soon as I get the first chance to wish all of you a Happy New Year, I also get
to kick off my annual preseason coverage of the upcoming college baseball
season. This year the season kicks off
on Friday, February 18, so while we still have over a month to get there, be
sure to stay tuned in the coming weeks for more features and coverage on the
annual all-american team is made up of college baseball players that have
previously attended a Perfect Game showcase or tournament event, and are also
among the most promising professional prospects as their value pertains to the
Andrew Susac - Oregon State
is the first of five former Aflac All-Americans to make this list, although he
along with starting pitcher Matt Purke played in the 2008 game. He is draft eligible in June as a sophomore,
and followed up a lackluster freshman season at the plate with a rather dynamic
one on the Cape. He is a good athlete
for a catcher with nice quickness and a strong arm behind the plate to go along
with a powerful swing at the plate. He
is considered a potential first-round pick even if he doesn’t improve
dramatically offensively this coming year.
Honorable Mention: Peter O’Brien, Bethune-Cookman
Ricky Oropesa - USC
former Aflac All-American, Oropesa has played a little third base in his
career, and has also pitched, but his future lies at first base. He has a big, hulking frame and physically is
reminiscent to another former Aflac All-American and current San Francisco
Giants farmhand, Chris Dominguez. Both
big-time power prospects, Oropesa bats from the left-side of the plate with a
big swing and aggressive approach. After
hitting 20 home runs as a sophomore and adding another seven on the Cape last
summer, he could be poised to put up huge numbers for the Trojans this spring.
Honorable Mention: Nick Ramirez, Cal State Fullerton
Kolton Wong - Hawaii
is a good overall athlete with the ability to play a number of positions on the
field. He has settled in nicely at
second base, and followed up a strong season for the Rainbow Warriors with an
MVP season on the Cape in which he finished second in the league in on-base
percentage (.426), tied for second in steals (22), third in batting (.341) and
fourth in slugging (.452). That gives
you an idea for his overall skill set, and such polished players always seem to
find a way to be drafted higher than initially prognosticated.
Honorable Mention: Zack MacPhee, Arizona State
Anthony Rendon - Rice
may have broken his ankle last summer, but he remains the favorite to go first
overall in next year’s draft. He is not
only a natural hitter, but also a natural fielder at the hot corner, and could
likely slide over to shortstop in a pinch if he needed to and hold his
own. He plays the game with great
enthusiasm and is arguably the favorite to win the Golden Spikes award next
season after hitting .391 with 46 home runs and 157 runs batted in during his
first two years at Rice.
Honorable Mention: Jason Esposito, Vanderbilt; Harold Martinez,
Levi Michael - North
Michael does is overly flashy, but he is a natural playing the game with a well
rounded skill set that allows him to do everything well. Similar to Wong as profiled above, productive
college players at premium positions often get drafted earlier than expected,
and Michael likely will join Wong at second base at the next level. A switch hitter, he has a good eye, approach
and gap-to-gap swing with some pop and a little speed to cause problems once he
gets on base.
Honorable Mention: Brad Miller, Clemson; B.A. Vollmuth, Southern
Mississippi; Joe Panik, St. John’s
Zach Cone - Georgia
can match Cone’s tool-set, as a legitimate five-tool player. His foot speed, bat speed and throwing arm
highlight his talents, giving him a rare power/speed package with the ability
to hit the ball over the fence, stretch extra-base hits and be a threat on the
basepaths. He also shows good instincts
in centerfield with a right-fielder’s arm.
There are some concerns about his ability to hit for average at the next
level, despite the fact that he hit .363 as a sophomore.
Jackie Bradley, Jr. - South
has a flair for the dramatic, coming up with big hits and/or key defensive gems
when most needed, efforts that were epitomized by him winning MVP honors at the
College World Series. A left-handed
hitter, he could excel at the top of a lineup with the ability to hit for
average, some power while showing a good eye at the plate. He is also a potential Gold Glove candidate
in centerfield, with good speed, instincts and a strong throwing arm.
George Springer -
Springer has done upon beginning his college career, also starring for both
Team USA and on the Cape last summer, is hit.
He, like Cone, is a legitimate and exciting five-tool talent, although
more seemed convinced of Springer’s ability to hit at the next level, which is
why he is one of the players discussed for the top three to five overall
picks. He may fit best in right field
where his powerful bat and arm strength would profile perfectly.
Honorable Mention: Jason Coats, TCU; Mikie Mahtook, LSU; Nick
Martini, Kansas State
coaches may very well throw Hultzen ahead of the pitchers listed below at the
college level given his pedigree and level of success. He may not have the pure stuff as any of the
three players listed below, but he’s far from a soft-tosser, with the ability
to approach the mid-90s while settling in the 88-92 range with a solid overall
repertoire. He hit more during his
freshman year than he did during his sophomore year, and while his future
clearly is on the mound, his smooth lefty swing and overall approach are plenty
good to keep him here.
Honorable Mention: Will Lamb, Clemson; Tyler Pill, Cal State
Gerrit Cole - UCLA
many starting pitchers consistently throw 98?
Add Cole to the short list, with an incredible arm and the ability to
maintain that heat deep into game, sitting in the 94-97 range with a pretty
good slider as well. He has starred for
Team USA each of the last two summers, and went 11-4 a season ago for the
Bruins, serving as the team ace while leading UCLA to the finals in the College
World Series against eventual champion South Carolina.
Matt Purke - TCU
Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle didn’t want to put too much pressure on Purke
during his freshman year, so he started the season as the Horned Frogs’
Saturday starter. After spending a
little over a month he was bumped up to Friday, and cruised through the rest of
the year finishing the season with a perfect 16-0 record, including a 2-0
record in Omaha before TCU got knocked out of the College World Series. He’s draft eligible as a sophomore, and is
looking to pick up where he left off.
Taylor Jungmann - Texas
not a huge surprise that UCLA, TCU and Texas boast arguably the three best
pitching staffs in the nation. Jungmann
is the third of three Aflac All-Americans to get the nod as a starter on this
team, with three more among the honorable mentions as listed below. He enjoyed a solid sophomore year after a big
freshman campaign, although he has not pitched during the summer due to his
heavy spring workloads. He should be in
the mix for the top three to five overall picks come June with a 19-6 record in
two seasons with the Longhorns.
Honorable Mention: Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt; Matt Barnes,
Connecticut; Jed Bradley, Georgia Tech; Austin Wood, USC; Alex Meyer, Kentucky;
Jack Armstrong, Vanderbilt
Tony Zych - Lousville
may still see some time as a starter, and possibly a little time as an
infielder, making him a candidate for the utility spot on this team. His stuff is too nasty in short relief in a
closing role not to get the nod for this spot, with a fastball that can touch
97 and an intimidating mid-80s slider.
There is some Troy Percival-esque effort to his delivery, which also
points to a future out of the bullpen, and he could put up big numbers taking
the reins from his predecessor, Neil Holland.
Honorable Mention: Lex Rutledge, Samford
The thoughts and opinions
listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA. Patrick
Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and 5 Tool Talk, and can be
contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.