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2016 MLB Draft Follow Lists – Mountain West

Jacob DeVries felt like a lock to lead the Mountain West pitching group in 2016 throughout the offseason, but recent feedback I’ve gotten seems to point to Griffin Jax being the preferred option of the majority who have seen them both up close. It’s still really, really close, but the reaction to Jax was generally more complimentary than what I heard back on DeVries. For many the choice came down to opting for a little more certainty in Jax (better control, changeup further along) than gambling on the upside of DeVries. I’d personally be tempted by DeVries’s easy velocity (87-94, 96 peak) from the left side and above-average curve, but I’ll go with the people on this one until I re-rank in June. Until then, I’ll just say that DeVries scouting profile reads similarly to Jeff Degano last year. Something to think about.

I’ve followed Jax with a little more interest than I might have otherwise due to the fact that he was originally drafted by my hometown team. The Phillies selected a pair of high school pitchers that they were prepared to go overslot with in 2013: the recently released Denton Keys and Jax. It’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight that Philadelphia made the wrong call in going with Key, but that assumes that they were ever in a position to truly make said decision; after all, it takes two to sign a contract and talking a young man out of a commitment to Air Force can’t be easy. He’s strong, he throws hard (86-94, 96 peak), and he command both his curve and change for quality strikes. It’s a relatively safe mid- to late-rotation starter package with the added upside going forward of a) not having to worry about playing both ways at all (admittedly less of an issue this year, but last year he played some first on non-pitching days), b) shifting towards a pro future that makes baseball your number one priority professionally (for better or worse), and c) being viewed as a still ascending player figuring out just how good he can be on the mound full-time.

Fresno State has a nice collection of pitching that looks better to me the more I consider it. Anthony Arias is a deceptive lefty with a good sinking fastball (88-92) and an upper-70s curve with above-average upside. Jimmy Lambert has upped his game in 2016 with reports of his fastball hitting 94. Tim Borst is off to an excellent bat-missing start with enough of a fastball of his own (88-93) to get draft consideration as a late-round reliever. Dylan Lee throws about as hard from the left side. All in all, it’s a better group than I first gave credit.

Brayden Torres has been a favorite of mine for some time because 6-5, 190 pound lefties that sit in the low-90s with promising offspeed stuff are relevant to my interests. He hasn’t pitched in 2016, so it’s difficult to find the right spot for him on a ranking like this. Michael Fain and Mark Nowaczewski, both out of Nevada, have similarly sparse or ineffective 2016 innings next to their ledgers. Both are big guys already capable of touching the mid-90s with projection left. Both guys also don’t have the type of track record over the years that matches their raw stuff. I’m glad I don’t have to make any real decisions when it comes down to the pitchers in the Mountain West in 2016.

Trenton Brooks has gotten off to a relatively slow start at the plate so far, but I remain firmly on his bandwagon heading into June. His athleticism, defensive upside (CF range and a strong arm befitting a two-way player), and flashes of offensive promise make him a really intriguing future pro, especially if you believe (as I do) that focusing solely on one side of the ball will help take his game to the next level professionally. Between that belief and the possibility he could always be shifted back to the mound down the line if need be – two points that are almost but not quite contradictory – Brooks has a chance to be a better pro than what he’s shown at Nevada.

I’m not yet sure what to make of Chris DeVito as an all-around prospect, but the confidence that he’ll hit as a pro grows by the week. The improvements he has made as a hitter, especially as he’s found a way to retain his big power while significantly decreasing the length of his swing, are real. One friend of mine affectionately refers to him as the “western Zack Collins.” My prospect love for Collins runs far too deep for me to go there, but I still like it. If DeVito can convince pro teams he can catch professionally, there’s no telling how high he can rise. I’m unsure if that’ll be the case – literally unsure: haven’t heard much in either direction about his glove, so I legitimately do not have an updated opinion on the matter – but I look forward to finding out more about his defense in the coming weeks. He’s a potentially great (top five round?) prospect – though I’d caution taking his offensive production with his offensive environments in mind — if he catch, and a good one (round six to ten?) if he’s forced to first base.

DeVito doesn’t stand alone as the only Lobo with big early season numbers. Danny Collier and Jack Zoellner are right there with him. I guess that makes sense that they would travel in packs. In fact, a whole lot of New Mexico hitters are doing big things so far. That’s what I mean when I mention context being important when looking at production. New Mexico hitters are currently hitting a combined .314/.416/.481. That’s not just because they have a strong lineup – though they do – but also because of where they’ve been playing. Case in point, their opponents are hitting .309/.374/.435 against them. It’s still noteworthy what these guys are doing – DeVito’s been on base in every game this season, for example – but understanding the context is key. It’s also important to realize that the players listed high on this list are there for reasons beyond a few good weeks at the plate. DeVito’s aforementioned adjustments at the plate allow his plus raw power to play anywhere. Collier is a good runner and steady defender who gets the most out of his physical abilities. Zoellner has plenty of power of his own, plus the most impressive extended track record of the trio. A big bucket of cold water for fans of DeVito, Collier, and Zoellner comes with the realization all three have struggled in more neutral summer league assignments over the years. Area scouts will really earn their (meager) pay this spring as they attempt to tease out what foundational elements of each prospect’s game will translate to pro ball…and what’s more of a thin air/small park mirage.

Hitters

  1. Nevada JR OF/LHP Trenton Brooks
  2. New Mexico JR 1B/C Chris DeVito
  3. New Mexico JR OF Danny Collier
  4. New Mexico JR 1B Jack Zoellner
  5. Air Force JR OF/1B Tyler Jones
  6. Air Force JR OF Adam Groesbeck
  7. New Mexico SR SS Jared Holley
  8. Nevada JR 2B Miles Mastrobuoni
  9. Fresno State SR OF/SS Brody Russell
  10. Air Force SR OF/2B Spencer Draws
  11. Fresno State JR OF Austin Guibor
  12. San Jose State SR 2B Ozzy Braff
  13. New Mexico SR SS/2B Dalton Bowers
  14. Fresno State JR SS Scott Silva
  15. New Mexico rSR 2B Michael Eaton
  16. Air Force JR 1B Bradley Haslam
  17. Nevada SR 1B/OF Bryce Greager
  18. San Diego State rSR OF Spencer Thornton
  19. Fresno State rSO C Nick Warren
  20. Fresno State SR 3B/OF Kevin Viers
  21. New Mexico rSO OF Reece Weber
  22. San Diego State rJR C/RHP CJ Saylor
  23. New Mexico JR OF/3B Andre Vigil

Pitchers

  1. Air Force JR RHP Griffin Jax
  2. Air Force JR LHP Jacob DeVries
  3. Fresno State rSO LHP Anthony Arias
  4. Fresno State JR RHP Jimmy Lambert
  5. Fresno State SR RHP Tim Borst
  6. Air Force JR RHP Austin McDaniel
  7. Fresno State SR LHP Dylan Lee
  8. Nevada JR RHP Trevor Charpie
  9. UNLV SR LHP Brayden Torres
  10. Nevada SR RHP Michael Fain
  11. Nevada JR RHP Mark Nowaczewski
  12. New Mexico rSR LHP Alex Estrella
  13. Nevada JR RHP Evan McMahan
  14. New Mexico SR RHP Drew Bridges
  15. Nevada SR RHP Sam Held
  16. UNLV SR RHP Kenny Oakley
  17. Nevada SR LHP Christian Stolo
  18. New Mexico SR RHP Taylor Duree
  19. New Mexico rSR RHP Victor Sanchez
  20. UNLV JR RHP DJ Myers
  21. Air Force SR LHP Trent Monaghan
  22. San Diego State rSO RHP Orlando Meza
  23. San Diego State rSR RHP Dalton Douty
  24. Fresno State rSO LHP Fred Schlichtholz
  25. San Diego State JR LHP Marcus Reyes
  26. San Jose State JR RHP Logan Handzlik
  27. San Diego State JR RHP Mike Diamond
  28. New Mexico JR LHP Fernando Fernandez

Air Force

JR LHP Jacob DeVries (2016)
JR RHP Austin McDaniel (2016)
SR LHP Trent Monaghan (2016)
JR RHP Nathan Stanford (2016)
JR RHP Griffin Jax (2016)
SR OF/2B Spencer Draws (2016)
JR OF/1B Tyler Jones (2016)
JR SS Shaun Mize (2016)
JR 1B Bradley Haslam (2016)
JR OF Adam Groesbeck (2016)
SO RHP Nick Biancalana (2017)
SO SS Tyler Zabojnik (2017)
FR RHP Karter Cook (2018)
FR RHP/1B Tyler Mortenson (2018)
FR 3B Nick Ready (2018)
FR OF Drew Wiss (2018)
FR OF Daniel Jones (2018)

High Priority Follows: Jacob DeVries, Austin McDaniel, Trent Monaghan, Nathan Stanford, Griffin Jax, Spencer Draws, Tyler Jones, Bradley Haslam, Adam Groesbeck

Fresno State

SR RHP Tim Borst (2016)
rSO LHP Fred Schlichtholz (2016)
JR RHP Jimmy Lambert (2016)
SR LHP Dylan Lee (2016)
SR RHP Dominic Topoozian (2016)
JR RHP Mark Reece (2016)
rSO LHP Anthony Arias (2016)
JR SS Scott Silva (2016)
SR OF/SS Brody Russell (2016):
SR 3B/OF Kevin Viers (2016)
rSO C Nick Warren (2016)
JR SS Jesse Medrano (2016)
JR OF Austin Guibor (2016)
JR OF Jake Stone (2016)
SO LHP Ricky Tyler Thomas (2017)
SO RHP Rickey Ramirez (2017)
SO 3B McCarthy Tatum (2017)
SO OF Aaron Arruda (2017)
SO 2B Korby Batesole (2017)
FR LHP Alec Gamboa (2018)
FR SS Jeremiah Burks (2018)
FR C Jake Ackerman (2018)
FR OF Zach Ashford (2018)
FR 3B RJ Cordeiro (2018)

High Priority Follows: Tim Borst, Fred Schlichholtz, Jimmy Lambert, Dylan Lee, Anthony Arias, Scott Silva, Brody Russell, Kevin Viers, Nick Warren, Austin Guibor

Nevada

SR RHP Michael Fain (2016)
SR RHP Sam Held (2016)
SR LHP Christian Stolo (2016)
SR RHP Zach Wilkins (2016)
SR LHP Cameron Rowland (2016)
JR RHP Mark Nowaczewski (2016)
JR RHP Evan McMahan (2016)
JR RHP Trevor Charpie (2016)
JR OF/LHP Trenton Brooks (2016)
SR 1B/OF Bryce Greager (2016)
SR 2B Justin Bridgman (2016)
JR 2B Miles Mastrobuoni (2016)
SO RHP/1B Jordan Pearce (2017)
SO SS Grant Fennell (2017)
SO OF TJ Friedl (2017)
FR 1B/RHP Cooper Krug (2018)

High Priority Follows: Michael Fain, Sam Held, Christian Stolo, Zach Wilkins, Cameron Rowland, Mark Nowaczewski, Evan McMahan, Trevor Charpie, Trenton Brooks, Bryce Greager, Miles Mastrobuoni

New Mexico

rSR RHP Victor Sanchez (2016)
JR LHP Fernando Fernandez (2016)
rSR LHP Alex Estrella (2016)
SR RHP Taylor Duree (2016)
JR LHP Carson Schneider (2016)
JR RHP Preston Ryan (2016)
rSR LHP Colton Thomson (2016)
SR RHP Drew Bridges (2016)
SR SS/2B Dalton Bowers (2016)
SR SS Jared Holley (2016)
JR OF/3B Andre Vigil (2016)
rSR 2B Michael Eaton (2016)
JR 1B Jack Zoellner (2016)
JR OF Danny Collier (2016)
JR 1B/C Chris DeVito (2016)
rSO OF Reece Weber (2016)
SO RHP James Harrington (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Stevens (2017)
SO OF/LHP Luis Gonzalez (2017)
SO C/3B Carl Stajduhar (2017)
SO 2B/RHP Hayden Schilling (2017)
FR RHP Christian Tripp (2018)
FR RHP/OF Erick Migueles (2018)
FR RHP/OF Austin Treadwell (2018)
FR OF Jacob Westerman (2018)
FR C Jared Mang (2018)
FR OF Austin Bell (2018)

High Priority Follows: Victor Sanchez, Fernando Fernandez, Alex Estrella, Taylor Duree, Colton Thomson, Drew Bridges, Dalton Bowers, Jared Holley, Andre Vigil, Michael Eaton, Jack Zoellner, Danny Collier, Chris DeVito, Reece Weber

San Diego State

JR RHP Mike Diamond (2016)
rSR RHP Dalton Douty (2016)
rSR RHP Brian Heldman (2016)
SR RHP Zack Oakley (2016)
rSO RHP Orlando Meza (2016)
JR LHP Marcus Reyes (2016)
JR RHP Brett Seeburger (2016)
rJR RHP Cody Thompson (2016)
rJR C/RHP CJ Saylor (2016)
rSR OF Spencer Thornton (2016)
rSO OF Tyler Adkison (2016)
JR 2B/SS Andrew Brown (2016)
rFR RHP Harrison Pyatt (2017)
SO RHP Tyler Loptien (2017)
SO SS/RHP Alan Trejo (2017)
SO 3B/RHP David Hensley (2017)
SO OF/2B Denz’l Chapman (2017)
SO OF Chase Calabuig (2017)
SO 2B Justin Wylie (2017)
FR RHP Chris Collins (2018)
FR RHP Jeff Kross (2018)
FR RHP Dustin Jack (2018)
FR 3B Jordan Verdon (2018)
FR INF Niko Navarro (2018)
FR C Dean Nevarez (2018)

High Priority Follows: Mike Diamond, Dalton Douty, Brian Heldman, Zack Oakley, Orlando Meza, Marcus Reyes, Brett Seeburger, Cody Thompson, CJ Saylor, Spencer Thornton, Tyler Adkison

San Jose State

JR RHP Logan Handzlik (2016)
JR RHP Joseph Balfour (2016)
JR LHP Graham Gomez (2016)
SR 2B Ozzy Braff (2016)
JR OF Brett Bautista (2016)
JR C Joe Stefanki (2016)
SR OF Dillan Smith (2016)
SO RHP/INF Josh Nashed (2017)
SO RHP Hilario Tovar (2017)
SO RHP Matt Brown (2017)
rFR RHP Daniel Harris (2017)
SO RHP Josh Goldberg (2017)
SO 3B David Campbell (2017)
SO 1B/OF Shane Timmons (2017)
FR C/1B Brendt Citta (2018)

High Priority Follows: Logan Handzlik, Ozzy Braff, Brett Bautista, Joe Stefanki

UNLV

SR RHP Kenny Oakley (2016)
SR LHP Brayden Torres (2016)
JR RHP DJ Myers (2016)
SR RHP Ben Wright (2016)
SR RHP Cody Roper (2016)
SO RHP Dean Kremer (2016)
JR OF Keyon Allen (2016)
rJR 2B/OF Justin Jones (2016)
SR C Andrew Yazdanbakhsh (2016)
SO RHP Blaze Bohall (2017)
SO OF/2B Payton Squier (2017)
SO SS Nick Rodriguez (2017)
SO 3B Austin Anderson (2017)
SO C Bryan Menendez (2017)
FR LHP Tevita Gerber (2018)
FR RHP Ryan Hare (2018)
FR 1B/3B Nick Ames (2018)
FR 3B Kyle Isbel (2018)

High Priority Follows: Kenny Oakley, Brayden Torres, DJ Myers, Cody Roper, Keyon Allen, Justin Jones, Andrew Yazdanbakhsh

Mountain West Conference 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Fresno State JR C Taylor Ward
Nevada SR 1B Austin Byler
New Mexico JR 2B Sam Haggerty
New Mexico JR SS Dalton Bowers
San Diego State JR 3B Ty France
San Diego State SR OF Steven Pallares
Fresno State JR OF Brody Russell
New Mexico SR OF Ryan Padilla

San Diego State JR RHP Bubba Derby
UNLV JR LHP Brayden Torres
Fresno State SR RHP Garrett Mundell
Nevada JR RHP Michael Fain
Nevada JR RHP Sam Held

Sometimes I get so wrapped up into doing things for the site that I forget that there is a great big baseball world outside my tiny corner of the internet. As such, I’m way behind on checking in on a lot of the mainstream draft coverage that has been put out since the college season in February. Help me out here: Fresno State JR C Taylor Ward is a first round pick, right? People have caught on to that? He’s pretty much Max Pentecost without the Twitter approved cool guy name. If Pentecost could go eleventh overall, then surely Ward can find a fit in the first day, right? He’s a really good athlete who moves exceptionally well behind the plate. His arm is an absolute howitzer with easy to spot plus to plus-plus raw strength. Offensively he does enough of everything – average or a tick below speed underway, about the same raw power, and a disciplined approach that consistently puts him in good hitter’s counts – to profile as a well above-average regular when both sides of his game are considered.

“The best true catcher is probably Pentecost,” a club executive said. “He’s going in the first round for sure. He doesn’t have a lot of power, it’s more alley and extra-base hits than pure power, but he’s a good hitter, a good athlete and he can run. He can throw and he will get better as a receiver. I think it’s a solid overall player at a tough position to find.”

Sub out Pentecost’s name for Ward’s and you’re all set. His closest competitors for top college catcher in this class (pre-season) for me have all slipped enough that I think there’s real separation between Ward and everybody else. Shaun Chase (Oregon) still has the prodigious raw power that will keep him employed for years to come, but the approach has shown little to no signs of improving. My former top guy, Ian Rice (Houston), has been up and down (to put it kindly) in his first season of D1 baseball. Austin Rei (Washington) seemed poised to have a breakout season and challenge Ward for the top spot, but a torn thumb ligament stalled his season after only 17 at bats. There’s still a question as to whether or not he’ll be back before the end of the season. I could see a scenario where a team would prefer Rei, who I still think goes higher than anybody thinks because of his pitch-framing abilities alone, but the injury obviously makes him one of the draft’s greatest unknowns heading into June.

I don’t actually know where Ward will go in the draft and without having my entire board lined up just yet it is premature to say he’s a no-doubt first round pick for me personally. I do find it hard to imagine that a player with his upside will fall past the first forty picks or so into the second round. This kind of logic doesn’t always hold because it takes but one team to select a player, but if Pentecost, who, I liked more than loved as a prospect, went off the board at eleven last year then I don’t see why Ward would fall multiple rounds past that in what many (not me, but still) consider to be a weaker draft.

Last March I wrote very briefly about Nevada SR 1B/3B Austin Byler and his promising future. Back then I had him ranked seventh out of all draft-eligible college first basemen behind a pretty damn good list of bats. Kyle Schwarber, Casey Gillaspie, Sam Travis, JD Davis, AJ Reed, and Kevin Cron were the only players I had above him then. Coming into this year I had him only behind Boston College 1B/OF Chris Shaw in terms of straight college first base prospects and neck and neck with Central Florida 1B/OF James Vasquez. I haven’t updated those rankings in a while, but I think Byler is comfortably in the top five first base prospect range. Here’s the blurb on Byler from last March…

Slow start notwithstanding, Byler’s power is legit and his approach to hitting, while not reflected just yet in terms of BB/K ratios, is well-suited for professional ball.

Not much has changed in his scouting profile, though he’s turned into even more of a three-true-outcomes monster in 2015. I’ve asked around on Byler and gotten some pretty interesting feedback. On the high end he’s gotten comparisons to Mark Reynolds and Russell Branyan. More to the point, he’s viewed as a hitter who will strike out a ton, walk his fair share, and swat dingers at an impressive clip. I also got a Preston Wilson comparison (hitter only, obviously) that I enjoyed as much for the nostalgia as the utility. A more cautionary comparison is the one that likened him to former first round pick Tyler Colvin. I personally find the continuum from a lefthanded Reynolds (useful power source that can be quite valuable when deployed properly) to Colvin (4A slugger with flashes of promise, but more of an up-and-down bench bat) particularly useful.

As far as a draft prospect comparison, I think Byler could wind up going off the board around the same range as another senior sign slugger from yesteryear (way, way back in 2012), Preston Tucker. Byler could get a bit of a boost because power is in even higher demand now than just three years ago. He could also beat that seven round projection because he’s a more conventionally pleasing looking player for scouts who might worry as much about aesthetics than results. I like the bat enough that I think you start thinking seriously about him somewhere between rounds three and five.

All of the middle infielders from New Mexico that I like (JR 2B/SS Sam Haggerty, JR SS/2B Dalton Bowers, and JR SS Jared Holley) have gotten off to slow starts so far. The consistently positive things I’ve heard about Bowers (in general) and Holley (his plus glove specifically) keep my appreciation for the group alive, but a little more pop out of the trio would make me feel a bit better. San Diego State JR 3B Ty France has one of the draft’s most underrated bats, especially when his natural feel for hitting and functional strength (and subsequent power) are considered. Guys who really get excited about watching a young player swing at bat well come away raving about what France can do at the plate. I haven’t seen enough of him to get that feeling (also: I’m not a scout), but hearing it as often as I have from people who have been around the game forever definitely gets my attention.

The outfield group in the MWC this year is more about depth than high-end talent. There are a lot of maybe/maybe not draftable players, but no sure things. My favorite of the bunch is San Diego State SR OF/RHP Steven Pallares. It’s taken some time for Pallares to get going – it’s the end of March as I write this and he’s already tied his career high in AB – but now that he’s hitting full-time he’s, well, hitting full-time. His arm is both strong and accurate, he’s an above-average runner, and the strides he’s made at the plate are undeniably encouraging.

Below you’ll find my unedited (with one exception) pre-season list of Mountain West 2015 MLB Draft pitching prospects. The only tweak I made was in moving up San Diego State JR RHP Bubba Derby from third to first; all other players are exactly where I put them before the season began. I make special note of that now because this list has not held up well at all. It could be that I have no idea what I’m talking about or that the MWC has an especially volatile group of arms this year or that maybe the elevation or atmospheric conditions or something altogether unexplainable inherent to this conference makes predicting pitching more of a guessing game than even I, a guesser by nature (“Baseball Guesser” should go on my nonexistent business card because, let’s face it, that’s all we’re really doing here), am used to. All I know is that I’m more confused about these pitchers now more than ever.

We know Derby is good, though even with his awesome numbers (12.5 K/9) we’re still not quite sure how good he really is. The fact that he can throw two above-average breaking balls to complement his 88-92 (94 peak) fastball is obviously a very good thing. His 5-11, 185 pound frame, however, could give evaluators some pause when projecting him to carry a full starter’s workload in the big leagues one day. I don’t share those concerns, but I get it. I’d personally like to see or hear more about a usable changeup before going all-in on him as a potential average or better big league starter, but the pieces are there. Behind Derby are two other favorites that don’t get much national acclaim. Fresno State SR RHP Garrett Mundell is extension personified. It’s as if he’s handing the ball off to the catcher. I like that. UNLV JR LHP Brayden Torres has pitched out of the bullpen for the Runnin’ Rebels, but I think he has the depth of stuff, control, and build to start professionally.

Little to nothing has gone right with Nevada’s top draft-eligible pitching prospects this season. JR RHP Michael Fain has an electric arm capable of mid-90s heat and a hard low-80s slider, but his college career has been plagued by inconsistency. He’s got the long, lean frame (6-6, 185) to dream on, so no reason to hop off the bandwagon altogether. His teammate JR RHP Sam Held is another good athlete with a strong fastball (94 peak) and plenty of projection left who hasn’t performed as hoped so far this season.

Finally, since we’re on the subject of Nevada, how about JR 1B/OF Ryan Howell? He’s a junior college transfer (Chabot College) that I have little to no information on, but his numbers leapt off the page when doing a quick check of the conference’s strongest early performers: .400/.485/.790 in 105 AB is no joke. That’s one year after wrecking juco ball to the tune of .292/.464/.571 with 35 BB/25 K in 154 AB. The Oregon State transfer is finally healthy after the long recovery from a torn labrum. He’s played both first and in the outfield in the past, but is manning second for the Wolfpack in 2015 in deference to one of college ball’s most stacked set of corner prospects (Byler at first with Kewby Myer and Trenton Brooks in the outfield corners). I’m not sure how real this hot start is or how he’s holding up at second, but I’m motivated to know more.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Fresno State JR C Taylor Ward
  2. Nevada SR 1B/3B Austin Byler
  3. San Diego State JR 3B Ty France
  4. Nevada SR 1B/LHP Kewby Meyer
  5. New Mexico JR 2B/SS Sam Haggerty
  6. San Diego State SR OF/RHP Steven Pallares
  7. Fresno State JR OF/SS Brody Russell
  8. New Mexico SR OF/1B Ryan Padilla
  9. UNLV JR OF/3B Joey Armstrong
  10. New Mexico JR OF Aaron Siple
  11. UNLV SR C/OF Erik VanMeetren
  12. San Jose State JR 2B Ozzy Braff
  13. San Diego State rSO C/RHP CJ Saylor
  14. San Diego State SR 3B/1B Ryan Muno
  15. New Mexico JR SS/2B Dalton Bowers
  16. New Mexico JR SS Jared Holley
  17. San Jose State SR OF Andre Mercurio
  18. Nevada SR SS Kyle Hunt
  19. San Diego State rJR OF/C Seby Zavala
  20. Nevada SR C Jordan Devencenzi
  21. San Diego State rJR OF Spencer Thornton

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching

  1. San Diego State JR RHP Bubba Derby
  2. UNLV JR LHP Brayden Torres
  3. Fresno State SR RHP Garrett Mundell
  4. Nevada JR RHP Michael Fain
  5. Nevada JR RHP Sam Held
  6. Nevada SR LHP Tyler Wells
  7. New Mexico rJR LHP Toller Boardman
  8. UNLV JR RHP Kenny Oakley
  9. New Mexico JR RHP/SS Drew Bridges
  10. San Diego State JR RHP Dalton Douty
  11. New Mexico rJR LHP Alex Estrella
  12. UNLV rJR LHP Zak Qualls
  13. UNLV rJR RHP Zack Hartman
  14. San Diego State JR RHP Mark Seyler
  15. New Mexico JR RHP Taylor Duree
  16. Nevada JR RHP Adam Whitt
  17. UNLV JR RHP/1B Bryan Bonnell
  18. New Mexico rJR RHP Victor Sanchez
  19. San Jose State SR RHP/OF Kalei Contrades
  20. New Mexico JR RHP Mike Gould
  21. Air Force SR RHP Ben Yokley
  22. UNLV SR RHP Joey Lauria
  23. New Mexico SR RHP Jake Cole

2013 MLB Draft Conference Preview: Mountain West Conference

Aaron Judge and DJ Peterson headline this year’s group of Mountain West Conference prospects. Both could hit their way into this year’s draft first round, especially if you believe that Judge can handle center field in the pros and Peterson can remain at third base. I think both guys will wind up sliding down the defensive spectrum a bit, but still see Judge as a potential first round pick thanks to a better package of tools outside of the batter’s box. I like Peterson just fine and can get behind an argument that supports him as a first round pick and the better overall prospect to Judge, but, as you’ll read below, I straight up love Judge.

  • Bold = locks to be drafted
  • Italics = definite maybes
  • Underlined = possible risers
  • Plain text = long shots

C

  • New Mexico SR C Mitchell Garver
  • Air Force SR C Garrett Custons
  • Fresno State SR C Austin Wynns
  • Fresno State rSR C Trent Garrison
  • San Diego State rSO C Brad Haynal
  • San Diego State SR C Jake Romanski
  • UNLV rSR C Ryan Scott

Top to bottom I think the catching position is the MWC’s deepest in 2013. What it lacks in star power — or, more honestly, starter power — it makes up for in quality depth. That depth could be turned into a handful of dependable big league backup backstops in due time, if the drafting team in each case is patient. I think Mitchell Garver could really take off in pro ball, especially on the defensive side. Get his throwing motion and footwork cleaned up, and there’s no reason he can’t make it as an above-average number two catcher. Garrett Custons’ bat is a little bit lighter, but his athleticism and plus-plus arm strength make him an ideal fit for a defense-first backup. Austin Wynns (standout receiver) and Trent Garrison (another legit plus-plus arm) give Fresno State a pair of veteran catchers most teams would knock themselves out over. Brad Haynal and Jake Romanski still have some proving to do with the bat, but both are above-average or better defenders. Haynal in particular is worth watching, thanks to some interesting tools and the intrigue of his return from a broken leg last season.

1B

  • New Mexico JR 1B DJ Peterson
  • Air Force JR 1B Seth Kline
  • Nevada SR 1B Brett Jones

The book on Peterson, the conference’s 1B prospect to Aaron Judge’s 1A, is fairly simple: raw power that rivals any hitter in the college game, explosive wrists, lightning in his forearms, and exciting hand/eye coordination that all add up to easy elite bat speed, and defense that can generously be projected as questionable at the pro level. The kindest report I’ve gotten on his glove at third has been “average at best,” so chalk the decision to list him as a 1B up to my theory that guys on the defensive fence as amateurs tend to topple over to the easier to play position sooner rather than later upon entering the pros. As tantalizing as the power is, I have a hard time giving a R/R first base (or, best case scenario, left field) prospect a first round grade at this point. If he slips enough in the draft — as I suspect he will, though it has to be mentioned..for anybody out there without a calendar of their own — that we’re a long way between now and June — then his most likely pro outcome (platoon player) starts to look pretty good.

2B

  • San Diego State JR 2B Tim Zier
  • Fresno State JR 2B Jake Alvarez

Tim Zier is probably more of a senior sign to watch in 2014, but he is such a fun college player to watch — rock steady glove, never gives away at bats, smart base runner — that I wouldn’t be stunned if an area scout falls in love with his game and recommends him just early enough to make signing him away from San Diego State a possibility.

SS

  • New Mexico SR SS Alex Allbritton (2013): 6-2, 185 pounds (2011: .234/.283/.303 – 13 BB/41 K – 218 AB) (2012: .222/.247/.280 – 8 BB/54 K – 2/4 SB – 207 AB)

Allbritton was the best I could come up with in my search for a viable 2013 MWC shortstop worth drafting. Allbritton hit .222/.247/.280 last season with 8 BB/54 K in 207 AB. Statement 1 + Statement 2 = there’s not a whole lot of 2013 middle infield talent in the conference this year.

OF

  • Fresno State JR OF Aaron Judge
  • Nevada JR OF Brad Gerig
  • Nevada SR OF Brooks Klein
  • UNLV SR OF Brandon Bayardi
  • New Mexico SR OF Josh Melendez
  • New Mexico rSR OF Luke Campbell
  • Air Force SR OF Alex Bast
  • New Mexico JR OF Chase Harris
  • Nevada SR OF Jamison Rowe

This is probably way too simplistic, but this past weekend works as a decent example of what I expect out of Aaron Judge this year. Series opener on Friday: 0-5, 3 K. Series finale on Sunday: 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB. There are going to be days like Friday to be sure, but I expect a lot more outings like Sunday as the season heats up. He’s still rough around the edges in many ways — his power is more theoretical than real life and his size makes him a historical outlier from the get go — but he does so many things so darn well (speed, defense, arm, approach, and, yes, raw power) that you can’t help but appreciate him as a prospect. Judge’s star is ascending, and I’m happy to have two feet firmly on the bandwagon as it rumbles its way towards June. One big thing I’m looking forward to tracking this year: Judge’s performances against upper-echelon pitching. The one knock on his game that I’ve heard from multiple sources is whether or not his current swing setup will work against pitchers who have both a) premium stuff, and b) an idea about pitch sequencing. Early in the count I’ll take him over just about any college bat, but can he make the necessary adjustments within each at bat to continue being successful at the pro level? Again, I’m quite bullish on Judge’s future, though it’s worth noting he’s got the same ominous R/R profile as Peterson.

I don’t know a ton about Brad Gerig, but literally everything I’ve heard about him so far has been positive. We’re talking no major weaknesses — average hit tool and range are the lowest grades I’ve gotten across the board — with enough power/speed to break out in a big way in 2013.

P

  • Nevada JR RHP Braden Shipley
  • New Mexico JR RHP Tyler Spencer 
  • San Diego State SR RHP Travis Pitcher 
  • New Mexico JR RHP Jake McCasland
  • Fresno State JR LHP Tyler Linehan
  • New Mexico SR RHP Sam Wolff
  • San Diego State JR RHP Philip Walby
  • UNLV JR RHP Zach Hartman
  • San Diego State JR RHP Justin Hepner
  • San Diego State SR RHP Ethan Miller
  • San Diego State JR RHP TJ Kendzora
  • Fresno State rSO LHP Aaron Gillis
  • New Mexico JR RHP Josh Walker
  • Air Force JR RHP Cameron White
  • UNLV JR RHP Buddy Borden
  • Air Force SR LHP Ben Bertelson
  • San Diego State SR RHP Bryan Crabb
  • San Diego State SR RHP Ryan Doran
  • New Mexico JR RHP Anthony Consiglio
  • Nevada SR RHP Tom Jameson
  • New Mexico JR RHP AJ Carman

Braden Shipley is going to rank very, very high up on my overall ranking of college pitchers (coming soon!). If I was better at searching this site, I’d look up every pitcher that I’ve described as my “ideal” pitching prospect or a pitcher “invented in a lab” to suit my needs or whatever other dumb phrase I’ve used to describe my idea of a “perfect” pitching prospect. Shipley rings every bell: easy velocity (92-95 as starter, has hit upwards of 97 in short bursts), low-80s change with above-average upside, solid upper-70s curve, good athleticism, improved command, good glove, effective pickoff move, sturdy frame with room to build on (6-3, 180 pounds), and experience as a hitter (.265/.351/.346 in 136 AB in 2011). I think he’s likely one of those guys I like a lot more than professional talent evaluators, but that’s alright: he may not be a first round, household name come June, but I still think he’s a future big leaguer.

I honestly believe Travis Pitcher is underrated because of his last name. If he was Travis Jones, we’d talk more about his three average or better pitches and strong frame than his name. As somebody who really enjoys fun names, I hope my endorsement of Pitcher comes from a position of some authority. Tyler Spencer is a favorite because he throws nothing straight: good sink and run on low-90s fastball, occasional plus slider, decent sinking change, and a new cutter that could be a weapon in time. Tyler Linehan has a long track record of success, no to mention above-average velocity for a lefthander and a potential plus slider. Sam Wolff is a guy I’ve liked since his days at Southern Nevada: when he’s going good, he’ll throw all four of his average or better pitches for strikes, showing good overall polish and a smooth, repeatable delivery.