Wait Til Next Year: 2011 Draft Preview – Hitters

The draft year has three seasons: (1) Summer, when college players play in leagues with good talent distributions and wooden bats and high school players showcase their talent at an event every weekend, (2) Fall, when prospects work semi-privately with their coaches to clean up the unpolished aspects of their game and (3) Spring, when a player puts the finishing touches on his resume before the draft. With the college season and high school year both about to close, the time for reflecting on the 2010 draft class has closed, and scouts across all 30 organizations are shifting their focus to the 2011 draft crop. It’s a group unanimously more favored than 2010, with a chance at becoming one of the most adored draft classes in history.

In the first in a series of 2011 Draft previews we’ll have around here (June, August, February, June), I’m going to look at how the college crop looks from a year out. We’ll update that with the summer breakouts in August, when we’ll be able to add the high school talent to our follow lists. I will start with the position players, with the insanely deep pitching class coming this afternoon.

Corner Infield

Best Player: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice, .394/.530/.801. I wanted to start with the likely 2011 #1 overall pick, who followed up the best freshman season in Rice history (.388/.461/.702), with probably the best offensive season the school has ever seen. A very good defender and good baserunner, Rendon does not have a discernible hole in his game. His 21.5 BB% is more reflective of the fear he strikes in opposing teams, and rightfully so. Rendon is worthy of Orioles fans to begin rooting against their team.

Middle Infield

Best Player: Levi Michael, IF, UNC, .346/.480/.575. Michael skipped his final season of high school to attend North Carolina a year earlier, but his polish is such that you wouldn’t guess he’s a year younger than his peers. Probably a second baseman in the end, Michael cut down his strikeout rate (12.1%) by nine percent, and upped his walk rate (15.7%) by seven perfect as a sophomore. Michael is a good base runner (20-for-22 this season), has power in his bat, and will stick in the middle infield.

Catcher

Best Player: Jett Bandy, C/3B, Arizona, .354/.444/.538. By far the thinnest position of the draft class, I don’t think there is a college catcher that will be drafted on the first day. However, Bandy has an invitation to play for USA Baseball this summer, and if the 6-foot-4 slugger proves that he can stick behind the plate, he has a chance. Bandy threw out 24-of-67 runners this year, while hitting 23 doubles and posting a 10.3 K%.

Outfield

Best Player: Jackie Bradley Jr., CF, South Carolina, .367/.468/.585. Those of you that follow Aaron Fitt on the college beat at Baseball America know his affinity for Bradley Jr., who is the best combination of tools and performance in this draft class. Bradley Jr. is a very smooth baseball player that has never been out of sorts in the SEC, and has just started to tap into his power potential. The Gamecocks were simply not the same when he was out of the lineup with a broken hand earlier this season.

After the jump, you get 950 more words, and a few dozen more players at each position to start thinking about.

Corner Infield

The rest of the top tier: The best first baseman in the class is USC’s Ricky Oropesa (.353/.434/.711), one of the first highly touted recruits to live up to the hype during Chad Kreuter’s tenure as coach. He’s got massive power … And right behind him is Preston Tucker (.345/.448/.576) from Florida, who has the prettier swing, improved his patience, but saw his home runs drop as a sophomore … In 2008, then-shortstop Harold Martinez (.298/.371/.605) was a projected top 10 pick before a terrible high school senior season that sent him to Miami. Martinez, now at third, has the prototypical power hitter profile: 21 home runs, 30 walks and 52 strikeouts for a 37.9 TTO% … Battling Martinez for all-ACC honors will be Georgia Tech’s Matt Skole (.335/.437/.682), who offers the same power as Martinez, but trades less athleticism for better contact skills.

Small School Sleeper: Kyle Gaedele, 3B, Valparaiso, .373/.429/.610. The most heralded player to ever make it to campus, Gaedele is a great athlete with a career 25-for-27 mark on the bases. A team might see him as a second baseman, where his gap power would profile better.

Follow List: Troy Channing, 1B/3B, St. Mary’s; Johnny Coy, 1B/3B, Wichita State; Dan Gamache, 3B, San Diego; Mark Ginther, 3B, Oklahoma State; Greg Hopkins, 3B, St. John’s; Matt Juengel, 3B, Texas A&M; Steven Proscia, 3B, Virginia; Nick Ramirez, 1B/LHP, Cal State Fullerton; Harold Riggins, 1B, NC State; Ronnie Shaban, 3B, Virginia Tech; Travis Shaw, 3B, Kent State; Matt Snyder, 1B, Ole Miss; Zach Wilson, 3B, Arizona State.

Middle Infield

The rest of the top tier: The most well-rounded player up the middle is Jason Esposito (.359/.453/.582), who really came into his own in year two under Tim Corbin at Vanderbilt. He’s now patient, with developing gap power and a threat on the bases (career 50-for-59). Maybe a third baseman in the end, but a five-tool one … Southern Miss star B.A. Vollmuth (.386/.490/.729), who Keith Law ranked as the ninth-best Cape Cod League prospect a year ago, is definitely a third baseman down the road, but he’s well-equipped. Vollmuth had a 39.6 TTO% this year, developing the patience he needed … Anytime the USA Baseball National Team brings you aboard for two seasons, you are a good prospect. Such is true with Clemson’s Brad Miller (.365/.469/.577), who has some funk to his game, but will stick at shortstop … I’d be remiss not to mention Carson Cistulli favorite Zack MacPhee (.394/.494/.697), who is a little second baseman with some speed (19 steals), patience (15.4 BB%) and more than enough pop (31 extra bases, nation-leading 14 triple).

Small School Sleeper: Dan Paolini, 2B, Siena, .369/.439/.816. The MAAC Player of the Year wouldn’t usually register on our radar, but the Park/Schedule Adjustment at CollegeSplits suggests his numbers weren’t too aided by an easy schedule, and his invitation to play summer ball with Chatham of the Cape Cod League suggests he’s a legitimate prospect. If he hits there, he won’t be a sleeper any longer.

Follow List: Taylor Featherston, SS, TCU; Casey McElroy, SS, San Diego; Taylor Motter, SS, Coastal Carolina; Austin Nola, SS, LSU; Joe Panik, SS/3B, St. John’s; Tyler Rahmatulla, 2B, UCLA; K.C. Serna, SS, Oregon; Adam Smith, SS, Texas A&M; Riccio Torrez, IF, Arizona State; Ryan Wright, SS/2B, Louisville; Kolten Wong, 2B/CF, Hawaii.

Catcher

Small School Sleeper: C.J. Cron, C/DH, Utah, .431/.487/.817. I know Utah doesn’t qualify as a small school, but it’s difficult to discern a top tier, and Cron is following his head coach Bill Kinneberg with the USA Baseball team this summer. That’s not to say it isn’t well-earned after his 20 home run season, but it will be his chance to prove his mettle against elite competition.

Smaller School Sleeper: Peter O’Brien, C, Bethune-Cookman, .386/.445/.748. The MEAC Conference MVP, I can’t give you a lot of background on O’Brien. He’s said to have a big arm, clubbed 20 home runs, and earned an invitation to the Cape Cod League for the summer. That’s good enough for me.

Follow List: Drew Fann, Vanderbilt; Zack Kometani, San Diego; Chadd Krist, Cal; Pratt Maynard, 3B/C, NC State; Tyler Ogle, Oklahoma; Jeremy Schaffer, Tulane; Jacob Stallings, UNC; Beau Taylor, Central Florida; Keith Werman, 2B/C, Virginia; Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt.

Outfield

The rest of the top tier: While the best outfield prospect in the SEC, Bradley isn’t even among the two toolsiest. That honor belongs to either Georgia outfielder Zach Cone (.363/.403/.627, 13/13 SB), who I wrote about earlier this spring, or LSU outfielder Mikie Mahtook (.335/.433/.623, 22/32 SB), who many credit with propelling the Tigers to their national title a year ago. Scouts love both of them, but Cone isn’t patient enough, and Mahtook swings and misses too much right now. With huge junior years, they are potential top 10 selections … You can’t help but root for Connecticut outfielder George Springer (.337/.491/.658), who ranked seventh in Keith Law’s Cape Cod prospect rankings last summer. Springer followed it up with an amazing spring, where he went 33-for-35 in his steal attempts, hit 18 home runs, and walked SIXTY times. Throw in 70 strikeouts (ranking fourth in the nation), which will tell you his biggest weakness, and you have the draft’s Three True Outcomes star: 46.5%!

Small School Sleeper: Alex Dickerson, LF, Indiana, .419/.472/.805. There just simply doesn’t exist the possibility of putting up that batting line with Indiana’s tough non-conference schedule, and not be a prospect. Dickerson will decide between USA Baseball and the Cape this summer, and is in line to follow Josh Phegley’s path from Bloomington to the first few rounds of the draft.

Follow List: Willie Argo, Illinois; Jason Coats, TCU; Bobby Crocker, Cal Poly; Brian Humphries, Pepperdine; Nick Martini, Kansas State; James Ramsey, FSU; Jeremy Rathjen, Rice; Dusty Robinson, Fresno State; Johnny Ruettiger, ASU; Steve Selsky, Arizona.

So, who’d I miss?



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drew
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drew
6 years 2 months ago

Is Andrew Susac worthy of being mentioned? He split time behind the plate in his first year at Oregon State and didn’t show much power… but his was highly thought of out of high school and I’m pretty sure he’s a draft elgible sophmore.

Bryan Smith
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Bryan Smith
6 years 2 months ago

I avoided draft-eligible sophomores with the exception of Purke. Susac was indeed a good recruit, but his spring left a lot to be desired. It wouldn’t take a lot to get back in scout’s good graces, though, so you’re probably right that he should be on there.

Mitch
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Mitch
6 years 2 months ago

Begin rooting against the O’s? That commenced after the 2-16 start.

Jon E
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Jon E
6 years 2 months ago

Thanks Bryan. I really look forward to this ongoing series. I enjoy watching the different stages of the run-up to the draft as you just outlined. I look forward to any updates and recaps on The Cape Cod League you can give us this summer.

If Dave Dombrowski gives up his pick again next year w/the draft class that’s brewing, I’ll be livid. I didn’t care for the Valverde signing this year that coughed up a pick to the Astros…but given how this draft has been viewed overall, I can see what Dombrowski’s thoughts may have been. Next year the Tigers will have a lot of money coming off the books and some think they’ll spend a bit of it on the FA market…but I hope they are not looking to gobble up some run-of-the-mill Type A guy and miss out on the First Round of the draft class coming up.

Of course…..given their recent performance, they might have their #1 protected this year! LOL (I hope not….)

Jeremy
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Jeremy
6 years 2 months ago

This class looks crazy. I know there was one team that was “trading” their draft pick for one next year; should any other teams do that too? The Cubs seem like a possible option.

spindoctor
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spindoctor
6 years 2 months ago

It is expected that the Dodgers picked a guy they knew they could not sign (strongest college commitment in the draft I believe for Zach Lee, or one of them) simply to defer the pick until next year, which presents a stronger draft class. Smart management, horrible loophole.

Bryan Smith
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Bryan Smith
6 years 2 months ago

No, I think the Cubs really like Simpson as much as they say. I don’t think the Dodgers were exploiting a loophole as much as lacking the budget to sign a viable prospect. Next year they’ll have the pick, but I’m not sure the 29th pick in the draft, holding no leverage to speak of, will produce a better player than Lee.

That said, I do think the Royals should give it a try.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 2 months ago

No, not smart management. The Dodgers took a guy they couldn’t sign because the McCourts would rather spend team money on their kids and a mentalist. Even with the better draft class ahead, the year of development you’d get on the guy, the discounting of the present value of next year’s pick and the uncertainty that exists with projecting the back end of the draft a year out makes intentionally deferring your pick an awful idea.

Brad O'Neill
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Brad O'Neill
6 years 2 months ago

I tried to help out w/ a name to contribute, but in reality, this list is awesome. Covers the names I can think of and tons more. I might have ranked Vollmuth ahead of Levi Michael as the best Middle Infielder, but I’ll take your opinion over mine on that one. Great job.

Tim
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Tim
6 years 2 months ago

Put Jeremy Baltz the freshman outfielder from St Johns on your way early 2012 list. His freshman year statistics compare favorably to both of Rendons seasons.

mymrbig
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mymrbig
6 years 2 months ago

As a Mariners/Astros fan, I have two teams to root against in hopes of one of them securing Rendon. The Orioles have a nice lead in the race to the bottom, but they have more young talent than teams like the Astros

Obviously Rendon would be a great fit with the Astros since he is a local kid and would essentialy be following in Berkman’s footsteps.

For those who didn’t crunch the numbers, Rendon had more HR than K and a 3 BB for every K. Bondsian.

Dr.Rockso
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Dr.Rockso
6 years 2 months ago

I wonder who #6org is going to draft next year. I can’t imagine them getting the #1 pick (Baltimore has that locked up) but I think they may be looking at #2. I’m thinking Jackie Bradley Jr. because they definitely need some power from the outfield. Ichiro is good and all but he is getting old and definitely does not hit for power.

Bryan Smith
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Bryan Smith
6 years 2 months ago

The #2 talent will be in the pitcher’s post, which is now looking more likely to be coming Monday rather than in a couple hours here.

Dr.Rockso
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Dr.Rockso
6 years 2 months ago

Yeah, but if you have seen #6org this year, you will note that their hitting is pathetic. So they would likely value top flight hitting prospects over pitching prospects. Of course, usually you should take the best talent available at #2… so it should be interesting.

ccutler69
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ccutler69
6 years 2 months ago

#6org? What is that?

Carligula
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Carligula
6 years 2 months ago

It would appear to be a personal inside-joke… he’s mocking the Mariners being named #6 on Dave Cameron’s Best Organizations list.

bucsfan
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bucsfan
6 years 2 months ago

Where do you see thirdbaseman Tyler Bream going, he had another solid year as a sophomore at Liberty

Rod
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Rod
6 years 2 months ago

Some background on Peter O’Brien: he’s Cuban despite the last name

Russ
Member
Member
Russ
5 years 7 months ago

I believe that he is half Cuban. His mother emigrated from Cuba.

Jeff Reese
Member
6 years 2 months ago

I thought Gaedele was a CFer?

Bob
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Bob
6 years 2 months ago

CF or RF he just filled in at 3B because of injury

JH
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JH
6 years 2 months ago

Hate to do this, but since you’re bringing up college hitting prospects…what kind of prospect is Deven Marrero?

that guy
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that guy
6 years 2 months ago

I pitched against Levi Michael in high school. He went 2-2 and I’m pretty sure his second bomb hasn’t landed. If he goes top 10, I’ll feel a whole lot better about giving up 800+ feet worth of homeruns to him that day.

Jon
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Jon
6 years 2 months ago

Where’s Wittels at?? He seems more Bill Mueller than anything to me.

UAB
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UAB
6 years 1 month ago

Check out Jamal Austn from UAB this kid does it all in Conference USA more tools than Jakie Bradley Jr

Donnetta
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Donnetta
6 years 1 month ago

I’m just gonna throw it out there- Nick DelGuidice, the SS for Florida atlantic University.

TEB
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TEB
6 years 8 days ago

Need to give some consideration to Danny Baatz, outfielder (UNC Asheville, Big South Conference). Florida Collegiate Summer League All-Star and Leagues hit streak record holder playing for Frank Viola (Leesburg Lightning).

UAB Baseball Fan
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UAB Baseball Fan
6 years 7 days ago

This Kid was hurt the last week and still finished #1 in the GLSL can just flatout play the game scouts are missing this kid

Jamal Austin, LIMA .463 23-23 82 18 38 7 1 0 11 47 .573 8 3 7 1 .521 1 2 13-14

Josh
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Josh
5 years 10 months ago

Zach Borenstein was Eastern Illinois would qualify as a small school sleeper. Kid has all the tools.

Jay
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Jay
5 years 9 months ago

Agree I just watched Jamal Austin at UAB in their Fall season and scout day. He is definitely one to go into the draft. We need more outfielders like him in the league.

His batting average is just going upward based on the research I’ve done on him. Don’t know why he isn’t in the high rankings or draft rankings, but he’ll be a good catch for a MLB team.

The LIMA folks loved him in the paper, even though he left iwth an injury, he lead the GLSL.

Anthony
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Anthony
5 years 8 months ago

Take a look at Ben Klafczynski, RF for Kent State, size, tools, big arm, may be the returning D1 leader in doubles, middle of the field power.

blue jays crosschecker
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blue jays crosschecker
5 years 8 months ago

OF dexter kelley savannah state univ…….he is also a small school sleeper…..lead d1 in stolen bases per game last year….also has great power…do some research on this guy

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