The Baseball Draft Report

Home » Posts tagged 'Zander Wiel'

Tag Archives: Zander Wiel

2015 MLB Draft Reviews – Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins 2015 MLB Draft Picks

I’ve done all of this so far in a non-linear way, jumping from player to player with only the slightest bit of organizational thought spent on an attempt to go around the diamond by position at times. Minnesota’s draft has inspired me to actually take a closer look at their top ten round picks in order. I just like their top ten rounds that much.

1.6 LHP Tyler Jay

My only real question with LHP Tyler Jay (5) going forward is how Minnesota is planning on handling him. That’s a testament both to how confident I am in his ability to pitch effectively at the big league level (and soon) and how uncertain I am about how the Twins honestly perceive his long-term role. He’s currently on track to start next year in AA and I see no reason why he won’t be up in the big leagues by early to mid-summer, but the starter or reliever question remains an open one. Personally, I’m all-in on Jay as a starter as you can read about in my in-season take below; he wouldn’t be ranked as the fifth overall draft prospect if I thought he’d be a reliever professionally. The Twins, however, have yet to ask me what I think, so where I see him heading holds no bearing on reality. I’ll assume Minnesota also views him as a starting pitching prospect since they took him with the sixth overall pick. There is, however, a wrinkle. Read on and see (or skip past the quoted text and I’ll give the short version)…

Even though I included him in the tier with Fulmer, Funkhouser, and Bickford and ranked him in the seven spot on my “preseason” draft rankings, I still think I’ve given short shrift to Tyler Jay. It’s fairly stunning to me that so much was made before the year by many (Keith Law, most famously) about UCSB’s curious decision to leave Dillon Tate in the bullpen, but I haven’t heard one peep about Jay’s usage. We all know by now that a last minute injury opened the door for Tate to start and the script has more or less written itself since then. What I don’t understand is how quiet the internet has been concerning Jay, a wildly talented young lefthander left to pitch only in short, unpredictable outings as Illinois’ closer. I’m not particularly interested in getting into the moral debate about what is best for the player versus what will most benefit the team (fine, real quick here’s my non-morals, all-baseball take: it’s crazy not to start a pitcher like Jay if the pitcher can in fact start), but I’d really like to see a potential first round player play on a regular schedule that would more easily allow as many well-earned eyeballs on him as possible. It’s nuts that literally everybody I’ve talked to, most everything I’ve read, and my own dumb intuition/common sense hybrid approach to this kind of thing (four pitches? great athlete? repeatable delivery?) point towards Jay entering pro ball as a starting pitcher despite never getting an opportunity to take the mound in the first inning in three years of college. If he’s good enough to start professionally three months from now, then he’s damn sure good enough to start in the Big 10. (This is the part where I’ll at least mention that Illinois’ pitching staff is loaded and whatever the coaches want to do with their team is their call. Still, for both short-term [Jay is awesome, so give him more innings] and long-term [Jay getting more innings will show everybody he is awesome, he’ll go higher in the draft because of it, and you can tell recruits you had a guy go top five rather than top twenty-five] reasons, I’d think the decision to start your best pitcher would be a no-brainer. I won’t kill them because it’s quite possible that the Illini coaching staff has information about Jay’s ability to start [relative to his teammates, if nothing else] that we don’t know from the outside looking in. Either that or they are being irrational and buying into old school baseball tropes that will only make their team worse anyway. Where were we?) If Jay goes as high as his raw talent merits (he’s easily a first round pick), then we’re talking about a college reliever being drafted right into a professional rotation. Such a move feels unprecedented to me; a quick check back through the archives reveals only one other similar first round case in the six drafts I’ve covered in depth since starting the site. The only first round college reliever drafted with the idea of converting him to the rotation professionally was Chris Reed. More on that from back in November 2011…

As one of the most divisive 2011 MLB Draft prospects, Stanford LHP Chris Reed will enter his first full season of pro ball with plenty to prove. He could make me look very stupid for ranking him as low as I did before the draft (200th overall prospect) by fulfilling the promise of becoming a serious starting pitching prospect as a professional. I don’t doubt that he can start as he has the three-pitch mix, frame, and mechanics to do so; I just question whether or not he should start. Advocating for time spent in the bullpen is not something I often do, but Reed’s stuff, especially his fastball, just looks so much better in shorter stints. Of course, he might grow into a starter’s role in time. I like that he’s getting innings to straighten out his changeup and command sooner rather than later. Ultimately, however, Reed is a reliever for me; a potentially very good reliever, mind, but a reliever all the same. Relievers are valuable, but the demand for their work shouldn’t match up with the sixteenth overall pick in a loaded draft.

I swear I didn’t copy/paste that just because it’s one of my few predictions to have held up really well so far. I mean, that was a big part of it, sure, but not the only reason. 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.

It’s hard to mention Jay without also mentioning Tate (multiple times, apparently), the fastest rising of this year’s college group of starter/reliever question marks (Carson Fulmer being the third). Tate’s turn in the rotation this year has allowed him to begin to answer all of those questions emphatically in the positive. His fastball has dipped some late in games so far this year (95-98 early to 91-93 late), but that’s less of a problem when you’re already starting at easy plus to plus-plus velocities; we should all be so lucky to throw in the low-90s when tired. Jay has shown similar velocity to Tate so far out of the bullpen (mid- to upper-90s), so even knocking a few MPHs off his peaks in short bursts would allow his fastball to play at a more than acceptable level in the pros. Just because Tate has done it obviously doesn’t mean Jay is a lock to do it when he gets his chance, but it’s a nice parallel to draw from two fairly similarly talented prospects.

To reiterate (or to mention it to anybody who wisely skipped that wall of text): the only first round college reliever drafted with the intention of converting to the starting rotation since I began the site in 2009 is Chris Reed. I’ve long argued that draft precedent is overrated — factors that typically create precedent don’t really apply to the act of drafting, especially as more forward-thinking front offices take power — but the complete lack of recent historical successful attempt (or any attempt, really) to convert a reliever to a starter is striking. It might sound crazy, but I’m a little concerned that the Twins will give into peer-pressure (like managers who are afraid to go against “The Book”) and take the easy, safe way out with Jay in the bullpen.

A worthwhile recent example to consider, for better or worse, is Brett Cecil. Cecil came out of the pen in 66 of his 74 college appearances at Maryland including 28 of 30 times in his draft year. He then went right into the rotation as a pro and remained a starting pitcher through his first three big league seasons. After a disappointing third season in the rotation, Toronto opted to return him to the pen starting in 2012. That’s where he’s lived since. There’s a happy ending now that Cecil has established himself as one of baseball’s nastier lefthanded relievers — something I’m sure Jay could match if it came to it — but there’s a part of me that wonders if the Jays pulled the plug on him as a starter too soon. I know there are injury questions with him and the not insignificant matter of some guys having stuff that plays up above and beyond in the short bursts, but Cecil’s peripherals as a starting pitcher were decent. They weren’t anywhere as good as he is as a reliever, but an argument for more patience for a lefty with 6.45 K/9 and 3.13 BB/9 as a starter can be made.

That said, three years watching a pitcher up close get the ball every fifth day is ample time to come up with a decision on his future. I’d be thrilled if Jay got three seasons in a big league rotation to show everybody how good he really is. If that happens, I think he seizes a job and keeps it until he’s ready to hang ’em up. If it doesn’t happen, then I’m really not sure Minnesota had quite the long-term vision required for a team drafting such a unique prospect. Let him start. Watch him do number two starter things.

2.73 RHP Kyle Cody

I didn’t love the pick of Chris Paul, as you’ll soon read. I also don’t fully understand Sean Miller in the tenth, but questioning picks down close to anything that starts with a 3 and ends in multiple digits is nit-picky even for me. Those two aside, the Twins top ten rounds are a thing of beauty. They checked almost every box: quick-moving college arm, well-rounded high school standouts, a power lefty and a finesse lefty, a slugger with arguably the best raw power in his class, and a college bat off to as good a pro debut as even the most enthusiastic supporter could hope. It’s a diverse blend of talent — 2 college arms, 1 HS arm, 3 college bats, 3 HS bats — that shows exactly what a team can do with a little scouting creativity. The big bummer here is the math involved: 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 = 9. Signing nine out of your top ten isn’t necessarily a killer, but whiffing on your second round pick hurts a whole heck of a lot.

Missing out on RHP Kyle Cody (66, unsigned) isn’t so much about Cody himself, but about the wasted opportunity to add somebody. The Twins are on the verge of another nice long run of sustained success, so maximizing early picks while you still are in a spot to get them is more important than ever. As for the player in question, Cody will return to Kentucky for a senior season. It’s a lazy but unmistakable comp, but Cody reminds me of a less explosive Alex Meyer with a better shot to continue starting as a pro. He’ll give pro ball a try next June.

3.80 3B Travis Blankenhorn

4.110 3B Trey Cabbage

Getting 3B Travis Blankenhorn (99) and 3B Trey Cabbage (104) with back-to-back picks is really nice. Both struggled some in their pro debuts — less so Blankenhorn, both in terms of raw numbers and contextually (he was a level ahead) — but retain plenty of their pre-draft future big league regular sheen. I saw Blankenhorn this spring and had this to say…

Blankenhorn played home games about ninety minutes from where I grew up, so I saw him a fair amount this spring. Again, without giving too much away, I’ll say that I really, really like Blankenhorn’s game. It’s a bit of a lame hedge to rank a guy fourth on a given list and then call him a FAVORITE prospect (for what it’s worth, Nevin was the only other HS third basemen to get the all-caps FAVORITE treatment in my notes), but here we are. Blankenhorn is a favorite because of his athleticism, approach, and phenomenal feel for hitting. Perfect Game recently threw out a fascinating Alex Gordon ceiling comp. I’ll throw out the name he reminded me of: lefty Jeff Cirillo. If it all comes together I can see a high average, high on-base hitter who will wear out the gaps at the plate and play above-average to plus defense in the field.

Neither Blankenhorn nor Cabbage profile as big power bats, but the well-roundedness fundamental to both of their overall games makes them very appealing prospects. I’ve long advocated for “stacking” at draft positions (e.g., following the selection of a HS catcher early with a mid-round college catcher) and the Twins took it to another level with two high school third basemen in a row. The one year age gap between the two — something to keep in mind now that I didn’t pay close enough attention to pre-draft — should help the two progress at different levels throughout the system, as will the positional versatility (Blankenhorn played 3B, SS, LF, and 1B; Cabbage played 3B, SS, LF, and RF) both men possess. You’d still want both to stay at the hot corner as long as possible, obviously, though getting them at bats at a level appropriate for their hitting ability should be the top priority at the moment. The expectation here is that both players could one day hit enough to be big league regulars; more realistically, by taking two similarly talented prospects this early, the Twins tilted the odds in their favor of getting at least one long-term keeper. Job well done.

5.140 LHP Alex Robinson

LHP Alex Robinson (213) in bad haiku form…

kind of young for class
northeast arm out of New York
so far, yeah, it shows

Robinson keeps with recent Twins history as a power-armed reliever who looks like a shutdown reliever when it all works. The problem with Robinson is that those times when it all works are too few and far between. Arm strength lefties with deception and his temperament (“pitches like a closer” was a remark I heard this spring) don’t grown on trees, so the thought process behind the pick is sound. If pro instruction can help Robinson find something in his delivery or approach that helps upgrade his control from dangerous to effectively wild, he’s a future late-inning reliever. Even improving his command a touch — he’s a classic case of a guy with a fastball that moves so much that it vacillates between a great pitch and a useless one — would make him a viable big league pitcher. I tend to think that’s what will happen here, but it’s going to take time and perhaps a few different organizations before it clicks for him.

6.170 OF Chris Paul

I’ve been the low guy on OF Chris Paul (273) for some time now, but it’s nice to see him get off to a nice start in pro ball. I still don’t see a big league future for him — he’s more senior season mirage than accomplished college bat and I question his patience and long-term defensive home as a pro — though he’s already exceeded my modest expectations for him, so who knows. I mentioned pre-draft that I would have loved to see his drafting team give him an honest shot at second or third before shipping him more permanently to first or a corner outfield spot. He dabbled at third (3 games), so maybe there’s hope for him as a funky utility player yet.

7.200 LHP Jovani Moran

The first of three high school prospects taken out of Puerto Rico, LHP Jovani Moran is a crafty young lefty with solid stuff (86-90 FB, chance for average mid-70s CB) and a little bit of growth left. You can debate the merits of the actual pick all you’d like, but I’m most excited by the Twins flexing their international scouting muscle beyond the scope of the international free agency period. Minnesota does international free agency exceptionally well (with not enough fanfare, I’d say), so it only makes sense to utilize some of the same personnel to potentially unearth some underscouted gems from outside the continental US during the draft.

8.230 1B Kolton Kendrick

Plus to plus-plus raw power with a questionable approach that might make it difficult for him to ever hit enough to tap into said power. That was the pre-draft Twitter-sized scouting report on the bat of 1B Kolton Kendrick (87). Then he went out and had one of the weirder debuts I’ve seen: .200/.371/.271 with 18 BB/24 K in 89 PA. So that’s surprising plate discipline with minimal power…got it. It should go without saying that 89 PA doesn’t render the scouting reports obsolete, so consider the preceding bit more amusing aside than cogent point about Kendrick’s professional future. Weird pro start or not, I remain high on him as a hitter. It took me almost all spring to get there, but power like his is so hard to find that I’m not sure why a team wouldn’t at least considering him in round three or so. Getting him all the way down in round eight is a major draft victory for Minnesota. It’s clearly a high boom/bust profile (not entirely dissimilar to Greg Pickett, taken just four picks later by the Phillies) to gamble on, but impossible to dislike as it was done at the perfect time.

9.260 OF LaMonte Wade

OF LaMonte Wade (134) is coming off as good as a debut as I’ve noticed so far, especially in terms of non-first round players. He consistently showed off all of what made him great throughout his run at Maryland in the Appalachian League: power, patience, speed, and defense. I thought before the draft that he profiled as somebody with enough ability to make it as an everyday player and nothing he’s done on the field since has changed my mind. At worst, I think you’re getting an elite fourth outfielder who tears up righthanders and is capable of playing all three outfield spots (and first base!) at a high level. I’m bullish on his future as a regular.

10.290 SS Sean Miller

As much as I value a good glove, I have a hard time using a top ten round pick on a player that will never approach an honest big league caliber bat. That’s how I see SS Sean Miller: big-time glove, small-time bat. The usual caveat that Miller hits better than 99.99% of the general population applies, of course, but that .01% represents his direct competition going forward. I get a little bit of an Emmanuel Marrero (7th round pick last year) vibe from him. I could be wrong, of course. John McDonald played 16 seasons and made over $13 million on the strength of a plus glove alone.

For as much as I praised Minnesota’s top ten selections (nine signed, technically), rounds eleven to forty were a bit underwhelming. There are a few hidden gems (hopefully), but anecdotally the talent here doesn’t match what other teams were able to pull. I realize the constricting rules of draft signing slots likely has something to do with it, but at the end of the day I only care about the talent brought in, however it may have been accomplished. It’s not a bad group by any stretch — I’d put the over/under on future big league players here at 2.5, which is pretty damn all right all things considered — so let’s get into it.

We’ll start off with some good news in the way of two power-hitting college guys who ranked in my top 500. 1B Zander Wiel (229) was a nice find as a 12th round pick (350 overall) with above-average to plus raw power, ample physicality, and a decent approach. Like Ziel, C AJ Murray (456) has big raw power. In fact, the two had very similar college numbers at big time programs (Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech respectively). Despite my pre-draft rankings, I think you could easily flip-flop Wiel and Murray as prospects; Murray’s pedigree intrigues me to no end and the Twins willingness to try him behind the plate again has me back on the bandwagon. He’s such a great athlete that I have a hard time betting against him.

OF Daniel Kihle has more swing-and-miss in his game for a player of his type, but his tools are impressive enough that he’ll have a long pro career even if he doesn’t clean up the approach. He has a plus arm, above-average speed, and average or better raw power. Not a bad set of tools for an 18th round pick. Speaking of toolsy mid-round college draft picks, come on down OF Jaylin Davis. Davis didn’t get a chance to make his pro debut this year due to his recovery from a torn labrum, so Twins fans haven’t had the chance to see him just yet. When they do, I think they’ll be impressed at what their scouting staff managed to find and sign with pick 710. His pre-season report…

Appalachian State JR OF Jaylin Davis has as many 55’s on his card as any outfielder here. He’s above-average or better in center, throwing, and in terms of raw power, and just a touch above average as a runner. I think he’s smart enough, athletic enough, and in possession of a quick enough bat to hit enough to make all those tools work, so don’t forget the name.

Unfortunately his labrum injury cut short his junior season (only 65 AB), so we really don’t yet know how far along he is when it comes to putting his considerable physical ability on display at a more consistent basis. There’s way more upside with Davis than your typical college 24th round pick. Just ask Carlos Rodon.

C Brian Olson was a pre-season favorite who didn’t have quite the breakout senior season needed to push him up into top ten round money-saving consideration. Still, he continued to show strong plate discipline, steady defense behind the plate, and enough power to be a threat on mistake pitches. Getting a potential big league backup catcher in the 34th round works for me. C Brad Hartong didn’t catch a ton after signing, so it remains to be seen what Minnesota’s long-term plan with him will be. He’s a good enough athlete to get real playing time in the outfield, but the bat looks a heck of a lot better if he’s a catcher. Bold take, right?

SS Alex Perez is a long shot — he is a 23rd round pick, after all — but you can see what Minnesota was thinking taking a chance on a middle infielder (he’s played 2B as a pro) coming off a monster senior season. There’s little to suggest in his skill set or overall track record that said senior year was the start of a new trend, but why not find out for sure firsthand at the low cost of pick 680?

Puerto Rican prospect C Kerby Camacho struggled mightily in his first pro season, but some of that is to be expected considering he’s one of the youngest players drafted (17 all season) this June. Puerto Rican prospect OF Lean Marrero struggled mightily in his first pro season, but some of that is to be expected considering he’s one of the youngest players drafted (17 all season) this June.

RHP Cody Stashak was a workhorse at St. John’s who has a solid track record of missing bats with average or better stuff (88-92 FB, usable CU and SL). LHP Anthony McIver is an older prospect (24 in April), but with good size and a history of missing bats (10.6 K/9 his senior year, 10.2 K/9 in his pro career) he’s worth keeping in the back of your mind. RHP Logan Lombana has missed bats (8.4 K/9 at Long Beach, 9.6 K/9 in Elizabethton) as well. RHP Rich Condeelis is a bit wild, but has maintained a reputation as a guy who can miss bats. RHP Max Cordy, unsigned as of MLB.com but clearly signed by the Twins (clear assuming you have any common sense and a willingness to Google as pitching in pro games is a pretty good clue a guy signed), throws hard (up to the mid-90s) with an average or better slider that flashes even better than that. Control is his biggest problem by far, but it’s the kind of stuff that has missed bats in the past and should continue to do so. Noticing a trend here? As I’ve said in other team draft reviews, I’d be surprised if any of these mid- to late-round picks even become factors at the big league level, but it’s admirable when a club puts an emphasis on production (not to mention solid stuff and strong, physical frames) to find a potential hidden gem.

Here are the pre-draft top 500 players selected by Minnesota…

5 – Tyler Jay
87 – Kolton Kendrick
99 – Travis Blankenhorn
104 – Trey Cabbage
134 – LaMonte Wade
213 – Alex Robinson
229 – Zander Wiel
273 – Chris Paul
456 – AJ Murray

2015 MLB Draft – Top 100 D1 College First Base Prospects

1. Boston College JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw: easy plus raw power; above-average hit tool; surprisingly short stroke for a power hitter with long-ish levers; holes in swing; good enough defender; strong; above-average arm; smart hitter; slow; have heard Harold Baines, Torii Hunter, and Steve Garvey as hitter comparisons; PG comps: Garrett Anderson (hitter), Casey Gillaspie, Chris Davis; reminds me most personally of Ike Davis/Carlos Pena; 6-4, 250 pounds

2013: .183/.286/.323 – 18 BB/32 K – 0/0 SB – 164 AB
2014: .329/.393/.502 – 21 BB/38 K – 1/3 SB – 207 AB
2015: .319/.411/.611 – 20 BB/26 K – 0/0 SB – 144 AB

2. South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin: good athlete; good arm; above-average to plus raw power; steady glove; lefty Steven Pearce comp; 6-1, 240 pounds

2013: .275/.363/.375 – 11 BB/10 K – 1/1 SB – 80 AB
2014: .336/.389/.443 – 22 BB/28 K – 2/3 SB – 244 AB
2015: .350/.455/.635 – 39 BB/27 K – 11/12 SB – 203 AB

3. Nevada SR 1B/3B Austin Byler: really like his approach; questionable defender; impressive raw power, at least average and likely above-average to plus; average hit tool; average or better speed; numbers inflated by environment, but production is still eye-opening; interesting spectrum of comps from Mark Reynolds to Tyler Colvin; 6-3, 225 pounds

2012: .258/.381/.387 – 18 BB/32 K – 4/5 SB – 163 AB
2013: .330/.410/.549 – 18 BB/47 K – 3/5 SB – 182 AB
2014: .326/.420/.624 – 23 BB/48 K – 7/11 SB – 221 AB
2015: .328/.507/.652 – 54 BB/57 K – 9/12 SB – 198 AB

4. Canisius SR 1B/3B Connor Panas: average or better hit tool; power upside; good speed; others like him a lot more at third, so might be able to stick there and should at least begin career there; 5-11, 215 pounds

2012: .262/.378/.352 – 18 BB/17 K – 1/4 SB – 122 AB
2013: .309/.439/.400 – 27 BB/19 K – 6/7 SB – 165 AB
2014: .362/.443/.574 – 26 BB/36 K – 16/19 SB – 188 AB
2015: .372/.472/.632 – 33 BB/39 K – 19/24 SB – 247 AB

5. Illinois SR 1B David Kerian: good athlete; HS shortstop who maintains a lot of the actions of a middle infielder at first base; comparable scouting history to Chris Paul (Cal); 6-3, 200 pounds

2013: .282/.363/.359 – 25 BB/34 K – 23/28 SB – 195 AB
2014: .280/.384/.404 – 31 BB/39 K – 9/13 SB – 193 AB
2015: .366/.452/.644 – 31 BB/25 K – 9/12 SB – 194 AB

6. Nevada JR 1B/OF Ryan Howell: quick bat; has played 2B this season; hit at every stop; could be versatile enough glove to have some utility upside; Oregon State transfer; 6-1, 210 pounds

2014*: .292/.464/.571 – 35 BB/25 K – 5/9 SB – 154 AB
2015: .312/.421/.642 – 36 BB/51 K – 1/2 SB – 215 AB

7. Michigan State SR 1B Ryan Krill: either the light bulb has finally gone off or it’s a senior year mirage, I lean towards the former; above-average to plus raw power; much improved approach to hitting this year, letting natural strength lead into power rather than forcing the issue; 6-4, 235 pounds

2012: .304/.396/.393 – 21 BB/24 K – 0/1 SB – 191 AB
2013: .283/.332/.366 – 14 BB/26 K – 0/1 SB – 191 AB
2014: .234/.322/.356 – 24 BB/36 K – 2/2 SB – 205 AB
2015: .351/.439/.615 – 27 BB/30 K – 1/4 SB – 205 AB

8. Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel: plus raw power; strong; gets lost in shuffle of other Vandy stars, but knows how to hit; 6-3, 215 pounds

2013: .293/.396/.537 – 10 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 82 AB
2014: .260/.378/.409 – 34 BB/49 K – 13/17 SB – 235 AB
2015: .320/.412/.563 – 31 BB/49 K – 12/15 SB – 231 AB

9. Memphis SR 1B/3B Tucker Tubbs: strong; average at best at 3B; also plays some OF; runs better than most at his position; intriguing power upside; 6-4, 200 pounds

2012: .244/.313/.378 – 10 BB/14 K – 3/4 SB – 82 AB
2013: .327/.401/.427 – 19 BB/33 K – 2/7 SB – 211 AB
2014: .244/.360/.366 – 28 BB/31 K – 3/4 SB – 172 AB
2015: .305/.393/.601 – 26 BB/27 K – 7/8 SB – 223 AB

10. Central Florida SR 1B/OF James Vasquez: average hit tool; patient approach; average power, maybe a bit more; good glove; slow; didn’t have the monster senior season expected, but still does enough well as a hitter to get an honest shot in pro ball; FAVORITE; 6-0, 220 pounds

2012: .276/.397/.296 – 19 BB/14 K – 0/1 SB – 98 AB
2013: .252/.368/.443 – 30 BB/46 K – 2/4 SB – 210 AB
2014: .340/.445/.519 – 30 BB/20 K – 206 AB
2015: .276/.351/.424 – 18 BB/33 K – 0/0 SB – 217 AB

11. Richmond rSO 1B Matt Dacey: plus raw power; decent glove; Michigan transfer; 6-3, 210 pounds

2014: .269/.348/.503 – 24 BB/44 K – 2/5 SB – 197 AB
2015: .313/.424/.652 – 35 BB/49 K – 5/5 SB – 198 AB

12. Houston JR 1B Chris Iriart: plus power upside; will swing and miss, but he is what he is as a hitter; 6-2, 230 pounds

2014*: .316/.375/.550 – 12 BB/32 K – 2/2 SB – 171 AB
2015: .307/.427/.580 – 28 BB/64 K – 1/3 SB – 212 AB

13. Nevada SR 1B/LHP Kewby Meyer: above-average raw power; good arm; slow; has also played OF; 6-0, 190 pounds

2012: .302/.347/.385 – 14 BB/20 K – 1/6 SB – 182 AB
2013: .286/.327/.390 – 12 BB/19 K – 2/5 SB – 182 AB
2014: .328/.384/.490 – 22 BB/11 K – 6/7 SB – 247 AB
2015: .343/.385/.542 – 15 BB/16 K – 8/12 SB – 236 AB

14. Mississippi SR 1B/C Sikes Orvis: strong arm; intriguing bat; steady glove; 6-2, 220 pounds

2012: .232/.317/.321 – 6 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 56 AB
2013: .243/.333/.325 – 20 BB/29 K – 0/3 SB – 169 AB
2014: .294/.397/.540 – 37 BB/48 K – 1/1 SB – 235 AB
2015: .267/.395/.600 – 39 BB/55 K – 1/2 SB – 195 AB

15. Morehead State SR 1B Kane Sweeney: underrated power upside; patient approach; 6-3, 210 pounds

2013: .289/.401/.396 – 32 BB/51 K – 4/9 SB – 197 AB
2014: .309/.423/.509 – 42 BB/54 K – 0/3 SB – 230 AB
2015: .353/.482/.626 – 53 BB/48 K – 1/1 SB – 235 AB

16. St. Mary’s SR 1B/LHP Collin Ferguson: good approach; interesting power upside; good defender; 6-3, 215 pounds

2012: .342/.395/.467 – 15 BB/35 K – 1/1 SB – 184 AB
2013: .298/.360/.449 – 17 BB/48 K – 2/2 SB – 205 AB
2014: .256/.335/.367 – 27 BB/36 K – 3/6 SB – 207 AB
2015: .337/.463/.577 – 43 BB/47 K – 6/10 SB – 208 AB

17. Ohio SR 1B Jake Madsen: great approach; pretty swing; power beginning to show; slow afoot; average or better hit tool and patience; can square up any pitch type or velocity; plus defender; may not have the pop for every team, but deserves a chance to hit in the pros; 6-2, 215 pounds

2012: .317/.376/.385 – 20 BB/15 K – 1/2 SB – 221 AB
2013: .299/.351/.403 – 17 BB/19 K – 6/7 SB – 221 AB
2014: .322/.387/.365 – 21 BB/19 K – 1/2 SB – 208 AB
2015: .319/.382/.463 – 24 BB/17 K – 0/2 SB – 216 AB

18. UCLA SR 1B/3B Chris Keck: average raw power; above-average arm; only one productive year, but area guys swear by the bat; 6-2, 190 pounds

2012: .293/.354/.366 – 4 BB/7 K – 0/0 SB – 41 AB
2013: .186/.314/.300 – 14 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 70 AB
2014: .215/.301/.280 – 7 BB/22 K – 1/2 SB – 107 AB
2015: .306/.395/.505 – 30 BB/26 K – 0/2 SB – 216 AB

19. Maine SR 1B/LHP Scott Heath: power upside; FAVORITE; 88-91 FB; good SL; good CU; 6-0, 185 pounds

2012: .299/.382/.435 – 20 BB/17 K – 3/5 SB – 147 AB
2013: .266/.301/.338 – 8 BB/26 K – 2/4 SB – 154 AB
2014: .361/.422/.555 – 13 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 155 AB
2015: .308/.399/.478 – 30 BB/23 K – 4/5 SB – 201 AB

2014: 6.66 K/9 – 3.24 BB/9 – 50 IP – 4.86 ERA
2015: 7.05 K/9 – 2.93 BB/9 – 83 IP – 4.23 ERA

20. Florida State rSR 1B Chris Marconcini: plus raw power; good approach; average defender; long been a fan of how he handles at bats, but power dip is a bit concerning; Duke transfer; 6-5, 230 pounds

2011: .301/.404/.490 – 24 BB/38 K – 206 AB
2013: .316/.409/.579 – 28 BB/39 K – 8/10 SB – 190 AB
2014: .252/.341/.435 – 28 BB/38 K – 7/9 SB – 230 AB
2015: .228/.418/.447 – 35 BB/30 K – 1/2 SB – 123 AB

21. Oregon State JR 1B Gabe Clark: power upside; 6-1, 225 pounds

2013: .161/.278/.258 – 4 BB/11 K – 0/0 SB – 31 AB
2014: .280/.374/.376 – 20 BB/27 K – 0/0 SB – 157 AB
2015: .241/.356/.500 – 17 BB/28 K – 1/1 SB – 112 AB

22. Georgia Tech SR 1B/C AJ Murray: big raw power; strong arm; great athlete; good speed; questionable defender; 6-1, 210 pounds

2013: .270/.369/.399 – 32 BB/52 K – 4/4 SB – 233 AB
2014: .283/.376/.426 – 24 BB/52 K – 7/11 SB – 223 AB
2015: .279/.366/.582 – 26 BB/54 K – 1/2 SB – 208 AB

23. Florida Gulf Coast JR 1B Nick Rivera: strong and powerful swinger; 5-10, 200 pounds

2013: .297/.403/.508 – 31 BB/37 K – 0/1 SB – 195 AB
2014: .330/.437/.525 – 37 BB/24 K – 0/2 SB – 221 AB
2015: .347/.458/.608 – 40 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 199 AB

24. Jacksonville JR 1B/OF Connor Marabell: good approach; power upside; quick bat; 6-0, 180 pounds

2014: .371/.440/.539 – 24 BB/19 K – 9/9 SB – 178 AB
2015: .326/.386/.498 – 25 BB/31 K – 7/9 SB – 227 AB

25. Virginia Tech SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden: power upside; 90 FB; 6-5, 210 pounds

2012: .336/.393/.466 – 11 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 131 AB
2013: .193/.274/.299 – 21 BB/43 K – 2/3 SB – 197 AB
2014: .302/.407/.497 – 31 BB/49 K – 2/3 SB – 199 AB
2015: .307/.389/.542 – 28 BB/40 K – 1/1 SB – 212 AB

26. Texas Tech JR 1B/LHP Eric Gutierrez: power upside; 5-10, 205 pounds (2013: .230/.363/.393 – 22 BB/39 K – 1/1 SB – 191 AB) (2014: .302/.399/.539 – 26 BB/27 K – 0/1 SB – 245 AB) (2015: .315/.444/.443 – 39 BB/26 K – 2/2 SB – 203 AB)

27. Kansas State rSR 1B/LHP Shane Conlon: plus glove; average speed; power upside; 6-0, 180 pounds (2011: 6.38 K/9 | 36.2 IP) (2011: .161/.242/.179 – 6 BB/6 K – 56 AB) (2013: .329/.422/.490 – 26 BB/29 K – 18/22 SB – 249 AB) (2014: .296/.367/.376 – 14 BB/21 K – 8/12 SB – 189 AB) (2015: .291/.384/.408 – 24 BB/18 K – 10/14 SB – 196 AB)

28. Georgia JR 1B Daniel Nichols: power upside; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: .237/.342/.326 – 18 BB/26 K – 0/0 SB – 135 AB) (2014: .260/.367/.347 – 19 BB/36 K – 1/1 SB – 150 AB) (2015: .296/.370/.475 – 20 BB/34 K – 1/1 SB – 162 AB)

29. Liberty SR 1B/RHP Alex Close: above-average to plus power; like his approach; solid glove at 1B; can catch in case of emergency; has also played 3B; strong arm; slow; 6-3, 220 pounds (2012: .300/.345/.560 – 13 BB/36 K – 3/4 SB – 207 AB) (2013: .237/.320/.330 – 28 BB/58 K – 1/1 SB – 224 AB) (2014: .323/.370/.512 – 17 BB/46 K – 3/3 SB – 217 AB) (2015: .342/.422/.516 – 28 BB/55 K – 1/4 SB – 219 AB) (2015: 10.64 K/9 – 3.99 BB/9 – 20.1 IP – 2.21 ERA)

30. Quinnipiac SR 1B Vincent Guglietti: power upside; 6-5, 220 pounds (2012: .237/.316/.295 – 18 BB/18 K – 0/1 SB – 156 AB) (2013: .269/.318/.388 – 13 BB/45 K – 2/2 SB – 201 AB) (2014: .341/.404/.503 – 18 BB/25 K – 2/3 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .330/.414/.589 – 27 BB/24 K – 4/4 SB – 197 AB)

31. North Carolina Greensboro SR 1B Aaron Wright: power upside; average speed; 6-2, 220 pounds (2014: .254/.304/.333 – 2 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 63 AB) (2015: .324/.425/.648 – 28 BB/52 K – 0/1 SB – 179 AB)

32. Jacksonville State JR 1B Paschal Petrongolo: power upside; 6-1, 210 pounds (2013: .270/.378/.447 – 25 BB/37 K – 2/2 SB – 141 AB) (2014: .328/.398/.534 – 23 BB/64 K – 0/1 SB – 232 AB) (2015: .368/.451/.556 – 34 BB/61 K – 1/3 SB – 223 AB)

33. Connecticut SR 1B/OF Blake Davey: above-average raw power; good approach; 6-4, 235 pounds (2014: .313/.452/.512 – 30 BB/53 K – 8/15 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .300/.379/.477 – 20 BB/54 K – 11/14 SB – 220 AB)

34. Miami rSO 1B/OF Chris Barr: really good defender; smart hitter; good runner; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .226/.364/.252 – 23 BB/19 K – 7/10 SB – 115 AB) (2015: .321/.423/.440 – 24 BB/35 K – 10/10 SB – 168 AB)

35. Mississippi State rSR 1B Wes Rea: strong; big raw power; really good glove; 6-5, 275 pounds (2012: .244/.349/.381 – 24 BB/60 K – 0/2 SB – 197 AB) (2013: .296/.393/.464 – 26 BB/45 K – 0/0 SB – 196 AB) (2014: .245/.351/.365 – 29 BB/55 K – 1/1 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .287/.454/.471 – 40 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 157 AB)

36. Texas A&M JR 1B/RHP Hunter Melton: power upside; can also play 3B; 87-90 FB; 6-2, 225 pounds (2013: .288/.354/.492 – 10 BB/29 K – 0/0 SB – 118 AB) (2015: .319/.412/.531 – 24 BB/41 K – 0/1 SB – 160 AB)

37. San Francisco SR 1B/3B Brendan Hendriks: really intrigued by his hit tool, could be complete hitter in time; power upside; has seen some time at 2B; good athlete; others love him, but approach is a big red flag to me; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .319/.381/.370 – 9 BB/21 K – 0/1 SB – 119 AB) (2013: .190/.261/.215 – 11 BB/37 K – 0/0 SB – 158 AB) (2014: .287/.321/.493 – 11 BB/40 K – 0/0 SB – 209 AB) (2015: .290/.361/.449 – 19 BB/44 K – 3/7 SB – 214 AB)

38. Creighton rJR 1B Reagan Fowler: strong hit tool; good glove; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .295/.446/.362 – 33 BB/21 K – 3/4 SB – 149 AB) (2014: .362/.464/.481 – 26 BB/25 K – 9/14 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .319/.404/.384 – 23 BB/23 K – 1/2 SB – 185 AB)

39. East Tennessee State JR 1B/C Kevin Phillips: 6-3, 210 pounds (2014: .261/.335/.379 – 15 BB/19 K – 3/4 SB – 153 AB) (2015: .323/.395/.561 – 27 BB/25 K – 3/3 SB – 223 AB)

40. Oregon JR 1B/OF Phillipe Craig-St. Louis: strong hit tool; 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: .294/.383/.382 – 29 BB/30 K – 4/6 SB – 204 AB)

41. Lipscomb SR 1B/RHP Griffin Moore: above-average raw power; good hit tool; great approach; steady defender; plus arm strength; sticking with him despite lost year of development in 2015; 95 peak FB velocity back in the day; FAVORITE; 6-4, 220 pounds (2012: .226/.308/.285 – 15 BB/28 K – 1/1 SB – 137 AB) (2013: .205/.375/.313 – 29 BB/29 K – 1/1 SB – 112 AB) (2014: .299/.415/.414 – 17 BB/24 K – 4/6 SB – 87 AB)

42. Rice JR 1B/RHP Connor Tekyl: power upside; good defensive tools; 6-3, 190 pounds (2013: .248/.315/.266 – 11 BB/11 K – 0/1 SB – 109 AB) (2014: .259/.352/.281 – 21 BB/24 K – 1/2 SB – 135 AB) (2015: .308/.378/.411 – 23 BB/24 K – 1/1 SB – 214 AB)

43. Michigan State SR 1B/C Blaise Salter: strong hit tool; plus raw power; quick bat; good athlete; average or better glove; FAVORITE; 6-5, 250 pounds (2012: .288/.351/.515 – 4 BB/12 K – 1/1 SB – 66 AB) (2013: .337/.398/.497 – 14 BB/30 K – 1/1 SB – 181 AB) (2014: .317/.375/.484 – 17 BB/27 K – 0/2 SB – 221 AB) (2015: .268/.339/.409 – 13 BB/37 K – 0/0 SB – 220 AB)

44. Southern Mississippi JR 1B/SS Tim Lynch: 6-2, 215 pounds (2014: .256/.382/.312 – 32 BB/25 K – 1/3 SB – 199 AB) (2015: .313/.400/.510 – 23 BB/23 K – 0/1 SB – 192 AB)

45. Canisius JR 1B/OF Brett Siddall: above-average raw power; above-average arm; could hang in an outfield corner, but best at first; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: .302/.379/.411 – 8 BB/22 K – 5/8 SB – 129 AB) (2014: .333/.416/.488 – 16 BB/23 K – 2/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .341/.390/.590 – 18 BB/32 K – 6/7 SB – 249 AB)

46. Dartmouth JR 1B Joe Purritano: strong hit tool; power upside; average at best arm; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .324/.405/.574 – 13 BB/16 K – 0/1 SB – 108 AB) (2014: .265/.355/.397 – 17 BB/20 K – 2/4 SB – 136 AB) (2015: .277/.355/.500 – 19 BB/31 K – 2/3 SB – 148 AB)

47. Tulane SR 1B/3B Tyler Wilson: great approach; mature hitter; 5-11, 215 pounds (2014: .077/.143/.115 – 2 BB/4 K – 0/0 SB – 26 AB) (2015: .272/.324/.360 – 11 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 136 AB)

48. Auburn JR 1B/OF Dylan Smith: plus raw power; average speed; 6-3, 215 pounds

49. Portland rSR 1B/OF Turner Gill: good raw power; streaky guess hitter; average arm; slow; 6-3, 215 pounds (2011: .348/.408/.500 – 20 BB/33 K – 184 AB) (2012: .341/.418/.508 – 23 BB/25 K – 2/2 SB – 185 AB) (2013: .222/.250/.259 – 1 BB/6 K – 0/0 SB – 27 AB) (2014: .234/.323/.308 – 24 BB/35 K – 3/4 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .294/.386/.495 – 25 BB/29 K – 1/6 SB – 194 AB)

50. Western Carolina SR 1B/LHP Jacob Hoyle: good defender; strong arm; power upside; 88 peak; 6-2, 250 pounds (2012: .281/.338/.416 – 16 BB/41 K – 2/2 SB – 185 AB) (2013: .296/.356/.526 – 16 BB/52 K – 1/1 SB – 213 AB) (2014: .332/.393/.570 – 19 BB/47 K – 6/6 SB – 223 AB) (2015: .372/.391/.628 – 0 BB/12 K – 0/0 SB – 43 AB)

51. Towson SR 1B/3B Brendan Butler: good approach; good athlete; above-average to plus speed; average to above-average arm; some see power coming, others think this is it; has experience in OF; opinions on tools all over the place; 6-2, 210 pounds (2012: .269/.391/.330 – 19 BB/23 K – 14/19 SB – 182 AB) (2013: .264/.339/.410 – 23 BB/33 K – 12/18 SB – 227 AB) (2014: .264/.382/.371 – 24 BB/18 K – 6/8 SB – 140 AB) (2015: .247/.365/.340 – 36 BB/19 K – 11/16 SB – 194 AB)

52. Gonzaga JR 1B/RHP Taylor Jones: 85-89 FB; up and down CB; good athlete; FAVORITE; 6-7, 225 pounds (2013: 10.06 K/9 | 5.82 BB/9 | 3.65 FIP | 17 IP) (2014: 6.29 K/9 – 4.07 BB/9 – 72 IP – 4.68 ERA) (2015: .358/.414/.545 – 10 BB/16 K – 0/0 SB – 134 AB)

53. Saint Louis SR 1B Mike Vigliarolo: good athlete; power upside; 6-1, 225 pounds (2012: .291/.357/.437 – 19 BB/27 K – 0/0 SB – 158 AB) (2013: .349/.381/.537 – 13 BB/32 K – 9/11 SB – 255 AB) (2014: .328/.368/.496 – 14 BB/30 K – 13/19 SB – 232 AB) (2015: .332/.383/.438 – 15 BB/25 K – 4/6 SB – 226 AB)

54. Florida Atlantic rSO 1B Esteban Puerta: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .276/.345/.371 – 11 BB/17 K – 0/0 SB – 105 AB) (2015: .308/.438/.483 – 34 BB/31 K – 1/3 SB – 172 AB)

55. North Carolina Greensboro SR 1B/OF Eric Kalbfleisch: good hit tool; average speed; average arm; 6-3, 210 pounds (2013: .294/.347/.477 – 16 BB/34 K – 4/5 SB – 197 AB) (2014: .317/.382/.508 – 14 BB/16 K – 1/1 SB – 126 AB) (2015: .348/.403/.503 – 15 BB/38 K – 3/4 SB – 187 AB)

56. Jacksonville State JR 1B Tyler Gamble: 6-1, 220 pounds (2014: .286/.410/.460 – 31 BB/34 K – 3/4 SB – 161 AB) (2015: .270/.421/.405 – 53 BB/40 K – 7/7 SB – 200 AB)

57. UNC Wilmington SR 1B Corey Dick: 6-0, 250 pounds (2012: .313/.406/.520 – 25 BB/44 K – 0/1 SB – 179 AB) (2013: .310/.399/.508 – 27 BB/30 K – 0/1 SB – 197 AB) (2014: .315/.386/.429 – 22 BB/23 K – 1/2 SB – 184 AB) (2015: .331/.434/.525 – 28 BB/22 K – 0/3 SB – 160 AB)

58. Ohio State JR 1B/OF Zach Ratcliff: 6-5, 210 pounds (2014: .232/.262/.313 – 4 BB/24 K – 0/0 SB – 99 AB) (2015: .286/.344/.536 – 5 BB/12 K – 0/0 SB – 56 AB)

59. Texas A&M SR 1B/OF GR Hinsley: good glove; gap power; good approach; 6-2, 220 pounds (2015: .209/.433/.326 – 14 BB/6 K – 0/0 SB – 43 AB)

60. NC State SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong: above-average speed; 6-2, 190 pounds (2013: .273/.450/.377 – 32 BB/44 K – 7/7 SB – 154 AB) (2014: .229/.374/.343 – 20 BB/52 K – 5/10 SB – 140 AB) (2015: .228/.316/.404 – 13 BB/45 K – 2/4 SB – 136 AB)

61. Louisville JR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum: steady defender; wears the gaps out; average speed; average or better raw power; 6-1, 210 pounds (2013: .258/.288/.344 – 5 BB/19 K – 1/2 SB – 93 AB) (2014: .295/.396/.411 – 17 BB/29 K – 3/5 SB – 129 AB) (2015: .246/.353/.342 – 14 BB/28 K – 1/3 SB – 114 AB)

62. Central Michigan rSR 1B Cody Leichman: good raw power; good natural hitter; good defender; 6-3, 235 pounds (2013: .335/.414/.438 – 16 BB/44 K – 6/6 SB – 176 AB) (2014: .315/.390/.493 – 21 BB/33 K – 4/5 SB – 213 AB) (2015: .221/.362/.288 – 20 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 104 AB)

63. UC Davis rSR 1B/3B Nick Lynch: 6-1, 200 pounds (2012: .329/.415/.483 – 13 BB/23 K – 0/2 SB – 149 AB) (2013: .371/.453/.453 – 8 BB/25 K – 2/4 SB – 170 AB) (2015: .361/.452/.558 – 21 BB/28 K – 6/13 SB – 208 AB)

64. North Florida rSR 1B Ryan Roberson: 5-9, 215 pounds (2015: .347/.390/.532 – 13 BB/13 K – 1/1 SB – 222 AB)

65. Marist SR 1B/OF Steve Laurino: 6-3, 220 pounds (2013: .378/.417/.480 – 9 BB/26 K – 2/3 SB – 127 AB) (2014: .299/.413/.359 – 23 BB/25 K – 8/14 SB – 167 AB) (2015: .358/.442/.561 – 23 BB/32 K – 5/8 SB – 187 AB)

66. Central Michigan JR 1B Zack Fields: big raw power; old Victor Roache comp; hasn’t put it together; 6-5, 265 pounds (2013: .190/.288/.389 – 16 BB/43 K – 0/0 SB – 126 AB) (2014: .248/.298/.381 – 7 BB/37 K – 0/0 SB – 105 AB) (2015: .175/.242/.300 – 7 BB/20 K – 1/1 SB – 80 AB)

67. Eastern Kentucky JR 1B/3B Mandy Alvarez: power upside; 6-1, 215 pounds (2015: .319/.371/.565 – 17 BB/29 K – 1/4 SB – 207 AB)

68. Wichita State JR 1B/C Ryan Tinkham: 6-5, 210 pounds (2015: .333/.446/.576 – 32 BB/42 K – 7/9 SB – 210 AB)

69. Missouri State JR 1B/OF Spencer Johnson: 6-4, 215 pounds (2013: .295/.392/.402 – 18 BB/26 K – 7/7 SB – 122 AB) (2014: .265/.347/.478 – 23 BB/48 K – 3/8 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .316/.450/.508 – 40 BB/52 K – 1/2 SB – 193 AB)

70. Northeastern rJR 1B Rob Fonseca: power upside; can also play some OF and 3B; slow; good arm; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: .317/.360/.550 – 11 BB/44 K – 2/3 SB – 180 AB) (2013: .350/.395/.525 – 17 BB/50 K – 1/2 SB – 217 AB) (2015: .274/.376/.581 – 25 BB/44 K – 1/2 SB – 179 AB)

71. Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR 1B Alec Saikal: intriguing power and size mix; 6-7, 240 pounds (2014: .306/.372/.427 – 22 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 206 AB) (2015: .308/.364/.508 – 20 BB/29 K – 0/2 SB – 195 AB)

72. Southeast Missouri State JR 1B/OF Ryan Rippee: plus power upside; will swing and miss; 6-6, 230 pounds (2013*: .336/.415/.533 – 17 BB/25 K – 4/4 SB – 152 AB) (2014*: .274/.353/.458 – 19 BB/38 K – 4/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .299/.373/.551 – 29 BB/60 K – 4/6 SB – 234 AB)

73. Savannah State SR 1B Charles Sikes: power upside; 6-2, 185 pounds (2014: .358/.416/.592 – 20 BB/36 K – 1/2 SB – 201 AB) (2015: .321/.410/.521 – 26 BB/39 K – 0/1 SB – 190 AB)

74. Connecticut JR 1B Bobby Melley: 6-3, 235 pounds (2013: .308/.393/.367 – 25 BB/31 K – 0/0 SB – 240 AB) (2014: .359/.475/.502 – 31 BB/19 K – 2/2 SB – 209 AB) (2015: .315/.401/.408 – 32 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 238 AB)

75. Connecticut JR 1B Joe DeRoche-Duffin: 6-0, 250 pounds (2015: .271/.416/.541 – 30 BB/51 K – 2/3 SB – 170 AB)

76. Nevada JR 1B/OF Bryce Greager: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .257/.350/.400 – 8 BB/22 K – 0/0 SB – 70 AB) (2015: .355/.459/.552 – 29 BB/46 K – 2/6 SB – 183 AB)

77. Georgia SR 1B/LHP Jared Walsh: 6-0, 215 pounds (2012: .157/.254/.235 – 6 BB/18 K – 0/0 SB – 51 AB) (2013: .303/.326/.434 – 6 BB/32 K – 0/1 SB – 175 AB) (2013: 10.27 K/9 | 6.69 BB/9 | 2.78 FIP | 37.2 IP) (2014: .188/.345/.217 – 15 BB/8 K – 0/0 SB – 69 AB) (2014: 7 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 9 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2015: .306/.365/.462 – 13 BB/22 K – 0/0 SB – 173 AB)

78. Central Michigan JR 1B/3B Zarley Zalewski: 6-3, 185 pounds (2013: .265/.357/.340 – 16 BB/26 K – 1/1 SB – 147 AB) (2014: .351/.425/.468 – 18 BB/47 K – 0/0 SB – 222 AB) (2015: .374/.463/.483 – 30 BB/39 K – 5/9 SB – 203 AB)

79. Pepperdine JR 1B Brad Anderson: plus raw power; 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: .282/.348/.409 – 25 BB/50 K – 1/1 SB – 220 AB) (2015: .276/.369/.457 – 28 BB/55 K – 0/0 SB – 210 AB)

80. St. John’s SR 1B Matt Harris: 6-0, 210 pounds (2014: .285/.380/.435 – 21 BB/39 K – 5/7 SB – 207 AB) (2015: .335/.426/.489 – 21 BB/37 K – 6/9 SB – 176 AB)

81. Eastern Michigan JR 1B/3B Mitchell McGeein: 6-1, 210 pounds (2014: .242/.345/.387 – 17 BB/25 K – 1/3 SB – 124 AB) (2015: .277/.352/.515 – 24 BB/47 K – 4/4 SB – 206 AB)

82. Villanova JR 1B/RHP Max Beermann: 6-7, 225 pounds (2013: 5.40 K/9 | 7.43 BB/9 | 4.51 FIP | 13.1 IP) (2013: .208/.312/.409 – 10 BB/48 K – 1/1 SB – 149 AB) (2014: .304/.423/.492 – 24 BB/56 K – 1/1 SB – 181 AB) (2015: .280/.348/.490 – 16 BB/45 K – 1/1 SB – 200 AB) (2015: 10.07 K/9 – 3.15 BB/9 – 14.1 IP – 5.02 ERA)

83. Stephen F. Austin State JR 1B Kyle Thornell: 6-2, 185 pounds (2014: .256/.374/.496 – 16 BB/35 K – 0/2 SB – 133 AB) (2015: .301/.412/.524 – 20 BB/48 K – 3/6 SB – 166 AB)

84. Seton Hall SR 1B/OF Sal Annunziata: above-average raw power; quick bat; good approach; decent speed; solid defender; good athlete; has also played C; 5-11, 200 pounds (2012: .295/.369/.422 – 11 BB/39 K – 2/2 SB – 173 AB) (2013: .347/.403/.526 – 19 BB/30 K – 7/9 SB – 213 AB) (2014: .330/.393/.503 – 12 BB/38 K – 1/3 SB – 197 AB) (2015: .258/.317/.425 – 14 BB/41 K – 1/1 SB – 186 AB)

85. James Madison rSO 1B/3B Brett Johnson: 6-5, 225 pounds (2015: .274/.344/.488 – 17 BB/22 K – 2/3 SB – 164 AB)

86. Washington rJR 1B/OF Branden Berry: 6-4, 230 pounds (2012: .328/.406/.427 – 14 BB/35 K – 0/0 SB – 192 AB) (2014: .262/.340/.335 – 16 BB/36 K – 2/3 SB – 164 AB) (2015: .269/.372/.421 – 18 BB/44 K – 4/5 SB – 197 AB)

87. Kennesaw State rSR 1B/OF Chris McGowan: 6-1, 215 pounds (2012: .249/.314/.395 – 18 BB/55 K – 2/6 SB – 205 AB) (2013: .256/.392/.357 – 43 BB/31 K – 3/5 SB – 199 AB) (2014: .272/.340/.379 – 23 BB/43 K – 2/3 SB – 224 AB) (2015: .272/.387/.408 – 33 BB/27 K – 4/5 SB – 184 AB)

88. Marshall rSR 1B TJ Diffenderfer: 6-5, 240 pounds (2014: .258/.339/.417 – 19 BB/29 K – 0/1 SB – 151 AB) (2015: .291/.396/.430 – 28 BB/31 K – 1/2 SB – 172 AB)

89. Dallas Baptist JR 1B/3B Trooper Reynolds: strong bat; 5-10, 225 pounds (2014*: .318/.405/.441 – 23 BB/32 K – 3/5 SB – 179 AB) (2015: .275/.346/.456 – 20 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 160 AB)

90. Grand Canyon rJR 1B/OF Rouric Bridgewater: plus raw power; slow; Arizona State transfer; 6-1, 220 pounds (2012: .269/.291/.442 – 2 BB/11 K – 1/1 SB – 52 AB) (2013: .194/.275/.350 – 3 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 36 AB) (2015: .269/.333/.370 – 11 BB/19 K – 2/3 SB – 108 AB)

91. Illinois State SR 1B/OF Mason Snyder: 6-0, 210 pounds (2015: .303/.421/.467 – 30 BB/34 K – 0/0 SB – 195 AB)

92. Xavier SR 1B/OF Joe Forney: 6-4, 230 pounds (2013: .313/.378/.352 – 15 BB/33 K – 6/7 SB – 182 AB) (2014: .282/.349/.351 – 17 BB/39 K – 7/9 SB – 248 AB) (2015: .279/.384/.400 – 28 BB/36 K – 7/9 SB – 190 AB)

93. Oregon JR 1B Brandon Cuddy: 6-2, 215 pounds (2015: .255/.351/.401 – 23 BB/46 K – 2/2 SB – 192 AB)

94. Baylor JR 1B Mitch Price: 6-3, 240 pounds (2014: .258/.390/.379 – 11 BB/13 K – 0/0 SB – 66 AB) (2015: .278/.357/.405 – 11 BB/24 K – 0/0 SB – 126 AB)

95. Charleston Southern SR 1B/LHP Chase Shelton: strong arm; can also play OF; 6-5, 230 pounds (2012: .307/.367/.444 – 9 BB/14 K – 5/6 SB – 189 AB) (2013: .297/.349/.385 – 13 BB/27 K – 2/4 SB – 195 AB) (2013: 5.16 K/9 | 4.76 BB/9 | 3.71 FIP | 22.2 IP) (2014: .348/.408/.480 – 19 BB/15 K – 3/4 SB – 221 AB) (2015: .302/.366/.367 – 20 BB/20 K – 6/8 SB – 215 AB)

96. Alabama A&M SR 1B Jordan Friend: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: .342/.433/.618 – 23 BB/36 K – 2/3 SB – 152 AB)

97. BYU SR 1B/3B Dillon Robinson: 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: .369/.405/.463 – 11 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 149 AB) (2015: .371/.453/.550 – 29 BB/45 K – 1/1 SB – 202 AB)

98. Prairie View A&M JR 1B Angel Avalos: 5-11 (2015: .359/.446/.551 – 9 BB/13 K – 0/0 SB – 78 AB)

99. Wofford SR 1B/OF James Plaistad: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: .250/.317/.420 – 15 BB/30 K – 8/11 SB – 200 AB) (2015: .346/.434/.557 – 37 BB/56 K – 11/13 SB – 228 AB)

100. Norfolk State rSR 1B Ryan Kilmon: 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: .325/.444/.496 – 22 BB/30 K – 8/13 SB – 123 AB)

*****

Samford JR 1B Alex Lee: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .343/.425/.575 – 26 BB/47 K – 3/4 SB – 207 AB)

Wofford SR 1B Conor Clancey: 6-3, 220 pounds (2014: .230/.335/.377 – 19 BB/46 K – 4/5 SB – 183 AB) (2015: .326/.376/.593 – 15 BB/39 K – 9/11 SB – 221 AB)

Manhattan JR 1B/OF Christian Santisteban: 6-2, 215 pounds (2013: .268/.375/.464 – 23 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 138 AB) (2014: .314/.389/.446 – 15 BB/30 K – 1/2 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .301/.399/.449 – 27 BB/33 K – 1/1 SB – 176 AB)

Florida A&M SR 1B Ryan Kennedy: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: .303/.401/.449 – 28 BB/38 K – 1/1 SB – 198 AB) (2015: .266/.382/.426 – 30 BB/27 K – 1/1 SB – 169 AB)

St. Peter’s SR 1B/OF Chris Hugg: 6-4, 230 pounds (2014: .292/.348/.452 – 12 BB/35 K – 4/6 SB – 168 AB) (2015: .312/.390/.474 – 19 BB/35 K – 6/9 SB – 173 AB)

Yale SR 1B Eric Hsieh: 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: .370/.491/.415 – 26 BB/13 K – 7/8 SB – 135 AB)

Purdue rJR 1B/LHP Kyle Wood: 90 FB; 6-0, 220 pounds (2013: .266/.397/.429 – 20 BB/36 K – 3/5 SB – 154 AB) (2013: 5.67 K/9 | 5.67 BB/9 | 3.55 FIP | 27 IP) (2014: .302/.390/.414 – 11 BB/33 K – 4/4 SB – 169 AB) (2014: 9.72 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 16.2 IP – 11.88 ERA) (2015: .326/.421/.487 – 23 BB/47 K – 1/1 SB – 193 AB)

Alabama A&M JR 1B Dylan Payne: 6-3, 250 pounds (2015: .321/.406/.488 – 10 BB/17 K – 1/1 SB – 84 AB)

Southeastern Louisiana SR 1B/2B Kevin Carr: 5-10, 190 pounds (2014: .290/.410/.319 – 10 BB/22 K – 1/2 SB – 69 AB) (2015: .336/.424/.468 – 19 BB/31 K – 0/1 SB – 220 AB)

Texas-San Antonio JR 1B/3B Geonte Jackson: good defensive tools; good athlete; LSU transfer; 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .298/.361/.363 – 20 BB/39 K – 6/11 SB – 215 AB)

Harvard SR 1B/2B Jake McGuiggan: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: .347/.362/.504 – 3 BB/13 K – 3/3 SB – 121 AB)

Rider SR 1B/OF Justin Thomas: 6-4, 215 pounds (2014: .341/.402/.492 – 19 BB/28 K – 2/3 SB – 179 AB) (2015: .304/.386/.443 – 19 BB/29 K – 6/7 SB – 194 AB)

Ohio JR 1B John Adryan: 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: .282/.345/.374 – 10 BB/36 K – 0/4 SB – 174 AB) (2015: .292/.372/.427 – 24 BB/30 K – 1/2 SB – 178 AB)

Long Island-Brooklyn rSO 1B/RHP Mark Hernandez: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: .302/.370/.354 – 17 BB/27 K – 9/9 SB – 189 AB) (2015: .253/.315/.434 – 16 BB/29 K – 5/7 SB – 182 AB)

Jackson State SR 1B Tilur Smith: power upside; strong; quick bat; 6-2, 230 pounds (2014: .331/.436/.521 – 18 BB/43 K – 5/8 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .266/.369/.388 – 20 BB/37 K – 6/8 SB – 188 AB)

Fort Wayne JR 1B Kendall Whitman: power upside; 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .288/.409/.435 – 22 BB/46 K – 2/2 SB – 191 AB)

Northwestern JR 1B/OF Zach Jones: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .315/.345/.370 – 8 BB/21 K – 162 AB) (2015: .321/.374/.436 – 17 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 218 AB)

Utah Valley State JR 1B Mark Krueger: power upside; 6-5, 225 pounds (2013: .245/.300/.354 – 13 BB/49 K – 4/6 SB – 192 AB) (2014: .306/.366/.466 – 20 BB/47 K – 4/5 SB – 219 AB) (2015: .290/.390/.410 – 34 BB/45 K – 5/6 SB – 200 AB)

Mississippi Valley State SR 1B Brady McBride: 6-3, 255 pounds (2015: .322/.380/.421 – 12 BB/24 K – 3/4 SB – 152 AB)

William & Mary rSR 1B Willie Shaw: good approach; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: .293/.396/.380 – 40 BB/32 K – 4/5 SB – 229 AB) (2015: .282/.386/.400 – 26 BB/36 K – 5/6 SB – 195 AB)

North Dakota SR 1B Ryan Reese: 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: .283/.387/.414 – 11 BB/24 K – 3/4 SB – 99 AB) (2014: .314/.442/.352 – 18 BB/16 K – 2/2 SB – 105 AB) (2015: .290/.412/.439 – 27 BB/34 K – 6/6 SB – 155 AB)

Kennesaw State SR 1B Colin Bennett: 6-3, 235 pounds (2014: .333/.472/.439 – 13 BB/13 K – 1/1 SB – 57 AB) (2015: .250/.373/.442 – 20 BB/30 K – 0/0 SB – 104 AB)

Texas-Arlington SR 1B Levi Scott: power upside; 6-4, 240 pounds (2014: .303/.347/.411 – 12 BB/37 K – 0/1 SB – 185 AB) (2015: .327/.374/.493 – 19 BB/37 K – 1/1 SB – 211 AB)

Western Kentucky SR 1B Ryan Church: power upside; 6-2 (2014: .306/.366/.445 – 21 BB/38 K – 7/10 SB – 229 AB) (2015: .284/.340/.445 – 18 BB/29 K – 6/10 SB – 211 AB)

Dayton SR 1B AJ Ryan: 6-3, 215 pounds (2013: .167/.258/.175 – 8 BB/21 K – 0/2 SB – 114 AB) (2014: .338/.400/.506 – 16 BB/21 K – 2/5 SB – 160 AB) (2015: .265/.342/.450 – 19 BB/33 K – 1/2 SB – 200 AB)

Troy SR 1B Trevin Hall: 6-2, 180 pounds (2014: .263/.343/.457 – 13 BB/57 K – 8/9 SB – 175 AB) (2015: .331/.385/.478 – 13 BB/30 K – 6/12 SB – 157 AB)

Southern Mississippi SR 1B/C Matt Durst: 5-10, 225 pounds (2014: .277/.340/.413 – 19 BB/40 K – 0/2 SB – 213 AB) (2015: .314/.354/.454 – 13 BB/31 K – 0/1 SB – 207 AB)

Maine JR 1B Brenden Geary: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: .280/.378/.416 – 13 BB/22 K – 4/5 SB – 125 AB)

Dallas Baptist rSR 1B Chane Lynch: 6-5, 200 pounds (2015: .270/.346/.400 – 21 BB/30 K – 2/2 SB – 200 AB)

Columbia rJR 1B Nick Maguire: above-average power; above-average speed; 6-3, 230 pounds (2014: .265/.354/.400 – 19 BB/25 K – 0/0 SB – 155 AB) (2015: .235/.296/.429 – 12 BB/43 K – 1/1 SB – 170 AB)

New Mexico State JR 1B Joseph Koerper: 6-5, 235 pounds (2014: .288/.377/.348 – 20 BB/32 K – 4/4 SB – 132 AB) (2015: .316/.375/.424 – 15 BB/34 K – 0/1 SB – 177 AB)

Hofstra rJR 1B Ryan Donovan: power upside; 6-4, 210 pounds (2014: .260/.370/.519 – 13 BB/26 K – 3/4 SB – 77 AB) (2015: .234/.348/.416 – 10 BB/23 K – 1/2 SB – 77 AB)

Louisiana SR 1B/3B Greg Davis: 6-0, 225 pounds (2014: .314/.388/.500 – 12 BB/13 K – 6/6 SB – 86 AB) (2015: .257/.330/.408 – 24 BB/30 K – 6/6 SB – 245 AB)

Santa Clara SR 1B/OF TJ Braff: 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: .309/.358/.402 – 6 BB/23 K – 0/2 SB – 97 AB) (2015: .270/.339/.423 – 13 BB/37 K – 2/7 SB – 196 AB)

Louisiana Tech SR 1B Taylor Nichols: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: .288/.361/.406 – 12 BB/28 K – 2/4 SB – 160 AB)

Fairfield JR 1B Brendan Tracy: good glove; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: .260/.340/.366 – 16 BB/26 K – 1/1 SB – 123 AB) (2015: .287/.339/.440 – 10 BB/33 K – 0/1 SB – 150 AB)

Indiana State rSO 1B Hunter Owen: 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: .344/.400/.542 – 5 BB/19 K – 96 AB)

Penn SR 1B Matt McKinnon: 6-2, 220 pounds (2015: .333/.402/.491 – 8 BB/28 K – 0/0 SB – 114 AB)

Texas State rSR 1B/RHP David Paiz: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: .275/.374/.408 – 34 BB/45 K – 0/0 SB – 218 AB)

La Salle SR 1B/RHP Mark Williams: power upside; 6-6, 240 pounds (2013: .288/.364/.442 – 6 BB/27 K – 2/2 SB – 156 AB) (2014: .275/.365/.458 – 18 BB/18 K – 1/1 SB – 153 AB) (2014: .275/.365/.458 – 18 BB/18 K – 1/1 SB – 153 AB) (2015: 5.35 K/9 – 2.68 BB/9 – 37 IP – 2.92 ERA) (2015: .305/.366/.481 – 9 BB/31 K – 1/1 SB – 210 AB)

Campbell SR 1B/OF Kyle Leady: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: .238/.335/.292 – 13 BB/19 K – 5/7 SB – 130 AB) (2015: .336/.397/.472 – 8 BB/27 K – 14/18 SB – 214 AB)

Louisiana-Monroe JR 1B Danny Springer: 6-6, 240 pounds (2015: .271/.317/.508 – 10 BB/44 K – 5/5 SB – 181 AB)

Sam Houston State SR 1B Jake MacWilliam: 6-3, 185 pounds (2014: .277/.379/.362 – 7 BB/7 K – 0/0 SB – 47 AB) (2015: .378/.412/.483 – 8 BB/28 K – 1/2 SB – 143 AB)

Sam Houston State JR 1B Spence Rahm: 6-5, 240 pounds (2015: .295/.369/.427 – 21 BB/58 K – 5/6 SB – 234 AB)

Radford SR 1B/3B Hunter Higgerson: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: .280/.355/.469 – 19 BB/33 K – 4/6 SB – 211 AB) (2015: .269/.323/.458 – 15 BB/45 K – 6/9 SB – 227 AB)

McNeese State JR 1B Connor Crane: 6-3, 210 pounds (2015: .272/.340/.443 – 16 BB/53 K – 12/14 SB – 235 AB)

Cal State Bakersfield SR 1B Soloman Williams: 6-7, 220 pounds (2014: .293/.343/.492 – 14 BB/47 K – 1/1 SB – 181 AB) (2015: .278/.382/.367 – 27 BB/54 K – 0/0 SB – 169 AB)

Fordham SR 1B Jordan Gajdos: 6-5, 210 pounds (2015: .328/.388/.426 – 5 BB/18 K – 2/4 SB – 61 AB)

Lipscomb SR 1B/RHP Tyson Ashcraft: 90 FB; 6-3, 225 pounds (2013: .280/.351/.411 – 14 BB/47 K – 3/4 SB – 175 AB) (2014: .249/.347/.402 – 19 BB/69 K – 3/4 SB – 189 AB) (2014: 5.40 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 15 IP – 5.40 ERA) (2015: .276/.374/.409 – 14 BB/36 K – 3/5 SB – 127 AB)

Coppin State JR 1B/OF George Dragon: strong hit tool; 6-0, 210 pounds (2015: .295/.362/.370 – 15 BB/28 K – 0/1 SB – 146 AB)

SEC 2015 MLB Draft All-Prospect Team – HITTERS

First Team

Louisiana State JR C Chris Chinea
South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin
Louisiana State JR 2B Alex Bregman
Vanderbilt JR SS Dansby Swanson
Florida SR 3B Josh Tobias
Florida JR OF Harrison Bader
Louisiana State JR OF Andrew Stevenson
Tennessee JR OF Christin Stewart

Second Team

Georgia JR C Zack Bowers
Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel
South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock
Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom
Florida SR 3B Josh Tobias
Tennessee JR OF/LHP Vincent Jackson
Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman
Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi

There are so many prospects here that I’m going to do my best to touch on as many as possible as we whip around the diamond. There are some quoted bits from previous entries when applicable so this isn’t entirely original content, but it’s over 6,000 words…and that’s before we get to the pitching. Buckle up.

LSU JR C Chris Chinea is a good athlete with a big raw power and a solid defensive reputation. His teammate SR C Kade Scivicque joins him in what has to be one of college ball’s top catching tandems. It would hardly be a surprise to see the talented Scivicque get selected before Chinea with the former’s senior sign status giving him the edge for teams that view them as comparable talents. I look at Texas A&M SR C Mitchell Nau in a similar way to Scivicque: both are solid senior signs that should come relatively cheaply, provide a steadying presence for young arms, and give you a chance at a big league backup catcher down the line.

Alabama SO C Will Haynie has obvious upside in his 6-5, 230 pound frame. Catchers built like that with plus raw power and plus arm strength get chances even when the overall package – Haynie struggled badly last season and has only made modest improvements in 2015 — doesn’t amount to what you’d expect. A team might bet on his tools higher than expected, but I think the most realistic outcome would be a return to Tuscaloosa in 2016. No need to rush Haynie just because he’s a draft-eligible sophomore, though I suppose the question as to whether or not his development would be better served in college or in the pros going forward is one worth asking. I typically side with the pro side on matters like these, but Haynie needs the kind of at bats that playing every day in the SEC would give him. He’s almost too raw a player to take on the pros right now; I’d worry that he’d get lost in the shuffle of pro ball as even the best player development staffs can only take on so many projects at any one time.

Georgia JR C Zack Bowers can’t match Haynie in terms of sheer mass (Bowers is listed at 6-1, 200), but offers a similarly appealing plus raw power/plus arm strength package. His glove remains a work in progress, but the strides he has made as a hitter this year have been encouraging. He’s still going to swing and miss more than you’d like, but there’s a chance with continued work he can get that aspect under enough control to put his big raw power to use. I’ve personally moved away from the arm/power catcher archetype in recent years (I know lean towards athleticism and plate discipline), but the upside of a player like Bowers is undeniable. To an extent, how much you like Bowers (and Haynie, for that matter) comes down to how much confidence you have in your player development staff working with these kinds of players. If you believe that you can coach up defense and approach, then the raw talent of the arm/power catchers supersedes any concerns. I can buy that defense can always be improved – the Cubs sure seem to think so – but changing a guy’s approach at the plate is a gigantic challenge.

If he can convince teams that he can work defensively as a four-corners (1B/3B/LF/RF) prospect, then South Carolina JR 1B Kyle Martin could wind up drafted higher than most other straight college first basemen in his class. He has the athleticism and arm strength to pull off such a move, though it remains to be seen if the primary first baseman can make the transition in pro ball. As a hitter he’s improved every season – especially in the power department – enough to make a case that he could just keep mashing enough to get a shot down the line even if he’s locked into first base only. Of course, we say it every year and it bears repeating yet again: the tremendous offensive demands of the position makes projecting any amateur first basemen as a regular a long shot. Guys who can play multiple spots – like Martin potentially, as well as LSU SR 1B Conner Hale (who has also seen time at 2B and 3B), Georgia JR 1B Morgan Bunting (3B/OF…when he plays), and Auburn JR 1B Dylan Smith (OF…when he plays) – tend to wind up the most interesting prospects on draft day.

I liked Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel last season as a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore, so it should be no shock that I like him again as a draft-eligible redshirt junior. Power, strength, and enough patience make him one of college ball’s better first base prospects. When I wonder here about why certain guys don’t get talked about more, I sometimes stop and think, “Well, how much have I publicly praised the player?” Almost always, I haven’t. I’ve thought about him a lot and maybe fired off some behind-the-scenes type things about the guy, but never given him the public recognition he deserves. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad I did this conference previews even if they did monopolize much of my free time over the past few months. There are so many more players that aren’t projected to be top ten picks that baseball fans should know about, and a quality first base prospect at one of the best programs in the country is one of them.

And now for something totally different. Mississippi SR 1B Sikes Orvis is one of college ball’s most famous names. His colorful personality, noteworthy facial hair (since lopped off, sadly), egg-like bod, and near weekly appearances on ESPN’s coverage of the SEC make him a worthy ambassador for the game and one of the most well-known players to casual college baseball/draft fans (if you’re an athlete who my wife recognizes on TV as she flicks by, then you’re famous). On top of all that, he’s also a pretty good college baseball player. He’s a better athlete and defender than his body suggests, and his power bat is nothing to mess with. The profile is a long shot to ever top out as anything but a 4A slugger, but it’ll be a fun ride. Equally entertaining plus-sized Mississippi State rSR 1B Wes Rea is in the same boat. I don’t know how high he’ll climb in the minors, but all eyes will be on the 6-5, 275 pound ATHLETE at every minor league park he sets foot in. That’s more than most mid-round prospects can say, so I’d argue he’s already ahead of the game.

LSU JR 2B/SS Alex Bregman and South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock have been covered already, so I’ll be brief with each here. On Bregman…DID YOU KNOW that as of 4/3/15, he has more home runs (7) than strikeouts (5)? That’s good, right? His defense has also universally lauded this spring, enough so that some smart people are starting to lead the Bregman as pro shortstop charge once again. Two things about that: 1) I think whatever team drafts him does so with playing him at shortstop for at least the remainder of 2015 and possibly even 2016. I’m not sure what happens after that, but my hunch is that he’ll be given every shot to stay at shortstop despite what haters like me write. I mean, if Corey Seager is still technically a shortstop, then why won’t a team stick with Bregman at the six-spot as long as possible? 2) As a “hater,” I’m encouraged about the positive reports about his defense, but more so because now I’m more sure than ever that he could be a plus glove at second rather than a future pro shortstop. Any way you look at it his improved defense is a good thing even if it does muddle the Bregman narrative up a bit.

That wasn’t particularly brief, so I’ll try again with Schrock. I’ve read in multiple places how Schrock has been a disappointment this year for South Carolina. We’re not talking from a draft perspective, but from a 2015 college production point of view. His batting average is over fifty points lower so far this year, so I guess that has to be why I keep hearing about his struggles this year. It’s certainly not about his OBP because, lower average or not, he’s getting on base at a higher clip this year (.379) than he did last year (.366). You could fairly point to his decrease in power so far this year, but it’s not so far off – especially with the added OBP value – to say he’s having a down year relative to what he’s done in the past. From a draft prospect perspective I was hoping for last year’s numbers plus improvements across the board (I’m selfish like that), but he’s hardly been disappointing through 105 at bats. I know this doesn’t have much to do with anything, but I feel better for getting that off my chest.

Alabama JR 2B/SS Mikey White’s power breakout has had many talking him up as a possible third baseman as a professional. I don’t think the power spike is real – he’s a really good hitter, but not somebody I would have had down for much more than average power going forward – but it’s the scouts he has to convince, not me. I had somebody smart (and, because I know he wouldn’t mind me saying this, also super old) recently compare him to a righthanded Graig Nettles. That feels a little rich for me – Nettles’ raw numbers don’t blow you away, but he’s a borderline HOF third baseman if going off of JAWS – but it’s an interesting comparison to a historically underrated player who once made the transition from second base to third. Lost in this whole conversation is White’s potential to remain at shortstop. Like those who will fight you to the death on Alex Bregman’s future position, there are some college baseball loyalists who will get very mad if you suggest White will have to move out of the six-spot as a pro. Believe it or not, I understand where those fans of White’s game are coming from: he’s as hard working as any prospect you’ll find, a tremendous team leader, and his baseball instincts are off the charts. Do those intangibles make up for average at best foot speed and suboptimal range? Despite the leading question, White has more of a shot to stick a shortstop for a few years than I had thought coming into the year. I still think either second or third makes more sense, and I’m not entirely sold on the bat being good enough to make him an everyday player, but the comparisons to former Alabama star Josh Rutledge…wait, this felt familiar so I searched my site for my last Rutledge reference and turns out I’ve written almost all this before. Turns out writing 10,000 words a week about college baseball for two months on end leaves you with mush for brains. Here’s my section on White from January…

It goes against a lot of what I’ve written previously, most notably in the LSU preview when discussing Alex Bregman, so don’t read too much into my listing of JR 2B/SS Mikey White’s two most likely pro positions in that precise (2B/SS) order. White could very well wind up sticking at short as a professional; in fact, I reserve the right to switch that up a half-dozen times in my mind (and in print!) over the next few months. Working very much for him are his tremendous instincts, which rank among the best I’ve seen at the amateur level. Though impossible for the amateur eye to quantify, he’s one of those players who always seems to be in the middle of the action on the field, almost always doing something positive after finding himself in the right place at the right time. Watch him for a game or even a series and you might chalk it up as a coincidence, but we’ve now got two years of college, plenty of high-level summer ball, and, depending on who you are lucky enough to talk to, a year or more of tracking him in high school to go off of at this point. If his preternatural ability to be at the right place at the right time is just a coincidence, then I no longer understand the meaning of the word.

There’s a perfectly reasonable and logical Josh Rutledge comp out there (can’t recall the origin) for White that I don’t hate, though I think White is a truer traditional middle infielder (better glove, less power) than Rutledge ever was. There’s also been a Nolan Fontana comparison floating around with Baseball America as the source. I think the Fontana comp is a little bit stronger (both players relying as much on smarts and positioning than raw athleticism as defenders), but, like all comps, it’s still imperfect: Fontana always had an elite approach as a hitter as well as, in my personal view, a surer path to remain at shortstop professionally. The best comparison that comes to mind for me is current Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer. Both guys have good size, strong arms, and have been universally praised over the years for having high baseball IQs. All that, and their sophomore year numbers aren’t all that far off…

JM: .299/.359/.481 – 15 BB/28 K – 5/7 SB
MW: .300/.399/.443 – 27 BB/44 K – 3/5 SB

Mercer followed that up with another quality season highlighted by a power spike significant enough to get him popped with the 79th overall pick in 2008. He then experienced a slow and steady climb through the Pirates minor league system before breaking through as a legitimate regular at short for Pittsburgh in 2013. If Mikey White follows the same path then we can pencil him as a third round pick this June with the chance to hit the big leagues by 2020. Doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me, though I think you could at least argue that he’ll be a faster riser but with more of a utility upside. The latter was often said about Mercer throughout the earliest portion of his career, so you never know.

White has blown past what Mercer did his junior season, especially from a power standpoint. I’ve touched on the veracity of the realness of that power before, but without much evidence against it I’m inclined to believe something good is going on with either his swing, strength, or some combination thereof. A third round selection might be a little light based on what White has done so far this year, though I remain skeptical of a heretofore non-power bat hitting for this kind of pop with the kind of plate discipline red flags evident in White’s game.

I’m about as confused on White as I’ve been on a college player so far this season. I’m no scout, but, as a baseball fan, he is exactly the kind of player I feel like I legitimately need to see more of with my own two eyes in order to better understand his strengths and weaknesses. I want to keep putting him into certain restrictive places in my mind – he’s a scrappy utility player with a “true middle infield” glove, he’s an underappreciated (by me!) power hitter who will be best at third, he’s an overrated mirage, he’s an underrated grinder – but he doesn’t seem to fit nicely in any one player archetype. Mikey White has broken me, and I think that’s a good thing. I lean towards him turning into a potential quality utility player with a chance to play regularly at second with continued progress, but will likely go back and forth a few more times between now and June.

I haven’t heard a player get the “he’ll be a better pro than college player” treatment in a long time quite like Tennessee JR SS AJ Simcox. I’m not sure how to take that exactly. It almost sounds like a dig on the Tennessee coaching staff, but I find that hard to believe knowing what I do about the people they have in place there. I think it’s more likely explained by the differences in the pro grind – all baseball, all the time – versus the multitude of various interested parties pulling one’s attention away from the day in college. I don’t know anything specific to Simcox here, for the record. He could be as focused as can be and simply in need of an all-encompassing baseball environment because of personal preference.

It’s just now occurred to me that the SEC shortstops have a pretty clear tier system. It gets even more clearly defined if we include maybe shortstops like Bregman and White. The top tier includes Vanderbilt JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson and Bregman, then there’s Florida JR SS/OF Richie Martin and White, then a big step down to Simcox, Auburn JR SS Cody Nulph, and Mississippi State SR SS Seth Heck, and a final tier of South Carolina JR SS Marcus Mooney, Arkansas rJR SS Brett McAfee, and whomever else I missed.

I’m still holding out on JR 3B Xavier Turner (formerly of Vanderbilt, though technically he’s still enrolled at school there and just not playing ball this year) as the conference’s best third base prospect. That’s as much as because of Turner’s talent (ample athleticism, bat speed in spades, and average or better raw power, speed, and arm strength) as it is the relative void at the position without him. I had Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom as the next in line, but his transition to the SEC hasn’t been all that it could be so far. He still gives you intriguing power, defensive upside, and size. Since it was a close battle for second pre-season anyway, I don’t’ feel too bad about editing my list a bit and flipping Florida SR 3B/2B Josh Tobias to the two spot for now. Tobias has always flashed talent (above-average speed, more pop than his size suggests, and a steady, versatile glove), so it’s been nice to see him put together a strong senior season. As a senior sign with a possible utility future (the approach keeps him from being a starter for me), he could find his way into the late single-digit rounds. Similar things apply to Texas A&M JR 3B/SS Logan Taylor, another versatile defender (potentially plus at third, average at both short and second) with some pop who could find a role off a big league bench one day.

I want to say that Florida JR OF Harrison Bader can do a little bit of everything, but that would be a lie. Harrison Bader can do a lot of everything. He’s a legitimate five-tool player and I’ll fight anybody who says otherwise. I’d take him over any bat in the conference not named Bregman or Swanson without a second thought. Above-average raw power, above-average to plus speed, and the ability to play center make him a lot like Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman to me, but with a markedly better approach at the plate. If he’s there in the second, it’s an easy call. Also, I’m not a scout and smarter people have disagreed with me, but I love his swing. It’s not conventionally pretty, but his lower half and upper half are coordinated really well and there’s just enough of an uppercut (but not too much) to suggest his power surge is real.

LSU JR OF Andrew Stevenson could step into a AA lineup tomorrow (just in time for opening day!) because his defense in center (plus-plus), speed (plus), and hit tool (above-average) are all professional quality right now. He’s one of those players that it would be very hard to imagine not someday carving out a big league role for himself on the basis of his defensive prowess and game-changing speed on the base paths alone. When you add in that hit tool, his emerging pop, and an improved approach at the plate, it’s easy to envision him maturing into a table-setting leadoff hitter guaranteed to give you years of positive defensive and base running value in the bigs. I was high on Stevenson before writing this paragraph, but now I’m more pumped about him than ever.

Tennessee JR OF Christin Stewart just keeps getting better and better and better as a hitter. With an above-average hit tool and honest plus raw power, his breakout season (happening right now!) was only a matter of time. I’ve been hard on him in the past because of my perceived disconnect between his consistently praised approach at the plate and below-average BB/K ratios (1/2 for most of his first two seasons), but I’m starting to buy in. When I hear this is a below-average draft, I think of players like Stewart who have emerged as worthwhile top three round picks – not just in this draft, but in any draft – and smile. If a down draft means a few pitching prospect have gotten injured and no stone cold mortal lock for 1-1 exists, then I guess this draft isn’t very good. If it means that there will be future big league regulars selected out of college as late as the fifth round, then I feel like we’re not on the same page. I try not to cheerlead, but the bad draft stuff is just laziness from paid professionals who really ought to try digging a little deeper.

I’ve written a lot about many SEC prospects already (links to the teams that had rosters in early are found below), but there are a few players I’d like to quickly revisit based on updated information and performance. I didn’t realize it until after the fact that almost every blurb has a BUT in it, so I did my best to sneak one into each.

  • Tennessee JR OF/LHP Vincent Jackson – still love the tools, but where’s the power?
  • Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman – status unchanged (solid tools across the board), but approach still holds him back
  • Auburn JR 2B/OF Jordan Ebert – hoping his early season struggles are more attributable to bad BABIP luck, but his BB/K is still strong enough to give me hope that he’ll hit
  • LSU JR OF Mark Laird – now view him as Stevenson without the ceiling, but still a ML player
  • Tennessee SR OF Jonathan Youngblood – tools remain elite, but hasn’t played at all; could see a fan raging about his IDIOT team drafting somebody with such “bad” college numbers without knowing how damn toolsy Youngblood actually is just as easily as he could go undrafted
  • Alabama JR OF Georgie Salem – had a hunch that he was in line for a breakout season, but I’ve been told (haven’t seen him in person this year) he’s actually regressed at the plate and looks lost at times

I didn’t get to a few SEC schools that were late to post rosters, so special mention should be made about outfielders from Arkansas, Kentucky, and Alabama. Here are their quick blurbs, all decidedly BUT free…

  • Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi – well-rounded with above-average speed, solid pop, CF range, and a live bat; somehow leading the nation in homers as of this writing at only 5-10, 175 pounds, which says about his strength and swing
  • Alabama SO OF Casey Hughston – swings and misses too much for my taste, though he’s still one of the draft’s best athletes and power hitters who is having a giant second season
  • Kentucky JR OF Kyle Barrett – reminds me a little bit of Laird as a speedy center fielder with fourth outfielder upside, might be a better all-around player
  • Kentucky JR OF Ka’aI Tom – size and tools don’t blow you away, yet he’s found a way to produce at every stop

LSU

Wherever he lands defensively, Bregman is going to hit. The ability to play one of the middle infield spots and hit while doing it is what makes him as close to a first round lock as there is in this college class. If that sounds like exceedingly simple analysis, well, that’s because it is. He has an easy to identify above-average or better hit tool, average to above-average speed that plays up due to his impressive feel for the game, average raw power with an emphasis on splitting the gaps, plenty of bat speed, and a consistently smart approach at the plate. There aren’t a lot of holes you can poke in his game from an offensive standpoint. One thing I’ve found particularly fascinating about Bregman as a prospect is the response you get when his name comes up within the game. I think I’ve heard more comps on Bregman than literally any player I can remember. Something about his game just evokes that “every man” feeling deep inside talent evaluators, I guess. Take a look at the list I currently have of comps I’ve personally heard for Bregman: Mike Lansing, Mark Ellis (BA has used this), Robby Thompson, Orlando Hudson, Tony Renda, Randy Velarde, Bill Mueller, Jose Vidro, Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Baerga, Ray Durham, Jhonny Peralta, and Mark DeRosa. There’s also the increasingly popular Dustin Pedroia comp, which makes sense on the surface but is a scary comparison for anybody due to the unique set of circumstances (or, more plainly, an obsessive/borderline maniacal drive to be great) that has led to Pedroia’s rise in the game. I’ve also heard the cautionary comp of Bobby Crosby, though I’m not sure I buy the two being all the similar at similar points in their respective development. A statistical look comparing Bregman and Crosby makes for an interesting conversation starter (if, you know, you’re friends with other obsessive college baseball/draft fans)…

AB: .344/.408/.504 – 51 BB/46 K – 28/35 SB – 526 AB
BC: .340/.417/.496 – 70 BB/103 K – 40/51 SB – 635 AB

Top is Bregman so far, bottom is Crosby’s career college numbers. It would have worked better if I had left out the BB/K ratios, but that would have been intellectually dishonest and I’m far too morally upstanding to stoop to statistical manipulation to make a point. I’d never dream of doing such a thing. Hey, look at this comparison…

AB: .369/.419/.546 – 25 BB/24 K – 17/18 SB – 282 AB
AH: .329/.391/.550 – 20 BB/20 K – 10/11 SB – 222 AB

The top is Bregman’s first year at LSU, the bottom is Aaron Hill’s first year at LSU. Notice how I didn’t say freshman year: Hill transferred from Southern Illinois to LSU after his freshman season. Since we’ve already gone down this dark and twisted road of statistical manipulation, let’s go even deeper…

AB: .316/.397/.455 – 27 BB/21 K – 12/18 SB – 244 AB
AH: .299/.375/.463 – 15 BB/27 K – 6/7 SB – 134 AB

Those would be Bregman and Hill’s “other” college season; more specifically, you’re looking at Hill’s freshman year at Southern Illinois and Bregman’s more recent season. I’m not sure what could be gained from comparing these two seasons, but, hey, look how similar! Jokes aside — though, seriously, those are some freaky similar numbers — I think the comparison between Alex Bregman and Aaron Hill is probably the most apt comp out there at this point. If the numbers don’t sway you, just check Hill’s playing card from his draft year at Baseball America…

In a draft thin on shortstops, Hill is one of the few with legitimate offensive potential. There are questions as to whether he can handle that position all the way up to the majors, but he’ll get the shot to prove he can’t. His instincts and gritty makeup get the most out of his tools–which aren’t lacking. He has enough arm to make plays from the hole, along with range and quickness. He’s not flashy but gets the job done. At worst, the Southeastern Conference player of the year will be an all-around second baseman. Offensively, he has a beautiful swing, above-average speed and control of the strike zone. He doesn’t have plus home-run power, but he can hit the occasional longball and line balls into the gaps.

I don’t normally post full sections like that, but come on! Replace Hill for Bregman and that’s pretty much spot-on! Well, the bit about this being a draft thin on shortstops might not work that well — if the 2015 draft is strong at any one position player group in the college game, it’s shortstop — but still. Interesting to me that this quick scouting report glossed over Hill’s offensive promise much in the same way I coincidentally (I swear!) did with Bregman above. It’s almost as if it was a foregone conclusion that Hill would hit enough to play somewhere, just like how many, myself included, view Bregman today. I like Bregman to hit a little bit more than Hill, run a little bit better than Hill, and field a little bit better than Hill. Otherwise, I think the comparison is pretty damn good.

Tennessee

Of all the teams profiled so far, none have a 1-2 outfield punch of 2015 draft prospects quite like Tennessee’s duo of JR OFs Christin Stewart and Vincent Jackson. Neither are likely first round prospects, so there are imperfections in their respective games that will be watched closely this spring. Stewart betrayed his patient, pro-ready approach last season in an effort to produce gaudier power numbers. It’s hard to blame him what with power being the most coveted singular tool in baseball these days, but the cost might prove to be greater than what it winds up being worth. On one hand, the change in approach worked as Stewart’s slugging percentage jumped about one hundred points from his freshman season. Unfortunately, the major dip in plate discipline — Stewart’s K/BB almost doubled from his first season to his sophomore year (1.48 to 2.80) — now creates a new question in his game that will need to be answered on the field before June. If all of that sounds overly negative, well, it’s not supposed to. Consider it more of a reality check for a really strong prospect than anything else. I’m still very much a believer in Stewart’s raw power (legitimately plus), hit tool (solidly above-average), and overall approach to hitting, past year production be damned.

The current number two to the top ranked Stewart is Vincent Jackson. Jackson is an outstanding athlete with considerable tools — in particular, his power stacks up quite well with Stewart’s and his plus speed blows him away — who has yet to blow scouts away at Tennessee. Inconsistent performance or not, his size and skill set evoke comparisons to two-time All-Star Alex Rios, a lofty comp at first blush but a little more palatable when you remember Rios’ earliest scouting reports and slow to manifest power as a young professional. Jackson’s blend of size, speed, raw power, athleticism, and defensive upside (above-average arm and range at present) combine to make a pretty enticing prospect. In other words, he’s also pretty good.

Alabama
Georgia
Mississippi
Arkansas
Vanderbilt

Swanson broke out last season in a big, big way. His first real test at the college level was hardly a test at all as he hit .333/.411/.475 with 37 BB and 39 K in 282 AB. He also added 22 steals in 27 attempts for good measure. The numbers obviously speak for themselves, but it’s still nice when the scouting reports back it up. Swanson can really play. I’ll indirectly piggyback a bit on Baseball America’s Trea Turner (with less speed) comp and reuse one of my comps for Turner last year for Swanson. It actually fits a lot better now, so I don’t feel too bad going to the Brett Gardner well in back-to-back drafts. The package of athleticism, speed, defensive upside at a critical up-the-middle spot with an above-average hit tool and average-ish power (little less, probably) works out to a consistently above-average regular with the chance for stardom — certainly flashes of it — within reach.

There’s a bit of a gap between Vanderbilt’s (draft) class of 2015 and Wiseman, but that speaks to the strength of having four likely first round picks more so than any major deficits in Wiseman’s game. I’ve run into two interesting schools of thought about Wiseman while putting this together. The first, and I’ll admit that this was my initial view from the start, is that he’s still more tools than skills right now. The tools are quite strong, but the fact that they haven’t turned into the skills many expected by now gives some pause. Still, those tools that were clear to almost all going back to his high school days are still real and still worth getting excited about. The breakout could come any day now for him and when it does we’ll be looking at a potential first-division regular in the outfield. The opposing view believes that Wiseman’s development has gone as scripted and what we’re seeing right now is more or less what we’re going to get with him. He’s a great athlete and a far more cerebral hitter than given credit, but the tools were overstated across the board at the onset of his amateur career and now we’re seeing expectations for him correcting themselves based on what he really is. There really are no pluses in his game and no carrying tool that will help him rise above his future fourth outfielder station. I’m a believer that it’s always wise to bet on athletes having the light bulb turn on before too long, so count me in as still leaning closer to the former (and my original) position. I do understand the concerns about Wiseman potentially topping out as a “tweener” outfield prospect — he hasn’t shown the power yet to work in a corner, but that’s where he’s clearly best defensively — so going on the first day might be off the table. He’s still an intriguing blend of production (good, not mind-blowing) and tools (same) who could wind up a relative bargain if he slips much later than that. I could see him both being ranked and drafted in the same area that I had him listed (110th overall) out of Buckingham Browne & Nichols.

In any event, I don’t think Wiseman’s viewed by many as quite the prospect he was back in high school and a good part of that was the way many — me included — viewed his rawness, age, and relative inexperience as a New England high school product as positives. We all are guilty of assuming there are concretely meaningful patterns we can expect from prospect development and that all young players will continue to get better with age and experience. Development is not linear and can be wildly unpredictable. Some guys are as good as they are going to get at 17 while others don’t figure it out (unfortunately) until way after their physical peak. This speaks to the heart of what makes assessing and drafting amateurs so much fun. We’re all just trying to gather as much information on as many players as possible and then making the best possible guesses as to what we’ll wind up with.

Auburn

The surest bet in the Auburn lineup is JR OF/2B Jordan Ebert. Ebert doesn’t get enough love as one of the college game’s best pure hitters. That above-average or better hit tool combined with enough pop and speed allow him to potentially profile as an above-average regular offensively. I think his glove will play at any of the spots he’s tried — 2B, 3B, OF — but think his value will likely lie in his ability to play multiple spots — especially those where he can show off his plus arm — well. If you only knew what I just wrote about Ebert, you’d surely think he’s a big-time 2015 draft prospect, but, at least for now, an overly aggressive approach at the plate (31 BB/54 K) holds back his appeal to a degree. I still like him quite a bit; quite simply, guys with hit tools like his are not to be dismissed. If Ebert can settle in to a spot defensively (likely a corner OF spot), flash a touch more power, and clean up his approach a bit, he’ll become a prime candidate to become one of college ball’s fastest risers in 2015. I still think a pro team will try to keep him in the dirt for as long as humanly possible after signing. As an outfielder, he profiles as a high-level backup, especially if he can hang in center a bit. As an infielder, however, he’s a potential everyday contributor.

Missouri

2015 MLB Draft Talent – Hitting

(This was my pre-season list with a few minor tweaks where I could remember to update certain position rankings. Outside of the first five picks or so, it doesn’t really reflect where I’m at roughly three months after putting it together initially. I considered not publishing it at all and waiting until I have time to do a full revision to get it up, but so long as everybody understands it is already a bit dated I figured there’s no harm sharing. Consider it a glorified follow list, if nothing else.)

  1. Vanderbilt JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson
  2. Louisiana State JR 2B/SS Alex Bregman
  3. Florida JR OF Harrison Bader
  4. Louisiana State JR OF Andrew Stevenson
  5. Florida JR SS/OF Richie Martin
  6. Tennessee JR OF Christin Stewart
  7. South Carolina JR 2B Max Schrock
  8. Tennessee JR OF/LHP Vincent Jackson
  9. Alabama JR 2B/SS Mikey White
  10. Vanderbilt JR OF Rhett Wiseman
  11. Arkansas SO OF Andrew Benintendi
  12. Auburn JR OF/2B Jordan Ebert
  13. Louisiana State JR OF Mark Laird
  14. Alabama SO OF Casey Hughston
  15. Tennessee SR OF Jonathan Youngblood
  16. Kentucky JR OF Kyle Barrett
  17. Tennessee JR SS AJ Simcox
  18. South Carolina SR 1B Kyle Martin
  19. Vanderbilt rJR 1B Zander Wiel
  20. Florida SR 3B/2B Josh Tobias
  21. Auburn JR SS Cody Nulph
  22. Alabama JR OF Georgie Salem
  23. Alabama JR 2B/RHP Kyle Overstreet
  24. Louisiana State JR C Chris Chinea
  25. Alabama SO C Will Haynie
  26. Mississippi SR 1B/C Sikes Orvis
  27. Georgia rSO 3B Trevor Kieboom
  28. Kentucky JR OF Ka’ai Tom
  29. Texas A&M JR OF/1B Jonathan Moroney
  30. Arkansas rJR OF Tyler Spoon
  31. South Carolina JR SS Marcus Mooney
  32. South Carolina JR 2B/SS DC Arendas
  33. Georgia JR C Zack Bowers
  34. Louisiana State SR C Kade Scivicque
  35. Arkansas SR OF Joe Serrano
  36. Louisiana State SR 1B/3B Conner Hale
  37. Texas A&M SR 2B/SS Blake Allemand
  38. Texas A&M SR 3B/RHP Logan Nottebrok
  39. Arkansas rJR SS Brett McAfee
  40. Vanderbilt JR OF/RHP Kyle Smith
  41. Auburn JR OF Sam Gillikin
  42. Mississippi State rSR 1B Wes Rea
  43. Texas A&M JR C/OF Boomer White
  44. Georgia JR 1B Morgan Bunting
  45. Kentucky rSO OF Storm Wilson
  46. Auburn JR 1B/OF Dylan Smith
  47. Tennessee JR OF Chris Hall
  48. Mississippi State rSO OF Cody Brown
  49. Alabama JR 3B Daniel Cucjen
  50. Mississippi State SR SS Seth Heck
  51. Texas A&M JR 3B/SS Logan Taylor
  52. Texas A&M JR 1B/RHP Hunter Melton
  53. Texas A&M SR C Mitchell Nau
  54. Kentucky JR C Zach Arnold
  55. Texas A&M JR OF JB Moss
  56. Georgia SR OF/RHP Heath Holder

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Vanderbilt

JR RHP Walker Buehler (2015)
JR RHP Carson Fulmer (2015)
rJR LHP Philip Pfeifer (2015)
SO LHP John Kilichowski (2015)
JR RHP Tyler Ferguson (2015)
JR OF/RHP Kyle Smith (2015)
JR SS/2B Dansby Swanson (2015)
JR 3B Xavier Turner (2015)
JR OF Rhett Wiseman (2015)
rJR 1B Zander Wiel (2015)
JR 2B/SS Tyler Campbell (2015)
SO OF/1B Bryan Reynolds (2016)
SO C Jason Delay (2016)
SO OF/INF Nolan Rogers (2016)
SO RHP Hayden Stone (2016)
SO LHP Ben Bowden (2016)
rFR RHP Jordan Sheffield (2016)
SO C Karl Ellison (2016)
SO RHP/LHP Aubrey McCarty (2016)
rFR OF/INF Tyler Green (2016)
rFR OF Drake Parker (2016)
SO OF/2B Ro Coleman (2016)
FR 3B/SS Will Toffey (2016)
FR OF Jeren Kendall (2017)
FR RHP Brendan Spagnuolo (2017)
FR SS Liam Sabino (2017)
FR RHP Joey Abraham (2017)
FR RHP Matt Ruppenthal (2017)
FR RHP Collin Snider (2017)
FR RHP Kyle Wright (2017)
FR C Tristan Chari (2017)
FR 3B Joey Mundy (2017)

If JR RHP Walker Buehler, JR RHP Carson Fulmer, JR SS Dansby Swanson, JR RHP Tyler Ferguson, and JR OF Rhett Wiseman were your favorite big league team’s top five prospects heading into the season, I think you’d feel all right. Brewers, Angels, Tigers, Marlins (this year), and Rays fans know all too well what I’m talking about there. Buehler wasn’t in Keith Law”s final top 100 prospects back in 2012 and he ranked 50th on Baseball America’s list. Here, however, Buehler came in at 28th with the following text accompaniment:

28. RHP Walker Buehler (Henry Clay HS, Kentucky): classic case of a plus pitchability arm who one day wakes up to big league quality stuff; his upper-80s FB (91-92 peak) has jumped to a steady 90-94, peaking 95-96; best offsped pitch is an above-average 76-78 CB with plus upside, one of the best of its kind in the class – even more effective when he throws it a little harder (78-82); third pitch is a straight CU with tumble that at times is his best offering; hardly going out on a limb, but Buehler is one of my favorite prep arms in this year’s class: smarts, three big league pitches, and repeatable mechanics all add up to a potential quality big league starter; 6-1, 165 pounds

Since then all Buehler has done is dominate the SEC, add a second plus breaking ball (80-85 SL) and further refined his mechanics, command, and pitchability. The only thing he hasn’t done since his high school days is grow. For some teams this could present a problem, but I don’t see anything in his delivery (to say nothing of his awesome athleticism) to knock him for standing in at his present height and weight of 6-1, 160 pounds. What stands out to me above all else about Buehler’s progression over the years is the first line in the quoted section above. Young pitchers are probably too easily categorized as “pitchers” or “throwers” at an early age. Being a pitcher who is called a pitcher should not be newsworthy, but many use it as a shorthand for praising a guy’s command, smarts, and, at times, offspeed stuff while knocking his velocity. Calling a pitcher a thrower has a more obvious pejorative tone; throwers can do just that (often quite hard), but do so without understanding many of the nuances of what it truly takes to get more advanced hitters out. My favorite pitching prospects are the guys who don’t have the knockout fastballs at an early age, but develop it in their late-teens. Throwing in the mid- to upper-80s is more than enough to get even most good high school hitters out, but short fastballs like that get exposed against bigger programs and on the showcase circuit. When a stacked lineup is staring you in the face, you have to learn to be crafty and think along with the hitters by putting emphasis on the art of changing speeds, pitching backwards (more opportunities to throw offspeed stuff), and relying on refining command. If you just so happen to one day wake up and find your arm is now capable of throwing 91 MPH, then 93 MPH, then finally mid-90s heat, so much the better. The skills that you relied on before won’t disappear; if you use it wisely, you’ve only added another weapon to your arsenal.

Beyond his smarts, pitchability, command, athleticism, and groundball tendencies, Buehler sticks out to me for having two legitimate, distinct above-average to plus breaking balls. They can run into each other at times — I’ve seen an unhealthy amount of baseball in my life and consider myself reasonably bright, but distinguishing between curves, sliders, and even cutters isn’t a personal strength — especially when they are both in the low-80 MPH range, but there’s enough separation between his mostly upper-70s curve (77-83, really) and his “hard CB” from high school (then 78-82) that is now a fully formed 80-85 slider that both get swings and misses. I will say that in my experience viewing him and talking to smarter people who have seen him way more, the two pitches don’t often seem to be in that above-average to plus range within the same game. I’d like to chart a few of his starts to test the validity of this claim, but it’s been said to me that he’ll figure out which breaking ball is working early in the game and then lean on it almost exclusively as his breaker of choice throughout the game. The ability to spin two quality breaking balls on top of an impressive fastball (90-94, 96 peak) and average mid-80s sinking changeup that flashes much better on top of all of Buehler’s previous strengths and two arguable weaknesses (size and inconsistencies with his breaking balls) make him a difficult pitcher to find an instructive comparable player for. Some of the names I’ve tossed out as ceiling comparisons over the past few years include Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, and Julio Teheran. All of those work and don’t work for various reasons, I think. I also think I like Buehler so much as a prospect that I’m cool with dropping the Zack Greinke with a harder curve comp that’s been on my mind with him for a while now. It’s not meant to be a comparison we all get crazy carried away with — Greinke was already in the big leagues at Buehler’s current age, after all — but in terms of the total present prospect package of stuff, pitchability, build, and frame, I think it works very well.

Fulmer has had almost as much success as Buehler through two college seasons with their only significant difference coming in the former’s more common bouts of wildness. It’s not the kind of wildness that raises any kind of red flags, but rather something that falls somewhere between the typical developmental path of an electric young arm and the potential start of a long, fruitful run of being “effectively wild” from now until the day he retires. That aside, the biggest real question about Fulmer will be future big league role. I’d like to think I’ve long shown a willingness to allow players to play themselves from bigger roles (starting, up-the-middle defensive spots, etc.) to smaller roles, so it should be no shock that I’d run Fulmer out as a starter for as long as he shows he is capable of holding down the job in pro ball. A big part of believing in Fulmer as a starter is the fact that his stuff does not appear to appreciably suffer in longer outings. He has the three pitches he’ll need to go through lineups multiple times (mid-90s FB, honest 99 peak; plus low-80s breaking ball; mid-80s changeup with promise) and more than enough deception in his delivery to make him a tough matchup in almost any circumstance. There is some fair cause for concern that his delivery — I’m not expert on on these things and I mostly only care that it’s repeatable, but it’s rough enough that even I can see what the fuss is about — won’t allow him to hold up throwing 200+ innings a season. This isn’t the only reason why Buehler is universally regarded as the better prospect (see the silly amount of fawning I do over him above for more), but it’s a big one. Not all drafts are created equal, but I have a hard time imagining Fulmer falling too far on draft day one year after a very similar pitcher in Grant Holmes went 22nd overall.

Ferguson is sometimes the forgotten man when people discuss Vanderbilt’s awesome pitching. On just about any other staff in the country he’d be the unquestioned Friday night starter. The greater likelihood that he’ll remain in a rotation has me wondering if we’ll all look back on the pre-season draft rankings and wonder how he fell below Fulmer. I’m not sure I’m gutsy enough to make that call right now, but it’s super close. If Ferguson shows a better changeup (currently interesting but undeniably raw) than he has to date, I think the bandwagon will get very full, very quickly. He presently throws gas just like Buehler and Fulmer (90-95, 97 peak) with a pair of above-average breaking balls in his own right (above-average low- to mid-80s cut-SL and a mid- to upper-70s CB). He’s also the most conventionally looking big league starting pitcher of the trio (6-3, 225) with amusingly similar peripherals through two seasons, especially when looked through a park/schedule adjusted prism (7.71 K/9 and 3.51 BB/9 in year one; 7.60 K/9 and 3.51 BB/9 last year). Big, strong, and consistent with good stuff from a top flight program known for churning out good big league pitchers? What’s not to like? If he misses a few more bats and shows a little something extra with the changeup, he’s an easy first rounder.

Swanson broke out last season in a big, big way. His first real test at the college level was hardly a test at all as he hit .333/.411/.475 with 37 BB and 39 K in 282 AB. He also added 22 steals in 27 attempts for good measure. The numbers obviously speak for themselves, but it’s still nice when the scouting reports back it up. Swanson can really play. I’ll indirectly piggyback a bit on Baseball America’s Trea Turner (with less speed) comp and reuse one of my comps for Turner last year for Swanson. It actually fits a lot better now, so I don’t feel too bad going to the Brett Gardner well in back-to-back drafts. The package of athleticism, speed, defensive upside at a critical up-the-middle spot with an above-average hit tool and average-ish power (little less, probably) works out to a consistently above-average regular with the chance for stardom — certainly flashes of it — within reach.

There’s a bit of a gap between Vanderbilt’s (draft) class of 2015 and Wiseman, but that speaks to the strength of having four likely first round picks more so than any major deficits in Wiseman’s game. I’ve run into two interesting schools of thought about Wiseman while putting this together. The first, and I’ll admit that this was my initial view from the start, is that he’s still more tools than skills right now. The tools are quite strong, but the fact that they haven’t turned into the skills many expected by now gives some pause. Still, those tools that were clear to almost all going back to his high school days are still real and still worth getting excited about. The breakout could come any day now for him and when it does we’ll be looking at a potential first-division regular in the outfield. The opposing view believes that Wiseman’s development has gone as scripted and what we’re seeing right now is more or less what we’re going to get with him. He’s a great athlete and a far more cerebral hitter than given credit, but the tools were overstated across the board at the onset of his amateur career and now we’re seeing expectations for him correcting themselves based on what he really is. There really are no pluses in his game and no carrying tool that will help him rise above his future fourth outfielder station. I’m a believer that it’s always wise to bet on athletes having the light bulb turn on before too long, so count me in as still leaning closer to the former (and my original) position. I do understand the concerns about Wiseman potentially topping out as a “tweener” outfield prospect — he hasn’t shown the power yet to work in a corner, but that’s where he’s clearly best defensively — so going on the first day might be off the table. He’s still an intriguing blend of production (good, not mind-blowing) and tools (same) who could wind up a relative bargain if he slips much later than that. I could see him both being ranked and drafted in the same area that I had him listed (110th overall) out of Buckingham Browne & Nichols.

In any event, I don’t think Wiseman’s viewed by many as quite the prospect he was back in high school and a good part of that was the way many — me included — viewed his rawness, age, and relative inexperience as a New England high school product as positives. We all are guilty of assuming there are concretely meaningful patterns we can expect from prospect development and that all young players will continue to get better with age and experience. Development is not linear and can be wildly unpredictable. Some guys are as good as they are going to get at 17 while others don’t figure it out (unfortunately) until way after their physical peak. This speaks to the heart of what makes assessing and drafting amateurs so much fun. We’re all just trying to gather as much information on as many players as possible and then making the best possible guesses as to what we’ll wind up with.

Vanderbilt has good players beyond their special top five. rJR 1B Zander Wiel’s success in limited at bats in 2013 had me really excited to see what he could do with steady playing time in 2014. The results were more good than great, but I remain encouraged about his future. Like Wiseman, toolsy JR 3B Xavier Turner has held his own (and more, at times) in two years as a mainstay in the Commodores lineup. His offensive skill set doesn’t necessarily scream professional third baseman (more speed and gap power at present), but that doesn’t mean it won’t play at the next level. Also like Wiseman, I’d stick with Turner this year because it never hurts to bet on athleticism. He’s an elite athlete with the kind of strength and speed blend even a fine physical specimen such as myself can appreciate. It’s awful hard to top a college left side of the infield of Swanson and Turner…hopefully there’s some good news coming regarding the latter’s suspension that will make that infield a reality.

1/20/15 EDIT: SO LHP John Kilichowski is eligible for this year’s draft. FR 3B/SS Will Toffey is eligible for next year’s draft.