College baseball Opening Day is also Valentine’s Day. How romantic!
Most of us have our college teams that we follow for one reason or another (although that loyalty doesn’t always seep below football and basketball), but this post is purely for the Mariner fan of 2014.
Thus, the big Wolfpack logo.
The M’s have the No. 6 overall pick in the June draft. Where they will pick after that is undetermined, but whatever pick is nominally assigned to them (be it a compensation pick for Kendrys Morales or the second-round pick) will be forthwith forfeited due to the signing of Robinson Cano. If Nelson Cruz or another free agent with compensation attached is signed, then another pick is gone. And if Morales remains unsigned then the Mariners get no compensation pick (not even a theoretical one).
Point being: the Mariners will pick at the top of the draft and then not pick for awhile, and possibly even a looooooong while.
So M’s fans with an interest will need to follow only the very best players.
And since two of them play for North Carolina State, there’s your answer.
Carlos Rodon is a LH starter with a mid-90s fastball and “wipeout” slider. Everyone expects him to go No. 1 in the draft (Houston Astros), but it’s pretty rare when things go exactly to form. Would he drop all the way to No. 6? You never know, although he’d probably have to undergo some misfortune.
Trea Turner is a shortstop with great speed. MLB.com gives him an “80” (the very highest in baseball scouting terms) for speed. Reports also say he’s a fine hitter and “fabulous defensive player” (Collegiate Baseball). As of right now, everyone has him ranked as the top college position player. Depending on how the high schoolers pan out, Turner could easily be the top college hitter and still there at No. 6.
Baseball America has video of Turner’s “game-changing speed” here. I can’t embed that one, but this defensive play I can:
Others who could be part of the conversation at No. 6 include three RH pitchers:
- East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman is the consensus second college player after Rodon at the moment. The big righty has been dominant in the Cape Cod League.
- Tyler Beede of Vanderbilt went 14-1 with a 2.32 ERA for the Commodores, and is a decent bet to be available at No. 6. He’s another RHP with mid-90s stuff.
- And Aaron Nola of LSU rounds out the righty starter trio. He’s more low-90s in velocity (according to reports) but is known for “exquisite command of three-pitch arsenal” (MLB.com). Baseball America has all three of the above ranked ahead of all the position players except Trea Turner.
Most observers seem to rank the other position players as unlikely to go as high as No. 6, but the generally highest ranked ones are:
- Indiana‘s LH-hitting C/1b Kyle Schwarber, a strong all-around hitter who may not stick behind the plate.
- Outfielder Bradley Zimmer of San Francisco, whose older brother Kyle (a pitcher) was the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft by Kansas City.
- I know we have a share of Virginia fans who stop by (I’m one of them!) for updates on the various ex-Cavaliers in the Mariner system, and their 2014 hope is OF Derek Fisher, though No. 6 seems on the high side for Fisher right now.
- And … we know who our pal OBF has lined up: Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto. His lefty power bat (.561 SLG) is universally praised, but while some tout him as a defensive star and high pick (Baseball America has him No. 7), Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com pans his defense and ranks him No. 16 among college players. FWIW.
Here’s the links:
MLB.com 2014 Prospect Watch (you have to click on “50 Draft” to get the draft rankings).
Baseball America College Top 100 Draftable
Collegiate Baseball Top Draftable College Players (not actually ranked, but seems to be in rough order)