As I mentioned in the Day 1 recap, with so many high ceiling guys flying off the board early, many dependable college guys are still out there. They may not be as flashy, but many of them are likely to outproduce players taken ahead of them. The trick is finding the right guy, getting him in the right situation, and perhaps tweaking what can be tweaked.
Instead of ranking a bunch of players (aside from the guys remaining from my top 33 list), I'll offer a handful of players at each position with brief scouting reports. I anticipate most of them going off the board at some point in day two, though who knows where.
Without further ado, a fire hose of players:
REMAINING FROM THE TOP 33:
19. Greg Bird, 1B, Grandview HS (CO)
24. Ryan Wright, 2B, Louisville
28. Trent Gilbert, SS, Torrance HS (CA)
30. Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy HS (AR)
31. Noe Ramirez, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
32. Matt Purke, LHP, TCU
33. Charlie Lowell, LHP, Wichita State
Check out the top 33 list for write-ups on the players listed above.
Andrew Susac, Oregon State - I am surprised Susac is still available. A draft eligible sophomore, he has some pop, and has come on late in the season. I don't think he'll ever hit for much average, but still, dingers! At catcher! I think Susac's best-case scenario is a David Ross kind of skillset, which is more valuable than it sounds. Ross is a heck of a backup catcher, and could start for many teams - just not one that also has Brian McCann. Anyway, the Mariners could use power and also a catcher, so put the two together, and you have a nice candidate for the M's to pick (hint, hint).
Chris O'Brien, Wichita State - Somehow, even with the new deader bats, O'Brien flashed a bunch more power this season. He hasn't shown much as a hitter until this season, so he might be a bit of a one-year wonder. He also hasn't caught all that much in college, as he has also logged time at third base. With more of a track record, O'Brien would have made my top 33, because he was that good this season. If he proves that this year wasn't a fluke, he's an underrated hitter. As a quick footnote, Chris is not to be confused with Bethune-Cookman backstop Peter O'Brien, who is much more highly touted (but I think he whiffs too much).
James McCann, Arkansas - McCann is the type of guy that I think of when I mentioned that there are lots of "safer" guys still available. It's hard to see McCann being a star, but he's been a steady, productive player in the SEC. 'Nuff said.
Jake Lowery, James Madison - I love me some production, and love giving some attention to smaller college ballplayers. Bring the two together, and you've got a paragraph on my blog. That's what Jake Lowery does. While he strikes too much, he also has 20+ doubles and 20+ home runs, to go along with 8 triples and 9 steals! There aren't many college players that have produced at that kind of level in any league at any position. Lowery is worth taking a chance on. I think there is legitimate power in his bat, and the triple and steals suggest some athleticism. He's not just some big lug with a big bat.
Nick Rickles, Stetson - Rickles is a bit like Chris O'Brien, in that he was a pedestrian hitter until this season. What jumps out are his strikeouts, or more aptly put, his lack of them. It's a little more than that though, given the extra base hits. Stetson has also hung around the top 25, so he is on a somewhat noteworthy team this year. Still, the lack of a track record with similar power and contact ability kept him from being higher, but young players do take steps forward from time to time. It's kind of what development is all about.
Tyler Ogle, Oklahoma - This will sound odd, but what stands out about Ogle for me are his stolen bases. He won't grab bags as a pro, but steals mean some athleticism. Ogle doesn't have eye-popping power, hitting, or really anything, but he might be able to stick at catcher and do enough of everything to contribute some day.
Jeremy Schaffer, Tulane - While Schaffer hasn't hit a ton of home runs, he has smacked plenty of doubles. If power develops, he could be a decent backstop.
I highlighted several catchers because I think it is the biggest hole in the Mariners farm system right now. They need to get another catcher, if not a few more. There are some prep ones available too, but I will stick with this list. It isn't complete, but these are all guys that caught my eye as I glossed over college players on weekends preparing for the draft.
Preston Tucker, Florida - Tucker is what he is: a first baseman with pull power. If he hits enough home runs, he will make it. If he doesn't, he won't. He has some decent contact skills, and I wonder if some improved plate discipline would help him sit on pitches he can crush.
Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt - Westlake is well on his way to a classic three outcome slugger: it's either a walk, a strikeout, or an extra base hit. The question is how much of each he accumulates. In college, Westlake got enough walks and home runs to counteract the strikeouts. He will strike out plenty as a pro too, so it's really a question of how much he'll hit and/or walk.
D.J. Hicks, UCF - Ditto what I just said for Westlake, except with a little less power and a little less discipline in a bit easier conference. In other words, Hicks projects as very fringy for me.
Taylor Ard, Washington State - I try to go out of my way to highlight players in Washington, and Ard is the best college hitter of the bunch. I really like his stroke, and he might not be limited to first base defensively. Third base and corner outfield slots aren't out of the question yet. Ard started creeping up my draft board with a late-season surge, as his offensive numbers reflect what I saw in the video I linked to above. To start the season, the production wasn't there. I actually like Ard a bunch at this point, and depending on where he goes, he could be a valuable pick for some team on the second day. Ard's walk total is low, which suggests to me that he's probably a little too aggressive for his power to shine through. He makes contact regularly, but he should be able to hit some more balls hard with his kind of swing.
Dan Paolini, Siena - Especially after watching the first day of the draft, I am further convinced that power is going out of style. Hence, interestingly enough, it might be the new market inefficiency. Enter a guy like Paolini, who is now Siena's all-time home run leader as a second baseman. A guy up the middle with pop is valuable in any generation, but one where power is scarce could make him even more valuable. Of course, there are reasons that Paolini didn't make my top 33. He strikes out a fair amount, and the level of competition makes me wonder too. Against pro competition, he won't get as many pitches to drive, and I wonder if his strike outs will take over and make him flame out quickly. However, the power seems to be legit, as the new bats didn't slow him down. The upside justifies taking Paolini on day two, perhaps even sooner rather than later.
Marquis Riley, North Carolina A&T - Another smaller college guy, Riley caught my attention with an incredibly low strikeout total. Add on to that patience, a little gap power, and a little speed at a position up the middle, and he looks like a small college player flying under the radar to me. While I think that Riley's strikeout total has to be somewhat fluky because it is so insanely low, I think there is a skill there. If he flourishes, he could fit the Placido Polanco mold. The downside is that he could simply be a slap hitter that ends up hitting with no authority at all.
Brad Miller, Clemson - Miller looks a bit like Craig Counsell at the plate, and that's probably a good comparison for him in general. He has been one of the most productive hitters in the ACC this year, and it's more than a one-year track record. Miller doesn't project to have much power though, and there are the inevitable questions about whether he can stick at shortstop. I'm not sure he can, but I'd start him there and see what happens. I'm not convinced Levi Michael will have a better career than him, even though he went at the end of the first round (and for the record I like Michael too).
Julius Gaines, Luella HS (GA) - I just about put Gaines on my top 33 list. He looks fantastic manning shortstop. He can definitely stick, and if he's a killer defender, it probably doesn't matter how much he hits. I also like Gaines's stroke, as it is level, and he is quiet at the plate. He is probably too quiet though, as I also don't see how he'll hit for much power at all. A slap-hitting shortstop is valuable as long as the defense justifies it. Julius shouldn't last too long on day two, because he could grow into some power with how young he is.
Nick Ahmed, Connecticut - Nick is a rare commodity, a college shortstop that many agree can stick at shortstop in the pros. In short, Ahmed does everything but hit. His defense is good, and baserunning fantastic. The hitting numbers overall are okay, but the lack of power worries me. Still, speed and defense are definitely back in, so it won't be long before Ahmed gets picked.
Trenton Moses, SE Missouri State - He's got some power without many strikeouts and an unusually high fielding percentage. A lack of errors could mean sure hands (good), a lack of range (bad), or maybe even both. It's something though, and it stuck out like a sore thumb. I don't know if it adds up to a pro prospect, but at some point on day two I'd take him and find out.
Matt Duffy, Tennessee - He's the SEC version of Trenton Moses. I'm not sure he's got much power, but third base isn't the easiest position to fill. He could profile as a nice bench guy, or spot starter.
B.A. Vollmuth, Southern Mississippi - Here is one of the more intriguing college bats in this year's draft. Vollmuth has some serious power potential, and he's pretty good in general athletically. He has some experience at shortstop in his career. The problem is strikeouts. They come in bunches for him. Looking at him swing, I think that comes from pitch selection and recognition more than mechanics. Vollmuth has a smooth, powerful stroke in my opinion. He requires some work, but might be worth the effort. I like his upside, though the strikeouts will derail him if he doesn't adjust. That's why I wouldn't pick Vollmuth early on, but I would definitely take him at some point in day two.
Jason Esposito, Vanderbilt - Esposito will go early on in day two, or should at least. Defensively, he's quite good, as he has logged significant time at shortstop. Offensively, there isn't the power that's preferred at a corner, but it might be coming. He racked up doubles. Competing at a high level in the SEC doesn't hurt his stock at all either.
Matt Skole, Georgia Tech - Early on, I liked Skole quite a bit. However, there are questions about his ability to stick at third base. He may end up in a corner outfield spot, where his marginal power doesn't play as well. Furthermore, I wonder how much more Skole will develop, as he already has an advanced approach at the plate that's taking advantage of his skills.
Jo-El Bennett, Houston Academy (AL) - This is the entire look I've got on Bennett, and I almost put him on my top 33 list. I just couldn't justify it though with so little to go on. I loved what I saw though. The one swing on the video was explosive. The wrists control the swing, which suggest bat control with power to me. However, that's reading a ton into one swing. He has a commitment to Troy, and turned down several SEC schools to go there. I think he's pretty set on going there, especially considering he hasn't been drafted yet.
Nick Martini, Kansas State - Martini has speed with an idea of what to do at the plate. On paper, he looks like a player that knows who he is. If he turns out to be a good defender, he might profile as some nice outfield depth.
Chad Wright, Kentucky - Wright has gap power, with a little speed, a little patience, and a good contact rate. There's no dominant tool, but no glaring weakness either. He is the type of player that easily gets lost in a draft, but might end up being a decent player.
Taylor Dugas, Alabama - Dugas is short (listed at just 5'7"), but at least has gap power. He also takes advantage of his height, if his high walk total is any sort of indication. Dugas profiles as a scrappy reserve at best, but I think there might be some power potential with all the doubles he hit this year.
Bryson Myles, Stephen F. Austin - Myles steals almost one base a game, which is pretty ridiculous when you think about it. He's got over 50 steals on the season despite playing what would amount to a little over a couple months in a pro season. He also has flashed some power, but also with an elevated strikeout rate. He might be another Michael Bourn in the making.
Trevor Mitsui, Shorewood HS (WA) - Another local product, Mitsui is among the best home run hitters in the prep ranks this year across the nation. When I saw him on tape, I thought he got on his front foot too much to hit for much power, but the production is there. Perhaps there is even more power potential in his bat, and I think power is getting scarcer and scarcer.
LEFT HANDED PITCHERS
Mitchell Beacom, LHP, UCLA - A tall (6'8"), overpowering lefty out of the bullpen in one of the elite baseball conferences in the nation. Relievers aren't worth high picks, but they are worth something on day two.
Nick Maronde, LHP, Florida - Maronde's strikeout rate has fallen significantly...all the way down to 11.84 K/9 as of this post. He strikes out tons of batters in relief, and has shown much improved control this season. I think home runs will be a problem for him as a pro, but there aren't many lefties who strike out guys as much as he does.
Chris Joyce, LHP, Santa Barbara CC - A smaller college prospect, Joyce caught my eye in the summer, and followed up with a very good spring. I don't have much to go on with him, but at some point a productive lefty is worth taking. I think it happens at some point on day two.
Mitchell Lambson, LHP, Arizona State - Another great lefty reliever in the Pac-10, Lambson doesn't succeed with power as much as with a nice change-up - ala J.P. Howell of the Rays. His ERA is rather high, but seems to driven mostly by an insanely high BABIP. The strikeout and walk rates are both good, so Lambson might fall simply because he's easy to overlook with the bad luck. Somebody might get a fast-rising lefty reliever relatively late in the draft.
Adam Conley, LHP, Washington State - Conley isn't much of a strikeout artist, but he works deep into ballgames, and has succeeded in a pretty tough conference. A hittable lefty with command coming out of a good conference is worth a look.
Ryan Carpenter, LHP, Gonzaga - I am a little surprised that Carpenter is still available. He finished the season strong, and was one of the last cuts from my top 33 list. He's been tough to hit home runs off of his whole career, and added a bunch more strike outs this year. Carpenter is one of the better lefties coming out of the college ranks this year, and I don't expect him to wait long to hear his name called on day two.
Sam Stafford, LHP, Texas - For me, Stafford is Jed Bradley light. While Bradley conquered his control demons and became one of the best pitchers in the ACC, Stafford still has some control issues. However, he's also hard to square up, and gets more than his fair share of strikeouts. I think his K rate will decline if/when his command improves, so I'm not sure he projects as much of a power arm. However, Stafford developed a ton this year, and comes out of one of the strongest college baseball programs in the nation.
RIGHT HANDED PITCHERS
Tyler Wilson, RHP, Virginia - Powerful numbers for one of the best programs in the nation in one of the best conferences. 'Nuff said.
Kyle Winkler, RHP, TCU - Kyle stepped out of Matt Purke's sizable shadow when Purke wasn't pitching with arm troubles. At this point, it would not surprise me if Winkler went ahead of Purke, even though I'd still take a chance on Purke's upside. Winkler is a little undersized, and I think he works fairly hard on the mound to maintain the stuff that he has. Still, he's a good pitching prospect.
Sam Gaviglio, RHP, Oregon State - I fell in love with Gaviglio the first time I saw him. I'm not sure what did it for me, and it was hard for me to cut him from my top 33 list. Thankfully, my rational side prevailed. The reality is that what I liked about Gaviglio the most, his slider, usually comes with a big platoon split. In addition, Gaviglio's arm slot is the type that tends to produce platoon splits. As much as I like Sam, he might end up pitching to contact, and being the type of pitcher very easily neutralized by left-handed bats.
Bo Reeder, RHP, East Tennessee State - Reeder is among the best two-way players in the nation. He has legitimate power in the batter's box and on the mound. I think he strikes out to much to be an every day hitter, so I see him as a reliever. As he focuses on pitching, he might develop more than most college pitchers, simply because a chunk of his development time has been spent on hitting. I'm also a fan of thinking outside the box, and I kind of like the idea of a reliever that can also pinch hit on occasion.
Mason Radeke, RHP, Cal Poly SLO - Radeke is the antithesis of a high ceiling power pitcher. He doesn't throw that hard, but has good command with a good idea of what he wants to do on the mound. Inevitably the mysterious "pitchability" term will come up when he is drafted. This is one of those arms that's highly likely to outpitch many of the prep arms already taken, but also come well short of the ones that pan out.
Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, South Florida - I'll admit, the first thing that grabbed my attention was the name, which is a bad reason to take a closer look at him. However, upon further review, this senior with some off the field issues has some legitimate stuff. He's dang near unhittable, and has a track record of dominance too. I'm not as certain he will go on day two, but I wanted to give a brief write-up on him in case he does.
Kevin Vance, RHP, Connecticut - The UConn closer is the best pitching prospect on the team besides Matt Barnes. The Huskies were loaded with talent this year, and while I think Ahmed will go ahead of Vance, he shouldn't take forever to get picked. This closer has a pro future, and we'll know quickly if he has much of a future in the majors too.
Logan Verrett, RHP, Baylor - I thought Verrett would do a little better this year, but he fell just short of a strikeout an inning. There isn't anything that sticks out, for better and for worse, about his numbers. In a major conference like the Big 12, that's okay. He has a chance to develop into a decent pro pitcher.
Greg Gonzalez, RHP, Fresno State - If Gonzalez was a junior, he would have been on my top 33 list. However, a year means a lot at the college level, and he is a senior. That should make him easy to sign, but aside from that, he is a legitimate prospect. He has gone over 100 innings this season and is yet to give up a home run, along with impeccable control and a high strikeout rate. Gonzalez's pitching line is flawless, but he's simply not a high ceiling power arm like most of the pitchers picked on day one. I am curious to see where he goes, because he is one of the more talented seniors I've seen in a draft over the past few years.
Anthony Meo, RHP, Coastal Carolina - There were some rumors that Meo could sneak into the back end of the first round, but obviously that did not happen. Meo is a power arm, capable of throwing in the mid 90s, with perhaps even more velocity as a reliever. Many think he is more of a thrower, which is why many see him as a bullpen guy in the future. However, Meo has been productive as a starter, and shown enough development for me to at least let him stay in a rotation to start his career. I expect him to go pretty early on day two.
I could keep going, but I still have a real job to go to tomorrow, where I will miss all of day two. Sorry, no live tweeting, but like I said, the headline guys are gone. However, there is a ton of MLB talent still on the board, and maybe even a bigger batch of impact guys than usual to boot. My hunch is that many teams loaded up on high end talent in day one, thinking they could come back on day two and fill out the draft class with steadier role players.
It should be interesting to see what kind of draft strategies teams had as there are enough picks to properly gauge what teams set out to do. As far as the Mariners go, I hope to see a catcher taken with their first three or four picks, and I think taking Danny Hultzen second overall gives them some flexibility to take someone who they might have to go over the slot recommendation to sign. I'd fully support that, especially if it is an effort to bolster the offense.