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I really wanted to finish up those College World Series previews in time for the weekend, but pesky real work obligations got in the way. They wound up being a lot more time consuming than I had anticipated, so with great regret I’m ditching the rest of the time-sensitive stuff and instead focusing on a more general 2012 approach going forward. In an effort to spotlight some interesting names heading into next year, I’ll be putting together preseason All-Conference (2012 Draft) teams throughout the summer. Like much of the content you’ll see over the next ten weeks there is no schedule, so be sure to check in early and often to see if your favorite conference has gotten any love.
To start off, here are 5 interesting ACC infielders who didn’t actually make the cut for my preseason All-ACC (2012 Draft) team…
Clemson SO C Spencer Kieboom | .300/.382/.382 – 23 BB/12 K – 170 AB
There is a lot to like about Spencer Kieboom. First, he’s got a good approach at the plate. Next up, there is his even better defense behind the plate. Finally, and best of all, there is his name, Spencer Kieboom. The first two may be more important with respect to his future in baseball, but I’d say that last quality alone is more than enough to get him on every early 2012 watch list.
Wake Forest SO 1B Matt Conway |.272/.361/.451 – 27 BB/31 K – 195 AB
Conway has the size (6-7, 250 pounds), plus raw power, and solid approach to hitting that help make him Wake Forest’s best prospect since Allan Dykstra in 2008. He also dabbles on the mound for the Demon Deacons; that’s both a terrifying thought for an opposing batter (not sure I’d be feeling 6-7, 250 pound lefty heat coming at me…) and a feat worth noting to highlight Conway’s better than you’d think athleticism and arm strength.
Clemson SO 1B Richie Shaffer | .333/.459/.613 – 47 BB/50 K – 222 AB
It was incredibly difficult to leave Shaffer off the big boy list, but tough decisions sometimes come with the job. If we were to smartly ignore the artificial restraints that such a list presents, however, we could focus less on the list itself and more on Shaffer the good defender with plus to plus-plus raw power and a plus throwing arm capable of hitting the low-90s from the mound. We could also talk about his outstanding sophomore year – who couldn’t love a sophomore who slugged over .600 while going up against the likes of Virginia, North Carolina, Miami and Florida State? – as well as his above-average defense, solid athleticism, pro frame speedy recovery from a broken hamate bone.
North Carolina SO 2B Tommy Coyle | .337/.429/.451 – 37 BB/21 K – 19/25 SB – 255 AB
Coyle has above-average speed and athleticism, a really solid line drive swing, and an outstanding batting eye. It is still really early in the process, but I think we’re looking at a player with the ceiling of a big league regular with the possibility of a utility future a realistic backup option. The similarities between Tommy and his Red Sox prospect brother Sean are striking, with the younger Sean holding the slight advantage as a prospect because of a touch more power upside. How cool is it to think that there is a chance both Tommy and Sean could be big league starting second baseman some day?
Virginia SO SS Chris Taylor | .320/.397/.426 – 25 BB/39 K – 10/14 SB – 256
As an unheralded – though still heralded enough to land at UVA — high school recruit, Chris Taylor has had to work his way up the depth chart over time. He now finds himself firmly entrenched as the Cavaliers starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. His athleticism, defensive versatility, and plus arm are what really set him apart from the field at this point in his development.