Michigan Baseball: Preview of 2015 MLB Draft

Michigan Baseball: Preview of 2015 MLB Draft

Submitted by Raoul on June 7th, 2015 at 11:08 PM

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.

Baseball Hello: Jonathan Engelmann

Baseball Hello: Jonathan Engelmann

Submitted by Raoul on August 12th, 2014 at 7:29 PM

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.

Baseball Hello: Will Tribucher

Baseball Hello: Will Tribucher

Submitted by Raoul on August 8th, 2014 at 12:38 AM

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.

Baseball Double Hello: Troy Miller and Ricky Karcher

Baseball Double Hello: Troy Miller and Ricky Karcher

Submitted by Raoul on July 30th, 2014 at 10:42 PM

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.

Troy Miller

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.

Ricky Karcher

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.

Baseball Hello: Jack Bredeson

Baseball Hello: Jack Bredeson

Submitted by Raoul on July 27th, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Michigan baseball added to its 2015 class today, with the commitment of Jack Bredeson, a 6-6, 235-pound right-handed pitcher out of Arrowhead H.S. in Hartland, Wisconsin. Prep Baseball Report has him ranked #19 in Wisconsin and #222 overall. Here's their scouting report on him from earlier this year:

6-foot-6, 235-pound, strong framed pitcher with a four pitch mix. Has a tall and fall delivery with choppy rhythm, clean lines, and above average effort. Arm works short and quick from over the top. Fastball worked downhill for strikes. Was 83-86 mph with arm side run and heavy finish. Throws a slider with strong shape and bite, 71 mph. Had feel for the changeup, throwing it with fastball arm speed, 75-77 mph with slight sinking action. Curveball was 68-69 mph with 11/5 shape.

He's also the older brother of Ben Bredeson, a Michigan football offensive tackle target in the class of 2016.

Jack Bredeson is also the high school teammate of Dominic Clementi, a left-handed pitcher who committed to Michigan for the 2016 class in January (see Hello post).

EDIT: Perfect Game has Bredeson with a grade of 9, which translates to "potential top 10 round draft pick and/or highest-level college prospect." In their scouting report from February of this year, they call him a "raw arm strength prospect with the potential to improve."

Here's Michigan's 2015 class as it currently stands:

  • Nick Azar – 6-3 SS, #37 in MI, unranked overall (Hello post)
  • Jack Bredeson – 6-6 RHP, #19 in WI, #222 overall
  • Andrew David – 5-10 SS, unranked (Hello post*)
  • Charlie Donovan – 5-11 SS, #1 in IL, #6 overall (Hello post)
  • Ben Keizer – 6-2 LHP, #9 in MI, #98 overall (Hello post)
  • Ako Thomas – 5-7 2B/MIF, #19 in IL, #86 overall (Hello post)

*Hello post is Ace's from the front page. David will be on a football scholarship, but he evidently also plans to play baseball at Michigan.

Baseball Hello: Ben Keizer

Baseball Hello: Ben Keizer

Submitted by Raoul on February 10th, 2014 at 10:55 PM

Erik Bakich and his staff have picked up their 7th commitment in the 2015 class as Ben Keizer has announced his commitment to Michigan. Keizer is a 6-2, 175-lb. left-handed pitcher out of Portage Northern H.S. in Portage, Michigan. He plays travel ball for Midwest Athletics, the same team as 2016 Michigan commit Jack Weisenburger (see Hello post). Prep Baseball Report reported in November that Keizer was being recruited by Louisville, Ball State, Michigan State, Western Michigan, and Central Michigan.

PBR ran this scouting report on Keizer in a rundown of an August 2013 event at which they considered him the top pitching prospect:

6-foot-2, 175-pound lanky pitcher. On the mound he has a tall and fall style delivery with rhythm and an athletic finish. Throws with a loose, quick arm, from a high ¾ slot, with easy effort. Throws his fastball on a downhill plane, with occasional cut, sitting 83-85 mph, touching 86 mph one time. Has solid feel for his curveball that he throws with arm speed similar to the fastball. It has an 11/5 shape, occasionally flashing a true 12/6 shape, and comes in at 61-64 mph. His changeup has occasional sinking action and is 71-73 mph. His loose arm and easy effort, combined with his lanky frame give him solid projectability. Keizer is one of the top Class of 2015 graduates in the state of Michigan and is a high follow in the Midwest.

Rankings-wise, PBR has Keizer #12 in the state of Michigan for the 2015 class and #97 overall in their ten-state coverage area.

photo of Keizer from PBR profile page

Below are the PBR overall rankings for Michigan's seven 2015 commits. Plummer and Goslin are PBR's #2 and #3 players from the state of Michigan in the 2015 class, so Michigan now has commitments from 3 of the top 12 in-state prospects for that class.

*Hello post is Ace's from the front page. David will be on a football scholarship, but he evidently also plans to play baseball at Michigan.

The five top 100 PBR commitments for Michigan is the most of any Big Ten school. Ohio State is second with four commits, but their highest ranked is #25, with the other three at #54, #73, and #92. Purdue is the only other Big Ten school with a commit in the top 25—they have the #11 recruit, but they have only one other top 100 recruit (#27).

Baseball Hello: Collin Goslin

Baseball Hello: Collin Goslin

Submitted by Raoul on December 5th, 2013 at 7:46 PM

The Michigan baseball coaching staff, which has been actively pursuing a number of 2015 and 2016 pitchers, today landed a big one: 6-3, 180-lb. southpaw Collin Goslin—one of the top in-state players in the 2015 class. He attends Dearborn Divine Child, so with his commitment to Michigan he's following in the footsteps of two notable former Wolverines, Alan Oaks and Patrick Biondi. Goslin also continues a strong trend from the 2014 class of the Michigan staff stockpiling left-handed pitchers; recently signing with the Wolverines in that class were lefties Michael Hendrickson, Oliver Jaskie, and Grant Reuss.

In a Chris Webb blog item posted in October, Goslin indicated that Vanderbilt, Louisville, Michigan State, and Ohio State were the main schools recruiting him, in addition to Michigan; Kentucky and Northwestern had reportedly also expressed interest. His full list of offers isn't known, but he did pick one up from OSU in October. Webb said that Goslin has "a strong three-pitch arsenal led by an upper-80s fastball," and he also notes that Goslin has played quarterback for Divine Child for the last two seasons. (Note that Goslin's Divine Child teammate, Dion Henderson, who's mentioned in Webb's post, recently committed to Kentucky.)

Here's a more detailed scouting report from Prep Baseball Report, included in an October rundown of top left-handed pitchers:

Ranked third in the state, Goslin is a strong-bodied lefty with a projectable 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame. He sat 86-88 at the Midwest Future Games and featured a mid-70s curveball that has swing-and-miss potential. He also mixes in a changeup at 78-79. He’s a good athlete with some effort to his delivery and pitches from a high three-quarter slot.

PBR has Goslin ranked #43 overall in the 2015 class.

photo of Goslin from PBR profile page

Below are the PBR overall rankings (encompassing their ten-state coverage area) for Michigan's six 2015 commits. Note that Nick Plummer was recently bumped up from #30 to #20. Plummer and Goslin are PBR's #2 and #3 players from the state of Michigan in the 2015 class, so Erik Bakich and his staff continue to do well with their in-state recruiting efforts.

*Hello post is Ace's from the front page. David will be on a football scholarship, but he evidently also plans to play baseball at Michigan.

Baseball Hello: Ako Thomas

Baseball Hello: Ako Thomas

Submitted by Raoul on November 15th, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Continuing to clean up in the Chicago area, Erik Bakich, recruiting coordinator Nick Schnabel, and the entire Michigan staff received more good news tonight, with word of the verbal commitment of Ako Thomas, a 5-8, 150-pound second baseman from Chicago's Mount Carmel High School, class of 2015. Prep Baseball Report had this to say about him in a July 2013 hotlist:

At 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, Thomas may be one of the smallest participants at the Midwest Future Games, but he plays big on the field. He served as Mount Carmel’s starting second baseman on the Caravan’s Class 4A state championship squad, teaming with shortstop Jerry Houston (Oregon recruit) to comprise arguably the best infield in Illinois. Thomas is a hard-nosed player who makes everything look routine. He also has a knack for barreling up baseballs and getting on base.

Here's more from PBR taken from an August rundown following the Midwest Future Games:

It’s not often that a high school second baseman, much less one that is 5-foot-8, stands out. But Thomas proved over the three days that he can flat hit. He seldom swings and misses, and always seems to find the barrel. He led Team Illinois with five hits, including a leadoff double.

PBR also published a feature on Thomas in September—Diminutive Ako Thomas Not Limited by Size—that mentions him planning to visit Michigan in November and also having been in contact with Missouri and Iowa. Perfect Game mentioned Thomas in an item on a September event:

Ako Thomas is also an intriguing prospect. Listed at just 5-feet-8, 150-pounds, he hits cleanup in Gravel’s batting order and has proven time and again he can handle himself well both at the plate and while patrolling second base. Thomas (2015, Chicago) was named the Most Valuable Player at the 15u PG World Series after hitting .455 (10-for-22) with 12 runs scored and five RBI.

“I was just feeling good; that was the best tournament I had that year,” he said Friday. “I knew there was a ring in it for us and I really wanted to win that ring.”

PBR has Thomas ranked #15 in Illinois and #69 overall in the 2015 class. I don't know his current Perfect Game ranking, but in late 2012 he was ranked #150 nationally.

Here are the PBR overall rankings (encompassing their ten-state coverage area) for Michigan's five 2015 commits:

*Hello post is Ace's from the front page. David will be on a football scholarship, but he evidently also plans to play baseball at Michigan.

Baseball Hello: Nick Plummer

Baseball Hello: Nick Plummer

Submitted by Raoul on June 23rd, 2013 at 8:16 PM

The latest Michigan baseball commit is Nick Plummer, a 5-10, 185-lb., left-hand-hitting outfielder out of Birmingham Brother Rice, class of 2015. Plummer attended last week's Top Prospect Games, an invite-only showcase held at Ray Fisher Stadium. Presumably, his performance there led to a Michigan scholarship offer and then to his commitment today.

Last month, PBR included Plummer among four in-state "impact prospects" for 2015:

Nick Plummer, OF, Brother Rice HS, 2015 - Plummer has been impressive thus far this spring and arguably has one of the most advanced approaches in the Class of 2015.  Most noticeably, Plummer has been extremely aggressive on the basepaths.  The patient Plummer is hitting .323 on the year with 31 walks and only 17 strikeouts.  He has swiped 18 bags and only been caught 3 times at an 85% success rate.  Plummer's approach allows him to carry a quiet and calm confidence about him.  He, too, will be attending Top Prospect Games and Midwest Futures this summer.

And here's a bit of hyperbolic prose from Scott Burnstein in a MI Prep Zone profile titled Nick the Quick:

The best way to describe Plummer's talent is 5-TOOL!!!

My boy Nick the Quick has speed, strength, athleticism, a killer clutch bat and a sick arm from the outfield.

Plummer earned a spot as a starter on the state powerhouse Warriors varsity roster as only a ninth-grader and Brother Rice skipper Bob Riker has shown nothing but confidence in his talented young star, throwing him into the fire right off the bat, so to speak, hitting him at the top of his order.

Plummer helped lead Brother Rice to the state Division 1 title game this season, where they lost to Bay City Western (featuring 2013 Michigan signee Brett Adcock). Plummer also plays quarterback for Brother Rice, and his gridiron skills are featured in this highlight video.

Plummer is Michigan baseball's third 2015 commit, following Charlie Donovan (Hello post) and Nick Azar (Hello post).

michiganprepzone.com photo

EDIT: Forgot to note that Plummer is a high school teammate of Ty Kiafoulis, a 2014 Brother Rice outfielder who committed to Michigan in April.

EDIT2: Prep Baseball Report currently has Plummer ranked #7 in the state of Michigan in the 2015 class.

Baseball Recruiting—Hello: Nick Azar (+ other items)

Baseball Recruiting—Hello: Nick Azar (+ other items)

Submitted by Raoul on June 10th, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Last Monday (June 3), the Michigan baseball program secured its second commit in the 2015 class, Nick Azar, a 6-3, 205-lb. shortstop out of Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett High School. He joins Charlie Donovan (Hello post) in that class.

Source: MLive.

Info on Azar is limited. Prep Baseball Report, which doesn't currently have him in their top 10 for the state of Michigan in 2015, posted this brief bit in a recruiting rundown:

Nick Azar, SS, Univ. Liggett HS, 2015- Azar is an outstanding hockey player in addition to his baseball abilities. Azar becomes the fourth commitment in the state from the Class of 2015. He still has a ways to go in terms of polish but he stands at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds and has solid tools. Azar committed to Michigan on Monday.

Liggett is playing Concord tomorrow in an MHSAA Division 4 state tournament quarterfinal. The bracket for that division can found here.

In Division 1 (bracket here), four of the eight teams remaining feature Michigan signees or commits on their rosters. Bay City Western (Brett Adcock) faces Rockford, Temperance Bedford (Jackson Lamb) plays Howell, and U-D Jesuit (T.J. Shook and Harrison Wenson) is matched up against Sterling Heights Stevenson (Brandon Hughes).

2014 Michigan commit Drew Lugbauer helped lead Arlington to the New York state semifinals. MSG Varsity has a rundown and highlights of the team's loss in the semis, including an interview with Lugbauer.

Last month, a local Toledo-area newspaper called The Press published a nice feature article on another 2014 commit, Jayce VancenaMichigan-bound Vancena: "Work hard, stay humble." Here's an excerpt:

“Michigan was always my No. 1 the whole time, and once they did that, I knew I didn’t want to wait, I knew I wanted to be a Michigan Wolverine,” continues Jayce. “I’ve been up to Ann Arbor a couple of times now to meet the coaches and players, and they’ve been awesome. The baseball field is just beautiful up there, the locker room is awesome, and they have an academic hall that has tutors in every subject…just for the athletes. That is what is so great about it. It’s all academics first, and baseball second.

“Out of all the players I’ve met, the one that stands out the most is fifth-year senior Ben Ballentine,” offers Vancena. “He’s just another one of those guys who loves the game of baseball and just plays it with so much heart and passion. That’s the way I try to be. I’m still the same guy who goes out to the mound every game, and plays with all of my heart and passion. I work hard to give my best effort every time I’m out there. I haven’t changed at all.

“I’ve been a Michigan fan my whole life, I’ve bled maize and blue since the day I was born, and that day Michigan offered me a scholarship…it showed me that all of my hard work over the years had really paid off to help me achieve my lifelong dream of playing college baseball,” he concludes.

Finally, I'm throwing this item in as well, even though it's not strictly about recruiting. Chris Webb of the B1G Baseball blog spoke to Erik Bakich earlier today and got some good insight into future Michigan baseball scheduling, specifically some big-name additions for 2014 and beyond.

The 2014 schedule is highlighted by a three-game set against the Houston Cougars during the second weekend of the season. After playing in the Lone Star State Michigan heads to the Irish Classic hosted by Notre Dame where such elite programs as UCLA and NC State, both participants in the 2013 College World Series, have committed to play. Michigan’s Big Ten bye week will flip in 2014, instead of occurring at the beginning of the conference schedule the Wolverines end the regular season with a bye which features a visit from Kansas.

2015 tentatively features a return visit to Kansas, a series against Oklahoma State in Ann Arbor, a season opener at Pepperdine, and a trip to Gainesville for a series versus Florida. Tentative plans for 2016 include a season-opening series at North Carolina and a return visit to Oklahoma State.