Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Maryland Draft Preview - The Juniors

by John Vittas, Jonathan Lewis & 2 others

Tim Kiene, 1B
JR      South Windsor, CT

The Report: Kiene battled injuries throughout the 2013 season and only played 8 games. With freshman LaMonte Wade taking a stranglehold on first base, it appears Kiene’s only chance to play next year is as the designated hitter, which won’t help his draft stock.

The Good: Kiene is a massive man with massive power. His swing is smooth and he almost always hits the ball hard. A .270 average in the Cape Cod League last year will encourage scouts to give him a chance.

The Bad: Kiene is average defensively and strikes out a lot. As mentioned above, his playing time is very much in question next year.

The Bottom Line: Tim is a typical power hitter with a world of potential but may have to transfer to find a position on the infield. If he gets picked, he’ll likely sign.

Photo: power-showcase.com

Prediction: With only 25 at bats this year, it stands to reason that Kiene will not even be considered. However, if scouts liked what they saw at the Cape last summer, they could take a chance on Kiene in the late rounds.
         Chances to get picked: 20-30%

Michael Montville, OF
JR      Portsmouth, NH

The Report: Montville won Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire not once, but twice. So you know he’s a talent. But for now, a professional career is likely on hold as he missed most of the 2013 season with elbow problems, making just 10 starts.

The Good: Michael has legit power. He has a good frame (6-2 / 200) to be a corner outfielder and has the kind of bat you want from that position. He’s solid on defense too, featuring a plus arm.

The Bad: Montville has a big swing and strikes out way too much. He’ll need to develop a better two-strike approach.

The Bottom Line: Montville’s career average is in the .230’s. Shortening up to raise the average and striking out less is imperative for scouts to see him as a pro hitter.

Prediction: Michael has not yet played a full college season in his career, starting 76 games over three seasons. He’ll have to put it all together for a full season to have a chance. But if he does, his stock could skyrocket given his natural ability.

Ben Brewster, LHP
JR      Baltimore, MD

The Report: The results have always been positive for Ben Brewster. He has a unique delivery in which he slides his entire body at the plate before releasing the ball. He uses a three-quarters arm slot and essentially pitches from 55 feet because of his motion. With the unorthodoxed look and fastball velocity in the upper-80s, many hitters have a tough time catching up to his heater.

The Good: He stuck out nine batters in six innings and only allowed one earned run.

The Bad: He only pitched six innings.

The Bottom Line: Brewster has gradually bulked up over the past five years and progressively added velocity. He is a very intelligent young man and knows how to pitch, all of which was explained in this article published by DriveLineBaseball.com: http://www.drivelinebaseball.com/2011/03/05/interview-with-umd-pitcher-ben-brewster/

Prediction: Scouts really don’t know what he is, or whether his delivery is even legal. But if Brewster’s workload increases in 2014 and the good results continue, he’ll have a chance to go pro. He is a prototypical left-handed specialist at the next level.
         Chance to get picked this year: 0%
         Next Year: 10-30%

Blake Schmit, SS
JR      Eden Prairie, MN

The Report: Schmit is a defensive wizard. This panel unanimously names him the best defensive shortstop we’ve ever seen. The Minnesota native is a highlight reel waiting to happen every time he steps on the diamond. He has infinite range to either side, a good arm and is as athletic as any player in the country. Despite transferring from junior college, Schmit carried himself like he belonged right from day one, becoming the everyday shortstop.

The Good: Obviously his defense is what jumps out, but Blake can hit, too. He goes the other way when necessary and has some pop to the pull side. He’s still adjusting to the ACC level of pitching, but a .277 average in his first season at Maryland is awfully promising. Once he makes more consistent solid contact, he has the potential to hit for more power as well.

The Bad: Schmit had trouble catching up to hard fastballs at times.

The Bottom Line: Teams may wait to see him duplicate his first ACC season before giving him a chance. His ceiling is as high as anyone on the Terps roster as he has the ability to be a legitimate professional shortstop.

Prediction: Someone may try and steal him away from Maryland in the late rounds by paying him overslot, but chances are he’ll stay in College Park one more year and could be a blue-chip prospect this time next year.
         Chance to get picked: 20-30%
         Next year: 60-80%

To see what Schmit can do on defense, check out these videos: Schmit's Spectacular Playing JUCO in Iowa
Blake's Diving Catch against Miami in 2013

Schmit explains his decision to become a Terp

Chase Tokunaga, LHP
JR      Wailuku, HI

The Report: Tokunaga struggled in limited action after transferring to Maryland from Feather River College. With a fastball around 80 mph., he’ll have to rely on deception to have any success at the D-I level.

Jake Stinnett, RHP
JR      Vista, CA

The Report: Stinnett has more pro potential than anyone on the Maryland roster. He began the year as the team’s closer because of his big fastball and mental makeup, but was moved into the rotation mid-season. He blossomed as a starter and became one of the ACC’s best, lowering his ERA from 8.10 to 2.83 by season’s end. On top of his plus-stuff, Stinnett’s motion is extremely simple and easy to repeat. He has a good head on his shoulders too, posting a 4.47 cumulative GPA in high school.

The Good: Stinnett’s fastball-slider combo is pretty much Big League ready, with the heater touching 93 and a big power slider that’s proven to be unhittable at the college level. His command is always on-point and he pounds the strike zone, having walked only 24 batters in 63 innings. At 6-4, 202 pounds, his projectability is immense and many professional coaches would kill to get their hands on a talent like Stinnett.

The Bad: Stinnett has literally half a season of starting pitching under his belt in college. He was recruited to play infield and worked sparingly as a reliever in his first two years in College Park. He’s battled bouts with inconsistency too, having failed to reach the fourth inning in two of his starts this year.

Photo: diamondbackonline.com

The Bottom Line: Stinnett’s command and mental makeup should eliminate any concerns about his inexperience. His upside is tremendous, and scouts have taken notice in 2013. Even with all the freshman talent that has arrived in College Park, it was Stinnett who the scouts came out to see. He WILL be picked and could garner some high prospect grades once he’s there.

Prediction: Jake could drop because of his signability. He could certainly return to Maryland for one more year and anchor a strong but young staff in 2014, a la Jimmy Reed. Because of that, I bet MLB teams stay away from him in the early rounds and pick him in the rounds 8-16 region. But if he was a senior this year, he could go as early as round 3.
                  100% Chance to Get Picked
                  Rounds 5-20

Jamie Pashuck, LHP
JR      Christiana, PA

The Report: Pashuck has had success over the past two years as a reliever. With a repertoire that lacks ACC-caliber stuff, it’ll be difficult to for him to attract professional attention. But if his workload increases next year and he continues to get outs, you never know.

Brady Kirkpatrick, RHP
JR      Eugene, OR

The Report: Kirkpatrick has had a roller coaster career at Maryland, as his performance has wavered from legitimate ace to last in the pecking order of relievers. His stuff remains solid, with his success reliant upon his ability to locate. His fastball is 87-88 and he throws a curveball and changeup as well.

The Good: When he’s on, Kirkpatrick rolls. He’s at his best when pitching to contact and pounding the perimeter of the zone, which keeps his pitch count very low. When he’s on, he can throw all three pitches for strikes and controls the pace of the game. Also, Brady’s motion is extremely repeatable and his mechanics never seem to be an issue. He is even-keeled on the mound and many young pitchers on the staff look up to him as a role model.

The Bad: Kirkpatrick has floundered in the final few weeks of the season each of the past two years, which raises questions about his durability and focus. His results didn’t just decline, they plummeted as he failed to reach the third inning of his starts before moving to the bullpen, where he battled bouts of wildness.

Photo: marylandfb.blogspot.com

The Bottom Line: When he has all three pitches working, he’s one of the most effective pitchers in the conference and can be an absolute innings eater. However, Kirkpatrick will need to find some consistency before any team considers him.

Prediction: None of Kirkpatrick’s pitches would be considered plus-offerings in the pro ranks, so the results will need to be there in order for a club to give him a chance.
         Chance to get picked this year: 0%
         Next Year: 5-10%

Kyle Convissar, 2B
JR      Severna Park, MD

The Report: Convissar is a consummate professional with one of the best brains in the game. A perennial all-academic performer, the Severna Park native has the methodical style of hitting you’d expect from such an intelligent individual. His .325/.427/.427 line is one of the best in the ACC. He is a very complete hitter and has improved his numbers in each of his three years in College Park.

The Good: Convissar sprays the ball to all fields with authority. He takes the ball where it’s pitched and never tries to do too much. He’s a tough out every time up: he works the count, fouls off innumerable pitches and is very tough to strike out. He has some pop too, stoking 13 extra-base-hits this season and several doubles off the wall.

The Bad: Convissar doesn’t really have a position. He’s played exclusively second base with the Terps and done so adequately. However, he is a bigger body and only average athletically, so he may project better at third base or a corner outfield spot. His arm is good enough to play any of those positions.

Photo: diamondbackonline.com

The Bottom Line: Convissar’s production and intangibles are good enough to be a pro right now. However, his herky-jerky style of play may scare some scouts away.

Prediction:  Kyle can be a doubles machine at the next level. He has proven he can hit the finest pitching, and combined with his baseball IQ, he should get a chance, even if it’s not this year.
         Chances to get picked: 50-60%
         This year: 30-40%

Friday, May 24, 2013

Maryland Draft Preview - The Seniors

by John Vittas, Jonathan Lewis &  2 others

Jimmy Reed, LHP
Sr.     Gaithersburg, MD

(drafted in the 21st Round of last year’s draft by the New York Yankees)

The Report: Reed has one of the best curveballs you will ever see. It’s nearly impossible to hit and accounts for many of his strikeouts. His fastball sits 87-89 and can touch 90 at times. He also has a good changeup with late sink that he can throw for strikes. But Jimmy’s best trait is his command, as he can put all three of his pitches where he needs to and mixes speeds extremely well. With three useful pitches, his arsenal is built for starting pitching, as he is equally effective against righties and lefties.

Reed dazzled ACC bats for the second straight year in 2013.
Photo: Washington Post

The Good: Reed finished top-10 in the ACC in ERA (2.33), innings pitched (88) and strikeouts (74). He was hands-down one of the best pitchers in the country in 2013 and peaked at the right time. He allowed just seven earned runs in his final five starts and stuck out 38 batters (7.6 K/start). 

The Bad: Reed lost a full 2 miles-per-hour on his fastball and was only able to touch 90 on occasion in 2013. The fastball is a major concern, as it will need to stay around 90 to keep Reed out of the "junk-baller" category. Also, having stayed in college for four years, it can be argued that his window to grow is closing.

The Bottom Line: The results are there, and he’ll likely dominate A-ball, but his ability to handle Big League hitters will be in question until he gets the chance.

Prediction: Jimmy will certainly get picked and likely in the first half of the draft. If it weren’t for the drop in velocity this year, he would be a top-5 round selection. But because of that, he’ll likely go later.

100% Chance to get picked
Rounds 10-20

Reed explains his decision to return to College Park

Jack Cleary, C
Sr.     Midlothian, VA

The Report: After a 2012 that saw Cleary bat .319 overall and .415 against ACC competition, Jack appeared to be on many pro radars coming into 2013. But his stock has fallen after a year to forget at the plate where he hit just .213. He lost some playing time as well, starting 38 of the team’s 55 games. Cleary was also exposed against good fastballs, as his swing simply took too long to get through the zone. However, his defense remained flawless.

The Good: Cleary is a stellar defensive catcher. He threw out better than 50% of would-be base stealers his junior year, and his senior numbers were in the same neighborhood. He had shown steady improvement at the plate in his first three years, showing his ability to listen to coaches and adapt to the competition level. He already features a Big League frame at 6-2, 207 pounds and has the power you would expect for a man that size. He also rarely strikes out, having fanned just 17 times in 122 at-bats.

The Bad: Other than his susceptibility to fastballs, the only negative to Cleary is his steep drop-off statistically this year. He failed to square up baseballs on a consistent basis, popping many pitches up. His age (23) also doesn’t help.

Photo: umterps.com
Cleary has been the Terrapin backstop for four seasons.

The Bottom Line: This year’s struggles should send Cleary down many draft boards, to the point where we’d be surprised if he gets picked. If he can figure it out offensively, someone could get a true professional with some power and a tremendous defensive game.

The Prediction: Chances to get picked: 10-20%

Jordan Hagel, RF
Sr.     Fairfield, CT

The Report: Hagel has absolutely zero weaknesses to his game. He is the kind of player you need to watch over a full season to appreciate what he brings. Hagel hits for average and power, has good speed, some projectability and is solid on defense. He led the Maryland team with 21 XBH hits this year despite missing 16 starts with a broken hand. Cast and all, he continued to contribute by pinch-running late in games to help his team. I think that says it all about Jordan Hagel.

The Good: Jordan has improved in each of his four years at Maryland. He led the squad in SLG (.534) this year and posted an impressive .415 OBP. He led the team in OBP, hits, doubles and total bases last season, proving to be a consistent .300 hitter in the nation’s best conference. Hagel also stole 13 bases to complement his power production. He is freakishly athletic and can be considered a five-tool player if he continues to develop.

The Bad: He is a senior with only two full seasons of high-level amateur baseball under his belt. He tends to take big hacks and is out of control at times, as evidenced by his high strikeout total this year (35 Ks in 39 starts).

The Bottom Line: Hagel has been the most underrated player in the Maryland program the last two years and this panel believes he deserves more recognition. The numbers speak for themselves.

Photo: Rick Heath (Cotuit Kettleers)
Jordan Hagel playing in the Cape Cod League

Prediction: Hagel has never been drafted before, which could mean scouts just don’t see him as a pro prospect. But based on his numbers and strong all-around game, he should get picked in the late rounds.
                  Chances to get picked: 50-60%