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First 15 there, next 15 here. Rankings are from the preseason list, numbers are from College Splits (when applicable), and opinions are entirely mine, and thus, probably wrong…
16. Cal Irvine JR 1B Jordan Leyland (.266/.340/.422 – 14 BB/31 K)
I had hoped a return to full health after struggling with a wrist injury last season would allow Leyland to show off his plus raw power.
17. Wake Forest JR 1B Austin Stadler
One at bat, one RBI groundout. That’s all Stadler has done at the plate in 2011. He’s been lit up as a starting pitcher (9.77 ERA in 47 IP), but his underlying numbers aren’t that terrible (4.55 FIP with 8.81 K/9). His season stats and scouting profile both read like Nick Ramirez, only if Ramirez wasn’t quite as good as he is. He’s the Hydrox to Nick Ramirez’s Oreo, if you will.
18. Washington SR 1B Troy Scott (.303/.374/.432 – 14 BB/22 K)
There was a point early last year when Scott was the top ranked college first baseman on my unpublished 2010 draft rankings. Whoops.
19. Georgia JR 1B Chase Davidson (.275/.342/.451 – 9 BB/33 K)
Remember the Jim Thome comps some threw Davidson’s way back in his high school days? Man, I was all over those. When he is totally locked in and you catch him in just the right light, yeah, maybe you can kind of sort of maybe see the basis for that original comparison, maybe. The problem, as shown through the lens of his less than inspiring season stats, is that Davidson’s time spent locked in isn’t enough to make him a viable pro prospect. That said, guys with his kind of raw power tend to get plenty of chances, and it only takes one team to believe professional coaching can get him back to his pre-college level of performance.
20. LSU SO 1B Jamie Bruno
No stats for Bruno as he sits out the year after leaving Tulane. I don’t think he has a chance to be drafted this year, so consider this aggressive ranking a placeholder for 2012.
21. Embry-Riddle JR 1B Matt Skipper
The well-traveled Skipper is sitting out the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
22. Central Florida SR 1B Jonathan Griffin (.342/.397/.640 – 17 BB/32 K)
Griffin is the prototypical hulking (6-5, 230) first base slugger with ridiculous raw power and nothing else. You can be one-dimensional when that one dimension is as strong as Griffin’s power tool is, but his battle is still an uphill one.
23. South Alabama JR 1B Brad Hook (.298/.430/.460 – 27 BB/32 K)
Hook is yet another versatile performer, logging 37.1 decent innings on the mound in addition to his work at first base. A lot of players are mentioned as having just enough defensive aptitute to handle other positions (most commonly LF, RF, and 3B), but Hook actually has the chance of being average or better in the outfield.
24. San Diego JR 1B Bryan Haar (.320/.364/.410 – 6 BB/30 K)
After mocking eventual 26th rounder to the Phillies in the first round early last year, I really should have been smart enough to wise up and stop falling for prospects from USD. My notes on Haar heading into the season:
might list with either 3B or OF, as he is too good an athlete to restrict to first base; good raw power; good defender; power, speed, and arm strength all rate as above-average for position, but hasn’t lived up to potential as of yet; could play 3B this year with Kris Bryant at first; swing is holding him back as a hitter; great frame, like him a lot; utility future maybe; “Haar has a pro body, good defensive instincts, and an advanced approach at the plate.”
I’m obviously less enthused after his disappointing junior season. We’ll try again with Haar next year.
25. Kansas JR 1B Zac Elgie (.264/.325/.443 – 11 BB/24 K)
Elgie, one of North Dakota’s finest prep ballplayers and arguably the biggest recruit in recent Kansas baseball history, has had an up and down college career to this point. I know of a few pro teams that think he’s got the arm and athleticism to make the conversion to professional catcher.
26. Central Florida SO 1B DJ Hicks (.369/.443/.664 – 22 BB/28 K) (also logged 10.1 IP with good K-rate)
If any player on the list can be classified as a big 2011 draft riser, it’s this guy. With arguably the most raw power of any draft-eligible first baseman, Hicks is a certifiable sleeping giant in the prospect world. yet another intriguing two-way talent. His scouting report reminds me of a catcher — plus to plus-plus raw power and plus arm strength — so it is no surprise that there is some thought he’d work better at third, his occasional college position. He also is a pitching prospect who features an above-average (at times) fastball with what I consider a promising splitter.
27. Wofford JR 1B Konstantine Diamaduros (.313/.360/.388 – 13 BB/17 K)
If we’re looking for silver linings here, at least Diamaduros will have the chance to be on college baseball’s all name team for an extra year after he returns to Wofford in 2012.
28. Ouachita Baptist JR 1B Brock Green (.366/.484/.575 – 29 BB/24 K)
I’ll often compile notes on a player over the course of a few years. One of my bad habits is not dating my notes. So when I look back and see the following notes on Brock Green, I can’t help but laugh. Among a few other tidbits, the notes claim Green is both a “potential plus defender” and possesses an “iron glove.” I suppose they technically could both be true — the upside vs present performance thing — but I’m guessing it is more of an issue of timing than anything.
29. Barry SR 1B Dean Green (.414/.532/.845 – 33 BB/20 K)
Issues with competition aside, Dean Green is straight killing it this year. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has already shown he can hang with the big boys by performing well on the Cape.
30. Oregon SR 1B Stephen Kaupang
Not listed on the Oregon 2011 roster and I couldn’t figure out what in the world happened to him. Anybody know?
1. Arguably the biggest story to come out of college baseball’s opening weekend (from a prospect standpoint…and before news of Stanford JR LHP Brett Mooneyham’s season-ending finger injury came to the surface) centered on the decision to have Vanderbilt JR 3B Jason Esposito play shortstop. Bigger still, he went out and played it well. Fun question of the day: if Esposito can show to scouts that he can at least play a league average big league shortstop, then he’ll go [fill-in-the-blank] in the 2011 MLB Draft. Top half of the first round, no doubt…right? Top ten? Higher? I know Ryan Zimmerman is the name often thrown around when talking Rice JR 3B Anthony Rendon, but I think it is a really natural comparison for Esposito.
2. Other notable position “switches”: LSU 3B FR JaCoby Jones played 2B, Tulane JR C Jeremy Schaffer played 3B (a spot where he has some prior experience), and Washington SR 1B Troy Scott played 3B (ditto). Schaffer and Scott are mid-round guys here in 2011, but Jones has first round upside in 2013. I want to sit down and do preliminary rankings for 2012 and 2013 sometime before this June. In a vacuum, Jones has top ten potential, but I’ll need to see where he stacks up in what looks to be a strong 2013 draft class.
3. The LSU staff has three years to move JaCoby Jones around the infield, and, as mentioned, Schaffer and Scott are mid-round guys at best. That leaves the position switch with the most immediate and significant draft prospect consequence as the move of Utah JR C CJ Cron playing first base all weekend long. The switch was not entirely unexpected – Cron’s defense behind the plate has never been his strong suit, plus he has played 1B for the Utes in the past – but the buzz surrounding it makes it seem less and less likely that Cron will don the tools of ignorance much at all in 2011.
A few completely random interesting hitting lines of the weekend, complete with equally random commentary…
College of Charleston JR “C” Rob Kral (2011): 667/714/778 (6-9, 2B, RBI, 5 R, 4 BB/0 K)
- Kral may not be a catcher professionally, but, man, can he hit. Great patience and great power typically leads to great things…
North Carolina State JR C Pratt Maynard (2011): 538/571/692 (7-13, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R)
Mississippi SR C Miles Hamblin (2011): 444/643/778 (4-9, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB/3 K, 3/3 SB)
Oklahoma SO 2B Max White (2012): 467/556/667 (7-15, 3 2B, 6 R, 4 RBI, 3 HBP, 1/1 SB)
- As great as that line looks, White’s defense at second drew the most praise over the weekend. Pretty amazing considering White is a converted outfield learning the position as he goes.
Tennessee JR 2B Khayyan Norfork (2011): 556/667/1.222 (5-9, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1/2 SB)
- I ignored all of the positive buzz coming out of Tennessee’s fall/winter practices and, even though it has only been one weekend, I regret it. I did say this: “Khayyan Norfork might just be the player primed to make the biggest rise up draft boards of the players listed.” Really nice blend of speed, pop, and defense…
Florida SO SS Nolan Fontana (2012): 750/786/833 (9-12, 2B, 5 R, 2 HBP, K, 1/1 SB)
Clemson JR SS Brad Miller (2011): 375/643/375 (3-8, 5 R, 2 RBI, 6 BB/0 K, 4/4 SB)
- Didn’t have the power numbers of many players on the list, but easy to love that BB/K ratio.
Texas Tech JR SS Kelby Tomlinson (2011): 583/667/583 (7-12, 6 RBI, 3 R, 5 BB/1 K, 5/6 SB)
Arizona State JR 3B Riccio Torrez (2011): 462/462/1.231 (6-13, 3 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, 4 R, 2-2 SB)
Oklahoma JR 3B Garrett Buechele (2011): 625/700/1.188 (10-16, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R)
Texas A&M JR 3B Matt Juengel (2011): 455/500/1.364 (5-11, 2 HR, 2 3B, 7 RBI, 5 R)
- More evidence that shows how deep this year’s group of college third basemen is; Torrez was ranked 7th, Buechele was ranked 15th, and Juengel was 23rd.
Texas FR 3B Erich Weiss (2013): 818/824/1.273 (9-11, 2 3B, 2B, 7 RBI, 6 R, 5 BB/0 K, 1/1 SB)
Southern Carolina JR OF Jackie Bradley (2011): 583/615/1.083 (7-12, HR, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 4 R)
UAB JR OF Jamal Austin (2011): 462/462/538 (6-13, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 3/4 SB)
Kent State SR OF Ben Klafczynski (2011): 538/571/538 (7-13, RBI, 2 R)
Stanford FR OF Austin Wilson (2013): 500/500/750 (6-12, HR, 4 RBI, R, 1/1 SB)
- With the first pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees select…
LSU JR OF Mikie Mahtook (2011): 444/545/1.778 (4-9, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R)
- I tried to limit the list to one player per college, but leaving fellow Tigers JaCoby Jones and Tyler Hanover off pained me greatly. Mahtook’s decision to only hit home runs could really pay off this year…
Honorable Mention! Virginia SR C Kenny Swab (2011): 000/571/000 (0-6, 5 R, 6 BB, 2 HBP, 2/2 SB)
Honorable Mention 2.0! Any JMU player. Five different players slugged over 1.100 over the weekend: Tenaglia, Herbek, Foltz, Knight, and Lowery. I was most impressed with SO OF Johnny Bladel’s 533/720/733 (6/3 BB/K and 5/5 SB) line. He’s my very early super sneaky 2012 first round possibility.
For reference’s sake, the complete list of top 2011 college first basemen. Now some quick thoughts on a few selected players. I’m happy to add extra thoughts on any other player by request.
I think it is more likely they are no future everyday big league first basemen out of this class than there is more than one. That’s not to say we won’t see a future big league star emerge out of this class, but the odds seemed stacked against it. Obviously the players with the best chance are the ones ranked one and two on the list because, well, otherwise they wouldn’t be ranked one and two on the list. Top ranked Tucker has been covered already; number two Oropesa’s strengths (power, defense, arm, chance he could start his career at third) far outweigh his weaknesses (swing can get too long, possibility of potential contact issues down the line).
Channing’s plus power is enticing, but the Brett Wallace body comp scares the heck out of me. Ribera has similarly intriguing power, maybe more appealing if you value present power over raw upside, but the fact there is less projection to his game can be a double edged sword. I guess it should also be mentioned that, despite some internet hotshot like me being a big fan, Ribera went undrafted in 2010. A fact like that begs the simple question: what are the people paid to do this for a living seeing (or not seeing?) that I’m missing?
The only player near the top of the ranking without major college experience could position himself atop the whole list by June. Taylor Ard’s funky swing has some scouts questioning how he’ll transition to big time college ball, but I think it’ll play, especially when it comes to his power upside. His strong track record with wood, underrated athleticism, and aforementioned plus-plus raw power should make up for whatever contact deficiencies he might have to overcome. I’m as excited to see how he adjusts to the Pac-10 as I am any newcomer to the college game and the statistical breakdown between him and Oropesa will be telling.
By sheer coincidence, we have back-to-back-to-back potential-laden, yet disappointing first basemen, all in different draft-eligibility years. First, the sophomore Jamie Bruno. Bruno has all of the tools teams like for in a well-rounded first baseman, but never got on track while at Tulane. He is draft-eligible this year as he sits out while he transfers to LSU. The junior is Georgia 1B Chase Davidson. Davidson was made famous by a Jim Thome comp from his high school days, but, tell me if you’ve heard this before, hasn’t gotten it together at the college level. When locked in, Davidson looks like a potential big league regular, but, as the numbers bear out, he is locked out (opposite of locked in?) far more often. To tap into his big power, he’ll need to find a way to shrink the far too big holes in his swing. Lastly, we have senior 1B Troy Scott from Washington. Whenever you think I might know what I’m talking about, just remember that I thought Scott had a chance to sneak into the first round last year. He is a rebound candidate this year if he can get back to his patient, power hitting ways.
I feel bad leaving anybody out, so here’s a quick ranking of the power upside of each player on the list. Players are ranked in terms of power upside. I realize the two category setup is extremely simplistic, but it’s just a starting point…
Plus: Tucker, Oropesa, Channing, Ribera, Ard, Hoilman, Ramirez, Riggins, Westlake, Seitzer, Leyland, Scott, Davidson, Griffin, Hicks, Diamaduros, Kaupang
Above-Average: Espy, Snyder, Snieder, Serritella, Stadler, Bruno, Skipper, Hook, Haar, Elgie, B. Green, D. Green