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I’m 41% finished with updating my college database. Without context that sounds neither good nor bad, but it’s something. Putting together the database is a long, tedious process that I start off enjoying (that first 10% flies by!), come to hate as the monotony and pointlessness of the whole endeavor sets in (this is reserved for those last thoughts as I drift to bed each night), begin to enjoy again after getting a weird rush of adrenaline that defies reason (every percentage point closer pumps me up…the human brain is weird), all before getting to the annual slog once I’m through doing all the big-time conferences until that one night when there’s no turning back in the work where I catch myself staying up well past my bedtime as I update players in the SWAC wondering how my life has come to this. What kills me about the whole thing is that every waking minute I’m not updating the database feels like a wasted opportunity. That’s sick. I need help. Any and all of those pesky non-essential yet obviously essential day-to-day tasks like eating, showering, commuting to/from work, and sleeping just get in the way of getting this whole thing over with. It shouldn’t be something to endure because I’m choosing to do it at no financial gain, but I’m human and sometimes combing through old box scores and obsessively checking my phone to hear back from somebody and finding old game recaps that I’ve saved since February but never got around to read feels like a silly way to spend one’s energy. But then, finally, it’s done and I’m happy and I get a million mean comments and emails and I’m still happy but in a different “haters gonna hate” kind of way and then the draft comes and goes and I go to sleep for the rest of June.
I broke my finger at around this time last year and it made updating the site nearly impossible for a few weeks — what would normally take me hours would have taken me days, and this info is time-sensitive after all — so I choose to embrace the craziness of the next few days and be thankful I’m in a position to have enough free time to pursue a hobby that I enjoy this much. I really hope that everybody else can get even a fraction of the enjoyment from reading that I do from putting this information together. Drafts really are the best, once you get past how arbitrary and anti-employee they are. I’m morally bankrupt, so I’m good to go.
The reason for those two paragraphs is to say that I’ll be pretty quiet with daily posts until that update is complete. My current personal deadline is by the end of this week. The dream is to wake up on June 1, one week before draft day, with all of my information and notes as finalized as humanly possible. That’ll give me the full week to roll out my final rankings and player notes. I’ll still respond to comments/emails and update the non-D1 player lists, so don’t take the absence of daily content as me falling off the face of the earth. I’m still here and willing to chat, so drop me a line whenever. I’ll probably also chime back in at some point with the updated list for high school outfielders (still working on that) and a great big thing on high school pitching that is just so massive I can’t even process how to relay the intel. It might just be me throwing down my notes on the page and leaving it up to you to decide from there. That could be fun. We’ll see.
(Seconds after scheduling this post, I remembered this. One of the reasons for writing this was to pose a question that has bugged me for months: who is the draft’s second best high school pitching prospect? I like Kolby Allard a ton, so he’s my number one. Don’t think I’m budging on that in the next two weeks. After that I’ve got nothing. Nikorak is probably the consensus choice, I like Hooper way more than most (saw him on his best days, I guess…though I’m not sure I like him $4 million worth), and Everett/Burrows/Russell all have really good cases. Is it crazy to pump up one of the projection righthanders all the way up to the second spot? I’m thinking somebody like Chandler Day, Jackson Kowar, Triston McKenzie, Tristan Beck, or Brady Singer here. I don’t think I’d look at a ranking with any of those guys in the top three and automatically dismiss it. Not nearly enough has been mentioned about how crazy this year’s HS pitching class is. There is no consensus. It’s going to be chaos. I can’t wait. Except, you know, if I was drafting I’d do just that: wait. Think of the quality of arm that could be had in the second, third, or even fourth rounds.)
Now for some actual (non-parenthetical) baseball talk. I haven’t looked at a single draft ranking other than my own rough drafts, but I think I consume enough college/draft content on the whole to have some feel for where the consensus seems to lean. Keep that in mind when I talk about underrated or overrated players. I don’t literally no where players are rated elsewhere, so I’m kind of arguing against a strawmaw each time. I think I’m a bit more informed than most who rant and rave about imaginary points of view, but that’s up to you to decide.
Anyway, since I loathe going meta with site updates without providing any additional content while I’m bitching and whining about how hard life running a draft website for fun is, here are a few scattered thoughts about a few draft prospects from a few college teams. We’re hitting Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Louisville today. These teams were chosen for the ultra-scientific reason that they are literally the first six teams that I have in my Word document. I’d love to do these for every single college team (and with a little more depth, too), but that’s just not feasible between now and June 8. I mean, the goal for today was to get a paragraph going for every team in the ACC, but I couldn’t even do that before tiring out. This will have to do for now…
Chris Shaw is really good. I keep going back and forth with whether or not he’s better than Casey Gillaspie. My gut feel was yes, but my more measured take was not quite. I’m not sure what that means, if anything. I remain weirdly into Blake Butera as a late-round senior that could hang around pro ball a few years based on his glove, approach, and makeup. There are also a host of interesting late-round relief types like John Gorman, Jeff Burke, Jesse Adams, and John Nicklas that I’d give draftable grades to.
Clemson’s top guys are all not talked about for my liking. Steven Duggar, Tyler Krieger, and the top of their rotation (Matthew Crownover and Zack Erwin) are all fine players. I get the reasons for the relative quiet for each — Duggar is a tools guy who some tired of waiting on, Krieger is swallowed up by the weird and wonderful (and out of nowhere…seriously, it’s been years since we’ve seen an American group of legitimate future big league shortstops all enter pro ball at once) college shortstop class that surrounds him, and the two lefties are both low-velocity arms compared to comparable pro prospect peers — but each player has big league ability. Eli White is another intriguing draft name for Clemson that I’m not sure many realize is a draft-eligible sophomore this season.
Like everybody else, I have no idea what to make of Michael Matuella right now. I’ve heard (and made) a lot of the comparisons to previously injured amateur arms that were still drafted high in the first round, but I don’t think any truly fit. Matuella is a favorite, obviously, but the injury and the lack of a track record make him a very scary (and unique) selection if you’re considering him in the draft’s first dozen picks. After that point, I think the gamble makes a lot more sense. A good 2015 MLB Draft prop bet would be which side accumulates more career WAR: Matuella or the rest of the current Duke roster eligible to be picked this year. Sarkis Ohanian (nasty cutter) and Andrew Istler (will throw any pitch in any count) are two of the better non-closing relievers out there, plus Kenny Koplove has the stuff, athleticism, and funky arm action to miss bats at the highest level. I’d still take Matuella over three relievers and a collection of other parts, but it’s not crazy to go with the latter package considering the boom/bust nature of Matuella’s future.
I’ve mentioned a lot of comps for DJ Stewart in the past, so I’ll just throw out a “Matt Olson level production” comparison I got on him recently and leave it at that. I believe in that bat and the rankings will reflect that. After Stewart there is a pretty steep drop in terms of prospect quality on the Florida State roster. Chris Marconcini is probably my second favorite hitter on the Seminoles. Mike Compton, who I love watching, is more of a great college starter than a viable pro prospect, but he does enough well (movement, deception, command) that a team that prioritizes those things, as well as certain performance indicators, could give him an honest shot. I know he’s not going to get the chance to play pro ball, but I’d be surprised if Jameis Winston isn’t drafted at some point. Though I’m on record of believing in him as a real prospect, I think the novelty factor is why he’ll wind up being taken late.
Matt Gonzalez was never a favorite of mine, but it’s still a bummer to see him struggle in his first draft-eligible season at Georgia Tech. The tools are solid and the glove is legit, but without major changes to his approach I’m not sure he’s worth burning an early pick on.
I’ve written about why Kyle Funkhouser intrigues me the way he does before, though I still will likely remain the low man on him as he enters pro ball. The narrative on him was kind of weird this spring as he was kind of the guy we all thought he was coming into the year, but the spin — and I was guilty of doing some of this myself — was that he was answering some of the pre-season questions about his game. I worried about his command, control, and third pitch coming into the season, and I still have worries about each of those areas today.
We’ve finally made it to the ACC, the last remaining division one baseball conference to get the draft “preview” treatment. Below you’ll find my “preseason” all-prospect teams for the conference as well as links (with brief commentary where applicable) to team previews for eleven of the fourteen teams in the ACC. I’d like to do quick write-ups for the three remaining teams (Louisville, North Carolina, Wake Forest) in the coming days (perhaps all at once in a post for tomorrow) because I’m a completist by nature.
Keep in mind that the preseason teams you see below were more or less decided on coming into the season. I made a few minor tweaks, especially on the pitching side (mostly the second team). The one glaring oddity on this list is John LaPrise hanging on to a first team spot despite missing almost the entire season so far, but there weren’t any alternatives that jumped off the page (senior sign Logan Ratledge makes the strongest case) so I let it stand. The outfield was an unexpected mess to figure out outside of the top four names. Talk about a top heavy position. I didn’t rank the pitchers yet within each team, so don’t take the Matuella, Kirby, and Funkhouser 1-2-3 as where I currently see them falling. I need to think on that a bit more.
North Carolina JR C Korey Dunbar
Boston College JR 1B Chris Shaw
Virginia JR 2B John LaPrise
Clemson JR SS Tyler Krieger
Miami JR 3B David Thompson
Florida State JR OF DJ Stewart
North Carolina JR OF Skye Bolt
Virginia JR OF Joe McCarthy
Duke JR RHP Michael Matuella
Virginia JR LHP Nathan Kirby
Louisville JR RHP Kyle Funkhouser
Miami rJR LHP Andrew Suarez
Clemson JR LHP Matthew Crownover
Miami SR C Garrett Kennedy
Florida State rSR 1B Chris Marconcini
North Carolina State SR 2B Logan Ratledge
Virginia SO SS Daniel Pinero
Miami JR 3B George Iskenderian
Clemson JR OF Steven Duggar
Georgia Tech rJR OF Dan Spingola
North Carolina State SR OF Jake Fincher
Clemson JR LHP Zack Erwin
Virginia JR RHP Josh Sborz
North Carolina SR RHP Benton Moss
Duke JR RHP/SS Kenny Koplove
North Carolina State rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte
Includes comparing Chris Shaw to Ike Davis and Carlos Pena…
Does not include me comparing Matthew Crownover to Adam Morgan, so let me do that right here, right now. As somebody still holding out hope that Morgan can be a league average-ish big league starter, that’s a compliment.
Includes me comparing Michael Matuella tp Zack Wheeler and Kyle Gibson (and definitely NOT Roy Halladay…)
Includes comparing DJ Stewart to Matt Stairs, Billy Butler, Jeremy Giambi, and Carlos Santana…
Really nice college team, but nobody that moves the needle much for me as a pro prospect at the moment…
Includes some thoughts on their top bat (with apologies to SR C Garrett Kennedy, a guy I considered a sleeper last year who disappointed but has come back with a vengeance as an unstoppable force in the Hurricanes lineup and is now one of this class’s finest potential senior signs) and their top arm, both of which I’ve excerpted below to save you the trouble of clicking through…
Through all the ups and downs physically, his [David Thompson] upside on the diamond remains fully intact from his HS days — I had him ranked as the 56th best overall prospect back then — and a big draft season is very much in play if he can stay healthy throughout the year. The bat will play at the next level (above-average raw power, plenty of bat speed, physically strong, plus athleticism, knows how to use the whole field), so the biggest unknown going into this season is where he’ll eventually call home on the defensive side. I’ve liked his chances to stick at third since his prep days; failing that, I’d prioritize a home in the outfield (he’s not known for his speed, but the athleticism and arm strength should make him at least average in a corner) over going to first, where, overall loss of defensive value aside, at least he’s shown significant upside. His strong showing at the end of the summer on the Cape is an encouraging way to get back into the grind of college ball, though he did appear to sacrifice some patience at the plate for power down the stretch. If he can find a way to marry his two existences — college (approach: 35 BB/45 K in his career) and Cape (power) — in this upcoming season (like in his healthy freshman season), Thompson should find himself off the board early this June.
JR LHP Andrew Suarez has the raw stuff to find himself selected once again in the top two rounds this June, but the peripherals leave something to be desired after two seasons (6.33 K/9 in 2013, 7.16 K/9 in 2014). Still, he’s a rapidly improving arm (especially his changeup) who throws a pair of quality breaking balls and can hit 94/95 from the left side. His control has also been really good and he’s been a workhorse for the Hurricanes after labrum surgery (believed to be as minor as a shoulder surgery can get, for what it’s worth) two years ago. He’s a reasonable ceiling (mid-rotation starting pitcher) prospect with a high floor (if healthy, he’s at least a quick-moving reliever). It’s a profile that’s really easy to like, but fairly difficult to love.
Includes an homage to Rick Pitino, which I stand by but admit could be a little harsh looking back on things. SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge and rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte aren’t Trea Turner and Carlos Rodon, but they aren’t half-bad, either.
Waiting on next year for 2B/3B Cavan Biggio…
(Also, a good college team like Georgia Tech. Not loaded with 2015 talent, but getting the job done all the same. That’s worth mentioning even as a cold-hearted fan of the pro game only…)
Waiting on next year for RHP TJ Zeuch…
(Not a very good college team like GT and ND, but not every team can be a winning team, right?)
I’m a little bit back and forth with LHP Nathan Kirby yet, though I think the recent overreaction to his below-average (for him) velocity and all-around stuff that can (maybe) be explained away (to a point) due to his recently diagnosed strained lat was a bit much. I still view him as a high-floor, TBD ceiling prospect worthy of the top half of the first round conversation.
rSO OF Saige Jenco’s year hasn’t gone quite the way I was hoping, but SR 2B/SS Alex Perez, SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden, and SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica have all done their part to pick up the slack.
Nathan Kirby – 66.3%
Michael Matuella – 55.8%
Walker Buehler – 62.7%
Dillon Tate – 67.8%
Carson Fulmer – 45.7%
Kyle Funkhouser – 60.4%
Phillip Bickford – 53.3%
Jake Lemoine – 58.5%
Kyle Twomey – 61.3%
Alex Young – 60.4%
First, a quick thanks for all those that stumble across this site for whatever reason and click around a bit to see what we’ve been working on. An even bigger thanks to those of you who knowingly come back time after time. I never had expectations in terms of traffic, but it’s still pretty cool to see things trending upwards the way they have over the past few months. Yesterday was a non-June record high for the site, which is both exciting and more than a little funny since it happened on one of the very few weekdays I didn’t publish a post (did my TAXES and went to the DENTIST instead because I’m an ADULT now) since the start of December. This has easily been the most fun I’ve had covering a draft and we’re only getting started.
I’ve been sky high on Kirby in the past, so seeing some of the reports of him having less than stellar stuff in recent starts is a definite bummer. I’m still choosing to believe that he’s being knocked a tad unfairly by experts who put more stock (rightly or wrongly, it’s up to you to decide) in the one outing or so that they see firsthand than the information they gather along the way from individuals who see a player far more often, but it’s a situation well worth monitoring going forward.
Like many experts have already alluded to — or, in one case, reported and then quickly deleted for reasons unknown — concerns within baseball about Matuella’s recovery from Tommy John surgery are far less than whatever is going on with Brady Aiken’s left elbow. That said, since rumblings of complications have not yet manifested themselves in concrete news items, I’d still rank the more talented Aiken ahead of Matuella as of this second. There’s been so much interesting stuff written about the Tommy John procedure (much of it concluding with an attitude of “hey, let’s all pump the breaks on assuming it’s an easy in/out recovery and appreciate how rare it is for even the best athletes to overcome tearing a ligament in the most important part of their body”) over the past few months that I’m now wary of putting either prospect in the top ten conversation. Based on what we think we know at this point — a dangerous game to be sure, but it’s all we’ve got right now — any team drafting Aiken, and to a lesser extent Matuella, has to be prepared for the possibility that they’ll wind up getting nothing out of the pick. I think both players are talented enough, hard working enough, and young enough to recover and eventually pitch in the big leagues, but I’m no doctor…and even if I was, I wouldn’t know anything from the outside looking in at this point. Confusing stuff, really. This may just confuse things further (I’ve waffled a bit since then), but I wrote this to a friend (tried to edit out as much of the local spin as possible) the day after Aiken announced he had the surgery. Much of it presupposes that Aiken’s injury is more standard than what the rumors of late have indicated. I can only hope that this is the case for all involved. Here’s what I wrote last month…
Brady Aiken very stealthily went under the knife last night to repair his busted elbow. Everybody knew he wasn’t right, and in a weird way I’m glad that this was the cause for his average stuff of late. The success rate for Tommy John surgery isn’t what it used to be — it went from a scary thing to a seemingly normal thing and now it’s back to being kind of scary again — but it’s still a reliable enough procedure that I think I’d take it (with appropriate recovery time) over some of the other rumored possibilities (back, shoulder, hip). What does it all mean for the top of the draft?
I’d personally still consider taking Aiken with a top ten pick, but only if everybody in the organization was on the same page about his recovery and development. If it was up to me, I’d plan on him not pitching in a real game until the end of June 2016 (when Rookie ball starts) at the earliest. That’s admittedly a tough pill to swallow since teams picking in the top ten need RESULTS NOW out of their picks to an extent (you don’t have to give in to public pressure and much of the public doesn’t really follow the draft so much anyway, but some teams value this more than others), so I’d understand the trepidation felt by those against the pick. I’d be adamant about holding him out until I was sure he was right. The research on “rushing” guys back is pretty illuminating and a sobering reminder that any arm surgery is a big deal. If you really want to consider the long view, then fourteen months should be the prescribed minimum for this kind of thing per the numbers. Of course, everybody is built differently and standardizing recovery times and rehabilitation has it’s own downsides.
As to that last point, Lucas Giolito is the easiest point of reference from recent history. He was back from TJ in a crazy ten months: surgery on 8/31/12 and back in game action 7/3/13. The ongoing recovery of Jeff Hoffman should also be considered. I think there’s a non-zero chance that those players could both be freaks (in a great way), so it’s hard to use them as measuring sticks. Aiken strikes me as another freaky athlete with the chance to get back on the mound quicker than most, but that’s without knowing the extent of the injury. As far as the draft goes, it’s far from a sure thing teams picking in the back half of the top ten/early teens will even get a chance at Aiken. An injured Hoffman went ninth in the very same draft that a healthy Aiken went first. If Hoffman could go ninth in a better draft (an arguable point, but I freely admit that I hold the minority view that this year’s top half of the first round is every bit as good as last year’s…though with every passing injury this becomes a more difficult position to maintain), then why couldn’t the more talented Aiken do the same or better this year?
My number one hope above all else right now is for whatever team that drafts Aiken does so with a plan in place for his recovery. More to the point, I hope they take the long view with him and don’t give in to rushing his recovery in any way. He’s so damn talented (and young for his class) that the lost developmental time is hardly a killer in the long run. After getting his feet wet in Rookie ball next summer, he could be on a path that would include combined A ball in 2017, AA in 2018, and a shot at the big leagues at some point in 2019. That’s probably too slow a timeline for most fans and/or bosses with jobs on the line (he’d still just be 23 that August), so I could see wanting to pass on him. You could conceivably move that up a bit (skip Low-A, go A+/AA in 2017, AA/AAA in 2018 before potentially getting an audition for the ’19 rotation that September), but, advanced or not (and he is quite advanced, make no mistake), that’s a really aggressive path for a “high school” arm like Aiken. And, of course, this all assumes no setbacks, on the field or otherwise.
As mentioned previously, I think there is enough high-end pitching talent in this class that passing on an injured pitcher like Aiken or Matuella (who has looked really good and healthy of late), talented as they may be, would be justified. I’d lean towards taking the risk right now, but that’s easy to say in March…and when all that is at stake is your internet reputation and not your livelihood.
See the bolded part in that last paragraph? See how quickly things can change when following the draft? Damn. I’ve just depressed myself unintentionally from the past. Let’s get positive…
Buehler and Tate: both as advertised all year long. Strong argument to be made that they are the 1-2 in terms of college pitching in this class, though the order would be flipped (Tate then Buehler). Funkhouser and Twomey have also come on strong of late. I think the former might just pitch his way into top ten lock status soon (I’m still more in like with him than in love with him, but I’m a bit behind on his recent performances so we’ll see) while the latter could still sneak himself into the back of the first round.
The original is here. The latest is below. The title says it all.
Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, and North Carolina State have been added to Boston College, Clemson, Duke, and Florida State. Still waiting on North Carolina to post a real roster online, so we’ll keep skipping them and move on to Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Virginia Tech for next week.
- Maryland JR C Kevin Martir
- Duke rSR C Mike Rosenfeld
- Miami SR C Garrett Kennedy
- Boston College JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw
- Florida State rSR 1B Chris Marconcini
- Georgia Tech SR 1B/C AJ Murray
- Georgia Tech rSO 1B Cole Miller
- Maryland rSO 2B Brandon Lowe
- Georgia Tech SR 2B/SS Thomas Smith
- North Carolina State SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge
- Clemson JR SS/3B Tyler Krieger
- Miami JR 3B/1B David Thompson
- Maryland JR 3B Jose Cuas
- Miami JR 3B/OF George Iskenderian
- Georgia Tech JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez
- Florida State JR OF DJ Stewart
- Clemson JR OF Steven Duggar
- Georgia Tech rJR OF Dan Spingola
- Clemson SR OF Tyler Slaton
- North Carolina State SR OF Jake Fincher
- Duke JR RHP Michael Matuella
- Clemson JR LHP Matthew Crownover
- Miami rJR LHP Andrew Suarez
- Clemson JR RHP Clate Schmidt
- Florida State JR LHP Alex Diese
- Duke JR RHP Kenny Koplove
- Maryland JR LHP Alex Robinson
- Maryland JR LHP Jake Dorssner
- Clemson JR LHP Zack Erwin
- Clemson rSO RHP Wales Toney
- Florida State JR RHP/OF Jameis Winston
- Duke SR RHP Andrew Istler
- Duke rSO RHP James Marvel
- Maryland JR RHP Kevin Mooney
- Maryland JR RHP Jared Price
- Florida State SR LHP Bryant Holtmann
- Maryland rJR LHP Zach Morris
- Clemson rJR RHP Patrick Andrews
- Florida State rJR RHP Mike Compton
- North Carolina State JR LHP Brad Stone
- Miami JR LHP Thomas Woodrey
I thought this would be a fun way of finishing off each week and organizing the walls of text I keep throwing up from Monday to Thursday. This list is not nearly as comprehensive as the follow lists I’ve made in previous years nor is it as long as the list I keep internally, but I’m trying to be a little be more selective about whom we’re calling “prospects” in order to keep things a bit tidier around here. That leaves a few borderline draftable talents out for now, but I’ll be more inclusive on future lists as we get closer to June. You might think it would make more sense to do it the other way. My response to that is…yeah, you’re probably right. I might expand it in the next edition, at least with the position players.
Boston College, Clemson, Duke, and Florida State are the only schools with players listed at this time. Four more teams will be added each Friday for as long as we can keep up this pace. Next four teams are Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, and North Carolina State. It would be North Carolina, but they are the last remaining holdout in the ACC who have yet to post their 2014/2015 roster. Happens every year with them. Not cool.
- Duke rSR C Mike Rosenfeld: 5-10, 185 pounds (2012: .329/.403/.476 – 16 BB/48 K – 170 AB – 7/8 SB) (2013: .377/.451/.525 – 8 BB/9 K – 2/3 SB – 61 AB) (2014: .268/.396/.335 – 32 BB/42 K – 7 – 11/SB – 194 AB)
- Boston College JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw: 6-4, 250 pounds (2013: .183/.286/.323 – 18 BB/32 K – 0/0 SB – 164 AB) (2014: .329/.393/.502 – 21 BB/38 K – 1/3 SB – 207 AB)
- Florida State rSR 1B Chris Marconcini: 6-5, 230 pounds (2011: .301/.404/.490 – 24 BB/38 K – 206 AB) (2013: .316/.409/.579 – 28 BB/39 K – 8/10 SB – 190 AB) (2014: .252/.341/.435 – 28 BB/38 K – 7/9 SB – 230 AB)
- Clemson JR SS/3B Tyler Krieger: 6-1, 170 pounds (2013: .266/.360/.321 – 29 BB/29 K – 9/15 SB – 218 AB) (2014: .338/.410/.447 – 25 BB/24 K – 19/24 SB – 219 AB)
- Florida State JR OF DJ Stewart: 6-0, 230 pounds (2013: .360/.469/.551 – 40 BB/38 K – 8/12 SB – 225 AB) (2014: .351/.472/.557 – 40 BB/30 K – 4/5 SB – 194 AB)
- Clemson JR OF Steven Duggar: 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .308/.368/.392 – 24 BB/39 K – 16/23 SB – 250 AB) (2014: .294/.368/.378 – 27 BB/51 K – 25/28 SB – 238 AB)
- Clemson SR OF Tyler Slaton: 5-7, 200 pounds (2012: .208/.377/.226 – 13 BB/16 K – 6/6 SB – 53 AB) (2013: .269/.375/.306 – 24 BB/32 K – 6/9 SB – 160 AB) (2014: .274/.391/.373 – 42 BB/34 K – 11/17 SB – 241 AB)
- Duke JR RHP Michael Matuella: 6-6, 220 pounds (2013: 4.53 K/9 | 2.03 BB/9 | 3.95 FIP | 57.2 IP) (2014: 69 K/15 BB – 58.1 IP – 2.78 ERA)
- Clemson JR LHP Matthew Crownover: 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: 6.04 K/9 | 2.06 BB/9 | 4.55 FIP | 70 IP) (2014: 2.90 ERA – 90 K/20 BB – 99.1 IP)
- Clemson JR RHP Clate Schmidt: 6-2, 180 pounds (2013: 4.20 K/9 | 4.04 BB/9 | 4.66 FIP | 55.2 IP) (2014: 3.68 ERA – 53 K/28 K – 66 IP)
- Florida State JR LHP Alex Diese: 6-3, 200 pounds
- Duke JR RHP Kenny Koplove: 6-2, 170 pounds (2013: .314/.341/.379 – 7 BB/24 K – 2/3 SB – 153 AB) (2014: .191/.243/.224 – 14 BB/41 K – 2/2 SB – 183 AB)
- Clemson JR LHP Zack Erwin: 6-5, 200 pounds (2013: 5.10 K/9 | 2.85 BB/9 | 4.39 FIP | 60 IP) (2014: 4.21 ERA – 62 K/28 BB – 72.2 IP)
- Clemson rSO RHP Wales Toney: 6-2, 210 pounds
- Florida State JR RHP/OF Jameis Winston: 6-4, 220 pounds (2013: .227/.374/.336 – 23 BB/32 K – 2/4 SB – 119 AB) (2013: 7.33 K/9 | 3.67 BB/9 | 3.66 FIP | 27 IP) (2014: 31 K/7 BB – 33.1 IP – 1.08 ERA)
- Duke SR RHP Andrew Istler: 5-11, 180 pounds (2012: 6.23 K/9 | 1.56 BB/9 | 3.44 FIP | 52 IP) (2013: 8.20 K/9 | 2.89 BB/9 | 3.52 FIP | 37.1 IP) (2014: 59 K/24 BB – 76 IP – 2.84 ERA)
- Duke rSO RHP James Marvel: 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 4.93 K/9 | 3.21 BB/9 | 4.23 FIP | 42 IP) (2014: 16 K/8 BB – 25.1 IP – 1.78 ERA)
- Florida State SR LHP Bryant Holtmann: 6-5, 200 pounds (2012: 6.39 K/9 | 2.84 BB/9 | 3.88 FIP | 25.1 IP) (2013: 6.00 K/9 | 4.50 BB/9 | 4.20 FIP | 36 IP) (2014: 29 K/12 BB – 36.2 IP – 3.68 ERA)
- Clemson rJR RHP Patrick Andrews: 6-4, 225 pounds (2012: 8.28 K/9 | 4.30 BB/9 | 3.70 FIP | 29.1 IP) (2013: 6.21 K/9 | 2.39 BB/9 | 3.87 FIP | 37.2 IP)
- Florida State rJR RHP Mike Compton: 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: 6.73 K/9 | 2.57 BB/9 | 4.36 FIP | 91 IP) (2014: 50 K/19 BB – 83.2 IP – 3.23 ERA)
JR RHP Michael Matuella (2015)
SR RHP Sarkis Ohanian (2015)
SR RHP Andrew Istler (2015)
SR LHP Trent Swart (2015)
rJR LHP Remy Janco (2015)
rJR RHP Conner Stevens (2015)
JR LHP Nick Hendrix (2015)
rSR LHP Dillon Haviland (2015)
rSO RHP James Marvel (2015)
JR RHP/SS Kenny Koplove (2015)
rSR C Mike Rosenfeld (2015)
SR 2B Andy Perez (2015)
SO RHP Bailey Clark (2016)
SO RHP Karl Blum (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2016)
SO RHP JR Holloway (2016)
SO C Cristian Perez (2016)
FR 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
FR LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
FR SS Ryan Day (2017)
FR 3B Jack Labosky (2017)
JR RHP Michael Matuella took a massive step forward last year while putting hitters down far more consistently (doubled his K/9 and then some) and flashing the kind of stuff that could potentially dominate big league hitters. Guys who are 6-6, 220 pounds that show plus command of a four pitch arsenal that includes a mid-90s fastball and three secondaries with a chance to be above-average or better don’t come around everyday. . I’m not quite as knocked out about him as I could be — and I fully acknowledge some personal bias is seeping in here as I’ve yet to see him throw a plus offspeed pitch in my own viewings — but I’m very much prepared to go all-in on him the second he’s back out on a mound this February. As is, even with me not as in love with him as I should be, he still might be the best overall prospect in the country and top prospect on my next 2015 MLB Draft rankings. So I don’t yet LOVE him as much as I’m hoping to but still think he’s likely the best prospect in the land. If that doesn’t tell you what kind of upside he has, I’m not sure what else I can say.
On top of his strong recent track record, deep and varied array of pitches, plus command, and above-average athleticism and size, it’s really the amount of extension, deception, and downward plane he gets on every pitch that make him a special talent. Kiley McDaniel has comped him to Tyler Glasnow of the Pirates. Baseball America has thrown out a Michael Wacha comparison. I like both of these. Me being me, of course, I have a few others to throw at the wall and see if they stick. Because I was born and raised on Philadelphia sports in the 90s, I’m obligated to share a cautionary comp I heard over the summer. Let’s get the negativity — relative negativity since this guy is still pretty good — out of the way first. This pitcher never showed quite the same fastball velocity as Matuella, but similarities include the following: groundball tendencies, well-rounded assortment of pitches, plus command, almost identical height/weight (this guy is a little thinner), and a nerve-wracking collegiate injury history (Matuella has the manageable but still worrisome back condition called spondylolysis). We’re talking former Missouri Tiger ace and current solid mid-rotation arm for the Twins, Kyle Gibson. An outcome like that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world by any means, but it’s not the ceiling you’re shooting for if you’re thinking of popping a guy 1-1. More optimistically, I could see Matuella rounding into the professional version of Zack Wheeler on the realistic end with — I’m so sorry I’m doing this, but I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it — a potential ceiling reminiscent of future Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay on the highest of high ends. All comps are imperfect and stacking up any amateur player with one of the game’s greatest all-time performers is more irresponsible than I’d like to be, but the pieces are there (similar repertoires, plus command, outstanding extension/deception/plane) for it to at least become a justifiable ultimate 100% best-case scenario ceiling. Just putting that into writing makes me incredibly anxious, so let’s quickly move on to some of the other potential Duke draftees.
rSO RHP James Marvel is coming off Tommy John surgery, but showed a really nice FB/CB mix when healthy. He also has one of the most underrated names in this year’s draft; just think about the corporate and movie tie-ins that could be made if he makes it big. I’m an unabashed JR RHP Kenny Koplove fan dating back to his earliest amateur days. Did I write that he’s “not the next [Marcus] Stroman, but not not the next Stroman if you catch my drift” after seeing him a few times in high school? Yes, yes I did. That might have just been a teeny bit too rich a comparison — well, technically it wasn’t a comparison since I hedged like crazy but you surely caught my drift, right? — but Duke appears to be finally buying in to the idea of RHP Kenny Koplove rather than SS Kenny Koplove, which feels like a smart move after the shortstop version of Koplove hit .191/.243/.224 last season. I do think Koplove could be a difference-maker on the mound and is a major 2015 draft sleeper at this point. His delivery is a pain for hitters to pick up, he has plenty of arm strength (94ish peak), and I’ve always liked his breaking ball (I remember it as a curve, but I’ve heard/read slider since). Factor back in his athleticism and relative fresh right arm, and you’ve got somebody to be excited about.
Joining Baby Halladay, Captain Marvel, and Not Not Marcus Stroman is a really strong veteran pitching core. There’s SR RHP Sarkis Ohanian (strong stuff, good peripherals, below-average control), SR RHP Andrew Istler (stuff to start, but should play up enough in short bursts to get a look as a reliever), and SR LHP Trent Swart (crafty lefty profile who has no problem offspeeding you to death), all of whom could be senior signs with good springs. I’m actually surprised Istler, the most complete pitcher of the bunch, is back for a final year in Durham. I’m intrigued but unsure to expect out of other veterans like rJR LHP Remy Janco (limited innings), rJR RHP Conner Stevens (Tennessee transfer coming off a strong year), and LHPs Nick Hendrix (JR) and Dillon Haviland (rSR), both of whom jumped out at me as statistical favorites. There are no certainties here, but I’d be surprised if Duke got shut out on draft day after Matuella comes off the board.
At this point it should be fairly clear that Duke has some weapons on the mound. Will they hit enough to make any kind of noise in the ACC? That I’m much less sure about. I thought rSR C Mike Rosenfeld was on the verge of a statement 2014 season, but it never quite materialized. Still, his decent year with the stick (.268/.396/.335 in 194 AB) combined with his plus defensive abilities could be enough to keep him on follow lists around the league. Rosenfeld might be it as far as 2015 Duke bats go. I personally like SR 2B Andy Perez as a pesky middle infield prospect to watch, but he’s likely more good college player than future professional athlete. Future classes have talent in SO C Cristian Perez and FR 1B Justin Bellinger, so it’s not as if the lack of impact bats for 2015 is any cause for alarm.