8 College Players Plummeting Down MLB Draft Boards in 2013
Draft stock, like the actual stock market, is a fluid thing. It varies greatly from day to day and from start to start.
One great performance against an elite team can change one's perception while one disastrous start against a middle-of-the-road squad will cost you millions of dollars.
In the MLB draft, the reports might be a little more forgiving when you are a college player struggling to find yourself because players will be playing against advanced competition, as opposed to an elite high-school stud, who should be able to dominate with ease given the level of talent.
There are just under two months to go before the 2013 draft takes place, with plenty of uncertainty up and down the draft board.
Stanford's Mark Appel and Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray have separated themselves from the pack and should go No. 1 and 2, in either order, come June 6.
Beyond those two right-handed pitchers, questions abound for a lot of college players with designs on hearing their name called early on draft night. They still have plenty of time to turn things around, but are starting from behind the eight ball.
Here are the top college players eligible in this year's draft who are seeing their stock drop hard and fast.
Note: All stats courtesy of NCAA.com unless otherwise noted.
Oklahoma State RHP Jason Hursh
Oklahoma State's Jason Hursh has a live arm but little idea where it is going out of his hand. Courtesy of OklahomaStateAthletics.com
Jason Hursh had a tightrope to walk as it is, given the fact that he already had Tommy John surgery in 2012. While his overall performance this season has been good, the same problems that led to his injury are still present.
His stuff is fine, with a better-than-average fastball that moves and he controls it well in the zone, but his delivery requires a lot of effort. He has a solid lower half that could give him just as much power with his heater, yet he still relies on his upper half and shoulder to generate velocity.
Having a power arm will get you drafted relatively early, but due to the stress and mileage already on his elbow and shoulder, Hursh will be waiting longer than his raw stuff suggests he probably should.
Projected Pick: Mid-Second Round
Florida RHP Jonathan Crawford
Poor command could push Crawford out of the first round conversation come June. Courtesy of Dave Martin, Associated Press
|2-5||9 (9)||4.17||54.0||50||28||25||20||43||2|| .242
Unlike Jason Hursh, Jonathan Crawford's performance is indicative of how he has pitched. His stuff hasn't looked nearly as good as it did last year, with his fastball more in the low-90s and an inconsistent breaking ball.
He also doesn't command any of his pitches well, leading to his high-hit and high-walk numbers with the Gators, as well as his low-strikeout rate for a power pitcher. His delivery also isn't great for long-term durability.
Unless his velocity returns to its normal level and stays there over the final two months, Crawford will have a hard time convincing teams that he belongs in the first-day conversation.
As things stand, he is probably going to be a second-round pick.
Projected Pick: Second Round
Florida RHP Karsten Whitson
Florida's Karsten Whitson could regret turning down San Diego's multi-million dollar offer in 2010. Courtesy of Brad Barr, USA Today Sports
No 2013 Stats
This one is almost too easy, but I wanted to mention it since Karsten Whitson is a well-known commodity among casual fans after being a top-10 pick to San Diego in the 2010 draft before deciding to attend the University of Florida.
Whitson had a rough sophomore season in 2012, throwing just 33 innings and recording 20 strikeouts with a 3.51 ERA due to shoulder problems that led to sporadic appearances.
Back in February, Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA reported that Whitson was going to miss the 2013 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
So why mention Whitson here if he isn't going to pitch?
Even though it is entirely possible that the big right-hander will return to Florida after redshirting this year, a team could decide to take a chance on him with a late-round pick and try to convince him that signing now is in his best long-term interest.
His stock has dropped as low as it can so a team could wait until late in the draft, set aside a little extra money and get him to take it, hoping to capture lightning in a bottle.
If Whitson doesn't get an offer that he likes—or wants to improve his stock—he can always return to Florida and enter next year's draft.
Projected Pick: 10th Round or Later
Mississippi RHP Bobby Wahl
Bobby Wahl's command has been his undoing so far this season. Courtesy of Associated Press
|7-0||9 (9)||1.40||57.2||40||12||9||30||48||1|| .196
Mississippi's Bobby Wahl has a strong enough arsenal with an above-average fastball and slider, average changeup. He keeps the ball down in the zone. All of that sounds good enough to make him a potential first-day selection.
Then you get into his command and this is where Wahl's stock really collapses. Despite being able to keep his fastball down, it is very hittable and he really struggles to throw his off-speed stuff for strikes.
A team that likes Wahl's three-pitch arsenal and wants to tinker with his delivery to help him find a consistent release point will take him early, hoping he can remain in the starting rotation. Otherwise, his future seems to rest in the bullpen.
Projected Pick: Late-Second Round
Minnesota LHP Tom Windle
Tom Windle has pitchability but the stuff leaves something to be desired. Courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics Communications
Tom Windle is the kind of pitcher who is going to tear up the college competition and lower levels of the minors, but will likely struggle once he goes up against more advanced hitting in Triple-A and/or the big leagues.
Being a 6'4" left-hander, teams are going to be salivating at the chance to grab Windle. He has a terrific feel for pitching and good command of everything he throws, but his stuff is average at best and his delivery is taxing on his arm.
Windle uses his height by standing tall in his wind-up and delivery. He just doesn't push forward with his right leg as much as he should, putting stress on his shoulder. There also isn't any real projection left with his stuff, so what you see is what you are going to get.
The results in college are great, but projecting him going forward, Windle will have a hard time turning a lineup over three times.
Projected Pick: Late-Second Round
Stanford OF Austin Wilson
Stanford's Austin Wilson is looking to re-establish his value before the draft. Courtesy of Kevin Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
This could be really poor timing on my part, but bear with me as I present my reasoning for having Austin Wilson on this list at this time.
At full strength, Wilson is one of the best bats in this draft class. He brings bat speed, power, a strong approach and above-average defense.
But the key to that report is "at full strength." Wilson missed more than a month this season with a stress reaction in his right elbow. He is back and appears to be up to his old tricks. The key will be not only maintaining his level of excellence but also in improving upon it.
One thing that separates Wilson from a lot of college hitters in this class is his ability to hit for power. It is still somewhere in there, you just hope he is able to show it before the end of the season so he can become the top-20 pick he was expected to be two months ago.
Projected Pick: Mid-Compensatory Round
Fresno State OF Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge has imposing size and a HUGE swing that leads to a lot of strikeouts. Courtesy of Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US PRESSWIRE
Aaron Judge is a tremendous physical specimen at 6'7", 255 pounds. He is a tremendous athlete who will show incredible power in batting practice.
There is a huge difference, however, between having raw power that you can display when a coach is lobbing balls and actually doing it during games.
The game of baseball has changed so much over the last five years—from the offensive deluge of the late-'90s to the pitching revolution we see today—that teams are starved for power hitters.
Look throughout the list of top prospects in baseball and how many of them project as true 30-homer players in the big leagues.
Because of his power potential, Judge could sneak into the back half of the first round or the compensation round. Being tall, however, isn't all it's cracked up to be as Judge is also susceptible to striking out a lot.
He has racked up 34 punchouts in 125 at-bats this season, in what is a critical season for him as Judge really had to start showing his power potential in games. He is driving the ball a little better, but not nearly at the level needed for a team to be comfortable drafting him on day one.
Projected Pick: Third Round
Arkansas 2B Dominic Ficociello
Arkansas' Dominic Ficociello could return to college as a way to rebuild his value next year. Courtesy of Razorbacks.com
This has been a lost season for Dominic Ficociello, who headed into 2013 as a solid option in the second or third round for a team, but now, he will be lucky to go in the first five rounds.
An oblique injury suffered before the season started really put Ficociello behind the curve, one he has never been able to correct since returning. I had a chance to catch him early after he returned in March and you could see his timing just wasn't where it needed to be.
His swing was long and even average-velocity pitches were giving him problems. Time doesn't appear to have healed those wounds as Ficociello is in the midst of a bad season at the worst possible time.
During Arkansas' run to the semifinals of the College World Series last year, Ficociello was used at first base. This year, he is playing second base, though he is really too big (6'4", 200 pounds) for the position. He is athletic enough to play third base or move to first base in pro ball.
Either way, Ficociello has to prove he can hit again before he gets his status back as a bonafide prospect.
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Projected Pick: Fifth Round