this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The 2015 MLB Draft will be held Monday (rounds 1 & 2), Tuesday (3-10), and Wednesday (11-40). Here's a preview from a Michigan perspective, covering both current players and members of the 2015 recruiting class.
Three of Michigan's top juniors—Jacob Cronenworth, Evan Hill, and Travis Maezes—are expected to be drafted. On his appearance last week on WTKA, Wolverine head coach Erik Bakich said that it's looking like Cronenworth and Maezes will be drafted on day 2 and Hill on day 3, and he's anticipating that all three will sign. Baseball America's top 500 for the draft has Cronenworth at #194, Maezes at #376, and Hill at #381. The only senior that Bakich mentioned as a possible draftee was Jackson Glines. He might go late on day 2 or on day 3. (Note on Cronenworth, a two-way player at Michigan: he's likely to be drafted as a pitcher.)
With the first two recruiting classes he put together at Michigan, Bakich had the fortune to not lose any of his recruits to the draft. This year, two players in particular have been garnering draft buzz. First, here are the 11 Michigan signees or commits that I'm aware of.
Jack Bredeson — 6-6 RHP/3B, Arrowhead HS (Hartland, WI)
Andrew David — 5-10 SS/2B, Massillon Washington HS (OH)
Charlie Donovan — 5-11 SS/2B, Westmont HS (IL)
Jonathan Engelmann — 6-4 OF, Burlingame HS (CA)
George Hewitt — 6-3 3B/MIF, Salisbury School (CT); hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Ricky Karcher — 6-4 RHP, Saline HS (MI)
Ben Keizer — 6-2 LHP, Portage Northern HS (MI)
Troy Miller — 6-3 RHP, Soquel HS (CA)
Joe Pace — 6-0 OF/2B, Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
Ako Thomas — 5-9 2B/SS, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago, IL)
Will Tribucher — 6-2 LHP, San Clemente HS (CA)
Note that Bakich said last week on WTKA that the class actually includes 13 players—5 pitchers and 8 fielders—so there are 2 I'm unaware of. It's clear that the California pipeline continues to be tapped, and in fact Bakich said that 5 of the 13 are from that state. (It wouldn't be surprising if the missing California commit is a juco, following in the footsteps of Glines and Cody Bruder.)
Back to the draft: Jonathan Engelmann seems to be the member of the class most likely to be drafted and sign with an MLB club. Baseball America has him at #253. He also appears in MLB's Draft Tracker, with this comment:
A former infielder who outgrew the dirt and moved to a corner outfield spot, Engelmann is a strong athletic high school hitter with some tools you can dream on. The University of Michigan commit is still growing and getting stronger, learning to use his 6-foot-4 frame to its fullest potential. An aggressive hitter at the plate, there is still work to be done on Engelmann's mechanics and timing. But he is able to make loud contact and there is plenty of raw power for the right-handed hitter to tap into. Engelmann is an average runner with enough arm to be an athletic right fielder in the future, though he might play center field should he go on to play for the Wolverines. Engelmann is very much potential over performance right now, but his high upside is bound to draw interest.
Charlie Donovan is the other one with significant draft buzz, coming in at #405 on Perfect Game's draft ranking. Prep Baseball Report (see under "Comments"), which has him ranked #16 in the 2015 class in their overall rankings (covering about two dozen states), is more bullish on him, calling him (see under "Comments") a "top three–round talent" and that he's a "likely early round pick in next month’s MLB Draft, signability put aside." According to Big Ten blogger Chris Webb, Donovan recently worked out for the White Sox, but Webb thinks Donovan will end up at Michigan.
Troy Miller is another one to keep an eye on. He's listed in the MLB Draft Tracker, although less prominently than Engelmann and Donovan. Overall, it should be an interesting few days of draft watching.
In their ranking of 2014 classes, Collegiate Baseball newspaper puts Michigan's class #30 in the country. No other Big Ten teams appear in their top 40, making this the second-straight year that this newspaper has ranked Michigan's class tops in the conference (last year's class came in at #20). The Wolverines appear poised for a return to the top of the conference on the diamond.
Here's a quote from the mgoblue.com press release on this news:
"Coach (Nick) Schnabel, Coach (Sean) Kenny and our entire staff did another outstanding job putting together one of the nation's elite recruiting classes," head coach Erik Bakich said at the time of the recruiting class announcement. "This group of newcomers is extremely talented on the field as well as in the classroom and we are looking forward to helping them develop to their maximum potential as students, athletes and men."
For more details on the 2014 class, see this thread.
Meanwhile, Michigan's 2015 class is shaping up to be another strong one. I discovered recently that Michigan commit Troy Miller is ranked #275 in the nation by Perfect Game. Miller is a right-handed pitcher from Soquel, California, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 91 mph. If he doesn't end up getting drafted and sign next summer, he could be the highest-ranked player yet of the Bakich era at Michigan. For more info on Miller, see this thread; the most recent full rundown of the 2015 class can be found here.
Michigan baseball issued a release today on their 2014 recruiting class, which includes nine freshman and two junior college transfers. All except one of the juco transfers were reported here previously as commitments via Hello posts. Here's what the release has on Michael McNicholl (EDIT: his last name is misspelled in the press release—s/b two ls):
Michael McNichol - OF - Alta Loma, Calif./Barstow C.C.
Was named to the All-Foothill Conference first team his sophomore season at Barstow Community College in Barstow, Calif. ... Hit .340 for Barstow in 2014 with 29 RBI and 22 stolen bases ... Went to high school at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. ... Hit .424 and had a .486 on-base percentage as a senior at Los Osos.
In a reply, I'll post a chart with some more info on the nine freshmen, including some rankings data.
The Michigan coaching staff continues to successfully tap into the strong California baseball pipeline, picking up their third West Coast commit in the last couple of weeks. Joining the 2015 class today was Jonathan Engelmann, a 6-4, 195-lb. outfielder from Burlingame H.S. (near San Mateo). Like the previous two California commits, Troy Miller and Will Tribucher (as well another Michigan commit from the Chicago area, Charlie Donovan), Engelmann participated in the prestigious Area Code Games, held last week in Long Beach with about 240 invitees from around the country.
Perfect Game's profile page for Engelmann includes this scouting report on him from June:
Jonathan Engelmann is a 2015 OF/ with a 6-4 200 lb. frame from San Mateo, CA who attends Burlingame HS. Big strong well proportioned athletic build, lots of physical projection. 6.75 runner, outstanding base running instincts and aggression. High level defensive tools, covers ground with his speed, very strong and accurate on line throws, speed for centerfield, arm strength for right field. Right handed hitter, exaggerated inside approach, leaks his front side very early to get his hands through, tends to hit from under the ball, has hand speed and obvious strength but approach is holding him back, has the tools to improve with adjustments. High ceiling athlete if the bat comes around.
They gave him a grade of 9.5 (out of 10), meaning they see him as a potential top 10 round draft pick (possibly going in an early round) and/or as a highest- to elite-level college prospect. Under "colleges interested in" are Arizona State, UC–Santa Barbara, USC, and Washington—an impressive list.
Engelmann would seem to be an important addition to the 2015 class given the decommitment of Nick Plummer earlier this summer, who had been the only outfielder in the class.
Not to be left out of the commit frenzy, the Michigan baseball staff scored again on Thursday, landing another West Coast 2015 prospect: Will Tribucher, a 6-3, 190-lb. left-handed pitcher attending San Clemente H.S. He's the second player from California to commit to the Wolverines in as many weeks, following in the footsteps of Troy Miller (see Hello post), a right-handed pitcher out of Soquel H.S. in Soquel, California. Both Tribucher and Miller were invited to participate in the prestigious Area Code Games, being held this week in Long Beach with about 240 invitees from around the country. A third 2015 commit for U-M, Charlie Donovan, a shortstop from the Chicago area, was also selected to participate.
Unfortunately, there's little scouting info out there on Tribucher. Perhaps something will come up this week based on his play at the Area Code Games. I did find some vidoes, and I'll post one of them in a reply.
The Michigan staff continues to fill out its 2015 class in advance of the early signing period in November, today gaining two more commitments, both right-handed pitchers.
Miller is a 6-3, 205-pound righty out of Soquel H.S. in Soquel, California, located near Santa Cruz. Miller was voted Pitcher of the Year for the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, after going 6-1 in 11 regular-season appearances with 44 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA in 51 1/3 innings. He has a four-pitch arsenal: a two- and four-seam fastball, circle change, and curveball. His velocity has increased this summer, with his fastball clocked at 91 mph recently.
Miller was recently selected to compete for the Oakland A's team at the "prestigious and heavily scouted" Area Code Games to be held August 4–9 in Long Beach.
"Being with the top 240 players in the country — it's a real honor," Miller said Wednesday. "I'm excited for where my baseball career, with the help of my coaching, is taking me right now."
That article (from July 23) indicates that Miller had earlier committed to Saint Mary's College but decomitted at the beginning of this summer. It also mentions plans of official visits to Michigan and Baylor and an unofficial visit to UC Santa Barbara, but he changed those plans today with his verbal commitment to Michigan.
I don't have rankings info on Miller—Prep Baseball Report doesn't cover California, and the Perfect Game rankings are paywalled. His credentials above seem quite good, however. It's also encouraging to see the Michigan staff continue to be able to attract players from California, having already brought in Ramsey Romano and Jackson Glines, with juco transfer Cody Bruder joining the team this year.
I haven't been able to dig up much on Karcher, but here's what I've found: Perfect Game has him as a 6-4, 175-pound righty, with a best-recorded fastball of 88 mph. For at least the last two years, he has attended and played baseball at Ponte Vedra H.S. in Ponte Vedra, Florida, located near Jacksonville, helping his team win a state championship in 2013. But he's apparently moving to Saline for his senior year of high school, attending Saline High. It's possible he's originally from Saline, and his family is now returning there.
Again, any rankings are n/a. PBR recently expanded to Florida, but they don't yet have rankings for that state.