Top 100 College Prospects Chat

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will answer your questions about college prospects for the 2013 draft beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Aaron Fitt: Hello folks, sorry I’m a few minutes late getting started — had to take a phone call from a coach. Let’s get going!

    Mick (Chicago): You have to scroll down to 54 to find a shortstop, and it's Brandon Trinkwon...wow!?!

Aaron Fitt: Great observation, Mick — that is the biggest reason scouts are not terribly excited about this draft class: there is a real lack of impact up-the-middle guys. Most of the top college shortstops are more in the steady grinder mold (think Matt Reida, Jack Reinheimer at ECU, Adam Frazier, Kyle Farmer at Georgia, etc). That’s why a guy like Hunter Dozier is interesting — he’s got real impact tools, and has a chance to shoot up this list in the fall. Scouts really liked what they saw from Trinkwon in the Cape — he’s got an innate feel to hit that stands out in this group of shortstops, and he’s a good athlete. Good all-around player.

    Not Jaypers (Wisconsin): Aaron, who are you seing as some of the biggest risers on this list? Also, who seems to be falling? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: A few guys in the top 10 have really helped
their stock a ton in the last six months or so: Jonathon Crawford, Phil
Ervin and of course Cape sensation Sean Manaea. Dillon Overton is one name we moved way up our list based on some feedback from scouts. Jason Hursh looked great in the Cal Collegiate League — he’s got premium arm strength (upper-90s heat) and could go in the top half of the first round with a good spring. He’s well removed from Tommy John now and should be ready to shoulder a significant load in the spring. Some guys who fell based on feedback we heard from scouts: Dominic Ficociello, Austin Kubitza.

    Jonathan Fist (Denver): What puts Marco Gonzales just ahead of Ryan Eades? That he's left-handed?

Aaron Fitt: He’s lefthanded and has special feel for pitching and command. I see a lot of Mike Minor in Gonzales — it’s good
command of an average fastball, plus-plus changeup and solid breaking ball, and he just really knows how to use it all. Eades has much more electric raw stuff, but his command and overall feel is still something of a question mark. That said, several scouting directors suggested Eades has a chance to go higher than this with a good spring. The raw stuff is very exciting.

    Joel (KCK): Would Carlos Rodon top this list if
    he were eligible? If so, what is it that he has over the rest of the pitchers on this list? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: I think he would. It’s his entire package: he’s a big, physical lefthander with an explosive fastball and devastating secondary stuff, and he’s fearless. He’s got David Price upside, and his command is a lot more advanced than Price’s was at the same age.

    Ernie (North Highlands, CA): Which pitchers would you predict to have a better starting pitching career than Kevin Gausman?

Aaron Fitt: I’m a big Gausman fan — I liked him even more than Appel last year (though I was in the minority on that point among our staff), and I would put Gausman No. 1 on this list if here were eligible this year.

    Morrie (NJ): If the draft was held today, could you see Karsten Whitson in the 1st round, or has his stock dropped?

Aaron Fitt: If the draft were held today… maybe the sandwich round. No question, his stock has dropped. Everyone knows how talented he is, and what kind of stuff he has when he’s healthy and confident, but he’s got a lot to prove this spring — he’s really one of
the biggest X-factors in this draft. If he has a big year, he could go in the top five picks. If durability and command questions continue to plague him, teams might be scared off on him, considering this is a guy who has already turned down first-round money once, so you can’t expect him to sign cheap.

    Frank (Grand Junction): Jason Monda was once favorably compared to Jacoby Ellsbury by his Wazzu coach. Agree?

Aaron Fitt: I don’t see that comparison — Monda is a corner guy all the way, not nearly as quick-twitch and fast as Ellsbury.
Not that Monda is a bad athlete, but he’s more of a longer-levered, physical guy with power projection.

    John (Orlando): What justifies Colin Moran's very high rank and do you think he'll have more of an impact MLB bat than Richie Shaffer?

Aaron Fitt: Moran is the best pure hitter in this draft
class, and I don’t think it’s close. He’s also got power and he’s improving at third base. I think his feel for hitting is better than Shaffer’s, but he has less raw power and he’s less athletic. I’m higher on Shaffer than some people, but I think they are comparable prospects. I
think the consensus probably has Moran a little ahead of Shaffer.

    Ben (Leland Grove): If you had to assign a grade on the 20-80 scouting scale for this list of 100, what would it receive?

Aaron Fitt: You know I’m a sucker for the 20-80 scale — love this question! I’ll give it a 45 — just a fringy draft. You’ve got enough depth of power arms to keep it from being below-average, and there are some intriguing corner bats, but the lack of up-the-middle talent is jarring.

    Ryan A. (Chicago): Guys I'm really surprised our B10 guys are so far down the list, especially UM Michael O'Neill. Isn't O'Neill a 1st round type guy? Windle as well...

Aaron Fitt: O’Neill does have first-round-caliber raw tools, but he needs to prove those tools translate consistently. He needs to stay healthy and perform this spring, and if he does I could definitely see him jumping up, because he can fly and he’s got pop. We’ve got Windle on the cusp of the first-round round now, and he certainly could go mid-first round next June — that wouldn’t be much of
a leap from where we’ve got him ranked.

    John (California): What did you see in Stanford's SS Kauppila that made you include him over returning All PAC 12 SS Tyler Smith from Oregon State?

Aaron Fitt: Kauppila’s more athletic and quick-twitch, has smoother infield actions and a better chance to play short in pro ball. Smith is a nice player, and I was a bit surprised he went undrafted as a junior this past year, but the input we got from scouts in the Northwest last spring did not even land him in our BA 500, so he’s a long way from being a Top 100-caliber prospect.

    Dan (Ft. Collins): A hitting future is out for Marco Gonzales?

Aaron Fitt: He obviously can hit, and if he didn’t pitch then he would probably still have a pro future as a hitter. But he’s just a much better prospect off the mound, to the point that I’d be
shocked if any team would prefer him as a hitter. Lefthanders with his kind of polish, athleticism, moxie and stuff are coveted.

    JR (Iowa): How many on the top 100 do you think are 1st round draft picks?

Aaron Fitt: If there are 30 players in the first round, you can expect 13-18 of them to be college players from this list.

    Brad miller (Fort Worth): Any chance Andrew Mitchell goes in the first round?

Aaron Fitt: Sure, it could happen if a team wants a guy
who could move quickly as a power reliever. That’s how most people see MItchell’s future — he’s well suited for the bullpen but lacks the third pitch and the fine command to start. That limits his upside somewhat, but he certainly has power stuff — he’s not that different from Colby Suggs, really. Both guys will show you mid-90s heat and real power hammer curveballs, but Suggs helped himself a bunch in the Cape, whereas MItchell is coming off a somewhat disappointing sophomore campaign.

    David (LA): Colton Plaia returns to Loyola Marymount for his senior season. Do you think he can help lead Loyola to a regional in 2013. They had some young pitching last year that developed towards the end of the year. Your thought on Colton and then where you think the team will finish in the WCC?

Aaron Fitt: I like Plaia — solid receiver with arm strength and some pop in his bat. College teams love having senior catchers with his skill set, and I think he’ll be a real asset for an LMU team that should contend for a regional spot this year. I’m bullish on those young arms — Megill and Welmon are legit, I think.

    Brian (Springfield, MO): Top college bats in 2014? Fisher, Turner, Chapman, Cron, Jose?

Aaron Fitt: That’s a nice group. Others I’d throw into the mix: Mason Robbins, Alex Blandino, Richard Prigatano, Brett Austin (still believe in this guy — think he’s due for a breakout sophomore year). This is an informal, top-of-my-head list, mind you.

    David (Indiana): I was surprised to only see one catcher listed all the way down at #90. Is it a weak college class of catchers this year? Who else can we look for to make an impact?

Aaron Fitt: Like I said at the top — just a very poor group of up-the-middle prospects. There were a few other guys in the mix
for our top 100, like Mitchell Garver at New Mexico and Ty Ross at LSU,
maybe Spencer Navin at Vandy, but it’s an extremely disappointing group
of catchers overall. Just look at Team USA’s catching situation last year — they were nice college players, but none of the catchers on that
team ranked among the top 20 prospects on the roster. One of them was Brett Hambright, who isn’t even playing baseball anymore. That gives you
a pretty good indication how weak this catching crop is.

    Greg (Ohio): How does Kris Bryant compare to Richie Schaffer from 2012 draft?

Aaron Fitt: There are some real similarities. Both guys
have premium righthanded power and plus (or better) arms. Both are more
athletic than you think, but both have some stiffness at third base. Shaffer has a better chance to stick at third — it sounds like Bryant will play right field this year at USD, and there is a sense that he fits best out there. I could see him as a long-striding right fielder with a cannon arm and a powerful bat — that’s still a very nice profile. Or both guys could wind up at first base some day — defensive value is TBD with these guys.

    John (Madison, WI): How would you compare Appel/Manaea/Stanek with Zimmer/Gausman/Appel and Cole/Bauer/Hultzen?

Aaron Fitt: I like the Cole/Bauer/Hultzen group the best because I prefer Cole to Appel, Bauer over the other two righties and Hultzen over Manaea. It comes down to polish, I think. I’d probably rank last year’s group second, and this year’s group third, but this year’s group is good too — there’s a lot of upside with these three guys, just less track record and less polish.

    Jody (Chicago): Thanks for taking questions today, Aaron. After the big three at the top are there any other frontline ceilings on this list? Obviously there could be some pop-ups between now and draft day but would you throw that tag on anyone else?

Aaron Fitt: I’ll tell you what, Jody: there are plenty of scouts who prefer Crawford over Stanek, so I really think he belongs in that elite tier as well. He impressed people a ton with Team USA, and
there was really a split camp this summer between those two guys when I
was making calls for our Team USA prospects list. Wahl is a tick behind
those guys, but I think he’s got front-line ceiling too, as does Eades.
Vanegas is one of those wild cards: he was showing really, really premium stuff this fall, generating a lot of buzz from scouts. But I want to see him really perform consistently before I elevate him into the elite group. And keep an eye on Alex Balog — he could be this year’s Zimmer at USF. At his best last year, he was 93-97 with a wipeout
slider and a wipeout changeup, though he doesn’t show that kind of stuff consistently. But I’m excited about him.

    Kelly (college): Aaron Judge has hit for no power with a metal bat, why is he still so high on this list?

Aaron Fitt: Because it’s in there, it really is. If the
performance matched the tools, he would be top five on this list, but you’re right that his lack of power production in two years at Fresno is
a concern. But he has flashed massive raw power in BP and in summers, to the point that one scouting director compared him to Giancarlo Stanton in our Cape League top 30 this summer. This is one of those instances where there is a disconnect between stats and scouting — and I
think this is where scouting becomes really valuable. Sometimes it just
takes longer for raw tools to translate into production, but if it happens, you’ve got a superstar on your hands.

    DJ (texas): Could you tell us more about Dillon Overton?

Aaron Fitt: Overton is a lefty with big-time arm strength — he’ll pitch in the low 90s and show you 94-95, and he’s got swing-and-miss secondary stuff. His command took a big jump during his sophomore year, too. Lot to like in that package.

    Mike (MD): Hey Aaron, thanks for the chat. If Aaron Judge comes out this spring and hits 8-12 home runs and shows he has usable, in-game power, does he get popped in the front half of the first round in your opinion?

Aaron Fitt: Yes, I think so.

    Bull (Richmond, Va): Where do you see Renfroe-MSU going in the draft and how close was Tony Kemp from Vanderbilt to making the list.

Aaron Fitt: Renfroe is one of those big-time wild cards
for the draft. Not many players in this draft class have better raw tools — we’re talking plus-plus raw power, plus-plus arm strength and plus speed. He’s found a home in the outfield, too. It all comes down to
his bat; he needs to prove he’s got feel for hitting this spring, and if he does, he could be a first-round pick. His numbers through two years at MSU are very pedestrian, but he has put up monstrous numbers against weaker competition in the Cal Ripken League. But we always knew he was a long-term project who would need some time to put it all together, and I do think he’s gradually figuring it out. Kemp was not far off the back of the top 100 — he can obviously hit and has premium speed, and if he has a good year at second base, I could see him as a top-five-rounds guy despite his small size. He’s just a really good player, and it’s not like he doesn’t have tools.

    Jim (Vermont): How does Manaea compare to previous top college lefties like Hultzen, Pomeranz or Minor?

Aaron Fitt: From a stuff standpoint, he reminds me of Chris Sale. Both guys showed you mid-to-upper-90s velocity, both showed plus changeups, both needed to improve their sliders (but both pitches were promising), and both used lower slots. Their body types are different — Manaea is more physical — but from a stuff standpoint, I think they’re fairly similar.

    Craig (Las Vegas): Marshall's Aaron Blair came from off the radar to #38 on your Top 100. What does he need to do to move up even higher?

Aaron Fitt: We like Blair because he has a solid three-pitch mix, a good build and a nice performance track record in the
Cape. We’d like to see a bit more overpowering stuff out of him — he looks like he should be a power guy, but he’s a bit more of a finesse pitcher, really, with an 89-92 fastball and secondary stuff that is solid but not devastating.

    Joe (Nashville): Which are your three top teams for 2013?

Aaron Fitt: C’mon, Joe, I can’t give that away! But if you’re asking about your hometown team, it’s safe to assume they will be
strongly in the mix.

    John (N.C.): What kind of big league ceilings do you see for Carolina's Colin Moran and Kent Emmanuel? Any chance of seeing both go in the first round?

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, I could see it. Emanuel is one of those slightly polarizing guys — in our early version of this list, some scouts thought we had him too high, and others thought he was too low. He certainly has an innate feel to pitch, and if his breaking ball and/or fastball velocity takes another step forward, I could certainly see him joining Moran in the first round. I see Moran as a future everyday big leaguer.

    scott green (kentucky): What do you think about the prospects at the university of Kentucky?

Aaron Fitt: Big fan of Corey Littrell, obviously — a lefthander with stuff and projection, though he needs to continue to refine his command this spring. I’m hearing Jerad Grundy is dramatically
improved this fall — better command, better slider. Keep an eye on him
— he was a big name out of high school, and he might have finally put it all together. Another sleeper: J.T. Riddle, an athletic second baseman who can swing it from the left side. He’s a breakout candidate.

    Tom (Albuquerque, NM): DJ Peterson had an unbelieveable year last year and then led Team USA in HR and RBI this summer. You see him as a sure fire 1st rounder and best power bat in the
    draft?

Aaron Fitt: He does look like a very strong bet to go in the first round because of that power bat. He’s right there with Bryant for best power bat in this college draft class. I really like him
— it was a pleasure to watch him hit in the regional at UCLA this year.

    Tony Ciuffo (Charleston SC): Who are your top college prospects in South Carolina?

Aaron Fitt: Amazing that there are no Clemson or South Carolina players on this list, isn’t it? We’ve got Coastal Carolina’s Jacob May as the top guy in the state — a very athletic table-setter type. But Clemson’s Steve Wilkerson was in the mix for our top 100 also.

    Les (So Cal): If the draft were today, where do
    you see Andrew Thurman from UCI going? He appears to have grown a ton from freshman to sophomore. What's keeping him from being a high round pick?

Aaron Fitt: He was not far outside our Top 100. He’s got good feel for a solid three-pitch mix, and I saw his velocity play up a bit in relief in a fall scrimmage a week or two ago — sitting easily at 91-92. But as a starter it’s more 87-91, and he doesn’t really
have a knockout offspeed pitch. It’s good stuff, just not great stuff.

    Kevin (Scottsdale): Which position player do you see going first in the draft? Colin Moran or Austin Meadows?

Aaron Fitt: Meadows has more upside — he’s got to be the guy, I think.

    Danny (Seattle): I there a Mike Zunino in this years crop?

Aaron Fitt: Not even close!

    Jay (Branson, MO): Notre Dame 3B Eric Jagielo sounds interesting, what is his upside?

Aaron Fitt: His lefthanded power potential is his calling card, and he’s got arm strength at third base, but he needs to smooth out his defense there to really maximize his value. Regardless, his bat gives him a chance to be a big leaguer. If it all comes together, he could be an impact guy.

    Josh (NY): Anyone coming off injury who could jump with a productive and healthy spring?

Aaron Fitt: I mentioned Jason Hursh earlier — that name leaps out. I’ll throw Tulane’s Randy LeBlanc into that mix too — he’s also got front-line upside, and is also coming off Tommy John surgery.

    TitansBB (Huntington Beach): If Lorenzen can get his hitting together, first round pick?

Aaron Fitt: Yes. He’s a premium athlete who plays a great center field, has a huge asset in his bazooka arm, and still figures to grow into some power. Scouts just want to see more consistent
production.

    Katie (San Francisco): There was a trend this past summer that bats were much stronger in summer leagues than usual (Cape Cod League homerun record was broken for example). It appears that
    this is not a strong hitting class however. How do you think this hitting trend will translate over the 2013 season and will it impact the
    draft?

Aaron Fitt: I don’t think it will translate to this spring — I really believe, like many, many college coaches and scouts do, that the balls were juiced across summer ball this year, and that was the biggest reason for the offensive surge. I expect offense will return to normal this spring.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that’s all I’ve got time for today. Thanks so much for a truly fantastic bunch of questions. I’m thankful to have such an intelligent, insightful group of readers, and I
really enjoy talking baseball with you guys and gals! Have a great holiday season.

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