2015 MLB Draft Rankings, Way-Too-Early Edition

Scouting Explained: Introduction, Hitting Pt 1 Pt 2 Pt 3 Pt 4 Pt 5 Pt 6

More Draft Coverage: November Update & January SoCal Notes

International Coverage: 2015 July 2 Top Prospects & Latest on Yoan Moncada

Evaluating the Prospects: Rangers, Rockies, D’Backs, Twins, Astros, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, Rays, Mets, Padres, Marlins, Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Braves & Athletics

EDIT, Sept 28Since this article was published, Bickford chose a school (Southern Nevada JC, the same school as Bryce Harper) which I note in his blurb and one of the principles in the Aiken/Nix mess, lefty Mac Marshall, transferred to a junior college after a few weeks at LSU.

Marshall is joining high school teammate Isiah Gilliam (mentioned in the extra names below the rankings) at Florida panhandle juco powerhouse Chipola JC after both opted not to sign with the Astros and Cubs, respectively, after leaving another powerhouse program, Atlanta-area Parkview High School.  Marshall would slot 46th on this list, but I didn’t change the rankings, just put a blurb for Marshall in the spot where he would be on the list if I re-ranked it.

Some housekeeping notes to clarify and expound on the rankings:

– Brady Aiken still hasn’t signed and nothing concrete has been announced to that end, so he’s in the 2015 class until further notice. Like Aiken, Phil Bickford’s school is unknown at the moment, but both are expected to go to junior colleges out west.

– This draft class is shallow at the top. The top 3 players are a tier and then the players right behind them would usually be around 10th in most classes. There’s still plenty of time for new players to emerge or known players to get better, but at this point things are a little light.

– The Astros are once again a big story, as they have the 2nd overall pick (compensation for not signing Aiken) and as of today the 7th pick as well. That’s still fluid with picks 5-9 separated by 2 games with under 20 to go.

– One of the reasons you’ll keep hearing about the Astros and Aiken is because Aiken’s advisor, Casey Close’s Excel Sports Management, represents 7 of my top 15 prospects. (I won’t connect specific players to advisors as that only serves to help the NCAA take leverage/college eligibility from kids.) Neither side has said they won’t sign or won’t draft a player from the other side, but the tension from the Aiken/Nix saga certainly doesn’t make this an easy situation to figure.

– A huge wildcard in this draft process is Texas prep SS Kyler Murray. Some football recruiting services have him as the top prep quarterback in the country and compare the 6’1/180 speedster to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. Murray has shown very little interest in baseball and only went to one national event this summer, but scouts are hopeful he’ll change his tune this spring.

Scouts think Murray may start showing more interest in baseball and they have some reasons to believe this. Scouts have no idea how good Murray is and they won’t know until a couple weeks into the spring, at least. We know he can play somewhere up the middle, is a plus-plus runner and has big bat speed…and that’s about it. My ranking is a bit of a hedge between the two possibilities: he could turn into a top half of the first round talent or just be another dual-sport guy with holes at the plate that most teams aren’t crazy about.

Another interesting angle is that Murray’s uncle is former big leaguer Calvin Murray, who works for agent Scott Boras. Murray/Boras advised a supposedly unsignable prep prospect, who surprisingly signed for $5 million in the 2011 MLB Draft, Pirates OF Josh Bell. Given that Murray isn’t the slam dunk high 1st round type of QB and Texas A&M already has some solid QB options on campus, Murray would have a reason to see what baseball could offer him. If he moves into consensus first round range this spring and can find the right team willing to overpay relative to the consensus, a guaranteed multi-million dollar bonus up front would be an enticing new option.

– There are lots of big league bloodlines among players on the list, with the sons of Terry Shumpert (Nick), Charlie Hayes (Ke’Bryan), Eli Marrero (Elih), Kirk Gibson (Cam), Mariano Rivera (Mariano Jr.) and Mike Cameron (Daz) all appearing, with the brothers of Carson Sands (Cole), Jay Sborz (Josh) and Preston Tucker (Kyle) also on the list. There’s also a couple really cool names in the class, like Skye Bolt, Demi Orimoloye, Lucius Fox (spelled the same as Morgan Freeman’s character in the Dark Knight films) and the perfect name for a potential southern senator: Dansby Swanson.

– I cut the list off at 51 as that was the rough point where things really opened up and scouts started disagreeing, with some taking off a player for another they like better while another would do the exact opposite with the same players. Consensus is a funny word this early in the draft process and some scouts don’t even have the same top 3 as me and most other scouts, but 50 or so seemed right. This list comes from over a year of going to games and talking to scouts, with over two dozen scouts and double digit scouting directors consulted in the last few weeks.

– The present hit grades for Rodgers and for all amateur players going forward is a peer grade (which I’ll discuss in more detail in a few days in an another article about the hit tool), rather than just putting blanket 20s on everyone’s present hit tool. A peer grade means how the player performs currently in games relative to his peers: players the same age and general draft status or skill level. Some teams started using this system to avoid over-projecting a raw hitter; some use the rule that you can’t project over 10 points above the peer grade for the future grade.  This helps you avoid saying players that can’t really hit now will become standout big league hitters. Obviously, some will, but it’s not very common and it’s probably smart to not bet millions on the rare one that will.

 

1. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS (FL), Florida State commit
Hit: 60/60, Raw Power: 60/60 , Speed: 50/50+ , Field: 50/55, Throw: 55/55

Rodgers was a standout last summer with scouts saying he’d go in the top 50 picks as a high school junior, then he took a huge step forward this summer when his bat speed and raw power jumped at least a notch, if not two.  If you want to see him really let loose at the plate, check out this video, which I’m assuming is the And1 Mixtape Home Run Derby.  Rodgers is only a solid-average runner but makes the most of his foot speed with solid instincts and very rarely ever misplays a ball at short.  Some scouts aren’t ready to anoint him the top prospect in the land yet because he doesn’t “look like that type,” which is basically code for an average running white shortstop isn’t supposed to go 1/1.  An averaging running shortstop from Orlando went 5th overall last year with 50 at best raw power and the 2015 class is shallow up top, so Rodgers belongs somewhere close to #1 if he isn’t the best player right now.

 

2. Brady Aiken, LHP, Who Knows?
Fastball: 55/60, Curveball: 55/60, Changeup: 55/60, Command: 45/55

Aiken’s story is well known at this point.  The stuff has never been in doubt, just like the command, age and frame have all been pluses the whole time as well.  There is no injury history and only one team has seen his medicals, but his elbow left them a little worried.  That’s enough so slide him behind Rodgers, though some scouts would flip the two.  If he doesn’t end up finding a solution with the Astros, he’s expected to enroll at Yavapai JC in Arizona.

 

3. Michael Matuella, RHP, Duke
Fastball: 65/70, Curveball: 50/60, Changeup: 45/50+, Command: 40/50+

Matuella didn’t pitch this summer, so only Carolinas area scouts have really seen him; I happened to run into his first start after recovering from arm soreness when I was in town for other games.  The temperature was in the 40’s that day and while I had heard Matuella had broken out that spring, expectations were low. He sat 93-97 mph for four innings with a 60 curveball and solid-average changeup and command.  Matuella is surprisingly loose for 6’6’/225 and reminds me a lot of Pirates top prospect Tyler Glasnow, who I’ve seen a few times this year.  The concern is that Matuella has only thrown 58 innings since his velo spike and there was multiple week arm soreness in the middle of it.  When scouts get first looks at him this fall and early in the spring, they’re going to like what they see and if he can stay healthy until draft day with the stuff I saw, he’s a legit 1/1 threat.

4. Walker Buehler, RHP, Vanderbilt: Buehler’s stuff took a step forward this spring, sitting 91-95 and hitting 96 mph with two plus breaking balls and changeup/command that flash above average; the concern is his rail-thin 6’1/160 frame.

5. Phil Bickford, RHP, Southern Nevada JC: The 6’4/200 Bickford left Cal State Fullerton recently to get 2015 draft eligible and will announce where he’s headed soon (edit: he did, per note at the top of the article), with junior college the assumed destination; he went 10th overall out of high school and has improved since then, hitting 97 mph in short stints on the Cape with a plus slider, which he never showed in high school.

6. Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (CA), UCLA commit: Allard is listed at 6’0/165 but is the youngest projected 1st rounder and showed a consistent above average fastball/slider combo all summer until he sat 93-95 mph in an inning late in the summer with a sharper slider; some expect a big step forward in the spring like Brady Aiken, another SoCal lefty that was very young for his class, showed last spring.

7. Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt: Swanson was a standout defensive shortstop in high school but hasn’t played there yet in college or in the summer, though he should take over short this spring for the Commodores; scouts expect him to show the tools to stick there and the 6’1/200 Swanson is a plus runner with an advanced bat.

8. Daz Cameron, CF, Eagle’s Landing HS (GA), Florida State commit: The son of Mike Cameron was getting Justin Upton-type hype as a prep sophomore but hasn’t taken the expected steps forward since then, though some scouts are anticipating a jump this spring; he’s still really good, but now compares less to Upton and more to the 23rd pick in last year’s draft, Tigers CF Derek Hill, as an overall prospect.

9. Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA), UCLA commit: The 6’7/230 lefty has been up to 97 mph with an above average curveball and, late in the summer, flashed an above average changeup, though the command lags behind due to the effort in his delivery.

10. Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville: The 6’2/220 righty sits 92-94 and bumps 96 mph with a plus slider and a solid-average changeup, but his command still comes and goes at times.

11. Cody Ponce, RHP, Cal Poly Pomona: The breakout pitcher of the Cape this summer comes from a tiny school in SoCal but he stands tall at 6’6/240.  Scouts saw different versions of Ponce this summer but, in his best starts, he was 91-95 with a 55 or 60 curveball and the changeup/command to start while, in the Cape All-Star Game, he sat 94-97 mph with a 65 slider.

12. Alex Bregman, SS, LSU: One of the most famous players in college baseball had a bit of a down sophomore campaign and some scouts think he still fits better at 2B as a pro, but he flashes four above average tools and double-digit homer power from a simple swing.

13. Ian Happ, 2B/CF, Cincinnati: The 5’11/190 switch-hitter doesn’t have a first round type frame and has bounced around the field defensively, but flashes above average hit/power tools and plus speed.

14. Ashe Russell, RHP, Cathedral HS (IN), Uncommitted: The 6’4/195 righty was 92-95 with an above average curveball and solid-average changeup much of the summer.

15. Chris Betts, C, Wilson HS (CA), Tennessee commit: The 6’2/220 Betts drew Brian McCann comparisons this summer for above average raw power and hitting tools to go with a huge plus arm and enough defensive ability for a chance to stick behind the plate.

16. Nick Plummer, LF, Brother Rice HS (MI), Kentucky commit: Plummer popped up late in the summer and while he’s only 5’11/200 and fits in left field, he’s a quick-twitch athlete with plus bat speed, above average raw power and lots of hard contact.

17. Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt: Fulmer is listed at 5’11/195 and has toned-down his reliever-only delivery to give himself a chance to start, but I wouldn’t bet against the rubber-armed Vandy ace; he sits 92-96 and hits 97 with life and an above average curveball and changeup.

18. Alonzo Jones, 2B/CF, Columbus HS (GA), Vanderbilt commit: 80 runner draws splits takes on whether he plays in infield or outfield but looked like a new guy last month, flashing 50 raw power and plus bat speed from both sides that scouts hadn’t seen earlier this summer.

19. Mike Nikorak, RHP, Stroudsburg HS (PA), Alabama commit: Unknown 6’5/205 righty announced himself as a first round type hitting 97 mph with a 55 or 60 curveball in June; he’s flashed an above average changeup as well but the velo has slipped into the high 80’s at times as well.

20. Kyle Cody, RHP, Kentucky: The 6’7/245 monster is still low-energy and inconsistent but, at his best, he sits 92-96 hitting 97 mph with a 55 curveball and changeup and enough command to start.

21. Nate Kirby, LHP, Virginia: Kirby didn’t pitch much this summer but didn’t need to after a huge sophomore campaign put him in first round contention; at his best, Kirby sits 92-94 mph with an above average breaking ball and feel to pitch.

22. D.J. Stewart, LF, Florida State: The 6’0/230 slugger doesn’t look like the typical first round bat, but he’s flashed above average hit and power tools with advanced feel for the strike zone and surprising athleticism; he was a high level high school running back.

23 .Trenton Clark, LF, Richland HS (TX), Texas Tech commit: Clark has slowly grown on scouts, as he first appears to be a tweener with 50 raw power, 55 speed and a 45 arm, but he’s raked more than any prep bat this summer and now looks like a more physical version of 2013 Oakland 1st rounder Billy McKinney.

24. Jake Lemoine, RHP, Houston: The 6’5/220 righty’s velo dipped down the stretch last spring, but he was back to normal this summer with an above average to plus fastball/slider combination and an improving changeup that’s also above average at times.

25. Kyle Tucker, RF, Plant HS (FL), Florida commit: The sweet-swinging lanky 6’4 lefty has drawn swing comparisons to Ted Williams, Ken Griffey Jr. and Daryl Strawberry while flashing projectable plus raw power with feel for the bat head; his summer game performance have been up and down but scouts that have history with Tucker expect him to take a huge step forward in the spring.

26. Greg Pickett, LF, Legend HS (CO), Mississippi State commit: The loose 6’4/210 lefty slugger flashes plus raw power and advanced feel for the strike zone, but he gave scouts some uneven looks this summer while he battled a leg injury.

27. Beau Burrows, RHP, Weatherford HS (TX), Texas A&M commit: The 6’2 righty regularly runs it into the mid-90’s with an above average hook, but he lacks projection and is more of a thrower right now.

28. Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara: The 6’2/185 righty has explosive stuff, sitting in the mid-90’s and hitting 99 mph with a slider that’s at least a 60 and some scouts hang a 70 on it; his delivery is high effort but he’s athletic enough that some think he could start.

29. Chris Shaw, 1B, Boston College: The 6’4/250 slugger is in surprisingly good shape for his listed size with a good sense of the strike zone, feel for the bat head, smooth mechanics and plus raw power; he has an average arm and could play a passable corner outfield as well.

30. Alex Young, LHP, TCU: The 6’2 lefty seems ordinary with a fastball, changeup and command that are all 50 or 55, but then he breaks out his plus low-80’s curveball and slider.

31. Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista HS (FL), Florida Atlantic commit: The 6’4/215 righty has the smoothest arm action in the class, with scouts expecting he’ll sit in the mid-90’s one day and he flashes solid-average off-speed already; he sat mostly 90-91 this summer then hit 96 mph in an inning at the PG All-American Classic.

32. Chandler Day, RHP, Watkins HS (OH), Vanderbilt commit: The lanky 6’4 righty runs it up to 93 mph now with three pitches that flash above average and the frame/delivery to dream for more.

33. Marcus Brakeman, RHP, Stanford: The 6’1/180 Brakeman was another breakout arm on the Cape this summer, jumping from 88-91 for the Cardinal last spring to a consistent 91-95 this summer; his fringy curveball is the concern but the solid-average command and plus changeup help make up for it.

34. Gio Brusa, LF, Pacific: One of the breakout bats on the Cape this summer steadily moved up this list as scouts kept saying how much they liked his bat in a weak crop for college bats: there’s above average raw power and a 60 bat for some scouts, but not much in the way of speed/defense/arm.

35. Riley Ferrell, RHP, TCU: Ferrell sat out this summer but is plenty well-known to scouts as the two-year closer for the Horned Frogs and last summer for Team USA: he sits 94-97 with reports he’s hit 99 or 100 mph and an above average to plus slider, but it’s relief-only.

36. Demi Orimoloye, RF, St. Matthew HS (CAN), Uncommitted: Orimoloye caught scouts’ attention last year as an underclassman at the Area Code games and batting behind 2014 2nd rounder Gareth Morgan (Mariners) for Team Canada; Orimoloye is a 6’4/225 monster with a chance for five above average tools.

37. Richie Martin, SS, Florida: Area scouts were openly joking last spring that the talented but inconsistent Martin would be benched as a junior, but he took a huge step forward this summer on the Cape: there’s still some mental lapses defensively, but he’s a plus runner with the tools to play short, a developing bat and 50 raw power.

38. Garrett Whitley, CF, Niskayuna HS (NY), Wake Forest commit: Whitley popped up late in the summer, but the 6’2/200 athlete has legit tools, with 65 speed, 50 raw power and some feel to hit.

39. Kyler Murray, SS, Allen HS (TX), Texas A&M commit (FB): Discussed in depth in the intro, one of the top prep quarterbacks in the country could become a factor in the top half of the first round when scouts are finally able to watch him this spring.

40. Luken Baker, 1B/RHP, Oak Ridge HS (TX), TCU commit: The massive 6’4/240 Texan sits 92-95 mph in short stints with an above average breaking ball but more of a relief look while, at the plate, he flashes 65 or 70 raw power with surprisingly good contact skills; scouts are still split on whether his future is as a hitter or pitcher.

41. Jahmai Jones, 2B/OF, Wesleyan HS (GA), North Carolina commit: The 6’0/210 Jones has played mostly outfield this summer but looked like he could fit at 2B last summer; the above average to plus runner has a simple, efficient swing and caught fire late in the summer.

42. Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois: Jay was a complete unknown that pitched in relief for Team USA this summer and, while he’s about 6’0 with little track record and some effort to the delivery, the stuff is electric: 93-97 mph with above average to plus curveball and changeup.

43. Joe DeMers, RHP, College Park HS (CA), Washington commit: The 6’2/230 righty doesn’t have the kind of frame or delivery you expect with elite high school arms, but DeMers makes his delivery work for him and was 91-94 touching 96 mph all summer with a changeup and curveball that flash above average.

44. Cornelius Randolph, 3B, Griffin HS (GA), Clemson commit: Randolph showed flashes of first round ability this summer with average speed/defense and above average arm/raw power to go with some feel to hit, though some scouts saw lesser tools at times and are more cautious.

45. Cadyn Grenier, SS, Bishop Gorman HS (NV), Oregon State commit: Grenier is a steady shortstop that has just enough ability to stick there long-term and above average speed, which was complemented by a stronger frame with more bat speed late in the summer.

Mac Marshall, LHP, Chipola JC (FL): I referenced the 6’2/185 lefty’s background at the top of the article and he fits at this point on the list, though I didn’t re-rank the players. Marshall normally sits 88-92 and hit 95 mph last season, but his velo varied a lot last year; his curveball is above average at times, if inconsistent, while his changeup has flashed plus and he projects for average command.

46. Triston McKenzie, RHP, Royal Palm Beach HS (FL), Vanderbilt commit: Rail-thin 6’5/160 righty sits around 90 mph now, touches higher and flashes an above average breaking ball to go with enough changeup/command to start.

47. Andrew Suarez, LHP, Miami: The Nationals’ unsigned 2nd rounder from 2014 sat 91-95 mph most times out last spring with an above average breaking ball and the changeup/command to start; he should go in the same range again.

48. Christin Stewart, LF, Tennessee: Physical power hitter flashes plus raw power from the left side and raked for Team USA this summer, but swing mechanics are inconsistent and speed/defense/arm limit him to left field.

49. Mikey White, SS, Alabama: Not a flashy player, but White has steadily improved at the plate and could be a league-average bat that gets the most out of solid-average tools at a middle infield position.

50. Mitchell Hansen, LF, Plano HS (TX), Stanford commit: Lanky 6’4 athlete flashes above average power potential and speed with developing feel at the plate, but arm strength limits him to left field.

51. Kyle Molnar, RHP, Aliso Niguel HS (CA), UCLA commit: Molnar doesn’t have much physical projection or the prettiest arm action, but he flashes three above average pitches with feel and keeps improving.

 

Just Missing The List

Nick Shumpert, SS, Highlands Ranch HS (CO), Kentucky commit: Son of former big leaguer Terry Shumpert, Nick has above average to plus speed and a chance to stick at shortstop, but can get pull-happy at the plate with a Juan Gonzalez-style swing at times and is maxed-out at 5’11/175.

Corey Zangari, RHP, Carl Albert HS (OK), Oklahoma State commit: Zangari only threw in one national event this summer and didn’t even throw for his high school team last year due to control issues. The 6’4/225 righty has been in the mid-90’s at his best with three pitches all flashing above average.

Daniel Reyes, LF, Mater Academy HS (FL), Florida commit: I first saw Reyes when he started as a freshman on a loaded Mater Academy team in left field alongside CF Albert Almora (#6 overall pick in 2012) and RF Willie Abreu (#3 hitter for Miami Hurricanes as a freshman last year). Reyes is a solid athlete with 60 raw power and smooth, quick hands, but is limited to left field and his swing broke down late in the summer.

Garrett Wolforth, C, Concordia Lutheran HS (TX), Dallas Baptist commit: The son of pitching guru Ron Wolforth re-classified to the 2015 class in the last few weeks and he’s the youngest kid on this list by a few months. His carrying tool is a 70 arm that he loves showing off and the 6’2/185 switch hitter has feel to hit and catch as well.

Josh Staumont, RHP, Azusa Pacific: The 6’2/205 righty from a Division II school in SoCal turned heads getting up to 97 or 98 mph regularly last spring, with a heavily anticipated Cape Cod League showing this summer. Things were very uneven, with him occasionally showing upper 90’s heat, a potential plus curve and usable changeup but at other times he showed 20 command of more average stuff due to delivery problems.

Steven Duggar, CF, Clemson: Duggar has added more speed and arm strength since high school, now flashing 70s for both tools, but his swing mechanics still need some adjustments to make more contact and get to his power in games.

Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona: Newman led the Cape in hitting two summers in a row and scouts keep saying someone will take him in the 2nd round next year, but the tools aren’t huge. Most think he fits best at second base long term and his power and speed are both below average, but he can really hit and can play somewhere up the middle with flashy numbers, so someone will bite.

 

Interesting Talents With Top 5 Round Upside

Ryan Perez, BHP, Judson (IL): This switch pitcher from a tiny college in Illinois isn’t just a sideshow. Perez is better from the left side, where he’s 90-93 with a plus slider at his best, and both pitches are a tick or two lower from the right side.  He has solid command, but some scouts only saw average stuff at times and wonder if he can go in the top 5 rounds since they haven’t seen a changeup. either.

Cam Gibson, CF, Michigan State: The son of Kirk Gibson is an 80 runner for many scouts, but his hitting mechanics are a little too much like Ichiro, given Gibson’s potential average power and the swing is high maintenance enough that he didn’t make much contact on the Cape. Another scout also noted Gibson’s “sweet blonde mullet.”

Nolan Long, RHP, Wagner: The 6’10 righty drew attention from top ACC and SEC schools for hoops but wanted to play baseball as well and Wagner was the top school that allowed him to play both.  It may be a mistake by those major schools, as Long was 89-92 with some reports he hit 95 mph in the NECBL this summer.

Kyri Washington, CF, Longwood (VA): The hitter with the most raw power on the Cape (65) is also a plus runner that can play center field, so why isn’t he on the list? His plate discipline is awful and his swing isn’t exactly great either: it’s mostly raw tools for a former football player still new to baseball.

Drew Jackson, SS, Stanford: Jackson was regularly called a potential 1st rounder as a freshman and on the Cape after his freshman year, as the 6’2/195 athlete is a plus runner with a chance to stick at short and the strength for average power.  His swing has completely fallen apart and Stanford doesn’t exactly have the reputation of fixing swings. He sat 90-91 in a late season Cape appearance on the mound; he’s so talented there has to be a solution here.

Mariano Rivera Jr., RHP, Iona: Little Mo was mostly 88-90 last year and appeared to be a courtesy draft by the Yankees in the 29th round last June.  This summer, reports from the NECBL have hi sitting 90-92, touching 94 mph and some are wondering if he’s a late-bloomer like his father.

Justin Jacome, LHP, UC Santa Barbara: Jacome (pronounced HOCK-oh-me) is a low-effort, projection and command lefty with some similarities to the crafty big league lefty of your choice.  The 6’6/225 lefty sat 85-89 touching 90 this summer with a solid-average four pitch mix, comically low effort, extreme pitchability, a clean delivery, a magical ability to miss bats and RecSpecs, so you know he’s serious.

Jake Kelzer, RHP, Indiana: Some area scouts were scrambling late leading up the 2014 draft to get looks at the 6’7/235 draft-eligible redshirt freshman swimmer for the Hoosiers.  Some scouts didn’t know Kelzer was eligible but he ended up getting drafted (and not signing) as a 22nd rounder of the Yankees.  Kelzer is 90-93, touching 94 mph with a hard slider at his best, but is still pretty raw.

 

More Prospects To Watch

I had a lot more names that were mentioned by scouts and I wanted to rank more players, but there wasn’t enough consensus for a hard ranking of this many kids. So, I made four groups of 17 players from each demographic, ranked in no particular order, to give you more names to monitor for rounds 3-4, though I could’ve easily expanded this even further.

HS pitchers: RHP Cole McKay (TX, LSU), RHP Cole Sands (FL, Florida State), RHP Gray Fenter (TN, Mississippi State), RHP Brady Singer (FL, Florida), LHP Hunter Bowling (FL, Florida), RHP Jason Bilous (DE, Coastal Carolina), RHP Donnie Everett (TN, Vanderbilt), RHP Drew Finley (CA, USC), LHP Juan Hillman (FL, UCF), LHP Thomas Szapucki (FL, Florida), RHP Cody Morris (MD, South Carolina), RHP Matthew McGarry (CA,  Vanderbilt), LHP Max Wotell (NC, Arizona), RHP Chris Andritsos (TX, Oklahoma), LHP Brendon Little (PA, North Carolina), RHP Nolan Watson (IN, Vanderbilt), RHP Riley Thompson (KY, Louisville), RHP Bryan Hoeing (IN, Louisville)

HS hitters: SS Jalen Miller (GA, Clemson), SS Jonathan India (FL, Florida), SS Lucius Fox (FL, North Carolina State), 3B Bryce Denton (TN, Vanderbilt), CF D.J. Wilson (OH, Vanderbilt), LF Chris Chatfield (FL, USF), RF Ryan Johnson (TX, TCU), 2B Travis Blankenhorn (PA, Kentucky), LF Kep Brown (SC, None), 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (TX, Tennessee), CF Ryan McKenna (ME, Liberty), 3B Brendon Davis (CA, Fullerton), 3B John Aiello (NJ, Wake Forest), 3B L.T. Tolbert (FL, South Carolina), 3B Ryan Mountcastle (FL, UCF), CF Eric Jenkins (NC, UNC Wilmington), C Wyatt Cross (CO, North Carolina)

College pitchers: RHP Cody Poteet (UCLA), LHP Brett Lillek (Arizona State), RHP Trent Thornton (North Carolina), RHP Kyle Wilcox (Bryant), RHP Tyler Ferguson (Vanderbilt), RHP Brock Hartson (UT San Antonio), RHP Jon Harris (Missouri State), RHP Blake Hickman (Iowa), RHP Eric Hanhold (Florida), RHP James Kaprelian (UCLA), RHP Kolton Mahoney (BYU), LHP Travis Bergen (Kennesaw State), RHP Jon Duplantier (Rice), RHP Josh Sborz (Virginia), RHP Ryan Burr (Arizona State), LHP Garrett Cleavinger (Oregon), RHP Seth McGarry (Florida Atlantic)

College hitters: SS Kal Simmons (Kennesaw State), CF Andrew Stevenson (LSU), 2B Edwin Rios (FIU), SS C.J. Hinojosa (Texas), C Taylor Ward (Fresno State), RF Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt), SS Blake Trahan (Louisiana Lafayette), LF Donnie Dewees (North Florida), CF Harrison Bader (Florida), 3B David Thompson (Miami), RF Joe McCarthy (Virginia), LF Isiah Gilliam (Chipola JC), 3B Matt Gonzalez (Georgia Tech), LF Brandon Sanger (Florida Atlantic), 3B Travis Maezes (Michigan), CF Braden Bishop (Washington), CF Skye Bolt (North Carolina)



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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Clock
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Clock
1 year 8 months ago

unexpected surprise….unexpected great article

2014 National Champions
Guest
2014 National Champions
1 year 8 months ago

So what you’re saying is Vandy has a chance to be pretty good again, eh? And that LSU/VU series from last March had a pretty nice collection of talent on display..as did the 2013 SEC Tournament championship game I suppose. I can’t freaking wait for February 2015!!!!!!!

primi timpano
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primi timpano
1 year 8 months ago

Why no grievance against Houston for Aiken? If I were Aiken I would have an antitrust suit filed to try and get FA leverage. I would also think MLB would be pleased to set aside the 1st round comp pick.

Simon
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Simon
1 year 8 months ago

Because he doesn’t have that strong a claim to a grievance? Deal was agreed subject to a medical, the Astros (highly possibly wrongly) felt that the medical threw up issues and withdrew their offer. Any grievance would either require MLB to admit their draft system is broken or that they have a right to overrule the Astros medical judgment, unless there’s concrete evidence that the Astros actually don’t have medical concerns about his arm.

primi timpano
Guest
primi timpano
1 year 8 months ago

I would apply for grievance, if not granted, go to court. Personally I believe the antitrust exemption is getting weak and Aiken presents a compelling case. Even better than the Silicon Valley no poaching case.

GoToWarMissAgnes
Guest
GoToWarMissAgnes
1 year 6 months ago

Respectfully, this idea just doesn’t make much sense.

-The simplest explanation is that even if the antitrust exemption is getting weak (which, personally, I find highly dubious–it’s going to take Congress, not the courts, to strip the exemption), it would still take years to get rid of it through the courts. There is no real doubt that it exists – it’s been reaffirmed multiple times before the Supreme Court. There is very little chance that a district court or appellate court would find the exemption doesn’t exist. So best case, you’re talking about Brady Aiken 1) applying for a grievance and waiting for the decision; 2) then suing in district court and waiting for the decision; 3) then appealing to an appellate court and waiting for that decision; 4) then petitioning for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court and waiting for the Court to decide whether to grant that petition; 5) and then finally, the Supreme Court hearing the case and overturning nearly 100 years of precedent. Alternatively, he could go back into the draft and likely be in the majors by the time the suit would have run its course. Even on the off chance that he won in district or appellate court, the decision would likely be stayed.

-I’m not even clear that the antitrust exemption matters here. The draft is collectively bargained between the players’ union and MLB. The other major professional sports all have drafts without an antitrust exemption. I’ll admit I know only a little about this aspect of the issue, but Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett both lost the lawsuit challenging age requirements in the NFL draft before the Second Circuit (with Sotomayor writing the opinion) and had the Supreme Court deny their cert. petition. The basic idea was that the teams were not horizontal competitors under federal labor law if they were collectively bargaining to set the terms and conditions of employment. That seems compelling to me, and the same reasoning would apply here. Baseball’s antitrust exemption has more to do with the way the league can exert control over teams than over players.

Long story short: a law-suit is far fetched, and not likely to be Aiken’s avenue. Even if it were going to happen, it would likely require a player in a ‘nothing to lose’ situation. Maybe a college freshman who wants to be eligible immediately. Aiken needs to get on with his career.

fred
Guest
fred
1 year 8 months ago

No way Aiken gets taken in the top 2.

maxjusttyped
Member
maxjusttyped
1 year 8 months ago

Kiley McDaniel is good at his job.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
1 year 8 months ago

Cool Name Draft Rankings
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Christin Stewart. The Twilight protagonist has decided to take her permanent state of ennui into baseball.

8. Josh Sborz
7. Cornelius Randolph
6. Corey Zangari
5. Beau Burrows
4. Hunter Bowling
3. Gio Brusa
2. Demi Orimoloye
1. Dansby Swanson. Do you really need to know about anyone else? Dansby Swanson. Dansby Swanson. Dansby Swanson. God what a glorious name. Dansby Swanson.

redsoxu571
Guest
redsoxu571
1 year 8 months ago

Feel like Daz Cameron belongs here…the first name has that unique quality that gets fans to refer to you on a first-name basis, and any athlete’s name sounds better when it’s attached to a former pro.

Dansby Son of Cooter
Guest
Dansby Son of Cooter
1 year 8 months ago

<3 Lt Dans

#KeepNotgraphs
Guest
#KeepNotgraphs
1 year 8 months ago

Much kudos for bringing Notgraphs-styled “humor” to the Fangraphs page!

Tam
Guest
Tam
1 year 8 months ago

Kyle Funkhouser?

KYLE FUNKHOUSER!

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Awesome summary. The last guy mentioned – Skye Bolt, Captain of Tomorrow, looks like a guy who will play above his tools.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
1 year 8 months ago

How did I miss Skye Bolt?!?!

Mike Schmidt (not that one)
Guest
Mike Schmidt (not that one)
1 year 8 months ago

Ted Williams, Junior Griffey and Daryl Strawberry are the comps for Kyle Tucker (No. 25)? *SWOON*

Akalhar
Guest
Akalhar
1 year 8 months ago

For #28, I initially thought you wrote he was hitting 99 with a slider. I don’t even know what that would look like.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

looks like some solid position players there, esp OF and MI. booyah.

Jeb
Guest
Jeb
1 year 8 months ago

How does this class compare to other recent classes?

gnomez
Member
gnomez
1 year 8 months ago

Would you say that Adam Wainwright would be a good comp for Buehler?

bdhudson
Member
Member
bdhudson
1 year 8 months ago

Waino is 6″ taller, 75 pounds bigger, and one of the best pitchers in the majors. I think you’re pushing it there.

gnomez
Guest
gnomez
1 year 8 months ago

I meant in terms of repertoire. Anyway, Kiley gave Ted Williams as a comp for the #25 guy on his list, so I don’t think it’s really pushing it to say that Buehler’s ceiling could be becoming a pitcher similar to Waino.

tenderdracula
Guest
tenderdracula
1 year 8 months ago

great article

Jason
Guest
Jason
1 year 8 months ago

I’m looking forward to HOU taking Aiken at No. 2 next year. What could go wrong?

Shankbone
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Has to sign a waiver allowing them to re-draft.

Bomok
Guest
Bomok
1 year 8 months ago

You can’t imagine how much i appreciate this article.

ASK
Guest
ASK
1 year 8 months ago

When a switch-hitter faces a switch-pitcher, how is it decided from which side the hitter will hit and with which arm the pitcher will pitch?

Edwin
Guest
Edwin
1 year 8 months ago

For most high school and college pitchers, are they throwing mostly 4-seam fastballs, or more a mix of 4-seam/2-seam?

MARK LIU
Guest
MARK LIU
1 year 8 months ago

4 seam maybe with a 2 seam, change and some off-speed

KJ
Guest
KJ
1 year 8 months ago

They might be related (cousins possibly), but it can be said with 100% certainty that Blake and Stryker Trahan are not brothers (Stryker has only one sibling, a younger sister)…

Jason Rodriguez
Guest
Jason Rodriguez
1 year 8 months ago

You missed a few others in your top 50 who really excelled at the Cape Cod league this summer…proving what they can do against top national talent. RHP Mahoney was the Cape’s MVP pitcher and David Thompson lead the east in hitting. Both were all-stars and listed in the Cape top 30.

john
Guest
john
1 year 8 months ago

Not to mention the LSU players that dominated in the Cape !Major over site !!!Chinea, Laird, Stevenson, Hale !LSU will dominate this 2015 season !

DCer
Guest
DCer
1 year 8 months ago

Awesome info.

Surprised to see Ryan Johnson so low (in the Other Guys to Watch range). Did he fall or did others come up, or are you down on him in particular? He had a pretty nasty junior year and had some helium. Looks legit from the left.

chris
Guest
1 year 8 months ago

Any chance we can get a way-too-early mock draft? Doing the first round right now would be spectacular.

Evan
Guest
Evan
1 year 8 months ago

How is Skye Bolt not ranked?!?!

Evan
Guest
Evan
1 year 8 months ago

Ok he ran into a little bit of a sophomore slump. I have a lot of faith in Skye Bolt, he is a 5 point player and he has a lot of room to grow into a great hitter. He is young… I feel like people are under estimating him a little bit. After his freshman year (which was stellar), I think he at least deserves an early ranking until he proves what he has, or doesn’t have it this season. I have a feeling, with his name, and his talent, and no one can deny the kid isn’t half bad looking that he might actually have a real baseball career in front of him. From what I can tell from his interviews, he has been conditioned well and is polite and is literate.

Evan
Guest
Evan
1 year 8 months ago

Hopefully he just shows up at the plate this year.

Roberto
Guest
Roberto
1 year 7 months ago

Was watching Team Canada in Orlando last week playing mlb fall instructional teams, alot of scouts there…a couple of monster pitchers…there was a 16 year old who was 6’8 and throwing hard, one kid Naylor with a ton of power…some good picks for scouts doing their homework.

Sam
Guest
Sam
1 year 3 months ago

Watched Team USA play Team Canada in Houston, can’t believe those Canadian kids are 18 U, some big boys, although they weren’t much of a match against our US pitchers, their pitching seemed to handle us ok.

MARK LIU
Guest
MARK LIU
1 year 3 months ago

Well, there’s kinda winter all the time up here, unlike year-round sun in Orlando, and hockey and soccer still take precedent over baseball. I have to admit though, while the pitching in Canada is pretty good, the hitting is still crap

Antonio Bananas
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Some football recruiting services have him as the top prep quarterback in the country and compare the 6’1/180 speedster to Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. ”

Good to see Harold Reynolds and baseball people aren’t the only “scouts/analysts” who can’t compare guys unless they’re the same race.

Jaja Binks
Guest
Jaja Binks
1 year 6 months ago

Telling you early Kiley, Cedric Mullins CF Campbell University. First saw the kid at Louisburg College. Great tools

Waiting for Spring
Guest
Waiting for Spring
1 year 5 months ago

Cedric Mullins. This kid puts me in mind of a switch hitting Rusney Castillo but with a better defensive skill set.

OH MEN
Guest
OH MEN
1 year 5 months ago

It’s a little late….but what is the real ceiling of Trenton Clark, i think he will be the steal in the first round

Waiting for Spring
Guest
Waiting for Spring
1 year 5 months ago

This kid puts me in mind of a switch hitting Rusney Castillo but with a better defensive skill set.

Chris
Guest
Chris
1 year 4 months ago

Cole Irvin will be a 1st rounder. He has been back on the mound over a month ago and looked great. Cant forget his Freshman season at Oregon, 12-3 2.48era. Preseason All-American, freshman all-American (post season).
4 CG, 2 SO – Velocity is above freshman season too

Chris Randall
Guest
Chris Randall
1 year 3 months ago

They left off this kid from Kansas State!
Max Brown! Played in the WBC and just played
In a U21 world baseball classic. Saw this kid in HS and
He won state title with last at bat! Kid is a stud!
He is a CF that has more speed I have ever seen!
Power and a throwing arm that is scary. This kid is
Going to the show! Who is going to pick him this year
Is what I can’t wait for! Future super star! Im never wrong!

Darkstone42
Member
Darkstone42
1 year 3 months ago

Cool stuff. It’ll be interesting to watch a few of these guys as I continue to amp up my college baseball watching this year.

I would submit from my two Arizona games attended so far this year that Riley Moore might find himself in your slightly less too early rankings, at least as an honorable mention, as we close in on draft time. He always showed flashes of hitting, his blocking’s been good mostly (though less so last year, admittedly), and he controls the running game with a really accurate arm. The bat’s just been too inconsistent. But this year, at least so far, he looks locked in, and he’s driving the ball with more authority than I’ve ever seen out of him. Maybe he’s finally starting to fill into his tall frame.

jeff
Guest
jeff
1 year 2 months ago

Here’s a guy to keep an eye on Tekwaan Whyte

SamBat
Guest
SamBat
1 year 1 month ago

Tallest pitcher in class of 2015…Matthew Ianni, RHP, Team Canada 6’8, 245lbs up to 92 mph…17 years old

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