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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Big 12

On Sheldon Neuse before the season…

Neuse could still fulfill the promise many (myself included) saw in him during his excellent freshman season back when he looked like a potential Gold Glove defender at third with the kind of bat you’d happily stick in the middle of the order. He could also get more of a look this spring on the mound where he can properly put his mid-90s heat and promising pair of secondary offerings (SL, CU) to use. Or he could have something of a repeat of his 2015 season leaving us unsure how good he really is and thinking of him more of a second to fifth round project (a super talented one, mind you) than a first round prospect.

So far, so good on the whole fulfilling that promise thing: Neuse has hit .383/.483/.692 through 32 games with 23 BB/26 and 8/9 SB. On the mound, he’s been just as good: 16 K in 16.2 IP of 1.62 ERA ball. He’s now firmly back on the first round bubble and one of this draft’s quintessential first round talents that might get squeezed out of the top thirty or so picks because of the impressive depth at the top of this class.

There are plenty of candidates to wind up as the second highest drafted position player from the Big 12 come June. Ryan Sluder seemed primed to turn a big corner in his draft year, but it hasn’t happened for him. He still has a classic right fielder tool set – legit plus raw power, above-average to plus arm strength, a potent speed/strength blend – but his overly aggressive approach, which for all the world looked to be improving last season, holds him back. Then there’s his teammate with the Cowboys, Donnie Walton. Walton is pretty much exactly what you’d expect out of the son of a coach: there’s nothing flashy to his game, but he ably fields his position, runs well, and can make just about all the throws from short. It might be a utility player profile more so than a future regular ceiling, but it’s relatively safe and well worth a top ten round pick.

A pair of catchers could also wind up at or near the top of the Big 12 hitter rankings by the end of the season. I really, really like Michael Tinsley, a highly athletic lefthanded bat with impressive wheels and solid pop. Tres Barrera’s ordinary start – his approach has taken a big step back – knocks him down from his clear perch in the two spot to closer to the middle of the pack. Despite seeing some time at third base this year for the Longhorns, I still like him behind the plate over the long haul. His above-average raw power keeps him in the top ten round mix despite the aforementioned backslide in approach.

Tyler Neslony, the top returning position player prospect in the conference per this very site (he peaked at third CJ Hinojosa and Ben Johnson last year), is hurt by the strong likelihood that he’ll be confined to the corners as a pro. I still like his power and plate discipline combination as a mid- to late-round senior sign. Scouts who saw a lot of him during his awesome sophomore season will likely give him more of the benefit of the doubt than those in the national media who consider going fifty deep with a draft list an exhausting task.

Elliott Barzilli is off to a scorching start. He’s a fine athlete and a versatile defender in the infield. He’s as much of a threat of any of these players to follow Neuse off the board. Cory Raley is another extremely athletic infielder who can play any spot on the diamond. Raley’s start has not been nearly as impressive as Barzilli’s, but his speed and pop are awfully intriguing. When it comes to straight draft intrigue, few players in this class can match Oklahoma outfielder Cody Thomas. With Thomas you’d essentially be drafting a high school player in terms of experience and present skill levels, but the upside is very real. Size, athleticism, power, arm strength, speed…if he can hit, a significant if, then he’s a potential monster.

Jake Scudder, Jack Flansburg, and Ryan Merrill all stand out as players who will see big jumps on the next (and final) version of these rankings. I’m looking forward to learning more about all three.

I love the Big 12 pitchers this year because I’m a guy talking to himself in front of a computer and not one of the thirty scouting directors charged with actually finding an arm from this conference you’d feel confident about taking commensurate with their talent. There’s uncertainty everywhere you turn. Alec Hansen, who remains the best pitching prospect in the conference despite a dreadful first half of the season, exemplifies the boom/bust nature of the Big 12’s pitching. In fact, it even goes beyond boom/bust; the conference is loaded with players with huge stuff but limited track records and little to no extended periods of success.

Mitchell Traver has yet to pitch in 2016. Garrett Williams has barely pitched. Same for Chandler Eden. Jake Elliott and Ryan Moseley have both drastically underperformed. You could argue that my rankings are nonsense – again, these are more about the larger body of work and long-term projection than two months’ worth of 2016 results – but the list from one to six goes bad, injured, injured, good (thank you, Trey Cobb), injured, and bad. All of these players have their merits, of course. Traver is up to 96 with serious sink and a plus low- to mid-80s slider. Williams is a four-pitch lefty with an outstanding curve and one of the more unusually effective hard changeups in the college game. Eden can be effectively wild when actually on the mound. His plus fastball (90-95, 97 peak) and above-average to plus breaking ball (with an average change that could help convince some teams that he’s a starter professionally) are good enough to make hitters very uncomfortable. I had some friends come into the season armed and ready with a Jake Elliott is the better long-term prospect than Alec Hansen take. That talk has quieted down as Elliott’s start has just about equaled Hansen’s…and not in a good way. His arm talent is still really impressive: 86-92 FB (94 peak), average 75-80 breaking ball, and a 77-80 change that borders on plus.

The disappointments at the top of this class have opened the door for a few solid yet unspectacular names to barge through. There’s something to be said for consistently productive pitchers, after all. Daniel Castano is a lefthander with size, some present velocity (87-92), and a pair of offspeed pitches (78-83 CU and 72-76 CB) that could be average or better pitches at the pro level. Thomas Hatch isn’t a lefthander and doesn’t have that size, but he possesses more fastball (88-94, up to 96) and a similarly impressive mix of offspeed stuff (78-82 CU, 77-82 SL, 85-88 cutter). Brian Howard is an impossibly long and lean man (6-9, 185) who pounds the strike zone with a solid fastball (87-92, 94 peak) and cut-slider (anywhere from 81-88, flashes plus when firmer) combination that gets on hitters quick. Morgan Cooper appears to have bounced back nicely from the Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season. He’s got the frame, command, and requisite three pitches (88-93 FB, low-70s CB that flashes plus, solid CU) to stick in a pro rotation.

Hitters

  1. Oklahoma JR 3B/RHP Sheldon Neuse
  2. Kansas JR C Michael Tinsley
  3. Oklahoma State JR OF Ryan Sluder
  4. Oklahoma State SR SS/2B Donnie Walton
  5. Texas JR C/3B Tres Barrera
  6. TCU JR 3B/SS Elliott Barzilli
  7. Texas Tech SR OF Tyler Neslony
  8. Texas Tech rJR SS/2B Cory Raley
  9. Texas Tech JR OF Stephen Smith
  10. Baylor JR OF Darryn Sheppard
  11. Kansas JR OF Joven Afenir
  12. Oklahoma JR OF Cody Thomas
  13. Texas Tech SR 1B Eric Gutierrez
  14. Oklahoma State JR 1B/OF Dustin Williams
  15. Texas rSO SS/3B Bret Boswell
  16. Baylor rJR C Matt Menard
  17. Baylor rSO OF/LHP Kameron Esthay
  18. Kansas State JR 1B Jake Scudder
  19. Oklahoma JR 2B/3B Jack Flansburg
  20. Kansas rJR 1B Marcus Wheeler
  21. TCU JR SS Ryan Merrill
  22. Kansas State SR SS Tyler Wolfe
  23. Kansas State SR C Tyler Moore
  24. Texas JR OF/3B Zane Gurwitz
  25. Kansas SR 2B/SS Colby Wright
  26. TCU SR OF Nolan Brown
  27. Oklahoma SR OF Hunter Haley
  28. Kansas rSR OF Joe Moroney
  29. Oklahoma State rSO 3B Andrew Rosa
  30. Baylor SR 2B/3B West Tunnell
  31. Baylor JR C/1B Aaron Dodson
  32. Texas JR 1B/RHP Kacy Clemens
  33. TCU SR OF Dane Steinhagen
  34. Texas Tech rJR C Kholeton Sanchez
  35. TCU JR 2B Mason Hesse
  36. Oklahoma State SR OF Corey Hassell
  37. Oklahoma JR C Renae Martinez
  38. TCU JR 3B/2B Cam Warner
  39. West Virginia JR 1B/RHP Jackson Cramer
  40. West Virginia rSR OF KC Huth
  41. Texas Tech JR OF Anthony Lyons
  42. Kansas SR 2B/SS Tommy Mirabelli
  43. Kansas State rJR 2B/SS Jake Wodtke
  44. Baylor SR 2B/SS Justin Arrington
  45. Kansas State rJR 3B/C Steve Serratore
  46. Oklahoma State SR 2B Kevin Bradley
  47. Kansas State SR OF Clayton Dalrymple
  48. Texas Tech SR C Tyler Floyd
  49. Kansas rSR OF Steve Goldstein

Pitchers

  1. Oklahoma JR RHP Alec Hansen
  2. TCU rJR RHP Mitchell Traver
  3. Oklahoma State JR LHP Garrett Williams
  4. Oklahoma State JR RHP Trey Cobb
  5. Texas Tech JR RHP Chandler Eden
  6. Oklahoma JR RHP Jake Elliott
  7. Baylor JR LHP Daniel Castano
  8. Oklahoma State JR RHP Thomas Hatch
  9. Texas Tech JR RHP Ryan Moseley
  10. Oklahoma State JR RHP Remey Reed
  11. TCU JR RHP Brian Howard
  12. Texas rSO RHP Morgan Cooper
  13. Oklahoma State JR RHP Tyler Buffett
  14. TCU rSO LHP Ryan Burnett
  15. Baylor JR RHP Drew Tolson
  16. TCU rJR RHP Brian Trieglaff
  17. Oklahoma State rSR RHP/OF Conor Costello
  18. TCU JR RHP Mitch Sewald
  19. TCU JR LHP Rex Hill
  20. Texas Tech JR LHP Ty Damron
  21. Oklahoma State SR RHP Michael Mertz
  22. West Virginia rSO RHP Nick Wernke
  23. West Virginia SR RHP Blake Smith
  24. Oklahoma State JR RHP Blake Battenfield
  25. West Virginia SR RHP Jeff Hardy
  26. Kansas JR RHP Sean Rackoski
  27. West Virginia JR RHP Chad Donato
  28. Texas Tech JR LHP Hayden Howard
  29. Texas SR LHP Ty Culbreth
  30. Texas JR LHP Josh Sawyer
  31. TCU SR RHP Preston Guillory
  32. Kansas State rJR RHP Colton Kalmus
  33. Kansas SR RHP Hayden Edwards
  34. Oklahoma SR RHP Keaton Hernandez
  35. Kansas State SR RHP Levi MaVorhis
  36. Texas Tech SR RHP Dalton Brown
  37. Texas Tech JR LHP Dylan Dusek
  38. Oklahoma State rSO LHP Matt Wilson
  39. Oklahoma JR LHP Austin Kerns
  40. Kansas State JR LHP Jordan Floyd
  41. Oklahoma State SR LHP Alex Hackerott
  42. Kansas rSO RHP Jon Hander
  43. Kansas JR RHP Stephen Villines
  44. West Virginia rSR LHP Ross Vance
  45. Texas JR LHP Jon Malmin
  46. Texas SR LHP Travis Duke
  47. Kansas State SR RHP Corey Fischer
  48. Kansas SR LHP Ben Krauth
  49. Kansas State rSR RHP Lucas Benenati

Baylor

JR LHP Daniel Castano (2016)
JR RHP Drew Tolson (2016)
JR RHP Nick Lewis (2016)
JR RHP Alex Phillips (2016)
rSO OF/LHP Kameron Esthay (2016)
SR 2B/3B West Tunnell (2016)
SR 2B/SS Justin Arrington (2016)
rJR C Matt Menard (2016)
rJR 3B Ben Carl (2016)
JR OF Darryn Sheppard (2016)
JR C/1B Aaron Dodson (2016)
rSO C/1B Cameron Miller (2016)
SO OF Levi Gilcrease (2017)
SO 3B Jonathan Ducoff (2017)
FR RHP Andrew McInvale (2018)
FR 2B Josh Bissonette (2018)

High Priority Follows: Daniel Castano, Drew Tolson, Kameron Esthay, West Tunnell, Justin Arrington, Matt Menard, Darryn Sheppard, Aaron Dodson, Cameron Miller

Kansas

JR RHP Sean Rackoski (2016)
SR RHP Hayden Edwards (2016)
SR LHP Ben Krauth (2016)
rSO RHP Jon Hander (2016)
JR RHP Stephen Villines (2016)
SR RHP Sam Gilbert (2016)
JR RHP Tyler Davis (2016)
JR OF Joven Afenir (2016)
rSR OF Joe Moroney (2016)
rSR OF Steve Goldstein (2016)
SR 2B/SS Colby Wright (2016)
SR 2B/SS Tommy Mirabelli (2016)
SR 1B/3B Ryan Pidhaichuk (2016)
rJR 1B Marcus Wheeler (2016)
JR C Michael Tinsley (2016)
SO LHP Blake Weiman (2017)
SO LHP Ryan Jackson (2017)
SO RHP Ryan Ralston (2017)
SO SS/3B Matt McLaughlin (2017)
SO 1B Owen Taylor (2017)
SO C TJ Martin (2017)
FR RHP Jackson Goddard (2018)
FR RHP Zach Leban (2018)
FR INF Ty Denzer (2018)
FR OF Devin Foyle (2018)
FR 3B David Kyriacou (2018)

High Priority Follows: Sean Rackoski, Hayden Edwards, Ben Krauth, Jon Hander, Stephen Villines, Joven Afenir, Joe Moroney, Steve Goldstein, Colby Wright, Tommy Mirabelli, Marcus Wheeler, Michael Tinsley

Kansas State

rSR RHP Lucas Benenati (2016)
rJR RHP Colton Kalmus (2016)
SR RHP Corey Fischer (2016)
SR RHP Levi MaVorhis (2016)
JR LHP Jordan Floyd (2016)
SR RHP Brandon Erickson (2016)
SR OF Clayton Dalrymple (2016)
rJR 2B/SS Jake Wodtke (2016)
SR SS Tyler Wolfe (2016)
JR 1B Jake Scudder (2016)
rJR 3B/C Steve Serratore (2016)
SR C Tyler Moore (2016)
SR OF Danny Krause (2016)
FR RHP John Boushelle (2018)
FR RHP Jacob Ruder (2018)
FR C Josh Rolette (2018)

High Priority Follows: Lucas Benenati, Colton Kalmus, Corey Fischer, Levi MaVorhis, Jordan Floyd, Clayton Dalrymple, Jake Wodtke, Tyler Wolfe, Jake Scudder, Steve Serratore, Tyler Moore

Oklahoma

JR RHP Alec Hansen (2016)
JR RHP Jake Elliott (2016)
SR RHP Keaton Hernandez (2016)
JR LHP Austin Kerns (2016)
JR 3B/RHP Sheldon Neuse (2016)
SR OF Hunter Haley (2016)
JR 1B Austin O’Brien (2016)
SR 1B/OF Alex Wise (2016)
JR C Renae Martinez (2016)
JR OF Cody Thomas (2016)
JR 2B/3B Jack Flansburg (2016)
SO 3B Quin Walbergh (2017)
SO 2B Kyle Mendenhall (2017)
FR RHP Jake Irvin (2018)
FR RHP Kyle Tyler (2018)
FR RHP Austin Hansen (2018)
FR RHP Connor Berry (2018)
FR RHP/1B Chris Andritsos (2018)
FR RHP/1B Ryan Madden (2018)
FR INF/RHP Thomas Hughes (2018)
FR C Domenic DeRenzo (2018)
FR OF Steele Walker (2018)
FR INF Cade Harris (2018)
FR 2B/SS Kyler Murray (2018)
FR C/OF Hunter Southerland (2018)

High Priority Follows: Alec Hansen, Jake Elliott, Keaton Hernandez, Austin Kerns, Sheldon Neuse, Hunter Haley, Renae Martinez, Cody Thomas, Jack Flansburg

Just five second year players and four in their last year of eligibility

Oklahoma State

rSR RHP/OF Conor Costello (2016)
JR RHP Remey Reed (2016)
JR LHP Garrett Williams (2016)
SR RHP Michael Mertz (2016)
JR RHP Tyler Buffett (2016)
JR RHP Trey Cobb (2016)
JR RHP Thomas Hatch (2016)
JR RHP Blake Battenfield (2016)
SR LHP Alex Hackerott (2016)
rSO LHP Matt Wilson (2016)
SR SS/2B Donnie Walton (2016)
JR OF Ryan Sluder (2016)
JR 1B/OF Dustin Williams (2016)
SR OF Corey Hassell (2016)
SR 2B Kevin Bradley (2016)
JR 2B JR Davis (2016)
JR C Collin Theroux (2016)
SR 3B/2B David Petrino (2016)
rSO 3B Andrew Rosa (2016)
SO LHP/OF Garrett McCain (2017)
SO 3B/1B Garrett Benge (2017)
SO SS/2B Jacob Chappell (2017)
SO OF Jon Littell (2017)
SO 1B Mason O’Brien (2017)
FR RHP Jensen Elliott (2018)
FR RHP Ben Leeper (2018)
FR C Collin Simpson (2018)

High Priority Follows: Conor Costello, Remey Reed, Garrett Williams, Michael Mertz, Tyler Buffett, Trey Cobb, Thomas Hatch, Blake Battenfield, Alex Hackerott, Matt Wilson, Donnie Walton, Ryan Sluder, Dustin Williams, Corey Hassell, Kevin Bradley, Collin Theroux, David Petrino, Andrew Rosa

Texas Christian

rJR RHP Mitchell Traver (2016)
JR RHP Brian Howard (2016)
rSO LHP Ryan Burnett (2016)
SR RHP Preston Guillory (2016)
rJR RHP Brian Trieglaff (2016)
JR RHP Mitch Sewald (2016)
JR LHP Rex Hill (2016)
SR OF Dane Steinhagen (2016)
SR OF Nolan Brown (2016)
JR 3B/SS Elliott Barzilli (2016)
JR 3B/2B Cam Warner (2016)
JR 2B Mason Hesse (2016)
JR SS Ryan Merrill (2016)
SO 1B/OF Connor Wanhanen (2017)
SO C Evan Skoug (2017)
SO C Zack Plunkett (2017)
FR RHP/1B Luken Baker (2018)
FR RHP Devon Roedahl (2018)
FR RHP Sean Wymer (2018)
FR RHP Dalton Brown (2018)
FR LHP Dalton Horton (2018)
FR C/RHP Durbin Feltman (2018)
FR OF Ryan Johnson (2018)
FR OF Joshua Watson (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mitchell Traver, Brian Howard, Ryan Burnett, Preston Guillory, Brian Trieglaff, Mitch Sewald, Rex Hill, Dane Steinhagen, Nolan Brown, Elliott Barzilli, Cam Warner, Mason Hesse, Ryan Merrill

Texas

rSO RHP Morgan Cooper (2016)
JR LHP Josh Sawyer (2016)
SR LHP Ty Culbreth (2016)
SR LHP Travis Duke (2016)
JR LHP Jon Malmin (2016)
JR 1B/RHP Kacy Clemens (2016)
JR C/3B Tres Barrera (2016)
rSO SS/3B Bret Boswell (2016)
JR OF/3B Zane Gurwitz (2016)
SO RHP Kyle Johnston (2017)
SO RHP Connor Mayes (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Schimpf (2017)
SO RHP Jake McKenzie (2017)
rFR RHP Parker Joe Robinson (2017)
FR LHP Nick Kennedy (2017)
SO C Michael Cantu (2017)
SO OF Patrick Mathis (2017)
SO 2B/SS Joe Baker (2017)
SO SS/3B Travis Jones (2017)
rFR OF Kaleb Denny (2017)
FR RHP Nolan Kingham (2018)
FR RHP Beau Ridgeway (2018)
FR RHP/OF Chase Shugart (2018)
FR LHP James Nittoli (2018):
FR RHP Blake Wellmann (2018):
FR 3B/2B Kody Clemens (2018)
FR OF Tyler Rand (2018)
FR 3B Matt Schmidt (2018)
FR OF Brady Harlan (2018)

High Priority Follows: Morgan Cooper, Josh Sawyer, Ty Culbreth, Travis Duke, Jon Malmin, Kacy Clemens, Tres Barrera, Bret Boswell, Zane Gurwitz

Texas Tech

JR RHP Chandler Eden (2016)
JR RHP Ryan Moseley (2016)
JR LHP Dylan Dusek (2016)
JR LHP Ty Damron (2016)
JR RHP Sean Thompson (2016)
JR LHP Hayden Howard (2016)
SR RHP Dalton Brown (2016)
SR OF Tyler Neslony (2016)
SR 1B Eric Gutierrez (2016)
SR OF Zach Davis (2016)
SR C Tyler Floyd (2016)
rJR SS/2B Cory Raley (2016)
rJR C Kholeton Sanchez (2016)
JR 3B Ryan Long (2016)
JR OF Stephen Smith (2016)
JR OF Hunter Hargrove (2016)
JR OF Anthony Lyons (2016)
SO LHP Jacob Patterson (2017)
SO RHP/OF Pat Mahomes (2017)
SO LHP/1B Parker Mushinski (2017)
SO SS/OF Tanner Gardner (2017)
SO SS Orlando Garcia (2017)
SO 2B Michael Davis (2017)
FR LHP Erikson Lanning (2018)
FR RHP Davis Martin (2018)
FR RHP Ty Harpeneau (2018)
FR RHP Ryan Shetter (2018)
FR LHP Steven Gingery (2018)
FR OF Cody Farhat (2018)
FR 2B/SS Trey Ochoa (2018)

High Priority Follows: Chandler Eden, Ryan Moseley, Dylan Dusek, Ty Damron, Hayden Howard, Dalton Brown, Tyler Neslony, Eric Gutierrez, Tyler Floyd, Cory Raley, Kholeton Sanchez, Stephen Smith, Hunter Hargrove, Anthony Lyons

West Virginia

rSO RHP Nick Wernke (2016)
SR RHP Blake Smith (2016)
rSR LHP Ross Vance (2016)
SR RHP Jeff Hardy (2016)
JR RHP Chad Donato (2016)
rSR OF KC Huth (2016)
rSO 2B Shaun Corso (2016)
JR 1B/RHP Jackson Cramer (2016)
SO RHP BJ Myers (2017)
SO RHP Conner Dotson (2017)
SO RHP Shane Ennis (2017)
SO 3B/OF Kyle Davis (2017)
SO OF Caleb Potter (2017)
FR RHP Braden Zarbnisky (2018)
FR RHP Tanner Campbell (2018)
FR RHP Michael Grove (2018)
FR 2B Cole Austin (2018)
FR C Ivan Vera (2018)

High Priority Follows: Nick Wernke, Blake Smith, Ross Vance, Jeff Hardy, Chad Donato, KC Huth, Shaun Corso, Jackson Cramer

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2016 MLB Draft Preview – College Prospects

I don’t typically get into rankings this early in the process because doing it the right way as a research/writing staff of one takes me literally hundreds of hours. Realistically putting together what I feel is representative of my better stuff just hasn’t been possible in the past unless I pushed other micro baseball projects — for the site and elsewhere — aside and instead looked took the time to cover a nation’s worth of prospects on the macro level. Having a draft site that spends more time on players on the fringes who may or may not wind up drafted at all while failing to address the prospects at the top of the food chain seems a bit silly, so I’m trying to balance things out a little bit better this year. There will still be lots of the usual draft minutiae I enjoy so much, but a rededicated focus on the draft’s first day just makes sense. With all of this in mind I put other baseball duties on hold for the last ten or so days to put this list together. It’s imperfect, but I like it as a starting point. Some notes on what you’ll see below…

*** I didn’t include any non-D1 players at this point because I haven’t yet had the time to go as deep into other levels of competition and junior college ball just yet. Nick Shumpert would have made the top fifty for sure. Lucas Erceg likely would have been considered.  After a quick skim of my notes, I’d say Kep Brown, Tekwaan Whyte, Ryan January, Ethan Skender, Liam Scafariello, Jesus Gamez, Curtis Taylor, Willie Rios, Shane Billings, Brett Morales, Hunter Tackett, Devin Smeltzer, and Tyson Miller would be just a few of the names also in the mix for me right now. I said it a lot last year, but it bears repeating: I’d love to find the time/energy to go deeper with non-D1 baseball this year. The finite number of hours I have to devote to this site might get in the way, but I’m going to try.

*** This is going to sound bad and I apologize in advance, but I don’t believe I left anybody off that I intended to include. It’s possible, of course, but I don’t think that’s the case here. A ton of really, really good prospects, many of whom will be future big league players, didn’t make the cut as of yet. It’s not personal, obviously. I would have loved to include any player that even remotely interested me, but I had to have a cut-off point somewhere. If you think I whiffed on somebody, I’m happy to listen. Reasonable minds can disagree.

*** There is no consensus top player in this college class. The hitter at the top could wind up out of the first round by June. The top pitcher listed has medical red flags reminiscent of Michael Matuella last season. And — SPOILER ALERT — the top overall player in this class isn’t included on the list below. There are players ranked in the twenties that may be in your top five and there are players in the thirties that may not crack somebody else’s top seventy-five. It’s a fun year that way.

*** If I had to predict what player will actually go number one this June, I’d piggy-back on what others have already said and put my vote in for AJ Puk. The Phillies are my hometown team and while I’m not as well-connected to their thinking as I am with a few other teams, based on the snippets of behind the scenes things I’ve heard (not much considering it’s October, but it’s not like they aren’t thinking about it yet) and the common sense reporting elsewhere (they lean towards a quick-moving college player, preferably a pitcher) all point to Puk. He’s healthy, a good kid (harmless crane climbing incident aside), and a starting pitcher all the way. Puk joining Alfaro, Knapp, Crawford, Franco, Williams, Quinn, Herrera, Altherr, Nola, Thompson, Eickhoff, Eflin, and Giles by September 2017 makes for a pretty intriguing cost-controlled core.

*** The words that go along with the rankings are a bit more positive than what long-time readers might be used to. My early take is that this appears to be an above-average draft, but a friend who saw an early draft (no pun intended) of this told me that 2016 must be an incredibly talented group of amateurs. He said that reading through led him to believe that every pitcher is a future big league starter and every hitter is a future above-average regular. Guilty. I admit that I generally skew positive at this site (elsewhere…not so much) because I like baseball, enjoy focusing on what young players do well, and believe highlighting the good can help grow the college game, but being fair is always the ultimate goal. That said, there will be plenty of time to get deeper into each prospect’s individual strengths and weaknesses over the next seven or so months. In October a little extra dose of positivity is nice.

With no further ado, here are the 2016 MLB Draft’s top fifty prospects (with a whole lot more names to know beyond that)…

(Fine, just a bit more ado: A very rough HS list and maybe a combined overall ranking will come after Jupiter…)

  1. Mercer JR OF Kyle Lewis

The popular comp for Lewis has been Alfonso Soriano (originated at D1 Baseball, I believe), but I see more of Yasiel Puig in his game. He’s an honest five-tool player with a rapidly improving approach at the plate. There’s still some roughness around the edges there, but if it clicks then he’s a monster. There’s obvious risk in the profile, but it’s easy to be excited by somebody who legitimately gets better with every watch.

  1. Oklahoma JR RHP Alec Hansen

Hansen would rank first overall (college, not overall) if not for some recent reports of forearm troubles. His injury history probably should have been enough to temper enthusiasm for his nasty stuff (huge FB and chance for two plus offspeed pitches), but the upside is just that exciting. The popular Gerrit Cole makes sense as Hansen is a big guy (6-7, 235) with outstanding athleticism who holds his plus velocity late into games.

  1. Florida JR OF Buddy Reed

Reed’s relative newness to playing the game full-time makes his already considerable upside all the more intriguing. More reps against quality pitching could turn the dynamic center fielder (plus range, plus speed, plus arm) into the top overall pick.

  1. Oregon rSO LHP Matt Krook

This may be a touch more speculative that some of the other names on the list since Krook missed the 2015 season after Tommy John surgery, but I’m buying all the Krook shares I can right now. He came back and impressed on the Cape enough to warrant consideration as a potential 1-1 riser. There’s no squaring up his fastball and there’s more than enough offspeed (CB and CU) to miss bats (12 K/9 in 45 freshman innings). He’s not as physical as AJ Puk, but the more advanced secondaries give him the edge for now.

  1. Florida JR LHP/1B AJ Puk

Extension, deception, and power would be three words that come immediately to mind when describing Puk. He’s every bit of 6-7, 225 with a delivery that hides the ball damn well. His power comes both with his left arm (92-96, 98 peak) and at the plate (he’d quickly be among the better hitting pitchers in the game), so it’s no big shock that some guy on the internet (that’s me) sees some similarities between him and the prospect version of Madison Bumgarner.

  1. Wake Forest JR 1B/RHP Will Craig

Do you like power? How about patience? What about a guy with power, patience, and the athleticism to pull off collegiate two-way duty? For everybody who missed on AJ Reed the first time around, Will Craig is here to give you a second chance. I won’t say he’ll be the first base prospect that finally tests how high a first base prospect can go in a post-PED draft landscape, but if he has a big enough junior season…

  1. Louisville JR OF Corey Ray

If you prefer Ray to Lewis and Reed, you’re not wrong. They are all different flavors of a similar overall quality. Like those guys, Ray can do enough of everything well on the diamond to earn the much coveted label of “five-tool player.” The most enthusiastic comp I got from him was a “more compact Kirk Gibson.” That’s a thinker.

  1. Arkansas JR RHP Zach Jackson

We’ll know a lot more about Buddy Reed (and other SEC hitters) by June after he runs the gauntlet of SEC pitching. In addition to teammate AJ Puk, I’ve got three other SEC arms with realistic top ten draft hopes. Jackson’s chance for rising up to the 1-1 discussion depends almost entirely on his delivery and command. If those two things can be smoothed out this spring — they often go hand-in-hand — then his fastball (90-94, 96 peak), curve (deadly), and change (inconsistent but very promising) make him a potential top of the rotation starting pitcher.

  1. Georgia JR RHP Robert Tyler

Just about everything said about Jackson can be said about Tyler. The Georgia righthander has the bigger fastball (90-96, 100 peak) and his two offspeed pitches are flip-flopped (love the change, still tinkering with his spike curve), so getting his delivery worked out enough to convince onlookers that he can hold up over 30 plus starts a year could make him the first college arm off the board.

  1. Mississippi State JR RHP Dakota Hudson

Hudson is the biggest mystery man out of the SEC Four Horsemen (TM pending…with apologies to all the Vandy guys and Kyle Serrano) because buying on him is buying a largely untested college reliever (so far) with control red flags and a limited overall track record. Those are all fair reasons to doubt him right now, but when Hudson has it working there are few pitchers who look more dominant. His easy plus 86-92 cut-slider is right up there with Jackson’s curve as one of the best breaking balls in the entire class.

  1. Tennessee JR 2B/3B Nick Senzel

Arguably the safest of this year’s potential first round college bats, Senzel has electric bat speed, a patient approach, and as good a hit tool as any player listed. His defensive gifts are almost on that same level and his power upside separates him from the rest of what looks like a pretty intriguing overall college group of second basemen.

  1. Notre Dame JR 2B/3B Cavan Biggio

Without having seen every Notre Dame game the past two years — I’m good, but not that good — one might be confused as to how a player with Biggio’s pedigree and collection of scouting accolades (“line drive machine; born to hit; great pitch recognition; great approach, patient and aggressive all at once”…and that’s just what has been written here) could hit .250ish through two college seasons. I say we all agree to chalk it up to bad BABIP luck and eagerly anticipate a monster junior season that puts him squarely back in the first round mix where he belongs.

  1. Nebraska JR OF Ryan Boldt

World Wide Wes said it best: “You can’t chase the night.” Of course that doesn’t stop me from trying to chase missed players from previous draft classes. Nobody was talking about Andrew Benintendi last year at this time — in part because of the confusion that comes with draft-eligible true sophomores, but still — so attempting to get a head-start on the “next Benintendi” seems like a thing to do. As a well-rounded center fielder with a sweet swing and impressive plate coverage, Boldt could be that guy.

  1. Vanderbilt JR OF/1B Bryan Reynolds

CTRL C “Ryan Boldt paragraph”, CTRL V “Ryan Boldt paragraph.” Reynolds also reminds me somewhat of Kyle Lewis in the way that both guys have rapidly improved their plate discipline in ways that haven’t yet shown up consistently on the stat sheet. If or when it does, Reynolds could join Lewis as a potential future impact big league outfielder.

  1. Virginia JR RHP Connor Jones

Jones, the number one guy on a list designed to serve the same purpose as the one created over seven months ago, hasn’t actually done anything to slip this far down the board; competition at the top this year is just that fierce. I like guys with fastballs that move every which way but straight, so Jones’s future looks bright from here. His mid-80s splitter has looked so good at times that he’s gotten one of my all-time favorite cross-culture comps: Masahiro Tanaka.

  1. Stanford JR RHP Cal Quantrill

A case could be made that Quantrill is the most complete, pro-ready college arm in this year’s class. The fact that one could make that claim even after losing almost an entire season of development speaks to the kind of mature talent we’re talking about. Pitchability is a nebulous thing that isn’t easy to pin down, but you know it when you see it. Quantrill has it. He also has a plus changeup and a fastball with serious giddy-up.

  1. Virginia JR C Matt Thaiss

Comps aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I’ve always defended them because they provide the needed frame of reference for prospects to gain some modicum of public recognition and leap past the indignity of being known only as soulless, nameless abstract ideas on a page until they have the good fortune of reaching the big leagues. Matt Thaiss played HS ball not too far off from where I live, so I saw him a few times before he packed things up and headed south to Virginia. I never could find the words to describe him just right to friends who were curious as to why I’d drive over an hour after work to see a random high school hitter. It wasn’t until Baseball America dropped a Brian McCann comp on him that they began to understand. You can talk about his power upside, mature approach, and playable defense all you want, but there’s something extra that crystallizes in your mind when a player everybody knows enters the conversation. Nobody with any sense expects Thaiss to have a carbon copy of McCann’s excellent professional career, but the comp gives you some general idea of what style of player is being discussed.

  1. Clemson JR C Chris Okey

Okey doesn’t have quite the same thunder in his bat as Thaiss, but his strong hands, agile movements behind the plate, and average or better arm give him enough ammo to be in the mix for first college catching off the board. The days of the big, strong-armed, plus power, and questionable contact catcher seem to be dwindling as more and more teams appear willing to go back to placing athleticism atop their list of desired attributes for young catching prospects. Hard to say that’s wrong based on where today’s speed and defense style of game looks like it’s heading.

  1. California JR RHP Daulton Jefferies

To have Jefferies, maybe my favorite draft-eligible college pitcher to watch, this low says way more about the quality at the top of this year’s class then his long-term pro ability. Jefferies brings three potential above-average to plus pitches to the mound on any given night. I like the D1 Baseball comparison to Walker Buehler, last year’s 24th overall pick. Getting Jefferies in a similar spot this year would be something to be excited about.

  1. LSU JR OF Jake Fraley

In a class with potential superstars like Lewis, Reed, and Ray roaming outfields at the top, it would be easy to overlook Fraley, a tooled-up center fielder with lightning in his wrists, an unusually balanced swing, and the patient approach of a future leadoff hitter. Do so at your own discretion. Since I started the site in 2009 there’s been at least one LSU outfielder drafted every year. That includes five top-three round picks (Mitchell, Landry, Mahtook, Jones, and Stevenson) in seven classes. Outfielder U seems poised to keep the overall streak alive and make the top three round run a cool six out of eight in 2016.

  1. Vanderbilt rSO RHP Jordan Sheffield

It’s a lazy comp, sure, but the possibility that Sheffield could wind up as this year’s Dillon Tate has stuck with me for almost a full calendar year. He’s undersized yet athletic and well-built enough to handle a starter’s workload, plus he has the three pitches (FB, CU, CB) to get past lineups multiple times. If his two average-ish offspeed that flash above-average to plus can more consistently get there, he’s a potential top ten guy no matter his height.

  1. Wright State JR C Sean Murphy

Watching Murphy do his thing behind the plate is worth the price of admission alone. We’re talking “Queen Bee” level arm strength, ample lateral quicks on balls in the dirt, and dependable hands with an ever-improving ability to frame borderline pitches. He’s second in the class behind Jake Rogers defensively — not just as a catcher, but arguably at any position — but with enough bat (unlike Rogers) to project as a potential above-average all-around regular in time. I expect the battle for top college catching prospect to be closely contested all year with Thaiss, Okey, and Murphy all taking turns atop team-specific draft boards all spring long.

  1. Texas A&M JR OF Nick Banks

If you’ve ever wondered what the right field prototype looked liked, take a gander at the star outfielder in College Station. The combination of speed, strength, power, and one of the country’s most accurate and formidable outfield arms make taking the chance on him continuing to figure things out as a hitter well worth a potential first round pick.

  1. Tennessee JR RHP Kyle Serrano

Serrano is the second guy on this list that reminds me of Walker Buehler from last year, though I still like my own Jarrod Parker comp best. He’s transitioned into more of a sinker/slider pitcher as he’s refined his breaking ball and lost some feel for his change over the years, but as a firm believer in the idea that once you have a skill you own it forever I remain intrigued as to how good he could be once he learns to effectively harness his changeup once again.

  1. Kentucky JR 2B/OF JaVon Shelby

In yet another weird example of an odd comp that I haven’t been able to shake all year, there’s something about JaVon Shelby’s game that takes me back to watching Ian Happ at Cincinnati. Maybe the offensive game isn’t as far along at similar developmental points, but Shelby’s odds at sticking in the dirt have always been higher.

  1. Miami JR 1B/C Zack Collins

If I had more confidence that Collins could play regularly behind the plate at the highest level, he’s shoot up the board ten spots (minimum) in a hurry. He’s a fastball-hunting power-hitting force of nature at the plate with the potential for the kind of prodigious home run blasts that make Twitter lose control of its collective mind. I stand by the Travis Hafner ceiling comp from last December.

  1. Arizona JR 3B Bobby Dalbec

The good popular comp here is Troy Glaus. The less good comp that I’ve heard is Chris Dominguez. The truth, as it so often does, will likely fall in the middle somewhere.

  1. Georgia JR OF Stephen Wrenn

Wrenn is a burner who has looked good enough in center field at times that you wonder if he could handle all three outfield spots by himself at the same time. He’s an athletic outfielder who remains raw at the plate despite two years of regular playing time — making him seemingly one of forty-five of the type in this year’s top fifty — so you’re gambling on skills catching up to the tools. The fact that his glove alone will get him to the big leagues mitigates some of the risk with his bat.

  1. Winthrop JR LHP Matt Crohan

Premium fastball velocity from the left side is always a welcomed sight. Crohan can get it up to the upper-90s (sits 90-94) with a pair of worthwhile offspeed pitches (mid-80s cut-slider and a slowly improving change). He’s got the size, command, and smarts to pitch in a big league rotation for a long time.

  1. Louisville SR RHP Kyle Funkhouser

Much electronic ink was spilled on Funkhouser last season, so I’ll be brief: he’s good. It’s unclear how good — I’d say more mid-rotation than ace, but reasonable minds may disagree — but he’s good. Of the many comps I threw out for him last year my favorite remains Jordan Zimmermann. If he can up his command and control game like Zimmermann, then he could hit that mid-rotation ceiling and keep pushing upwards.

  1. Louisville JR RHP Zack Burdi

Of all the rankings outside of the top ten, this is the one that could make me look dumbest by June. Burdi is a really tough evaluation for him right now because even after multiple years of being on the prospect stage it’s unclear (to me, at least) what role will eventually lead to him maximizing his ability. I’m reticent to throw him in the bullpen right away — many do this because of his last name, I think — because he’s shown the kind of diversity of stuff to stay in a rotation. Whether or not he has the command or consistency remain to be seen. Still, those concerns aren’t all that concerning when your fallback plan means getting to go full-tilt in the bullpen as you unleash a triple-digit fastball on hitters also guarding against two impressive offspeed pitches (CU, SL). It’s almost a win-win for scouting directors at this point. If he has a great spring, then you can believe him in as a starter long-term and grade him accordingly. If there’s still doubt, then you can drop him some but keep a close eye on his slip while being ready to pounce if he falls outside of those first few “don’t screw up or you’re fired” picks. You don’t want to spend a premium pick on a potential reliever, clearly, but if he falls outside of the top twenty picks or so then all of a sudden that backup bullpen plan is good enough to return value on your investment.

  1. Samford JR OF Heath Quinn

Just what this class needed: another outfielder loaded with tools that comes with some question marks about the utility of his big-time power because he’s still learning how to hit against serious pitching.

  1. Miami JR OF Willie Abreu

Nick Banks gets a lot of deserved attention for being a potential early first round pick — somebody even once called him the “right field prototype,” if you can believe it — but Willie Abreu’s tool set is on the same shelf. There’s power, mobility, arm strength, and athleticism to profile as a damn fine regular if it all clicks.

  1. TCU rJR RHP Mitchell Traver

Traver was featured plenty on this site last year as a redshirt-sophomore, so that gives me the chance to rehash the three fun comps I’ve gotten for him over the years: Gil Meche, Nick Masset, and Dustin McGowan. Based on years of doing this — so, entirely anecdotal evidence and not hard data — I’ve found that bigger pitchers (say, 6-6 or taller) have an equal (if not higher) bust rate when compared to the smaller guys (6-0ish) that are typically associated with being higher risk. There are always exceptions and years of scouting biases has created a flawed sample to choose from, but pitching seems like a chore best done for smaller bodies that are easier to consistently contort into the kind of unnatural throwing motions needed to withstand chucking balls 90+ MPH over and over and over again. Maintaining body control, tempo, and command at a certain size can be done, but it sure as heck isn’t easy. Like almost everybody, I see a big pitcher and get excited because with size also often comes velocity, extension, and the intangible intimidation factor. Maybe it’s time to start balancing that excitement with some of the known risks that come with oversized pitchers.

  1. Maryland JR RHP Mike Shawaryn

A long draft season could change this, but Shawaryn looks all the world to be a rock solid bet to wind up a mid-rotation big league starting pitcher. Never a star, but consistently useful for years going forward.

  1. Louisiana JR RHP Reagan Bazar

Bazar is one of the bigger gambles to grace this list. He hasn’t done enough yet at Louisiana to warrant such a placement, but when he’s feeling it his stuff (mid- to upper-90s FB, promising low-80s SL) can suffocate even good hitting. Yes, I realize ranking the 6-7, 250+ pound righthander this high undermines a lot of what I said directly above. I’ll always be a sucker for big velocity and Bazar hitting 100+ certainly qualifies.

  1. Rice rSO RHP Jon Duplantier

Athleticism, projection, and wildness currently define Duplantier as a prospect. Key elements or not, those facets of his game shouldn’t obfuscate how strong his big league starter stuff is. That’s a mixed bag of qualities, but there’s clearly more good than bad when it comes to his future.

  1. San Diego SO 2B/SS Bryson Brigman

Middle infielders are always a need for big league clubs, so it only makes sense that the better ones at the amateur level get pushed up ahead of where you might want to first slot them in when simply breaking down tools. The extra credit for Brigman’s smooth fielding action is deserved, as is the acclaim he gets for his mature approach and sneaky pop.

  1. Vanderbilt JR LHP John Kilichowski

Vanderbilt pumps out so much quality pitching that it’s almost boring to discuss their latest and greatest. Kilichowski (and Sheffield and Bowden and Stone) find themselves sandwiched between last year’s special group of arms and a freshman class that includes Donny Everett and Chandler Day. The big lefty has impeccable control, easy velocity (86-92, 94 peak), and the exact assortment of offspeed pitches (CB, SL, and CU, all average or better) needed to keep hitters off-balance in any count. It’s not ace-type stuff, but it’s the kind of overall package that can do damage in the middle of a rotation for a long time.

  1. Oklahoma State JR LHP Garrett Williams

The scene on Friday night for the Hansen/Williams matchup is going to be something special for college ball. Scouts in attendance will likewise be pretty pleased that they can do some one-stop shopping for not only a potential 1-1 guy in Hansen but also a real threat to wind up in the first round in Williams. Continued maturation of Williams’s curve (a weapon already), change (getting there), and control (work in progress) could get him there.

  1. Nevada JR OF/LHP Trenton Brooks

Brooks is a two-way athlete good enough to play center field or keep progressing as a lefthanded reliever with a plus approach and an all-out style of play. How can you not like a guy like that?

  1. Coastal Carolina JR SS/2B Michael Paez

Our first college shortstop, finally. Paez hasn’t yet gotten a lot of national prospect love that I know of, but he’s deserving. He can hit, run, and sneak the occasional ball over the fence all while being steady enough in the field that I don’t know why you’d have to move him off of shortstop. I wouldn’t quite call it a comp, but my appreciate for Paez resembles what I felt about Blake Trahan in last year’s draft.

  1. Oklahoma JR 3B/RHP Sheldon Neuse

Neuse could still fulfill the promise many (myself included) saw in him during his excellent freshman season back when he looked like a potential Gold Glove defender at third with the kind of bat you’d happily stick in the middle of the order. He could also get more of a look this spring on the mound where he can properly put his mid-90s heat and promising pair of secondary offerings (SL, CU) to use. Or he could have something of a repeat of his 2015 season leaving us unsure how good he really is and thinking of him more of a second to fifth round project (a super talented one, mind you) than a first round prospect.

  1. Wake Forest JR 2B/OF Nate Mondou

Second basemen with power, feel for hitting, and an idea at the plate are damn useful players. The comp I got a few weeks ago on Mondou is about as topical as it gets: Daniel Murphy.

  1. Kent State JR LHP Eric Lauer

I loved Andrew Chafin as a prospect. Everybody who has been around the Kent State program for a while that I’ve talked to agree that Lauer is better. I can see it: he’s more athletic, has better fastball command, and comes with a cleaner medical history.

  1. Florida JR 1B Pete Alonso

The Gators have so much talent that it’s inevitable that even a top guy or three can lay claim to getting overlooked by the national media. Alonso, with plus bat speed and power to match, is that guy for me. The burgeoning plate discipline is the cherry on top. I’m not in the national media, but maybe I’ll look back and see how I overlooked him as he rises up boards next spring.

  1. Duke JR RHP Bailey Clark

Poised for a big potential rise in 2016, Clark has the kind of stuff that blows you away on his best days and leaves you wanting more on his not so best days. I think he puts it all together this year and makes this ranking look foolish by June.

  1. Louisville JR 2B/OF Nick Solak

The day you find me unwilling to champion a natural born hitter with a preternatural sense of the strike zone is the day I hang up the keyboard. Solak is a tough guy to project because so much of his value is tied up in his bat, but if he build on an already impressive first two seasons at Louisville in 2016 then he might just hit his way into the draft’s top two rounds.

  1. Ohio State JR OF Ronnie Dawson

You could say this about almost any of this year’s upper-echelon of college outfielders, but I saved it specifically for Ronnie Dawson: he’s a big-time prospect from the minute you spot him getting off the bus. He looks more like a baseball destroying cyborg sent from the past to right the wrongs of his fallen brothers who fell victim to offspeed pitches and high fastballs on the regular. Few of his peers can quite match him when it comes to his athleticism, hand-eye coordination, and sheer physical strength. As a member of this year’s college outfield class, however, he’s not immune from having to deal with the open question as to whether or not he can curb his overly aggressive approach at the plate enough to best utilize his raw talents.

  1. Kentucky SR RHP Kyle Cody

As an outsider with no knowledge of how Cody’s negotiations with Minnesota actually went down, I’m still surprised that a fair deal for both sides couldn’t be reached last summer. The big righthander (here we go again…) is what we thought he was: big, righthanded, erratic with his command, and an absolute handful for the opposition when his three pitches (mid-90s FB, average 76-82 kCB that flashes plus, hard CU with average upside) are working. There are no real surprises left in his amateur development, so the leap to the pro game seemed inevitable. Maybe he’s got a trick or two up his sleeve yet…

*****

Best of the rest position players…

  • Austin Peay JR SS/3B Logan Gray
  • College of Charleston JR OF/SS Bradley Jones
  • Oklahoma State JR OF Ryan Sluder
  • Ohio State JR OF Troy Montgomery
  • Virginia JR SS/3B Daniel Pinero
  • Vanderbilt SO 3B/SS Will Toffey
  • Auburn JR OF Anfernee Grier
  • Tulane JR SS Stephen Alemais
  • NC State JR C/3B Andrew Knizner
  • Pacific SR OF Giovanni Brusa
  • Hawaii JR 2B Josh Rojas
  • Wisconsin-Milwaukee rJR SS/3B Eric Solberg
  • Murray State JR C Tyler Lawrence
  • Miami JR OF Jacob Heyward
  • Louisville rSO 3B/SS Blake Tiberi
  • Florida State JR OF/SS Ben DeLuzio
  • Illinois SR C Jason Goldstein
  • Texas JR C Tres Barrera
  • Oregon State JR SS Trevor Morrison
  • Missouri JR SS/3B Ryan Howard
  • Mississippi State rSO OF Brent Rooker
  • Stony Brook JR OF Toby Handley
  • Virginia Commonwealth JR OF/2B Logan Farrar
  • Belmont JR SS Tyler Walsh
  • Southern Mississippi SR 1B Tim Lynch
  • Old Dominion JR SS/OF Nick Walker
  • Maryland JR C/1B Nick Cieri
  • Coastal Carolina SO OF Dalton Ewing
  • St. John’s JR OF Michael Donadio
  • Stanford JR SS/2B Tommy Edman
  • Arizona State JR SS/2B Colby Woodmansee
  • Tulane JR C Jake Rogers
  • Texas A&M JR 2B/OF Ryne Birk
  • Mercer JR C Charlie Madden
  • Saint Louis SR 3B Braxton Martinez
  • UC Santa Barbara rJR OF Andrew Calica
  • South Alabama rJR OF/LHP Cole Billingsley
  • USC JR C/1B Jeremy Martinez
  • Texas State JR OF/1B Granger Studdard
  • Bradley JR 3B Spencer Gaa
  • Long Beach State JR SS/2B Garrett Hampson
  • Gonzaga SR 1B/RHP Taylor Jones
  • NC State JR 1B Preston Palmeiro
  • Mississippi State rJR OF Jacob Robson
  • Jacksonville JR OF Austin Hays
  • Louisiana Tech rSR SS/2B Taylor Love
  • Oral Roberts JR C Brent Williams
  • Southeast Missouri State JR OF Dan Holst
  • Dallas Baptist SR OF Daniel Sweet
  • St. John’s SR OF Alex Caruso

*****

Best of the rest pitchers…

  • Vanderbilt JR LHP Ben Bowden
  • Central Michigan JR LHP/1B Nick Deeg
  • Auburn JR RHP/1B Keegan Thompson
  • Georgia JR LHP Connor Jones
  • Illinois JR RHP Cody Sedlock
  • Florida JR RHP Logan Shore
  • Florida JR RHP Dane Dunning
  • Florida JR RHP Shaun Anderson
  • Sacred Heart JR RHP Jason Foley
  • Michigan JR LHP/1B Carmen Beneditti
  • Air Force JR LHP Jacob DeVries
  • St. Mary’s JR RHP Corbin Burnes
  • Albany JR RHP Stephen Woods
  • Indiana rJR RHP Jake Kelzer
  • Oregon JR RHP Stephen Nogosek
  • Connecticut JR LHP Anthony Kay
  • Oregon rJR LHP Cole Irvin
  • Mississippi State JR LHP Daniel Brown
  • Liberty JR RHP/OF Parker Bean
  • Pacific JR RHP Vince Arobio
  • Pittsburgh JR RHP TJ Zeuch
  • Loyola Marymount JR RHP JD Busfield
  • Washington State JR RHP Ian Hamilton
  • Michigan State rJR LHP Cameron Vieaux
  • Michigan JR LHP Brett Adcock
  • Gonzaga JR RHP Brandon Bailey
  • South Carolina JR RHP Wil Crowe

Big 12 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Oklahoma JR C Chris Shaw
Texas Tech JR 1B Eric Gutierrez
Kansas JR 2B Colby Wright
Texas JR SS CJ Hinojosa
Oklahoma JR 3B Kolbey Carpenter
Texas JR OF Ben Johnson
Texas Tech JR OF Tyler Neslony
Kansas State SR OF Max Brown

Texas Christian JR LHP Alex Young
Texas Christian JR RHP Riley Ferrell
Texas Christian rSO RHP Mitchell Traver
Oklahoma rJR LHP Adam Choplick
Texas SR RHP Parker French

I normally start with the hitters here because I’m a creature of habit bound by my small-minded attempt at maintaining some semblance of consistent order in an otherwise chaotic world. Today we’re breaking that habit not because of personal growth, but simply because the pitching in the Big 12, most notably at TCU, is worth talking about. I’m way late to the party, I know, but the collection of arms they have in Fort Worth is something to be celebrated.

Oklahoma rJR LHP Adam Choplick is a 6-8, 260 pound lefthander who can reach the mid-90s and for whatever reason very little has been written about him nationally. My contribution to help remedy that: he’s really good. I’d love to know more about Texas SR RHP Parker French’s batted ball data. He has some serious worm-killing stuff (88-94 FB with sink, 97 peak; good 78-84 CU with sink; good mid-80s cut-SL) and has succeeded over the years without striking out a ton of hitters. That last bit is a tad worrisome because pro hitters are not college hitters, but if he can be a 60% groundball guy in the pros then who knows.

Oklahoma State is loaded in its own right with draft-eligible pitchers. rJR RHP/OF Conor Costello has the depth of stuff to start and the athleticism to repeat his delivery through long outings. He’s also a decent enough hitter that letting him start in the National League could lead to some fun at bats. JR RHP Koda Glover uses a 92-95 MPH fastball and intriguing offspeed stuff (no, that’s not just that code that I need more info on him…except I do, which must be an incredible coincidence) to miss bats at a high rate. SO RHP Trey Cobb comes from a star-studded Oklahoma high school class with a sinker/slider mix that should keep him employed for a long time. SR RHP Jon Perrin could be a good bang for your buck as a potential fifth starter/middle relief type available on the cheap come drat day.

I’ve written all that (and my brief note on Choplick, can’t forget that beauty) while totally forgetting I’ve covered Kansas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State already. So, read those if you want more on any of those schools. I think we’ve waited long enough to finally get to the main event that is Texas Christian University. They might not be able to match Vanderbilt in terms of pure ceiling (Buehler and Fulmer are tough to beat), but their balance of star power, hard throwers, polished veterans, and Preston Morrison (he gets his own category) is special.

I think you almost need to find a rare three-headed coin to determine the best pitcher from TCU (and thus the best in the conference) between JR LHP Alex Young, JR RHP Riley Ferrell, and rSO RHP Mitchell Traver. All three guys fit nice neat little archetypes, so they make for a fun and relatively easy group to discuss. Young is the sure-fire starter going forward with a legit classic four-pitch mix (FB, CU, CB, SL), average overall command (above-average FB command, which is nice) and solid athleticism/size. He’s also put up numbers since day one on campus (8.41 K/9 in 2013, 8.37 K/9 in 2014), so there’s not too much need to project some kind of crazy unrealistic future where he turns into something that he’s not. The delta between his ceiling and floor is a tiny one as at his best he’s probably a mid-rotation workhorse and at his worst he figures to be a fifth starter/bullpen weapon. He’d fit in as a really swell second or third pick for a team that would prefer to reach for the stars with their first rounder. He has to be on the short list as one of the “safest” draft prospects or “quickest movers” to the big leagues. Ferrell is the future back end of the bullpen stalwart with closer upside. Like Young (and most big-time college relief prospects) Ferrell has a small gap between his dream scenario (elite closer) and his most likely scenario (good reliever who gets to the big leagues in a hurry). Also like Young, Ferrell’s track record at TCU is impeccable; with a trail of missed bats lying in his wake (11.02 K/9 in 2013, 13.90 K/9 in 2014, 14.50 K/9 so far this year), what you see is what you get. At his best he’s in the upper-90s with the heat and a plus mid-80s slider as the putaway pitch; at his less than best (like, say, on the second half of a back-to-back), his fastball sits low-90s with a slider that flashes but doesn’t have quite the same shape. I think he likely will fall in somewhere between last year’s top two relievers, Nick Burdi (pick 46) and Michael Cederoth (pick 79), were drafted last year. That seems fair for now. Traver is the wild card. His health has held up so far this year and his stuff has been as advertised. If you can’t get excited for a 6-7, 250 pound capable of hitting the mid-90s (90-94, 96 peak) with a plus mid-80s slider and a usable changeup who is finally healthy after missing the better part of two seasons with arm injuries (Tommy John back in 2013 did a number on him), then you’re reading the wrong site. I’ve gotten an interesting range of comps for Traver including a solid starter (Gil Meche), a quality reliever (Nick Masset), and a personal favorite of mine that will go down as a starting member of the what could have been team (Dustin McGowan). I like to occasionally look a comparison cousins, my lame turn of phrase for two prospects connected by being once compared to the same player. The only other time I’ve used a Dustin McGowan comp was when it was mentioned to me last year as a possible outcome for Tyler Kolek. That’s…interesting.

Those are the top names at TCU, but far from the only ones. SO LHP Tyler Alexander is a potential back of the rotation starter who has good stuff with excellent command. rSO RHP Brian Trieglaff can get it up to 94, SR LHP Travis Evans throws three pitches for strikes (including a good breaking ball), and rSR RHP Trey Teakell is an outstanding senior sign with the size (6-5, 175), repertoire (87-92 FB, low-80s CU, upper-70s CB, hard splitter), and, big shocker, sterling track record to warrant top ten round consideration. Finally we get to SR RHP Preston Morrison, college baseball’s weirdest pitcher. Morrison gets results with a mid-80s fastball with serious sink and a variety of offspeed offerings (72-74 CB, 69-74 SL, 76-81 CU) that comes in from a funky sidearm but not quite sidearm angle. I rule nothing out when it comes to Morrison’s pro future, though I think a middle relief ceiling as a guy who gives hitters a totally different look from most big league relievers feels like a fair best case scenario right now.

I’m still holding out hope that we see Oklahoma JR C Chris Shaw get going on the big stage, especially after the tremendous power displays he put on after relatively slow starts the past two seasons in junior college. Truthfully, the question as to whether or not he’ll hit for power isn’t a debate; Shaw’s success or failure going forward will be determined by the adjustments in approach he is able to make. He’s always been a touch too aggressive for his own good, but his power could mask some of the deficiencies he’s shown at lower-levels. More experienced arms will keep exploiting the holes in his approach unless he makes some changes. The power alone still makes him a high follow, but much of the optimism I felt in January has eroded under the rocky shores of reality.

I won’t move Shaw off the top spot out of a combination of wanting to keep these lists consistent with my pre-season thoughts and the prospect of him still having high-level power at the next level, but one of the two Cowboys right behind him would give him a run for his money in a revised ranking. I wish SR C/OF Gage Green was more of a sure thing to stay behind the plate because his offensive game has shown a lot of growth over the years. I also really like SR C Bryan Case, the much better glove of the two, though he’s a tough player to fairly judge due to his lack of playing time. When given a chance to play he’s hit, so I think there’s something there. After a bit more thought, I’d say that Oklahoma JR C Anthony Hermelyn would also be right up there near the top of this list in a re-ranking. His hit tool is interesting, he has a strong defensive profile with no doubts about his arm strength (been clocked as high as 94 MPH off the mound), and his plate discipline is trending in the right direction. All in all, not a bad group of catchers

Texas Tech JR 1B/LHP Eric Gutierrez is one of my favorite power hitters in a class desperately in need of some good ones. Some teams might be turned off than his less than ideal frame (5-10, 205), but so long as he keeps mashing he has a better than average shot to hear his name called in a signable range this June. Kansas State rSR 1B/LHP Shane Conlon has always intrigued me due to his reasonable power upside, average speed, and plus glove. It’s a a fun profile and one I hope we get a chance to keep following in pro ball.

Kansas JR 2B/SS Colby Wright has been a baseball magnet this season (11 HBP in 65 official AB!). I liked his pop, patience, and glove combination coming into the year, and nothing has moved me off that as of yet. I think he’s the best of a lackluster group of Big 12 second basemen. At shortstop it’s still Texas JR SS/3B CJ Hinojosa’s top spot to lose. Much has been written on these very pages already about Hinojosa, so I’ll spare you any needless rehashing and just leave you with my Marco Scuatro comp and call it a day. Almost. We’re now far enough along with the season (20 games in already, time flies), so it’s silly for me to keep pretending that these are strictly previews and not, at least in part, ongoing assessments. The rankings are more or less unchanged from where I stood pre-season, but I do try to pepper the commentary with some updates where applicable. Hinojosa’s slow start (.197/.337/.310) is notable, though it’s a) only 71 AB, and b) not as bad when you look at some underlying numbers (most notably 14 BB/11 K). I’m a little bit concerned and would consider dropping him in future overall prospect rankings, but he still is a good prospect with top five round upside.

Texas Tech rSO SS/2B Cory Raley could be a fascinating utility player prospect with the chance for more. He has the ability to be really good at second and playable at short with enough speed, athleticism, and size to buy him time as he figures out how to hit. So far so good as hitter for Raley this winter, so consider me sufficiently intrigued at what now appears to be a lower than deserved ranking. I also have to mention TCU rJR SS Keaton Jones, a player so good with the glove that he’ll get drafted almost no matter what he does at the plate this spring. The fact that he’s more than holding his own as a hitter for the first time collegiately is icing on the mid-round cake. I’m glad I went with Oklahoma JR 3B Kolbey Carpenter as the conference’s top third baseman. He impressed all those I talked to last spring with his power upside and steady glove, so it’s nice to see him off to a hot start this season. Like second base, however, it’s worth noting that he’s the best of a very thin group of potential future pros. That in no way detracts from his underrated play, of course. I have a good intuitive feeling about Carpenter as a draft prospect.

The outfield is where things get really interesting in the Big 12. I know I say this about so many prospects that it probably renders the distinction meaningless, but Texas JR OF Ben Johnson has to be one of this year’s draft’s most fascinating prospects. Johnson’s name has come up over and over again so far this season as a tooled-up prospect finally turning into a deeply skilled player. Or so I thought. All of the chatter over Johnson excited me because I had assumed he was finally doing the things that he’ll need to do to be a better pro. Full disclosure: I haven’t gotten any updates about him this season (since the fall) from anybody I know who has seen him and (I’M NOT A SCOUT) I’ve only personally seen him twice this year on the tube. So I’m not working with all the needed info to make any overarching statements that should be taken as fact. I’m just theorizing that maybe college analysts (and perhaps certain pro scouting staffs that weigh projection significantly ahead of production [they aren’t wrong for this, by the way]) are getting a little ahead of themselves in proclaiming this to be the start of Johnson’s ascension to day one of the 2015 MLB Draft. Johnson has been absolutely phenomenal this season by most every measure: .432/.463/.659 is damn good work in 88 at bats. Maybe he’s made adjustments as a hitter that the public will hear about as some of the best prospect writers begin doing some digging. Maybe (hopefully) I’ll hear something from one of my contacts sooner rather than later that brings some good news on his outburst. Until then, however, I think Ben Johnson is just doing Ben Johnson things. I won’t say that I anticipated this kind of start, but his numbers aren’t out of line with what you’d expect from a player with his kind of tools at the college level. It’s not crazy to say that he, like about a dozen or so players in this and every class, is too physically gifted for the college game. Johnson is a pro-level glove in center with an average or better arm, average or better raw power, and, most interestingly, the kind of jaw-dropping athleticism and game-changing speed that puts the whole package over the top.

Again, Johnson is putting up a ridiculous .432/.463/.659 line so far this year. That’s really great. With only 2 walks to 12 strikeouts, however, I’m not sure how all his considerable offensive gifts will continue to play as he climbs the ladder. For all the positives he brings to the table he still looks like a very high potential pick since athletes like him often provide value well beyond what they do at the plate (running, defending, you get it). That relatively high floor makes Johnson extra appealing; using a supplemental first, second, or third round pick on him is not likely to completely blow up in your face simply because he’s almost too damn athletic to do nothing. On the off chance he puts it together, watch out. If that paragraph reads like I’m hedging my bets on him, then you’re on the right track.

Hot start or not, I still lump Johnson in with fellow toolsy outfield peers like Florida JR OF Harrison Bader and Clemson JR OF Steven Duggar for the moment. Just because those guys rank 5-6-7 (further down if you consider any of Ian Happ, Richie Martin, or BC’s Chris Shaw outfielders) on my “current” (as current as anything draft-related can be that’s three weeks old) college outfield list does not mean I view them as ordinary, mid-round prospects. I didn’t write nearly enough about last year’s draft than I would have liked, but I’ll say this without the benefit of hindsight (not that a few weeks of pro ball should change anybody’s mind about anybody): I’d take this year’s toolsy outfielders above any college outfielder from last year with the exception of Michael Conforto, Bradley Zimmer, Mike Papi, and maybe (if he’s really an OF, which I’m still unsure of) Connor Joe. That’s above last year’s 37th overall pick, Derek Fisher, for what it’s worth.

In other non-Ben Johnson Big 12 outfield news, Texas Tech JR OF Tyler Neslony’s positive approach and power upside make him a strong bat worth knowing. His plate discipline has backed up a bit since last year here in the early going, so almost all caveats with such players apply. Same with Kansas State SR OF Max Brown, a rare senior sign that doubles as one of the draft’s finer physical specimens. The 6-5, 200 pound plus runner showed well in limited at bats last year, but, stop me if you’ve heard this before, his approach at the plate needs significant work. A crazy argument could be made that he might be the most valuable draft property of the three already mentioned Big 12 outfielders based solely on his talent (below Johnson to be sure, but he’s no slouch), projected round (no idea, but I’d be surprised if it was all that high), and potential bonus demands (no leverage).

The only draft-eligible outfielder listed below having an above-average season by my measures – I mean, Johnson clearly is and I’m being way too hard on him so pay no mind to the only part – is Oklahoma JR OF Craig Aikin, an above-average runner and glove with an interesting leadoff approach to hitting. Since we scratched the “only” from the previous sentence allow me to also recognize TCU SR OF Cody Jones as having a fine start to his 2015 season. He’s an even more interesting senior sign with his blazing speed, plus CF range, strong arm, and very selective approach. I don’t see enough power out of him to profile as more than a backup, but you could do worse when looking for a future speed and defense fourth or fifth outfielder.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Texas JR SS/3B CJ Hinojosa
  2. Texas JR OF Ben Johnson
  3. Texas Tech JR OF Tyler Neslony
  4. Kansas State SR OF Max Brown
  5. Oklahoma JR C Chris Shaw
  6. Oklahoma JR OF Hunter Haley
  7. Kansas SR OF/RHP Dakota Smith
  8. Oklahoma State JR SS/2B Donnie Walton
  9. Texas Tech JR 1B/LHP Eric Gutierrez
  10. Kansas rJR OF Steve Goldstein
  11. Kansas SR OF Connor McKay
  12. Oklahoma State SR C/OF Gage Green
  13. Oklahoma State SR C Bryan Case
  14. Kansas JR 2B/SS Colby Wright
  15. Texas Tech SR SS Tim Proudfoot
  16. Texas Christian SR OF Cody Jones
  17. Oklahoma JR 3B Kolbey Carpenter
  18. Oklahoma JR OF Craig Aikin
  19. Texas Christian JR OF Nolan Brown
  20. Texas SR OF Collin Shaw
  21. Texas Christian SR 3B/2B Derek Odell
  22. Kansas State rSR 1B/LHP Shane Conlon
  23. Oklahoma JR C/RHP Anthony Hermelyn
  24. Kansas State SR 2B/OF Carter Yagi
  25. Oklahoma State SR 2B/OF Tim Arakawa
  26. Texas SR 2B Brooks Marlow
  27. Kansas SR 2B/SS Justin Protacio
  28. Texas Tech rSO SS/2B Cory Raley
  29. Texas Christian JR 2B Garrett Crain
  30. Kansas rJR OF Joe Moroney
  31. Texas Tech JR C Kholton Sanchez
  32. Texas Tech JR C Tyler Floyd
  33. Baylor JR 1B Mitch Price
  34. Texas Tech SR 2B Bryant Burleson

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. Texas Christian JR LHP Alex Young
  2. Texas Christian JR RHP Riley Ferrell
  3. Texas Christian rSO RHP Mitchell Traver
  4. Oklahoma rJR LHP Adam Choplick
  5. Texas SR RHP Parker French
  6. Texas Tech JR RHP Matt Withrow
  7. Oklahoma State rJR RHP/OF Conor Costello
  8. Baylor SR RHP Austin Stone
  9. Oklahoma State JR RHP Koda Glover
  10. Oklahoma State SO RHP Trey Cobb
  11. Texas Christian SO LHP Tyler Alexander
  12. Texas Christian rSO RHP Brian Triegflaff
  13. Texas Christian SR LHP Travis Evans
  14. Texas Christian rSR RHP Trey Teakell
  15. Texas rSR RHP Ty Marlow
  16. Oklahoma JR LHP/1B Jacob Evans
  17. Kansas JR RHP Hayden Edwards
  18. Oklahoma JR RHP Blake Rogers
  19. Oklahoma State SR RHP Jon Perrin
  20. Baylor rSR LHP Brad Kuntz
  21. Texas Tech JR RHP/OF Quinn Carpenter
  22. Kansas State rJR RHP Nate Williams
  23. Oklahoma rSR RHP Robert Tasin
  24. Baylor rJR RHP Ryan Smith
  25. Texas JR RHP Chad Hollingsworth
  26. Texas Tech SR RHP Dominic Moreno
  27. Texas JR LHP Travis Duke
  28. Oklahoma JR RHP RHP Corey Copping
  29. Texas Christian SR RHP Preston Morrison
  30. Kansas State rSO RHP Nate Griep
  31. Oklahoma State rSR LHP Tyler Nurdin
  32. Kansas State JR RHP Levi MaVorhis
  33. Kansas State rSO RHP Colton Kalmus
  34. Oklahoma State JR LHP Alex Hackerott
  35. Texas JR LHP Ty Culbreth
  36. Texas Tech SR LHP Cameron Smith
  37. Texas Tech SR RHP Corey Taylor
  38. West Virginia JR RHP Jeff Hardy
  39. Texas Tech JR RHP Dalton Brown
  40. Baylor SR RHP Sean Spicer
  41. Kansas State rSO RHP Blake McFadden
  42. Oklahoma JR LHP Jeffrey Curran
  43. West Virginia rJR LHP Ross Vance