Arkansas' Ryne Stanek entered the season as the No. 2 pitcher available, but will be lucky to go in the top 20. Courtesy of Razorbackers.com
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
Before Jonathan Gray stormed out of the gate, Arkansas' Ryne Stanek was in the mix for the No. 2 pitcher on the board. He was coming off a season in which he went 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 92.2 innings.
This season, while the stats have been fine (3-2, 1.90 ERA, 38 K in 42.2 IP), the consistency from inning to inning and outing to outing just isn't there. I saw him in Arizona in February against Arizona State when he was hit-and-miss, with his fastball velocity increasing as the game went on and a slider that had bite before he was taken out of the game.
That has been a lot of what Stanek has done. You can see the upside when he is out there, because the raw stuff is so good. There are just times when he loses his release point and the fastball flattens out.
Stanek could still be a top-10 pick, but he will need a strong finish to creep back into the top three or four picks it looked like he would be two months ago.
Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State
If there was a breakout star in the Cape Cod League last year, it was Sean Manaea. The 6'5" left-hander won the awards for best pitcher and pro prospect at the prestigious summer showcase league thanks to a 5-1 record, 1.22 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 51.2 innings.
The stuff matched the results, as Manaea was throwing his fastball in the mid-90s and showing a knockout slider. A left-handed pitcher with that kind of stuff has a strong case as the No. 1 pick.
Unfortunately, the stuff has not held through to this season. Manaea's fastball is playing down a grade, in the 89-93 mph range, and a slider that isn't as hard or sharp as it was last year. He can command his fastball in the zone, but will need to find a consistent release point with the off-speed stuff.
No longer a top-10 prospect, Manaea could end up going in the 15-20 range as a mid-rotation lefty. Nothing to sneeze at, though certainly not where he wanted to be after last year's breakout.
Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither HS (FL)
If you show that you can play shortstop in high school or college and project to play it in professional baseball, odds are good that you will be a very high pick just because it is so hard to find talent at the position.
Oscar Mercado certainly has the natural skills to play shortstop in the big leagues. He has plus range, good hands, a good glove and a strong, accurate throwing arm.
The problems come when you look at his offensive profile. At just 6'2", 175 pounds, he has a slight frame and doesn't project to add much weight as he gets older. His swing is very compact, geared for line drives and hitting the ball into the gap. But it is unclear if he will be strong enough to even do that.
Unless you are a special defender at shortstop--think Boston's Jose Iglesias or Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons--you have to be able to hit a little bit. Mercado doesn't have that kind of glove, and therefore could fall out of the first round.
Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
One of the biggest stories for the college season was the elbow injury that kept Austin Wilson, the top college hitter in this class entering the year, out from the middle of February until April 5.
This draft class is weak on hitting, especially in the college ranks, so Wilson has a chance to really cash in just based on being the best of an otherwise mediocre bunch.
That is not meant to slight Wilson, who has a tremendous eye at the plate, bat speed and plus power. He projects to be an everyday right fielder in the big leagues.
Unlike the two other college players on this list, Wilson's decline isn't due to poor performance on the field. He just has to come back, prove he is healthy and produce close to the level that is expected of him.
But until Wilson does that, his stock is going to be down. He is still a first-round talent, though he may find himself taken in the middle or back half of the round instead of in the first six or seven picks.
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