Fifty "Very Luhnow" Prospects Part 2: The Pitchers

USA TODAY Sports

With the college season kicking off this weekend, we take a look at which college pitchers might be fits for the Houston Astros in the 2014 draft.

Earlier this week, I looked at some of the college position players who may be fits for the Astros. In this installment, we do the same for college pitchers. To rank these players, it bears mentioning that I used only numbers, not scouting. So while I used height, handedness, fastball velocity (where available), statistics, etc. - I did not put in any amount of projection or scouting data. This list factors in that Carlos Rodon is a 6'3" lefty who pitched in the ACC and who struck out 12.51 batters per nine innings as a junior. It does not factor in his slider, the fact that he profiles as an ace in the major leagues, or that he heals the sick children of the world with a simple wave of his pinkie.

I'm just going to warn you. My ranking system was not big on Rodon. You're big on Rodon. I get it. You should be big on Rodon. My ranking system is not sentimental the way we are sentimental. It's a robot. I mean, it's a spreadsheet, but it's basically a robot. One day, robots will take over the world and they will draft Aaron Nola instead of Carlos Rodon because Aaron Nola walks almost no one and gets a lot of guys out, whereas Carlos Rodon strikes a lot of people out, but walks a few too many. When that happens, you'll be very angry, and you'll have every right to be, but they won't really care, you see, because they're robots. You'll see. Don't say I didn't warn you.

At any rate, once again, this is not a ranking of players by ability, or by draft position. It's a ranking of players that match what I consider to be what the Houston Astros front office is looking for in pitchers. And it will all, of course, change during the 2014 campaign.

1. Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU (SEC).

Player Page

Height: 6'1" Weight: 196 lbs. High School: Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, La.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 6/4/93 (21.00 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2011 - 22nd round (679th overall) - Toronto Blue Jays

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 LSU (SEC) 19/16 89.2 7 4 3.61 1.06 8.93 0.08
2012 Harwich (CCL) 2/2 11.0 2 0 0.82 0.64 12.27 1.64
2013 LSU (SEC) 17/17 126.0 12 1 1.57 0.80 8.71 1.29

I know, you're already upset. Might as well call it a day. Who in the world is Aaron Nola, and why should you care? Well, because Aaron Nola is awesome, that's why. Aaron Nola is the best pitcher in the Southeastern Conference. Over two seasons, Aaron Nola has pitched 216 innings against Division-I baseball players - most of them SEC players - and he's walked just 25 of them. With a WHIP of almost 0.900. He's struck out almost a batter an inning. Think about these 2013 numbers: 126 IP, 18 BB, 122 K. That's crazy good for a college sophomore. Also, Aaron Nola turns 21 years old the day before the draft, which means he's also crazy young for his level. Respect, man. Just... respect.

2. Dillon Newman, RHP, Baylor (Big 12).

Player Page

Height: 6'2" Weight: 200 lbs. High School: Belton High School (Belton, Tex.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 7/5/91 (22.92 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2013 - 16th round (467th overall) - Houston Astros; 2010 - 49th round (1,472nd overall) - New York Mets

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Baylor (Big 12) 13/1 27.1 1 1 3.29 1.35 5.60 1.98
2011 Wareham (CCL) 15/0 27.0 2 1 4.33

1.37

8.67 2.00
2012 Baylor (Big 12) 21/1 45.0 4 4 2.40 1.11 8.80 2.20
2012 Victoria (TCL) 9/6 40.2 3 1 1.99 0.81 10.18 1.11
2013 Baylor (Big 12) 12/12 77.1 3 4 2.91 0.88 6.05 0.58

With an arm so nice, they may draft him twice. He'd have to consent to a re-draft, but you better believe that Newman is still on the Astros' radar a season after they drafted him in the 16th round. The righty out of Baylor wasn't a dominant strikeout guy as Big 12 pitchers go in 2013, but he walked just five batters over 77.1 innings, which is impressive no matter how you look at it. When you add in that he did it after being converted to a starter after spending his entire career in the bullpen, it's even more impressive.

3. David Berg, RHP, UCLA (Pac-12).

Player Page

Height: 6'0" Weight: 194 lbs. High School: Bishop Amat High School (La Puente, Calif.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 3/28/93 (21.19 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 UCLA (Pac 12) 50/0 74.0 5 3 1.46 0.80 7.66 2.07
2013 UCLA (Pac 12) 51/0 78.0 7 0 0.92 0.85 9.00 1.27

When David Berg takes the mound in the ninth inning for the defending National Champion UCLA Bruins, the game's over. Why? Because the guy dominates. He combines a tricky side-arm motion with a fastball which travels just 81-83 MPH, but with heavy sink. He mixes in a big, sweeping breaking ball. And he's a grinder, which has led John Klima to write one of his least-cogent scouting reports to date:

Next, I also have an idea as to why this guy is so nasty. It has nothing to do with velocity. The reason why this guy is so nasty question actually has many answers outside of baseball itself, which is one reason why this guy has had to, and will have to, battle tooth and nail for everything he gets in this game. Less sophisticated observers will dismiss him.

But I will say this in public. You cannot put a price tag on an individual’s ability to battle for everything he gets in this game, especially this young. And I know there are people out there reading this who don’t know what I mean, because they haven’t had to fight for a single thing. But like I say, the radar gun is a crutch and it does not tell you everything nor can it teach you everything. I’ve seen fewer examples of just what I mean than Bergy over here.

I have no idea what he's talking about, but doesn't that stir you to... I don't know, do something with your life? Klima uses Berg to plug his own three books, his own "sophistication," his ability to make comps, and his own work ethic... all while playing keep-away with any actual baseball-related information. I'll end with this: My ranking system works against righties, and it works pretty hard against relievers. The fact that David Berg is still a top three despite being a full-time reliever and (as far as we know) a full-time righty is impressive.

Photo credit: John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

4. Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State (ACC).

Player Page

Height: 6'2" Weight: 170 lbs. High School: DeLand High School (DeLand, Fla.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 8/21/93 (20.79 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2011 - 19th round (589th overall) - Toronto Blue Jays

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 Florida St (ACC) 16/6 41.0 1 0 5.93 1.51 8.78 4.61
2012 Brewster (CCL) 7/4 23.2 1 2 5.70 1.86 8.75 3.42
2013 Florida St (ACC) 17/15 98.1 7 2 2.29 0.99 10.89 1.74

Wait a minute... I hear you saying... I finally got on-board with Rodon not being the highest-ranked guy on your list, but now you're going to tell me he's not even the highest-ranked ACC pitcher on your list!? This is madness! Well... I am going to tell you that (just wait... he's actually third...) The ACC was the top-ranked conference in college baseball in 2013 by RPI, and what Weaver did in it is really remarkable. 10.89 K/9 coupled with a 1.74 BB/9 and a WHIP under 1.000. When a college sophomore is pulling Brett Saberhagen and Tim Hudson comps, it's time to pay attention. The question is the massive leap in BB/9 from his freshman to his sophomore campaigns. It'll be incumbent on him during his junior season to show that that's not a fluke. If he can continue to keep his walks down, he'll go on day one.

5. Shane McCain, LHP, Troy (Sun Belt).

Player Page

Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 lbs. High School: Carroll High School (Fort Pierce, Fla.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Left
Date of Birth: 8/4/91 (22.84 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2010 Troy (Sun Belt) 6/5 21.1 2 1 6.33 1.41 5.91 4.22
2011 Troy (Sun Belt) 15/6 52.1 2 2 4.30 1.17 9.11 1.72
2013 Troy (Sun Belt) 16/16 98.1 9 1 3.48 1.04 9.61 1.65

People who follow college baseball only casually may see Sun Belt on a resume and dismiss it, used as they often are to football, where it's considered a mid-major conference, at best. But according to RPI, the Sun Belt was actually the fifth-toughest baseball conference in the nation in 2013, between the Big 12 and the Big Ten. So McCain's 9.61 K/9 and 1.65 BB/9 over 98.1 innings can't be so casually dismissed - in fact, he was named Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2013 - his first season since offseason shoulder surgery forced him to redshirt his true junior year. He also comes from strong stock - his father, Steven, played baseball for the University of Florida, and his brother Ryan played for Stetson University.

6. Bryan Radziewski, LHP, Miami (ACC).

Player Page

Height: 5'10" Weight: 195 lbs. High School: Florida Christian High School (Miami, Fla.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 2/21/92 (22.29 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2013 - 29th round (875th overall) - St. Louis Cardinals

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Miami (ACC) 16/16 91.1 9 2 3.35 1.36 9.07 3.65
2012 Miami (ACC) 5/5 26.1 2 0 3.08 1.44 7.18 4.78
2013 Miami (ACC) 15/14 91.0 9 3 1.78 0.91 10.78 2.97

"B-Rad," as they call him, is a second team preseason NCBWA and Louisville Slugger All-American heading into the 2014 season, where he'll hope to raise his stock after going in the 29th round in 2013 - a campaign which saw him strike out 10.78 batters per nine innings while walking fewer than three per nine, and a WHIP under 1.000 - all just a year removed from season-ending shoulder surgery, which came just five starts into his 2012 season. Not bad for someone who describes himself as a "short, fat lefty" whose fastball tops out in the high 80s, and who has been accused of not having any idea where his slider is going to end up. Still, the results speak loudly.

7. Andrew McGee, LHP, Monmouth (Northeast).

Player Page

Height: 6'0" Weight: 220 lbs. High School: Toms River South High School (Toms River, N.J.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 5/6/92 (22.08 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Monmouth (NEC) 25/0 46.2 5 3 2.51 1.29 6.75 1.93
2011 Alexandria (CRL) 9/8 50.0 3 5 4.32 1.64 5.76 2.34
2012 Monmouth (NEC) 17/11 76.2 7 4 4.58 1.36 7.16 2.82
2013 Matsu (ASL) 14/5 38.0 2 4 4.97 1.32 9.24 2.37
2013 Monmouth (NEC) 13/13 110.1 8 2 2.12 0.94 5.63 1.22
2013 Chatham (CCL) 8/8 40.0 2 2 4.73 1.33 8.10 1.58

McGee has been both a dominant closer and a dominant starter thus far in his high school and college careers, but he's a guy who's likely going to get a chance as a starter in the pros. He's a guy who's put a lot of mileage on his arm, with 234 innings in college and an additional 128 in summer ball over three years, between the Cal Ripken League, the Alaska Summer League, and the Cape Cod League, where he was considered by many to be the ace of the Chatham Angels. He's a guy who found his way onto this list despite less-than-sexy strikeout numbers in college, by limiting his walks (1.22/9, easily the lowest on this list) and hits allowed (0.943 WHIP). But he's also a guy who's going to get drafted, thanks to being a lefty with control.

Plus, 80-grade Twitter feed:

8. T.J. Renda, RHP, Alabama State (SWAC).

Player Page

Height: 5'11" Weight: 200 lbs. High School: Apopka High School (Apopka, Fla.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 11/10/92 (21.57 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K% BB%
2012 Alabama State (SWAC) 12/12 75.2 4 5 4.04 1.37 5.71 2.38
2013 Alabama State (SWAC) 14/13 94.2 9 1 2.38 0.92 8.08 1.33
2013 Waterloo (NWL) 10/8 46.2 5 0 2.70 1.11 6.36 2.70

I don't normally place a great deal of faith into summer statistics, but when a player progresses as far as Renda did between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Alabama State, a small sample in the Northwoods League goes a ways toward confirming that it isn't a mirage. And while Renda's peripherals took a hit outside of the friendly confines of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, but overall he still pitched very well for the Waterloo Bucks. With a solid junior campaign, he could easily find his phone ringing on draft day.

9. Grahamm Wiest, RHP, Cal State Fullerton (Big West).

Player Page

Height: 6'3" Weight: 205 lbs. High School: JSerra High School (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 8/9/91 (22.82 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 CSUF (Big West) 16/11 86.2 5 5 3.12 0.96 5.92 1.87
2013 CSUF (Big West) 16/16 104.2 9 3 3.27 1.02 6.54 1.12

First, how much do I love that Wiest's player bio for Cal State Fullerton lists eHarmony.com as his favorite website? Of course, it lists Rebecca Black as his favorite musical artist, but you know, we all made questionable decisions when we were young. The important thing is his success on the mound: In 192 innings of college baseball between his freshman and sophomore seasons (after redshirting his first year), Wiest has thrown up a 0.99 cumulative WHIP, a BB/9 under 1.5, and a K/9 that while not overly impressive, has trended upward. You'd like to see a further upward tick there during his junior campaign, and suddenly Austin Hedges' high school battery-mate becomes a viable draft candidate himself.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports

10. Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State (ACC).

Player Page

Height: 6'3" Weight: 234 lbs. High School: Holly Springs High School (Holly Springs, N.C.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 12/10/92 (21.48 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2011 - 16th round (491st overall) - Milwaukee Brewers

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 NCSU (ACC) 17/16 114.2 9 0 1.57 0.98 10.60 3.22
2013 NCSU (ACC) 19/19 132.1 10 3 2.99 1.05 12.51 3.06

You have to feel at least a little bad for Bruce Seid, who drafted this unheralded lefty from North Carolina in the sixteenth round in 2011 - one pick, I might add, after the Astros went big on another lefty - Scott Zuloaga. Remember Scott Zuloaga? He retired before the 2013 season, after a grand total of 38.1 minor league innings over his two-year career. Meanwhile, Rodon was at NC State, polishing up his godlike status as a one-of-a-kind, generational talent in the vein of Stephen Strasburg and Mark Prior. If you need any further information about Rodon, our very own kyuss94 kicked a hornet's nest thirteen months ago with this must-read article. If you're a fan of the strikeout, Rodon is a guy who's going to make you very, very happy. If you're a fan of wipeout sliders and elite velocity from left-handed pitchers, Rodon is a guy who's going to make you very, very happy. If you're a fan of allowing walks, Rodon is a guy who's going to make you very, very happy. If you're a fan of workhorse starting pitchers who accumulate high innings and pitch counts, Rodon is a guy who's going to make you very, very happy. In fact, the only way Rodon wouldn't make you very, very happy is if you happened to be a robot spreadsheet.

11. Daniel Mengden, RHP, Texas A&M (SEC).

Player Page

Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 lbs. High School: Westside High School (Houston, Tex.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 2/19/93 (21.29 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 TAMU (Big12) 22/4 47.0 3 4 3.83 1.19 7.85 1.53
2012 San Luis Obispo (CCL) 13/0 12.1 1 1 1.46 1.38 13.14 5.11
2013 TAMU (SEC) 16/16 110.2 8 4 2.11 0.92 7.64 1.95

For quite a while, I've wondered if Daniel Mengden was any relation to Friend of TCB Tony Mengden. It turns out he is. So that's one more reason to like him, but it's not the only one. He's a guy who subscribes to the walk no one/strike just enough out approach, which isn't a bad place to be. After a season pitching largely in relief, he took to the starter role well enough in 2013, and his junior season will be a chance for him to improve his stock. If he can find just a little bit more swing-and-miss to his game (his 7.64 K/9, while not elite, was better than the SEC average 6.98/9 in 2013), he can only improve his draft stock. As it is, he's a virtual lock to hear his name called.

12. Jonathan Holder, RHP, Mississippi State (SEC).

Player Page

Height: 6'2" Weight: 229 lbs. High School: Gulfport High School (Gulfport, Miss.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 6/9/93 (20.99 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 Miss St (SEC) 24/0 28.1 2 1 0.32 0.78 9.53 1.59
2012 Wareham (CCL) 14/0 22.2 3 1 1.99 1.50 13.10 4.37
2013 Miss St (SEC) 34/0 54.2 2 0 1.65 0.91 14.82 2.80
2013 Wareham (CCL) 7/9 9.2 0 1 5.59 1.76 11.17 2.79

Holder is just the second full-time reliever to make the list, and for good reason. Other than UCLA's David Berg, he's easily been the most dominant closer from this class in college baseball. His 14.82 K/9 in 2013 bests any other human being even remotely eligible for this list, including Carlos Rodon, and while you'd like to see his walk rate drop, it's not entirely unreasonable, either. Holder throws a fastball in the low 90s and complements it with a devastating curveball at 80 mph. He should definitely be a top-ten-rounds guy come June.

13. Brian Miller, RHP, Vanderbilt (SEC).

Player Page

Height: 6'4" Weight: 200 lbs. High School: Independence High School (Franklin, Tenn.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 7/15/92 (21.89 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 Vandy (SEC) 34/1 60.2 0 2 3.26 1.34 7.27 2.67
2013 Vandy (SEC) 32/0 57.0 5 2 1.58 0.84 7.58 1.74
2013 Cotuit (CCL) 19/0 27.0 1 2 3.00 1.26 8.67 2.33

If David Berg and Jonathan Holder stand out among closers because of their sheer dominance, Brian Miller stands out on pure Oddity Factor. His delivery is... well, here. I'll let you see it for yourself (bonus: Tony Kemp and Conrad Gregor!)

At 6'4", 200 lbs., Brian Miller looks like a baseball player. Mostly. But once he starts throwing the ball, all bets are off. Nicknamed "Dramamine," his arm angle changes from pitch-to-pitch, anywhere from a near-submarine style to a 3/4s slot. His limbs fly around, seemingly out of control, and by the time a batter thinks he's figured him out, Miller has changed his delivery entirely. His upper-80s fastball isn't overwhelming, but he mixes it well with a "frisbee slider," a curveball, a two-seamer, and a changeup... and all of them move. He's also a guy who already seems to feel comfortable abusing the inside part of the plate, so pitching to wooden bats may not be much of a transition for him. The Astros seem to be building a Vanderbilt pipeline, and I wouldn't be surprised if Miller is the next one to come through it.

14. Travis Felax, RHP, Southern Illinois - Edwardsville (Ohio Valley).

Player Page

Height: 6'4" Weight: 235 lbs. High School: Triad High School (Troy, Ill.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 10/12/91 (22.65 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 SIUE (Ind) 13/11 68.2 5 2 2.62 1.19 4.85 2.49
2012 SIUE (OVC) 15/15 95.2 6 5 3.67 1.35 6.49 0.39
2012 Florence (CPL) 7/7 40.0 2 3 4.50 1.40 5.63 1.13
2013 SIUE (OVC) 11/11 75.2 3 6 2.26 1.06 6.90 0.71

SIUE isn't exactly a hotbed of major league talent. In fact, their best-known graduate is Clay Zavada, a 30th-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2006 who went on to throw 50 or so actually-pretty-good big league innings 2009, but who never again got the chance to pitch in the majors. But don't let that fool you. Felax is a very good college pitching prospect - a 6'4" righty who positively excels at not walking hitters - to the tune of a disgustingly-good 0.71 BB/9. That's a skill that front offices like Houston's notice, so if he can keep it up through his senior season, there's an extremely good chance that he could find his name called in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.

15. Craig Schlitter, RHP, Bryant (Northeast).

Player Page

Height: 6'0" Weight: 190 lbs. High School: Guilford High School (Guilford, Conn.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 5/16/92 (22.05 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Bryant (NEC) 12/10 48.0 2 2 4.50 1.44 7.50 3.94
2011 Mystic (NECBL) 8/4 31.1 2 1 1.44 1.09 8.33 4.60
2012 Bryant (NEC) 13/12 73.1 6 6 2.70 1.16 6.75 2.45
2012 Falmouth (CCL) 8/7 43.0 5 2 2.72 1.02 8.58 1.67
2013 Bryant (NEC) 13/13 78.1 10 3 2.53 0.93 8.50 1.84
2013 Falmouth (CCL) 8/7 39.2 4 2 3.63 1.29 7.49 2.50

Craig Schlitter presents something of a quandary. It's not difficult to see from his statistics - both at Bryant and in summer leagues like the Cape Cod League - that he's capable of hanging with his peers. The catch is that, while everything he brings to the table is good, it's hard to find one elite skill. Still, he's easily in the conversation among the best pitchers in the history of Bryant's program - and while that may not seem like much to brag about, remember that it does include not one but two 2013 draftees: Joseph Michaud and Pete Kelich. It also includes former fifth-rounder Doug Johnson. When all is said and done, Schlitter may out-perform all of them.

16. Mat Batts, LHP, UNC Wilmington (Colonial).

Player Page

Height: 6'0" Weight: 192 lbs. High School: Mount Tabor High School (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Left
Date of Birth: 7/6/91 (22.92 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2010 WCU (SoCon) 20/3 24.1 3 1 4.44 1.56 9.99 3.33
2011 UNCW (CAA) DNP
2011 Wilmington (CPL) 9/9 62.0 3 3 1.84 1.10 7.84 2.18
2012 UNCW (CAA) 16/16 100.2 6 5 3.04 1.28 8.05 1.79
2013 UNCW (CAA) 16/16 111.2 9 4 3.47 1.14 9.19 2.18

Harrison Mathis "Mat" Batts - now that's an 80-grade name. This is a guy who's pitched extremely well at a lot of levels - Four-year letterwinner in high school, USA Baseball Tournament of Stars participant, USA Baseball U16 finalist... he started his career at Western Carolina before transferring to UNC Wilmington, where he's worked exclusively as a starting pitcher, and has had very good results. As a redshirt junior in 2013, he was one of the top prospects in the CAA, but ultimately went undrafted. It shouldn't happen again this season - a solid lefty starter who throws a lot of innings, strikes out more than a batter an inning, and limits his walks well; in a worst-case scenario, he could turn into a devastating LOOGY, but there's reason to think that there might be more there, and there are a lot of systems - including Houston's - where his skills seem to be a match, and he should get an opportunity.

17. Jason Inghram, LHP, William & Mary (CAA).

Player Page

Height: 6'3" Weight: 195 lbs. High School: Grassfield High School (Chesapeake, Va.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Left
Date of Birth: 3/10/92 (22.24 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 Wm & Mary (CAA) 16/6 39.1 3 2 3.20 1.22 9.38 2.97
2013 Sanford (NECBL) 5/5 26.0 1 1 3.12 1.00 7.27 2.77
2013 Wm & Mary (CAA) 16/16 104.1 9 6 3.36 1.15 8.54 2.07

Jason Inghram has the distinction of being one of the players who spawned the idea for this list. While going through CAA players a few months ago, I hit on Inghram - a 6'3" lefty who pitches off of his high-80s fastball, locates well, and generates a lot of weak contact. It occurred to me that if he were wearing, say, a North Carolina uniform, he'd be a darkhorse draft candidate. Which prompted the idea to sort of "correct" for his conference (the CAA itself isn't chopped liver; per RPI, it was the ninth-best among all 31 D-I conferences in 2013). A lefty who puts up more than 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, walks around two per nine, and who keeps his WHIP near 1.1 is a valuable commodity to the right system, and while he may not be sexy, this is a guy who should get an opportunity to prove himself in the professional ranks.

18. Andrew Morales, RHP, UC Irvine (Big West).

Player Page

Height: 6'0" Weight: 170 lbs. High School: South Hills High School (Covina, Calif.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 1/16/93 (21.38 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Rio Hondo CC (CCCAA) 10/9 59.1 7 0 2.73 1.06 6.83 1.97
2012 Rio Hondo CC (CCCAA) 16/16 103.0 12 1 2.01 1.07 6.82 2.01
2013 UC Irvine (Big West) 17/13 95.1 10 0 1.89 1.04 8.02 1.98

It's natural to do a double-take at Morales' statistics after leaping from junior college to UC Irvine, where his numbers improved pretty much across the board. His junior season in 2013 for the Anteaters raised a few eyebrows, and it will be worth watching what he does in his second season with a four-year program. If he can continue to strike out batters at his UC Irvine rate while walking fewer than two per nine innings, he should be just fine, and should hear his name called in June. If his K/9 slips back to his Rio Hondo levels, this may be the end of the line for him.

Photo Credit: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports

19. Vince Wheeland, RHP, Oklahoma State (Big 12).

Player Page

Height: 5'10" Weight: 188 lbs. High School: Turlock High School (Turlock, Calif.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 1/10/92 (22.40 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Ok State (Big 12) 6/0 6.2 0 1 4.05 1.35 6.75 0.00
2011 San Luis Obispo (CCL) 11/0 18.0 2 0 1.50 0.72 13.50 0.50
2012 Ok State (Big 12) 18/9 64.2 2 1 4.04 1.22 6.54 1.95
2012 Santa Barbara (CCL) 3/0 9.0 1 0 1.00 1.11 12.00 1.00
2013 Ok State (Big 12) 30/1 73.0 8 2 1.97 0.97 7.89 1.60

Limiting baserunners is a pretty surefire way to be successful, and that's just what Wheeland has been asked to do, despite filling an ever-changing role that's been described as utility pitcher. In 2013, with a move into a more-or-less permanent bullpen role, he thrived for Oklahoma State, with improvements across the board. His senior season should see him remain at the back end of the 'pen, where he has a chance to really improve his stock. For an undersized righty, he'll need to dominate - maybe not to Berg/Holder/Miller levels, but at least to Vince Wheeland levels.

20. Austin Gomber, LHP, Florida Atlantic (Conference USA).

Player Page

Height: 6'5" Weight: 220 lbs. High School: West Orange High School (Winter Garden, Fla.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 11/23/93 (20.53 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 FAU (Sun Belt) 14/12 61.1 3 4 3.82 1.48 9.24 4.84
2013 FAU (Sun Belt) 18/17 106.0 8 4 2.97 1.16 8.75 2.38
2013 Bourne (CCL) 7/6 29.0 2 2 4.34 1.10 4.34 3.10

A 6'5" lefty starter from a premium conference who strikes out more than three-and-a-half times as many batters as he walks, and who even had a not-entirely-disastrous summer on the Cape... why aren't more people talking about Austin Gomber? With the move to Conference-USA, Gomber has a chance to expand his geographic footprint, showing off his wares to more people as he faces more schools... including March 21, when he'll likely square off against Rice in Houston. Don't be surprised if there's a David Post or Mike Elias sighting at that one.

21. Austin Robichaux, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette (Sun Belt).

Player Page

Height: 6'6" Weight: 170 lbs. High School: Notre Dame High School (Crowley, La.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: 11/23/92 (21.53 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2011 - 50th round (1,524th overall) - Cincinnati Reds

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 ULL (Sun Belt) 12/9 43.1 2 4 2.91 1.25 4.36 2.28
2013 ULL (Sun Belt) 16/16 109.1 9 2 3.05 1.08 7.24 1.81

Robichaux and Gomber weren't just among the two best pitchers in the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, they also happen to share both a first name and a birthday: Robichaux was born exactly one year before Gomber. They're similar as prospects. Though Robichaux doesn't generate even above-average strikeouts for his conference, he balances it with a walk rate under two batters per nine innings, and allows fewer than one baserunner per inning. He's also an inch taller than Gomber, for those who like their pitchers tall. His father, Tony, is the head coach of the Louisiana-Lafayette team, and Austin's older brother Justin was also a pitcher for the Ragin' Cajuns for four years before playing a few seasons in the American Association and the Frontier League.

22. Jordan Piche', RHP, Kansas (Big 12).

Player Page

Height: 6'1" Weight: 180 lbs. High School: Resurrection Christian High School (Loveland, Col.)
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Date of Birth: Unknown
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Indian Hills CC (Region 11) 17/4 33.0 2 2 3.00 8.18 1.09
2012 Indian Hills CC (Region 11)
89.0 7 2 2.21 5.87 0.81
2013 Kansas (Big 12) 32/0 64.1 6 4 1.68 0.98 6.85 1.40

At this point in his career, Piche' might best be labeled a "high follow." After two seasons at Indian Hills CC, he stepped in as Kansas' closer, going 9 straight appearances (and 25 overall) without allowing a run, picking up 12 saves on the season, and pitching 2.1 scoreless innings to launch Kansas into the Big 12 championship game. He's never lived on the strikeout, which limits his sexyness as far as most evaluators are concerned, but he balances it by not allowing baserunners. If his senior season looks anything like his junior season, he's a potential late-round pick who could pay good dividends in the pros.

23. David Speer, LHP, Columbia (Ivy).

Player Page

Height: 6'1" Weight: 185 lbs. High School: Staples High School (Westport, Conn.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 8/14/92 (21.81 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 Columbia (Ivy) 11/3 23.1 2 1 5.01 1.71 6.56 4.63
2011 Southampton (ACL) 3/3 20.0 2 0 0.90 1.20 6.75 1.35
2012 Columbia (Ivy) 10/9 47.2 3 1 4.91 1.38 7.55 2.45
2012 Holyoke (NECBL) 7/7 47.2 3 3 3.21 1.22 6.23 1.32
2013 Columbia (Ivy) 11/11 73.0 6 3 2.34 1.04 8.14 1.97
2013 Chatham (CCL) 8/0 11.1 0 0 2.38 2.38 11.12 5.56
2013 Bourne (CCL) 4/3 13.2 0 3 1.98 1.98 9.22 4.51

Speer was a busy boy this summer, playing for two different teams in the Cape Cod League. And while he finishes up his Economics and Political Science work on-campus this spring, he'll no doubt also be putting himself in position to get drafted in June. Make no mistake - it's not easy for small-conference players to find themselves on this list, even so far down. But with a 8.14 K/9, a 1.97 BB/9, and a 1.041 WHIP, it's hard to imagine that the lefty won't get a shot in professional baseball, barring a meltdown in his senior year... and please forgive me if I think that the team that drafted fellow Ivy Leaguer Joe Sclafani might not be one of the teams most interested.

24. Harrison Musgrave, LHP, West Virginia (Big 12).

Player Page

Height: 6'1" Weight: 295 lbs. High School: Bridgeport High School (Bridgeport, W. Va.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 3/3/92 (22.26 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: 2013 - 33rd round (991st overall) - Philadelphia Phillies

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2011 WVU (Big East) 10/10 56.2 4 2 4.61 1.38 6.51 3.65
2013 WVU (Big 12) 14/14 95.1 9 1 2.17 0.99 7.65 2.74

Musgrave is another guy who gains value from being a lefty, and from doing just enough things well. After being drafted by the Phillies, he chose to return to West Virginia, and now he'll look to strengthen his stock as a redshirt junior. His strikeout rate isn't elite, but it is better than conference-average (7.65/9 vs. 6.94/9), and his walk rate was a not-entirely-unreasonable 2.74/9 (Big 12 average was 2.80/9). He'll need to improve in both areas if he's going to raise his stock - but he improved significantly in both areas between his 2011 freshman season and his 2013 season - his first back after Tommy John surgery.

25. Heath Dwyer, LHP, Virginia Commonwealth (Atlantic 10).

Player Page

Height: 6'3" Weight: 200 lbs. High School: Corona del Sol High School (Tempe, Ariz.)
Bats/Throws: Left/Left
Date of Birth: 6/4/93 (21.00 on draft day)
Previously Drafted: N/A

Year Team G/GS IP W L ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
2012 VCU (CAA) 12/10 57.1 3 4 4.55 1.31 6.28 2.83
2013 VCU (A10) 14/14 107.0 7 6 2.74 1.16 6.22 1.68

The move from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Atlantic 10 did Dwyer some good, with most of his numbers improving, while his strikeout rate stayed relatively level. He'll need to see a similar move this season, looking to dominate hitters more and control his curveball and changeup better if he's going to have any chance with his mid-80s fastball. He also has the distinction of having the highest-possible number of acting puns inserted into an article about him. Pretty exceptional, really. Hats off, Dwyer. Take a bow (see what I did there?)

Also from that article:

"If you knew Heath, you would know he's a guy, him moving to the East Coast as an 18-year-old kid, he would not be scared of that," he said. "He would say, 'bring on that challenge.' On his visit, he wanted to go downtown, look at the architecture... he wanted to go see Shockoe Slip. It was different to him. He likes those challenges. He's not afraid of stuff like that, and that's kind of how he pitches."

So this is someone who, if you know him, you would know he's a guy. Also, he's not afraid of the challenge of looking at architecture. Maybe he can do something about the Astrodome. Sign him up, fellas.

Five Bonus Prospects

26. Jordan Montgomery, LHP, South Carolina (SEC).

27. Mike Burke, RHP, Buffalo (MAC).

28. Heath Bowers, RHP, Campbell (Big South).

29. Sam Street, RHP, UT Pan American (Great West).

30. Jerry Keel, LHP, Cal State Northridge (Big West).

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