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2015 MLB Draft Reviews – New York Yankees

New York Yankees 2015 MLB Draft Picks

22 – James Kaprielian
48 – Kyle Holder
83 – Drew Finley
89 – Jeff Degano
112 – Jeff Hendrix
220 – Kolton Mahoney
228 – Ryan Krill
307 – Isiah Gilliam
397 – Garrett Mundell
403 – Chance Adams
408 – Brandon Wagner
419 – Kane Sweeney

I really liked what the Yankees did in the first few rounds to restock their minor league pitching. RHP James Kaprielian (22) looked for all the world to be a “quick-moving mid-rotation arm who still might have a bit of upside left in him beyond that” before the draft and nothing in his pro debut suggests otherwise. Slick pick. New York could have done a few different things and come out just as well (Walker Buehler and Jon Harris as comparable college arms, Brady Aiken or Ashe Russell or Beau Burrows or Mike Nikorak as higher boom/bust guys, Nick Plummer or DJ Stewart as patient yet unexciting corner outfielders) and it’s always fun for me to speculate about what package a team with two early picks (16 and 30 in this case) might have preferred in hindsight (Kaprielian and Holder or Kevin Newman and Kyle Funkhouser?), but getting a talent like Kaprielian in the middle of the first is something to be pleased about no matter the what-ifs. Stuck a Michael Wacha comp on him a few months ago that I stand by today…

This all brings me to the guy I think Wacha compares to on some level, UCLA JR RHP James Kaprielian. Draft people like me who sometimes try to get too cute for own good have fought it in the past, but there’s no denying that Kaprielian warrants a first round grade this June. Well-built righthanders with four pitches (ding!) and consistently excellent results in a tough conference profile as big league starting pitchers more often than not. I’m going to just go with an excerpt of some of my notes on Kaprielian because they are among the longest running that I have on any player in this college class…

JR RHP James Kaprielian (2015): 87-92 FB, 94-95 peak; potential plus 79-84 CB, commands it well; potential plus 80-85 CU with serious sink; above-average 79-85 SL; good athlete; excellent overall command; 2014 Summer: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; above-average to plus or better 75-79 CB with plus command, still gets it up to 85 depending on situation; average or better upside with 79-82 SL; FAVORITE; average or better upside with mid-80s CU with splitter action; UPDATE: 83-85 SL, flashes above-average; average 78-80 CB with above-average to plus upside; good athlete; commands both breaking balls well; 2015: 89-94 FB; above-average 78-81 CB flashes plus; above-average 83-85 SL; above-average mid-80s CU, flashes better; 6-4, 200 pounds (2013: 12.39 K/9 | 5.09 BB/9 | 2.20 FIP | 40.2 IP) (2014: 9.17 K/9 – 2.97 BB/9 – 106 IP – 2.29 ERA)

The UPDATE and 2015 sections give the most pertinent information (88-94 FB, 95 peak; above-average 78-81 CB, flashes plus; average 83-85 SL, flashes above-average; above-average mid-80s CU with drop, flashes plus; good athleticism; commands both breaking balls ably; plus overall command), but I like including the whole thing (or as much as can be published) to highlight the growth he’s made. Kaprielian is damn good and smart team picking in the latter half of the first round will get a quick-moving mid-rotation arm who still might have a bit of upside left in him beyond that.

Fun with small samples featuring RHP Drew Finley (83). Finley’s pre-draft blurb on this very site mentioned a fastball ranging from 85-90 (early in the scouting season) to 88-92 later (94 peak) with “plus sink” that he commands quite well. It also mentioned that he throws “nothing straight” with a delivery that provides both “good deception” and “good extension.” Knowing that and only that, would you have had Finley pegged as being one of this draft class’s pitchers most prone to fly ball outs? I, for one, would done no such thing. In 32 innings (just 32 innings, mind you), Finley only got 33.7% of his batted ball outs on the ground. Finley is a good prospect, by the way. Really like that fastball (velocity + movement + command = winning pitch), really like his curve, and really like the delivery. He’s a little older than his peers and he likely won’t ever top the output of Rancho Bernardo High’s most famous baseball alum (Cole Hamels!), but I like him as a potential mid-rotation workhorse.

You an see where I ranked LHP Jeff Degano (89) right there in the parentheses. The Yankees took him with the 57th pick. After thinking it over the summer, my own pre-draft rankings be damned, I think they got a steal. He’s older (23 in a few weeks) and raw (Canadian and injured), but the flashes of brilliance are enough to sell you on his upside. I known for a fact that New York is thrilled about landing him where they did. I’ve even heard it floated that some within their developmental staff would like to see him move to relief because they think he could be their homegrown version of Andrew Miller. That’s pretty damn intriguing, but, as always, I’d give the big young lefty a chance to keep starting as long as he can do it. With a mechanical tweak or two, some honest innings under his belt, and more work on the changeup (a pitch I believe in for him), I think there’s sneaky top of the rotation (more two than one) or shutdown closer upside here. That’s not upside that is thrown around lightly here.

RHP Kolton Mahoney (220) could currently be what Drew Finley will be in a few years. There’s less upside (as one would expect) and a higher probability of pitching in relief, but the talent is significant. Brilliant pick and sign at this point in the draft. I also really, really like RHP Garrett Mundell (397). Guys like Mundell, a senior-sign, should not be available outside of the top ten money-saving rounds let alone free to take all the way down in round twenty-three. It’s far too easy an obvious a comp to make, but there’s some shades of former Bulldog Doug Fister in Mundell’s game…

7.40 K/9 – 2.59 BB/9 – 93.2 IP
8.36 K/9 – 3.64 BB/9 – 116.1 IP

7.43 K/9 – 4.70 BB/9 – 45 IP
7.82 K/9 – 3.10 BB/9 – 61 IP

Top set is Fister’s final two seasons at Fresno State, bottom set is Mundell’s final two seasons at Fresno State. Both are big, long-limbed pitchers (as if he “hands ball to catcher” is in my Mundell notes) who rely on keeping the ball down and getting outs on the ground. Even if you put the odds low (25%) that Mundell does anything approaching Fister’s big league work (overrated by advanced metrics in my view, but that’s besides the point), isn’t that somebody worth taking a shot on as a money-saver in rounds nine or ten? Getting Mundell this late is a coup for the Yankee front office.

I’m always stunned when a fairly straight-forward looking prospect (to me) becomes a very divisive one to others, so seeing SS Kyle Holder (48) get roasted as a major reach who can’t play after his disappointing pro debut fascinated me. This is a more complex issue than I have time to cover in my self-restricted state (time to worry more about the 2016 draft and leave 2015 behind), so I’ll do my best to be brief (note: this is not a personal writing strength). Off the bat, I’ll acknowledge that my pre-draft take on him could have been off the mark and those who have seen him more recently are on top of things in a way I am not. I could be wrong about Holder. I’ve been wrong before, I’ll be wrong a lot in the future. That said, I do have some conviction in my pro-Holder opinion that I’m far from ready to back away from.

Holder had a bad debut from a performance perspective. There’s no hiding from that. Typically in these instances, I’d assume that those critical of him would be the type that saw how badly he struggled and opted to pile on from there. In this specific case, however, I noticed very early on that people — smart people! — were underwhelmed at Holder’s game. So how does a guy go from a first round pick of the New York Yankees to (as some have claimed) overmatched org guy who only gets talked about because of his status as a first rounder? Are there legitimate concerns or is something else going on?

We’ll hit the latter point first. I maintain that the Yankees (and myself and many other teams and many other publications) didn’t completely whiff on Holder. Again, it’s certainly possible that he doesn’t have the kind of career many envisioned but that’s true of literally every player drafted each June.

I also think that part of the change in perception about Holder is who is now doing the evaluating. There’s plenty of crossover between amateur scouting and pro scouting — not enough, but still lots — yet I think the higher standard that comes with being a professional colors the evaluation of recent draftees in what is often too unfavorable a light. There’s some “THIS is pro ball and not some piddly little amateur conference now, kid” attitude among some evaluators who take odd pleasure in tearing down the draft’s best players as they enter pro ball. More kindly, I think there’s an attempt at over-correcting the occasionally too optimistic forecasts pushed by amateur scouts — a big part of the job is salesmanship, after all — to provide a necessary counterpoint and give the bosses a fuller picture of the player as they head into the offseason.

As for the former point, yes, there are legitimate concerns about how Holder’s game will translate to pro ball. The biggest concern pre-draft that persists today is his power. We talk a lot about how not every player needs to be a double-digit home run guy to be a successful big league player, but it’s undeniably important that the mere possibility of putting one over the seats every so often changes how a batter is pitched. Power is king, but the threat of power can be almost as important for certain players. Holder will need to show he has at least a little in-game pop before pitchers will realize they need to change how they attack him. Holder’s chance at being a non-zero offensively hinges on his ability to keep getting on base at a solid clip and stealing some bags along the way. There’s often an inverse relationship between a player like Holder’s on-base ability and the amount the opposing pitcher has to worry about the threat of power. I can’t say with absolute certainty that he’ll hit enough to start at shortstop, but, even in the face of his early struggles, I lean toward thinking he’ll make it work. This was the pre-draft take…

San Diego JR SS Kyle Holder is a special talent with the glove. He’s a fantastic athlete with everything you’d want to see out of big league defender: his range, hands, feet, instincts, arm, and touch are all exemplary. There might not be a lot of power to come, but he’s a smart, balanced hitter who works deep counts and battles in every at bat. With a very real clear strength and no obvious weaknesses, the well-rounded Holder could be a dark horse first day candidate. If you shoot for the moon with an all-upside first pick, then going for what could be a quick-moving rock solid big league shortstop with your second pick makes a lot of sense. The comps I have on Holder are among my favorite for any player in this year’s class: Mike Bordick, Walt Weiss, and Orlando Cabrera. I don’t know why, but that strikes me as a fun group of possible outcomes. Bordick and Weiss both feel fair in a plus glove, good command of the strike zone, enough power to keep pitchers’ honest kind of way.

The defense is going to play. I’m personally certain of that, though I’ve read many who have claimed his glove as being overhyped. That, far more so than those concerned about his bat, feels like the kind of amateur/pro scout pettiness that I described above. To paraphrase what I’ve heard: Yeah, he’s a good defender…for a college guy. In the pros he’s just one of many decent gloves. I stand by his defense at shortstop 100%. That tool alone is enough to make him a potential big league player. If the threat of power is enough for him, then the Mike Bordick/Walt Weiss comps will begin to look pretty good. We’ll see.

OF Jeff Hendrix (112). like Holder, had the kind of pro debut you spend all winter trying to forget. On the plus side, he swiped 17 of 18 bases. On the less plus side, well, there’s pretty much everything else. There’s no reason to overreact to a bad few months, though it should go without saying that an impressive debut beats a debut like this any day. Still, I remain a Hendrix fan and think he has as bright future in pro ball as I did many months ago…

Oregon State JR OF Jeff Hendrix is a fine looking prospect who hasn’t gotten much (any?) national attention just yet. If you’re starting to pick up on a trend with the Pac-12 this year, then you’re smarter than you look. On paper, Hendrix sounds damn good: above-average to plus raw power, average to above-average speed, and great athleticism. He’s made steady improvements on the field with little sign of slowing down. It’s rare that an honest to goodness potential top five round gets overshadowed like this – perhaps it has something to do with being teammates with the extremely impressive freshman KJ Harrison – but he’ll get his due before too long.

2B Brandon Wagner held his own in his debut, splitting time between 2B and 3B while getting acclimated to the rigors of the pro game. The Jersey native has presumably been followed by the Yankees for years even after winding up in Texas at Howard College. Nice get in the sixth. 1B Isiah Gilliam (307) had an even better debut season while splitting his time in between the outfield corners. I think he should settle in as a good enough glove in left field to allow his potentially above-average all-around offensive game to get him in the lineup. Getting him signed as a twentieth round pick should get raises for all the individuals who helped convince the higher-ups that he was signable. I’ll do my part to keep expectations in check by referring to him as 29th Round Pick 1B Kane Sweeney (419), but it’s hard not to be a little excited about a .320/.437/.562 debut run. There are strikes against him (age, too many whiffs, 1B only), but I like him enough that an aggressive double-jump in 2016 feels like a fair sink-or-swim assignment.

OF Jhalen Jackson has some swing-and-miss (not good) and some interesting tools to work with (good!). There are miles between where OF Terrance Robertson could wind up and where he is now, but as an overslot high school pick he’s worth knowing. OF Trey Amburgey had an outstanding debut that puts him on the map for me now when I didn’t know a ton about him a few months ago. OF Zach Zehner, the most recognizable name out of this particular subsection of new Yankee outfielders, has a weird amount of fans (at least among people I know) despite never quite solving the riddle that is the strike zone. He has power, speed, arm strength, and size, but he lacks time (24 next August) and the aforementioned plate discipline (18 BB/52 K as a senior). If nothing else, I like how New York diversified their assets here: they went Division II, high school, junior college, and Division I with these respective four outfield picks.

3B Donny Sands was not a name I was familiar with before the draft and for that I’m pretty downtrodden about. I know I’m a one-man show here, but I can’t help but kick myself over whiffing on him. It’s very early yet obviously, but his pro debut is quite encouraging. Perhaps I should temper some of that enthusiasm by pointing out that he’s one of the older players I’ve noticed in his class (19 this past May). Bryan Hoch had a cool story about Sands on that included this bit…

The way the game worked, as the 19-year-old recalled Tuesday, was that his mother would set a clock for five minutes and begin tossing the beans. Sands would have to hit each one without missing any for the session to end; if he whiffed, the clock restarted at zero. The idea was his mother’s, cribbed from her experiences living in Mexico.

The beans in question were pinto beans. That’s phenomenal. New favorite prospect.

RHP Chance Adams (403) was the highest drafted reliever by the Yankees, so it’s no shock he’s the best of the bunch. Armed with a low-90s fastball and above-average command, he’s got the chance to pitch late in games as he keeps improving. It stands to reason he feels right at home in the pro game considering he’s basically coming from what amounts to college ball’s closest 2015 facimile: including Adams, the Dallas Baptist staff included five pitchers (Brandon Koch, Cory Taylor, Joseph Shaw, Drew Smith) that went in the first dozen rounds. Not bad.

With a solid one-two fastball (88-92) and slider punch, LHP James Reeves is a fine looking middle relief prospect. His last year of college (10.89 K/9 and 2.65 BB/9 in 95 IP) and his first year in the pros (9.23 K/9 and 4.10 BB/9) both look good from here. The signing of LHP Josh Rogers is an impressive bit of investigative work by the New York scouting staff.

rSO LHP Josh Rogers gets swallowed up by the FUNKHOUSER hype, a perfectly understandable yet unfortunate matter of fact that happens when you share a the top of a rotation with a potential top ten pick and one of the nation’s top freshmen (LHP/1B Brendan McKay). Rogers, a Tommy John surgery survivor, has decent velocity for a lefty (85-90, has been up to 92-93 in the past) and a workable breaking ball. He’s always gotten results when called upon (8.13 K/9 and 2.08 BB/9 last year, 7.65 K/9 and 2.18 BB/9 this year), so, if signable (non-stars with two remaining years of eligibility don’t always jump at the first pro offer they get) there’s really no reason why he shouldn’t be drafted and tried as a pro starter this summer.

Interesting to note that the Yankees chose him to pitch a few late-season innings in Low-A. Little moves like that don’t necessarily mean much more than that’s how the ebbs and flows of the minor league season work (31st round pick RHP Hobie Harris also got some Charleston innings, for example), but they can sometimes clue us outsiders into the what insiders think of the players we spend so much time thinking about ourselves.

RHP Will Carter is more of a ground ball guy than a strikeout specialist. His sinker has some serious juice (87-94, up to 95), but it’s tough to get ahead as a minor league reliever without that put-away pitch in your back pocket. RHP Bret Marks has a fastball (88-92) with similar sink (plus an average or better slider and interesting split-change) with a better history of missing bats. RHP Brody Koerner takes the ground ball thing to the next level (78.8 GB%) with a very slider heavy approach. The fact that the Yankees had an area scout stick with Koerner and a progressive enough front office willing to overlook some ugly run prevention (7.55 ERA in 62 IP at Clemson this year) to see the raw talent the young right possesses. The peripherals remained good (9.15 K/9 and 3.19 BB/9), so, at the risk of speculating irresponsibly, it would seem to me, based on the pro data we have, that much of Koerner’s 2015 problems at Clemson were related to him pissing off the BABIP deities. For that reason and much more, I like Koerner a whole lot. The Yankees drafted Carter, Marks, and Koerner in that order; I happen to like them in the opposite direction.

RHP Josh Roeder has an absolutely electric slider that seriously ranks as one of the best in the class. Paired with good heat (88-92, 94 peak), good command, and a good track record at Nebraska, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good relief prospect. I swear I’m not intentionally trying to be this positive (it’s the YANKEES, after all), but grabbing guys like Roeder and Koerner when the Yankees did is really good work.

RHP Mark Seyler has a good arm (88-92) and a solid track record. RHP Cody Carroll can crank it up to 95 at times (sits low-90s). It’s an odd universe where RHP Paddy O’Brien gets selected by New York and not Boston. RHP Icezack Flemming should become friends with Christian Turnipseed if he’s not already. RHP David Sosebee spots his upper-80s fastball seemingly wherever he likes. I saw RHP Chad Martin at Delaware where he looked like a decent mid-round minor league reliever. RHP Christian Morris has the stuff to start (FB/CB/CU) but not the command.

West Coast Conference 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

San Diego SR C Jesse Jenner
St. Mary’s SR 1B Collin Ferguson
Loyola Marymount SR 2B David Edwards
San Diego JR SS Kyle Holder
Santa Clara JR 3B Jose Vizcaino
Pacific JR OF Giovanni Brusa
Pacific SR OF Tyler Sullivan
San Francisco SR OF Derek Atkinson

Brigham Young JR RHP Kolton Mahoney
San Diego JR RHP/1B David Hill
Loyola Marymount rJR RHP Trevor Megill
Santa Clara JR RHP Reece Karalus
Pepperdine JR RHP Jackson McClelland

The talent in the West Coast Conference exemplifies the 2015 MLB Draft college class as well as any conference in the country; in many ways, it resembles is a microcosm for the rest of the class. There’s pitching because, no matter the year, there always seems to be pitching. Power is scarce, shortstops are plentiful, and talented yet unrefined talents face hugely important draft seasons.

The pitching in the WCC is predictably deep. The best arms in the conference don’t have quite the name recognition as the top pitchers in other conferences, but they will by June. If not, then they should. BYU JR RHP Kolton Mahoney leads the way with an honest four-pitch mix that includes a pair of above-average breaking balls (77-84 SL, 75-77 CB) that come close to running into each other but never quite get there. San Diego JR RHP/1B David Hill has bounced around some, but appears to be settled in with the Toreros. He has a similar fastball to Mahoney (88-94, though Mahoney commands it better) and very comparable offspeed stuff (above-average 75-79 CB, 80-85 cut-SL that flashes plus, intriguing new-ish split-CU that I’ve heard good things about). Santa Clara JR RHP Reece Karalus is a classic sinker/slider arm that adds a fun wrinkle to the archetype with his plus command and plus control. He’s too good to call a sleeper, but between the way he misses bats, gets ground balls (presumably…would love to dig up the numbers on him), and limits walks he could be a shockingly quick mover once he hits the pro game.

Two wild cards in the conference are Loyola Marymount rJR RHP Trevor Megill and Pepperdine JR RHP Jackson McClelland. Both pitchers have been far more wild than usual so far this season. Megill’s wild ways can be explained at least in part to his ongoing adjustment to being back on the mound after missing last season (TJ surgery). When he’s on, he brings a devastating array of power stuff (86-92 FB with good sink that can reach the mid-90s; plus cut-SL; imposing 6-8, 250 pound frame) to the table. McClelland’s wildness is more difficult to explain; in fact, since I haven’t seen him this year, I won’t even attempt to do so. For now I just chalk it up to another oddity in what has been a perplexing collegiate career to date. His stuff is more than enough to get college hitters out (90-95 FB, breaking ball with upside, usable change) and he’s a really good athlete throwing from a 6-5, 220 pound body, but he’s never consistently missed bats. Teams with a more forging view of underachieving college talent who might consider him a talented ball of clay to mold rather than a near-finished product seem more likely to give him a call this June than otherwise.

Safer bets include St. Mary’s SO RHP Cameron Neff and Loyola Marymount SR RHP Colin Welmon. Welmon has stepped his game up considerably this year as he’s changing the narrative on his scouting reports (slider with upside; changeup with promise) from potential to realized skills. You could do worse if in the market for a rare senior sign pitcher with a chance to one day crack a big league rotation than Welmon. Neff is built similarly, but is already able to harness a plus offspeed pitch (changeup) that keeps hitters off his just good enough fastball (88-92). I can’t remember the origin, but I have an AJ Griffin comp on him in my notes that I think is reasonable.

Remember the bit about power being scarce? This piece got delayed a few days because I kept stopping and starting the section on first basemen, the position most commonly associated with power. It’s not that I think that these breakdowns constitute the most entertaining daily reads on the internet, but I try to say at least one interesting thing for as many players as possible within each piece. There are four first basemen in the conference worth writing about, but for the life of me I can’t figure out anything fun to say about any of them. St. Mary’s SR 1B/LHP Collin Ferguson is a senior sign that figures to appeal to teams of all player development philosophies. He has shown consistent power (more or less), a relatively sound approach, and the athleticism, arm, and glove one needs to play a mean first base. Pepperdine JR 1B Brad Anderson’s calling card is his big raw power. San Francisco SR 1B/3B Brendan Hendriks’ strengths are his hit tool and defensive versatility (in addition to 1B and 3B he has also seen time at 2B). Portland rSR 1B/OF Turner Gill’s career hasn’t gone quite according to plan – he hit .348/.408/.500 and .341/.418/.508 in his first two seasons before being injured and ineffective the past two years – but he’s still a dangerous guess hitter who can put a charge into the ball when he guesses right.

Power may belong to first basemen above all other positions, but outfielders can also get in on the fun; unfortunately, outside of Pacific JR OF Giovanni Brusa (one of those talented yet unrefined talents from earlier) there’s not much in the way of thump to be found among WCC outfielders. The lack of pop is forgivable, but the weird lack of noteworthy draft-eligible outfielders in the conference is just plain bizarre. I’m sure I’m missing a few names, but even after checking and double-checking the only three serious outfield prospects heading into the season were Brusa, Pacific SR OF Tyler Sullivan, and San Francisco SR OF Derek Atkinson. An argument could be made that even including Sullivan and Atkinson is me being generous, as Brusa is currently the only WCC outfielder mentioned as a viable top ten round pick. I think that sells Sullivan, a pesky hitter who fits the backup outfielder with a leadoff mentality mold well, a bit short.

The appreciation for Brusa, however, is right on point. His above-average to plus raw power will keep him employed for a long time, especially combined with his elite athleticism and playable defensive tools (slightly below-average arm and foot speed, but overall should be fine in left field). Brusa going from good prospect to great prospect will take selling a team on his improved approach as a hitter; early returns are promising but a team that buys into his bat will do so knowing he’ll always be a player who swings and misses a lot. Whether or not he a) makes enough contact, and/or b) demonstrates enough plate discipline (strikeouts are easier to take when paired with an increased walk rate, like he’s shown so far this year) will ultimately decide his fate as a hitter and prospect. Before the season I would have been in the “think he’ll be drafted too high for my tastes, so let me just kick back and watch somebody else try to fix his approach” camp in terms of his draft value, but I’m slowly creeping towards “if he falls just a bit, I’d think about taking a shot on his upside over a few players with more certainty and less ceiling” territory. That’s a big step up for me, even if it doesn’t quite seem like it.

All the shortstops are great. That was the short note I wrote to myself designed to be a placeholder for the actual text to come, but now I’m thinking that’s what I should publish. (My notes on the outfielders: BRUSA. I’m not a great writer, clearly.) San Diego JR SS Kyle Holder is a special talent with the glove. He’s a fantastic athlete with everything you’d want to see out of big league defender: his range, hands, feet, instincts, arm, and touch are all exemplary. There might not be a lot of power to come, but he’s a smart, balanced hitter who works deep counts and battles in every at bat. With a very real clear strength and no obvious weaknesses, the well-rounded Holder could be a dark horse first day candidate. If you shoot for the moon with an all-upside first pick, then going for what could be a quick-moving rock solid big league shortstop with your second pick makes a lot of sense. The comps I have on Holder are among my favorite for any player in this year’s class: Mike Bordick, Walt Weiss, and Orlando Cabrera. I don’t know why, but that strikes me as a fun group of possible outcomes. Bordick and Weiss both feel fair in a plus glove, good command of the strike zone, enough power to keep pitchers’ honest kind of way. The Cabrera comparison is especially intriguing to me because I’ve used it already this year on a big glove, little bat prospect. Kennesaw State JR SS Kal Simmons, the recipient of said comp, is an interesting head-to-head prospect comparison for Holder. So far in 2015…

KS: .302/.391/.563 – 11 BB/12 K – 8/9 SB – 96 AB
KH: .353/.409/.412 – 7 BB/6 K – 4/6 SB – 85 AB

And in their college careers…

KS: .284/.345/.365 – 46 BB/74 K – 14/17 SB – 543 AB
KH: .315/.374/.406 – 22 BB/22 K – 11/15 SB – 276 AB

I think both players have big league regular upside – something I wouldn’t have said about Simmons prior to this season – but Holder gets the edge for me as the better all-around offensive threat. The real conclusion is this, however: all the shortstops are great.

Pacific JR SS/OF Brett Sullivan is an all-caps FAVORITE of mine who compares favorably to Holder in many areas of the game. The one great big obvious difference between the two is defensive projection. I’m obviously confident in Holder being a damn fine defensive shortstop in the big leagues, but I can’t say the same with much certainty about Sullivan. I mean this literally: I can’t say it with certainty because I straight up don’t know right now.

This is one of those cases where a position conference ranking doesn’t do the quality of depth at the position justice: three of the top four hitters in the conference are shortstops (four out of five if you think Santa Clara JR 3B/OF Jose Vizcaino sticks at SS). Loyola Marymount SO SS David Fletcher would be the top shortstop in many conferences across the country. He does a lot of the same things that Holder does well, especially on the defensive side. I’m a tiny less sure about his bat going forward, so consider that my admittedly thin rationale for having him behind both Holder and Sullivan. Being the third best shortstop behind those two guys is still a really, really good thing. He’s stung the ball so far this season, and I’ve heard from those who have seen him often that the improvements are real. Slowly but surely his ceiling has risen with some now willing to make the move from glove-first utility player to potential big league regular. I’m not quite there yet, but I get it. All the shortstops are great.

If you’re buying Vizcaino’s glove at shortstop then he might be the co-headliner up the middle with Holder. He’s easily one of the 2015 draft class’s best tools to skills transformation prospects. Like Brett Sullivan, I don’t quite have enough updated information on his defensive future to say one way or another where he’ll wind up as a pro. I have as more likely than not to switch over to third in the pros, but it’s a fluid situation. An admittedly far too generous Matt Carpenter comp (qualified with less advanced as a hitter and less athletic) for Gonzaga SR 3B Mitchell Gunsolus has stuck in my mind over the years. It’s obviously too much, but I still like Gunsolus power and patience blend. Even if he has to move to left field, as some have speculated, his bat looks strong enough to be a worthy senior sign all the same.

So we’ve covered the lack of power bats, the great shortstops, and some of the better tools to skills transformers. What’s left? Loyola Marymount SR 2B/SS David Edwards is a versatile enough defender to play just about any spot on the diamond. That versatility should serve him well professionally assuming he hits enough at the next level to fulfill his destiny as a big league super-sub. That versatility is also what gives him the slight edge over Pepperdine JR 2B Hutton Moyer, a good glove likely limited to second who can run and flash some power. Portland SR 2B/OF Caleb Whalen has long intrigued me as a plus runner who can play multiple spots with an underrated hit tool, but time is running out on him turning some of his raw ability into concrete skills.

I’ve liked what I’ve heard about San Diego SR C Jesse Jenner so far. The consensus on him seems to be there is enough power, arm strength, and athleticism to profile as a potential big league backup backstop. He stands out as the best of a thin group of WCC catchers.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. San Diego JR SS Kyle Holder
  2. Pacific JR OF Giovanni Brusa
  3. Pacific JR SS/OF Brett Sullivan
  4. Loyola Marymount SO SS David Fletcher
  5. Santa Clara JR 3B/OF Jose Vizcaino
  6. Gonzaga SR 3B Mitchell Gunsolus
  7. Brigham Young SO SS Tanner Chauncey
  8. San Diego SR SS/2B Austin Bailey
  9. Loyola Marymount SR 2B/SS David Edwards
  10. Pepperdine JR 2B Hutton Moyer
  11. San Diego rJR C Jesse Jenner
  12. Portland SR 2B/OF Caleb Whalen
  13. Pacific SR OF Tyler Sullivan
  14. San Francisco SR OF Derek Atkinson
  15. San Diego SR 3B Brandon DeFazio
  16. St. Mary’s SR 1B/LHP Collin Ferguson
  17. Pepperdine JR 1B Brad Anderson
  18. San Francisco SR 1B/3B Brendan Hendriks
  19. Portland rSR 1B/OF Turner Gill
  20. Gonzaga JR 2B/OF Caleb Wood
  21. San Francisco rJR 2B Michael Eaton
  22. Brigham Young SR C Jarrett Jarvis
  23. Santa Clara JR 3B Kyle Cortopassi

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Brigham Young JR RHP Kolton Mahoney
  2. San Diego JR RHP/1B David Hill
  3. Loyola Marymount rJR RHP Trevor Megill
  4. Santa Clara JR RHP Reece Karalus
  5. Pepperdine JR RHP Jackson McClelland
  6. St. Mary’s SO RHP Cameron Neff
  7. Loyola Marymount SR RHP Colin Welmon
  8. Portland SR RHP Kody Watts
  9. San Diego JR LHP Jacob Hill
  10. San Diego JR LHP Troy Conyers
  11. San Diego rJR RHP Wes Judish
  12. Gonzaga JR RHP Andrew Sopko
  13. Brigham Young SO RHP Michael Rucker
  14. Loyola Marymount SR LHP/OF Sean Buckle
  15. San Diego JR LHP PJ Conlon
  16. Loyola Marymount JR RHP Michael Silva
  17. Gonzaga SR RHP/C Zach Abbruzza
  18. Gonzaga JR RHP Taylor Jones
  19. Santa Clara JR RHP Jake Steffens
  20. Santa Clara rSO RHP Steven Wilson
  21. Pacific SR RHP Michael Benson
  22. Brigham Young SR RHP Jeff Barker
  23. Pacific JR RHP Jake Jenkins
  24. Pacific SR RHP Michael Hager
  25. San Francisco SR LHP Christian Cecilio
  26. San Diego JR RHP Gary Cornish
  27. Brigham Young SO RHP Mason Marshall
  28. Pepperdine JR RHP Evan Dunn
  29. Brigham Young SR RHP Brandon Kinser
  30. San Francisco SR RHP Logan West
  31. St. Mary’s SR RHP Tanner Kichler
  32. San Diego rJR RHP Drew Jacobs