John Manuel already broke down many of the winners and losers from the Aug. 15 mandatory signing date, but here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from a college perspective. Keep in mind, many teams had no expectations of signing their biggest recruits; this is more a snapshot of who might have been surprised positively or negatively by late developments:
Draft status is far from the only place to look when trying to determine who landed the most talented recruits. Another very useful tool is Baseball America’s pre-draft Top 200 prospects list, and no school managed to steer more top-100 players through the rocky draft waters than the Toreros. Righthander Kyle Blair (No. 50 on the Top 200), a fifth-round pick of the Dodgers, and third baseman Victor Sanchez (93), a 25th-rounder of the Cubs, have more than held their own this summer as incoming freshmen against much older competition in the Northwoods League, where they rank as two of the league’s premier prospects. Flame-throwing righthander Matt Thomson (83), the best pitching prospect in California’s junior college ranks this year and a 22nd-round pick of the Blue Jays, gives the loaded USD pitching staff one more power arm to help alleviate the burden of the condensed schedule. Add in Arizona prep lefty Sammy Solis, an 18th-round pick of the Diamondbacks, and athletic outfielder Sequoya Stonecipher, who went undrafted largely because of his college commitment and some back pain, and it’s clear the Toreros made out like bandits.
The Tar Heels have been saying privately all along that if they were to land just one of the Rick Porcello-Madison Bumgarner-Rick Harvey trio, they’d be thrilled. In Harvey (11), a hard-throwing Connecticut righthander who was drafted by the Angels in the third round, UNC adds the highest-ranked player who will step foot on a college campus this year, a player who looked certain to be drafted among the top five or 10 picks and head to pro ball early this spring. North Carolina’s foundation will be further solidified by the additions of Nate Striz, a fifth-rounder by the Twins, and Patrick Johnson (173).
The Beavers and Tar Heels have pushed all the right buttons over the past few years, and things worked out swimmingly for OSU again last night. Oregon State held onto infielder Garrett Nash, a Utah high schooler drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round who was described by one coach today as “electric”. Plus the Beavers added two big-time arms in Oregon prep righthander Greg Peavey (111), a 24th-round pick by the Yankees, and Utah prep lefty Tanner Robles (112), a 14th-rounder by the Angels who debated attending the Community College of Southern Nevada but ended up opting for Oregon State, according to the coaching staff at CCSN. Then there’s righthander Kevin Rhoderick (125), an 18th-rounder by the Tigers who was originally slated to succeed Joshua Fields as Georgia’s closer. But with Fields returning to Athens, Rhoderick decided to opt out of his commitment and set course for Corvallis, where he figures to be a vital cog in the bullpen. If that weren’t enough, the Beavers also retained ace righty Mike Stutes, a ninth-round pick by the Cardinals who went unsigned.
The Tigers had eight players drafted, but just one was signed to a pro contract–supplemental pick Drew Cumberland. Ultra-projectable New Jersey righthander Anthony Ranaudo (143), an 11th-rounder by the Rangers, and two-sport star Chad Jones (92), the Astros’ 13th-rounder, are both heading to LSU. The Tigers also landed two other top-200 players picked in the second half of the draft in third baseman D.J. LeMahieu (190), a 41st-rounder by the Tigers, and power-hitting corner infielder Matt Clark (193), a 28th-rounder by the Pirates out of Riverside (Calif.) CC.
The Tigers landed the highest-drafted high school player who didn’t sign in first baseman Hunter Morris (132), a second-rounder by the Red Sox. They also secured the fifth-highest ranked prep prospect not to sign in powerful first baseman/catcher Kevin Patterson (67), a 24th-rounder by the White Sox.
Cal State Fullerton
Sure, the Titans lost first-rounder Matt Dominguez, but the 12th overall pick was never really expected to come to school. But like Auburn, Fullerton managed to secure two high-impact hitters who were both threats to sign. The Titans desperately needed to retain an impact shortstop, and they did it with Christian Colon (122), a 10th-round pick by the Padres. Outfielder Gary Brown (77), a 12th-rounder by the Athletics, was drafted two rounds later but is an even better prospect.
The Longhorns suffered a blow when Brad Suttle signed for $1.3 million as a fourth-round pick, but they dodged a bullet when slugging outfielder Kyle Russell opted not to sign as a fourth-rounder with the Cardinals. Plus, the Longhorns added impact players in righthander Brandon Workman (195), a third-rounder by the Phillies, and outfielder Kevin Keyes, a 26th-rounder by the Rangers. Plus, Texas added a potentially dynamic two-way threat in junior college transfer Brandon Belt, an 11th-round pick by the Braves.
Among the teams that didn’t make out as well . . .
As John Manuel wrote this morning: The Cardinal still has young talent coming back next year, but Jack McGeary might have batted third and been the ace (or No. 2 behind righthander Jeff Inman) to try to lead the program back to prominence. Instead, he gets $1.8 million from the Nationals, a record for a sixth-round pick, and still gets to go to Stanford for three academic quarters a year. McGearyâ€™s deal is amazing, but a blow to coach Mark Marquessâ€™ program.
While Oregon State reloads yet again and Oregon digs gleefully into Nike’s deep pockets in an effort to woo a big-name coach, the Huskies continue to find the going in the Pacific Northwest a little tougher. Washington had seven players drafted, and they lost their top recruit when righthander Julian Sampson (115) signed late for $390,000. Washington also likely did not expect to lose sophomore-eligible shortstop Danny Cox as a 36th-round pick, but he signed with the Yankees after his turn in the Alaska League. The Huskies also lost prep lefty Julius Dettrich, who signed as an 18th-rounder to the Devil Rays.
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