By Mason McRae
With the dreaded winter season being the only obstacle between us and College Baseball. It’s a good time to look at some college prospects that also had a barrier in their way during their college careers – whether it was an All-American they stood in the shadow of, falling victim to a deep lineup that struggled to give everyone a slice of the pie, or maybe just not living up to expectations.
Typically by now, we know the majority of the top college prospects thanks to the Cape Cod League and the small glimpses we got from the CWS. Last year, Adley Rutchsman was projected to go 1-1 since the previous CWS. But, this list isn’t meant to showcase the obvious prospects. It’s time to find the Hunter Bishop of the 2020 Draft, and every year there’s a couple.
3B Gage Workman – Arizona State
What better way to find the Hunter Bishop of the class, than by starting with a fellow Sun Devil. Somebody has to hit behind Spencer Torkelson and relish in opportunistic moments. Gage becomes the best candidate, he’s been one of the best 3rd Baseman in the country over the last two years and saw a bump in every stat possible last season, going from a .276/.339/.466 line his freshman year to a .330/.413/.528 line his sophomore year. He also hit 5 more HRs and added 17 BB’s.
His massive frame allows an ultra-projection for some added power numbers this year. Workman should be a massive part of the Sun Devils success this season alongside fellow Day One prospects, including Torkelson, Alika Williams, and Trevor Hauver. Their offense is so good that somebody’s gotta put up insane numbers alongside Torkelson, filling Bishop’s void will be tough – but Workman has the tools.
It’s worth noting that Gage is currently my 45th ranked prospect in the class and I’m projecting him to end up in the 20-25ish range by May. He’s a projected late second rounder by most publishers.
LHP Jake Eder – Vanderbilt
With my no. 1 college LHP (Hugh Fisher) falling to a devastating season-ending injury, Jake immediately gets put into the spotlight. He was Vandy’s go-to reliever in the middle part of the game and will get some starter looks this year. He’s sat 90-94 for the ‘Dores this fall and has repeatable mechanics as expected from a Vanderbilt arm.
In 39.1 innings last year, he posted a 2.97 ERA with hitters batting .200 against him. Eder is currently my no. 79 player in the class and an early day-two prospect right now. But, if he puts up the numbers Coach Corbin hopes, he’ll get plenty of looks and first round marks. I’m projecting him to end up in the 30-40ish range by the CWS.
C Saul Garza – LSU
Saul is my favorite sleeper in the class, an unknown player that I haven’t heard a peep about. Garza fell victim to a wrist injury and (he was still the starter) shared reps with (now transferred) Brock Mathis. Saul has a loose swing with lots of zone time and easy power. He’s a 40 defender behind the plate and could use some improvement but the bat is oh-so-good.
He was drafted twice already, most recently last year in the 32nd round and for good reason – returned to LSU to make a final impression on MLB teams. The catching talent is crazy this year with Wells, and Bailey already day one talents – making it tough on Garza, but he might have the best swing in the catching portion of the class.
Garza is currently my no. 65 prospect and an mid-day two talent by most publishers. He looks like a potential comp round pick with a breakout year.
LHP Jackson Wolf – West Virginia
The final of the sleepers, Jackson Wolf has an electric name and arm. After being the no. 2 guy behind 11th overall pick Alek Manoah, it’s time for Jackson to make a statement this year. He took a step back last year with no growth in the command department. He still gave away bases and struggled to miss barrels even with his funky delivery. This summer at the Cape he showed growth where he needed to, and with his name moving to the top of the rotation, it’s now or never.
Wolf has a low-3/4s arm-slot that I rarely get the pleasure to watch, but when I do – I enjoy it. Ulike a loft of southpaws with that release point, he’s got some life on his fastball getting up to 95 with plenty of run. His secondary pitches are still a 30 but he’s just so funky so his slider has a tough plane that gets on hitters. His 6’7 frame alone makes teams watch closely, even if the numbers aren’t appealing.
He’s currently my no. 100 player in the class and should get a bigtime bump if he can duplicate what Alek Manoah did.