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General : : Crack The Bat
Preseason College All-American Team
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Every year at the beginning of the New Year, I put together an all-american team of college players that have previously attended a Perfect Game event. These college players not only have posted, and are expected to continue to post, impressive statistics, but they also are among the top prospects in the game that are also expected to continue their success at the professional level.

One thing that stood out to me in compiling this year’s team was the number of players that attended the 2006 Perfect Game National Showcase, considered by the Perfect Game staff as one of the finest collection of talent of any Perfect Game event.

In addition to incredibly talented players thathave already made an impact at the professional level, such as Jason Heyward, Madison Bumgarner and Rick Porcello, there were also a number of players that chose to attend college and currently are among the top prospects available forthis June’s draft.

Among the players below, Micah Gibbs, HunterMorris, Cody Hawn, Ross Wilson, Phil Gosselin, Victor Sanchez, Christian Colon, Derek Dietrich, Kevin Keyes, Deck McGuire and Kyle Blair all were in attendanceat the ’06 National.

Of course the talent stretches well past theannual National Showcase events, but as every year passes, it becomes harder and harder to come up with players that have not attended a Perfect Game showcase or tournament event at some point during their high school baseball careers.

Catcher

Bryce Harper - College of Southern Nevada
I had to make a judgment call to determine if Harper qualified for this list, since he attends a junior college. Since I don’t compile a separate list for juco players, and since Harper projects asthe top prospect available for this year’s draft, I decided to add him to this team. Harper may not have attended the 2006 PG National, but he did attend the 2008 Aflac Showcase, as well as last summer’s Aflac game. His story has already been well documented in this column and elsewhere at Perfect Game and PGCrosschecker, and I hope to provide a first-hand report of his success in mid-to-late February.

Honorable Mention:  Micah Gibbs, LSU

First Base

Hunter Morris - Auburn
Morris’ sophomore season wasn’t as impressive as his first year at Auburn, when he was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, but he still managed to knock out 12 home runs, one up from the year before, and continued to show his prodigious power potential on the Cape last summer. During a draft year that is light on impact bats, Morris is one of the best pure power prospects available for the 2010 draft, arguably second only to Harper, with a large-bodied frame and a powerful left-handed swing.

Honorable Mention:  Cody Hawn, Tennessee

Second Base

Ross Wilson - Alabama
There isn’t much Wilson can’t do on the baseball field, hailed for both his abilities and his intangible leadership and character traits. The younger brother of former Alabama star quarterback John Parker Wilson, Ross isn’t the same kind of prototypical athlete, but he does maximize his athletic ability by working hard and playing the game right. He has played second base for the Tide since his freshman year, forming one of the better middle infield tandems in the nation with shortstop Josh Rutledge during that time. He can hit for average and has a little bit of pop along with good foot speed.

Honorable Mention:  Phil Gosselin, Virginia

Third Base

Zack Cox - Arkansas
If I were putting together a lineup card, I would probably put Cox’s name in the three-hole as the best pure hitter on this team. He really hit his stride down the stretch during his freshman year at Arkansas and was a big part of the team making it to Omaha. Cox continued his success on the Cape last summer and was one of the league’s leading hitters, as well as the MVP for the West squad in the all-star game. He can also pitch, although his future is brighter as a hitter. As a draft-eligible sophomore, Cox wasn’t in attendance at the 2006 National, but he was there in 2007, another year loaded with talent.

Honorable Mention:  Anthony Rendon, Rice

Shortstop 

Christian Colon - Cal State Fullerton
Colon is another player that I have profiled in greater detail in past columns. As noted in those features, Colon is well-versed to Perfect Game events and also has participated on the Team USA program four times during his amateur baseball career. He has been the leader for the Titans baseball program for the past two years and is looking to once again carry the Fullerton program this coming spring. While he is expected to make a full recovery, he will be returning from a broken leg suffered in the second-to-last game of Team USA’s schedule last summer. 

Honorable Mention:  Derek Dietrich, Georgia Tech

Outfield

Michael Choice - Texas Arlington

Last summer Choice proved his bat is legit, hitting .350 with three home runs for Team USA after hitting .413 with 11 home runs during his sophomore season. Collectively he has hit .396 in his first two years at Texas-Arlington and appears to be ready to push his career average over the .400 mark this spring. He is a good overall athlete with decent speed and a solid average arm that profiles best on an outfield corner. If his power continues to develop this spring and he responds with a huge junior campaign, he could push himself into the discussion for the first or supplemental-first round due to the lack of impact bats from the college level, particularly outfielders.

LeVon Washington - Chipola College

If Bryce Harper qualified for this list, so does LeVon Washington, who attended the 2008 Aflac All-American Classic and the ’08 Perfect Game National and was a first-round pick a year ago by the Tampa Bay Rays. He went unsigned and academic issues caused him to pursue Chipola College instead of going with his initial commitment to Florida. He is a prototypical leadoff hitter with blinding 4.2 speed that makes him a huge threat on the basepaths while also giving him tremendous range in center. Since he did attend a junior college and not the University of Florida, he will once again be eligible forthis year’s draft.

Zach Cone - Georgia

Cone is the first underclassman to be profiled, although Anthony Rendon did receive an honorable mention at third base. Cone was particularly impressive last summer playing on the Cape, where he showed off his legitimate five-tool abilities.   His arm is tailor-made for right field, and he has enough speed to play center. His power comes from a quick bat, as he hit .323 in part-time duty last spring and 11 of his 30 hits went for extra bases. He figures to garner more playing time this season as the team hopes he, among others, can help make up for the loss of Rich Poythress, Matt Cerione and Bryce Massanari in theBulldogs’ lineup.

HonorableMention:  Leon Landry, LSU; Tyler Holt, Florida State; Kevin Keyes, Texas

Utility 

Bryce Brentz - Middle Tennessee State
Similar to Michael Choice, Brentz has posted very impressive numbers in college, but playing for Middle Tennessee State means the level of competition isn’t as great as most of the other players on this list. He did lead the nation a year ago in average (.465), slugging (.930), home runs (28) and total bases (214), which led to his inclusion on the Team USA collegiate team last summer. He also pitches, hovering around 90 mph, although his bat speed and overall athleticism make his profile as a hitter more appealing to scouts.

Honorable Mention:  Brett Eibner, Arkansas

Starting Pitcher 

Anthony Ranaudo - LSU
After going 12-3 with a 3.04 ERA last year, Ranaudo is the early favorite for the 2010 Golden Spikes award, coming off avery impressive sophomore season in which he, along with former teammate Louis Coleman, gave the Tigers an impressive one-two workhorse tandem that opposing teams had to face to open a weekend series. Of course Ranaudo and the Tigers went on to win it all in Omaha, and the team will be looking his way again this year to get them back. Armed with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s with good movement and a solid breaking ball, he could be in the conversation for the first overall pick come June.

Brandon Workman - Texas
Workman has served a valuable and versatile role on the Longhorns’ staff the past two years and tossed a no-hitter last spring during his sophomore campaign. He has fared even better during his two summers spent on the Cape, where scouts see him as a potential first-round pick armed with swing-and-miss stuff. That stuff includes a low-90s fastball that can approach the mid-90s and a hammer curveball. He has struck out 131 batters in 128 college innings and is a huge reason almost everyone has the Longhorns as the No.1 team to open the season.

Deck McGuire - Georgia Tech
An 11-2 season with a 3.50 ERA led McGuire toACC Pitcher of the Year honors.  He has a big body, even if he is somewhat maxed out physically, and a solid four-pitchrepertoire. That repertoire is highlighted by his steady low-90s heater that hecan throw a little harder when needed, and a big-breaking slow curveball. Hecan also throw a slider and a changeup. He enjoyed success as a freshman as well, leading the team in wins and leading the starting staff in ERA. While he doesn’t have the lean, projectable frame as Ranaudo to profile as someone that could go among the top three-to-five overall selections, another solid spring should place him firmly in the middle of the first round of this year’s draft.

I tried to focus primarily on 2010 draft-eligible players for this list, and there are plenty of such pitchers to choose from. However, I could have easily made up a few teams of 2011 draft-eligible starters which would include Gerrit Cole, Taylor Jungmann, Alex Meyer, Sonny Gray, Jack Armstrong, Matt Purke, Brett Mooneyham and Cecil Tanner.

Honorable Mention:  Chris Sale, Florida Gulf Coast; Justin Grimm, Georgia; Kyle Blair, San Diego 

Relief Pitcher

Jesse Hahn - Virginia Tech
An absolutely electric arm has Hahn rising up draft boards after impressing scouts last summer as he continually approached triple digits on the Cape. His arm action leads many to believe that he will be able to maintain that velocity deep into his baseball career, but he is going to have to learn to command the strike zone better, and it may take him a while to learn that pitching in the zone is more effective than not. He also throws agood curveball and changeup, which will tempt teams to try him as a starter before keeping him in a closer’s role. His size and stuff are very similar to that of Justin Verlander at a similar stage in his career.

Honorable Mention:  Chad Bettis, Texas Tech

The thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of PerfectGame USA. Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA andBrewerfan.net and can be contacted via email at pebert@brewerfan.net.