The very first post here at River Ave. Blues was a look at someÂ college kids to keep an eye on for the 2007 draft, which I then followed up by previewing some noteworthy high school kids. With less than 2 months until the big event goes down, it’s time to start getting serious with the draft coverage.
I brought in the big guns for the next installment ofÂ my draft preview series, enlisting the services of Brian Foley, editor of The College Baseball Blog, a blog about (duh) college baseball which is just too great for words.Â You’d be hard pressed to find a site that’s more informative, comprehensive and entertaining than Brian’s. If you have anyÂ interest in college ball whatsoever, make sure you head on over and bookmark it, if you haven’t already.
Anyways, I asked Brian some questions, and he answered. I slacked off a bit putting this together, so any stats mentioned DO NOTÂ includeÂ action from this past weekend. Enjoy.Â
Q: Teams love to draft college righthanders, they’re generally safe, cheap and plentiful. But outside of Andrew Brackman and Josh Fields, there doesn’t seem to be any truly elite RHP prospects, whereas last year there was Tim Lincecum, Brandon Morrow, Max Scherzer,Â Daniel Bard, Joba Chamberlain, Jeff Samardzija…I could go on and on. Are there anyÂ RHPs who could sneak up, have a great spring and really vault themselves into that elite prospect category?
A: Andrew Brackman is an elite pitcher in the scout’s minds. I had a chance to see Brackman pitch this season against Boston College. He only allowed four hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts. His biggest problem is his lack of innings he has pitched. I saw a stat before the season that he had only pitched 71 college innings in his career so he is very raw. His fastball hits the upper 90’s and in the Cape this summer he hit 100 on some of the guns. Josh Fields is projected as a relief pitcher in the pros so he is not a top of the draft type guy. I would pay attention to Barry Enright of Pepperdine who is 9-1 with a 1.41 ERA. Eddie Kunz of Oregon State also is a player to watch as he was ranked by Baseball America as the number 5 overall prospect in the CCBL. Kunz is having a solid year out of the bullpen for the Beavers as he has an ERA of 2.22 in over 24 innings of work. He has also struck out more then one batter an inning as he stands with 27 at the time I am writing this.
Q: There’s lots and lots of catchers available this year, starting right at the top with Matt Wieters and JP Arencibia. I’ve got a bit of a mancrush on OSU’s Mitch Canham, and I’m hoping the Yanks are able to pick him up. What do you think his chances of staying behind the plate as a pro are?
A: I have personally seen Wieters play and that kid is the real deal behind the plate. The young man is a 6′-6″ catcher who has a very quick release behind the plate and an extremely strong arm (94 MPH fastball when pitching). The thing that helps Wieters out is his ability to switch hit and hit for power from both sides of the plate. He also has experience playing first base so he might end up getting moved over there after getting drafted. Canham was ranked as the 15th best prospect in the CCBL but is extremely raw behind the plate since he just started catching after enrolling at OSU. He just needs to be mentored before becoming a major prospect for whatever team is lucky to draft him.
Q: We’re seeing more and more schools using their top arms as closers, such as Danny Moskos at Clemson, Brett Cecil at Maryland and the aforementioned Josh Fields at Georgia. Do any of these guys – or even some of those I neglected to mention – have a shot to stick at closer in the pros? Who’s best suited to deal with the whole “draft a college closer and rush him to the bigs” fad?
A: Funny you bring up Daniel Moskos of Clemson, Jack Leggett has moved him into the starting rotation on April 6th against Va Tech. He has been solid in that role while allowing only two runs in ten innings. I saw Moskos last year pitching for Clemson and the kid throws a low 90s fastball and has a decent curveball. He slots more for a sandwich or second round pick. Brett Cecil has had a rough year as he has blown multiple saves. He has saved seven games and has a 4-3 record.
I think that fad should be named after Craig Hansen because he was an absolute beast at St. John’s and the Red Sox rushed him to the Majors basically without ever getting any substantial Minor League innings.
Q:Â Â I saw Matt LaPorta hit a ball off the roof of the CF camera tower at Rosenblatt during BP 2 years ago. After his injury riddled campaign last year, what kind of value does he have for this draft?Â
A: Matt is an interesting player. He had one of the best offensive years in the history of NCAA baseball as a Sophomore when he led the nation with 26 homers. He had that injury plagued season as you stated in 2006 and the Red Sox drafted him in the 14th round as his stock slipped. The Sox and LaPorta could never come to an agreement so we have a situation where a very highly regarded player is going to graduate from College. LaPorta still is considered to be a monster power threat and should be drafted in the top three rounds, but the scouts are down on him again.
Q: Kellen Kulbacki had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NCAA history last year by going .464-.568-.943 with 24 HR andÂ 75 RBI for James Madison. He’s at it again this year (.422-.527-.871, 17 HR, 42 RBI, 27 BB, 23 K thru April 22), but there’s concern that Madison’s hitter friendly park is skewing his numbers. Do you think his bat is the real deal and will translate to wood bats, or is he just benefiting from a bandbox?Â Where does he fit in amongst NCAA’s best hitters?
A: This is one player that I have been following all season and I am a big believer in this kids skill. He played with the Cotuit Kettleers and I had an chance to see him at the end of the summer play in a game against Hyannis. He proceeded to go 1-4 on the day but that is not what impressed me. In a tight 3-1 game and the bases loaded with 1 out, there was a groundball through the left side and he proceeded to throw out the tying run in Matt Mangini at the plate with an absolute seed to the plate. He ended up hitting .240 with seven homers in the summer as he struggled with the wood bats but started coming around at the end of the season.
Lightning Round time…
Todd Frazier of Rutgers or Matt Mangini of Oklahoma? Mangini led the Cape in Hitting so I go with him. Mangini struggles with defense at third so he might need to change positions.
Wes Roemer of Fullerton or James Simmons of UC Riverside? Wes Roemer, he’sÂ been in more difficult positions as he has pitched in the CWS.
Randy Boone of Texas or Paul Koss of USC? Boone is just more polished
Brett Cecil of Maryland or Danny Moskos of Clemson? Moskos by far…bigger, stronger, and faster
Joe Savery of Rice or Sean Doolittle of Virginia, as hitters? Doolittle and Savery are both better hitters especially with Doolittle being just alright on the mound.
Josh Horton of UNC orÂ Beau Mills of Lewis & Clark State? Josh Horton is a MLB shortstop playing in college. He is very smooth on defense and has a very quick bat.
And finally, I can’t let you go without askin’ yaÂ to take a shot at predicting the field of 8 for Omaha. Who ya got in the CWS?
1. Vanderbilt, should win the title
4. Oregon State
6. South Carolina
8. Arizona State
Thanks to Brian for taking part, and remember to head on over to The College Baseball Blog for some of the best college baseball coverage on the intra-net.