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College : : Rankings
Mid-Season All-American Checklist: Sophomores
Crosschecker Staff        
Published: Thursday, April 16, 2009

PART II / Freshmen: Tuesday

PART III / Juniors: Coming Thursday

PART IV / Seniors: Coming Friday

 

NOTE: For a mid-season overview of the top 10 sophomore players and top 10 sophomore 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 Sophomores is noted in parentheses.

 

Compiled by Allan Simpson

 

*Draft-eligible in 2009

 

Statistics through games of April 12

 

CATCHER—TOP 5

1. Blake Forsythe, Tennessee                           .336-12-32

2. *Tobias Streich, West Virginia                      .339-5-44

3. Yasmani Grandal, Miami, Fla. (19)                   .296-10-27

4. Rafael Neda, New Mexico                             .384-4-33

5. Cody Stanley, UNC Wilmington                        .323-9-33, 37 R

 

COMMENT: PG Crosschecker’s pre-season ranking of the top 100 prospects in the sophomore class included only three catchers—Grandal, LSU’s Micah Gibbs and Texas’ Cameron Rupp. Gibbs and Rupp have not performed as expected, but clearly several catchers have picked up the slack. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Forsythe’s defensive tools are solid; he has quick feet for his size and a strong throwing arm. But he earns the No. 1 spot on this list because of his offensive worth. The ball explodes off his bat and he has also made significant adjustments in hitting breaking balls, which hampered his freshman season (.173-0-4 in 52 at-bats) with the Vols. Forsythe also has genetics on his side as his older brother Logan, a star third baseman at Arkansas, was a supplemental first-round pick of the San Diego Padres a year ago. Several other catchers, notably Ohio State’s Dan Burkhart (.379-6-35), Auburn’s Tony Caldwell (.310-8-19) and Western Kentucky’s Matt Rice (.418-6-48) have significantly added to the depth in the catching crop. For the purposes of this exercise, the offensively-oriented Rice was moved to a DH position.

 

FIRST BASE—TOP 5

1. Cody Hawn, Tennessee                    .325-12-45

2. Mike Canha, California                  .385-10-28

3. Andy Wilkins, Arkansas (40)             .336-10-29

4. Curt Casali, Vanderbilt                 .363-6-35, 36 R, 20 BB/11 SO

5. *Matt Smith, Mississippi                .352-4-29

 

COMMENT: Auburn first basemen Hunter Morris and Kevin Patterson were both ranked among the nation’s top 10 prospects in the sophomore class entering the 2009 season. Yet ironically, both have struggled to swing the bat for power this spring—even as Auburn, as a team, has been hitting home runs at a record rate. The failure of Morris and Patterson has thinned out an already thin position, though Hawn is a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat. Even with the notable omission of the two Auburn players from the above list, it’s appropriate that the Southeastern Conference still is represented by four players as there are no shortage of power-hitting first basemen in that conference. Georgia’s Rich Poythress and Mississippi State’s Connor Powers will be prominent members of the junior class at first base. Casali is a catcher by trade, but has been forced to play first base this season because of an injury. Normally a solid defender behind the plate, he has made his biggest strides this spring in shortening up a long swing after hitting just .172 with one homer last summer in the Cape Cod League.

 

SECOND BASE—TOP 5

1. Phil Gosselin, Virginia              .375-4-48, 38 R, 14 2B, 16 SB

2. Carter Jurica, Kansas State          .375-4-25, 40 R, 12 SB

3. Ross Wilson, Alabama (46)            .343-7-31, 36 R

4. J.B. Brown, Pacific                  .392-5-30

5. Chris Bisson, Kentucky               .369-1-28, 32 R

 

COMMENT: Wilson was the only second baseman on the pre-season list of the nation’s top 100 sophomores, and he has pretty much performed as expected—though not quite to the level of the versatile Gosselin, who spent most of his freshman season at third base, or the rapidly-improving Jurica, a .240 hitter as a freshman. Wilson has the best power/speed package of the three, and in the end should be the higher pick in the 2009 draft. Overall, the second-base crop isn’t especially deep, but that should be of little concern to scouts as there is exceptional depth in middle infielders at the sophomore level—and many of the players who are shortstops now are destined to end up at second base down the road.

 

THIRD BASE—TOP 5

1. Tony Thompson, Kansas                      .391-4-44

2. Greg Hopkins, St. John’s                   .360-6-38

3. Jayson Langfels, Eastern Kentucky          .441-9-43, 34 R, 10 SB

4. Dan DiBartolomeo, West Virginia            .432-4-36, 31 R

5. Mickey Wiswall, Boston College             .324-6-37

 

COMMENT: This is a decidedly non-descript group of third basemen when measured from a prospect standpoint—and is in stark contrast to an exceptional crop of freshmen third basemen. There were six third basemen (and none of the above) ranked among the nation’s 100 best sophomore prospects at the outset of the 2009 season, and much of the luster went out of this position through subpar performance (notably San Diego’s Victor Sanchez), injuries (notably to Tulane’s Rob Segedin, who has missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his ribs), and divided loyalty (namely Russell Wilson, who doubles as North Carolina State’s starting quarterback). Additionally, Cal State Fullerton’s Gary Brown and Coastal Carolina’s Scott Woodward are speed-oriented players and viewed by scouts in the long run as outfielders; Woodward made the natural transition to the outfield earlier this season. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Thompson has made significant strides at the plate after hitting .276-5-18 as a freshman at Kansas.

 

SHORTSTOP—TOP 5

1. Ricky Hague, Rice (45)                   .358-5-36

2. Josh Adams, Florida (72)                 .354-5-27, 35 R

3. Derek Dietrich, Georgia Tech (5)         .342-4-28, 35 R

4. Danny Muno, Fresno State                 .366-1-21, 41 R, 33 BB, 12 SB

5. David Herbek, James Madison              .407-8-41, 39 R, 10 SB

 

COMMENT: This was by far the most difficult position to pare down to five players—and, even at that, such prospects as Cal State Fullerton’s Christian Colon (.319-2-15), LSU’s D.J. LeMahieu (.358-3-16) and Long Beach State’s Devin Lohman (.314-2-23) failed to make the cut. All were ranked among the nation’s 30 best sophomores prior to the 2009 season, and still project as early-round draft picks—LeMahieu this year, and Colon and Lehman a year from now. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Hague narrowly earns the nod as the shortstop of choice on this list because of his solid all-around ability and feel for the game, and the general improvement he has shown in the offensive side of his game. Herbek, Vermont’s Matt Duffy (.452-7-25) and West Virginia’s Jedd Gyorko (.416-3-28) have posted better numbers than any shortstop, but none has faced the kind of pitching that the first four players on the list have seen or is considered as well-rounded for a position that places a premium on defense.

 

OUTFIELD—TOP 10

1. Jarrett Parker, Virginia           .409-11-43, 56 R, 15 2B, 14 SB

2. Tyler Holt, Florida State (95)     .418-5-20, 45 R, 12 2B, 33 BB, 15 SB

3. Ryan LaMarre, Michigan             .385-9-43

4. Trent Mummey, Auburn               .331-12-32, 50 R, 10 SB

5. Mike McGee, Florida State          .366-10-35

6. Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington    .417-5-26, 38 R

7. Dan Grovatt, Virginia              .399-5-36, 36 R, 10 SB

8. *Devin Harris, East Carolina (74)  .372-9-30

9. Mike McCann, Manhattan             .440-9-37, 35 R

10. Cory Vaughn, San Diego State (54) .323-6-35, 33 R, 12 SB

 

COMMENT: Tennessee’s Kentrail Davis, Texas’ Kevin Keyes and LSU’s Leon Landry ranked 1-2-3 among sophomore outfield prospects at the start of the 2009 season, but none really came close to cracking the above list of 10. In fact, Davis may have jeopardized his standing as an almost-certain first-round pick for this year’s draft with a modest .286-5-22 campaign that includes 32 strikeouts and only three stolen bases. He has shown his obvious power-speed combination only in infrequent bursts. Effectively, Davis has been upstaged in that regard by the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Parker, a lefthanded-hitting center fielder with 6.7-second speed in the 60 whose power has blossomed overnight after he added 20 pounds from a year ago, when he hit just .264-0-16. Over the course of a season, Parker has improved his slugging average from .331 to .818. Another Parker, athletic Clemson outfielder Kyle Parker, who doubles as a quarterback for the Tigers and burst on the scene in 2008 by hitting .303-14-50 as a freshman, was supposed to be the sophomore outfielder who performed to the level that Jarrett Parker has. But at .303-7-35, Kyle Parker is on pace to just duplicate his freshman season.

 

DESIGNATED HITTER—TOP 5

1. Matt Rice, Western Kentucky (c)          .418-6-48, 32 R, 13 2B

2. Tim Roberson, Florida Gulf Coast (3b)    .417-11-42, 33 R

3. Jedd Gyorko, West Virginia (ss)          .416-3-28, 42 R, 19 2B

4. Ryan Honeycutt, New Mexico (of)          .470-2-30, 55 H

5. A.J. Kirby-Jones, Tennessee Tech (1b)    .333-11-43

 

COMMENT: Typically, this is a catch-all position that includes players who have posted huge offensive numbers at other positions and/or are known more for their offensive might. With the possible exception of Gyorko, whose sound hitting, power-hitting and plate-discipline skills will play at nearly any position, none of the five is expected to be heavily followed by scouts a year from now. Gyorko hit .409-8-63 as a freshman second baseman, and his defensive actions are better suited for that position.

 

TWO-WAY PLAYER—TOP 5

1. *Brooks Raley, Texas A&M (86)   .350-1-14, 20 SB; 6-1, 2.13, 55 IP/61 SO

2. Bryce Brentz,
 Middle Tennessee (77)             .448-16-40, 37 R; 3-2, 3.98, 54 IP/37 SO

3. *Trevor Knight, James Madison   .422-12-43, 42 R; 2-1, 3.04, 24 IP/32 SO

4. Tyler Thornburg,
 Charleston Southern (100)         .290-6-33; 4-2, 2.91, 22 IP/25 SO

5. Kolbrin Vitek, Ball State       .345-6-31, 10 SB; 2-1, 2.86, 28 IP/32 SO

 

COMMENT: When combining their contributions on the mound and at the plate (and on the bases, in the case of Raley), there may not be two more valuable players in college baseball than Raley or Brentz. Raley is the ace pitcher on a deep and talented Texas A&M staff, plays center field when not pitching and also hits leadoff for the Aggies. He has more than his share of supporters both ways, but his greater upside, for the purpose of professional baseball, appears to be as a slap-hitting center fielder in the mould of former Texas A&M first-rounder Jason Tyner. Raley’s stuff and command also make him a candidate for the first couple of rounds in this year’s draft as a pitcher. He has an average fastball and an above-average slider, but depends mostly on pitchability for his success. Brentz, who ranks among the national leaders in home runs, takes a regular turn in the Middle Tennessee State rotation. His appeal to scouts extends both ways, as his raw power and superior athletic ability are obvious assets as a hitter while his 90-92 mph fastball and harder slider are part of his appeal as a pitcher. Led by those two, there is no shortage of legitimate two-way players in the sophomore class.

 

STARTING PITCHERS / Righthanders—TOP 15

1. Deck McGuire, Georgia Tech (15)         5-0, 2.73, 53 IP/66 SO

2. *Tim Kelley, Wichita State              3-2, 1.75, 50 IP/13 BB/65 SO

3. Anthony Ranaudo, Louisiana State (16)   3-2, 2.68, 50 IP/75 SO

4. Alex Wimmers, Ohio State                6-1, 3.32, 57 IP/75 SO

5. Mike Recchia, Eastern lllinois          6-0, 1.15, 47 IP/49 SO

6. Kyle Blair, San Diego (8)               3-2, 3.13, 55 IP/62 SO

7. Daniel Renken, Cal State Fullerton (23) 4-2, 2.60, 52 IP/12 BB/44 SO

8. Jarryd Summers, West Virginia           5-1, 2.60, 55 IP/60 SO

9. Chance Ruffin, Texas                    5-2, 2.55, 60 IP/15 BB/50 SO

10. Brandon Workman, Texas (3)             3-3, 2.74, 46 IP/46 SO

11. Cole Green, Texas (42)                 3-0, 2.42, 48 IP/29 SO

12. Cole Johnson, Notre Dame               4-0, 2.30, 55 IP/35 SO

13. Patrick Johnson, North Carolina        2-0, 2.15, 38 IP/50 SO

14. Brennan Smith, Bowling Green           5-3, 2.59, 49 IP/48 SO

15. Justin Kraft, Centenary                5-1, 2.20, 49 IP/12 BB/50 SO

 

COMMENT: Of the first 37 players on PG Crosschecker’s list of the nation’s top 100 sophomores entering the 2009 season, 20 were righthanded pitchers. Though a couple have faltered, notably No. 1-ranked prospect Matt Harvey of North Carolina, most of the big arms have performed as expected and it’s readily apparent that there will be no shortage of quality college righthanders in the 2010 draft. Among those listed above, McGuire, Ranaudo, Blair, Renken and Workman are all given solid shots of going in the first round. The 6-foot-6, 228-pound McGuire is the only one of the five who wasn’t a prominent draft pick in 2007 of high school, but he has emerged as a dominant pitcher with command of four pitches, including a fastball in the low 90s. The trick will be getting Harvey (4-1, 6.75) back on track. The unsigned 2007 third-rounder has been troubled by command issues most of the spring, and been bumped from the Tar Heels rotation in the process. In 36 innings, he has struck out 49, but walked 21 and given up 41 hits. Scouts are concerned that Harvey no longer has the same easy, fluid arm action that made him a premium prospect out of high school—and even a year ago as a UNC freshman.

 

STARTING PITCHERS / Lefthanders—TOP 10

1. Cody Wheeler, Coastal Carolina         6-0, 2.41, 52 IP/12 BB/54 SO

2. Aaron Meade, Missouri State            5-2, 3.18, 51 IP/56 SO

3. Chris Sale, Florida Gulf Coast (44)    4-3, 3.81, 50 IP/15 BB/61 SO

4. Sam Long, Navy                         3-1, 3.79, 36 IP/49 SO

5. Drew Pomeranz, Mississippi (4)         3-1, 4.01, 34 IP/34 SO

6. Scott Alexander, Pepperdine (43)       3-3, 3.79, 40 IP/38 SO

7. *Mario Hollands, UC Santa Barbara (76) 4-2, 3.86, 49 IP/32 SO

8. Matt Bywater, Pepperdine               3-1, 3.98, 43 IP/50 S0

9. Erik Jokisch, Northwestern             2-4, 3.64, 59 IP/15 BB/38 SO

10. Tyler Melling, Miami, Ohio            4-0, 3.02, 42 IP/11 BB/29 SO

 

COMMENT: Much as college righthanders are in plentiful supply in the sophomore class, there is a decided shortage of quality lefthanders. In fact, the first six lefthanders who cracked PG Crosschecker’s ranking of the top 100 sophomores at the start of the 2009 season have pitched below expectations to date—stemming from inconsistent command/control (Mississippi’s Drew Pomeranz, Miami’s Chris Hernandez and Tennessee’s Brian Morgado), to injury issues (Florida State’s John Gast and San Diego’s Sammy Solis), to lack of opportunity on a dominant pitching staff (Oregon State’s Josh Osich). Had Texas A&M’s Brooks Raley been viewed only as a pitcher and not a two-way player, and Max Russell (7-0, 2.94, 67 IP/78 SO) of Division II Florida Southern been under consideration, either of those lefties may have been installed at No. 1. Wheeler and Meade, in particular, have taken advantage of the turn in events. Wheeler, who began the season as the No. 3 pitcher in the Coastal Carolina rotation, has been dominant with a fastball in the 88-92 mph range and a vastly improved control. Though he also went 6-0 as a freshman, making him a perfect 12-0 to this point in his career, the 6-foot, 160-pound southpaw has improved his ERA from 5.62 to 2.41, and his walk total from 46 in 65 innings to 12 in 52 innings. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Meade, who generally throws in the upper-80s, has shown similar improvement this season after going just 4-3, 5.06 as a Missouri State freshman.

 

RELIEVER—TOP 10

1. *Drew Storen, Stanford (32)         3-0, 1.31, 4 SV, 21 IP/1 BB/34 SO

2. Addison Reed, San Diego State       0-0, 0.51, 12 SV, 15 IP/3 BB/20 SO

3. Drew Mahaffey, The Citadel          1-3, 1.93, 5 SV, 28 IP/5 BB/47 SO

4. Kevin Munson, James Madison (67)    1-2, 2.70, 6 SV, 33 IP/46 SO

5. *Jake Morgan, Mississippi           3-1, 2.31, 4 SV, 23 IP/3 BB/36 SO

6. *Sam Spangler, Hawaii               5-0, 1.16, 2 SV, 31 IP/5 BB/26 SO

7. Chad Bettis, Texas Tech (37)        4-0, 2.79, 6 SV, 52 IP/44 SO

8. Brad Mincey, East Carolina          7-2, 2.58, 0 SV, 38 IP/35 SO

9. Drew Rucinski, Ohio State           5-1, 2.25, 2 SV, 44 IP/42 SO

10. *Colin Bates, North Carolina (68)  3-2, 3.25, 5 SV, 36 IP/38 SO

 

COMMENT: While Storen has had few opportunities to pitch with a game on the line this spring as Stanford has struggled to play at even a .500 clip, and as the presence of dominant Stephen Strasburg at the front of the San Diego State rotation has left few games in doubt by the time Reed has come on to mop up, both Storen and Reed have nonetheless enjoyed remarkable 2009 seasons. Between them, they have walked four and struck out 54 in 36 innings. Storen, a draft-eligible sophomore who turned 21 last summer, has been dominant as Stanford’s closer with a fastball that has topped out at 96 and an often untouchable breaking ball. The overpowering performance of the two California righthanders has overshadowed a fine group of pitchers who have made their mark this season as set-up men or closers.