From 3B to RF to LF to 1B, the 4 Corners are expected to hit, preferably with power. The Giants need production from their corners desperately this year. The college hitters profiled below are going into a two month crunch period where getting hot will break them up and down the draft board. Lots of money is at stake. Most if not all of these guys won’t crack the majors. Which brings me to Aubrey Huff. Does he have anything left in the tank? Will this even year/odd year mojo hold up? Will Giants fans go check their 2010 DVDs and give him a shot, or will the possible Brandon Belt demotion put the crowd in an ugly mood? I say give the man a chance, he was a good Giant who carried the 2010 team on his shoulders before being found lacking in the leadership and conditioning departments in 2011. Career slash line of 279/342/466 with 241 HRs is a very nice major league career, and it will most likely be concluded at the end of this season. May you hit on those averages this year, Huffy. In honor of that, here are 17 college hitters who play the corners, ranked in the order I think they should be drafted.
1. Tyler Naquin RF Texas A&M (6’2 175 L/R 4/24/1991 JR) Hitting 408/492/573 with 8 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 18BB/17K, 10/14SB 27R/25RBI in 103 ABs. Naquin has the dreaded tweener label, maybe the best current evidence being the 30 singles to go along with the stellar BA. Apparently his range is keeping him out of CF but multiple reports have him as the best arm in college baseball, which must have filtered through to his competitors because he only has 1 assist on the year. The big question for him is will there be power as he fills in his frame. The play the game the right way label is there as well, he has good situational awareness, great hand eye coordination and a great hit tool. His defensive skills along with the hitting makes him an impressive and intriguing candidate.
2. Richie Shaffer 1B/3B Clemson (6’4 195 R/R 3/15/1991 JR) Hitting 319/471/659 with 11 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 27BB/20K, 23R/24RBI, 1/1 SB in 91 ABs. For the opposite approach, here is Shaffer, who only has 11 singles to go along with the extra base hits. Shaffer has the most usable power in the draft class. He strays into the three true outcome territory. The knocks against him will be can he make enough contact and what is his true position, is he coordinated enough to handle 3B or the OF. Others have seen him more, when I turned on the Clemson-Miami game yesterday for a few innings I saw a guy who was much more athletic than was reported or viewed in internet clips, with some fire in his belly. Leadership should be way down the list, but Shaffer looks like he has some intangibles. Power to all fields, usable power and plate discipline, I like him a lot.
3. James Ramsey RF Florida State (6’0 190 L/R 12/19/1989 SR) Hitting 422/554/856 with 6 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 26BB/16K, 37R/29RBI, 2/5 SB in 90 ABs. Ramsey is killing the ball, clogging the bases and just monstering it up. The big big knock on him will be his age. He is behind the 8 ball on that for sure. He profiles as a LF with no outstanding tools except for his bat. That is almost strike 2 for him. Definitely an aggressive ranking here, but I think the bat will save him and some team will get a bargain. Intangibles galore with a great bat.
4. Stephen Piscotty 3B Stanford (6’3 195 R/R 1/14/1991 JR) Hitting 311/386/533 with 7 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 9BB/8K, 21R/25RBI, 1/1 SB in 90 ABs. Piscotty cooled down for a bit, his hit tool is his best aspect. His early fielding jitters have settled down, he has 7 errors on the season though, mostly throwing. Like Naquin, Piscotty might have a tweener label attached if the power doesn’t fill in. Unlike Naquin, I don’t see him as having any special attributes such as defense or gamerness. In fact, if he wasn’t a natural hitter who tore up the cape I would rank him lower. I’m just not a big fan, but somebody will snatch him up early.
5. Matt Reynolds SS/3B Arkansas (6’1 200 R/R D/O/B: ? JR) Hitting 364/491/580 with 10 2B, 3 HR, 22BB/9K, 24R/21RBI, 9/10 SB in 88 ABs. Reynolds big knock has been consistency and the other would be above average but not great tools. He is coming on strong, but teams might be a bit leery of him. One advantage he has is good game speed (off of a 7.00/60) and defensive versatility. I want to know how old he is. Patient at the plate, good bat speed and good defensively with a strong arm. The chance to move him to 2B where his bat could be an advantage is something that might appeal to teams if his power doesn’t fill in.
6. Jeff Gelalich RF/DH UCLA (6’1 205 L/R 3/16/1991 JR) Hitting 416/509/674 with 5 2B, 6HR, 16BB/10K, 26R/20 RBI, 6/7 SB. Gelalich is one of the biggest risers, carrying UCLA on his back. He has good speed 6.7/60, a smooth LH swing and he runs well. Plus arm in the OF and is a very smooth fielder. He has the rep as a gap-to-gap hitter. If the power is filling in, he will be rising fast.
7. Christian Walker 1B South Carolina (6’0 220 R/R 3/28/1991 JR) Hitting 320/437/536 with 6 2B, 5HR, 17BB/11K, 19R/26RBI in 97 ABs. I feel like this guy is getting overlooked. He is tough enough to play through a broken hammate. He went shot for shot with Bryce Harper at the power showcase that was Harper’s coming out party. Speaking of drinking, don’t get in a beer for beer with a guy from PA. Those guys will sneak up on you, especially as you get out to the rural areas. He doesn’t have plus plus power, but he hits enough and is strong enough to be a solid player.
8. Preston Tucker OF/1B Florida (6’0 220 L/L 7/6/1990 SR) Hitting 320/400/650 with 6 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 13BB/13K, 22R/24RBI, 2/3 SB in 103 ABs. Like Ramsey the big knock on him will be age. Tucker has been playing RF this year, but has some defensive versatility. The knock on him has been “bad body” but he keeps on hitting. Ramsey is outperforming him in the battle of the Florida seniors so far this year.
9. Patrick Wisdom 1B/3B St. Mary’s (6’2 210 R/R 8/27/1991 JR) Hitting 227/373/455 with 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 19BB/22K, 21R/8RBI, 2/2 SB in 88 ABs. Widsom is starting to heat up after a slow start, but makes up for it with a high OBP. His power is his tool, and he took his game north instead of east on up to Alaska (Yukon Ho!) where he was a big time standout in the summer. Like Reynolds, the DOB fill in would be nice.
10. Jayce Boyd 1B Florida State (6’3 200 R/R 12/30/1990 JR) Hitting 366/442/525 with 10 2B, 2HR, 14BB/10K, 23 R/31RBI, 4/4 SB in 101 ABs. Boyd is pairing up with Ramsey nicely, although his power isn’t showing up yet. Boyd is considered a plus defensive 1B, which is a nice bonus but the bat has to play. He is a later birthdate which further reduces his margin for error at a very competitive position that demands power.
11. Brandon Thomas LF Georgia Tech (6’3 205 S/R 2/07/1991 JR) Hitting 349/444/519, 9 2B, 3 3B. 1 HR, 13BB/6HBP/22K, 29R/20RBI, 10/11 SB in 106 ABs. I keep coming back to this guy, a switch hitter with a lot of tools. Will the power fill in? The other question is can he play center? He has been bumped to left by speedster sophomore Kyle Wren, somebody to keep an eye on. He has a few HBP, don’t know if its from scrappiness or incidental. Thomas has speed and has utilized it well. He might be a plus fielder on the corners if he can hit enough, or be a plus bat in CF. Very interesting prospect.
12. Adam Brett Walker 1B Jacksonville (6’5 225 R/R 10/18/1991 JR) Hitting 292/400/479 with 9 2B, 3 HR, 18R/19RBI, 18BB/23K, 3/4 SB in 96 ABs. Walker has one big advantage, his relative youth. He has plus plus power, and the knock is going to be contact. He is not having a good season so far. I would hang the Chris Dominguez label on him: man among boys, big time power, huge contact issues. No idea how far he would fall if he doesn’t get hot, some team will most likely take a chance in the supplemental.
13. Jeremy Baltz LF St. John’s (6’3 205 R/R 9/17/1990 JR) Hitting 307/395/515 with 3 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 11BB/10K, 25R/20RBI, 8/11 SB in 101 ABs. Found his birthday off the Yanks draft profile, he was drafted 45th round in 2009 by them. He is a late birthday, so in addition to his being a LF all the way, he has some strikes against him. The bat is what teams are drafting. It is a bit surprising he has 8 SBs already. I like the St. John’s guys, and I have the totally irrational Mark Jackson comp for Baltz, a New Yorker who just gets it done.
14. DJ Hicks 1B/RHP Central Florida (6’5 250 R/R 4/2/1990 RS JR ) Hitting 337/473/612 with 3 2B, 9 HR, 29BB/23K and 21R/41RBI in 98 ABs. Drafted by the Giants (49th round 2008) most likely for his pitching arm, Hicks is making some noise with the bat. 9 long balls out of Central Florida, to go along with very nice plate discipline. The knock, as with a lot of guys in this draft, is age. Hicks is a Giant of a man. Another big knock will be competition, but he is demonstrating power so I listed him over other worthy candidates.
15. Max Muncy 1B Baylor (6’1 205 L/R 8/25/1990 JR) Hitting 333/438/543 with 6 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 18BB/14K, 22R/26RBI, 2/3 SB in 105 ABs. Didn’t profile Muncy before, he has defensive versatility to go along with a very good hit tool. Age is an issue, he doesn’t have great speed but it might be a sum of all parts plus the hitting and a good arm that gets him drafted. Line drive hitter with strength, has to add power and might be able to handle 2B. Nice sleeper.
16. Robert Refsnyder RF Arizona (6’0 200 R/R 3/26/1991 JR) Hitting 374/465/514 with 9 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 9BB/10HBP/13K, 25R/26RBI, 9/11 SB in 107 ABs. There are a bunch of OFs in the Pac12 alone that could have gone here. Refnsyder might be Naquin lite, with scouts waiting to see if power shows up at all. He hit well in the Cape, he has some scrappiness to him (10HBP already this year) and has the arm to play RF. His range is keeping him out of CF, but he is a good athlete. Finally, dug a bit and it turns out he is Korean, adopted from foster parents to the states when he was 6 months old and ended up in Laguna. So the human interest story wins out. He has the hit tool and power potential.
17. Victor Roache LF Georgia Southern (6’1 225 R/R 9/17/1991 JR) Hit 412/600/765 with 2 HR, 7BB/1K in 17 ABs before his injury. So how about this guy? He has sunk down draft boards, but that will change in an instant if he comes back this season. If the Giants weren’t intent on running their Matt Cain negotiations into the ground, I think he would make an excellent choice at #20. However, there is trouble in paradise. His Cape Cod summer went south once pitchers started feeding him breaking balls. As with all power hitters the contact issue is key. Roache is a high risk proposition. He punishes the ball like no other college bat in the draft though.
Conclusion: So that’s some corner bats, most of the likely suspects. If you have others you like better, please chime in. My ranking is wacked? How so? The Giants have really focused on Up The Middle Bats, which is a pretty good strategy. So I’ll do a update profile of Catchers, CFs and MIs next . It is most likely an exercise in futility, because if the Giants don’t get Matt Cain signed in the next 5 days, he is gone and they absolutely have to draft pitchers, pitchers and more pitchers. However, I’m an optimist despite getting my expectations hammered in the last week, I’ll throw it up. 18 strong, for our Tennessee Stud, may he please stay in the French Vanilla.