Dickey Holds Top Spot, Though
Prevails Again in JC Ranks
the 48-year history of the baseball draft, some of the most
significant adjustments to the process have been made to simplify the
procedure as it relates to junior college talent.
1986, the draft was condensed from four phases annually to a single,
all-encompassing June phase through the elimination of the regular
and secondary phases of the January draft, along with the secondary
phase in June. Those extraneous phases were historically the domain
of junior college players.
decades later, a further streamlining of the process eliminated the
draft-and-follow rule, a provision that enabled teams to draft
players in June and follow their progress until a week prior to the
following year’s draft before determining whether to sign
them—provided the player was enrolled in a junior college.
all the measures taken, junior college talent is still a significant
wild card in the baseball draft process and remains the most
difficult demographic in any draft to quantify. While the eligibility
of college and high school players is governed by fairly stringent
guidelines, there is significant latitude in the rules that govern
junior college players—the most liberal being that any player
enrolled in a junior college is automatically eligible for selection
majority of junior college players enroll right out of high school,
but a significant number are bounce backs from four-year schools.
Those players are free to transfer almost at will, and many do switch
schools midway through the academic year, at the Christmas break.
only are they eligible to play immediately (subject to meeting
minimum academic standards), but they are instantly eligible for the
upcoming draft. The only restriction that Major League Baseball has
is that the players be enrolled in a junior college a minimum of 75
days before the draft.
while Perfect Game has taken strides to assemble a list of the
nation’s Top 100 junior college Prospects for the 2014 draft, it
has done so with the disclaimer that the list may experience
significant changes by the time junior colleges re-enroll for the
spring semester. It happens every year that a handful of the nation’s
top freshmen and sophomores, currently enrolled at four-year colleges
and otherwise ineligible for the 2014 draft, suddenly become eligible
by transferring to a junior college.
now, our list is confined to players who were actually enrolled in
junior college this fall, and even those players have varied
backgrounds. Of the top 20 prospects, 10 are players who spent the
2013 season at a four-year school and subsequently elected to
transfer to a junior college.
this stage of the proceedings, it is safe to say there are no players
of Bryce Harper’s stature in the junior college ranks, nor any
players with aspirations or expectations of even going in the first
round of the 2014 draft – unlike a year ago when East Central
(Miss.) outfielder Tim Anderson was taken by the Chicago White Sox
with the 17th pick overall.
was the lone JC player to go in the first round in 2013, but three
more were scooped up in the second round and a total of 29 junior
college prospects were selected in the first 10 rounds—or about 9.2
percent of all players.
while it remains rare for the junior college ranks to impact the
draft in a meaningful way, they are still a significant dynamic in
the entire draft process.
is the most acclaimed junior college player of all-time after being
taken by the Washington Nationals with the first overall pick in the
2010 draft out of the College of Southern Nevada—though only after
some creative, behind-the-scenes machinations that made him
draft-eligible a year ahead of schedule.
(Texas) Junior College righthander Robbie Dickey holds the
distinction of being the nation’s top-ranked junior college player
in the current class—at least, as the current class presently
relative unknown in 2013 after posting a modest 6-6, 3.82 record with
63 strikeouts in 73 innings as a freshman at Blinn, the 6-foot-3,
205-pound Dickey became a marked man among Texas-based scouts this
fall when the velocity on his fastball, typically in the 89-91 mph
range last spring, spiked to the mid-90s. With greater arm speed in a
loose, easy delivery, his secondary pitches also became much sharper.
is projected to become a second- or third-round pick in next year’s
draft, and two other righthanded pitchers have similar expectations
of being selected in that range. They are Seminole State (Fla.)
red-shirt freshman righthander Jake Cosart and Oxnard (Calif.)
sophomore righthander Patrick Weigel, both of whom are transfers from
four-year schools. Cosart is a transfer from Duke, Weigel from
recruited to Duke as an athletic, two-way player with significant arm
strength, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Cosart (younger brother of Houston
Astros righthander Jarred Cosart) left that program without even
playing a game as a freshman. He has since focused on pitching only
in junior college, and his fastball velocity saw a steady climb to
93-96 mph this fall, topping at 98, though his secondary stuff needs
went 0-2, 8.02 while pitching in a variety of roles as a freshman at
Pacific, but made huge strides with both his stuff and command during
the summer for the California Collegiate League’s Santa Barbara
Foresters, working mostly as a closer. He soon began throwing strikes
with a 93-97 mph fastball and 80-83 mph slider, and his overnight
transformation into a coveted prospect prompted him to transfer to a
nearby junior college. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound righthander still has
plenty of work to do in refining an inconsistent delivery, but his
size and impressive stuff should make him a hot commodity for
California scouts this spring.
righthanded pitchers appear most in demand with the 2014 draft still
six months away, two athletic outfielders from Nevada—Southern
Nevada’s Grant Heyman, a transfer from Miami, and Western Nevada’s
Conor Harber, a returning sophomore—also warrant close scrutiny.
And the list of top hitting prospects includes none other than Indian
River State (Fla.) first baseman Ryan Ripken, son of Hall of Famer
younger Ripken chose to go the junior college route after he didn't
make the 35-man spring roster as a freshman at South Carolina in
2013, and subsequently taking a red-shirt. He has since grown out of
his once-lanky 6-foot-5 frame to become a solid 225 pounds, and his
raw power has evolved in the process. Ripken now hits balls to all
fields with a lot more hard contact and more disciplined approach at
the plate. He’s also a Gold Glove-caliber defender at first base.
while Dickey currently sits at No. 1—and the high-profile Ripken at
No. 6—on the list of top junior college prospects, those rankings
are tenuous, at best, and almost certain to be impacted by the
anticipated transfer of a handful of elite, but as yet undetermined
players from the four-year college ranks that will infiltrate the
junior college ranks by the start of the 2014 season.
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