Fish-Bound: Run-Up to Signing Period Edition

Submitted by Raoul on September 17th, 2013 at 8:47 PM

With recruiting news beginning to pick up as prospects make official and unofficial visits during football season and as the early signing period for the 2014 class (Nov. 13–20) nears, this seemed like a good time for a baseball recruiting update, especially one focusing on 2014. Since I first posted the chart showing the 2014 commits in April, there have been two changes:

Michael Hendrickson: committed to the Wolverines in July (see Hello post).

Brandon Hughes: decommitted from Michigan and then committed to Michigan State in August. Hughes was the last of the Michigan commits who had originally pledged to former coach Rich Maloney, so this wasn't that surprising a development.

In the revised 2014 chart (posted in a reply for technical reasons), Hendrickson takes the place of Hughes, and the class remains nine-strong. I've updated the rankings as much as possible (lacking access to the pay-walled Perfect Game rankings, the only ones listed for that site are a couple that were reported at the time of the player's commitment). Michigan has three commits in PBR's overall top 50, covering a ten-state region:

  • #18 Grant Reuss (#1 in Michigan)
  • #46 Jayce Vancena (#7 in Ohio)
  • #48 Rahman Williams (#11 in Illinois)

The chart includes a few new scouting reports (viewable by cursoring over the underlined text in the rightmost column), including this one for Williams, posted by Perfect Game in July:

Medium build with good strength in his lower half. Switch hitter, natural right hander, short rotational swing right handed, pull line drive contact, has some strength and bat speed. Open stance left handed, stays on his back side, short swing, contact approach. Sound infield actions, feet work well through the ball, light on his feet, shows good body control and range to the ball, good arm strength.

Draft Buzz

At least two of Michigan's commits appear to be in the conversation as potential 2014 MLB draft picks. Reuss is one, as PBR indicated in a June article on ten 2014 players "creating buzz on summer circuit":

Reuss continues to climb on Major league boards. . . . Really high ceiling. Arm works well. Up to 89mph for us. Command needs to improve to really be considered elite. Still feeling out his mechanics. Breaking ball spins well (71mph). Potential to be swing and miss pitch. Should be a high follow for major league scouts this coming spring.

Another is Drew Lugbauer. At the Nine Baseball site, Jeff Sullivan placed Lugbauer at #38 in his top 100 high school prospects for the 2014 MLB draft. Kiley McDaniel, a national baseball analyst for Scout, ranked Lugbauer #13 in his list of high school MLB draft prospects from the Northeast, projecting him as a potential 5th-rounder. Lugbauer was also included in Jonathan Mayo's rundown of top performers at a recent showcase hosted by the Mets at Citi Field:

Left-handed hitting catcher with power. Big and strong, good arm strength, other parts of his defense are developing.

Finalist for Ockimey

Michigan apparently still has scholarship money left for the 2014 class as they are in the final three for a top uncommitted prospect from Philadelphia, Josh Ockimey. A 6-4, 220-pound first baseman out of Neumann-Goretti H.S., Ockimey had originally committed to Arkansas but decommitted in August when the Razorbacks' associate head coach, Todd Butler, left to become the head coach at Wichita State. Not coincidentally, Wichita State is one of Ockimey's finalists, and he'll take an official visit there this coming weekend. He officially visited Michigan this past weekend and Indiana the weekend before. According to what he told Chris Webb in this blog post, Ockimey will choose from those three by October 5.

PBR has Ockimey ranked #6 in Pennsylvania and #53 overall, and they offered this assessment in a hot list posted earlier this month:

Ockimey is a physical beast in the box, standing at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He has some holes in his swing, but shows raw power and is athletic. He has capable actions at first base with the potential to put it all together and be a run producing, middle-of-the-order hitter at next level.

He's also slotted at #98 in that Nine Baseball list of top high school prospects for the 2014 MLB draft.

Other Visitors/Offerees

That post from Webb mentions some 2016 prospects who have visited Michigan recently, including Dion Henderson (see PBR profile), a left-hand pitcher out of Dearborn Divine Child ranked #4 in the state by PBR. He's planning to make his college choice by the end of 2013. He holds a Michigan offer, with other possible destinations including Kentucky, LSU, and Vanderbilt. Another prospect recently offered by Michigan is Henderson's high school teammate Collin Goslin (PBR profile), also a lefty but in the class of 2015. PBR has Goslin ranked #3 in the state and #41 overall.

Note on title: The usual "Baseball Recruiting Update" for the main title seemed boring, so I tried to come up with something different. Also considered "Fishin'"—any thoughts, other ideas?



September 17th, 2013 at 8:48 PM ^


2014 Commits Position, School Hgt., Wt. PG Rank/Grade PBR Rank MBP Rank Scouting Rpt.
Jake Bivens SS/2B, Battle Creek Lakeview H.S. (MI) 6-0, 175 n/a region: #65; MI: #6 MI: #8 PBR
Michael Hendrickson LHP, Saline H.S. (MI) 6-2, 175 n/a region: #138; MI: #16 MI: #20 PBR
Oliver Jaskie LHP, Grandville H.S. (MI) 6-4, 190 n/a region: #183; MI: #21 MI: #16 PBR
Ty Kiafoulis OF, Birmingham Brother Rice (MI) 6-5, 230 Grade: 8 MI: #62 MI: #14 PG
Drew Lugbauer C/3B, Arlington H.S. (Pleasant Valley, NY) n/a 6-4, 210 Grade: 8.5 n/a n/a MLBlogs
Bryan Pall RHP, Carl Sandburg H.S. (Orland Park, IL) 6-1, 190 US: #343; IL: #10 region: #88; IL: #20 n/a PBR
Grant Reuss LHP, Cranbrook Kingswood (Bloomfield Hills, MI) 6-5, 210 n/a region: #18; MI: #1 MI: #2 PBR
Jayce Vancena RHP, Lake H.S. (Millbury, OH) 6-4, 210 n/a region: #45; OH: #7 n/a PBR
Rahman Williams SS, Morgan Park H.S. (Chicago) 5-11, 170 US: #139; IL: #3 region: #47; IL: #11 n/a PG



September 18th, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

This looks very middle of the pack for me. Is it realistic to think we can be a national power if we aren't even getting the best recruits in the Midwest? Are we recruiting any better than we were a few years ago? 


September 18th, 2013 at 7:07 PM ^

I don't know about being a national power—the first step is to get back to the top of the Big Ten. And from what the experts are saying, Bakich and his staff have stepped up Michigan's recruiting to do just that.

I reviewed the PBR top 100 for the 2014 class, which should provide a decent basis for comparing Big Ten classes as PBR's footprint is fairly close to that of the conference (Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska are not yet PBR states). Only 11 of the top 100 are uncommitted, and out of the remaining 89, 21 have committed to Big Ten schools. On a rough basis, I'd rank them this way (with the #s being the rankings of the players committed to that team):

  • 1. Nebraska — 8, 15, 20, 48
  • 2. Michigan — 18, 45, 47, 65, 88
  • 3. OSU — 4, 53, 55, 84
  • 4. Indiana — 39, 51, 57, 72, 74
  • 5. MSU —50, 99
  • 6. Purdue — 70

The problem for Big Ten teams hoping to competing nationally is that it's difficult to get top players from the South and West to agree to play for a school in the North. Plus, many of the top players in the Midwest are being lured away to the South. Louisville, for example, has no fewer than 11 commits out of this PBR top 100. LSU has three of them—#5, #11, and #40. Out of the top ten, just two are committed to Big Ten teams, with the others choosing North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, LSU, Western Kentucky, Arkansas, and South Carolina.

So I think Michigan is doing very well compared to other Big Ten teams, but they would need to turn it up another notch to become a national power. Is that even possible for a team in the North?