For those of you who are north of the Mason-Dixon Line and unaware of its significane, college baseball in most places in the south (and California) is the second most popular college sport, behind football.
To be honest, I get more excited about a Mississippi State-LSU or a Mississippi State-South Carolina baseball series more than ANY college football game.
College baseball is just a thing of beauty – The sights, sounds, food, etc.
Not only is college baseball atmospherically pleasing, but there is also some incredible talent on the various college ball-diamonds that will soon be on Major League teams.
Unfortunately, this talent often unnoticed by the rest of the country that aren’t avid baseball fans.
So, I have put together a list of the best college prospects at each position.
Mark Appel (6’5”, 195lbs), Stanford, RHP
Mark is the easiest choice on the entire list. He has been labeled the BEST prospect in college baseball, regardless of position. His ability to rip apart the strike zone has most analysts considering him the number one pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.
Appel was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates as the number 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft, but with the influence of Scott Boras he decided he would pitch one more season at Stanford.
Although it’s not his best pitch, Mark’s cheese of choice is a mid to upper 90s fastball. However, it’s the rest of his arsenal that has scouts wooing. He shows an incredible amount of run on his two-seam fastball that is almost identical to that of David Price. He also wields a filthy slider that will be feared in the majors.
10-2, 2.56 ERA, 123.0 IP, 130 K, 30 BB, 97 H, .213 opp/avg
Mitch Garver (6’1”, 205lbs), New Mexico
Major League scouts rarely purge the college ranks in search for a catcher. It is much easier to find a great HS catcher and develop him for the big leagues. However, Mitch Garver is a highly underrated catcher prospect that may have a chance past the college ranks.
Defensively, Mitch is one of the best in the country. He has incredible arm strength and religiously keeps the ball from hitting the backstop.
Offense is Garver’s forte. Mitch’s quick bat and ability to make contact and get on base will have scouts looking at him hard come April.
.377, 10 HR, 57 RBIs, .612 SLG, .438 OBP
Conrad Gregor (6’3”, 215lbs), Vanderbilt
Gregor has the typical first-basemen frame that scouts search for. Aside from being a big guy, he also is an excellent hitter and above average with the glove. He has an amazing amount of patience and power at the dish.
Defensively, Conrad put up an impressive .988 fielding percentage, only committed 6 errors, and nabbing 452 putouts. His long body gives him the ability to snag almost everything that is thrown at him at first.
However, it’s at the plate where McGregor is feared most. His great vision, power and ability to hit the ball anywhere on the diamond will have scouts looking his way this spring.
.328, 3 HR, 35 RBIs, .463 SLG, .439 OBP
Brandon Trinkwon (6’1”, 160lbs), UC-Santa Barbara
Trinkwon is one of those guys that will stay in the infield well past his college years. The best thing about this guy is his walk rate and ability to put the bat on the ball.
Brandon shows great potential at the middle part of the infield. He can easily be moved to SS without dropping his defensive production. He boasts a great glove, excellent arm, and ability to cover distance in the dirt.
Like many hitters at his position, he has slightly below average power at the plate. However, he is a metric-based teams dream in that he gets on base. Not only does he get on base, but also he shows great intelligence on the path to the plate. Trinkwon is great at making contact and squaring up on the ball.
He had a very impressive showing in the Cape Cod League this past summer, which didn’t hurt his cause.
.347, 2 HR, 32 RBIs, .490 SLG, .460 OBP
Kris Bryant (6’5”, 205lbs), San Diego
Bryant will more than likely be the first college non-pitcher to be drafted in the 2013 MLB Draft. I suggest looking up a video of Kris swinging the bat. The immense sound that comes from him making contact is nothing short of incredible. He shows pro-like power at the dish and has the potential to become a big league third baseman.
Kris is above average with a glove in his hand and shows tremendous arm strength. He has recorded 111 putouts and 161 assists in his two-year college career. However, he could likely end up in the outfield after his college days are over.
Offensively, Bryant is one of the best in the college game. He had some issues with strikeouts his freshman year, but made great strides in improving his plate discipline. He also has one of the best swings in college ball. His ability to create contact with the ball and square up on it to get in play is unreal.
.366, 14 HR, 57 RBIs, .671 SLG, .483 OBP
Adam Frazier (5’11”, 174), Mississippi State
Okay… Yes, Adam goes to my school, so I am going to attempt to be as objective as possible. Adam Frazier is my favorite player in college baseball. However, I want to let it be known that he would be my favorite player even if he played at LSU or South Carolina. Why? The guy is the lightweight champ at getting on base against some of the best pitching staffs in the country. While he lacks power at the dish, he finds contact with the ball and will put it in any gap he can find.
In the batters box, he has a persistent approach and a strong hit tool.
Frazier is also an excellent fielder. He’s not the fastest SS in the country, but gets a great jump on the ball and was a huge contributor to the Mississippi State defense that led the country in double plays.
.371, 26 RBIs, .445 SLG, 50 BB, .482 OBP
Outfielders (In no particular order)
Austin Wilson (6’4”, 210lbs), Stanford
One thing about Wilson is certain. He has the best tools of any college outfielder.
Austin is great in his OF position for the Cardinal. He can cover some major ground and is not afraid to lay out for a ball or two. He easily has the strongest arm of any of his OF peers. His fielding alone will make him a first rounder in this year’s draft. But besides his fielding he has also has some promising power at the plate.
.285, 10 HR, 54 RBIs, .493 SLG, .389 OBP
Phil Ervin (5’11”, 190lbs), Samford
Samford, a small school in Birmingham, Alabama. Although you may not have heard of it, it has developed a reputation for putting out some great power hitters. Ervin is helping to further that reputation.
Phil is an average to above average OF. He possesses a strong and accurate arm that can gun down a runner at any base.
Ervin excels the most at the dish and on the base path. He has excellent power for an outfielder and can hit off of any pitcher in the college game. I will have the pleasure of seeing this guy play live next week.
.327, 10 HR, 52 RBIs, .519 SLG, .406 OBP
(6’0”, 175lbs), LSU
Raph Rhymes is a hit machine. He has a pro swing and tools at the college level. Some do not believe this guy has the tools to play at the next level and his production is mostly “luck,” but how do you rack up 115 hits in a short college season without knowing what you are doing? I do know that all pitchers hate to see him step in the box. There is nothing you can throw at this guy that he can’t hit.
Rhymes is below average with a glove in his hand. He doesn’t possess most of the tools the other OF do on this list, but he doesn’t have to when he leads the nation in batting average.
I can’t say it enough. Rhymes can flat out hit the ball. However, he also has a great eye and is not fooled by anything off speed. When scouts look at him, they see a potential pro hitter. Yet, his fielding could make some teams wary. He could be a great DH in my opinion, if he can gain a bit more power.
.431, 4 HR, 53 RBIs, .530 SLG, .489 OBP