In a weak college crop of hitters, this is where more of the high-ceiling talent can be had. There are few sure-fire players coming out of the college ranks that you can project to be regulars. Many of the best, or at least most potential-laden outfielders in this class are more gifted defensively and on the bases. Those that are not may be a bit stronger, or at least more consistent offensively, but even with that they have their major negatives (being a corner OF, but maybe having tweener power). The JUCO circuit might just be a bit more heavily scouted this year, with some interesting talent available compared to what’s out there in Division I baseball right now.
Most (very logically) have Austin Wilson as the best overall college outfielder, as his raw tools are likely better than anyone else. Phil Ervin may have the best mix of tools and skill though, and it’s shown up in the stat sheet. He has not dominated competition as much as one might like at Samford, but after he put on a clinic this summer in Cape Cod action, Ervin probably earned himself a first round spot. His ability to be a strong value in center and on the bases doesn’t hurt either.
This is just a brief look at the top 20 available. I’ll be doing some more quick features on each guy, and/or comparisons as well.
- Phil Ervin, Samford: Quality hit and power tools (for a CF), while providing well above-average defensive value up the middle with strong base-running value to boot.
- Austin Wilson, Stanford: Has arguably the best mix of tools available in a college outfielder. He will have to overcome the stigma of being a Stanford hitter though, and so far weak NCAA production isn’t helping his case much.
- Aaron Judge, Fresno State: Massive power, maybe in the top three overall in this class. Still needs to show it in games though. Not a bad eye at the plate, either.
- Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton: Solid hit tool, strong arm, strong defense, above-average wheels.
- Raph Rhymes, LSU: Might not project that much in terms of tools, but you can’t wholly and totally ignore the production of 2012 (.469 wOBA, strong contact and walk rates).
- Michael O’Neill, Michigan: Great pure tools, nice power and speed mix, with good defense up the middle as well.
- Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State: Speaking of great pure tools, a lot of the same here. Fantastic arm. Guaranteed to be the best of this bunch if his tools start showing up in games consistently.
- Johnny Field, Arizona: Not long on tools, but he’s certainly produced in his time as a Wildcat.
- Eric Filia, UCLA: Had one of the better non-Cape Cod summer seasons last year (in Northwoods league). Stock on the rise, and good raw tools.
- Jared King, Kansas State: Nice mix of a strong hit tool, decent pop, good contact rates, and speed. Definitely one of the more interesting oufielders overall though with solid speed/power mix and sound approach.
- Brandon Thomas, Georgia Tech: Stock was still a strong heading into 2012 draft, but never regained momentum after an off summer campaign. Nonetheless, posted a .459 wOBA (park/sched adj) in 2012, a very competitive number in this group. Could be a good value earlier in Day 2.
- CK Irby, Samford: The two-way player hasn’t dominated on either side of the ball, but has been above-average for sure. Performed well while still pitching in 30 games, so I’m interested to see him play the outfield full-time.
- Jason Monda, Washington State: In terms of raw tools, possibly one of the top 4 or 5 outfielders. Has shown good power and speed, albeit inconsistently, in the past.
- Ryan Cordell, Liberty: Not much production in his time in the Big South Conference. His play in the Alaska league is what stands out most. Should prove to have strong value up the middle, or possibly as a super-utility guy.
- Elliot Caldwell, South Carolina Community College: Dominated the Prospect League this past summer. Still raw, but his pure speed and power project well with an improved skill set in a few years. Lots of value as a defender, too.
- Omar Cotto, USC: Has yet to do much at USC, but was one of the better hitters in Northwoods league action this past summer with a good approach and speed on the bases.
- Adam Engel, Louisville: Very much your table-setter type, just without much patience at the plate. Plenty of speed, and a serviceable, if not solid hit tool.
- Jordan Dunatov, JUCO: One of the more high-ceiling’d outfielders in the junior college ranks this year.
- Conor Williams, Utah Community College: The two-way talent could still be drafted as a bat or arm by an organization. He’ll be playing for one of the top JUCO programs.
- Tyler Marincov, North Florida: Ancient by draft standards (OK, he’s not that old), he wrecked the Northwoods league this summer to the tune of .312/.403/.532. He’s also put up two years of solid production in Atlantic Sun Conference play as well.