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2017 AAC All-Draft Team (Hitters)

C – Connor Wong
1B – Ryan Noda
2B – Jake Scheiner
SS – Kevin Merrell
3B – Willy Yahn
OF – Corey Julks, Luke Hamblin, Chris Carrier

The easiest name to pencil in to this team is Kevin Merrell, a top tier prospect and potential top 100 player in this class. Merrell, a pre-season FAVORITE and the top college shortstop in the country per my as yet unpublished positional rankings, checks every box for me when searching for a potential above-average up the middle talent: he’s crazy athletic, defensively versatile (love him at second, like him at short, intrigued by him in center), an easy plus runner, and, thanks to a damn near ideal draft year power surge, a legitimate threat to pop one to the gap every time he steps to the plate. The fact he’s proven at second base with the plus to plus-plus speed to excel in center gives him two excellent fallback options in the event shortstop doesn’t work out. I see no reason why it wouldn’t — the athleticism, hands, and arm (at least average) all play — but it’s nice to know you’ve got alternatives if things do change. With no major weaknesses and a bushel of pronounced strengths (speed, defense, pop, patience), I don’t think it’s unreasonable to project star upside when it comes to Merrell’s future. He’s going to be high on my list for sure.

Jake Scheiner may not have standout tools, but his production over the years, including a first year run at Houston matched by few in college baseball this season, is too good to ignore. My only notes on him coming into the year are short and sweet: “damn good hit tool.” Defensively, I’ve heard mixed opinions on the likelihood he can stick at his college position of shortstop. There are some who think he’s just athletic enough to pull it off, but most seem to believe he’s best as an offensive second baseman and/or utility infielder. I’d have no qualms drafting him as a shortstop with the plan to develop him at second if need be (there’s no shame in playing second once you make it to pro ball) before exploring that utility option. I like Scheiner a lot.

I was ready to write how I’m cooling on Connor Wong just a bit by pointing out that maybe his best potential outcome has dipped from future big league regular behind the plate to quality backup catcher and/or multi-position chess piece. Turns out I pretty much tackled this very subject about six weeks ago…

You may want to sit down for this, but Wong’s athleticism and plan of attack at the plate are what separates him from many otherwise similarly skilled contemporaries. Shocking that an athlete with patience would rank high on this list, yet here we are. In Wong’s case, there’s really no denying his chops. He has the fluidity behind the plate you’d expect from a former shortstop, a position some think he could still handle in a pinch, and occasional outfielder. Wong has been a little slow to pick up on some of the finer points of catching technique since making the switch — his feet are fine, but his hands still can get him in trouble — so it’s fair to wonder if a multi-position utility future could be his most useful long-term defensive deployment. I’m not completely sold on Wong’s power coming around enough to make him an impact starter at the next level, but the offensive strengths, including average to above-average speed and a knack for consistent hard contact against quality pitching, outweigh the weaknesses at this time.

Ryan Noda is an underrated athlete with plus raw power and unique (gloveless) swing mechanics. I’ve gone back and forth about his best position in pro ball — his experience in the outfield and strong arm could give him a shot there depending on what team he lands with — but ultimately went with first base for reasons both good (he’s quite strong there defensively) and practical (physically, he looks more like a first baseman than a corner outfielder). At the other infield corner, Willy Yahn makes hard contract and controls the zone as well as any hitter in the country this side of Ernie Clement. Like Clement, Yahn is a good athlete who can defend multiple spots in the infield. I don’t know how guys with their offensive profiles (i.e., low BB%, low K%) as college hitters tend to fare in pro ball (note to self: revisit this as part of a summer research project), but I’m looking forward to finding out with our admittedly tiny sample of two. Yahn is at 7.2 K% and 4.0 BB% so far in his college career. Clement is at 4.0 K% and 3.8 BB%. The list of players who have or had single-digit K% and BB% this decade: Juan Pierre, Jeff Keppinger, Placido Polanco, Marco Scutaro, Nori Aoki, Carlos Lee (!), Andrelton Simmons, Ben Revere, and Alberto Callaspo. Of that group, only three (Scutaro, Aoki, Guerrero) have/had put up league average offensive numbers by wRC+. I don’t know what any of this means other than Yahn and Clement will bring profoundly unique offensive approaches into pro ball. Can’t wait to see how it translates…and looking forward to revisiting this next year one the Nick Madrigal debates begin.

There’s not a ton to get excited about in this outfield — to this point, I almost feel like I’m blanking on an obvious name…let me know if that’s the case, please — but that won’t stop me from mining for hidden gems all the same. Corey Julks is an above-average runner with burgeoning power and exciting bat speed. It may be more of a fourth outfielder profile once you add it all up, but there’s room in pro ball for guys with his brand of well-rounded skill set. Chris Carrier has interesting power and Luke Hamblin has solid speed. Considered fellow senior-sign possibility Jarret DeHart (power/speed guy with questionable approach) over Hamblin based on upside, so don’t be shocked if that switch is made by the final rankings. Assuming I get deep enough in the rankings to where guys like DeHart and Hamblin live. And assuming anybody will read that far down a list if I make it…

Others receiving consideration…

C – Levi Borders, Travis Watkins, Logan Heiser
1B – Lex Kaplan, Hunter Williams
2B – Charlie Yorgen, Brandon Grudzielanek, Connor Hollis
SS – Wesley Phillips
3B – Connor McVey, Kam Gellinger, Eric Tyler, Hunter Hope
OF – Jarret DeHart, RJ Thompson, Isaac Feldstein, Tyler Webb, Eli Putnam

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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – American

Much as I like him, I don’t necessarily view Anthony Kay as a first round arm. However, the second he falls past the first thirty or so picks he’ll represent immediate value for whatever team gives him a shot. He’s a relatively high-floor future big league starter who can throw four pitches for strikes but lacks that one true put-away offering. Maybe continued refinement of his low-80s changeup or his 78-84 slider gets him there, but for now it’s more of a steady yet unspectacular back of the rotation. Nathan Kirby (pick 40 last year) seems like a reasonable draft ceiling for him, though there are some similarities in Kay’s profile to Marco Gonzales, who went 19th in his draft year. I like Kay for his relative certainty depending on what a team does before selecting him; his high-floor makes him an interesting way to diversity the draft portfolio of a team that otherwise likes to gamble on boom/bust upside plays.

Kay is a lot more famous among college fans, but Andrew Lantrip in many ways resembles a righthanded alternative. Kay’s changeup is ahead and he has the added bonus of mixing in a curve every now and then, but Lantrip can really command his fastball (like Kay’s, 87-92 MPH peaking at 94) and his delivery gives him that little extra pop of deception that makes everything he throws play up. Needless to say, I’m a fan. Lantrip will surely be dinged for being a slight college righthander without premium fastball velocity, but, again like Kay, the combination of a deep enough reservioir of offspeed stuff and a long track record of missing bats makes him an interesting high-floor back-end starting pitching option.

If it’s Kay and Lantrip at the top, then it’s a long way down before you get to the third best pitching prospect in this conference. That’s not to say there aren’t quality arms to be found, but rather the number of question marks for each young pitcher seems to grow exponentially after the rock solid profiles of Kay and Lantrip. Devin Over, very much in the mix to finish in that third spot by the close of the season, exemplifies this well. Over has all kinds of arm strength (lives in the 90’s, up to 97), flashes a really intriguing low-80s slider, and has some of the most impressive athleticism of any pitcher in his class. If it all clicks, Over could be a fast-moving reliever with late-game upside. Getting a talent like him as a senior-sign is mighty enticing.

JP France isn’t a senior, but he is really talented. I flip-flopped him and Over a few times before settling on France in the three spot. Figured that makes more sense considering I’ve already declared myself “all-in” on France before the season began. His fastball, breaking ball, and athleticism make him a threat to crash the first few rounds. His question mark is experience; the only thing standing in the way of the redshirt-sophomore and an early round selection is innings. If he can continue to stay healthy and effective on the mound, he’s a keeper.

The Houston guys are both impressive in their own right. Marshall Kasowski has the chance for three average or better pitches (FB, CB, CU) and Bubba Maxwell’s stuff appears all the way back after going under the knife for Tommy John surgery last year. He’s undersized at 5-11, 200 pounds, but there’s enough to him that a solid pro reliever future feels realistic. I have a soft spot for David Kirkpatrick, another Tommy John surgery survivor. His athleticism is as good as it gets for a pitcher – is it just me or are the pitchers in the AAC unusually athletic? – and he’s flashed the kind of stuff (fastball up to 93, average or better breaker) to get on the prospect radar.

Tommy Eveld’s question marks fall more on me than him right now. He’s got a great frame, fantastic athleticism, and legitimate low-90s heat, but beyond that I don’t know a ton about him. Peter Stzelecki gets a mention here even though he’ll miss the entire season after undergoing – you guessed it – Tommy John surgery. Athletes and TJ surgery are what the AAC is all about, I suppose. He’s still a high upside arm (90-93 FB, above-average SL) that I’d ask a lot of questions about, especially vis-à-vis his signability, if I was an area guy tasked with following him this spring.

The hitting prospects in the American mirror the pitchers: two clear cut names at the top and a mad scramble beyond that. The difference is there’s more certainty with the two hitters at the top. I recently wondered aloud whether the up-the-middle duo from Tulane (Stephen Alemais and Jake Rogers) or Oregon State (Trever Morrison and Logan Ice) would be selected higher this June. I think we could break that down further and wonder which of the Tulane prospects will go higher on draft day. In a roundabout way I attempted to do this two months ago

One of the easier comps in this year’s class is Rogers to Austin Hedges. It’s just too obvious to ignore. If you’re still on the Hedges bandwagon — I stayed off from the start — then you’re really going to like Rogers. If you value defense but also appreciate a guy who be a positive value player offensively — it doesn’t have to be an either/or! — then you might want to hold back for now. All bets are off if Rogers comes out swinging it this spring. If that’s the case (he’s got decent raw power and has held his own in terms of BB/K ratio, so don’t rule it out) then ignore everything you just read and mentally insert him into the first day of the draft. Pretty significant “if,” however. Alemais doesn’t have that “if” for me. I think he’s an honest big league hitter with continued development. There’s enough speed, pop, and approach to his offensive game that I’m comfortable calling him the best college shortstop profiled so far. That only includes most of the ACC and AAC, but it’s better than nothing. He’s a lock to finish as one of the country’s dozen best shortstops and has a strong case for remaining at the top spot come June.

Rogers has hit. Alemais has hit as well. Both guys have hit. Teams that like up-the-middle defenders who hit should be happy. That’s all I’ve got. Figured everybody would appreciate my special brand of hard-hitting analysis there. I think both guys are now squarely in the first day conversation, so there’s that.

Bobby Melley has his so far this year, too. Combine that with a consistent track record of patience (88 BB/80 K coming into the season) and flashes of power (his 2014 was legit) and you’ve got yourself a really underrated senior-sign slugging first base prospect. His strong glove and good size are nice perks, too. I maintain that Matt Diorio could really be something if teams buy into his defensive potential behind the plate. As a corner outfielder, his bat is a lot less thrilling yet still not without some promise. I wrote about Memphis OF Darien Tubbs, another guy with promise, in January…

JR OF Darien Tubbs leaps past the field as Memphis’s best position player prospect. He’s got the type of build (5-9, 190) that inspires the “sneaky pop” disclaimer in my notes, but his days of catching opposing pitchers by surprise might be over after his breakout sophomore campaign. Tubbs can run, defend in center, work deep counts, and knock a ball or ten to the gaps when you’re not careful. Tubbs isn’t quite a FAVORITE yet, but he’s as close as you can get without tempting me into holding down the shift key. A friend who knows how much I went on about Saige Jenco over the past year reached out to me to let me know that he believed Tubbs was a better version of the same guy. Fun player.

Two months later, I still like him. A really interesting direct comparison on this list is Josh Vidales and Aaron Hill. Vidales has been my guy for a while: he’s small (5-8, 160), he can defend the heck out of second base, and he’s an on-base machine. It’s a scary profile to project to pro ball, but I’d still take him late in the draft as an org second baseman and let the chips fall where they may. Hill’s path to the bigs is a lot clearer: his glove, bat speed, foot speed, arm strength, and athleticism are all obvious pro tools. Unfortunately, he hasn’t hit yet. It’s an admittedly low-stakes version of a common theme, but the Vidales vs Hill comparison looks a lot like production vs projection. Vidales has hit, but there’s a perceived ceiling to his game. Hill hasn’t hit, but the physical gifts give a coaching and development staff more to work with. There’s no right answer here. Unless it’s maybe finding a player that slots in-between the two, like either of the East Carolina guys Charlie Yorgen or Wichita State transfer Wes Phillips.

Hitters

  1. Tulane JR SS Stephen Alemais
  2. Tulane JR C Jake Rogers
  3. Central Florida JR OF/1B Matt Diorio
  4. Memphis JR OF Darien Tubbs
  5. East Carolina JR 1B/LHP Bryce Harman
  6. Connecticut SR 1B Bobby Melley
  7. Tulane rJR C/1B Jeremy Montalbano
  8. Houston SR 2B Josh Vidales
  9. Connecticut JR SS/2B Aaron Hill
  10. East Carolina JR SS Wes Phillips
  11. East Carolina JR 2B/SS Charlie Yorgen
  12. Tulane JR 1B/OF Lex Kaplan
  13. Tulane JR 3B Hunter Hope
  14. Central Florida JR OF/LHP Luke Hamblin
  15. Houston SO OF Clay Casey
  16. Tulane JR OF Jarrett DeHart
  17. Central Florida JR OF Eli Putnam
  18. Houston JR SS Jose Reyes
  19. Central Florida JR SS Brennan Bozeman
  20. South Florida rSO SS Clay Simmons
  21. Tulane rSO 2B Matt Rowland
  22. Memphis SR OF/1B Jake Little
  23. Houston SR 3B/1B Justin Montemayor
  24. Cincinnati rSO 2B Connor McVey
  25. Central Florida JR 3B/SS Kam Gellinger
  26. East Carolina SR OF Garrett Brooks
  27. Connecticut SR OF Jack Sundberg
  28. East Carolina rJR C Travis Watkins
  29. South Florida JR OF/C Luke Borders
  30. Tulane rSO OF Grant Brown
  31. Tulane SR OF Richard Carthon
  32. Memphis rSR SS Jake Overbey
  33. East Carolina JR C/OF Eric Tyler
  34. Connecticut SR 1B Joe DeRoche-Duffin
  35. Connecticut SR 3B Brian Daniello
  36. South Florida SR OF Luke Maglich
  37. Houston SR C Jacob Campbell
  38. Memphis JR 3B Zach Schritenthal
  39. South Florida SR C/3B Levi Borders

Pitchers

  1. Connecticut JR LHP Anthony Kay
  2. Houston JR RHP Andrew Lantrip
  3. Tulane rSO RHP JP France
  4. Connecticut rSR RHP Devin Over
  5. South Florida rJR RHP Tommy Eveld
  6. Houston JR RHP Marshall Kasowski
  7. Houston rJR RHP Bubba Maxwell
  8. Tulane rSR RHP Alex Massey
  9. East Carolina JR LHP Luke Bolka
  10. Connecticut JR RHP Pat Ruotolo
  11. East Carolina rSO RHP/INF Davis Kirkpatrick
  12. Tulane SR RHP Emerson Gibbs
  13. Tulane JR RHP Corey Merrill
  14. Central Florida JR LHP Andrew Faintich
  15. Central Florida JR RHP Campbell Scholl
  16. Connecticut JR RHP Andrew Zapata
  17. Tulane rSO RHP Chris Oakley
  18. Central Florida JR RHP Robby Howell
  19. East Carolina SR RHP Jimmy Boyd
  20. Memphis JR RHP Nolan Blackwood
  21. Cincinnati SR RHP Mitch Patishall
  22. South Florida SR RHP/OF Ryan Valdes
  23. Tulane rSR RHP/OF Trevor Simms
  24. Tulane SR RHP Patrick Duester
  25. Tulane rJR RHP Daniel Rankin
  26. Tulane SR RHP/OF Tim Yandel
  27. East Carolina JR LHP Evan Kruczynski
  28. Cincinnati JR RHP Andrew Zellner
  29. Houston JR RHP Nick Hernandez
  30. Central Florida rSR LHP Harrison Hukari
  31. South Florida JR RHP Phoenix Sanders
  32. East Carolina SR LHP Nick Durazo
  33. East Carolina JR LHP Jacob Wolfe
  34. South Florida rJR RHP Brad Labozzetta
  35. Central Florida JR RHP Juan Pimentel
  36. Houston JR LHP Nathan Jackson
  37. South Florida rSO RHP Peter Strzelecki
  38. South Florida JR RHP Brandon Lawson
  39. Connecticut SR RHP Nico Darras
  40. Houston JR LHP John King

Central Florida

JR LHP Andrew Faintich (2016)
JR RHP Campbell Scholl (2016)
JR RHP Juan Pimentel (2016)
rSR LHP Harrison Hukari (2016)
JR RHP Robby Howell (2016)
JR RHP Trent Thompson (2016)
JR OF/LHP Luke Hamblin (2016)
JR OF/1B Matt Diorio (2016):
rSR 1B/OF Sam Tolleson (2016)
JR OF Eli Putnam (2016)
JR OF Eugene Vazquez (2016)
JR 3B/SS Kam Gellinger (2016)
JR SS Brennan Bozeman (2016)
SO RHP Brad Rowley (2017)
SO RHP Cre Finfrock (2017)
SO RHP/2B Kyle Marsh (2017)
SO C Logan Heiser (2017)
FR RHP Thaddeus Ward (2018)
FR INF Matthew Mika (2018)

High Priority Follows: Andrew Faintich, Campbell Scholl, Juan Pimentel, Harrison Hukari, Robby Howell, Luke Hamblin, Matt Diorio, Eli Putnam, Eugene Vazquez, Kam Gellinger, Brennan Bozeman

Cincinnati

SR RHP Mitch Patishall (2016)
rSR RHP Bryan Chenoweth (2016)
rJR LHP Colton Cleary (2016)
JR RHP Andrew Zellner (2016)
SR C Woody Wallace (2016)
SR 1B/3B Devin Wenzel (2016)
rSO 2B Connor McVey (2016)
SO LHP Dalton Lehnen (2017)
SO LHP JT Perez (2017)
SO RHP Tristan Hammans (2017)
SO 1B/OF Ryan Noda (2017)
SO SS Manny Rodriguez (2017)
SO 2B Kyle Mottice (2017)
FR RHP Cal Jarrett (2018)
FR LHP Cameron Alldred (2018)
FR OF AJ Bumpass (2018)
FR OF Vince Augustine (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mitch Patishall, Andrew Zellner, Woody Wallace, Devin Wenzel, Connor McVey

Connecticut

JR LHP Anthony Kay (2016)
rSR RHP Devin Over (2016)
rJR RHP Ryan Radue (2016)
rSR RHP Max Slade (2016)
SR RHP Nico Darras (2016)
JR RHP Andrew Zapata (2016)
JR RHP Pat Ruotolo (2016)
rSO RHP Trevor Holmes (2016)
JR SS/2B Aaron Hill (2016)
SR 1B Bobby Melley (2016)
SR OF Jack Sundberg (2016)
SR 3B Brian Daniello (2016)
SR 1B Joe DeRoche-Duffin (2016)
SR 1B/OF Nico Darras (2016)
JR C/OF Tyler Gnesda (2016)
SR 3B/OF Connor Buckley (2016)
SO RHP William Montgomerie (2017)
SO SS/3B Willy Yahn (2017)
FR RHP Ronnie Rossomando (2018)
FR LHP PJ Poulin (2018)
FR LHP Tim Cate (2018)
FR C Zac Susi (2018)
FR INF/RHP Randy Polonia (2018)

High Priority Follows: Anthony Kay, Devin Over, Nico Darras, Andrew Zapata, Pat Ruotolo

East Carolina

JR LHP Evan Kruczynski (2016)
JR LHP Jacob Wolfe (2016)
SR LHP Nick Durazo (2016)
JR LHP Luke Bolka (2016)
rSO RHP/INF Davis Kirkpatrick (2016)
SR RHP Jimmy Boyd (2016)
JR RHP/3B Kirk Morgan (2016)
SR OF Garrett Brooks (2016)
rJR C Travis Watkins (2016)
JR C/OF Eric Tyler (2016)
JR 2B/SS Charlie Yorgen (2016)
JR SS Wes Phillips (2016)
SR OF Jeff Nelson (2016)
JR 1B/LHP Bryce Harman (2016)
JR OF/RHP Zack Mozingo (2016)
SO RHP Joe Ingle (2017)
FR RHP Chris Holba (2018)
FR RHP Denny Brady (2018)
FR RHP Sam Lanier (2018)
FR OF Dwanya Williams-Sutton (2018)
FR OF Justin Dirden (2018)
FR SS Turner Brown (2018)
FR SS Kendall Ford (2018)
FR INF Brady Lloyd (2018)

High Priority Follows: Evan Kruczynski, Jacob Wolfe, Nick Durazo, Luke Bolka, Davis Kirkpatrick, Jimmy Boyd, Garrett Brooks, Travis Watkins, Eric Tyler, Charlie Yorgen, Wes Phillips, Bryce Harman

Houston

JR RHP Andrew Lantrip (2016)
JR RHP Marshall Kasowski (2016)
rJR RHP Bubba Maxwell (2016)
JR RHP Nick Hernandez (2016)
JR LHP John King (2016)
JR LHP Nathan Jackson (2016)
SR 3B/1B Justin Montemayor (2016)
SR C Jacob Campbell (2016)
rSO 3B/SS Connor Hollis (2016)
JR SS Jose Reyes (2016)
SO OF Clay Casey (2016)
JR 3B Jordan Strading (2016)
SR 2B Josh Vidales (2016)
SR 2B Robert Grilli (2016)
SO LHP Seth Romero (2017)
SO LHP Aaron Fletcher (2017)
SO OF/3B Corey Julks (2017)
SO C/SS Connor Wong (2017)
SO OF Zac Taylor (2017)
FR LHP Tanner Lawson (2018)
FR RHP Mitch Ullom (2018)
FR C/1B Joe Davis (2018)
FR OF Grayson Padgett (2018)
FR OF Caleb Morris (2018)
FR INF Wendell Champion (2018)

High Priority Follows: Andrew Lantrip, Marshall Kasowski, Bubba Maxwell, Nick Hernandez, John King, Nathan Jackson, Justin Montemayor, Jacob Campbell, Connor Hollis, Jose Reyes, Clay Casey, Jordan Strading, Josh Vidales

Memphis

rSO RHP Trevor Sutton (2016)
JR RHP Nolan Blackwood (2016)
JR RHP Blake Drabik (2016)
SR RHP Matt Ferguson (2016)
SR OF/1B Jake Little (2016)
rSR SS Jake Overbey (2016)
SR C Corey Chafin (2016)
JR OF Darien Tubbs (2016)
JR 3B Zach Schritenthal (2016)
JR OF Chris Carrier (2016)
JR INF Trent Turner (2016)
JR INF Brandon Grudzielanek (2016)
SO RHP Colton Hathcock (2017)
SO RHP Connor Alexander (2017)
FR INF Matthew Mika (2018)
FR OF Colton Neel (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nolan Blackwood, Blake Drabik, Jake Little, Jake Overbey, Darien Tubbs, Zach Schritenthal, Brandon Grudzielanek

South Florida

JR RHP Brandon Lawson (2016)
rJR RHP Tommy Eveld (2016)
JR RHP Phoenix Sanders (2016)
rJR RHP Brad Labozzetta (2016)
rSO RHP Peter Strzelecki (2016)
SR RHP/OF Ryan Valdes (2016)
JR OF/RHP Daniel Portales (2016)
SR C/3B Levi Borders (2016)
rSO SS Clay Simmons (2016)
JR OF/C Luke Borders (2016)
SO OF/1B Duke Stunkel (2016)
SR OF Luke Maglich (2016)
JR 2B Andres Leal (2016)
SO RHP Joe Cavallaro (2017)
SO 2B/OF Kevin Merrell (2017)
FR LHP Shane McClanahan (2018)
FR LHP Garrett Bye (2018)
FR LHP Andrew Perez (2018)
FR OF Garrett Zech (2018)
FR OF Chris Chafield (2018)
FR C/1B Joe Genord (2018)
FR SS Robert Montes (2018)
FR OF Cam Montgomery (2018)
FR 3B David Villar (2018)

High Priority Follows: Brandon Lawson, Tommy Eveld, Phoenix Sanders, Brad Labozzetta, Peter Strzelecki, Ryan Valdes, Levi Borders, Clay Simmons, Luke Borders, Luke Maglich

Tulane

SR RHP Emerson Gibbs (2016)
rJR RHP Daniel Rankin (2016)
rSR RHP Alex Massey (2016)
JR RHP Corey Merrill (2016)
SR RHP Patrick Duester (2016)
rJR RHP Eric Steel (2016)
rSO RHP JP France (2016)
SR RHP/OF Tim Yandel (2016)
rSR RHP Evan Rutter (2016)
rJR LHP Christian Colletti (2016)
rSO RHP Chris Oakley (2016)
rSO LHP Sam Bjorngjeld (2016)
rSR RHP/OF Trevor Simms (2016)
JR C Jake Rogers (2016)
JR SS Stephen Alemais (2016)
rSO OF Grant Brown (2016)
SR OF Richard Carthon (2016)
rJR C/1B Jeremy Montalbano (2016)
JR 1B/OF Lex Kaplan (2016)
JR 3B Hunter Hope (2016)
JR 1B Hunter Williams (2016)
JR OF Jarrett DeHart (2016)
rSO 2B Matt Rowland (2016)
rSR 2B/C Shea Pierce (2016)
JR 2B Jake Willsey (2016)
SO LHP Jackson Johnson (2017)
FR LHP Ross Massey (2018)
FR OF/LHP Grant Witherspoon (2018)
FR INF Cade Edwards (2018)
FR OF Anthony Forte (2018)

High Priority Follows: Emerson Gibbs, Daniel Rankin, Alex Massey, Corey Merrill, Patrick Duester, JP France, Tim Yandel, Christian Colletti, Chris Oakley, Trevor Simms, Jake Rogers, Stephen Alemais, Grant Brown, Richard Carthon, Jeremy Montalbano, Lex Kaplan, Hunter Hope, Jarrett DeHart, Matt Rowland

2016 MLB Draft Prospects – Central Florida

JR LHP Andrew Faintich (2016)
JR RHP Campbell Scholl (2016)
JR RHP Juan Pimentel (2016)
rSR LHP Harrison Hukari (2016)
JR RHP Robby Howell (2016)
JR RHP Trent Thompson (2016)
JR OF/LHP Luke Hamblin (2016)
JR C/1B Matt Diorio (2016)
JR OF Eli Putnam (2016)
JR OF Eugene Vazquez (2016)
JR 3B/SS Kam Gellinger (2016)
JR SS Brennan Bozeman (2016)
SO RHP Brad Rowley (2017)
SO RHP Cre Finfrock (2017)
SO RHP/2B Kyle Marsh (2017)
SO C Logan Heiser (2017)
FR INF Matthew Mika (2018)

“We don’t know what we don’t know” is a quote I heard a smart person say one time. Sounded good. Could even seeing it make some sense in some respects. But I can assure you that I do know what I don’t know when it comes to the Central Florida team in 2016. This roster is loaded with players with little to no division one baseball experience, so my usual move of supplementing scouting reports, firsthand observations, and public commentary with a long look at the player’s track record on the field is out the window here.

Nice things have been said about JR OF Eli Putnam, JR OF/LHP Luke Hamblin, JR RHP Juan Pimentel, and JR RHP Campbell Scholl, but assessing any of those players fairly as prospects is a bigger task than an outsider like me can complete. I’m looking forward to seeing all four play this year.

I’m also looking forward to getting a closer look at returning talent like JR C/1B Matt Diorio, JR RHP Robby Howell, and JR LHP Andrew Faintich. Diorio is a pretty straight forward prospect for me right now: he can really hit, but his defensive future is highly uncertain. As a catcher he could rise up as one of the handful of top names in this class, but the “as a catcher” qualifier is something easier said than done. The good news is that many who know Diorio better than I do have insisted to me that he’s athletic enough to play some corner outfield in the event the idea of catching goes belly up. Framed as a potential corner outfielder/first baseman who occasionally can catch, Diorio’s path to the big leagues suddenly gets a little clearer. In a perfect world he’s a backstop all the way, but a super-utility player who can hit is hardly without value.

Howell and Faintich both have upper-80s fastballs (93 MPH peak for the former, 91 for the latter) and average-ish breaking balls. Howell was a workhorse last year (80.2 IP) who seems poised to do more of the same in 2016 while Faintich put up some crazy numbers (17.42 K/9 and 11.61 BB/9 in 9.1 scoreless innings) in his brief first extended taste of college ball. rSR LHP Harrison Hukari falls somewhere between the two as an arm who pitched more than Faintich (50.0 IP) but with better peripherals (9.18 K/9) than Howell. His is more of a mid- to upper-80s fastball, but his size (6-6, 250) from the left side could get him a second look this spring.

JR 3B/SS Kam Gellinger got the “interesting bat” comment in my notes. That’s meant to be a compliment or (at worst) an indicator to me to follow up to learn more about a guy as a hitter, but I suppose hitting .198/.234/.287 last year like Gellinger could be deemed “interesting” in the truest sense of the word. A line like that certainly catches your attention. Lackluster sophomore season or not, the toolsy infielder (arm, speed, range) is still interesting to me and could be in for a nice draft year breakout with the bat.

Much as I like the uncertainty of this year’s class at UCF, I’m digging the major upside — won’t call it a certainty that said upside will be reached, obviously, but that’s the slick writing transition I would have liked to pull off here — of the 2017 class. SO RHP Cre Finfrock is a household name to those as into college ball as I’m assuming anybody reading this is. Right behind him as a prospect is big personal favorite SO RHP/2B Kyle Marsh, a legitimate two-way talent who, in spite of an excellent fastball (88-94) and slider (flashes plus) mix, I might actually prefer as a position player.