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Draft Day: Rating some college bats...and arms

Josh Jung

Out of nearly 50,000 players in college baseball this season, there are only around 6800 draft eligible position players, and of those just about 75 that my Oliver Projections rate a wOBA of .300 or better in their age 25 season.

In other words, don’t expect, for each major league team, many more than two position players drafted out of college this year to spend any meaningful time in the major leagues in their careers.

Adley Rutschman and Andrew Vaughn are very likely to be the first two college bats picked, and their performance backs that up. Vaughn projects to 272/383/537 at age 25, and Rutschman 253/375/483, but after that it falls of quickly.

Now that I’ve tempered your expectations...

The other day Michael Bradley (known as guapo in these parts) posted a piece at The Point of Pittsburgh discussing the players he thought most likely to be available to the Pirates for their four picks in the first two rounds.

I’ll list projections for Michael’s list, plus find a few of my own.

NAME              Pos  School        wOBA  BA/ OB/ SA | bh% hr% bb% so% |  AB   H DO TR HR SB CS  BB  SO
Busch, Michael     1B  North Carolina 348 237/344/453 | 288 074 128 271 | 511 121 27  1 26  5  2  77 160
Barefoot, Matthew  LF  Campbell       339 260/336/440 | 316 051 085 243 | 531 138 27  4 20 20  6  50 142
Stott, Bryson      SS  Nevada-LV      321 251/335/384 | 313 029 110 223 | 526 132 29  4 11 15  4  66 133
Jung, Josh         3B  Texas Tech     315 230/326/376 | 303 041 116 276 | 519 119 25  3 15  4  2  69 163
Wilson, Will       2B  No Carolina St 314 229/298/429 | 296 068 082 312 | 541 124 28  3 25  4  2  50 185
Dyer, Matthew       C  Arizona        298 229/300/372 | 318 041 083 312 | 538 123 24  5 15  8  4  49 185
Clarke, Philip      C  Vanderbilt     286 222/290/354 | 293 036 076 282 | 543 121 25  3 14  5  2  46 167
Philip, Beau       SS  Oregon State   286 220/276/380 | 314 052 068 347 | 550 121 26  4 18 14  4  41 207
McConnell, Brady   SS  Florida        282 206/270/376 | 311 069 072 396 | 547 113 21  3 22  8  4  44 235
Massey, Michael    2B  Illinois       280 233/280/355 | 293 027 056 244 | 556 130 27  3 11  6  2  34 145
Johnson, Cooper     C  Mississippi    275 205/279/335 | 280 041 088 311 | 535 110 22  2 14  6  3  53 185
Bins, Carter        C  Fresno State   269 198/270/333 | 294 045 075 365 | 540 107 24  2 15  6  2  44 215

FanGraphs has Jung going at 8 while CBS’ Mike Axisa has him dropping to 16, close to the Pirates at 18. He looks average on base hits and homers, draws some walks, but also whiffs at a higher rate than average.

Wilson is the only other player on Michael’s list who I project for MLB average (or better) is Wilson, who the two mocks I cited both pick in the early 20’s, so should be available to the Pirates if they so wish. Wilson has good power and draws some walks but it expected to have a k-rate north of 30%

The two mocks have UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott at 14 and 13, in reasonable range of possibly dropping to the Pirates. His .321 projected wOBA is at least average for a MLB shortstop, and his line of 251/335/384 doesn’t show a lot of power but a moderate ability to get on base.

UNC first baseman Michael Busch has the fourth best offensive projection, with a 237/344/453 line producing a .348 wOBA, but I presume if offense first as he’s projected to go in the low 20’s.

My sleeper pick for college batters is Campbell left fielder Matthew Barefoot out of the Big South Conference, projected for a .339 wOBA (260/336/440)

I’ll post this now and get pitchers in just a bit...

Name                   School         ERA wOBA  BA/ OB/ SA | BH% HR% BB% SO% |  AB   H HR  BB  SO
Song, Noah         RHP Navy          3.32  290 212/296/354 | 330 048 101 376 | 529 112 15  61 223
Kirby, George      RHP Elon          3.40  295 244/395/378 | 333 033 059 297 | 552 135 12  36 176 
DeVito, Ricky      RHP Seton Hall    3.91  311 237/324/370 | 329 032 097 296 | 524 124 11  58 173
Rutledge, Jackson  RHP San Jacinto   3.52  298 214/303/364 | 337 054 101 387 | 525 112 16  62 228
Thompson, Zach     LHP Kentucky      3.46  296 211/300/363 | 305 051 101 346 | 526 111 17  61 204
Gaddis, Hunter     RHP Georgia State 4.17  326 252/309/449 | 318 062 066 283 | 548 138 24  40 167
Brown, Hunter      RHP Wayne State   4.41  329 249/334/400 | 332 047 106 288 | 522 130 17  64 171
Johnson, Seth      RHP Campbell      4.85  346 259/338/461 | 328 062 099 273 | 527 137 23  61 162
Laskey, Adam       LHP Duke          4.95  347 272/349/444 | 320 046 097 205 | 528 144 18  59 121
Lukas, Adam        RHP Evansville    6.06  383 268/359/543 | 319 100 113 275 | 518 139 36  68 162

Both FanGraphs and CBS mocks had only five college arms going in the first round, topped by left-hander Nick Lodolo of Texas Christian and right Alek Manoah from neighboring West Virginia. Manoah, one of college baseball’s premier strikeout pitchers, was picked at 11 in both, so maybe there’s a slim chance he drops to 16...

Jackson Rutledge, one of two junior college pitchers by that name in Texas, is from San Jacinto-North, and is also one of the best at whiffing batters. FanGraphs picked him as low as 14.

Michael had featured George Kirby, a strike-thrower from Elon who’s also good at avoiding the long-ball. The two mocks have him at 19 and 20, so likely available for the Pirates.

Lefty Zack Thompson from Kentucky was predicted at 12 and 19, so may also be on the board in the first round. He walks a few guys but also generates a lot of whiffs.

The dark horse may well be Michael’s naming of Noah Song of Navy. He has the stats but wasn’t mocked in the first round, as he also has to deal with a military commitment.