Draft Q&A with Brian Foley of The College Baseball Blog

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Considering his site is the most comprehensive college baseball site on the planet, it only made sense to ask Brian to answer some draft related questions about some of the best collegiate players. He was kind enough to do it last year, and even kinder to do it this year considering I fed him endless “dude, I’ve been really busy, I’ll email you the questions next week” lines the past few weeks.

Make sure you head on over Brian’s site to keep up with all the NCAA postseason action. There’s already been some big upsets and surprising developments, and there’s bound to be more in the coming weeks.

Okay, I’ll shut up now.

There isn’t a clear top talent in this draft class, instead there’s a collection of players that have distinguished themselves as the best of the mediocre. Which of Pedro Alvarez (3B, Vanderbilt), Buster Posey (C, Florida State), Aaron Crow (RHP, Missouri) and Brian Matusz (LHP, San Diego) do you like best, and why?

I think the CAN’T miss player of out that bunch is Buster Posey but he will never be a perennial All-Star. Pedro Alvarez needs to find a solid position at the next level as he struggles in the field. Crow has a hitch in his motion which might cause some injury issues in the coming years; the kid can throw over 95 MPH but needs to get coached on his motion. Matusz just doesn’t dominate the game with his fastball, which scares me as he lives off his breaking ball and changeup.

One oddity this year is the abundance of power hitting first basemen, led by Justin Smoak (So. Carolina), Yonder Alonso (Miami) and Brett Wallace (Arizona State). Which of those guys do you like the best, and why?

I love Smoak as he reminds me a ton of Mark Teixeira. I also like how Smoak can hit for average and power. Yonder Alonso is a pure power hitter at the next level but might end up moving to one of the corner outfield positions if he can’t handle first base. Wallace just looks out of shape every time I see him, but the kid can hit the ball a ton. It will be interesting to see where Brett goes in the draft.

Damon Oppenheimer, the Yanks’ Scouting Director, loves polished players, and two of the most polished hitters in this class are Conor Gillaspie (3B, Wichita State), and Reese Havens (SS, So. Carolina). What do you know about these guys, and who do you like better?

Gillaspie was named the MVP in Cape Cod Baseball League last summer where he led the league in hitting with a .345 average and in slugging percentage at .673. He was a defensive stud as he started 32 games while only committing 4 errors during the season.

Havens has some major pop in his bat as witnessed by his 16 homers on the year (as of May 20th) and has a solid average of .360. Havens also had a big summer down the Cape where he hit .314 with five homers.

I just think Gillaspie is much more polished right now; Havens didn’t stand out to me the last time I saw him play in a game.

Behind Brian Matusz and Christian Freidrich (Eastern Kentucky), the best LHP in the class is Tim Murphy of UCLA, but he just starting pitching full-time last year. What makes him so good, and are there any other lefties to look for?

Murphy was an 11th round pick out of HS but decided to head to UCLA. He has struggled throughout his career at UCLA with a career record of 10-10 in 36 games on the mound. He does have some impressive strikeout numbers with 107 strikeouts this season in 94.2 innings heading into the Regionals. His walk totals are a little high for a pitcher with a high ceiling with 44 on the year.

The one player to watch is Ike Davis out of Arizona State who could see time on the mound at the next level. He went 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA with 4 saves but was injured late in the season so he is currently getting back into the bullpen.

This class is lacking college outfielders, with the best being Roger Kieschnick of Texas Tech, and Dennis Raben of Miami. Which of the two is the better prospect, and are there any other outfielders to watch out for?

Kieschnick only hit .305 this season for the Texas Tech Red Raiders but was able to knock 17 homers on the year. He was getting no protection in the lineup so he was not seeing many hittable pitches. Raben on the other hand is coming off an early season injury which saw him only play in 44 games where he hit .314 with 8 homers. I love Raben’s swing as can be seen by clicking here.

Gordon Beckham (SS, Georgia) is having a monster year, a Golden Spikes Award type of year. The last college middle infielder to be drafted as high as Beckham is likely to be taken was Evan Longoria in 2006, and we’ve all seen how good he is. How does Beckham compare to Longoria when he came out of school?

Some people think that Beckham can’t play shortstop at the next level and will have to be moved to another position as he doesn’t get to many balls. Beckham is very similar at the plate where he has put up unreal numbers during their draft years. Beckham has already hit 23 homers on the year while batting .394 with a majority of those games in the SEC and against a strong out-of-conference schedule.

I love guys with big-time arms like that who are still raw enough that they aren’t set in their ways. Who do you think fits in this category?

Andrew Cashner out of TCU has jumped up many draft charts with a high-90’s fastball but has major injury concerns which is the reason he was not getting much pre-season press. Another guy to watch that is extremely raw is Kevin Castner out of Cal Poly. He is your prototypical closer with a 90 MPH+ fastball which has heavy sink on it with a solid slider.

Are there any players you like, that aren’t necessarily big names, that we should keep an eye on?

A kid to keep an eye on is Tim Kiely out of Trinity College (CT) who led the Bantams to the D-3 National Championship. Kiely had the most ridiculous year in recent memory where he went 11-0 with a 1.33 ERA. Solid numbers but nothing really fantastic until you see that he only walked two batters in 88 innings. I don’t care what level you are playing at but two walks in 88 innings is ridiculous.

Are there any players on your BC Eagles squad we should look out for?

Nope. They are just too young. The team to watch that might be of interest to your readers is St. John’s who have two strong pitchers in Scott Barnes and George Brown. Barnes currently has a record of 7-3 with a 3.92 ERA while striking out 86 batters in 82.2 innings. Brown is 9-0 with a 2.73 ERA while being the ace of the Red Storm staff.

Lightning round time. David Cooper (1B, Cal) or Ike Davis (1B/LHP, ASU)?

Ike Davis just has a better all around game then Cooper.

Josh Fields (RHP, Georgia) or Andrew Cashner (RHP, TCU)?

Cashner has come out of nowhere with a large jump in velocity this season. This really scares me as I wonder what changed over the last year with his arm. Fields had a tough 2007 season but was the 2006 CCBL Co-Pitcher of the Year and had a solid 2008 regular season.

Scott (RHP, Irvine) or Matt Gorgen (RHP, Cal)?

Scott Gorgen just more polished.

Shooter Hunt (RHP, Tulane) or Tanner Scheppers (RHP, Fresno State, pre-injury)?

Hunt has pitched in many more important situations and knows how to handle the pressure.

Lance Lynn or Cody Satterwhite (both RHP, Mississippi)?

Lance Lynn has the makeup to be a solid pitcher in the majors.

Ryan Perry (RHP, Arizona) or Jacob Thompson (RHP, Virginia)

Thompson is a surefire MLB pitcher if he can regain his form from his first two collegiate years.

James Darnell (3B/LF, So. Carolina) or Allan Dykstra (1B, Wake Forest)?

Dykstra had a down year because he gets no protection from his teammates while Darnell has Havens and Smoak in his lineup.

Zach Putnam (DH/RHP, Michigan: hitter or pitcher long term?

Pitcher long term no doubt about it.

Is Steven Strasburg (RHP, San Diego State) the best pitcher in the country, regardless of class (he’s a sophomore)?

I still think Crow is the best pitcher in the country. The Strasburg numbers are absolutely insane but can he keep it up this summer?

And last but not least, who ya got for the field of 8 for Omaha? Who do you think is gonna win the CWS?

Miami (FL) gets out of the tough regional and cruises over the Arizona/Michigan winner to head back to Omaha.

Georgia makes it to Omaha behind the big bat of Beckham.

Cal-State Fullerton makes it to Omaha with a very easy draw.

OK State upsets the Seminoles in Tallahassee.

UNC continues their dominance in the NCAA Tourney.

LSU stays hot with a trip to Omaha.

Rice brings Wayne Graham to Omaha again.

Arizona State makes it to Omaha behind the strong hitting.

Final Predictions: LSU edges Miami (FL) in three games.

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  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    I love talking baseball so It is a pleasure to come on here.

    • Joey

      Thanks for the time, love reading this kinda stuff

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Of course when I did the interview OK State had not lost their number 1 starter for the rest of the season and lose in the Regional final to Wichita State.

  • CB

    I tend to agree with Brian on Crow vs. Matsuz. Matsuz is a good prospect but is he really a top 5 pick? Not so sure. He’s been very good this year but I’m not sure that he has the stuff to be a front end starter. Not sure Crow does either but he has better stuff. Matsuz is a guy where him being left handed seems to be driving him up past what his talent would suggest.

  • Nate

    I’m wondering about the whole Crow at 95 bit. I went to all but one of Crow’s home starts and I enjoy sitting behind the scouts that are there. They usually have him 91-92 on their guns, which may be slow. But his command and off-speed stuff are as advertised.

  • Matt G.

    Brian, RAB has featured a hitter named Lonnie Chisenhall (formerly of South Carolina) as a possible steal due to character issues. What is your take on this young man?

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley


    Crow hit 95 in the CCBL All-Star game in a one inning appearance.

    Matt G,

    Chissenhall was supposed to be a starter on the SC team last year and would be a steal (no pun intended) in the 10-15 rounds.

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  • http://www.thecollegebaseballblog.com NewYorkDore

    It hurt Brian so much to do this for a Yankees site (I say as a Yanks fan).

    FWIW, Brian oversells Pedro Alvarez’ struggles in the field. His reaction time is good, arm is average and just needs to work on his consistency (don’t forget that Jeter had 50+ errors as a 19 year old).

    I’m one of Brian’s collegues from TCCB and wanted to chime in on our Yanks’ draft with the players I’ve seen:

    28. Gerrit Cole – Love this kid’s upside. He has a legit big time arm and should project well with proper development.

    75. Joe Bittle – Quite simply, he had the most outstanding season of any pitcher in the country. His cutter doesn’t have Rivera velo, but it was just as effective in the SEC this year. He’s not blessed with great height, but if they can add a few MPHs to his arm, I really like this pick. At the same time, I’m not sure he wouldn’t have been around in Round 4.

    140. Corban Joseph – Didn’t see him, but as my contacts are all in middle TN and I’ve followed some of his teammates at Vandy, I can say I’ve heard good things. Vandy didn’t recruit him hard out of their backyard and with an inside track, so that means either he wasn’t serious about school or that he might have been drafted a bit too high. Sounded great in his Perfect Game scouting report.

    380. Luke Greinke – Blah selection. Never really impressed me as a pro prospect, though Vandy didn’t play Auburn this year, so I don’t know if he made any strides.

    620. Pat Venditte – YES. Staten Island is going to love this kid. Preseason All American with the ability to back it up. He’s an “Amphibious” (to quote an NBA player) pitcher, meaning he can throw lefty to one batter and then righty to the next. I doubt the Yanks will let him through lefty as a pro, but his stats a year ago bore out that the can throw both ways. If he makes it to Staten Island, I might go out to watch him.