2013 MLB draft: Prospects beyond the first round
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By now, most people following the 2013 MLB draft have a pretty good understanding of who the first-round talent is. Most of the mock drafts around the web, including mine, only cover the first round or the top 50 picks. But if you look at past drafts, a ton of talent has been found in later rounds. Baseball is the toughest sport to scout, and great talent often slips through the cracks. This will be the first in a series of articles highlighting players who may not be considered first-round talent today but could either play their way into the first round or make teams regret passing on them early. I’ll start with some college prospects.
Johnny Field, OF, Arizona
As a sophomore last season, Field hit .370 with 18 doubles, seven triples, three home runs and drove in 44 runs over 65 games for the Wildcats. He also scored 72 runs, stole 11 bases and drew 43 walks to just 28 strikeouts for a slash line of .476/.529/1.005. An electric player, the 5’-11” right-hander was the MVP of the Tucson Regional, hitting .533 with eight runs scored and 10 RBI over three games for the eventual National Champions. He also played for the 2012 Collegiate National Team, hitting .261 with nine RBI over 13 games.
Raph Rhymes, OF, LSU
There are hitters, and then there is Raph Rhymes. Few can put the ball in play the way the 6’-0” right-hander can. He led the nation in hitting last season with a .431 mark. He drew 22 walks and struck out just 13 times over 232 at-bats. He had a 34-game stretch in which he went 71-for-133 (.534). This is a kid who tried to walk on to LSU in 2008 but there wasn’t a roster spot for him. So, he went to play at LSU-Eunice, a Division II junior college, and was named the 2010 National Player of the Year after hitting .483 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs, 98 RBI and striking out just nine times over 238 at-bats. What I am trying to say here is this kid can hit a baseball. He was a 30th-round selection by the Yankees in the 2012 draft but decided to come back to LSU in hopes of improving his draft stock, and more importantly, help lead LSU to a national title.
Nick Petree, LHP, Missouri State
How do you toss 73 consecutive scoreless innings, as well as lead the nation with a 1.01 ERA, and not get much attention? Such was the case for Nick Petree last season. One of the best pitchers in all of college last season, the 6’-1” junior will now be the Friday-night starter for the Bears now that Pierce Johnson, a second-round pick by the Chicago Cubs, is a pro. Petree went 10-4 with 114 K/36 BB over 115.1 innings, often overshadowing Johnson to put together one of, if not the best, seasons in Missouri State history.
Nick Backlund, 1B, Mercer
Backlund made a mockery of the Atlantic Sun league during his first season at Mercer. The 6’-1”, 225-pound redshirt sophomore hit .381 with 16 doubles, 16 home runs, 58 RBI and drew 33 walks to 37 strikeouts, showing a very good approach at the plate. His slash line of .471/.668/1.139 ranked him among the nation’s leaders in all three categories, and he was named a Louisville Slugger first-team All-American for his efforts.
Boomer Collins, OF, Dallas Baptist
A Nebraska transfer, Boomer became the leader, both on the field and off, of a Dallas Baptist team that went 41-19 and made it to the NCAA Regionals last season. Over 60 games, the 5’-11”, 200-pound right-hander hit .374 with 23 doubles, 13 home runs, 58 RBI and had a slash line of .466/.647/1.113. He also drew 37 walks and was 15-for-18 in stolen base attempts.
Ty Young, 2B, Louisville
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