Another in-depth look at the KU Baseball roster by bkmhoxx moved up from the diaries. Be sure to hit "read more" for the full story.
On occasion, I will be providing a more in-depth look at some of the players for the KU baseball team. I will be giving a perspective that has more of a "scout" feel to it. I like to figure out a players ceiling and talk about their strengths and weaknesses. I use their statistics as a tool but not as an overall measuring device. I like to look at a players make-up and tools and try to figure out who is going to have a break-out year and/or who has professional quality skills. I get my information from watching the players in person, from websites, from talking to other writers and scouts and from coaches and people close to the program. I then take all of my information and make guesstimates. I will sometimes use a professional grading system of 2-8, with 2 being poor and 8 being outstanding. I enjoy reader comments and your opinions are always welcome.
This second installation will cover current players for the upcoming 2008 team. These are players that currently show certain skills or upside making them capable of being drafted and/or playing at the next level. You can use this to "get to know" some of these kids and then you can go to the ballpark and make your own observations. The younger players and newcomers are very difficult to project as i have seen very little of them in person and they have more than likely played much lesser competition than what the Big 12 will offer them. And remember that NCAA/MLB rules wont allow a player to be draft eligible until he turns 21 (normally his junior year). So in some cases, I am projecting 2-3 years down the road.
Erik Morrison SS (6'1, 195 lbs)
Morrison is a senior who was drafted in the 49th round in last years draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates but declined their offer and came back for his senior season at KU. With a solid senior campaign, he should be able to drastically improve his draft slot. Morrison has some very nice tools and has very high upside. Defensively he has a plus arm I would grade to be about a 7. He is a good fielder with good hands. He will flash the leather a lot this year and show off his arm strength although it would help him to cut down on some of his errors (10) and keep his emotions in check. Offensively, Morrison shows a good swing with decent power (7 HR) and decent speed (6 SB). The issue with Erik will be whether or not he can keep his average (.296) at a respectable level or not. If he can eliminate just a few errors, get his average up n the .310-.320 range and show more improvement, Morrison could be looked at fairly early. My guess would be 8th round on the high side, 20th round on the low side.
Preston Land 1B (6'3, 236 lbs)
Land is a junior with pro body. Land has a good arm although he will rarely get to show it this year playing 1b. He has some fairly serious raw power that could very well develop into plus power at the professional level. Land even has pretty good speed for a guy his size. He may project as a first baseman in the pros. This all depends on how much his power develops this year. My guess would be 20th round on the high side, 40th round on the low side and my guess is that he would stick around for his senior year.
Ryne Price C/RF (5'11, 190 lbs)
Ryne is a senior who plays 2 positions. He will play RF and he backed up at catcher last year. Ryne will likely do the same this year, possibly backing up at catcher a bit more. Ryne lives for the game of baseball and you can see it when you watch him play. He has a few things going for him that I think could get him some looks at the professional level. He is a leftie with plus power that could easily develop into decent HR totals. He has a great arm and he runs fairly well. I can easily see a professional team taking a chance on Ryne at the catching spot if not RF. This will be a big season for him to show that his defense behind the plate will improve quite a bit and his strikeouts will drop. If he can do those 2 things and continue to show his positives, I think he will have a shot. My guess would be 30th round on the high side, 45th round on the low side.
Robby Price 2b (5'11, 176 lbs)
Robby is a sophomore who plays multiple positions. He plays 2b but can also play many others. Robby is a student of the game and he knows it very well. He is a contact hitter that hits to all sides of the field. He puts up a nice average and gets on base a lot. Robby is a very good defender and I think this may get him a look down the road in pro ball. His arm needs to improve along with his speed. He is still young and has a year or two to get better but with his contact hitting skills and his plus defense, my guess would be 30th round on the high side, 45th round on the low side (in next years draft) although he will play for KU at least 1more year and I would guess he would stay for his senior year and could very easily improve his draft status to a pick near the 20th round.
John Allman LF (6`2, 225 lbs)
Allman is a senior who has worked very hard to get where he is. He doesn't really possess the tools that a lot of guys with his resume have. Allman has a good bat and hits for average with some gap power although his kind of power probably wont ever translate into HR's. He plays a good LF with decent range and shows good hands. This year I think John will need to cut down on some of his strikeouts, continue to hit for a high average and show a little pop in his bat. If he does that my guess would be 25th round on the high side, 40th round on the low side.
Tony Thompson 3B/IF (6'5, 220lbs)
Thompson is a freshman and I personally haven't seen him play yet. He is a very big kid yet very athletic. He has a pro-body. He uses the entire field with his bat but he also possesses plus-power. He is an average runner. He is a pretty good defender with room to improve and has a great arm. This will be a fun year to watch Thompson and see how he handles big 12 pitching. If he destroys the ball as expected, I could see him being drafted very early after his junior year. My guess would be a possible top 10 round draft pick, but we get to enjoy Thompson in a Jayhawk uniform for 3 years before that can happen.
Jimmy Waters C/UTIL/LF (6'0, 200 lbs)
Waters is also a freshman that I haven't seen play yet. He is a leftie with gap to gap power that may translate to some HRs as he develops. He has been described as a pure hitter. He is a great athlete and a good runner. It sounds like he may give catching a shot this spring, while also possibly playing some LF and DH at some point this season. If he can find a spot on the field and really improve his defense, he too could be drafted very high. I see him sneaking into the top 10 rounds and we get to see Waters for 3 years as a Jayhawk as well.
Nick Czyz LHP (6'2, 215 lbs)
Czyz is a junior. Hes a talented leftie with a fastball in the 86-90 range. He has a good off speed pitch and a good curve but neither are a very solid "out" pitch quite yet. If he can improve his command and find an "out" pitch, my guess would be 8th round on the high side, 15th round on the low side.
Sam Freeman LHP (5'11, 170 lbs)
Freeman is a JUCO transfer that was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 24th round. He's also a talented leftie with a fastball in the 88-92 range. He has an excellent off speed pitch and a plus slider. More than likely Freeman will be a weekend starter and if he can prove himself in the Big 12, he should move up the draft chart nicely. I would guess 8th round on the high side, 20th round on the low side.
Shaeffer Hall LHP (6'2, 195 lbs)
Hall is a talented sophomore. He's a leftie that has been drafted twice before. He has 3 pitches he throws for strikes. He has a plus off speed pitch and a good breaking pitch and he also locates the ball very well. Hall has 1 more season after this one before he is eligible to be drafted. After next season, my guess would be 12th round on the high side, 20th round on the low side although he may be a 4 year player that can really be special as a senior.
Hiarali Garcia RHP (6, 200 lbs)
Garcia is a senior. He throws from the right side with a fastball in the 90-93 range. He really needs to show a secondary pitch this year as his off speed pitches don't fool many hitters. With Garcia rating out at a 6 or 7 with his velocity, my guess would be 15th round on the high side, 25th round on the low side.
Andres Esquibel RHP (6'2, 220 lbs)
Esquibel is a senior that has quite a bit of upside. His fastball sits at 88-91. He currently has only an average off speed pitch and an average slider. Esquibel pounds the strike zone and if he can develop a plus pitch or secondary pitch, he could prove to be very effective. My guess would be 20th round on the high side, 35th round on the low side.
Andy Marks LHP (6'2, 215 lbs)
Marks is a junior. Andy is coming off of labrum surgery and will get a slow start to the season trying to recover from that. Hes a talented leftie with a fastball in the 89-92 range. He has a plus off speed pitch and a plus curve but throws with a slower arm speed which makes his pitches easier to pick up for the batter. If he can have a healthy season, my guess would be 25th round on the high side, 40th round on the low side. I would expect Marks to come back next year and prove his health again and increase his arm speed and really move himself up the draft charts his senior year.
Thomas Marcin RHP (6'3, 204 lbs)
Marcin is a sophomore. Hes a right hander with good stuff and a fastball in the 93-94 range. He has a plus slider but his downfall thus far has been his command. He has had troubles locating his pitches and throwing strikes. If he can improve his command, the sky is the limit. Marcin is a sophomore so he still has 2 years left to improve before being draft eligible. My guess right now would be a late round draft pick. I would expect Marcin to improve his command in the next 2 years at KU and really increase his looks from scouts.
Paul Smyth RHP (5'11, 215 lbs)
Smyth is a junior. Hes a right hander with good movement on his cutter that comes in about 89-92. He gets more movement on his slower pitches that come in below 90. His arm angle is a big part of his success thus far. He has an average but improving slider and he is working on his off speed pitch as well. He also throws strikes but his weakness is the fact that I don't see an "out" pitch. I think Smyth can use this season to really find that "out" pitch and be a successful closer. If he can do this, my guess would be a late round draft pick maybe in the 50's. I would expect a team to take a chance on Smyth as he does have some possible upside as a bullpen guy to face right handers. I could see Smyth returning for his senior year and improving his draft slot and really finding that "out" pitch.
Jordan Jakubov RHP (6'4,200 lbs)
Jakubov was one of the most highly recruited players in the state of Kansas. He is a great athlete with a professional body and a very fast runner. He throws in the 88-89mph range. Jakubov did however have Tommy John surgery this summer and will be red-shirted this season. Jakubov should be ready to pitch next spring and does bring a lot of skill.. He has a good opportunity to have a professional career if he can overcome the TJ surgery. After 3 years at KU, I could see Jakubov in the 10 th - 35th round area.
There are others on the team that can improve enough to be considered possible draftees (Marciel, Manos, Larson, Afenir, Etc) but for now I just went with the ones I felt were the closest. Of course not all of these players will be drafted, but each one offers something that pro scouts will be interested in. I will revisit this list as the season progresses and see how it looks.
My next project will be covering the opposing players that will have a shot at professional baseball in their future. I will probably cover the higher draft pick caliber players for that article. I will also go over the players that are coming to Lawrence so you can go to the park with some existing knowledge of who might be special to keep an eye on for the opponent.