Prospect Showdown: Kieschnick vs. Lollis

Today’s mailbag is a day later than promised, a result of those pesky issue deadlines getting in the way. Just a reminder, if you’ve got a question for the mailbag, please e-mail your question along with your name and hometown to collegeblog@baseballamerica.com. Before we get to the mailbag, how about Missouri State junior lefthander Ross Detwiler, who struck out 13 over seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball in the Bears’ season-opening win against Dallas Baptist last night? He retired the first nine batters of the game, seven of them on strikeouts. He’s going to have a monster year. To the mailbag:

Both Roger Kieschnick and Ryan Lollis hit HUGE home runs last weekend which enabled Texas Tech and Mizzou to win. I followed both players a lot over the past year and was hoping you could give me your feeling on them. What is their upside? Which major leaguers would you compare both to? Is either/both a possible first rounder in ’08 (a loaded question as I remember you ranked Kieschnick as the 10th best sophomore a short while ago)? Whom do you like better? What really interested me about Lollis was that even though he didn’t have a great summer in the Northwoods League, he only struck out FOUR times in 85 at bats (injury-shortened, I presume?). He seems to have a sweet swing which generates plenty of contact. My friend who has seen him a great deal mentioned Steve Kemp (I realize I am giving away my age here!) as a good comp in terms of physique/overall game, but I was hoping to get your opinion.

Harris Frommer

Kieschnick is off to a good start, batting .326/.380/.652 with a pair of homers, though not as good as teammate Matt Smith, who already has five long balls. Kieschnick has flashed some of the mammoth power potential that so intrigues scouts–his grand slam against Western Illinois on Feb. 11 cleared the bullpen in left field. It’s not just the well-above-average raw power that sets Kieschnick apart, either. He’s one of the best all-around athletes in the nation, with a plus arm in the outfield, good defensive instincts and at least average speed, maybe better. He still needs to smooth out some edges–his swing can be a bit flat at times, his speed doesn’t play well on the bases yet, and he tends to be a little robotic at times with his movements. Once he smoothes out the edges, look out. At this very early juncture, I’d be surprised if he’s not a first-round pick in 2008, because his tools are ridiculous.

Lollis also hit a grand slam in Missouri’s opening weekend, part of a six-RBIs day in Missouri’s come-from-behind win against Florida International. He has continued to hit since then, compiling a .393 average through seven games. Like Kieschnick, he’s a part of that talented group of sophomore outfielders in the Big 12, which also includes Jordan Danks and Kyle Russell of Texas. Lollis was a 20th-round pick of the Pirates out of high school, and he’ll go considerably higher than that in 2008. Like Kieschnick, Lollis has plenty of pop but remains raw at the plate, though he has a very good set-up and a solid approach, indicating he’s likely to put it all together before too long. The low strikeout numbers are another positive indicator. Lollis also has very good speed (he has run the 60-yard dash in 6.8 seconds) and a strong, accurate outfield arm. He’s been up to 90 off the mound but he can’t throw strikes; his accuracy from the outfield has a lot to do with being in rhythm. Lollis doesn’t have the freakish power of Kieschnick, but his smooth lefthanded swing and all-around game make him somewhat of a safer bet. Still, if I’ve got to choose one, I’ll take my chances with Kieschnick.

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