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2014 MLB Draft College Outfield Follow List (and Ranking)

I’ve been unrelentingly positive about pretty much all things draft-related in almost all previous position groups for this year’s draft; it’s my nature to be optimistic, and I enjoy highlighting the good in amateur prospects whenever possible, This year’s college outfield class, however, has me really, really stretching to find nice things to say. As always it is important to note that all of the players listed below – literally all of them, even Garrett Brown (phenomenal athlete who has chosen football over baseball for now, though we won’t hold that against him as a person) way down at the bottom – are way, way better at baseball than 99% of any of the people evaluating them, myself included. Any and all criticism is meant only to illuminate greater truths about what I’ve seen, read, and heard, and not to disparage any player personally. Always like getting that out there to preempt some of the hate mail…

Brad Zimmer trumps all comers when it comes to showing a consistent power/speed mix that tantalizes scouts, fans, and whatever it is I am. That’s the good news. I haven’t seen him since this summer, and, after hearing and reading so many positive things about him this spring, I was a little taken aback to see his approach has gone backwards a bit, at least as far as my box score scouting expertise allows. That’s a little disappointing. The (expanded version of the) good news is, lackluster BB/K numbers aside, the man can hit. Projecting above-average plate discipline when the track record isn’t there is often a fool’s errand, but Zimmer is such a smart, gifted hitter that I think his skewed BB/K 2014 ratio is more about him being so locked in all season than a major red flag that would depress his prospect stock. I love a 2-0, 2-1, or 3-1 count as much as anybody, and the idea that a walk is as good as a single (more or less) is one I believe in, but there’s also something to be said for a guy capable of hitting the ball hard so consistently that he’s up there hunting for fastballs to drive. The measured approach to hitting has as much validity as the “see fastball, hit fastball” approach, it just depends on the rest of the player’s natural skill set. Zimmer’s wrists, hand/eye coordination, and balance give him a better than usual shot than other amateurs with similarly lackluster BB/K ratios.

Louie Lechich isn’t Brad Zimmer, but if you miss on the latter in the first round then hitting on the former later would give you a decent approximation of that power/skill starter kit. I know I might be crazy for saying this, and my personal rankings aren’t quite ready to back the statement up, but I think that Lechich is what so many want Derek Fisher to be. We’ll see.

Because the top of the draft is so flush with pitching, I keep coming back to the idea that teams picking in the top ten must be hoping against hope to get a big-time bat that slipped with their second pick. That’s currently where I’m at with Michael Conforto, a hitter likely too good to slip out of the first round but still not quite the stone cold mortal lock to go off the board that early. If a team with an iffy farm system and holes all over the ML roster (like, say, the Phillies) could land a college arm like Jeff Hoffman and then come back around and nab Conforto in the second…yeah, that would be alright with me. I made the indirect comparison between Zimmer and Lechich already, so we’ll go with the obvious next step and compare Conforto and Mike Papi. From here, I see very little that separates the two outside of perceived value. Both look like they could be average or better big league corner guys for a long time in pro ball. As happy as I’d be with Conforto in the second (or late first, really), I’d be just as good with waiting a little bit on Papi before snapping him up in the third or fourth round.

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has talked up Greg Allen enough that I don’t think I can call him my guy, but, damn, I enjoy watching him play as much as any college outfielder on this list. His limited power upside is a real concern, especially in light of my newfound belief that power (or, in this case, even the threat of power) is the best statistical indicator of pro success. I’m drawn to speed/defense/on-base prospect profiles, but without the threat of pop, pro pitchers will undo a lot of what works offensively at the amateur level. Allen’s bat speed works in his favor, but his frame, athletic as it may be, poses a potential problem. I believe in his playable power more than most guys who fit the archetype, but will admit that being burned by players of a similar style over the years has me comparatively lower on Allen than I might have been in 2011. Still a high-level prospect worth following, of course.

The Virginia outfield is just plain silly. Papi is a pro hitter who just so happens to be currently playing college ball. Dating back to high school the aforementioned Fisher has always been a like and not a love for me – a point we’ve had some really good discussions on in the comments section over the years – and I remain of the belief that he has the chance to be a good regular in a corner if everything breaks just right rather than a potential star like some still projecting him as an upper- to mid-first round pick seem to believe. Brandon Downes can do it all athletically, but the all-important hit tool is a serious question. There are pro teams that would gladly trade their AA starting outfields for this group in a second.

I wrote a lot of positive things about Jeff Keller last year, so you know I’m not hopping off the bandwagon now. I wavered some on personal favorite Mark Payton pre-season – heard some not optimistic things about his pro prospects from people who couldn’t praise his ability to succeed in college enough – but I’m ready to pump him back up once I update these rankings pre-draft. Projection is king and Payton doesn’t have it compared to peers, but, man, I’ll take the guy who can run, field, throw, and, most importantly, roll out of bed ready to hit as my fourth outfielder any day. It’s silly to call a fourth-year college outfielder at TEXAS underrated, but I think pro scouts made up their mind on him being a nice college player and little more early on and haven’t been willing to revise that view over the years.

This may be a cop-out, but the new two months will tell us so much about the vast majority of the players outside of the first few. There’s very little separation in that mid-round tier that 2014 performance, the given day(s) a scout sees a guy, and team preference (power vs speed, flashes of plus tool vs well-roundedness, polish vs upside, etc.) will all play major roles in sorting out the jumble come June. I’d say Zimmer has put some distance between himself and the pack, and Conforto appears to be emerging as a strong contender for the second spot, but after that these rankings are as jumbled as any. Looking forward to revising this one after seeing how the season plays out.

  1. San Francisco JR OF Bradley Zimmer
  2. Oregon State JR OF/1B Michael Conforto
  3. Virginia JR OF Mike Papi
  4. Oregon State JR OF/RHP Dylan Davis
  5. Virginia JR OF Derek Fisher
  6. Virginia JR OF/C Brandon Downes
  7. San Diego State JR OF Greg Allen
  8. San Diego rJR OF/LHP Louie Lechich
  9. Dartmouth SR OF Jeff Keller
  10. Arizona State rJR OF Trever Allen
  11. College of Charleston SR OF Brandon Murray
  12. Kentucky JR OF Austin Cousino
  13. South Carolina JR OF Tanner English
  14. North Carolina State JR OF Jake Fincher
  15. Oregon JR OF/3B Scott Heineman
  16. Michigan State JR OF/C Jimmy Pickens
  17. Florida Gulf Coast JR OF/1B Michael Suchy
  18. Southern Mississippi JR OF/LHP Mason Robbins
  19. Bradley JR OF Max Murphy
  20. Texas SR OF Mark Payton
  21. Georgia JR OF/3B Hunter Cole
  22. Fresno State JR OF Jordan Luplow
  23. Long Beach State JR OF/1B Richard Prigatano
  24. Florida JR OF/RHP Justin Shafer
  25. Nevada SR OF Brad Gerig
  26. Binghamton JR OF/C Jake Thomas
  27. Louisiana-Lafayette JR OF Caleb Adams
  28. Cal Poly JR OF Nick Torres
  29. Princeton SR OF/2B Alec Keller
  30. Buffalo rSR OF Matt Pollock
  31. North Carolina A&T SR OF/2B Luke Tendler
  32. Auburn SO OF/2B Jordan Ebert
  33. Louisiana State SO OF Mark Laird
  34. Mississippi JR OF Senquez Golson
  35. Southern Mississippi JR OF Connor Barron
  36. Vanderbilt JR OF Johnny Norwood
  37. Stanford JR OF Dominic Jose
  38. Auburn SO OF/LHP Rock Rucker
  39. Troy JR OF Jo-El Bennett
  40. Washington State rSO OF Ben Roberts
  41. Indiana rJR OF Scott Donley
  42. Pittsburgh JR OF Boo Vazquez
  43. Texas-Arlington rSR OF Matt Shortall
  44. Rice SR OF/1B Michael Aquino
  45. Nebraska SR OF Mike Pritchard
  46. Kansas JR OF Connor McKay
  47. Kansas rSO OF Steve Goldstein
  48. TCU JR OF/RHP Jerrick Suiter
  49. Tennessee JR OF Jonathan Youngblood
  50. South Carolina JR OF/3B Elliot Caldwell
  51. Washington State JR OF/1B Yale Rosen
  52. Central Connecticut State SR OF JP Sportman
  53. The Citadel SR OF Hughston Armstrong
  54. Central Michigan JR OF Nick Regnier
  55. North Carolina State JR OF Bubba Riley
  56. Wake Forest rJR OF Kevin Jordan
  57. Wake Forest SR OF Evan Stephens
  58. Louisville JR OF Michael White
  59. Evansville rJR OF Kevin Kaczmarski
  60. USC rJR OF Omar Cotto Lozada
  61. Mississippi JR OF Auston Bousfield
  62. McNeese State SR OF Jackson Gooch
  63. Louisiana State JR OF Jared Foster
  64. James Madison JR OF/2B Chad Carroll
  65. Louisiana-Lafayette SR OF Seth Harrison
  66. Cal Poly JR OF Alex Michaels
  67. Georgia State rSR OF Chase Raffield
  68. Mississippi JR OF Will Jamison
  69. Alabama JR OF/C Ben Moore
  70. Eastern Michigan rSR OF Sam Ott
  71. Pittsburgh SR OF Casey Roche
  72. Southern JR OF Lance Jones
  73. Cincinnati rSO OF Will Drake
  74. Delaware rSO OF Gary Jones
  75. Louisiana State SR OF Sean McMullen
  76. Miami (Ohio) JR OF Matt Honchel
  77. UCLA JR OF Eric Filia
  78. Toledo rSO OF/SS Dan Zuchowski
  79. Duke rSR OF Ryan Deitrich
  80. Wagner SR OF Chris Smith
  81. Arkansas rSO OF Tyler Spoon
  82. Long Island-Brooklyn SR OF Pete Leonello
  83. Pepperdine rJR OF Bryan Langlois
  84. Oklahoma State JR OF/1B Zach Fish
  85. Virginia Military Institute rJR OF Jordan Tarsovich
  86. Nebraska JR OF Austin Darby
  87. Northern ColoradoJR OF Jensen Park
  88. Louisville SR OF/LHP Cole Sturgeon
  89. Illinois-Chicago rJR OF Jon Ryan
  90. Lamar rSR OF Jude Vidrine
  91. Middle Tennessee State SR OF Trent Miller
  92. Akron rJR OF Devan Ahart
  93. Florida State rSR OF Brett Knief
  94. UAB SR OF Ivan DeJesus
  95. TCU JR OF Cody Jones
  96. Kansas JR OF Michael Suiter
  97. Kansas State JR OF Max Brow
  98. Texas A&M SR OF Krey Bratsen
  99. Utah SR OF Braden Anderson
  100. Texas A&M SO OF JB Moss
  101. UCLA SR OF Brian Carroll
  102. Florida International SR OF Tyler Hibbert
  103. Minnesota JR OF Jake Bergren
  104. Bethune-Cookman SR OF Josh Johnson
  105. Mercer SR OF Derrick Workman
  106. Oklahoma State SR OF Aaron Cornell
  107. Texas rSR OF Matt Moynihan
  108. Towson rSR OF Kurt Wertz
  109. Pittsburgh SR OF/RHP Stephen Vranka
  110. Maryland rJR OF Charlie White
  111. Florida State JR OF Josh Delph
  112. Notre Dame JR OF/1B Ryan Bull
  113. Miami SR OF Dale Carey
  114. Washington State SR OF/LHP Jason Monda
  115. Oregon SR OF Kyle Garlick
  116. West Virginia SR OF Jacob Rice
  117. UNC Wilmington JR OF Luke Dunlap
  118. San Diego State rSO OF Spencer Thornton
  119. North Carolina State JR OF Jake Armstrong
  120. Cal State Fullerton JR OF Austin Diemer
  121. Hawaii JR OF Keao Aliviado
  122. Louisiana-Lafayette JR OF Dylan Butler
  123. Louisiana-Monroe SR OF Dalton Herrington
  124. Davidson SR OF Forrest Brandt
  125. Cincinnati rSO OF Taylor Schmidt
  126. Rutgers SR OF Brian O’Grady
  127. Jackson State SR OF Charles Tillery
  128. Indiana State JR OF Landon Curry
  129. Texas JR OF Taylor Stell
  130. Illinois-Chicago rSO OF/LHP Jeff Boehm
  131. Ball State SR OF Sean Godfrey
  132. Washington rJR OF Will Sparks
  133. Georgia Tech rSO OF Dan Spingola
  134. Clemson JR OF Tyler Slaton
  135. Elon JR OF/C Ryan Cooper
  136. Central Florida JR OF Derrick Salberg
  137. Creighton SR OF Mike Gerber
  138. Cornell SR OF Chris Cruz
  139. Bryant JR OF/C Jordan Mountford
  140. Ohio State JR OF Patrick Porter
  141. Kent State JR OF Alex Miklos
  142. Iowa JR OF/2B Eric Toole
  143. Georgia rJR OF Conor Welton
  144. South Alabama rJR OF Garrett DeGallier
  145. Arkansas-Little Rock SR OF Bryson Thionnet
  146. Maryland rJR OF Mike Montville
  147. Oregon SR OF Connor Hofmann
  148. Louisiana-Lafayette SR OF/2B Ryan Leonards
  149. Oklahoma rJR OF Colt Bickerstaff
  150. Holy Cross SR OF Brandon Cipolla
  151. Jacksonville State SR OF Michel Bishop
  152. Lehigh JR OF/C Justin Pacchioli
  153. Towson SR OF Dominic Fratantuono
  154. Valparaiso SR OF Chris Manning
  155. Stephen F. Austin State SR OF Ricardo Sanchez
  156. Cincinnati SR OF/1B Justin Glass
  157. Miami SR OF/3B Tyler Palmer
  158. Texas JR OF Collin Shaw
  159. Mississippi State SR OF/LHP CT Bradford
  160. Mississippi State JR OF Jake Vickerson
  161. Towson JR OF Peter Bowles
  162. Kansas JR OF Joe Moroney
  163. Rutgers JR OF Vinny Zarrillo
  164. Kennesaw State JR OF Jacob Bruce
  165. Charleston Southern JR OF Bobby Ison
  166. Oral Roberts rSR OF Tyler Boss
  167. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rJR OF/LHP Tyler Ware
  168. San Francisco JR OF Derek Atkinson
  169. Mercer SR OF Sasha LaGarde
  170. Indiana State SR OF/C Mike Fitzgerald
  171. North Carolina Greensboro JR OF Eric Kalbfleisch
  172. Jacksonville State SR OF Griff Gordon
  173. Eastern Illinois JR OF Caleb Howell
  174. Norfolk State SR OF Cameron Day
  175. Clemson SR OF Joe Costigan
  176. UC Santa Barbara rSR OF/1B Joe Epperson
  177. Missouri JR OF Logan Pearson
  178. Delaware State SR OF Aaron Nardone
  179. Florida A&M JR OF Marlon Gibbs
  180. Toledo SR OF Tyler Grogg
  181. James Madison rSR OF/1B Matt Tenaglia
  182. Mount St. Mary’s SR OF Jay Knight
  183. Wichita State rSR OF/LHP Garrett Bayliff
  184. Dayton SR OF Mark Podlas
  185. Winthrop rJR OF TJ Olesczuk
  186. Wichita State rSR OF Micah Green
  187. Xavier rSR OF Mitch Elliot
  188. New Jersey Tech JR OF Ed Charlton
  189. Kansas State rJR OF Mitch Meyer
  190. Northeastern SR OF Connor Lyons
  191. Old Dominion JR OF Josh Eldridge
  192. Florida Atlantic SR OF/1B Tyler Rocklein
  193. St. John’s JR OF Zach Lauricella
  194. Georgia State SR OF Chris Triplett
  195. Western Kentucky SR OF/INF Regan Flaherty
  196. The Citadel SR OF/3B Drew DeKerlegand
  197. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR OF Kyle Danford
  198. Texas A&M SR OF Jace Statum
  199. Canisius SR OF Jesse Kelso
  200. Fairfield SR OF/C Ryan Plourde
  201. Siena SR OF John Rooney
  202. Texas-Pan American SR OF Alex Howe
  203. West Virginia JR OF Bobby Boyd
  204. Virginia Commonwealth SR OF Bill Cullen
  205. Presbyterian rSR OF Nathan Chong
  206. Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR OF Luke Meeteer
  207. Akron rJR OF Joey Havrilak
  208. Butler SR OF Marcos Calderon
  209. Wright State SR OF Kieston Greene
  210. Wofford SR OF/INF Josh Hyman
  211. Southeast Missouri State rJR OF Jason Blum
  212. Savannah State JR OF David Richards
  213. Vanderbilt JR OF Will Cooper
  214. Winthrop SR OF Cody Dolan
  215. South Florida rSO OF Buddy Putnam
  216. Alabama State JR OF Waldyvan Estrada
  217. Army JR OF Mark McCants
  218. Murray State SR OF Ty Stetson
  219. Kent State SR OF/LHP TJ Sutton
  220. Western Michigan JR OF/C Jared Kujawa
  221. Mississippi JR OF Braxton Lee
  222. New Mexico State SR OF Quinnton Mack
  223. Radford SR OF Blake Sipe
  224. South Florida JR OF Austin Lueck
  225. Arkansas JR OF Joe Serrano
  226. Creighton SR OF Brad McKewon
  227. Buffalo SR OF Thomas Richards
  228. North Dakota State SR OF Tim Colwell
  229. Utah Valley State JR OF Jordy Hart
  230. High Point SR OF/SS Kyle Brandenburg
  231. Cal State Fullerton JR OF Clay Williamson
  232. Western Carolina JR OF Garrett Brown

Update, College Outfielders, Player Comparisons

With the college season rapidly approaching it’s time to finally admit to myself that I won’t be getting all of these conference previews done in time. I think it was the fact I had finished only three so far had something to do with it. Fortunately, I have a backup plan: lots of largely incoherent observations and notes from my reviewing just about every damn college prospect in the country over the past few months.

So far I’ve gotten around to taking a close look at the following conferences: Big 10, Conference USA, AAC, ACC, Big South, Atlantic Sun, Mountain West, Missouri Valley, Big 12, A-10, and America East. Thanks to the fine folks in charge of maintaining rosters at those team sites (with a few exceptions that just posted in the last 72 hours) that helped make my comprehensive coverage a heck of a lot easier. There are some smaller programs that still don’t have the rosters up, but I can’t kill them too much because, you know, smaller staffs and less general attention to that sort of thing and all. I’d love to finish up the Pac-12 and SEC, but we’re still waiting on Oregon and Mississippi State. Season starts in just over a week, let’s get moving. Alright, that’s enough passive-aggressive whining for one day. Much of my current focus is on position players because a) splitting the workload in half makes it feel like a much less daunting task, and b) I just plain fine hitters more interesting to evaluate than pitchers. Let’s talk outfielders! I’m happy to go into more detail on anybody listed below or any unnamed player from one of the conferences listed above. Or any conference, really, since I’m really just waiting on a handful of teams at this point. 

*****

Texas rSR OF Matt Moynihan and Miami OF Dale Carey both frustrate me to no end. Tools are clearly there, especially when you watch them run around in CF, and they both fill out a uniform damn well, but they each have scouts waiting and waiting and waiting for some hint of a breakthrough with the bat. Arm, speed, and defense will always be important, but the bat is king. Time to show something in the batter’s box, boys. 

I also have no idea what to do with Wake Forest rJR OF Kevin Jordan and TCU OF Jerrick Suiter, toolsy yet relatively unproductive boom/bust prospects. You could also put Southern Mississippi JR OF Mason Robbins and Southern Mississippi JR OF Connor Barron in that camp. As teammates roaming the outfield together, they are a little bit like the Virginia duo cited below except, you know, not nearly as productive. Bradley JR OF Max Murphy, Binghamton JR OF Jake Thomas, and Northern Colorado JR OF Jensen Park are less confounding: I like them a ton more than I thought I would at the start of the process. They are definitely three of my favorite smaller school prospects to watch.

It should probably come as no shock to anybody who has been around the site over the last few years, but I’m strongly leaning toward ranking Virginia JR OF Mike Papi over his more heralded teammate JR OF Derek Fisher. It’s a combination of being higher on Papi than most while being lower on Fisher at the same time. Both excellent prospects and potential big league players, but I think the gap between the two as hitters is wide enough to overcome the difference in tools (a much smaller difference in my eyes than what the consensus believes, for what it’s worth). JR OF Brandon Downes is a good one as well. Virginia is going to be really, really good, especially offensively. 

One of the biggest prospect questions awaiting springtime clarity is what position Kyle Schwarber will eventually settle into down the line. I don’t consider him a potential everyday catcher and while the bat is likely to play at first, I think everybody would much rather see him give it an honest go in the outfield before spending an early first round pick on him. I hope Indiana gives him a little bit of time out from behind the plate to showcase him for curious scouts. Brian Hartong can cover for him in those instances. 

Time for a head-to-head statistical throwdown! I toyed with including scouting blurbs for each guy, but I couldn’t find a way to keep it descriptive enough without giving either player away. Scouting consensus is a current heavy lean towards Player B, an opinion that I agree with to a certain point (I’m more of a slight lean at this point). Also, I may or may not have mentioned these two prospects in the preceding two paragraphs…

Player A

2012: .311/.423/.415 – 16 BB/16 K – 5/7 SB – 106 AB
2013: .409/.542/.653 – 47 BB/24 K – 6/8 SB – 176 AB

Player B

2012: .287/.381/.483 – 31 BB/23 K – 9/12 SB – 230 AB
2013: .366/.457/.647 – 43 BB/36 K – 4/7 SB – 235 AB

Really close, right? Both are projected by most to play outfield professionally, though there are some that think Player A will have to play 1B while Player B will hang at a more important position (said position would give it away, I think). I know I made it painfully obvious, but…any guesses? 

One more head-to-head comparison that I think is a little bit more interesting (and a lot less obvious). I’ll include some quick scouting notes this time to spice it up…

Player A: interesting power upside, still largely untapped but swing and actions should led to something; above-average speed, could be more; exceptional athlete; smart hitter; good approach; plus range in CF; really like his arm; leadoff profile at next level; FAVORITE; 6-0, 165 pounds

2012: .312/.385/.403 – 20 BB/40 K – 11/20 SB – 231 AB
2013: .299/.399/.350 – 37 BB/39 K – 26/35 SB – 254 AB

Player B: plus arm, really accurate; personal favorite that I love to watch play, definitely one that grows on you the more you see him up close; good athlete who also has some experience at SS and C; legit CF range; sneaky pop, mostly to gaps at present; plus to plus-plus speed, uses it well; impressive bat speed; FAVORITE; 6-0, 175 pounds

2012: .295/.352/.400 – 19 BB/35 K – 17/24 SB – 210 AB
2013: .317/.406/.358 – 34 BB/40 K – 15/21 SB – 265 AB

Any guesses? Any preferences? A few quick hints because I enjoy these games way too much. First, since you already know the conferences they could potentially be from, we’ll further narrow it down by saying Player A is a west coast player and Player B is on the east coast. I’d also say A has gotten a bit more national attention, but neither guy is a household name outside of the relatively small niche of college ball/draft enthusiasts. In fact, you could say that both guys have been largely overshadowed by more famous teammates: B is on the same team as two of the highest profile college players in recent memory and A has a teammate that can reach triple digits. 

Los Angeles Angels 2011 MLB Draft in Review

Los Angeles Angels 2011 Draft Selections

(I’m away on my first non-baseball trip in way too long, but there are a few more 2011 draft reviews in the can for when I get back. Next up is Atlanta (Friday or Monday, break in travel schedule Thursday night pending), followed by the White Sox next week. As always, thanks for reading…)

I’m not even an Angels fan, but I sure do miss Eddie Bane. I do not understand what the Angels did on draft day this year. If I had to guess, here are my three principles of Los Angeles’ 2011 drafting philosophy: 1) say yes to junior college guys and no to high school prospects, 2) pitchers without arm strength need not apply, and 3) stick to scouting the big three – Texas, California, and, most noticeably, Florida. Let’s dive in deeper with a look at their top ten rounds and beyond…

Good to start off with a player that totally contradicts my opening paragraph, I think. Keeps the readers on their toes. Utah 1B CJ Cron (29th ranked draft prospect) is a college position player from the great state of Utah. He’s not a juco or prep player, not a pitcher with a plus arm (in fact, a shoulder injury has kept him from throwing for most of 2011), and not from Texas, California, or Florida. Cron’s scouting profile is eerily reminiscent to former catcher Paul Konerko, a popular comp for a reason. I’ve also heard Cron compared to a righthanded hitting version of Texas’ Mitch Moreland. He’ll hit enough to be, at worst, a league average bat at first.

Cron’s numbers sync up well with his scouting reports. I may be in the minority, but I actually like his pure hit tool more than I like his power. Either way, both are above-average tools. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are his only above-average tools. Again, I find myself in the minority in thinking he could at least be a passable catcher at the next level, but I’ll concede to the experts on that one. Looks like Cron will be the first first baseman off the board, college or high school. His well above-average hit tool and present power make him a safe bet to become a starting first baseman and middle of the lineup bat

If the opening paragraph wasn’t enough, another warning: there are very few positives forthcoming. An exception comes with the selection of Florida LHP Nick Maronde (80th ranked draft prospect), an outstanding prospect. My only hope is that Los Angeles continues to give Maronde the opportunity to start as he progresses through the system. The former Florida reliever has the three pitches needed to start in the big leagues, but it will take time for him to get back into the starting pitching mindset.

Florida JR LHP Nick Maronde: 90-91 FB, peak 93 as starter; now sitting 93-95, 96 peak out of bullpen; plus low-80s SL that he doesn’t use enough; CB; good 81 CU; relieved in college, but I like him as a starter; 6-3, 200

Seminole State JC (FL) RHP Mike Clevinger hits on all three of the Angels criteria listed above. He’s an arm strength reliever all the way. Northeast Texas CC (TX) OF Andrew Ray was a curious underslot signing who profiles as a backup outfielder and/or four corners utility guy. Grayson County CC (TX) C Abel Baker makes three junior college players drafted in the top seven rounds by the Angels. Of the three, Baker is my favorite by far. His raw power, arm strength, and makeup are all exactly what you’d like to see in a catching prospect. He was pretty far under the radar this spring – a genius like me missed him, for example – but the Angels know Grayson County CC prospects (John Lackey and Jordan Walden) better than anybody.

Southern California RHP Austin Wood (50th ranked draft prospect) is like a more experienced (as a starter) righthanded version of Nick Maronde. His inconsistency is maddening, but the raw stuff is good enough to start at the highest level. Settling on a breaking ball would be a great first step for Wood’s professional career.  Wood’s teammate Southern California RHP Logan Odom has the size of a power pitcher, but not the stuff. I know I’m just one list crazy guy, but Odom didn’t crack the top 400 on my pre-draft top college pitchers list. He wasn’t even my favorite Odom (I liked JT of Mercer) in this year’s class. Needless to say, the Angels like Logan way more than I do.

Southern California JR RHP Austin Wood: 92-94 FB, 95-96 peak; interesting SL; emerging 80-82 CU that still needs work; average CB; 6-4, 215

California prospect RHP Nick Mutz is a scout’s dream. Without an organized team to call his own, Mutz got himself noticed by throwing bullpens for teams on request. I lost track of him after he left Dakota State, but my old notes mentioned a Jason Motte comp that I think holds up pretty well. Memphis OF Drew Martinez is a nice little player who gives you exactly what you’d expect: defense, speed, and patience. He might not be the burner some teams want in the role of fifth outfielder/pinch runner, but his instincts, both in the outfield and on the bases, make me think he’d thrive in the role.

Memphis JR OF Drew Martinez (2011): outstanding CF defense; plus speed; below-average arm; no power; average at best bat; great base runner; FAVORITE; 5-10, 170 pounds; (392/445/469 – 25 BB/27 K – 20/30 SB – 260 AB)

College baseball fans have to be pretty pleased with the way the Angels whiffed on signing a quartet of interesting mid-round high school draftees. Boca Raton (FL) HS OF Domonic Jose (Round 15), Bell HS (TX) C Hunter Lockwood (Round 17), Tunkhannock Area HS (PA) OF Mike Papi (Round 30 and my 181st draft prospect), and West HS (WA) SS Erik Forgione (Round 33) all could emerge as single digit round selections in three years. Jose was a worthy gamble for a fifteenth rounder with a strong Stanford commitment; no harm in trying with the toolsy outfielder, but it is probably the best for all involved for him to head to school and work on his swing. Lockwood will head to Oklahoma and could step in right away by getting some at bats at first, designated hitter, and behind the plate. Offensively, he reminds me a bit of the fan he could be replacing at catcher (Tyler Ogle), but whether or not the direct catcher to catcher comparison can be made depends on Lockwood’s defense. Papi, who I consistently referred to as Matt for unexplained reasons prior to the draft, could be Virginia’s starting right fielder from day one. Forgione is ready for full-time shortstop duty defensively and could get the chance if the Washington coaching staff can live with the growing pains that will come as his bat develops.

No weaknesses in Lockwood’s game, just a really solid, well-rounded skill set.

Another player with a better than average shot at winding up in class this fall, Matt Papi’s solid across the board tool set could get him drafted early enough to keep him away from enrolling at Virginia. His best tool is an electric right arm, a true plus tool that helps the still raw defender compensate for his occasional defensive shortcomings.

One of my favorite sleepers from the Pacific Northwest, Forgione is a plus runner with great range and athleticism.

The Angels didn’t just fail when it came time to sign their mid-round high school prospects. They also dropped the ball on getting anything done with Florida RHP Greg Larson (Round 29) and Fresno State C Trent Garrison (Round 50). I’m inclined to give them a mulligan on these instances, as Larson made it known early on he wanted to head back to Florida and Garrison, one of the very last overall picks of the entire draft, was a really tough sign as he rehabbed from injury. Larson reminds me a great deal of recently promoted Phillies reliever and one-time fourteenth round pick Michael Schwimer. A good senior year could get him selected up in a similar draft range. Garrison, who I foolishly removed my personal board due to injury, is an elite defender with enough upside at the plate to shoot up draft boards with a healthy senior season. I actually give the Angels a lot of credit for staying with him this spring and taking a chance on him signing on.

Florida JR RHP Greg Larson (2011): 87-88, 90 peak FB; 81-82 SL with upside

Fresno State JR C Trent Garrison: solid defender; above-average arm

UC Riverside SS Trevor Hairgrove (Round 18) has a slick glove at short, but very limited upside with the bat. UC Irvine 3B Brian Hernandez (Round 27), as you can read from his pre-draft report below, is cut from a very similar cloth. With an intriguing hit tool and little else, Arizona State OF Andy Workman (Round 34) goes the other way. All three make for good organizational players. One college prospect from out west that I think can be more than an organizational player is Arizona C Jett Bandy (Round 31). I’m shocked that Bandy fell all the way to the 31st round and even more surprised to see he signed a contract. There’s no denying that Bandy’s stock took a nosedive in 2011, but it is highly unlikely that whatever skills he showed as a sophomore disappeared. In addition to his rough junior year, I think he lost some points with scouting departments because he is more of a well-rounded catcher who doesn’t wow in either the power or arm strength department. It may take some time and perhaps a few different organizations, but I’m not giving up hope of seeing Bandy emerge as a big league backstop somewhere down the line.

Last year I wrote: “he’s [Hernandez] your typical ‘whole is greater than the sum of his parts’ kind of prospect, with the upside of a big league bench bat if everything breaks right.” I stand by that today (some pop, some speed, some plate discipline), with one additional comment I’ll present straight from my notes: “PLUS fielder.” All caps means you know I’m serious. Hernandez can really pick it at third.

Arizona State JR OF Andy Workman (2011): best tool is hit tool; fantastic base runner; gap power, but could develop more; slightly below-average arm; LF future; good OF range; 6-2, 180 pounds

Hard to explain Bandy’s 2011 collapse, especially when you consider there has been no news of any down tick in his scouting reports. I’m not super concerned about the dip in production for that reason, but Bandy’s signability could become a question if he slips past the first five rounds as expected. He is still exactly the player I’d target past round ten. Even without knowing why he slipped so badly this year, I still think it is safe to say that he didn’t completely forget how to play baseball.

Eastern Illinois OF Zach Borenstein (Round 23) does everything well, but nothing in his scouting profile portends big things to come. As a lefty with some pop and a history of playing all over the iamond, he’ll get his chances. Southeastern Louisiana RHP Brandon Efferson (Round 37) was a favorite during his college days, but I never came away after watching him thinking that I just saw a big league caliber arm. He’s way more talented than I’d ever dream to be, of course, but with a lackluster fastball and a lack of quality secondary stuff I don’t see how he can successfully hang in pro ball.

Eastern Illinois JR OF Zach Borenstein: good speed; good power; leadoff profile; (353/438/575 – 26 BB/36 K – 12/15 SB – 207 AB)

Southeastern Louisiana SR RHP Brandon Efferson (2011): sits high-80s, 92 peak FB; good cutter; CB; CU

It wouldn’t be a fair and balanced evaluation if I didn’t mention the one late round overslot deal that could work out for the Angels. Hillsborough CC (FL) LHP Michael Johnson (Round 46) getting six figures was a surprise to many, this writer included. Nothing stands out in terms of Johnson’s junior college stats, stuff, or frame, but perhaps the Angels know something I don’t. A big summer for the Utica Brewers might have been what convinced Los Angeles to take the plunge.

Last and almost certainly least, we have the time honored baseball tradition of nepotism. Round 44 would have been preposterously early. Round 46 could have hurt his ego. Round 45 was just right. Notre Dame C Matt Scioscia (Round 45) joins the same organization as his father, but I hear there could be trouble brewing already. Seems Matt hasn’t taken to kindly to being the third wheel to Mike’s adopted son, Jeff Mathis.