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College : : Rankings
Mid-Season All-American Checklist: Juniors
Crosschecker Staff        
Published: Friday, April 17, 2009

PART I / Freshmen: Tuesday

PART II / Sophomores: Wednesday

PART IV / Seniors: Friday

 

NOTE: For a mid-season overview of the top 10 junior players and top 10 junior prospects overall in the 2009 college class, please link to Today’s Top 10. Player’s ranking in PG Crosschecker’s pre-season ranking of the nation’s Top 100 Juniors is noted in parentheses.

 

Compiled by David Rawnsley

 

Statistics through games of April 12

 

CATCHER—TOP 5

1. Tony Sanchez, Boston College (50)                   .388-12-36, 43 R

2. Josh Phegley, Indiana (11)                                  .376-9-40, 25 BB, 35 R

3. Joey Lewis, Georgia                                            .346-11-37, 15 2B

4. Carlos Ramirez, Arizona State (94)                   .307-12-38, 31 R

5. Erik Castro, San Diego State                             .388-7-35, 27 BB

 

COMMENT: Much has been written about the quality of the 2009 high-school catching class, but the college group has evolved pretty nicely, too. Sanchez is generating plenty of talk as a potential first-round pick, and Phegley has his high-round admirers as well, although many scouts question his defensive skills. North Carolina’s Mark Fleury (.307-7-37), George Mason’s Chris Henderson (.418-10-35) and The Citadel’s Richard Jones (.383-10-41) all deserve high mention, as well, for their performance this spring. There have been numerous catchers, though, who haven’t quite lived up to their pre-season billing this spring, yet are still well-regarded by scouts. The group includes Missouri’s Trevor Coleman (.233-5-22), Santa Clara’s Tommy Medica (injured), Oregon State’s Ryan Ortiz (.354-1-25) and Southern California’s Robert Stock (.252-4-26)—all of whom were ranked in PG Crosschecker’s ranking of the nation’s top 100 juniors entering the 2009 season.

 

FIRST BASE—TOP 5                                            

1. Rich Poythress, Georgia (49)                              .430-16-60, 26 BB, 48 R

2. Dustin Ackley, North Carolina (4)                        .387-11-31, 30 BB, 44 R

3. Ben Paulson, Clemson (20)                                .392-7-39, 13 2B

4. Chris McGuiness, The Citadel                            .398-9-43, 42 BB

5. Tim Morris, St. John’s                                          .461-6-34, 46 R

 

COMMENT: There is rarely a lack of slugging first basemen in the junior ranks, although the 2009 class doesn’t match the historical 2008 group that saw five college first baseman picked in the first round. Poythress, the top power threat in the first-base class, and Ackley, the best overall hitter, should both be among the first 30 picks in June, although Ackley may end up in the outfield once his surgically-repaired elbow proves up to it. An interesting player to watch as the draft draws near will be Baylor’s Dustin Dickerson (.386-8-26), a former Aflac All-American who is finally developing his power potential. Mississippi State’s Connor Powers (.308-11-40) and Missouri State’s Ben Carlson (.333-9-33) can hit ‘em as far as any hitters in the college game, as well.

 

SECOND BASE—TOP 5

1. Ryan Schimpf, Louisiana State                                       .309-9-35, 14 SB, 23 BB

2. Derek McCallum, Minnesota                                           .374-5-38

3. Casey Frawley, Stetson                                                   .347-8-33, 41 R

4. Sean Rockey, George Washington                                .412-7-46

5. Chris Sedon, Pittsburgh                                                   .382-10-34, 41 R

 

COMMENT: Schimpf has been picking up his offensive pace recently and should be on track to match or exceed his sophomore numbers (.320-12-54). McCallum has generated his share of interest among scouts in the Upper Midwest this spring with his hitting ability and game savvy, although he is a well below-average runner. The little-known Sedon’s background is unusual for an All-American candidate as he played at Lackawanna (Pa.) CC last year. Overall, the second basemen in this year’s junior class are overwhelmingly scrappy, gamer-types like Miami’s Scott Lawson (.341-2-25) or Rice’s Brock Holt (.346-6-20).

 

THIRD BASE—TOP 5

1. Tom Mendonca, Fresno State (36)                    .333-14-47

2. Chris Dominguez, Louisville (13)                        .333-9-44, 38 R

3. Shaver Hansen, Baylor                                        .346-13-38, 36R

4. Wade Gaynor, Western Kentucky                       .394-14-48, 51 R, 26 BB

5. Joey Bergman, College of Charleston               .435-10-36, 48 R

 

COMMENT: Mendonca and Dominguez both deserve credit for changes to their swings and approach to hitting that have enabled them to have the productive overall seasons they are enjoying. Mendonca, the 2008 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, struck out a college-record 97 times last year while drawing only 18 walks; and yet this year that ratio is 15:35. Dominguez struck out 88 times (vs. 16 walks) in 2007 as a red-shirt freshman, but has cut down his swing length enough to have only 29 K’s vs 19 walks this spring without a loss in power. Hansen has shifted to shortstop in the Baylor lineup during the last month, but has been a third baseman most of his career and his future position likely remains on the hot corner. North Carolina’s Kyle Seager (.393-2-35, 19 2B) could have made this checklist at either third base or DH with a little more power output, and would definitely have been listed at second base had he remained at that position. He’ll likely return to second at the professional level.

 

SHORTSTOP—TOP 5

1. Bryant Hernandez, Oklahoma                             .397-6-42, 43 R

2. Josh Prince, Tulane (93)                                      .366-1-21, 31 BB, 26 SB

3. Ryan Goins, Dallas Baptist                                  .357-11-37, 43 R

4. Bryan Altman, The Citadel                                   .383-4-34, 38 R

5. Jet Butler, Mississippi State                                .333-4-33

 

COMMENT: It is difficult to evaluate a college shortstop’s defensive ability from this vantage point, so there are many players at this defensively-vital position who may get overlooked—Miami’s Ryan Jackson (.273-3-23) probably foremost among them. Prince has a reputation as a defensive standout, so his tremendous offensive improvement over a year ago, when he hit .236-1-10, makes him stand out. The previously-unheralded Hernandez has been the key player, both offensively and defensively, for a 29-8 Oklahoma team. USC’s Grant Green will almost assuredly be the first college shortstop taken in this year’s draft and may be the top position player overall, but his body of work this spring (.367-2-18, 13 errors) doesn’t warrant inclusion above. Entering the 2009 season, Green, Jackson and Division II Robbie Shields (Florida Southern) ranked easily as the best shortstop prospects in the 2009 college crop.

 

OUTFIELD—TOP 10

1. Jason Kipnis, Arizona State (74)                        .410-10-46, 14 2B, 27 BB, 14 SB

2. Tim Wheeler, Cal State Sacramento (34)         .391-12-50, 13 SB

3. Angelo Songco, Loyola Marymount (61)            .380-12-47, 50 R, 31 BB

4. Jordan Henry, Mississippi (57)                           .381-0-22, 40 R, 30 BB, 22 SB

5. Ryan Enos, Dallas Baptist                                   .414-11-38, 44 R, 10 SB

6. Jared Mitchell, Louisiana State (22)                   .327-6-23, 31 BB, 24 SB

7. Tyler Townsend, Florida International                 .444-10-40

8. Neil Medchill, Oklahoma State (72)                    .356-10-43, 43 R

9. DeAngelo Mack, South Carolina                        .356-10-39

10. Mark Krauss, Ohio (84)                                     .400-13-37

 

COMMENT: Outfield is the most difficult position on this checklist to narrow down to the mandated number of names as there are easily another 10-15 players whose performance is clearly in the same ball park as the above 10. The trick is differentiating between power hitters and athletes like Henry and Mitchell, whose value lies more in speed, base-running and defense. Kipnis and Wheeler rank 1-2 as they best combine power and speed into one package, although they bear little similarity to each other as athletes (Kipnis is 5-foot-11, 180; Wheeler is 6-4, 205). The junior outfielder who gets the most scout talk is Notre Dame’s A.J. Pollock (.346-4-29, 14 SB), whose absence from the above list is notable. He ranked No. 15 in PG Crosschecker’s pre-season list of the top juniors. Florida’s Matt den Dekker, a Team USA veteran who ranked No. 32 among the top 100 juniors, got off to a slow start but has been hitting well lately (.341-5-20, 44 R) and could be a factor on both post-season All-America and June draft lists.

 

DESIGNATED HITTER—TOP 5

1. Paul Goldschmidt, Texas State                           .366-12-56, 29 BB

2. Vince Belnome West Virginia                             .426-5-53, 49 R, 18 2B

3. Joseph Sanders, Auburn (59)                             .322-17-51

4. Dan Black, Purdue                                               .350-11-37, 41 BB

5. Nick Ebert, South Carolina                                  .333-13-41, 28 BB

 

COMMENT: Not surprisingly, corner infielders migrate naturally to the catch-all DH category. All five players are either first basemen or third basemen. Goldschmidt and Black are both huge athletes at 6-feet-4 and 240 pounds, but have the type of patience at the plate to take advantage of a pitcher’s fear of making a mistake, enabling them to rack up impressive walk and home-run totals. Sanders is the premium prospect in the group, particularly since his power potential is being realized this spring while he has finally settled into a position at third base after bouncing around the infield in his first two seasons at Auburn.

 

TWO-WAY PLAYER—TOP 5

1. Mike Belfiore, Boston College                            .326-9-47; 3-0, 2.78, 7 SV

2. Richie Derbek, Eastern Illinois                            .456-3-32; 2-2, 3.54, 5 SV

3. Alex Hassan, Duke                                               .382-2-18, 42 R; 1-2, 2.60, 8 SV

4. Aaron Miller, Baylor (29)                                      .324-5-27; 3-0, 2.48, 2 SV

5. Mike Dufek, Michigan                                          .331-10-35; 1-0, 2.84, 3 SV

 

COMMENT: The dual player/closer role is alive and well among college juniors, though there are few who combine a role as a starting pitcher interchangeably with a starting job in the field. There are so many two-way players to select from in the junior class that California’s Blake Smith (.294-7-27; 0-1, 5.85, 2 SV) and USC’s Robert Stock (.260-4-26; 3-1, 2.41, 3 SV), who have first-round potential on both sides of the ball, couldn’t crack the list of the best overall performers. Smith has not played to the same level as he did last summer with Team USA. Belfiore grades out better for scouts as a lefthander with a low-90s fastball, but his increased power as a first baseman this year has been a big factor for a resurgent Boston College team. He had five homers combined in his first two years. Miller was a highly-regarded pitching prospect in high school, but didn’t pitch as a freshman at Baylor and threw only five innings as a sophomore. So his success on the mound this year, not to mention his 90-94 mph fastball, has been a revelation in the way he has been scouted this spring.

 

STARTING PITCHERS / Righthanders—TOP 15

1. Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State (1)           7-0, 1.49, 54 IP/11 BB/104 SO

2. A.J. Morris, Kansas State                                    9-0, 1.19, 60 IP/18 BB/64 SO

3. Mike Leake, Arizona State (24)                          8-1, 1.53, 64 IP/14 BB/74 SO

4. Eric Arnett, Indiana                                               7-1, 2.00, 63 IP/16 BB/62 SO

5. Kyle Gibson, Missouri (5)                                    5-1, 3.00, 60 IP/11 BB/81 SO

6. Tyler Blandford, Oklahoma                                  6-1, 4.18, 51 IP/65 SO

7. Ryan Berry, Rice (78)                                           4-0, 1.96, 36 IP/7 BB/31 SO

8. Brad Stillings, Kent State (21)                             5-0, 2.89, 43 IP/48 SO

9. Dan Simon, New Mexico State                           7-0, 2.93, 46 IP/40 SO

10. Joe Gardner, UC Santa Barbara                      5-0, 3.14, 51 IP/46 SO

11. Stephen Ames, Gonzaga                                  6-0, 3.66, 51 IP/43 SO

12. Victor Black, Dallas Baptist (80)                      5-2, 3.19, 53 IP/56 SO

13. Alex White, North Carolina (3)                          5-1, 3.56, 54 IP/62 SO

14. Jorge Reyes, Oregon State (43)                      5-1, 3.43, 42 IP/44 SO

15. Christian Bergman, UC Irvine                           5-1, 2.68, 53 IP/9 BB/32 SO

 

COMMENT: The 15 pitchers listed above have a combined record of 89-9 this spring, and have struck out 71 more batters than the number of innings pitched—although Strasburg and Gibson, admittedly, make up that surplus between them. The list would be even more impressive had Berry not gone down with a shoulder injury after five dominating starts. Reyes has returned to the form that made him the Most Outstanding Player at the 2007 College World Series, when he was a freshman. Not only has he been a big boost to Oregon State, but his own draft stock has returned to its previous level. One player whose name doesn’t appear on the list, but would under a different set of circumstances is USC righthander Brad Boxberger (2-3, 2.60, 55 IP/29 H/61 SO, 1 HR), who has shown first-round stuff and dominance, but few wins.

 

STARTING PITCHERS / Lefthanders—TOP 10

1. Josh Spence, Arizona State                                7-0, 1.01, 62 IP/16 BB/82 SO

2. Buddy Baumann, Missouri State                        7-0, 1.37, 46 IP/58 SO

3. Daniel Bibona, UC Irvine                                     5-1, 2.33, 54 IP/12 BB/57 SO

4. Rex Brothers, Lipscomb (69)                              4-3, 2.34, 57 IP/85 SO

5. Justin Marks, Louisville (62)                                5-2, 3.49, 49 IP/63 SO

6. Eric Katzman, Michigan                                       5-2, 3.07, 44 IP/40 SO

7. Jimmy Gilheeney, N.C. State (71)                      5-1, 3.27, 55 IP/49 SO

8. Daniel Calhoun, Murray State                             7-1, 1.89, 54 IP/6 BB/57 SO

9. Mike Minor, Vanderbilt (7)                                   3-3, 3.02, 53 IP/54 SO

10. Travis Smink, Virginia Military                          5-2, 3.17, 54 IP/14 BB/48 SO

 

COMMENT: The four top college lefthanders in terms of draft status are some mixture of Brothers, Minor, Oklahoma State’s Andrew Oliver (4-4, 5.81) and Kentucky’s James Paxton (4-2, 6.07), meaning that nasty stuff doesn’t always equate to college success. Those four southpaws are a combined 15-12 this spring. The crafty, finesse-style perfected by Spence, and wielded almost as effectively by Bibona, gets outs and wins games—at the college level, at least. Baumann is somewhat of a surprise on the list as he underwent labrum surgery last fall, but has shown no signs of problems this spring and has even better raw stuff and a looser arm than before, according to scouts. Overall, it’s not been an especially good year for the elite crop of lefthanders entering 2009, as Oliver, Minor, Tennessee’s Nick Hernandez, Oklahoma State’s Tyler Lyons, UCLA’s Gavin Brooks, Indiana’s Matt Bashore and Long Island’s James Jones—all top 100 talents in the junior class—have all pitched below expectations.

 

RELIEVER—TOP 10

1. Kyle Bellamy, Miami (41)                                                 3-0, 1.40, 10 SV, 25 IP/43 SO

2. Stephen Richards, Arkansas                                          4-0, 1.21, 6 SV, 22 IP/31 SO

3. Nick McCully, Coastal Carolina                                      3-0, 1.12, 8 SV, 24 IP/30 SO

4. Eric Pettis, UC Irvine                                                        3-1, 2.83, 8 SV, 28 IP/25 SO

5. A.J. Griffin, San Diego (75)                                             6-1, 2.33, 3 SV, 44 IP/49 SO

6. Chris Enourato, West Virginia                                        5-0, 2.01, 6 SV, 31 IP/45 SO

7. Dean Weaver, Georgia                                                    0-0, 0.79, 7 SV, 22 IP/19 SO

8. Michael Morrison, Cal State Fullerton (44)                    1-1, 1.69, 4 SV, 16 IP/22 SO

9. Cole White, New Mexico                                                 2-1, 1.03, 4 SV, 26 IP/30 SO

10. Joe Kelly, UC Riverside (51)                                         1-0, 2.25, 6 SV, 16 IP/13 SO

 

COMMENT: The closer’s role is often one of the most unpredictable positions at the college level. Based on their performance last spring and summer, respectively, Arizona’s Jason Stoffel and Jacksonville State’s Ben Tootle showed every indication of being the elite closer candidates in 2009—especially since both were clocked as high as 99 mph a year ago. But Stoffel (1-1, 4.45, 7 SV, 32 IP/37 SO) has struggled this spring, while Tootle (3-1, 3.58, 38 IP/45 SO) has been used as a starter and hasn’t recaptured the magic from last summer in the Cape Cod League. Even the normally-reliable Griffin hasn’t stood out, though that is more a factor of his being used in a variety of roles on an injury-depleted USD pitching staff. Griffin was a closer in his first two seasons for the Toreros, and saved 26 games overall in that role. He began the 2009 season in a similar capacity but soon made a couple of starts, and even made an eight-inning relief appearance. Morrison and Kelly have big-time power arms and multiple pitches, but have accumulated few innings as they have been used mostly an inning at a time. Of all the juniors who have been used only in relief this spring, Bellamy stands out most. He has seamlessly slid into an end-of-game role from his set-up role last year, when he worked in 43 games and 63 total innings, posting a 1.86 ERA, to become a dominant closer for the Hurricanes.