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2015 Local Drafted Players; signing results

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Nathan Kirby is the highest drafted player with local ties for 2015. Photo via collegebaseballcentral.com

Nathan Kirby is the highest drafted player with local ties for 2015. Photo via collegebaseballcentral.com

Now that the June 2015 draft signing deadline has passed, here’s a quick review of all DC/MD/VA players who got drafted with their signing bonuses (if known), and if not signed where they’re presumably heading to school.

This post at MinorLeagueBall lists all the top 20 round draft picks who did NOT sign.  This list has a ton of 20th round+ guys who we’re depending on MiLB.com assignments.

Chelsea James just did a nice summary of the Nats draft class at NatsJournal.  I’ll do a separate post to that end later on.

Important Draft-related links for this post:

  • MLB’s Awesome Draft Tracker; you can slice and dice the draft 10 different ways, search by schools and home states, etc.
  • Official Draft Bonus Pool totals.  Astros have $17M (most).  Nats have 3rd least at $4.1M.
  • MLB.com’s Draft Signing and Bonus tracker; note this only goes through the first 10 rounds; after that, the bonus figures are treated differently.

College Players with local ties

  • Nathan Kirby LHP from UVA: went #40 (Supp 1st round) to Milwaukee.  Signed at the deadline for below slot value ($1.2M versus slot of $1.545M).
  • Josh Sborz, RHP closer for UVA: went #74 (Supp 2nd round) to the Dodgers.  Signed at the deadline for below slot ($722k vs $827k).
  • Taylor Clarke, who hails from Ashburn (Broad Run HS) went #76, first pick of the 3rd round to Arizona.  Signed for slot value of $801k.
  • Mike Matuella, of Great Falls (Georgetown Prep) and Duke: #78, to Texas in the 3rd round.  Signed for huge overslot deal of $2M.
  • Brandon Lowe: UMD infielder: 3rd round #87 overall to Tampa Bay.  Signed for $6k overslot ($697k); why $6,000 over slot?  weird figure.
  • Alex Robinson: UMD’s ace Lefty went in the 5th round (#140 overall) to Minnesota.  Signed for $5k under-slot ($382k)
  • Joe McCarthy, OF for UVA: 5th round, #148 overall to Tampa Bay.  Signed for slot value of $358k.
  • Brandon Waddell UVA Saturday/Sunday starter: 5th round (#157) to Pittsburgh.  Signed for slightly underslot bonus of $315k.
  • Jack Wynkoop of Virginia Beach (Cape Henry Collegiate HS), LHP starter for South Carolina: went in the 6th round to Colorado.  Signed for slot value of $298k.
  • Michael Boyle: Radford Ace.  13th rounder to the Dodgers.  Signed for unknown figure, currently in Rookie/Pioneer League Ogden.
  • Kevin Mooney: UMD closer: 15th rounder by the Nats.  Signed for unknown figure, currently in short-A Auburn.
  • Kenny Towns; 3B from UVA and the 2011 All-Met player of the year from Lake Braddock, went in the 20th to the Angels.  Signed for unknown figure, currently in Rookie/Pioneer League Orem.
  • Luke Willis, OF from George Mason and Oakton HS, in the 30th round to Kansas City.  Signed for unknown figure, currently in Rookie/Appalachian League Burlington.
  • Josh Swirchak, a MIF from Division II Wilmington University via Osbourne Park HS in Manassas, Signed with St. Louis as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 draft.   Currently at short-A State College.

There were no significant college draftee non-signings from the area.

There are quite a few other college players from the many baseball-playing colleges in the area drafted past the 10th round; search the MLB draft tracker and select the state of Virginia for many more local college players.

Local Prep players of note:

  • Jimmy Barnes, Deep Creek HS in Chesapeake; 11th rounder to the Angels.   Signed for unknown figure, currently in the Arizona Rookie League.
  • Nic Enright RHP from Steward HS in Richmond: 19th rounder to the Mets.  Did Not Sign, as noted on MinorLeagueBall.com.  Will presumably honor his committment to Virginia Tech.
  • Ljay Newsome of Chopticon (south of Waldorf): 26th rounder by Seattle.  Per his summer team’s twitter page, Newsome Signed with Seattle for an undisclosed amount.  Currently in the Arizona Rookie League.
  • Nathan Trevillian, RHP from small Amherst County HS; 22nd rounder to the Pirates.  Signed for  unknown figure, currently in GCL.
  • Stevie Mangrum, 3B from Western Albemarle HS in Charlottesville, 28th round pick by Boston.  Did Not Sign, will presumably honor his commitment to Virginia Tech.
  • Cody Morris, of Reservoir got picked up in 32nd round by Baltimore.   Did Not Sign, will honor his commitment to South Carolina.
  • Hunter Parsons of Parkside HS, picked up in the 40th round by Cleveland.  Did not Sign, will presumably honor commitment to Maryland.

At the end of the signing period, here’s what some of these local schools’ recruiting classes seem to look like in terms of local guys:

  • UVA: Connor Eason, Nathan Eikhoff, Evan Sperling, Grant Donahue
  • U of Maryland: A.J. Lee, Hunter Parsons
  • Virginia Tech: Nic Enright, Stevie Mangrum, John DeFazio, Paul Hall
  • South Carolina: Cody Morris, Danny Blair
  • Wake Forest: Harvey Logan
  • Liberty: Jack DeGroat
  • VCU: Brody Cook
  • UNC-Asheville: Jordan Carr
  • Campbell: James Monaghan
  • Uncommitted thus far: Kaleb Bowman, Hunter Byrnes.  Update post-publishing: Bowman went to Spartansburg Methodist and Byrnes went to UVA … to play football.

This Baseball America link has a list of all the major prep players who didn’t sign, listed by college commitment.  It has a couple more big names for some of the local baseball schools.  PerfectGame.org also has a way to search by college commitment, but it doesn’t verify the results since its self-reported by the players (it has literally 20 names listed for UVA’s incoming 2016 class).

Nats re-draft/previously drafted Players (i’ve noted our previous draft position for each player)

  • Andrew Suarez , (2nd round pick 2014) LHP from Miami went in the 2nd round again, #61 overall this time to San Francisco.  Signed for slot of slightly more than $1M.
  • Skye Bolt, OF from UNC, went in the 4th round (#128 overall) to Oakland.  Signed over-slot deal of $610k.
  • Cody Poteet, (27th rounder in 2012) went in the 4th round (#116 overall) to Miami.  Signed slot deal of $488k.
  • Austin Byler, (9th rounder, 2014) OF from Nevada.  Was the first pick on day 3; 11th rounder by Arizona.  Signed for unknown amount.
  • Daniel Salters (22nd rounder 2014) C from Dallas Baptist: 13th round pick to Cleveland in 2015.  Signed for unknown amount.
  • Jake Jefferies (34th rounder in 2012): 2B from Cal State-Fullerton; Nats picked him up again, this time in the 39th round.  Signed for unknown amount with the Nats and is on the Auburn roster.

Previous local Draft posts:

2015 Draft Results: local player interest draft results.

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Nathan Kirby is the highest drafted player with local ties.  Photo via collegebaseballcentral.com

Nathan Kirby is the highest drafted player with local ties. Photo via collegebaseballcentral.com

Here’s how some of the players of local interest fared in the 2015 draft.  Per section, i’ve ordered these guys by the order they were taken chronologically, not by any pre-draft rankings.

At the beginning of the season, we profiled a ton of local prep and college players.  And then we talked about the higher-profile local players in our Pre-draft coverage.  At the end of the day, almost none of the prep guys were drafted and those that were are almost certain to go to school.

College Players with local ties

  • Nathan Kirby LHP from UVA: went #40 (Supp 1st round) to Seattle, a huge drop from where he was projected.  His injury and the drop in his stuff this year really hurt his draft status.
  • Josh Sborz, RHP closer for UVA: went #74 (Supp 2nd round) to the Dodgers, who had a fantastic draft picking big-name college arms who fell due to performance.  Sborz can start (and did start both this year and last).
  • Taylor Clarke, who hails from Ashburn (Broad Run HS) went #76, first pick of the 3rd round to Arizona.
  • Mike Matuella, of Great Falls (Georgetown Prep) and Duke: went two picks later, #78, to Texas in the 3rd round.  An amazing drop for Matuella, who was rumored as a top 5 pick earlier in the season but who dropped probably 3 full rounds thanks to the surgery and questions about his medicals.  And there’s no reason for him to head back to school; thanks to the timing he isn’t even back on a mound until midway through his senior year.  Maybe he does go back to school (he’s going to Duke after all; he may want to finish his degree) and try to get himself back into the 1st round.  We’ll see.
  • Brandon Lowe: UMD infielder: 3rd round #87 overall to Tampa Bay.
  • Alex Robinson: UMD’s ace Lefty went in the 5th round (#140 overall) to Minnesota.
  • Joe McCarthy, OF for UVA: 5th round, #148 overall to Tampa Bay.  Man, Joe had a rough junior year.  He went from a back-0f-the-first rounder to a 5th rounder.  Will he hold out for above slot money as a result, possibly going back to school for his Senior year to regain value?  I would.
  • Brandon Waddell UVA Saturday/Sunday starter: 5th round (#157) to Pittsburgh.  Another guy who was supposed to be higher but who dropped.
  • Jack Wynkoop of Virginia Beach (Cape Henry Collegiate HS), LHP starter for South Carolina: went in the 6th round to Colorado.
  • Michael Boyle: Radford Ace.  13th rounder to the Dodgers, who just *cleaned up* on high-profile college arms in this draft.
  • Kevin Mooney: UMD closer: 15th rounder by the Nats!
  • Kenny Towns; 3B from UVA and the 2011 All-Met player of the year from Lake Braddock, went in the 20th to the Angels.
  • Luke Willis, OF from George Mason and Oakton HS, in the 30th round to Kansas City.

There are quite a few other college players from the many baseball-playing colleges in the area drafted past the 10th round; search the MLB draft tracker and select the state of Virginia for many more local college players.

Local Prep players of note: nobody got drafted high enough to seriously consider changing their college frankly.

Fyi: Washington Post announced their All Met teams last night.  Nearly every local kid we’ve talked about this year is mentioned, including a number of these guys below:

  • Jimmy Barnes, Deep Creek HS in Chesapeake; 11th rounder to the Angels.  Interesting selection; the 11th round is the first round where you can “get away” from the bonus structure of the first 10; Barnes hasn’t committed to a college and is a SS from the baseball hotbed of Chesapeake VA.  Signable?
  • Nic Enright of Steward HS in Richmond: 19th rounder to the Mets.  Looks like he’s going to Virginia Tech.
  • Ljay Newsome of Chopticon (south of Waldorf): 26th rounder by Seattle.  Wonder what happens here: Newsome has not declared for a college yet.  Is he signable as a 26th rounder?  Post Publishing update: per his summer team’s twitter page, Newsome signed.
  • Nathan Trevillian, RHP from small Amherst County HS; committed to Liberty.  22nd rounder to the Mets.
  • Stevie Mangrum, 3B from Western Albemarle HS in Charlottesville.  Va Tech commit, 28th round pick by Boston.
  • Cody Morris, of Reservoir with a South Carolina commit and a TJ surgery: got picked up in 32nd round by Baltimore, probably the team sending a message to a local kid.
  • Hunter Parsons of Parkside HS, picked up in the 40th round by Cleveland.  Maryland commit.

I only see one of these prep kids going signing (Barnes in the 11th).  That means, reaching back to my pre-season coverage, the following colleges are going to see their early commits come to school.  Here’s a list of all the Prep players profiled early on with verbal commits (link to allmetsports.com’s Recruit Watch) Not all of these commits are set in stone, but here’s what some local schools signing classes could look like:

  • UVA: Connor Eason, Nathan Eikhoff, Evan Sperling, Grant Donahue
  • U of Maryland: A.J. Lee, Hunter Parsons
  • Virginia Tech: Nic Enright, Stevie Mangrum, John DeFazio, Paul Hall
  • South Carolina: Cody Morris, Danny Blair
  • Wake Forest: Harvey Logan
  • Liberty: Nathan Trevillian, Jack DeGroat
  • VCU: Brody Cook
  • UNC-Asheville: Jordan Carr
  • Campbell: James Monaghan
  • Uncommitted thus far: Ljay Newsome, Jimmy Barnes, Kaleb Bowman, Hunter Byrnes

 

Nats re-draft/previously drafted Players (i’ve noted our previous draft position for each player)

  • Andrew Suarez , (2nd round pick 2014) LHP from Miami went in the 2nd round again, #61 overall this time to San Francisco.  A few picks after he went last year; did he make a mistake spurning the Nats offer?  (disclaimer: who knows what the Nats offered).
  • Skye Bolt, OF from UNC, went in the 4th round (#128 overall) to Oakland.
  • Cody Poteet, (27th rounder in 2012) went in the 4th round (#116 overall) to Miami.
  • Austin Byler, (9th rounder, 2014) OF from Nevada.  Was the first pick on day 3; 11th rounder by Arizona.  His decision to head back to school may have cost him (though, to be fair, we have no idea what he turned down from the Nats).
  • Daniel Salters (22nd rounder 2014) C from Dallas Baptist: 13th round pick to Cleveland in 2015.
  • Jake Jefferies (34th rounder in 2012): 2B from Cal State-Fullerton; Nats picked him up again, this time in the 39th round.  He’s a junior now, clearly the Nats like him and probably just wanted to send a message, setting him up for next year.

There’s a couple more guys who were HS draftees in 2012 who should be draft eligible juniors now but who were not drafted.  They may not even still be playing for all we know.

 

First Look: Nats top 10 draftees from 2015 Rule-4 Draft

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LSU's Andrew Stevenson becomes the Nats highest 2015 draft pick.  Photo via nola.com

LSU’s Andrew Stevenson becomes the Nats highest 2015 draft pick. Photo via nola.com

As we did for the 2013 draft, and again in 2014, here’s a quick introduction to the Nats top 10 picks for 2015.

Here’s a slew of Draft Prospect rankings that I’ll refer to later on.

As he did last year, NatsGM.com‘s Ryan Sullivan live-blogged the draft and does a great job of pulling up stats and observations on each pick.

Draft Links of importance

  • MLB.com Official 2015 Draft Central home page.
  • MLB’s Awesome Draft Tracker; you can slice and dice the draft 10 different ways, search by schools and home states, etc.
  • Official MLB 2015 Draft Order (Nats first pick is #58 well into the 2nd round, next #69, then #103, then #134 in the 4th round, and then 134+30 picks there-after.
  • Official Draft Bonus Pool totals.  Astros have $17M (most).  Nats have 3rd least at $4.1M.
  • MLB Draft Database
  • Fangraphs Sortable Draft Board; a great new tool Fangraphs has that lets you slice and dice their top draft board.
  • Baseball-Reference Draft Tools: links to their draft database plus some custom reports.
  • Baseball America’s Draft Database for 2015; this will get updated with bonus amounts when the players sign.

 


Lets get to it!

1st round/#26 overall: in what would have been the Nationals first round pick had they not signed Max Scherzer and forfeited their pick, the Los Angeles Angels went way off-board and picked Taylor Ward, a Catcher from Fresno State.  He’s not even in Keith Law’s top 100 and is mostly in the 75-100 range of other ranking services, and players like Mike Nikorak, John Harris, Kyle Funkhouser, Daz Cameron and Mike Matuella (a Nationals special; a big righty with power and a Tommy John surgery) still on the board.  Unlike two years ago when I complained bitterly about the loss of the 1st rounder, here Scherzer is more than proving his worth and I’m not as worried about the loss of this pick in a weak draft.  But I wouldn’t have minded seeing how Harris or Funkhouser worked out.

2nd round/#57 overall: Andrew Stevenson, Jr. OF (CF) from LSU (hometown Youngsville, LA).  Rankings: Law outside #100, MLB #79, BA #168, Sickels #101, Draft Rpt #115.  A slightly built slap hitter who plays excellent CF for LSU but, from my limited observations, looks like he’s destined to be a spare outfielder at best.   More than one of the above draft guides mentioned Ben Revere as a comparison.  (This was the comp pick for last year’s non-signing of Andrew Suarez … who went 4 picks later).  FWIW, Law said he “fell out of his chair” when he saw the Nats taking him here.  I can only surmise what the team sees here; perhaps they got a deal on him and will apply some of the savings down the road.

2nd round/#69 overall: Blake Perkins, Prep OF (CF) from Verrado AZ HS (hometown: Phoenix, AZ).  Rankings: Law #96, MLB #162, BA #137, Sickels #148, Draft Rpt #283.  Perkins profiles similarly to Stevenson: slight build, very fast, great fielder, decent arm and a questionable hit tool.  He’s committed to Arizona State and hails from the Phoenix suburbs.  For what its worth, in Keith Law’s post-round 2 write-up, he specifically called out this pick as being a very good one.  But, he’s still *way* overdrafted according to most of the rankings.

3rd Round/#103 overall: Rhett Wiseman, Jr. OF (corner) from Vanderbilt (Hometown Mansfield, MA).  Rankings: Law outside #100, MLB #120, BA #88, Sickels #92, Draft Rpt #146.  Developed big-time power his junior year at Vanderbilt.  Probably projects as a LF but is no bigger than the CF draftees the Nats already have picked.

4th round/#134 overall: Mariano Rivera, JR, Jr. RHP (starter) from Iona (Hometown Harrison NY by way of the D.R.)  Rankings: Law #93, MLB #170, BA #142, Sickels #215, Draft Rp #198.  Well, you can’t argue with the pedigree.  He’s stepped it up this year as a junior with a huge velocity spike and *will* sign, but he barely weighs more than my labrador and one wonders if he can withstand the rigors if pitching in the pros.  Very little mileage on the arm (he didn’t pitch until he got to college reportedly).  Interesting pick.

5th round/#164 overall: Taylor Hearn, Jr. LHP  starter from Oklahoma Baptist (Hometown Royse City, TX).  Rankings: … well, nobody ranked this kid.  Not even on the top 500 prospect list.  He was 9-0 for the NAIA team with good K/9 rates.  Not much else to be said.  The Nats have drafted twice before players from this school (Richie Mirowski and Matthew Page) with decent success and clearly have a scout working that area with success.  Is this a signability/money saving pick?  But for whom?  Perkins?

6th round/#194 overall: Matt Crownover, Jr. LHP starter from Clemson (Hometown: Ringgold, Ga.).  Rankings: BA #344, Draft Rpt #161.  Great numbers at Clemson: 10-3 with a 1.82 ERA.  Tommy John survivor, undersized.  Perhaps projects as a future reliever.

7th round/ #224 overall: Grant Borne, Jr. LHP starter from Nichols State (Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA).  BA #348, otherwise unranked.  Another mystery player.  6-5 with a 1.48 ERA as a starter for Nichols State.

8th round/#254 overall: Koda Glover, Sr. RHP Oklahoma State (Hometown: Heavener, OK).  Sickels #297, otherwise unranked.  Glover was a back-end reliever for Oklahoma State, having transferred in after two years at Juco.  MLB says he’s a senior, OK State says he’s a junior.  Either way, he’s a reliever who could be quicker to the majors, which isn’t too bad a pick for the 8th round.

9th round/#284 overall: David Kerian, Sr. switch hitting 1B from Illinois (Hometown: Dakota Dunes, SD).  He hit .366 with 14 homers on the year for one of the best teams in the country.  Not a bad pick.

10th round/#314 overall: Taylor Guilbeau, Sr lefty starter from Alabama (Hometown Slaughter, LA): nice sign here, getting a Friday starter in the SEC.  3-6 with a 3.69 ERA on his senior season, which ended in the SEC playoffs for Alabama this year.


 

Breakdown by position:

  • Three outfielders, two definite CFs and one corner OF.
  • One 1B who could feature as a corner OF
  • Five college starters: four LHP and one RHP
  • One college reliever (RHP)

His first three picks were outfielders … then 6 of the next 7 were arms.  Mostly left-handed college starters.  How many of these starters will profile as pro relievers?  Probabaly a few of them; Rivera for sure, likely Crownover, probably Guilbeau as well.

Breakdown by Player Demographic

  • One Prep/HS player
  • Six College Juniors, all four-year college picks
  • Three College Seniors, all from four-year colleges

Well, Rizzo likes college grads, and this shows it.  ONE prep player out of his first 10 picks.

Breakdown by Region

  • Southeastern US: 1 from LSU, 1 from Vanderbilt, 1 from Clemson, 1 from Nichols State, 1 from Alabama
  • Midwest: 1 from Oklahoma Baptist, 1 from Oklahoma State, 1 from Illinois
  • Southwest: 1 from Arizona
  • Northeast: 1 from Iona College

Its amazing to me, year after year we seem to see this.  The Nats draft so heavily from the southeast and midwest.  Meanwhile, everyone knows that the two best states for prospects are California and Florida.  If you look at the home towns of these top 10 picks, still nobody from the two major baseball states and just one guy who hails from Texas.  I guess Rizzo really trusts his area scouts down there.

Summary

Well, like in 2013 when you don’t have a 1st round pick … you’re not likely to end up with a name that you’ve heard in the pre-draft coverage.  And I hadn’t heard of practically any of these guys prior to seeing their names read.  Picks 8-10 seem like typical low-value senior signs, but you have to wonder where the draft bonus dollars are going here.  Is everyone signing for slot?  Are there any risky picks here?

Pre-2015 Draft coverage; mocks and local players

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Swanson seems likely to be 1-1 pick. Photo by Joe Howell.

Swanson seems likely to be 1-1 pick. Photo by Joe Howell.

The MLB rule-4 (Amateur) draft starts on Monday 6/8/15 at 7pm.  See MLB Network for the best coverage.  Since we’re also going to be talking about prep regional results and CWS results early next week, I thought i’d get this draft coverage post out there.  This post has good links to use to see draft prospect rankings, then links to help cover the draft starting monday, then some blurbs on local players of interest, and then links to a bunch of mock drafts.

Draft Coverage so far at NAR for 2015:

Here’s a slew of Draft Prospect rankings : these are NOT the same as mock drafts; see further down for those.

Draft Links of importance

  • MLB.com Official 2015 Draft Central home page.
  • MLB’s Awesome Draft Tracker; you can slice and dice the draft 10 different ways, search by schools and home states, etc.
  • Official MLB 2015 Draft Order (Nats first pick is #58 well into the 2nd round, next #69, then #103, then #134 in the 4th round, and then 134+30 picks there-after.
  • Official Draft Bonus Pool totals.  Astros have $17M (most).  Nats have 3rd least at $4.1M.
  • MLB Draft Database
  • Fangraphs Sortable Draft Board; a great new tool Fangraphs has that lets you slice and dice their top draft board.
  • Baseball-Reference Draft Tools: links to their draft database plus some custom reports.

Now, some news about College Players with local ties

  • Nathan Kirby Lat strain Press Release: UVA’s ace Kirby, considered a mid-to-late 1st rounder, missed a huge chunk of the season with a Lat Strain.  If the cards fall right, he may be able to pitch UVA’s 3rd regional game.  MLB has him ranked #26, as does BA.
  • Mike Matuella, of Great Falls (Georgetown Prep) and Duke, remains a back-end of the 1st round draft prospect but is also rehabbing his own TJ surgery.  He has far less of a track record than other college arms, and may be a crap shoot in the draft.  MLB has him ranked #28, BA #23.
  • Taylor Clarke, who hails from Ashburn (Broad Run HS), was named the CAA pitcher of the year while putting up stellar numbers for the College of Charleston, a trendy underdog pick to reach the CWS.  MLB has him ranked #144, so that’s perhaps a 4th-5th rounder, while BA has him higher at #118.  Here’s a draft profile of him from scout.com.
  • Joe McCarthy, OF for UVA, missed most of the season with a back injury and then hit horribly after wards.  His draft stock has dropped from a supp-1st to probably the back end of the 2nd round.  MLB has him ranked #68, BA #46.
  • Josh Sborz got dumped out of UVA’s rotation but still is ranked #115 in MLB’s pre-draft rankings (projecting to a 3rd-4th rounder).
  • Brandon Waddell had a good season as UVA’s #2 starter … and MLB projects him as a 5th rounder at #163.  BA has him at #153.
  • University of Maryland’s two best draft prospects are Alex Robinson (MLB ranked #124) and Brandon Lowe (MLB ranked #148).  Robinson is #74 on BA’s top 500 list and Lowe is #98 on BA’s list.
  • Radford’s Michael Boyle has pushed his draft stock up with his team’s post-season performance; BA has him ranked #132, which puts him in the 4th-5th round.

Local Prep players of note:

  • Cody Morris, probably the best local player matriculating this year, had to undergo TJ surgery and likely scuttling his draft plans.  Luckily he had already taken a scholarship offer to South Carolina, where he will now presumably attend and rehab to get ready for the 2016 season.  BA still has him ranked #265 but the odds of a team taking him in the 8th round seem slim.
  • A.J. Lee of St. Johns earned his 2nd straight Gatorade DC player of the year award and remains committed to Maryland; I do not sense he is a significant draft prospect and will go to College.  He is not in BA’s top 500 prospects.
  • Ljay Newsome of Chopticon (south of Waldorf) made some noise with his stellar 3-A state final game; he has not picked a college and I wonder if he’s headed for the draft.  He is not in BA’s top 500 prospects.
  • Nic Enright of Steward HS in Richmond (2015 Gatorade player of the year) is signed to Va Tech but ranked #132 by MLB.  Will he sign if he gets 3rd round money?  BA’s got him ranked far lower; #230, in the range of draft rankings where it makes more sense for him to go to school.

Other players of interest to Nats fans:

  • Andrew Suarez, the Nats’ 2nd round pick of last year, had a decent if not spectacular senior season at Miami and may end up getting picked right in the same spot.  MLB has him #75, BA #73.
  • Austin Byler, the Nats’ 9th round pick of last year, is ranked #199 by MLB (but much higher at #115 by BA) putting him in the 7th round or so.  Not too much of an improvement over last year; his senior season was more of the same for him; lots of power, perhaps stuck at 1B so will really have to hit his way moving forward.
  • Skye Bolt, the Nats’ 26th round pick in 2012, had a great UNC career and is ranked #67 by MLB ahead of the draft.  BA has him a bit lower at #106.  Maybe the Nats can draft him again since this is right around where their first 2015 draft pick falls.

Mock Draft Guesses

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  I like mock drafts from writers I like.  Since the Nats don’t pick until midway through the 2nd round, there’s no point (like in years’ past) in trying to project the Nats pick.  So here’s some popular pundits and their mocks, with their top 5 predictions (Law = Espn, McDaniel = Fangraphs, Callis & Mayo = Mlb.com, Manual = Baseball America and Crawford = Baseball Prospectus)

  • Keith Law Mock #1: Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Dillon Tate, Brendan Rodgers, Kyle Tucker
  • Keith Law Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Tyler Jay, Tate, Tucker
  • Keith Law Mock #3 (on ESPN podcast): Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • Keith Law final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Trenton Clark, Andrew Benintendi
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #1: Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Kyle Funkhouser, Daz Cameron
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Bregman, Tucker
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #3: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • Jim Callis Mock #1: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Cameron, Carson Fulmer
  • Jim Callis Mock #2: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Cameron, Tucker
  • Jim Callis: Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Benintendi
  • Jonathan Mayo Mock #1: Tate, Rodgers, Swanson, Cameron, Fulmer
  • Jonathan Mayo Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Cameron, Tate
  • Jonathan Mayo Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Cameron, Tate
  • John Manual Mock #1: Tate, Swanson, Rodgers, Jon Harris, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #2: Fulmer, Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #3: Jay, Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #4: Swanson, Bregman, Jay, Rodgers, Cameron
  • Jeff Ellis/Scout.com Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • David Rawnsley/si.com final mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Cameron
  • Chris Crawford Mock #1: Garrett Whitley, Swanson, Rodgers, … the rest behind a pay-wall.
  • Ryan Sullivan/NatsGM final mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • D1baseball.com Mock #1: Swanson … and the rest behind a pay-wall.
  • Jon Sickels/MinorLeagueBall Mock #1: Swanson, Bregman, Jay, Rodgers, Tucker
  • PerfectGame.org’s mock drafts and coverage now behind a pay-wall.

Todd Boss’ Mock draft?  Based on my vast level of expertise (sarcasm) and the thousands of man hours i’ve put in scouting players in person and cultivating industry sources (also sarcasm), I’ll take this as my guess for the top 5:

  1. Swanson: I think Swanson’s post-season hitting combined with his positional flexibility and the decline of all the upper-end college arms that have been mentioned in the conversation for 1-1 (First Aiken & Matuella, then Tate, then Funkhouser and Fulmer) has cemented Swanson’s spot at 1-1.  In other years, he’d be lucky to go in the top 10.  Not this year.  Arizona goes with the least risk; proven college hitter.
  2. Bregman: practically every connected pundit now has Bregman going 2nd.  Houston gets a sure thing and goes prep with #5.
  3. Rodgers: Houston hasn’t backed away from HS players before and get the best one, a SS with power, at #2.
  4. Tate: Tate’s regional performance pushed him back into this lofty level and he’s a better bet than Jay thanks to his reliever status all year.  Colorado likes college arms this high.  He makes the most sense.  If this pick isn’t Tate, its Jay.
  5. Tucker: practically everyone has Houston’s 2nd pick on Tucker, meaning they’re taking two upper-end prep talents.  Plus the Astros know the family; Kyle’s older brother Preston was a 7th round pick by Houston in 2012 and made his debut this year.  Makes too much sense.

So, just so you know, this guess matches the final mocks of Law, McDaniel and Ellis, and is nearly identical to the final mocks of a couple others.

This top 5 means some big time names are available 6-10.  Cameron, Jay, Fulmer, Clark and Harris could very well be in the next 4-5 guys picked.  Funkhouser seems to be slipping.  Also throw the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Tyler Stephenson, and Walker Buehler into the top 10 possible mix.

ACTUAL DRAFT Results added on 6/7/15: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker.  A number of the experts above had the top 5 pegged.  Yours truly … changed his prediction last minute to match the consensus and “got it right” too :-)

College Baseball Regular Season wrap-up; local team season summaries

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Our first 2015 College Baseball post.  All the Division 1 conference tournaments wrapped up over the memorial day weekend, so lets wrap up how our local teams did.  We’re writing this post ahead of the regional seedings and the CWS field of 64 announcement.

We depend on d1baseball.com primarily for coverage of Division 1 Baseball.  Other useful sites include Warren Nolan’s college baseball RPIs and BaseballAmerica’s college coverage.


ACC (local interests: UVA, Virginia Tech).

UVA had a tough season; it started the season ranked in the top 3 by most charts after finishing as national runner-up last year.  Then they lost their best hitter (Joe McCarthy) for half the season, and then lost their ace (Nathan Kirby) for the second half.  They swept UVA in their final series of the season to salvage a .500 league record, good enough for 2nd place in their division but not enough to avoid the play-in game.  They won the play-in to make the ACC tournament, but went 0-3 in pool play.  They are on the outskirts of the top 25 and will make the CWS field, but will not host a regional.    Lots of well-known names to this blog and the Virginia area contributed for UVA this season: here’s a link to their season stats.  UVA finishes with a 34-22 (15-15) record.

Virginia Tech finished just a couple of games behind UVA in the standings, but were no where near the quality.  They were eliminated by UNC in the play-in game.  Final record: 27-27 (13-16).

Of note in the ACC this year to local fans: Stone Bridge alum J.B. Bukauskas was 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA for UNC this year.  He was a weekend starter as a freshman, led the team in starts, got their only win in the ACC tournament, and was named to the All-ACC freshman team.  Duke Ace, Georgetown Prep alum and Great Falls resident Mike Matuella went from being talked as a 1-1 pick to undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Draft pundits still give him a shot of going in the back end of the first round in the draft.  Nats 2014 2nd round pick Andrew Suarez went back to Miami and served as Miami’s saturday starter, going 6-1 with a 3.09 ERA for the nation’s top ranked team by RPI.  Suarez likely hasn’t improved his draft stock that much, still projected as a 2nd rounder.


Atlantic-10 (Local interests George Mason, George Washington, Richmond and VCU)

The A-10 tournament, unbeknownst to me until I looked it up for this post, was at Barcroft field in Arlington.  Grr.  GW’s home field.  I certainly would have made an effort to go had I known.  Anyway; GWU hung on as the #6 seed until the semis.   Richmond was the #3 seed and was eliminated early by GW.  VCU as the #5 seed eventually won the A-10, battering their way through conference rivals.  GMU finished just outside the qualification rankings to make the post-season conference tournament.


Big South (Local interests: VA schools Liberty, Radford, and Longwood)

Longwood was the #8 seed, losing early in the post-season tournament.  Liberty was the #4 seed and was eliminated by Longwood.    However Radford entered the tourney as the #1 seed and outlasted several very good baseball programs to win the tournament and clinch their first ever CWS appearance.


Big-10: (Local interest: Maryland)

Does it sound weird to talk about how Maryland makes the Big-10 conference tournament a “local” tournament?   Maryland made the final as the #3 seed before falling to the upset-minded Michigan team.


Big East (local interest: Georgetown)

Georgetown went 2 and out as the #4 seed in the Big East tourney.


Colonial Athletic Association (local interests: JMU, William & Mary and Towson)

Towson and JMU both had down years and didn’t qualify for the post-season tournament.  W&M did, but were 2- and out as the #6 seed.  The CAA came down to 1-2, with 2nd seeded UNC-Wilmington beating #1 seed College of Charleston.

Of note, College of Charleston was ranked most of the year and was led on the hill by friday ace starter Taylor Clarke.  Clarke was 13-1 with a 1.34ERA on the season.  Clarke hails from Ashburn and went to Broad Run and then Towson before transferring to CofC and becoming a star.


Conference USA: Local team Old Dominion

ODU was the #7 seed in the C-USA tourney and went 2-and out.


MEAC:  (Local teams UMES and Norfolk State):

Both teams made the post-season but did not factor in the final.


Patriot: (local interest: Navy)

Navy entered the post-season tourney as the #1 seed but lost in the final to #2 seed Lehigh.

The big news for Navy this year is the matriculation of a Navy grad to the majors for the first time in nearly a century.  RHP Mitch Harris also has some very personal ties: he played for the Fairfax Nationals in the (now defunct) Clark Griffith summer wood-bat league and was housed by none other than my father for the summer.

SoCon (local interest: VMI)

VMI fought hard as the #4 seed, losing in the tourney semis.


Other local players of interest: Madison alum Andy McGuire and his Texas team had to win the Big-12 tournament to get into the CWS, and they did.  McGuire went to Texas as a SS/3B but now is in the bullpen for the Longhorns.


The College World Series field of 64 will be announced just after the Memorial day weekend, upon the completion of all the college tournaments.  We’ll post again with the matchups and some quickie predictions.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 25th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Brady Aiken has TJ surgery, shakes up draft boards

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Tough break for Aiken.  Photo via whotalking.com

Tough break for Aiken. Photo via whotalking.com

We got word today that 2014’s #1 overall pick Brady Aiken did indeed suffer an UCL injury in his first 2015 start and underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday.

Awful break for Aiken, and a  huge shake-up for the top of the 2015 Rule-4/Amateur draft.

Quick oral history of the Aiken situation: Houston made him last  year’s #1 overall pick, then rescinded/altered their $6.5M bonus offer after having “concerns” about Aiken’s UCL when viewing his medicals.  Aiken’s representatives rejected the lowered offer (wanting Houston to honor their original offer), and in the end declined to sign the lower amount (reportedly $5M at the deadline), and Aiken became just the third #1 overall pick to fail to sign in the draft’s history.  Thanks to baseball’s convoluted draft bonus rules, the failure to sign Aiken led to a cascading effect, costing them enough “pool dollars” to have to also rescind offers to 5th round pick Jacob Nix and 21st round pick Mac Marshall (now at LSU).  Nix (rightly so) filed a grievance against the Astros for the situation and was awarded his full $1.5M promised bonus (which, in my opinion, should absolutely be coming out of the Astros’ bonus pool for what they did).  Nix and Aiken eventually enrolled at the IMG academy in Florida, a post-graduate prep school designed to be a place for budding athletes to play who may have lost their HS eligibility.  Both had planned on re-entering the 2015 draft.

My thoughts on this whole mess?

  • I have to re-evaluate my opinion of the Astros organization’s behavior; previously I thought they were just being penny pinchers and were screwing with the careers of multiple amateur players (both Nix and Aiken lost UCLA scholarships over the mess).  Clearly they were right to be concerned about Aiken’s elbow, given that it tore within about 20 pitches of last being on the mound.  And now they get two top-5 picks out of a draft that does have some talent in it … and should have the money to sign them.
  • That being said … what was the real difference between their initial $6.5M offer and the $5M final offer?  Think about it: why are teams so ridiculously obsessed with figures in the $1-$2M range during amateur signings, when teams are *routinely* giving out 8-figure deals to mediocre veterans?  The Astros gave Luke Gregerson 3yrs/$18.5M and Pat Neshek 2yrs/$12.5M deals this off-season; that’s a combined $30M for two middle relief right handers.  They’ve been the lowest payroll team despite a massive RSN deal and play in the nation’s 4th largest market.  You mean to tell me they couldn’t still pony up the $1.5M difference for the #1 overall pick in the draft?  They couldn’t have just gotten an insurance policy to cover their risk of moving forward with Aiken?
  • If you were the Astros today, wouldn’t you rather have Aiken (with insurance policy), Nix and Marshall in the fold?  Do you think maybe your professional staff could have managed/mitigated this injury?
  • Did Aiken cut off his nose to spite his face by rejecting $5M?  Even before this injury, he was already dropping on draft boards, no sure guarantee to go 1st overall in 2015.  And with Houston holding the #2 and #5 overall picks there was already a real possibility of Aiken dropping outside the top 5 (since clearly Aiken would have refused “re-draft” possibilities), which means he’d have a heck of a time getting anywhere close to even the $5M he turned down. At some point his adviser should have just accepted the deal, in my opinion.  The new rules just make it impossible to get anything close to the bonus he turned down unless you’re #1 overall.
  • The situation kind of reminds me of the Matt Harrington situation, who turned down multiple bonus offers (one as high as $4M) and kept seeing his draft stock fall until he finally signed as a run-of-the-mill 13th rounder and quickly flamed out of pro ball.  His wiki page details the whole mess of a story.

There does exist a possibility of a team picking Aiken despite this injury.  Both Jeff Hoffman and our own Erick Fedde were picked in the mid-to-upper 1st round despite being rehabbing TJ arms.  And Aiken was more heralded than either guy.  I could see a team with a longer term view taking a chance on Aiken in the top 10.  A quick look at the 2015 draft order reveals some “gambler” type teams/GMs in the top 10 who could make a deal.  Assuming that your top-end names under consideration include the likes of Mike Matuella, Brendan Rodgers, Kolby Allard, Dillon Tate and maybe even someone like UVA’s Nathan Kirby , that could put teams in the 6-10 spot right in line to pick Aiken.  And that 6-10 range includes both Chicago teams and Boston, rich teams that could afford to wait him out.

One thing for sure; the odds of the Nationals getting another shot to pick a TJ case are slim; we gave up our 1st rounder to sign Max Scherzer and won’t pick until the 58th overall spot (compensation for not signing Miami’s Andrew Suarez last year).  I don’t think Aiken lasts til the 10th pick; certainly he won’t be there in the mid 2nd round.

Tough break for Aiken; hope he can salvage some bonus money and start his career.

Other opinions/hot takes I’ve read of use:

  • Jeff Ellis at Scout.com predicts the same that I do for Aiken’s draft status; top-10.
  • David Schoenfield at ESPN talks about Aiken and the “inequalities” between being born in the USA and elsewhere in the draft/signing markets (and the discrepancies are ridiculous).
  • Dave Cameron at fangraphs has some quotes from Aiken’s social media posting announcing his surgery and some critical analysis.

Post-posting update: presumed top-5 draft talent Kolby Allard is also out for the season with a back injury, further thinning the list of names in consideration for the #1 overall pick so far.

Another post-posting update: on 4/1/15, Duke ace (and NoVa native) Mike Matuella announced the he too has to have Tommy John surgery.  That’s three presumed top-5 picks in the upcoming draft now out with season-ending injuries.  Wow.

Local draft-prospects to keep an eye in for the 2015 draft

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Duke RHP and Great Falls resident Mike Matuella has rocketed up the draft boards for 2015.  Photo via dukechronicle.com

Duke RHP and Great Falls resident Mike Matuella has rocketed up the draft boards for 2015. Photo via dukechronicle.com

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

To compile this list, I looked at rising college juniors and rising prep seniors who made impacts in 2014 or who  have made a name for themselves with summer league performances in 2014.  Here’s a link to the WP’s 2014 all-Met team, which had more than a few juniors, all of whom are mentioned here.  Here’s the roster for Perfect Game’s big summer 2014 showcase, which is the first place a lot of rising prep seniors get scouted.  Here’s a link to Louisville’s 2014 All-American selections, looking for junior all-american nominees.  Here’s a link to the EvoShield Canes 17U Roster, the leading travel team in the area and where a number of these upper-end prospects played this past summer.  Here’s the BaseballDraftReport blog that has been doing some tracking of prep players ahead of the 2015 draft.  Here’s Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel “way too early” draft rankings from Oct 2014.  Here’s BaseballAmerica’s first 2015 draft ranking from Mid Oct 2014.  Here’s minorleagueball.com’s “early 2015 draft” prospect list.  Here’s USAToday’s pre-season HS all-american list (though there are no local first teamers).

Local Prep Names to keep an eye on for 2015’s draft:

  • Cody Morris, RHP for 2014 3-A state champion Reservoir HS (Fulton, just south of Columbia).  2014 All-Met, 2014 Louisville All-American, Maryland Gatorade player of the year.  He’s committed to South Carolina but a repeat of his 2014 season could have him rising up draft boards.  Played for EvoShield this summer and was at the PG National showcase event.
  • A.J. Lee, a SS/RHP for 2014 WCAC/DCSAA champion and Washington Post final 2014 #1 team St. Johns (DC) who hails from Millersville.  He was also named to the 2014 all-Met team and was a 2nd team Louisville All-American.  Lastly he was the DC Gatorade player of the year in 2014.  He’s committed to Maryland.
  • Connor Eason, LHP for 2014 Virginia 5-A state champs Hickory (Chesapeake).   Also played for for EvoShield this summer and is a UVA commit.
  • John DeFazio, OF/RHP for Madison HS (Vienna).  2014 All-Met, committed to Virginia Tech.
  • Brody Cook, INF for Riverdale Baptist.  2014 All-Met, committed to VCU.  Played for Demarini Stars this summer.  On BaseballDraftReport’s pre-2015 season watch list.
  • Nathan Eikhoff, who plays for Patriot and was a 2014 All-Met after hitting an astounding .541 in the spring season.  UVA commit.  Played for Demarini Stars this past summer.
  • Harvey Logan, C for 5-A state runner up Douglas Freeman (Richmond).  He was at the PG showcase, played for EvoShield and is an early commit to Wake Forest.
  • Jordan Carr, P for Archbishop Spalding (Severn, between Annapolis and Baltimore).  2nd team all-met in 2014.
  • Ljay Newsome, P for Chopticon (south of Waldorf), 2nd team all-Met in 2014.
  • Stevie Mangrum, 3B for Western Albermarle HS (Charlottesville), was at the PG Showcase.  Committed to Va Tech and played for EvoShield this summer.
  • Kaleb Bowman, RHP for Woodgrove (Purcellville), honorable mention All Met for 2014, played for EvoShield this summer and verbally committed to South Carolina.
  • Danny Blair, CF for Gilman (Baltimore), committed to South Carolina, played for EvoShield and was at the PG National showcase.
  • Evan Sperling, RHP for Grafton (Yorktown/Newport News), committed to UVA and played for EvoShield.
  • Nathan Trevillian, RHP for Amherst County HS (near Lynchburg), committed to Liberty and was at the PG National showcase.
  • Grant Donahue, RHP for Decatur HS in Berlin (outside Ocean City).  At the PG National showcase, played for EvoShield, committed to UVA.
  • Hunter Parsons, RHP for Parkside HS in Salisbury, committed to Maryland, at the PG National showcase and played for EvoShield.   Up to 93 on the gun at showcases.  Could show up on draft boards with a couple more ticks on the gun.
  • Paul Hall, LHP for Maury HS in Norfolk.  Committed to Virginia Tech, up to 90 on the gun, played for EvoShield.
  • James Monaghan, 1B for LaPlata HS.  Committed to Campbell, played for Evoshield’s regional 17U team.
  • Hunter Byrnes, 2B for GW-Danville.  Same HS as last year’s 4th round pick Blake Bivens.  Good athlete (also a star QB) who may not get drafted but could be a good Div-1 player for someone.

I give a lot of weight to playing on the Evoshield Canes, as you can see.  If a guy is on that team, odds are he’s playing Div 1 somewhere.

Local College draft-eligible players to keep an eye on for 2015:  (2014 pre-season Baseball America all-american team link here, 2014 Baseball America post-season All American team here, 2014 Golden Spikes semifinalist announcement here, 2014 Rawlings/ABCA All-American list link here.  2014 All-ACC College Baseball team.  2014 All-CAA College Baseball team.  2014 All Atlantic-10 College Baseball team. All Big South, All Conference USA teams.

  • Mike Matuella, RHP from Duke (via Georgetown Prep HS and Great Falls, VA).  Burst onto the scene in 2014 and is in the mix for 1-1 overall already.  Huge guy (6’6″) with a huge arm (sits mid-90s).  Upper 1st round projection ahead of 2015 season.  Baseball America had this feature on him ahead of the season in mid January.  Here’s a scout.com report from 2/19/15.  He missed a start with a minor injury early on (thanks to persistent 30-degree weather in the area), but has come back and as of the time of this posting has a 0.44 ERA through 20 innings/5 starts for Duke.
  • Nathan Kirby, LHP from UVA (via James River HS in Midlothian) who was a first team all-ACC, 2014 Golden Spikes semi-finalist, a BA All-American, ABCA All-American.  Projected top 10 first round pick pre-2015 season.  So far into the college season, Kirby has lived up to his billing, holding a 3-1 record with a 1.16 ERA as UVA’s friday starter.
  • Joe McCarthy, OF from UVA who hit in the middle of UVA’s order in 2014 and was named All-ACC.  Projected mid 2nd round pick by BA ahead of 2015 season.  McCarthy suffered a back injury prior to the season’s beginning and will miss the first 12 weeks of the season; he’ll have precious few looks to get his draft stock up prior to the Rule 4 draft.
  • Brandon Waddell, LHP from  UVA.  UVA’s #2/Saturday starter was 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA on the year in 2014.  2nd-team All-ACC.  So far in 2015 he’s gotten hit though, holding just a 3.48 ERA through 6 starts.
  • Taylor Clarke, College of Charleston’s Friday starter and breakout 2014 player, hailing from Ashburn and featured previously in the Washington Post.   So far in 2015, he’s only improving his stock, holding a 55/8 K/BB ratio through his first 39 2/3 innings.
  • Josh Sborz, RHP from UVA (by way of McLean HS).  UVA’s #3/Sunday starter in 2014 but has been re-assigned as UVA’s closer in 2015 in favor of former Virginia prep standout Connor Jones entering the rotation.  Thus far at the time of this posting, Sborz has 5 saves but just a 3.00 ERA through 18 innings across 11 appearances.
  • John La Prise, inf from UVA who hit .358 in 2014, but who has only played in 4 games thus far in 2015.  He is on Minorleagueball’s preliminary 2015 draft list, but he was fighting injuries prior to the season and may still be doing so.
  • 3 sophomore All-CAA players from William & Mary: Catcher Ryan Hissey, DH Charlie Gould and RHP Joseph Gaouette.  Thus far in 2015, Hissey and Gould have picked up right where they left off, but Gaouette has yet to appear for the Tribe.
  • Some draft eligible players from U-Maryland: Alex Robinson, LHP, Jake Drossner LHP, Lamonte Wade LHP/OF.  With Maryland’s rising national ranking (#11 in the 3/23/15 d1baseball.com rankings), these guys will continue to see their stock rise.
  • Smaller college guys like Kyri Washington, OF at Longwood and Dylan Nelson, RHP from Radford.

Did I miss anyone?  I’m all ears.

Pros and Cons of pushing back the College Baseball Season

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Baseball fields aren't supposed to be covered in snow.  Photo via twitter

Baseball fields aren’t supposed to be covered in snow. Photo via twitter

So far, 2015 has been one massive cold spell for much of the nation.  Boston got 7 feet of snow.  Places deep into the south felt freezing temperatures.  DC just experienced its second coldest February since 1950, with an average temperature for the month below freezing.

And the College Baseball season kicked off in the middle of all this!   Division 1 college baseball programs kicked off the 2/13/15 weekend with many cold-weather teams traveling and many traditionally warmer-weather schools being forced to move home dates to warmer locations.  For example, UVA had to move a bunch of lucrative home dates to South Carolina and played one game on a HS field in Charleston.  The #1 team in the country (Vanderbilt) had to move a home series to Florida.  UNC had to move a marquee early-season match up against fellow top-10 team UCLA all the way to Orlando.

Long time collegiate baseball coach (currently at West Virginia) Randy Mazey has been pushing a recommendation to radically alter the college baseball schedule for years and has latched onto this year’s uncommonly cold winter to spread the word and gain support.  The Washington Post picked up his story in mid-February and he’s made some appearances on baseball-themed broadcasts to spread the word, and details on the email that Mazey has been sending to fellow college coaches is on d1baseball.com’s site.  I listened to a long-form interview with Mazey on d1baseball.com’s podcast (hosted by d1baseball authors Kendall Rodgers and Aaron Fitt) and gleaned the following details:

Mazey’s proposal goes like this:

  • Pitchers & Catchers would not start working out until mid-late February, similarly to the way that MLB spring training works.
  • College Baseball seasons would start April 1 (currently starts mid February, or 2/13/15 this year).  This leads to basically a 6-week cascading slip for all College Baseball events.
  • Continue to play 56-game schedule
  • Finish regular season over July 4th weekend with a “rivalry” week (current schedules end mid-May)
  • Put in a week’s delay before starting conference tournaments, to be scheduled 2nd week of July.  Current conference tourneys generally run through the 3rd week and weekends of May.
  • This puts the Regionals in the 3rd week of July, the super-regionals in the 4th week of July.  Currently Regionals are held the last weekend of May, and the super-regionals are held the first weekend of June.
  • The CWS would start the first week of August and would be coordinated with ESPN so as to fall “after” the Little League World Series.  Currently the CWS runs from mid June through the end of June.

Arguments for this proposal:

  • Levels the playing field between “northern” and “southern” baseball programs.
  • Pushes back the start of the season, avoiding obvious weather issues with more northern schools.
  • Lowers travel burdens for northern programs, who often play the first 15 games of their season on the road thanks to cold temperatures in their home towns.
  • Safer travel for teams that depend on bus travel on icy/snow-covered roads in February.
  • Attempts to increase fan interest in college baseball by avoiding conflicts with basketball season/March Madness.
  • Improves the post-season scheduling to avoid the conference-tournament crunch that occurs on college pitching staffs.
  • Reduces harm to players (pitchers especially) having to compete in very low temperatures (a stance supported by Dr. James Andrews).  More than a few marquee/1st round projected picks  have already been pulled from starts this year due to warming up for games to be played in 30-35 degree temperatures (Mike Matuella and Andrew Suarez both have already missed starts this year).
  • I suppose its a “pro” to force kids to be in school all summer so they can do summer school classes to augment their (presumably) smaller class-loads while playing during the spring session.
  • Pushing schedules into summer lessens the burden on students missing a ton of class during spring semesters (Mazey’s players missed 31 days of class one recent spring semester).  This theoretically will help kids actually graduate college, a rarity among baseball players, who generally leave school after their junior year and rarely return (tangent: Scott Boras did a study a few years back, finding that of the 824 players in the majors that year just *six* (6) had 4-year college degrees; that doesn’t say much about the job that college baseball is doing graduating kids).

Arguments against this proposal:

  • With this proposal, you’d essentially be telling college baseball players that they’re “on the clock” from mid February all the way to Mid-August, an incredibly long season.  They’d lose their entire summer vacation, have limited to no summer league baseball opportunities, no jobs to make money.  They’d essentially have 2 weeks “off” at the end of their baseball seasons (if they made the CWS) before the fall semester picked back up (at best; see further with the LLWS analysis).  This sounds like one heck of a burden for college student-athletes.  Its tough enough with spring semesters generally ending the first week of May and kids are forced to continue playing deep into June.
  • If CWS needs to work around the LLWS … well I’m not sure how you do that.  In 2014, the LLWS schedule in Williamsport, PA ran from August 14th through the championship game on August 24th (a sunday).  If CWS waits to play its final until after the LLWS does … well when exactly does it play its final 3-game set?  You presumably want to play those games on a weekend to get fan interest and attendance, but waiting until the weekend after the LLWS puts you into Labor Day weekend, which is a football kickoff.  Not to mention, the beginning of the fall semester for most students.  So now you’re telling CWS college baseball players that they potentially get NO summer break.  You can’t jam the entire CWS into one week before the LLWS happens.  So I’m not sure how CWS fits in with LLWS with the current broadcast partner ESPN.
  • The current Rule-4/amateur draft is set for early June; when would you draft players if they’re playing deep into August?  MLB is already talking about pushing back the draft slightly to avoid the current draft date-CWS completion conflict … but a couple weeks is different from a couple months.  Mazey doesn’t think the draft would need to change, making the argument that kids playing in the CWS have been drafted and are still playing.  Well, there’s a difference with a limited number of players playing a few playoff games and playing half a season.  If i’m a pro team and I draft a college pitcher in the first round, I don’t want to watch some back-woods college coach abuse my pitcher for weeks and weeks trying to get a slightly higher seed in his conference tournament when I’m committing potentially seven figures to him.  I think what would really happen is this: MLB would draft a kid and basically tell him to quit college right then and there.  Imagine what that would do to the college season if all the drafted kids are suddenly removed from the competition prior to even the conference tournaments?
  • Similarly; the short-season pro leagues are set to start just after the draft in mid June specifically so that newly drafted kids can start playing.  Who would stock these teams if most of the college draftees weren’t going to join up for months?  What would these teams do if their draftees are still competing in college seasons?   Mazey didn’t have an answer other than to say that it would take “creative scheduling.”  There are some places where the short-season team shares the same facility as a college team (Penn State and Oregon being two examples); clearly you couldn’t have both of these teams playing schedules concurrently.
  • This proposal would effectively kill summer leagues as we know them.  And there are a *lot* of summer leagues out there, and they serve a very vital role in the player scouting process for pro teams.  The major leagues out there (Cape Cod, Northwoods, Valley, Coastal Plains) would be put out of business if most Div 1 players couldn’t join them until regionals were ending near the end of July.  Mazey tries to make the argument that summer league teams would rely on JuCo, Div2 and Div3 players not affected by Div-1’s schedule … but if Division 1 is changing its schedule to account for weather, wouldn’t Division 2 and 3 teams be thinking the same?  Mazey also thinks that prep players who have signed with Div-1 programs could be targets for teams in the Cape, thinking that fans just want to root for a player affiliated with a big-name program.  I think he’s incredibly wrong here; the Cape and the Northwoods teams draw because they’re watching the *best* college players in the country, guys who are going to be first round draftees the subsequent year.  And, how many parents are going to finance their 17yr old to go play in the Cape Cod league before he’s even stepped foot in college?
  • Would college baseball game attendance be adversely affected if the crunch-time games played by the schools were held in the dead of summer, when student populations at these schools is at is lowest?  Mazey for some reason thinks this switch will help college teams draw like minor league teams do, but to me his logic doesn’t add up.  To me, the issue of god-awful college baseball attendance is a whole separate issue unrelated to anything mentioned here related to scheduling.
  • Keeping kids on campus extends the scholarship costs to schools; more classes, more room & board and potentially more travel.  Mazey’s argument is that assumed rising attendance figures would somehow finance these additional costs.
  • If its too cold in the north in February … well wouldn’t it be too hot in the south in July/August?  Yes it would.  The average temperature during the day in July in Arizona is between 105-107.   Yes there’s a MLB team in Arizona and guess what; they have a frigging dome for this reason.  Same thing with the Houston team and the Miami team; all three play in domed stadiums because its really, really hot down there in the summer.  Would there be issues with marquee teams in Arizona and Texas (of which there are many) playing home dates in 105 degree temperatures?

What do I think College Baseball should do?

Well, if you couldn’t tell from reading my point-by-point argument against logic, I think this is a dumb proposal that would be done in the best interests of a small population (the coaches and players of northern baseball schools) at the expense of many others (coaches and players from all other schools, pro teams, summer league teams).  I think the baseball coaches behind this need to admit to themselves that baseball is inherently a warm weather sport and thus warm weather schools are going to have advantages.  Prior to Oregon State winning the CWS a few years back, a “cold weather” state hadn’t won the CWS since Ohio State in the mid 60s (and Oregon is “barely” a cold-weather state for this discussion; Corvallis averages just 3.1″ of snow a year .. about as much on average as Atlanta, Georgia). Consider the reverse: are cold-weather sports being forced to change their schedules to accommodate warm-weather schools who want to participate?  I don’t think so; and that is why you don’t have (say) ice hockey programs at schools in Texas and Arizona clamoring for changes to the NCAA hockey tournament.

However, there a couple of things that Mazey is right about.  Why are colleges playing baseball in mid February?  Why do colleges play fifty six (!) games a season?  The logical thing to consider is to force back the start of the season a month, and lower the playing burden.  Or, if you wanted to keep 56-game schedules, then play some mid-week series during spring break and in May once semesters are over.  Or just accept the fact that some colleges can play in February and others cannot; same thing happens with high schools all over the country.

Take a look at UVA’s schedule.  The first 13 games on their schedule are non-conference.  Then, starting on 3/6/15, they play a 3-game weekend series every weekend for 10 straight weekends (save one weekend in early May presumably blocked off for finals).  In between each of those 10 weekends they play at least one mid-week game against an in-state rival for another 13 games.  13+30+13=56.  Ask yourself; do they need the first 13 games at all?   Do they need to play ten in-conference series?  The ACC is split into two 7-team divisions; play all your division rivals and then lower the cross-division games and you can cut weeks out of the schedule.

Anyway; food for thought.  Personally, I don’t think there’s anything “broken” with college baseball as it stands; its CWS event is great, it dovetails nicely into a vast industry of summer leagues and pro short seasons, and it doesn’t drag all summer.

 

Written by Todd Boss

March 4th, 2015 at 1:58 pm

College Baseball 2015 Previews and pre-season Rankings

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Kirby Jones leads the highly  regarded UVA baseball team in 2015.   Photo via unk

Kirby Jones leads the highly regarded UVA baseball team in 2015. Photo via unk

Believe it or not, its time to start thinking about College Baseball again.  Most teams’ schedules start on the 2/13/15 weekend and all the major outlets covering the sport have released pre-season rankings lists.

College pre-season top-25 lists with local interests noted:

This BA link has capsules to all the top 25 teams.  And BA has released their pre-season All-American list, with local players of note Nathan Kirby and Mike Matuella (Duke’s #1 starter hailing from Great Falls) earning first team honors.  This pre-season All-American list comes from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and is littered with UVA players.

Vanderbilt returns its entire weekend rotation, including two lock 1st round picks in Walker Buehler and Carson Fuller as well as another presumed 1st round pick in shortstop Dansby Swanson and is inarguably the best returning team in the land.  UVA’s Joe McCarthy earned pre-season 2nd team honors but just went down with injury (back injury, out 12 weeks ugh), which seems like its going to really hurt that team.

Interesting development for 2015: d1baseball.com has apparently been acquired, or has undergone a mass change in direction.  Gone is the 1990-esque interface; now they have graphics and professional writers associated with it (namely, Aaron Fitt, formerly of Baseball America, who left BA in Nov 2014 and is now focused entirely on the d1 site.  Most importantly, the site is now a pay-for site.   I visit this site constantly during the college and CWS seasons; we’ll see how much you can see w/o paying for this season.

2/10/15 post publish update: Great preview of College season from Chris Slade at minorleagueball.com

Written by Todd Boss

February 2nd, 2015 at 1:57 pm