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Draft Retrospective: All Senior Prospect Team (Class of ’09)

I wish I could go back and compare this list with other seniors drafted in 2009, but there doesn’t appear to be a draft database that gets that specific and I don’t have the patience/time/energy to sort through the names myself. It is still pretty interesting to see what some of the top seniors from 2009 are up to now, so let’s dive right in and check on the players from my All Senior Prospect Team (Class of ’09):

C Preston Clark

Not exactly setting the world in fire with this first name, but I couldn’t dig up anything on Preston Clark after his senior season at Texas.

1B Luke Anders | Texas A&M | San Francisco Giants | 32nd Round (2009)

.251/.346/.423 – 35 BB/63 K – 267 AB

Every organization has a Luke Anders or two bouncing around the minors. He’s a very typical college slugger just a bit too old for his level but still doing just enough with the bat to “protect” some of the younger prospects around him. The line you see above is for a 24 year old in High A, by the way. Not super old for his league, but first base is a really tough position to make an impression and time might be running out on Anders. Also, his last name makes me think of Workaholics, a show I like way more than I probably should.

2B Seth Henry | Tulane | Tampa Bay Rays | Undrafted Free Agent

Henry struggled in both ’09 and ’10 and has since been released. Unfortunate ending, for sure, but I give any undrafted player who manages to catch on with a big league organization a ton of credit for chasing that dream.

3B Chris Dominguez | Louisville | San Francisco Giants | 3rd Round (2009)

.284/.326/.465 – 24 BB/110 K – 391 AB

Dominguez was the most exciting senior hitter on my list at the time, a position backed up by his lofty third round draft selection. His above numbers are his combined line between High A and AA as a 24 year old. I still love the tools — most notably his big raw power and plus-plus arm — and think his floor remains solid four-corners power hitting utility guy.

SS Ben Orloff | UC Irvine | Houston Astros | 9th Round (2009)

.317/.398/.411 – 17 BB/16 K – 8/14 SB – 202 AB

Orloff has played really well this year, as his numbers attest, but it is very curious to me that a 24 year old has gone through the system so slowly. I couldn’t be totally off here, mostly on account of me not knowing anything pertaining to the inner workings of the Houston farm system, but it makes no sense to have Orloff still in Low A.

OF Cory Harrilchak | Elon | Atlanta Braves | 14th Round (2009)

.243/.316/.374 – 31 BB/50 K – 9/16 SB – 305 AB

Harrilchak is an easy player to root for; as a fan of a division rival, consider that the highest of praise. He’ll never hit for much power, but all of his other four tools are at least average and he’s the type of player that will work to have those average tools play up. He’s 23 years old and in AA, but it won’t be too long until he’s a backup outfielder somewhere in the big leagues.

OF Ryan Lollis | Missouri | San Francisco Giants | 37th Round (2009)

.288/.371/.374 – 26 BB/33 K – 5/8 SB – 219 AB

Lollis has a similar line to Orloff, but, unfortunately also like Orloff, he’s spent most of 2011 in Low A as a 24 year old.

OF Matt Long | Santa Clara | Los Angeles Angels | 30th Round (2009)

.304/.386/.531 – 46 BB/64 K – 18/28 SB – 382 AB

Long has hit well as a 24 year old in High A, but it should be pointed out that he is doing this in the very hitter friendly Cal League. Call me crazy, but I think there is enough power, speed, and plate discipline here to make him an interesting sleeper. His defensive ability, of which I have no idea of, could make or break him as he moves up the chain.

RHP Scott Bittle | Mississippi | St. Louis Cardinals | 4th Round (2009)

8.44 ERA – 5.1 IP – 6 K/8 BB – 0.29 GO/AO

I’m almost too bummed out to write anything about Bittle, one of my all-time favorite college pitchers to watch. He was consistently banged up in college, wound up with a nasty shoulder injury in the pros, and is now 24 and just getting his feet wet in Short-Season ball. At least he was when I originally wrote that earlier this week. He’s since been released. Such a bummer.

RHP Preston Guilmet | Arizona | Cleveland Indians | 9th Round (2009)

1.74 ERA – 41.1 IP – 45 K/7 BB – 0.86 GO/AO

Guilmet’s funky delivery, abundance of offspeed slop, and consistently outstanding strikeout/walk numbers has me looking forward to the Preston Guilmet, MLB reliever era. He turns 24 today and is thus far killing it in High A. Part of me regrets picking him over Adam Warren (Yankees), but I still loyal to my guy.

RHP Louis Coleman | Louisiana State | Kansas City Royals | 5th Round (2009)

1.88 ERA – 43 K/17 BB – 38.1 IP

What can you say about Coleman? He’s currently lighting it up in the big leagues and is hopefully on the precipice of a ten year big league career.

LHP Miers Quigley | Alabama

Sometimes banking on a top prep arm rediscovering what once made them so great doesn’t work out. Swing and a miss…

LHP Chris Rusin | Kentucky | Chicago Cubs | 4th Round (2009)

3.96 ERA – 88.2 IP – 56 K/17 BB – 2.03 GO/AO

Rusin was good in both 2009 and 2010 and is one of the quicker movers on this list now that he’s made it to AAA. Most of his year has been spent in AA, so keep that in mind when looking at his combined numbers above. Between his high draft pedigree, good enough peripherals for a potential reliever, and interesting ground ball numbers, we could be looking at a future big league bullpen piece.

LHP Wes Musick | Houston | Colorado Rockies | 9th Round (2009)

5.34 ERA – 28.2 IP – 31 K/12 BB – 0.77 GO/AO

Musick was dealt back home to Houston in the Matt Lindstrom trade. His ERA may not be pretty, but the K/BB ratio looks good for a young lefty pitching mostly in High A.

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TEXAS v LSU – 2009 College World Series Championship Game One Live Blog

Let’s kick things off with one of the finest moves a second rate website like this can make – the shameless traffic grab, of course. Hundreds of years of research shows that there is no better way to wake up Google than plastering up a picture of a popular, pretty girl. Erin Andrews is doing the sideline reporting for ESPN, so this isn’t quite as gratuitous as it could be…but, yeah, it’s still undeniably transparent.

Erin Andrews

FIRST INNING

Heat Index – 107 degrees

I like LSU to sweep, by the way.

LSU Lineup: LeMahieu, Schimpf, Dean, Gibbs, Mahtook, Mitchell, Ochinko, Helenihi, Nola

LeMahieu, Schimpf, Dean, Mitchell, and Ochinko were all drafted in the 2009 MLB Draft.

Texas starter tonight is RHP Chance Ruffin. Fastball has been in the low-90s so far. Best secondary offering has probably been the backup high-70s slider.

Ryan Schimpf (Blue Jays draftee, round 5) blasted a high, straight fastball deep to right to get the Tigers on the board

Texas Lineup: Torres, Tucker, Belt, Moldenhauer, Rupp, Keyes, Loy, Clark, Rowe

SECOND INNING

Mikie Mahtook is white. I don’t know why that surprises me, but it does. It really does. I’m not proud of this fact.

Still can’t get over that Cameron Rupp homer that tied the game against Arizona State on Friday. I haven’t heard the measured distance on it yet, but it was an absolute rocket to dead center. Had to have been over 430 feet.

Louis Coleman (5th rounder by Kansas City) has only thrown fastballs so far (as far as I can tell). I don’t have all of his readings, but the ones I’ve caught are: 92, 88, 85, 89, 90, 88, 91, 88, 89. No sooner do I type that does he end the inning with a strikeout on a 79 MPH offspeed pitch.

THIRD INNING

Sampling of Ruffin’s work so far:

FB: 92, 92, 87, 93, 87, 91, 85, 91, 90, 91, 92, 86
SL: 78, 79, 77, 79, 79, 81, 80, 82
CU: 72, 74, 76, 76

I could be wrong about those changeups…I miss having a DVR.

You know who Coleman reminds me of? Mechanically, anyway. His delivery reminds me a lot of Alex White’s low arm slot. Still looks like a future reliever, but worth trying as a starter so long as the results are there.

FOURTH INNING

I legitimately forgot I wrote about Preston Clark earlier in the year. I knew I liked him, but I couldn’t remember if I thought about writing about him or if I actually followed through (a rare occurance, I know). Anyway, here’s what I wrote:

Preston Clark is one of the most talented players on the list and his incremental production from year to year at Texas is a nice sign going forward. He’ll never hit for a high average, but his plate discipline (29 BB in 179 AB last season) is good and he has just enough juice in his bat to keep pitchers honest. His health is a major question mark, but a spring that sees Clark in the lineup (and behind the plate) on a consistent basis should solidify him as prospect with a better than average shot of someday developing into a strong big league backup backstop. Even if he doesn’t catch all that often — sophomore Cameron Rupp is in line to get plenty of reps behind the dish as well — Clark’s defensive versatility (he’s capable of playing third and the outfield, in addition to catching) is an added bonus to his game.

I was wrong.

I really like Robin Ventura. He has two things that really work to his advantage from where I’m sitting – a) he’s quiet, and b) he has a sneaky sense of humor. I like Orel Hershiser just fine, but the way Ventura needles him is very amusing to me.

I didn’t really know about the LSU open stance thing before tonight. Quirks like that are one of the reasons I think college baseball is so much fun to follow – different programs preaching different things. From certain teams pushing certain pitches to the LSU open stance thing (I need a more clever name for it, but I’ve got nothing) to the infamous “Stanford swing,” college baseball is loaded with character if you just know where to look.

Who had odds on Travis Tucker hitting a homerun tonight? Travis Tucker’s mom, maybe, but that has to be about it. Baseball = funny game. Here’s what I said about Tucker earlier:

not a prospect worth going on about. He had a decent junior year (good on-base skills, tiny bit of pop, above-average baserunner), but his inability to play shortstop well will keep him as an organizational type at best.

Now Russell Moldenhauer, that homerun makes a little more sense. Well, it makes sense when you watch him hit. If you only saw his 2009 numbers, it’s an even bigger shock than Tucker’s. Moldenhauer came to Omaha with a whopping zero homeruns to his credit on the season. I’m a relatively big Moldenhauer fan, if such a thing outside of Texas exists:

Moldenhauer may yet rediscover the stroke that made him a third round pick once upon a time, but he is going to have to do so in a hurry if he wants to make it as a pro.

FIFTH INNING

I forgot to mention Kevin Keyes’s homer in the fourth. Now there’s a homerun that can’t really be classified as a surprise. Keyes has first round potential heading into 2010, but has been more projection than production as a collegiate player so far. He’s a very different player than Jared Mitchell (power is his game, not speed) and he doesn’t have football as a reason for stalled development like LSU’s 2009 first rounder, but I think he is in a similar spot at respective points in their development.

Ruffin is cruising through five. His command is starting to waver a tiny bit, but his mechanics have stayed surprisingly consistent despite the conditions. I’m way more impressed with him than I thought I’d be coming in.

Connor Rowe is a lot of fun to watch in centerfield. Not so much fun at the plate right now, however.

SIXTH INNING

Can Mikie Mahtook hit a breaking ball? Or take an accurate route to a flyball? His potential is vast, but there is no denying that you are watching a freshman, and a raw one at that, when you watch him play.

Jared Mitchell, what can you really say? Usain Bolt is probably faster than him, but that may be the extent of the list.

Only players with last names beginning with “M” matter, apparently. Mahtook, Mitchell, and now Moldenhauer. Russ Moldenhauer with two homers tonight. Both hits were “no doubt about it” homeruns that came on gorgeous swings. He’s now a guy to put on the early watch list for 2010 senior signs.

Laptop is dying, time to call it an early evening. Great game so far, should be fun to see how these last three innings play out…

2009 College Baseball Opening Night – A Pitching Retrospective

A look back on the pitching highlights from college baseball’s opening night. It’s not a comprehensive look back, it’s not an ultra-scouty look back, it’s not even an analytical look back. It’s just a quick and dirty review of how an assorted sampling of some of the very best arms in college baseball performed on Friday, February 20th. Before we get to all the recappy goodness, how about a recap of not how baseball players actually played, but of the work some dorky draft website did?

Who among us can resist the allure of the Big Board? The Top 50 College Draft-Eligibles are HERE, HERE, HERE!

How about a look at teams comprised of the best players from each college class, including the most mysterious and overlooked group of them all? The best college players available in 2010 and 2011 were also given the corny “All _____ Team treatment. We couldn’t ignore the men already caught behind the age relative to league minor league eightball, could we? Wouldn’t dare dream of it. Lastly, why not make yourself familiar with players who are actually relevant to this upcoming year’s upcoming draft by reading about the country’s best draft-eligible sophomores (sans middle infielders)…

I promise I won’t keep linking to myself like that. It’s tacky, I know. It’s just that the site is new, readership is slowly coming along and I don’t want anybody left behind, and, well, I’m trying to trick people into reading something other than just the mock draft. I’m not knocking the mock, heck I love it too, but the disproportionate amount of traffic it gets just cracks me up. Enough complaining, let’s get on with the show.

Onward and upward we go, spinning fast and furiously along the college opening night pitching performance review carousel…

Cream of the Crop

Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State): 5.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 11 K 4 GO 1 AO 1 LO, 105 pitches
Alex White (North Carolina): 5 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 9 K 5 GO 1 AO 90 pitches
Kyle Gibson (Missouri): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Mike Minor (Vanderbilt): 5.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 6 K 3 GO 7 AO 1 LO
Kendal Volz (Baylor): 6 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K 9 GO 2 AO

Some really super awesome highly reputable website has these players respectively ranked 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 13th in their draft class, so, yeah, you know they are good. I’m not really sure what I can add to numbers that speak so darn well for themselves. Five pitchers, five good to very good pitching performances, five first rounders and millionaires come June. Yawn. Let’s just talk about Strasburg instead of going into all the nitty gritty details of the other quality starts of the quartet of college stars.

The Daily Aztec had an interesting look at the high school career and subsequent recruitment of the San Diego State ace. I’m not sure what kind of dough Rusty Filter is making, but now might be a good time to ask for a raise. The San Diego Union-Tribune has some pretty cool Strasburg related notes in a recent article, including some pretty weird quotes from an anonymous Phillies scout (“He’s definitely a two-pitch pitcher”…I think it’s meant as a compliment, but I hope the scout realizes he isn’t just a two-pitch pitcher, you know?) and a old flat out admission that I must have missed initially from Jim Bowden that Strasburg will be a National pending something terrible happening. Last but certainly not least, Rich Lederer was actually at the game and offered up this first-hand report of what ole Strasburg looked like on opening day. If you aren’t the type to typically click on a link (like me), I suggest changing your tune and following that one, if you have any interest in the best college player in the country anyway.

You know what I just realized? Every time I try to type out Strasburg’s name, every single time, I make the same typo. Stephen Starsburg. My fingers won’t let me type it any other way without really, really concentrating. I wonder if my hands know know something my fingers don’t…

(In the effort of full disclosure, in the first typing of the paragraph above I inverted letters in both the words “hands” and “know.” So, maybe it’s not a sign of wonderful things to follow for young Strasburg. Maybe it’s just as simple as me being a poor typist…)

Starter or Reliever?

Louis Coleman (LSU): 5 IP 2 H 2 BB 8 K 2 GO 4 AO 74 pitches
Ryan Berry (Rice): 4.2 IP 4 H 5 ER 5 BB 3 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Preston Guilmet (Arizona): 4 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K 3 GO 2 AO
Brad Boxberger (Southern Cal): 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 6 BB 11 K 2 GO 2 AO 120 pitches

As you can probably ascertain from their lines, all four of the young men listed above started the first game of the season for their respective college teams. Reports have Boxberger’s velocity falling off quickly after the first inning (and again after the second inning), a trend that jives well with his scouting reports heading into the season. While it’s almost always a good thing to exhaust every avenue, boulevard, and throughway that leads to a pitcher starting rather than relieving, you’ve got to wonder if it’s the right thing for a college coach to have a pitcher with professional aspirations tied to potentially being an elite reliever someday throwing 120 pitches in a game. Who am I kidding? You don’t even have to wonder. It’s bad. Research shows us this. Even if you are on the side of the debate that says pitchers are babied and pitch counts are overrated, come on – 120 pitches in the first game of the season? What’s the point? The fact that Boxberger is looked at as a potential reliever by scouts is just icing on the shortsighted, irresponsible cake. If you as a manager can help it, no pitcher should throw 120+ pitches in a single game ever, let alone on February 20th, right? It’s not good for the player and, if you stop and think for a second, it’s not good for the team, either. Is squeezing one extra inning (or two) out of a starting pitcher in a non-conference game so early in the season worth the potential damage an injury or even fatigue could have on the ballclub? Maybe there is more to the story that I simply don’t know, but from where I’m sitting Chad Kreuter has some answering to do.

Phew, I feel a bit better now. As for the other guys, both Berry and Guilmet are no doubt about it college starters who may be converted to relief as professionals. Louis Coleman is an interesting case because he may actually have just good enough stuff to survive professionally as a swingman/special usage long reliever if he shows he can start for LSU. That’s arguably an upgrade over simply topping out as a generic middle reliever, depending on your own personal philosophy on bullpen usage.

Draft-Eligible Youngsters (Sophomores)

Brooks Raley (Texas A&M): 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K 3 GO 7 AO 1 LO 79 pitches
Jeff Inman (Stanford): 7 IP 9 H 5 ER 1 BB 3 K 12 GO 4 AO

Hard not to be impressed by Raley’s debut effort, all the way down to the efficient way he went about his business. Inman’s numbers aren’t nearly as pretty, but the strong groundballing start is promising. The groundball numbers fit his scouting profile (strong sinker), but the lack of dominance (namely the poor K/IP rate) is something that needs a turn around this season if Inman wants to get into the first round – a spot in the draft that some think he can rise up to. I don’t buy Inman as a first rounder at all, so I’ll amend that last statement to say I personally he’ll need to show he can put hitters away in college if he wants to be a first three rounder this spring.

2010’s

Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech): 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 13 K 3 GO 4 AO
Chris Hernandez (Miami): 6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K 11 GO 1 AO 95 pitches
Sammy Solis (San Diego): 6 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K 7 GO 1 AO

Let’s combine these lines real quick and take a moment to bask in all it’s young pitchery glory:

19 IP 10 H 2 ER 4 BB 29 K 21 GO 6 AO

That’s good for an ERA of 0.95, a K/9 of 13.74, and a GO/AO ratio of 3.5. Even that Strasburg guy would be jealous of numbers like that. Hernandez is a fascinating prospect (I say that about a lot of guys, don’t I?) in that he has put up tremendous results at Miami in his young career, but lacks traditionally dominating stuff. Perhaps the 11/1 groundball to flyball number is a bit of a clue to how he has been so successful. If I get the time/patience/energy, I’ll have to go through the Miami game logs from last year and see what his 2008 ratio looked like.

New on Campus

Austin Dicharry (Texas): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K 1 GO 0 AO
Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt): 3 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K 5 GO 0 AO

Two pretty sharp collegiate debuts for two of the finest young righties the class of 2011 has to offer. Gray’s 3 innings out of the Vandy pen were especially good, as 8 of his 9 outs recorded were either grounders or strikeouts and his lone walk was an intentional one. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a college hitter getting the 1-2 punch of Mike Minor and Sonny Gray all in one afternoon. My head might literally explode. That may sound gross, but keep in mind I’d hopefully be wearing a helmet at the time, so much of the splatter would be contained. I’m not sure how talking about exploding head splatter is any less gross (or anyway related to baseball), so we’ll just quietly pretend I didn’t say that and move on. Oh, and while we are pretending we have to also pretend I don’t have a functional delete key, thus explaining why I decided to keep such a stupid couple of sentences rather than delete them. Make-believe is fun!

Real Deal College Relievers

Scott Bittle (Mississippi): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K 1 GO 1 AO
AJ Griffin (San Diego): 2.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K 2 GO 1 AO
Jason Stoffel (Arizona): 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K 0 GO 1 AO
Robert Stock (Southern Cal): 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K 1 GO 0 AO 12 pitches

I probably should have this group directly after the “Starter or Reliever” group, but that would require many seconds of copying and pasting that I can ill afford to spend on something so tedious. You see, I’m far more important to be bothered with such foolishness. It’s a much better use of my time to wonder aloud (in print) “What the heck happened to Jason Stoffel on Friday?” I also need the extra seconds to spend time pontificating about the wonderful debut of Robert Stock. Consensus opinion may have turned on you, buddy, but I still think you’re a keeper. Not too many players can get on base three times (including 2 hits, one a double), throw out two runners trying to steal second, and pitch a perfect ninth inning throwing low-90s heat. All that and he’s still only 19? Sign me up.

Random Lefties For Whom I Could Think of No Other Clever Unifying Characteristic

Rob Rasmussen (UCLA): 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Tanner Robles (Oregon State): 5 IP 3 H 3 ER 4 BB 2 K 7 GO 4 AO 1 LO
Nick Hernandez (Tennessee): 5 IP 9 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K 4 GO 5 AO

A mixed bag, for sure, but since when are lefthanders anything but? Robles and Hernandez went head to head, with nary a player coming out ahead of the other. Is that the correct way to use “nary”? And I am supposed to put the question mark outside the quotation marks, right? I know a period goes inside, but I’m pretty sure I remember the question mark being an oddball. Not unlike our quirky group of lefties here, see? Ah, full circle. Love that symmetry.

All Senior Prospect Team (Class of ’09)

One of my favorite quirks about the Rule 4 Draft is the “senior sign.” College players who have stayed in school all four years often don’t get actually do so on purpose. College baseball seniors are “forced” to stay in school by big league scouting directors because of one (or more) inherent flaws in their games. However, many of these players are also extremely skilled at certain areas of the game – take Scott Bittle’s cutter, Chris Dominguez’s power and throwing arm, and Matt Long’s plate discipline, for example. Of course, like any class of player, not all seniors are created equal. Some seniors are still in school due to injuries in previous seasons, some are very dedicated students chasing their degrees, and some remain in college on a mission after not getting the bonus they felt they deserved. Now what’s more interesting than flawed players with interesting backstories?

All of the best of the senior class is after the jump. We’re talking the finest bunch of backup catchers, utility infielders, fourth outfielders, bench bats, and bullpen arms you’ll ever see. I may sound like I’m making fun, but, as any good baseball fan knows, there is real value in developing your own peripheral talent. Saving money on these spots frees up money to pay for the special talents of the baseball universe. So, with no further ado (besides the minor hassle of clicking through), the senior class… (more…)