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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Colorado Rockies

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Colorado in 2016

2 – Riley Pint
49 – Robert Tyler
91 – Colton Welker
93 – Ben Bowden
163 – Brian Serven
254 – Garrett Hampson
310 – Willie Abreu
314 – Justin Calomeni
320 – Reid Humphreys
355 – Matt Dennis

Complete List of 2016 Colorado Rockies Draftees

1.4 – RHP Riley Pint

On Riley Pint (2) from April 2016…

There have been a lot of challengers to his throne this spring, but Pint’s raw stuff is still the most impressive of any high school arm in this class. He’s the only prep prospect that I’m confident in putting future plus grades on three different pitches. Jay Groome, Ian Anderson, Alex Speas, Austin Bergner, and Forrest Whitley all could get there, but Pint’s already convinced me. He’s the singular most talented pitching prospect in the country. So why is listed as a mid-first round pick and not a slam dunk 1-1 here? If you’re reading this on your own volition — and I certainly hope there’s no crazed lunatic out there forcing random people to visit my site; that’s my job! — then you already know. Pint’s delivery has many of the smarter public talent evaluators concerned about how he’ll hold up pitching every fifth day. I’m less concerned about that because I’m fairly stubborn in my belief that there’s no such thing as “bad mechanics” since the mere act of throwing a baseball is bad and unnatural by definition. I’m just looking for a guy with athleticism who can repeat whatever he is doing on the mound consistently with an open-mindedness to receiving instruction and a willingness to adjust aspects of his craft as needed. I think Pint fits that bill. The one knock on the fire-balling righthander that I think could have some merit is the concern over his risk of injury going forward. Again, this isn’t something that I’m crazy with concern about — pitchers get hurt, so you have to be ready for that inevitability with any pitching prospect — but the idea that Pint’s most obvious selling point (100 MPH!) could also be his biggest red flag (too much velocity too soon) intrigues the heck out of me. That’s straight out of Shakespeare or The Twilight Zone or something. Red flags or not, Pint’s arm talent is unmistakable. He’s well worth a shot here and likely a whole heck of a lot higher. He’d be on my shortlist at 1-1 if I had a say.

This from his pre-draft scouting blurb sums up my enthusiasm for Pint pretty well: “a high school righthander who throws 102 MPH is a terrifying investment, but what separates Pint from failed teenage flame throwers from the past is his present ability to throw two well above-average offspeed pitches fairly consistently and elite athleticism across the board.” Pint is extra exciting to me because he doesn’t need to throw triple-digit fastballs to be a premier pitching prospect and potential ace. Pint living in the mid- to upper-90s with his kind of offspeed stuff (tremendous spike-curve and downright filthy change) with his kind of athleticism is more than enough. I got a little (entirely imagined) heat for having high school pitchers as my top two draft prospects this year, but Jay Groome and Pint aren’t typical high school pitchers. Groome and Pint are crazy talented outliers with the chance to be long-term fixtures atop big league rotations for a long time. If Pint even approaches his ceiling, then the Rockies, an organization quietly building something pretty special, will find themselves in outstanding shape. I know projecting any team three seasons down the line is an exercise in futility, but it’s fun so whatever let’s do it…

C –
1B – McMahon
2B – Story
SS – Rodgers
3B – Arenado
LF – Dahl
CF –
RF – Tapia

SP – Gray
SP – Hoffman
SP – Freeland
SP – Bowden
SP – Marquez

Prospects like Serven, Murphy, Mundell, Wall, Welker, Nevin, Hampson, Abreu, Castellani, Castro, Tyler, and Nikorak can help fill in the gaps. There are potential assets in the meantime like Gonzalez, McGee, Blackmon, LeMahieu, and Ottavino that could bring in reinforcements along the way via trade or potentially be extended and become part of the new core. And then top it all off with a pitcher with arguably the highest upside of any teenager in organized ball as the potential ace tying it all together. I’m bullish on the Rockies and I’m bullish on Pint. That’s a potential World Series club core with a potential World Series Game One starter in the system ready to head up the rotation.

1.38 – RHP Robert Tyler

On Robert Tyler (49) from May 2016…

I didn’t intend for this to be an all comp all the time post, but I can’t get the Ryan Madson comparison (first noted by Keith Law) out of my head whenever I think about Tyler. I really want to believe in his breaking ball being good enough to let him be the starting pitcher that Madson never could be, but nobody I’ve spoken to seems to think he can stay in the rotation as a big leaguer. That won’t stop me from stubbornly continuing to believe Tyler, one of the youngest players in his class, won’t find a way to harness his spike-curve more effectively more often. He has the size, command, ability to hold his velocity, and smarts to make it as a starter. I’d be willing to spend a second round pick – maybe a late first depending on how the board breaks – to get him signed, sealed, delivered, and working with my pro staff (coaching and medical) to see firsthand whether or not a more consistent breaker is in that electric right arm of his.

Even after a disaster of a professional beginning (16 walks and 9 wild pitches in 7.0 innings), I think the obvious play is to continue to develop Tyler as a starter with the hope that pro instruction and repetition will lead to some improvement in his spike-curve and control. When that inevitably doesn’t work, then you can guide Tyler’s full-time transition to potential relief ace and speed up his big league timeline. His fastball/changeup combination in short bursts would be lethal. Tyler is a much higher variance college pitcher than one might expect to be picked in the draft’s top two rounds. Him being selected where he was despite his flaws is a testament to how good he’s looked when everything is clicking.

2.45 – LHP Ben Bowden

It could just be that I just wrote about the guy last Friday, but in my mind new Rockies farmhand Ben Bowden (93) will forever be linked to Florida reliever turned Boston maybe starter/maybe reliever Shaun Anderson. Both were SEC relievers on insanely deep college pitching staffs with the pure stuff to start, but no clear opportunity to do so consistently. The opportunity will be there for both in the pros, so it’ll be up to each as individuals to do what they can with their respective shots. Bowden has the requisite three (or four, depending on your view of his breaking ball[s]) pitches to give hitters multiple looks over the course of a single outing with the frame (6-4, 220), athleticism, and pedigree to make the conversion a smooth one. As with Anderson (and fellow SEC guy Robert Tyler), I think trying to make it work in the rotation makes the most short-term sense for Bowden. Also like those guys, I think there should be a relatively short leash with a clear understanding that winding up as a relief ace isn’t a demotion of any sort. Some pitchers see such a significant bump in stuff when able to go full-tilt for shorter outings that it makes sense to allow them to do what they are best at even if there’s more “value” (a tricky thing to truly assess when factors like leverage, strategical freedom, and good old fashioned peace of mind are brought into play) in having them throw more innings as a starter. If Bowden is mid-90s in relief and more 88-92ish as a starter, then there’s no shame in sticking him in the pen and giving yourself another option to deploy each night as needed. A young, cheap, dynamic bullpen filled with guys like Bowden, Tyler, Justin Calomeni, Reid Humphreys, and Matt Dennis would eliminate a lot of the managerial stress that comes with playing 81 games a year at Coors.

3.81 – SS Garrett Hampson

A whole bushel of words on Garrett Hampson (254) from March 2016…

Comparing almost any amateur prospect to [Kevin] 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.

There you have it. A lot of words to say that Hampson, who had a fantastic debut, is a fine player with a shot to be a good regular shortstop (early returns from both the scouting world and the attempts at minor league fielding metrics have been positive), an arguably clearer shot to be a good regular second baseman, but a clearest yet path to a long career as a sneaky high value utility infielder.

4.110 – 3B Colton Welker

I really like how Colorado diversified their draft portfolio early on. Their first five picks: high school pitcher, college pitcher, college pitcher, college infielder, and high school infielder. Said high school infielder is none other than Colton Welker (91), one of my pre-draft FAVORITES now in a fantastic position to flourish as a pro hitter. I think Welker is a good enough all-around hitter — real power, fine swing, mature approach — with impressive left side of the infield defensive tools to be an above-average potential regular at the hot corner. He reminds me a little bit of another old draft FAVORITE and fellow Miami commit David Thompson. I like this pick a lot.

5.140 – C Brian Serven

On Brian Serven (163) from April 2016…

Blessed with an arm both strong and accurate, Serven’s strong hands and plus mobility behind the plate make him a defensive weapon. Whether or not he’ll keep hitting enough to play regularly remains an open question for me – all I have on him offensively are his numbers and that he’s got average or better raw power – but the present defensive value is enough to last a long time in pro ball.

Serven is a fine example of what makes the draft process and talent evaluation as a whole so much darn fun. You can read elsewhere on the internet all about Serven being a potential bat-first catcher with serious defensive questions. Is that right? Is what I have right? All I can write about is what I personally see and hear firsthand. The truest way to know for sure if I’m right or wrong is to get out there and see Serven up close yourself. Or wait until a trusted pro prospect writer comes out with a report that makes sense to you. My quick evaluation of Serven is “backup catcher with a chance to add value defensively, but not a good enough hitter in any phase to play regularly.” That’s not a ceiling projection that knocks your socks off in the fifth round, but it fits when you look at position scarcity and the importance of getting your guy before it is too late. My top twelve college catchers and when they went off the board in parentheses…

Collins (1) – Thaiss (2) – Murphy (7) – Smith (3) – Ice (5) – Okey (4) – Martinez (9) – Lawrence (😢) – Cumberland (6) – Rogers (8) – Tinsley (13) – Serven (10)

In other words, Serven was just about the last man standing out of that group. The only other options that the Rockies had at that point from my top twelve were Lawrence (😢) and Tinsley. You could definitely argue that Colorado should have tried to get a different catcher earlier, but that’s the kind of draft butterfly effect type stuff that will drive you crazy if you let it. I lumped Serven in with names like Smith (high end of that spectrum), Rogers (middle), and Tinsley (middle-ish) as highly athletic catchers with strong defensive upside, and I think getting one such player like that was critical for Colorado in a draft they praised such a premium on collecting high upside yet volatile young pitching. I gently criticized the Braves for drafting a bat-first catcher in Cumberland in the same draft they also went with loads of pitching early, so it’s only right to give the Rockies credit for getting a potentially stabilizing force behind the dish in a similar situation. I may not love the player, but the thought process is there.

6.170 – OF Willie Abreu

I’m still concerned about Willie Abreu’s (310) propensity for swinging and missing, but his physical profile is top notch. How can you not see what the Rockies saw in him? One watch of Abreu and you see a guy who stands out physically from the rest. From October 2015…

Nick Banks gets a lot of deserved attention for being a potential early first round pick — somebody even once called him the “right field prototype,” if you can believe it — but Willie Abreu’s tool set is on the same shelf. There’s power, mobility, arm strength, and athleticism to profile as a damn fine regular if it all clicks.

And then again in December 2015…

I recently had a conversation with somebody (note: this chat may or may not have been with myself in the car while stuck in traffic one day) about OF Willie Abreu and his prodigious raw power. We went back and forth a bit about how he ranks in the power department judged against his collegiate peers before settling on the top ten with a case for top five. Of course, one of the names that is ahead of him on any list of amateur power is his teammate Zack Collins. I can’t imagine how it would feel to have easy plus raw lefthanded power and still come in second on your own team. I’m sure he doesn’t mind being teammates with a slugger equally feared — protection may be a myth, but it’s a fun one — and on a squad with designs on playing deep into June.

For all the talk about Abreu’s raw power, there is still some question about how much he’ll ever be able to utilize it in game action. His power numbers through two years are much closer to good than great and there’s the predictable swing-and-miss aspect to his game present, so there’s some pressure on him to put turn some of his raw ability into tangible skills in 2016. I’m bullish on him doing just that, but your mileage might vary.

Abreu hit for more power than ever in 2016, but kept on piling up the strikeouts. He’s still young enough to improve — a not so minor point that can and should be remembered about ALL of these prospects profiled in these draft reviews — but the track record suggests the style of hitter he is ain’t changing any time soon. You can still be a pretty good player even while striking out a ton, so the toolsy Abreu bears close watching going forward. For both scouting reasons and the strength of following an instinctual hunch, I’m cautiously optimistic that Abreu, despite being the antithesis of what I typically look for in a young hitter n terms of approach, puts it all together as a pro by maximizing his strengths and getting by with his weaknesses.

7.200 – RHP Reid Humphreys

I preferred Reid Humphreys (320) as a hitter, so feel free to disregard just about everything you’ll read ahead. As a pitcher, Humphreys is a good looking potential big league reliever. On his best days, his mid-90s fastball and above-average breaking ball combination give him the look of a future late-inning option. When he doesn’t have it clicking on the mound, he’s more of a low-90s type with an average at best breaker. His junior year peripherals at Mississippi State (11.83 K/9 and 2.54 BB/9) and increased time away from HS Tommy John surgery give some hope that the best of Humphreys on the mound is yet to come.

8.230 – LHP Ty Culbreth

I get needing to save some dough with a senior-sign here, but not sure I’ve seen what Colorado evidently sees in Ty Culbreth. The little lefthander from Texas was a really good college pitcher and a legitimate late-round draft prospect, but the absolutely best case scenario here is last man in the bullpen matchup lefty. There’s really not a ton of room in pro ball for upper-80s pitchers with solid but not spectacular offspeed stuff.

9.260 – RHP Justin Calomeni

On Justin Calomeni (314) from March 2016…

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.

Love this pick for Colorado. Calomeni has a big fastball (up to 97) to go with that aforementioned slider and changeup. I think he can ride the fastball and slider all the way to a late-inning big league role.

10.290 – OF Vince Fernandez

On Vince Fernandez (and a larger attempted point about scouting a hitter’s approach) from March 2016…

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.

Fernandez did wind up improving his plate discipline indicators somewhat from 2015 (23 BB/63 K) to 2016 (30 BB/58 K), but the drastic jump in walks and decline in whiffs that a guy like Kyle Lewis experienced didn’t quite work out for Fernandez. That doesn’t mean the former UC Riverside star isn’t a good prospect. Success comes in many shapes and sizes, and Fernandez has a well-rounded corner outfield profile (average to above-average power, speed, and arm strength) that makes him an interesting prospect even if he’s going to be a hacker in the pros.

11.320 – RHP Bryan Baker

Bryan Baker brings a big body (6-6, 225) and a potent fastball (88-94, 96-97 peak) to the mound. I’ll be long dead before teams stop overdrafting size and velocity. Still, Baker is a decent relief gamble here.

12.350 – RHP Brandon Gold

On Brandon Gold from December 2015…

My favorite Georgia Tech arm is attached to the body of JR RHP/3B Brandon Gold. Gold is a good athlete — no surprise coming from a two-way talent who might be seen as a primary third baseman by some teams — with the kind of stuff that you wonder if it might play up once asked to focus on pitching full-time. He’s been up to the low-90s with a nice changeup and average or better command, so there’s a good base to work with here.

Gold further refined his stuff in 2016 with the Yellow Jackets. His breaking ball (76-84, more slider than curve but a little of both at times) and sinking change (80-85) give him a pair of offspeed weapons that can get him both swings and misses and outs on the ground. I’d keep him in the rotation for as long as possible and bank on the continued full-time dedication to pitching making him one of the draft’s better college sleepers. I like this pick a ton.

13.380 – SS Taylor Snyder

Colorado stayed close to home by selecting Taylor Snyder from the Colorado State University-Pueblo Thunderwolves in the thirteenth round. Snyder hit a robust .345/.398/.684 with 16 BB/30 K and 9/10 SB as a junior, though those numbers were rolled up as part of a team that hit a combined .331/.404/.513. Still, the power is real (based on what I’ve been told) and he’s athletic enough to play any spot in the infield, so the possibility of a fun bat-first utility player is very much in play here.

14.410 – RHP Matt Dennis

I really like Matt Dennis (355). Here’s the praise from March 2016 to prove it…

He’s got enough fastball (88-92, 94 peak), a damn fine changeup (plus upside), and a solid low-70s curve. His command is good, he’s kept runs off the board (1.50 ERA last year), and his peripherals have always been where you want them. It’s not the kind of profile that blows you away at first look, but all of the individual components work well together. I’m a fan.

I think Dennis pitches in the big leagues for a long time, likely in a relief role.

Lots of guys with good changeups being drafted by Colorado in this class. Coincidence or internal data informing decision making? The collective wisdom of the internet says using the change at elevation leads to inconclusive results (slider > curve seems like the one legit conclusion so far), but anecdotally I think a good changeup would make sense as a potential out-pitch at Coors.

15.440 – RHP Justin Valdespina

Justin Valdespina followed teammate Tim Viehoff (Seattle) as the second of three Southern New Hampshire prospects to be drafted in 2016. He’s also the eighth Penman pitcher to be drafted since I started the site up in 2009. That’s a pretty impressive run of producing draft-quality arms for a Division II program located in New England. Were it not for Viehoff going off the board eighty-three picks earlier, Valdespina would have gone down in history as the highest drafted Penman to date. Alas, he’ll have to settle for second from the top for now. I’m not particularly bullish on his decent fastball/better curveball approach playing all that well at Coors, but it’s a decent enough context-neutral middle relief skill set all the same.

16.470 – C Will Haynie

Will Haynie is the first of three college bats taken in the next four picks by Colorado that follow a fairly simple pattern: huge raw power, silly amounts of swing-and-miss, uncertain long-term defensive fit. That’s not the player profile I’d personally load up on, but Colorado never asked me. From April 2015…

Alabama SO C Will Haynie has obvious upside in his 6-5, 230 pound frame. Catchers built like that with plus raw power and plus arm strength get chances even when the overall package – Haynie struggled badly last season and has only made modest improvements in 2015 — doesn’t amount to what you’d expect. A team might bet on his tools higher than expected, but I think the most realistic outcome would be a return to Tuscaloosa in 2016. No need to rush Haynie just because he’s a draft-eligible sophomore, though I suppose the question as to whether or not his development would be better served in college or in the pros going forward is one worth asking. I typically side with the pro side on matters like these, but Haynie needs the kind of at bats that playing every day in the SEC would give him. He’s almost too raw a player to take on the pros right now; I’d worry that he’d get lost in the shuffle of pro ball as even the best player development staffs can only take on so many projects at any one time.

Eighteen months later and I’m still not a big fan of Haynie’s pro prospects. Nothing about his junior season at Alabama (.225/.291/.423 with 12 BB/55 K) changed his long-term outlook for me. I remain intrigued by his power and arm strength, but scared off by his outrageous swing-and-miss potential. Maybe he can carve out a role in the big leagues down the line as an old school plus power/plus arm strength backup catcher, but I’m not seeing it.

17.500 – RHP Mike Bunal

Mike Bunal could be an athletic sinker/slider reliever if he keeps moving his game in the right direction. That’s not a profile that lights the world on fire, but there could be some value there.

18.530 – 1B Hunter Melton

Part Two of the Rockies big power/too much swing-and-miss/questionable defender grab bag brings Hunter Melton to the Colorado organization in the eighteenth round. From April 2016…

Turns out I don’t have a hook for Hunter Melton, so we’ll focus on his interesting power, positional versatility (some think he could still play some 3B if need be), and intriguing track record with wood. In the late rounds, it all could be worth investigating.

Lots of power, lots of strikeouts, and likely locked into first base going forward. If he can convince the Rockies that he can move around the diamond a little (third base, maybe an outfield corner) then he has a sliver of a chance of making it as a bat-first utility type. As a first baseman only, I think the approach holds him back too much.

19.560 – 1B Jacob Bosiokovic

First Will Haynie, then Hunter Melton, and finally Jacob Bosiokovic. Of the three, I think I like the Ohio State slugger best of all. That said, while I understand the intrigue that comes with a big guy (6-6, 240 pounds) with his kind of tools, I think there’s just too much swing-and-miss to Bosiokovic’s offensive game to make a lasting impact in pro ball. He’s an excellent athlete with big-time strength who can run, defend multiple spots, and work deep counts. Curbing some of his strikeouts will be key, but the upside here for a four-corners (1B, 3B, LF, RF) utility bat exists. His brand of power and Coors Field is as close to a perfect prospect/team marriage that exists in this draft. I hope it works out for him because watching his BP in Denver 81 times a year would be more than worth the price of admission.

20.590 – LHP Kyle Cedotal

I don’t quite know how I feel about the Colorado draft as a whole just yet, but this run of low-probability/low-ceiling prospects is bumming me out. Kyle Cedotal is an upper-80s lefthander who throws a whole lot of junk (in a good way) and relies on changing speeds above all else. From June 2016…

LHP Kyle Cedotal has the crafty college lefty thing down to a science, so spending a late pick on him and watching him move quickly as he mows down low-minors hitting out of the bullpen could be fun.

That’s about right, I think. Cedotal has a chance to eventually rise up as a funky matchup lefty. Whether or not that gets you going is something I’ll leave up to you.

21.620 – OF Tyler Bugner

Hit .439/.522/.620 with 29 BB/14 K and 20/21 SB in 187 AB during your junior season and you’ve got my attention. Tyler Bugner followed up that ridiculous year at Newman with an impressive in its own right professional debut. I don’t have much in the way of scouting notes on Bugner, but one contact told me that “if intangibles matter, Bugner’s a future big leaguer.” I’m on the bandwagon.

22.650 – OF Steven Linkous

The first of back-to-back draftees from UNC Wilmington, Steven Linkous is a plus runner, outstanding athlete, and quality defender in center. A lack of power limits his overall upside, but there are enough secondary skills and defensive versatility in his game to merit some long-term utility player consideration.

23.680 – RHP Jared Gesell

I thought Jared Gesell had a shot to sneak into the tenth round as a money-saving senior-sign. In fact, here you go from March 2016…

Also, not for nothing, but Jared Gesell is another FAVORITE who will make a drafting team extremely happy as a high value senior-sign. I think he’s a future big leaguer.

Future big leaguer is a bold take, but I stand by it with Gesell. Size (6-4, 200), fastball (88-94, 95 peak), above-average changeup (78-83, flashes plus), emerging breaking ball (77-80 slider), deception, and a long track record of missing bats all add up to a really nice mid-round relief prospect by any standard. The only bugaboo with Gesell is his control. Check his senior year college numbers (top) against stats from his professional debut (bottom)…

12.18 K/9 and 5.35 BB/9 in 30.1 IP
13.16 K/9 and 4.39 BB/9 in 26.2 IP

I’m not saying he’ll be a 12ish K/9 and 4.5ish BB/9 guy in perpetuity, but the consistency of his output gives a pretty clear idea of what kind of pitcher you’re getting with Gesell. The stuff and strikeouts are enough for me to overlook the control for now. Twenty-third round pick Jared Gesell: future big leaguer.

24.710 – RHP JD Hammer

JD Hammer doesn’t throw a curve (to my knowledge), so that’s a little disappointing. He does throw a fastball up to 94 with an average or better slider, so big league middle reliever isn’t a crazy potential outcome for him. Hammer is a quality arm to land in the twenty-fourth round.

25.740 – RHP Heath Holder

Only in the MLB Draft can you find a solid performer (10.01 K/9 and 3.68 ERA in 71.0 IP) from the SEC with size (6-6, 210 pounds), a decent fastball (88-92), and a quality breaking ball all the way down in the twenty-fifth round. I suppose that makes sense since none of the other drafts go this many rounds. And pro teams drafting in their respective drafts might not value a righthanded pitcher in quite the same way a baseball team might. I am kind of curious now about Heath Holder’s skating ability.

26.770 – RHP Austin Moore

Doesn’t West Texas A&M have that perfect just real enough quality to it that it could be used on TV and in movies as a stock university without having to worry about copyright infringement? Turns out not only is it a real school, but it now has it’s first every MLB draftee in Austin Moore. Pretty cool. All I have on him are his numbers. Thankfully, they are good ones: 11.65 K/9 and 3.98 BB/9.

27.800 – RHP George Thanopolous

On George Thanopolous from March 2016…

George Thanopoulos is a classic sinker/slider guy who could soak up enough low-minors innings to buy the time needed to earn fans in high organizational places. There are hundreds of pitchers like him between amateur ball and the minor leagues and predicting which ones can take their sinker/slider blend to big league bullpens is anybody’s guess.

I should really just copy and paste that for about 50% of all of the college righthanders drafted past the twentieth round or so. Minus Thanopolous’s misspelled name. Well, minus his name altogether actually. Things would get really confusing if I copied and pasted that specific passage for multiple players not named George Thanopolous. But the sinker/slider stuff is relevant for many.

28.830 – RHP Ryan Luna

Ryan Luna’s two seasons at Sonoma State saw him strike out 8.88 batters per nine and walk 3.86 batters per nine. That’s all I’ve got. Luna means moon. You probably knew that already, but any attempt to stretch these out is a good one. I get paid by the word, after all.

29.860 – RHP Josh Shelley

Josh Shelley is a sinker/slider relief prospect out of Mobile. He didn’t pitch in his first year with the Rockies organization. Him not pitching ruined my plans of checking his GB%. Can’t win ’em all, I suppose.

30.890 – RHP Rico Garcia

Rico Garcia likely benefited at least a little from scouts expensing trips to Honolulu to see eventual thirteenth round pick Brandon Bonilla (among other reasons), but his thirtieth round selection was one clearly made on merit. Garcia’s senior stats (6.90 K/9 and 2.10 BB/9 in 77.0 IP) won’t blow you away, but he’s shown consistent command of a quality three-pitch mix (low-90s FB, CU, breaking ball) for years now. The undersized righthander has middle relief upside if it all works out in the pros.

31.920 – RHP Kenny Oakley

Kenny Oakley has always had solid stuff (88-92 FB, average or better CU), but could never quite seem to put it all together for an extended period of time during his senior season (5.89 K/9 and 3.56 BB/9) at UNLV. His quality first three seasons and that aforementioned solid stuff were enough to get him popped by Colorado despite his senior year blues. Because baseball is a funny game, Oakley then went out and dominated (peripherally, at least) rookie ball. His debut line included a 13.66 K/9 and 2.86 BB/9 in 28.1 IP.

33.980 – SS Tyler Orris

When I started this site before the 2009 MLB Draft, Millersville had three draftees in school history. Since then, they’ve had six. Of that six, three came in 2016 alone. One of those three is Tyler Orris. The Millersville shortstop hit .337/.421/.427 (110 BB/78 K) with 101 SB in his 224 career games as a Marauder. As a senior he hit .354/.459/.467 with 40 BB/19 K. The athletic, sure-handed Orris can certainly field his spot(s), so sticking him at either short or second in the low-minors will at least give your organization confidence he’ll make all the needed plays behind your young pitching. His approach at the plate is a thing of beauty (he even kept piling up walks as a pro with a 20 BB/20 K ratio for Boise), but the lack of power is his offensive undoing. Still, speed, defense, and a good approach are about all you can ask in a thirty-third round org guy like Orris. Small school prospects coming off highly productive college careers are some of my favorite types to root for in pro ball.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

John Hendry (Indianapolis), Wyatt Featherston (Western Kentucky), Michael Toglia (UCLA), Trevor Edior (?), Troy Bacon (Santa Fe JC), Quin Cotton (Grand Canyon), Cuba Bess (Grand Canyon), Luca Dalatri (North Carolina)

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