College Top 100 Draft Prospects

Students returned to class for the spring semester on many college campuses across the country this week, the latest sign the start of the college baseball season is fast approaching.

As players prepare for the season, scouts also are hard at work putting together evaluations for the 2016 draft. The college class will present them some challenges throughout the spring due to some of the quirks of the group.

Much like the high school class, the college class is led by a pair of pitchers who stand out entering the season—Florida lefthander A.J. Puk and Oklahoma righthander Alec Hansen. Puk was dominant down the stretch last season, as the Gators reached the College World Series. Hansen has shown electric stuff and is capable of throwing 100 mph.

While Puk and Hansen sit atop the class now, a few other pitchers are capable of pitching their way into that elite group. Stanford righthander Cal Quantrill, the son of former All-Star Paul Quantrill, and Oregon lefthander Matt Krook, both have elite stuff if they can get back to full strength following Tommy John surgery. Righthanders Kyle Funkhouser and Connor Jones are also among the nation’s top pitchers.

The strength of the college position players in this year’s class is in the outfield. Louisville’s Cory Ray, Florida’s Buddy Reed and Texas A&M’s Nick Banks formed the starting outfield for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team during the summer and are all potential first-round picks. They may be joined by Mercer’s Kyle Lewis, Vanderbilt’s Bryan Reynolds and Nebraska’s Ryan Boldt, among others.

But the class’ strengths are part of what will make this spring such a challenge for evaluators.

Saturday Ace

Friday night is traditionally reserved for aces, as college coaches try to get off to a strong start in their weekend series.

Puk, however, the potential No. 1 overall pick, is not expected to serve as Florida’s Friday starter. He filled the Saturday slot much of last year, pitching behind righthander Logan Shore. The combination worked, as Florida won the Southeastern Conference Tournament and went on to reach the College World Series. Shore went 11-6, 2.72, and likely will be a first-round pick this June.

But Puk being pushed to Saturday makes for an unusual situation. In the last 10 years, 88 college pitchers have been drafted in the first round. Of those, only nine have been starting pitchers who didn’t pitch the first game of the weekend. The median draft position of that group is the 24th overall pick, and only Trevor Bauer, the third selection in 2011, went in the top 10.

Still, even if Puk does pitch on Saturdays, as anticipated, it likely won’t affect his stock much. Multiple scouting directors said it wouldn’t factor into their evaluation.

“If A.J. Puk pitches on a Tuesday night, it’s our job to evaluate and it’s our job to evaluate whoever he’s pitch against,” one director said. “That’s not going to stop someone from taking him really, really high.”

Outfield Glut

College outfielders typically are not a highly sought genre of players in the draft. Scouts tend to look for players at premium defensive positions first, and there is more pressure on corner outfielders to hit, pushing them down draft boards. In the last 10 years, 59 have been chosen in the first two rounds. Twice in that time frame have none been selected in the first round and only one—Dustin Ackley in 2009—has gone in the first five picks.

This year, however, is a banner year for college outfielders. Team USA’s best position prospects last summer were its outfielders and the Cape Cod League Top 30 prospects list was filled with outfielders as well. Some scouts think even Senzel, who will play third base for Tennessee, could end up in the outfield as a professional.

With so many high-end outfielders, the 2016 class could rival 2009, when nine college outfielders were drafted in the first two rounds, led by Ackley. Future All-Stars A.J. Pollock and Jason Kipnis were also among the college outfielders drafted in the top two rounds that year.

Big Whiff

Scouting directors will also have to determine this spring how comfortable they are with high strikeout rates for top college hitters. Big league hitters have struck out more in the past eight years than at any other time in history, which might make teams more accepting of players’ swing-and-miss tendencies.

But this year’s class includes several players with abnormally high strikeout rates. Arizona third baseman Bobby Dalbec might have the most power in the draft class (he hit 16 home runs during the summer between the Cape Cod League and the Collegiate National Team), but he also has significant swing-and-miss. He struck out in 41 percent of his plate appearances on the Cape and has whiffed in 24.16 percent of his plate appearances in his first two years with the Wildcats. That is higher than any player drafted in the first round in the past 10 years.

Dalbec is not alone, however. Since 2005, college hitters drafted in the first round have had a median career strikeout rate of 13.47 percent. Of the hitters in the top 25 of this year’s college 100, five (Ray, Reed, Reynolds, Banks and Dalbec) have strikeout rates of more than 16.31 percent, the 75th percentile. Another (Lewis), falls just inside the margin.

Scouting directors said they will want to look beyond the raw strikeout rate and find out why a player is swinging and missing.

“You definitely want to see a guy who can manage the strike zone,” one director said. “If a guy is chasing and expanding the zone, that’s more of a red flag than a guy who sells out for power.”

Ray and Reynolds cut down on their strikeouts during the summer, and all players have another season to bring their strikeout rates more in line with the typical range. But it is likely that the first day of this year’s draft will include a few college hitters with unbecoming strikeout rates.

Rank Name, Pos., School B-T Ht. Wt. Previously drafted Video
1. A.J. Puk, lhp, Florida L/L 6-7 225 Tigers ’13 (35)
2. Alec Hansen, rhp, Oklahoma R/R 6-7 235 Rockies ’13 (25)
3. Corey Ray, of, Louisville L/L 5-11 185 Mariners ’13 (33)
4. Buddy Reed, of, Florida S/R 6-3 200 Rangers ’13 (35)  Video
5. Nick Senzel, 3b, Tennessee R/R 6-1 205 Never  Video
6. Kyle Funkhouser, rhp, Louisville R/R 6-3 225 Dodgers ’15 (1)  Video
7. Connor Jones, rhp, Virginia R/R 6-3 200 Padres ’13 (21)  Video
8. Kyle Lewis, of, Mercer R/R 6-4 195 Never
9. Matt Krook, lhp, Oregon L/L 6-3 205 Marlins ’13 (1s)
10. Robert Tyler, rhp, Georgia L/R 6-4 226 Orioles ’13 (28)  Video
11. Bryan Reynolds, of, Vanderbilt S/R 6-2 210 Never  Video
12. Logan Shore, rhp, Florida R/R 6-2 215 Twins ’13 (29)
13. Ryan Boldt, of, Nebraska L/R 6-2 212 Red Sox ’13 (22)
14. Cal Quantrill, rhp, Stanford L/R 6-3 185 Yankees ’13 (26)
15. Mike Shawaryn, rhp, Maryland R/R 6-3 211 Royals ’13 (32)
16. Eric Lauer, lhp, Kent State R/L 6-3 205 Blue Jays ’13 (17)
17. Nick Banks, of, Texas A&M L/L 6-0 215 Never  Video
18. Bobby Dalbec, 3b, Arizona R/R 6-4 219 Never
19. Jordan Sheffield, rhp, Vanderbilt R/R 6-0 185 Red Sox ’13 (13)  Video
20. Dakota Hudson, rhp, Mississippi State R/R 6-5 207 Rangers ’13 (36)
21. Errol Robinson, ss, Mississippi R/R 5-11 170 Never
22. Corbin Burnes, rhp, St. Mary’s R/R 6-3 205 Never
23. Anthony Kay, lhp, Connecticut L/L 6-0 187 Mets ’13 (29)
24. Daulton Jefferies, rhp, California L/R 6-0 180 Marlins ’13 (39)
25. Chris Okey, c, Clemson R/R 5-11 195 Padres ’13 (31)  Video
26. Zach Jackson, rhp, Arkansas R/R 6-3 195 Never
27. Jake Fraley, of, Louisiana State L/L 6-0 183 Never
28. Stephen Wrenn, of, Georgia R/R 6-2 185 Braves ’13 (28)
29. Zack Collins, c, Miami L/R 6-3 220 Reds ’13 (27)  Video
30. Kyle Cody, rhp, Kentucky R/R 6-7 245 Twins ’15 (2s)  Video
31. Matt Crohan, lhp, Winthrop L/L 6-4 200 Never
32. Sean Murphy, c, Wright State R/R 6-3 207 Never
33. Sam Tewes, rhp, Wichita State R/R 6-5 200 Blue Jays ’13 (22)
34. Jared Poche’, lhp, Louisiana State R/L 6-1 207 Never
35. Zack Brown, rhp, Kentucky R/R 6-2 200 Cubs ’13 (38)
36. Cody Sedlock, rhp, Illinois R/R 6-4 210 Never
37. Zack Burdi, rhp, Louisville R/R 6-3 209 Never
38. Ben Bowden, lhp, Vanderbilt L/L 6-4 225 Never
39. Garrett Williams, lhp, Oklahoma State L/L 6-1 199 Padres ’13 (33)
40. Bailey Clark, rhp, Duke R/R 6-5 210 Never  Video
41. T.J. Zeuch, rhp, Pittsburgh R/R 6-7 225 Royals ’13 (31)
42. Kyle Serrano, rhp, Tennessee R/R 6-3 200 Rockies ’13 (29)
43. Dane Dunning, rhp, Florida R/R 6-3 190 Blue Jays ’13 (34)
44. Ian Hamilton, rhp, Washington State R/R 6-1 195 Never
45. Wil Crowe, rhp, South Carolina R/R 6-2 240 Indians ’13 (31)
46. Jake Rogers, c, Tulane R/R 6-1 185 Never
47. Bryson Brigman, ss, San Diego R/R 5-11 180 Athletics ’14 (40)
48. Heath Quinn, of, Samford R/R 6-3 220 Indians ’13 (12)
49. Keegan Thompson, rhp, Auburn R/R 6-2 197 Never
50. Jacob Heyward, of, Miami R/R 6-3 201 Braves ’13 (38)
51. Mitchell Jordan, rhp, Stetson R/R 6-2 200 Never
52. Mitchell Traver, rhp, TCU R/R 6-7 255 Cardinals ’15 (28)
53. Ryan Howard, ss, Missiouri R/R 6-1 194 Giants ’15 (31)
54. Hayden Stone, rhp, Vanderbilt R/R 6-3 185 Never
55. Ryan Hendrix, rhp, Texas A&M R/R 6-0 205 Indians ’13 (17)
56. Riley Smith, rhp, LSU R/R 6-2 180 Pirates ’15 (31)
57. Jon Kilichowski, lhp, Vanderbilt L/L 6-5 210 Cubs ’15 (39)
58. Will Craig, 3b, Wake Forest R/R 6-3 230 Royals ’13 (37)
59. Colby Woodmansee, ss, Arizona State R/R 6-3 195 Never
60. Justin Dunn, rhp, Boston College S/R 6-0 170 Dodgers ’13 (37)
61. Stephen Alemais, ss, Tulane R/R 6-0 190 Never
62. Anfrenee Grier, of, Auburn R/R 6-1 180 Tigers ’13 (39)
63. Tyson Miller, rhp, Cal Baptist R/R 6-4 190 Never
64 Tyler Stubblefield, lhp, Texas A&M L/L 6-4 210 Braves ’13 (36)
65. Garrett Hampson, ss, Long Beach R/R 5-11 175 Nationals ’13 (26)
66. Shaun Anderson, rhp, Florida R/R 6-4 225 Nationals ’13 (40)
67. Zac Houston, rhp, Mississippi State R/R 6-5 234 Never
68. Chad Smith, rhp, Mississippi R/R 6-4 198 Indians ’15 (23)
69. Jake Elliott, rhp, Oklahoma R/R 6-7 230 Never
70. Andrew Lantrip, rhp, Houston R/R 6-2 175 Never
71. Zac Gallen, rhp, North Carolina R/R 6-0 180 Never
72. Eli White, ss, Clemson R/R 6-3 180 Pirates ’15 (37)
73. Matt Thaiss, c, Virginia L/R 6-0 195 Red Sox ’13 (32)
74. Kel Johnson, of, Georgia Tech R/R 6-4 204 Never
75. Gio Brusa, of, Pacific S/R 6-3 220 Cardinals ’15 (23)
76. Peter Alonso, 1b, Florida R/R 6-2 225 Never
77. Lucas Erceg, 3b/rhp, Menlo (Calif.) L/R 6-3 205 Never
78. Andrew Calica, of, UCSB L/R 6-1 190 Indians ’12 (17)
79. Cavan Biggio, 2b, Notre Dame L/R 6-1 185 Phillies ’13 (29)
80. Nick Solak, 2b, Louisville R/R 5-11 172 Never
81. Will Toffey, 3b, Vanderbilt L/R 6-2 195 Yankees ’14 (23)
82. Sheldon Neuse, 3b/rhp, Oklahoma R/R 6-0 195 Rangers ’13 (38)
83. Willie Abreu, of, Miami L/L 6-4 225 Reds ’13 (14)
84. Stephen Nogosek, rhp, Oregon R/R 6-1 172 Never
85. Chad Hockin, rhp, Cal State Fullerton R/R 6-2 200 Never
86. Daniel Pinero, ss, Virginia R/R 6-0 210 Tigers ’15 (36)
87. Blake Tiberi, 3b, Louisville L/R 5-11 200 Never
88. Cory Wilder, rhp, North Carolina State R/R 6-4 223 Never
89. Dustin Hunt, rhp, Northeastern R/R 6-5 195 Never
90. Jon Duplantier, rhp, Rice L/R 6-4 225 Never
91. Tommy Edman, 2b, Stanford S/R 5-10 180 Never
92. Tucker Forbes, rhp, UCLA R/R 6-8 235 Giants ’15 (30)
93. Trever Morrison, ss, Oregon State L/R 6-0 175 Red Sox ’13 (38)
94. Ronnie Dawson, of, Ohio State L/R 6-2 225 Never
95. Danny Garcia, lhp, Miami L/L 6-1 195 Never
96. Chandler Eden, rhp, Texas Tech R/R 6-2 175 Blue Jays ’15 (17)
97. Stephen Woods, rhp, Albany R/R 6-2 205 Rays ’13 (6)
98. Carmen Benedetti, rhp/1b, Michigan L/L 6-2 225 Never
99. Andre Scrubb, rhp, High Point R/R 6-4 260 Never
100. Lake Bachar, rhp, Wisconsin-Whitewater R/R 6-1 216 Never

Comments