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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Chicago White Sox

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Chicago in 2016

6 – Zack Collins
33 – Zack Burdi
38 – Jameson Fisher
64 – Alec Hansen
94 – Luis Curbelo
266 – Alex Call
357 – Ian Hamilton
418 – Mitch Roman

Complete List of 2016 Chicago White Sox Draftees 

And now a few words on some White Sox draft picks…

1.10 – C Zack Collins

The quick ascension of Zack Collins (6) to High-A ball got me curious as to how often a player reaches that level in his draft year. I decided to look back on every high profile college hitter drafted in the first round since this site started up in 2009 to see which hitters, if any, pulled off the same feat. The last college hitter that I found to get any High-A time in his draft season was Kyle Schwarber, who got 120 PA at levels below A+ before getting 191 PA in the Florida State League. I suppose the Cubs figured that Schwarber could handle a path similar to the one they had Kris Bryant embark on the year before. Bryant, the second overall pick in 2013, got 84 PA at levels below A+ before getting 62 PA at High-A. Pittsburgh’s Tony Sanchez also played at High-A in his rookie year, though his appearance at the level amounted to little more than a late season taste (13 PA). Three additional cases jumped out as particularly unique. Mike Zunino got 133 PA in Low-A before skipping High-A altogether and getting 57 PA in AA during his draft year. Then there’s Christian Colon and Grant Green. Both of the alliterative middle infielders were skipped immediately to High-A after their drafts concluded; Colon played the whole year there while Green, a later sign, managed to get his name on a contract just in time to get his first 20 professional PA there. Then there’s Corey Ray, fifth overall pick in the very same draft as Collins (and a native Chicagoan to boot!), who went right from signing to High-A right around the same time Collins was pulling it off. So, you know, maybe it’s not THAT rare after all, but it’s still kind of cool.

Anyway, Zack Collins! I’ve written a lot about this guy here over the years. Lots of love letters and poetry, but some actual baseball analysis mixed in as well. My favorite two blurbs…

April 2016…

I’m close to out of superlatives for Zack Collins’s bat. If he can catch, he’s a superstar. If he can’t, then he’s still a potential big league power bat capable of hitting in the middle of the championship lineup for the next decade. I realize first basemen aren’t typically sought after at the top of the draft. There are perfectly valid reasons for that. But any time you have the chance at a potential top five bat at any given position, I think it’s all right to bend the rules a little. Positional value is important, but so is premium offensive production. Collins hitting and hitting a lot as a professional is one of the things I’m most sure about in this draft class.

May 2016…

He’s the one I’ve comped to Schwarber stylistically. I actually think Collins is the better catcher and could stick there as a pro. Still might be best moving him out from behind the plate. I’ve just come up with a terrifying comp for him…Joey Votto. Maybe he’s one of those hitters that we shouldn’t compare young guys to, but then again…at the same age, Votto hit .256/.330/.425 with 52 BB/122 K in A+ ball. I could see Collins going to A/A+ this year after the draft and doing similar stuff.

As it turns out, we now know that Collins did go to A+ and do similar stuff! Here we go…

.258/.418/.467 – 25.5 K% and 21.6 BB% – 153 PA
.256/.330/.425 – 23.1 K% and 9.8 BB% – 529 PA

Top was Collins, bottom was Votto. Both were 21-years-old at High-A. Votto obviously had more pro time under his belt being a high school draftee. Votto is also obviously Votto. He’s one of a kind. It’s silly to compare anybody to him. But here we are. If moved to first base, I think Collins can be about 90% as good as Votto as a hitter. As a full-time catcher (give or take), I could see him being 80% as good a hitter as Votto. That’s enough for either a .280/.380/.480 line or a .250/.340/.425 line. The former is a little like 2016 Paul Goldschimdt (minus the steals) and the latter is something akin to fellow Hurricane Yasmani Grandal. That’s not Votto, but it’s still a tremendously valuable hitter.

I wrestled with whether or not there was enough value in the following sentence to bother including it here, but why not…I mean, we’re all pals here, right? My gut still says that Collins has a chance to go full Votto performance-wise if things break right. I just have to get that in writing to see how crazy it looks. I don’t know. I’m leaving it. My takes are typically fairly restrained around here, so I think I’m entitled to a scorcher every now and then. I love Zack Collins as a hitter. I can’t hide it.

1.26 – RHP Zack Burdi

On Zack Burdi (33) from October 2015…

Of all the rankings outside of the top ten, this is the one that could make me look dumbest by June. Burdi is a really tough evaluation for him right now because even after multiple years of being on the prospect stage it’s unclear (to me, at least) what role will eventually lead to him maximizing his ability. I’m reticent to throw him in the bullpen right away — many do this because of his last name, I think — because he’s shown the kind of diversity of stuff to stay in a rotation. Whether or not he has the command or consistency remain to be seen. Still, those concerns aren’t all that concerning when your fallback plan means getting to go full-tilt in the bullpen as you unleash a triple-digit fastball on hitters also guarding against two impressive offspeed pitches (CU, SL). It’s almost a win-win for scouting directors at this point. If he has a great spring, then you can believe him in as a starter long-term and grade him accordingly. If there’s still doubt, then you can drop him some but keep a close eye on his slip while being ready to pounce if he falls outside of those first few “don’t screw up or you’re fired” picks. You don’t want to spend a premium pick on a potential reliever, clearly, but if he falls outside of the top twenty picks or so then all of a sudden that backup bullpen plan is good enough to return value on your investment.

I actually try not to quote older stuff in these draft reviews (fine, that’s a lie…), but this felt like a special case to me. Despite a wildly successful junior season at Louisville, I approached Burdi with much the same confusion in June as I did way back in fall ball of last year. Here I sit staring at updated scouting reports and 38.0 quality pro innings (mostly in AA and AAA), and I still don’t know what to make of Burdi. At this rate he’ll be kicking back on a beach somewhere long retired before I make any kind of definitive statement about what kind of pitcher Burdi will be. Thankfully, we don’t have to know anything concrete at this stage of his development; all we need to know is that he’s really good at pitching. That last sentence from October summed it up then as it sums it up now: “You don’t want to spend a premium pick on a potential reliever, clearly, but if he falls outside of the top twenty picks or so then all of a sudden that backup bullpen plan is good enough to return value on your investment.” Even with Burdi’s potentially translatable gifts working in a starting role, I would have been way too risk-averse to draft a future reliever early in the draft to make a move on him in the top twenty or so picks. The White Sox took him at twenty-six, a spot that felt just about right — I had him 33rd — when it came to balancing the pros and cons of his two potential career paths.

It occurs to me now that Burdi will enter 2017 in a fairly similar position to the one Edwin Diaz of Seattle came into this present season. Hmm…

2.49 – RHP Alec Hansen

On Alec Hansen (64) from April 2016…

The biggest current question mark in the college game has to be Alec Hansen. He’s steadily pitched his way from the 1-1 conversation to the top five to the top ten to potentially all the way out of the first round. I’m no doctor — just a man who loves him some unsourced speculation — but the dots that connect Hansen’s summer away from the mound (forearm tightness) to his dreadful 2016 start are enough to raise an eyebrow. Truthfully, disclosure of a potential injury might just be the best thing that could happen to his draft stock at this point. I’ve linked Hansen’s rise and (as it has turned out) fall to that of Michael Matuella’s from last year. Still think that’s likely how this all plays out come June, but we’ll see. A healthy Hansen with the right kind of professional coaching could front a rotation.

Both the lack of an officially diagnosed injury and the delightfully aggressive drafting of the White Sox kept Hansen from falling quite as far as Matuella did (78th overall in 2015). I’d imagine Chicago was pretty pleased with that turn of events. All Hansen did after inking his name to a pro contract was pitch his ass off: 13.35 K/9 and 3.30 BB/9 in 54.2 IP (1.32 ERA). Hindsight is a beautiful thing and 54.2 knockout innings do not a career make, but I have a sneaking suspicion that many, many, many teams will regret not risking a second round pick on a talent like Hansen. Heck, I ranked him 64th and I’m kicking myself over not being more daring on draft day right there with them. As we said in April: “A healthy Hansen with the right kind of professional coaching could front a rotation.” We might be seeing that transformation take place right in front of our faces. Good for Hansen and good for the White Sox.

3.86 – OF Alex Call

The White Sox liked Alex Call (266) about six more rounds than I did, and the early returns have made them look smarter than some weird guy on the internet. Good work, Chicago. Call destroyed opposing pitching while at Ball State to the tune of a .358/.443/.667 line with 29 BB/29 K and 17/21 SB in 243 AB. He then went out and hit .308/.394/.445 with 34 BB/58 K and 14/20 SB in 337 PA split between the Pioneer League and Low-A. Not a bad little pro debut for the well-rounded righthander. Whenever I’m off with a guess like Call’s pre-draft ranking, I like to reach out to smarter people than myself to get more information and create a fuller picture of the player I whiffed on. One person said they “couldn’t see Call not” (quoting this part to point out I’m innocent of the questionable yet emphatic grammar choice) being a useful big league player; his floor is a Ryan Raburn type, a handy fourth outfielder who can knock around lefthanded pitching as well as anybody. The most optimistic comp I got for Call was former White Sox outfielder Nick Swisher, minus the switch-hitting. A comp like that warrants a closer look…

.348/.470/.620 with 43 BB/33 K in 184 AB
.358/.443/.667 with 29 BB/29 K in 243 AB

Top was Swisher’s junior season at Ohio State, bottom was Call at Ball State. I wouldn’t have guessed them as being that close going off of memory. Here’s more…

.242/.360/.410 with 39 BB/59 K in 274 PA (majority in High-A)
.308/.394/.445 with 34 BB/58 K in 337 PA (majority in Low-A)

Top was Swisher’s pro debut, bottom was Call’s pro debut. How about that? Call is a fine prospect that I overlooked to a degree because of this year’s loaded college outfield class. When a guy has his kind of approach with average or better tools across the board, you take notice. I’m noticing later than I would have liked, but still early enough in his pro career that I’ll be ready to bust out the extra obnoxious told-you-so’s if he takes off. That’s one of the joys of having a website, after all. I’m only in it for the sweet sweet told-you-so’s.

4.116 – OF Jameson Fisher

I liked Jameson Fisher (38) enough to rank him in my top 500 — 499th, to be fair — in 2015 even as he was coming off an entire season lost to injury. Now that he’s put together an excellent final season at Southeastern Louisiana and a highly successful run in the Pioneer League, I like him even more. A little history, first going back to March 2015…

In fairness, Southeastern Louisiana JR C Jameson Fisher is a really, really good prospect. The injury is an undeniable bummer not only because it’s a year of lost development in a critical time for a player’s long-term future but also because it brings further into question his long-term defensive home (even more than his raw glove originally did). If Fisher can’t catch, I don’t know what to think about him as a pro prospect. Like many college backstops, so much is dependent on how long and how well they can hold up defensively behind the dish. I believe in Fisher’s bat as being potentially league average or better both in terms of contact rates and power upside, but the doubt about his defense is an issue not to be taken lightly. I know nothing about Fisher’s mindset heading into June, but if I had to guess I’d assume that it’s very unlikely that a team will draft him high enough (and offer enough cold hard cash) to get him to leave college after a year away from the field. If that’s the case, we’re in for another year’s worth of “can he or can’t he” defensive debate. Can’t wait.

And then about a year later in February 2016…

I’ve been on record as being a big C/1B Jameson Fisher fan, so consider me damn excited for his return to the field in 2016. If his arm allows him to show off behind the plate this spring, I could see him rising up into that round five to ten area where he belongs.

So much of the conversation about Fisher on this site has been about his glove that I can only explain the lack of chatter about his bat as proof that I never wavered about it being big league quality. Fisher can flat hit. In a perfect world he’d be healthy and a catcher and one of the best prospects in baseball. In reality, he’s an outfielder with enough stick to be a fixture in a big league club’s lineup. That’ll play. Incidentally, I really like my pre-draft comp to Mark Zagunis, especially now that the two are on crosstown rivals.

5.146 – RHP Jimmy Lambert

A weird line in Low-A is what initially caught my eye about Jimmy Lambert: good peripherals (9.10 K/9 and 3.34 BB/9), iffy run prevention (5.76 ERA), and some rotten luck with his record (0-5 in just 29.2 IP). Losing five games in 29.2 innings of work seems kind of hard to do, no? Whatever. Since none of that tells us all that much about his future, let’s get into what convinced Chicago to take him in this past year’s fifth round. Lambert has a live arm (88-92, 94 peak), plenty of baseball smarts (high degree of pitchability, if you care for the term), and solid control. It’s a back-end starter strike-throwing profile that could ultimately prove more effective in a relief role. That’s where I see Lambert making it, if he does in fact make it at all. I’m bearish on his future. Baseball is hard, you know?

6.176 – SS Luis Curbelo

Luis Curbelo (94), drafted as a shortstop, was expected by many (including me) to make the transition to third base sooner rather than later as a pro. So far, that hasn’t been the case as the native Puerto Rican has instead played predominantly short and second in his young career. You never know what you’re going to get with a high school hitter due to the varying levels of competition, so the narrative on Curbelo isn’t entirely dissimilar to many of his 2016 prep peers. The tools — power and arm strength, most notably — are impressive, as is the very high likelihood that he’ll remain an infielder in some capacity be it second, third, or maybe against all odds short. Whether or not he can hit advanced pitching, however, will remain a question until it’s not. There was enough good in his rocky debut to keep the same hope felt pre-draft alive for now.

(I wasn’t sure where to wedge this in above because I’m a bad/lazy writer, so I’ll do it parenthetically after the fact: one of the post-draft comps I got on Curbelo is former third round pick and current Phillies minor leaguer Jan Hernandez. Do what you will with that.)

7.206 – LHP Bernardo Flores

For some players, timing is everything. Bernando Flores, a lefty with plenty of good days and plenty of not so good days this past spring at USC, is one of those players. On his best days, Flores threw darts. We’re talking consistent low-90s heat (up to 95) with a pair of average or better offspeed pitches. On those not so good days, he was more mid- to upper-80s with his fastball with little to no confidence in his otherwise solid changeup. On a good day, that’s an arm worth a top five round pick. On a less good day, it’s a profile more typical of a mid-teens lottery ticket. The White Sox split the difference (favoring the good) and popped Flores in the seventh round. If he can achieve his back-end starting pitcher destiny, then he’ll have done more than enough to justify Chicago’s faith in him. Even if he has to transition to the pen at some point — a distinct possibility as shorter outings could lead to more consistency stuff-wise from game to game — Flores remains talented enough to bring back more than his share of value. I’ll borrow from the White Sox thinking and split the difference: I see him as a fifth starter/swingman good enough to reach the highest level, though perhaps not without a few ups and downs (and maybe a different organization or two) along the way.

8.236 – C Nate Nolan

I say it often, but one of the few pieces of interesting constructive criticism I frequently get here is that I’m too positive. Anybody who knows me in real life would surely disagree with such claims, but when it comes to talking on the internet about young baseball players chasing a dream, I suppose I can get a little too “best case scenario” at times. Well, there’s no way to sugarcoat Nate Nolan’s start in pro ball. The former St. Mary’s catcher had just about as bad a debut as possible. The most depressing thing about his bad start is that it was wholly predictable; there’s a reason why he didn’t crack my top 500 (and landed 66th among college catchers), so when the White Sox took him at 236 I was a little taken aback. There’s no questioning Nolan’s plus raw power and above-average or better arm strength. Those two factors alone are enough to get a chance in pro ball. His approach, however, is a mess.

Nolan hit .264/.364/.481 as a junior at St. Mary’s with 28 BB and 81 (!) K. His college career BB to K ratio was 47 to 167. Then he went out and hit .138/.241/.203 with 14 BB and 62 K in his pro debut. That’s 61 BB to 229 K total. There isn’t a baseball fan among us who doesn’t enjoy catchers with big power and strong arms, but that approach is too much to get past. I don’t understand this pick at all.

9.266 – SS Max Dutto

Everybody who’s into this draft thing knows about Lucas Erceg going from Cal to Menlo College. Few realized (myself included) that he wasn’t the only Golden Bear to jump ship. Max Dutto went from hitting .222/.411/.346 with 22 BB/28 K in 81 AB in the PAC-12 to a far more robust .276/.456/.594 with 44 BB/56 K in 170 AB in the Golden State Athletics Conference. I’ll be honest: his pop, glove, and plate discipline make me mad that I missed on him this past spring. He’s interesting.

10.296 – 3B Zach Remillard

The White Sox continue to be one of the most refreshingly aggressive franchises when it comes to where they opt to place their most recent class of draftees. Getting a tenth round pick like Zach Remillard up to full-season ball (Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League) for 116 PA is Exhibit Z for supporting said aggression. One might wonder about the wisdom of pushing a guy like Remillard — ironically enough, “too aggressive for his own good” was a phrase used in his pre-draft report here — but I support the decision. There are no rules that can’t be broken, but, generally speaking, if you think enough of a college prospect to draft him in the first place, then he should be ready enough to spend at least a little time outside of short-season ball in his debut. Major college players, especially hitters, don’t need to go to rookie ball. Good for Chicago for realizing this.

As for Remillard the player and not the abstract organizational concept, not much has changed from when I wrote about him way back in January 2015…

The breakout season for JR 3B Zach Remillard (Coastal Carolina) is coming. It has to be since it hasn’t happened yet. That’s infallible logic if I’ve ever heard it. Remillard is a really well-rounded talent who sometimes gets himself in trouble by expanding the zone and trying to do too much at the plate. If he can just ease up just a touch with his overly aggressive approach, then he could begin to produce enough overall offensive value to project as a potential regular at the hot corner. The more realistic forecast is as an offense-first utility player capable of playing 1B, 2B, 3B, and maybe the outfield corners.

Still waiting on a true breakout season, so it seems like it is time to accept the reality that he’s a bat-first utility guy if he makes it all. I’m less hopeful than I’d like to be based on his approach, but his physical gifts give him a shot.

11.326 – RHP Ian Hamilton

I’m pretty comfortable with where I finished with Ian Hamilton (357) back in April…

It’s back of the rotation type starter stuff if it continues to come back. Ian Hamilton could have similar upside (or better) if you’re the type who believes in him as a starter at the next level. He’s got the offspeed stuff (above-average 80-86 SL that flashes plus and an average 80-84 CU) to go through a lineup multiple times. He’s also highly athletic. Those are the points in his favor if you like him as a starter. I’m willing to be talked into it, but the way his fastball plays up in short bursts (consistently 92-96, up to 99) as opposed to the 90-93 he sits as a starter has me still liking him more as a fireman out of the pen.

The White Sox had him get a few starts in at Low-A before the season finished, so clearly they want to see him starting up close and personal before making any long-term change to his role. I can certainly appreciate that. It could be because I recently finished up a draft review for Philadelphia, but I can’t help but see some similarities between Hamilton and Grant Dyer, formerly of UCLA and currently part of the Phillies organization. Both profile best (to me) as pro relievers, but were pushed into starting roles by their PAC-12 school for the good of the team. I could see both having long fruitful careers pitching out of big league bullpens, with Dyer being more the middle innings type and Hamilton potentially working the late inning relief. I don’t question Chicago doing everything in their power to make it work in the rotation first, but I still see Hamilton eventually becoming a reliever, though potentially a very good one. All else being equal, give me upper-90s in relief over low-90s as a starter.

12.356 – SS Mitch Roman

Mitch Roman (418) played SS and 2B after signing and pretty well at both spots. As a potential high-contact, solid fielding, above-average to plus running utility infielder, the former Wright State standout was very good value in the twelfth round. I approve.

13.386 – C Michael Hickman

Michael Hickman is living proof that sometimes players fall through the cracks here. That’s the downside of this being a one-man show. Hickman went from being ranked 242 out of high school in 2015 to being unranked after a solid junior college season (.345/.442/.610 with 17 BB/38 K in 177 AB) at powerhouse Chipola in 2016. Technically he was only unranked nationally on the final board; he came in 48th on my college catcher list. Buying Hickman is buying his lefthanded power and impressive bat speed while living with some swing-and-miss and rough defensive edges. At this point in the draft, that trade-off is well worth a shot.

14.416 – RHP Bryan Saucedo

I had nothing on Bryan Saucedo before the draft. Big, Canadian, and a Hard Thrower. That’s what should go on Saucedo’s business cards. He was one of four player selected out of Davenport University, a NAIA school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Davenport University! Of course! I really should have seen it coming. I’ll do better next year.

15.446 – RHP Jake Elliott

The White Sox drafted both Alec Hansen and Jake Elliott from the Sooners staff, so that makes the following from April all the more relevant…

I had some friends come into the season armed and ready with a Jake Elliott is the better long-term prospect than Alec Hansen take. That talk has quieted down as Elliott’s start has just about equaled Hansen’s…and not in a good way. His arm talent is still really impressive: 86-92 FB (94 peak), average 75-80 breaking ball, and a 77-80 change that borders on plus.

Elliott’s disastrous 2016 season at Oklahoma knocked him way down draft boards this spring. The White Sox had him fall into their laps in round fifteen. I’ll bust out the all-caps to announce this pick as one of the draft’s biggest STEALS. There’s no other way to look at it. Elliott has a great arm, great frame, and has shown flashes of great all-around stuff. Whatever issues he had in his draft year — I know nothing concrete, but one source said it was nothing more than “draft year-itis” — seem well on their way to getting sorted out in the professional ranks. Things fell apart quickly for Elliott in the college half of his 2016. Things appeared to come back together just as quickly on the pro side. Things could swing back the other way at some point in the near future. Nobody knows. But gambling on a talent like Elliott figuring things out (again, so far so good here) for the low low price of a fifteenth round pick and $100,000? That’s a no-brainer. This isn’t just one of my favorite Chicago picks, this is one of my favorite picks in the entire 2016 MLB Draft. If the breaking ball doesn’t improve, then stick him in the bullpen and let him do his best Ryan Madson impression.

16.476 – RHP Ben Wright

Ben Wright was challenged with an assignment to Low-A. Ben Wright succeeded in said challenge, holding his own in 30.2 solid if unspectacular innings for the Intimidators. I can’t quite say for sure what drew the White Sox to Ben Wright in the first place (I have no scouting buzz to offer on him and his 2016 college stats were #bad), but, hey, so far so good.

17.506 – RHP Brad Haymes

Upper-80s fastball that can scrape 90, a decent curve, and good size. Those are the things a scout might use to try to sell his or her team on Brad Haymes. A more analytically motivated thinker could point to his outstanding four years at Gardner-Webb, a run that culminated in a year-long stretch of ace-level pitching as a senior. Put those two approaches together and you’ve got yourself a seventeenth round draft pick.

18.536 – RHP Lane Hobbs

I’m not a Lane Hobbs expert. I could pretend, but that would only kill whatever shred of credibility I still possess. I do know that he had a good debut. I also know that the White Sox saw enough in him coming out of Concordia (where I know he had an awesome junior year) to give him a nifty little $80,000 bonus. I know that he’s big. If you didn’t know those things, well, now you do. If you did know them, then maybe it’s time to start your own draft site. I’d read it.

19.566 – 1B Anthony Villa

A fine if otherwise nondescript debut for Anthony Villa’s pro career was made notable (for me) by his starting four games at the hot corner in addition to his regular duty at first base. If he can handle third, a position he does have experience at going back to his days at St. Mary’s (second Gael taken by the White Sox, if you’re scoring at home), then he’s got a sliver of a shot of making it. As a first baseman only, however, it would be a steep uphill battle.

20.596 – RHP Matt Foster

Size doesn’t really seem to matter much to the White Sox as they continue to tick off college relievers with the selection of Matt Foster. What Foster lacks in size, he makes up for with an above-average fastball (90-94) and breaking ball mix. It’s rare that a pitcher from the SEC with good stuff and great results (11.03 K/9 and 2.92 ERA in 40.0 IP) could be this overlooked. Nice work by Chicago here as Foster did more of the same (12.47 K/9 and 0.61 ERA in 29.2 IP) as a pro.

21.626 – LHP Michael Horejsei

Michael Horejsei is on the older side for a recent draft pick — he turned 24-years-old about a month into his pro career — but there’s no denying his effectiveness. His final year at Ohio State: 11.32 K/9 and 2.61 BB/9 in 31.0 IP (2.61 ERA). His first year in the pros, the majority of which was spent in Low-A: 9.23 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9 in 40.0 IP (0.90 ERA). I’ve heard from a source who told me that the White Sox believe Horejsei is more or less ready to pitch in the big leagues now (in part because he’s done developing and is what he is at this point) and expect him to potentially get a shot at doing just that as early as mid-season next year. There’s nothing sexy about taking an undersized matchup lefty lacking premium stuff, but that’s a pretty damn sexy potential outcome for a twenty-first round pick.

22.656 – OF Joel Booker

On Joel Booker from March 2015…

Iowa JR OF Joel Booker remains a bit of a mystery man to me, but crazy speed, premium athleticism, and considerable arm strength paint the picture of a strong overall prospect. Booker destroyed junior college ball the past two seasons (.403/.451/.699 last year) and has adjusted fairly well to big time college ball so far this year. The big question even as he was annihilating juco pitching was how his high-contact, minimal bases on ball approach would play as the competition tightened. It’s still a concern, but it might just be one of those tradeoffs we have to accept in a flawed prospect. Booker’s aggression nature defines him at the plate; pushing him into more of a leadoff approach could neuter his unusually adept bat-to-ball ability just as easily as it could take him to the next level as a prospect.

He wound up struggling for much of his junior season at Iowa before taking off as a senior in 2016. He kept those positive vibes going with a really strong debut pro season. His approach is still a little too aggressive for his own good and his in-game power remains a bit of a question mark, but, as I said back in the day, crazy speed, premium athleticism, and considerable arm strength paint the picture of a strong overall prospect. There’s enough here to think of him as a potential quality backup outfielder.

23.686 – SS Sam Dexter

The pride of Southern Maine, Sam Dexter is now one of the four players named Dexter to get a mention on this site. Previously, they’ve all been first names: Dexter Kjerstad, Dexter Spitsnogle, and Dexter Bobo. Sam Dexter, announced as a shortstop at the time of the draft, played exclusively second and third in his pro debut. He’s also just one of an even dozen players to be drafted out of Southern Maine in the school’s history.

24.716 – 3B Brady Conlan

I didn’t have have Brady Conlan in my notes prior to the draft, but if I had I think I would have championed his cause leading up to the big day. His numbers at Cal State Dominguez were excellent (.413/.469/.550 with 14 BB/12 K in 189 AB), though the usual caution that comes with senior season stats applies for the 23-year-old third baseman. “Older, but a little interesting” is how I jotted down my feelings on Conlan as the draft concluded. Sounds about right.

27.806 – RHP Mike Morrison

I don’t quite know how one of college baseball’s best relievers lasted past pick eight hundred. Mike Morrison has come up huge on the biggest stages of college ball, put up consistently stellar strikeout rates (10.04 K/9 in 2014, 11.37 K/9 in 2015, 12.81 K/9 in 2016), and improved his control with every season at Coastal Carolina. That’s all well and good, one might think, but maybe he’s one of those great college pitchers who lack the stuff to make it in the pros. Lots of guys can get by with junk right up until the exact moment that they can’t. Morrison isn’t that kind of guy. Nobody will tell you he has big league closer stuff (nobody I know, anyway) and nor should they, but what Morrison brings to the mound is more than enough to get pro hitters swinging and missing. Morrison’s average fastball (87-92) plays up thanks to good command, and his 75-78 curve is a potential out pitch against even the most advanced hitting. I’ll admit that it’s at least possible that Morrison will be one of those guys consistently gets results at lower-levels until the moment opposing offenses begin to outclass his stuff (some guys sell their souls for college magic and can never replicate that success in the pros…I get it), but I’m not going to be the one to bet against him. Mike Morrison: twenty-seventh round pick and future big league pitcher.

28.836 – OF Aaron Schnurbusch

It’s hard not to be a little intrigued at Aaron Schnurbusch after his outstanding debut. He gets even more appealing when you consider his two-way past. The big (6-5, 235), athletic, power-hitting lefty could be set to take off now that he can focus 100% of his attention on the finer aspects of mashing taters. Or he could just be another mid-round slugger taking advantage of younger competition in a relatively small sample. Hopefully, some of those questions will begin to be answered next spring. Like Fisher and Booker, Schnurbusch should get a chance to go right to High-A next season. All of these guys will be 23-years-old, so the clock is ticking a little louder than it would normally be for such recent picks. Between those three and Alex Call, the Winston-Salem outfield could be quite interesting next season. I had initially worried that there could be a logjam there, but it should work out. Landon Lassiter and Michael Suiter should both move to AA while Louie Lechich, one of my all-time biggest draft whiffs, could be heading towards unemployment. Micker Adolfo could join the aforementioned four to start the year in the Carolina League, as could Tyler Sullivan. All in all, it’s a fun group. Knowing the White Sox, it wouldn’t be a shocker if one (Call) or more (Fisher) either start the year in AA or move there very quickly.

30.896 – RHP Pat Cashman

Undersized righthander with a nice fastball (up to 93) coming off a senior season with strong peripherals (9.13 K/9 and 2.68 BB/9). That’s Pat Cashman.

32.956 – RHP Sean Renzi

I think the White Sox did very well for themselves as they shopped for late-round senior-sign relief help. The odds against any of these guys making it are obviously quite long, but it seems to me they took some smart chances. Perhaps more importantly, they took a lot of chances. You have to play to win, they say, and more lottery tickets equals more chances at that jackpot. In this case, the big money prize likely amounts to a decent middle reliever, but every little bit of cheap, homegrown talent helps in the big picture. Anyway, Sean Renzi is a big guy with a good arm (low-90s heat) and a delivery that’s tough on righthanders to pick up. He’s got some wildness to overcome, but the raw arm talent is appealing.

33.986 – LHP Ryan Boelter

I’m not sure he has the potential to move quite as quick as Michael Horejsei (see my slightly informed speculation about that above), but Ryan Boelter seems to have the two-pitch combo working enough for him that a quick rise up the chain wouldn’t come as much of a shock. With a solid fastball (86-91) and a similarly useful change, the big lefty can miss bats. He’s the second pitcher selected by the White Sox out of Gardner-Webb here in 2016. That makes the White Sox guilty of doubling up at six different universities this spring: Chipola JC, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Southeastern Louisiana, and St. Mary’s. That means 30% of their total 2016 MLB Draft picks came from just six schools. Around 300 universities play DI baseball. Around 500 schools offer junior college baseball. Out of 800+ D1 and junior college schools (to say nothing of the roughly 800 or so combined D2, D3, and NAIA baseball schools), the White Sox found 40% of their college talent from six schools. I don’t know what to make of that. 30% total and 40% college, all from six schools. Are pro teams really doing all that they can be doing to cover as much ground as possible in 2016? Or are we still taking shortcuts and relying too much on narrow views and old school connections?

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Caleb Henderson (New Mexico State), Reese Cooley (Miami), Drew Puglielli (Barry), Tyler Gordon (Prairie View A&M), Zach Farrar (Oklahoma), Leo Kaplan (Northwestern), Justin Lavey (Louisville), Brandon Bossard (Heartland CC), Garrett Acton (Saint Louis), Charlie Madden (Mercer)

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Early April College Hitting Update

It’s Monday and I’m behind on some of the conference “preview” stuff I want to publish, so let’s take a quick look instead at some of the country’s top college hitters so far in 2016. There are an infinite number of ways to approach a topic like this, so I tried to make things easy on myself by coming up with some rules to make it manageable.

First, I used college stats from Friday to sort players into categories. That gave me a one-stop shop for all my stat needs, but it necessitated a look at individual team sites last night to update the numbers to get the most recent information. That’s why you’ll see some inconsistencies between the categories and the stats of the players found under each. Secondly, I decided to focus only on draft-eligible players. That eliminated most sophomores and all freshmen. Those guys will get their fair shake in the years to come. Finally, in what may seem like a direct contradiction to the above at first, I made the cruel executive decision to skip seniors for now. I promise that they’ll get their due in an exercise similar to this closer to the draft, but for now I wanted to hone in on the players seen as better prospects by the majority. I love me a good senior-sign, but that extra year of experience gives them a bit of an unfair statistical boost. So only juniors and draft-eligible sophomores for now.

OBP over .500 and SLG over .700

C/1B Jameson Fisher (Southeastern Louisiana) – .521/.626/.872 with 25 BB/10 K and 6/11 SB in 94 AB
C/1B Zack Collins (Miami) – .416/.581/.688 – with 34 BB/16 K in 77 AB
OF Kyle Lewis (Mercer) – .426/.555/.843 – with 33 BB/17 K and 4/7 SB in 108 AB
OF Adam Groesbeck (Air Force) – .447/.520/.671 with 11 BB/8 K and 12/14 SB in 85 AB
C Logan Ice (Oregon State) – .389/.495/.792 with 14 BB/3 K and 1/1 SB in 72 AB
C Brett Cumberland (California) – .425/.552/.904 with 15 BB/18 K and 3/3 SB in 73 AB
OF Anfernee Grier (Auburn) – .442/.535/.692 with 19 BB/23 K and 14/17 SB in 120 AB
OF Tyler Ramirez (North Carolina) – .394/.508/.670 with 22 BB/21 K and 6/9 SB in 94 AB
1B Dre Gleason (Austin Peay) – .390/.487/.680 with 17 BB/24 K in 100 AB

This is the category you want to be in as a hitter. It’s a spin-off of the .600+ SLG and BB> K group I had last year. On-base skills plus power potential equals big money come draft day. Tools will always matter, but results like the ones these players are putting up will get your foot in the door even if some scouts are dubious about other aspects of your game. Luckily, many of the names on this list are likely very familiar as big-time draft prospects who combine stellar performances with big league caliber tool sets.

I’m not sure anybody doubted Jameson Fisher’s bat coming into this season, but just in case he’s gone out and picked up where he left off in his last healthy season (2014)…and then some. We’re talking a 100 AB or so sample for all of the players listed, so let’s get that caveat out of the way right now. Still, Fisher’s start to the season has been positively Bonds-ian. I haven’t heard anything about his defense this season, but I do know scouts will want to see him behind the plate a little bit more before confidently projecting him as a pro-caliber defender. If he keeps hitting like he has, however, he might get himself into the top few round conversation much like the player one spot below him on the list. I still think Zack Collins is a catcher and I still think he should be talked about as a potential option for the Phillies at 1-1. Same thing with Kyle Lewis, minus the whole catching thing.

Adam Groesbeck, known more for his speed than his potent power/patience blend coming the season, has to be in the top ten round mix at this point. Logan Ice and Brett Cumberland are Pac-12 catchers with top two round bonafides. This class and catchers, man. It’s really unbelievable. Anfernee Grier has gotten some first round buzz of late and while I’m not sure I’d go that high on him yet, he’s certainly holding up his end of the bargain here in 2016. Tyler Ramirez could get dinged some by being an undersized tweener, but teams that believe in him in center should like the all-around offensive profile that comes with it. I don’t have much of a read on what those outside my own bubble think of Dre Gleason. I could see him as a surprising inclusion in the latter half of the draft’s single-digit rounds or being a mid- to late-round pick that winds up going back to school in an attempt to raise his stock as a 2017 senior-sign. I don’t know if teams are buying his bat as real just yet; hopefully he keeps hitting and quiets the doubters.

If we tease out the members who lost their spot over the weekend, we’re left with just three players currently in the .500/.700 club: Jameson Fisher, Kyle Lewis, and Brett Cumberland. Not a bad trio.

OBP over .500

2B Nick Solak (Louisville) – .455/.564/.623 with 19 BB/8 K and 7/8 SB in 77 AB
1B Carmen Benedetti (Michigan) – .372/.526/.570 with 24 BB/11 K and 6/7 SB in 86 AB
3B Sheldon Neuse (Oklahoma) – .392/.500/.686 with 22 BB/22 K and 8/8 SB in 102 AB
2B Cavan Biggio (Notre Dame) – .330/.527/.516 with 34 BB/14 K and 8/8 SB in 91 AB
2B/3B Nick Senzel (Tennessee) – .384/.504/.646 with 24 BB/12 K and 10/11 SB in 99 AB

Nick Solak can flat hit. I’d take him on my team anytime. He’s likely locked in at second in the infield, so I don’t know how high that profile can rise but I have a hunch he’ll be higher on my rankings than he winds up getting drafted in June. I’m more than all right with that. I have a hunch that Carmen Benedetti will go out as a pitcher in pro ball, but I like his bat too much to put it on ice. I like letting two-way players with split-decision futures start as hitters with pitching as a fallback rather than the other way around. Personal preference, obviously, but I think it’s easier to pick pitching back up on the fly. Sheldon Neuse is a deep fly or two away from being in the .500/.700 club. A lot has gone wrong for Oklahoma prospects this year, but Neuse has taken a step forward both at the plate and in the field. I think he’s solidly in the second round mix. Same for Cavan Biggio, the top-ranked college hitter on my way too early 2016 college preview back from March 2015. He was one spot ahead of Neuse. Before I start patting myself on the back too hard — something I really shouldn’t be doing in the first place considering that Biggio and Neuse, much as I love both, aren’t on anybody’s board as the top two college hitters — the next three hitters were Ryan Boldt, Nick Banks, and Chris Okey. Win some, lose some. Nick Senzel has been doing a lot of winning of late. I don’t know if Baseball America’s infatuation with him is more about them or about what they are hearing from big league front offices (my guess is the former in this case), but either way he’s a damn fine player and a legitimate top ten type. I’ve taken to comparing him to Anthony Rendon. That’s pretty special.

SLG over .700

OF Heath Quinn (Samford) – .330/.455/.679 with 22 BB/27 K

Like Neuse just missing the cutoff for .500/.700 by a few bombs, Quinn came into the weekend in need of just a few extra trips to first base (or any other base for that matter) to push his OBP over .500. Along the way his slugging dipped below the .700 line, but we’ll still count it since I used Friday’s numbers to originally sort (through the NCAA stats page) despite displaying stats as of the end of the weekend (via the more quickly updated team sites). Quinn is a physical 6-3, 220 pound outfielder with speed, power, and a solid approach. I’ve heard some speculate that he’s hurt some by the overwhelming presence of Kyle Lewis in his conference, but I think that’s nuts. There’s plenty of scouting love to go around, and the more general exposure the SoCon gets, the better it is for every team and every player.

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

Southland 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Southeastern Louisiana JR C Jameson Fisher
Incarnate Word SR 1B Ethan McGill
Lamar SR 2B Reed Seeley
Central Arkansas SR SS Nate Ferrell
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR 3B Cody Clarke
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rSR OF Tyler Ware
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR OF Kyle Danford
McNeese State SR OF Andrew Guillotte

New Orleans JR RHP Kevin Kelleher
McNeese State rJR RHP Kaleb Jon Fontenot
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Jacob Dorris
Nicholls State JR LHP Grant Borne
Incarnate Word JR RHP Geno Encina

It doesn’t often reflect well on a conference when their best professional position player prospect is in the middle of a season lost entirely to labrum surgery. The Southland Conference is currently dealing with this stigma, but thankfully a handful of bats are doing what they can to make up for the loss of the nominal top prospect. In fairness, Southeastern Louisiana JR C Jameson Fisher is a really, really good prospect. The injury is an undeniable bummer not only because it’s a year of lost development in a critical time for a player’s long-term future but also because it brings further into question his long-term defensive home (even more than his raw glove originally did). If Fisher can’t catch, I don’t know what to think about him as a pro prospect. Like many college backstops, so much is dependent on how long and how well they can hold up defensively behind the dish. I believe in Fisher’s bat as being potentially league average or better both in terms of contact rates and power upside, but the doubt about his defense is an issue not to be taken lightly. I know nothing about Fisher’s mindset heading into June, but if I had to guess I’d assume that it’s very unlikely that a team will draft him high enough (and offer enough cold hard cash) to get him to leave college after a year away from the field. If that’s the case, we’re in for another year’s worth of “can he or can’t he” defensive debate. Can’t wait.

Southeastern Louisiana’s depth behind the plate is really impressive. Fisher is out in 2015, as is SR C Sam Roberson, a solid prospect in his own right. They keep chugging along with JR C Chris Eades there to fill the void. At 6-3, 240 pounds, filling voids is something he is well built to do. Unsurprisingly, the big backstop has a strong arm and intriguing power upside. I’d like to think that naming a Southland team’s third catcher as an honest to goodness pro prospect means I’m dedicated to finding the deepest possible sleepers imaginable, but it’s probably more of a sign that I’ve lost my mind and I need a long vacation away from amateur baseball. At least I didn’t compare next year’s potential logjam behind the plate here to Ohio State’s pending quarterback controversy.

I enjoy the notes I have on Incarnate Word SR 1B Ethan McGill. I’ll publish them here in their entirety: “he’s strong.” He’s listed at 6-4, 250 pounds and, the notes don’t lie, he’s quite strong. He’s also got enough power to be a viable late round prospect, though the non-power areas of his game hold him back. I think either he or Lamar SR 2B/3B Reed Seeley give the conference the best shot at seeing somebody drafted out of the infield (1B, 2B, 3B, SS) this year.

I really like the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi outfield duo of rSR OF/LHP Tyler Ware and SR OF Kyle Danford. Ware’s game is a little more balanced with plenty of athleticism, enough range for center field, and a power/speed/patience mix that makes him a dangerous offensive player. He’s also the owner of a very strong arm, which shouldn’t be a stunner since he can hit 92 off the mound but gets counted as a pleasant surprise as he’s recovered nicely from arm troubles. Danford is a long, lean senior sign with similar power/speed upside to Ware.

McNeese State SR OF Andrew Guillotte is a really fun player. If you long for the days of high contact, little power, and infrequent swings and misses, then Guillotte is your kind of guy. He’d be overshadowed by toolsier players with more upside in most conferences, but in the Southland his brand of hit tool, defense, and speed make him one of the more appealing draft prospects around. Southeastern JR OF Julian Service has a lot more fans among people who cover that part of the country than I ever would have imagined. He’s held his own so far this season, but a lot of smart people have told me he’s the best outfield in the prospect so you might want to listen to them (or not, seeing as I’m not yet doing so).

There are a lot of really intriguing pitchers in the Southland ready to go higher than expected in 2015. The difference between the draft-eligible position players and pitchers is striking. Significantly more depth can be found on the mound here than in the batter’s box. Turns out that for whatever reason I just wrote three consecutive opening sentences here without fully realizing it. I think I’ve done too many of these. I’m pressing on without deleting because picking one of those corny intros out of the rest is too much work. Let’s just get on with the players.

With a dominant FB/SL combination New Orleans JR RHP Kevin Kelleher has big league closer upside. That’s a bolder prediction that I intended to make, but the stuff seems in line with what we’ve come to expect out of late-inning relievers. Players who can get it up to 98 with a hard mid- to upper-80s slider to match aren’t easy to find. McNeese State rJR RHP Kaleb Jon Fontenot can throw three average or better pitches for strikes (88-92 FB, CB, CU), so there’s a chance he can fit in as a fifth starter/middle relief type down the road. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Jacob Dorris is just one of those players I can’t help but gravitate towards; his delivery is funky, his mid-80s fastball doesn’t stop moving until the catcher is ready to throw it back to him, and his slider is one of the very best in college baseball. Nicholls State JR LHP Grant Borne is a little bit like a bigger, lefthanded version of Fontenot; if that description alone makes you want to flip the two on the rankings, I wouldn’t argue. You can find plenty of talent further down the list if you’re willing to look. There are players way down the rankings that flirt with the mid-90s. Hard throwers like New Orleans rSR RHP Darron McKigney, Southeastern Louisiana SR RHP Kyle Keller, Sam Houston State JR RHP Ryan Brinley, and Nicholls State rJR RHP Marc Frazier could all make reasonable leaps up boards with big springs.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Southeastern Louisiana JR C Jameson Fisher
  2. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rSR OF/LHP Tyler Ware
  3. Northwestern State JR C/OF Cort Brinson
  4. Southeastern Louisiana JR C Chris Eades
  5. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR OF Kyle Danford
  6. Lamar SR 2B/3B Reed Seeley
  7. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR 3B Cody Clarke
  8. Incarnate Word JR 3B Brance Kahle
  9. McNeese State SR OF Andrew Guillotte
  10. Southeastern Louisiana JR OF Julian Service
  11. Incarnate Word SR 1B Ethan McGill
  12. Incarnate Word SR OF Jesse Hoover
  13. Southeastern Louisiana SR C Sam Roberson
  14. McNeese State SR OF/RHP Lucas Quary
  15. Northwestern State rSO OF Nick Heath
  16. Central Arkansas SR SS/1B Nate Ferrell
  17. Stephen F. Austin State JR 1B Kyle Thornell
  18. Northwestern State SR OF Bret Underwood
  19. Sam Houston State SR OF Colt Atwood
  20. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR 1B Frankie Salas
  21. Houston Baptist SR 3B/RHP Josh Martinez
  22. Sam Houston State SR OF Hayden Simerly
  23. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR OF Jordan Lee

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. New Orleans JR RHP Kevin Kelleher
  2. McNeese State rJR RHP Kaleb Jon Fontenot
  3. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Jacob Dorris
  4. Nicholls State JR LHP Grant Borne
  5. Incarnate Word JR RHP Geno Encina
  6. Nicholls State SR LHP Stuart Holmes
  7. Sam Houston State SR LHP Andrew Godail
  8. Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP Tate Scioneaux
  9. Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP Mason Klotz
  10. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR LHP Trevor Belicek
  11. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR RHP Kaleb Keith
  12. Nicholls State JR RHP Justin Sinibaldi
  13. McNeese State rSR RHP Cory LaPeze
  14. New Orleans rSR RHP Darron McKigney
  15. Sam Houston State JR LHP Logan Boyd
  16. Southeastern Louisiana SR RHP Kyle Keller
  17. Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP Jake Johnson
  18. Sam Houston State JR RHP Ryan Brinley
  19. Nicholls State rJR RHP Marc Frazier
  20. McNeese State JR RHP Bryce Kingsley
  21. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Matt Danton
  22. McNeese State JR RHP Ethan Stremmel
  23. New Orleans rSR RHP/3B Sam Carriere
  24. Sam Houston State JR RHP Juan Cortina
  25. Northwestern State SR RHP Brandon Smith
  26. Abilene Christian SR RHP Kevin Sheets
  27. Abilene Christian SR RHP Ladgie Zotyka
  28. Stephen F. Austin State SR LHP Dillon Mangham