Top 100 College Prospects: Juniors | Sophomores | Freshmen
A year ago, Stanford
righthander Mark Appel became only the second college senior ever
drafted with the No. 1 pick overall when he was selected by the
Houston Astros. That scenario will not be repeated in this year’s
draft as there is no candidate in that demographic who comes close to
approaching Appel’s significant stature.
teammate, Stanford righthander A.J. Vanegas, may be the most-talented
player in this year’s senior class—and actually enrolled in
college with more acclaim than Appel did a year earlier after turning
down a seventh-round offer from the San Diego Padres that approached
$2 million. But Vanegas’ career at Stanford has been wracked by
inconsistency and injury. He worked in only nine innings as a junior
while battling back from off-season back surgery and also contracting
mononucleosis. Predictably, he slipped to the 19th round
of last year’s draft and never seriously entertained signing with
the Oakland A’s.
When healthy, the
6-foot-3, 215-pound Vanegas has flashed excellent raw stuff with a
fastball in the 96-98 mph range, along with a power slider. But he
has never commanded his slider with any consistency, nor developed an
effective third pitch, which have conspired to limit Vanegas to
mostly a relief role in his career in college and summer ball.
Moreover, there are reports on the eve of the 2014 college season
that Vanegas is still not back to 100 percent health, which further
clouds his chances of being a major factor in the 2014 draft.
With Vanegas’ status
still a bit up in the air, the distinction of being the most
attractive senior in this year’s college crop goes to Oregon State
lefthander Ben Wetzler, who coincidentally was the highest-ranking
college junior to go unsigned in last year’s draft. The 6-foot-1,
195-pound southpaw was selected in the fifth round by the
Philadelphia Phillies, and deliberated long and hard before deciding
to return to OSU for his senior year.
“Before the draft, I
was pretty convinced I was going to sign wherever I got picked, and
move on," Wetzler told The Oregonian at last year’s signing
deadline. “But a couple days after we got back (from Omaha)
something in my belly just wouldn't let me leave.”
generally ranges from 87-94 mph, depending on whether it’s a
two-seamer or four-seamer. He also made significant strides with his
slider as a junior, when he went 10-1, 2.25 as OSU’s ace, leading
the Beavers to a berth in the College World Series, and his changeup
became a more effective pitch last fall. In three years as a starter
for the Beavers, he is 24-6.
While Wetzler sits at
No. 1 on Perfect Game’s ranking of the nation’s Top 100 college
seniors, a second Beaver senior, righthander Scott Schultz, ranks No.
13. Schultz returns after going 2-1, 2.08 with 10 saves in 27
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