For the second time in the last five years, CC of Southern Nevada will have a contender for the No. 1 overall draft pick. Southern Nevada coach Nick Garritano confirmed a report by Jim Callis of MLB.com that righthander Phil Bickford is transferring to CSN after leaving Cal State Fullerton at the end of this summer.
Bickford, the unsigned No. 10 overall pick by the Blue Jays in 2013, left Fullerton after his freshman year in order to make himself eligible for the 2015 draft. The Southern California native is leaving his home state to play for the same junior college that produced 2010 No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper, though Harper's coach at CSN (Tim Chambers) is now the head coach at Nevada-Las Vegas.
As part of a draft class that lacks a consensus No. 1 overall prospect heading into the fall, Bickford has a chance to improve his draft stock from 2013, especially if he can continue to showcase the overpowering stuff he unleashed in the Cape Cod League this summer. His fastball sat in the mid-90s and bumped the high 90s in a relief role this summer, but he often pitched with an average fastball in a starting role this spring. He'll need to prove he can maintain electric stuff as a starter—and show more consistent secondary stuff—in order to be drafted in the top 10 picks again this year.
It's worth noting that the Blue Jays were higher on Bickford in 2013 than the industry consensus; he ranked No. 20 on the BA 500 that year after his velocity spiked in the spring. So just because Bickford has already been a top-10 pick doesn't mean he is a lock to be drafted that high again. He ranked behind Walker Buehler, Kyle Cody, Cody Ponce in our Cape Cod League Top 30 propects list this summer, and he might also rank behind Team USA pitchers Kyle Funkhouser, Carson Fulmer, James Kaprielian and Jake Lemoine on a list of draft-eligible 2015 college arms. Of course, he could leapfrog many or all of those other pitchers with a strong spring.