Juco : : Rankings
Friday, May 24, 2013

Top 100 Junior College Prospects

Allan Simpson        
Photo: East Central CC
The Junior College World Series begins this weekend at each of the Division I, II and III levels, and Perfect Game has ranked the Top 100 Prospects in the junior-college ranks for purposes of the 2013 first-year player draft (June 6-8). The 10-team Division I World Series will be played in Grand Junction, Colo., the 10-team D-II Series is slated for Enid, Okla., while the 8-team D-III Series will be held inTyler, Texas.

The top two junior-college prospects are from Mississippi schools—shortstop/outfielder Tim Anderson of East Central and lefthander Cody Reed of Northwest Mississippi—but neither of those colleges qualified for World Series play. No. 7-ranked prospect Stephen Tarpley will participate with Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC in the D-II World Series, while No. 8-ranked Lukas Schiraldi will lead No. 1-ranked Navarro into the D-I World Series.

Below are reports of the top 10 junior college prospects, followed by a list of the top 100 prospects.

Scouting profiles on most other players in Perfect Game’s ranking of the nation’s Top 100 Junior-College Prospects are available as part of PG’s extensive state-by-state preview of the 2013 draft.  You can all of the links to Perfect Game's draft preview content here.

1. TIM ANDERSON, ss/of, East Central CC | Projected round: 1/1S
A virtual unknown to scouts last summer when he began play in the Jayhawk League, Anderson opened plenty of eyes then with his range of projectable tools. He has built on his impressive portfolio this spring to such a point that he now ranks as an early favorite to be the first junior college player drafted. Anderson’s raw speed and superior athletic ability stand out above all else, but he also has serious juice in his bat, along with all the raw tools to one day be a major-league shortstop. Primarily a basketball player at an Alabama high school, Anderson turned his attention to baseball when he sustained a broken leg but was considered an afterthought as a prospect when he enrolled at a Mississippi junior college. He had a solid freshman season for East Central (.360-4-37, 30-of-30 SB), began to develop his all-around game in the Jayhawk League (.352-8-39, 30 SB) and with physical maturity and better pitch selection has enjoyed a breakout spring as a junior-college sophomore, hitting .504-7-30 with 11 triples and 32 steals in 35 attempts. He hit three homers in an early February game and had three triples in another game later that month, when interest in Anderson started reaching a fever pitch. While he has made strides at shortstop and showcases impressive range, quick hands and above-average arm strength, he still needs a lot of coaching and repetitions to improve his footwork at the position, eliminate the errors and generally smooth out some of the rough edges, though center field is an obvious fall-back position.

2. CODY REED, lhp, Northwest Mississippi CC | Projected round: 2
Little did scouts know that when East Central shortstop Tim Anderson began making waves as a legitimate early-round talent for this year’s draft in February that a second Mississippi junior-college player would explode on the scene a month later. Reed’s rise to prominence is the more surprising development of the two as his exploits caught everyone completely off guard. In the fall, his fastball was in the 86-88 mph range, occasionally peaking at 90, but it blew up as the 2013 season unfolded, improving to 91-92 mph initially, and then up to 94-95 in his March and April starts, when droves of 40-50 scouts regularly began showing up at his games. As the velocity on Reed’s fastball spiked, so did the speed of his slider, which improved from 76-77 mph early in the season to 79-81. Being 6-foot-5 and lefthanded has only added to Reed’s allure, and scouts have not only been impressed with his raw stuff but his easy arm action and surprisingly good command. On the season, Reed is 6-2, 3.21 with 29 walks and 80 strikeouts in 53 innings. Scouts are understandably leery of Reed’s sudden rise to prominence and they had good reason to be in his latest loss, on April 13, when he gave up eight hits and walked seven in 5-1/3 innings, but they saw all the promise that the intriguing Reed has to offer in his next outing when he spun a 1-0, one-hit shutout, walked none and struck out 15.

3. TEDDY STANKIEWICZ, rhp, Seminole State CC (Fr.) | Projected round: 2-3
Stankiewicz was drafted in the second round (75th overall) a year ago out of a Texas high school, but never agreed to terms with the New York Mets. In the process, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander became the highest pick from the 2012 high-school ranks not to sign. Stankiewicz also subsequently elected not to fulfill his scholarship commitment to Arkansas, and instead enrolled in junior college at Seminole State, which makes him eligible to re-enter this year’s draft. By all accounts, he should at least re-emerge as a second-rounder.  Stankiewicz has made strides with a fastball that has ranged from 90-96 mph, as opposed to 87-91 earlier in the season, and he has held his velocity more consistently deeper into games. But the real difference-maker for Stankiewicz has been his changeup, a below-average pitch out of high school but now a dominant, swing-and-miss complement to his fastball at 80-83 mph. He’ll also flash two quality breaking balls, a 75-78 mph curve and 80-83 mph slider, and will often emphasize one over the other in a given outing, depending on which one is working most effectively. He just needs to tighten the rotation on both pitches to establish more consistency. With just seven walks, plus 58 strikeouts, in his first 54 innings this spring, Stankiewicz has continued to work with above-average control and command of all his pitches. Along with his loose, lean build and a conventional delivery with a high three-quarters release point, he has all the ingredients to profile as a solid, middle-of-the-rotation starter in pro ball.

4. VICTOR CARATINI, c/3b, Miami-Dade JC (Fr.) | Projected round: 3-4
Caratini’s career was going nowhere fast a year ago as a freshman at Southern University, when he was declared ineligible on the eve of the 2012 season. It came too late for the Puerto Rican product to transfer elsewhere and he still didn’t have a college in the works for the current campaign until he was re-routed to Miami-Dade just prior to classes enrolling last fall. It’s been all positive since for the switch-hitting Caratini, who leads the Sharks in homers and RBI, and has been instrumental in his team’s rise to No. 1 in Perfect Game’s ranking of the nation’s top junior colleges. Caratini’s ability to square up balls from both sides with a controlled, aggressive approach has set him apart as the best all-around hitting prospect in the Florida juco ranks, and his surge as a prospect this spring has occurred even he as he spent most of the 2013 season playing largely out of position at third base. Miami-Dade has the luxury of a roster with four catchers who could conceivably be drafted in June, and Caratini’s flexibility in the field made him a logical candidate to move from behind the plate and fill in elsewhere. He excelled defensively at third with his range and superior arm strength, but scouts still view Caratini mostly as a catcher on the strength of his sound defensive skills and enthusiastic style of play, though his bat remains the strength of his game.

5. ELLIOT MORRIS, rhp, Pierce CC (So.) | Projected round: 3-4
Morris underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, early in his freshman year at Pierce College, and his apparent misfortune may have become the break that he needed to jump start a career. At the time of his injury, Morris had poor mechanics with a fastball in the 86-88 mph range, but once he hurt his arm, the light went on and the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Morris started pursuing baseball much more vigorously. Though he worked in just 24 innings in 2012, as a red-shirt freshman for Pierce College and played a minimal role for the upstart Raiders as they unexpectedly won the 2012 Northwest Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) championship, Morris’ fastball had already improved to 89-92 mph. Morris was up to 96 last summer and has repeated that velocity on a more recurring basis this spring as the new ace of the Pierce staff, while mixing in a hard, late-breaking slurve-like slider in the mid-80s. He quickly emerged as the must-see arm in the NWAACC. He has been a significant beneficiary of all the heavy scouting attention that has been showered this spring on top Washington prep prospects Reese McGuire and Dustin Driver, and may have thrown his two best games when the scouting heat was its heaviest.

6. STEPHEN TARPLEY, lhp, Scottsdale CC | Projected round: 3-4
Tarpley was an eighth-round pick in 2011 out of an Arizona high school, and immediately installed himself as one of the must-see arms in the 2013 junior-college class after he transferred back home from Southern California, where he went 5-3, 3.22 with 29 walks and 67 strikeouts in 78 innings as a freshman. A lived-arm lefthander with an athletic frame, fastball at 92-94 mph and projectable curve, Tarpley had expectations of going as high as the second round initially, but hasn’t thrown as consistently well as anticipated. His fastball was often at 88-91 mph late in the season, and his control has been spotty, stemming from inconsistent mechanics. With a 2-0, 2.04 record in his first 12 starts, along with 33 walks and 86 strikeouts in 75 innings, Tarpley has actually been only the third-most effective lefthander in the Scottsdale rotation this spring behind fellow sophomores Colton Thomson (6-2, 0.86, 73 IP, 18 BB/95 SO) and Sebastian Kessay (3-1, 0.89, 61 IP, 27 BB/78 SO). Both those pitchers have picked up their pace as potential draft picks considerably through the spring, with the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Kessay edging close to the 10th round on the strength of a fastball that has peaked at 92 mph.

7. LUKAS SCHIRALDI, rhp, Navarro JC (Rounds 2-4) | Projected round: 3-4
Schiraldi’s father Calvin was a key member of Texas’ 1983 national-championship team, and went on to spend eight years in the big leagues, mostly in a closer role. His son Lukas was ticketed to follow in his father’s footsteps and pitch for the Longhorns out of a Texas high school, but it was determined prior to enrolling at Texas as a freshman that he might not be quite ready to pitch at the NCAA Division I level, and he was re-routed to Navarro JC. Now the 6-foot-6, 215-pound right-hander may never set foot on the Texas campus as he has blown up this spring at the junior-college level, and could be scooped up in the draft as early as the second or third rounds. In going 9-0, 1.10 on the year, Schiraldi learned how to pitch with more polish initially, throwing three pitches consistently for strikes with a clean, easy delivery, and then his superior velocity started to come to the forefront—improving from 91-94 mph early in the year to 95-96, and topping at 97 later in the season. His slider has been a very effective second pitch, especially when thrown low in the strike zone. An obvious late-bloomer, Schiraldi just started evolving into a legit prospect as a freshman at Navarro, when his fastball would reach the low- to mid-90s, but only in short bursts while working in relief. He also flashed the makings of a solid breaking ball, but would routinely overthrow it, and it wasn’t until last summer, while pitching in the MINK League, that Schiraldi’s true potential as a starting pitcher began to take hold, and a bigger, stronger model has simply built off that performance this spring with a dominant season.

8. NIC PIVETTA, rhp, New Mexico JC. | Projected round: 3-5
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Pivetta was just another arm as a freshman at New Mexico JC in 2012, when he went an undistinguished 4-1, 4.83 with 22 walks and 29 strikeouts in 54 innings. But with an extra year under his belt after sitting out his senior season of competition in 2011 while in high school in Victoria, B.C., with what was determined to be a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, Pivetta was a different pitcher when he returned to school last fall for his sophomore year. All of a sudden his fastball consistently registered 91-95 mph, peaking at 97, and he had little trouble reaching those elevated levels with a clean delivery and easy arm action, or hitting his spots while also getting solid-average sinking action on his fastball. He also flashed an average curve after being predominantly a fastball/changeup pitcher as a freshman. Almost overnight, Pivetta became a marked man for this year’s draft and he has done little or nothing this spring but enhance his reputation as one of the elite arms in the junior-college ranks. Through his first 11 starts, he was 8-2, 2.92 and had walked just 14 in 71 innings, while striking out 49. With one or two minor exceptions, he has been solid every time out, working at 91-94 and peaking at 96 while generally holding his velocity deeper into starts. With his school’s location in remote eastern New Mexico, Pivetta hasn’t been the easiest player to scout, but a delegation of upwards of 100 scouts was on hand when his team travelled to Phoenix in March, and he didn’t disappoint with a fastball that was still at 95 mph on his 93rd pitch in the seventh inning.

9. J.D. UNDERWOOD, rhp/1b, Palm Beach State CC (So.) | Projected round: 3-5
Underwood comes from a noted baseball family as his father Tom (who died of cancer in 2010) was a second-round pick of the Phillies in 1972, and his uncle Pat was the second overall pick in the draft four years later. Both went on to distinguished major league careers as pitchers. The younger Underwood hopes to follow in their footsteps, and appears well on his way after posting a 7-2, 1.35 record as a sophomore for Palm Beach State, which includes a 17-strikeout game against Broward CC and no-hitter against No. 1-ranked Miami-Dade in consecutive starts. In 73 innings, he had walked just five while striking out 77. At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, Underwood isn’t overpowering but is very advanced in his approach to pitching, has a clean arm action and can throw four pitches for strikes. His fastball typically ranges from 88-92 mph, but he gets good movement on the pitch and commands it with precision. He augments it with a solid-average curve, along with a splitter and changeup that produce different actions at the plate. Underwood also plays first base for Palm Beach State, is the best hitter on his team (.353-3-39) and could go both ways in college if he fulfills his college commitment to Miami, but would concentrate on pitching at the pro level. He projects as an end-of-rotation starter.

10. DAVID GATES, rhp, Howard JC. | Projected round: 3-6
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Gates was just another arm as a freshman at Howard, and worked in just 17 innings for the Hawks while going 2-0, 3.71 with seven walks and 11 strikeouts. But Gates spent last summer on campus with the express purpose of revamping his delivery and refining his impressive raw stuff, and he became an overnight sensation during the fall with a fastball that routinely reached 99 mph, and even peaked at 101. When the 2013 spring season began, the hard-throwing right-hander was comfortably installed as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the junior-college ranks, though his sophomore campaign hasn’t always gone to the form befitting his elite status as he has been inconsistent while going 8-4, 3.82 with 42 walks and 55 strikeouts in his first 64 innings. Gates can routinely overpower hitters—and often his own catcher—with his blazing fastball, but has struggled coming to grips with his new-found, somewhat funky delivery, which was aimed at generating more movement on his fastball and greater arm speed on his secondary stuff. His fastball has consistently backed off to the mid-90s, though still peaks at 98, and he has had trouble commanding the pitch consistently. But Gates has also generated heavier sinking action on his two-seamer low in the strike zone, and while he has shown a better feel for his 82-84 mph slider and 86-88 mph change than a year ago, he has lacked consistency with those pitches as well. Most scouts believe Gates’ stuff and unorthodox delivery are best suited for the pro ranks in a relief role, and while he could be drafted as early as the second round he could also slide a few rounds if teams are uncomfortable with his risky profile.

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