We'll start this post out by providing a list of Hokies who have been previously drafted, either out of high school or in a previous season at Tech. Just like in the Hokies In The Minor Leagues series of posts, we will list the players by the year they were drafted, followed by the round and the pick. And as no player for the current crop has been drafted more than once (other than Mantiply who was taken in the 48th round of the 2009 draft by the Mets) according to Hokiesports' Hokies In The MLB Draft. Also, we're not including Chad Pinder on this list as he had not been drafted when we began writing this post. So without further ado, let's get into this list:
Joe Mantiply- Drafted in 2012 28th round 30th pick (878th overall) Philadelphia Phillies
Mantiply was drafted just a year ago by the Phillies, a team who has straddled contention for the last couple of years and are at a crossroads of sorts when it comes to their situation: whether they plan to sell more pieces from the farm for one last chance of instant contention with the group they've got or becoming big-time sellers and mortgaging the present for the future. At any rate, this won't apply to their draft picks unless they already have in mind exactly what they're willing and going to part with and are looking to increase organizational depth to offset those losses in the future. At any rate, pitching depth is a must and you can never have enough, especially starting lefties (which Mantiply is).
The only reason I mention the Phillies this much is that teams that draft players one year typically maintain interest in them the next (ceteris parabus) time they're draft eligible, especially if, even though they've been spurned before by said player, this is the last time the player will be draft eligible and unable to do so again (and still play major league baseball that is). So when I say ceteris parabus, Mantiply's season was for sure at least that when compared to his 2012 campaign, even if some of his peripherals weren't as strong.
I couldn't find much current information from draft scouts on Mantiply, but here's what I did find:
Back at the beginning of the season, Virginia Tech baseball's Twitter account tweeted out this regarding player's by class:
Baseball America ranked its 2013 Top 50 Prospects By Class - Joe Mantiply (SR-41), Chad Pinder (JR-29) and Tyler Horan (JR-45).— VT Baseball (@VT_Baseball) February 4, 2013
We also were able to uncover Baseball Draft Report's preseason prospect projections for the Hokies. Here's what they said about Mantiply:
"Joe Mantiply should be a solid senior sign thanks to a fastball between 88-92 fastball (notice a trend?), pro size (6-4, 215 pounds), and a pair of usable offspeed pitches."
Also note that his velocity there varies with the Perfect Game's 86 mph. fastball for Mantiply to go with a 75 mph. change up and slider and a 74 mph. curve, though those were from 2008.
So the rub on Mantiply is he is an average to below-average velocity pitcher for the pro ranks, but he does have threethings that bode well for him:
1. He's 6'4"
2. He's got a decent array of breaking/off-speed stuff
3. He produced at the college level
I would imagine Mantiply would go higher than last year, even if not by a great margin, simply because he's more of a known commodity and there will be a team that will be willing to take a late round risk on a guy who is a seasoned collegian and can provide organizational depth.
Brad Markey- Drafted in 2012 35th round 12th pick (1070th overall) New York Mets
Markey, who has twice transferred (from Georgia Tech and Santa Fe College) had a letdown year in a lot of ways compared to his 2012 campaign at Santa Fe College, though that should have been expected given the elevation in the level of competition. Statistically, Markey still had a decent year, logging 100.1 innings and maintaining a 3+-to-1 K/BB ratio. His batting average against (.295) and ERA (4.93) were less stellar but still passable.
Baseball Draft Report had Markey as his third-best prospect on the team in the preseason and the #446 prospect overall. Here was his report on Markey:
"I liked Markey a lot last year - he was my 446th overall draft prospect, after all - and I see no reason why I should turn on him now. The well-traveled junior throws three pitches for strikes (88-92 FB, 93 peak with a good CB and average CU)."
The Perfect Game has his fastball velocity at 87 with a slider at 73 and a curve at 68, but again that's from 2009. Inside VT Sports had probably the most realistic projection for Markey, albeit with the benefit of doing so postseason:
"Junior Brad Markey slipped down the draft boards a bit this season. I'd be surprised if he wasn't back for his senior year."
And I think I would agree with that. While he may get drafted, I feel like he's certainly not going to improve his draft position and therefore money offered from his 2012 selection. So with that being the case, why not come back and try to improve your stock?
Andrew Rash- Drafted in 2011 36th round 22nd pick (1103rd overall) San Diego Padres
Rash is an interesting case, as he was drafted in 2011 but passed on last year after his poorest season as a collegian. But in 2013 Rash had a bounce-back year, hitting .315, unfortunately still the second-lowest batting average of his college career as well as his second-lowest OBP (.368) and slugging percentage (.563) and his highest strikeout total with 56. He also had 13 errors in the field, not helped by a failed transition to third base in the postseason. But he also boasted a career-high and team-leading 62 RBI and an impressive 11 HR's.
Basically Rash is counting on a team taking a liking to his raw power and hoping they can iron out his inability to take walks and cut down on his strikeouts, two things that are usually hard to iron out. As it stands, he strikes out on about 24 percent of his at bats, near the very upper range of hitters, and walks only about 6 percent of the time, again, near the lower range of hitters.
Here's what Baseball Draft Report had to say about Rash:
"Rash's huge righthanded power is enough for me to take a chance on him late in the draft, but I could see why teams may be hesitant to pull the trigger on a guy with contact issues and an inconsistent approach. He deserves credit for working himself into a playable right fielder."
And Inside VT Sports:
"Andrew Rash has a lot of raw power, but there are questions about his defense and where he projects there. He came back to Tech after not being drafted last season and one would think a team would take a late-round flyer on a guy with power who still has the potential to refine his hitting approach to cut down on strikeouts. He's also played a lot of positions this year (center field, right field, third base), so he potential as a utility guy."
So I think we're all on the same page there. Basically Rash has some good attributes, but there is certainly an elephant in the room. That's why neither Baseball Draft Report listed him among their preseason top-5 Tech players nor did Baseball America include him in either their top-500 prospects or their top-25 prospects in the state (perhaps a little harsh).
I do think Rash gets picked up in the draft, simply because there is too much not to like if he can fix some glaring weaknesses in his game. He may be a later round guy, but he can play several different positions, hit the cover off the ball when he does make contact and is a terrific teammate and person. When those guys can't get drafted, baseball will be a sad sport.
Brendon Hayden- Drafted in 2011 36th round 30th pick (1111th overall) Philadelphia Phillies
Hayden, although he was drafted in 2011 out of high school, is ineligible for the draft as he has yet to complete the minimum number of college years to be considered as a college-eligible.
Eddie Campbell- Drafted in 2010 44th round 12th pick (1327th overall) Cincinnati Reds
Campbell is an interesting case. He was drafted out of high school by the Reds in 2010, and despite some underwhelming college statistics to date, has garnered quite a bit of interest from scouts/analysts. He has a career 5.63 ERA at Tech, but had his best year in 2013 peripherally if not aesthetically. His K/BB ratio and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) were career-bests and his .240 batting average against was a new career-best as well. He also pitched a career-high 46.2 innings while potentially turning himself into a starter in the home-stretch for the Hokies. He's also a lefty, which increases his value.
So why has Campbell been such a touted prospect if not for collegiate success? Well, as Baseball Draft Report, which listed Eddie as the fourth-best pro prospect for the Hokies in the preseason, and Inside VT Sports said respectively:
"Campbell impressed on the Cape thanks to his crafty lefty repertoire that includes an upper-80s to low-90s FB (92 peak) and above-average curve. I'm more bearish on him than most, due to stuff that doesn't blow me away and too frequent lapses in control."
"Junior lefty Eddie Campbell could be the wild card. He had a strong summer on Cape Cod last year and given the chance to start in the postseason at Tech, he excelled. He has great stuff and the potential to be a No. 1 or 2 starter next season for the Hokies. But if he goes high enough and the money is right, Campbell will have a decision to make."
Basbeall America also has Campbell as the No. 13 Virginian (either by high school or college). And according to The Perfect Game, of all the pitchers with Virginia ties in the upcoming draft, Campbell has the best breaking stuff, something we saw in his last few appearances of the season with a giant sweeping curve that buckled hitters' knees.
But Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes told Mike Barber of the Richmond Times Dispatch Thursday:
Hughes said he wouldn't be surprised if Campbell is drafted, but believes his player would benefit from pitching another season with the Hokies.
"I think Eddie needs to come back to school," Hughes said. "He's had a good two weeks. If he came back here and pitched on weekends he could absolutely pitch his way to a prospect slot, top five rounds."
So it appears that Campbell will certainly be drafted for his superior breaking pitches, though it is certain he could improve his stock by coming back another year. Depending on where he is drafted, Campbell might have a tough decision to make. If he decides to come back, he could potentially be the Hokies' ace next year, and would certainly be a regular member of the staff. But if he was drafted highly enough or offered an overslot figure, he might feel compelled to head to the bigs (well, kinda). For sure it seems that he will be drafted prior to the 44th round he was drafted in out of high school.
Chad Pinder- Drafted in 2013 2nd round 32nd pick (71st overall) Oakland Athletics
Since Chad was already drafted and we covered him extensively this morning, we're going to keep it pretty simple on him. He was the No. 1 prospect for the Hokies on Baseball Draft Report's preseason list of Hokies as well as the No. 2 player in the state of Virginia postseason according to Baseball America.
Here is Baseball America's take on him as a potential first-rounder from back in March. But strangely that didn't stop him from falling a couple of spots after a monster ACC Tournament as these local beat writers pointed out:
#Hokies Chad Pinder No. 54 and Tyler Horan No. 293 on Baseball America's latest list of top-500 draft prospects for 2013.— Aaron McFarling (@aaronmcfarling) May 28, 2013
@aaronmcfarling So, Pinder DROPPED a spot from where he was in Baseball America's last rankings? Seems odd given last few weeks he's had.— Norm Wood (@normwood) May 28, 2013
However, it seemed to work out fine for Pinder, who was taken near the end of the supplemental Competitive Balance B round of the draft last night. It is unlikely he will be returning to Blacksburg given the position of his pick.
Tyler Horan is likely the next Tech player to come off the board. Horan posted a monster junior season that saw him earn All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball newspaper. He tied for the team-lead in home runs with 11 and finished fourth in RBI (50). That led to rave reviews from many scouting agencies, including Baseball America which recently rated him the No. 293 prospect nationally and No. 7 in the state of Virginia.
Inside VT Sports had a long take on what Horan's likely decision will be regardless of his draft position:
"Outfielder Tyler Horan. A redshirt junior, Horan has the option to return, but his Twitter timeline after Sunday's game made it sound like he was done with his time in Blacksburg. Even if he's a lower-round pick, he'll be 23 in December, meaning his clock is ticking in terms of making it through the minors and into the bigs.
Horan has a ton of raw power, as he displayed in the Cape Cod League last summer when he led the wood-bat circuit with 18 home runs. He's also a bit more athletic than one would think for a player his size (6-foot-2, 232). Matt Grabusky at the website BigLeagueFutures.net noted that Horan has above average bat speed, plus raw power, an above average arm and is a solid defensive outfielder. A likely Friday selection."
Baseball Draft Report also had a preseason take on him, but I think of all the players they evaluated, they might want to have Horan's back to do again:
"Tyler Horan has more power, but not quite as strong a hit tool. He also is a corner outfielder only, potentially limited to left field, so the margin of error for his stick is more pronounced. The power is enticing enough that he'll rightfully get drafted with the thought he'll someday hold down an everyday outfield spot."
Coach Hughes also told Barber Thursday:
"I'd be shocked if he doesn't go in the top 10 rounds," Hughes said, praising Horan's power, improved plate discipline and defense.
It would be really surprising if Horan doesn't go pretty early, but if he is a mid-round selection by some twist of fate, his status with Virginia Tech might change and convince him to return. At any rate, whichever team does draft him will be getting a good player as we all know.
Devin Burke had an excellent year for the Hokies, winning 11 games, racking up an impressive 104.1 innings and pitching to a 3.11 ERA. He also had pretty good peripherals, allowing hitters to hit a paltry .248. But unfortunately Baseball America doesn't have him as one of the state's 25 best players and he is at a disadvantage for a reason the Inside VT Sports highlights in their scouting report on him:
"Pitcher Devin Burke. Since he transferred directly from one ACC school to another (Duke to Virginia Tech), Burke forfeited a year of ACC eligibility, along with the usual year players have to sit out when switching schools. So the right-hander's time at Tech is over. Will he be drafted? He won 11 games as a junior including two excellent performances in the postseason. Burke's changeup is a plus pitch, and pitching coach Patrick Mason noted that Burke's changeup to lefties is extremely effective, so effective that he liked Burke matching up against lefties more than the matchups with the lefties in his bullpen. Probably a late-round selection."
Burke may be drafted late, and hopefully can stick on a team willing to remember his situation and give him a chance to prove he's every bit as good as he pitched this season.
Jake Joyce shot up draft boards, including rising to No. 17 in the state according to Baseball America, because of his play in 2013, pitching to a 4.16 ERA in 62.2 innings, all as a reliever (which is impressive). He is at a historical disadvantage however, as relievers are much more infrequently drafted as pro teams value taking starting pitchers and converting them into bullpen arms. However, there are some conventional relievers that are picked up, and Joyce figures to be one of them. Baseball Draft Report has a...well, report:
"SR RHP Jake Joyce has consistently performed out of the Virginia Tech bullpen (9.96 K/9 in 2011, 11.16 K/9 last year), so it wouldn't be a shock to see a club that emphasizes prior production giving him a look this spring."
Expect Joyce to be a late-round selection.
Clark Labitan is also at a disadvantage despite a strong 2013 where he pitched to a 2.58 ERA in 45.1 innings, recording 11 saves. For one, he is a reliever, but on top of that he has a diminutive stature, as he is listed at 5'8" 175 lbs. according to Hokiesports.
Inside VT Sports explains why that might be an issue:
"Senior relievers Jake Joyce and Clark Labitan have late-round potential, but size will be an issue with both. Labitan also has a history of shoulder problems."
And Baseball Draft Report concurs when talking about Tanner McIntyre and Labitan:
"Same could be said about SR RHP Tanner McIntyre, a pitcher who has done the job when called upon (10.16 K/9 last year) but still could be on the outside looking in come June if teams decide they can't look past lack of size (5-9, 170 pounds) and pedestrian (by pro standards) stuff. You can go ahead and put 5-9, 175 pound SR RHP Clark Labitan in the same category."
So with plenty to overcome in the minds of draft scouts, Labitan is probably a fringe pick, but could be a nice surprise for a team willing to take a risk on him in the late rounds.
Tanner McIntyre was off to a great start in 2013, compiling a 3-0 record with a 3.81 ERA in four starts and nine appearances before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the season. While he has pitched extremely well in the last two seasons, compiling a 10-0 record and a 3 ERA, the injury coupled with his short stature (see Labitan notes above) and his primary usage as a reliever don't do him any favors. The chances that McIntyre is taken are pretty hard to calculate since it basically revolves around a team seeing something they like in him and willing to risk a pick to hope those concerns all pan out.
Gary Schneider, Chad Morgan and Colin O'Keefe are the only other juniors on the roster, but each one either had a poor/mediocre season or had their season derailed by injury. If any one of them is taken (and it would be one of the first two), expect them to return as it will likely just be a late round feeler pick.
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