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Three Quick Thoughts on College Baseball’s Third Weekend

1. In what will almost certainly not become a regular weekly feature, here’s this past weekend’s weirdest inning:

UAB 2nd – M. Busby grounded out to 2b. R. Ussery grounded out to ss. K. DePew tripled to right center. J. German hit by pitch. J. German advanced to second on the error; K. DePew scored on an error by c, failed pickoff attempt. C. Arrowood singled to center field, RBI; J. German scored. C. Arrowood stole second. J. Austin walked. N. Crawford singled to shortstop; J. Austin advanced to second; C. Arrowood advanced to third. J. Frost singled to shortstop, RBI; N. Crawford advanced to second; J. Austin advanced to third; C. Arrowood scored. P. Palmeiro doubled to right center, 3 RBI; J. Frost scored; N. Crawford scored; J. Austin scored. M. Busby struck out looking. 6 runs, 5 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB.

All I wanted to do was check in and see how Ryan Woolley and Jamal Austin performed, but, damn, this mess of an inning captivated my attention. Cleveland State managed to get the first two outs on routine ground balls (ED NOTE: no clue if the grounders were in fact routine, but allow me to flex a little creative license here) until all heck broke loose. In order, Cleveland State allowed the following before ending the inning with a strikeout: 3B – HBP – E – 1B – SB – BB – 1B – 1B – 2B. It wasn’t all fun and games for UAB, at least not for JR DH Michael Busby. As astute readers may have already noticed, one M. Busby bookended the 6 run, 5 hit inning by making outs.

2. Hard to believe, but Indiana State RHP Jason Van Skike’s no-hitter was not the most dominant pitching performance of the weekend. In fact, Van Skike’s no-hitter wasn’t even the headlining athletic event of the Indiana State weekend. Great as Van Skike’s performance was, it’s awful hard to top the basketball team winning a conference title and sewing up the school’s first NCAA tournament birth in ten years. Also really hard to top what UCLA JR RHP Trevor Bauer did on Saturday. Lines like Bauer’s (10 IP 4 H 1 ER 5 BB 17 K) just don’t come around every weekend. According to the numbers whizzes at College Splits, Bauer’s Game Score of 92 topped Van Skike’s of 84. According to me, 10 innings and 17 strikeouts are both eye-popping numbers.

3. Maybe it is because I’m almost ready to wrap up my three week odyssey of ranking the best 2011 college outfield prospects (coming later this week!), but, when looking at box scores this weekend, something about the hitting lines of outfielders kept jumping out at me. Arguably the best weekend for any college outfield prospect belonged to Central Florida’s 2011 draft-eligible true sophomore Ronnie Richardson. His weekend (7-13, 3B, 2B, BB, 3 RBI, 4 R, K, 2 SB) bumped his season numbers up to .409/.518/.591 with twice as many walks as strikeouts (10 BB/5 K) and 4 stolen bases in 6 tries. I’m extremely bullish on Richardson, a prospect I consider a rich man’s LeVon Washington. To use that comparison as a means of comparing the relative strengths of the 2010 and 2011 drafts (stay with me here), Washington (a prospect I was and am down on) ranked 11th among college outfielders in 2010. Richardson, a prospect I think I like more than most, will probably wind up somewhere between 15th and 25th on my 2011 outfield list. Crazy.

 

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First Impressions: 2010 MLB Draft Round 2

The opinions below are all extremely preliminary and completely off the cuff, but, hey, isn’t that what the days directly following a draft are all about? I’m not sure how many rounds I’ll be able to get to because these take way longer than I had initially hoped, but I’m happy to keep them up if well received. Figuring out interesting post-draft content completely vexes me, so any and all ideas for draft recap stuff are welcomed. Me, I’d rather get started on the 2011 MLB Draft than anything else, but I realize how silly it is now to work all year towards covering every draft angle only to drop it the minute after draft day. There’s no closure that way. Help me help you get some closure!

Round 2

Five (5) Favorite Value Picks (all rankings are in order of selection; personal ranking for each category listed in parentheses)

2.51 Washington Nationals – San Diego LHP Sammy Solis (2)
2.54 Kansas City Royals – Arkansas OF/RHP Brett Eibner (3…4 if he plays the outfield instead of pitches)
2.57 Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman (1)
2.76 Colorado Rockies – Texas Tech RHP Chad Bettis (5)
2.82 New York Yankees – Torrance HS (CA) OF Angelo Gumbs (4…3 if Eibner’s definitely playing the OF)

I feel like I’ve spent much of the past few weeks writing about college pitching, so I’ll leave the first four names on the list alone for now. Gumbs makes the list because he’s a toolsy prep position player who can, hang on to your hats, actually hit. Amazing how often something so seemingly inconsequential like making consistent hard contact with the bat can be. I also like Gumbs for his advanced plate discipline for a high school prospect and, as mentioned, five average at worst tools. If you didn’t like the Cito Culver first round pick for the Yankees, I’m here to say that Gumbs in the second more than makes up for it. Quality player.

Four (4) Questionable Picks

2.55 Cleveland Indians – Chipola JC (FL) CF LeVon Washington (4)
2.56 Arizona Diamondbacks – Nitro HS (WV) RHP JR Bradley (2)
2.64 Milwaukee Brewers – Alabama JR RHP Jimmy Nelson (1)
2.70 Atlanta Braves – Western Oklahoma State FR SS Andrelton Simmons (3)

Washington isn’t here because he’s a bad player by any means, but simply because he’s an overdraft at the early part of the second round. Bradley’s arm strength and plus control should help him through the low minors, but his secondary stuff needs a complete overhaul. Nelson’s upside isn’t on par with many of the prospects drafted around him. Simmons remains a big glove, little bat player who would be best served making the inevitable switch to the mound sooner rather than later. In other words, he’s Mychal Givens 2.0.

Three (3) Closest to the Show Picks

Sammy Solis
2.68 Detroit Tigers – Arkansas SO LHP Drew Smyly (2)
2.81 Los Angeles Angels – Florida Southern JR RHP Daniel Tillman (1)

RHPs Jacob Petricka, Bettis, Jordan Swagerty, and Perci Garner all should be quick movers as relief prospects often tend to speed through the minors, but, and I acknowledge the possibility I’m going overboard here, each pitcher has shown just enough of a third pitch in college to at least warrant a crack at starting out in the rotation. Their new teams may not agree with that assessment, but I’m stubborn enough that I’m going to believe in each guy as a potential big league starter despite mounting against my case. Other candidates for first to the big leagues include potential fourth outfielders Ryan LaMarre and Todd Cunningham, as well as 2B Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko’s advanced bat could help him speed through the low minors, but, anecdotal evidence alert, many of the players he has been compared to (Dan Uggla is the first that pops into my head) were slow to develop, one level at a time prospects. If you don’t buy that, then perhaps Gyorko’s iffy glove, or more specifically the numerous minor league ground balls he’ll have to take to get his glove ready for the majors, will be what keeps him down in the minors longer than expected.

Solis has the stuff and pitchability to advance in a hurry, but Washington may want to allow him some extra time to make up for college innings lost to injury. I went with Smyly over the more highly rated lefthanded pitching prospect Rob Rasmussen because of Detroit’s tendency to push young pitching. Call it an educated hunch. Tillman is the only college reliever taken in the round without any shot at starting professionally. The very quick pre-draft scouting report on Daniel Tillman, my 39th highest rated college righthanded pitching prospect:

Florida Southern JR RHP Daniel Tillman: 91-94 sinking FB, peaking 95-96; hard plus SL; 6-1, 185 pounds; dominant K numbers out of bullpen (56 K’s in 39.2 IP) ***

Two (2) High Risk Signability Picks

2.58 Houston Astros – Garey HS (CA) RHP Vincent Velasquez (2)
2.80 Toronto Blue Jays – University HS (FL) LHP Justin Nicolino (1)

The earlier the round, the more difficult it is to find players who aren’t likely to sign. Velasquez has a moderately strong commitment to Cal State Fullerton while Nicolino’s scholarship to Virginia ought to take a legitimately overslot deal to get his name on the dotted line. Both should sign without much of a problem, but that’s coming from a guy who thinks all of the names taken in round two will get deals done before too long.

One (1) Player You’d Bet Your Internet Reputation On Pick

2.57 Boston Red Sox – Texas RHP Brandon Workman

Workman over Solis by a fairly slim margin. Both profile as above-average, middle of the rotation or better big league starters. Excellent value for a second round pick, I think. Brandon Workman’s quick scouting report:

Texas JR RHP Brandon Workman: low-90s FB with serious sink, peak 95-97; plus high-70s CB; sinking CU with legit promise; usable low-80s SL; two biggest issues out of high school (mechanics and poor control) both ironed out after three years in Austin; 6-5, 225 pounds (4.30 FIP; 9.43 K/9; 1.89 BB/9)

That last part is what makes me happiest. Well, not the last last part (his park/schedule adjusted stats) or even the one before that (his size), but the one before that. How can you not root for a player who legitimately improved after three years of college? Look, I love college baseball. Countless interesting names to watch per major college team, heated rivalries, and the ultimate marriage of meaningful regular season play and dramatic postseason format all with the beautiful soundtrack of ping after ping in the background. How can you beat that? I love college baseball, but I can still admit that I hate the way certain college coaches worry more about winning one game than the long-term health and well being of their players. I know college athletics is big business, but I’m still of the belief the main purpose of college is to best prepare the youth of the country for life after college. If that’s the goal, then maybe having your prized starter throw 140+ pitches or start twice in a four day span or come out of the bullpen 48 hours after pitching a complete game or any number of the countless questionable decision isn’t the best way to prepare said prized starter for a successful career after graduation. Nothing frustrates me more to see a young arm abused before even getting the chance to play professional baseball. HOWEVER, it’s very rare that college coaching staffs receive any credit for player development. The perfect example of this was on the MLB Network telecast of the first round two nights ago. The talking heads couldn’t get over how many college players had gone undrafted out of high school. They credited big league scouting staffs for finding such players later rather than sooner. Right. How about giving some credit to the college coaching staffs that helped bring along these diamonds in the rough? Workman was an excellent prospect coming out of high school. He’s a better prospect now. Some of that should be attributed to his natural developmental growth curve, some should be given to the hard work and smarts of the player itself, and some is totally unknown, if we’re really being honest. But to only highlight college coaches when something bad happens and not acknowledge the many ways they help certain players grow is just plain silly. Workman improved for a lot of reasons; for me, there’s no doubt the Texas coaching staff has certainly been a major contributing factor in his improvement.

Update: 2010 MLB Draft Top 30 College Second Base Prospects

Click to see the completed top 30 all in one spot right here! Or scroll down one post. Or forget those fools ranked 30-6 and just focus on the top five, republished below…

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

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

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

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

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

2010 MLB Draft: Top 30 College Second Base Prospects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 MLB Draft Live Blog

5:45 PM

How ’bout them Pirates? Tony Sanchez at 4 is flat out insanity, sorry. I get that they are hoping to use some of their player development acquisition cash on the international scene, but it seems like a gigantic risk banking on being able to sign the guys they want on the free market like that. What if Miguel Sano backs out of their agreement and they somehow swing and miss on the other top international prospects? Risky, risky, risky.

I mentioned seeing Dustin Ackley more than any other player in the draft in one of the recent mocks, but Tony Sanchez and I go back almost as far. I probably saw Sanchez play about 30 games at BC and nothing about his game ever screamed front-line ML catcher to me. We’ll see.

I can’t be the only one stunned to see Matt Hobgood’s name connected with Baltimore at 5. I never would have guessed he would be the top prep arm off the bard in a billion years. Bizarre pick.

6:00 PM

Christmas in June. They are really holding the draft in Studio 42? What a hideous set. Jim Callis = Bob Saget. I formed that opinion based on a picture I saw long ago, so even when I see him on video like tonight and realize the comp is a stretch, I can’t get the Saget image out of my head.

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