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2015 MLB Draft Reviews – Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals 2015 MLB Draft Picks

I don’t typically put a ton of thought into the organization of these pieces, but this one was a no-brainer. We need to talk about C Nick Dini (407) first. I’d talk about him first, second, third, and forever, but a paragraph or so will have to suffice for now.

Nick Dini hit .392/.489/.625 in his senior season at Wagner. He walked 30 times and struck out only 7 times. He stole 14 bases in 15 tries, a total that boosted his career mark to 33 of 35. He’s relatively new to catching (played it off-and-on throughout his college career), but has taken to it in a full-time role as well as one possibly can. He’s a really good athlete who has experience catching high velocity arm, so the learning curve should continue to be quite manageable for him. At the plate, he’s shown a consistent feel for hitting that puts him years ahead of his peers. His approach is as good as it gets and is power, while not nearly as impressive as his senior season spike suggests, is enough to keep opposing pitching honest enough to let him keep getting on base at a high clip even against better arms. On the downside, he played at Wagner and…he’s short? I guess those are negatives for some, but I don’t care. He’s Austin Barnes 2.0 with a realistic floor of Tucker Barnhart. Just a really good all-around player who will become a fan favorite (and statistically-leaning prospect analyst favorite) sooner rather than later.

(I’m glad we had a chance to do that. People I know in real life are tired of me initiating conversations with “Hey, how about that Nick Dini?” and “Whoa, did you see what Nick Dini did last night?” and “We need to decide on a good nickname for Nick Dini – is ‘Who’ too corny? It works on two levels!”)

1B Taylor Ostrich is a fine senior-sign get in the 34th round. He he can hit, he’ll take a walk, and there’s average or better thunder in the bat. He’s also a strong yet nimble 6-3, 220 pound athlete who has posted average run times underway and fields the position extremely well. With reasonable platoon or bench bat upside (and maybe more…), I’m not really sure what more you could ask for in a pick this late.

Here’s where I was at with C Alex Close before the season…

SR 1B Alex Close (Liberty) has been a favorite for some time – not a FAVORITE, but a favorite – because of his playable present power. If an area guy can sell his bosses on Close as a potential 1B/3B/C hybrid, then he could go higher than even I think.

I stand by the assertion that a 1B/3B/C hybrid is best for his long-term pro future. Even with the defensive versatility, there might be too much swing-and-miss in his approach for him to lock in on his considerable power upside thus negating what he does best as a hitter as a professional. I’m not sure how good his stuff is, but I’ve heard from at least one contact that they’d put him on the mound. That belief was based on his strong senior season as a pitcher, his raw arm strength, and the unfortunate reality that he likely won’t make enough contact to have a real future as a pro hitter. OF Colton Frabasilio gets a lot more interesting when you look back at his college track record (catcher!) and then realize he split time between catcher and left field in his pro debut. The bat isn’t thrilling, but the bar isn’t all that high for a catcher. If he can stick behind the plate, consider him a super deep sleeper to follow.

It appears that the Royals identified outfield as a position group of need heading into the draft. Either that or the board just happened to shake out a whole bunch of outfielders they liked in rounds that made sense. My favorite before the draft was OF Tanner Stanley (67). Stanley does many of the things that I personally like very well: he’s a patient hitter who has a plan at the plate with every at bat, he’s instinctual in the outfield and on the base paths, and he’s got enough physical ability (arm, speed) to make a difference even on days he’s not hitting. As so often is the case in players like Stanley, the transformation of raw power to in-game production is an open question. I put Stanley in the group that has “enough pop to keep opposing pitchers honest” before the draft, but that aspect of his game remains my biggest concern going forward.

Keeping all that about Stanley in mind, I have to admit that I don’t really know why I ranked him quite so highly relative to some of his peers. I’ll wear it, of course, but his was an overly generous ranking that I would scale back if I could do it all again. For example, I’m not sure he’s all that different from OF Cody Jones (495). If anything, Jones runs and defends on a higher level than Stanley. I prefer the latter’s all-around offensive game, but the two are close enough that almost 400 spots on the pre-draft ranking seems silly. The Royals obviously preferred Jones, the sixth rounder, over Stanley, their thirty-sixth rounder.

An argument could also be made for OF Anderson Miller (145) as the top outfielder taken by the Royals. Heck, in terms of draft position he’s it. Miller shares a lot of the same positive traits as Stanley, but comes with more upside and uncertainty. The former two-way star has a chance to really break out now that the shackles of pitching are off. He leads the way in raw power (average or slightly above) of any Kansas City outfield pick. His chief competitor there would be OF Ben Johnson (238). Johnson is a really neat prospect. I’ll allow past me to explain some…

The outfield is where things get really interesting in the Big 12. I know I say this about so many prospects that it probably renders the distinction meaningless, but Texas JR OF Ben Johnson has to be one of this year’s draft’s most fascinating prospects. Johnson’s name has come up over and over again so far this season as a tooled-up prospect finally turning into a deeply skilled player. Or so I thought. All of the chatter over Johnson excited me because I had assumed he was finally doing the things that he’ll need to do to be a better pro. Full disclosure: I haven’t gotten any updates about him this season (since the fall) from anybody I know who has seen him and (I’M NOT A SCOUT) I’ve only personally seen him twice this year on the tube. So I’m not working with all the needed info to make any overarching statements that should be taken as fact. I’m just theorizing that maybe college analysts (and perhaps certain pro scouting staffs that weigh projection significantly ahead of production [they aren’t wrong for this, by the way]) are getting a little ahead of themselves in proclaiming this to be the start of Johnson’s ascension to day one of the 2015 MLB Draft. Johnson has been absolutely phenomenal this season by most every measure: .432/.463/.659 is damn good work in 88 at bats. Maybe he’s made adjustments as a hitter that the public will hear about as some of the best prospect writers begin doing some digging. Maybe (hopefully) I’ll hear something from one of my contacts sooner rather than later that brings some good news on his outburst. Until then, however, I think Ben Johnson is just doing Ben Johnson things. I won’t say that I anticipated this kind of start, but his numbers aren’t out of line with what you’d expect from a player with his kind of tools at the college level. It’s not crazy to say that he, like about a dozen or so players in this and every class, is too physically gifted for the college game. Johnson is a pro-level glove in center with an average or better arm, average or better raw power, and, most interestingly, the kind of jaw-dropping athleticism and game-changing speed that puts the whole package over the top.

Again, Johnson is putting up a ridiculous .432/.463/.659 line so far this year. That’s really great. With only 2 walks to 12 strikeouts, however, I’m not sure how all his considerable offensive gifts will continue to play as he climbs the ladder. For all the positives he brings to the table he still looks like a very high potential pick since athletes like him often provide value well beyond what they do at the plate (running, defending, you get it). That relatively high floor makes Johnson extra appealing; using a supplemental first, second, or third round pick on him is not likely to completely blow up in your face simply because he’s almost too damn athletic to do nothing. On the off chance he puts it together, watch out. If that paragraph reads like I’m hedging my bets on him, then you’re on the right track.

I’m obviously glad I hedged my bets on him, especially after seeing him fall to the eleventh round. Overslot or not, he was outstanding value there. As was written in his pre-draft blurb: “approach remains a mess, but the raw edge to his game, grinder mentality, and outstanding defense make him intriguing despite his flaws.” That’s the kind of guy to gamble on for a little extra dough in round eleven. A quick prospect-to-prospect comparison could work if you’re willing to buy he’s a more talented version of sixth round pick Cody Jones. An even easier comparison would be to former Longhorn Drew Stubbs. I’m sure others have connected those dots elsewhere.

I really liked the pick of the underrated (including here) OF Roman Collins in the fifth. It’s much earlier than I thought he’d go, but he’s a good player and who knows how the rest of baseball viewed him. Before the year I said…

Collins is a guy who falls out of bed ready to hit each morning. I don’t doubt that his big raw power will continue to play against more advanced arms.

His pro debut was outstanding, though presumably he’s figured out a more palatable sleep schedule. I mean, I like to get up at the last possible second before work as well, but I couldn’t actually suggest somebody try to roll out of bed and hit a 90 MPH fastball. Sounds like a great way to get hurt. Lame jokes aside, Collins can hit. I think he was slept on (no pun intended, I swear…but I’m keeping it) by many because of only playing one year of D-1 baseball. He got on my radar before his one and only season at Florida Atlantic after hitting a decent .435/.512/.766 in 209 at bats at junior college in 2014. Then he more than held his own (.296/.394/.481) at FAU while showing off an impressive display of power and speed (above-average in both areas) on a weekly basis throughout the spring. He would have been ranked much higher by me heading into the draft if I had caught on to how smooth his transition was this year; such is life as a one-man operation. The nice thing is by writing this, I can begin to make up for the error. Roman Collins is really good. You should like him too.

OF Luke Willis can really run and defend in center. I’m sufficiently intrigued by the thirtieth rounder out of George Mason (by way of Coastal Carolina). Like many of these outfielders, he’s a very Royals type of player.

For as much as I like and appreciate what the Royals did in the outfield, I can’t quite put my finger on their infield strategy this year. 2B Jonathan McCray is an intriguing junior college talent who has shown some of the pop/speed combo needed to keep advancing as a second base only prospect.

SS Trey Stover can play any infield spot, but doesn’t have the bat to keep going at the moment. Same could be said for SS Brian Bien. SS Austin Bailey has the most advanced stick of this trio of college senior-sign shortstops, but seems like a better fit at second base over the long haul. Maybe you hit on one of the three as a future utility guy, but I don’t love the odds here.

I do love SS Travis Maezes (169) even though I don’t think he’s a shortstop professionally…

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.

Weird doesn’t have to be bad, so I have no problem being the high man on Michigan JR 3B Travis Maezes for now. His hit tool is legit, his power should play average or better, and he has the athleticism, arm strength, and instincts to be a really strong third baseman in the pros. Real life work commitments and frustration at the death of College Splits put me way behind on writing about last year’s draft. If I had written all that I wanted to, I assure you that many glowing pieces on Cal State Fullerton 3B Matt Chapman would have been written. I absolutely loved Chapman as a draft prospect and think he’ll be an above-average pro player for a long time. I don’t bring him up just to relive the past, of course; from a skills standpoint, Maezes reminds me a lot of Chapman. I swear that’s a comparison that I came by honestly through watching them both, hearing from smarter people than myself, and reading whatever has been written about them from the comfort of my couch. Then I looked at the numbers (top Maezes, bottom Chapman) and…

.307/.403/.444 with 54 BB/64 K in 530 PA
.295/.391/.443 with 73 BB/84 K in 702 PA

…whoa. That’s pretty good. Another player comparison that I’ve heard for Maezes that takes me back to my earliest days as a baseball fan is former Phillies 3B Dave Hollins, he of the 162 game average of .260/.358/.420 with 18 HR, 27 2B, 76 BB, and 113 K*.

Maezes’s down junior season (not included in the statistical comparison above) didn’t quite reward my pre-season faith, but he hit well enough to remain a solid top five to ten round prospect in my eyes. Getting him in round 13 is excellent value for Kansas City. I look forward to seeing what they decide to do with him defensively going forward. The thought of his bat waking back up and him being able to handle the move to catcher is quite appealing, though I acknowledge how difficult getting those two things to go right at the same time can be.

I also kind of like SS Gabriel Cancel even though I know of him more than I know him at this point. Still, when looking at the shortstop group drafted by Kansas City this year (Cancel, Emmanuel Rivera, Bailey, Bien, Stover) from a more detached view, I’d be surprised if they got even one big league contributor five years from now.

Since I love to bury the lede, a few words on RHP Ashe Russell (17). Russell is pretty close to an ideal version of pitching projection personified. He has the size, arm action, delivery, and present fastball (90-96, 98 peak) that all just scream first round high school righthanded pitching prospect. I happen to love what he’s doing with his fastball (not just the velocity*, but the life) and his breaking ball (78-84 and a little bit of a hybrid SL/CB for now, but best when thrown more as a true slider) already, so you don’t have to sell me on him needing to grow leaps and bounds ahead of where he presently is. There’s obviously still stuff to work out — commanding that darting fastball, gaining more trust and consistency with the breaker, improving the nascent change — but what’s already there is damn impressive. He’s more of a future two than a three for me if it all comes together. Dayton Moore compared him to Garrett Richards immediately after the draft and that sounds about right to me. I think a younger Shelby Miller also fits.

* I ranted on this once in the very early days of the site, but it always bothered me some that “velocity” is the word used when discussing what’s almost always meant to be “speed.” Velocity is speed and direction, so it should imply movement. So often, however, it’s written (I do it all the time) that a pitch is impressive both for it’s velocity AND it’s movement. That’s redundant, right? I realize language is fluid and different words can have different meanings in different contexts, but if I could go back and change one ultimately inconsequential fundamental thing about baseball writing/scouting, that might be it.

The Royals stayed in the great state of Indiana to nab another top high school prospect in RHP Nolan Watson (90). Watson joins Russell as a potential long-term fixture of what could be a loaded Kansas City rotation one day. He jumped out at me early in the draft cycle because of the Vanderbilt commitment attached to his name; it’s become almost a chicken and the egg thing where you can argue what comes first, but if the Vandy staff puts their seal of approval on you as a young pitcher, the scouting community takes notice. Watson is easy to like because he’s one of those guys who seems to get better with every start. He may not have quite the same upside as Russell, but the well-rounded pitching arsenal he brings to the mound each outing (88-94 FB, 96 peak; average or better 76-80 CB; average or better low-80s CU; low-80s SL with promise) makes him an excellent bet to remain a sturdy starting pitcher into the future. If Russell and Watson are two-fifths of a future KC rotation, as I think they’ll be, I wish the rest of the AL Central luck.

Calling a player your favorite doesn’t necessarily make him the best. We’re clear on that, right? Well RHP Josh Staumont (76) might be my favorite player (apologies to BFF Nick Dini) in this class. He’s just so damn authentic. He takes his huge fastball (93-99, 101 peak) that he holds deep into starts, dynamic breaking ball (80-84 CB with plus upside), and a difficult to control because it moves so much low- to mid-80s split-change, and just does what he does. At Azusa Pacific, he struck out 14.38 batters per nine in almost 70 junior year innings pitched. He kept up with that as best he could (13.05 K/9) as a pro. Unfortunately, all those missed bats came with a price. Staumont walked 7.18 BB/9 at Azusa Pacific. Staumont walked 7.20 BB/9 between the Royals AZL team and Idaho Falls. Miraculously, his ERA at Azusa Pacific was 3.67…and his ERA as a pro is 2.48. That’s the definition of “effectively wild” if I’ve ever seen it. I’m not sure there’s precedent for a pitcher this wild this early in his pro career to climb the ladder all the way to the top (first thought was Randy Johnson, but I’m not going to touch that one…), but I’m not betting against Staumont, his awesome stuff, and his competitive demeanor. I think he can keep advancing even with his wild ways and if he can ever gain even a semblance of control…damn. If you argued on Staumont’s behalf for highest upside pitcher in the entire class, I wouldn’t get in your way.

(A fun/imperfect comp I got for Staumont recently: former Blue Jay minor leaguer and one half of the Phillies return in the Ben Revere trade, Alberto Tirado. Also: Staumont’s GB% in his first 40 professional innings is 70.89. Not a typo! 70.89 GB%!)

Kansas City went pitching with four of their first five picks. We’ve covered Russell, Watson, and Staumont, so let’s meet lucky number five. LHP Garrett Davila was a very slick pick for the Royals in the fifth round. Considered a tough sign by many all spring, KC did their HW on him and knew just what it would take to get his signature on a contract. What they got for their due diligence is a possible lefthanded starter with average-ish stuff (88-92 FB, 93 peak; mid-70s CB) across the board. A little bit of growth and a more refined third pitch and you might be looking at a back-end starting pitcher in a few years.

I think it’s good club policy to target college relievers with solid stuff (86-92 FB, really good 82-84 kCB) and dynamite results (8.50 K/9 to 10.04 K/9 to 11.00 K/9 in three healthy seasons) past round fifteen or so. By that point you’re out of the top ten rounds and you’ve given yourself some time to target potential overslot prospects in the first few double-digit rounds. The Royals did just that this year in waiting until round 16 to make a play for one of college ball’s most accomplished relief pitchers. As noted above, RHP Matt Ditman (402), has had great success with a quality on-two punch of pitches and good control. He’s no spring chicken (23 already), so he’ll have to move quickly, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem for a guy ready to pitch in AA at the start of next season. Love this pick.

I also like the 27th round shot on RHP Jacob Bodner. The Xavier product flashes wipeout stuff at times, but the three C’s (command, control, consistency) have kept him from much more than marginal collegiate results.

I’ve stuck with Xavier rJR RHP Jacob Bodner through the good (flashes of dominance in 2013) and the bad (consistently inconsistent control, 2014 season wiped out due to injury), so might as well stick it out to the end. At his best he has the look of a really good big league reliever, flashing a mid-90s fastball and an above-average slider. His stature (5-11, 180 pounds) will turn some teams off, but he more than makes up for his lack of physicality with some of the best athleticism of any pitcher in his class. He’s an arm strength/athleticism gamble at this point, but one I feel comfortable with considering the lack of relative upside among his Big East pitching brethren.

If he can get one of those C’s under control, he’s a prospect to keep in mind. If he fixes two, he’s the real deal. All three and he’s a no-doubter big league reliever. Easier said then done, naturally, but the talent is there.

RHP Alex Luna is identified in my notes as a “ground ball machine” thanks to a sinking fastball and impressive extension coming out of a 6-5, 200 pound frame. The pro data so far (59.15 GB%) backs it up, but he’ll have to start missing more bats to be taken more seriously as a pro prospect. LHP Andre Davis matches Luna in stature (6-6, 230 pounds), but outstrips him when it comes to velocity (upper-90s when right). It’s a beautiful thing when a SWAC player gets taken this early (8th round), so I’ve got nothing but love for Davis as a pro. If he can begin to harness his newfound crazy velo, he’s one to watch. LHP Joseph Markus matches Davis and Luna in stature (6-7, 220 pounds…and perhaps we’re seeing the start of a theme) with big stuff but little idea where it’s heading. I like that the Royals double-upped with lefthanders with big projection even though the odds of these types of college projects working out aren’t great.

RHP Daniel Concepcion has a little middle relief upside with solid stuff (88-92 FB, good CU), good size (6-4, 225), and a strong track record. LHP Mark McCoy does much of the same, but from the left side. LHP Matt Portland offers similar strengths to McCoy, but with a curveball as his primary secondary offering. LHP Jake Kalish has the goods to start for a bit, but that has as much to do with his decent yet diverse repertoire of pitches as it does with his advanced age (24 already).

One thing that jumped out to me about the Kansas City draft as I wrap this up is the willingness to look past a player’s geographical location in order to find talent. The Royals drafted players from seemingly everywhere. Whether this was a stated mission from within the front office or a happy coincidence, consider the following. The Royals first two picks were pitchers from Indiana high schools. That bit of weirdness set the tone. From there, they drafted players out of Azusa Pacific, Delta State, St. Joseph’s (IN), Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Wagner, and Hartford. Slightly more traditional baseball schools like Xavier, Old Dominion, Liberty, Florida Atlantic (two), and George Mason (two) were also on the menu. Sure, they hit up bigger universities like Rice, Texas, Northwestern (I’m stretching), Rutgers (still stretching), TCU, Michigan, Richmond, San Diego, and VCU, but they also selected seven junior college players including one straight from a Puerto Rican juco. Maybe you could do this with more teams than just the Royals — I’m far too lazy to do an exhaustive search of what team drafted the “weirdest” — but it’s an impressive collection of talent found from places big and small. That scouting staff earned their keep this year, Mike Farrell especially.

Some of the players drafted from all over that wound up on my pre-draft top 500 prospect list…

17 – Ashe Russell
67 – Tanner Stanley
76 – Josh Staumont
90 – Nolan Watson
145 – Anderson Miller
169 – Travis Maezes
238 – Ben Johnson
402 – Matt Ditman
407 – Nick Dini
495 – Cody Jones

2015 MLB Draft – Top 100 D1 College Third Base Prospects

1. Miami JR 3B/1B David Thompson: above-average or better raw power, especially the other way; quick bat; great athlete; strong; once strong arm, hasn’t been the same due to injuries; good defender at 1B; below-average speed; might be wishful thinking to believe in him as a future 3B, but the backup plan of him playing LF is a solid fallback option; 6-2, 210 pounds (

2013: .291/.376/.467 – 21 BB/28 K – 3/5 SB – 182 AB
2014: .278/.368/.352 – 14 BB/17 K – 0/1 SB – 108 AB
2015: .335/.447/.683 – 41 BB/24 K – 1/3 SB – 221 AB

2. Florida International JR 3B/2B Edwin Rios: above-average raw power; average or better arm; steady defender; could work in corner OF; strong; slow; consistently productive hitter who remains overlooked as a prospect; 6-3, 200 pounds

2013: .341/.422/.558 – 27 BB/51 K – 2/4 SB – 217 AB
2014: .296/.341/.400 – 17 BB/34 K – 3/3 SB – 230 AB
2015: .314/.427/.610 – 39 BB/37 K – 3/5 SB – 210 AB

3. Santa Clara JR 3B/OF Jose Vizcaino: shows all five tools; quick bat; good athlete; can also play a passable SS when needed or could wind up an above-average defensive OF; average or better power; 6-2, 215 pounds

2013: .222/.314/.267 – 5 BB/17 K – 1/1 SB – 45 AB
2014: .323/.360/.423 – 9 BB/33 K – 11/18 SB – 201 AB
2015: .335/.406/.588 – 23 BB/39 K – 10/17 SB – 335 AB

4. Georgia State JR 3B/RHP Matt Rose: above-average to plus raw power; really good glove; good arm; below-average speed; good approach; has experience at 1B; young for class; 90-94 FB; good CU; SL with upside; 6-4, 200 pounds

2013: .277/.360/.398 – 18 BB/33 K – 2/3 SB – 166 AB
2014: .312/.358/.535 – 13 BB/37 K – 4/5 SB – 202 AB
2015: .289/.391/.613 – 31 BB/43 K – 4/5 SB – 204 AB

2013: 7.39 K/9 | 4.33 BB/9 | 3.37 FIP | 35.1 IP
2014: 8.57 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 3.86 ERA – 20 IP

5. Arkansas State rJR 3B Zach George: has recovered from two ACL tears; great approach; quick bat; capable defender; FAVORITE; 6-2, 200 pounds

2011: .306/.429/.363 – 35 BB/27 K – 160 AB
2012: .285/.397/.450 – 36 BB/20 K – 3/5 SB – 200 AB
2013: .364/.543/.576 – 11 BB/3 K – 1/2 SB – 33 AB
2014: .382/.532/.500 – 10 BB/5 K – 3/3 SB – 34 AB
2015: .399/.548/.562 – 52 BB/28 K – 9/13 SB – 203 AB

6. Miami JR 3B/OF George Iskenderian: good athlete; impressive raw power; quick bat; good speed; could be good at 2B in time; old Jason Esposito comp; South Carolina transfer; good enough glove that his floor (utility player) is higher than most players on this list; 6-1, 190 pounds

2013: .250/.308/.278 – 3 BB/9 K – 1/1 SB – 36 AB
2015: .379/.471/.489 – 34 BB/37 K – 23/25 SB – 219 AB

7. Michigan JR 3B/SS Travis Maezes: really strong hit tool; average or better power upside; good athlete; above-average to plus arm; average speed; might be best at 2B; could be tried at C; pretty swing; I’m a bigger fan of his bat than most; FAVORITE; 6-0, 190 pounds

2013: .327/.407/.447 – 21 BB/30 K – 16/22 SB – 217 AB
2014: .302/.413/.459 – 33 BB/34 K – 19/24 SB – 222 AB
2015: .293/.390/.380 – 20 BB/24 K – 4/6 SB – 150 AB

8. Florida SR 3B/2B Josh Tobias: above-average speed; good pop; really good glove; can also play OF; tough to quantify or explain, but watching him gives the feeling that you’re watching a future big league bench guy; 5-10, 200 pounds

2012: .281/.351/.348 – 8 BB/24 K – 3/5 SB – 135 AB
2013: .273/.356/.364 – 10 BB/22 K – 6/9 SB – 154 AB
2014: .305/.376/.448 – 9 BB/21 K – 2/3 SB – 105 AB
2015: .373/.441/.565 – 18 BB/28 K – 10/12 SB – 193 AB

9. Maryland JR 3B Jose Cuas: good athlete; good defender, chance to be plus; plus raw power; above-average arm; big league regular physical tools, so it’ll come down to whether or not he makes enough contact to play every day; 6-2, 190 pounds

2013: .190/.291/.264 – 15 BB/16 K – 2/2 SB – 121 AB
2014: .279/.333/.417 – 14 BB/49 K – 3/5 SB – 204 AB
2015: .246/.337/.458 – 26 BB/47 K – 10/13 SB – 236 AB

10. Oregon JR 3B/1B Mitchell Tolman: plus arm; average speed; steady glove; great approach; can also play 2B; 6-0, 190 pounds

2013: .345/.421/.436 – 19 BB/24 K – 2/7 SB – 165 AB
2014: .315/.438/.470 – 31 BB/54 K – 5/8 SB – 219 AB
2015: .329/.462/.475 – 42 BB/39 K – 10/16 SB – 219 AB

11. Gonzaga SR 3B Mitchell Gunsolus: love his approach; short to ball; may wind up in LF, but I think you can start at least him at third; old Matt Carpenter comp too generous, but I like him; 6-0, 200 pounds (2012: .186/.300/.209 – 5 BB/11 K – 0/0 SB – 43 AB) (2013: .278/.386/.368 – 33 BB/32 K – 5/6 SB – 212 AB) (2014: .287/.406/.366 – 43 BB/42 K – 4/11 SB – 202 AB) (2015: .353/.449/.556 – 33 BB/32 K – 4/7 SB – 207 AB)

12. Vanderbilt SO 3B Xavier Turner: great athlete; quick bat; power upside; good speed; good arm; would take a leap of faith after his yearlong suspension and time away from diamond, but top five player at his position in terms of raw talent; 6-2, 220 pounds (2013: .315/.382/.356 – 20 BB/21 K – 23/28 SB – 219 AB) (2014: .284/.355/.368 – 16 BB/32 K – 18/25 SB – 250 AB)

13. Saint Louis JR 3B Braxton Martinez: quick bat; intriguing power upside; average speed; above-average defensive tools; strong arm; FAVORITE; 6-3, 220 pounds (2013: .322/.392/.459 – 27 BB/32 K – 1/2 SB – 242 AB) (2014: .291/.374/.424 – 24 BB/28 K – 2/2 SB – 203 AB) (2015: .314/.391/.469 – 26 BB/29 K – 1/3 SB – 207 AB)

14. Eastern Illinois SR 3B Brant Valach: power upside; lots of contact; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .314/.351/.377 – 6 BB/21 K – 1/2 SB – 207 AB) (2013: .337/.406/.503 – 16 BB/21 K – 0/2 SB – 193 AB) (2014: .333/.401/.503 – 10 BB/12 K – 0/1 SB – 147 AB) (2015: .328/.386/.503 – 12 BB/18 K – 0/1 SB – 177 AB)

15. San Diego State JR 3B Ty France: intriguing power; 6-0, 205 pounds (2013: .317/.419/.450 – 26 BB/36 K – 1/6 SB – 218 AB) (2014: .356/.450/.498 – 28 BB/25 K – 3/4 SB – 233 AB) (2015: .346/.435/.481 – 23 BB/36 K – 6/9 SB – 237 AB)

16. Valparaiso SR 3B/SS Spencer Mahoney: good defensive tools; gap power at present, good raw power; strong hit tool; good athlete; FAVORITE; 6-4, 200 pounds (2012: .339/.457/.429 – 22 BB/21 K – 1/3 SB – 112 AB) (2013: .255/.365/.333 – 30 BB/36 K – 7/7 SB – 192 AB) (2014: .256/.381/.310 – 40 BB/35 K – 5/7 SB – 203 AB) (2015: .326/.441/.442 – 44 BB/41 K – 9/14 SB – 224 AB)

17. Jackson State SR 3B Melvin Rodriguez: power upside; strong; quick bat; 5-10, 200 pounds (2014: .307/.430/.427 – 41 BB/26 K – 5/7 SB – 199 AB) (2015: .422/.480/.635 – 32 BB/14 K – 13/15 SB – 230 AB)

18. College of Charleston JR 3B/1B Carl Wise: power upside; strong; too aggressive; below-average speed; best served giving it another shot behind plate in pros; 6-2, 220 pounds (2013: .336/.465/.620 – 23 BB/25 K – 3/3 SB – 137 AB) (2014: .295/.395/.419 – 32 BB/37 K – 2/6 SB – 227 AB) (2015: .316/.386/.560 – 27 BB/37 K – 3/3 SB – 234 AB)

19. LSU SR 3B/1B Conner Hale: steady glove; average speed; average or better raw power; good athlete; can also play 2B; 6-2, 190 pounds (2014: .306/.335/.426 – 10 BB/17 K – 0/0 SB – 209 AB) (2015: .349/.392/.493 – 15 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 229 AB)

20. Penn SR 3B/SS Mitch Montaldo: good athlete; long and lean build; power to all fields; 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: .211/.316/.376 – 17 BB/34 K – 3/3 SB – 133 AB) (2015: .288/.377/.621 – 14 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 132 AB)

21. Arizona State JR 3B/OF Dalton DiNatale: 6-4, 200 pounds (2013: .294/.395/.389 – 19 BB/29 K – 3/5 SB – 126 AB) (2014: .294/.367/.411 – 22 BB/22 K – 7/11 SB – 197 AB) (2015: .274/.318/.419 – 4 BB/3 K – 1/2 SB – 62 AB)

22. Coastal Carolina JR 3B Zach Remillard: good power; good defensive tools; good approach; too aggressive for his own good; strong arm; may not be athletic enough for 3B, but has improved a good bit; good speed; could be tried at 2B; old BA comp: Gordon Beckham; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .226/.270/.318 – 12 BB/42 K – 3/3 SB – 195 AB) (2014: .259/.318/.368 – 16 BB/39 K – 3/4 SB – 193 AB) (2015: .270/.339/.419 – 18 BB/38 K – 7/11 SB – 215 AB)

23. Louisiana Tech SR 3B/1B Bre’shon Kimbell: quick bat; interesting defensive tools at third; strong; power upside; strong arm; good agility; could also play OF and has played C; 6-2, 225 pounds (2012: .268/.360/.413 – 21 BB/38 K – 4/7 SB – 179 AB) (2013: .253/.342/.365 – 16 BB/38 K – 4/7 SB – 170 AB) (2014: .234/.307/.342 – 18 BB/25 K – 8/11 SB – 158 AB) (2015: .286/.385/.449 – 19 BB/31 K – 8/9 SB – 147 AB)

24. North Carolina JR 3B/2B Landon Lassiter: above-average to plus speed; average glove; can also play SS; 6-1, 180 pounds (2013: .362/.498/.451 – 56 BB/42 K – 8/12 SB – 257 AB) (2014: .305/.415/.359 – 33 BB/38 K – 3/6 SB – 223 AB) (2015: .300/.420/.399 – 36 BB/38 K – 6/9 SB – 203 AB)

25. Georgia Tech JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez: quick bat; average arm; above-average speed; average power; good hands; like his defense more than most; 5-11, 200 pounds (2013: .295/.331/.392 – 12 BB/45 K – 11/15 SB – 227 AB) (2014: .314/.358/.416 – 20 BB/55 K – 9/17 SB – 255 AB) (2015: .285/.317/.412 – 13 BB/52 K – 10/14 SB – 221 AB)

26. Illinois State JR 3B/RHP Ryan Koziol: bat with upside; room to grow; 6-3, 185 pounds (2015: 8.10 K/9 – 4.95 BB/9 – 20 IP – 6.75 ERA) (2015: .298/.417/.419 – 42 BB/24 K – 1/2 SB – 191 AB)

27. Arkansas JR 3B Bobby Wernes: good defender; strong arm; 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: .217/.317/.223 – 20 BB/36 K – 1/4 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .291/.393/.462 – 27 BB/31 K – 3/4 SB – 199 AB)

28. Virginia SR 3B Kenny Towns: good glove; strong arm; have heard teams consider him a potential catcher conversion; 5-11, 185 pounds (2012: .333/.424/.431 – 5 BB/10 K – 51 AB – 1/1 SB) (2013: .317/.398/.548 – 19 BB/27 K – 5/6 SB – 186 AB) (2014: .278/.374/.396 – 18 BB/29 K – 6/6 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .308/.376/.475 – 24 BB/29 K – 2/4 SB – 221 AB)

29. Canisius SR 3B Jesse Puscheck: good enough glove; strong; power upside; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .280/.373/.441 – 12 BB/21 K – 4/4 SB – 93 AB) (2014: .295/.398/.435 – 27 BB/26 K – 3/4 SB – 193 AB) (2015: .288/.404/.424 – 37 BB/29 K – 11/14 SB – 236 AB)

30. UNC Wilmington JR 3B/SS Terence Connelly: no big tool, but solid; 6-1, 205 pounds (2013: .306/.469/.344 – 38 BB/23 K – 3/5 SB – 186 AB) (2014: .246/.386/.283 – 26 BB/20 K – 0/1 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .354/.492/.431 – 41 BB/30 K – 6/9 SB – 181 AB)

31. TCU SR 3B/2B Derek Odell: strong arm; good power upside; average at best speed; old Taylor Featherston comp; good athlete; might be good enough to stick at SS, steady at 2B and 3B; 6-1, 185 pounds (2012: .322/.383/.471 – 17 BB/25 K – 6/8 SB – 174 AB) (2013: .280/.333/.324 – 15 BB/24 K – 1/1 SB – 182 AB) (2014: .265/.347/.324 – 30 BB/32 K – 8/10 SB – 253 AB) (2015: .280/.356/.365 – 23 BB/38 K – 7/10 SB – 189 AB)

32. Western Kentucky JR 3B Danny Hudzina: 5-11 (2015: .327/.369/.515 – 14 BB/16 K – 3/5 SB – 202 AB)

33. Columbia SR 3B David Vandercook: power upside; 6-1, 190 pounds (2014: .252/.346/.440 – 15 BB/45 K – 2/3 SB – 159 AB) (2015: .313/.421/.552 – 25 BB/34 K – 2/2 SB – 163 AB)

34. Louisiana-Monroe SR 3B/1B Keelin Rasch: good arm; power upside; 5-11, 200 pounds (2014: .289/.353/.430 – 17 BB/34 K – 0/1 SB – 242 AB) (2015: .359/.395/.571 – 9 BB/17 K – 4/4 SB – 217 AB)

35. UNC Asheville SR 3B/1B Hunter Bryant: power upside; good glove at 1B; 6-4, 230 pounds (2012: .291/.354/.352 – 15 BB/36 K – 1/1 SB – 165 AB) (2013: .225/.290/.275 – 14 BB/40 K – 0/1 SB – 160 AB) (2014: .273/.376/.384 – 33 BB/28 K – 0/1 SB – 198 AB) (2015: .340/.420/.575 – 31 BB/48 K – 0/0 SB – 212 AB)

36. Florida International rSR 3B Josh Anderson: average power; strong to plus arm; good athlete; average defender; 6-0, 220 pounds (2013: .288/.344/.485 – 14 BB/39 K – 5/5 SB – 229 AB) (2014: .300/.364/.427 – 24 BB/25 K – 3/6 SB – 220 AB) (2015: .271/.357/.436 – 21 BB/28 K – 0/1 SB – 181 AB)

37. Savannah State SR 3B Zachary Brigham: 6-0, 220 pounds (2014: .271/.320/.337 – 13 BB/9 K – 1/3 SB – 166 AB) (2015: .353/.431/.476 – 24 BB/15 K – 5/9 SB – 187 AB)

38. Coastal Carolina JR 3B/C Tyler Chadwick: good approach; can play anywhere; average speed; 5-9, 180 pounds (2013: .333/.451/.359 – 8 BB/10 K – 0/1 SB – 39 AB) (2014: .299/.389/.369 – 25 BB/28 K – 4/5 SB – 187 AB) (2015: .302/.419/.459 – 30 BB/41 K – 3/5 SB – 172 AB)

39. Florida Atlantic SR 3B/SS Ricky Santiago: really good defender; strong arm; good speed; sneaky pop; too aggressive for his own good, but improving; 6-0, 190 pounds (2012: .195/.290/.379 – 12 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 87 AB) (2013: 278/.331/.405 – 17 BB/60 K – 3/5 SB – 237 AB) (2014: .243/.291/.343 – 17 BB/51 K – 1/2 SB – 210 AB) (2015: .317/.402/.511 – 32 BB/54 K – 3/4 SB – 227 AB)

40. Chicago State SR 3B Mattingly Romanin: good speed; 5-10, 185 pounds (2012: .311/.403/.417 – 27 BB/39 K – 6/13 SB – 206 AB) (2013: .290/.399/.395 – 18 BB/39 K – 11/17 SB – 162 AB) (2014: .312/.424/.401 – 34 BB/33 K – 13/17 SB – 202 AB) (2015: .318/.410/.498 – 26 BB/43 K – 5/8 SB – 201 AB)

41. College of Charleston rJR 3B/SS Morgan Phillips: good athlete; strong arm; good defensive tools; gap power, could be more there; above-average speed; untapped upside as a hitter; might be destined for OF; 6-1, 210 pounds (2013: .276/.315/.474 – 6 BB/55 K – 3/6 SB – 152 AB) (2014: .247/.305/.379 – 13 BB/40 K – 4/4 SB – 182 AB) (2015: .324/.364/.488 – 11 BB/34 K – 7/10 SB – 207 AB)

42. Wright State SR 3B/2B Michael Timm: quick bat; big power upside; good athlete; average arm; good at third base; good speed; FAVORITE; 6-4, 200 pounds (2012: .275/.376/.358 – 16 BB/21 K – 2/3 SB – 120 AB) (2013: .227/.305/.319 – 19 BB/34 K – 1/3 SB – 207 AB) (2014: .325/.432/.467 – 31 BB/37 K – 7/10 SB – 212 AB) (2015: .294/.356/.387 – 15 BB/29 K – 5/8 SB – 238 AB)

43. Missouri State SR 3B/OF Dylan Becker: 6-0, 200 pounds (2014: .266/.354/.365 – 29 BB/35 K – 14/17 SB – 222 AB) (2015: .318/.457/.462 – 49 BB/33 K – 3/10 SB – 195 AB)

44. Louisiana SR 3B Tyler Girouard: 5-9, 180 pounds (2014: .324/.433/.458 – 29 BB/26 K – 4/7 SB – 179 AB) (2015: .337/.440/.468 – 39 BB/29 K – 6/7 SB – 205 AB)

45. St. Joseph’s SR 3B Stefan Kancylarz: strong; 6-0, 200 pounds (2012: .265/.347/.308 – 26 BB/24 K – 5/7 SB – 211 AB) (2013: .283/.408/.467 – 35 BB/33 K – 5/6 SB – 184 AB) (2014: .349/.436/.529 – 27 BB/24 K – 2/3 SB – 172 AB) (2015: .317/.424/.505 – 32 BB/29 K – 2/4 SB – 186 AB)

46. Wichita State JR 3B/RHP Willie Schwanke: 88-92 FB; good cut-SL; like his approach a lot; has bounced around a lot, so never been able to put it all together; upside play for sure; Arkansas transfer; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .200/.349/.243 – 16 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 70 AB) (2014*: .324/.426/.532 – 32 BB/26 K – 1 SB – 173 AB) (2014*: 26 K/24 BB – 52.1 IP – 4.64 ERA) (2015: 6.82 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 33 IP – 3.00 ERA) (2015: .182/.280/.273 – 2 BB/3 K – 0/0 SB – 22 AB)

47. North Florida SR 3B/2B Trent Higginbothem: gap power; good glove; 6-0, 200 pounds (2014: .335/.393/.495 – 18 BB/18 K – 0/0 SB – 173 AB) (2015: .305/.365/.439 – 25 BB/26 K – 1/1 SB – 246 AB)

48. Furman SR 3B Chris Ohmstede: power upside; 5-9, 200 pounds (2012: .273/.317/.442 – 8 BB/30 K – 1/3 SB – 154 AB) (2013: .279/.320/.509 – 13 BB/45 K – 3/5 SB – 222 AB) (2014: .318/.383/.511 – 21 BB/35 K – 6/7 SB – 233 AB) (2015: .315/.366/.539 – 15 BB/31 K – 4/4 SB – 241 AB)

49. Fresno State JR 3B/OF Kevin Viers: good athlete; power upside; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .251/.302/.405 – 13 BB/50 K – 5/8 SB – 195 AB) (2014: .222/.304/.320 – 21 BB/55 K – 2/5 SB – 203 AB) (2015: .257/.349/.422 – 25 BB/37 K – 6/9 SB – 187 AB)

50. Evansville JR 3B Jonathan Ramon: power upside; 5-10, 200 pounds (2013: .276/.368/.425 – 16 BB/39 K – 1/1 SB – 127 AB) (2014: .234/.333./312 – 11 BB/41 K – 2/3 SB – 141 AB) (2015: .304/.409/.485 – 24 BB/55 K – 4/4 SB – 194 AB)

51. George Mason JR 3B Kent Blackstone: 5-11, 190 pounds (2015: .256/.380/.446 – 32 BB/23 K – 4/5 SB – 195 AB)

52. Miami (Ohio) rSO 3B Adam Yacek: 6-1, 180 pounds (2015: .340/.402/.579 – 12 BB/25 K – 2/4 SB – 159 AB)

53. Oral Roberts JR 3B Rolando Martinez: power upside; 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: .322/.403/.405 – 16 BB/21 K – 1/2 SB – 121 AB)

54. Utah rSO 3B Dallas Carroll: good athlete; 6-0, 190 pounds (2013: .282/.361/.350 – 11 BB/14 K – 7/9 SB – 103 AB) (2015: .283/.407/.332 – 28 BB/22 K – 16/26 SB – 187 AB)

55. Missouri JR 3B/1B Josh Lester: average speed; 6-2, 210 pounds (2013: .273/.329/.377 – 13 BB/22 K – 1/1 SB – 154 AB) (2014: .237/.298/.278 – 18 BB/25 K – 4/11 SB – 194 AB) (2015: .280/.363/.436 – 30 BB/30 K – 2/6 SB – 211 AB)

56. Texas A&M SR 3B/RHP Logan Nottebrok: power upside; strong arm; can also play OF; good approach; not a great defender; 90-93 FB with sink; good upper-80s SL; 6-3, 225 pounds (2014: .250/.342/.478 – 19 BB/29 K – 0/0 SB – 136 AB) (2015: .220/.310/.440 – 10 BB/23 K – 1/1 SB – 100 AB

57. Arkansas rJR 3B Mike Bernal: good defender; good athlete; Oklahoma State transfer; 5-11, 190 pounds (2014: .250/.357/.317 – 12 BB/41 K – 1/2 SB – 180 AB) (2015: .282/.416/.396 – 25 BB/34 K – 1/5 SB – 149 AB)

58. Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom: power upside; steady glove; 6-4, 230 pounds (2014*: .325/.437/.414 – 34 BB/30 K – 10/11 SB – 191 AB) (2015: .241/.359/.324 – 19 BB/33 K – 0/0 SB – 108 AB)

59. Nebraska SR 3B/1B Blake Headley: power upside; good glove; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .302/.372/.355 – 19 BB/32 K – 1/2 SB – 169 AB) (2014: .323/.370/.413 – 16 BB/30 K – 2/3 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .271/.345/.425 – 26 BB/39 K – 0/5 SB – 221 AB)

60. Northwestern State SR 3B Chase Daughdrill: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .324/.410/.401 – 24 BB/37 K – 5/9 SB – 222 AB) (2015: .324/.417/.476 – 28 BB/32 K – 6/9 SB – 210 AB)

61. Oregon JR 3B/SS Matt Eureste: average or better speed; some pop; good glove; can also play OF; 6-1, 190 pounds (2015: .249/.330/.333 – 18 BB/33 K – 7/13 SB – 177 AB)

62. Ohio State JR 3B/1B Jake Bosiokovic: good athlete; average speed; interesting hit tool; too aggressive; good defender; 6-6, 220 pounds (2013: .278/.344/.374 – 16 BB/57 K – 4/5 SB – 198 AB) (2014: .268/.358/.372 – 16 BB/47 K – 1/2 SB – 164 AB
63.
South Alabama SR 3B/RHP Bud Collura: good speed; 92-94 FB; 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: .257/.370/.271 – 37 BB/25 K – 2/3 SB – 214 AB) (2014: .297/.359/.330 – 9 BB/15 K – 0/2 SB – 91 AB) (2015: .303/.368/.353 – 24 BB/29 K – 16/24 SB – 241 AB)

64. Seton Hall SR 3B Kyle Grimm: 5-11, 190 pounds (2012: .329/.409/.364 – 14 BB/15 K – 2/2 SB – 143 AB) (2013: .341/.422/.407 – 12 BB/11 K – 5/5 SB – 91 AB) (2014: .286/.362/.392 – 17 BB/21 K – 4/4 SB) (2015: .297/.382/.365 – 19 BB/13 K – 2/2 SB – 148 AB)

65. Bowling Green rSR 3B Brandon Howard: good defensive tools; good arm; good speed; 6-0, 165 pounds (2012: .226/.271/.252 – 6 BB/39 K – 3/7 SB – 159 AB) (2013: .203/.318/.243 – 22 BB/47 K – 4/7 SB – 148 AB) (2014: .299/.393/.362 – 17 BB/35 K – 23/24 SB – 127 AB) (2015: .296/.429/.374 – 38 BB/49 K – 42/50 SB – 179 AB)

66. San Diego State SR 3B/1B Ryan Muno: steady defender, average across the board defensively; slow; interesting hit tool; 6-1, 210 pounds (2012: .308/.407/.432 – 18 BB/34 K – 5/7 SB – 185 AB) (2013: .318/.419/.488 – 28 BB/38 K – 0/1 SB – 170 AB) (2014: .268/.320/.333 – 9 BB/27 K – 1/1 SB – 138 AB) (2015: .246/.333/.362 – 14 BB/30 K – 1/5 SB – 138 AB)

67. Wichita State JR 3B Chase Rader: interesting bat; good athlete; strong; good speed; 6-0, 210 pounds (2015: .239/.363/.381 – 19 BB/59 K – 13/18 SB – 176 AB)

68. College of Charleston rSR 3B/RHP Brandon Glazer: plus defender; strong arm; good raw power; 85-90 FB, 92 peak; CU; SL; fresh arm; 6-2, 210 pounds (2012: .313/.407/.500 – 17 BB/29 K – 128 AB – 4/4 SB) (2014: .221/.297/.324 – 20 BB/62 K – 7/10 SB – 222 AB) (2015: 5.11 K/9 – 1.00 BB/9 – 80 IP – 2.67 ERA)

69. Maine SR 3B Luke Morrill: 6-4, 215 pounds (2014: .250/.340/.341 – 5 BB/9 K – 0/2 SB – 44 AB) (2015: .367/.438/.503 – 22 BB/25 K – 8/9 SB – 177 AB)

70. Massachusetts-Lowell SR 3B Matthew Sanchez: good glove; 5-9, 180 pounds (2014: .357/.409/.420 – 11 BB/26 K – 14/17 SB – 157 AB) (2015: .327/.428/.431 – 22 BB/25 K – 18/23 SB – 153 AB)

71. Purdue SR 3B/SS Brandon Krieg: good speed; power upside; strong arm; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .264/.329/.337 – 14 BB/31 K – 12/15 SB – 193 AB) (2015: .279/.322/.396 – 15 BB/48 K – 11/13 SB – 222 AB)

72. Houston SR 3B/1B Justin Montemayor: strong hit tool; average at best arm; approach needs work; 6-3, 225 pounds (2013: .315/.380/.414 – 19 BB/56 K – 3/5 SB – 222 AB) (2014: .298/.345/.371 – 13 BB/47 K – 0/0 SB – 248 AB) (2015: .184/.279/.230 – 25 BB/39 K – 3/3 SB – 196 AB)

73. Mississippi State rJR 3B/2B John Holland: good speed; steady glove; Florida State transfer; 5-11, 185 pounds (2015: .246/.316/.316 – 19 BB/26 K – 1/2 SB – 171 AB)

74. Missouri JR 3B/1B Zach Lavy: power upside; 6-3, 220 pounds (2014: .196/.318/.232 – 10 BB/13 K – 0/2 SB – 56 AB) (2015: .238/.281/.367 – 12 BB/50 K – 11/12 SB – 210 AB)

75. Arkansas-Little Rock SR 3B/RHP Tanner Rockwell: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: .321/.400/.526 – 26 BB/40 K – 4/4 SB – 209 AB) (2014: 10.96 K/9 – 7.43 BB/9 – 22 IP – 1.57 ERA) (2015: .314/.386/.443 – 20 BB/25 K – 3/5 SB – 185 AB)

76. Rice JR 3B Grayson Lewis: steady glove; 5-11, 185 pounds (2015: .277/.444/.301 – 19 BB/13 K – 2/3 SB – 83 AB)

77. Presbyterian SR 3B Jay Lizanich: 6-1, 185 pounds (2012: .316/.354/.353 – 12 BB/26 K – 5/7 SB – 190 AB) (2013: .272/.320/.320 – 14 BB/18 K – 3/4 SB – 206 AB) (2014: .193/.253/.218 – 12 BB/24 K – 1/2 SB – 197 AB) (2015: .344/.394/.455 – 18 BB/13 K – 4/6 SB – 224 AB)

78. Oral Roberts JR 3B Chase Stafford: 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: .301/.426/.438 – 31 BB/31 K – 8/9 SB – 153 AB)

79. Michigan State rSR 3B Mark Weist: 6-3, 215 pounds (2015: .346/.407/.526 – 17 BB/25 K – 11/15 SB – 228 AB)

80. North Carolina Greensboro JR 3B Collin Woody: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .296/.362/.508 – 20 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 199 AB)

81. Central Michigan JR 3B/OF Justin Wagler: good athlete; good power; good speed; good defensive tools; 6-2, 170 pounds (2013: .222/.290/.368 – 10 BB/29 K – 1/1 SB – 117 AB) (2014: .234/.330/.349 – 14 BB/32 K – 9/11 SB – 192 AB)

82. Morehead State rSO 3B Alex Stephens: 5-10 (2015: .331/.360/.543 – 6 BB/9 K – 2/2 SB – 127 AB)

83. St. Bonaventure JR 3B/RHP Thad Johnson: 5-9, 170 pounds (2014: 5.81 K/9 – 2.32 BB/9 – 31 IP – 4.35 ERA) (2014: .290/.381/.391 – 18 BB/19 K – 3/7 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .354/.403/.481 – 11 BB/18 K – 1/3 SB – 189 AB)

84. Indiana State JR 3B Andy Young: 5-11, 190 pounds (2015: .296/.378/.498 – 14 BB/33 K – 4/5 SB – 203 AB)

85. Wagner JR 3B/OF Ben Ruta: 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: .322/.409/.373 – 13 BB/15 K – 2/2 SB – 118 AB) (2014: .250/.322/.358 – 15 BB/15 K – 18/21 SB – 204 AB) (2015: .327/.412/.469 – 29 BB/33 K – 10/15 SB – 196 AB)

86. Cal State Fullerton JR 3B Jerrod Bravo: 5-10, 200 pounds (2015: .333/.456/.442 – 17 BB/20 K – 4/5 SB – 120 AB)

87. Winthrop SR 3B/OF Brad Kaczka: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .369/.429/.442 – 22 BB/26 K – 12/16 SB – 217 AB)

88. Incarnate Word JR 3B Brance Kahle: quick bat; above-average arm; 6-1, 175 pounds (2015: .266/.340/.379 – 17 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 177 AB)

89. Portland SR 3B Cody Lenahan: power upside; average at best arm; improving as defender; 6-4, 200 pounds (2013: .326/.356/.374 – 9 BB/37 K – 4/10 SB – 190 AB) (2014: .203/.244/.266 – 8 BB/33 K – 4/6 SB – 192 AB) (2015: .271/.292/.424 – 6 BB/52 K – 0/3 SB – 210 AB)

90. Pacific JR 3B JJ Wagner: good defender; strong arm; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: .195/.250/.293 – 6 BB/25 K – 0/0 SB – 123 AB) (2014: .190/.253/.232 – 14 BB/35 K – 4/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .250/.300/.307 – 11 BB/40 K – 2/5 SB – 176 AB)

91. Nicholls State JR 3B Kyle Reese: 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: .377/.413/.527 – 13 BB/33 K – 4/5 SB – 207 AB)

92. UAB SR 3B Nathan Vincent: good glove; above-average speed; 5-11, 200 pounds (2014: .216/.285/.296 – 14 BB/54 K – 5/6 SB – 162 AB) (2015: .238/.310/.340 – 16 BB/64 K – 8/10 SB – 206 AB)

93. Stony Brook JR 3B Johnny Caputo: like his bat a lot, but still waiting on it to show up in games; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .249/.289/.333 – 10 BB/63 K – 5/9 SB – 225 AB) (2014: .236/.295/.352 – 10 BB/30 K – 1/1 SB – 165 AB) (2015: .257/.279/.352 – 2 BB/24 K – 3/3 SB – 105 AB)

94. Long Island-Brooklyn SR 3B Bobby Webb: power upside; strong; 6-2, 210 pounds (2014: .369/.407/.466 – 8 BB/16 K – 1/2 SB – 176 AB) (2015: .251/.310/.383 – 12 BB/29 K – 3/4 SB – 175 AB)

95. La Salle SR 3B Cameron Johnson: 5-11, 200 pounds (2014: .308/.337/.473 – 7 BB/37 K – 2/2 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .327/.381/.509 – 15 BB/47 K – 3/5 SB – 220 AB)

96. Washington SR 3B Alex Schmidt: 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: .081/.190/.135 – 5 BB/9 K – 0/1 SB – 37 AB) (2014: .233/.316/.360 – 13 BB/39 K – 0/1 SB – 172 AB) (2015: .283/.364/.449 – 22 BB/39 K – 1/1 SB – 187 AB)

97. Southeast Missouri State SR 3B Andy Lennington: 6-1, 180 pounds (2014: .312/.336/.433 – 11 BB/52 K – 9/15 SB – 231 AB) (2015: .333/.390/.500 – 19 BB/43 K – 4/7 SB – 204 AB)

98. St. Mary’s JR 3B Anthony Villa: 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .291/.356/.362 – 19 BB/30 K – 2/5 SB – 196 AB) (2014: .276/.335/.345 – 20 BB/36 K – 4/8 SB – 203 AB) (2015: .343/.415/.488 – 20 BB/37 K – 1/5 SB – 201 AB)

99. Ball State SR 3B Elbert Devarie: 6-0, 170 pounds (2015: .332/.394/.454 – 19 BB/29 K – 4/7 SB – 229 AB)

100. UC Irvine JR 3B Mitchell Holland: 6-0, 215 pounds (2015: .325/.382/.482 – 13 BB/37 K – 1/3 SB – 197 AB)

*****

101. Fairleigh Dickinson JR 3B Joel Roman: 5-8, 185 pounds (2014: .293/.316/.393 – 4 BB/20 K – 0/0 SB – 150 AB) (2015: .246/.351/.438 – 17 BB/29 K – 1/2 SB – 130 AB)

102. Saint Louis JR 3B/SS Josh Bunselmeyer: 6-0, 180 pounds (2015: .275/.353/.430 – 23 BB/48 K – 2/2 SB – 193 AB)

103. Chicago State SR 3B Matt Schmidt: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .283/.360/.323 – 10 BB/11 K – 3/3 SB – 99 AB) (2015: .331/.406/.444 – 12 BB/26 K – 1/3 SB – 142 AB)

104. Marshall JR 3B Aaron Bossi: 5-11, 190 pounds (2015: .305/.351/.429 – 7 BB/15 K – 1/6 SB – 105 AB)

105. Fairleigh Dickinson JR 3B/OF Ryan Brennan: 6-2, 180 pounds (2014: .285/.344/.354 – 10 BB/27 K – 2/4 SB – 144 AB) (2015: .261/.318/.449 – 7 BB/26 K – 1/4 SB – 138 AB)

106. Appalachian State SR 3B Noah Holmes: 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: .291/.387/.412 – 21 BB/34 K – 0/1 SB – 148 AB)

107. Air Force SR 3B/2B Noah Pierce: 6-1, 190 pounds (2014: .296/.317/.429 – 5 BB/33 K – 2/4 SB – 196 AB) (2015: .274/.338/.447 – 14 BB/38 K – 12/14 SB – 208 AB)

108. Fordham JR 3B Ian Edmiston: 5-11, 180 pounds (2015: .307/.360/.406 – 11 BB/29 K – 6/12 SB – 192 AB)

109. Siena SR 3B Justin Esquerra: 6-1, 210 pounds (2015: .311/.376/.425 – 19 BB/46 K – 0/0 SB – 193 AB)

110. Bradley rJR 3B Paul Solka: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: .286/.381/.434 – 16 BB/46 K – 0/1 SB – 182 AB)

111. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR 3B Cody Clarke: power upside; good speed; 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: .194/.269/.235 – 7 BB/18 K – 0/0 SB – 98 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

Travis Maezes, Max Schrock, and Ian Rice

It would take exceptionally disappointing seasons for any of Ian Happ, Dansby Swanson, and Alex Bregman to slip past this year’s draft’s first twenty-six picks and into the compensatory round. DJ Stewart’s margin for error isn’t as great, but it would still be a surprise to me to see him fall past the thirty-sixth and final pick of the draft’s first day. Beyond those four names, all bets are off. More bluntly, the fifth spot on this particular ranking of college bats is where things get weird.

Weird doesn’t have to be bad, so I have no problem being the high man on Michigan JR 3B Travis Maezes for now. His hit tool is legit, his power should play average or better, and he has the athleticism, arm strength, and instincts to be a really strong third baseman in the pros. Real life work commitments and frustration at the death of College Splits put me way behind on writing about last year’s draft. If I had written all that I wanted to, I assure you that many glowing pieces on Cal State Fullerton 3B Matt Chapman would have been written. I absolutely loved Chapman as a draft prospect and think he’ll be an above-average pro player for a long time. I don’t bring him up just to relive the past, of course; from a skills standpoint, Maezes reminds me a lot of Chapman. I swear that’s a comparison that I came by honestly through watching them both, hearing from smarter people than myself, and reading whatever has been written about them from the comfort of my couch. Then I looked at the numbers (top Maezes, bottom Chapman) and…

.307/.403/.444 with 54 BB/64 K in 530 PA
.295/.391/.443 with 73 BB/84 K in 702 PA

…whoa. That’s pretty good. Another player comparison that I’ve heard for Maezes that takes me back to my earliest days as a baseball fan is former Phillies 3B Dave Hollins, he of the 162 game average of .260/.358/.420 with 18 HR, 27 2B, 76 BB, and 113 K*.

South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock could be added to the mix above and not be out of place in the least. His career line to date isn’t too far off from Chapman especially at .281/.381/.422 with 58 BB/45 K in 446 PA. A friend in the game recently compared him to another former Fullerton star, Tim Wallach. I’m not sure I see that since the body types, handedness, and home run power all seem off to me, but it’s something to think about. I’ve run into similar issues (minus the more manageable HR totals) with a David Freese (as a hitter) comparison for Schrock. One mainstream comp (I think, can’t remember where I first saw it) for Schrock is Kyle Seager. I like that comparison not only because it’s a decent enough lens to view Schrock as a prospect (again, however, I don’t think the power expectations fit – that’s something of a trend here), but also because it’s yet another excuse to talk about my appreciation for Kyle Seager. I’ve said a lot of inane stuff at this site over the years, but one of the few strokes of competency came back in March of 2009…

Seager’s well-rounded game (great plate discipline, slightly above-average power, good baserunner, high contact rate) make him a personal favorite of mine and as good a bet as any college hitter to settle in to a long career as a league average (at least) big leaguer.

My only regret is not going in harder back then when I knew Seager was going to be really good. I saw him play up close literally dozens of times during his time at North Carolina and a little nagging voice was always in my head telling me he was a better player than his far more famous teammate Dustin Ackley. I think if I had the guts (and, to a point, knowledge) that I now have back then, I would have at least given a few moments of honest consideration for putting Seager over Ackley on one of my all-important lists. Consideration would not have led to actually acting on it because Ackley was Ackley. That brings us full circle and gets me back to a far more comfortable place where I can talk about my misses rather than my hits: I absolutely LOVED Ackley, so, you know, win some lose some, right?

I’ve used Kyle Seager as a comp a few times in the past, for what it’s worth. The first was Brad Miller (“Seager with more defensive upside”), then it was Matt Reynolds (“a player in-between Seager and Chase Headley is a realistic ceiling”), and finally, one I completely forgot I wrote about even though it was published less than three months ago, came Clemson JR SS Tyler Krieger (“some scouting similarities between the two”). Neither the Miller nor the Reynolds examples make me cringe in hindsight, so I don’t feel too badly about going to the Kyle Seager comp well as often as I do. It’s been pretty good to me so far.

All that said, I’m not sure I’m completely on board with the Schrock/Seager comparison. I liken him more to a Mark Ellis type of hitter capable of giving you more or less league average production at the plate while making up the difference as needed with smart base running and steady defense. That’s an everyday player in the big leagues. Interesting to note that Miller (taken with pick 62), Reynolds (71), and Seager (82) were all off the board around the same range on draft day. That could very well be the window that Schrock (and perhaps Krieger) find themselves taken in this June. Getting a potential regular at second base with a late-second/early-third round pick would make any team really happy.

From the second-to-last day of 2014…

I’m sky high on Houston JR C Ian Rice, a transfer by way of Chipola who can really, really hit. If he shows enough behind the plate to convince teams he’s a catcher long-term (as I believe), there’s no telling how high he could rise by June. It’s just a hair too early to start stacking up prospects by position, but I’m very sure Rice will wind up higher on my board at that spot than anywhere else on the internet.

Nothing has changed since then to move me off my strong positive feelings towards Rice. If anything, I like him even more after hearing some positive things about his glove through the early stage of the college season. Now it’s time to kick back and wait until the rest of the draft internet catches up to how good Rice really is. While we wait for the world to recognize my brilliance, let’s kill some time with a quick tangent. The nice thing about liking a guy more than the consensus goes back to the buzz word you hear during every draft in every sport: value.

Value is a damn near impossible concept to pin down as it relates to an event as large and as filled with unknowns as the MLB Draft. I’ve always tried to avoid being overly critical of a team “overdrafting” a player because of the huge amount of uncertainty that exists when you’re working at an information deficit inherent with being privy to only one board (your own) yet simultaneously working around twenty-nine often non-rational actors on draft day. Even if you think you have some faint idea how other teams may have their boards lined up in the early going of a draft, that advantage only lasts so long. From the outside looking in we know even less. That’s one of the frustrating yet freeing things about being an outsider to the draft process.

If all the expert sites (BA, D1, PG, BP, ESPN, Fangraphs, etc.) have a player ranked in the fifties but he goes in the teens, the first instinct is to point, laugh, and declare the drafting team – not to appeal to authority or anything, but isn’t it crazy that the one collective group here with far more information than any of those outlets and way more on the line if they mess up such a big decision is the one we assume is wrong? — guilty of overdrafting the prospect. All of those major outlets (BA, PG, and likely the new-ish D1) have a ton of resources and arguably as much (if not more) of a league-wide feel for what draft boards could look like, so when they stack their final boards pre-draft it does serve a purpose. Nothing, of course, is written in stone.

My example from last year was Cole Tucker (who I’d like to preemptively note is an outstanding baseball player and very worthy early round draft prospect) going 24th to Pittsburgh. If I was misguidedly put in charge of a team’s draft, I would not have had a first round grade on Tucker. Baseball America, to use just one readily available source, had him at 84th overall heading into the draft. Their ranking was no more or less right or wrong than Pittsburgh’s. Player valuation is all over the place when it comes to amateur talent, as it should be. More to the value point, however, is the fact that Pittsburgh didn’t pick again until 39. If you really valued Tucker and believed the odds markedly decreased on him being available with that later pick, it’s worth it to “overdraft” your guy because the risk of losing him entirely is far more painful than getting your second choices at 24 and 39.

I’m as guilty as anybody (at times) of getting hung up on certain players that I hope my favorite team drafts (or avoids) in all the sports that matter to me. For example, I know far less about hockey than any other major sport, but if my hometown team passes up the guy I wanted them to draft in favor of some nobody, I’m going to react negatively. The fact that my research on both the guy I wanted them to draft and the nobody adds up to a grand total of fifteen combined minutes of reading whatever pre-draft coverage pops up first on Google (hopefully not from a site full of made-up scout quotes that the author didn’t even bother try to disguise in an original voice…not saying this happens in baseball, except that it does, it stinks, and I guess that’s how you get ahead [well, that and sucking up to writers on Twitter] at certain unnamed companies) and/or the hundreds (!) of seconds I’ll spend YouTube scouting (even though I know nothing beyond the very basics of the sport) is beside the point. Everybody wants to be an expert on draft day. So many opinions get thrown around on such highly speculative topics that just hitting on one correct scouting assessment has the positive impact of negating the dozens of misinformed, wrong-headed nonsense spewed all day. I support having the conviction to ride or die with your own personal draft rankings, but being snarky and chiding a team for overdrafting a player based solely on what you think was best for them without considering an alternate viewpoint feels unnecessarily parochial and naïve.

So, I hope Ian Rice receives his proper due as a draft prospect between now and June. If not, then I hope that the team I grew up with or a team that I’m assisting in draft coverage is able to take him later than I feel his skills deserve. That’s value, baby. In terms of draft stock he reminds me a little bit of an inverse version former Ole Miss and LSU-Eunice catcher Stuart Turner, who was known more for his glove than his bat. Turner hit enough to go in the third round (pick 78) to Minnesota in 2013. I see no reason why Rice can’t do the same. Another comparable prospect and player (minus handedness as a batter) is fellow 2013 draft pick (53rd overall) Andrew Knapp out of Cal. It would take Rice exceeding even my own sky high expectations to wind up in that draft range, but that’s why they play the games, right?

* I don’t include batting lines for scouting comps to create any unnecessary expectations for these players – it’s hard enough to compare any individual human being to another, let alone one ballplayer in the midst of a historic, “special vitamin” fueled era of offense to another in a far more muted offensive environment – but to give a reference point that highlights one possible viable outcome.