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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Big West

It’s lame to mention the same comp in back-to-back days, but…I don’t know how to finish this sentence. I’m lame, I guess. Yesterday we evoked the name Kevin Newman as part of a hybrid Newman/Scott Kingery comp for Bryson Brigman. Today Newman’s name gets thrown around again when discussing Garrett Hampson. The shortstop from Long Beach has a fascinating set of tools that engenders wildly variable opinions from those who have seen him. We’ll get into that a bit more later, but first let’s get back to that Newman comp.

Comparing almost any amateur prospect to Newman is tough (and possibly useless) because the crazy high hit tool bar set by the former Arizona star after a pair of otherworldly summers on the Cape should not be ignored. That should be reason enough not to use him as a comp two days in a row, but…we’ve now hit sentence number two where I don’t know how to finish. I’m stubborn, I guess. I liked but didn’t love Newman last year – ranked him 31st, drafted 19th – but his track record with wood makes him a bit of a prospect unicorn and, no matter your opinion about his long-term future, a comparison that really ought not to be thrown around lightly. I wouldn’t put Hampson’s straight hit tool up against Newman’s, but even at a notch below there are enough other general similarities that make the comparison work. Contextual comps for life. The closest match between the respective games of Hampson and Newman comes down to instincts in all phases. “Special” is the word most often used to describe the way Hampson’s instincts allow him to do things that his raw physical abilities might otherwise not. Like Newman, his arm might be a little light for the left side of the infield; also like Newman, his arm plays up thanks to his skill in turning a quick transfer from glove to throwing motion (hot baseball fan take: a quick release can make up for a lesser arm easier than the other way around) and general aptitude for being in the right place at the right time to get off any number of throws from funky angles that don’t always look pretty but find a way to first base.

Attempts at getting a consensus view on Hampson’s foot speed has me completely turned around. I’ve gotten plus-plus, plus, and average, and the split between plus and average is just about even. My hunch here is that we’re seeing the difference between when and where he’s being timed. On his own batted balls, I could see his times playing closer to average because that’s more representative of his raw ability. However on first to thirds, the combination of his reads, jumps, and hustle helps bump his times up just enough to hit closer to the plus range. This is all just a theory, mind you, and it still likely doesn’t explain the disparity between an average time and plus-plus (easiest explanation for that: scouts are human) spread of times, but the fact we see another example of one his tools playing up thanks to his feel for the game is noteworthy. Stuff like this is representative of the kind of player you’ll get with Hampson. He’s got a good looking swing geared for a lot of contact (my not a scout observation is that he’s one of those guys who can manipulate the bat so that the fat part stays in the zone a long time), playable speed and arm strength that you can round up due to his instincts, and impressive overall athleticism. I’d call him a high-floor/low-ceiling prospect, but I think that mischaracterizes the value of a starting big league shortstop; perhaps it goes without saying, but a utility player floor (best case) and average or so regular (again, best case) ceiling means something different at different positions on the diamond. Hampson won’t be a star, but the simple fact his ceiling could be a regular at short (or even second) gives him more value than his tools suggest.

As for the downside, we’ll refer back to old friend Kevin Newman. This is where I finished with him last year offensively…

Newman’s feel for hitting is special, but, as a guy who will always believe the hit tool is king, it pains me to admit a hit tool alone is not enough to equate to future impact regular. Pro pitchers attack hitters with minimal power differently than amateurs. In no way should all hitters be expected to come into pro ball with 20+ HR/season ability, but the threat of extra base power is needed to get the pitches and favorable hitting counts that lead to good things. It’s considerably more difficult to hit .300 with minimal power at the highest level than it is in college and in the lower-minors. I’m not bold enough to unequivocally say that Newman can’t do it, but the odds are stacked against him.

and this was the final amateur defensive verdict…

Though his superior instincts, first step quickness, and quick release all give him a shot to stick at the six-spot, his lackluster arm strength and limited range make him a better long-term fit at second base. Part of my thought process changing had to do with seeing more of him on the field (with two caveats: I’m a fan, not a scout, and it was video, not live), part of it had to do with hearing from trusted contacts who did see him up close a lot more than I could have hoped to, and part of it was my own evolving view of how important arm strength is for a shortstop. We’ve become so accustomed to thinking that third base is the infield position where the biggest arm is needed, but after focusing more closely on some of the throws that big league shortstops are asked to make deep into the hole as their momentum carries them away from their target, I’d argue that shortstop is where ideally your strongest arm would go. That’s not Newman, and I think that the rest of the industry will realize that sooner rather than later.

The question then becomes whether or not I think Hampson can succeed in the same way I think Newman will (solid regular at second) even with a lesser hit tool. I think I do, but no so strongly that I’d use a top hundred pick to see it through. Of course, there are also the additional questions about how closely remaining abilities – namely range, arm, and speed – compare to Newman’s. It’s my belief that he’s at least as strong in each of those areas as Newman, but reasonable minds can differ. Those tools added up give him a slightly better chance to succeed at shortstop in the pros, but the safest outcome is still average or so regular at second. Kind of like Kevin Newman.

Dempsey Grover is – stop me if you’ve heard this before – another college catcher in this class with top ten round ability. I’d personally go even higher than that, but I’m hedging some because of the lack of national buzz currently surrounding his name. He’s good enough defensively to stay behind the plate, his arm is plenty strong, and both his power and approach have taken big steps ahead so far in 2016. I still need to know more about his overall game, but the temptation to rank him atop the entire Big West prospect list was very real. If he’s as good as I think he is, then he stands to become the first Dempsey to reach the big leagues, assuming we don’t count guys like Rick Dempsey and Gerald Dempsey Posey. You might know that last guy by the name Buster.

Also in the running for top prospect here is Grover’s teammate Andrew Calica. Of all the non-obvious (say, those unlikely to be first day selections) prospects in this class, Calica might be the guy closest to the Platonic ideal of what it means to be a FAVORITE on this site. Calica’s impressive hit tool, easy center field range, above-average to plus speed, and solid arm strength all give him the look of at least a potential quality backup at the pro level. I’d go a step further: Calica has consistently shown every tool save power throughout his career, and even his weakest area isn’t all that weak. He’s able to put himself into enough advantageous hitting counts to allow his sneaky pop (“burgeoning” is how it was recently described to me) to make him some degree of a threat to opposing pitchers who think they can sneak good fastballs by him. Center field tools, an advanced approach, and just enough pop all add up to a pretty intriguing talent.

Yusuke Akitoshi and Timmy Richards have taken different paths to arrive at the similar position as potential utility players of note at the next level. Both are athletic, reliable defenders with enough speed and pop to contribute a little something out of the eight-hole in the lineup as pros. On the other end of the defensive spectrum is Branden Berry, the transfer from Washington. Berry’s early season offensive explosion may just be the case of an older guy picking on younger competition – his first three seasons were remarkably consistent in a good college player kind of way – but in a class thin on big bats, he could have scouts doing a double-take.

While Berry has exceeded any and all expectations so far this season, the same can’t be said for other hitters in the Big West. I’ve touched on the general early season ineffectiveness of the highly hyped Hawaii hitters in other places so far. Because none of us know anything – how I’ve been allowed to do this for eight years now defies all logic – it makes perfect sense that one of the least discussed Hawaii position player prospects coming into the year has gotten off the best start in 2016. Jacob Sheldon-Collins has clearly outperformed his universally acclaimed teammate Marcus Doi as well as his less-heralded but still overhyped by me (whoops) double-play partner Josh Rojas. Amateur production isn’t everything, but it is something. Sheldon-Collins has managed to parlay his high-contact approach with steady defense at short to put himself on the prospect map. Doi and Rojas can still be found on said map, but the days of thinking they were top ten round certainties have passed. Doi, the old scouting favorite of many thanks to a hit tool I’ve heard some go as high as plus on, has the better shot to rise back into that range than Rojas, a junior college transfer who has taken longer than ideal adjusting to life as a D1 ballplayer.

From one slow starting FAVORITE (Rojas) to another we go. Rojas came into the year with a mature approach at the plate as his supposed calling card. So far, it hasn’t quite worked out. On the other hand, Vince Fernandez has long been a FAVORITE despite a questionable at best approach. That’s begun to catch up with him some on these rankings – no shame in being ranked tenth, but if we were talking sheer physical ability he’d be top three – and it’s officially fair to wonder if he’s ever going to be the kind of hitter I once thought he could be. That alone obviously wouldn’t disqualify him from a long, prosperous professional career, though his stalled development has to be a cause for concern even for those who are more willing than myself to believe he’ll figure things out as a hitter. For what it’s worth, Fernandez has gotten a steady stream of compliments about his approach over the years; it’s exactly that type of positive feedback (combined with average to above-average raw power, above-average speed, and considerable bat speed, all of which are no small things) that made him a FAVORITE in the first place. We’ve seen the scouts – we’ll pretend that my presentation here of THE SCOUTS somehow equates to a monolithic being with one set opinion on each player across the country with no room for dissenting opinions – hit big on many of the position players in this class with notes that read “good approach” and BB/K ratios coming into the year that would have you believe scouting is a big old waste of time. The most famous example of this is Kyle Lewis. Fernandez hasn’t been able to join the “hey these scouts might know what they are talking about after all and sometimes a player can improve in incremental ways that aren’t really reflected in the numbers until BOOM one day it clicks and they are” group just yet, but the overarching success of players like him gives me some hope it could still happen. Kyle Lewis being able to do this really ought to have no impact on whether or not Vince Fernandez can do something similar, but the fact that it can and does happen is enough to keep hope alive for him. There’s still a lot of season left…and potentially a senior season if it comes to it.

There’s a large group of prospects bunched up at the tail end of this ranking that probably no longer merit draft consideration. I’ll be curious to cross-reference this collection of “not quite there” prospects with those in other major conferences to see if it’s simply something that happens to the big boys (more overall talent at the start begets more “disappointing” prospects at the end) or if there just happens to be an unusually high number of developmental misses in the Big West this year. Of course, neither option could be the answer as it could just mean I misjudged the lot of these players in my initial evaluation. It’s not them, it’s me. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of talented players here that haven’t produced enough to warrant much draft attention this spring.

The two names that best exemplify what I’m trying to discuss are Cameron Olson and Spencer O’Neil. Just look at what I wrote about Olson last year…

UC Davis JR C Cameron Olson hasn’t been able to put it all together quite yet, but if he does then it’ll be worth the wait. His plus raw power and plus arm strength combination is what evaluators dream about.

I still can’t quite quit Olson, but it might be time to finally admit it’s not going to happen for him as a hitter. Approach matters. Last year’s take on O’Neil, a player once comped to Paul O’Neill for what I have to assume were reasons that went beyond their similar last names, began to hint at the cracks in his game…

I still have the quote saved from when rJR OF Spencer O’Neil left Oregon after the 2013 season: he “decided to pursue other opportunities” and that was that. Well he’s back playing D1 ball this year and I’m damn pleased to see it. There’s the big question as to whether his approach will remain a hindrance to his overall game, especially after a year at junior college that showed little to no gains from his freshman season at Oregon (from 6 BB and 32 K at Oregon to 8 BB and 30 K at Central Arizona). I liken him to a power pitcher capable of hitting the mid-90s with a darting fastball that he has no idea how to harness effectively. The raw talent is obvious, but bridging the gap from prospect to player is going to take a lot more work than your typical draftable college bat.

The former Duck still looks good in a uniform with exactly the kind of tantalizing power upside one would expect from a guy his size with his brand of sweet stroke. Unfortunately, approach matters. Unfortunately again, I’m a weak, stubborn man who would still take a shot on either guy with my literal last pick in the draft.

Taylor Bryant and Eric Hutting don’t quite fit that same former big offensive prospect archetype, but both guys were seen at one point as being good enough defensively to get a shot at pro ball. Bryant, a standout at second who can also play short and third, simply hasn’t hit enough yet to give any indication he’s ready for the next level. Hutting’s offensive production at the plate has been very underwhelming since his solid freshman year debut in 2013. Of course, after running this list by a west coast friend, the ranking of Bryant was deemed “criminally low,” so take my bat-first bias with the requisite block of salt. I’ll admit that the admonishment briefly gave me reason to reconsider the ranking before ultimately deciding to hold on Bryant until he shows something – anything at all – offensively. I see a senior-sign in 2017 when I look at his all-around profile.

Chad Hockin has gotten a lot of deserved electronic ink as one of the finest 2016 MLB Draft bullpen arms, but he’s far from the only potential impact reliever set to come out of the Big West this June. There’s more to life than just fastball velocity, but Justin Caolomeni and Dylan Prohoroff have both matched or exceeded Hockin’s peak in the past. Calomeni complements his heater with an impressive sinking changeup and a low- to mid-80s slider with plus upside. His track record through two and a half college seasons is unimpeachable. I like him a lot as one of those mid-round relievers who winds up “coming out of nowhere” developmentally to pitch in the big leagues for ten years. Prohoroff’s game is a little more reliant on his fastball, a pitch that sits in the low-90s with the occasional forays to 95-96-97. His breaking ball isn’t as far along as you’d like, but the arm strength, size, and production all point toward a potential middle reliever future with continued growth.

Then there’s Hockin, the Fullerton arm who really is deserving of all the attention he’s gotten so far this spring. The sturdy righthander was seen by some I talked to back in day as having an impressive enough overall repertoire to get consideration as a starting pitching conversion project in the pros. While that talk has died down – maybe he could pull it off, but Hockin’s stuff plays way up in short bursts – the fact that it was mentioned to me in the first place speaks to his well-rounded offspeed arsenal and craftiness on the mound. Hockin leans on his mid-90s fastball (87-93 in longer outings turned into 94-96 with every pitch as a reliever) and a power 83-87 cut-slider that frequently comes in above-average. Those two pitchers alone make him a legitimate late-inning prospect, but the promise he once displayed with both a low-80s change and an upper-70s curve could give him that softer little something extra. I’ve heard he’s ditched both during games, but still toys with them in practice. It bears repeating that he’s a fine prospect pumping fastballs and sliders all day, but knowing he could mix in a third pitch in time is a nice perk.

These “pre-season” lists have taken me so long to complete that I can’t help but peak at what each guy has been up to in 2016. Since I don’t want to get bogged down in performance-based analysis and smaller sample size madness, I typically just jot down a quick word or phrase to give me an idea how the player is doing. Examples include the very creative “good,” “so-so,” and “not great.” Sometimes I’ll get wild and up a “good” to “very good.” For Kenny Rosenberg, however, the simple phrase “VIDEO GAME” felt appropriate. He’s whiffed 57 guys with only 10 walks in 41.1 innings of 1.96 ERA ball. It’s the best strikeout rate of any pitcher on the team and his ERA is third among qualifiers (first among starters). He’s not doing it with junk, either: Rosenberg lives 87-92 and has shown above-average command of three offspeed pitches. I don’t know how high his upside is, but I’m willing to keep watching him sit hitters down until we figure it out. His teammate Conner O’Neil has similar stuff highlighted by an above-average breaking ball. His track record of success is even lengthier than Rosenberg’s. Whatever the staff at Cal State Northridge is doing with these arms, they need to keep it up.

(Incidentally, the Matadors have a player named Fred Smith who I don’t know anything about yet, but is hitting .363/.385/.407 (4 BB/5 K) in 113 AB. A name like that playing middle infield with his type of crazy contact rates is oddly appealing to me. I’m mostly putting this here for me as a note to find out more about him. Carry on.)

Austin McGeorge, Austin Sodders, Brendan Hornung, Miles Chambers, Scott Serigstad, Keaton Leach, and Trevor Bettencourt are all draft-worthy arms with fastballs that creep past 90 MPH. McGeorge’s low-80s slider makes him stand out among the pack, though Sodders doing it from the left side intrigues me as well. Additionally, Bettencourt, the Tennessee transfer, has gotten a lot of positive buzz this spring.

Matthew Ellis, a converted catcher, has a big arm (up to 94) and athleticism. James Carter brings pinpoint fastball command of a pitch that also hits 94 (88-92 otherwise); he’s still on the mend from 2015 Tommy John surgery, but I could see a team that’s done a deep dive on him prior to the elbow explosion keeping interest in him through the ups and downs of recovery. Henry Omaña is a mystery man with limited information and even less of a D1 track record. What I know (90-94 FB, solid spike-curve), I like.

This post would have been lengthier, but a way too long love letter to Justin Bieber’s latest album has been deleted. After a few drinks I might share my working theory on how Bieber is the evolutionary Justin Timberlake, but we’ll table that for now. We’ll actually go a step further and declare this site a NO BIEBER joke zone henceforth. That’s the first last time I’ll connect Justin to Shane Bieber all spring. Shane is a fascinating enough prospect to talk about even without the musical interludes.

He was a pre-season FAVORITE who hasn’t yet missed a ton of bats at the college level, but I’ll continue to tout his 85-90 (92 peak) sinking fastball, above-average yet still frustratingly inconsistent 79-85 changeup, and true hybrid 78-81 breaking ball as the right type of mix of a big league starting pitcher. We’ve seen college righthanders with below-average fastball velocity, intriguing offspeed stuff, plus command, and above-average athleticism and deception go high on draft day before, and Bieber could follow suit. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if he was missing more bats, but the overall package is still enticing. It’s the Thomas Eshelman starter kit.

Hitters

  1. Long Beach State JR SS/2B Garrett Hampson
  2. UC Santa Barbara rSO C Dempsey Grover
  3. UC Santa Barbara rJR OF Andrew Calica
  4. Cal State Northridge rSR SS Yusuke Akitoshi
  5. Cal State Fullerton JR SS Timmy Richards
  6. Cal State Northridge rSR 1B/OF Branden Berry
  7. Hawaii JR 2B Josh Rojas
  8. Hawaii JR OF/2B Marcus Doi
  9. Hawaii SR SS Jacob Sheldon-Collins
  10. UC Riverside JR OF Vince Fernandez
  11. UC Santa Barbara rSO OF/LHP Josh Adams
  12. Cal State Fullerton SR OF Josh Vargas
  13. UC Irvine JR 2B John Brontsema
  14. Cal State Northridge JR C Dylan Alexander
  15. Cal Poly JR C/1B Brett Barbier
  16. Cal State Fullerton rSR OF Tyler Stieb
  17. Cal State Fullerton SR 1B Tanner Pinkston
  18. Long Beach State rSR 3B/2B Zach Domingues
  19. UC Irvine SR SS Mikey Duarte
  20. UC Riverside JR OF Mark Contreras
  21. UC Davis SR C Cameron Olson
  22. Cal State Fullerton JR 2B/SS Taylor Bryant
  23. Cal State Northridge rSR OF Spencer O’Neil
  24. Cal State Fullerton SR C/3B Jerrod Bravo
  25. Long Beach State SR C Eric Hutting
  26. UC Riverside rSR C/2B Drake Zarate
  27. Hawaii SR 1B Alex Sawelson

Pitchers

  1. Cal Poly JR RHP Justin Calomeni
  2. Cal State Northridge rSO LHP Kenny Rosenberg
  3. Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Chad Hockin
  4. Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Dylan Prohoroff
  5. Cal State Northridge JR RHP Conner O’Neil
  6. UC Santa Barbara JR RHP Shane Bieber
  7. Cal State Fullerton rJR RHP Blake Quinn
  8. Long Beach State JR RHP Austin McGeorge
  9. UC Riverside JR LHP Austin Sodders
  10. Hawaii JR RHP Brendan Hornung
  11. Cal State Fullerton rJR RHP Miles Chambers
  12. Cal State Fullerton JR RHP Scott Serigstad
  13. UC Riverside SR RHP Keaton Leach
  14. Cal Poly JR RHP Slater Lee
  15. UC Santa Barbara rJR RHP Trevor Bettencourt
  16. Cal State Northridge SR RHP Angel Rodriguez
  17. Cal State Northridge SR RHP Rayne Raven
  18. UC Riverside SR RHP/C Matthew Ellis
  19. UC Santa Barbara rJR RHP James Carter
  20. Cal State Fullerton rJR RHP Henry Omaña
  21. Cal State Fullerton JR LHP Maxwell Gibbs
  22. Cal State Northridge rSR RHP Matthew Troupe
  23. Long Beach State rSR RHP Ty Provencher
  24. Hawaii SR RHP Josh Pigg
  25. Long Beach State rJR RHP Josh Advocate
  26. UC Santa Barbara rJR RHP Kenny Chapman
  27. UC Davis JR RHP Zach Stone
  28. Long Beach State JR LHP Kyle Brown
  29. UC Irvine SR LHP Elliot Surrey
  30. UC Riverside JR RHP Angel Landazuri
  31. Cal State Fullerton rJR RHP Shane Stillwagon
  32. Long Beach State SR RHP Tanner Brown
  33. UC Davis rSO LHP Orlando Razo

Cal Poly

JR RHP Justin Calomeni (2016)
JR RHP Slater Lee (2016)
SR 2B/OF John Schuknecht (2016)
JR C/1B Brett Barbier (2016)
SO RHP Erich Uelmen (2017)
SO LHP Kyle Smith (2017)
SO RHP Michael Gomez (2017)
SO RHP Jarred Zill (2017)
SO RHP Andrew Bernstein (2017)
FR RHP Bobby Ay (2018)
FR RHP Cameron Schneider (2018)
FR OF Alex McKenna (2018)
FR 1B Cooper Moore (2018)
FR 2B Kyle Marinconz (2018)
FR SS Dylan Doherty (2018)
FR C Nick Meyer (2018)

High Priority Follows: Justin Calomeni, Slater Lee, Brett Barbier

Cal State Fullerton

JR RHP Chad Hockin (2016)
rJR RHP Miles Chambers (2016)
rJR RHP Blake Quinn (2016)
rJR RHP Shane Stillwagon (2016)
rJR RHP Henry Omaña (2016)
JR RHP Dylan Prohoroff (2016)
JR LHP Maxwell Gibbs (2016)
JR RHP Scott Serigstad (2016)
SR OF Josh Vargas (2016)
rSR OF Tyler Stieb (2016)
JR SS Timmy Richards (2016)
SR C/3B Jerrod Bravo (2016)
JR 2B/SS Taylor Bryant (2016)
SR 1B Tanner Pinkston (2016)
SR OF Dalton Blaser (2016)
rSO C/1B Niko Pacheco (2016)
JR OF Hunter Cullen (2016)
SO LHP John Gavin (2017)
SO RHP Connor Seabold (2017)
SO OF/2B Scott Hurst (2017)
SO C Chris Hudgins (2017)
SO SS Tristan Hildebrandt (2017)
FR RHP Colton Eastman (2018)
FR RHP Brett Conine (2018)
FR OF Ruben Cardenas (2018)
FR INF Hank LoForte (2018)
FR SS Coby Kauhaahaa (2018)

High Priority Follows: Chad Hockin, Miles Chambers, Blake Quinn, Shane Stillwagon, Henry Omaña, Dylan Prohoroff, Maxwell Gibbs, Scott Serigstad, Josh Vargas, Tyler Stieb, Timmy Richards, Jerrod Bravo, Taylor Bryant, Tanner Pinkston

Cal State Northridge

SR RHP Angel Rodriguez (2016)
SR RHP Rayne Raven (2016)
JR RHP Conner O’Neil (2016)
rSR RHP Matthew Troupe (2016)
rSO LHP Kenny Rosenberg (2016)
SR RHP Nick Viola (2016)
rSR OF Spencer O’Neil (2016)
rSR SS Yusuke Akitoshi (2016)
rJR OF Bobby Schuman (2016)
SR 1B/3B William Colantono (2016)
rSR 1B/OF Branden Berry (2016)
JR C Dylan Alexander (2016)
SO RHP Joe Ryan (2017)
SO RHP Andrew Weston (2017)
SO LHP Joey Deceglie (2017)
SO OF/LHP Justin Toerner (2017)
SO C/1B Albee Weiss (2017)
rFR OF Michael Russo (2017)

High Priority Follows: Angel Rodriguez, Rayne Raven, Conner O’Neil, Matthew Troupe, Kenny Rosenberg, Spencer O’Neil, Yusuke Akitoshi, Branden Berry, Dylan Alexander

Hawaii

SR RHP Josh Pigg (2016)
JR RHP Brendan Hornung (2016)
SR RHP Kyle Von Ruden (2016)
SR RHP Cody Culp (2016)
SR LHP Matt Valencia (2016)
JR 2B Josh Rojas (2016)
JR OF/2B Marcus Doi (2016)
JR OF Alex Fitchett (2016)
SR 1B Alex Sawelson (2016)
SR SS Jacob Sheldon-Collins (2016)
rSO C Chayce Ka’aua (2016)
rSR OF Alan Baldwin (2016)
SO 1B Eric Ramirez (2017)
FR C Kekai Rios (2018)

High Priority Follows: Josh Pigg, Brendon Hornung, Matt Valencia, Josh Rojas, Marcus Doi, Alex Fitchett, Alex Sawelson, Jacob Sheldon-Collins, Chayce Ka’aua

Long Beach State

rSR RHP Ty Provencher (2016)
SR RHP Tanner Brown (2016)
JR RHP Dave Smith (2016)
SR RHP Ryan Cruz (2016)
JR LHP Kyle Brown (2016)
JR RHP Austin McGeorge (2016)
rJR RHP Josh Advocate (2016)
JR SS/2B Garrett Hampson (2016)
SR C Eric Hutting (2016)
rSR 3B/2B Zach Domingues (2016)
SR 3B/OF Zack Rivera (2016)
rSO OF Tristan Mercadel (2016)
JR C Daniel Jackson (2016)
SO RHP Chris Mathewson (2017)
SO RHP Darren McCaughan (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Radcliffe (2017)
SO 1B/OF Brock Lundquist (2017)
SO OF Joey Sanchez (2017)
SO 1B/OF Luke Rasmussen (2017)
FR 2B/SS Jarren Duran (2018)
FR OF Brooks Stotler (2018)
FR 3B/OF Domenic Colacchio (2018)
FR INF Chris Fife (2018)

High Priority Follows: Ty Provencher, Tanner Brown, Ryan Cruz, Kyle Brown, Austin McGeorge, Josh Advocate, Garrett Hampson, Eric Hutting, Zach Domingues, Daniel Jackson

UC Davis

SR RHP Nat Hamby (2016)
JR RHP Zach Stone (2016)
rSO LHP Orlando Razo (2016)
JR RHP Justin Mullins (2016)
rSO RHP Blake Peters (2016)
SR 1B/LHP Spencer Henderson (2016)
SR OF Tanner Bily (2016)
SR C Cameron Olson (2016)
rJR 1B Mason Novak (2016)
rFR LHP Robert Garcia (2017)
rFR 3B/OF Ryan Anderson (2017)

High Priority Follows: Nat Hemby, Zach Stone, Orlando Razo, Spencer Henderson, Tanner Bily, Cameron Olson

UC Irvine

SR LHP Elliot Surrey (2016)
JR RHP Sean Sparling (2016)
rSR 2B/OF Grant Palmer (2016)
SR 3B Mitchell Holland (2016)
rSR 1B Jonathan Munoz (2016)
rJR OF Evan Cassolato (2016)
SR SS Mikey Duarte (2016)
rJR 1B Andrew Martinez (2016)
JR OF Adam Alcantra (2016)
JR 2B John Brontsema (2016)
SO LHP/1B Cameron Bishop (2017)
SO RHP Shaun Vetrovec (2017)
SO RHP Alonzo Garcia (2017)
SO OF/2B Keston Hiura (2017)
FR LHP Miles Glazier (2018)
FR C Matt Reitano (2018)

High Priority Follows: Elliot Surrey, Mitchell Holland, Mikey Duarte, Andrew Martinez, John Brontsema

UC Riverside

JR LHP Austin Sodders (2016)
SR RHP Keaton Leach (2016)
JR RHP Angel Landazuri (2016)
rSO RHP Max Compton (2016)
SR RHP/C Matthew Ellis (2016)
rSR C/2B Drake Zarate (2016)
JR 1B Aaron Cisneros (2016)
rJR 3B Michael Farris (2016)
JR OF Vince Fernandez (2016)
JR OF Mark Contreras (2016)
SO RHP/C Ryan Lillie (2017)
SO OF Austin Colvin (2017)

High Priority Follows: Austin Sodders, Keaton Leach, Angel Landazuri, Max Compton, Matthew Ellis, Drake Zarate, Vince Fernandez, Mark Contreras

UC Santa Barbara

JR RHP Shane Bieber (2016)
rJR RHP James Carter (2016)
rJR RHP Trevor Bettencourt (2016)
rJR RHP Kenny Chapman (2016)
rJR OF Andrew Calica (2016)
rJR OF/SS Devon Gradford (2016)
rSO C Dempsey Grover (2016)
JR 2B/3B Billy Fredrick (2016)
rSO 2B JJ Muno (2016)
rSO OF/LHP Josh Adams (2016)
SO RHP Alex Garcia (2017)
SO LHP Kyle Nelson (2017)
SO RHP Chris Clements (2017)
rFR RHP Joe Record (2017)
SO SS Clay Fisher (2017)
SO 1B Kyle Plantier (2017)
SO 1B Austin Bush (2017)
FR RHP Noah Davis (2018)
FR RHP Willie Traynor (2018)
FR OF Michael McAdoo (2018)
FR 2B/SS Tevin Mitchell (2018)

High Priority Follows: Shane Bieber, James Carter, Trevor Bettencourt, Kenny Chapman, Andrew Calica, Dempsey Grover, Billy Fredrick, Josh Adams

Florida Marlins 2011 MLB Draft in Review

Florida 2011 Draft Selections

This draft is a disaster. Unsigned third and fourth round picks. Only two high school prospects signed in the first eighteen rounds, and only one more signed from that point on. No player, high school or college, signed past round thirty-five. I can only hope that the Miami Marlins do a better job next year than this lame attempt by Florida.

The good news about any draft is that sometimes one player can redeem darn near the entire thing. This particular draft won’t be a total loss assuming Alonso HS (FL) RHP Jose Fernandez lives up to his promise. I may not have liked Fernandez pre-draft as much as many of my esteemed draft obsessed peers, but I can’t necessarily fault the Marlins for using a first rounder on him either. Detractors of comps will have a field day with these (restricting yourself to only comparing a player to others with the same first name is lazy, they say), but an honest to goodness scout paid to watch baseball mentioned both Jose Contreras (young version) and Jose Valverde as players similar to Fernandez. I thought those comparisons were fun and I wanted to pass them along, but feel free to draw your own conclusions beyond that. Comps aside, Fernandez has an excellent fastball/curveball combination that is pretty much big league ready, and the makings of two potential average additional secondary pitches (raw low-80s changeup and intriguing upper-70s slider). At his best, he looks like an innings eating horse, although not in a literal sense because a) he’s a person and not an actual horse, and b) horses, to the best of my knowledge, eat oats and plants, not innings. Gut instinct (wish I could put it in writing why I have my doubts) has Fernandez’s upside closer to solid than superstar; a career not unlike Jose Contreras’s – you know, minus the whole not pitching in the big leagues until his age-31 season thing – makes sense to me, at least in terms of peak years performance.

RHP Jose Fernandez (Alonso HS, Florida): 90-93 FB, peak 94-97; good 80-83 CB; good enough FB/CB combo to pitch in bigs right now; 81 CU; learning a 78-79 SL; good hitter; 6-4, 235

Washington State LHP Adam Conley reminds me of the famous New England saying I first heard back in my college days up in Boston: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” The saying applies just as easily to Adam Conley: “If you don’t like this prospect, just wait one appearance.”  At his best, Conley’s fastball is a plus pitch velocity-wise, and his changeup and slider often both work well as above-average secondary options. There are times, however, when his heater isn’t so hot and neither offspeed pitch is in the strike zone enough to be effective. Much, but not all, of Conley’s Jekyll and Hyde act can be attributed between the difference in his stuff when he starts and when he relieves; because of this, Conley is the rare pitching prospect that I’d rather see pitch exclusively in relief long-term. There’s little harm letting him start for now, I suppose, but a plus fastball, good changeup, and inconsistent though intriguing slider, combined with his difficulties maintaining velocity and command sharpness as a starter, add up to relief ace to me.

Washington State JR LHP Adam Conley: 86-88 FB; peaks at 90-92; up to 94 out of bullpen this spring; hits 95-96 when amped up; above-average 79-83 CU; very rare CB that has now been phased out; SL being added and now used a lot; great command; 6-3, 175 pounds; big peak FB could have been opening day juice; sitting more often 88-92; 6-3, 190 pounds

Neither Sumrall HS (MS) SS Connor Barron nor Wayne County HS (GA) 2B Tyler Palmer signed with Florida. The Marlins loss is college baseball’s gain. Barron is in line to get first crack at replacing BA Vollmuth at shortstop for Southern Mississippi while Palmer stays local by heading to Georgia. Both players offer interesting defensive tools, but Barron’s speed and strength give him the edge in any long-range forecast.

It is easy to see why Barron has been one of the draft’s fastest risers this spring. He has great speed, a strong arm, and a big league frame that makes projecting his bat easy relative to many of his draft class peers. The Reid Brignac comps are popular, and with good reason.

Broken Arrow HS (OK) RHP Mason Hope joined Archie Bradley in what has to be on the short list of scariest high school school 1-2 punches of all-time. Clint Everts and Scott Kazmir  — based on what we all thought of them as prep players, not how their respective careers played out – might top the list, but the combination of Lucas Giolito and Max Fried might blow everybody out of the water next June. Hope is currently a two-pitch pitcher, but, boy, are those two pitches impressive. His fastball pops consistently in the low-90s and his curve is a true plus offering when on. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch to see whether or not Hope and the Marlins minor league staff can work together to produce a third consistent pitch. His low-70s changeup has looked good at times and he’ll also show a harder breaking ball – a slider that reaches the upper-70s – every now and again, so there is plenty of hope that the elusive third (and maybe fourth) pitch will be unearthed. It should be noted that Florida scouting director Stan Meek knows Oklahoma as well as any talent evaluator, so adjust your perception of the kid with the soap opera name accordingly.

RHP Mason Hope (Broken Arrow HS, Oklahoma): 90-92 FB, 94 peak; flashes plus CB

Wichita State LHP Charlie Lowell might have less electric stuff than Adam Conley, but he’s far more consistent and a better bet to remain a starting pitcher. He has the three pitches needed to start – good fastball, above-average slider, and solid changeup – and the body and arm action to handle heavy workloads.

34. Wichita State JR LHP Charlie Lowell: 89-92 FB, 93-94 peak; above-average SL; solid CU; 6-4, 235

JC of the Sequoias 1B Ryan Rieger is a really interesting gamble in the seventh round. His power and pedigree (Rieger was once a big-time prep prospect) are beyond reproach, but a broken hamate bone suffered late last season is a red flag for a player so reliant on the long ball. Fun fact that might only interest me: Rieger was committed to Long Beach State before deciding to sign with the Marlins. I think that’s neat because that one-time allegiance to the Dirtbags makes the comp to former Long Beach transfer (via Miami) and current Atlanta farmhand Joey Terdoslavich comp I heard a few weeks fit nicely.

Seminole State JC RHP Dejai Oliver is a fastball/slider relief prospect with big league bloodlines. Another potential reliever with family in pro ball (in this case, a brother) is UC Davis RHP Scott Lyman. There is some definite untapped upside with Lyman, especially when you consider his frame, raw arm strength, athleticism, and the time he has spent focused on hitting rather than pitching. I’d take his upside over Oliver’s, but that’s based largely on the leap of faith that good pro coaching will help turn him from thrower to pitcher.

Arizona State C Austin Barnes had more walks (25) than strikeouts (22) while putting up a .730 OPS in his first taste of pro ball in the New York-Penn League. He’s also a plus-plus defender who might just be good enough defensively to warrant a big league roster spot on the strength of his glove/arm/quick feet alone. I underrated Barnes for too long, but am now fully on the bandwagon.

Georgia Tech RHP Jacob Esch (Round 11) could make the Marlins look really, really smart in a few years. Or he’ll be just another eleventh round pick. If he makes Florida look smart, it’ll be because of a fastball that peaks in the mid-90s (94-95), a relatively fresh arm, great athleticism, and a drive to succeed that legitimately blew me away when hearing about him from those in the know at Georgia Tech.

Florida SS Josh Adams (Round 13) is a fine defensive player who can play anywhere on the infield. He also won’t kill you with the bat. A utility future is the dream, but solid organizational soldier is the most likely outcome. I’ve never been a huge Ryan Jackson fan, so consider my comp of Adams to Jackson more of an indictment of the latter than high praise for the former.

Adams is a long time personal who struggled as one of the veteran anchors of a young Gators lineup last year, but has rebounded a bit in 2011. His scouting reports remain largely favorable, despite his inconsistent performances. Adams will be helped by his positional versatility as he tries to make it in the pros as a utility guy.

Monterey Peninsula JC RHP Nick Grim (Round 14) gets a mention as a guy with early round upside (92-95 fastball, good breaking ball that flashes plus, shows changeup) heading off to school at Cal Poly. He isn’t perfect (command comes and goes, inconsistent velocity, odd hitch in delivery some teams might not like), but there’s enough here to get excited about. Bellevue CC RHP Adrian Sampson (Round 16) is similar to Grim in that both are unsigned junior college standouts, but Sampson won’t head off to a four-year school and instead stick with Bellevue for at least another season. The Tommy John survivor has good stuff (fastball sits in the upper-80s but peaks at 92-93, an above-average breaking ball, and a raw but promising changeup) and surprisingly strong command for a pitcher coming off of injury. His brother’s disappointing run in pro ball might be held against him by some teams, but Adrian should enter pro ball further along the developmental curve than Julian ever reached.

Connecticut LHP Greg Nappo (Round 18) only needed 14 innings in short-season ball before jumping to the South Atlantic League for six starts down the stretch and three late summer long relief appearances. All told, he struck out over a batter per inning (58 K in 55 IP) and showed much improved control (only 12 BB) compared to his inconsistent spring (40 BB in 95.2 IP as a senior). Such an impressive performance isn’t altogether surprising coming from a 22-year old (he actually turned 23 in late August) pitchability lefthander. Greg Nappo is also awesome because, yes, that’s him throwing a pitch in the header of this very site.

SR LHP Greg Nappo‘s upper-80s fastball plays up because of good deception in his delivery. It is still probably a below-average pitch on balance because the command isn’t quite what you’d hope it would be coming from a typical pitchability lefty. He relied quite heavily on the heater, mixing in occasional cutters and an average slow curve that he could drop into the strike zone more easily as the game went on. 

Auburn C Tony Caldwell (Round 24) has enough defensive ability to rise up through the low minors as a potential backup catcher. If he hits, he’s a big leaguer. If not, he might top out at as a AAAA stopgap left to sit and wait for an opportunity to arise, i.e. quietly hope for a very minor injury to a catcher that would open the door just a crack.

I had Caldwell pegged as an all defense, no offense non-prospect heading into the year, but his hit tool has made a great deal of progress since last fall. Even without the emerging bat, Caldwell’s defense might have been enough to get him drafted.

Pitching almost exclusively in the GCL, Oregon State RHP James Nygren (Round 33) just straight killed it as a strikeout machine (35 K in 35 total IP) programmed to get groundballs at will (a ridiculous 3.24 GO/AO). He is a quality senior sign who throws nothing straight. At worst, he is David Herndon as a pro.

Oregon State SR RHP James Nygren (2011): 87-90 FB; touching 93; solid SL; nicely developing CU; clocked at 95 back in HS; 6-1, 195 pounds

I’ve always liked watching Pittsburgh OF John Schultz (Round 34) play. I’d be hard pressed, however, to name one tool of his that is clearly big league quality.

JR OF John Schultz (2010 – Pittsburgh) doesn’t have any exceptional tools, but his good plate discipline means he rarely gets cheated at the plate and his good speed can help him take extra bases when needed on the base paths.

I wrote about Iowa Western CC 3B Damek Tomscha (Round 36) last year (see below) after the Phillies took him in the final round out of high school. The latest buzz on Tomscha has pro scouts liking him more as a hard throwing righthanded pitcher as a pro.

Tomscha is a deep sleeper who has plenty of fans within the scouting community. I’m not a member of said community, but count me in as a fan all the same. As a high school guy without high school ball in Iowa, Tomscha’s upside was severely underrated this spring. He’s a really good athlete with a pretty swing, plus arm, and good raw defensive tools. My high pre-draft ranking was probably a bit of overcompensating for his lack of national love on my end, but it should definitely be noted that this your typical 50th round flier. Tomscha’s legit.

A pair of unsigned righthanded pitchers, San Dimas HS (CA) RHP Jacob Ehret (Round 37) and Marquette HS (IL) RHP Joe Ceja (Round 38), figure to hear their names called on draft day after three years at UCLA and Louisville respectively. Ehret is the more advanced prospect, but his path to the mound could be somewhat convoluted considering UCLA’s pitching depth. Ceja is more projectable (rare arm strength + pro body = good chance at upper-90s fastballs by his junior season), but should get an early opportunity to throw for a Louisville team in need of quality arms.

Watch Torrance HS (CA) SS Trent Gilbert (Round 40) if the opportunity arises this spring. He’ll be playing for the Arizona Wildcats, and he’ll be hitting. I haven’t seen or heard what Arizona plans to do with him defensively, but I hope he gets the chance to play second base every day. If that’s the case, he’ll be hitting in the middle of the lineup in no time. If you somehow need to be further sold on Gilbert, know that John Klima, who knows his stuff, loves the kid.

Gilbert swings the bat the exact way I would if a magic genie would finally grant my wish to have a picture perfect lefthanded stroke. I’m darn sure the hit tool will play at the next level, but there are some that think too much of his value is tied up in his bat. That makes some sense to me — there is some power here and a pretty strong arm, but his speed is below-average and his defense is a question mark going forward — but, boy, do I like that hit tool. Many of those defensive questions, by the way, may or may not be Gilbert’s fault. He’s currently in the tricky position of almost being too versatile defensively – I’ve heard some teams like him at 2B, some at 3B, and others still prefer him either at C or CF. Of course, I don’t mean to imply he’ll ever be a world beater at any of those spots, but the opportunity to hear a pro coach tell him, “here’s your new defensive home, practice and play here every day” ought to do him some good.

Heartland CC LHP Jerad Grundy (Round 42), a Miami transfer, should figure prominently in an improved Kentucky pitching staff next season. Coming out of high school he resembled what we saw out of Dillon Peters in this year’s prep class. Like Peters, Grundy has the stuff to start, but may be stuck in the bullpen because of effort in his delivery.

Heartland CC (Illinois) SO LHP Jerad Grundy (2011): 87-92 with movement; hard SL; promising CU; 6-0, 190; Miami transfer

Northeastern LHP Drew Leenhouts (Round 43) wasn’t as good as a junior as he was as a sophomore, but the lefty has the stuff to get picked twenty rounds higher next year. His arm won’t wow you, but he can throw three pitches for strikes and has silky smooth mechanics that portend additional velocity with help from a professional strength and conditioning program.

Northeastern JR LHP Andrew Leenhouts: 87-88 FB; good CB; average CU; command needs work; clean mechanics; 6-3, 200 pounds

2010 MLB Draft: Top 30 College Second Base Prospects

30. Howard JC SO 2B Marcellous Biggins – Raw on the bases, in the field, and at the plate, but when you are this far down the list a plus tool like Biggins’ speed is enough to get noticed.

29. Pacific JR 2B JB Brown – Above-average hitter in the mold of Josh Vitters, Howie Kendrick, and Placido Polanco. Of course, those three names were superior prospects at various points in their respective development; I’m talking about the type of hitter, not necessarily the quality of hitter. Brown is a notorious hacker, but has shown an uncanny ability to swing at pitches he can handle. Hitters like this are typically far too batting average dependent to emerge as successful professionals, but they make for interesting case studies as they progress through the minors.

28. Sam Houston State JR 2B Braden Riley – Another player with an interesting hit tool, but probably not enough power or patience to advance too far up the ladder professionally.

27. Kent State JR 2B Jared Humphreys – Really good athlete with plus speed and great baseball instincts who is capable of playing a variety of positions on the diamond. He’s probably best defensively in the outfield, but his bat players much better at second. Could be an organizational player who wears down a team over

26. Connecticut JR 2B Pierre LePage – Stock is lower here than in other spots, an opinion based largely on his groundball inducing swing plane and lack of meaningful physical strength. In his defense, LePage qualifies as the type of player who grows on you every time you watch him play; pro scouts love guys like that. He can do just enough of everything, and do it all pretty well, but his slap hitting style could get the bat knocked out of his hands as a pro.

25. North Carolina State SR 2B Dallas Poulk – Four years of starter’s at bats have finally paid off for the hard working Poulk. Long considered the inferior prospect to his cousin, Drew, Dallas’s ultra productive 2010 season has finally gotten the attention of area scouts. What they are seeing is another potential organizational player at second, but one with just enough juice in his bat to make a conversion to catching a worthwhile risk.

24. Arizona JR 2B Rafael Valenzuela – Less toolsy, less athletic version of Jared Humphreys, but similar defensive versatility and solid hit tool. What separates Valenzuela is a more professional approach at the plate and, despite less upside, a greater chance of helping a big league team someday.

23. St John’s JR 2B Greg Hopkins – A college third baseman better suited for second in the pros, Hopkins is a very well-rounded ballplayer who grades out with at least fringe average tools in all areas but foot speed. His 45 arm should be enough for second, and his gap power is better suited for the keystone sack than third. Looks like another organizational guy with the upside of a utility player.

22. Central Florida JR 2B Derek Luciano – His name makes me think slick fielding, speed middle infielder, but in reality Luciano is a below-average runner and inconsistent fielder who will have to rely on his lefthanded power if he wants to make it in pro ball. His good, but not great 2010 season has tempered some of the pre-season enthusiasm surrounding his prospect stock.

21. Florida JR 2B Josh Adams– Personal favorite heading into the year has struggled as one of the veteran anchors of a young Gators lineup. His scouting reports are largely favorable, despite the subpar junior season. Like a few other names below him on the list, Adams will be helped by his positional versatility as he tries to make it in the pros as a utility guy.

20. College of Charleston SR 2B Joey Bergman – Any regular reader should know that I wasn’t a Christian Colon fan coming into the year. To fill the void atop my shortstop rankings, I stubbornly tried to convince myself that there was somebody at the college level better. The one name that came up in conversations with people smarter than I am multiple times was Joey Bergman, but always with the caveat that he won’t stick at the position as a pro. Ultimately, nobody could vouch for any player over Colon at shortstop, but the positive vibes I kept hearing when discussing Bergman stuck with me. He’s another versatile defender who can play both up the middle spots, and his high contact rate bodes well going forward.

19. Georgia Southern SR 2B AJ Wirnsberger – The position-less Wirnsberger is on the second base list by default because, well, his bat is good enough to get him drafted, but his glove leaves much to be desired. Unlike a few other defensively flexible players on the list, Wirnsberger projects as a utility guy based more on a reputation as an iffy glove that needs to be hidden rather than a naturally versatile defender. The reason finding him a position is worth the trouble at all is the bat. A hotly recruited prep player, Wirnsberger has good loft on his swing and punishes mistakes, especially when he can get his hands extended. He could find a home behind the plate if a team believes his strong arm will play.

18. Miami SR 2B Scott Lawson – Lawson, Jemile Weeks’ successor at second for Miami, has done nothing but hit since stepping on campus. Above-average hit tool, fantastic plate discipline, ten homer pro pop, and strong defense across the board…can you tell he is a personal favorite? Lawson’s spot on the list begins a stretch of players that I think can play regularly in the big leagues if everything, and I mean everything, breaks right for them.

17. Clemson SR 2B Mike Freeman – Almost an identical player to Scott Lawson, but Freeman provides better footwork in the field and a smidge better speed on the bases. He also possesses one of the quietest, most compact swings I’ve seen at the college level in some time, and has a well earned reputation as a player who doesn’t go the plate without first knowing as much as possible about the opposition. Solid hit tool, above-average speed, good defender, efficient swing, veteran approach….obvious enough we have another personal favorite on our hands, right?

16. Canisius JR 2B Steve McQuail – McQuail has a pro body, pro power, and pro arm, but currently has too many holes in his long, loopy swing to profile as a regular. That said, McQuail’s tools are good enough to believe he has a chance to succeed professionally with the help of a good professional hitting instructor. I know I’m coming off like a broken record here, but when I read certain aspects of McQuail’s scouting reports (athletic, plus arm, only decent at second) I really can’t help but think some pro team has to think of him as a potential catching conversion.

15. Cal State Fullerton JR 2B Corey Jones – Jones is in pretty good company as the best 2010 draft-eligible Titan after a couple of guys named Christian Colon and Gary Brown. Live bat, power potential, and quickly maturing plate discipline, plus the possibility of some time back at his natural shortstop make for an intriguing pro prospect with more upside than your typical college athlete.

14. Southern JR 2B Curtis Wilson– Underrated player who is a good athlete with above-average speed and a really well rounded tool set. Biggest obstacle might be the lack of exposure and lack of one signature standout tool. Funny how a strength (no true weaknesses to his game) can be portrayed as a liability (no eye opening tool) in the next sentence. Speaking of second baseman from Southern, how awesome was Rickie Weeks? His junior year numbers: .500/.619/.987 with 27 steals in 27 tries. He’s probably the second baseman on my all-time favorite non-home team player team.

13. Kentucky JR 2B Chris Bisson– Steady enough to someday ascend to an everyday big league spot, but not currently in possession of any consistent standout tool. Noticing a trend yet? Bisson is lower here than ever I expected, but it’s more about liking the players ranked higher than disliking him. His upside is as a regular .275ish hitter (55) with low double digit homers (40) and above-average plate discipline. Add in a glove that borders on plus and you’ve got yourself a player that big league teams should start thinking about popping in the top ten rounds easy.

12. Kansas SR 2B Robby Price – Differences between Bisson and Price are more perception than reality at this point. Bisson offers up more speed and a little more power projection, but Price has the edge in the field and batting eye. For teams that go overslot both early (first 5 rounds) and late (round 25 and up) in the draft, the middle rounds — 10ish to 25ish — are an area where cheap organizational types are often gobbled up. Price fits that prototype, but is more talented than the typical fringe of the roster taken.

11. California JR 2B BJ Guinn – Might be good enough to hold an everyday job for a team that emphasizes speed and defense up the middle based on those two plus tools alone. The speed is very good, I don’t want to deemphasize his ability there, but it’s Guinn’s glove that really gets your attention. His arm may be a little short for the left side of the diamond, but his crazy range as second can’t help but make you wonder what kind of shortstop he’d be if given the chance.

10. Florida Southern JR 2B Wade Kirkland– For me, a better prospect than Robbie Shields, third rounder in 2009. Shields has more raw power and a better arm, but Kirkland has more present gap power and a more reliable glove.

9. Rutgers JR 2B Brandon Boykin– After excelling against relatively high level northeastern prep competition at Don Bosco Prep, Boykin has finally enjoyed a breakout season with the bat in year three at Rutgers. Friend of a friend of a friend told me the Phillies have him as a high priority mid-round middle infield target, no doubt because of his plus speed and surprisingly springy bat.

8. Cerritos CC SO 2B Joe Terry– The quintessential hitting machine who makes hard contact darn near every time he steps to the plate. He does more than just hit, however; Terry is also an above-average runner with a strong arm who, despite appearing to fight his body sometimes in the field, should settle in as at least an average second baseman with the help of professional coaching. He reinvented himself somewhat in 2010 sacrificing some power for a more patient approach, but the 19th round pick from 2010 has maintained that draft momentum all the same.

7. Alabama JR 2B Ross Wilson– Pretty clear scouting over statistics pick. Wilson has as much power potential and athleticism as any player below him on the list, but has disappointed scouts who expected much more with the bat this spring. His numbers all fall below the three magic thresholds (slugging below .550, more K’s than BB’s, way less than 20 steals), so his placement on this list is a testament to the confidence I have in a plus athlete figuring out how to apply his significant tools before long. High risk, high reward pick that could either emerge as a legit big league caliber starting player or flame out in AA.

6. Virginia JR 2B Phil Gosselin– Remains an average to slightly below-average infielder (capable of playing third and short in a pinch) with an average arm well suited for second base, who many believe may ultimately wind up in the outfield as a pro. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. I’m not necessarily buying it; heck, his mere presence on this list indicates I think it would be best to keep Gosselin at second as long as possible professionally. He doesn’t have the glove/range for center, and doesn’t have the bat for a corner. If he isn’t a starting caliber outfielder, why not at least give him a shot in the infield? Coming into the year I thought his future was as a big league super-sub, but his big junior year has me thinking his bat could work at second if the glove cooperates.

5. Louisville SR 2B Adam Duvall – I’m as big a Louisville fan (prospect-wise) you’ll find outside of Kentucky, so take the Duvall ranking with a grain of salt. His speed and defense aren’t elite, but he’s strong enough in both areas. It’ll be his bat that gets him his shot as he rises to minor league prominence. Duvall reminds me a lot of great deal of 2009 fourth round pick Derek McCallum. Both players have really nice swings who should each hit for good averages with enough extra-base hits to keep pitchers honest.

4. Stanford JR 2B Colin Walsh – I wrote before the season that Walsh had a really pretty swing that caused scouts to project more power in his future. The future is now. Walsh’s excellent results on the field have finally caught up to his positive scouting reports. He also has an outstanding glove at second that may actually be good enough to work at shortstop, giving hope that he can be a utility infielder in the mold of Marco Scutaro someday. His offensive progression with Stanford actually reminds me of former Cardinal Cord Phelps, but, and this bears repeating, Walsh’s glove is outstanding. Phelps was a third rounder as a hitter with slightly less college production, a bit more physical projection, and a significantly lesser glove. 2010 is a really strong draft, especially near the top, but I’d still say that comparison bodes well for Walsh come draft day.

3. Chipola JC FR 2B LeVon Washington – Thought Washington wasn’t worth a first round grade in 2009, but the Tampa front office’s seal of approval is enough to make any good draft fan reconsider. His plus speed remains a major strength, as does his strong contact skills and intriguing power potential, but his post-injury noodle arm is a concern at any defensive position, even second. Even though I’m still not personally sold on the bat playing at higher levels, there is little denying Washington’s four-tool upside.

2. West Virginia JR 2B Jedd Gyorko – I’m not a scout, so I try not to pretend to be one if at all possible, but, if you’ll indulge me just this one, I have to point out the marked difference between Gyorko’s 2010 swing and his 2009 swing. The majority of his damage last season came on guesswork when he’d get nearly all his weight shifted up on his front foot and hack away. His stride is way more efficient this year, with a vastly improved, far more balanced load and launch. Very encouraging progress. Defensively, Gyorko will never be known for his range, but his soft hands should enable him to make all the plays at balls hit at or near him. The two most prevalent (and optimistic) comps are Kevin Youkilis and Dan Uggla, but ultimately Gyorko’s power upside pales in comparison. For me, Gyorko’s upside is that of the new Ben Zobrist.

1. Ball State JR 2B Kolbrin Vitek – Modest son of a gun I am, I’d never toot my own horn about getting out ahead of a prospect’s emergence, but, seeing as I’m wrong 95% of the time, give or take, I’d figure now is as good a time as any to point out this gem from early January: “Vitek’s tools all grade out similarly to fellow small school sensation Bryce Brentz. They both have plus bat speed, good plate discipline, and plus power potential. They are also both two-way players who have had success on the mound collegiately, though only Vitek could actually pull of the trick of being a legit draft prospect as either a hitter or pitcher. In addition to a glove/arm combination that will definitely play at third professionally, Vitek does all the little things well that make scouts (and wannabe’s like me) very happy. He is a sensational base runner, works deep counts, and has one of the coolest names this side of Yordy Cabrera. Vitek’s utter dominance of the Great Lakes League this past summer sealed the deal for me. He may not be a first rounder in June, but he is as good a bet as any college hitter in the 2010 to be an impact player in the big leagues.” Ha, I called him “Bryce Brentz without a publicist.” Genius prognosticating and comic gold. The myth of the next Jim Callis/Steve Martin super-hybrid has finally been realized.

College Mid-Week Update; Mike Leake vs. Kyle Gibson

What do you do when you don’t have a college team profile or a positional prospect ready to post? You’re about to find out! Who am I kidding, the title of the post is a dead give away. Time for an update on all the college action that’s gone down from Tuesday to Thursday. It’s an easy way to fill space and, really, isn’t that what the internet is all about? At it’s core, it always comes back to filling up space, one way or another.

Of course, combing through box score after box score, compiling information, and then trying to think of the occasional witty remark to break up the string of numbers takes a lot longer than it should. Longer than it would probably take to finish up a college profile or a prospect list. Hmm. Consider this way more than just filler (ignore the tag!), but rather a labor of love. Alright, I need to wrap this up. They say if the intro is too long then people will tune out and click away. They also say that if the intro is too boring, people won’t even bother ever coming back. What if it’s too long and too boring? Let’s hope we never find out…

The highlight of the mid-week games was the marquee pitching matchup between two first round rigthanders. I love it when a big pitching matchup lives up to the hype, don’t you?

Mike Leake (Arizona State): 8 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K 11 GO 2 AO

Kyle Gibson (Missouri): 7 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 8 K 9 GO 2 AO 2 LO

Gibson was very good, but Leake was even better. Both players have strong reputations as groundball pitchers and their numbers have backed it up. Gibson’s ground out, air out, and line out ratios through two starts: 15/5/3. Leake’s is even better: 19/3/1. I believe this is the only free resource on the internet that keeps track of such numbers, by the way. I mean, I’m not one to toot my own horn or anything, but it’s always bothered me that college stats were so poorly organized (trying to navigate some of these college box scores is a nightmare) and so well hidden from the public. College Splits is tremendous, but it’s gotten so good that their stats are darn near impossible to gain access to. Long story short, I’m just trying to do my part. Oh yeah, Gibson and Leake are good. Gibson was 5th on the Big Board and Leake was 11th.

And now for something totally different. Bob Revesz is an interesting lefthanded starter for Louisville (draft-eligible sophomore, iffy fastball, plus slider) who has one of the finer “Personal” facts on a team website I’ve ever seen. Normally when I say interesting, I mean it as an intentionally vague “player with an actual big league future” general comment. While Revesz does fit the profile of an “interesting” prospect — he looks like a good bet to make it in pro ball as a left reliever, at worst — he also fits the profile as, well, an “interesting” character. According to the Louisville team website, Revesz “once drank a cube of Mountain Dew in one night.” Really.

He did the Dew...

After the jump, all of the most important Tuesday and Wednesday adventures in college prospectdom recapped for your reading pleasure. (more…)

All Sophomore Prospect Team (Class of ’10)

A handy tip for those who have a hard time meeting self-imposed deadlines – making your schedule public makes it a heck of a lot easier to stick to. Remember this?

Monday: (2/16): All Freshman Prospect Team
Tuesday (2/17): All Sophomore Prospect Team
Wednesday (2/18): All Senior Prospect Team
Thursday (2/19): All Draft-Eligible Sophomore Prospect Team AND All Junior Prospect Team
Friday (2/20): College Opening Day Hip-Hop Pizza Party featuring the debut of The Baseball Draft Report 2009 College Prospect Big Board

No matter what happens this week, I’m sticking to this darned schedule. If today is Tuesday, that means it is All Sophomore Prospect Team Day! The players listed below are all, as far as I know, draft-eligible as of the 2010 season. There are no redshirt sophomores on the list — the 2009-eligible sophomores will get their own list — only players eligible for the 2010 draft. Something about this class really appeals to me, so I went a little overboard with some of the writeups. Enjoy the All Sophomore Prospect Team after the jump…

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