2011 Draft Preview: Vanderbilt | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

2011 Draft Preview: Vanderbilt

There are very few schools each year that land a kid in the first round.  Maybe a couple will land two.  This year Vanderbilt has a realistic chance to land three kids in the first round, including two righties who potentially could wind up in the top 10 overall.  Those two righties are Sonny Gray and Jack Armstrong.  The hitter is 3B Jason Esposito, who likely will be the second ranked collegiate 3B behind probable first overall selection, Anthony Rendon of Rice.  With guys like this, Vanderbilt has a chance to play deep into the NCAA tourney as well as help make some kids a lot of money.

Let’s start with Esposito.  The guy flies.  He stole over 30 bases last season.  His speed is rare for a corner guy and proves that he has the athleticism to stay at third in the pros.  His slashes in 2010 were .359/.455/.599.  He went deep 12 times and walked very nearly as many times as he struck out.  The guy simply shows the polish and athleticism that scouts covet from the collegiate ranks.  While he might slip to the supplemental round, he probably shouldn’t.  The fact that Esposito has a clear left-side arm and plus speed suggests that there is a realistic chance he plays short in the pros.  If he proves somewhere in the next handful of months that he can adequately do this, he is going to climb.  His hands have room to develop, but third often skews perspectives in that area.  I really like the guy because of his polish at the plate and defensive versatility.  Guys like Esposito tend to stay productive for a really long time.

Next I will focus a little on Armstrong. Of the three, I think he is the most likely to be  overdrafted.  The guy is a monstrous- 6’6”, 230 lb.  He has a lot of room to develop, but doesn’t show enough ability to strike guys out, pitch deep into games, or locate pitches.  His 2010 ERA of 4.71 came in under 80 IP.  His K/BB of 50/39 is terrifyingly low in my opinion for a kid being ranked ahead of someone like UConn’s Matt Barnes.  Still, the projection and physicality are there.  I think this is going to be a disaster of a pick, but someone will bite early.

Now let’s look at the guy I think will end up being an underdraft: Sonny Gray.  I love this guy.  Mid-90’s heat with a 60-70-grade bender and the stats to back it up.  Gray posted a 3.48 ERA in nearly 110 IP with 113 K’s.  He walks too many guys right now and his delivery is loud, but the arm speed is real.  Guys compare Gray to Oswalt a lot.  I don’t think his command justifies that sort of claim, but he is good.  I think he belongs in the top 10 picks.  It will be really interesting to see what Norris, Howard, Bundy, and Bradley do this season because they really could shake these pitcher rankings up a lot, but the college guys are just so good this year that I would not be surprised to see the high school arms fall to the middle or back of the first round.

Anyway, the only other schools that should have multiple guys land in the first round are UCLA and Edison High (CA).  I’m a little skeptical of the Edison guys just because this draft is so stacked, but the purpose of this was to point out that Vanderbilt’s baseball program is a powerhouse led by three guys who any team would love to have in the system.  Talkin’ ‘bout Vandy!

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