Junior-college baseball was put on a national pedestal for one of the few times ever in 2010 when the College of Southern Nevada’s teenage prodigy Bryce Harper became the No. 1 pick in the baseball draft. The Washington Nationals selected the 17-year-old catching phenom after he skipped his final two years of high school and enjoyed a historic freshman season in the juco ranks.
Never before in the draft’s 45-year history had a junior-college player commanded such national notoriety or even been a candidate to go first overall. The Nationals eventually signed Harper to a $9.9 million major-league contract, including a signing bonus of $6.25 million.
Suffice to say, there is no one in this year’s draft class of junior-college prospects that will command that kind of a contract, let alone be drafted anywhere close to the first pick overall.
But the 2011 junior-college crop has been picking up momentum throughout the spring, and there is an outside chance that one and possibly two Florida junior-college prospects will crack the first round—notably either Miami-Dade outfielder Brian Goodwin or Indian River State infielder Cory Spangenberg.
Those players rank 1-2 on Perfect Game’s list of the Top 100 Junior-College Prospects for this year’s draft, as compiled by PG’s Allan Simpson, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on junior-college baseball.
Goodwin, a potential five-tool talent, transferred to Miami-Dade in January after spending his freshman year at North Carolina. Spangenberg, the Florida junior-college player of the year and one of the elite hitting prospects in the entire draft, is a transfer from Virginia Military Academy. He has spent the spring at third base for Indian River State, but profiles an offensive second baseman at the pro level.
Typically, junior-college players come from varied backgrounds, and this draft class is no different.
In addition to Goodwin and Spangenberg, other four-year college transfers who have garnered significant attention from scouts are Angelina (Texas) righthander Ian Gardeck (No. 4), a transfer from Dayton; Seminole State (Fla.) righthander Mike Clevinger (No. 11), a transfer from The Citadel; and Walters State (Tenn.) first baseman Cory Stubbs (No. 12), a transfer from Tennessee.
Among the returning junior-college players who have significantly elevated their draft worth this season as sophomores are highly-athletic Central Arizona outfielder Keenyn Walker (No. 3) and Johnson County (Kan.) lefthander Jeff Soptic (No. 5), whose fastball has been clocked in the high-90s.
Merced (Calif.) righthander Jake Sisco (No. 6) and Oxnard (Calif.) JC righthander Jesus Valdez (No. 10) highlight the group of junior-college players that were drafted out of high school a year ago. Valdez was an unsigned fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels, while Sisco has made huge strides as a freshman after being drafted in the 37th round a year ago by the San Francisco Giants.
Our top 100 list consists of nine players ranked in Perfect Game's Group 1, who are generally projected to go in Rounds 1-3. The next 53 players are in Group 2, who are considered 4th-10th round talents. The balance of the players in the Top 100 are in Group 3, and candidates to go from Rounds 11-25.
As part of Perfect Game’s ongoing preview coverage of the 2011 draft, we identified the Top 100 College Prospects on Monday, and we will unveil a corresponding list of the Top 100 High-School Prospects on Wednesday.
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