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2018 MLB Draft Profile – North Carolina State

You wait and you wait and you wait for a player to take that next step, and then it finally happens and it’s hard to know how to react. OF Brett Kinneman always had the tools to be an early round prospect, but it took until this spring to see the total package of power, patience, and athleticism begin to show up on a nightly basis. Kinneman’s improved selectivity at the plate has helped him not only to get on base more and strikeout less (duh) but also do more damage with the pitches he knows he can drive. Defensively, he can fake it in center but is best in a corner. That was a small albeit fair concern coming into the year, but his jump in offensive production now makes his long-term defensive home less of an issue. If he continues to rake, Kinneman will be looked at as a potential everyday option in either left (most likely) or right (if you believe in his arm as I do). There’s still the risk that comes from any bat-first prospect, but Kinneman’s athleticism, speed (average), and arm (average) are all good enough that he should provide some value even if his offensive game backslides a touch.

That same leap hasn’t happened for the ultra-toolsy OF Brock Deatherage. There’s no denying his speed, arm, and range in center, but counting on him to hit more than what you’d want out of a fifth outfielder seems like a stretch. There’s no real kind way of saying it, but his approach is simply a mess. The preferred senior-sign contender in the NC State outfield is OF Josh McLain, an athlete with many of the same strengths as Deatherage (speed, range, pop) but without the same arm strength. That one negative is more than made up for with a superior approach at the plate. I’m not sure the ceiling is much more than org guy/fifth outfielder, but pro ball needs org guys/fifth outfielders so he’ll get his shot.

1B Evan Edwards is slick around the bag and powerful at the plate. A “better, more athletic” Jake Adams (sixth round pick out of Iowa last year) was one way he was described to me. Edwards has certainly impressed in the early going and is now firmly in the top ten round power bat conversation. Contact remains an issue for SR 1B/OF Shane Shepard, but his power and patience are strong enough to make him a viable late round draft prospect even as his average hovers around the .250 mark. It was a minor upset to see 2B Stephen Pitarra return to Raleigh for his senior season. I had thought his mix of defensive versatility and just enough offensive skill would get him an early shot in pro ball. He now needs to get healthy and back in the lineup to fulfill that senior-sign destiny. C Jack Conley is another guy who needs to get on the field to show off his interesting and thoroughly under-the-radar mix of defense behind the plate, solid athleticism, and sneaky offensive upside.

LHP Brian Brown is awesome. The changeup, the command, the deception, the four years of collegiate dominance…all awesome. His fastball is his fastball (mid-80s, though it’s been clocked as high as 89 MPH), so you have to take the less awesome with the awesome. Still, the overall package is a lot of fun and well worth using some draft capital on. D1 Baseball has comped him to a lefty Preston Morrison (8th round pick) and the first name I come back to is Michael Roth (9th round), so somewhere between rounds eight and ten make sense as the time to strike if you want to add a money-saving senior-sign with the stuff (not just raw stuff in a conventional way, but the “extra stuff” that goes beyond fastball/changeup/breaking ball quality) and drive to pitch in the big leagues one day. For what it’s worth, I’ve run the Michael Roth comparison by a few smart people and the consensus there is that he’s a “way better” prospect than Roth. Considering Roth reached the big leagues in his first full professional season, I’d say that’s a nice compliment even after taking into account how the former Gamecock has struggled at the highest level to date.

RHP Johnny Piedmonte is a large human (6-8, 240) who has been through a lot (most notably Tommy John surgery). As a senior-sign relief prospect with a decent fastball (87-92, 93 peak) and breaking ball (both a mid-70s CB and a low-80s SL, curve currently the better offering) combination, he should get a shot in pro ball. Another redshirt-senior, RHP Joe O’Donnell, should also get a chance to pitch in the pros this June. His stuff is generally similar (same velo, hybrid-breaking ball, occasional change) with slightly more advanced secondary offerings. Everything he threw was down across the board last year, but he still managed to strike out a ton of hitters (10.99 K/9 in 48.1 IP). No word yet on what he’s tossing in 2018, but the results have been encouraging. RHP Austin Staley and RHP Nolan Clenney are both redshirt-juniors with decent fastballs (88-91 for Staley, 89-93 for Clenney) and average or better breaking balls.

RHP Dalton Feeney makes for one fascinating draft case study. I can’t think of too many other draft-eligible sophomores coming off of Tommy John surgery with the kind of stuff good enough to entice pro teams despite only having 21.1 college innings to his name. Can you? For real though, I can’t imagine Feeney is signable but making a run on an arm of his caliber (88-94 fastball that touches 96, above-average 79-82 breaking ball, working on both a change and a cutter) seems like a small risk, high reward gamble worth taking.

SS Will Wilson is a potential monster 2019 draft prospect. C Brad Debo could very well join him in the early round party. And North Carolina State has SS David Vazquez and C Patrick Bailey right behind them ready to keep things rolling. That’s some seriously enviable long-term up-the-middle depth.

SO RHP Dalton Feeney (2018)
SR LHP Brian Brown (2018)
rSR RHP Joe O’Donnell (2018)
rJR RHP Austin Staley (2018)
rJR RHP Nolan Clenney (2018)
rSR RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2018)
JR OF Brett Kinneman (2018)
SR OF Brock Deatherage (2018)
SR OF Josh McLain (2018)
JR C Jack Conley (2018)
SR 2B Stephen Pitarra (2018)
SR 1B/OF Shane Shepard (2018)
JR 1B Evan Edwards (2018)
rSO 3B Dillon Cooper (2018)
SO RHP Mathieu Gauthier (2019)
SO RHP Michael Bienlien (2019)
rFR LHP James Ferguson (2019)
rFR RHP James Vaughn (2019)
SO LHP Kent Klyman (2019)
SO SS Will Wilson (2019)
SO C Brad Debo (2019)
FR LHP David Harrison (2020)
FR LHP Nick Swiney (2020)
FR RHP/OF Reid Johnston (2020)
FR OF Terrell Tatum (2020)
FR SS David Vazquez (2020)
FR C Patrick Bailey (2020)
FR 2B/SS JT Jarrett (2020)

2017 MLB Draft Report – North Carolina State

I have notes on twelve different draft-eligible North Carolina state pitching prospects. Let’s put them into groups for easier readability…

Tim Naughton
Karl Keglovits
Nolan Clenney

Naughton has late-inning reliever stuff (94-97 FB, mid-80s SL that flashes plus), but needs innings. Keglovits is a fifth-year senior who feels like a tenth-year senior. He could be a sinker/slider/splitter type if he could ever stay healthy. That’s exactly what Clenney is (minus the splitter)…or that’s what we assume he’d be if he was currently pitching.

Cody Beckman
Brian Brown
Cory Wilder
Evan Brabrand
Tommy DeJuneas

The five names above are the wild bunch so far in 2017. Beckman has the three pitches needed to be a quality college starter or multi-inning fireman, but control has been his bugaboo. Brown, a pitcher with plus command once compared by D1 as a “lefty Preston Morrison,” being included here is odd, but a 5.96 BB/9 is a 5.96 BB/9. I still like Brown a lot as another of this class’s many crafty lefties — he’s got the command, mid-80s heat, and above-average to plus mid-70s changeup to qualify — so I’ll be watching closely to see if he can turn around his small sample size mojo. Wilder has great stuff, but a lack of control is unfortunately nothing new for him. Brabrand has the fastball (88-93) and slider (average or better at 82-84) to be a mid-round relief prospect if he throw more strikes. DeJuneas reminds me a little bit of the pitching version of some of the Wolfpack’s toolsy yet frustrating hitting prospects. He’s slowed down his stuff to improve his command/control, but I’d rather him let it fly in the mid- to upper-90s like the good old days and let the chips fall where they may.

Sean Adler
Joe O’Donnell
Johnny Piedmonte
Austin Staley

Hey, these guys have all been pretty good so far this year! Sean Adler is yet another crafty lefty (upper-80s fastball, three usable offspeed pitches, hides the ball well) with the added twist of being effectively wild over his career. Like DeJuneas, O’Donnell’s fastball has lost a little heat over the years. He’s more upper-80s now, but he’s retained his quality breaking ball and decent command. I could see him being a high priority senior-sign for some teams, but there are other money-savers out there I prefer. One such guy would be Johnny Piedmonte, the 6-8, 240 pounder with a shot at middle relief at the next level. Austin Staley’s stuff is standard enough (88-91 FB, good 78 breaker) that he may get lost in the shuffle, but he’s been pretty consistently above-average since first getting regular work last season. I like him.

Only two members of the Wolfpack’s lineup (as of this writing) have more walks than strikeouts. Those two players are both slugging under .300. Taken together, that goes down as a bit of an auspicious start to the 2017 season for North Carolina’s big-name hitting prospects. I really liked Evan Mendoza coming into the year as a legit third base prospect with the chance for an average hit tool and above-average raw power. I still like him, but he’s got some serious work to do to climb out of his early season hole. I’ve always been lukewarm on Joe Dunand, a tooled-up left side of the infield standout (shortstop for some, third base for me) with a prospect stock built more on projection than present ability. Dunand will flash big power, impressive defensive tools, and elite athleticism, but he still has a ways to go as a hitter. It’s a boom/bust profile that will either make a scouting director look like a genius or a dope.

Josh McLain operates a little bit like the an outfield version of Dunand. He can run and defend with the best of this class, but offensively has shown only flashes to this point. Same goes for Brock Deatherage. Opportunities are there for talented players like Shane Shepard (power bat at first), Stephen Pitarra (versatile glove, competent bat), and Andy Cosgrove (should be able to stick behind plate) to rise up within their respective position rankings if they can turn around their springs. That’s kind of the overall theme for the North Carolina State team at this point. There’s talent there and I could easily see some of these guys being better pros than college performers, but identifying who/when/why/how is a headache.

*****

rJR LHP Cody Beckman (2017)
rSO RHP Tim Naughton (2017)
JR LHP Brian Brown (2017)
SR RHP Cory Wilder (2017)
rSR LHP Sean Adler (2017)
SR RHP Joe O’Donnell (2017)
rSR RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2017)
rSR RHP Karl Keglovits (2017)
JR RHP Evan Brabrand (2017)
JR RHP Nolan Clenney (2017)
rSO RHP Austin Staley (2017)
JR RHP/1B Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
JR 3B Evan Mendoza (2017)
JR 3B/SS Joe Dunand (2017)
JR OF Josh McLain (2017)
JR OF Brock Deatherage (2017)
JR 1B/OF Shane Shepard (2017)
JR 2B Stephen Pitarra (2017)
rJR OF Garrett Suggs (2017)
JR C Andy Cosgrove (2017)
FR RHP Dalton Feeney (2018)
SO RHP Christian Demby (2018)
SO OF Brett Kinneman (2018)
SO C Jack Conley (2018)
FR RHP Michael Bienlien (2019)
FR RHP Mathieu Gauthier (2019)
FR LHP James Ferguson (2019)
FR RHP James Vaughn (2019)
FR C Brad Debo (2019)
FR SS Will Wilson (2019)
FR OF EP Reese (2019)

2016 MLB Draft – ACC

If you’re one of the small handful of daily readers, you can go ahead and skip this post. You’ve already seen it. Not that you needed my permission or anything, but you’re free to pass all the same. The intent here is to get all of the college content in one place, so below you’ll find everything I’ve written about the 2016 class of MLB Draft prospects currently playing in the ACC. Then I’ll have a college baseball master list post that will centralize everything I’ve written about the 2016 MLB Draft college class all in one place. It’s a rare bit of inspired organizational posting around here, so I’m trying to strike while motivated…

ACC Overview Part 1
ACC Overview Part 2
Boston College

Clemson
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Miami
North Carolina State
Notre Dame
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – ACC Follow List

Boston College 

JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw (2015)
JR 3B/SS Joe Cronin (2015)
SR 2B/SS Blake Butera (2015)
SR RHP John Gorman (2015)
SR LHP Nick Poore (2015)
JR RHP Jeff Burke (2015)
JR LHP Jesse Adams (2015)
SO RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
SO RHP Mike King (2016)
SO C Nick Sciortino (2016)
SO SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
SO RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2016)

Clemson

JR LHP Matthew Crownover (2015)
JR LHP Zack Erwin (2015)
JR RHP Clate Schmidt (2015)
rSO RHP Wales Toney (2015)
rJR RHP Patrick Andrews (2015)
rSR RHP Kevin Pohle (2015)
rSR RHP Jake Long (2015)
JR RHP Brady Koerner (2015)
rSR RHP Clay Bates (2015)
rSO RHP Garrett Lovorn (2015)
JR RHP/3B Jackson Campana (2015)
JR OF Steven Duggar (2015)
SR OF Tyler Slaton (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Andrew Cox (2015)
rSO OF Maleeke Gibson (2015)
JR SS/2B Tyler Krieger (2015)
SO C Chris Okey (2016)
SO LHP Pat Krall (2016)
SO 3B/SS Weston Wilson (2016)
SO SS/2B Eli White (2016)
SO LHP Alex Bostic (2016)
SO RHP Drew Moyer (2016)
rFR 3B Glenn Batson (2016)
rFR OF Reed Rohlman (2016)
FR OF KJ Bryant (2017)
FR LHP Charlie Barnes (2017)
FR OF Drew Wharton (2017)
FR OF Chase Pinder (2017)

Duke

JR RHP Michael Matuella (2015)
SR RHP Sarkis Ohanian (2015)
SR RHP Andrew Istler (2015)
SR LHP Trent Swart (2015)
rJR LHP Remy Janco (2015)
rJR RHP Conner Stevens (2015)
JR LHP Nick Hendrix (2015)
rSR LHP Dillon Haviland (2015)
rSO RHP James Marvel (2015)
JR RHP/SS Kenny Koplove (2015)
rSR C Mike Rosenfeld (2015)
rSO OF Jalen Phillips (2015)
SR 2B Andy Perez (2015)
SO RHP Bailey Clark (2016)
SO RHP Karl Blum (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2016)
SO C Cristian Perez (2016)
FR 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
FR LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
FR SS Ryan Day (2017)
FR 3B Jack Labosky (2017)
FR LHP Mitch Stallings (2017)

Florida State

JR OF DJ Stewart (2015)
rSR 1B Chris Marconcini (2015)
JR 2B/SS John Sansone (2015)
SR C Daniel De La Calle (2015)
SR OF Josh Delph (2015)
rJR RHP Mike Compton (2015)
SR LHP Bryant Holtmann (2015)
JR RHP/OF Jameis Winston (2015)
JR LHP Alex Diese (2015)
JR LHP Dylan Silva (2015)
SR LHP Billy Strode (2015)
SO RHP Taylor Blatch (2016)
SO LHP Alec Byrd (2016)
SO RHP Boomer Biegalski (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Ward (2016)
rFR RHP Ed Voyles (2016)
SO RHP Jim Voyles (2016)
SO OF/SS Ben DeLuzio (2016)
SO 1B/C Quincy Nieporte (2016)
SO C/OF Gage West (2016)
SO INF Hank Truluck (2016)
FR RHP Cobi Johnson (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Karp (2017)
FR RHP Drew Carlton (2017)
FR SS/3B Dylan Busby (2017)
FR SS/2B Taylor Walls (2017)
FR C/1B Darren Miller (2017)
FR OF/RHP Steven Wells (2017)

Georgia Tech

SR 1B/C AJ Murray (2015)
rJR OF Dan Spingola (2015)
JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez (2015)
rSO 1B Cole Miller (2015)
SR 2B/SS Thomas Smith (2015)
JR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2015)
SR RHP Cole Pitts (2015)
SO OF Ryan Peurifoy (2016)
SO RHP Zac Ryan (2016)
SO C Arden Pabst (2016)
SO OF Keenan Innis (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Brandon Gold (2016)
SO LHP Ben Parr (2016)
SO SS Connor Justus (2016)
FR OF/1B Kel Johnson (2017)
FR LHP Daniel Gooden (2017)
FR RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)

Louisville

JR RHP Kyle Funkhouser (2015)
rSO LHP Josh Rogers (2015)
rSO LHP Robert Strader (2015)
JR RHP/1B Anthony Kidston (2015)
SR 2B/SS Zach Lucas (2015)
JR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum (2015)
SR OF Michael White (2015)
SR SS/2B Sutton Whiting (2015)
SO RHP Zack Burdi (2016)
SO LHP Drew Harrington (2016)
SO RHP Jake Sparger (2016)
SO OF Corey Ray (2016)
SO 2B Nick Solak (2016)
rFR 3B/SS Blake Tiberi (2016)
rFR OF/C Ryan Summers (2016)
SO OF Colin Lyman (2016)
SO C Will Smith (2016)
rFR OF Mike White (2016)
FR LHP/1B Brendan McKay (2017)
FR SS Devin Hairston (2017)
FR RHP Lincoln Henzman (2017)
FR RHP Kade McClure (2017)
FR C/1B Colby Fritch (2017)

Miami

JR 3B/1B David Thompson (2015)
JR 3B/OF George Iskenderian (2015)
SR C Garrett Kennedy (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Chris Barr (2015)
JR OF Ricky Eusebio (2015)
JR SS/RHP Brandon Lopez (2015)
rJR LHP Andrew Suarez (2015)
JR LHP Thomas Woodrey (2015)
JR RHP Enrique Sosa (2015)
SO 1B/C Zack Collins (2016)
SO OF Willie Abreu (2016)
SO RHP/1B Derik Beauprez (2016)
SO OF Jacob Heyward (2016)
SO LHP Danny Garcia (2016)
SO RHP Bryan Garcia (2016)
SO SS Sebastian Diaz (2016)
SO 2B Johnny Ruiz (2016)
SO RHP Cooper Hammond (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Honiotes (2016)
FR OF Carl Chester (2017)
FR OF Justin Smith (2017)
FR LHP Michael Mediavilla (2017)
FR RHP Jesse Lepore (2017)
FR RHP Keven Pimentel (2017)
FR LHP Luke Spangler (2017)
FR RHP Devin Meyer (2017)

North Carolina

SR RHP Benton Moss (2015)
JR RHP Reilly Hovis (2015)
JR RHP Trent Thornton (2015)
rJR RHP Chris McCue (2015)
SR RHP Trevor Kelley (2015)
JR RHP Taylore Cherry (2015)
JR OF Skye Bolt (2015)
JR OF Josh Merrigan (2015)
JR 3B/2B Landon Lassiter (2015)
JR C Korey Dunbar (2015)
JR SS/OF Alex Raburn (2015)
SO RHP/SS Spencer Trayner (2016)
SO RHP AJ Bogucki (2016)
SO RHP Zac Gallen (2016)
SO LHP Zach Rice (2016)
SO C Adrian Chacon (2016)
SO 1B Joe Dudek (2016)
SO 2B/SS Wood Myers (2016)
SO OF Tyler Ramirez (2016)
SO OF Adam Pate (2016)
FR 3B/RHP Ryder Ryan (2016)
FR 1B/LHP Hunter Williams (2017)
FR SS/3B Zack Gahagan (2017)
FR RHP JB Bukauskas (2017)
FR RHP Hansen Butler (2017)
FR RHP Jason Morgan (2017)
FR OF/2B Logan Warmoth (2017)
FR RHP Brett Daniels (2017)
FR INF Brooks Kennedy (2017)

North Carolina State

JR RHP Jon Olczak (2015)
JR RHP Curt Britt (2015)
rJR LHP Travis Orwig (2015)
JR RHP Karl Keglovits (2015)
JR LHP Brad Stone (2015)
rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2015)
SR OF Jake Fincher (2015)
JR SS Ryne Willard (2015)
SR OF Bubby Riley (2015)
SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge (2015)
SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong (2015)
JR C Chance Shepard (2015)
SO RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
SO 3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
SO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO 1B Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SO RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
SO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
FR RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
FR RHP Evan Mendoza (2017)
FR OF Storm Edwards (2017)
FR 3B Joe Dunand (2017)

Notre Dame

rSR RHP Cristian Torres (2015)
JR RHP Nick McCarty (2015)
SR RHP Scott Kerrigan (2015)
JR RHP David Hearne (2015)
JR LHP Michael Hearne (2015)
JR LHP/OF Zac Kutsulis (2015)
SR OF/LHP Robert Youngdahl (2015)
SR 3B Phil Mosey (2015)
SR OF/1B Ryan Bull (2015)
SR OF Mac Hudgins (2015)
SR OF Blaise Lezynski (2015)
SR OF Conor Biggio (2015)
JR SS Lane Richards (2015)
JR C/OF Ricky Sanchez (2015)
SO RHP Ryan Smoyer (2016)
SO 2B/SS Kyle Fiala (2016)
SO 2B/3B Cavan Biggio (2016)
SO C Ryan Lidge (2016)
rFR OF Torii Hunter (2016)
FR RHP Peter Solomon (2017)
FR RHP Brad Bass (2017)
FR RHP Brandon Bielak (2017)
FR LHP Sean Guenther (2017)

Pittsburgh

SR OF Boo Vazquez (2015)
SR 1B Eric Hess (2015)
SR SS/2B Matt Johnson (2015)
JR C Alex Kowalczyk (2015)
JR RHP Marc Berube (2015)
JR RHP Aaron Sandefur (2015)
JR LHP/OF Aaron Schnurbusch (2015)
SR RHP Hobie Harris (2015)
SO RHP Sam Mersing (2016)
SO RHP TJ Zeuch (2016)
FR 3B/SS Charles LeBlanc (2017)

Virginia

JR OF Joe McCarthy (2015)
JR 2B/3B John LaPrise (2015)
SO SS/3B Daniel Pinero (2015)
SR 3B Kenny Towns (2015)
JR C/RHP Robbie Coman (2015)
JR LHP Brandon Waddell (2015)
JR LHP Nathan Kirby (2015)
JR RHP Josh Sborz (2015)
JR LHP David Rosenberger (2015)
SO RHP Connor Jones (2016)
SO C Matt Thaiss (2016)
SO RHP Jack Roberts (2016)
SO RHP Alec Bettinger (2016)
FR 2B Jack Gerstenmaier (2017)
FR 1B/RHP Pavin Smith (2017)
FR RHP Derek Casey (2017)
FR RHP Tommy Doyle (2017)
FR OF/LHP Adam Haseley (2017)
FR LHP Bennett Sousa (2017)
FR 3B Charlie Cody (2017)
FR C/2B Justin Novak (2017)
FR OF Christian Lowry (2017)
FR 2B/OF Ernie Clement (2017)

Virginia Tech

rSO OF Saige Jenco (2015)
SR 2B/SS Alex Perez (2015)
rSR OF Kyle Wernicki (2015)
rJR OF Logan Bible (2015)
SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden (2015)
rSO 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2015)
SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica (2015)
rSO LHP Kit Scheetz (2015)
rJR LHP Jon Woodcock (2015)
SO RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
SO SS Ricky Surum (2016)
SO RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
SO 3B Ryan Tufts (2016)
SO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO 3B/OF Miguel Ceballos (2016)
SO RHP Ryan Lauria (2016)
FR C Joe Freiday (2017)
FR 3B Max Ponzurik (2017)

Wake Forest

JR RHP/C Garrett Kelly (2015)
SR RHP Matt Pirro (2015)
rSO LHP Max Tishman (2015)
rJR RHP Aaron Fossas (2015)
rSR OF Kevin Jordan (2015)
JR OF/2B Joey Rodriguez (2015)
JR OF Luke Czajkowski (2015)
SO C Ben Breazeale (2016)
rFR RHP Chris Farish (2016)
SO 2B/OF Nate Mondou (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Will Craig (2016)
SO RHP John McCarren (2016)
SO RHP Connor Johnstone (2016)
SO RHP Parker Dunshee (2016)
FR OF Stuart Fairchild (2017)
FR INF Bruce Steel (2017)
FR 1B Gavin Sheets (2017)
FR SS Drew Freedman (2017)

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – North Carolina State

JR RHP Curt Britt (2015)
JR RHP Jon Olczak (2015)
rJR LHP Travis Orwig (2015)
JR RHP Karl Keglovits (2015)
JR LHP Brad Stone (2015)
rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2015)
SR OF Jake Fincher (2015)
SR OF Bubby Riley (2015)
SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge (2015)
SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong (2015)
JR C Chance Shepard (2015)
SO RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
SO 3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
SO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO 1B Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SO RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
SO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
FR RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
FR RHP Evan Mendoza (2017)
FR OF Storm Edwards (2017)

Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner aren’t walking through that door.

Just one year after being the center of the college baseball world, North Carolina State returns a really thin group of 2015 draft prospects. JR LHP Brad Stone seems poised to take over the mantle as top pitching prospect, but, no knock against him, his stuff (upper-80s heat, usable change, pair of interesting breaking balls) is many steps down from Rodon on his worst day. He’s still the best of what’s around, and an arm worthy of serious draft consideration going forward. There’s also JR RHP Jon Olczak (low-90s FB) as a potential middle reliever to watch. One of the big stories to follow this spring for this team will be the return to health of a trio of talented arms that could help boost the team back into contention. rJR LHP Travis Orwig (88-92, good mid-70s CB), JR RHP Karl Keglovits (strong name, large human, sinkers all day), and rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (6-8, 240 mountain of a man with plus arm strength) all bring something worth tracking to the table. So the cupboard isn’t totally bare, but we’re down to saltines and leftover duck sauce packets. If even two of those arms coming back from injury has a big year and the projectable Stone continues to grow as a pitcher and Olczak responds to an increased role…you just never know. When you’re hungry enough a saltine/duck sauce sandwich can taste pretty good. Or so I’ve heard.

If I have the nerve to call the pitching thin, then what does that make NC State’s hitting? There are a ton of seniors returning hoping that one final push will get them a shot at pro ball. I hold some hope that SR OF Bubby Riley (speed, CF range, some pop) can recapture what got him so much early buzz last season, but his disappointing 2014 (.200/.340/.261 in 115 AB) tempers a good bit of the old enthusiasm. SR 2B Logan Ratledge could still have some appeal as a potential late-round senior sign utility infielder, but it’ll take an area guy sure he can play shortstop professionally to make that dream happen. My favorite prospect on the team is SR OF Jake Fincher. I really believed a breakout year was in store for him last season, but things never got on track. He’s a great thrower who can really run, and his positional versatility — how many guys can say they’ve logged time at C, SS, and CF? — make him a really fun super-sub to project going forward. Alas, all those virtues will go unloved if he doesn’t get his bat going. Check his career stats to date (first two seasons are park/schedule adjusted)…

2012: .295/.352/.400 – 19 BB/35 K – 17/24 SB – 210 AB
2013: .317/.406/.358 – 34 BB/40 K – 15/21 SB – 265 AB
2014: .267/.342/.317 – 19 BB/53 K – 12/13 SB – 202 AB

The gains made from his freshman season to his sophomore year — trading some pop for a more disciplined approach — are what encouraged me the most from a strictly performance-based standpoint going into last year. Needless to say, he went backward in that area in a big way last season. I’m not as optimistic about a return to his sophomore season numbers as I’d like to be, which bums me out. Fincher is a really entertaining player to watch when he’s right. One can only hope he can put together a strong final season for both his sake and the watchability of the NC State lineup.

1/19/15 EDIT

Hadn’t realized this at the time, but JR RHP Curt Britt is now on the Wolfpack roster and eligible to play right away after transferring from South Carolina. He’s a good one and arguably the team’s top 2015 draft arm.