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The original list of top 2009 junior college prospects is here. I added current minor league numbers and some quick commentary for each player. There were definitely some misses on the original list, but mostly in the way of omissions, as you’ll read at the end of the post. The ten guys on the actual original list, however, all wound up drafted or at four-year university the next year. That might not sound like much, and maybe it isn’t, but for one of the very first lists I ever put together (and with a relatively early post date of February at that) it wasn’t too terrible.
1. RHP Jake Cowan | San Jacinto CC | Baltimore Orioles | 10th Round (2009)
4.46 ERA – 36.1 IP – 37 K/16 BB – 0.87 GO/AO
The numbers put up in seven starts aren’t bad by any stretch, but the fact that Cowan is 23 years old and still pitching in Short-Season A Ball for the New York-Penn League’s Aberdeen IronBirds isn’t exactly ideal. I’m still a believer in Cowan, though it was interesting to read that he leans so heavily on his curve and change rather than his above-average fastball.
2. RHP Ryan Weber | St. Petersburg CC | Atlanta Braves | 17th Round (2009)
2.68 ERA – 43.2 IP – 32 K/8 BB – 1.76 GO/AO
Weber’s done a solid job at an age-appropriate level — he’ll be 21 next month and in the Low A South Atlantic League — but a recent injury has landed him on the 7-Day DL. It comes at a bad time as he’s been stretched out to start after starting the year in the bullpen. Weber still looks like a future big league reliever to me, though it may take a trade to reach that ceiling. Hard to project any Low A arm into Atlanta’s big league bullpen this far out considering how stacked their young bullpen looks already.
3. RHP Daniel Webb | Northwest Florida State CC | Toronto Blue Jays | 18th Round (2010)
5.97 ERA – 57.1 IP – 45 K/23 BB – 2.16 GO/AO
The Low-A Lansing Lugnuts starter has been on the shelf since early June. Worth noting that he has been much better against righthanders than lefties. Webb still throws hard, but his command problems stemming from an inconsistent release point persist to this day.
4. RHP Kendall Korbal | Blinn CC | San Diego Padres | 21st Round (2009)
I called him Kendal Korban back in 2009. Pretty impressive that I was able to mess up both his first name and his last name, if you think about it. Injuries have set Kendall Korbal back to the point he has yet to throw a professional inning. The always informative MadFriars.com filled in some of the blanks. Cliff Notes version: Tommy John surgery was needed right after Korbal’s signing, rehab didn’t go quite as planned, and he has since been released. None other than Paul DePodesta was pretty excited about him pre-injury:
“20 years old and 6’6″, 210 lbs, Kendall has a fastball that reaches 93 and the makings of solid secondary pitches. He could end up as a starter or a reliever with power stuff.”
I remember command being an issue pre-injury and, as often noted, the comeback from Tommy John surgery often impacts command as much as velocity. Sounds like this could have been the case here. He’s young enough that he could resurface if healthy.
5. LHP Shawn Sanford | Palomar CC
Sanford transferred to San Diego State, but fell off the map after the 2010 season. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. At first I thought he shrunk a few inches, learned how to throw righthanded, transferred to South Florida, and got himself drafted by the Giants. Wrong Shawn Sanford.
6. LHP Mike Rayl | Palm Beach CC | Cleveland Indians | 15th Round (2009)
2.83 ERA – 82.2 IP – 84 K/13 BB – 0.89 GO/AO
Rayl has put up the best pro numbers of any player on the list so far with over a strikeout per inning and 17 good starts as a 22-year old in Low-A. 6’5″ lefties with consistently strong performances get noticed in time. He won’t reach the heights of his 2009 draft peers — Alex White and Jason Kipnis have both already reached the big leagues — but shouldn’t be completely dismissed as a future bullpen arm down the line.
7. LHP Chad Bell | Walters State CC | Texas Rangers | 14th Round (2009)
3.35 ERA – 37.2 IP – 34 K/15 BB – 1.29 GO/AO
Finally we get a prospect playing above Low-A ball! Bell has pitched well out of the bullpen for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in High-A. Interesting to note that he has rarely been called in to pitch just one inning (or less) instead often going two full innings or more. I had Bell pegged as a pitchabilty lefthander with just barely enough stuff to survive going forward, but an uptick in fastball velocity (sitting 88-92 with the chance for more), a much improved curveball, and a reliably steady change make him a worthy challenger for big league innings down the road.
8. LHP Patrick Corbin | Chipola CC | Los Angeles Angels | 2nd Round (2009)
3.84 ERA – 119.2 IP – 111 K/26 BB – 1.34 GO/AO
Now we’re cooking. Tyler Skaggs may have been the centerpiece that went to Arizona in the Dan Haren, but Corbin is no slouch. I suppose you don’t need me telling you this, considering his lofty draft status and Baseball America’s top ten prospect ranking (9th on Arizona’s list, to be exact). I thought he’d fit best in a big league bullpen back in the day, and I still kind of do, but the possibility that he can take his darting fastball, above-average slider, and much improved changeup to a big league rotation is now very real. His strong AA performance keeps him on track to make his big league debut at some point in 2012.
9. LHP Kevin Gelinas | Central Arizona CC
Not only did I like Gelinas as a junior college pitcher, I liked him as a college pitcher after he transferred to UC Santa Barbara. His is a sad story, however, as the once promising and twice drafted (’09 and ’10) lefthander couldn’t stay healthy enough to make it three years in a row. I’ve looked in to see if he had latched on as an undrafted free agent anywhere, but haven’t found anything positive to report. Injuries, man – hate ’em.
10. OF Runey Davis | Howard CC | Chicago Cubs | 12th Round (2009)
.353/.461/.600 – 16 BB/27 K – 85 AB – 4/6 SB
Two subpar years have all been erased by Davis’s recent dominant run for the Idaho Falls Chukars. Alright, not really…but it’s a start. Davis was let go by the Cubs and added to the Royals squad this past March, but his quality 2011 numbers have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt considering his age (22) and current level of play. If his speed plays as well as I thought then he could still make it to the bigs somewhere, someday considering the way teams tend to be patient with true centerfielders with plus tools.
The next five players on my original list were OF David Stewart (Grayson County CC), RHP Brett Bruening (Grayson County CC), RHP Rey Cotilla (Miami-Dade CC), C Miles Hamblin (Howard CC), and RHP Jason Townsend (Chipola CC). Out of those five, I’d say Townsend, who wound up a 31st round pick of the Pirates by way of the University of Alabama, qualifies as the most promising prospect.
Limiting my search to the top five rounds only, I found six other junior college players worth mentioning: Evan Chambers, Keon Broxton, Brett Wallach, Randy Henry, Mycal Jones, and Darrell Ceciliani. Broxton and Jones are the best prospects of the bunch, though neither inspired me to write anything more about them now.
Batteries refreshed after gargantuan college recaps and tedious schedule making, so let’s switch things up and delve deeper into what has turned out to be a much more popular topic (judging by Google entry searches) than I ever would have anticipated – junior college baseball. I’ll admit to being a big of a novice in this area, but, being the man of the people that I am, I see no reason why that should stop us from taking a closer look into an unfamiliar topic for many baseball fans. A little bit of reading, a glance back at my old notes, and a couple of phone calls and emails later, boom! we’ve got a top ten list to use as a frame of reference going forward. (more…)
1. Steven Strasburg (RHSP – San Diego State)
Alright, so far this is pretty easy…
2. Alex White (RHSP – North Carolina)
3. Grant Green (SS – Southern California)
4. Dustin Ackley (OF – North Carolina)
5. Kyle Gibson (RHSP – Missouri)
White is a confusing prospect. On one hand, he’s second on the board and, while Green may be very close behind him at number three, is a worthy candidate to go number two overall. On the other hand, if we pretended Strasburg wasn’t draft-eligible this year, would White as the number one pick in the country feel right? That may be a silly way of looking at it, but I can’t help it. Maybe it’s more about my personal hangup about what a number one overall pick should be. I like White a lot and genuinely believe he can front a big league rotation, but it would feel like a weak draft if he went number one overall. Ugh, that makes no sense. I’m just thinking out loud, disregard this paragraph…
6. Mike Minor (LHSP – Vanderbilt)
7. Tanner Scheppers (RHSP – Fresno State/St. Paul Saints)
8. Aaron Crow (RHSP – Missouri/Forth Worth Cats)
9. Andrew Oliver (LHSP – Oklahoma State)
Minor is a personal favorite and higher on this list than he’ll sure be on others – watching Cole Hamels every fifth day the last few years has turned me into a huge backer of lefties with plus changeups. Scheppers is also higher here than he’ll be on most rankings, but, remember, this ranking is based on the assumption of good health into the summer.
10. Josh Phegley (C – Indiana)
11. Mike Leake (RHSP – Arizona State)
12. James Jones (LHSP – Long Island)
13. Kendal Volz (RHSP – Baylor)
14. Mike Nesseth (RHSP – Nebraska)
Phegley as the third ranked college bat may seem a little strange, but his statistical profile is hard to ignore. He heads up an underrated group of college catchers that feature a surprisingly high number of players on the list – well, maybe it isn’t all that surprising, but it was surprising to me as I put the list together, whatever that’s worth. Leake over Volz is a little strange, but it came down to present plus command and movement over potential power plus stuff across the board.
15. Sean Black (RHSP – Seton Hall)
16. Jake Locker (OF – Washington)
Sometimes I have a hard time letting go. I know I previously admitted having Locker = poor man’s Grady Sizemore burned into my brain, but Sean Black this high could be just as egregious a selection. Black was a big prep prospect not too long ago who has failed to live up to the hype at Seton Hall. Loads of raw talent + more difficult playing conditions (subpar team, so-so conference, and colder weather) = potential sleeper prospect. Locker will fall down the list (and eventually off altogether) as other players emerge this spring, but I had to put him way up here as a nod to his prodigious talent.
17. Kentrail Davis (OF – Tennessee)
18. Robbie Shields (SS – Florida Southern)
19. Jared Mitchell (OF – Louisiana State)
20. Kyle Seager (2B – North Carolina)
21. Rich Poythress (1B – Georgia)
Counting Locker at 16th, that gives us sixth straight position players in a row. How about that? These five should all be big league starters if all goes according to plan, though only the two outfielders profile as potential all-stars.
22. Sam Dyson (RHSP – South Carolina)
23. Chris Dominguez (3B – Louisville)
All or nothing, here we come. Dyson’s arm is electric, but his injury history and control both need some cleaning up. Dominguez has his detractors, but two plus tools (arm and power) make him stand out in a weak college class for hitters. If he puts it all together this season, expect crazy power numbers out of Dominguez, especially in Big East play.
24. Ryan Ortiz (C – Oregon State)
25. DJ LeMahieu (SS – Louisiana State)
26. Trevor Coleman (C – Missouri)
27. Robert Stock (C – Southern California)
28. Ryan Jackson (SS – Miami)
Five spots, only two positions. Sorting out the college catchers and middle infielders is one of the trickier things to do in this class. Ortiz is an underrated player because his skillset is so broad. Players like this often get overlooked for not having one standout tool to suck scouts in. LeMahieu is a far better hitter than Jackson, but they are close in the overall rankings because Jackson’s defense is outstanding. Big league front offices realize the importance of quality defense now more than ever, so where Jackson falls on actual draft boards will make an interesting case study in just how focused teams are developing their own standout defenders through the draft. As I already wrote about in the mock draft, Stock = catching version of Sean Black. Of course, baseball is a weird game so there may be more to the story than that simple equation (I like equations, by the way…if you haven’t noticed. We might be able to claim that Stock = Black without the catching disclaimer if the Southern Cal product has a big season on the mound for the Trojans.
29. AJ Pollock (OF/2B – Notre Dame)
30. Jason Stoffel (RHRP – Arizona)
31. Bryan Morgado (LHSP – Tennessee)
32. Kyle Heckathorn (RHSP – Kennesaw State)
Pollock is a hard player to figure, but if the position switch to second base actually sticks, he’ll fly up draft boards this spring. He is a very good basestealer, has playable pop, and is difficult to strike out. Pollock is one of the few I haven’t seen play yet, so I’m just throwing this out there…what about Chone Figgins as a comp?
33. Ben Tootle (RHRP – Jacksonville State)
34. Shawn Tolleson (RHSP – Baylor)
35. Jake Cowan (RHSP – San Jacinto JC)
36. Blake Smith (OF/RHSP – California)
The first junior college player to make the list is a righty with a great frame, 95 MPH fastball, and three plus pitches. Cowan, the former Virginia recruit, will be in contention to be the first juco player picked in 2009.
37. Tyler Lyons (LHSP – Oklahoma State)
38. Jeff Inman (RHSP – Stanford)
39. Ryan Weber (RHSP – St. Petersburg JC)
Weber is the second junior college arm on the list, a fact worth noting because neither the aforementioned Jake Cowan or Weber is Daniel Webb. Webb, the consensus top junior college talent, failed to crack the top fifty. Blazing fastball or not, he was just too raw a prospect for our tastes.
40. Micah Gibbs (C – Louisiana State)
41. Matt Thomson (RHSP – San Diego)
42. Brad Boxberger (RHRP – Southern California)
43. Tommy Medica (C – Santa Clara)
44. Brad Stillings (RHSP – Kent State)
45. Steve Fischback (RHRP – Cal Poly)
46. Nick Hernandez (LHSP – Tennessee)
47. Gavin Brooks (LHSP – UCLA)
48. Jordan Henry (OF – Mississippi)
49. David Hale (RHSP – Princeton)
50. Ben Paulsen (1B – Clemson)
And that’s 50. Not a very inspiring last group, but, let’s be real, it’s not a very exciting year for high-end college talent. I think I picked the wrong year to start doing this…
Check back all weekend long for occasional updates on college baseball’s opening weekend.
We’ve covered a litle bit of high school so far. We have a lot more prep coverage in the works. We’ve covered a tiny, tiny bit of college ball so far. There will be a ton more of that to come. What we’ve ignored thus far, unintentionally of course, is the all too often ignored grey area of draft prospecting. I mean, and let’s be honest here, who among us can truly say that he or she knew the 2009 junior college baseball season has already started? We shall ignore the juco ranks no longer! After the jump, enjoy the best prospects — by position, naturally — currently on junior college rosters.