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Quick 2011 MLB Draft Thoughts – Wake Forest Demon Deacons

1. Good college teams can sometimes have not so exciting pro prospects. Bad college teams can sometimes have really interesting pro prospects. That kind of cognitive dissonance can be hard for hard core — dare I say, homer? — college baseball fans to accept because the discrepancies between production and projection can be tricky to spot when emotionally invested. So what kind of team will Wake Forest be in 2011? I don’t know nearly enough about the year-to-year dynamics of college baseball to have an opinion about the Wake Forest team’s prospects heading into the 2011 season, but feel confident in declaring, at least on paper, there’s a good amount of talent on the Demon Deacon’s roster, especially on the pitching side. Will the 2011 Wake Forest team be remembered as a bad college group with good pro prospects? Or will those good pro prospects produce enough to make 2011 a season to talk about?

2. Winston-Salem will be home to two of the highest upside senior signs in 2011, OF Steven Brooks and LHP Mark Adzick. I actually am at a loss for why Steven Brooks doesn’t get more draft love — the Cubs took him in the 17th round last year, part of an overall trend of ACC outfielders (Holt, Grovatt, Rowland, and Schaus) falling way lower than expected — because he’s that rare mix of tools (plus speed, above-average raw power) and skill (great approach at plate, fantastic base runner, above-average range in CF). Adzick (upper-80s FB, very good low-70s CB, solid mid-70s CU) was seen as a potential top five round pick out of high school who fell because of a reported first round asking price. If he’s healthy and getting innings this spring, his stock could skyrocket.

3. The Demon Deacons also have two of the most intriguing 2011 two-way prospects, JR LHP/1B Austin Stadler and SO OF/RHP Mac Williamson. Stadler’s a pretty typical three pitch lefthander (upper-80s FB, CU, CB) who has a really strong track record of success (8.69 K/9 – 3.32 BB/9 – 3.79 FIP – 78.2 IP) pitching against high level competition. Williamson, a potential catching conversion candidate at the pro level, has serious power upside and a plus arm, but his swing at everything approach could prevent him from ever getting the chance to put his crazy raw tools to use. That’s one way to look at these prospects. Most teams, however, will probably wind up considering Stadler at first base due to his much improved glove, athleticism, approach at the plate, and untapped raw power. Williamson, on the other hand, could very well be viewed as a potential late inning relief prospect because of the reported mid-90s heat to go along with a solid sinker/slider mix.

Early 2011 Draft Guesses

Three bullet points and no mention of one of my favorite 2011 draft “sleepers,” SO RHP Daniel Marrs. Before injuring his labrum, Marrs was a prospect on the same level of current Phillies minor leaguer Jarred Cosart. His pre-injury power stuff (most notably a 92-94 FB peaking at 97 and a good splitter that worked as CU) could tempt a team into drafting him well before his present stuff (sinking upper-80s FB, rapidly improving cutter) would typically merit. Whether or not he ever recaptures that pre-surgery stuff remains to be seen, but Marrs is good enough to continue to expand his repertoire — the new cutter was a great fall ball surprise, I’m told — if that what it takes to succeed. After Marrs, I’d rank the Wake Forest pitching prospects, in order, JR RHP Michael Dimock (plus slider and strong performances to date), Stadler, Williamson, and Adzick.  A handful of Wake relievers could garner some interest, but, really, at this point we’re just throwing names against the wall and seeing what sticks. JR LHP Zach White has the classic “everything but the kitchen sink” arsenal of pitches, JR RHP Gabe Feldman has legitimately intriguing stuff (low-90s peak FB, good mid-70s CB, potential plus cutter) but iffy command and a limited track record keep him off the slam dunk draftable list for now, and SR LHP Eli Robins has good stuff, including a good slider, but poor control has held him back so far.

There is less to be excited offensively, as only the aforementioned Brooks is a lock to get redrafted in 2011. If you count him as a first baseman and not a pitcher, then Stadler would double the number of draftable Demon Deacon hitters. JR 3B/OF Carlos Lopez is my dark horse to go later in the draft to a team willing to bet on his interesting physical tools, including his very quick wrists.

2010 MLB Draft College Conference Position Breakdowns – ACC Outfielders

Pick a conference, pick a position, pick a draft year, and go. That’s basically the formula for the 2010 MLB Draft College Conference Position Breakdowns. Nothing fancy, just a quick snapshot of where the college talent is and a quicker way of disseminating 2010 draft-eligible player information to the masses. Three quick facts worth remembering as you read – 1) All rankings are preliminary and subject to change, 2) The current rankings are the top X amount of guys, but players at the back end will be added intermittenly until all players are ranked, and 3) I can’t really think of a third thing to remember, but they say you’re always supposed to list things in three, so here you go…

As always, whether you agree, disagree, or think I’m a dope who should leave this sort of stuff to the experts (thanks, Mom)…let’s hear it via email (you can use either robozga at gmail dot com or thebaseballdraftreport at gmail dot com) or in the comments section.
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1. JR OF Jarrett Parker (2010 – Virginia) is one of the best of the many 2010 toolsy lottery ticket kind of players. I haven’t been doing this draft thing for that long, so it is hard for me to compare talent levels from class to class, but it seems that this year has a high number of mid-round high upside, high flameout potential players. I also haven’t been doing this writing thing long, as you can see from the mess that was that last sentence. Anyway, as mentioned, Parker is one of the very best of the so-called (by me) “lottery ticket” group, so he isn’t necessarily included in the mid-round subsection. In fact, many see him as a candidate to go in the first round. It’s easy to see why.  His mix of tools and big-time sophomore numbers would make him a top-three round guy right now. Continued incremental improvements in his game his junior year will push his draft stock even higher. I’ll make a scary cross-race comparison here and claim Parker has a similar skill set as Lastings Milledge. He has plus power potential, an above-average arm, good speed, and the defensive chops to be a well above-average corner outfielder or a steady stopgap in center. Like Milledge, he struggles against breaking balls to the point that it’s hard not to see him as a 100+ strikeout big league hitter at this point. However, and I try my best to sandwich the bad news in between good news when I can, two big assets in Parker’s favor are his big league ready frame (6-4, 210 after packing on serious muscle), and the seemingly ever-increasing athleticism and agility (honed by practicing yoga) that should help him withstand the rigors of the professional grind.  Additionally, Parker improved his walk rate from his freshman year to his sophomore year, and continued the positive trend during his otherwise disappointing campaign on the Cape this summer. I like that.
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2. JR OF Tyler Holt (2010 – Florida State)
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3. JR OF Jeff Rowland (2010) is probably the single toolsiest player on the Georgia Tech roster. His plus speed, above-average power potential, gorgeous lefthanded swing, and above-average defense in center will comfortably get him into the top five rounds. His speed and ability to play center give him the edge over the similarly talented bat of Virginia OF Dan Grovatt.
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4. JR OF Jeff Schaus (2010 – Clemson)
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5. JR OF Dan Grovatt (2010 – Virginia) has a very patient approach at the plate, power to the gaps, average speed, and a good enough arm to play right field professionally. Sounds good, right? It should because Grovatt is a top five round caliber talent. My only worry is that his more good than great toolset makes him too similar a prospect to former Florida State standout Jack Rye. Rye was one of my all-time favorite college players and a guy I touted as a draft sleeper, but his pro numbers, especially his power indicators, haven’t exactly set the world on fire so far. The comparison is probably unfair – one player’s struggles don’t really have anything to do with another’s future – but, having seen both play, the similarity between the two seemed worth pointing out. However, the two aren’t clones of one another, either. Grovatt is the better athlete and defensive player, and he has more upside with the bat, especially in the power department. Those are all pretty important points in Grovatt’s favor. It’ll take more time and research to see where exactly Grovatt stacks up when compared to fellow 2010 college outfielders, but I have the feeling that he’ll grade out higher here than in most spots. His well-rounded game and extensive big-time college experience make him a good bet to hit the ground running professionally. I’d peg his upside as that of a solid everyday corner outfielder (defense included) with a still valuable floor as a good fourth outfielder.
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6. JR OF Chris Epps (2010 – Clemson)
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7. JR OF Kyle Parker (2010 – Clemson)
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8. JR OF Chase Burnette (2010 – Georgia Tech) can play. His sophomore .351/.447/.691 line (albeit in only 97 at bats) shows the promise he has at the plate. On top of that, he’s a very good athlete with solid speed and an accurate outfield arm. In the past Burnette’s draft stock might have been dinged by teams that considered him to be a tweener – not quite a good enough defender for center, not quite the bat of a big league slugger in a corner. However, as more and more front offices begin to properly value defense, perhaps the market for a potential league average bat with an above-average glove will see a bump on draft day.
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9. JR OF Addison Johnson (2010 – Clemson)
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10. SR OF Wilson Boyd (2010 – Clemson)
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11. JR OF Steven Brooks (2010 – Wake Forest)
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12. SR OF Gabriel Saade (2010 – Duke) is a difficult player to figure out. He went into his junior year as a legitimate pro prospect, a versatile defender capable of playing anywhere up the middle (2B, SS, CF) coming off of two solid years playing every day in the ACC (.269/.354/.456 as a freshman, .286/.376/.483 as a sophomore). His junior year didn’t quite go according to plan, unless Saade’s plan was to hit .237/.339/.333. If that was the case, then his plan really couldn’t have gone any better. The big dip in numbers is concerning, especially the total disappearance of power, but there are some positives to glean from his 2009 performance. His K/BB ratio has dipped each season (2.26 to 1.96 to 1.33) and his stolen base numbers have remained consistently stellar (46/54 collegiately, including his stint in the Valley League). If he can bounce back to his pre-junior levels of production, something many scouts think he is capable of doing if he stops being so darn pull-happy, then he has a shot at being an interesting senior sign (round 15-25, maybe) for a team believing in his future as a steady fielding big league utility player.
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13. SR OF/C Steve Domecus (2010 – Virginia Tech)
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14. JR OF Ben Bunting (2010 – North Carolina) brings two plus tools to the table – plus speed and plus defense. I’m a pretty big Tyler Holt fan, so please consider the following statement a compliment: Bunting is the homeless man’s version of Holt. Of course, while Holt has the upside of a big league starter, Bunting’s ceiling is probably that of a speedy fifth outfielder.
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15. SR OF Jay Dantzler (2010 – Georgia Tech) looks like a pretty solid senior sign candidate to me. In many ways he is an older version of fellow Georgia Tech outfielder Chase Burnette. Both players are good athletes, have decent arms, and have shown enough promise with the bat to at least get him a few looks here and there from scouts. His junior year numbers (.281/.397/.579) show a player with tons of patience and emerging power. But if he really is an older version of Burnette, then the elephant of the room becomes bigger, louder, and, yes, even brighter. It’s a big loud glowing elephant, and that elephant is age. Dantzler will be 23 years old by draft day. Even still, a big senior year could get him drafted in the last half of the draft.
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16. SR OF Robbie Anston (2010 – Boston College)