Photo: Ethan Erickson

Top 100 College Seniors

College : : Rankings
Allan Simpson        
Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

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.

Appel’s former 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 19
th 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.”

Wetzler’s fastball 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 appearances.

Top 100 College Seniors

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