’ll be the refinement of a third pitch that will get him on the prospect map.

The aforementioned Lynch did a solid job at the plate (.293/.348/.390 in 82 AB) in his freshman year. A bevvy of unproven yet intriguing youngsters like FR LHP Sam Clay, SO OF Jamal Golden, SO OF Dan Spingola, and FR LHP/OF Jonathan (JK) King fill out the rest of the prospect ledger. I also remain interested in a trio of relatively unheralded Georgia Tech sophomores: SO RHP Josh Heddinger, SO OF/1B Charles Sheffield, and SO INF Thomas Smith are all on the scouting radar in some capacity.

Image via Georgia Tech Relay for Life

2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

1. JR LHP Jed Bradley is the obvious headliner. The Ramblin’ Wreck’s lefty ace has a shot to become Georgia Tech’s second straight Friday night starter to go in the top half in the first round in a row. I recently finished ranking 2011’s best college arms — coming soon! — with Bradley coming in as my sixth favorite college pitcher and second overall college lefthander. He’s also the highest ranked pitcher in the ACC and, with apologies to Brad Miller, Harold Martinez, and Levi Michael, the conference’s best overall prospect. In fact, now that I’m looking at my freshly completed rankings — again, coming soon! — I’m realizing that the ACC’s three best 2011 pitching prospects are all lefties. Right now it goes Bradley, Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, [big gap], and Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin. Hey, speaking of lefties…

2. One of the most interesting draft subplots of the upcoming Yellow Jacket season could be the usage of Tech’s trio of lefties who are all decidedly on the bubble — as far as I see it — when it comes to the 2011 draft. SR LHP Taylor Wood, SR LHP Zach Brewster, and JR LHP/1B Jake Davies will all be duking it out for key late inning relief appearances parceled out by the venerable Danny Hall. I thought Brewster, a potential professional LOOGY with some seriously deceptive funk in his delivery, would show enough to get popped late in the draft last year, but he turned out to be my one Georgia Tech swing-and-a-miss during my short-lived Who Will Be Drafted? series. Damn, my guesses on North Carolina were especially brutal. Only 1 out of 7 were correct AND I missed on a player who actually did get picked. Anyway, now that I’ve refreshed the readership on my sterling track record on stuff like this, let me just say that I currently like Davies’ stuff (upper-80s FB, good SL, usable but improving CU) the best of the three, but it’s hard to pick a favorite out of these tightly bunched trio.

3. In an effort to not overextend my reach this year, I’m focusing as much as possible on 2011 while trying to leave the great unknown of 2012 and 2013 alone. Therefore, anything I say about the next two years worth of draft eligible players ought to be taken with a gigantic chunk of salt. For example, if I were to say my favorite Georgia Tech 2012 is SO RHP Buck Farmer and my favorite Georgia Tech 2013 is FR RHP Deandre Smelter, then you might want to think to yourself, “Hey, it’s cool that I now have two names to store away in the back of my head for future drafts — even though I already know all about Smelter, some guy’s 17th highest rated prep player in 2010, from last year’s coverage — but I’ll be sure to do my own homework and/or check back in to this site in the future to learn more about each guy before coming up with any concrete opinions about either player.” Farmer’s low-90s fastball, potential plus breaking ball, and emerging changeup give him the look of a potential solid big league starter. Smelter’s upside is more tantalizing; it’s not crazy to think that he could leave school as a plus fastball, plus slider, plus splitter power pitching prospect in the mold of the player he’s received instruction from, Kevin Brown.

Early 2011 Draft Guesses

JR LHP Jed Bradley, JR RHP Mark Pope, JR 3B Matt Skole, and SR RHP Kevin Jacob (Josh Fields 2.0?) are all stone cold locks to see their names pop up on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker this June. I’m more bullish on JR 2B Connor Winn than most; assuming he has the year I believe he’s capable of having in 2011, he’d probably fall in after those four, but before potential high risk/high reward plays like JR OF Jarrett Didrick, JR RHP/2B Jacob Esch, and JR OF Roddy Jones on my personal rankings. After those eight prospects, we come to the three aforementioned lefthanded relievers, Wood, Brewster, and Davies. If all eleven players get popped, and keep in mind that’s obviously a gigantic if at this point in the process, then that would top last year’s remarkable ten Georgia Tech draft selections. If I was a gambling man, I’d bet on Bradley, Pope, Skole, and Jacob only, and opt to wait and see on how much playing time players like Winn, Didrick, Esch, Jones, Wood, Brewster, and Davies actually get this spring. If I was an optimistic fellow trying to sell you on these guys, I might rave about Didrick’s overflowing tool set (plenty of raw power, above-average speed and range, plus arm), Esch’s opportunity to show his quality stuff on the mound this spring after a disappointing 2010 at second base, and Jones’ borderline unfair NFL speed and athleticism. Since I’m an optimistic betting man, let’s say Bradley, Pope, Skole, Jacob, Winn, Didrick, Esch, Brewster, and Davies all get drafted this June.