College Prospects, Part III (Sleepers)
This college prospects thing I'm doing reminds me of that time I decided to pluck some hair on the my chest. I didn't really have enough to shave, but I wanted to fix what I had. After about 20 mintues I was wondering what I got myself into, but I started..so I had to finish. Like the grooming of my chest, I have to complete this too. So if you are not sleeping yet, you will be after this.
These are some guys that are on the outside looking in and could push their way up with a strong junior season.
SP: RICKY ROMERO JR. Cal State Fullerton
Ricky Romero is regarded as one of the best big game pitchers in college. He throws a low 90’s fastball with one of the best curveballs in the country. According to BA, he can throw the curveball for strikes at will. As with many lefties not named Randy Johnson, Johan Santana, or Scott Kazmir, Romero relies on control and lucky enough for him, he has some of the best command in the country. In 2004, he threw five complete games and two shutouts.
He may not have put up better numbers than lefty prospect like Cesar Ramos or Ryan Mullins, but he has a lot of heart and knowledge on how to pitch. This past summer for Team USA, someone forgot to tell him that Hochevar and Pelfrey were the cream of the crop and the top two starters on the team. Romero was the best starter on the team tying for the lead in wins, having the best starter’s ERA, lowest BAA out of all starters and the 2nd lowest on the team with .137, allowed no homeruns, and owned a 3.33 K/BB ratio. He allowed the fifth lowest hit total on the team despite being 2nd in innings pitched en route to a .77 WHIP. Ricky’s reputation as a gamer and his success on TEAM USA combined with a big 2005 could translate into him sneaking up the draft board and being the top left handed prospect in college baseball. He'll never make scouts drool or project higher than a #3 starter because of his tools, but he could turn into a front end guy.
SP: RYAN MULLINS Jr. Vanderbilt
Mullins is a big 6-6 left hander that could take the place of ex-teammate Jeremy Sowers as the most polished pitching in the 2005 draft. In the Cape Cod League over the summer, he had a 1.82 ERA and ridiculous 9.1 strikeout-walk ratio. He posted a 8.94 K/9 while only walking 7 batters and gave up only one homerun on 54.1 innings. He posted a sub 1.00 WHIP and finished with at 5-1 record, which tied many others for the lead in the Cape in wins.
Mullins owns three good pitches. He keeps his fastball in the 86-91 mph range, a slider, and a changeup. At this point, he might be a first round pick and could elevate his status to that of a Jeremy Sowers and push himself up to a status of mid-first rounder. Mullins seems like a really safe pick as being more polished means less time floating around the minors. He could move quickly towards the majors and could be an interesting choice for someone eyeing up a lefty in a relatively weak year for left-handed pitching prospects.
OF: DANIEL CARTE Winthrop
Like Travis Buck, Daniel Carte did nothing to hurt himself by using a wooden back in the summer league. Carte was BA's Summer Player of the Year after leading the Cape Cod League in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage while also swiping 13 bases and hitting .318 to cap an MVP season. Carte did all that after going 0-for-19 to start the season as well. He could be a legit 30/30 threat and has hit over 10 homeruns in each season he’s played since coming to college, including in the Cape Cod league in 43 games.
"He's not a real big guy, but he's strong, really strong," an NL scouting director said. "The ball really comes off his bat well. His tools are all there: he ran well, he threw well, pull power and plus bat speed."
While he will need to have a huge year to even be considered by the Mets, he could make people think if his homerun total jumps. He proved his skills with the wooden bat and outperformed every other top prospect in the Cap. He was tied with the highest batting average out of anyone who played more than 35 games and was the only player to hit double digits in homeruns and only one of two to hit more than five. What he did in a pitcher’s league is pretty impressive and Carte brings the entire package of skills and is a very dynamic player that basically does everything well.
OF: BRIAN BOGUSEVIC Tulane
If you want to try and get the best of both worlds and cannot decide if you want a pitcher or an outfielder, Brian Bogusevic is your man. You can draft him and figure out later what you want to do with him. He possess a 93-94 MPH fastball and he is a southpaw to boot. According to BA, he shows flashes of bat speed and power potential, and has the average speed and defensive abilities to play right field.
"We like him better as a pitcher, some like him better as a hitter," an AL scouting director said. "As a lefthander, he shows a good arm, the makings of a slider that's average to a tick above average at times. He's very athletic, runs about a 6.6 (seconds in the 60-yard dash) and shows some power, though his swing can get long."
While his stuff seems great as a lefty pitcher being he can bring the heat, he was certainly hittable thus far in his college career. I think this year he’ll have to show a large improvement in terms of getting people out since it only gets harder from here on out. He shows decent plate discipline and pounded 28 XBHs out of 80 hits for a .559 SLG. He has some speed as he swiped nine bases and if he continues to progress with the bat he just may force his hand for himself to be pegged as an outfielder instead of a pitcher. Although, I’m sure a lefty with a mid 90’s fastball will draw some interest not matter what numbers he puts up. It’s good to know he’s got options should he fail at either one. One thing he has going against him is that he hit .183 with no homers and five RBIs in his exposure to wooden bats which may be too tough for him to overcome and break to the top 20 if he does not absolutely tear it up in 2005.
2B: WARNER JONES JR. Vanderbilt
At 5’10”, Jones is not exactly a scouts dream. There are definite concerns about his size, but he is regarded as on of the nation’s best hitters. He led his conference in doubles and RBIs while hitting in 25 consecutive games. While Jones is an excellent hitter at college and manages to keep his K Rate down, he does not walk much at all. In 119 college games, he’s walked a Jose Reyes-like 19 times (actually that is better than Jose). In the Cape Code League, he hit well by putting up a .303 average, but he walked five times in 44 games while striking out 34 times. He also posted a .399 SLG and did not hit one homerun thought he did drive in 21 RBIs, which was good for 7th in the league and smashed 15 doubles, which lead the league. The closest person to him had 10 doubles and only two people managed to hit double digits in that area.
BA does not even project Jones to go in the first round in the 2005 draft. There are concerns that his production was byproduct of being sandwiched in between two very good players and there will be a lot of eyes on him to see how he responds in 2005. With another campaign like last year and some more patience, he could push his way up the draft though he would be pegged as an extreme long shot at this point.
Another guy who could be lumped into the sleeper category is Mark McCormick from Baylor. According to BA, his fastball sits in the 94-98 range and touched 101 in the Cape Cod League, but he's yet to put much of anything impressive together in his college seasons. His lowest ERA at Baylor was 4.70 and his highest K/9 is 9.2. He's posted BB/9 of 7.0 in both seasons as well and has a career whip of 1.53.
"He's got to refine his stuff," an AL scouting director said. "Great arm, one of the best arms in the draft. He'll flash you a well above-average breaking ball. He can go five, six pitches and be with anybody in the big leagues and then go five, six pitches and not be ready for the Gulf Coast League."
He did dominate in five starts in the Cape Cod League with a 2-1 record in five starts and had a 0.93 ERA with 47 K's in 38.2 innings. He managed to keep his WHIP slightly below one finally put up some numbers that look more like what he should be putting up. Rick Peterson loves guys like this and he wanted Justin Verlander first, and Phil Humber second in last year's draft. If Ricky has a say in things, it might just be McCormick.
One opposing coach said recently of Mayberry, “When you watch him take batting practice, the sound of the ball coming off the bat is very different from anyone else's. The word explosive comes to mind.”