Top 100 Seniors
Top 100 Sophomores
Top 100 Freshmen
to Attend College a Wise Choice For
This Year’s Top-Ranked Juniors
high-school baseball players invariably face difficult decisions each
year on whether to attend college, or skip college and play at the
professional level immediately.
ultimate goal for most, regardless of the route taken, is to play
Major League Baseball, and various studies on the topic are
inconclusive whether players have a better chance of achieving their
goal by attending college first or starting their pro careers.
as players that are drafted out of high school, history has shown
that players who elect to attend college generally have roughly an
equal chance of being drafted (a.) in a higher round out of college
than they were out of high school, (b.) in approximately the same
round and (c.) in a lower round.
player on the accompanying list of the nation’s Top 100 College
Juniors is projected to fall into the first category when the
2012 draft is conducted in June. Unless they stumble this spring, all
100 should profit from their decision to attend college first before
playing pro ball. That includes Stanford shortstop Kenny Diekroeger,
who holds the distinction of being the highest unsigned high-school
pick from the 2009 draft to be eligible for this year’s draft.
was a second-round selection of the Texas Rangers out of a California
high school, and gambled that he could improve his draft position by
spurning the Rangers and attending Stanford for three years. That
gamble appears to be paying off as Diekroeger projects as a
first-round pick in June—even as he comes off a relatively-subpar
sophomore season for the Cardinal.
State righthander Jake Barrett (third round), Virginia righthander
Branden Kline (sixth round) and California lefthander Justin Jones
(seventh round) are other college players drafted in the first 10
rounds in 2009 that should safely improve their draft stock as
college juniors, although Barrett has been bothered somewhat by a
sore arm in the pre-season that has curtailed his workload.
a total of 43 players listed among the nation’s Top 100 Juniors
weren’t even drafted out of high school three years ago, including
four returning players that were selected a year ago for the first
time as draft-eligible sophomores. Among those who weren’t drafted
out of high school but have a solid shot of being drafted in the
first round in June are Texas A&M righthander Michael Wacha (No.
6 overall in the Top 100), San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer (No.
11), Stony Brook outfielder Travis Jankowski (No. 14), Jacksonville
outfielder Adam Brett Walker (No. 15) and Rice righthander J.T.
Chargois (No. 16).
but the 6-foot-6 Wacha were relative unknowns to scouts coming out of
high school, and obviously made a prudent choice in attending
college, and developing their games at that level.
every high-school player develops at the same pace in college as
Wacha, or from the time he enrolls in school to a point, generally
three years later, when he is eligible for the draft again as a
junior. We’ve taken Perfect Game’s list of the Top 100 College Freshmen from 2010, and identified where those players are now
and what their prospects are for the 2012 draft.
total of 39 players were ranked in the Top 100 then and are still
ranked in the Top 100 now, including Stanford righthander Mark Appel
(No. 5 then, No. 1 now) and Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero
(No. 4 then, No. 2 now), the two top-ranked college juniors for the
2012 draft. Appel entered college as an unsigned 15th round pick of the Detroit Tigers, Marrero an unsigned 17th-round
selection of the Cincinnati Reds
both players have significantly enhanced their draft standing by
attending college vs. signing out of high school, although both would
have been drafted much higher three years ago had they not been so
intent on attending college and made those feelings known.
Wacha is the classic exhibit this year of the player that has
enhanced his draft position after being passed over altogether out of
high school, Florida catcher Mike Zunino, and Georgia Southern
teammates Chris Beck and Victor Roache are three obvious college
players drafted out of high school that have done as much as anyone
to bolster their stock for this year’s draft. They rank 3-4-5 among
the nation’s top juniors.
(29th round), Beck (35th round) and Roache
(25th round) were all mid-round drafts out of high school,
and none projected to emerge as first-rounders three years later.
Zunino was ranked the 33rd best freshman in the nation two
years ago, while Roache was at 86 and Beck wasn’t ranked at all.
All three made enormous strides in their games as sophomores. Zunino
was the Southeastern Conference player of the year, while Roache led
Division I schools with 30 home runs.
by Zunino, Florida has more players (six) on the list of Top 100
Juniors than any other college, and with that motherlode of talent
it’s little surprise that the Gators are the nation’s consensus
pre-season No. 1-ranked team. Coincidentally, Stanford follows with
five players, led by Appel, and the Cardinal is ranked No. 2 in the
country to begin the 2012 season.
Florida and Stanford as prime examples, it goes without saying that
college teams can prosper significantly from the decisions that
players make on their future coming out of high school, almost as
much as the players themselves.
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