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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Southland Conference

(I’m still not sure what format I like best, but we’ll start with a quick ranking of 2016 MLB Draft prospects and then transition into team-by-team follow lists. I tried to cover the bulk of the analysis with yesterday’s post, but still feel weird about doing a ranking/list post without the accompanying commentary. We’ll figure this out yet…)

The Southland Conference had 19 players selected in last year’s draft. That’s good for thirteen straight years of double-digit draftees. I’ll guarantee a fourteenth right now. Seeing as that’s not particularly bold, I’ll go a step further (farther?) and predict that the 2016 total of Southland MLB Draft selections will push past last year’s rjght up into the twenties. Much like last year’s group, I think this year will wind up as a pitching-heavy draft haul. My confidence in the hitting ranking extends only past the first few names — we’ll say Menard is the cut-off point — yet at the same time I wouldn’t be shocked to see a dozen or more pitchers off the board with little hesitation from pro scouting departments.

I won’t pretend to know the ebbs and flows of the Southland Conference any better than a guy who tries to cover an entire country’s worth of prospects by himself can, but I feel comfortable in saying that 2016 looks like a good year for the league. I’m excited for it, if nothing else. I’m particularly intrigued to see if either of my current top prospects — Jameson Fisher or Jake Smith — can beat last year’s top draft finisher (Grant Borne) as a seventh round selection. Others could rise up obviously, but I think if Fisher’s arm proves healthy and effective enough to withstand the rigors of catching by mid-season and Smith’s arm is electric as the early reports indicate then there’s a real shot.

Hitters

  1. Southeastern Louisiana rJR C/1B Jameson Fisher
  2. Lamar SR SS Stijn van derMeer
  3. Southeastern Louisiana SR 2B/3B Daniel Midyett
  4. Northwestern State SR 1B/OF Cort Brinson
  5. Southeastern Louisiana JR OF Jacob Seward
  6. Southeastern Louisiana JR SS/2B Kennon Menard
  7. Central Arkansas SR SS Logan Preston
  8. Southeastern Louisiana JR 2B Carson Crites
  9. Southeastern Louisiana rSR C Sam Roberson
  10. Northwestern State rJR C Daniel Garner
  11. Nicholls State JR OF Justin Holt
  12. Central Arkansas SR OF Tyler Langley
  13. McNeese State rJR OF Matt Gallier
  14. Stephen F. Austin State rJR OF/1B Conner Fikes
  15. Southeastern Louisiana JR OF Webb Bobo
  16. Sam Houston State JR 1B/3B Matthew Broadbent
  17. Nicholls State SR 3B Kyle Reese
  18. Stephen F. Austin State SR 1B Kyle Thornell
  19. Lamar rJR OF Cutter McDowell
  20. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rJR OF Zacarias Hardy
  21. Incarnate Word SR 3B Brance Kahle
  22. Southeastern Louisiana SR OF Julian Service
  23. New Orleans JR OF Hezekiah Randolph
  24. Southeastern Louisiana SR C Chris Eades
  25. Northwestern State rJR OF Nick Heath
  26. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR 3B Cody Clarke

Pitchers

  1. Nicholls State JR RHP Jake Smith
  2. Nicholls State JR RHP/1B Cole Stapler
  3. Southeastern Louisiana SO RHP Mac Sceroler
  4. Abilene Christian rSO RHP Bryce Welborn
  5. Sam Houston State rSO RHP Dakota Mills
  6. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR LHP Chris Falwell
  7. Northwestern State JR RHP Adam Oller
  8. McNeese State rSR RHP Kaleb Fontenot
  9. Lamar SR RHP Will Hibbs
  10. Abilene Christian SR RHP Nate Cole
  11. Sam Houston State JR RHP Sam Odom
  12. Houston Baptist SR RHP Dylan Zarosky
  13. Southeastern Louisiana SR LHP Kyle Cedotal
  14. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rJR RHP Nolan Holland
  15. McNeese State SR RHP Ethan Stremmel
  16. McNeese State JR RHP Collin Kober
  17. Southeastern Louisiana SR RHP Domenick Carlini
  18. McNeese State SR RHP Bryce Kingsley
  19. New Orleans JR RHP Riley Hodge
  20. Sam Houston State JR RHP Cody Brown
  21. McNeese State JR LHP Austin Sanders
  22. Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP/1B Derrick Mount
  23. Nicholls State SR RHP Justin Sinibaldi
  24. McNeese State SR RHP Tyler Day
  25. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR RHP Devin Skapura
  26. Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP Cliff Hurst
  27. Southeastern Louisiana SR RHP Pat Cashman
  28. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Kaleb Keith
  29. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Dalton D’Spain
  30. Northwestern State SR LHP Chase Hymel
  31. Abilene Christian SR RHP Kyle Carroll
  32. Sam Houston State SR RHP Jordan Church

Abilene Christian

SR RHP Nick Palacios (2016)
SR RHP Nate Cole (2016)
SR RHP Garrett deMeyere (2016)
rSO RHP Bryce Welborn (2016)
JR LHP Austin Lambright (2016)
SR RHP Kyle Carroll (2016)
JR 2B/RHP Aaron Draper (2016)
SR C Alex Copeland (2016)
JR 1B/OF Russell Crippen (2016)
FR OF/LHP Derek Scott (2018)
FR SS Mark Pearson (2018)
FR OF Hunter Markwardt (2018)
FR OF Willie Harris (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nate Cole, Bryce Welborn, Kyle Carroll

Central Arkansas

SR RHP Connor Gilmore (2016)
SR RHP Derek Beier (2016)
JR RHP Riley Echols (2016)
JR RHP Jacob Murray (2016)
SR C Brandon Montalvo (2016)
SR 2B Chris Townsend (2016)
SR OF Tyler Langley (2016)
SR SS Logan Preston (2016)
SR C/1B Travis Hull (2016)
SR 1B/3B Matt Anderson (2016)
JR 2B Butch Rea (2016)
SO RHP Tyler Gray (2017)
SO 2B/SS Ty Tice (2017)
FR RHP Cody Davenport (2018)
FR 1B/OF Hunter Strong (2018)

High Priority Follows: Tyler Langley, Logan Preston, Travis Hull

Houston Baptist

SR RHP Dylan Zarosky (2016)
SR LHP Matthew McCollough (2016)
SR RHP Matt Harding (2016)
SR 2B Greg Espinosa (2016)
SR SS Louie Payetta (2016)
SR 1B Andrew Alvarez (2016)
SR OF Brandon Morones (2016)

High Priority Follows: Dylan Zarosky, Greg Espinosa, Louie Payetta

Incarnate Word

JR RHP Trevor Hardee (2016)
SR 3B Brance Kahle (2016)
SR OF Matt Morris (2016)
JR OF Mark Whitehead (2016)
SR C Christian Divelbiss (2016)
SR 2B Trey Rodriguez (2016)
SO RHP John Shull (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Miller (2017)
FR RHP Bernie Martinez (2018)
FR RHP Jake Bedevian (2018)
FR LHP Denson Hull (2018)
FR SS Ryan Gonzalez (2018)

High Priority Follows: Brance Kahle

Lamar

SR RHP Will Hibbs (2016)
SR LHP Joe Farley (2016)
SR RHP Jayson McKinley (2016)
rSR RHP Billy Love (2016)
JR RHP Brent Janak (2016)
SR LHP Travis Moore (2016)
SR RHP Ryan Cawthon (2016)
SR RHP Enrique Oquendo (2016)
SR SS Stijn van derMeer (2016)
rJR OF Cutter McDowell (2016)
SR 1B Jake Nash (2016)
JR 1B Trey Silvers (2016)
JR OF Reid Russell (2016)
SR OF Jacoby Middleton (2016)

High Priority Follows: Will Hibbs, Stijn van derMeer, Cutter McDowell

McNeese State

rSR RHP Kaleb Fontenot (2016)
SR RHP Bryce Kingsley (2016)
SR RHP Ethan Stremmel (2016)
JR LHP Austin Sanders (2016)
SR RHP Tyler Day (2016)
JR RHP Collin Kober (2016)
JR RHP Trent Fontenot (2016)
SR 1B/OF Connor Crane (2016)
SR OF Lewis Guilbeau (2016)
rJR OF Matt Gallier (2016)
SR C Cameron Toole (2016)
JR SS Will Fox (2016)
JR 1B/LHP Ricky Ramirez (2016)
SO 2B Joe Provenzano (2017)
FR OF Shane Selman (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kaleb Fontenot, Bryce Kingsley, Ethan Stremmel, Austin Sanders, Tyler Day, Collin Kober, Matt Gallier

New Orleans

SR RHP Daniel Martinez (2016)
JR LHP Hunter Medine (2016)
rSR LHP Jordan Priddle (2016)
JR RHP Riley Hodge (2016)
JR C Kyle Bracey (2016)
SR OF Chaz Boyer (2016)
JR 2B/SS Samuel Capielano (2016)
JR OF Hezekiah Randolph (2016)
SR OF Ryan Calloway (2016)
JR 2B/SS Aaron Palmer (2016)
SO RHP Shawn Semple (2017)

High Priority Follows: Daniel Martinez, Riley Hodge, Hezekiah Randolph

Nicholls State

SR RHP Justin Sinibaldi (2016)
SR LHP Zach Thiac (2016)
SR RHP Robbie Petty (2016)
JR RHP Jake Smith (2016)
JR RHP/1B Cole Stapler (2016)
SR OF Alex Shermer (2016)
SR 3B Kyle Reese (2016)
JR OF Justin Holt (2016)
JR C Alex Tucker (2016)
SO SS Joey Morales (2017)
SO OF Gavin Wehby (2017)
FR 2B Ethan Valdez (2018)

High Priority Follows: Justin Sinibaldi, Jake Smith, Cole Stapler, Kyle Reese, Justin Holt

Northwestern State

SR LHP Chase Hymel (2016)
JR RHP Adam Oller (2016)
JR RHP Evan Tidwell (2016)
JR RHP Tim Winders (2016)
rSO RHP Brandon Stane (2016)
rJR OF Nick Heath (2016)
JR OF Matt Valdez (2016)
SR 1B/OF Cort Brinson (2016)
rJR C Daniel Garner (2016)
rJR 1B Regan Kaufman (2016)
rSR OF Bret Underwood (2016)
rFR INF Brandon Frazier (2017)
SO OF Kwan Adkins (2017)
SO SS Miller Parker (2017)
SO OF Cade Jones (2017)
SO SS David Fry (2017)
FR RHP Austin Reich (2018)
FR RHP Nathan Jones (2018)
FR 3B/RHP Austin Townsend (2018)
FR INF Lenni Kunert (2018)

High Priority Follows: Chase Hymel, Adam Oller, Nick Heath, Cort Brinson, Daniel Garner

Sam Houston State

rSO RHP Dakota Mills (2016)
JR RHP Cody Brown (2016)
SR RHP Greg Belton (2016)
SR RHP Jordan Church (2016)
SR LHP Hayden Nixton (2016)
JR RHP Sam Odom (2016)
JR 1B/3B Matthew Broadbent (2016)
SR 1B Spence Rahm (2016)
SR 2B Zach Smith (2016)
SR SS Miles Manning (2016)
SO OF Bryce Johnson (2017)
FR SS Andrew Fregia (2018)
FR 2B/RHP Riley McKnight (2018)
FR OF Hunter Hearn (2018)
FR OF Jaxxon Grisham (2018)
FR RHP Riley Gossett (2018)

High Priority Follows: Dakota Mills, Cody Brown, Greg Belton, Jordan Church, Sam Odom, Matthew Broadbent, Spence Rahm, Zach Smith

Southeastern Louisiana

SR LHP Kyle Cedotal (2016)
SR RHP Domenick Carlini (2016)
SR RHP Pat Cashman (2016)
JR RHP Cliff Hurst (2016)
JR RHP Gage Pickett (2016)
rSO RHP Dreagen Bethel (2016)
SO RHP Mac Sceroler (2016)
JR RHP/1B Derrick Mount (2016)
rJR C/1B Jameson Fisher (2016)
rSR C Sam Roberson (2016)
SR C Chris Eades (2016)
SR OF Julian Service (2016)
SR 2B/3B Daniel Midyett (2016)
JR SS/2B Kennon Menard (2016)
JR OF Webb Bobo (2016)
JR OF Jacob Seward (2016)
JR OF Ryan Byers (2016)
JR 2B Carson Crites (2016)
SO RHP Kade Granier (2017)
SO LHP/OF Drew Avans (2017)
SO C Nico Cuccia (2017)
FR LHP Payton Robinson (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kyle Cedotal, Domenick Carlini, Pat Cashman, Cliff Hurst, Mac Sceroler, Derrick Mount, Jameson Fisher, Sam Roberson, Chris Eades, Julian Service, Daniel Midyett, Kennon Menard, Webb Bobo, Jacob Seward, Carson Crites

Stephen F. Austin State

JR LHP Patrick Ledet (2016)
JR RHP Jarred Greene (2016)
SR OF Matthew Dickey (2016)
SR 1B Kyle Thornell (2016)
rJR OF/1B Conner Fikes (2016)
rSR OF Garrett McMullen (2016)
JR 2B Nick Ramos (2016)
SO 3B Eric DeJesus (2017)

High Priority Follows: Kyle Thornell, Conner Fikes

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

JR LHP Chris Falwell (2016)
SR RHP Kaleb Keith (2016)
SR RHP Dalton D’Spain (2016)
rJR RHP Nolan Holland (2016)
JR RHP Devin Skapura (2016)
rJR OF Zacarias Hardy (2016)
SR 3B Cody Clarke (2016)
SR 1B/OF Austin Krajnak (2016)
rSR OF Zack Gibson (2016)
JR OF Brian Deaver (2016)
SR SS Casey Thomas (2016)
rSR 1B Justin Perales (2016)
FR RHP Dustin Lacaze (2018)

High Priority Follows: Chris Falwell, Kaleb Keith, Nolan Holland, Devin Skapura, Zacarias Hardy, Cody Clarke, Austin Krajnak

2010 MLB Draft: Top 30 College Third Base Prospects (20-11)

20. Alabama SR 3B Jake Smith

Players coming off of more accomplished collegiate seasons precede Smith on this list, so take this aggressive ranking as a show of good faith that the Alabama senior’s tools will trump his up-and-down college career when it comes to his success or failure in the pros. Hey, speaking of aggressive, one of Smith’s biggest current issues is a tendency to get too aggressive at the plate, jumping out at pitches before they reach his happy zone. He’s gotten away with it to some extent in college, but hacking at anything 16 inches (give or take) off, up, or away from the plate is no way to advance up the minor league ladder in the enlightened age of baseball we’re lucky to be living in. Smith’s tremendous raw power and excellent defensive tools play in any era of baseball, but he’s been slow to recover from a serious ankle injury. I get the feeling based on all of the above that we’re talking about another four-corners backup type here. Fun fact: Replace “serious ankle injury” with “labrum injury” and you’ve got a very similar situation to what the number eight overall prospect on this list is dealing with. Any guesses about the identify of our mystery prospect?

19. Clemson SO 3B John Hinson

John Hinson was a tough player to rank because of his status as a redshirt and thus draft-eligible sophomore and his positional versatility across the infield. He was an easy guy to rank this high because of the really nice things that anybody who has seen him play this year had to say about him. Hinson was a highly touted prospect out of high school who was considered advanced enough after his freshman year to be asked to play for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League. Back surgery cost him all of his 2009 season, but the fully recovered version of Hinson put up a  2010 statistical line that reads a lot like Pittsburgh’s Joe Leonard’s work this season. A plus hit tool combined with above-average speed and power will get you far professionally, but people smarter than myself that I talked with told me some teams question his ability to play any one particular spot in the infield with the consistency needed of a regular. Based on the limited looks of Hinson that I’ve seen, I can’t say that I necessarily agree with that assessment, but his defensive skillset (good athlete, iffy arm) may make him better suited for second base than third. At either spot, he’s got the bat to make him a potential regular with a couple breaks along the way.

18. Tarleton State JR 3B Chris Casazza

Like Jayson Langfels and Jake Smith before, and Jason Martinson and Mike Olt after, Chris Casazza’s biggest deficiency is a long swing with holes in it that winds up waving and missing at the ball far too often. Like Martinson a few spots ahead of him, Casazza’s good batting eye and sneaky power upside should keep his secondary statistics afloat even when the K’s are trying to drag his prospect stock below the surface. In many ways he’s quite simply the better version of Alabama’s Jake Smith, especially at the plate – more power, more patience, less strikeouts, and better all-around bat. Definite sleeper to watch.

17. Tennessee JR 3B Matt Duffy

Duffy was a deep sleeper top five rounds candidate of mine heading into the season, so you know his underwhelming, but still solid, junior season won’t downgrade his stock too much for me. The Vermont transfer has all of the defensive tools to play a decent shortstop professionally, but profiles better as a potential plus defender at the hot corner. For Duffy, a Jack Hannahan (with more raw power) or Andy LaRoche (with less raw power) type of career is possible.

16. Azusa Pacific SR 3B Ryan Delgado

Delgado earned his way on the list because of his ridiculous power numbers over the years, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that Azusa Pacific has one of the most fun college names to say out loud. Try it, you won’t be disappointed. Besides the cool college name and plus power potential, Delgado has a true plus arm and a well above-average overall hit tool. His defense at third isn’t currently at the level where you could project him as above-average professionally, but the tools are there for him at least wind up a decent defensive player at least through his twenties. If it doesn’t work at third, however, there’s a backup plan that I know for a fact is actually Plan A for some teams. Delgado’s future for some teams might be donning the tools of ignorance behind the plate every day. It’s a stretch and it’s based largely on the 3B/C future that could be in store, but I can’t shake the Jake Fox comp for Delgado that I heard way back when.

15. Coastal Carolina JR 3B Scott Woodward

It’s very easy to envision Scott Woodward playing in the big leagues someday. He’s got an outstanding approach to hitting, a discerning batting eye, and a really good idea of his fundamental strengths and weaknesses at the plate. Woodward ably uses his plus-plus speed to leg out infield hits, turn balls driven to the gaps into triples, and steal bases at a tremendous success rate (46 steals in 52 tries). Home runs will likely never be a big part of his game, but his is a game based more on speed and plate discipline anyway. He could have the type of career many once projected for former Dodgers prospect Joe Thurston. Another comp that I like a lot is Phillies minor leaguer Tyson Gillies, a comparison made more interesting due to the fact both players are hearing impaired, but one not at all dependent on that fact as the basis of the comp. When I first thought of it a few weeks ago the connection didn’t even occur to me, but the two players share enough distinct offensive similarities to make it work.

14. North Carolina State JR 3B Russell Wilson

Betting on Wilson is betting on upside, a worthy risk to take when you are considering which mid-round college hitter to gamble on. See, the sad little truth about lists like this are that the players, while undeniably impressive and accomplished and talented, are more than likely never going to play in the big leagues. Heck, many of them won’t see AA. Once you get past the top two or three names on any of these college lists, it’s all a big guessing game. Educated guessing, to be sure, but guessing all the same. To make a long intro slightly less long, if you’re are going to bet on a mid-round college player, go for the rare guy with untapped potential. That’s Wilson. Here’s why…

I tend to overuse this word when writing about draft prospects, but it applies to Wilson so well here that I can’t help myself. Wilson is an interesting prospect. More than one team affiliated employee I spoke to used that word to describe Wilson in some way – “interesting upside,” “interesting bat,” and “interesting future.” Watch him for just a couple of innings and you’ll see evidence of all five tools right away. His bat is, well, interesting, and his power, while mostly to the gaps at this point, could top out with homer totals in the teens professionally. As a former quarterback unafraid to take off with the ball when needed, it comes as no surprise that his speed rates as an easy 60, with startlingly quick acceleration. Defensively he may have the speed, instincts, and athleticism to play up the middle (2B or CF), but his presence on this particular list is a bet on his plus arm playing best at third base over the long run. Wilson’s numbers this year were solid across the board, but his performance must be judged with his lack of college ball experiences prior to 2010 in mind. He needs more reps on the diamond, but if a team is patient with him they could be rewarded with a player who closely mirrors the Melvin Mora developmental path, something that will no doubt interest a big league club or two come draft day.

13. Texas State JR 3B Jason Martinson

The more I do this, the more I begin to gain an appreciation for the way certain college programs recruit and develop talent. The job Ty Harrington has done in San Marcos is nothing short of spectacular. I relate it to a college football team with very specific offensive and defensive schemes recruiting not based on consensus overall talent levels, but rather best fits for the program. You’d think these less talented players would succeed mainly due to the system in college, but then, lo and behold, draft day comes and teams start taking these supposed system talents left and right. Turns out that players overlooked in high school can turn out to be pretty valuable prospects after three years of quality college coaching. I suppose that’s really just my long way of saying that even though it’s common the best high school players sign out of high school, and even though it’s common the best unsigned high school players go to the big name schools in Texas, it’s still possible to have some really talented players wind up at non-traditional baseball schools. Schools like that often have coaching staffs more familiar with coaching guys up than allowing them to coast by on natural abilities they may or may not have.

Martinson is a plus athlete with very good defensive tools who, similar to Tennessee’s Matt Duffy, may be good enough with the leather to stick up the middle (either shortstop or second base) in some organizations. For me, however, his hands, range, and arm all play best at third, a position where he could eventually be a decidedly above-average defender. Offensively the rap on Martinson coming into the year was that he swung and miss too often to ever hit for an acceptable average professionally. That may or may not be true going forward — his 2010 performance has been very similar to his 2009 — but his quick wrists and above-average plate discipline should help keep his on-base percentage up even when he is striking out more often than you’d like. Teams will worry less about the low contact rate if Martinson can begin to tap into some of the long awaited above-average raw power that hasn’t really showed up through three seasons of college ball. If he can begin to apply some of his brute physical strength into homerun power professionally, he’s got a chance to be a starter. If not, his best chance of earning the big bucks will be in the good defender/patient pinch hitter role.

12. Wichita State FR 3B Johnny Coy

Coy has taken a long, strange trip to get to this point, but the eventual payoff could very well make it all worth it. Coy’s story began as a two-sport high school star, regarded by many as a better basketball prospect than baseball. After getting drafted by the Phillies in the 7th round, protracted and sometimes testy (allegedly) negotiations between player and team led to the two sides opting to go their separate ways. Coy’s older brother was reportedly heavily involved with negotiations, strongly pushing his bro to either a) get every last penny from the Phillies as possible (making him a greedy villain to many) or b) go to school and get a quality education (a far more admirable position, some might say). Coy wound up enrolling at Arizona State, but never made it to baseball season. He left the Sun Devils to move closer to home after his father suffered a stroke in late 2008. That led him to Wichita State. As a Shocker, Coy has been able to focus on honing his considerable baseball skills. All of his raw tools grade out as average or better – 55 speed, 60 arm, 65-70 raw power, average hit tool, and, perhaps most controversially, above-average upside with the glove at third. I remember not believing for a second that he’d ever stick at third after seeing video of him in high school, but all of the noise regarding his defensive progress coming out of Wichita has been positive. I’m a big believer in the big (6-8, 210 pound) righthanded freshman. As mentioned, Coy was a 7th round pick by the Phillies back in 2008. The questions concerning his signability will probably keep him from hitting that mark here in 2010, but his true talent level makes him a top ten round candidate worth pursuing if he even begins to hint that he’ll consider signing.

11. Fresno City College FR 3B David Rohm

Rohm hits and hits and hits. He can also steal a bag when left unattended (great instincts on the bases), smack a ball the other way (very mature hitting style), and crank it out of the ballpark when the mood strikes (above-average present power). Mostly though, he hits. His defense ranks in the bottom third of players here in the top 30, but he still has a better than 50/50 shot to stick at the position through his first six years of big league control. Ah, the defense update is appreciated,  you’re thinking, but, wait, can the guy hit? Excellent question; yes, David Rohm can hit.