Today’s installment of Scouting the Draft looks at five collegiate outfielders with the chance to come off the board in the early rounds next June. As a reminder, the goal of this series is not to cover every name worth knowing for next June; we have plenty of time to bring you full reports on the top draft-eligible players for 2013 over the next seven months. This is meant to serve as an introduction to the draft class for those who have not yet begun to follow the action and to pool in one place a rundown of some of the top performances in the months leading up to the draft before we start parsing the class in more detail.
Phil Ervin | OF | Samford University
The Basics: 5-foot-10, 195-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 20y 11m
Brings to the table: The ability to produce consistent hard contact with a chance for average to above-average playable power at the next level. Ervin has a quick bat that, when paired with his simple load and trigger, allows him to let the ball travel, maximizing his ability to make contact at impact checkpoints in his bat path. Defensively, he has a chance to stick in center at the next level and has enough arm to hold down right field if he has to shift to a corner. There is little projection left in Ervin’s frame.
Made a name for himself when: He hit his way through the Cape this summer, finishing with 11 home runs and a .323 average en route to earning the league’s Most Valuable Player award. He was fairly consistent throughout and endeared himself to evaluators by displaying a good feel for the game and a focused and efficient implementation of his tools between the lines.
Figures to get attention: Throughout the spring and particularly against SEC opponents such as Mississippi State, Auburn, and Alabama. Ervin made a lot of money this summer with a breakout performance in the most talent-rich collegiate wood bat league in the country. A solid spring should land him in the top two rounds and, given the presence of organizations that heavily weigh wood bat performances, he may be a near lock to come off the board in the top 100 picks or so.
Eric Jagielo | OF/3B | University of Notre Dame
The Basics: 6-foot-2, 215-pounds; left/right profile; draft day age 21y 1m
Brings to the table: A corner bat profile with a chance for a 5/6 hit/power combination at the next level. Jagielo creates good leverage and gets to his power without too much effort, which should help him make the most out of that pop as he tackles more advanced pitching at the next level. He needs to refine his approach, in particular focusing on being more selectively aggressive in finding pitches to drive, and may need to shorten his swing in defensive counts to avoid being exposed on the inner-half. Defensively, a stocky build and below-average lower-half agility are likely to land him in a corner outfield spot, though evaluators should give him a chance to prove that sentiment wrong this spring.
Made a name for himself when: He launched 13 home runs for the Harwich Mariners on the Cape this summer. After a solid sophomore campaign for the Fighting Irish in which Jagielo showed the potential in both his hit and power tool, the Cape served as an important legitimizer; Jagielo proved to be one of the most effective power hitters in the league. The summer did little to help his cause at the hot corner, but teams buying in are buying the bat, which should play equally well in the outfield.
Figures to get attention: Early in the spring when the Irish travel to Southern California for the Dodgertown Classic, which will include games against UCLA, USC, and Oklahoma. The event is always highly scouted and will pit Jagielo against potential 2013 early-round arms such as Adam Plutko (UCLA), Nicolas Vander Tuig (UCLA), Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma), and Dillon Overton (Oklahoma), depending on how the schedule lines up. It will be an early test but an important one in the eyes of evaluators who may not see Jagielo face better competition the rest of the spring. He currently projects to the top three rounds in June.
JaCoby Jones | OF/2B/3B | Louisiana State University
The Basics: 6-foot-3, 207-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21y 1m
Brings to the table: An electric, athletic profile complete with plus speed, a strong arm, and above-average bat speed capable of producing above-average-to-plus power. Jones has the upside of a true 6/6 hit/power player due to his bat speed and strong core, but cutting into his ability to reach that lofty ceiling is his see-the-ball-hit-the-ball approach that too often leads him to soft contact. Defensively, he has the athleticism to stick in the infield either at second base or third base, but pro evaluators may prefer his plus speed and strong arm in center field. He’s an aggressive baserunner with a solid feel for the craft.
Made a name for himself when: He won the home run derby prior to the 2012 Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game—a feat belied by his mere five home runs during in-game action throughout the summer. This (in addition to Jones’ BP sessions) was an important reminder for scouts that the ceiling for the LSU standout far outdistances his current playable skillset. Additionally, Jones’ strong play in center broadened his defensive profile and gave him a chance to showcase his athleticism.
Figures to get attention: Throughout the spring, in particular in three big series: hosting Florida and visiting Arkansas and Vanderbilt. Jones will face off against some of the top arms in the country over these nine games, and each series will have dozens of scouts, cross-checkers and scouting directors in attendance. A couple of impressive games with high-level decision-makers in attendance could solidify Jones as a Day One talent come June barring an otherwise disappointing spring.
Michael Lorenzen | OF/RHP | California State University-Fullerton
The Basics: 6-foot-3, 195-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21y 5m
Brings to the table: A true five-tool profile that could project to above-average speed, an average hit tool, above-average power, and a plus-plus glove and arm in center. This five-tool potential keeps scouts coming back for more in spite of struggles at the plate this spring and summer. Supporters will point to some mechanical adjustments that should help Lorenzen to tighten his path to contact and result in jumps in hard contact rate and in-game power. Those less confident worry the Fullerton outfielder simply lacks the necessary feel for hitting and won’t make enough contact for the hit or power to play. There’s little question he’ll be an excellent defensive center fielder and will provide positive value on the bases.
Made a name for himself when: He showed plus-plus velocity in 22-plus relief innings for Fullerton this spring, following it up with a couple of high-velocity innings for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team this summer. Lorenzen’s value lies in his potential as a position player, but the added safety net of a potential late-inning profile on the mound could provide some much needed cover come June should Lorenzen fail to breakout this spring. It’s also worth noting that despite some struggles at the plate, Lorenzen has continued to show solid focus and execution in the field and on the bases.
Figures to get attention: So long as his loud tools remain on display. At some point performance will need to show in order for the promising Titan to realize his potential to come off the board during Day One of the Draft, but the upside his game brings to the table will ensure that evaluators give him every opportunity to convince them he is worthy of a high-round selection. His potential on the mound should help ensure he slips no later than the third or fourth round, but a strong spring could put him into mid-to-late-first-round consideration.
Austin Wilson | OF | Stanford University
The Basics: 6-foot-5, 243-pounds; right/right profile; draft day age 21y 4m
Brings to the table: Elite offensive upside and a corner outfield profile. Wilson’s development has stunted some over the past two seasons at Stanford; his swing mechanics have been simplified to the point where he was almost entirely upper-body this past spring. Even then, he was capable of producing above-average in-game pop due to his sheer strength. If he can better implement his lower-half in his swing, there is plus-plus power in the bat, though his long limbs and broad zone play against his hit tool developing into more than an average weapon. Defensively, Wilson’s long term home is in right where his plus-to-plus-plus arm will be an asset.
Made a name for himself when: He followed up a disappointing 2011 on the Cape with a strong half-season in 2012 before taking off the end of the summer due to a muscle strain in his midsection. Had he played a full term, Wilson would likely have been among the league leaders in home runs, having tallied six in just 77 at bats. Contact will always be a question, but this summer he was able to show growth in his offensive profile as well as consistency in his running and defense.
Figures to get attention: Throughout the spring as perhaps the top power bat at the collegiate level. There is a dearth of impact offensive tools among the draft-eligibles this year, so any plus-plus power is going to get a lot of eyes on it. Wilson needs to give evaluators reasons to believe he’ll make enough contact to reach that plus-plus power at the next level. If he does, he should be an early-to-mid first-rounder.
Summer Scouting Series:
College Outfielders | College Infielders/Catchers | College RHP | College LHP
Nick J. Faleris is a practicing structured finance attorney and Sports Industry team member in the Milwaukee office of Foley & Lardner LLP. The views he expresses in Baseball Prospectus are his own, and not necessarily those of the law firm.