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2015 MLB Draft Reviews – New York Yankees

New York Yankees 2015 MLB Draft Picks

22 – James Kaprielian
48 – Kyle Holder
83 – Drew Finley
89 – Jeff Degano
112 – Jeff Hendrix
220 – Kolton Mahoney
228 – Ryan Krill
307 – Isiah Gilliam
397 – Garrett Mundell
403 – Chance Adams
408 – Brandon Wagner
419 – Kane Sweeney

I really liked what the Yankees did in the first few rounds to restock their minor league pitching. RHP James Kaprielian (22) looked for all the world to be a “quick-moving mid-rotation arm who still might have a bit of upside left in him beyond that” before the draft and nothing in his pro debut suggests otherwise. Slick pick. New York could have done a few different things and come out just as well (Walker Buehler and Jon Harris as comparable college arms, Brady Aiken or Ashe Russell or Beau Burrows or Mike Nikorak as higher boom/bust guys, Nick Plummer or DJ Stewart as patient yet unexciting corner outfielders) and it’s always fun for me to speculate about what package a team with two early picks (16 and 30 in this case) might have preferred in hindsight (Kaprielian and Holder or Kevin Newman and Kyle Funkhouser?), but getting a talent like Kaprielian in the middle of the first is something to be pleased about no matter the what-ifs. Stuck a Michael Wacha comp on him a few months ago that I stand by today…

This all brings me to the guy I think Wacha compares to on some level, UCLA JR RHP James Kaprielian. Draft people like me who sometimes try to get too cute for own good have fought it in the past, but there’s no denying that Kaprielian warrants a first round grade this June. Well-built righthanders with four pitches (ding!) and consistently excellent results in a tough conference profile as big league starting pitchers more often than not. I’m going to just go with an excerpt of some of my notes on Kaprielian because they are among the longest running that I have on any player in this college class…

JR RHP James Kaprielian (2015): 87-92 FB, 94-95 peak; potential plus 79-84 CB, commands it well; potential plus 80-85 CU with serious sink; above-average 79-85 SL; good athlete; excellent overall command; 2014 Summer: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; above-average to plus or better 75-79 CB with plus command, still gets it up to 85 depending on situation; average or better upside with 79-82 SL; FAVORITE; average or better upside with mid-80s CU with splitter action; UPDATE: 83-85 SL, flashes above-average; average 78-80 CB with above-average to plus upside; good athlete; commands both breaking balls well; 2015: 89-94 FB; above-average 78-81 CB flashes plus; above-average 83-85 SL; above-average mid-80s CU, flashes better; 6-4, 200 pounds (2013: 12.39 K/9 | 5.09 BB/9 | 2.20 FIP | 40.2 IP) (2014: 9.17 K/9 – 2.97 BB/9 – 106 IP – 2.29 ERA)

The UPDATE and 2015 sections give the most pertinent information (88-94 FB, 95 peak; above-average 78-81 CB, flashes plus; average 83-85 SL, flashes above-average; above-average mid-80s CU with drop, flashes plus; good athleticism; commands both breaking balls ably; plus overall command), but I like including the whole thing (or as much as can be published) to highlight the growth he’s made. Kaprielian is damn good and smart team picking in the latter half of the first round will get a quick-moving mid-rotation arm who still might have a bit of upside left in him beyond that.

Fun with small samples featuring RHP Drew Finley (83). Finley’s pre-draft blurb on this very site mentioned a fastball ranging from 85-90 (early in the scouting season) to 88-92 later (94 peak) with “plus sink” that he commands quite well. It also mentioned that he throws “nothing straight” with a delivery that provides both “good deception” and “good extension.” Knowing that and only that, would you have had Finley pegged as being one of this draft class’s pitchers most prone to fly ball outs? I, for one, would done no such thing. In 32 innings (just 32 innings, mind you), Finley only got 33.7% of his batted ball outs on the ground. Finley is a good prospect, by the way. Really like that fastball (velocity + movement + command = winning pitch), really like his curve, and really like the delivery. He’s a little older than his peers and he likely won’t ever top the output of Rancho Bernardo High’s most famous baseball alum (Cole Hamels!), but I like him as a potential mid-rotation workhorse.

You an see where I ranked LHP Jeff Degano (89) right there in the parentheses. The Yankees took him with the 57th pick. After thinking it over the summer, my own pre-draft rankings be damned, I think they got a steal. He’s older (23 in a few weeks) and raw (Canadian and injured), but the flashes of brilliance are enough to sell you on his upside. I known for a fact that New York is thrilled about landing him where they did. I’ve even heard it floated that some within their developmental staff would like to see him move to relief because they think he could be their homegrown version of Andrew Miller. That’s pretty damn intriguing, but, as always, I’d give the big young lefty a chance to keep starting as long as he can do it. With a mechanical tweak or two, some honest innings under his belt, and more work on the changeup (a pitch I believe in for him), I think there’s sneaky top of the rotation (more two than one) or shutdown closer upside here. That’s not upside that is thrown around lightly here.

RHP Kolton Mahoney (220) could currently be what Drew Finley will be in a few years. There’s less upside (as one would expect) and a higher probability of pitching in relief, but the talent is significant. Brilliant pick and sign at this point in the draft. I also really, really like RHP Garrett Mundell (397). Guys like Mundell, a senior-sign, should not be available outside of the top ten money-saving rounds let alone free to take all the way down in round twenty-three. It’s far too easy an obvious a comp to make, but there’s some shades of former Bulldog Doug Fister in Mundell’s game…

7.40 K/9 – 2.59 BB/9 – 93.2 IP
8.36 K/9 – 3.64 BB/9 – 116.1 IP

7.43 K/9 – 4.70 BB/9 – 45 IP
7.82 K/9 – 3.10 BB/9 – 61 IP

Top set is Fister’s final two seasons at Fresno State, bottom set is Mundell’s final two seasons at Fresno State. Both are big, long-limbed pitchers (as if he “hands ball to catcher” is in my Mundell notes) who rely on keeping the ball down and getting outs on the ground. Even if you put the odds low (25%) that Mundell does anything approaching Fister’s big league work (overrated by advanced metrics in my view, but that’s besides the point), isn’t that somebody worth taking a shot on as a money-saver in rounds nine or ten? Getting Mundell this late is a coup for the Yankee front office.

I’m always stunned when a fairly straight-forward looking prospect (to me) becomes a very divisive one to others, so seeing SS Kyle Holder (48) get roasted as a major reach who can’t play after his disappointing pro debut fascinated me. This is a more complex issue than I have time to cover in my self-restricted state (time to worry more about the 2016 draft and leave 2015 behind), so I’ll do my best to be brief (note: this is not a personal writing strength). Off the bat, I’ll acknowledge that my pre-draft take on him could have been off the mark and those who have seen him more recently are on top of things in a way I am not. I could be wrong about Holder. I’ve been wrong before, I’ll be wrong a lot in the future. That said, I do have some conviction in my pro-Holder opinion that I’m far from ready to back away from.

Holder had a bad debut from a performance perspective. There’s no hiding from that. Typically in these instances, I’d assume that those critical of him would be the type that saw how badly he struggled and opted to pile on from there. In this specific case, however, I noticed very early on that people — smart people! — were underwhelmed at Holder’s game. So how does a guy go from a first round pick of the New York Yankees to (as some have claimed) overmatched org guy who only gets talked about because of his status as a first rounder? Are there legitimate concerns or is something else going on?

We’ll hit the latter point first. I maintain that the Yankees (and myself and many other teams and many other publications) didn’t completely whiff on Holder. Again, it’s certainly possible that he doesn’t have the kind of career many envisioned but that’s true of literally every player drafted each June.

I also think that part of the change in perception about Holder is who is now doing the evaluating. There’s plenty of crossover between amateur scouting and pro scouting — not enough, but still lots — yet I think the higher standard that comes with being a professional colors the evaluation of recent draftees in what is often too unfavorable a light. There’s some “THIS is pro ball and not some piddly little amateur conference now, kid” attitude among some evaluators who take odd pleasure in tearing down the draft’s best players as they enter pro ball. More kindly, I think there’s an attempt at over-correcting the occasionally too optimistic forecasts pushed by amateur scouts — a big part of the job is salesmanship, after all — to provide a necessary counterpoint and give the bosses a fuller picture of the player as they head into the offseason.

As for the former point, yes, there are legitimate concerns about how Holder’s game will translate to pro ball. The biggest concern pre-draft that persists today is his power. We talk a lot about how not every player needs to be a double-digit home run guy to be a successful big league player, but it’s undeniably important that the mere possibility of putting one over the seats every so often changes how a batter is pitched. Power is king, but the threat of power can be almost as important for certain players. Holder will need to show he has at least a little in-game pop before pitchers will realize they need to change how they attack him. Holder’s chance at being a non-zero offensively hinges on his ability to keep getting on base at a solid clip and stealing some bags along the way. There’s often an inverse relationship between a player like Holder’s on-base ability and the amount the opposing pitcher has to worry about the threat of power. I can’t say with absolute certainty that he’ll hit enough to start at shortstop, but, even in the face of his early struggles, I lean toward thinking he’ll make it work. This was the pre-draft take…

San Diego JR SS Kyle Holder is a special talent with the glove. He’s a fantastic athlete with everything you’d want to see out of big league defender: his range, hands, feet, instincts, arm, and touch are all exemplary. There might not be a lot of power to come, but he’s a smart, balanced hitter who works deep counts and battles in every at bat. With a very real clear strength and no obvious weaknesses, the well-rounded Holder could be a dark horse first day candidate. If you shoot for the moon with an all-upside first pick, then going for what could be a quick-moving rock solid big league shortstop with your second pick makes a lot of sense. The comps I have on Holder are among my favorite for any player in this year’s class: Mike Bordick, Walt Weiss, and Orlando Cabrera. I don’t know why, but that strikes me as a fun group of possible outcomes. Bordick and Weiss both feel fair in a plus glove, good command of the strike zone, enough power to keep pitchers’ honest kind of way.

The defense is going to play. I’m personally certain of that, though I’ve read many who have claimed his glove as being overhyped. That, far more so than those concerned about his bat, feels like the kind of amateur/pro scout pettiness that I described above. To paraphrase what I’ve heard: Yeah, he’s a good defender…for a college guy. In the pros he’s just one of many decent gloves. I stand by his defense at shortstop 100%. That tool alone is enough to make him a potential big league player. If the threat of power is enough for him, then the Mike Bordick/Walt Weiss comps will begin to look pretty good. We’ll see.

OF Jeff Hendrix (112). like Holder, had the kind of pro debut you spend all winter trying to forget. On the plus side, he swiped 17 of 18 bases. On the less plus side, well, there’s pretty much everything else. There’s no reason to overreact to a bad few months, though it should go without saying that an impressive debut beats a debut like this any day. Still, I remain a Hendrix fan and think he has as bright future in pro ball as I did many months ago…

Oregon State JR OF Jeff Hendrix is a fine looking prospect who hasn’t gotten much (any?) national attention just yet. If you’re starting to pick up on a trend with the Pac-12 this year, then you’re smarter than you look. On paper, Hendrix sounds damn good: above-average to plus raw power, average to above-average speed, and great athleticism. He’s made steady improvements on the field with little sign of slowing down. It’s rare that an honest to goodness potential top five round gets overshadowed like this – perhaps it has something to do with being teammates with the extremely impressive freshman KJ Harrison – but he’ll get his due before too long.

2B Brandon Wagner held his own in his debut, splitting time between 2B and 3B while getting acclimated to the rigors of the pro game. The Jersey native has presumably been followed by the Yankees for years even after winding up in Texas at Howard College. Nice get in the sixth. 1B Isiah Gilliam (307) had an even better debut season while splitting his time in between the outfield corners. I think he should settle in as a good enough glove in left field to allow his potentially above-average all-around offensive game to get him in the lineup. Getting him signed as a twentieth round pick should get raises for all the individuals who helped convince the higher-ups that he was signable. I’ll do my part to keep expectations in check by referring to him as 29th Round Pick 1B Kane Sweeney (419), but it’s hard not to be a little excited about a .320/.437/.562 debut run. There are strikes against him (age, too many whiffs, 1B only), but I like him enough that an aggressive double-jump in 2016 feels like a fair sink-or-swim assignment.

OF Jhalen Jackson has some swing-and-miss (not good) and some interesting tools to work with (good!). There are miles between where OF Terrance Robertson could wind up and where he is now, but as an overslot high school pick he’s worth knowing. OF Trey Amburgey had an outstanding debut that puts him on the map for me now when I didn’t know a ton about him a few months ago. OF Zach Zehner, the most recognizable name out of this particular subsection of new Yankee outfielders, has a weird amount of fans (at least among people I know) despite never quite solving the riddle that is the strike zone. He has power, speed, arm strength, and size, but he lacks time (24 next August) and the aforementioned plate discipline (18 BB/52 K as a senior). If nothing else, I like how New York diversified their assets here: they went Division II, high school, junior college, and Division I with these respective four outfield picks.

3B Donny Sands was not a name I was familiar with before the draft and for that I’m pretty downtrodden about. I know I’m a one-man show here, but I can’t help but kick myself over whiffing on him. It’s very early yet obviously, but his pro debut is quite encouraging. Perhaps I should temper some of that enthusiasm by pointing out that he’s one of the older players I’ve noticed in his class (19 this past May). Bryan Hoch had a cool story about Sands on MLB.com that included this bit…

The way the game worked, as the 19-year-old recalled Tuesday, was that his mother would set a clock for five minutes and begin tossing the beans. Sands would have to hit each one without missing any for the session to end; if he whiffed, the clock restarted at zero. The idea was his mother’s, cribbed from her experiences living in Mexico.

The beans in question were pinto beans. That’s phenomenal. New favorite prospect.

RHP Chance Adams (403) was the highest drafted reliever by the Yankees, so it’s no shock he’s the best of the bunch. Armed with a low-90s fastball and above-average command, he’s got the chance to pitch late in games as he keeps improving. It stands to reason he feels right at home in the pro game considering he’s basically coming from what amounts to college ball’s closest 2015 facimile: including Adams, the Dallas Baptist staff included five pitchers (Brandon Koch, Cory Taylor, Joseph Shaw, Drew Smith) that went in the first dozen rounds. Not bad.

With a solid one-two fastball (88-92) and slider punch, LHP James Reeves is a fine looking middle relief prospect. His last year of college (10.89 K/9 and 2.65 BB/9 in 95 IP) and his first year in the pros (9.23 K/9 and 4.10 BB/9) both look good from here. The signing of LHP Josh Rogers is an impressive bit of investigative work by the New York scouting staff.

rSO LHP Josh Rogers gets swallowed up by the FUNKHOUSER hype, a perfectly understandable yet unfortunate matter of fact that happens when you share a the top of a rotation with a potential top ten pick and one of the nation’s top freshmen (LHP/1B Brendan McKay). Rogers, a Tommy John surgery survivor, has decent velocity for a lefty (85-90, has been up to 92-93 in the past) and a workable breaking ball. He’s always gotten results when called upon (8.13 K/9 and 2.08 BB/9 last year, 7.65 K/9 and 2.18 BB/9 this year), so, if signable (non-stars with two remaining years of eligibility don’t always jump at the first pro offer they get) there’s really no reason why he shouldn’t be drafted and tried as a pro starter this summer.

Interesting to note that the Yankees chose him to pitch a few late-season innings in Low-A. Little moves like that don’t necessarily mean much more than that’s how the ebbs and flows of the minor league season work (31st round pick RHP Hobie Harris also got some Charleston innings, for example), but they can sometimes clue us outsiders into the what insiders think of the players we spend so much time thinking about ourselves.

RHP Will Carter is more of a ground ball guy than a strikeout specialist. His sinker has some serious juice (87-94, up to 95), but it’s tough to get ahead as a minor league reliever without that put-away pitch in your back pocket. RHP Bret Marks has a fastball (88-92) with similar sink (plus an average or better slider and interesting split-change) with a better history of missing bats. RHP Brody Koerner takes the ground ball thing to the next level (78.8 GB%) with a very slider heavy approach. The fact that the Yankees had an area scout stick with Koerner and a progressive enough front office willing to overlook some ugly run prevention (7.55 ERA in 62 IP at Clemson this year) to see the raw talent the young right possesses. The peripherals remained good (9.15 K/9 and 3.19 BB/9), so, at the risk of speculating irresponsibly, it would seem to me, based on the pro data we have, that much of Koerner’s 2015 problems at Clemson were related to him pissing off the BABIP deities. For that reason and much more, I like Koerner a whole lot. The Yankees drafted Carter, Marks, and Koerner in that order; I happen to like them in the opposite direction.

RHP Josh Roeder has an absolutely electric slider that seriously ranks as one of the best in the class. Paired with good heat (88-92, 94 peak), good command, and a good track record at Nebraska, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good relief prospect. I swear I’m not intentionally trying to be this positive (it’s the YANKEES, after all), but grabbing guys like Roeder and Koerner when the Yankees did is really good work.

RHP Mark Seyler has a good arm (88-92) and a solid track record. RHP Cody Carroll can crank it up to 95 at times (sits low-90s). It’s an odd universe where RHP Paddy O’Brien gets selected by New York and not Boston. RHP Icezack Flemming should become friends with Christian Turnipseed if he’s not already. RHP David Sosebee spots his upper-80s fastball seemingly wherever he likes. I saw RHP Chad Martin at Delaware where he looked like a decent mid-round minor league reliever. RHP Christian Morris has the stuff to start (FB/CB/CU) but not the command.

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2015 MLB Draft – Top 100 D1 College First Base Prospects

1. Boston College JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw: easy plus raw power; above-average hit tool; surprisingly short stroke for a power hitter with long-ish levers; holes in swing; good enough defender; strong; above-average arm; smart hitter; slow; have heard Harold Baines, Torii Hunter, and Steve Garvey as hitter comparisons; PG comps: Garrett Anderson (hitter), Casey Gillaspie, Chris Davis; reminds me most personally of Ike Davis/Carlos Pena; 6-4, 250 pounds

2013: .183/.286/.323 – 18 BB/32 K – 0/0 SB – 164 AB
2014: .329/.393/.502 – 21 BB/38 K – 1/3 SB – 207 AB
2015: .319/.411/.611 – 20 BB/26 K – 0/0 SB – 144 AB

2. South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin: good athlete; good arm; above-average to plus raw power; steady glove; lefty Steven Pearce comp; 6-1, 240 pounds

2013: .275/.363/.375 – 11 BB/10 K – 1/1 SB – 80 AB
2014: .336/.389/.443 – 22 BB/28 K – 2/3 SB – 244 AB
2015: .350/.455/.635 – 39 BB/27 K – 11/12 SB – 203 AB

3. Nevada SR 1B/3B Austin Byler: really like his approach; questionable defender; impressive raw power, at least average and likely above-average to plus; average hit tool; average or better speed; numbers inflated by environment, but production is still eye-opening; interesting spectrum of comps from Mark Reynolds to Tyler Colvin; 6-3, 225 pounds

2012: .258/.381/.387 – 18 BB/32 K – 4/5 SB – 163 AB
2013: .330/.410/.549 – 18 BB/47 K – 3/5 SB – 182 AB
2014: .326/.420/.624 – 23 BB/48 K – 7/11 SB – 221 AB
2015: .328/.507/.652 – 54 BB/57 K – 9/12 SB – 198 AB

4. Canisius SR 1B/3B Connor Panas: average or better hit tool; power upside; good speed; others like him a lot more at third, so might be able to stick there and should at least begin career there; 5-11, 215 pounds

2012: .262/.378/.352 – 18 BB/17 K – 1/4 SB – 122 AB
2013: .309/.439/.400 – 27 BB/19 K – 6/7 SB – 165 AB
2014: .362/.443/.574 – 26 BB/36 K – 16/19 SB – 188 AB
2015: .372/.472/.632 – 33 BB/39 K – 19/24 SB – 247 AB

5. Illinois SR 1B David Kerian: good athlete; HS shortstop who maintains a lot of the actions of a middle infielder at first base; comparable scouting history to Chris Paul (Cal); 6-3, 200 pounds

2013: .282/.363/.359 – 25 BB/34 K – 23/28 SB – 195 AB
2014: .280/.384/.404 – 31 BB/39 K – 9/13 SB – 193 AB
2015: .366/.452/.644 – 31 BB/25 K – 9/12 SB – 194 AB

6. Nevada JR 1B/OF Ryan Howell: quick bat; has played 2B this season; hit at every stop; could be versatile enough glove to have some utility upside; Oregon State transfer; 6-1, 210 pounds

2014*: .292/.464/.571 – 35 BB/25 K – 5/9 SB – 154 AB
2015: .312/.421/.642 – 36 BB/51 K – 1/2 SB – 215 AB

7. Michigan State SR 1B Ryan Krill: either the light bulb has finally gone off or it’s a senior year mirage, I lean towards the former; above-average to plus raw power; much improved approach to hitting this year, letting natural strength lead into power rather than forcing the issue; 6-4, 235 pounds

2012: .304/.396/.393 – 21 BB/24 K – 0/1 SB – 191 AB
2013: .283/.332/.366 – 14 BB/26 K – 0/1 SB – 191 AB
2014: .234/.322/.356 – 24 BB/36 K – 2/2 SB – 205 AB
2015: .351/.439/.615 – 27 BB/30 K – 1/4 SB – 205 AB

8. Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel: plus raw power; strong; gets lost in shuffle of other Vandy stars, but knows how to hit; 6-3, 215 pounds

2013: .293/.396/.537 – 10 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 82 AB
2014: .260/.378/.409 – 34 BB/49 K – 13/17 SB – 235 AB
2015: .320/.412/.563 – 31 BB/49 K – 12/15 SB – 231 AB

9. Memphis SR 1B/3B Tucker Tubbs: strong; average at best at 3B; also plays some OF; runs better than most at his position; intriguing power upside; 6-4, 200 pounds

2012: .244/.313/.378 – 10 BB/14 K – 3/4 SB – 82 AB
2013: .327/.401/.427 – 19 BB/33 K – 2/7 SB – 211 AB
2014: .244/.360/.366 – 28 BB/31 K – 3/4 SB – 172 AB
2015: .305/.393/.601 – 26 BB/27 K – 7/8 SB – 223 AB

10. Central Florida SR 1B/OF James Vasquez: average hit tool; patient approach; average power, maybe a bit more; good glove; slow; didn’t have the monster senior season expected, but still does enough well as a hitter to get an honest shot in pro ball; FAVORITE; 6-0, 220 pounds

2012: .276/.397/.296 – 19 BB/14 K – 0/1 SB – 98 AB
2013: .252/.368/.443 – 30 BB/46 K – 2/4 SB – 210 AB
2014: .340/.445/.519 – 30 BB/20 K – 206 AB
2015: .276/.351/.424 – 18 BB/33 K – 0/0 SB – 217 AB

11. Richmond rSO 1B Matt Dacey: plus raw power; decent glove; Michigan transfer; 6-3, 210 pounds

2014: .269/.348/.503 – 24 BB/44 K – 2/5 SB – 197 AB
2015: .313/.424/.652 – 35 BB/49 K – 5/5 SB – 198 AB

12. Houston JR 1B Chris Iriart: plus power upside; will swing and miss, but he is what he is as a hitter; 6-2, 230 pounds

2014*: .316/.375/.550 – 12 BB/32 K – 2/2 SB – 171 AB
2015: .307/.427/.580 – 28 BB/64 K – 1/3 SB – 212 AB

13. Nevada SR 1B/LHP Kewby Meyer: above-average raw power; good arm; slow; has also played OF; 6-0, 190 pounds

2012: .302/.347/.385 – 14 BB/20 K – 1/6 SB – 182 AB
2013: .286/.327/.390 – 12 BB/19 K – 2/5 SB – 182 AB
2014: .328/.384/.490 – 22 BB/11 K – 6/7 SB – 247 AB
2015: .343/.385/.542 – 15 BB/16 K – 8/12 SB – 236 AB

14. Mississippi SR 1B/C Sikes Orvis: strong arm; intriguing bat; steady glove; 6-2, 220 pounds

2012: .232/.317/.321 – 6 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 56 AB
2013: .243/.333/.325 – 20 BB/29 K – 0/3 SB – 169 AB
2014: .294/.397/.540 – 37 BB/48 K – 1/1 SB – 235 AB
2015: .267/.395/.600 – 39 BB/55 K – 1/2 SB – 195 AB

15. Morehead State SR 1B Kane Sweeney: underrated power upside; patient approach; 6-3, 210 pounds

2013: .289/.401/.396 – 32 BB/51 K – 4/9 SB – 197 AB
2014: .309/.423/.509 – 42 BB/54 K – 0/3 SB – 230 AB
2015: .353/.482/.626 – 53 BB/48 K – 1/1 SB – 235 AB

16. St. Mary’s SR 1B/LHP Collin Ferguson: good approach; interesting power upside; good defender; 6-3, 215 pounds

2012: .342/.395/.467 – 15 BB/35 K – 1/1 SB – 184 AB
2013: .298/.360/.449 – 17 BB/48 K – 2/2 SB – 205 AB
2014: .256/.335/.367 – 27 BB/36 K – 3/6 SB – 207 AB
2015: .337/.463/.577 – 43 BB/47 K – 6/10 SB – 208 AB

17. Ohio SR 1B Jake Madsen: great approach; pretty swing; power beginning to show; slow afoot; average or better hit tool and patience; can square up any pitch type or velocity; plus defender; may not have the pop for every team, but deserves a chance to hit in the pros; 6-2, 215 pounds

2012: .317/.376/.385 – 20 BB/15 K – 1/2 SB – 221 AB
2013: .299/.351/.403 – 17 BB/19 K – 6/7 SB – 221 AB
2014: .322/.387/.365 – 21 BB/19 K – 1/2 SB – 208 AB
2015: .319/.382/.463 – 24 BB/17 K – 0/2 SB – 216 AB

18. UCLA SR 1B/3B Chris Keck: average raw power; above-average arm; only one productive year, but area guys swear by the bat; 6-2, 190 pounds

2012: .293/.354/.366 – 4 BB/7 K – 0/0 SB – 41 AB
2013: .186/.314/.300 – 14 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 70 AB
2014: .215/.301/.280 – 7 BB/22 K – 1/2 SB – 107 AB
2015: .306/.395/.505 – 30 BB/26 K – 0/2 SB – 216 AB

19. Maine SR 1B/LHP Scott Heath: power upside; FAVORITE; 88-91 FB; good SL; good CU; 6-0, 185 pounds

2012: .299/.382/.435 – 20 BB/17 K – 3/5 SB – 147 AB
2013: .266/.301/.338 – 8 BB/26 K – 2/4 SB – 154 AB
2014: .361/.422/.555 – 13 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 155 AB
2015: .308/.399/.478 – 30 BB/23 K – 4/5 SB – 201 AB

2014: 6.66 K/9 – 3.24 BB/9 – 50 IP – 4.86 ERA
2015: 7.05 K/9 – 2.93 BB/9 – 83 IP – 4.23 ERA

20. Florida State rSR 1B Chris Marconcini: plus raw power; good approach; average defender; long been a fan of how he handles at bats, but power dip is a bit concerning; Duke transfer; 6-5, 230 pounds

2011: .301/.404/.490 – 24 BB/38 K – 206 AB
2013: .316/.409/.579 – 28 BB/39 K – 8/10 SB – 190 AB
2014: .252/.341/.435 – 28 BB/38 K – 7/9 SB – 230 AB
2015: .228/.418/.447 – 35 BB/30 K – 1/2 SB – 123 AB

21. Oregon State JR 1B Gabe Clark: power upside; 6-1, 225 pounds

2013: .161/.278/.258 – 4 BB/11 K – 0/0 SB – 31 AB
2014: .280/.374/.376 – 20 BB/27 K – 0/0 SB – 157 AB
2015: .241/.356/.500 – 17 BB/28 K – 1/1 SB – 112 AB

22. Georgia Tech SR 1B/C AJ Murray: big raw power; strong arm; great athlete; good speed; questionable defender; 6-1, 210 pounds

2013: .270/.369/.399 – 32 BB/52 K – 4/4 SB – 233 AB
2014: .283/.376/.426 – 24 BB/52 K – 7/11 SB – 223 AB
2015: .279/.366/.582 – 26 BB/54 K – 1/2 SB – 208 AB

23. Florida Gulf Coast JR 1B Nick Rivera: strong and powerful swinger; 5-10, 200 pounds

2013: .297/.403/.508 – 31 BB/37 K – 0/1 SB – 195 AB
2014: .330/.437/.525 – 37 BB/24 K – 0/2 SB – 221 AB
2015: .347/.458/.608 – 40 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 199 AB

24. Jacksonville JR 1B/OF Connor Marabell: good approach; power upside; quick bat; 6-0, 180 pounds

2014: .371/.440/.539 – 24 BB/19 K – 9/9 SB – 178 AB
2015: .326/.386/.498 – 25 BB/31 K – 7/9 SB – 227 AB

25. Virginia Tech SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden: power upside; 90 FB; 6-5, 210 pounds

2012: .336/.393/.466 – 11 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 131 AB
2013: .193/.274/.299 – 21 BB/43 K – 2/3 SB – 197 AB
2014: .302/.407/.497 – 31 BB/49 K – 2/3 SB – 199 AB
2015: .307/.389/.542 – 28 BB/40 K – 1/1 SB – 212 AB

26. Texas Tech JR 1B/LHP Eric Gutierrez: power upside; 5-10, 205 pounds (2013: .230/.363/.393 – 22 BB/39 K – 1/1 SB – 191 AB) (2014: .302/.399/.539 – 26 BB/27 K – 0/1 SB – 245 AB) (2015: .315/.444/.443 – 39 BB/26 K – 2/2 SB – 203 AB)

27. Kansas State rSR 1B/LHP Shane Conlon: plus glove; average speed; power upside; 6-0, 180 pounds (2011: 6.38 K/9 | 36.2 IP) (2011: .161/.242/.179 – 6 BB/6 K – 56 AB) (2013: .329/.422/.490 – 26 BB/29 K – 18/22 SB – 249 AB) (2014: .296/.367/.376 – 14 BB/21 K – 8/12 SB – 189 AB) (2015: .291/.384/.408 – 24 BB/18 K – 10/14 SB – 196 AB)

28. Georgia JR 1B Daniel Nichols: power upside; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: .237/.342/.326 – 18 BB/26 K – 0/0 SB – 135 AB) (2014: .260/.367/.347 – 19 BB/36 K – 1/1 SB – 150 AB) (2015: .296/.370/.475 – 20 BB/34 K – 1/1 SB – 162 AB)

29. Liberty SR 1B/RHP Alex Close: above-average to plus power; like his approach; solid glove at 1B; can catch in case of emergency; has also played 3B; strong arm; slow; 6-3, 220 pounds (2012: .300/.345/.560 – 13 BB/36 K – 3/4 SB – 207 AB) (2013: .237/.320/.330 – 28 BB/58 K – 1/1 SB – 224 AB) (2014: .323/.370/.512 – 17 BB/46 K – 3/3 SB – 217 AB) (2015: .342/.422/.516 – 28 BB/55 K – 1/4 SB – 219 AB) (2015: 10.64 K/9 – 3.99 BB/9 – 20.1 IP – 2.21 ERA)

30. Quinnipiac SR 1B Vincent Guglietti: power upside; 6-5, 220 pounds (2012: .237/.316/.295 – 18 BB/18 K – 0/1 SB – 156 AB) (2013: .269/.318/.388 – 13 BB/45 K – 2/2 SB – 201 AB) (2014: .341/.404/.503 – 18 BB/25 K – 2/3 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .330/.414/.589 – 27 BB/24 K – 4/4 SB – 197 AB)

31. North Carolina Greensboro SR 1B Aaron Wright: power upside; average speed; 6-2, 220 pounds (2014: .254/.304/.333 – 2 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 63 AB) (2015: .324/.425/.648 – 28 BB/52 K – 0/1 SB – 179 AB)

32. Jacksonville State JR 1B Paschal Petrongolo: power upside; 6-1, 210 pounds (2013: .270/.378/.447 – 25 BB/37 K – 2/2 SB – 141 AB) (2014: .328/.398/.534 – 23 BB/64 K – 0/1 SB – 232 AB) (2015: .368/.451/.556 – 34 BB/61 K – 1/3 SB – 223 AB)

33. Connecticut SR 1B/OF Blake Davey: above-average raw power; good approach; 6-4, 235 pounds (2014: .313/.452/.512 – 30 BB/53 K – 8/15 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .300/.379/.477 – 20 BB/54 K – 11/14 SB – 220 AB)

34. Miami rSO 1B/OF Chris Barr: really good defender; smart hitter; good runner; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .226/.364/.252 – 23 BB/19 K – 7/10 SB – 115 AB) (2015: .321/.423/.440 – 24 BB/35 K – 10/10 SB – 168 AB)

35. Mississippi State rSR 1B Wes Rea: strong; big raw power; really good glove; 6-5, 275 pounds (2012: .244/.349/.381 – 24 BB/60 K – 0/2 SB – 197 AB) (2013: .296/.393/.464 – 26 BB/45 K – 0/0 SB – 196 AB) (2014: .245/.351/.365 – 29 BB/55 K – 1/1 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .287/.454/.471 – 40 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 157 AB)

36. Texas A&M JR 1B/RHP Hunter Melton: power upside; can also play 3B; 87-90 FB; 6-2, 225 pounds (2013: .288/.354/.492 – 10 BB/29 K – 0/0 SB – 118 AB) (2015: .319/.412/.531 – 24 BB/41 K – 0/1 SB – 160 AB)

37. San Francisco SR 1B/3B Brendan Hendriks: really intrigued by his hit tool, could be complete hitter in time; power upside; has seen some time at 2B; good athlete; others love him, but approach is a big red flag to me; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .319/.381/.370 – 9 BB/21 K – 0/1 SB – 119 AB) (2013: .190/.261/.215 – 11 BB/37 K – 0/0 SB – 158 AB) (2014: .287/.321/.493 – 11 BB/40 K – 0/0 SB – 209 AB) (2015: .290/.361/.449 – 19 BB/44 K – 3/7 SB – 214 AB)

38. Creighton rJR 1B Reagan Fowler: strong hit tool; good glove; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .295/.446/.362 – 33 BB/21 K – 3/4 SB – 149 AB) (2014: .362/.464/.481 – 26 BB/25 K – 9/14 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .319/.404/.384 – 23 BB/23 K – 1/2 SB – 185 AB)

39. East Tennessee State JR 1B/C Kevin Phillips: 6-3, 210 pounds (2014: .261/.335/.379 – 15 BB/19 K – 3/4 SB – 153 AB) (2015: .323/.395/.561 – 27 BB/25 K – 3/3 SB – 223 AB)

40. Oregon JR 1B/OF Phillipe Craig-St. Louis: strong hit tool; 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: .294/.383/.382 – 29 BB/30 K – 4/6 SB – 204 AB)

41. Lipscomb SR 1B/RHP Griffin Moore: above-average raw power; good hit tool; great approach; steady defender; plus arm strength; sticking with him despite lost year of development in 2015; 95 peak FB velocity back in the day; FAVORITE; 6-4, 220 pounds (2012: .226/.308/.285 – 15 BB/28 K – 1/1 SB – 137 AB) (2013: .205/.375/.313 – 29 BB/29 K – 1/1 SB – 112 AB) (2014: .299/.415/.414 – 17 BB/24 K – 4/6 SB – 87 AB)

42. Rice JR 1B/RHP Connor Tekyl: power upside; good defensive tools; 6-3, 190 pounds (2013: .248/.315/.266 – 11 BB/11 K – 0/1 SB – 109 AB) (2014: .259/.352/.281 – 21 BB/24 K – 1/2 SB – 135 AB) (2015: .308/.378/.411 – 23 BB/24 K – 1/1 SB – 214 AB)

43. Michigan State SR 1B/C Blaise Salter: strong hit tool; plus raw power; quick bat; good athlete; average or better glove; FAVORITE; 6-5, 250 pounds (2012: .288/.351/.515 – 4 BB/12 K – 1/1 SB – 66 AB) (2013: .337/.398/.497 – 14 BB/30 K – 1/1 SB – 181 AB) (2014: .317/.375/.484 – 17 BB/27 K – 0/2 SB – 221 AB) (2015: .268/.339/.409 – 13 BB/37 K – 0/0 SB – 220 AB)

44. Southern Mississippi JR 1B/SS Tim Lynch: 6-2, 215 pounds (2014: .256/.382/.312 – 32 BB/25 K – 1/3 SB – 199 AB) (2015: .313/.400/.510 – 23 BB/23 K – 0/1 SB – 192 AB)

45. Canisius JR 1B/OF Brett Siddall: above-average raw power; above-average arm; could hang in an outfield corner, but best at first; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .302/.379/.411 – 8 BB/22 K – 5/8 SB – 129 AB) (2014: .333/.416/.488 – 16 BB/23 K – 2/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .341/.390/.590 – 18 BB/32 K – 6/7 SB – 249 AB)

46. Dartmouth JR 1B Joe Purritano: strong hit tool; power upside; average at best arm; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .324/.405/.574 – 13 BB/16 K – 0/1 SB – 108 AB) (2014: .265/.355/.397 – 17 BB/20 K – 2/4 SB – 136 AB) (2015: .277/.355/.500 – 19 BB/31 K – 2/3 SB – 148 AB)

47. Tulane SR 1B/3B Tyler Wilson: great approach; mature hitter; 5-11, 215 pounds (2014: .077/.143/.115 – 2 BB/4 K – 0/0 SB – 26 AB) (2015: .272/.324/.360 – 11 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 136 AB)

48. Auburn JR 1B/OF Dylan Smith: plus raw power; average speed; 6-3, 215 pounds

49. Portland rSR 1B/OF Turner Gill: good raw power; streaky guess hitter; average arm; slow; 6-3, 215 pounds (2011: .348/.408/.500 – 20 BB/33 K – 184 AB) (2012: .341/.418/.508 – 23 BB/25 K – 2/2 SB – 185 AB) (2013: .222/.250/.259 – 1 BB/6 K – 0/0 SB – 27 AB) (2014: .234/.323/.308 – 24 BB/35 K – 3/4 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .294/.386/.495 – 25 BB/29 K – 1/6 SB – 194 AB)

50. Western Carolina SR 1B/LHP Jacob Hoyle: good defender; strong arm; power upside; 88 peak; 6-2, 250 pounds (2012: .281/.338/.416 – 16 BB/41 K – 2/2 SB – 185 AB) (2013: .296/.356/.526 – 16 BB/52 K – 1/1 SB – 213 AB) (2014: .332/.393/.570 – 19 BB/47 K – 6/6 SB – 223 AB) (2015: .372/.391/.628 – 0 BB/12 K – 0/0 SB – 43 AB)

51. Towson SR 1B/3B Brendan Butler: good approach; good athlete; above-average to plus speed; average to above-average arm; some see power coming, others think this is it; has experience in OF; opinions on tools all over the place; 6-2, 210 pounds (2012: .269/.391/.330 – 19 BB/23 K – 14/19 SB – 182 AB) (2013: .264/.339/.410 – 23 BB/33 K – 12/18 SB – 227 AB) (2014: .264/.382/.371 – 24 BB/18 K – 6/8 SB – 140 AB) (2015: .247/.365/.340 – 36 BB/19 K – 11/16 SB – 194 AB)

52. Gonzaga JR 1B/RHP Taylor Jones: 85-89 FB; up and down CB; good athlete; FAVORITE; 6-7, 225 pounds (2013: 10.06 K/9 | 5.82 BB/9 | 3.65 FIP | 17 IP) (2014: 6.29 K/9 – 4.07 BB/9 – 72 IP – 4.68 ERA) (2015: .358/.414/.545 – 10 BB/16 K – 0/0 SB – 134 AB)

53. Saint Louis SR 1B Mike Vigliarolo: good athlete; power upside; 6-1, 225 pounds (2012: .291/.357/.437 – 19 BB/27 K – 0/0 SB – 158 AB) (2013: .349/.381/.537 – 13 BB/32 K – 9/11 SB – 255 AB) (2014: .328/.368/.496 – 14 BB/30 K – 13/19 SB – 232 AB) (2015: .332/.383/.438 – 15 BB/25 K – 4/6 SB – 226 AB)

54. Florida Atlantic rSO 1B Esteban Puerta: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .276/.345/.371 – 11 BB/17 K – 0/0 SB – 105 AB) (2015: .308/.438/.483 – 34 BB/31 K – 1/3 SB – 172 AB)

55. North Carolina Greensboro SR 1B/OF Eric Kalbfleisch: good hit tool; average speed; average arm; 6-3, 210 pounds (2013: .294/.347/.477 – 16 BB/34 K – 4/5 SB – 197 AB) (2014: .317/.382/.508 – 14 BB/16 K – 1/1 SB – 126 AB) (2015: .348/.403/.503 – 15 BB/38 K – 3/4 SB – 187 AB)

56. Jacksonville State JR 1B Tyler Gamble: 6-1, 220 pounds (2014: .286/.410/.460 – 31 BB/34 K – 3/4 SB – 161 AB) (2015: .270/.421/.405 – 53 BB/40 K – 7/7 SB – 200 AB)

57. UNC Wilmington SR 1B Corey Dick: 6-0, 250 pounds (2012: .313/.406/.520 – 25 BB/44 K – 0/1 SB – 179 AB) (2013: .310/.399/.508 – 27 BB/30 K – 0/1 SB – 197 AB) (2014: .315/.386/.429 – 22 BB/23 K – 1/2 SB – 184 AB) (2015: .331/.434/.525 – 28 BB/22 K – 0/3 SB – 160 AB)

58. Ohio State JR 1B/OF Zach Ratcliff: 6-5, 210 pounds (2014: .232/.262/.313 – 4 BB/24 K – 0/0 SB – 99 AB) (2015: .286/.344/.536 – 5 BB/12 K – 0/0 SB – 56 AB)

59. Texas A&M SR 1B/OF GR Hinsley: good glove; gap power; good approach; 6-2, 220 pounds (2015: .209/.433/.326 – 14 BB/6 K – 0/0 SB – 43 AB)

60. NC State SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong: above-average speed; 6-2, 190 pounds (2013: .273/.450/.377 – 32 BB/44 K – 7/7 SB – 154 AB) (2014: .229/.374/.343 – 20 BB/52 K – 5/10 SB – 140 AB) (2015: .228/.316/.404 – 13 BB/45 K – 2/4 SB – 136 AB)

61. Louisville JR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum: steady defender; wears the gaps out; average speed; average or better raw power; 6-1, 210 pounds (2013: .258/.288/.344 – 5 BB/19 K – 1/2 SB – 93 AB) (2014: .295/.396/.411 – 17 BB/29 K – 3/5 SB – 129 AB) (2015: .246/.353/.342 – 14 BB/28 K – 1/3 SB – 114 AB)

62. Central Michigan rSR 1B Cody Leichman: good raw power; good natural hitter; good defender; 6-3, 235 pounds (2013: .335/.414/.438 – 16 BB/44 K – 6/6 SB – 176 AB) (2014: .315/.390/.493 – 21 BB/33 K – 4/5 SB – 213 AB) (2015: .221/.362/.288 – 20 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 104 AB)

63. UC Davis rSR 1B/3B Nick Lynch: 6-1, 200 pounds (2012: .329/.415/.483 – 13 BB/23 K – 0/2 SB – 149 AB) (2013: .371/.453/.453 – 8 BB/25 K – 2/4 SB – 170 AB) (2015: .361/.452/.558 – 21 BB/28 K – 6/13 SB – 208 AB)

64. North Florida rSR 1B Ryan Roberson: 5-9, 215 pounds (2015: .347/.390/.532 – 13 BB/13 K – 1/1 SB – 222 AB)

65. Marist SR 1B/OF Steve Laurino: 6-3, 220 pounds (2013: .378/.417/.480 – 9 BB/26 K – 2/3 SB – 127 AB) (2014: .299/.413/.359 – 23 BB/25 K – 8/14 SB – 167 AB) (2015: .358/.442/.561 – 23 BB/32 K – 5/8 SB – 187 AB)

66. Central Michigan JR 1B Zack Fields: big raw power; old Victor Roache comp; hasn’t put it together; 6-5, 265 pounds (2013: .190/.288/.389 – 16 BB/43 K – 0/0 SB – 126 AB) (2014: .248/.298/.381 – 7 BB/37 K – 0/0 SB – 105 AB) (2015: .175/.242/.300 – 7 BB/20 K – 1/1 SB – 80 AB)

67. Eastern Kentucky JR 1B/3B Mandy Alvarez: power upside; 6-1, 215 pounds (2015: .319/.371/.565 – 17 BB/29 K – 1/4 SB – 207 AB)

68. Wichita State JR 1B/C Ryan Tinkham: 6-5, 210 pounds (2015: .333/.446/.576 – 32 BB/42 K – 7/9 SB – 210 AB)

69. Missouri State JR 1B/OF Spencer Johnson: 6-4, 215 pounds (2013: .295/.392/.402 – 18 BB/26 K – 7/7 SB – 122 AB) (2014: .265/.347/.478 – 23 BB/48 K – 3/8 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .316/.450/.508 – 40 BB/52 K – 1/2 SB – 193 AB)

70. Northeastern rJR 1B Rob Fonseca: power upside; can also play some OF and 3B; slow; good arm; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .317/.360/.550 – 11 BB/44 K – 2/3 SB – 180 AB) (2013: .350/.395/.525 – 17 BB/50 K – 1/2 SB – 217 AB) (2015: .274/.376/.581 – 25 BB/44 K – 1/2 SB – 179 AB)

71. Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR 1B Alec Saikal: intriguing power and size mix; 6-7, 240 pounds (2014: .306/.372/.427 – 22 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 206 AB) (2015: .308/.364/.508 – 20 BB/29 K – 0/2 SB – 195 AB)

72. Southeast Missouri State JR 1B/OF Ryan Rippee: plus power upside; will swing and miss; 6-6, 230 pounds (2013*: .336/.415/.533 – 17 BB/25 K – 4/4 SB – 152 AB) (2014*: .274/.353/.458 – 19 BB/38 K – 4/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .299/.373/.551 – 29 BB/60 K – 4/6 SB – 234 AB)

73. Savannah State SR 1B Charles Sikes: power upside; 6-2, 185 pounds (2014: .358/.416/.592 – 20 BB/36 K – 1/2 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .321/.410/.521 – 26 BB/39 K – 0/1 SB – 190 AB)

74. Connecticut JR 1B Bobby Melley: 6-3, 235 pounds (2013: .308/.393/.367 – 25 BB/31 K – 0/0 SB – 240 AB) (2014: .359/.475/.502 – 31 BB/19 K – 2/2 SB – 209 AB) (2015: .315/.401/.408 – 32 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 238 AB)

75. Connecticut JR 1B Joe DeRoche-Duffin: 6-0, 250 pounds (2015: .271/.416/.541 – 30 BB/51 K – 2/3 SB – 170 AB)

76. Nevada JR 1B/OF Bryce Greager: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .257/.350/.400 – 8 BB/22 K – 0/0 SB – 70 AB) (2015: .355/.459/.552 – 29 BB/46 K – 2/6 SB – 183 AB)

77. Georgia SR 1B/LHP Jared Walsh: 6-0, 215 pounds (2012: .157/.254/.235 – 6 BB/18 K – 0/0 SB – 51 AB) (2013: .303/.326/.434 – 6 BB/32 K – 0/1 SB – 175 AB) (2013: 10.27 K/9 | 6.69 BB/9 | 2.78 FIP | 37.2 IP) (2014: .188/.345/.217 – 15 BB/8 K – 0/0 SB – 69 AB) (2014: 7 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 9 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2015: .306/.365/.462 – 13 BB/22 K – 0/0 SB – 173 AB)

78. Central Michigan JR 1B/3B Zarley Zalewski: 6-3, 185 pounds (2013: .265/.357/.340 – 16 BB/26 K – 1/1 SB – 147 AB) (2014: .351/.425/.468 – 18 BB/47 K – 0/0 SB – 222 AB) (2015: .374/.463/.483 – 30 BB/39 K – 5/9 SB – 203 AB)

79. Pepperdine JR 1B Brad Anderson: plus raw power; 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: .282/.348/.409 – 25 BB/50 K – 1/1 SB – 220 AB) (2015: .276/.369/.457 – 28 BB/55 K – 0/0 SB – 210 AB)

80. St. John’s SR 1B Matt Harris: 6-0, 210 pounds (2014: .285/.380/.435 – 21 BB/39 K – 5/7 SB – 207 AB) (2015: .335/.426/.489 – 21 BB/37 K – 6/9 SB – 176 AB)

81. Eastern Michigan JR 1B/3B Mitchell McGeein: 6-1, 210 pounds (2014: .242/.345/.387 – 17 BB/25 K – 1/3 SB – 124 AB) (2015: .277/.352/.515 – 24 BB/47 K – 4/4 SB – 206 AB)

82. Villanova JR 1B/RHP Max Beermann: 6-7, 225 pounds (2013: 5.40 K/9 | 7.43 BB/9 | 4.51 FIP | 13.1 IP) (2013: .208/.312/.409 – 10 BB/48 K – 1/1 SB – 149 AB) (2014: .304/.423/.492 – 24 BB/56 K – 1/1 SB – 181 AB) (2015: .280/.348/.490 – 16 BB/45 K – 1/1 SB – 200 AB) (2015: 10.07 K/9 – 3.15 BB/9 – 14.1 IP – 5.02 ERA)

83. Stephen F. Austin State JR 1B Kyle Thornell: 6-2, 185 pounds (2014: .256/.374/.496 – 16 BB/35 K – 0/2 SB – 133 AB) (2015: .301/.412/.524 – 20 BB/48 K – 3/6 SB – 166 AB)

84. Seton Hall SR 1B/OF Sal Annunziata: above-average raw power; quick bat; good approach; decent speed; solid defender; good athlete; has also played C; 5-11, 200 pounds (2012: .295/.369/.422 – 11 BB/39 K – 2/2 SB – 173 AB) (2013: .347/.403/.526 – 19 BB/30 K – 7/9 SB – 213 AB) (2014: .330/.393/.503 – 12 BB/38 K – 1/3 SB – 197 AB) (2015: .258/.317/.425 – 14 BB/41 K – 1/1 SB – 186 AB)

85. James Madison rSO 1B/3B Brett Johnson: 6-5, 225 pounds (2015: .274/.344/.488 – 17 BB/22 K – 2/3 SB – 164 AB)

86. Washington rJR 1B/OF Branden Berry: 6-4, 230 pounds (2012: .328/.406/.427 – 14 BB/35 K – 0/0 SB – 192 AB) (2014: .262/.340/.335 – 16 BB/36 K – 2/3 SB – 164 AB) (2015: .269/.372/.421 – 18 BB/44 K – 4/5 SB – 197 AB)

87. Kennesaw State rSR 1B/OF Chris McGowan: 6-1, 215 pounds (2012: .249/.314/.395 – 18 BB/55 K – 2/6 SB – 205 AB) (2013: .256/.392/.357 – 43 BB/31 K – 3/5 SB – 199 AB) (2014: .272/.340/.379 – 23 BB/43 K – 2/3 SB – 224 AB) (2015: .272/.387/.408 – 33 BB/27 K – 4/5 SB – 184 AB)

88. Marshall rSR 1B TJ Diffenderfer: 6-5, 240 pounds (2014: .258/.339/.417 – 19 BB/29 K – 0/1 SB – 151 AB) (2015: .291/.396/.430 – 28 BB/31 K – 1/2 SB – 172 AB)

89. Dallas Baptist JR 1B/3B Trooper Reynolds: strong bat; 5-10, 225 pounds (2014*: .318/.405/.441 – 23 BB/32 K – 3/5 SB – 179 AB) (2015: .275/.346/.456 – 20 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 160 AB)

90. Grand Canyon rJR 1B/OF Rouric Bridgewater: plus raw power; slow; Arizona State transfer; 6-1, 220 pounds (2012: .269/.291/.442 – 2 BB/11 K – 1/1 SB – 52 AB) (2013: .194/.275/.350 – 3 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 36 AB) (2015: .269/.333/.370 – 11 BB/19 K – 2/3 SB – 108 AB)

91. Illinois State SR 1B/OF Mason Snyder: 6-0, 210 pounds (2015: .303/.421/.467 – 30 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 195 AB)

92. Xavier SR 1B/OF Joe Forney: 6-4, 230 pounds (2013: .313/.378/.352 – 15 BB/33 K – 6/7 SB – 182 AB) (2014: .282/.349/.351 – 17 BB/39 K – 7/9 SB – 248 AB) (2015: .279/.384/.400 – 28 BB/36 K – 7/9 SB – 190 AB)

93. Oregon JR 1B Brandon Cuddy: 6-2, 215 pounds (2015: .255/.351/.401 – 23 BB/46 K – 2/2 SB – 192 AB)

94. Baylor JR 1B Mitch Price: 6-3, 240 pounds (2014: .258/.390/.379 – 11 BB/13 K – 0/0 SB – 66 AB) (2015: .278/.357/.405 – 11 BB/24 K – 0/0 SB – 126 AB)

95. Charleston Southern SR 1B/LHP Chase Shelton: strong arm; can also play OF; 6-5, 230 pounds (2012: .307/.367/.444 – 9 BB/14 K – 5/6 SB – 189 AB) (2013: .297/.349/.385 – 13 BB/27 K – 2/4 SB – 195 AB) (2013: 5.16 K/9 | 4.76 BB/9 | 3.71 FIP | 22.2 IP) (2014: .348/.408/.480 – 19 BB/15 K – 3/4 SB – 221 AB) (2015: .302/.366/.367 – 20 BB/20 K – 6/8 SB – 215 AB)

96. Alabama A&M SR 1B Jordan Friend: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: .342/.433/.618 – 23 BB/36 K – 2/3 SB – 152 AB)

97. BYU SR 1B/3B Dillon Robinson: 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: .369/.405/.463 – 11 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 149 AB) (2015: .371/.453/.550 – 29 BB/45 K – 1/1 SB – 202 AB)

98. Prairie View A&M JR 1B Angel Avalos: 5-11 (2015: .359/.446/.551 – 9 BB/13 K – 0/0 SB – 78 AB)

99. Wofford SR 1B/OF James Plaistad: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: .250/.317/.420 – 15 BB/30 K – 8/11 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .346/.434/.557 – 37 BB/56 K – 11/13 SB – 228 AB)

100. Norfolk State rSR 1B Ryan Kilmon: 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: .325/.444/.496 – 22 BB/30 K – 8/13 SB – 123 AB)

*****

Samford JR 1B Alex Lee: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .343/.425/.575 – 26 BB/47 K – 3/4 SB – 207 AB)

Wofford SR 1B Conor Clancey: 6-3, 220 pounds (2014: .230/.335/.377 – 19 BB/46 K – 4/5 SB – 183 AB) (2015: .326/.376/.593 – 15 BB/39 K – 9/11 SB – 221 AB)

Manhattan JR 1B/OF Christian Santisteban: 6-2, 215 pounds (2013: .268/.375/.464 – 23 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 138 AB) (2014: .314/.389/.446 – 15 BB/30 K – 1/2 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .301/.399/.449 – 27 BB/33 K – 1/1 SB – 176 AB)

Florida A&M SR 1B Ryan Kennedy: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: .303/.401/.449 – 28 BB/38 K – 1/1 SB – 198 AB) (2015: .266/.382/.426 – 30 BB/27 K – 1/1 SB – 169 AB)

St. Peter’s SR 1B/OF Chris Hugg: 6-4, 230 pounds (2014: .292/.348/.452 – 12 BB/35 K – 4/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .312/.390/.474 – 19 BB/35 K – 6/9 SB – 173 AB)

Yale SR 1B Eric Hsieh: 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: .370/.491/.415 – 26 BB/13 K – 7/8 SB – 135 AB)

Purdue rJR 1B/LHP Kyle Wood: 90 FB; 6-0, 220 pounds (2013: .266/.397/.429 – 20 BB/36 K – 3/5 SB – 154 AB) (2013: 5.67 K/9 | 5.67 BB/9 | 3.55 FIP | 27 IP) (2014: .302/.390/.414 – 11 BB/33 K – 4/4 SB – 169 AB) (2014: 9.72 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 16.2 IP – 11.88 ERA) (2015: .326/.421/.487 – 23 BB/47 K – 1/1 SB – 193 AB)

Alabama A&M JR 1B Dylan Payne: 6-3, 250 pounds (2015: .321/.406/.488 – 10 BB/17 K – 1/1 SB – 84 AB)

Southeastern Louisiana SR 1B/2B Kevin Carr: 5-10, 190 pounds (2014: .290/.410/.319 – 10 BB/22 K – 1/2 SB – 69 AB) (2015: .336/.424/.468 – 19 BB/31 K – 0/1 SB – 220 AB)

Texas-San Antonio JR 1B/3B Geonte Jackson: good defensive tools; good athlete; LSU transfer; 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .298/.361/.363 – 20 BB/39 K – 6/11 SB – 215 AB)

Harvard SR 1B/2B Jake McGuiggan: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: .347/.362/.504 – 3 BB/13 K – 3/3 SB – 121 AB)

Rider SR 1B/OF Justin Thomas: 6-4, 215 pounds (2014: .341/.402/.492 – 19 BB/28 K – 2/3 SB – 179 AB) (2015: .304/.386/.443 – 19 BB/29 K – 6/7 SB – 194 AB)

Ohio JR 1B John Adryan: 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: .282/.345/.374 – 10 BB/36 K – 0/4 SB – 174 AB) (2015: .292/.372/.427 – 24 BB/30 K – 1/2 SB – 178 AB)

Long Island-Brooklyn rSO 1B/RHP Mark Hernandez: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: .302/.370/.354 – 17 BB/27 K – 9/9 SB – 189 AB) (2015: .253/.315/.434 – 16 BB/29 K – 5/7 SB – 182 AB)

Jackson State SR 1B Tilur Smith: power upside; strong; quick bat; 6-2, 230 pounds (2014: .331/.436/.521 – 18 BB/43 K – 5/8 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .266/.369/.388 – 20 BB/37 K – 6/8 SB – 188 AB)

Fort Wayne JR 1B Kendall Whitman: power upside; 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .288/.409/.435 – 22 BB/46 K – 2/2 SB – 191 AB)

Northwestern JR 1B/OF Zach Jones: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .315/.345/.370 – 8 BB/21 K – 162 AB) (2015: .321/.374/.436 – 17 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 218 AB)

Utah Valley State JR 1B Mark Krueger: power upside; 6-5, 225 pounds (2013: .245/.300/.354 – 13 BB/49 K – 4/6 SB – 192 AB) (2014: .306/.366/.466 – 20 BB/47 K – 4/5 SB – 219 AB) (2015: .290/.390/.410 – 34 BB/45 K – 5/6 SB – 200 AB)

Mississippi Valley State SR 1B Brady McBride: 6-3, 255 pounds (2015: .322/.380/.421 – 12 BB/24 K – 3/4 SB – 152 AB)

William & Mary rSR 1B Willie Shaw: good approach; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: .293/.396/.380 – 40 BB/32 K – 4/5 SB – 229 AB) (2015: .282/.386/.400 – 26 BB/36 K – 5/6 SB – 195 AB)

North Dakota SR 1B Ryan Reese: 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: .283/.387/.414 – 11 BB/24 K – 3/4 SB – 99 AB) (2014: .314/.442/.352 – 18 BB/16 K – 2/2 SB – 105 AB) (2015: .290/.412/.439 – 27 BB/34 K – 6/6 SB – 155 AB)

Kennesaw State SR 1B Colin Bennett: 6-3, 235 pounds (2014: .333/.472/.439 – 13 BB/13 K – 1/1 SB – 57 AB) (2015: .250/.373/.442 – 20 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 104 AB)

Texas-Arlington SR 1B Levi Scott: power upside; 6-4, 240 pounds (2014: .303/.347/.411 – 12 BB/37 K – 0/1 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .327/.374/.493 – 19 BB/37 K – 1/1 SB – 211 AB)

Western Kentucky SR 1B Ryan Church: power upside; 6-2 (2014: .306/.366/.445 – 21 BB/38 K – 7/10 SB – 229 AB) (2015: .284/.340/.445 – 18 BB/29 K – 6/10 SB – 211 AB)

Dayton SR 1B AJ Ryan: 6-3, 215 pounds (2013: .167/.258/.175 – 8 BB/21 K – 0/2 SB – 114 AB) (2014: .338/.400/.506 – 16 BB/21 K – 2/5 SB – 160 AB) (2015: .265/.342/.450 – 19 BB/33 K – 1/2 SB – 200 AB)

Troy SR 1B Trevin Hall: 6-2, 180 pounds (2014: .263/.343/.457 – 13 BB/57 K – 8/9 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .331/.385/.478 – 13 BB/30 K – 6/12 SB – 157 AB)

Southern Mississippi SR 1B/C Matt Durst: 5-10, 225 pounds (2014: .277/.340/.413 – 19 BB/40 K – 0/2 SB – 213 AB) (2015: .314/.354/.454 – 13 BB/31 K – 0/1 SB – 207 AB)

Maine JR 1B Brenden Geary: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .280/.378/.416 – 13 BB/22 K – 4/5 SB – 125 AB)

Dallas Baptist rSR 1B Chane Lynch: 6-5, 200 pounds (2015: .270/.346/.400 – 21 BB/30 K – 2/2 SB – 200 AB)

Columbia rJR 1B Nick Maguire: above-average power; above-average speed; 6-3, 230 pounds (2014: .265/.354/.400 – 19 BB/25 K – 0/0 SB – 155 AB) (2015: .235/.296/.429 – 12 BB/43 K – 1/1 SB – 170 AB)

New Mexico State JR 1B Joseph Koerper: 6-5, 235 pounds (2014: .288/.377/.348 – 20 BB/32 K – 4/4 SB – 132 AB) (2015: .316/.375/.424 – 15 BB/34 K – 0/1 SB – 177 AB)

Hofstra rJR 1B Ryan Donovan: power upside; 6-4, 210 pounds (2014: .260/.370/.519 – 13 BB/26 K – 3/4 SB – 77 AB) (2015: .234/.348/.416 – 10 BB/23 K – 1/2 SB – 77 AB)

Louisiana SR 1B/3B Greg Davis: 6-0, 225 pounds (2014: .314/.388/.500 – 12 BB/13 K – 6/6 SB – 86 AB) (2015: .257/.330/.408 – 24 BB/30 K – 6/6 SB – 245 AB)

Santa Clara SR 1B/OF TJ Braff: 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: .309/.358/.402 – 6 BB/23 K – 0/2 SB – 97 AB) (2015: .270/.339/.423 – 13 BB/37 K – 2/7 SB – 196 AB)

Louisiana Tech SR 1B Taylor Nichols: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: .288/.361/.406 – 12 BB/28 K – 2/4 SB – 160 AB)

Fairfield JR 1B Brendan Tracy: good glove; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .260/.340/.366 – 16 BB/26 K – 1/1 SB – 123 AB) (2015: .287/.339/.440 – 10 BB/33 K – 0/1 SB – 150 AB)

Indiana State rSO 1B Hunter Owen: 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: .344/.400/.542 – 5 BB/19 K – 96 AB)

Penn SR 1B Matt McKinnon: 6-2, 220 pounds (2015: .333/.402/.491 – 8 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 114 AB)

Texas State rSR 1B/RHP David Paiz: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: .275/.374/.408 – 34 BB/45 K – 0/0 SB – 218 AB)

La Salle SR 1B/RHP Mark Williams: power upside; 6-6, 240 pounds (2013: .288/.364/.442 – 6 BB/27 K – 2/2 SB – 156 AB) (2014: .275/.365/.458 – 18 BB/18 K – 1/1 SB – 153 AB) (2014: .275/.365/.458 – 18 BB/18 K – 1/1 SB – 153 AB) (2015: 5.35 K/9 – 2.68 BB/9 – 37 IP – 2.92 ERA) (2015: .305/.366/.481 – 9 BB/31 K – 1/1 SB – 210 AB)

Campbell SR 1B/OF Kyle Leady: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: .238/.335/.292 – 13 BB/19 K – 5/7 SB – 130 AB) (2015: .336/.397/.472 – 8 BB/27 K – 14/18 SB – 214 AB)

Louisiana-Monroe JR 1B Danny Springer: 6-6, 240 pounds (2015: .271/.317/.508 – 10 BB/44 K – 5/5 SB – 181 AB)

Sam Houston State SR 1B Jake MacWilliam: 6-3, 185 pounds (2014: .277/.379/.362 – 7 BB/7 K – 0/0 SB – 47 AB) (2015: .378/.412/.483 – 8 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 143 AB)

Sam Houston State JR 1B Spence Rahm: 6-5, 240 pounds (2015: .295/.369/.427 – 21 BB/58 K – 5/6 SB – 234 AB)

Radford SR 1B/3B Hunter Higgerson: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: .280/.355/.469 – 19 BB/33 K – 4/6 SB – 211 AB) (2015: .269/.323/.458 – 15 BB/45 K – 6/9 SB – 227 AB)

McNeese State JR 1B Connor Crane: 6-3, 210 pounds (2015: .272/.340/.443 – 16 BB/53 K – 12/14 SB – 235 AB)

Cal State Bakersfield SR 1B Soloman Williams: 6-7, 220 pounds (2014: .293/.343/.492 – 14 BB/47 K – 1/1 SB – 181 AB) (2015: .278/.382/.367 – 27 BB/54 K – 0/0 SB – 169 AB)

Fordham SR 1B Jordan Gajdos: 6-5, 210 pounds (2015: .328/.388/.426 – 5 BB/18 K – 2/4 SB – 61 AB)

Lipscomb SR 1B/RHP Tyson Ashcraft: 90 FB; 6-3, 225 pounds (2013: .280/.351/.411 – 14 BB/47 K – 3/4 SB – 175 AB) (2014: .249/.347/.402 – 19 BB/69 K – 3/4 SB – 189 AB) (2014: 5.40 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 15 IP – 5.40 ERA) (2015: .276/.374/.409 – 14 BB/36 K – 3/5 SB – 127 AB)

Coppin State JR 1B/OF George Dragon: strong hit tool; 6-0, 210 pounds (2015: .295/.362/.370 – 15 BB/28 K – 0/1 SB – 146 AB)

Big Ten 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team

Illinois JR C Jason Goldstein
Michigan State SR 1B Ryan Krill
Maryland rSO 2B Brandon Lowe
Illinois rSO SS Adam Walton
Michigan JR 3B Travis Maezes
Michigan State JR OF Cameron Gibson
Iowa JR OF Joel Booker
Michigan SR OF Jackson Glines

Illinois JR LHP Tyler Jay
Indiana rSO RHP Jake Kelzer
Indiana JR LHP Scott Effross
Iowa JR RHP/C Blake Hickman
Maryland JR LHP Jake Drossner

I’ve noticed that I sometimes struggle when writing about players, hitters especially, that I really like. It’s almost like I don’t know what to say other than I just really, really like him. I just really, really like Maryland rSO 2B Brandon Lowe. His tools don’t jump out at you, but they aren’t half-bad, either: lots of tools in the 45 to 55 range including his glove at second, arm strength, and foot speed. It’s the bat, of course, that makes him an all-caps FAVORITE. Lowe’s hit tool is no joke

Watching Lowe hit is a joy. There’s plenty of bat speed, consistent hard contact from barrel to ball, and undeniable plus pitch recognition. His ability to make adjustments from at bat to at bat and his impressive bat control make him a potentially well above-average big league hitter. And he just flat produces at every stop. He reminds me a good deal of an old favorite, Tommy La Stella. One scout who knew I liked Lowe to an almost unhealthy degree threw a Nick Punto (bat only) comp on him. Most fans would probably take that as an insult, but we both knew it was a compliment. Punto, love him or hate him, lasted 14 years in the big leagues and made over $20 million along the way. Punto’s best full seasons (2006 and 2008) serve as interesting goal posts for what Lowe could do if/when he reaches the top of the mountain. In those years Punto hit around .285/.350/.375. In today’s game that’s a top ten big league hitter at second base. Maybe I’m not crazy enough to project a top ten at his position future for Lowe, but he’ll make an outstanding consolation prize for any team who misses/passes on Alex Bregman, the consensus top college second base prospect, this draft. I’m also not quite crazy enough to think Lowe’s draft ceiling will match that of another similar prospect (Tony Renda of Cal, who went 80th overall in 2012), but the skill sets share a lot of commonalities. Lowe is a little bit like Houston C Ian Rice for me; both players are higher (and will continue to be higher) on my rankings than I’d imagine they’ll get selected in June. Getting one or both with a pick in the middle of the single-digit rounds would be a major victory.

Slow starts have plagued the rest of the top second base prospects in the conference. Minnesota JR 2B/SS Connor Schaefbauer is the consummate heady, athletic steady fielder that you like to see manning the keystone. Like Ohio State JR 2B/3B Troy Kuhn, his cleanest path to the big leagues would be as a utility player capable of manning all the important infield spots. Indiana SR 2B/OF Casey Rodrigue was a sleeper of mine heading into last year after transferring in from LSU-Eunice, but he hasn’t made quite the impact I thought his tools would allow. But back to Lowe: I stayed up about fifteen minutes past my bedtime on a school night (!) to think about and then write about Lowe. That’s how much I like him. You might say things are getting serious between us.

Illinois JR C Jason Goldstein has scuffled to start the year, but that doesn’t dissuade me (much) of pumping him up as a quality big league contributor as he continues to develop. He’ll never be a plus offensively (though there is some bat speed to like here), but should be good enough to allow his strong defensive gifts to play. Michigan State SR C/1B Blaise Salter reminds me a little bit of Alex Bregman. I’ll pause for a second and let that ridiculous statement sink in. I’ve mentioned this before, but so many college-oriented analysts are quite vocal in their belief that Bregman will be able to stick at shortstop in the pros; pro guys, on the other hand, can’t wait to get him off the six-spot. As for Salter, most college guys you read and listen to will push the “hey, he’s improved a lot behind the plate and, sure, he’s not the most agile guy back there, but he’s a leader and pitchers like him, so maybe it’ll work” agenda. That’s cool and all, but then pro guys, literally to a man, respond with NOPE. I have him listed as a catcher for now because I think his drafting team will at least give it a shot. That’s because he might – and I can’t emphasis might enough – be playable back there, but also because it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine his bat playing anywhere else. It’s catcher or bust for Salter if he wants to climb the pro ladder. I actually like the hit tool more than most and think he’s a better athlete than given credit for, but it’ll come down to whether or not he’ll make enough contact to allow his plus power to go to use.

There are no first basemen of note in the Big 10 this year. I hate saying that and you know I’m rooting for somebody to emerge, but it doesn’t look great right now. I’ve been a fan of Michigan State SR 1B Ryan Krill in the past, but supporting that cause is getting harder and harder to justify as the years pass. Krill was a member of the 2011 MLB Draft class of high school first basemen that has flopped in a big way so far. It’s up to Travis Harrison (who I absolutely loved) to rediscover his power and Dan Vogelbach* (who I liked a lot then and still like today) to stay in reasonably good shape to carry this sad group of first basemen out of the doldrums. Krill can still bring the thunder, but contact is a problem and he too often gets himself in bad hitting counts. Here was his HS report from this very site back in the day…

Krill is another prospect I was slow to come around on, but I’m buying into his mix of strong defensive tools, super athleticism, and big upside with the bat. Like Jacob Anderson before him, he’s got the wheels and instincts to play some outfield as a pro. There is enough to like about Krill that you can dream on him being a league average hitter and above-average glove at first down the line if everything works out. That may not sound all that sexy, and there is plenty of risk involved with assuming “everything works out,” but you have to remember how much you have to hit if you want to play first base in the bigs. As much as I like Krill now, I’ll be the first to admit that each and every one of these mid-round high school first basemen will all have to make major strides in pro ball (i.e. have “everything work out”) to begin to reach their upper level projections. Life is tough when you don’t have a fallback plan, I guess.

Ohio State JR 1B/OF Zach Ratcliff is another former big-time HS prospect that hasn’t delivered in college. These are typically the guys I cling to long after they’ve shown they are overmatched. I’m trying to hang in there, honest.

The shortstop group in the conference is similar to the second baseman if you allow for the omission of a Brandon Lowe type prospect at the top. Illinois rSO SS Adam Walton comes closest to taking on that role as a fellow third-year sophomore with clear professional tools (speed, glove). I’ve neither seen nor heard much about Walton as a pro prospect just yet, but players who look like safe bets to stay up the middle with his kind of wheels and pop tend to get noticed over time.

I’ve written about Michigan JR 3B/SS Travis Maezes already, so I’ll just give the short version here: his skill set reminds me of the 25th pick of last year’s draft, Matt Chapman. The biggest noticeable difference in their games comes down to arm strength. Maezes has an outstanding arm, but it’s not in the same class as Chapman’s; that’s how crazy Chapman’s arm is. Besides that, the similarities are striking. I think Maezes has a chance to put an average hit tool with average power (maybe a half-grade above in each area) to good use as a professional ballplayer. Even if he doesn’t hit as much as I’ll think, his defensive value (good at third and playable at short, with intriguing unseen upside at 2B and C) should make him a positive player. It’s not the typical profile we think of as “high-floor,” but it works. I’ve talked to a few people who think I’m overstating Maezes’ upside as a pro. That’s fine and it’s relevant and I’m happy to hear from dissenting viewpoints. What I often hear next is what interests me the most. The majority of those who say I’m too high on Maezes have gone on to praise either Maryland JR 3B Jose Cuas or Ohio State 3B/1B Jake Bosiokovic as the better prospect. It’s not this simplistic, but I feel like if we had to boil those conversations down it would be an upside vs certainty debate. I think Maezes’ upside rivals those guys and he’s far more certain to produce positive value going forward; they think Maezes’ upside is limited when compared to Cuas and Bosiokovic, and that he’s far less likely (relative to what I’ve said) to reach that lesser ceiling anyway. Maybe. I get the appeal of Cuas (big raw power and a world of defensive tools) and Bosiokovic (athletic 6-6, 220 pound men who can reasonably stick at third are a rare breed), but, despite what I’ve heard, my loyalty to Maezes is unwavering. (For the record, I realize I’m not going out on a limb here and I’m not patting myself on the back for liking a player who is the consensus top third basemen in the conference. I’m just trying to share some opposing views I’ve personally heard. Also, I do think I like him more than most, but arguing degrees of “like” is a pretty silly exercise.)

In this class I look at Michigan State JR OF Cameron Gibson and see a slam dunk top five round draft prospect with the chance to play his way even higher (round two?). Judged solely as a hitter, however, smart people I’ve talked to liken him more to recent college players like Greg Allen, Tyler Holt, Mark Payton, and Taylor Dugas. Those guys, all favorites of mine once upon a time, were drafted in the sixth, fifth, seventh, and eighth rounds, respectively. I’m not sure what that necessarily says about Gibson’s draft stock (if anything!), so I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. The “as a hitter” qualifier above is not to be missed. Gibson’s range in center isn’t nearly on the level of any of those players, with one scout simply telling me he was “fine in center, better in a corner.” That corners figures to be left field as his arm is his one clearly below-average tool. Everything else could play average or better making the strong, athletic Gibson a potential regular if he can stick in center. If not, then he could make it work as a regular left fielder in today’s new world order of reduced offense. A plus glove with upside at the plate in left is a property worth investing in these days. An unexpected but amusing comparison I’ve heard for Gibson’s ceiling is Brady Anderson (sans 50 HR season). I like it, though I’m not sure if projecting Anderson’s plate discipline (remember it being good, but shocked how good) on any young hitter is fair.

Iowa JR OF Joel Booker remains a bit of a mystery man to me, but crazy speed, premium athleticism, and considerable arm strength paint the picture of a strong overall prospect. Booker destroyed junior college ball the past two seasons (.403/.451/.699 last year) and has adjusted fairly well to big time college ball so far this year. The big question even as he was annihilating juco pitching was how his high-contact, minimal bases on ball approach would play as the competition tightened. It’s still a concern, but it might just be one of those tradeoffs we have to accept in a flawed prospect. Booker’s aggression nature defines him at the plate; pushing him into more of a leadoff approach could neuter his unusually adept bat-to-ball ability just as easily as it could take him to the next level as a prospect.

All of those names mentioned in the Cameron Gibson paragraph (Allen, Holt, Payton, Dugas) might better apply to Michigan SR OF Jackson Glines. Glines can chase balls down in center with the best of them where he is able to use his above-average foot speed and instincts to get balls others can’t. There aren’t too many senior signs in the country with his kind of future. Speed, CF range, patience, and pop = FAVORITE.

The next tier down of outfielders still has some players to watch. Maryland JR OF LaMonte Wade (arm, power, approach) has upside rivaled only by Cam Gibson among his outfield peers. Indiana rSR OF Scott Donley rolls out of bed ready to hit. Iowa SR OF/2B Eric Toole has speed, Maryland JR OF Anthony Papio has power, and Purdue JR OF Kyle Johnson has a little bit of everything, size included (6-5, 215).

I’m trying to find the right fact that shows how impressive the Big 10’s pitching this year is. Let’s see which sums it up the best…

The top ranked arm, Illinois JR LHP Tyler Jay, is an easy first round talent who could keep on striking guys out all the way into the top ten. That could be reason enough to be impressed with the Big 10’s pitching, but, wait, there’s more.

Jay is just one of literally a half-dozen lefthanded pitchers that I have at peaking with their fastballs at 94 or better. There’s Jay (97), Indiana JR LHP Scott Effross (94), Maryland JR LHP Jake Drossner (95), Maryland JR LHP Alex Robinson (96), Minnesota JR LHP Dalton Sawyer (94), and Illinois JR LHP Kevin Duchene (94).

One of my quick sorting tools when I’m looking at a class a year or more out (like I just finished up doing with the college class of 2016) is to start with any pitcher capable of throwing three average or better pitches. I had to do the same thing when figuring out how to prioritize this follow list. Jay, Indiana rSO RHP Jake Kelzer, Effross, Iowa JR RHP Blake Hickman, Drossner, Michigan JR RHP/3B Jacob Cronenworth, Duchene, Michigan State SR RHP Mick VanVossen, and Indiana JR RHP Christian Morris all fit the bill based on my notes.

The one-two-three punch of Jay, Hickman, and Cronenworth give the conference as much athleticism and theoretical two-way ability as any group of pitchers as you’d like to see. Jay is a plus athlete with legitimate plus speed, Hickman was once an honest to goodness catching prospect with big power and a plus arm (duh), and, despite a fascinating three-pitch mix (88-92, 94 peak; above-average breaking ball; above-average mid-80s split-CU) Cronenberg might currently be a better prospect as a position player (speed, arm strength, power). As somebody who values athleticism in pitchers very, very highly, this is some exciting stuff.

I’ve managed to namecheck eleven different pitchers so far without mentioning a certain SO RHP at Ohio State by the name of Travis Lakins. All Lakins is capable of is throwing darting mid-90s fastballs with above-average command, an average curve that flashes plus, and a raw but steadily improving changeup. No biggie.

To continue the “how can a guy this good be ranked so low?” theme, there’s are a pair of pitchers just outside of the top ten who have both hit as high as 97 with impressive breaking balls. That would be Maryland JR RHP Jared Price and Ohio State rSO RHP Shea Murray.

The aforementioned Duchene is next with his lively four-pitch mix and stellar track record of success. Then there’s Michigan State rSO LHP Cameron Vieaux, another southpaw who can get swings and misses both with the heat (88-92) and an above-average breaker (CB). It doesn’t hurt that he’s a 6-5, 200 pound athletic son of a gun, either.

I could go on and on and on. A few more quick notes…

I’m as shocked as anybody that I didn’t have Hickman, a massive personal favorite, behind Jay in the two spot. Those Indiana arms (Kelzer and Effross) just got too much love for the smart folks I talked to. Kelzer is the rare big pitcher (6-8, 235) with the fluidity and athleticism in his movements as a smaller man. I’ve yet to hear/see of a true offspeed pitch of note (he’s got the good hard slider and a promising slower curve), but something a touch softer (change, splitter) would be nice. Effross is a more traditionally easy to like prospect: lefthanded, damn good change, misses bats.

Maryland could stock a AA bullpen tomorrow. Jake Drossner has the stuff to start, but Alex Robinson, Kevin Mooney, Jared Price, and Zach Morris (and his comically oversized cell phone) all have at least the fastball/breaking ball combination that could get good pro hitters out right now.

(I wrote this about Jay earlier, but seeing as he’s the top guy I figure it didn’t hurt to run it again)

I guess I just find the case of Jay continuously flying just under the radar to be more bizarre than anything. I’m almost at the point where I’m starting to question what negatives I’m missing. A smart team in the mid- to late-first round is going to get a crazy value when Jay inevitably slips due to the unknown of how he’ll hold up as a starter. Between his extreme athleticism, a repertoire bursting at the seams with above-average to plus offerings (plus FB, above-average CB that flashes plus, above-average SL that flashes plus, average or better CU with plus upside), and dominant results to date at the college level (reliever or not), there’s little doubt in my mind that Jay can do big things in a big league rotation sooner rather than later. There two questions that will need to be answered as he gets stretched out as a starter will be how effective he’ll be going through lineups multiple times (with the depth of his arsenal I’m confident he’ll be fine here) and how hot his fastball will remain (and how crisp his breaking stuff stays) when pitch counts climb. That’s a tough one to answer at the present moment, but the athleticism, balance, and tempo in Jay’s delivery give me hope.

*I don’t know if this comp has ever been made – Google doesn’t seem to think so – but I see a lot of Brett Wallace, for better or worse, in Vogelbach. I say for better despite Wallace not working out professionally because I’m sure he was a well above-average first base bat in one of our world’s parallel universes. Or something like that. Anyway, Vogelbach’s minor league numbers to date: .285/.375/.481. Wallace is a career .304/.376/.480 minor league hitter. Hmm.

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting 

  1. Michigan JR 3B/SS Travis Maezes
  2. Maryland rSO 2B Brandon Lowe
  3. Michigan State JR OF Cameron Gibson
  4. Maryland JR 3B Jose Cuas
  5. Iowa JR OF Joel Booker
  6. Illinois JR C Jason Goldstein
  7. Michigan SR OF Jackson Glines
  8. Maryland JR OF/LHP LaMonte Wade
  9. Illinois rSO SS Adam Walton
  10. Michigan State SR C/1B Blaise Salter
  11. Indiana rSR OF Scott Donley
  12. Michigan State SR 1B Ryan Krill
  13. Minnesota JR 2B/SS Connor Schaefbauer
  14. Ohio State JR 2B/3B Troy Kuhn
  15. Iowa SR OF/2B Eric Toole
  16. Nebraska SR C Tanner Lubach
  17. Maryland JR OF Anthony Papio
  18. Indiana SR C/OF Brian Hartong
  19. Purdue JR OF/RHP Kyle Johnson
  20. Minnesota SR OF Jake Bergren
  21. Nebraska SR OF Austin Darby
  22. Illinois SR 1B/SS David Kerian
  23. Nebraska SR 3B/1B Blake Headley
  24. Maryland JR C Kevin Martir
  25. Ohio State JR 3B/1B Jake Bosiokovic
  26. Northwestern rSR C Scott Heelan
  27. Minnesota rSR SS Michael Handel
  28. Rutgers SR OF Vinny Zarrillo
  29. Iowa JR 1B/RHP Tyler Peyton
  30. Indiana SR 2B/OF Casey Rodrigue
  31. Iowa SR OF Dan Potempa
  32. Illinois SR OF Casey Fletcher
  33. Ohio State SR C Aaron Gretz
  34. Nebraska JR 2B/SS Jake Placzek
  35. Nebraska SR SS Steven Reveles
  36. Iowa rSR 2B Jake Mangler
  37. Ohio State SR C Connor Sabanosh
  38. Penn State JR OF James Coates
  39. Ohio State JR 1B/OF Zach Ratcliff
  40. Michigan SR C/OF Kevin White
  41. Purdue JR 2B Michael Vilardo

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Pitching 

  1. Illinois JR LHP Tyler Jay
  2. Indiana rSO RHP Jake Kelzer
  3. Indiana JR LHP Scott Effross
  4. Iowa JR RHP/C Blake Hickman
  5. Maryland JR LHP Jake Drossner
  6. Ohio State SO RHP Travis Lakins
  7. Maryland JR LHP Alex Robinson
  8. Maryland JR RHP Kevin Mooney
  9. Minnesota JR LHP Dalton Sawyer
  10. Michigan JR RHP/3B Jacob Cronenworth
  11. Maryland JR RHP Jared Price
  12. Ohio State rSO RHP Shea Murray
  13. Illinois JR LHP Kevin Duchene
  14. Michigan State rSO LHP Cameron Vieaux
  15. Nebraska SR RHP Josh Roeder
  16. Michigan State SR RHP Mick VanVossen
  17. Minnesota rJR RHP Lance Thonvold
  18. Nebraska JR RHP Colton Howell
  19. Illinois rSR RHP Drasen Johnson
  20. Indiana SR RHP Luke Harrison
  21. Iowa JR RHP Calvin Mathews
  22. Michigan State JR LHP Anthony Misiewicz
  23. Indiana JR RHP Christian Morris
  24. Iowa JR RHP Tyler Radtke
  25. Maryland rJR LHP Zach Morris
  26. Ohio State SR RHP Trace Dempsey
  27. Illinois rSR RHP/2B Reid Roper
  28. Northwestern SR RHP Brandon Magallones
  29. Nebraska SR LHP Kyle Kubat
  30. Michigan JR LHP Evan Hill
  31. Ohio State SR LHP Ryan Riga
  32. Ohio State JR RHP Jake Post
  33. Rutgers JR LHP Mark McCoy
  34. Michigan State rSR LHP/OF Jeff Kinley
  35. Nebraska SR RHP Chance Sinclair
  36. Indiana JR LHP Will Coursen-Carr
  37. Iowa SR RHP Nick Hibbing
  38. Maryland SR RHP Bobby Ruse
  39. Minnesota SR RHP Ben Meyer
  40. Indiana JR LHP Sullivan Stadler
  41. Illinois JR LHP JD Nielsen
  42. Illinois rSR LHP Rob McDonnell
  43. Indiana rSO RHP Thomas Belcher
  44. Indiana JR RHP Evan Bell
  45. Indiana rJR LHP Kyle Hart
  46. Indiana rSR RHP Ryan Halstead
  47. Michigan rJR RHP Matthew Ogden
  48. Minnesota rJR LHP Jordan Jess
  49. Rutgers rSO LHP Max Herrmann
  50. Indiana rSO RHP Kent Williams
  51. Iowa JR LHP Ryan Erickson

Detroit Tigers 2011 MLB Draft in Review

Detroit 2011 Draft Selections

I’ve done enough of these draft reviews that I’m starting to repeat my repeats. I no longer can keep track of all of the silly claims (best draft, worst draft, whatever) that I’ve made so far. As I’ve surely said before, I’m not a huge fan of a team like Detroit taking so many college guys early on in the draft. When your first high school prospect is drafted in the fifteenth round, you’re doing it wrong.

Of course, you can always redeem yourself by simply drafting well. Whether we’re talking prospects from college, high school, junior college, or Cuba (looking in your direction, Onelki Garcia), the most important part of picking players is picking good players. I don’t like a college heavy approach, but if you are picking quality college players then who am I to complain?

That takes care of the top of Detroit’s draft. The back end was a mess. Brett Harrison, an overslot prep signing in the eighteenth round, was the last high school prospect signed by the Tigers. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but it isn’t good when you essentially stop drafting after round 18. Detroit managed to land a couple potential relief arms and a few org bats, but outside of intriguing 22nd round pick Tommy Collier, there is no impact upside. When you combine that with a college-heavy approach early on, you’re limiting the chances of landing a player who might contribute at or close to a star level in a big time way.

All I can do is throw up my hands and admit defeat when it comes to the Tigers first pick, Arkansas C James McCann. I figured teams would like him a lot more than I did, but never in my wildest fantasies did I think he’d crack the top two rounds. In my pre-draft comment (below), I said I’d spend upwards of a seventh rounder on him, but no more. Detroit obviously thought differently. Luckily for me, this is just the beginning. McCann’s pro career can go a lot of different ways from this point forward, so the jury is far from out when it comes time to determining whether or not this was a smart pick. Despite not being his biggest fan – from a prospect only and nothing personal standpoint – I’ll be rooting for him to exceed my expectations because by all accounts he is a really great guy. Still think he has a really good chance to become a steady professional backup catcher, though playing time might be hard to come by in an organization that has spent five picks in the draft’s top ten rounds over the past two years on catchers. They also have a pretty good young catcher at the big league level who figures to have a lock on the starting job for the foreseeable future.

I was impressed with the much discussed McCann’s well above-average athleticism and solid speed (for a catcher) in my admittedly quick look at him. His hit tool and power tool both project to around average (45 to 55, depending on the day) and his defense is already professional quality. I know I’ve been considered a McCann hater at times, but I think his relatively high floor (big league backup) makes him a worthy pick within the first seven to ten rounds.

There isn’t much to add about Vanderbilt 1B Aaron Westlake that hasn’t already been said. He has one clear big league tool (power) and a second that is average or better (hit), but is held back by the position he plays. If he hits in the minors, he’ll rise up. If he doesn’t hit, he’s sunk. There isn’t much of a speed/defense safety net, though there are some who think he is just athletic enough to be tried at various odd spots (corner OF, 3B, even C) around the diamond. His handedness (left) works in his favor in that he could potentially get platoon/pinch hit at bats against righthanded pitchers.

Westlake is going to hit as a professional, I’m sure of that much. Will he hit enough to hold down an everyday job at first? That’s the million dollar question, I suppose. He should be able to hit well enough against righthanded pitchers to at least work his way into a platoon role down the line. It could also be possible that his drafting team gets creativity with him, and tries him at a few different spots (corner OF, maybe a little third, perhaps some time behind the plate) a la Baltimore’s Jake Fox.

Can’t say I completely understand the selection of Kansas State 3B Jason King this early on (137th overall), but what do I know? King put up good numbers for the Wildcats and has ample power upside, but I don’t think he’ll hit enough to be a regular in an outfield corner, his likely landing spot down the line.

Texas SS Brandon Loy’s defense is big league quality already, so it really is just a matter of whether or not he can do enough damage with the stick to be a regular. With their 5th round pick (159th overall) in 2009, the St. Louis Cardinals took Miami SS Ryan Jackson. Loy, a player with a similar college background, also went off the board in the 5th round (167th overall). As Peter King might say the kids might say, “Just sayin’.”

Loy is a standout defensive player who makes up for his average foot speed with tremendous instincts and a plus arm that helps him execute all of the necessary throws from deep in the hole at short. He’s also a great athlete with awesome hand-eye coordination; that coordination is never more apparent than when he is called on to bunt, something he already does as well as the best big leaguer. I was slow to come around to Loy as a top prospect heading into the year, but the improvements with the bat have me thinking of him in a new light. Like Taylor Motter ranked one spot above him, Loy’s awesome defense should be his ticket to the big leagues, perhaps as a Paul Janish type down the road.

Howard JC OF Tyler Collins is similar from a basic scouting vantage point to Jason King. Both guys have big power, but project best as outfielders unable to play center. Guys like have to, wait for it, hit a ton to keep advancing in pro ball. I do like Collins’ pure hit tool over King’s and he is more of a natural in the outfield, so, you know, there’s that.

I was impressed Detroit got a deal done with Wichita State LHP Brian Flynn, a draft-eligible sophomore that many had pegged as likely to return for one more season with the Shockers. Lefties who are 6-8, 240ish pounds and can reach the mid-90s don’t come around too often, but it wasn’t just Flynn’s questionable signability that dropped him to the 7th round. At this precise moment in time, Flynn is a one-pitch pitcher. Even that one pitch, his fastball, isn’t that great an offering when you factor in his inconsistent ability to harness it. If the slider keeps developing and he shows he can work in the occasional change, then we might have a dark horse starting pitching prospect. If not, Flynn will try to make it in the competitive world of professional relief pitching.

Wichita State SO LHP Brian Flynn: 86-90 FB, peak 92; new peak of 94; command needs work; 6-8, 245 pounds

I lost track of Dallas Baptist OF Jason Krizan from early last season to just this very moment, so I’m pleasantly surprised to see he hit a Division I record for doubles this past year. Considering the only notes I had on him at the start of the year were “big power to gaps,” I can’t help but laugh. Krizan’s 2011 numbers have a distinct video game feel, but his lack of big tools – remember, a comment about his gap power was about the most positive thing said about him from a scouting perspective this past spring – keep him from being as good a prospect as his numbers might have you think. His inability to play center hurts him as well because, stop me if you’ve heard this before, if you want to play a big league corner outfield spot then you have to be able to hit, hit, and hit some more. With the right breaks Krizan could make it as a backup outfielder/pinch hitter, but he’d be stretched as an everyday player.

Kentucky OF Chad Wright profiles very similarly to the guy drafted one round ahead of him. He’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” prospect who is just good enough at everything to be interesting, but not quite good enough at any one thing to be a regular.

Kentucky JR OF Chad Wright (2011): average all around

I’ve written a lot about Vanderbilt C Curt Casali over the years, so I’ll make this brief: Curt Casali is going to play in the big leagues. I’ll go a step further and say he’s a better than 50/50 bet to outproduce the other SEC catcher taken by Detroit in the second round. I know I’m alone on this, but he reminds me a good bit of one-time catcher Josh Willingham at the plate. One thing that could definitely hold him back: I don’t know if he’s athletic enough to move out behind the plate if such a move is necessitated by his surgically reconstructed elbow.

Every game Casali plays is one game further removed from 2009 Tommy John surgery. The difference it has made in his defense behind the plate (more than just big league ready – he’d be in the upper half defensively of pro catchers) and his offense at the plate (near-plus raw power and a phenomenal whole field approach) give him the look of a future big leaguer to me. It is a rare senior that warrants draft consideration before round five, but Casali is an exception. Love this guy.

Barry 1B Dean Green (Round 11) got lost in the shuffle after transferring to Barry from Oklahoma State, but he’s a solid hitter with decent power. Michigan State OF Jeff Holm (Round 12) was a slick pick as one of the nation’s most intriguing senior signs. He has a long track record of excellent production, good speed, a great approach to hitting, and some defensive versatility (he plays a mean first base as well as average D in the outfield corners).

Michigan State SR OF Jeff Holm (2011): great approach; above-average to plus speed; gap power; average arm; average range in corner; has played 1B, but enough foot speed for corner; (340/411/534 – 28 BB/15 K – 22/25 SB – 206 AB)

I wanted all spring to champion Alabama-Birmingham RHP Ryan Woolley (Round 13), but his production (roughly 6 K/9) kept me from throwing any weight behind an endorsement. Down senior year aside, Woolley is a solid relief prospect with a good fastball that plays up in the bullpen and two offspeed pitches (slider and hard change) that flash above-average.

UAB SR RHP Ryan Woolley (2011): 90-91, topping at 92 with FB; has been up to 93-96 with FB; good 12-6 75-77 SL; power 82-83 CU; 6-1, 195 pounds; (6.75 K/9 – 4.64 BB/9 – 4.87 FIP – 64 IP*)

Stratford Academy (GA) OF Tyler Gibson (Round 15) might only have one plus tool, but it’s the right one to have. His big raw power gives him a chance to someday start in a corner, but he’s a long way away from being the player he’ll eventually be.

Green Valley HS (NV) 3B Brett Harrison (Round 18) got six figures mostly for his plus defensive upside and chance for a league average bat. I thought he could stick up the middle, but the Tigers prefer him at third.

My first draft originally had Harrison with the second base prospects, but a quick word from a smart guy suggested I was underselling his defensive upside. I believe a sampling of that quick word included the phrase “unbelievably light on his feet, like he is fielding on a cloud” or something weirdly poetic like that. There isn’t a whole lot there with the bat just yet, but after being told he had a “criminally underrated pure hit tool” I reconsidered and relented. Still not sold on the power ever coming around, but if he can combine an above-average hit tool with solid defense and a good arm, then we’ve got ourselves a nice looking prospect. There is an outside shot Harrison could go undrafted if teams are as convinced as my smart guy seems to be about his commitment to Hawaii.

If one player stands out as a potential late round steal for Detroit, it’s San Jacinto JC RHP Tommy Collier (Round 22). Collier throws two plus pitches already, and, if healthy, has the chance to unleash his nasty slider once again. He has the repertoire to start, but his health might necessitate a full-time switch to the bullpen. Mississippi LHP Matt Crouse (Round 24) is another arm with upside signed later on in the draft. His stuff was down this past spring, but he shows three average or better pitches when right and a projectable frame that could lead to a touch more velocity going forward. Southern California RHP Chad Smith (Round 17), who is equipped with a tidy low-90s heater/low-80s slider combo, could also make it as a reliever in pro ball

Mississippi JR LHP Matt Crouse: 86-88 FB, rare 91-92 peak; above-average CB that he leans on heavily; good CU; very projectable, but mechanics need cleaning up; 6-4, 185 pounds; stuff down this spring

Southern Cal JR RHP Chad Smith (2011): 90-92 FB; 93 peak; 80-84 SL; 6-3, 210

I can’t wait to see what Wichita State has planned for returning senior RHP Mitch Mormann (Round 25). He already has a plus fastball, both in terms of velocity and movement, and a slider that works as a solid second pitch in the bullpen. If his changeup shows progress, he could start this spring. If not, he could be on the short list of top college relievers for the 2012 Draft.

SR RHP Mitch Mormann (2012): 93-95 FB with great sink, 96 peak; average 83-85 SL; raw CU; 6-6, 255 pounds

Minnesota RHP Scott Matyas (Round 27) retired after just four rocky pro appearances, so, yeah, that’s that. He was going to be my sleeper pick, too. Glad I double-checked!

Minnesota SR RHP Scott Matyas: sits 88-91, 94 peak FB; above-average low-70s CB; good cutter; good command; mixes in upper-70s CU; really good athlete; 6-4, 220; Tommy John survivor

Missouri State RHP Dan Kickham (Round 33) might be the best of the sorry lot of players signed by Detroit after the 25th round. His fastball is too straight and his slider more good than great, but he has a chance to rise up in the system with some early pro successes.

Missouri State JR RHP Dan Kickham: 88-92 FB without much movement; average 81-83 SL; reliever; 6-4, 210

Portage HS (MI) 1B Ryan Krill (Round 40) is off to Michigan State. Well, I suppose he’s already there (it is almost November, after all), but you know what I mean. He has the chance to hit right away for a Spartans team that looks pretty decent on paper.

Krill is another prospect I was slow to come around on, but I’m buying into his mix of strong defensive tools, super athleticism, and big upside with the bat. Like Jacob Anderson before him, he’s got the wheels and instincts to play some outfield as a pro. There is enough to like about Krill that you can dream on him being a league average hitter and above-average glove at first down the line if everything works out. That may not sound all that sexy, and there is plenty of risk involved with assuming “everything works out,” but you have to remember how much you have to hit if you want to play first base in the bigs. As much as I like Krill now, I’ll be the first to admit that each and every one of these mid-round high school first basemen will all have to make major strides in pro ball (i.e. have “everything work out”) to begin to reach their upper level projections. Life is tough when you don’t have a fallback plan, I guess.

Final 2011 MLB Draft High School First Base Rankings

Photo Credit: Power Showcase

1. 1B Travis Harrison (Tustin HS, California)

I feel almost the same affinity for Harrison as I did for Nick Castellanos last year. Almost. Castellanos was and is the superior prospect for a handful of reasons, but it is pretty amazing to see the difference in pre-draft ranking between the two relatively similar prospects. Castellanos was my third favorite hitter from the 2010 class, and ranked sixth overall on my last big board before the draft. Harrison, despite the similarities to Castellanos from a scouting perspective, won’t begin to approach such a lofty ranking. That’s not a knock against Harrison’s upside, but rather yet another data point indicating the ridiculous depth of this year’s draft.

Writing about first base prospects is tough because, really, it is all about asking one simple question for each prospect: can he hit enough to play first base in the big leagues? There are occasional issues that need to be sorted out (body type, athleticism, chance of playing somewhere other than first, maybe some consideration for defense at first), but the bat is clearly the most important issue that needs to be addressed. Harrison’s bat looks like it’ll play at first. There are a handful of prospects ranked below that have a case of having more present power than Harrison (most notably Dan Vogelbach), but, for my money, Harrison’s power is the most pro-ready in his class. Harrison has the raw physical strength to hit the ball a long way, a free and easy swing that incorporates his lower half beautifully, and an approach at the plate that enables him to confidently hack away at pitches he likes while letting junk fly right by. If Harrison has convinced a team that he is more than just a first baseman defensively – I’d love to see him get a shot at third, but don’t think his drafting team will agree with me – he’d find himself in a much better position to go off the board in the first. The more likely outcome has him sliding a bit on draft day, and, much like Castellanos in 2010, Harrison could be a major steal if he slips past round one.

2. 1B Jacob Anderson (Chino HS, California)

Anderson has the weird distinction of being a middle of the pack high school outfield prospect – not sure where I’d rank him offhand, but certainly not in the top five – with a prospect stock that is superficially inflated by his ability to play first base. Would you rather be the eighth or ninth ranked prep outfielder or the number two first baseman? It doesn’t actually make a difference, but I know I’d walk around  with a little extra in my step if I was ranked second in something rather than ninth, even if I knew my competition wasn’t as great in the former category. There is a point buried deep within my largely incoherent rambling here, I promise. Anderson is the rare player on this list who is more than capable of playing another position. So why include him with the first basemen? It becomes a question of personal preference: would you rather have an average to slightly below average left field defender or a potential plus glove at first? I’m not sure there is a right answer – though I’m sure the boys at Fangraphs or College Splits could probably figure it out in no time – so it really does come down to personal choice. Because I think Anderson’s bat is so good – plus bat speed, explosive yet efficient hip rotation, great weight transfer and balance, and a slight upper cut that really works with his whole body swing – that he’ll have enough bat to carry him at first.

3. 1B Dan Vogelbach (Bishop Verot HS, Florida)

The popular comparison for Dan Vogelbach these days seems to be Prince Fielder. Now I’m as big a fan as comps as you’ll find and I think I get the basic idea behind this particular one – both guys showed plus to plus-plus power and minus to minus-minus (I just made that up…clever, right?) body types as prep stars – but the only way I could get behind comparing Vogelbach to Fielder would be if we specified that it is a “very poor man’s Fielder” comp. Maybe my hesitation to use Fielder as a comp for anybody has to do with using him as a point of reference for what I thought Bryce Harper can and will do as a pro. As a jumping off point for conversation, however, the Fielder comp is very interesting. Vogelbach does have tremendous raw power. He also has a distressingly large body that does not fit what most teams look for in a high school draft pick. Some (but not all) concerns about his body have been put to rest by a combination of his major weight loss in the past year (he’s no longer pushing three bills, so that’s a plus) and his outstanding makeup that has some teams believing he’ll do anything it takes (i.e. continue to work on reshaping his body) to succeed in pro ball. It is easy to envision Vogelbach as a 1B/DH capable of hitting 30 homers if everything goes to plan, but the risk factor here is high.

4. 1B Dante Bichette (Orangewood Christian HS, Florida)

I’ve gone back and forth on Bichette for over a year now. The first thing I noticed when watching him hit is how his inside-out swing looks a lot like his father’s. This is a positive when he’s going well, as it is a really good looking swing that helps him generate plus bat speed and well above-average raw power. It is a negative when he is going poorly because, as much as I like the swing for an experience professional, it may have a little too much length and too many moving parts to allow him to pull it off consistently. I can’t help but wonder what his first pro hitting instructor’s advice will be. I should also note that I’ve slowly come around to the idea that Bichette might be able to stick at third base professionally because of his much improved athleticism and surprising nimbleness.

5. 1B Kevin Cron (Mountain Pointe HS, Arizona)

Cron has made headlines this spring, first as the younger brother of the amazing CJ Cron and then as a pretty damn good draft power hitting draft prospect himself. He’ll likely be picked too high to honor his commitment to TCU, but, man, I’d love to see him take a crack at the college game – the direct statistical comparison you could then make to his brother would be fascinating, I think. Cron the younger caught some in high school, but, like his bro, probably doesn’t have the requisite athleticism to catch at the next level. I’ve heard some quiet buzz about an attempted move to third, but I think that is probably from people who would hate to see his plus arm go to waste at first. Even working under the likely assumption he’s a first baseman in pro ball, Cron is a top five round prospect due to his highly advanced hit tool and gigantic raw power.

6. 1B Rookie Davis (Dixon HS, North Carolina)

My biggest concern with ranking Rookie Davis this high is based on the nagging thought some team will pop him as a pitcher instead of a hitter. Currently equipped with two above-average future pitches (good low-90s fastball and an emerging mid-70s curve), Davis’ future could be on the mound. Like most two-way prospects, I think he’d be best served by giving hitting a go from the start. If that’s the case, then his plus raw power, classic slugger’s frame (6-5, 220), and strong track record hitting with wood could help him get drafted in the first few rounds and give him a chance to become pro baseball’s first ever Rookie.

7. 1B Wallace Gonzalez (Bishop Amat HS, California)

We’re issuing a major upside alert with Wallace Gonzalez, a rare first base prospect that can lay claim to legit five-tool upside. Those tools run the gamut from “wow” (plus raw power and a bazooka – not literally, that would be a “WOW!” tool – attached to his shoulder) to “hmm, didn’t expect that” (watching a 6-5, 220 pound man with 45 speed is cognitive dissonance personified). With great upside often comes great rawness, however. Gonzalez is better known as a football star with intriguing upside as a tight end capable of developing into a dangerous downfield threat. His commitment to the gridiron makes his signability just murky enough that some teams could shy away on draft day. Years of football experience also means less time honing his baseball skills, so the onus will be on his drafting team to really coach him up. At this point in the rankings, a boom or bust prospect like Gonzalez makes a lot of sense.

8. 1B Ryan Krill (Portage Central HS, Michigan)

Krill is another prospect I was slow to come around on, but I’m buying into his mix of strong defensive tools, super athleticism, and big upside with the bat. Like Jacob Anderson before him, he’s got the wheels and instincts to play some outfield as a pro. There is enough to like about Krill that you can dream on him being a league average hitter and above-average glove at first down the line if everything works out. That may not sound all that sexy, and there is plenty of risk involved with assuming “everything works out,” but you have to remember how much you have to hit if you want to play first base in the bigs. As much as I like Krill now, I’ll be the first to admit that each and every one of these mid-round high school first basemen will all have to make major strides in pro ball (i.e. have “everything work out”) to begin to reach their upper level projections. Life is tough when you don’t have a fallback plan, I guess.

9. 1B Elliot Richoux (The Woodlands HS, Texas)

Richoux is a mature hitter with plus raw power and a swing that will need a heavy dose of good coaching to help him optimize his physical strength. He has the benefit and the disadvantage of being heavily scouted over the years. In Richoux’s case, it isn’t the only area guys who know him, but also many front office higher-ups who have travelled to see The Woodlands HS team play over the past few seasons.

10. 1B Rouric Bridgewater (Diamond Ranch HS, California):

Bridgewater’s ranking is probably a little bit unfair because, as a hitter, he’s as gifted as any of the four players listed right above him. The guy can hit any pitch, works a mature whole field approach, and goes into each at bat with a plan in place. The reason he is ranked behind those four prospects has to do with his power upside. Bridgewater’s raw power is considered closer to above-average or good than the good to plus range of Davis, Gonzalez, Krill, and Richoux. I know power isn’t everything, but if there was any position where it is key, it’s obviously first base.

11. 1B Skyler Ewing (Arlington HS, Texas)

Listed as a catcher in most spots, and there is a chance he’ll stick there, but I think his plus raw power will have more of a chance to shine once he loses the tools of ignorance.

12. 1B Michael Gunn (Christian Brothers HS, Arkansas)

Gunn is one of the many intriguing two-way prospects on this list. He’s further ahead as a defender at first than he is at the plate, but a team could buy in to the idea that time away from pitching will help accelerate his development as a hitter.

13. 1B Trevor Gretzky (Oaks Christian HS, California)

I feel like this ranking might catch some heat because so many have completely written off Gretzky as a prospect propped up solely due to his famous father. I think there is something there with the bat, and his athleticism, second only to Wallace Gonzalez’s in this group, will really help in the transition to pro ball. The backlash he’s received in some scouting circles makes me think he’d be a better ballplayer to some if only his name was Trevor Smith.

14. 1B JD Davis (Elk Grove HS, California)

Yet another two-way player likely heading off to college. Davis sports a well-rounded skill set, but no plus tool that will get a scout hot and bothered.

15. 1B Kyle Martin (Wade Hampton HS, South Carolina)

Martin could be worth a flier later on as a power guy with some upside. Like many near the back end of this list, he seems like a safe bet to head off to college to spend a few years getting smart.