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College First Basemen Revisited 2.0 – 2011 MLB Draft

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There was a point early last year when Scott was the top ranked college first baseman on my unpublished 2010 draft rankings.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?

Best Bats of College Baseball’s Opening Weekend (2/18/11 to 2/20/11)

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)

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.

2011 MLB Draft – College 1B Commentary

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

2010 MLB Draft: Top 30 College First Base Prospects

30. College of Southern Nevada SO 1B Trent Cook
29. Delaware SR 1B Ryan Cuneo
28. Central Florida JR 1B Jonathan Griffin
27. Long Beach State SO 1B Joey Terdoslavich
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Terdoslavich was once a pretty exciting prospect, but his transfer to Long Beach has taken his name out of the big-time college spotlight. His power remains, but the 2010 drop in plate discipline is worrying. In his favor, however, is the positional versatility so many of these first base prospects will need if they want big league bench jobs someday. Griffin is a gigantic human being with exactly the raw power you’d expect his frame to deliver, but is hurt as a prospect because he offers little else beyond that one above-average tool. Cuneo has good gap power and a solid glove, but profiles best as an organizational player than even a potential big league bench bat at this point. Trent Cook has seen his draft stock jump up a bit this spring, due in large part to the exposure his famous teammate with the initials BH has given the CSN program this spring…yes, the scouts are all flocking to Vegas to see that Bryan Harper fella.
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26. Rice SR 1B Jimmy Comerota
25. Arizona State SR 1B Kole Calhoun
24. Middle Tennessee State SR 1B Blake McDade
23. Oklahoma State JR 1B Dean Green
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Comerota and Calhoun both look like better versions of Ryan Cuneo to me – gap power, good glove, good athleticism, good batting eye…but not enough raw power to ever project as starting caliber players. McDade gets consistently overshadowed by teammate Bryce Brentz, but his approach is professional quality. Dean Green has a pretty well-rounded skillset and his strong showing on the Cape last summer gives him the extra bounce up the rankings here.
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22. South Carolina SR 1B Nick Ebert
21. Mississippi JR 1B Matt Smith
20. Tennessee JR 1B Cody Hawn
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Trio of SEC sluggers who could all hit their way to the big leagues if they get a few breaks along the way. Hawn is a really darn good natural hitter, but the lack of physical projection and any above-average tool besides the bat holds his prospect stock down. Smith’s power and approach are both intriguing while Ebert, the senior, has really impressed with the way he has worked at his game, improving from an organizational player all the way in his junior year to a legit mid- to late-round draft here in 2010.
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19. Chipola JC SO 1B Cody Martin
18. Carson-Newman SR 1B Jeff Lockwood
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Martin is another candidate for most underrated player on this list. He’s a really good athlete, potential plus defender, and has shown well above-average power in the past. Lockwood does a lot of the same things as Martin, but does them all just a smidge better at this point.
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17. Cal State Northridge JR 1B Dominic D’Anna
16. Hawaii SR 1B Kevin Macdonald
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Really like D’Anna’s swing, from setup to finish. Macdonald can get a little long with his swing, but offers more long-term power than D’Anna. D’Anna is a better bet to start for a big league club someday, but is a real long shot to ever realize that upside. Macdonald is less likely to ever start for a big league team, but more likely to contribute as a bench bat somewhere down the line someday. That’s why Macdonald gets the slight nod in the rankings. That logic isn’t foolproof, but it’s all I’ve got.
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15. Hillsborough JC FR 1B Jamie Mallard
14. Lake Sumter CC FR 1B Bryan Hill
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Mallard is the biggest boom/bust prospect on this list. If he booms, it’ll be because of the tremendous thunder in his bat; his power rivals that of any college player in the 2010 class. If he busts, it’ll be because he eats his way right out of the game. Hill’s upside should probably jump him up this list because he has as good a shot as almost any player ranked higher to actually land a starting big league job someday.
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13. Mt. Hood CC SO 1B Taylor Ard
12. Boston College JR 1B Mickey Wiswall
11. Washington JR 1B Troy Scott
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Scott, Wiswall, and Ard make up my personal list of three biggest first base disappointments in 2010. Ard gets a mulligan because of a bum wrist, but his injured hamate bone is a definite concern for a player who came into the year hoping his plus raw power would get him into the top five rounds. Scott actually had the top spot in one of my many unpublished preseason college first base prospect lists, but his 2010 has been a disaster (where’s the power?) anyway you look at it. Wiswall was a favorite in the scouting community coming into this season, but has always been too much of a grip and rip guess hitting hacker for my tastes. At this point in the rankings we’re talking mostly about bench bats, so a grip and rip guess hitting hacker with above-average power potential and intriguing positional versatility (he could be a four corners guy in the pros) isn’t such a bad thing…
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10. Alabama SR 1B Clay Jones
9. Louisiana State SR 1B Blake Dean
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Jones has been a success in high school, community college, wood bat summer leagues, and in the SEC. Blake Dean profiles similarly, as both SEC seniors are professional bats that come up a bit short as starters but should fit in nicely as big league bench weapons.
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8. Georgia Tech SR 1B Tony Plagman
7. Texas Christian SR 1B Matt Curry
6. East Carolina SR 1B Kyle Roller
5. Tennessee Tech JR 1B AJ Kirby-Jones
4. Mississippi State SR 1B Connor Powers
3. Louisville SR 1B Andrew Clark
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Clark is a hitter with a clue. If there is a pitch in your happy zone, swing hard and watch it fly. If the pitcher won’t give in, don’t get yourself out by swinging at junk. Clark does those two things as well as any hitter in all of college baseball. I’m very impressed with the improvements that Connor Powers has made to his game between his junior and senior seasons – he came into the year as a hacker who was limited to first base defensively, but will graduate as a more disciplined bat and an above-average glove at first. If Michael Choice played first base, he’d be Kirby-Jones. That’s a pretty nice compliment for the Tennessee Tech junior. Roller and Curry are both professional hitters with power, but neither prospect offers much beyond what they can deliver in the batter’s box. Plagman is similar to Powers in that he did a tremendous job patching up the holes in his game (namely the holes in his bat) by taking a more patient, measured approach to hitting this spring.
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2. Auburn JR 1B Hunter Morris
1. Arkansas JR 1B Andy Wilkins
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Wilkins and Morris are the two most likely early round first base prospects to actually play the position regularly in the big leagues someday. More on these two to come…