|Joe Panik||SS||St. John's||2010||522||.488||635.8||13.6||6.1||128.7|
|Joe Panik||SS||St. John's||2011||.521||615.6||15.7||8.2||279.7|
|Jace Peterson||SS||McNeese St||2010||489||.422||394.1||14.8||12.6||430.0|
|Jace Peterson||SS||McNeese St||2011||.413||391.3||15.7||10.2||491.3|
|Zack MacPhee||2B||Arizona St||2010||478||.476||617.8||14.8||14.1||398.6|
|Zack MacPhee||2B||Arizona St||2011||.342||290.7||16.5||7.7||386.7|
|Travis Shaw||CIF||Kent State||2010||470||.497||805.1||17.1||14.3||-75.0|
|Travis Shaw||CIF||Kent State||2011||.459||685.1||14.3||13.2||-35.2|
|Levi Michael||SS||North Carolina||2010||469||.404||571.0||15.4||9.1||273.7|
|Levi Michael||SS||North Carolina||2011||.377||469.8||17.0||13.7||210.1|
|* wOBA is park-ad|
Out of nearly 300 players I ran through the system only 14 guys came out scoring above the median; 464. That median has been established through several hundred previous player seasons as the bar above which a player has a solid chance of big league success and below which he have very, very little chance. For more info on the system itself, check out my season preview.
While the system itself predates him, Anthony Rendon has become the system's namesake. It should come as no surprise that Anthony Rendon comes out well. Rendon's junior year has been viewed, by some, as a disappointment. While injuries have sapped some of his power and limited him to DH duties for the bulk of the Rice Owl's season, Rendon's season still comes out very well in the ratings. Despite hitting 20 fewer home runs in 2011 than 2010, Rendon still displayed above-average power thanks largely to 20 doubles. Even with the dirth of home runs, his extra-base-hit percentage was nearly identical from 2010 to 2011 (43.8% to 42.4%). Rendon also still made contact at an excellent rate for a power hitter and drew plenty of walks. Actually, that's not a strong enough word. Rendon drew more walks than anyone else in my system. His 27.2% walk rate is higher than any in the 700+ player seasons RENDON captures. If you wonder if Rendon slipped this year, just know that the amount he was pitched around this season proves opposing pitcher and coaches were afraid to find out. The only long-term question with Rendon is health, otherwise he's a near perfect prospect.
UConn center fielder George Springer and his LSU counterpart Mikie Mahtook are very similar prospects who are vying to be the second college position player off the board. Convienently, they come out with near idential RENDON scores. Both guys are excellent athletes who have demonstrated power/speed combos and shown solid walk rates as well as troublesome contact ability as underclassmen. Perhaps most importantly, Springer and Mahtook each showed marked improvement in that trouble area by making much better contact as juniors. The difference in their triple slash lines (Springer .361/.462/.644 and Mahtook .383/.496/.709) is almost entirely park effects. Neither guy is perfect. Each may be better served defensively as a corner outfielder than center fielder, and both have some holes in their swings. Mahtook has shown a strong platoon split, although I can't make any strong claims given the small sample size. This class is short on impact bats. These two guys have their warts but represent significant upside that's hard to find anywhere else. They're both solid first-rounders.
Not many 5-foot-9 second basemen get first round love. This, if nothing else, should be proof of Kolten Wong's awesomeness. A potential late first-rounder, Wong is not a toolshed like the players above him on the list but his one plus tool is important: his bat. Wong has a bit of an exaggerated leg kick but a very simple hand path and quick wrists. He has an outstanding approach and should be solid defensively. College infielders with sustained track records of success (like Wong) fare very well in the pros. Ones with Wong's plate discipline, contact ability, and improvement from sophomore to junior years are near certain to have solid big league careers. Wong is the safest of the late first round prospects. If he happens to fall into the sandwich or second round he'll provide outstanding value.
If scouts were sold on Joe Panik's ability to stay at shortstop, he'd be getting strong first round buzz. Despite solid range, Panik's arm is fringy-average and it's likely he'll be forced to move to second down the road. His swing isn't geared for power, but he does make strong contact, mostly because he works himself into hitter's counts so consistantly. Panik's best attribute is his plate discipline. He has a top-of-the-order approach that will be the key to his future success. He doesn't offer much physical projection and has well-below-average power, but the odds of Panik surfacing as a solid regular at second base are better than some may think. He's an intelligent player, good enough athlete to likely stay up the middle and has a strong production. That's a solid package to take in the second or third round.
Alabama center fielder Taylor Dugas is limited physically by his small stature, but has performed in a big way. In a year in which new bats limited power across the country, Dugas was one of the few top prospects to show a sizable increase in power. Dugas hit four more doubles and four more home runs in 2011 than 2010, raising his isolated power over 70 points. Power won't be a big part of his game at the big league level, but he's a potential top-of-the-order hitter who plays solid up-the-middle defense. While he doesn't possess a ton of upside, Dugas is a really solid player right now. I happen to really like guys who play with a chip on their shoulder. Dugas is one of those guys. While he likely won't be drafted until the fourth or fifth round, Dugas could turn into a potential second-divison starter.
Utah slugger C.J. Cron offers some of the best power potential in the college class. Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 230 pounds, Cron has caught in the past but played mostly first base for the Utes, as a shoulder injury limited his throwing ability. Cron's stature leads most people to believe that his future position will be manning first. Good news: his bat is that good. Cron has a very solid hit tool, hitting over .430 in consecutive seasons - college batting average doesn't tell you much but .430 is just really, really impressive - and making excellent contact. Utah plays in a strong hitter's park, the ball flys in that desert air, but Cron's numbers are still strong. You'd like to see a little better walk rate as an underclassman for a slugger, but any fault in Cron's college career just a quibble. Cron could hit for solid average with 30+ home run power. He should come off the board in the late first or sandwich round.
Dan Paolini started his baseball career has a highly recruited high school pitcher. An arm injury late in his high school career sapped interest from nearly every school. Only Sienna offered Paolini a scholarship as a position player. I'd say that worked out. Paolini nearly blew up RENDON after he homered (26) almost as often as he struck out (27) as a sophomore. Like nearly every hitter, Paolini's numbers were down a bit in 2011 but still worthy of an elite prospect. He's 6-foot tall, maybe a touch below that, but strong with a stout build. Occasionally overaggressive, Paolini still maintains excellent contact rates for an elite power hitter. His bat speed is real and he's a good enough athlete that he should be able to stay at second base defensively. Some people may discount his numbers a bit because of the quality of competition he faced at Sienna, but even taking that into account, Paolini's been one of the most productive players in the country. Up-the-middle power is worth taking a risk on. Given that it'll just cost a sixth or seventh round pick, there's not much risk. Dan Paolini is going to make some Scouting Director look really smart.
What Louisville infielder Ryan Wright lacks in tools, he makes up for in polish. An advanced approach, strong contact ability and better than expected power have been the hallmarks of Wright's illustrious college career. An average athlete, Wright's arm strength might be a tick above-average but his plate discipline lets his hit tool play up a bit. Wright doesn't have a plus tool, but he doesn't have a poor one either. A versitile defender, he has experience just about everywhere on the diamond. His future home is likely at second base. His production and versitility give him a chance to go inside the top 100 picks.
Jace Peterson may be an unfamiliar name to the casual draft fan, but not within the game. The McNeese State star has split time between shortstop and defensive back as a two-sport star for the Cowboys. An excellent all-around athlete, Peterson is, unsurprisingly, a plus runner with the range to stick at shortstop. He has some natural strength but power isn't a big part of his game. Unlike most multi-sport athletes, Peterson has advanced plate discipline. Speed, defense AND walks? From a shortstop? I'll take two, thanks! If Peterson lasts past the second round, it'll be too long. He could turn into an above-average starter if everything breaks right.
Big time college baseball fans will be familiar with Zack MacPhee. The Arizona State second baseman was Pac-10 Player of the Year as a sophomore and a First Team All-American. The 2011 season was not as kind to MacPhee. His power output dropped drastically, going from nine home runs to just one and from a nation-leading 14 triples to just two. Yet MacPhee did show improvement in his contact ability this season, nearly halving his strikeout total, while maintaining his trademark discipline. He's not a burner, but MacPhee is a good, aggressive baserunner and has enough speed to stay up the middle defensively. MacPhee would have gone in the top two or three rounds had he simply repeated his 2010 season, but it now looks like he might fall too far. His 2011 output isn't as bad as it looks on the surface. If his true talent level is closer to his outstanding underclass performance, some team will get a steal in the mid rounds.
Kent State corner infielder Travis Shaw is a big left-handed bat whose put up impressive power numbers. Standing 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Shaw has room to grow physically but that may not be a good thing. Already fringy at third, added growth would likely force him to stay at first base long-term defensively. If a team thinks Shaw can stay at third, he becomes a pretty intruging guy. His walk and contact numbers are both above-average and he's one of the few guys whose power totals weren't hindered too much by the new bats. Shaw has strong hands, a simple load and a smooth swing path. He starts with an extremely narrow base and takes a large stride towards the ball. If a team could get him to use his lower half more a little better, Shaw could turn into an above-average big league bat.
Levi Michael entered North Carolina with much fanfare and has remained a Project Prospect favorite for some time. A polished, professional hitter with outstanding plate discipline and a gap-to-gap approach, Michael offers a lot to like from an offensive perspective. His numbers were held down a little this year, likely due to the new bats, and an uptick in strikeout rate. The overall perspective of Michael hasn't changed much this year with one possible exception. Once viewed as a defensive question mark, Michael showed well with the glove this year and made believers out of more than a few teams that he can stick at shortstop in the bigs. Even if he does move to second base, he should be an asset. He's not a sure thing, but I'll take a risk on a potential high-OBP shortstop everyday of the week. That potential should get Michael selected late in round one.
Vanderbilt third baseman Jason Esposito entered the year on my personal Top 10. Unfortunately, as the season went on, he fell. After a pretty darned excellent sophomore season, Esposito regressed in every single offensive category, save triples where he tied his season total of one. Esposito fights his front side at the plate and costs himself bat speed. He can still hit a mistake, but he needs work to improve his slider-speed bat. Esposito's patience went down drastically, and I'm not really sure why - possibly he was pressing too much. Esposito's a borderline plus runner, with excellent arm strength and very soft hands. He's been as good a defensive third baseman as you'll find in the college game and projects easily as a plus defender at the highest level. His athleticism and defensive prowess raise his floor, but I still worry about his hitting mechanics and lack of production during his junior year. If he can improve with the stick, Esposito could still develop into one of the game's better players.