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2009 MLB Draft Grades – Philadelphia Phillies

I don’t have a plan of attack in how I want to approach draft grades, so I just made up some categories and started writing. If anybody out there has a better idea on how to do this, I’m all ears. For now, my quick look at what each big league team did in the 2009 MLB Draft…

Three (3) Picks I Liked A Lot

Am I a byproduct of a the instant-gratification, “what have you done for me lately” generation? Do I place too high a value on a singular event that doesn’t have quite the real life importance explaining the way a team operates the way it does that I’ve assigned to it? Or am I just a typical Negadelphian who is only ever happy when there is something, real or imagined, to complain about? Yes, yes, and yes. I’m not happy that the Phillies, just one year removed from providing me with some of the very best moments of my young life, have now put themselves in the position where their 2009 draft class, a draft class that serves as a proxy to their true commitment to putting a winning product on the field, will be considered a success or failure based almost entirely on the whims of a 7th round high school righthanded pitcher from Louisiana. Brody Colvin (7th Round – HS RHP) is easily the most talented player taken by the Phillies in 2009, but whether or not he signs is a 50/50 proposition at best. No matter what happens, it’s hard not to like the pick itself, especially when looked at from an actual cost/potential benefit perspective. I’m finally buying into the Kelly Dugan (2nd Round – HS OF) selection, even though I’m not sure what to make of his ultimate upside. His is a weird skillset to wrap the head around as it isn’t every day a high school first baseman is converted instantly to centerfield as a professional. Lance Berkman is the pie in the sky optimist comp being bandied about, but even 80% of Berkman would work just fine over the long haul. Jonathan Singleton (8th Round – HS 1B) should be what Michael Durant could have been.

Three (3) Picks I Didn’t Like At All

Kyrell Hudson (3rd Round – HS OF) may in fact be a worthy high upside gamble in the third round (he looks great in a uniform, I’m told), but high school players with well below-average hit tools just plain don’t excite me personally. This seems like a research project worth looking into, though it may be difficult to objectively pin down the parameters to make it worthwhile. The Adam Buschini (4th Round – COL 2B) pick is a frustrating one because it brings back terrible memories of an inexplicably cheap Phillies ownership group overdrafting signable no-leverage college players for no clear reason.

Three (3) Best Bets to Play Major League Ball

Kelly Dugan and Brody Colvin are the two easiest names because each player has the upside needed to be above-average at their position while also coming ready made with useful enough tools that should play within the confines of a carefully carved out big league role if things don’t all come together and stardom isn’t achieved. The wild card of this group is Washington State LHP Matt Way, a fifth round pick. Brian Gump (26th Round – COL OF) could be a fifth outfielder somewhere, someday based on his plus speed tool alone, but now I’m just getting cute with this category. Part of my appreciation of Gump here is my coy way of mentioning that two of his many nicknames include “Hot Pants” and “Shiggles.” Shiggles Gump. For real.

California Condor Award (Longest Incubation Period aka Longest Expected Time in Minors)

Plenty of one promotion at a time high school guys in this particular class – lots of 2014 ETA’s. Hudson is probably the biggest name among the group that would take the longest time to reach the bigs…if that makes sense.

Highest Upside

Hudson is almost all projection at this point, so he would appear to be a favorite for this category. On paper, it does make some sense – Hudson is Eddie Murphy raw with tons of potential growth to his game. Then again, your mileage might vary on how high his actual upside really is. It’s great that he can run really fast and even better that his physical frame belies potential plus power down the road, but if a player can’t hit high school pitching with any kind of regularity then his upside is ultimately going to be quite limited. It’s too early to say Hudson — or any high school player for that matter — will never hit as a professional, so I won’t come out and say it, but…it’s generally not too wise to invest too much hope in players who haven’t shown the ability to make consistent contact against what should be overmatched competition. My real answer would be Colvin, a pitcher with true top of the rotation quality stuff and the drive to get there.

Tina Small Biggest Potential Bust Award (Google Her, It’ll Make Sense – NSFW)

Has to be Hudson at this point, right? He could conceivably never make it past AA. If you are counting on underslot top five round college signees to become above-average big league contributors, then you could also throw either Buschini or Way in the mix. I personally would be surprised to see Buschini get a big league at bat. That would make his selection a “bust,” right? I guess it depends on how we want to define “bust.” For now, I’m just looking at high round players (top five, generally) that have a long ways away from being big league quality players. Hudson fits that definition almost too perfectly.

Highest Floor

Way could be a back of the rotation crafty lefty starter if things break the way he and the Phillies hope, but his most likely landing spot is as a LOOGY. Austin Hyatt (15th Round – COL RHP) is another player that may not quite have the upside as a legit big league starter, but has just enough stuff and more than enough guile to outwork those around him and win a bullpen job someday.

Three (3) Unsignable (Probably) Players To Remember

I’m too much of an optimist to put Colvin here, so I won’t. I’d actually bet on him signing a pro contract in the next month or so over him heading down to LSU. If the category was really best non-top five round high school player, then Colvin, Singleton, and Andrew Susac (16th Round – HS C) would make for an easy top three. If we restrict the category to players picked in rounds 10 or later, the best bets to emerge as legit prospects in 2012 include Jake Stewart (Round 14 – HS OF), Susac, and Jeff Gelalich (Round 41 – HS OF).

Final Grade

As it stands now, this draft is one of the weaker ones from top to bottom. However, like many drafts around the league at this point, that potentially negative grade comes with plenty of caveats. Attempting to grade the Phillies prep bunch is tricky because it raises the question of talent vs. signability. Do you grade the high school players on talent or on the likelihood of whether or not each player signs? If it’s the former we’re ignoring the realities of the draft, but if it’s the latter then we’ve just wasted time analyzing picks that shouldn’t really be discussed until after the August signing deadline. I guess a balance is the way to go, let’s try that approach and see what sticks.

Dugan could be an above-average regular outfielder, but was still an undeniable overdraft and not great relative value. Hudson is an all or nothing pick, no other way of putting it. Singleton could be the high schooler than makes or breaks this particular subset (high school bats) because his power potential, bat speed, and age all point to big things to come. Aaron Altherr (Round 9 – HS OF) is Kyrell Hudson with better makeup, thus making him an excellent gamble at this point in the draft. An incredibly raw high school outfielder with a questionable hit tool in the third? Bad idea. Similar player in the ninth round? Let’s roll the dice and see if we can get lucky. Speaking of toolsy outfielders, Stewart and Gelalich both qualify as worthy shots in the dark past round ten. Stewart could part of the insurance policy the Phillies took out in case Colvin doesn’t sign. Susac and the already signed Marlon Mitchell (Round 27 – HS C) are both quality defensive catchers that could develop into starting caliber players.

Colvin is naturally the star of the prep pitching group. His basic scouting report (mid-90s fastball, near plus curveball, above-average athlete and hitter, sometimes sloppy mechanics) sounds a lot like former Phillies first round pick Kyle Drabek’s coming out of high school to me. Steven Inch (Round 6 – HS RHP) has a great frame and that fantastic blend of untapped potential mixed with present polish that make him a personal favorite. Colin Kleven (Round 33 – HS RHP), like Inch a Canadian, grades out as having a tad less upside and a great deal less polish, but he could be a possibility as an early August sign simply because he is one of the very few projectable arms drafted by the Phils here in 2009.

One or more out of Way, Nick Hernandez (12 Round – COL LHP), Hyatt, or still unsigned AJ Griffin (34th Round – COL RHP) should reach the bigs in some capacity – I’m personally a huge Griffin fan, though the lack of a signature on a pro contract by now seems to indicate the ship has all but sailed on him signing and he’ll head back to San Diego for his senior year. The quartet make up four of my favorite under the radar college arms from this year’s class, so at least they have that going for them. There are almost literally no college bats that profile as Major Leaguers, with the only exceptions being longshots like Buschini (who I’m on record as not liking), Darin Ruf (20th Round – COL 1B), and unsigned Texas A&M Aggie Brodie Greene (37th Round – COL 2B). I’m doubtful that any of the three get more than a handful of big league at bats, but Ruf was still a solid selection as a late round senior sign and Greene was a worthy gamble (though it is doubtful he signs) as an offensive second baseman in the 37th round.

Overall, it’s a draft heavy on high school bats and college arms. Based on what I know and what I think I know, they’ll sign two of the four toolsy outfielders (Hudson and Altherr), none or both of the prep righties (I think both Colvin and Inch sign), and then one of the two remaining potential impact bats (either Singleton or Susac, with Singleton being the more likely of the two). A haul of Colvin, Dugan, Singleton, Inch, (Susac), (Stewart), (Gelalich), Hudson, Altherr, Hernandez, Mitchell, Way, Ruf, Buschini, and Hyatt wouldn’t match the potentially historic 2008 draft class for overall value, but it still stacks up as an above-average group with plenty of impact upside.

C+

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March 20th College Pitching Retrospective (Strasburg Free!)

A quick buzz over, around, and through college baseball’s Friday night pitching landscape (whatever that means) as I continue to tirelessly input the many weeks worth of statistical data recently lost because somebody has a weird mental block about saving his work…

The one and only... (more…)

Monday Morning Update

Just a few idle thoughts to get the week going strong. The past few days have been more about research (tons of data input) than writing, but expect plenty of good stuff (college team profiles, finally!) coming your way in the coming days. For now, enjoy some amateur observations made while slaving away on some of that oh so much fun data collecting from the past weekend…

  • I saw this fact somewhere over the weekend and it totally floored me – Alabama has won seven of eight all-time series against the number one ranked team at the time. Can that be true? It sounds almost unbelievable to me, but there it is.

The Crimson Tide took down top-ranked Georgia this weekend with a little help from senior slugger Kent Matthes. His numbers so far are astounding: 12 homers in 59 official at bats (1.169 SLG). That’s almost exactly one bomb for every five at bats…crazy.

  • Answer: 127, 124, 122, 121, 125, 120

Question: How many pitches were thrown over the weekend by Austin Hyatt (Alabama), Kyle Gibson (Missouri), Grant Dayton (Auburn), Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech), Tim Clubb (Missouri State), and Nick Hernandez (Tennessee) in their most recent respective starts?

Hyatt, Dayton, and Clubb can all be called sleeper prospects on a generous day, but the other pitchers (Gibson, McGuire, and Hernandez) are big-time talents pitching for big-time professional contracts every time they take the ball. I know it can’t be easy for a college coach to balance the pressure of winning ballgames in the short-term with the obligation of keeping these young arms healthy for the long-term. It’s also difficult to pass judgment as an outsider without knowing all of the details surrounding each individual coach, player, and specific in-game situation. But, come on, 120 pitches is 120 pitches. I’ll do my best to stay off the soapbox for now, instead opting to just report on pitcher abuse when it happens. You see the names, you see the numbers…let’s see what happens next.

  • The weekend saw plenty of excellent pitching performances, but we only have time to highlight the best of the best.

Out of all the players I inputed data for this weekend, Erik Stavert (Oregon) had the highest number of groundball outs. Stavert recorded 19 outs on balls in play, 15 of them on the ground.

Dallas Keuchel (Arkansas) shut down a good Florida lineup with the following line: 7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K  (9 GO/2 AO)

Kyle Blair (San Diego) was outdueled by the next player on our list, but his complete game line deserves props all the same: 8 IP 7 H 1 ER 1 BB 9 K (10 GO/6 AO)

Ryan Berry (Rice) clearly lives to to make me look stupid. It seems like every time I comment on how I like him but don’t love him, he goes out and does something like this: 9 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 8 K (11 GO/6 AO/3 LO)

The most dominating performance of the weekend belonged to Anthony Ranaudo (Louisiana State): 6 IP 6 H 3 ER 3 BB 13 K. Thirteen strikeouts in six innings is pretty impressive, sure, but how he did it was what made it fun. First five batters – KKKKK. Then a dropped foul ball followed by a walk. Next four batters – KKKK. Ranaudo’s first nine outs came via the strikeout. Through three innings the man had 9 strikeouts. I think it works better visually when ripped right from the game log:

Kentucky 1st -
C. Bisson struck out looking (0-2).
N. Johnson struck out swinging (1-2).
K. Wiley struck out swinging (1-2).
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

Kentucky 2nd -
B. Kapteyn struck out swinging (2-2).
C. Wright struck out swinging (1-2).
Dropped foul ball, E2. M. Nidiffer walked (3-2).
C. Farris struck out swinging (3-2).
0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB.

Kentucky 3rd - 

C. Wade struck out swinging (3-2).
A. Burns struck out looking (2-2).
C. Bisson struck out looking (2-2).
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors,0 LOB.

2009 College Baseball Opening Night – A Pitching Retrospective

A look back on the pitching highlights from college baseball’s opening night. It’s not a comprehensive look back, it’s not an ultra-scouty look back, it’s not even an analytical look back. It’s just a quick and dirty review of how an assorted sampling of some of the very best arms in college baseball performed on Friday, February 20th. Before we get to all the recappy goodness, how about a recap of not how baseball players actually played, but of the work some dorky draft website did?

Who among us can resist the allure of the Big Board? The Top 50 College Draft-Eligibles are HERE, HERE, HERE!

How about a look at teams comprised of the best players from each college class, including the most mysterious and overlooked group of them all? The best college players available in 2010 and 2011 were also given the corny “All _____ Team treatment. We couldn’t ignore the men already caught behind the age relative to league minor league eightball, could we? Wouldn’t dare dream of it. Lastly, why not make yourself familiar with players who are actually relevant to this upcoming year’s upcoming draft by reading about the country’s best draft-eligible sophomores (sans middle infielders)…

I promise I won’t keep linking to myself like that. It’s tacky, I know. It’s just that the site is new, readership is slowly coming along and I don’t want anybody left behind, and, well, I’m trying to trick people into reading something other than just the mock draft. I’m not knocking the mock, heck I love it too, but the disproportionate amount of traffic it gets just cracks me up. Enough complaining, let’s get on with the show.

Onward and upward we go, spinning fast and furiously along the college opening night pitching performance review carousel…

Cream of the Crop

Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State): 5.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 11 K 4 GO 1 AO 1 LO, 105 pitches
Alex White (North Carolina): 5 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 9 K 5 GO 1 AO 90 pitches
Kyle Gibson (Missouri): 6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Mike Minor (Vanderbilt): 5.2 IP 5 H 2 ER 2 BB 6 K 3 GO 7 AO 1 LO
Kendal Volz (Baylor): 6 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 5 K 9 GO 2 AO

Some really super awesome highly reputable website has these players respectively ranked 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 13th in their draft class, so, yeah, you know they are good. I’m not really sure what I can add to numbers that speak so darn well for themselves. Five pitchers, five good to very good pitching performances, five first rounders and millionaires come June. Yawn. Let’s just talk about Strasburg instead of going into all the nitty gritty details of the other quality starts of the quartet of college stars.

The Daily Aztec had an interesting look at the high school career and subsequent recruitment of the San Diego State ace. I’m not sure what kind of dough Rusty Filter is making, but now might be a good time to ask for a raise. The San Diego Union-Tribune has some pretty cool Strasburg related notes in a recent article, including some pretty weird quotes from an anonymous Phillies scout (“He’s definitely a two-pitch pitcher”…I think it’s meant as a compliment, but I hope the scout realizes he isn’t just a two-pitch pitcher, you know?) and a old flat out admission that I must have missed initially from Jim Bowden that Strasburg will be a National pending something terrible happening. Last but certainly not least, Rich Lederer was actually at the game and offered up this first-hand report of what ole Strasburg looked like on opening day. If you aren’t the type to typically click on a link (like me), I suggest changing your tune and following that one, if you have any interest in the best college player in the country anyway.

You know what I just realized? Every time I try to type out Strasburg’s name, every single time, I make the same typo. Stephen Starsburg. My fingers won’t let me type it any other way without really, really concentrating. I wonder if my hands know know something my fingers don’t…

(In the effort of full disclosure, in the first typing of the paragraph above I inverted letters in both the words “hands” and “know.” So, maybe it’s not a sign of wonderful things to follow for young Strasburg. Maybe it’s just as simple as me being a poor typist…)

Starter or Reliever?

Louis Coleman (LSU): 5 IP 2 H 2 BB 8 K 2 GO 4 AO 74 pitches
Ryan Berry (Rice): 4.2 IP 4 H 5 ER 5 BB 3 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Preston Guilmet (Arizona): 4 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K 3 GO 2 AO
Brad Boxberger (Southern Cal): 6 IP 1 H 0 ER 6 BB 11 K 2 GO 2 AO 120 pitches

As you can probably ascertain from their lines, all four of the young men listed above started the first game of the season for their respective college teams. Reports have Boxberger’s velocity falling off quickly after the first inning (and again after the second inning), a trend that jives well with his scouting reports heading into the season. While it’s almost always a good thing to exhaust every avenue, boulevard, and throughway that leads to a pitcher starting rather than relieving, you’ve got to wonder if it’s the right thing for a college coach to have a pitcher with professional aspirations tied to potentially being an elite reliever someday throwing 120 pitches in a game. Who am I kidding? You don’t even have to wonder. It’s bad. Research shows us this. Even if you are on the side of the debate that says pitchers are babied and pitch counts are overrated, come on – 120 pitches in the first game of the season? What’s the point? The fact that Boxberger is looked at as a potential reliever by scouts is just icing on the shortsighted, irresponsible cake. If you as a manager can help it, no pitcher should throw 120+ pitches in a single game ever, let alone on February 20th, right? It’s not good for the player and, if you stop and think for a second, it’s not good for the team, either. Is squeezing one extra inning (or two) out of a starting pitcher in a non-conference game so early in the season worth the potential damage an injury or even fatigue could have on the ballclub? Maybe there is more to the story that I simply don’t know, but from where I’m sitting Chad Kreuter has some answering to do.

Phew, I feel a bit better now. As for the other guys, both Berry and Guilmet are no doubt about it college starters who may be converted to relief as professionals. Louis Coleman is an interesting case because he may actually have just good enough stuff to survive professionally as a swingman/special usage long reliever if he shows he can start for LSU. That’s arguably an upgrade over simply topping out as a generic middle reliever, depending on your own personal philosophy on bullpen usage.

Draft-Eligible Youngsters (Sophomores)

Brooks Raley (Texas A&M): 6 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K 3 GO 7 AO 1 LO 79 pitches
Jeff Inman (Stanford): 7 IP 9 H 5 ER 1 BB 3 K 12 GO 4 AO

Hard not to be impressed by Raley’s debut effort, all the way down to the efficient way he went about his business. Inman’s numbers aren’t nearly as pretty, but the strong groundballing start is promising. The groundball numbers fit his scouting profile (strong sinker), but the lack of dominance (namely the poor K/IP rate) is something that needs a turn around this season if Inman wants to get into the first round – a spot in the draft that some think he can rise up to. I don’t buy Inman as a first rounder at all, so I’ll amend that last statement to say I personally he’ll need to show he can put hitters away in college if he wants to be a first three rounder this spring.

2010’s

Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech): 7 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 13 K 3 GO 4 AO
Chris Hernandez (Miami): 6 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 7 K 11 GO 1 AO 95 pitches
Sammy Solis (San Diego): 6 IP 4 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K 7 GO 1 AO

Let’s combine these lines real quick and take a moment to bask in all it’s young pitchery glory:

19 IP 10 H 2 ER 4 BB 29 K 21 GO 6 AO

That’s good for an ERA of 0.95, a K/9 of 13.74, and a GO/AO ratio of 3.5. Even that Strasburg guy would be jealous of numbers like that. Hernandez is a fascinating prospect (I say that about a lot of guys, don’t I?) in that he has put up tremendous results at Miami in his young career, but lacks traditionally dominating stuff. Perhaps the 11/1 groundball to flyball number is a bit of a clue to how he has been so successful. If I get the time/patience/energy, I’ll have to go through the Miami game logs from last year and see what his 2008 ratio looked like.

New on Campus

Austin Dicharry (Texas): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 2 K 1 GO 0 AO
Sonny Gray (Vanderbilt): 3 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K 5 GO 0 AO

Two pretty sharp collegiate debuts for two of the finest young righties the class of 2011 has to offer. Gray’s 3 innings out of the Vandy pen were especially good, as 8 of his 9 outs recorded were either grounders or strikeouts and his lone walk was an intentional one. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a college hitter getting the 1-2 punch of Mike Minor and Sonny Gray all in one afternoon. My head might literally explode. That may sound gross, but keep in mind I’d hopefully be wearing a helmet at the time, so much of the splatter would be contained. I’m not sure how talking about exploding head splatter is any less gross (or anyway related to baseball), so we’ll just quietly pretend I didn’t say that and move on. Oh, and while we are pretending we have to also pretend I don’t have a functional delete key, thus explaining why I decided to keep such a stupid couple of sentences rather than delete them. Make-believe is fun!

Real Deal College Relievers

Scott Bittle (Mississippi): 1 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 1 K 1 GO 1 AO
AJ Griffin (San Diego): 2.1 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 4 K 2 GO 1 AO
Jason Stoffel (Arizona): 1 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K 0 GO 1 AO
Robert Stock (Southern Cal): 1 IP 0 H 0 ER 0 BB 2 K 1 GO 0 AO 12 pitches

I probably should have this group directly after the “Starter or Reliever” group, but that would require many seconds of copying and pasting that I can ill afford to spend on something so tedious. You see, I’m far more important to be bothered with such foolishness. It’s a much better use of my time to wonder aloud (in print) “What the heck happened to Jason Stoffel on Friday?” I also need the extra seconds to spend time pontificating about the wonderful debut of Robert Stock. Consensus opinion may have turned on you, buddy, but I still think you’re a keeper. Not too many players can get on base three times (including 2 hits, one a double), throw out two runners trying to steal second, and pitch a perfect ninth inning throwing low-90s heat. All that and he’s still only 19? Sign me up.

Random Lefties For Whom I Could Think of No Other Clever Unifying Characteristic

Rob Rasmussen (UCLA): 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K 6 GO 3 AO 1 LO
Tanner Robles (Oregon State): 5 IP 3 H 3 ER 4 BB 2 K 7 GO 4 AO 1 LO
Nick Hernandez (Tennessee): 5 IP 9 H 3 ER 1 BB 5 K 4 GO 5 AO

A mixed bag, for sure, but since when are lefthanders anything but? Robles and Hernandez went head to head, with nary a player coming out ahead of the other. Is that the correct way to use “nary”? And I am supposed to put the question mark outside the quotation marks, right? I know a period goes inside, but I’m pretty sure I remember the question mark being an oddball. Not unlike our quirky group of lefties here, see? Ah, full circle. Love that symmetry.

2009 MLB Draft: College Big Board 1.0

1. Steven Strasburg (RHSP – San Diego State)

Alright, so far this is pretty easy…

2. Alex White (RHSP – North Carolina)
3. Grant Green (SS – Southern California)
4. Dustin Ackley (OF – North Carolina)
5. Kyle Gibson (RHSP – Missouri)

White is a confusing prospect. On one hand, he’s second on the board and, while Green may be very close behind him at number three, is a worthy candidate to go number two overall. On the other hand, if we pretended Strasburg wasn’t draft-eligible this year, would White as the number one pick in the country feel right? That may be a silly way of looking at it, but I can’t help it. Maybe it’s more about my personal hangup about what a number one overall pick should be. I like White a lot and genuinely believe he can front a big league rotation, but it would feel like a weak draft if he went number one overall. Ugh, that makes no sense. I’m just thinking out loud, disregard this paragraph…

6. Mike Minor (LHSP – Vanderbilt)
7. Tanner Scheppers (RHSP – Fresno State/St. Paul Saints)
8. Aaron Crow (RHSP – Missouri/Forth Worth Cats)
9. Andrew Oliver (LHSP – Oklahoma State)

Minor is a personal favorite and higher on this list than he’ll sure be on others – watching Cole Hamels every fifth day the last few years has turned me into a huge backer of lefties with plus changeups. Scheppers is also higher here than he’ll be on most rankings, but, remember, this ranking is based on the assumption of good health into the summer.

10. Josh Phegley (C – Indiana)
11. Mike Leake (RHSP – Arizona State)
12. James Jones (LHSP – Long Island)
13. Kendal Volz (RHSP – Baylor)
14. Mike Nesseth (RHSP – Nebraska)

Phegley as the third ranked college bat may seem a little strange, but his statistical profile is hard to ignore. He heads up an underrated group of college catchers that feature a surprisingly high number of players on the list – well, maybe it isn’t all that surprising, but it was surprising to me as I put the list together, whatever that’s worth. Leake over Volz is a little strange, but it came down to present plus command and movement over potential power plus stuff across the board.

15. Sean Black (RHSP – Seton Hall)
16. Jake Locker (OF – Washington)

Sometimes I have a hard time letting go. I know I previously admitted having Locker = poor man’s Grady Sizemore burned into my brain, but Sean Black this high could be just as egregious a selection. Black was a big prep prospect not too long ago who has failed to live up to the hype at Seton Hall. Loads of raw talent + more difficult playing conditions (subpar team, so-so conference, and colder weather) = potential sleeper prospect. Locker will fall down the list (and eventually off altogether) as other players emerge this spring, but I had to put him way up here as a nod to his prodigious talent.

17. Kentrail Davis (OF – Tennessee)
18. Robbie Shields (SS – Florida Southern)
19. Jared Mitchell (OF – Louisiana State)
20. Kyle Seager (2B – North Carolina)
21. Rich Poythress (1B – Georgia)

Counting Locker at 16th, that gives us sixth straight position players in a row. How about that? These five should all be big league starters if all goes according to plan, though only the two outfielders profile as potential all-stars.

22. Sam Dyson (RHSP – South Carolina)
23. Chris Dominguez (3B – Louisville)

All or nothing, here we come. Dyson’s arm is electric, but his injury history and control both need some cleaning up. Dominguez has his detractors, but two plus tools (arm and power) make him stand out in a weak college class for hitters. If he puts it all together this season, expect crazy power numbers out of Dominguez, especially in Big East play.

24. Ryan Ortiz (C – Oregon State)
25. DJ LeMahieu (SS – Louisiana State)
26. Trevor Coleman (C – Missouri)
27. Robert Stock (C – Southern California)
28. Ryan Jackson (SS – Miami)

Five spots, only two positions. Sorting out the college catchers and middle infielders is one of the trickier things to do in this class. Ortiz is an underrated player because his skillset is so broad. Players like this often get overlooked for not having one standout tool to suck scouts in. LeMahieu is a far better hitter than Jackson, but they are close in the overall rankings because Jackson’s defense is outstanding. Big league front offices realize the importance of quality defense now more than ever, so where Jackson falls on actual draft boards will make an interesting case study in just how focused teams are developing their own standout defenders through the draft. As I already wrote about in the mock draft, Stock = catching version of Sean Black. Of course, baseball is a weird game so there may be more to the story than that simple equation (I like equations, by the way…if you haven’t noticed. We might be able to claim that Stock = Black without the catching disclaimer if the Southern Cal product has a big season on the mound for the Trojans.

29. AJ Pollock (OF/2B – Notre Dame)
30. Jason Stoffel (RHRP – Arizona)
31. Bryan Morgado (LHSP – Tennessee)
32. Kyle Heckathorn (RHSP – Kennesaw State)

Pollock is a hard player to figure, but if the position switch to second base actually sticks, he’ll fly up draft boards this spring. He is a very good basestealer, has playable pop, and is difficult to strike out. Pollock is one of the few I haven’t seen play yet, so I’m just throwing this out there…what about Chone Figgins as a comp?

33. Ben Tootle (RHRP – Jacksonville State)
34. Shawn Tolleson (RHSP – Baylor)
35. Jake Cowan (RHSP – San Jacinto JC)
36. Blake Smith (OF/RHSP – California)

The first junior college player to make the list is a righty with a great frame, 95 MPH fastball, and three plus pitches. Cowan, the former Virginia recruit, will be in contention to be the first juco player picked in 2009.

37. Tyler Lyons (LHSP – Oklahoma State)
38. Jeff Inman (RHSP – Stanford)
39. Ryan Weber (RHSP – St. Petersburg JC)

Weber is the second junior college arm on the list, a fact worth noting because neither the aforementioned Jake Cowan or Weber is Daniel Webb. Webb, the consensus top junior college talent, failed to crack the top fifty. Blazing fastball or not, he was just too raw a prospect for our tastes.

40. Micah Gibbs (C – Louisiana State)
41. Matt Thomson (RHSP – San Diego)
42. Brad Boxberger (RHRP – Southern California)
43. Tommy Medica (C – Santa Clara)
44. Brad Stillings (RHSP – Kent State)
45. Steve Fischback (RHRP – Cal Poly)
46. Nick Hernandez (LHSP – Tennessee)
47. Gavin Brooks (LHSP – UCLA)
48. Jordan Henry (OF – Mississippi)
49. David Hale (RHSP – Princeton)
50. Ben Paulsen (1B – Clemson)

And that’s 50. Not a very inspiring last group, but, let’s be real, it’s not a very exciting year for high-end college talent. I think I picked the wrong year to start doing this…

Check back all weekend long for occasional updates on college baseball’s opening weekend.