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Future M's?

A new blog post is way overdue, but nothing in the past week has really moved me to write. It is still a bit too early for me to really get into NFL draft mode, and the baseball season is still too young to start looking at statistics and drawing any solid conclusions out of them. The Duke Lacrosse team scandal (or the increasing lack of one) continues to hang around, as does the Barry Bonds backlash thanks to the recently published Game of Shadows. As important as these stories are, they are being beat to death by the media and I have nothing new to add. This blog is called My Random Sports Musings, so here comes a heavy dose of Random: let's talk college baseball!

Baseball, like football and basketball, has a draft but it is easily the least popular one of the three major sports. That does not make it any less important though. Thanks to another season with more than 90 losses, the Mariners once again will get a very high pick and a quick glance through the minor league system shows a dearth of pitching talent, especially below AA. In response, I decided to go in search of some college hurlers who Seattle would be wise to look at:

Eddie Degerman, Senior, Rice: The Owls have a strong baseball program and Degerman looks like the latest great pitcher to come out of this university. Last year, Eddie went 8-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 18 appearances, 14 of which were starts. Even more impressive was his 1.09 WHIP and 117 strikeouts in only 98 2/3 innings, with only 38 walks. This year, Degerman has gone to the next level. Check out these numbers: In 11 games (10 starts), he is 8-0 with a 1.29 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 92 strikeouts and 23 walks in 69 2/3 IP!

Tim Lincecum, Junior, Washington: Tim would be much more than a local pick if the Mariners were able to draft and sign him. Interestingly, more batters have reached base by walking against Lincecum (40) than by getting a hit (35), which is usually a sign of bad control in a pitcher. However, this is far from the truth in the case of Tim Lincecum; it actually points out just how good he is. For the year, opponents are batting a measly .137 against him. Add in a strikeout rate of over 12 per 9 innings and a 1.52 ERA, and it is clear that Lincecum would be a welcome addition to anyone's farm system.

Derrik Lutz, Junior, George Washington: Though from a less prominent program, Lutz is putting up eye-popping numbers. In 2005, he went 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.5 K/9 IP, and a K/BB ratio of better than 3 to 1. This year, Lutz is only 2-2 but with a 1.40 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 IP, and a K/BB ratio of nearly 4 to 1.

The Mariners have adopted a more aggressive running style this year, so I decided to also look at college baseball's finest base-stealers. One guy in particular stood out:

Zach Penprase, INF, Jr., Mississippi Valley State: Already with 45 stolen bases in 48 attempts, Zach has more than proven he can run. He has much more to offer as well, as evidenced by his .364 batting average, .444 on-base percentage, and seven triples this year. Despite playing at a rather small school, Penprase may have the ideal combination of hitting, plate discipline, and speed that teams covet in a leadoff hitter.

This is hardly a complete list of baseball prospects, or even a list of elite prospects. However, after a rather cursory scan of the NCAA Division-I leader boards these were four guys that seem to fit what the Mariners are looking for right now.