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The 2016 MLB Draft will be here before we know it, so that can only mean one thing: it’s MOCK DRAFT season. It’s been a few years since I published a mock draft around here, but I figured it was finally time to get back in the game. Of course, since I can’t offer much in the way of insider intel — I’m not BA-era peak Jim Callis over here — putting together a mock would be pretty much pointless. With the proper analysis attached to each pick mock drafts can be fun and interesting reads, not to mention a great way of exposing casual fans — the number of people who Google “2016 mlb mock draft” that find this site is insane, at least relative to the four people who read on their own volition otherwise — to players they might have not yet heard of. I might attempt a mock like that between now and June. Or not. Either way, this ain’t it.
So until then (or not) we’ll have some fun and take the idea of a mock draft to the logical extreme. If “mock” means to make something seem laughably unreal or impossible, let’s make our mock draft as unreal or impossible as we can. Our fourth edition of this 2016 MLB Mock Draft is based on territorial rights. Teams can only draft a player that currently plays amateur ball in within the confines of their state. Easy enough, right? Unfortunately this means no Jay Groome, Nick Senzel, Riley Pint, Delvin Perez, Corey Ray, Alec Hansen, Connor Jones, Josh Lowe, Bryan Reynolds, Matt Krook, Dakota Hudson, Anthony Kay, Joe Rizzo, Jordan Sheffield, Will Craig…and on and on and on and on. It does, however, allow for some fun mid-first round steals and a few interesting decisions when picking players from states both big and small. Let’s do it…
1 – Philadelphia Phillies – Holy Ghost Prep SS/3B Nolan Jones
My home state of Pennsylvania has nine D1 schools with baseball programs covering five different conferences. I’ve seen four of the schools already — Penn, Lafayette, St. Joe’s, Villanova — and have a shot to see all nine by the end of the season if I plan my schedule out creatively. There are some solid prospects at those universities — David Bednar stood out so far — who will most definitely be drafted this June, but the real strength of the 2016 Pennsylvania draft class is in the prep talent. My very preliminary look at this year’s high school class has around a dozen names that could get drafted this year out of the state. The best is Nolan Jones, a prospect good enough to be on the short list of the Phillies in a non-nonsense mock draft (i.e., what we call “real life”). Jones has all the tools to be a plus defender at the hot corner with the raw power and aptitude for hitting that could make him one of the best all-around infielders to come out of this class. He’s a really exciting prospect…and a truer “local” prospect to Philadelphia than a certain Jersey lefty, if you’re into that sort of thing.
2 – Cincinnati Reds – Ohio State OF Ronnie Dawson
Cincinnati had a surprisingly high number of options despite being limited to picking only from Ohio. With eleven D1 schools to choose from — some of which were not instantly recognizable to me as Ohio schools, like Wright State and…fine, just Wright State — there was plenty of college talent to make up for the lack of interesting high school prospects. Ronnie Dawson barely beat out teammate Troy Montgomery, Sean Murphy, and the TBD eventual pick of the Indians below. I cringe a little when I hear some of the terms scouts use to describe players — a far worse practice in football than baseball, admittedly — but one of those terms I hate applies too well to Dawson to ignore: he’s a beast. Big, strong, athletic, powerful, fleet of foot…there’s no other way to put it, he’s a beast.
3 – Atlanta Braves – Mercer OF Kyle Lewis
Turns out Georgia, one of the strongest states for high school draft prospects in recent years, actually has less D1 schools that play ball (seven) than either Pennsylvania or Ohio. Go figure. Josh Lowe, Carter Kieboom, Will Benson, Taylor Trammel, and Alex Speas (among many others) keep that impressive prep tradition alive in 2016, but the Braves, long rumored to covet a college bat early on draft day, can’t pass up the biggest, baddest name in the college game. Locking down a future fixture in the middle of your order isn’t a bad way to accelerate the rebuild. Between those high school players and Lewis, Georgia just might be my favorite prospect state in this year’s class.
4 – Colorado Rockies – Air Force RHP Griffin Jax
I debated on a few high school arms before finally settling on Regis Jesuit RHP Bo Weiss as the pick here. Then I realized I totally blanked on Air Force being right around Colorado Springs. That made the selection a little bit easier and a little bit harder all at once. I’d take either Griffin Jax or Jacob DeVries over any of the admittedly intriguing group of 2016 Colorado prep pitchers (really like Paul Tillotson and Travis Marr is interesting, too), but choosing between the two Air Force co-aces isn’t easy. Jax gives you a little more certainty than DeVries — who might have a little bit of recently acquired Rockies closer Jake McGee in him now that I think about it — with the added benefit of being no slouch in the upside department in his own right. I really think Colorado is building something potentially special. While a rock solid mid- to late-rotation arm might seem like the sexiest pick, Jax is the kind of guy you can take for granted (in a good way) as a useful big league piece without worrying about him stalling out for anything but an injury.
5 – Milwaukee Brewers – Verona Area HS C Ben Rortvedt
Much has been made about this year’s high school class having talented players spring out of traditionally unconventional places. One of the better examples of that is how top-heavy the prep prospects in Wisconsin are this year. There’s depth to be sure, but it’s the top tier guys that really make the state stand out. As I cycled through names I kept finding myself saying “Oh yeah, it’ll be him,” before getting to the next name and reconsidering. Nate Brown and Gavin Lux, in particular, are players that would almost certainly be the best in their class in any other year. Instead, the Brewers attempt to get their catcher of the future in Ben Rortvedt, a wholly impressive defensive player who combines outstanding physical strength with above-average agility behind the dish.
6 – Oakland Athletics – La Costa Canyon HS OF Mickey Moniak
If the draft is held on a day that ends in a Y, then that must mean that California is loaded with pro prospects. This pick came down to Mickey Moniak vs Blake Rutherford, easily the most fascinating prospect head-to-head battle in this class right now. I’d get more enjoyment watching Moniak run down fly balls in Oakland’s big dumb ballpark than Rutherford hit balls out of it, so Moniak takes it.
7 – Miami Marlins – Miami C Zack Collins
I’ll keep banging the drum for Zack Collins as a legitimate top ten pick as long as it takes for somebody to take note. If Kyle Schwarber can go fourth overall, then why not Collins? If anything, I think Collins is the better draft prospect of the two.
8 – San Diego Padres – Chaminade Prep OF Blake Rutherford
The Padres might be best served by these rule changes than any other team in this mock. Their future real life haul should be pretty impressive — holding three picks in the top twenty-five makes them the envy of every scouting department — but the damage they could do just by poaching half of the top half-dozen prospects from California could wind up just as extensive. Whether you love Rutherford or still have reservations about his game (or find yourself gutless riding the fence…like me!), getting him with the eight overall pick is fun.
9 – Detroit Tigers – Michigan 1B/LHP Carmen Benedetti
Search for “Carmen Benedetti” on this site. I’ve written a lot about him lately. Assuming you don’t — and good for you not being bossed around by some baseball nerd on the internet — the quick version is he’s really good at baseball, both the hitting/fielding part and the pitching part. I’ve likened him to Brian Johnson more than once, and I think he’s shown enough as a position player to get a shot in the field first. The raw power might not scream slam dunk future big league regular at first base, but the overall offensive and defensive profile could make him an above-average regular for a long time.
10 – Chicago White Sox – Illinois RHP Cody Sedlock
I appreciate that of the eleven schools that play D1 baseball in Illinois, eight have Illinois directly in the university name. That made my life a lot easier when searching my database. My mind still kept wanting to give the White Sox Corey Ray, but that would be against our hastily put together yet very important ironclad rules. Future big league starter Cody Sedlock isn’t a bad consolation prize. Bradley, Chicago State, and Northwestern are the three Illinois schools without Illinois in the name…just in case you were wondering.
11 – Seattle Mariners – Federal Way HS 1B/OF Christian Jones
It was a close call between Ian Hamilton and Christian Jones, but the bat trumped the arm in the end. That’s often my personal preference on these things. Jones has been on the radar for me as much for the sound he makes on contact than any visual observation I’ve made. If he can play the outfield professionally, as many are beginning to think, then so much the better.
12 – Boston Red Sox – Boston College RHP Justin Dunn
With apologies to the dynamic duo of Dustin Hunt and Aaron Civale at Northeastern, it’s Justin Dunn and his easy upper-90s heat that finds himself on the fast track to Fenway’s bullpen. If Dunn (or Jesse Adams, John Nicklas, Mike King, or any other Eagle) does get drafted by Boston this June, then he’ll be the first to turn the trick since Jed Rogers in 2001 and only the sixth BC to the Red Sox draft connection fo all-time. How about that? Dunn (and/or the rest) would also attempt to have a pro career that finished with positive bWAR, something that has been done only once (!) in school history so far. Of the six Boston College players to reach the big leagues, five had/have negative career bWAR. Only Tony Sanchez’s 0.4 figure is in the black.
13 – Tampa Bay Rays – Florida LHP AJ Puk
The Rays take advantage of our draft rules to land arguably this draft’s top college pitching prospect. Even coming off an aborted start due to a balky back, AJ Puk is currently trending up as he rides the rollercoaster that has taken him from underrated (this time last year) to overrated (much of the offseason) to potentially a tad underrated once again. He probably never should have been pushed so heavily as a potential 1-1 guy — in the mix, sure, but not as the favorite/co-favorite — but his value settling even just a few picks after feels about right. It sounds a bit superficial because maybe it is, but 1-1 guys get picked apart in a way that even potential top five candidates do not. The focus has been on Puk’s inconsistent slider, underwhelming change, and spotty command. That’s what he can’t do. What he does well — pitch off an explosive mid-90s fastball, flash a dominant mid-80s slider, and use his 6-7, 225 pound frame to every advantage possible — he does really darn well. Needless to say he’d be a steal at thirteen.
14 – Cleveland Indians – Kent State LHP Eric Lauer
I’ll quote myself on Lauer, if you’ll allow it…
There isn’t a box that he doesn’t check when looking for a potentially quick-moving above-average mid-rotation big league starting pitcher. He’s an athletic (like Plesac) lefthander (like Deeg/Akin), with good size (like Deeg/Plesac), very strong performance indicators (10.78 K/9 and 2.72 BB/9), above-average heat (88-94) that he commands like a pro, and a complete assortment of offspeed pitches (74-77 CB, 78-82 SL, emerging CU) he can throw in any count. One could quibble by noting there’s no singular knockout pitch here – maybe with continued work one of his secondaries can become a consistent plus pitch, but certainly not presently – so maybe Lauer’s best case scenario outcome isn’t quite that of some of his peers across the country, but that’s a nitpick for a still impressive ceiling/high floor starting arm. Maybe you don’t love him – I kind of do, clearly…but maybe you don’t – but he’s still a prospect that’s hard not to at least like.
15 – Minnesota Twins – Minnesota C Austin Athmann
There’s no young Joe Mauer hiding in the the Gopher State this year, but the Minnesota University battery of Dalton Sawyer to Austin Athmann gives the Twins two intriguing draft options right off the top. Again we go hitter over pitcher when the talent levels appear close from the outside looking in. Athmann has a strong arm and really solid 2016 numbers. Good enough for me.
16 – Los Angeles Angels – Cal RHP Daulton Jefferies
I like this pick because it helps make this feel more like a mock draft than a random assortment of players listed according to arbitrary rules. The Angels would have their pick from a ton of talented California prospects, but here they opt for the relatively safety of Daulton Jefferies. As much fun as going for a home run pick would be — Avery Tuck, one of the many prep arms, and Lucas Erceg all come to mind — the Angels simply can not afford to come away from this draft with a serious early round hit. Jefferies is as close to big league ready as any college starter in this class, so it’s a pretty perfect marriage.
17 – Houston Astros – Rice RHP Jon Duplantier
I’ve typed and deleted a few different variations of how down Texas is this year, but can’t bring myself to go through with it. There are a handful of high school prospects as always — less than usual it seems — and all of the college programs seem down. Those might be too broad generalizations — I’m waiting for a fan of one of the schools in Texas (not Dallas Baptist, though, because they are awesome and everybody should know that) to call me out any second now — but A&M (the best of the bunch), Baylor, Rice, TCU, Tech, and, most egregiously, Texas all seem down relative to the standards we’ve come to expect. None of that should diminish the accomplishments and credentials of Jon Duplantier, who has pitched his tail off all season long. Despite rarely mentioned as a potential first round pick, Duplantier has sneaky top of the rotation upside. The only red flag is the university he pitches for; thankfully, that risk is mitigated some by the fact his history of missing time with relatively minor injuries has prevented his coach from overworking him so far. Smaller injuries might have prevented him from getting overworked to the point of larger injuries. Ironic, right? If Duplantier flops in the pros, I’m out on Rice pitchers forever.
18 – New York Yankees – Shenendehowa HS RHP Ian Anderson
Fans of twenty-nine other teams would not like this one bit. Ian Anderson, a dark-horse 1-1 candidate, has everything you’d want to see in a high school righthander with worlds of projection left. He also helps my pet theory that there’s an easy shortcut to amateur scouting: just follow the recruits. If a player is committed to Vanderbilt, like Ian Anderson is, move him up ___ spots on your board. Let the college teams do the hard work for you! Vanderbilt, Florida, UCLA, LSU…if a guy has a commitment to a school on that level, then you should want to draft him. I loved Anderson as much as anybody as he began to put his name on the national map, but once he had that Vandy commit in his back pocket he started looking better than ever.
19 – New York Mets – Henninger HS LHP Jeff Belge
Jeff Belge would help replenish the Mets pitching pipeline. That’s about all I’ve got. Belge got off to a fast start as a prospect relative to his peers thanks to his imposing size (6-6, 240) and present arm strength (85-92 FB, up to 94-95). Others have caught and exceeded him in this class, but he’s still a talented young lefty capable of using three offspeed pitches and blowing fastballs by the opposition.
20 – Los Angeles Dodgers – Stanford RHP Cal Quantrill
Plus fastball, plus change, plus pitchability, and flashes of two different breaking balls with upside. Get Cal Quantrill back on a mound and watch him fly up boards as we get closer to June. Sight unseen from last spring, I’d still consider taking him just outside the top ten picks or so.
21 – Toronto Blue Jays – York Mills Collegiate Institute C Andy Yerzy
Covering the entire country is one thing, but trying to develop solid contacts in Canada and Puerto Rico gives me that extra degree of difficulty that makes me want to bang my head against the wall at times. I do like what I know about Andy Yerzy and Austin Shields. Are they the top two Canadian prospects for 2016? Beats me. But they are my favorites for now.
22 – Pittsburgh Pirates – Plum HS OF Alex Kirilloff
Pittsburgh opts to stay close to home with the nod going to the local prep star over the local college star. Even with the successful recent return to health of the very talented TJ Zeuch, the potential plus all-around bat of Alex Kirilloff is too tempting to pass up on. Hey, it worked with the Neil Walker pick, so why not go to the Pittsburgh high school baseball well again in the first round? As a hitter, Kirilloff can really do it all: big raw power, plus bat speed, a mature approach, and a hit tool so promising that almost every scout has agreed that he’s an advanced hitter who happens to hit for power rather than the other way around. He’s the rare high school prospect who could hit enough to have confidence in him as a pro even if eventually confined to first base.
23 – St. Louis Cardinals – Missouri SS Ryan Howard
The Cardinals can only hope that I still have the patience to do these silly mocks next year. Instead of trying to decide on which prospect to reach on like this, they’d have the luxury of debating between Tanner Houck and Jake Burger. Because it’s 2016 and not 2017, however, Ryan Howard resembles the most sensible pick. I think he probably tops out as a quality utility infielder in the big leagues, but focusing on the “in the big leagues” part rather than the “utility infielder” aspect makes it worthwhile.
24 – San Diego Padres – San Diego SS Bryson Brigman
I’m not sure I have much more to add on Brigman at the moment than what I wrote recently about him…
Doing so would allow me to regularly see Bryson Brigman, a prospect that has begun to remind me a lot of Arizona’s Scott Kingery from last year’s draft. Kingery was a second round pick (48th overall) and I could see Brigman rising to a similar level by June. Like Kingery last year, Brigman’s defensive future remains a question for scouts. Fortunately for both, the question is framed more around trying him in challenging spots than worrying about having to hide him elsewhere on the diamond. Brigman has an above-average to plus defensive future at second back in his back pocket already, so his playing a solid shortstop in 2016 is doing so with house money. In much the same way that former second baseman Alex Bregman wore everybody down with consistent above-average play at short last college season, Brigman has proved to many that he has what it takes to stick at shortstop in pro ball. Brigman’s appeal at this point is pretty clear: tons of defensive potential in the middle infield, contact abilities that elicit the classic “he could find a hole rolling out of bed” remarks from onlookers, and enough of the sneaky pop/mature approach offensive extras needed to be an impactful regular in the big leagues. I’ll stick with the Kingery – who smart people told me here could play shortstop if needed, a position since corroborated by those who have seen him in the pros (I’ll be seeing him for myself on Saturday, FWIW) – comparison for now, but I wouldn’t object to somebody who offered up a mix of the best of both Kingery and his old double play partner Kevin Newman. That would obviously be some kind of special player, but Brigman doesn’t seem too far off. I’ve said before I hate when people throw around terms like “first round player” so loosely that you could count 100 first rounders in their eyes in the months leading up to June, but I’ll be guilty of it here and call Brigman a first round player as of now. I’ve really come to appreciate his game since the start of the season.
25 – San Diego Padres – Santa Barbara HS RHP Kevin Gowdy
I haven’t been able to sneak Kevin Gowdy on to one of these mocks just yet, so it’s great that he finally made the cut. It wasn’t easy, what with guys like Matt Manning, Reggie Lawson, Nick Lodolo, Corbin Burnes, and Lucas Erceg all vying for the second to last California spot, but he made it. Since we’re firmly in the quote yourself section of the mock by now, here’s me from the comments section earlier this week on Gowdy: “Love Gowdy. Command, deception, and frame are all really promising. Puts his fastball where he wants it better than most of his college-aged peers. Velocity is good and breaking ball looks legit. And on top of all that, his delivery is a thing of beauty to me. I normally leave mechanics alone — don’t care what it looks long as long as the pitcher can repeat it consistently — but Gowdy’s stand out as being particularly efficient. I’m a big fan. Likely a top five prep pitcher in this class.”
26 – Chicago White Sox – Carmel Catholic HS C Cooper Johnson
I do not know if Cooper Johnson will hit enough to be a viable big league player. I do know that he can defend the heck out of his position. I had him on a Russell Martin (high), Francisco Cervelli (medium), and Austin Hedges (low) spectrum after seeing him over the summer. We’re getting late enough in this draft that even the low outcome for him would give you enough value back. Gambling on a defensive weapon behind the plate figuring things out just enough as a hitter seems like a smart bet to me.
27 – Baltimore Orioles – Maryland RHP Mike Shawaryn
Many words were written about Mike Shawaryn in yesterday’s post, so I’ll refer any new readers to that first and foremost. If you recall, my conclusions about Shawaryn centered on the idea that he has the chance to be one of the draft’s best undervalued assets, assuming his 2016 funk is attributable more to fatigue than anything else. Draft him in the second or third round — late first is pushing it, but so go the rules of the mock — and give him all the time off he needs to feel 100% again. There are lots of health-based assumptions here that I really shouldn’t be making, but I figure the underlying point is that the real Shawaryn is still really good when rested and ready gives me a little bit of moral leeway. Anyway, please don’t let this happen in real life. Shawaryn, a man (maybe) in need of a team with an expert minor league medical staff, should be kept as far a way as possible from whatever it is that’s causing all of Baltimore’s pitching prospects to fall apart.
28 – Washington Nationals – Georgetown RHP David Ellingson
This really isn’t fair to the team in our nation’s capital, but they had the top pick in back-to-back years with a generational talent waiting for them AND somehow got to watch a bunch of teams let a pair of injured stars fall into their laps. It’s only right that they get some bad draft luck for a change. The player pool is all but limited to George Washington, Georgetown, and a very small group of high school players. David Ellingson could give them some middle relief help in a few years. That’s literally better than passing on the pick, right?
29 – Washington Nationals – Georgetown RHP Matt Smith
What’s really messed up about the Nationals being stuck only picking players from DC is how close (yet so far) they are to an absolute hotbed of baseball talent. How nice would Connor Jones look in this spot? Or any one of the good to great high school prospects found in Virginia this year? We’re talking Joe Rizzo, Khalil Lee, Zach Hess, Noah Murdock, Bobby Nicholson…the list goes on. Like his once and future teammate Ellingson, Matt Smith could be a nice middle reliever down the line. That’s good, too!
30 – Texas Rangers – Alamo Heights HS RHP Forrest Whitley
A big Texan with power stuff going to the Rangers. Narratives everywhere! Though I guess he had to be a Texan automatically because that’s the whole point of the draft. And he’s the best of an underwhelming crop from the state. You could argue Nick Banks here, but I’ll go with a pitcher over the hitter to change things up. Can you tell that we’re only a few picks away from the finish line?
31 – New York Mets – Buffalo RHP Mike Kaelin
The Mets have cleaned up in some of the other drafts we’ve done so far, so I don’t feel too bad with them being challenged in our geographical version of things. Thomas Hackimer would be an equally fine pick to Mike Kaelin, but I have too much of a soft spot for the undersized reliever from Buffalo to pass on him now.
32 – Los Angeles Dodgers – Steele Canyon HS OF Avery Tuck
With all the talent in California this year — I named names in the last San Diego pick — some might be surprised to see Avery Tuck emerge as the final pick from the Golden State. I’m an unabashed fan of upside, what can I say?
33 – St. Louis Cardinals – De Smet Jesuit HS LHP Erik Miller
Making the best of being limited only to the great state of Missouri, the Cards nab the state’s best high school prospect in Erik Miller. A three-pitch lefthander with enviable size (6-5, 220), present velocity (88-93), and deception in his delivery isn’t a bad way to spend a first round pick.
34 – St. Louis Cardinals – Missouri RHP Reggie McClain
The Cardinals would have to be so jealous of the Padres in a draft like this. Reggie McClain as a consolation prize isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, I like the redshirt-senior quite a bit as a late single-digit round senior-sign option. Easy to love his changeup, control, and athleticism. It’s just that Howard, Miller and McClain isn’t exactly Rutherford, Brigman, and Gowdy.
As one of my three “home” conferences, I see a whole lot of Big East baseball. Quick trips are already lined up to see Butler, St. John’s, Creighton, and Villanova, and that’s before traveling beyond twenty minutes from my apartment. Springtime travel often takes me to New York and DC, so I might be able to catch home games at St. John’s and Georgetown as well. There are pros and cons when it comes with attempting to meld nationwide coverage of the draft with first-person “scouting” accounts – we’ll get into that some later – but it’s worth mentioning now so that my pro-Big East agenda can get out there in the open. I’ve only ever lived in the northeastern part of the United States, so I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try to support baseball here any way that I can.
“There are no stars in the Big East, but still some nice players.” That’s my most heard – twice! – refrain from those in the know about this year’s crop of Big East talent. It currently holds up upon further review. Like everyone, I love star-caliber talent; missing out on it this year is a bummer, but that’s how it goes in certain years for mid-majors. Maybe not like everyone – certainly not like anybody who covers the draft publicly like this – I relish the opportunity to find potential fourth outfielders, utility infielders, backup catchers, fifth starters/swingmen, and middle relievers. If those are the kinds of guys you like, then the Big East in 2016 is for you.
Michael Donadio is a really well-rounded outfielder who has flashed at least average ability with all five tools. His power, CF range, and arm might make more bench bat/platoon player than future regular, but it’s still an enticing overall profile. His teammate, Alex Caruso, profiles similarly, though he’s cut more from the classic “fifth outfielder” cloth. He doesn’t have the same kind of pop as Donadio, but he’ll give you outstanding instincts that help him play above his physical tools in center and when running the bases. The outfield pair at Creighton rivals what St. John’s has. Daniel Woodrow and Kevin Connolly both have plus speed (Woodrow might be a touch faster) and easy CF range. Lack of power limits the ceiling for both players, but it’s not a stretch to have the same kind of fifth outfielder future in mind as Caruso.
Creighton’s best pro prospect for 2016 is Nicky Lopez, a slick fielding shortstop with plus speed and serious athleticism. Like the rest of the names at the top his bat might keep him as more utility player than starter. He’s a fine prospect in his own right, so hopefully this doesn’t come across the wrong way…but Lopez benefits greatly from being draft-eligible in 2016 and not 2015. Last year he might have gotten swept away with all the excellent college shortstop prospects getting popped early and often on draft day; this year, he stands out as one of the better options at the position for no other reason than the fact there’s little doubt he’ll stick there as a professional. Harrison Crawford, the man who lines up to Lopez’s right at Creighton, benefits similarly from a watered down third base class. I like him as a steady fielding senior-sign with some pop. I like Reagan Fowler, yet another Creighton infielder, for much the same reasons. Fowler is a prospect that I’ve long liked, so I’m not about to bail after his good (.319 BA with 23 BB/23 K) yet not great (.065 ISO for a 1B) redshirt-junior season. He’s probably a borderline draft pick if looking at things objectively, though a return to his 2014 form would almost certainly intrigue a team enough to give him a go. A friend who liked him said he could have a lefthanded Darin Ruf type of career, if the power comes back around. I apparently compared him to Casey Grayson as a draft prospect last year, so there’s that to consider as well.
Dan Rizzie and Chris Marras are both potential senior-sign catchers with legitimate big league backup upside. Had this to say about Rizzie last year…
Xavier JR C Dan Rizzie is a pro-level defensive player with enough bat speed, patience, and pop to work himself into a really good backup catcher/workable starting catcher profile.
Fair enough. I now like Chris Marras better than Butler’s other Chris M. (Chris Maranto) despite remaining a fan of the latter’s hit tool and approach. I may have expected too much too soon out of him last season, so a rebound year for the now redshirt-junior seems like a strong possibility.
The gap between Rizzie, Marras, and, the favorite of many I talked to, Troy Dixon is minuscule. Dixon is a good glove behind the plate with a strong arm, and early returns on both aspects of his game speak to even more improvement so far this year. Making your existing strengths even stronger is often easier than turning weaknesses into strengths, after all. I talked up the Seton Hall outfielders (Zack Weigel and Derek Jenkins) last year, so I won’t go into great detail this time around. Weigel and Caruso are very similar prospects while Jenkins remains the small, speedy center fielder who has yet to show he has enough power to keep pro pitchers honest.
Finally we get to the Villanova guys. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Villanova is one of the handful of schools within a twenty minute or so drive from my home base. I don’t think I overrate prospects from local schools because of that – maybe Penn a bit since I see them more than any other team – but seeing players over and over again in person is bound to alter the process in some way. I tend to rely on publicly available information and updates from friends in the game more than my own firsthand “scouting” observations, but I’ll maintain that any change in how I usually do things – such as seeing a player fifty times over three or four years versus seeing him five times or less – is going to produce some noise that has to be filtered out if I want to stay consistent with my approach. Being cognizant of the potential bias is important, and I think disclosing such things is helpful to understanding how I arrive at certain conclusions on players.
Of the notable Villanova prospects, I think the one prospect who might have me thinking more of them after seeing him in person a lot (rather than just being a name on a page) is Donovan May. Without having seen him firsthand, there’s little chance he would be included on the rankings below. High priority follow under the team listings? Sure, why not: it’s a fairly low bar and his obvious athleticism, bloodlines, and team-leading number of walks in 2015 are enough to warrant at least some casual interest heading into his draft year. Actually seeing him field, run, throw, and, yes, even hit in person, however, has me a little extra curious about his pro future. It’s not like it’s my first rodeo where I’m easily seduced by an athlete who cuts a fine figure in uniform, but human nature is undeniable: May looks the part, so he’ll get chances when others less suited to sell jeans will not. If he doesn’t start hitting, of course, then all of this is a moot point. I’ve bought in enough to rank him, true, but there’s a reason he’s placed where he is relative to his Big East peers.
Villanova’s best prospect, Todd Czinege, is somebody I very much look forward to honing in on this spring. I’m damn sure he can hit, so the focus will be on his approach, his defense, and how usable his power will be. If he doesn’t get any better, he’s still talented enough at the plate to warrant a draft pick. If he can improve in just one of those areas, I think he becomes a legitimate top ten round threat. And if he can improve two or more of those areas? It’s almost too wild a hypothetical to consider – good baseball player becomes GREAT baseball player overnight! – but rest assured he’d rise very, very high on draft boards around the league. As is, I’ve talked to a few people in the know who think he’s the best hitter in the conference with no real competition for second. That’s high praise.
Turns out there are also pitchers in the Big East this year, too. Hopefully we still have a few words left to spare on these fine young men. The most famous pitcher in the Big East is Thomas Hackimer of St. John’s. The sub six-foot righthander (5-11, 200) has a long track record of missing bats coming out of the pen (9.84 K/9 in 2014, 9.52 K/9 last season) with all kinds of funky stuff (above-average low- to mid-80s SL and average CU) coming at you from an even funkier delivery. He clearly doesn’t fit the classic closer mold, but a recent uptick in velocity (92-93 peak this year, up from his usual 85-90 MPH range) could raise his prospect profile from generic college mid-round righty reliever to potential late-inning option if things keep clicking. I like guys like this a lot on draft day, so consider me a big Hackimer fan…as long as the price remains reasonable. At this rate, he could pitch his way right out of the “undervalued draft steal” category and into “fair value” territory.
Danny Pobreyko isn’t the type to wow, but solid stuff across the board (88-92 FB, above-average breaking ball) and an ideal frame (6-5, 200) put him on the shortlist of top pitching prospects in this conference. For what it’s worth, I originally had him in the top spot before switching back to Hackimer at the last moment. David Ellingson brings similar stuff to the mound, but with less size (6-1, 200). Bigger arms like Matt Smith (93 peak), Ryan McAuliffe (94), and Curtiss Pomeroy (95) could continue to rise with strong springs.
- St. John’s JR OF Michael Donadio
- Creighton JR SS/2B Nicky Lopez
- St. John’s SR OF Alex Caruso
- Creighton SR 3B Harrison Crawford
- Creighton JR OF Daniel Woodrow
- Creighton JR OF Kevin Connolly
- Xavier SR C Dan Rizzie
- Creighton rSR 1B Reagan Fowler
- Butler SR C Chris Marras
- Villanova JR 2B/3B Todd Czinege
- St. John’s JR C Troy Dixon
- Butler rJR 2B/SS Chris Maranto
- Seton Hall SR OF Zack Weigel
- Creighton SR 2B/SS Ryan Fitzgerald
- Seton Hall SR OF Derek Jenkins
- Villanova SR 1B/RHP Max Beermann
- Creighton JR OF Riley Landuyt
- Villanova SR SS Eric Lowe
- Villanova SR OF/SS Adam Goss
- Xavier rJR SS/3B Andre Jernigan
- Creighton JR OF Riley Conlan
- Villanova JR OF Donovan May
- St. John’s SR RHP Thomas Hackimer
- Butler JR RHP Danny Pobereyko
- Georgetown JR RHP David Ellingson
- Georgetown SR RHP Matt Smith
- St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McAuliffe
- Georgetown SR RHP Curtiss Pomeroy
- Creighton rSO RHP Rollie Lacy
- Creighton SR RHP Nick Highberger
- St. John’s rJR RHP Michael Sheppard
- Butler JR LHP Jeff Schank
- Creighton SR RHP Taylor Elman
- Seton Hall JR RHP Zach Prendergast
- Seton Hall JR LHP Anthony Pacillo
- Creighton JR RHP Austin Stroschein
- Georgetown JR RHP Nick Leonard
- St. John’s SR RHP Joey Graziano
- Creighton SR RHP Matt Warren
- Creighton JR RHP David Gerber
- Xavier JR LHP Greg Jacknewitz
- St. John’s rSR RHP Joey Christopher
JR RHP Danny Pobereyko (2016)
rJR RHP Chris Myjak (2016)
SR LHP Nick Morton (2016)
JR LHP Jeff Schank (2016)
SR RHP Tyler Rathjen (2016)
rJR 2B/SS Chris Maranto (2016)
rJR OF Drew Small (2016)
SR C Chris Marras (2016)
SR OF Nick Bartolone (2016)
SO LHP Josh Goldberg (2017)
SO RHP Luke Johnson (2017)
SO SS Garrett Christman (2017)
SO OF Tyler Houston (2017)
SO OF Gehrig Parker (2017)
SO OF/2B Cole Malloy (2017)
FR RHP Quintin Miller (2018)
High Priority Follows: Danny Pobereyko, Jeff Schank, Chris Maranto, Drew Small, Chris Marras
SR RHP Nick Highberger (2016)
rSO RHP Rollie Lacy (2016)
JR RHP David Gerber (2016)
SR LHP John Oltman (2016)
SR LHP Will Bamesburger (2016)
SR RHP Matt Warren (2016)
JR RHP Austin Stroschein (2016)
SR RHP Taylor Elman (2016)
JR LHP Jeff Albrecht (2016)
SR RHP Connor Miller (2016)
rSR 1B Reagan Fowler (2016)
JR SS/2B Nicky Lopez (2016)
SR 2B/SS Ryan Fitzgerald (2016)
SR 3B Harrison Crawford (2016)
JR OF Kevin Connolly (2016)
JR OF Daniel Woodrow (2016)
JR OF Riley Conlan (2016)
JR OF Riley Landuyt (2016)
SR OF Brett Murray (2016)
SR C Matt Gandy (2016)
SO RHP Ethan DeCaster (2017)
SO RHP Keith Rogalla (2017)
FR RHP Ty Ramirez (2018)
High Priority Follows: Nick Highberger, Rollie Lacy, David Gerber, Matt Warren, Austin Stroschein, Taylor Elman, Connor Miller, Reagan Fowler, Nicky Lopez, Ryan Fitzgerald, Harrison Crawford, Kevin Connolly, David Woodrow, Riley Conlan, Riley Landuyt
JR RHP David Ellingson (2016)
SR RHP Curtiss Pomeroy (2016)
SR RHP Tim Davis (2016)
SR RHP Matt Smith (2016)
JR RHP Simon Mathews (2016)
JR RHP Nick Leonard (2016)
JR OF/RHP Beau Hall (2016)
JR 3B Jake Kuzbel (2016)
SO RHP Kevin Superko (2017
SO RHP Jimmy Swad (2017)
SO OF Austin Shirley (2017)
SO 2B Chase Bushor (2017)
SO 1B Bennett Stehr (2017)
High Priority Follows: David Ellingson, Curtiss Pomeroy, Tim Davis, Matt Smith, Simon Mathews, Nick Leonard
SR RHP Thomas Hackimer (2016)
rJR RHP Michael Sheppard (2016)
rSR RHP Joey Christopher (2016)
SR RHP Joey Graziano (2016)
JR RHP Ryan McAuliffe (2016)
JR LHP Joe Nellis (2016)
rJR RHP Dylan Drawdy (2016)
SR OF Alex Caruso (2016)
JR OF Michael Donadio (2016)
SR 2B Ty Blankmeyer (2016)
JR 3B Robbie Knightes (2016)
JR C Troy Dixon (2016)
rJR 1B Gui Gingras (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Magee (2017)
rFR 1B/RHP David Moyer (2017)
SO OF/3B Jamie Galazin (2017)
SO 2B/SS Jesse Berardi (2017)
SO OF Anthony Brocato (2017)
rFR OF Aidan McDermott (2017)
FR RHP Matthew Messier (2018)
FR RHP Cole Whitney (2018)
FR SS Josh Shaw (2018)
FR 1B Gavin Garay (2018)
High Priority Follows: Thomas Hackimer, Michael Sheppard, Joey Christopher, Joey Graziano, Ryan McAuliffe, Alex Caruso, Michael Donadio, Robbie Knightes, Troy Dixon
JR RHP Zach Prendergast (2016)
SR RHP Sam Burum (2016)
SR RHP Luke Cahill (2016)
JR LHP Anthony Pacillo (2016)
JR RHP Ryan Testani (2016)
SR OF Derek Jenkins (2016)
SR OF Zack Weigel (2016)
SR 2B Chris Chiaradio (2016)
JR 1B Mikael-Ali Mogues (2016)
JR SS Joe Poduslenko (2016)
SO RHP Chris Morris (2017)
SO RHP Zach Schellenger (2017)
SO RHP Shane McCarthy (2017)
SO RHP Matt Leon (2017)
SO OF Ryan Ramiz (2017)
FR RHP Billy Layne (2018)
FR LHP Cullen Dana (2018)
FR INF Sebastiano Santorelli (2018)
FR INF Anthony Scotti (2018)
High Priority Follows: Zach Prendergast, Sam Burum, Anthony Pacillo, Ryan Testani, Derek Jenkins, Zack Weigel, Mikael-Ali Mogues, Joe Poduslenko
JR LHP Hunter Schryver (2016)
SR 1B/RHP Max Beermann (2016)
SR C/OF Emmanuel Morris (2016)
SR 3B/1B Kevin Jewitt (2016)
SR SS Eric Lowe (2016)
SR OF/SS Adam Goss (2016)
JR 2B/3B Todd Czinege (2016)
JR OF Donovan May (2016)
JR C Zander Retamar (2016)
SO LHP Mike Sgaramella (2017)
SO RHP Ryan Doty (2017)
High Priority Follows: Hunter Schryver, Max Beermann, Emannuel Morris, Kevin Jewitt, Eric Lowe, Adam Goss, Todd Czinege, Donovan May
JR LHP Brad Kirschner (2016)
JR LHP Trent Astle (2016)
JR LHP Greg Jacknewitz (2016)
SR C Dan Rizzie (2016)
rJR SS/3B Andre Jernigan (2016)
JR 1B Ethan Schmidt (2016)
SR 2B David Morton (2016)
SO LHP Zac Lowther (2017)
SO RHP Garrett Schilling (2017)
SO 3B Rylan Bannon (2017)
SO C Nate Soria (2017)
SO OF Will LaRue (2017)
FR SS/2B Chris Givin (2018)
FR 2B Sam Flamini (2018)
High Priority Follows: Brad Kirschner, Trent Astle, Greg Jacknewitz, Dan Rizzie, Andre Jernigan, Ethan Schmidt
We’ve covered the 2011 freshmen. We’ve covered the 2010 sophomores. We’ve even dipped our toe into the 2009 college draft pool by looking at a few of the top seniors eligible to be picked four months from now. Time to finally dive right in and take a look at some potential impact talents available to your favorite team this June. Draft-eligible sophomores ready and raring to get picked in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft after the jump, but be forewarned, writeups may be more less detailed than in other classes due to the crazy amount of virtual ink expected to be spilled for these players over the next few months… (more…)