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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Horizon

I think I was pretty optimistic about Sean Murphy in the pre-season…

Watching Murphy do his thing behind the plate is worth the price of admission alone. We’re talking “Queen Bee” level arm strength, ample lateral quicks on balls in the dirt, and dependable hands with an ever-improving ability to frame borderline pitches. He’s second in the class behind Jake Rogers defensively — not just as a catcher, but arguably at any position — but with enough bat (unlike Rogers) to project as a potential above-average all-around regular in time. I expect the battle for top college catching prospect to be closely contested all year with Thaiss, Okey, and Murphy all taking turns atop team-specific draft boards all spring long.

…but there’s a chance that even the praise and his lofty ranking (22nd among college prospects, top three college catcher) undersold how good a player he is. Murphy has a chance to be a game-changing talent defensively as well as a significant contributor offensively. If you ever sat down and counted up all of the players that various experts considered first rounders you’d wind up with a first round approaching triple-digit selections; for that reason, I hesitate to call Murphy a future first round pick. I think it’s much easier to identify him instead as a first round talent, a minor distinction that speaks more about his ability as a player than an attempt to explain the vagaries of how teams draft. I have no idea if Murphy will be a first round pick in June. I don’t even know if he’ll wind up as one of the top thirty or so (“first round”) players on my final big board before the draft. What I do know is that he’s talented enough to warrant a first round pick, so fans of any team picking him then should be pleased. I also know that college players I like in that late-first to mid-second round range have had a tendency of slipping some on draft day, what with there being so many talented players that sorting through the top 100 can produce lists with all kinds of different orders. Brandon Lowe (ranked him 24/drafted in the third), Scott Kingery (25/second), David Thompson (35/fourth), and Harrison Bader (42/third) are all examples of this kind of player from last year. Those were all serious value picks in my mind, and I can see Murphy’s (late-first to third round) selection being written about in much the same way in a few months.

Throwing to Murphy will be a pitching staff that stands out as one of the best in the conference. Jesse Scholtens, a transfer from Arizona, can crank it up to the low-90s with his fastball, a pitch complemented nicely with an average or better breaking ball. There’s clear senior-sign reliever potential with him and perhaps a little bit more if his changeup continues to develop. EJ Trapino and Derek Hendrixson are players who could be targeted by teams more interested in performance than physical projection. Trapino, the lefty, and Hendrixson, a righty, both stand at only around 5-9, 150 pounds. The lack of size has not slowed them down in any way, however, as both young pitchers have consistentedly mowed down whatever competition that has been put in front of them. Trapino uses a funky sidearm delivery with loads of deception to keep hitters off balance to the tune of a 11.21 K/9 in 53 junior year innings. Hendrixson has more impressive stuff (low-90s heat, interesting cutter), but he’ll have to prove it works at the D1 level first. Judging by his junior college numbers – 9.88 K/9 and 0.80 BB/9 in 78.1 IP last year – it shouldn’t be too painful a transition if he’s healthy and given the opportunity. We need not take those things for granted, but there’s no harm in hoping for the best.

Hitters

  1. Wright State JR C Sean Murphy
  2. Wisconsin-Milwaukee rJR SS/3B Eric Solberg
  3. Oakland SR SS Mike Brosseau
  4. Oakland JR 1B/OF Zach Sterry
  5. Wright State JR SS Mitch Roman
  6. Wisconsin-Milwaukee rSR OF Luke Meeteer
  7. Valparaiso JR 1B Nate Palace
  8. Illinois-Chicago JR 3B/SS Mickey McDonald
  9. Youngstown State rSO 1B Andrew Kendrick
  10. Wright State rSO 1B/OF Gabe Snyder
  11. Youngstown State JR OF Alex Larivee
  12. Valparaiso SR C/OF Daniel Delaney
  13. Oakland rSR C/2B Ian Yetsko
  14. Illinois-Chicago JR SS/3B Cody Bohanek
  15. Valparaiso SR OF Nolan Lodden
  16. Illinois-Chicago rSR OF Conor Philbin
  17. Wright State SR OF Ryan Fucci

Pitchers

  1. Wright State SR RHP Jesse Scholtens
  2. Youngstown State JR RHP Kevin Yarabinec
  3. Illinois-Chicago JR RHP Connor Ryan
  4. Illinois-Chicago JR LHP Jake Dahlberg
  5. Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR RHP Brian Keller
  6. Valparaiso SR LHP Dalton Lundeen
  7. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR RHP Jay Peters
  8. Valparaiso SR LHP Luke Syens
  9. Wright State SR LHP EJ Trapino
  10. Wright State JR RHP Derek Hendrixson
  11. Wright State rJR LHP Robby Sexton
  12. Youngstown State SR LHP Jared Wight
  13. Oakland JR RHP Connor Fannon
  14. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR RHP Adam Reuss
  15. Illinois-Chicago SR LHP/OF Trevor Lane
  16. Valparaiso SR RHP Ryan Fritze
  17. Oakland rSR RHP Chris Van Dyke
  18. Oakland rSR RHP Lucas Scocchia
  19. Youngstown State JR RHP Jeremy Quinlan

Illinois-Chicago

JR RHP Mitchell Schulewitz (2016)
JR LHP Jake Dahlberg (2016)
SR RHP Jack Andersen (2016)
JR RHP Connor Ryan (2016)
SR LHP/OF Trevor Lane (2016)
rSR OF Conor Philbin (2016)
JR 3B/SS Mickey McDonald (2016)
rSO C Gabe Dwyer (2016)
rSO 2B David Cronin (2016)
JR SS/3B Cody Bohanek (2016)
SO RHP Noah Masa (2017)
SO C Robert Calabrese (2017)
FR RHP Fred Gosbeth (2018)
FR RHP Reid Birlingmair (2018)
FR OF Riley Hebert (2018)
FR OF/1B Scott Ota (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mitchell Schulewitz, Jake Dahlberg, Jack Anderson, Connor Ryan, Trevor Lane, Conor Philbin, Mickey McDonald, David Cronin, Cody Bohanek

Northern Kentucky

rSR RHP Alex Bolia (2016)
SR RHP Aric Harris (2016)
SR RHP Justin Watts (2016)
rJR LHP Kevin Herren (2016)
rSR RHP Wendell Wright (2016)
SR C Logan Spurlin (2016)
JR SS Kyle Colletta (2016)
rSR OF Quint Heady (2016)
JR OF Tito Montgomery (2016)
SO OF/LHP Trey Ganns (2017)

High Priority Follows: Justin Watts, Kyle Colletta

Oakland

rSR RHP Lucas Scocchia (2016)
rSR RHP Chris Van Dyke (2016)
SR LHP Collin Gee (2016)
SR RHP Alex Mason (2016)
JR RHP Connor Fannon (2016)
JR RHP Kendall Colvin (2016)
JR RHP Tyler Palm (2016)
JR RHP Aaron Dehl (2016)
JR 1B/OF Zach Sterry (2016)
SR SS Mike Brosseau (2016)
JR OF Tyler Pagano (2016)
rSR C/2B Ian Yetsko (2016)
SO RHP Nate Green (2017)
SO LHP Nate Schweers (2017)
FR OF Jordan Jackson (2018)

High Priority Follows: Lucas Scocchia, Chris Van Dyke, Connor Fannon, Zach Sterry, Mike Brosseau, Ian Yetsko

Valparaiso

SR RHP Trevor Haas (2016)
SR LHP Luke Syens (2016)
SR LHP Dalton Lundeen (2016)
SR RHP Ryan Fritze (2016):
rJR RHP Ellis Foreman (2016)
SR C/OF Daniel Delaney (2016)
SR OF Nolan Lodden (2016)
SR OF Josh Clark (2016)
JR 1B Nate Palace (2016)
SO RHP Luke VanLanen (2017)
SO INF Chad Jacob (2017)
FR RHP Montana Quigley (2018)
FR C Scott Kapers (2018)

High Priority Follows: Trevor Haas, Luke Syens, Dalton Lundeen, Ryan Fritze, Daniel Delaney, Nolan Lodden, Nate Palace

Wisconsin-Milwaukee

JR RHP Jay Peters (2016)
SR RHP Brian Keller (2016)
JR RHP Adam Reuss (2016)
rSR RHP Cal Haley (2016)
JR RHP Zach Brenner (2016)
rJR SS/3B Eric Solberg (2016)
JR 2B/SS Billy Quirke (2016)
rJR 1B/3B John Boidanis (2016)
SR 3B/1B Nick Unes (2016)
rSR OF Luke Meeteer (2016)
SO LHP Alex McIntosh (2017)
SO RHP Austin Schulfer (2017)
SO C Daulton Varsho (2017)
FR RHP Jake Sommers (2018)
FR INF Mike Ferri (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jay Peters, Brian Keller, Adam Reuss, Cal Haley, Eric Solberg, Billy Quirke, John Boidanis, Luke Meeteer

Wright State

SR LHP EJ Trapino (2016)
rSR RHP Jack Van Horn (2016)
JR RHP Derek Hendrixson (2016)
SR RHP Jesse Scholtens (2016)
rJR LHP Robby Sexton (2016)
SR OF Ryan Fucci (2016)
SR 3B John Brodner (2016)
SR C Jason DeFevers (2016)
rJR 1B/OF Brad Macciocchi (2016)
JR SS Mitch Roman (2016)
rSO 1B/OF Gabe Snyder (2016)
JR C Sean Murphy (2016)
SO RHP Jeremy Randolph (2017)
SO OF Matt Morrow (2017)
FR RHP Ryan Weiss (2018)
FR RHP/SS Caleb Sampen (2018)
FR LHP Zane Collins (2018)
FR OF/C Peyton Burdick (2018)
FR OF JD Orr (2018)

High Priority Follows: EJ Trapino, Jack Van Horn, Derek Hendrixson, Jesse Scholtens, Robby Sexton, Ryan Fucci, Mitch Roman, Gabe Snyder, Sean Murphy

Youngstown State

SR LHP Jared Wight (2016)
JR RHP Kevin Yarabinec (2016)
JR LHP Michael Semonsen (2016)
JR RHP Jeremy Quinlan (2016)
SR 2B Billy Salem (2016)
JR OF Lorenzo Arcuri (2016)
JR SS Shane Willoughby (2016)
JR OF Alex Larivee (2016)
rSO 1B Andrew Kendrick (2016)
SO 1B Ryan Cordova (2017)
FR LHP Collin Floyd (2018)
FR OF Kyle Benyo (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jared Wight, Kevin Yarabinec, Jeremy Quinlan, Billy Salem, Lorenzo Arcuri, Alex Larivee, Andrew Kendrick

Horizon League 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Illinois-Chicago SR C Tyler Detmer
Wright State SR 1B Andrew McCafferty
Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR 2B Michael Porcaro
Oakland JR SS Mike Brosseau
Wright State SR 3B Michael Timm
Illinois-Chicago rJR OF Jeff Boehm
Oakland SR OF Rob Enslen
Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR OF Sam Koenig
Wright State rSR RHP Andrew Elliott
Youngstown State SO RHP Kevin Yarabinec
Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR RHP Gunnar Eastman
Illinois-Chicago SR LHP Ryan Hinchley
Valparaiso JR LHP Dalton Lundeen

SR C/OF Tyler Detmer (Illinois-Chicago) is a relative newcomer to the position, so it should come as no surprise that his defense will be under the microscope more than anything else this spring. If he proves capable of handling the position, then his power, patience, and overall athleticism could make him a very attractive senior sign. JR C Mitch Ghelfi (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) is right there with him in terms of power upside; some teams might prefer him because of his longer history of quality defense while others might want to see a little more (i.e., hold off on him until 2016 as a senior sign) before committing to him. His teammate, SR 2B Michael Porcaro, might serve as an example for Ghelfi’s path to the pros. Porcaro has enough pop to keep pitchers honest to go with his smart base running, steady defense, and disciplined approach at the plate. Still, he hasn’t been drafted yet and will likely need a year closer to his sophomore season (the power spike year) to hear his name called in June. I think it happens, and I think Ghelfi will follow a similar path.

You know you might have a problem when you legitimately find yourself wrestling for ten honest to goodness minutes about the relative pros and cons of a pair of Horizon League senior sign third base prospects. SR 3B/2B Michael Timm (Wright State) and SR 3B/SS Spencer Mahoney (Valparaiso) are about as close as two prospects can be from the scouting side of things. Timm is a good glove at third with the kind of strength and bat speed to potentially produce average or better power numbers as a professional. Mahoney is the more naturally gifted hitter, but doesn’t have quite the same power ceiling. He’s right there with Timm defensively, athletically, and physically. Career numbers to date for the duo…

MT: .289/.384/.401 with 67 BB and 91 K in 539 AB
SM: .282/.401/.353 with 94 BB and 90 K in 507 AB

They aren’t exactly twins, but I’d say they at least qualify as distant cousins. I give Timm the slightest of edges because of his power and the generally positive trends in his year-to-year production. Mahoney has always been able to maintain his excellent plate discipline, but his power indicators have decreased with every passing season. Both rank among the top three position players in the conference, so picking one over the other is nothing more than splitting hairs at this point. It would be nice for my sanity if one separates himself from the other in his senior season.

Timm and Mahoney rank two and three respectively on the 2015 draft list (hitters only) for the conference. The only guy standing in their way for the top spot right now is rJR OF/LHP Jeff Boehm (Illinois-Chicago). Boehm flashes all five tools and enough at the plate to potentially profile as a regular in right field. The Kentucky transfer’s arm strength is his best current attribute while his other four tools all have a shot to play average or better as he continues to develop as a position player. Another outfielder of interest is a player you could argue for inclusion in the Timm (his closest comparable) and Mahoney head-to-head battle. rSR OF/3B Sam Koenig (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) is an old favorite who has plenty of raw power, but inconsistent contact skills. He’s even bigger than Timm and Mahoney – listed at 6-5, 220 pounds compared to their measly 6-5, 200 frames – but not nearly the defender at the hot corner as the two more natural infielders. That’s why he’s now listed as an outfielder first. It feels like he’s been on the verge of bursting out since mid-way through his sophomore season and just last year he was off to a blistering start (.424/.500/.667 with 5 BB and 6 K in 33 AB) before going down with an injury. It would be silly to suggest that such a small sample is the smoking gun that will lead to a breakout senior season; no sillier, however, then prematurely dismissing the progress any young, still developing player makes. There’s no need to overreact to Koenig’s aborted 2014 season, so the best (and most obvious) course of action is to keep a close eye on him in 2015 to see if he can finally put it all together. For good measure, here’s Timms, Mahoney, and Koenig all stacked up through their senior seasons…

MT: .289/.384/.401 with 67 BB and 91 K in 539 AB
SM: .282/.401/.353 with 94 BB and 90 K in 507 AB
SK: .287/.370/.391 with 60 BB and 102 K in 522 AB

We really need to talk more about rSR RHP Andrew Elliott (Wright State). His is a name that you’ll never hear mentioned when talk of the best relief prospects in college baseball comes up. All the man does is get outs. I’ll admit that Elliott’s first season as a pitcher at Wright State (2012) didn’t go quite as well as you’d like to see. He kept guys off the board (3.17 ERA), but didn’t show the kind of bat-missing stuff to sustain it. By 2014, however, he transformed himself into a strikeout machine. If you can put down 13+ batters via strikes per nine while spotting four pitches (FB, SL, CB, CU) whenever and wherever you want them, then you’re a prospect. He’s undersized (6-1, 200), overaged (23), lacks a true plus heater (upper-80s mostly, can hit some 92s, 93s, and 94s), and can be viewed as a one-year wonder as of today, but I’d still happily snap an arm like this up in the mid-rounds and watch as he continues to mow down batters in the minors.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Illinois-Chicago rJR OF/LHP Jeff Boehm
  2. Wright State SR 3B/2B Michael Timm
  3. Valparaiso SR 3B/SS Spencer Mahoney
  4. Illinois-Chicago SR C/OF Tyler Detmer
  5. Oakland SR OF Rob Enslen
  6. Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR OF/3B Sam Koenig
  7. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR C Mitch Ghelfi
  8. Wisconsin-Milwaukee rJR OF Luke Meeteer
  9. Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR 2B Michael Porcaro
  10. Oakland JR SS Mike Brosseau
  11. Wright State JR C Jason DeFevers
  12. Wright State SR 1B/OF Andrew McCafferty
  13. Illinois-Chicago rJR OF Conor Philbin
  14. Illinois-Chicago rSR OF Zenon Kolakowski

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Wright State rSR RHP Andrew Elliott
  2. Youngstown State SO RHP Kevin Yarabinec
  3. Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR RHP Gunnar Eastman
  4. Illinois-Chicago SR LHP Ryan Hinchley
  5. Valparaiso JR LHP Dalton Lundeen
  6. Illinois-Chicago rJR RHP Joe Perricone

2/12/15 EDIT: I didn’t want to go back and mess with this lists because I’d go crazy adding guys in that I missed the first time, but I whiffed on realizing that Wisconsin-Milwaukee LHP Justin Langley is draft-eligible in 2015 as a redshirt-sophomore. I’m not an expert on Langley — or anything, if we’re being honest — but what I have heard/read about him I really, really like. Put him unofficially second on the list behind only Elliott.