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2018 MLB Draft Profile – Virginia Tech

If you’re looking for a quality senior who has fallen through the cracks a little, then RHP Connor Coward might just be your guy. He may get dinged by the scouts for a lack of big velocity (88-92, 93 peak) and less than ideal size (6-0, 200). He may get dinged by the analytics side for not being a big-time college performer (5.23 career ERA). I think he makes up for the lack of fastball/size with a full assortment of intriguing offspeed pitches including an above-average low-80s breaking ball (plus upside), an average mid-80s change, and an emerging cutter. I also think he makes up for the lackluster college stats by trending in the right direction — admittedly not out of the ordinary for any soon-to-be 22-year-old senior — in all the relevant public facing metrics (he’s posting career bests in ERA, K/9, BB/9, BAA). All in all, Coward’s stuff and performance should be enough to get him a chance in pro ball.

RHP Nic Enright throws a little harder (88-92, up to 94) with a quality changeup, pro size (6-3, 215), and a little more youth (or, put another way, a little less experience) on his side (redshirt-sophomore). RHP Andrew McDonald fits somewhere in between Coward and Enright. He’s always missed bats, but it’s taken until his redshirt-senior season before showing he can keep runs off the board. Is that just a 23-year-old doing his thing against younger competition or has the big (6-6, 240) righty with decent stuff (90-93 FB, usable SL and CU) turned a corner? It’s likely the former, but lesser arms get drafted late every year so I wouldn’t count McDonald out.

RHP Joey Sullivan is a sinker/slider reliever with enough to warrant an honest pro look. I’ve long been a fan of RHP Luke Scherzer, an easy guy to root when you consider the hard work and dedication needed to get back on the mound after two full seasons away. I’m not sure pro ball is in the cards for him considering the many red flags (injury history, Short Righthander Bias, underwhelming results) he’ll have to confront in draft rooms, but, if healthy, he deserves a shot. His stuff at his best — 88-93 FB, 80-81 SL with above-average promise — is solid.

Both C Joe Freiday and C Luke Horanski are intriguing college backstops in a class in need of them. Freiday has a long track record of flashing power and athleticism, but his size (6-4, 240 and hacktastic ways (23 BB/110 K coming into the year) cast some doubt about both his future behind the plate and standing next to it. He’s still striking out too much (20.0 K%), but nowhere near the 30%+ rate of recent years. He’s also walking a touch more (10.0%). If you believe in him defensively, then Freiday deserves a spot in any conversation about top senior-sign catchers. Horanski, a transfer from Creighton, has gotten off to a great start in 2018. The big Canadian mashed last season at Cisco JC, so it’s not like there isn’t some track record beyond his hot small sample start this year. I’m sufficiently intrigued. If you can catch, you’re a prospect. If you can catch and hit a little bit, you’re a candidate for the top ten rounds.

2B Jack Owens has been hit by a pitch in 5.9% of his collegiate plate appearances. He’s also a career .342/.430/.479 hitter in 390 PA between his time at East Carolina (all two games there) and Virginia Tech. I don’t have much on him in the way of scouting notes, but those are certainly the type of offensive numbers that will get you noticed. SS Nick Owens (no relation) is a steadying presence in the middle infield with just enough offensive skills (little pop, little patience) to fit as a late round prospect this year or senior-sign next year.

OF/LHP Tom Stoffel is one of my favorite college players. He’s been a productive two-way player going back to 2014 (note: I’m old) topping out with last year’s magnificent redshirt-junior season. For all that college success, however, it is difficult to imagine a path to the big leagues for him. Still, there are worse org guys to bring into the fold with a late round pick or undrafted free agent contract.

1B/3B Sam Fragale has real power but an even realer swing and miss problem. The latter keeps the former from making him much of a prospect. JR OF/1B Stevie Mangrum‘s coach has compared him (via D1) to Marty Costes. That’s…no. I can appreciate a coach pumping up his own guy and there may even be some similarities from a body type and/or tools standpoint, but Mangrum has one walk to nineteen strikeouts so far in 2018. That puts his three year total at 15 BB/71 K. Costes is at 75 BB/105 K. Even if the two were physical clones that gap in plate discipline is too much for Mangrum to overcome to be anything but a “wait-and-see” 2019 potential senior-sign for me. That doesn’t sound great, I’ll admit, but there are still worse things to be at this point in the draft process.

SR RHP Connor Coward (2018)
rSO RHP Nic Enright (2018)
rSR RHP Andrew McDonald (2018)
SR RHP Joey Sullivan (2018)
rSR RHP Luke Scherzer (2018)
JR LHP/1B Paul Hall (2018)
rSR OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2018)
rJR 2B Jack Owens (2018)
rSR 1B/3B Sam Fragale (2018)
JR OF/1B Stevie Mangrum (2018)
rJR C Luke Horanski (2018)
rJR SS Nick Owens (2018)
SR C Joe Freiday (2018)
SO RHP Dylan Hall (2019)
rFR RHP Connor Yoder (2019)
SO RHP Graham Seitz (2019)
SO 1B JD Mundy (2019)
FR LHP Ryan Okuda (2020)
FR LHP Ian Seymour (2020)
FR RHP Gavin Hinchliffe (2020)
FR OF Darion Jacoby (2020)

2016 MLB Draft – ACC

If you’re one of the small handful of daily readers, you can go ahead and skip this post. You’ve already seen it. Not that you needed my permission or anything, but you’re free to pass all the same. The intent here is to get all of the college content in one place, so below you’ll find everything I’ve written about the 2016 class of MLB Draft prospects currently playing in the ACC. Then I’ll have a college baseball master list post that will centralize everything I’ve written about the 2016 MLB Draft college class all in one place. It’s a rare bit of inspired organizational posting around here, so I’m trying to strike while motivated…

ACC Overview Part 1
ACC Overview Part 2
Boston College

Clemson
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Miami
North Carolina State
Notre Dame
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – ACC Follow List

Boston College 

JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw (2015)
JR 3B/SS Joe Cronin (2015)
SR 2B/SS Blake Butera (2015)
SR RHP John Gorman (2015)
SR LHP Nick Poore (2015)
JR RHP Jeff Burke (2015)
JR LHP Jesse Adams (2015)
SO RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
SO RHP Mike King (2016)
SO C Nick Sciortino (2016)
SO SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
SO RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2016)

Clemson

JR LHP Matthew Crownover (2015)
JR LHP Zack Erwin (2015)
JR RHP Clate Schmidt (2015)
rSO RHP Wales Toney (2015)
rJR RHP Patrick Andrews (2015)
rSR RHP Kevin Pohle (2015)
rSR RHP Jake Long (2015)
JR RHP Brady Koerner (2015)
rSR RHP Clay Bates (2015)
rSO RHP Garrett Lovorn (2015)
JR RHP/3B Jackson Campana (2015)
JR OF Steven Duggar (2015)
SR OF Tyler Slaton (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Andrew Cox (2015)
rSO OF Maleeke Gibson (2015)
JR SS/2B Tyler Krieger (2015)
SO C Chris Okey (2016)
SO LHP Pat Krall (2016)
SO 3B/SS Weston Wilson (2016)
SO SS/2B Eli White (2016)
SO LHP Alex Bostic (2016)
SO RHP Drew Moyer (2016)
rFR 3B Glenn Batson (2016)
rFR OF Reed Rohlman (2016)
FR OF KJ Bryant (2017)
FR LHP Charlie Barnes (2017)
FR OF Drew Wharton (2017)
FR OF Chase Pinder (2017)

Duke

JR RHP Michael Matuella (2015)
SR RHP Sarkis Ohanian (2015)
SR RHP Andrew Istler (2015)
SR LHP Trent Swart (2015)
rJR LHP Remy Janco (2015)
rJR RHP Conner Stevens (2015)
JR LHP Nick Hendrix (2015)
rSR LHP Dillon Haviland (2015)
rSO RHP James Marvel (2015)
JR RHP/SS Kenny Koplove (2015)
rSR C Mike Rosenfeld (2015)
rSO OF Jalen Phillips (2015)
SR 2B Andy Perez (2015)
SO RHP Bailey Clark (2016)
SO RHP Karl Blum (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2016)
SO C Cristian Perez (2016)
FR 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
FR LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
FR SS Ryan Day (2017)
FR 3B Jack Labosky (2017)
FR LHP Mitch Stallings (2017)

Florida State

JR OF DJ Stewart (2015)
rSR 1B Chris Marconcini (2015)
JR 2B/SS John Sansone (2015)
SR C Daniel De La Calle (2015)
SR OF Josh Delph (2015)
rJR RHP Mike Compton (2015)
SR LHP Bryant Holtmann (2015)
JR RHP/OF Jameis Winston (2015)
JR LHP Alex Diese (2015)
JR LHP Dylan Silva (2015)
SR LHP Billy Strode (2015)
SO RHP Taylor Blatch (2016)
SO LHP Alec Byrd (2016)
SO RHP Boomer Biegalski (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Ward (2016)
rFR RHP Ed Voyles (2016)
SO RHP Jim Voyles (2016)
SO OF/SS Ben DeLuzio (2016)
SO 1B/C Quincy Nieporte (2016)
SO C/OF Gage West (2016)
SO INF Hank Truluck (2016)
FR RHP Cobi Johnson (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Karp (2017)
FR RHP Drew Carlton (2017)
FR SS/3B Dylan Busby (2017)
FR SS/2B Taylor Walls (2017)
FR C/1B Darren Miller (2017)
FR OF/RHP Steven Wells (2017)

Georgia Tech

SR 1B/C AJ Murray (2015)
rJR OF Dan Spingola (2015)
JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez (2015)
rSO 1B Cole Miller (2015)
SR 2B/SS Thomas Smith (2015)
JR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2015)
SR RHP Cole Pitts (2015)
SO OF Ryan Peurifoy (2016)
SO RHP Zac Ryan (2016)
SO C Arden Pabst (2016)
SO OF Keenan Innis (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Brandon Gold (2016)
SO LHP Ben Parr (2016)
SO SS Connor Justus (2016)
FR OF/1B Kel Johnson (2017)
FR LHP Daniel Gooden (2017)
FR RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)

Louisville

JR RHP Kyle Funkhouser (2015)
rSO LHP Josh Rogers (2015)
rSO LHP Robert Strader (2015)
JR RHP/1B Anthony Kidston (2015)
SR 2B/SS Zach Lucas (2015)
JR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum (2015)
SR OF Michael White (2015)
SR SS/2B Sutton Whiting (2015)
SO RHP Zack Burdi (2016)
SO LHP Drew Harrington (2016)
SO RHP Jake Sparger (2016)
SO OF Corey Ray (2016)
SO 2B Nick Solak (2016)
rFR 3B/SS Blake Tiberi (2016)
rFR OF/C Ryan Summers (2016)
SO OF Colin Lyman (2016)
SO C Will Smith (2016)
rFR OF Mike White (2016)
FR LHP/1B Brendan McKay (2017)
FR SS Devin Hairston (2017)
FR RHP Lincoln Henzman (2017)
FR RHP Kade McClure (2017)
FR C/1B Colby Fritch (2017)

Miami

JR 3B/1B David Thompson (2015)
JR 3B/OF George Iskenderian (2015)
SR C Garrett Kennedy (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Chris Barr (2015)
JR OF Ricky Eusebio (2015)
JR SS/RHP Brandon Lopez (2015)
rJR LHP Andrew Suarez (2015)
JR LHP Thomas Woodrey (2015)
JR RHP Enrique Sosa (2015)
SO 1B/C Zack Collins (2016)
SO OF Willie Abreu (2016)
SO RHP/1B Derik Beauprez (2016)
SO OF Jacob Heyward (2016)
SO LHP Danny Garcia (2016)
SO RHP Bryan Garcia (2016)
SO SS Sebastian Diaz (2016)
SO 2B Johnny Ruiz (2016)
SO RHP Cooper Hammond (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Honiotes (2016)
FR OF Carl Chester (2017)
FR OF Justin Smith (2017)
FR LHP Michael Mediavilla (2017)
FR RHP Jesse Lepore (2017)
FR RHP Keven Pimentel (2017)
FR LHP Luke Spangler (2017)
FR RHP Devin Meyer (2017)

North Carolina

SR RHP Benton Moss (2015)
JR RHP Reilly Hovis (2015)
JR RHP Trent Thornton (2015)
rJR RHP Chris McCue (2015)
SR RHP Trevor Kelley (2015)
JR RHP Taylore Cherry (2015)
JR OF Skye Bolt (2015)
JR OF Josh Merrigan (2015)
JR 3B/2B Landon Lassiter (2015)
JR C Korey Dunbar (2015)
JR SS/OF Alex Raburn (2015)
SO RHP/SS Spencer Trayner (2016)
SO RHP AJ Bogucki (2016)
SO RHP Zac Gallen (2016)
SO LHP Zach Rice (2016)
SO C Adrian Chacon (2016)
SO 1B Joe Dudek (2016)
SO 2B/SS Wood Myers (2016)
SO OF Tyler Ramirez (2016)
SO OF Adam Pate (2016)
FR 3B/RHP Ryder Ryan (2016)
FR 1B/LHP Hunter Williams (2017)
FR SS/3B Zack Gahagan (2017)
FR RHP JB Bukauskas (2017)
FR RHP Hansen Butler (2017)
FR RHP Jason Morgan (2017)
FR OF/2B Logan Warmoth (2017)
FR RHP Brett Daniels (2017)
FR INF Brooks Kennedy (2017)

North Carolina State

JR RHP Jon Olczak (2015)
JR RHP Curt Britt (2015)
rJR LHP Travis Orwig (2015)
JR RHP Karl Keglovits (2015)
JR LHP Brad Stone (2015)
rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2015)
SR OF Jake Fincher (2015)
JR SS Ryne Willard (2015)
SR OF Bubby Riley (2015)
SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge (2015)
SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong (2015)
JR C Chance Shepard (2015)
SO RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
SO 3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
SO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO 1B Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SO RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
SO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
FR RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
FR RHP Evan Mendoza (2017)
FR OF Storm Edwards (2017)
FR 3B Joe Dunand (2017)

Notre Dame

rSR RHP Cristian Torres (2015)
JR RHP Nick McCarty (2015)
SR RHP Scott Kerrigan (2015)
JR RHP David Hearne (2015)
JR LHP Michael Hearne (2015)
JR LHP/OF Zac Kutsulis (2015)
SR OF/LHP Robert Youngdahl (2015)
SR 3B Phil Mosey (2015)
SR OF/1B Ryan Bull (2015)
SR OF Mac Hudgins (2015)
SR OF Blaise Lezynski (2015)
SR OF Conor Biggio (2015)
JR SS Lane Richards (2015)
JR C/OF Ricky Sanchez (2015)
SO RHP Ryan Smoyer (2016)
SO 2B/SS Kyle Fiala (2016)
SO 2B/3B Cavan Biggio (2016)
SO C Ryan Lidge (2016)
rFR OF Torii Hunter (2016)
FR RHP Peter Solomon (2017)
FR RHP Brad Bass (2017)
FR RHP Brandon Bielak (2017)
FR LHP Sean Guenther (2017)

Pittsburgh

SR OF Boo Vazquez (2015)
SR 1B Eric Hess (2015)
SR SS/2B Matt Johnson (2015)
JR C Alex Kowalczyk (2015)
JR RHP Marc Berube (2015)
JR RHP Aaron Sandefur (2015)
JR LHP/OF Aaron Schnurbusch (2015)
SR RHP Hobie Harris (2015)
SO RHP Sam Mersing (2016)
SO RHP TJ Zeuch (2016)
FR 3B/SS Charles LeBlanc (2017)

Virginia

JR OF Joe McCarthy (2015)
JR 2B/3B John LaPrise (2015)
SO SS/3B Daniel Pinero (2015)
SR 3B Kenny Towns (2015)
JR C/RHP Robbie Coman (2015)
JR LHP Brandon Waddell (2015)
JR LHP Nathan Kirby (2015)
JR RHP Josh Sborz (2015)
JR LHP David Rosenberger (2015)
SO RHP Connor Jones (2016)
SO C Matt Thaiss (2016)
SO RHP Jack Roberts (2016)
SO RHP Alec Bettinger (2016)
FR 2B Jack Gerstenmaier (2017)
FR 1B/RHP Pavin Smith (2017)
FR RHP Derek Casey (2017)
FR RHP Tommy Doyle (2017)
FR OF/LHP Adam Haseley (2017)
FR LHP Bennett Sousa (2017)
FR 3B Charlie Cody (2017)
FR C/2B Justin Novak (2017)
FR OF Christian Lowry (2017)
FR 2B/OF Ernie Clement (2017)

Virginia Tech

rSO OF Saige Jenco (2015)
SR 2B/SS Alex Perez (2015)
rSR OF Kyle Wernicki (2015)
rJR OF Logan Bible (2015)
SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden (2015)
rSO 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2015)
SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica (2015)
rSO LHP Kit Scheetz (2015)
rJR LHP Jon Woodcock (2015)
SO RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
SO SS Ricky Surum (2016)
SO RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
SO 3B Ryan Tufts (2016)
SO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO 3B/OF Miguel Ceballos (2016)
SO RHP Ryan Lauria (2016)
FR C Joe Freiday (2017)
FR 3B Max Ponzurik (2017)

Wake Forest

JR RHP/C Garrett Kelly (2015)
SR RHP Matt Pirro (2015)
rSO LHP Max Tishman (2015)
rJR RHP Aaron Fossas (2015)
rSR OF Kevin Jordan (2015)
JR OF/2B Joey Rodriguez (2015)
JR OF Luke Czajkowski (2015)
SO C Ben Breazeale (2016)
rFR RHP Chris Farish (2016)
SO 2B/OF Nate Mondou (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Will Craig (2016)
SO RHP John McCarren (2016)
SO RHP Connor Johnstone (2016)
SO RHP Parker Dunshee (2016)
FR OF Stuart Fairchild (2017)
FR INF Bruce Steel (2017)
FR 1B Gavin Sheets (2017)
FR SS Drew Freedman (2017)

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Virginia Tech

rSO OF Saige Jenco (2015)
SR 2B/SS Alex Perez (2015)
rSR OF Kyle Wernicki (2015)
rJR OF Logan Bible (2015)
SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden (2015)
rSO 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2015)
SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica (2015)
rSO LHP Kit Scheetz (2015)
rJR LHP Jon Woodcock (2015)
SO RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
SO SS Ricky Surum (2016)
SO RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
SO 3B Ryan Tufts (2016)
SO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO 3B/OF Miguel Ceballos (2016)
FR C Joe Freiday (2017)

This year’s Virginia Tech roster is one of the reasons I enjoy following college baseball prospects. Quite simply, there’s not much on this roster worth getting worked about. There are a few worthwhile 2015 follows like SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden, who has sandwiched two pretty good years around a dismal sophomore season and has interesting power in his 6-5, 210 pound frame, and SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica, another valuable two-way talent who who has a good arm (87-92 FB, good breaking ball) but has been inconsistent on the mound.

Even still, it would be easy to call it a down year (draft-wise) for the program and move on to the next team, perhaps returning next year if SO SS Ricky Surum starts hitting as expected or SO RHP Aaron McGarity has another solid season. Moving on, however, would led you to miss one of college baseball’s most overlooked talents. rSO OF Saige Jenco is a really good ballplayer. His plus to plus-plus speed is a game-changing tool, and, best of all, his understanding of how and when to utilize his special gift helps it play up even more. It’s rare to find a young player who knows what kind of player he truly is; the ability to play within yourself is so often overlooked by those scouring the nation for potential pros, but it can be the difference between a guy who gets by and a guy who gets the most out of his ability. Jenco knows how and when to use his speed to every advantage possible. From running down mistakes in the outfield, swiping bags at a solid rate, working deep counts and driving pitchers to frustration (40 BB/23 K), to knowing adopting the swing and approach of a power hitter would lead to ruin, Jenco fully understands and appreciates his strengths and weaknesses. While it’s true the lack of present power is a significant weakness (.032 ISO is mind-boggling low), Jenco’s strengths remain more interesting than what he can’t do well. A career along the lines of Ben Revere, Juan Pierre, Dee Gordon, or Craig Gentry, who had an ISO of just .087 in his junior year at Arkansas before returning for a senior season that helped him show off enough of a power spike (.167 ISO) to get drafted as a $10,000 senior sign, is on the table with continued growth.

2013 MLB Draft Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

Most Intriguing Pre-Season 2013 MLB Draft Prospect(s)

1. JR 3B Chad Pinder
2. rJR OF Tyler Horan
3. JR RHP Brad Markey
4. JR LHP Eddie Campbell
5. SR RHP Joe Mantiply

For the millionth time, I’m not a college baseball expert. I don’t really know what teams are good and what teams will disappoint, and, to be honest, I don’t particularly care. I like prospects. For that reason, I like Virginia Tech. They have good prospects. Now common sense leads me to believe that, with some exceptions  teams with good prospects, especially veteran prospects, tend to fare fairly well during the college baseball season. So it is my opinion as a newfound college baseball expert that Virginia Tech is going to be pretty good this year: seven legit position player prospects (plus speedy FR OF Saige Jenco) and a pitching staff with a half-dozen upperclassmen worth knowing. Let’s start with the best of those prospects.

It is way too early to start assigning draft grades, so take the following with a jumbo sized chunk of salt: if you’re a fan of a team in need of a third baseman of the future, then Chad Pinder is as good a non-first round name to follow as any.  If my favorite team misses out on and/or goes a different direction on, say, Colin Moran in the mid-first, then I’d be more than happy with Pinder being the next man up within the round two to five range. Pinder’s defense at third is legitimately exciting to watch. He has really quick feet, a strong arm, and great instincts on the left side of the infield. In a pinch, I’d have no problem playing him up the middle at short, a la a young Ryan Zimmerman. As a hitter, his power is right where you want it for a corner infielder (20+ home run upside) and he’s shown an ability to make critical adjustments game to game as well as pitch to pitch. The big quibble would be his plate discipline — 15 BB/40 K last season — but I think that’s more of a byproduct of how he was pitched in 2012. Tyler Horan has more power, but not quite as strong a hit tool. He also is a corner outfielder only, potentially limited to left field, so the margin of error for his stick is more pronounced. The power is enticing enough that he’ll rightfully get drafted with the thought he’ll someday hold down an everyday outfield spot.

You can put the three Virginia Tech pitchers listed above in any order and I couldn’t find much to argue. I liked Markey a lot last year — he was my 446th overall draft prospect, after all — and I see no reason why I should turn on him now. The well-traveled junior throws three pitches for strikes (88-92 FB, 93 peak with a good CB and average CU). Campbell impressed on the Cape thanks to his crafty lefty repertoire that includes an upper-80s to low-90s FB (92 peak) and above-average curve. I’m more bearish on him than most, due to stuff that doesn’t blow me away and too frequent lapses in control. Joe Mantiply should be a solid senior sign thanks to a fastball between 88-92 fastball (notice a trend?), pro size (6-4, 215 pounds), and a pair of usable offspeed pitches.

rSR OF Andrew Rash  and rJR C Chad Morgan are both veterans of the draft process, so the stakes ought to be pretty clear at this point. Rash’s huge righthanded power is enough for me to take a chance on him late in the draft, but I could see why teams may be hesitant to pull the trigger on a guy with contact issues and an inconsistent approach. He deserves credit for working himself into a playable right fielder. Questions about Morgan’s bat are even bigger – I had him pegged as the next great early round ACC catcher a few years back, but his game has badly stagnated. I think he can still defend the position with the best of them — at least on the college level — but that’s fairly self-evident by now. What scouts will be focusing in on this spring will be his swing – I’ve heard it has been modified and shortened since last season. On talent alone, both guys should be drafted. We’ll see if their production matches the hype in a few months.

SR RHP Jake Joyce has consistently performed out of the Virginia Tech bullpen (9.96 K/9 in 2011, 11.16 K/9 last year), so it wouldn’t be a shock to see a club that emphasizes prior production giving him a look this spring. Same could be said about SR RHP Tanner McIntyre, a pitcher who has done the job when called upon (10.16 K/9 last year) but still could be on the outside looking in come June if teams decide they can’t look past lack of size (5-9, 170 pounds) and pedestrian (by pro standards) stuff. You can go ahead and put 5-9, 175 pound SR RHP Clark Labitan in the same category.

2014 MLB Draft Name(s) to Know

1. SO C/OF Mark Zagunis
2. SO 1B/OF Sean Keselica

Mark Zagunis’ upside behind the plate has me all excited. I know, I know…I feel for a young Virginia Tech catcher not that long ago, (see above) and that hasn’t worked out all that well, but this time is different. Zagunis is a great athlete coming off a really impressive freshman season (.344/.432/.513) who can run, hit, and flash some serious power. His defense is what will have to be closely monitored, but I’m a believer. It’s not a comp because I’ve yet to see Zagunis in person (that changes this year, thankfully), but the scouting reports give off a little bit of a Josh Elander vibe. Keselica isn’t quite on the same level for me, but I know some who follow the Hokies more extensively than I disagree with that assessment.  A little bit down the prospect line are SO 1B Brendon Hayden and SO 2B/SS Alex Perez. Hayden has size, strength, and power. Perez has a patient approach and good defensive tools. Both guys should be in the 2014 mix after building on their solid freshman seasons this spring.

2011 Quick Draft Thoughts – Virginia Tech Hokies

1. One of the interesting things about previewing college teams heading into 2011 draft season is getting the chance to review what actually went down in 2010. The transition from this year’s draft to the next happens so fast that it can be hard to process what exactly happened between draft day and signing day. To wit, I would have never guessed the Hokies had a whopping 8 players selected in last year’s draft. I see almost no way they match that number this year — honestly, getting  half the amount would be an accomplishment with the talent level of Virginia Tech’s upperclassmen — but that doesn’t take away from the really impressive group of talent that graduated to the professional ranks last year. There’s no Austin Wates, Jesse Hahn, or Mathew Price in this year’s class, but prospects like JR 3B Ronnie Shaban, SR SS Tim Smalling (unsigned 14th rounder last year), and JR RHP Jake Peeling could all go as early as round 7 or 8.

2. Pretty sure my favorite draft prospect on this year’s Virgina Tech team is a player who has yet to record his first plate appearance with the squad. FR C/OF Chad Morgan (2012 draft eligible after redshirting last season) should get all the at bats he can handle this upcoming year. Morgan has a strong bat, good pop, a plus arm, and enough athleticism to play multiple spots around the diamond. I’ve heard a “shorter Ryan Ortiz” comp that I think is appropriate. He’s one to watch.

3. It’s funny to see where my opinions diverge with the big boys in the industry because, for reasons I really can’t explain, there seems to be a weird pattern when it comes to our differences. Let me preface this by saying that those actually in the business have way better contacts, resources, and pooled brain power devoted to what they do, so, when in doubt, go with the experts you’ve come to know and trust. Anyway, it seems that there are certain colleges and geographical regions where I consistently fall in line with the experts and certain spots where there are bigger disagreements in player preferences. This year’s group of draft eligible Virginia Tech talent falls under the umbrella of big time divergent opinion. I’m relatively down on Virginia Tech compared to many of the smarter people actually in the business, so, like always, take all this for what really is.

Early 2011 Draft Guesses

I only see two solid bets I’d be willing to stick my neck out on to get drafted this year out of the Virginia Tech lineup: Ronnie Shaban and Tim Smalling. Both players are flawed — Shaban lacks a standout tool and Smalling’s approach at the plate leaves much to be desired — but each does enough well — Shaban’s bat could be an above-average tool and his arm is strong while Smalling’s similarly effective bat plays even bigger up the middle — that they should be off the board within the first fifteen rounds. Jake Peeling‘s flaw is more damning as teams tend to be very wary of pitchers coming off of labrum surgery, but an average fastball, above-average slider, and good size could get him back on the prospect radar this spring.  After those three, there is a noticeable gap in Hokie draft eligible talent. SO 1B Andrew Rash has huge righthanded power, but equally large holes in his swing (20 K’s in only 90 AB last year). SO RHP Charlie McCann could be on the outside looking in as he fights for meaningful innings in the early going, but his solid three pitch mix (upper-80s FB, effective slow CB, good CU) should get him on a few follow lists for 2012 and 2013.