Nationals Arm Race

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2017 Draft coverage; DC Area Local draftees and who didn’t get drafted of note


Bukauskas was the highest DC-area player taken this year.  Photo Bill Kamenjar/

Bukauskas was the highest DC-area player taken this year. Photo Bill Kamenjar/

Draft Coverage so far for 2017:

Here’s a quick rundown of the DC-area kids who got drafted this year.  My definition of “DC Area” includes any draftee who went to HS in the DC area or who attends a DC-area college.  Thus this includes University of Maryland players, even inf most of them went to HS outside the area. has a version of this story, and also published one if you’re interested.

RoundOverallStateDrafting TeamNamePositionCol/HSHSCollege
115VAHoustonJ.B. BukauskasRHPCol JrStone Bridge (Ashburn)UNC
2-S70VAColoradoTommy DoyleRHPCol JrFlint Hill (Vienna)UVA
4129MDTorontoKevin SmithSSCol JrUpdate NYUmaryland
6172MDArizonaBrian ShafferRHPCol JrN. Harford, Pylesville MDUmaryland
10294VAMilwaukeeAlec BettingerRHPCol JrHylton (Woodbridge)UVA
14422MDNew York YankeesHarold CortijoRHPHSRiverdale BaptistSeminole State
17515VADetroitBilly LescherRHPCol JrWest Potomac HSPenn
17524VATexasTyler Ratliff3BCol JrTC Williams Marshall U
18527VACincinnatiJohn GhyzelRHPCol JrWestfield (C'ville)U Rochester
19558VASan DiegoNick Feight1BCol SrBattlefieldUNC-Wilmington
19566VAColoradoJoey BartosicCFCol SrOakton HSGeorge Washington
20598MD/VAPittsburghWill ReedRHPJ2Loudoun Valley (Purceville)Harford CC
21625VALos Angeles AngelsDevon PerezRHPCol JrStone Bridge (Ashburn)Oklahoma
22653VAPhiladelphiaBrian Mims2BCol JrForest Park HS (Woodbridge)UNC-Wilmington
27800MDAtlantaRandy BednarCFHSLandon SchoolUmaryland
27820MDLos Angeles DodgersJeremy ArochoSSHSOld MillNorthwest Florida State College
31921VAOaklandBrandon WithersRHPCol Sr5Osborn (Manassas)JMU
31937MDNew York MetsRyan SelmerRHPCol JrRiverdale BaptistUmaryland
32946VAMinnesotaNick BrownRHPCol SrPatriot (Bristow)William & Mary
341023MDSeattleDavid HesslinkLHPCol SrBethesda-Chevy ChaseMIT
361071VAOaklandLogan FarrarOF/LHPCol JrWoodbridge HSVCU
371109MDMiamiJared PriceRHPCol Sr5Pennsylvania HSUMaryland

That’s not a bad collection of DC-area guys.  We all knew J.B. Bukauskas would go high; lots of the mock drafts I saw had him as high as 6th.  However two unsteady starts to close out his career (in the ACC tourney and then in the Regionals of the CWS) dropped him probably 10 spots from where he could have gone.  Rumor has it he was suffering from a blister.  Suffice it to say, Houston has to be ecstatic that they got him at 15.  I’m slightly surprised how high Tommy Doyle went honestly; I would have guessed him to go a bit lower based on his profile now at UVA (reliever).  But he’s now looking at an $800k+ bonus.  UMaryland infielder Kevin Smith went a bit lower than projections.  Maryland RHP Brian Shaffer also went a bit ahead of schedule, going in the 6th round after having some helium this spring.  The last DC-area top-10 pick with a guaranteed slot was also a surprise to me: another UVA arm in Alec Bettinger went in the 10th round.  Again a surprise given his profile as a reliever.  But certainly not on talent or reputation; Bettinger’s name has been known to local baseball followers for years.

Riverdale Baptist’s Harold Cortijo, the All-Met player of the year, went in the 14th round.  It should be interesting to see what he does.  It seemed to me from reading his interviews that he intended to go pro, but a 14th round pick somewhat limits the bonus dollars he can get.  I wonder if he goes to JuCo and tries again next year.

Three DC-area prep graduates who, frankly, I’d never heard of went in the 17th and 18th rounds.  All three were at lower-profile baseball colleges.

Two area guys who play for UNC-Wilmington and who got some pre-season All America mention went in the 19th and 22nd round respectively: Nick Feight and Brian Mims were surprises to me to go so low.

The only other DC-area prep guys to even get drafted this year were two of the leading prep players in the area: Landon’s Randy Bednar, who went in the 27th and seems likely to honor his commit to UMaryland.  Also Old Mill’s Jeremy Orocho, who  is a longtime Evoshield Canes member and who apparently gave up on his UMaryland commit to go to JuCo.  I’m guessing he plays a year of community college and re-applies for the draft.


So here’s a short list of the higher profile DC-area kids who did NOT get drafted at all that i’ve been tracking for a while: These commits change constantly so apologies if I have one of them wrong.

  • Kyle Whitten, RHP/1B from Osbourn Park in Manassas, VA.  Early commit to UVA.
  • Tyler Solomon, C/1B from Battlefield HS in Haymarket, VA.  Early commit to Vanderbilt
  • Anthony Simonelli RHP from Millbrook in Winchester, VA.  Early commit to Coastal Carolina
  • Michael Ludowig, OF from Briar Woods.  Early commit to Wake Forest.
  • Connor Hartigan, OF from Millbrook in Winchester, VA.  Was Early commit to Coastal Carolina, now committed to University of South Carolina-Sumter.


A far cry from 2016 with multiple prep kids from the area going in the top rounds.  I’ll do a similar post for the extended DC/MD/VA area next.

2016 CWS Regional Results, Noted Player performances, Super Regionals pairings


Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:

Now we’re through the Regionals and the field has been winnowed from 64 to just 16.

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the larger bracket.  Bold is the host and Bolded Red is the winner.  We’ll also highlight significant players and/or guys who are big names in the upcoming draft as we get to them ( summarizes their top 200 ranked players here: i’ll just talk about the 1st round talents and players w/ local ties).

1. In the Florida regional, UConn put a mini upset loss on Georgia Tech, who tried to sneak a win with a mid-week starter and now face a loser’s bracket hole.  Meanwhile Florida surprisingly stuck with their rotation and threw ace/friday starter Logan Shore in game one against Bethune-Cookman. Presumed #1 pick A.J. Puk then went up against UConnn and their 1st round Ace Anthony Kay.  In the winner’s bracket game and both laid eggs; Puk couldn’t get out of the 5th and Kay gave up 5 runs in 5+ innings.  One wonders if this causes some last minute changes at the top of draft boards.  Nonetheless, Florida got a run in the 8th to take it 6-5 and assume control of the regional.  Georgia Tech took out UConn to face Florida in the regional final, where they got pummelled 10-1 as Florida advanced.

16. In the Florida State regional, Florida State and Southern Miss destroyed their foes in the first games, and Florida State made quick work over Southern Miss to advance to the championship game.  South Alabama lost 14-2 in their opening game; they were one of the last at-large teams to make the tourney at the expense of UNC and UNC’s Zac Gallen took to twitter to let the selection committee (which included South Alabama’s athletic director) know it.  Can’t blame him; the ACC has dominated in this tourney so far.  That being said, South Alabama did advance out of the loser’s bracket to face Fla State in the regional final, where they got obliterated.  Florida State Advances, scoring 43 runs in three games.

2. In the Louisville regional, both Louisville and 2-seed Ohio State handled their openers.  Louisville threw Kyle Funkhouser and he gave up just 4 hits in 8 innings, with presumptive upper 1st rounder Corey Ray going 3-5 at leadoff.  Louisville pounded Ohio State in the winner’s bracket game, putting themselves in the easy driver’s seat and making them an early CWS favorite.  Louisville ended up downing Wright State to advance.

15. In the Vanderbilt regional, awful news broke just prior to the game when it was learned that one of Vanderbilt’s freshmen pitchers Donny Everett drowned the previous weekend, casting a pall over the regional.   UC Santa Barbara held serve in their first game.  When Vanderbilt finally took the field, they completely melted down in the 7th inning, giving up 13 runs in the frame (half of them against likely 1st rounder Jordan Sheffield) to lose 15-1 to 4th seeded Xavier.  In the loser’s bracket, Vanderbilt’s coach left in his starter Kyle Wright far too long (122 pitches but more importantly turning an 8-2 lead in to an 8-7 nailbiter), and Washington eventually hit a 2-run homer against the bullpen for the win.  Vanderbilt goes 2-and-out as a host and ends their streak of making the CWS finals.  Meanwhile UC Santa Barbara took control of the region and forced Xavier to have to beat them twice to advance; it didn’t happen as UC Santa Barbara pounded Xavier 14-5 to advance to their 1st super regional ever.

3.  In the Coral Gables regional (host #3 Miami), Long Beach State got an early upset win over Florida Atlantic while Miami eased past in-state rival Stetson.  Miami won a squeaker over Long Beach to take control of the regional, but it was closer than you’d expect. Stetson went 2-and-out quickly.  LBSU got back to the winner’s final, and almost had a 9-run comeback against Miami before dropping the regional final 9-8 on a Miami walk-off.

14. In the Ole Miss regional, Mississippi became one of the only hosts to lose its first game, dropping a 6-5 decision to the probably-underseeded Utah team.  Boston College also got a mini-upset when their 1st round prospect ace Justin Dunn dominated Tulane to setup a 3-4 seed winner’s bracket game.  Ole Miss then promptly went two and out by losing the next game to Tulane.  Boston College beat Utah to take control of the regional.  Tulane overtook Utah to make it to the regional final, but Boston College handled them easily to advance as a #3 seed.

4. in the Texas A&M regional, both seeds advanced (TAMU and Wake Forest) initially without much fanfare, but then TAMU embarassed Wake Forest to the tune of a 22-2 beatdown in the winner’s bracket.  TAMU may “only” be the 4th seed, but they’re #1 in some polls and are looking very dangerous.  TAMU eventually advanced against Minnesota, who made it to the regional final as what many thought was an undeserved #2 seed.

13. In the TCU regional, Gonzaga upset Arizona State and pressed TCU in the winner’s bracket game before falling 4-3.  Arizona acquitted themselves and got back to the regional final, where TCU made short work of them 8-1 to advance.

5. In the Texas Tech region, the hosts destroyed Fairfield in the opener and then New Mexico shocked Dallas Baptist.  DBU advanced to the loser’s bracket final.  Texas Tech won a nail-biter over the tough New Mexico team in the winner’s bracket game.  DBU advanced to the regional final, where they took one game off of Texas Tech to force the winner-take-all game.  In a back-and-forth game, Texas Tech jumped ahead in the 6th and made the lead stick to advance.

12. In the Charlottesville Region (host #12 UVA), UVA took a gamble and threw struggling sunday starter Alec Bettinger against in-state rival William & Mary (filled with Northern Virginia alum) and pounded their starter Dan Powers (of my alma mater Madison HS in Vienna).  UVA didn’t stop there, eventually winning 17-4.  Meanwhile, ECU (half of their lineup is VA-based) destroyed Bryant’s bullpen en route to a 9-1 easy victory in a “minor upset.”  ECU has to like their chances, having taken 2 of 3 in Charlottesville earlier in the season.  UVA did their best to keep this from happening, taking a 6-3 lead into the 9th against some-time starter (and Vienna native Tommy Doyle, who promptly gave up 5 runs in the 9th and a walk-off 3-run homer to blow the game for the Cavaliers.  W&M made quick work of the over-seeded Bryant team and gets a second crack at UVA, who now faces a big up-hill battle to advance.  Interesting choice to finish the game; doesn’t UVA have, you know, relievers and a closer for that task?  Then, to add insult to injury in the Loser’s bracket elimination game William & Mary quickly got to UVA’s saturday starter Daniel Lynch and then tacked on two more on Doyle to eliminate last year’s champion UVA 5-4.  UVA just didn’t have the pitching they needed and sorely miss the presence they got from someone like Josh Sborz last year.  W&M and ECU face off having eliminated the top two seeds in this regional, and ECU easily advanced to the Super Regional.  ECU was the first team to book its ticket to the super-regionals this year.

6. In the Mississippi State regional, the hosts won their first game and then eased by the dangerous Cal-State Fullerton team to take control of the regional.  CSF got upset by Louisiana Tech in the losers’s bracket, but it didn’t matter as Mississippi State wasn’t troubled in the regional final to advance.

11. In the Louisiana-Lafayette regional, both top seeds held serve in the first games before weather pushed the whole regional by a day.  ULL made it to the regional final with a 10-3 victory over Arizona, but Arizona came back through the loser’s bracket and took two straight over ULL to win the regional in a winner-take-all game Monday.

7. In the Clemson regional (host #7 Clemson), Clemson scored an astounding 24 runs to win a slugfest in its opener but then had its hat handed to them 12-2 by Oklahoma State in the winner’s bracket game.  Huge showing by the Big-12 so far in this tournament.  Clemson battered their way back to a rematch … where Oklahoma State promptly beat them again 9-2 to advance.  Clemson becomes the first national seed to fall, albeit not in a hugely surprising fashion to a very good OK State team.  Clemson’s Seth Beer continued his monster season, finishing up one of the 5-best freshman seasons we’ve seen in a while and putting his name on the map for the 2017 draft (where he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore).

10. In the South Carolina regional, the hosts were shocked by Rhode Island in the opener while UNC-Wilmington (who starts four guys in the lineup hailing from Virginia) destroyed Duke to put themselves in the driver’s seat.  UNC-W continued on, beating Rhode Island 11-7 to head to the winner’s bracket final.  South Carolina downed Duke in the elimination game to face up with R.I. again.  There, South Carolina got their revenge, beating Rhode Island by the astounding score of 23-2.  In the regional final, SC had to beat UNC-W twice to advance; they forced the winner-take-all game with a 10-1 dismantling of their CAA foes sunday night.  The winner-take-all game got rained out monday, pushed to Tuesday.  In that tuesday game, South Carolina jumped ahead early and held on to win the last game 10-5 to complete the comeback out of the Loser’s bracket and advance.

8. The LSU regional was plagued by rain.  They only got one game in on Friday and Saturday.  however, LSU saved their ace Alex Lange for the Rice matchup, where he’ll face another highly regarded college junior in Jon Duplantier.  A freak “ground rule grand slam” set the tone early and LSU prevailed.  Rice came back through the loser’s bracket and took the first game from LSU in the regional final, forcing a winner-take-all Tuesday.  In that winner-take-all game, Rice jumped out ahead but LSU had a clutch go-ahead homer in the 7th to break Rice’s back.  LSU advances and becomes the last of the 16 teams to do so.

9. In the NC State region,  NC State pounded Navy’s Luke Gillingham to put away any chances of an upset while Coastal Carolina eased past St. Marys to setup a fun all-Carolina matchup in the winner’s bracket.  Navy put St. Marys on 2-and-out.  The NC State-Coastal game was delayed a day by weather, but Coastal held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the 9th to delay the inevitable.  NC State destroyed Navy in the loser’s bracket final 17-1 to face off against Coastal twice to advance.  In the first game of the final, NC State easily beat CC to force the winner-take-all game.  That game, believe it or not, was suspended in the top of the 9th with NC State holding a 2-run advantage and had to be pushed to Tuesday.  When they resumed the game … Coastal Carolina rallied for four runs in the top of the 9th to win the game and the regional.  Amazing.


Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 10 of 16 hosts advanced, including 7 of 8 National seeds.  This is a far cry from 2014, which lost most of its national seeds early, but about in line with 2015’s tournament where 11 of 16 advanced.
  • 2 first time Super-Regional participants (Boston College, UC Santa Barbara)
  • 5 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game, most of them on Tuesday thanks to weather.
  • 10 number one seeds, 4 number two seeds, and 2 number three seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 6 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional: two were runner’s up in their region (William & Mary and Xavier).
  • 2 hosts that went 2-and-out (the understandable Vanderbilt and Ole Miss).
  • 5 of the regionals went pure chalk, a decent indication of the job the seeding committee did this year.
  • Biggest upsets: Xavier destroying Vanderbilt, Utah beating Ole Miss.
  • Most surprising regional winner:  UC Santa Barbara

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: florida, TAMU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, LSU
  • Big12: TCU, Texas Tech, OK State
  • ACC: Fla State, Lousiville, Miami, BC
  • Pac12: Arizona
  • other: UCSB, ECU, Coastal Carolina

Super Regional Matchups:  The super-regional hosts were announced just after the last regional ended.

  • #1 Florida vs #16 Florida State (a rematch of last year’s super-regional)
  • #2 Louisville vs UC Santa Barbara
  • #3 Miami vs Boston College
  • #4 TAMU vs #13 TCU (a rematch of last year’s super regional)
  • #5 Texas Tech vs ECU
  • #6 Mississippi State vs Arizona
  • Oklahoma State vs #10 South Carolina
  • #8 LSU vs Coastal Carolina


Super Regional Thoughts:

I think the top 4 seeds are class this year; i’m going with Florida, Louisville, Miami and TAMU to start, and two of them are helped by going against first time super-regional teams.  We have two Super-Regional rematches from last year (Florida-Florida State and TAMU-TCU), which followed last year’s multiple super regional rematches.  I know the committee likes this, but I don’t; give these teams a shot at playing someone else.  Florida destroyed Florida State last year and their pitching staff should control them again this year.  I don’t see Louisville troubled.  Miami-BC is an ACC match-up that never happened this season.  I love TAMU-TCU and think its unfortunate they meet here and not Omaha; they played a fantastic regional last year that culminated in a 16-inning decider.

I like ECU but don’t know enough about Texas Tech to predict a possible upset.  Same with Mississippi State; are they the most non-descript national seed we’ve had in awhile?  Arizona came out of the weak Pac12 this year so its hard to pick against the nationally ranked team.  I think Oklahoma State is better

Predictions: Florida, Louisville, Miami, TAMU, ECU, Mississippi State, OK State, LSU


College CWS tournament references:

College draft-prospects with local-ties to keep an eye in for the 2016 draft


UVA's Connor Jones is a likely first rounder in this year's draft. Photo via UVA sports

UVA’s Connor Jones is a likely first rounder in this year’s draft. Photo via UVA sports

For the fourth year running (here’s 2013’s wrap-up, 2014’s wrap-up, and 2015’s wrap-up), we’re going to keep an eye on “local” draft prospects leading up to the 2016 amateur draft.  By “local” I essentially mean anyone who hails from the DC/MD/VA areas plus anyone who is playing their college ball in the DC/MD/VA irrespective of where they hail from.

Here’s a list of DC/MD/VA college players draft-eligible in 2016 of note from our area.  We’re now to the point where HS seniors we covered previously in this blog are becoming college Junior draft eligibles; here’s our 2013 draft wrap up mentioning a number of these 2016 draft eligible players.

Major Local College Draft Prospects for 2016

These are the big-time names that we’ve been hearing may be 1st or 2nd rounders this year with Local Ties.

  • Connor Jones, UVA RHP via Great Bridge; a 1st round talent in 2013 who desired to go to college and he hasn’t disappointed; took over as the Friday starter by mid 2015, finished with a 7-2 record and a 2.96 ERA in 16 starts.  Pitched well in the CWS, getting an unlucky loss against Vanderbilt in the final.  Playing in the Cape Cod league this summer, on the 2015 Collegiate National team and on the 2016 draft short list already.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 2nd team All-American.
  • Mike Shawaryn: RHP for Maryland; went 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA as Maryland’s friday starter as a sophomore.  He was named to Baseball America’s 2nd team All America in 2015.  2015 Collegiate National team.  He could be a very high draft prospect as a junior.  Didn’t pitch well for Team USA in summer 2015.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 1st team All-American.
  • Matt Thaiss, UVA C who led the team in hitting as a sophomore and is on the 2015 National Collegiate team.  Impressed while playing for Team USA in summer of 2015, with a top-2 round projection.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American.
  • Buddy Reed, OF from Florida via Finksburg, MD (NW of Baltimore).  Not previously on the radar list despite hailing from Maryland b/c he attended a prep school in Rhode Island.  But he’s playing for Florida and is on the 2015 National Collegiate team.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 1st team All-American.
  • Errol Robinson, SS from Ole Miss via St. Johns Prep in DC: hit .297 and started every game for Ole Miss as a sophomore.  Getting a lot of attention in his junior year, with Ole Miss’ high national ranking and the general dearth of capable shortstops.

Other Local College draft eligibles w/ Local Ties

Some of these guys will get drafted, others may not.  But they’re all draft eligible, having gone to 4-yr programs 3 years ago.

  • Luke Gillingham a senior at Navy who was named Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 2nd team All-American.  There’s some history of Navy grads making the majors, including Mitch Harris and Oliver Drake in 2015.
  • Charlie Gould, a rising Sr at William & Mary.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American, pre-season all-CAA.
  • Michael Morman, a 5th year senior/grad student at Richmond.  Collegiate Baseball News pre-season 3rd team All-American.
  • Daniel Pinero, UVA middle infielder who started 60 games and hit .300 as a sophomore.
  • Alec Bettinger, UVA RHP via Hylton: 50ip and 4 mid-week starts as a sophomore, could take a bigger role with the graduation/drafting of so many UVA arms in 2015.
  • Jack Roberts, UVA RHP via James River HS: struggled to a 6.08 ERA in 23 innings as a sophomore.
  • Andy McGuire, RHP from Texas via Madison HS: converted to middle relief at Texas, had 12 IP in 13 appearances in 2015, but does not appear to be on the Texas roster in 2016.  No idea where he is now.
  • Thomas Rogers, LHP from VCU via Lake Braddock: Initially went to UNC, transferred to VCU in the fall of 2014 and sat out 2015 per NCAA transfer rules.  Will be a draft eligible sophomore.
  • Tyler Ramirez, OF from UNC via Suffolk VA (Cape Henry Collegiate).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Aaron McGarity, RHP from Virginia Tech (home town also Blacksburg).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015 and made the All-Star team; prospects looking up.
  • Andre Scrubb, RHP from High Point U by way of Woodbridge VA (Hylton HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Luke Scherzer, RHP from Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (Powhatan HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Nick Walker, OF from Old Dominion by way of Chesapeake VA (Kellahm HS).    Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Kit Sheetz, LHP Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (James River HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.  Not sure he’s actually still at Va Tech; missing from 2016 roster.
  • David Ellingson, RHP from Georgetown U.  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Andrew Yacyk, inf from Liberty U via Hagerstown.  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Andrew Knizner, C from NC State via Glen Allen, VA (Hanover HS).  Playing in Cape Cod league summer 2015.
  • Nick Cieri, C/IB from U Maryland, played in Cape Cod league and made the all star team.
  • Logan Farrar OF/2B from VCU
  • Parker Bean, RHP/OF from Liberty
  • Zack Rice: OF from UNC via Suffolk HS in Norfolk: converted to pitching at UNC: had a 2.31 ERA in 20 appearances in 2015.
  • Bryce Harman, jr 1B from ECU via Chesterfield, VA (Lloyd C. Bird HS).  Huge power potential but 1B-only guy, still projects as top 5-10 rounds in 2016.
  • Garrett Brooks, sr OF (CF) from ECU via Chesapeake VA (Western Branch).  Could be a classic round 6-10 senior sign this coming spring as a capable player who struggled early but is coming on late.
  • Luke Bolka, jr LHP from ECU via Mechanicsville, VA (Atlee HS).  Drafted late out of HS, has big K/9 numbers in small sample sizes and could easily feature as a matchup lefty reliever.
  • Mac Caples, jr OF from Virginia Tech by way of Midlothian VA (James River HS).

Sources used to kick off this post (which I started the day after the 2015 draft and update through out the 2015 spring awards season and the 2015 summer baseball showcase season):

Please let me know if you feel there are draft-eligible players with local ties who I should be following.  I don’t want to leave anyone out!


CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2015:

Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were Florida from the top and LSU from the bottom.  Lets see how things turned out.

In the Left Bracket (UVA, Arkansas, #5 Miami and #4 Florida)

  • In the opening games, UVA took out Arkansas 5-3 behind a decent effort from Connor Jones (Great Bridge HS) but an even better effort from 2nd rounder Josh Sborz, who shut down Arkansas for the win.  Both teams’ premier hitters (Andrew Benintendi and Joe McCarthy) hit solo shots during the game.  In the other opener,  Florida destroyed Miami 15-3, knocking out Andrew Suarez after just 3 1/3 innings.
  • In the first elimination game, Miami got two hits in the bottom of the 9th to walk off and eliminate Arkansas 4-3.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, UVA’s #2 Brandon Waddell pitched perhaps the game of his career, shutting down Florida on just 2 hits for 7 scoreless innings before Sborz got the 2-inning save, giving UVA a 1-0 victory and a surprising (to me) clear path to the CWS finals for the 2nd year in a row.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Florida jumped all over Miami’s starter, so they brought back Suarez on short rest (which I’m sure his drafting team (San Francisco) was thrilled about), but the game was over early and Florida eliminated Miami 10-2 to setup a rematch with UVA for a berth in the finals.
  • In the group final, UVA’s gambit of throwing ace Nathan Kirby after being side-lined for months backfired; he was hit hard early and UVA’s notional 3rd starters (Alec Bettinger) just couldn’t keep Florida at bay long enough to allow his offense to come back.  Florida wins 10-5 to force a winner-take-all game and wreak havoc on UVA’s pitching matchup strategy.  Luckily for UVA, they have Josh Sborz, who relieved Waddell and threw four shut-out innings, enough to give UVA’s offense time to scrape together the winning run and advance to the CWS final.

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: UVA

In the Right Bracket (#2 LSU, #7 TCU, #11 Vanderbilt and #14 Cal State-Fullerton)

  • In the opening games, TCU stunned LSU 10-3, with TCU’s ace (and Chicago Cub 8th rounder) Preston Morrison shutting down LSU’s offense.  Nats 2nd rounder Andrew Stevenson was 1-4 with an RBI.   Meanwhile, Cal State – Fullerton got to Vanderbilt ace Carson Fulmer while their own ace (2nd round pick Thomas Eshelman) showed why he’s got 80 command, throwing 5+ scoreless, walk-less innings before weather forced the suspension of the opener.  Luckily for Vanderbilt, the rest of CSF’s staff wasn’t as effective, and Vanderbilt got a 4-3 walk-off win.
  • In the first elimination game, LSU’s Alex Lange pitched a complete game to defeat Cal State-Fullerton and eliminate them from the CWS.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, Vanderbilt’s clean-up hitter Zander Weil hit a solo homer in the 7th to provide the only offense of the night as Vanderbilt beat TCU 1-0 to take control of the group and make it seem more and more likely of a CWS rematch.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, TCU punished LSU’s bullpen and took an easy 8-4 win to eliminate the highest seed in the CWS and force a rematch with Vanderbilt for a spot in the CWS final. 
  • In the group final, Vanderbilt threw their 1st rounder Walker Buehler for the first time in 3 weeks and he was sparkling; he pitched into the 7th, allowing just 4 hits.  Meanwhile Nats 3rd round pick Rhett Wiseman, after taking a ball to the neck in the 1st, absolutely crushed a homer to put the game out of reach for Vanderbilt, who go on to win 7-1 and advance.

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: #11 seed Vanderbilt.

CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for 6/22-6/24/15.  Vanderbilt’s pitching staff for the CWS final looks like this:

  • Ace Fulmer threw 6 innings and 104pitches on 6/14/15.   He’ll be on 7 days rest for game 1.
  • #3 Philip Pfeifer threw 7 innings and 112 pitches on 6/16/15.  He’ll be on 6 days rest for game 2.
  • #2 Buehler, who threw 6 2/3rds innings on 6/19/15 would be on 4 days rest for a decider on 6/24/15, normal rest for a pro but a little short for a college guy.  Otherwise, some-time starter John Kilichowski, who threw 2+ in both the 2nd and 3rd games of the CWS group play, could be available depending his usage in the first two games.

Meanwhile, UVA’s pitching staff is in trouble.  Here’s where they stand:

Sborz meanwhile threw multiple innings in each group win: 3IP on 6/13, 2IP on 6/15, and 4ip on 6/20.   And all of those were very high leverage innings, with UVA either tied or clinging to a small lead.  UVA almost has to consider throwing one of its mid-week starters in Game 2.  That would give them Kirby on 4 days rest in the final, to be relieved by Waddell on 3 days rest.  You just can’t take a guy who hasn’t thrown in months and then pitch him back to back on the shortest rest of his life.

You have to like the way the CWS lines up for Vanderbilt’s staff.  Jones wasn’t exactly overpowering against Arkansas in his start (3 runs in 6ip) and Vanderbilt’s got a better offense.

I’m note quite sure how Vanderbilt slipped to an #11 seed in this tournament, given the talent and leadership on their squad.   It is worth noting they had no less than nine draftees in the 2015 draft; 3 first rounders (1st, 8th and 24th overall), 2 third rounders and a 6th of note.  That’s a ton of talent.  You have to think they’re the favorites in the final to repeat.

Prediction: Vanderbilt in 2.


College CWS tournament references:

2015 CWS Super-Regionals recap and CWS field

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2015:

Here’s how the super-regionals went down: we’ll look at these regionals in the original order of the top 8 national seeds.  Red indicates the winner.

  • Maryland at UVA: UVA scored 5 runs in the 8th off Maryland’s closer Kevin Mooney to shock the Terps in Game 1.   Connor Jones gave up 3 in 7 innings and was wild, and Maryland Ace Mike Shawayrn pitched into the 8th before getting lifted.  Game two was even more of a shock, with UVA scoring 3 in the ninth to get a walk-off win 5-4, again with the winning hit coming against Mooney.  UVA’s starter Brandon Waddell gave up 4 in 8 innings and local product Alec Bettinger got the win with a scoreless 9th.  Poor Mooney; just about the two worst outings of the season for him at the worst possible time (he had a 1.89 ERA on the season).  UVA advances to the CWS for the 2nd straight year.
  • #2 LSU vs Louisiana-Lafayette: LSUand ULL had late drama, each team hitting a homer in the 9th, except that LSU’s was a walk-off, giving them game one 4-3.  In the second, LSU controlled the game and won the series 2-0 to advance to Omaha.  Draft prospects of note Alex Bregman and Blake Trahan were both relatively quiet in the first game but Bregman came up big in the 2nd game.
  • #3 Louisville vs #14 Cal State-Fullerton: CSF stole the first game, outlasting Louisville’s Ace Kyle Funkhouser (who gave up 2 in 7) and, after giving up a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the 9th worked the bases loaded and won on a go-ahead HBP.  Louisville pounded CSF 9-3 in game to to force a Monday decider.  They needed extras, with Cal State-Fullerton scoring 2 late to force it and then taking it 4-3 with a run in the 11th to advance.
  • #4 Florida vs #13 Florida State: Florida scored 4 in the first and never looked back, winning game one 13-5.  They didn’t let up in game two, winning 11-4 and sending Florida to the CWS.
  • #5 Miami vs VCU: Miami took game one 3-2 partly thanks to an egregiously bad runner interference call in the middle of a VCU rally.  And then Miami became the first to punch their ticket to Omaha with an easy game 2 win, barely looking taxed by the over-matched VCU Rams.
  • #6 Illinois vs #11 Vanderbilt: in game 1, Vanderbilt destroyed Illinois 13-0; Carson Fulmer went 6 1/3 scoreless and Vanderbilt pounded Illinois’ ace Kevin Duchene (giving him just his 2nd loss this year).  In game 2, Illinois super-reliever and 1st round pick got the start, and got hit.  In fact, the biggest guy to get to him was #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, who came up huge in this game and helped Vanderbilt win 4-2 and advance to Omaha as the defending champ.
  • #7 TCU vs #10 Texas A&M: TCU blitzed the offensive-minded TAMU team 13-4 in game one, handing TAMU starter Grayson Long his first loss of the season.  TAMU got to TCU starter Preston Morrison in the 10th and won 2-1 to force the third game.  That 3rd game was an instant classic, with TAMU scoring 2 in the 9th to tie it, and the game going 16 innings.  TCU’s Mitchell Traver pitched 4 hitless innings and got the win with TCU‘s walkoff in the bottom of the 16th.
  • #8 Missouri State at Arkansas: Arkansas got to host this series thanks to Missouri State’s co-tenant (the AA affiliate of St. Louis) having a home series.  This did not bode well for MSU, and neither did their Ace and top-10 draft prospect Jon Harris getting absolutely lit up in game 1; he gave up 9 runs in 5 innings and the bullpen didn’t do much better, with Miami winning 18-3.  Harris may have cost himself some cash with that last look for some scouts.  In game 2, Missouri State forced the sunday decider with a 3-1 victory.  In the decider, Arkansas scored 3 in the first and made it stand up, winning 3-2 and advancing to Omaha.  Other players of note: Arkansas’ presumed first rounder Anthony Benintendi was mostly pitched around in game one (3 walks) and was basically a non-factor the rest of the way.

CWS Field:

  • UVA, Arkansas, Miami and Florida on one side,
  • LSU, TCU, Vanderbilt and Cal State-Fullerton on the other.

2 ACC, 4 SEC teams, one Big-12 and one Big West entry.  Very much an East Coast tournament this year; the two non ACC/SEC teams had to beat (favored) ACC/SEC teams to advance.  Four national seeds remain (#2, #4, #5 and #7), two regional host seeds are in (#11 and #14) and those teams that are not seeded (UVA and Arkansas) have pretty good pedigrees.  A great field.

CWS Field thoughts; I think the “left” side of the draw will come down to Miami and Florida, and I think Florida is too tough.  If UVA gets Nathan Kirby back they could be interesting, but I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to match up.  On the right hand side of the draw, LSU remains the highest seeded team left but has to contend with one other national seed in TCU.  Nonetheless, I think the right side comes down to SEC rivals LSU and Vanderbilt (the two SEC divisional regular season winners) with LSU taking it.

Quick predictions: Florida versus LSU in the final, with LSU winning it.

Player Star power in this CWS: Lots of it; these CWS teams are littered up and down with big time names.  Playing this upcoming weekend are 1st-day draftees Dansby Swanson, Walker Buehler, Carson Fulmer from Vanderbilt, Alex Bregman and Andrew Stevenson from LSU, Nathan Kirby and Josh Sborz from UVA, Andrew Benintendi from Arkansas, Andrew Suarez from Miami, Richie Martin from Florida, Alex Young and Tyler Alexander from TCU, and Thomas Eshelman from Cal State – Fullerton.  All 8 teams have at least one first or second rounder.


College CWS tournament references:

2015 CWS Regional Results and Super Regionals pairings

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2015:

Now we’re through the Regionals and the field has been winnowed from 64 to just 16.

College CWS tournament references:

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the national seeds.  Bold is the host city, Blue is the host team and Red is the winner.  We’ll also highlight significant players and/or guys who are big names in the upcoming draft as we get to them ( summarizes their top 200 ranked players here: i’ll just talk about the 1st round talents and players w/ local ties).

  1. In the Los Angeles regional (host: #1 seed UCLA), the big story wasn’t the tourney’s #1 overall seed, but lowly #3 seed Maryland, who upset SEC power Ole Miss and then handled the #1 team in the land 4-1 to advance to the regional final.  UCLA made its way through the loser’s bracket and beat Maryland on 5/31/15, setting up a winner-take-all game to advance on 6/1, but Maryland prevailed in a 2-1 nailbiter.  This sets up a most amazing super-regional matchup; read on.
  2. In the Baton Rouge regional (host: #2 seed LSU), #2 overall seed LSU breezed into the region final, where they beat UNC-Wilmington 2-0 to advance.  Players of note: likely upper 1st round pick Alex Bregman had a relatively quiet regional at the plate.
  3. In the Louisville regional (host: #3 seed Louisville), Louisville made quick work of this regional, winning 3 straight games to become one of the first teams to advance.  Ace Kyle Funkhouser was thrown, oddly, in the opener against tiny Morehead State and was good but not great (2ER in 7ip), another sign that his draft stock is falling.  Nonetheless, Louisville did not look stretched in this regional, beating Michigan 13-4 to advance.
  4. In the Gainesville regional (host: #4 seed Florida), Florida (who I thought could have been the #1 overall seed) made quick work of its regional, defeating each of the other 3 participants en route to a 2-1 victory over Florida Atlantic in the final.
  5. In the Coral Gables regional (host: #5 seed Miami), Miami seemed to be in control of the regional, but was stunned by Ivy league champ Columbia, who forced a winner-take-all game on 6/1.  In that final game, Columbia finally ran out of gas and Miami embarrassed the Ivy Leaguers 21-3.  Players of note: Miami’s ace (and Nats 2014 2nd round pick) Andrew Suarez threw 7innings of 2-run ball to get the win in the opener.
  6. In the Champaign regional (host: #6 seed Illinois), the host team cruised to the region final, where they face upstart Wright State on 6/1/15.  In the final, Illinois handled Wright State to advance.  Players of note: Illinois closer Tyler Jay,whose usage this season has been deplored by scouts, did not even appear in his team’s first two wins, each a complete game by the starter.  In the region final, he closed out the game and showed off his arm, giving up 1 hit and a walk in four innings of work.  Jay is projected as an upper 1st round pick and a future starter … why he’s not being used as such in college is beyond me.
  7. In the Fort Worth regional (host: #7 seed TCU), NC State upset the host team to make the region final, but TCU fought their way out of the losers brack and forced a deciding 6/1/15 game.  After forcing the winner-take-all game, TCU rallied from an 8-1 deficit in the 8th inning to force extra innings and win on a walk-off to advance to the super-regional in perhaps the tourney’s best game.
  8. In the Springfield regional (host: #8 seed Missouri State), Missouri State lived up to its national seeding by cruising through the regional without a loss.  Players of note: Missouri State Ace Jon Harris threw 8 innings of 1-run ball to get the win over Canisius in the opener.  Harris has quietly put together a strong year and looks to be a back-of-the first round pick.
  9. In the Stillwater regional, (host: #9 seed Oklahoma State), 2nd seeded Arkansas made quick work of the regional, with host Oklahoma State not even making the regional final.  The 4th seeded St. Johns team pushed Arkansas but ultimately lost 4-3.  Players of note: Arkansas projected 1st rounder Andrew Benintendi went 4-11 for the regional but took an o-fer in the regional final.
  10. In the College Station regional (host: #10 seed Texas A&M), California (whose baseball program was one step from the grave a few years ago) upset the host to make the regional final, but TAMU forced a deciding 6/1 game.  In that game, TAMU won a well played 3-1 game that had both sides wishing these two teams played more often. 
  11. In the Nashville regional (host: #11 seed Vanderbilt), Vanderbilt awaits local team Radford, who lost to Indiana early but got revenge to make the regional final.  In the final though, Radford ran out of gas and Vanderbilt advanced by the amazing score of 21-0.  Players of note: Carson Fulmer pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball in the opener for the victory, potential first overall pick Dansby Swanson connected for his 14th homer in the 2nd game, and Walker Buehler was removed after 5 innings thanks to his team’s 10-run 5th inning.  Note: most of Radford’s squad is VA-based; I’ve never covered players heading there since it isn’t a destination baseball program.  But tourneys like this can lift up a program’s credentials, so we’ll take note of Radford commits more closely going forward.
  12. In the Dallas regional (host: #12 seed Dallas Baptist), local entry VCU made some waves early by reaching the winners bracket final, taking out host Dallas Baptist and Oregon State easily.  The host team made its way back to the regional final and has to sweep a 6/1/15 double-header to advance.  DBU forced the winner-take-all game, but VCU outlasted them in the final to be the only #4 seed to advance t his year, and perhaps one of the most unlikely #4 seeds to win a regional in the tournament’s history.  Note:  VCU’s squad is a lot more national than I would have guessed, but do have some players with local ties.
  13. In the Tallahassee regional (host: #13 seed Florida State), College of Charleston had to sweep a 6/1 DH from the host to advance, but they couldn’t get going an Florida State advanced easily.  Player of note Taylor Clarke (Ashburn native and Broad Run HS grad) got hit hard in the opener against Auburn but did not factor in the decision.
  14. In the Fullerton regional (host: #14 seed Cal State-Fullerton), host Cal State-Fullerton pounded upstart Pepperdine 10-1 to win the regional in three straight games.
  15. In the Houston regional (host: #15 seed Houston), host Houston lost a 20-inning heartbreaker to city rival Rice to be eliminated; this was one of those games you see and cringe, because both teams had guys come out of the bullpen to throw 9 innings (as far as I can tell, both teams used mid-week starters, and did not have middle relievers suddenly throwing 110 of the highest leverage pitches of their lives).  Rice has to sweep Louisiana-Lafayette twice on 6/1 on about 6 hours of sleep in order to advance, but couldn’t even win the first, losing 5-2 to send the Rajun’ Cajuns to the super-regional.
  16. In the Lake Elsinore regional (host: #16 seed UC Santa Barbara), UVA showed how badly it was under-seeded by advancing to the final by taking two close games.   Connor Jones (Great Bridge HS in Chesapeake) gave up just 1 run in nearly 8 innings to win the opener and Brandon Waddell pitched even better to beat San Diego State.  The regional final was wild, with UVA scoring 3 in the 8th to tie it and then 5 in the 11th to win 14-10 over USC to advance.  In the 3rd game, UVA threw out all kinds of names familiar to readers here: Alec Bettinger (Hylton grad from Woodbridge) got the start but failed to record an out.  He was relieved by Tommy Doyle (Vienna VA, Flint Hill) and got the game to UVA’s middle relievers.  Josh Sborz finished all three wins off.  Joe McCarthy struggled on the weekend, going just 1-6 in the final.  Nathan Kirby remains sidelined but could return for the Super-Regionals, bad news for whoever they face.  Other players of note in the regional: Upper-1st round draft talent Dillon Tate had 11 strikeouts in 8 innings, but gave up 4 runs and was out-dueled by San Diego State’s Bubba Derby in what was likely his last amateur appearance.  UCSB was badly exposed, getting crushed in its loser’s bracket game and becoming the only seed to go 2-and-out.

Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 11 of 16 hosts advanced, including 7 of 8 National seeds.  This is a far cry from 2014, which lost most of its national seeds early.  This tournament is setup to be much more “chalk” than in years’ past.
  • 5 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game.  Most of them were good; a couple were laughers.
  • 10 of the 16 regionals were extended to Monday games, some thanks to weather, some thanks to the regional getting extended to the “extra” deciding game.
  • 11 number one seeds, 1 number two seeds, 3 number three seeds and 1 unlikely number four seed (VCU) advanced to the supers.
  • 6 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional: lots of overseeded 2/3 seeds ended up going two-and-out.  In fact, three #4 seeds pushed their way to the regional final: VCU (who won), St. Johns and Pepperdine (clearly under-seeded).
  • 1 host that went 2-and-out: the clearly undeserving host UC Santa Barbara.  Now, they were the 16 seed, but college pundits howled at their selection as host over a team like College of Charleston.
  • 9 = the number of extra inning games, including the epic 20-inning Houston-Rice game and the NC State-TCU winner-take-all extra innings affair.
  • 6 of the regionals went pure chalk, a good indication of the job the seeding committee did this year.
  • Biggest upsets: Maryland over #1 overall seed UCLA is the clear big-time upset.   Arkansas beating #9 Oklahoma State (who some thought should have been a national seed) probably was the 2nd biggest upset.
  • Most surprising regional winner:  VCU, who becomes just the 5th #4 seed to advance out of a regional since the field expanded to 64 in 1999.  But VCU is the most surprising team; the other #4 teams who advanced at least had prospects.
  • My Predictions: I was wrong about Illinois and Missouri State but was right about TCU struggling to get by NC State.  I was right in saying the rest of the national seeds should win but wrong on UCLA; nobody saw that coming.  In the 9-16s, I was right about UC Santa Barbara, wrong on Fullerton and right about Dallas Baptist … just wrong on which team was going to win.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • 4 ACC teams (out of 7 that made full field).
  • 5 SEC teams (out of 7 that made full field).
  • 2 Big-10 teams (out of 6 that made the full field).
  • 0 Pac-12 teams (out of 5 that made full field).  Per the d1baseball post above, this is the first time since the 64-team expansion that a Pac-12 team failed to make the super-regional field.  In fact, there’s just one team west of Texas in the super-regional (Cal State-Fullerton), who will be a big underdog at Louisville.  For me, this confirms what I’ve often thought; Pac12 baseball tends to get overrated.
  • The remaining 5 super-regional teams are from one-bid conferences: TCU, Missouri State, Fullerton, Louisiana-Lafayette and VCU.

Its clearly an ACC/SEC kind of year.


Super Regional MatchupsThe super-regional hosts were announced just after the last regional ended.

  • Maryland at UVA (guaranteeing at least one non-top 16 seed makes the CWS this year)
  • #2 LSU vs Louisiana-Lafayette
  • #3 Louisville vs #14 Cal State-Fullerton
  • #4 Florida vs #13 Florida State
  • #5 Miami vs VCU
  • #6 Illinois vs #11 Vanderbilt
  • #7 TCU vs #10 Texas A&M
  • #8 Missouri State at Arkansas

Super Regional Thoughts:

What an amazing set of circumstances: our two local teams (UVA and UMD) both fly 3,000 across the country to … setup a repeat of last year’s UVA-held super regional.  Who would have thought.  I’m not quite sure why Arkansas gets to host over national seed Missouri State; that’s got to be a point of contention for that deserving program.  Three great intra-state matchups featuring great teams from Florida, Louisiana and Texas.   The super-regionals could be pretty fun.


UVA gets Kirby back and holds off Maryland.  LSU and Louisville cruise.  Florida outclasses the over-achieving Florida State rival.  Miami pounds the “just happy to be here” VCU team.  Vanderbilt “upsets” by seed Illinois, who can’t handle the talent level Vandy puts out.  Texas A&M beats TCU and Missouri State blasts Arkansas after being insulted by losing hosting rights as a national seed.


UVA’s 2015 baseball recruiting class ranked top-10


The publication Collegiate Baseball Newspaper recently announced its Top 40 college baseball recruiting classes, and 2014 CWS runner-up UVA was ranked 9th.  LSU, Wichita State, Florida, San Diego and Oklahoma State comprise the surprising top 5, though the rest of the top 10 contains some of the expected collegiate powerhouse programs.  In late October, Baseball America ranked UVA’s class even higher, at #2 in the country behind only LSU.

(Also: UVA announced their 2015 schedule on 9/25/14, schedule here).

UVA published their own press release, which detailed the names in their recruiting class.  A good friend (UVA alumni who has taken a big interest in the squad with their recent success) asked me to react to the class with what I knew.  Here’s what I wrote:

(Here’s what I wrote about UVA-committed players after the 2014 draft, and some of these guys were covered in my “pre-2014 season draft prospects” piece).

Derek Casey: he’s the player I’d be most happy about coming to school, were I a UVA fan.  He was a 3rd round talent, undefeated in his HS pitching career, 93-94 on the gun.  He should go far towards replacing the arms UVA stands to lose after next season to the draft (basically, all three of their projected weekend starters are Juniors in 2015).
Pavin Smith probably replaces Mike Papi like-for-like in the lineup; big lefty 1B/OF type.  Well regarded nationally.
Charlie Cody was more highly ranked on prospect boards before his Senior year; he’s a good bat addition.  At one point early in 2014 he was ranked as high as #34 for all HS prospects nation-wide by one ranking service.
Bennett Sousa is another guy who got a lot of national recognition even if he wasn’t drafted.  93mph from the left hand side, another future starter.
Tommy Doyle: its hard to say just how good he is: yes he got drafted (by the Nats in the 34th round) but his drafting seemed to be one of those “draft a local kid to appease a part-owner’s buddy” kind of things.  He pitched at a small high school (Flint Hill Prep in Oakton) with almost no competition, making it really tough to gauge how good he is.  He also played for a no-name travel team instead of someone like the Evoshield Canes.  What he does have going for him is his size: he’s 6’6″ and hitting 91, which probably comes out of his hand about a foot closer to the plate than a guy who is 6′ even, making it look that much faster.  If he can add a few mph, he’ll be a beast.
Jack Gerstenmaier, like Cody, had his stock drop in 2014 for whatever reason.  He was a 1st team PerfectGame All-American for the region at one point.  But Gerstenmaier-Cody could be UVA’s double play combo for years.

Of the rest of UVA’s announced class, I don’t know anything about them, even the local guys.  I’d guess that a couple of them are good talents … but most of them might be on minimal-to-no scholarship.

UVA lost a big-time recruit last minute in Devon Fisher (no relation to 2014 supp-1st round pick Derek Fisher); he was a catcher from Portsmouth who got drafted and then signed with Boston.  20th rounder so probably not for a lot of cash, which makes it that much more of a surprise.  He would have pushed this class up the rankings for sure.

With the new draft rules in place, its likely that guys like Cody, Casey and Gerstenmaier let it be known they had strong college commitments and thus that hampered their draft status.  Same thing happened to Conner Jones last year.  Good for UVA that they draw so well.

It seems UVA is quite setup for the future in terms of arms:

  • 2015 rotation: Kirby, Waddel, Sborz on weekends, one of the freshman/sophomores (Jones?) mid-week.
  • 2016 rotation: Choosing from Jones, Bettinger, Sousa, Doyle and Casey.  not bad.

Local 2014 draft-prospects; mid-spring Update

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Bukauskas is rocketing up the draft boards. Photo Bill Kamenjar/

Bukauskas is rocketing up the draft boards. Photo Bill Kamenjar/

This is the 2nd post in a periodic spring-long series looking at DC/MD/VA draft prospects for the 2014 season.

The pre-season review is here, going mostly on far-too-early lists of prospects from various sources.  Now that we’re a good way through high school and college seasons, its a great time to re-visit some names.  UVA remains ranked #1 in the BaseballAmerica college poll (ranking as of 5/5/14) on the backs of two guys we’ll talk about here.  But the big local baseball prospect news is all about one name in particular.

Lets talk about the three leading names that seem to be potential top-3 round picks in the coming amateur/Rule-4 draft.

  • Jacob Bukauskus, RHP from Stone Bridge HS in Ashburn has just shot up draft boards and gathered a ton of local attention.  He’s reportedly up to 98 on the gun and has given up just one RUN so far this season.   ESPN’s Keith Law drove to NoVa to see him a couple of weeks ago and filed this report (insider only), predicting he’ll be picked at the end of the first round.   The blog BaseballDraftReport wrote 1,000 words on Bukauskas here.   And the Washington Post’s Tariq Lee wrote a nice feature for WP’s and the paper a few weeks back on the prospect.  If you want to see Bukauskas, your time is running out for the regular season.  He’s throwing Stone Bridge’s mid-week games and goes tonight (5/6/14).  Stone Bridge’s schedule is here; they play at Tuscarora HS in Leesburg tonight, then are home to Broad Run on 5/13, and then play away to Freedom-South Riding on monday 5/19 before the post-season tournaments start.  Law has him ranked #29 in his early May Draft-preview, but broke a story this past week that has Bukauskas telling sources he wants to go to college (he’s committed to UNC).  I said it before; you don’t generally graduate a year early so you can turn down $1.5M and go to college; I still firmly believe someone is drafting him early and paying him well.   Likely Drafted at the end of the first round by all reports.
  • Derek Fisher‘s lofty pre-season status took a huge hit when he broke his hamate bone this season; he’s only played in 21 games this year.  But he seems to have returned from the injury and teams have a pretty good knowledge of how players react to this injury (they’re generally hampered for a year or so and their power numbers diminish badly).  Bad timing for Fisher; he could have made himself some money thanks to a thin crop of college bats this year.  Stats for the year: .325/.372/.513 with 2 homers, 12/4 K/BB in 21 games/80 at-bats.  Not a ton of walks but also not a ton of strike-outs considering his slugging.  Law has him ranked #17 in his early May draft-preview.  Likely Drafted later in the first round if teams aren’t scared off by his hand injury.
  • Mike Papi has rocketed up draft boards this spring; going from being considered the 3rd or 4th best draft prospect on his own team to being talked about as an early 2nd round pick.  His slash line: .289/.446/.493 with 8 homers, 32/40 K/BB ratio in 46 games and 152 ABs.  That’s nearly a 1.000 OPS using the BB-Core bats.  Law has him ranked #38 in his early May draft preview.  Likely Drafted in the early to middle second round.

A note on UVA: they were pre-season #1 and have maintained that high ranking using a weekend rotation of three SOPHOMORES.  They might be matriculating a bunch of hitters this spring, but they’re going to be a major force on the mound.  Add to their rotation two big-name freshman that we talked about in draft-posts last year (namely, Alec Bettinger and Connor Jones) and the Cavaliers look like they’ll have a historic pitching corps in 2015.

Other names on Keith Law’s top 100 early may draft-preview:

  • Nick Howard, RHP from UVA.  (#59)
  • Jake Stinnett, RHP from Maryland (#89)

Mock Draft links for several sites/blogs that do such things.  Most draft pundits are now off of NC State’s Carlos Rodon as 1-1 thanks to his diminished velocity and over-use this season (he’s had several outings that had him at 130+ pitches to the abject horror of some scouting personnel).  Most experts now have San Diego LHP prep pitcher Brady Aiken as the likely #1 overall pick, meaning that baseball will go another year without ever having a prep RHP selected 1-1 overall.

  •’s top HS pitchers list Bukauskas as the 5th best HS pitching prospect in the land.  That’s pretty heady praise considering that the guys listed ahead of him are all top-10 draft pick talents or close to it.
  • does Mock First round drafts: this 4/15/14 link has Bukauskas and Papi in the top 50.  By this 5/5/14 version, Fisher is back, Bukauskas is rising and Papi is holding steady as an early 2nd rounder.
  • has a top 100 list of draft prospects in some rough order put together by their staff (presumably including Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and they’ve got nice little write-ups on the prospects.

Fyi: here’s links to the latest Nationwide High School Polls; not a lot of love for DC/MD/VA high-schools here.

  • Baseball America top 25 high schools: only Western Branch HS in Chesapeake is mentioned for local schools.  That link was dated 4/22/14; the new rankings due out 5/6/14 show Cosby replacing Western Branch in the top 25 behind their top player Hunter Williams.
  • USA Today top 50 high schools: Western Branch #23.  Rankings are as of 4/30/14; new rankings due out 5/7.
  • MaxPreps/Freeman top 25.  Interestingly Freeman has Midlothian’s Cosby HS as #3 in the land.   Max Preps has FOUR VA schools ranked in the mid-30s right now: Freeman, Cosby, Woodside and Western Branch (in that order).  Rankings as of 5/4/14.
  • top 50: only Western Branch listed, at #43 (as of 5/5/14)

So, no national love for Bukauskus’ Stone Bridge right now; I’m guessing they’ll have to make some regional noise before getting any notice.  They also play in a pretty weak baseball district (playing a bunch of newer Loudoun County schools) and don’t have to face NoVa powerhouse programs like Lake Braddock and Robinson on a regular basis.  Local All-Met rankings have Stone Bridge (13-1) at #1 and Madison #2, fitting in that Madison’s sole local loss was to Stone Bridge in the season opener.  Local baseball factories St. Johns and Riverdale Baptist are in the top 5, along with a slew of Maryland schools.  I’m hoping these two teams get a chance to meet in the regional tournament; I have no idea if Stone Bridge has a strong enough #2 to make it there.  It could make waiting to see Bukauskas risky; would you throw  him in the first district/regional game or try to save him for a tougher match up?

Can’t wait for regionals and I can’t wait for a shot to see Bukauskas live.

MLB Draft Results for Players with Local Ties for 2013


Virginia Tech’s Chad Pinder represents the highest ranked Virginia-tied player in the 2013 draft. Photo via

After checking in with some local prep players early in March 2013, and then taking a more in-depth look at all the local player draft prospects (with a focus on any Virginia-based player) in May, here’s how the draft ended up working out for these and a few other Virginia players (table in order of overall draft position).

Couple of useful links while reading here: Total Team Bonus Pool limits for 2013 draft and Slot Bonus Values for the first 10 rounds of picks.

(Sorry for the formatting of this table at the blog itself: it looks fine in the WordPress editor and in the RSS feed)

Player Name Pos Current School Klaw Rank BA rank Coll Cmmt Drafted #overall Drafting Team
Chad Pinder 3B Virginia Tech 86 53 n/a 2nd-Supp 71 Oakland
Kyle Crockett LHP UVA >100 93 n/a 4th 111 Cleveland
Matt McPhearson OF Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro) 62 136 Miami 4th 120 Arizona
Bobby Wahl RHP Ole Miss (from West Springfield) 66 36 n/a 5th 161 Oakland
Jimmy Reed LHP U Maryland (From Gaithersburg, MD) >100 >500 n/a 6th 185 St. Louis
Alex Murphy C Calvert Hall College HS (Frederick) >100 >500 Wake Forest 6th 189 Baltimore
Tyler Horan OF Virginia Tech >100 293 n/a 8th 252 San Francisco
Jake Joyce RHP Virginia Tech >100 >500 n/a 9th 286 Washington
Austin Nicely LHP Spotswood (Grottoes) 78 342 Virginia 10th 287 Houston
Ryan Cordell OF Liberty >100 196 n/a 11th 340 Texas
Alec Grosser RHP TC Williams (Alexandria) > 100 158 George Mason 11th 343 Atlanta
Conner Jones LHP Great Bridge (Chesapeake) 29 33 Virginia (strong) 21st 628 San Diego
Scott Silverstein LHP UVA >100 >500 n/a 25th 745 Toronto
Andy McGuire SS/3B Madison HS (Vienna) 74 196 Texas 36th 1069 Colorado
Jack Roberts RHP James River (Richmond) >100 360 Virginia
Thomas Rogers LHP Lake Braddock (Fairfax) >100 >500 North Carolina
Errol Robinson SS St. Johns (DC) >100 >500 Ole Miss (strong)
Alec Bettinger RHP Hylton (Woodbridge) >100 >500 Virginia
Zach Rice LHP Suffolk (Norfolk) >100 >500 North Carolina

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of Virginia or Maryland-tied players who were drafted; it is merely a list of some of the more notable names in the state pre-draft.   You can surf to MLB’s excellent Draft Tracker tool for the 2013 draft and query by state, which gives you any player who has a connection to a state (whether they’re from the state or attend college there).

Some thoughts here:

  • We continue to see the drastic effects the new draft bonus limits have on team’s decisions.  No longer are you seeing any high-end high schoolers taken with speculative picks in the 4th-10th round (much as the Nats picked and signed the likes of A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray).  Now, if a high schooler projected to go in the first few rounds falls … he may as well fall all the way out of the draft.  Consider what happened to Andy McGuire; pre-draft ranked relatively highly by pundits and projected as a 4th rounder by Keith Law.  What happened?  He falls to the 36th round where Colorado makes a (frankly) wasted pick on him.  So McGuire is clearly going to school.
  • Continuing on this theme, the number of college seniors and slot-signing players in the 4th-10th rounds continued to be high.  A number of Virginia-based college players went in this range despite not even being in the BA top 500 list.
  • Conner Jones is going to get his wish to go to school, falling from his end-of-1st round projection all the way to being a 21st round pick.  The lesson; the penalty for picking and missing on an upper-end pick is no longer just “saved” money but “lost” bonus money, so these tough-sign high schoolers went from first three rounds to nothing.
  • Bobby Wahl reportedly set out his bonus demands early ($1.5M or he returns for his senior season per Keith Law), dropping him from a worst-case end-of-2nd round projection all the way to the 5th.  Will Oakland find the money for him or will he go back for his degree?  Likely the latter.  Post-script: Wahl signed for $500k.
  • A couple of local prep players did get picked relatively high; Matt McPherson went in the 4th round to Arizona; will he take that slot money ($425k) or will he honor his University of Miami commitment?   And TC Williams hurler Alec Grosser was selected in the 11th round, which has a slot value of $100,000 unless Atlanta coughs up additional dollars saved elsewhere.  McPherson may want to take the money but Grosser likely could earn himself some cash by gong to school.  Post-script: both guys signed above slot deals; McPhearson for $500k and Grosser for a hugely overslot $400k.
  • The collection of high-profile Virginia hurlers who went completely unselected (the bottom names in the list above) includes a couple of guys whose lack of being picked surprised national pundits.
  • Lastly thought on all these highly regarded prep arms not being drafted: both the University of Virginia and North Carolina made out like bandits with this draft result.  All four major local UVA pitching recruits (Austin Nicely, Conner Jones, Jack Roberts and Alec Bettinger) are almost guaranteed to be going to college.  And UNC’s Thomas Rogers and Zach Rice will join that squad for the next three years.   The ACC should have some pretty significant pitching battles if these guys live up to their scouting reports.   Post-script: only Nicely ended up signing, for a big overslot $610k deal with Houston.

Mid-spring update on local draft prospects

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High Schools are heading into post-season tournaments and local prep players have had their chances to make impressions through the Spring HS season.  How are our local prep phenoms faring this year, and what players with Virginia ties may feature prominently in the upcoming MLB draft?

Note; it is difficult to find updated stats on Prep players.  I tried.  If you know where to find reliable prep hitting and pitching stats, let me know.  So there’s not much in the way of stats here unless they’re college players.  For all the players below I’ve listed if they appear in the latest top-100 draft prospect rankings from two reliable sources: Keith Law‘s top-100 draft list and BaseballAmerica’s top 100 list and top 250 list.  Instead of re-linking over and over, i’ll refer to these two lists in shorthand via the links here.

First, quick updates on the players mentioned in my March 2013 posting on 4 local players:

  • Andy McGuire: SS/3B: leading Madison HS in Vienna to a 19-1 record (with 19 consecutive wins) heading into the District tournament and a #1 local ranking by the Washington Post.  Madison is also an honorable mention in the latest USA Today national rankings.  I asked Law in his 5/16/13 chat about McGuire’s draft status (he’s regularly in the lower 50 of pundit’s top 100 draft prospects for this year, implying a mid 2nd round pick) but Law is “hearing” 4th round, which he’s surprised by and may indicate that McGuire will honor his U. Texas committment.  Draft Rankings: Law #74/BA #196.  6/6/13 update: some video of McGuire at this link; just watching him run and move and his body type I’m immediately thinking he’s going to struggle to stay at SS, echoing what scouts say.
  • Alec Grosser: RHP TC Williams: Nothing else has really popped up about Grosser after the initial flurry of articles, and he’s listed as “Signed” and committed to George Mason.  PerfectGame has his best measured fastball at 92, ranging 89-92.  That’s still pretty good and I’m guessing he’ll head to George Mason to see where his arm takes him.  His HS has not had the success one would expect with a dominant arm, sitting at around .500 heading into the post-season.  Not ranked by Law/BA #158.
  • Matt McPhearson: OF with Riverdale Baptist popped up on MinorLeagueBall’s Mid-Atlantic report recently with the note that he has “game changing” speed.  He’s still listed as a “Verbal” Commit to U. Miami.  I’ve seen him as a late 1st rounder on some mock drafts.  Here’s a good scouting report on him from  Lastly there’s some scouting video online of him, showing a good bat from the left-hand side and with some amazing speed stats: a verified 6.2 in the 60 yard dash and home-to-first in less than 3.8 seconds.  As the articles say; that’s Crazy fast.   He’s one of only three guys with an “80” scouting grade in this year’s class per Jim Callis (the other two being Jonathan Gray’s fastball, and Kris Bryant’s power, and those two guys are both going in the top 3 of the 2013 draft). The only knock on him may be his size (just 5’10”) but he profiles as a prototypical leadoff/center fielder.  Law ranked #62/BA #136.
  • Thomas Rogers, LHP injured all year is still verbally committed to UNC.  Nothing new to report.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s lists.

A couple of new names that I’ve taken note of locally, by virtue of their college commitments to major Baseball programs:

  • Errol Robinson, SS from St. Johns, signed to play at Ole Miss.  He was #92 in BaseballAmerica’s top 100 pre-season draft prospects and had a nice Q&A with them in March 2013.  His PerfectGame profile and draft write ups indicate he’s a quick-bat SS who has the capability of going in the top 5 rounds.  NatsGM’s Ryan Sullivan scouted him about a week ago and wrote it up here.   Based on this interview (where he talks about how his Mom, Dad and sister all attended or currently are at Ole Miss), I’m pretty sure he’s going to honor his college commitment despite any potential drafting.   Not ranked in either Law/BA’s lists.
  • Alec Bettinger, a RHP with Hylton HS in Woodbridge, has a verbal commitment to UVA.  PerfectGame has him with about a 90 mph fastball.  He’s “small but athletic” per this MinorLeagueBall article (6’0″ 165lbs), which may have him leaning towards a future professional bullpen role.  6’0″ is really on the low-end for what scouts like to see in a starter (think Tim Hudson is considered undersized and he’s 6’1″ 175lbs), so it seems likely he’ll take his fastball to college to see how it develops.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s list.

Other Virginia-connected big names being talked about in the draft (thanks to this MinorLeagueBall article and comments for crowd-sourced Virginia-connected names to target)

  • Conner Jones, RHP with Great Bridge HS, the HS of Justin Upton down in Chesapeake.  Jones is leading his HS to a current 19-0 record, good enough for being ranked 18th by USAToday/22nd by BaseballAmerica in the state title game.  He’s easily the best Virginia draft prospect this year and is the only guy that has going in the top 50 of their mock drafts right now.  PG has him at 93mph with a UVA committment that he has told scouts he intends to honor, but he’s getting back-of-the-1st round notice for the upcoming draft.  As scouts have noted, these “verbal commitments” are pretty meaningless unless a player specifically fails to file one specific item prior to the draft (which automatically invalidates them; i can’t recall what it is right now but believe its a drug test).  So we’ll see.  Law ranked #29/BA ranked #33.
  • Bobby Wahl: RHP from Ole Miss, a good sized Righty who is Ole Miss’ Friday night starter and who hails from Springfield, VA (West Springfield HS).  He’s 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA on the season, quite a stat line considering who he’s typically going up against (the #1 starters of other SEC teams, easily the best baseball conference in the land).  Law ranked #66/BA ranked #36.  If he last til the late 2nd round as Law suggests, he could be right around where the Washington Nationals could draft him with their first pick (#68 overall).  However, John Sickels/MinorLeagueBall’s latest mock draft has Wahl going #31, more consistent with BA’s rankings.  It doesn’t seem likely he’ll fall to the Nats.
  • Austin Nicely, LHP from Spotswood HS in Grottoes, Virginia (way down I-81 by my alma Mater James Madison University).   PG has him as a lefty who throws 90 and is committed to UVA.  Law #78/Not in BA’s top 250, a huge disparity.
  • Chad Pinder, 3B Virginia Tech.  Described as a plus-defender, decent bat.  His season batting stats aren’t that impressive as compared to his teammates, so he must be some defender.  If he can really move to SS like the scouting reports say and still hit for average and some power, he’s a good 2nd-3rd round prospect.  Law ranked #86/BA ranked #53.
  • Jack Roberts, RHP from James River HS in Richmond, committed to UVA and per PG gets up to 92mph.   Big guy (6’4″ 200lbs) who I’d bet can add more velocity if he goes to college.   If he threw a couple ticks higher he’d probably be a big time prospect.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s list.
  • Zach Rice, LHP from Suffolk (outside of Norfolk), tall lanky kid who slings it 89 from the left hand side.  Committed to UNC.  Worth mentioning since he’s been recruited by the best team in the country.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s list.
  • Kyle Crockett, LHP from UVA.  He’s UVA’s closer (and a HS teammate of fellow draft prospect Chad Pinder).  He throws 90-92 from the left side but has impeccable control; he has just one unintentional walk in 43 innings this year while getting more than a K/inning.  Despite being used as a reliever, I can see someone moving him back to the rotation to see if his stuff can play for 6-7 innings at a time.  Not ranked by Law/BA #103.

Conclusion: Looking at this list, UVA stands to lose an awful lot of pitching recruits if these guys don’t honor their commitments.  Bettinger, Jones, Nicely and Roberts are all UVA commits.  But imagine that staff in a couple years if they all go to college.  Phew.

2013 State Draft Report: Virginia