Preliminary Bryan Board
For many of the college players that will hear their names called in the upcoming draft, this weekend is their last to shine. Many are already finished, and many more will see their stock stay volatile as they enter the collegiate postseason. With less than three weeks until the draft, uncertainty still surrounds the last weekend of the NCAA regular season.
Before the craziness of conference and NCAA tournaments creates a large stir in the draft rankings, I wanted to release my first big board of the spring. Before the season, I wrote a top 20 college prospects article for SI.com, but since then, so much has changed.
Please note that the upcoming rankings are in no way the order I think players will be drafted in this June, far from it. Instead, these rankings indicate my opinions based upon statistics and conversations with those inside the game. I chose to keep high school players out of the rankings because I cannot judge them as well, and will leave that to far smarter men.
So, if I was in charge of creating a draft board for a Major League organization, the top 25 of the college version would read like this...
1. Andrew Miller, LHP: North Carolina
His lack of sheer dominance this spring is a concern for a $5M investment, but Miller is worth the money with great stuff and oodles of projectablity.
2. Brad Lincoln, RHP: Houston
Has consistently dominated mediocre competition in 2006 thanks to a lights out fb-cv combination. Improvement in change will determine pro success.
3. Evan Longoria, IF: Long Beach State
Will hit at the next level, as he has been one of the best on Friday nights. At this point, profiles at second or third, and versatility creates a nice utility infielder fallback option.
4. Max Scherzer, RHP: Missouri
His start against Texas last weekend should be a tell-tale sign to organizations that Max is back. With full health, Scherzer could challenge Miller for top spot.
5. Tim Lincecum, RHP: Washington
I love the comparisons to Scot Shields, who Lincecum could be competing against for Best Set-Up Men honors as early as 2007. I just don't see the potential as a starter.
6. Luke Hochevar, RHP: Tennessee/Fort Worth Cats
Seattle Mariners have such an interesting choice in the fifth spot: pony up on Scherzer, Lincecum or Hochevar? For many reasons, the latter choice would be defendable.
7. Drew Stubbs, OF: Texas
Torii Hunter is the closest comparison to Stubbs: great defense, good power, and poor contact abilities. He could be worse, but at the low end, he's a good bench outfielder.
8. Brandon Morrow, RHP: California
Morrow comes at you hard, with a big fastball and a good splitter. He is another that screams future reliever to me, but a bit of refinement could lend an even higher ceiling.
9. Joba Chamberlain, RHP: Nebraska
Joba could stand to use a postseason similar to his 2005 efforts, but no matter what, teams love his future innings-eater potential and hope his fastball returns to the consistent mid-90s.
10. Daniel Bard, RHP: North Carolina
So many questions surround a seven figure arm, as Bard has truly been inconsistent since a fabulous freshman season. Multiple first-round pick organizations should gamble.
11. Matt Antonelli, IF: Wake Forest
I love thinking of Antonelli as an athletic Edgardo Alfonzo; his 2006 improvements should cap a dominant calendar year for Antonelli.
12. Greg Reynolds, RHP: Stanford
For me, the ceiling isn't there. He could eat innings, stay at the back end of the rotation, but if he's much better than that, why doesn't he strike anyone out?
13. Brett Sinkbeil, RHP: Missouri State
A pretty complete package, Sinkbeil has three good pitches and a good pitcher's body. Should fly through an organization to the middle of a rotation.
14. Dave Huff, LHP: UCLA
I fell for Huff following his Cape performance last year, where he looked primed for a good spring. Results have followed, and Huff is the '06 draft's first "crafty southpaw."
15. Ian Kennedy, RHP: USC
I know, I know, it's been an awful three months now. But not many players have 2 seasons like Kennedy and completely fall apart forever. Will eat innings somewhere.
16. Matt LaPorta, 1B: Florida
More weaknesses than strengths, no matter how far he can hit a baseball. LaPorta might be fun to watch, but the caveats should worry people.
17. Kyle McCulloch, RHP: Texas
Similar to Reynolds, pitching with solid-not-great results against very good competition. Kyle's pitchability ranks off the charts, but his ceiling is simply low.
18. Justin Masterson, RHP: San Diego State
Go straight to the bullpen, directly to the bullpen. Do not pass go, do not start any games, and do not collect $200.
19. Drew Carpenter, RHP: Long Beach State
After outperforming teammate all spring, Carpenter closed the year as the Dirtbags' Friday starter. Had many bright spots in 2006, and is a supplemental-type pitcher.
20. Mark Melancon, RHP: Arizona
The health red flag is a cause for concern, but Melancon was playing so well before going down. A calculated risk at the tail end of the first round that could pay off big.
21. Wes Hodges, 3B: Georgia Tech
A big year put him in the top ten, but an inconsistent 2006 may have cost him a first round selection. Hodges won't ever be a Major League star, but could be a solid-to-average third baseman.
22. Jared Hughes, RHP: Long Beach State
The Cape's 2005 darling has not pitched well of late, and his draft status has tanked. But teams love the sinker, and he makes a great early 2nd-round pick.
23. Mark Hamilton, 1B: Tulane
It wouldn't surprise me if Hamilton outplays LaPorta in the pros, where he truly has Ryan Klesko potential. Whoever picks him will get big points from me.
24. Brooks Brown, RHP: Georgia
Another great Cape pitcher that has found mixed results in 2006. A big finish has helped his status, and his controlled 93+ mph fastball is looking more and more appealing.
25. Wade Leblanc, LHP: Alabama
Gave up way, way, way too many home runs this season, but every other peripheral was fantastic in a tough conference. A solid, if unspectacular, second round choice.
Final Honorable Mentions: Dallas Buck (RHP-OSU), Josh Butler (RHP-USD), Josh Rodriguez (SS-Rice), Chad Tracy (C-PEP), Steven Wright (RHP-HAW).