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2016 MLB Draft Prospects – Central Florida

JR LHP Andrew Faintich (2016)
JR RHP Campbell Scholl (2016)
JR RHP Juan Pimentel (2016)
rSR LHP Harrison Hukari (2016)
JR RHP Robby Howell (2016)
JR RHP Trent Thompson (2016)
JR OF/LHP Luke Hamblin (2016)
JR C/1B Matt Diorio (2016)
JR OF Eli Putnam (2016)
JR OF Eugene Vazquez (2016)
JR 3B/SS Kam Gellinger (2016)
JR SS Brennan Bozeman (2016)
SO RHP Brad Rowley (2017)
SO RHP Cre Finfrock (2017)
SO RHP/2B Kyle Marsh (2017)
SO C Logan Heiser (2017)
FR INF Matthew Mika (2018)

“We don’t know what we don’t know” is a quote I heard a smart person say one time. Sounded good. Could even seeing it make some sense in some respects. But I can assure you that I do know what I don’t know when it comes to the Central Florida team in 2016. This roster is loaded with players with little to no division one baseball experience, so my usual move of supplementing scouting reports, firsthand observations, and public commentary with a long look at the player’s track record on the field is out the window here.

Nice things have been said about JR OF Eli Putnam, JR OF/LHP Luke Hamblin, JR RHP Juan Pimentel, and JR RHP Campbell Scholl, but assessing any of those players fairly as prospects is a bigger task than an outsider like me can complete. I’m looking forward to seeing all four play this year.

I’m also looking forward to getting a closer look at returning talent like JR C/1B Matt Diorio, JR RHP Robby Howell, and JR LHP Andrew Faintich. Diorio is a pretty straight forward prospect for me right now: he can really hit, but his defensive future is highly uncertain. As a catcher he could rise up as one of the handful of top names in this class, but the “as a catcher” qualifier is something easier said than done. The good news is that many who know Diorio better than I do have insisted to me that he’s athletic enough to play some corner outfield in the event the idea of catching goes belly up. Framed as a potential corner outfielder/first baseman who occasionally can catch, Diorio’s path to the big leagues suddenly gets a little clearer. In a perfect world he’s a backstop all the way, but a super-utility player who can hit is hardly without value.

Howell and Faintich both have upper-80s fastballs (93 MPH peak for the former, 91 for the latter) and average-ish breaking balls. Howell was a workhorse last year (80.2 IP) who seems poised to do more of the same in 2016 while Faintich put up some crazy numbers (17.42 K/9 and 11.61 BB/9 in 9.1 scoreless innings) in his brief first extended taste of college ball. rSR LHP Harrison Hukari falls somewhere between the two as an arm who pitched more than Faintich (50.0 IP) but with better peripherals (9.18 K/9) than Howell. His is more of a mid- to upper-80s fastball, but his size (6-6, 250) from the left side could get him a second look this spring.

JR 3B/SS Kam Gellinger got the “interesting bat” comment in my notes. That’s meant to be a compliment or (at worst) an indicator to me to follow up to learn more about a guy as a hitter, but I suppose hitting .198/.234/.287 last year like Gellinger could be deemed “interesting” in the truest sense of the word. A line like that certainly catches your attention. Lackluster sophomore season or not, the toolsy infielder (arm, speed, range) is still interesting to me and could be in for a nice draft year breakout with the bat.

Much as I like the uncertainty of this year’s class at UCF, I’m digging the major upside — won’t call it a certainty that said upside will be reached, obviously, but that’s the slick writing transition I would have liked to pull off here — of the 2017 class. SO RHP Cre Finfrock is a household name to those as into college ball as I’m assuming anybody reading this is. Right behind him as a prospect is big personal favorite SO RHP/2B Kyle Marsh, a legitimate two-way talent who, in spite of an excellent fastball (88-94) and slider (flashes plus) mix, I might actually prefer as a position player.