Juco : : Rankings
Saturday, December 01, 2012

Top 100 2013 Juco Prospects

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Perfect Game

JC Talent Pool A Mixed Bag,
But Dominated at Top by Pitching

Junior-college talent is a wild card in any draft, and every year the cream of the crop among the nation’s elite-level players evolves in a variety of ways.

Perfect Game has identified 100 of the top junior-college prospects in the 2013 draft pool, and the list is the typical mixed bag of freshmen and sophomores, an assortment of Division I transfers, former high-round draft picks, players whose careers came together in summer-college league competition or suddenly clicked in fall practice, and some who didn’t even play baseball a year ago.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the handful of as yet-unidentified prospects who will infiltrate the junior-college ranks after Christmas as transfers from D-I schools.

With the 2013 draft some six months distant, the top four players on PG’s preferred list of junior-college players are pitchers—all with very divergent backgrounds.

The No. 1-ranked talent at this point in the process is Howard (Texas) College red-shirt freshman righthander David Gates, a transfer from Texas Tech who didn’t even pitch an inning last spring. He is followed in order by No. 2-ranked Stephen Tarpley, a sophomore lefthander at Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC; No. 3 ranked Nic Pivetta, a sophomore righthander at New Mexico JC; and No. 4-ranked Teddy Stankiewicz, a freshman righthander at Seminole State (Okla.) JC.

Gates was the most unknown of the quartet when fall practice began, but the 6-foot-5, 215-pound righthander elevated his game to an entirely new level over the next several weeks at one of the nation’s elite junior colleges. With a fastball that was 93-96 mph in his first outing and later topped out at 99, he flashed the best raw stuff among all junior-college arms this fall.

By contrast, scouts have long been familiar with Tarpley and Stankiewicz, two prominent unsigned picks in recent drafts.

An eighth-rounder of the Cleveland Indians in 2011 out of an Arizona high school, Tarpley chose to return to his home-state roots this fall after going 5-3, 3.22 (78 IP, 29 BB/67 SO) last spring as one of the nation’s top freshmen at Southern California. He is unquestionably one of the most-polished arms in the current junior-college class with an easy arm action, along with command of two major-league quality pitches in a fastball that tops at 93 and a dominant curve.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Stankiewicz was drafted in the second round out of a north Texas high school a year ago and not only turned down an offer from the New York Mets, but decided against a college career at Arkansas. With command of an 89-94 mph fastball, tight spin on his slider and a solid feel for changing speeds, he should emerge quickly as a dominant arm as a freshman—though his performance was the most erratic of the four junior-college arms this fall.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Pivetta, meanwhile, falls very much into the same realm as the similarly-sized Gates as he exploded on the scene this fall with a fastball at 95-97 mph after being just another arm at New Mexico JC as a freshman.

A product of a British Columbia high school, Pivetta is typical of many Canadian prospects who often languish about a year behind their American counterparts on the development curve, only to make a belated charge. His fastball topped out at 89 as a prep senior and improved to 88-92 while going an uninspiring 4-1, 4.83 as a JC freshman, before his stuff took a pronounced jump this fall.

Salt Lake CC freshman righthander Connor Williams (No. 6 overall) is yet another unheralded junior-college pitcher that attracted his share of attention from scouts this fall, but many are split on whether to pursue the athletic 6-3, 185-pound Williams more relentlessly as a pitcher with an extremely quick arm and 94-96 mph fastball, or as an outfielder with significant range and power potential, and 6.4-second speed in the 60. He could easily move among the elite JC arms in the spring if he can develop his secondary stuff and refine his command.

Another player by the name of Williams—Trey Williams, an unsigned 11
th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 draft, and now a freshman third baseman at California’s College of the Canyons—is ranked No. 5, and has drawn the most attention to date among position players at the junior-college level.

Williams, who participated in the 2011 Perfect Game All-American Classic, is the son of 10-year big leaguer Eddie Williams, and has been a physically-mature player since early in his teenage years. His power potential has always been his best and most-advanced tool, but he may have to convince scouts in the spring that the rest of his game, especially his defense, is on par with his bat.

Those are the half-dozen junior-college names that stimulated the most talk among scouts this fall, but that could all change next spring as assorted college freshmen or sophomores decide to opt for junior college at the semester break, making them eligible immediately for the 2013 draft.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Perfect Game’s Allan Simpson will issue a revised list of the nation’s Top 200 Junior College Prospects prior to the start of the 2013 season, along with a preview of the nation’s Junior College Teams.

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