Draft : : State Preview
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Indiana

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.



Indiana State-by-State List

Indiana quietly has been producing a steady stream of impact, professional talent the past several years.  Up until the last 4-5 years, much of the talent has come in the form of pitching, although that hasn't been the case since 2009 when A.J. Pollock went 17th overall.  In 2010 Indiana produced a pair first-round infielders in Kolbrin Vitek and Justin O'Conner, followed by Hoosiers slugger Alex Dickerson in 2011 and a wealth of Purdue talent highlighted by catcher Kevin Plawecki a year ago.

This year the talent shifts back to pitching, largely thanks to the emergence of Indiana State left handed pitcher Sean Manaea on the Cape last summer which vaulted him immediately into the discussion for the No. 1 overall pick.  He doesn't appear to still be in that same discussion, but is expected to be the highest drafted player from the state since prep right-hander Jarrod Parker went No. 9 overall in 2007.  Perfect Game All-American left handed pitcher and outfielder Trey Ball has similar upside on the mound as Manaea, and is enjoying a very successful spring as the pieces are coming together for the very talented two-way prospect.  Notre Dame's right-hander Dan Slania also is enjoying a productive spring, with many believing the current Irish closer could make a successful conversion to a starter as a pro given his polished three-pitch arsenal.

 
STRENGTH:
 Left handed pitchers
WEAKNESS: Depth
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
 Indiana
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM: Vincennes University
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Indianapolis Central

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Scott Donley, if/of, University of Indiana.
 Donley hasn't played college baseball the past two years after red-shirting his freshman year at Virginia Tech and sitting out last year after transferring to Indiana.  However, he hasn't missed a beat at the plate, serving as Indiana's cleanup hitter for the Big Ten's hottest hitting team.  What he lacks in power he makes up for in his plate discipline and overall bat control, hitting for a high average while rarely striking out.

WILD CARD: Trey Ball, lhp/of, New Castle High School.
 Although Sean Manaea's recent drop in velocity could cause some concern, his previous track record should still allow for him to become a premium pick.  Ball on the other hand is an interesting topic, given his overall two-way talents and a commitment to the University of Texas, where he could continue to play both ways to see where his talents best fit.  Given his size, athleticism and stuff, his pro value is higher on the mound, and his strong spring could cement a mid first-round selection.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Indiana Connection:
 Conrad Gregor, 1b/of, Vanderbilt (Carmel High School)
Top 2014 Prospect: Pat Connaughton, rhp, Notre Dame
Top 2015 Prospect: Jarrett Montgomery, rhp, Lawrence Central High School

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

Draft History: Andy Benes, rhp, University of Evansville (1988, Padres/1st round, 1st pick); Bryan Bullington, rhp, Ball State University (2002, Pirates/1st round, 1st pick)

2008 Draft: Josh Lindblom, rhp, Purdue University (Dodgers/2nd round)
2009 Draft: A.J. Pollock, of, University of Notre Dame (Diamondbacks/1st round, 17th pick)
2010 Draft: Kolbrin Vitek, 2b/rhp, Ball State University (Red Sox/1st round/20th pick)
2011 Draft: Alex Dickerson, 1b/of, University of Indiana (Pirates/3rd round)
2012 Draft: Kevin Plawecki, c, Purdue (Mets/1st round, 35th pick)

2012 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
 16/15
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: None
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 2/0


TOP PROSPECTS - GROUPS 1 and 2

GROUP 1 (rounds 1-3)

1. SEAN MANAEA, lhp, Indiana State University (Jr.)
Manaea entered the spring rated as Perfect Game's No. 1 prospect of all players eligible for this year's draft thanks to a dominant summer on the Cape in which he posted video game type numbers, which led to him being named PG's Summer Collegiate Player of the Year. He was named the No. 1 prospect on the Cape, the same honor he received the summer before pitching in the Prospect League. His success last summer can easily be attributed to vastly improved sutff, as his fastball routinely sat in the 93-95 range while peaking at 97. Both his slider and changeup showed marked improvement, giving him a very polished three-pitch repertoire thrown from a deceptive, low three-quarters delivery with very good arm speed. This spring hasn't gone quite as well for the 6-foot-5, 235-pound ace of the Sycamores, although his stuff has still been quite good, as have his performances. Early in the year Manaea was peaking at 94 mph, doing so both indoors in the comfort of the Metrodome in early March and outdoors as part of Indiana State's early home schedule where the weather was slow to resemble spring. If Indiana State's series against Tennessee-Martin hadn't been rained out he would have missed a start due to a lingering hip injury that has bothered Manaea since late March. He has been throwing better as of late, and is expected to regain his mid- to upper-90s velocity this summer. On the season he is 5-4 with a 1.58 ERA, logging 68 1/3 innings in 11 starts, allowing 44 hits and 25 walks with 88 strikeouts, and his track record is impressive enough to where he should be taken among the top 10 overall picks come June. Read more about Manaea in Frankie Piliere's detailed Draft Focus feature.

2. TREY BALL, lhp/of, New Castle HS

Trey Ball has been a known commodity for quite some time, entering last summer as one of the high school class of 2013's top prospects. While he didn't do anything to hurt his own status on prospect rankings, several other players did step up during the summer of 2012. A very talented athlete that excels both on the mound as a left handed pitcher and as a fleet-footed center fielder with intriguing power potential, it is his left arm that carries the most weight at the professional level. His fastball routinely tops out around 92-93, and sits comfortably in the 88-91 range with obvious projection in his 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame that should lead to increased, more sustained velocity over the next 2-3 years. While his velocity has held steady, Ball has improved the break and velocity on his curveball, previously sitting in the low- to mid-70s and now routinely sitting in the 74-78 mph range. The improvement of this pitch has led to greater confidence throwing it, and the same is true for his 78-82 fading changeup. Should he honor his commitment to Texas, he likely would continue to be used in a two-way role, with very good speed for his size with long, loping strides in the outfield and on the basepaths. His stature creates very good leverage in his swing and interesting power potential. However, given the way Ball has pitched this spring, it is more likely that he is drafted in the middle to latter half of the first round as a pitcher, and could be peaking more consistently in the mid-90s once the weather stays consistently warmer. Read more about Ball in David Rawnsley's detailed Draft Focus feature.

3. ERIC JAGIELO, 3b/of, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Like Sean Manaea, Eric Jagielo enjoyed a very successful summer in the Cape Cod League last summer, finishing second in the league in home runs with 13 while hitting .291 on a loaded Harwich Mariners squad. His 13 home runs match his power output from the spring, hitting .310 his sophomore year after a .269-5-28 season as a freshman. With a .386/.502/.639 slash line, which includes eight more home runs this spring, Jagielo has picked up where he left off, showing impressive power potential and a more selective batting eye. At 6-foot-3, 215-pounds Jagielo has impressive size, and he uses that size to generate very good leverage in his left-handed swing. Despite his power potential, he is more of a pure hitter than just a raw slugger, with a disciplined approach and the ability to drive the ball to the gaps. While he is a good overall athlete with good arm strength, it remains to be seen whether or not he has the lateral agility to remain at third base, but it is expected that at the very least he will begin his professional career there. Even if a move is made, he has more than enough bat, and arm strength, for an outfield corner, and likely will be taken by the end of the supplemental first round of the draft. Read more about Jagielo in Frankie Piliere's Draft Focus report.

4. DAN SLANIA, rhp, Notre Dame (Jr.)
In a recurring theme among the top draft eligible college players from Indiana, Dan Slania also enjoyed a successful summer stint on the Cape last summer, leading the circuit with 10 saves and joining Manaea and Jagielo at the league's all-star game in late July. Instantly recognizable given his 6-foot-5, 275-pound frame, Slania is a very good athlete for his size, and somewhat defies his size, and his role as a closer, given his ability to pitch and induce contact rather than simply blowing batters away. It is frequently discussed whether or not Slania will even remain in a short relief role, as his size can more than handle the rigors of pitching every five days as a starter, and he has the necessary three-pitch mix that includes his low- to mid-90s fastball, low-80s slider and a changeup. Slania commands his fastball in particular very well, and gets very good sinking movement on the pitch in which he uses it to induce early, weak contact. That approach should also help him make a move to a starting role at the next level, although that remains to be seen as he has enjoyed great success as Notre Dame's closer, recording 29 saves so far in his three year career.  Twelve of those have come this year, frequently pitching more than just one inning at a time, as he has tossed 49 innings in 21 relief appearances. He is 3-1 on the season with a miniscule 1.10 ERA, and has shown great improvement with his control by allowing only 36 hits and 10 walks while striking out 37. Of the 36 hits he has allowed, only eight have gone for extra bases (all doubles). Read more about Slania in Frankie Piliere's Draft Focus feature.


GROUP 2 (rounds 4-10)

5. TREY MANCINI, 1b, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Notre Dame packs a powerful 1-2 punch in the former of third baseman Eric Jagielo and first baseman Trey Mancini. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Mancini is the more physically intimidating of the two hitters, impressive considering Jagielo's stature and potent left-handed bat. Mancini, a right handed hitter, has more pure power potential, getting excellent extension on his swings, and he has evolved into a better overall hitter. This spring he is hitting .394/.439/.601, although has only five home runs so far, likely a byproduct of him working on improving his plate discipline. After striking out more times than he has walked during his freshman and sophomore years, he has 20 walks compared to 19 strikeouts this season, and also has 13 doubles and six triples, evidence that he's far from a one-dimensional slugger.  He hit nine and 12 home runs during his freshman and sophomore years respectively, leading the Irish in batting (.323) and home runs during his freshman campaign.  The biggest question for Mancini is whether he will carry over the newfound patience to the next level, and if he's able to blend more home run production in the process.


6. DANIEL AYERS, lhp, Columbus North HS
Strongly built at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, Ayers has also seen his stock rise since last fall when he had a strong performance at the WWBA World Championship pitching for the Giants Scout Team, striking out 12 batters in his five inning appearance. That led to him being named to the event's All-Tournament Team, peaking at 91 mph with his fastball, and he has been clocked as high as 93 this spring, often sitting comfortably in the 90-92 range. In addition to his fastball, he also shows good feel for his mid- to upper-70s curveball with the ability to drop it in for strikes and induce ugly looking swings from opposing batters. His fastball velocity is expected to continue to increase as he continues to add strength to his already strong frame, and if he isn't drafted in a signable round come June, he may be a name to keep an eye on at Western Michigan three years from now.

7. JOSH VANMETER, ss, Norwell HS, Ossian
VanMeter exploded onto the scene in conversations for the top 10 rounds of this year's draft last September at the WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship, where he named the MVP for the runner-up Reds Scout Team. A left handed hitter, VanMeter proved to be very quick and short to the ball, with the ability to turn on quality fastballs, as he did three times during the four-day tournament for home runs, including a blast well over the right field wall at Perfect Game field (home of the Cedar Rapids Kernels) on championship day. Currently a shortstop, VanMeter is expected to slide over to second base at the professional level due to the lack of pure straight-line speed, but his offensive prowess gives him intriguing upside up the middle of the infield. He is a heady ballplayer that positions himself well, has a very good approach at the plate and he shows good instincts on the base-paths. VanMeter is the type of player that could garner a lot more serious draft attention three years from now should he honor his commitment to play for Illinois State.


8. AUSTIN SLEGERS, rhp, University of Indiana (RS So.)
Slegers has been slow develop, not uncommon given his towering 6-foot-10, 250-pound build, but not for the reasons usually expected for players of his size.  He pitched in only one game as a high school senior at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Ariz. due to a growth issue in his forearm.  He tossed only one inning in 2011, and then only 7 1/3 more in 2012 after breaking a bone in his leg hit by a line drive.  Slegers did rebound well the following summer as he was named the No. 15 prospect in the Florida Collegiate League and has carried that momentum to this spring.  For as big as Slegers is he isn't particularly overpowering, but now that he's healthy without any set-backs he is throwing the ball very well.  He uses his size perfectly pitching downhill on batters, making him difficult to square up.  His fastball routinely peaks in the 90-92 range and he also throws a very good split-fingered fastball with an approach tailored to inducing early contact by pounding the lower half of the strike zone.  In 81 2/3 innings this year he has posted a 8-1, 1.98 record in 14 starts, allowing 81 hits and only 12 walks while striking out 44.



PROSPECTS TO WATCH

SCOTT DONLEY, if/of, University of Indiana (So.)
The Indiana Hoosiers as a team are leading the Big Ten conference in nearly every offensive category with a cumulative .308 average to go along with 40 home runs, a .393 team on-base percentage and a .450 team slugging percentage.  Much of that offense has been provided by the hard-hitting trio of Dustin DeMuth, Kyle Schwarber and Scott Donley.  Donley has been the most pleasant surprise of that trio serving as the team's cleanup hitter, hitting .361 with 19 extra-base hits, which includes four home runs, while exhibiting a very disciplined eye at the plate given his 13-12 walk-to-strikeout ratio.  The 6-foot-2, 190-pound red-shirt sophomore has been serving primarily as the team's designated hitter, although he has seen some time in left field.  A left-handed hitter, Donley has the ability to make consistent, hard contact, going with pitches and driving them, although the lack of a true power stroke, not to mention a position, leaves his future somewhat undefined.  His success this season is particularly impressive since its his third year in college but his first playing baseball after he began his college career at Virginia Tech, where he red-shirted his freshman year, prior to sitting out all of 2012 after transferring to Indiana.

DUSTIN DeMUTH, 3b, University of Indiana (Jr.)

One of the top hitters in the Big Ten this season, DeMuth is leading the potent Hoosiers lineup in batting this year with a .417 mark. While he's not a huge power threat – he does have four home runs on the year – his level left-handed swing path is tailored to lacing balls to the gaps, and has 16 doubles as a result of that approach. A sturdy 6-foot-3, 205-pound athlete, DeMuth's profile is somewhat similar to that of Donley's in that he lacks a standout tool, and with 14 errors at third base this spring, he may not be best suited for the hot corner long term. That said, his production alone could allow him to sneak into the top 10 rounds, and he's a fairly sure bet to carry that production into the lower levels of the minor leagues.
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