Michael Lorenzen is one of the most interesting prospects in the 2013 Draft Class. The 6'3", 195-pound Junior is a two-way player for Cal State Fullerton. He acts as the the team's closer, center fielder and clean-up hitter. The first thing that jumps out, when you watch Lorenzen, is his cannon for a right arm, which plays both in the outfield, as well as the pitcher's mound. His arm, along with his above average defensive instincts and athleticism, make him a plus-defender in center field, with plenty of arm to move to right if necessary.
The question teams must answer before spending an early-round pick on Lorenzen is whether or not he'll be drafted as a pitcher, or a hitter. Although he has a plus-fastball and potentially plus-slider, a pure relief pitcher, without starter upside, isn't an asset many teams will spend a early pick on. As a hitter, scouts question whether Lorenzen will ever hit enough to showcase his defensive ability on an everyday basis.
Although Lorenzen has made strides at the plate his Junior season, his questionable approach and swing are still concerns of mine. As you'll see in the videos below, Lorenzen has tinkered with his swing quite a bit in college, and while improved, I'm still not the biggest fan. If you draft Lorenzen, you're drafting him because you believe in his tools, and believe his bat can continue to develop.
UPDATE (6/3): The more I look at Lorenzen, the more I like him. There concerns surrounding his hit tool are legitimate, but he's hit pretty well this season – not that I put much stock into that. However; the other tools are too good to pass up at a certain point. He's a good athlete with true plus-plus defense in center fielder. He has a plus-plus arm as well. Lorenzen would be an instant defensive upgrade over half of the ML centerfielders. There's something to be said for that. Has a reliever ever been a defensive replacement/pinch-runner/pinch-hitter? Micah Owings. I have a feeling Lorenzen will figure out how to contribute to a ML team.
Major League Floor
Major League Ceiling
I keep thinking back to Drew Stubbs. They're both toolsy guys, with good frames, who leave much to be desired at the plate. Lorenzen has slightly more upside defensively than Stubbs, but I don't think he'll ever come close to 40 steals.
As a pitcher, his ceiling is probably similar to Chris Perez – a fastball/slider Closer, with occasional control problems.
Projected Draft Round
Rankings: Keith Law (UR), Baseball America (25), MLB.com (42), Minor League Ball (30), Draft Insider (UR).
Mock Drafts: Draft Insider (N/A), Minor League Ball (N/A). -- Lorenzen could go as high as Top 20, or could fall to the second round.
UPDATE (6/3): He's likely a second round pick, with a slight chance at late-first.
Will He Sign?
I don't see a scenario in which he doesn't. He's already passed on the Majors once – he was drafted by Tampa (7) in 2010.
With a Ryan Braun like body type, Lorenzen can flat out play center field, covering gap-to-gap extremely well with a plus arm. He does have some gap power at the plate and he runs well, though he's better underway. The question is if he'll hit enough at the next level.
He does throw mid-to-upper 90s fastballs as Fullerton's closer and that could be an "if all else fails" backup plan.
Lorenzen didn't have a great summer numbers-wise, hitting .171 with no extra-base hits and two stolen bases, for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team during exhibitions in Cuba and in Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands. He also pitched in three games, picking up a win, a loss and a save. He didn't allow a hit, but he did allow four walks while striking out one.