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College : : Story
Pre-season College All-American Team
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Friday, January 07, 2011

As 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 impending season.

My 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 draft.

 Catcher

 Andrew Susac - Oregon State

Susac 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

 First Base

 Ricky Oropesa - USC

Another 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

 Second Base

 Kolton Wong - Hawaii

Wong 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

 Third Base

 Anthony Rendon - Rice

Rendon 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, Miami

 Shortstop

 Levi Michael - North Carolina

Nothing 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

 Outfield

 Zach Cone - Georgia

Few 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 Carolina

Bradley 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 - Connecticut

All 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

 Utility

 Danny Hultzen

Some 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 Fullerton

 Starting Pitcher

 Gerrit Cole - UCLA

How 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

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

It’s 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

 Closer

 Tony Zych - Lousville

Zych 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 pebert@5tooltalk.com.





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