First let’s cover the boring basics of the Junior College realm.
J1 = Two-Year College 1st Year
J2 = Two-Year College 2nd Year
J3 = Two-Year College 3rd Year
Fun fact: Did you know Craig Kimbrel was a J2 player from Wallace State Community College? Well he was and the Braves drafted him with the 96th pick back in 2008. He had a meager 123 strikeouts in 83 innings. The Braves went on to select a total of 21 JUCO players in 2008, which is a lot, though not all signed.
Some JUCO players will switch to a Division 1 school in the hopes of boosting their draft stock, while other players specifically go to Junior colleges so they don’t have to play 3 years before re-entering the draft.
Fast forward to the past couple of years and the Braves have selected a total of 15 JUCO players: 4 JUCO players in the 2016 draft, and 11 in the 2017 draft. A far cry from selecting 21 in one draft. However, some names that I like are:
Tucker Davidson, J2, 19th round 2016 (J2 season - 9.49 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 1.15 WHIP)
Troy Bacon, J2, 4th round 2017 (J2 season - 14.40 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, 0.75 WHIP)
Justin Smith, J2, 20th round 2017 (J2 season - .355 AVG, .486 OBP, .380 SLG, 15 HRs, 32 XBH)
So what’s the big deal? The Braves haven’t been big players in the Junior college for years. Well, losing their 3rd round pick means money will be tight; it’s quite possible that the Braves will dip into the JUCO ranks for diamonds in the rough and save money for higher ceiling players at the college and HS ranks.
Please note that I’m only scouting stats and have not seen any of these players up close. I looked at power hitters, players with speed, players that hit for high average, players that walk a ton more than they strikeout, or some mix like power/speed combo.
PerfectGame.org also put out an article for the top JUCO players heading into the 2018 season (need a membership to see everything). The top 3 hitters are included below.
So let’s take a look at some players that drew my eyes.
|Hunter Wolfe||Walters State||J2||6'0"||SS||RHH||48||0.434||0.546||0.664||1.210||143||5||19||39||21||22%||11%|
|Colton Onstott||Dodge City||J2||6'1"||C||LHH||42||0.482||0.538||0.829||1.367||164||11||33||21||11||11%||6%|
|Alex Peterson||Cowley County||J1||5'10"||OF||LHH||41||0.515||0.582||0.800||1.382||165||7||27||28||13||15%||7%|
|Joey Polak||Jefferson (MO)||J1||6'5"||1B/3B||LHH||42||0.484||0.589||0.992||1.581||128||17||31||37||37||22%||22%|
|Gunner Halter||Seminole State (OK)||J1||6'2"||SS||RHH||34||0.395||0.484||0.814||1.298||129||13||27||23||24||15%||16%|
- 18% CS-rate
- .988 FLD% (3 errors)
- Tied for No. 4 in NJCAA with 20 doubles
- Tied for No. 9 in NJCAA with 60 RBI
- Flashing solid power/speed combo with 29 XBH & 16 SBs
- No. 3 in NJCAA with 18 HR
- Insanely high batting average w/ a super low strikeout rate
- No. 1 in NJCAA with 78 RBI
- Also showed off some speed with 20 SBs so far
- Has one of the best BB:K ratios I came across
- Seems to be a well rounded hitter
- .898 FLD%
- Got accepted to play for Alabama in 2019
- High volume of XBH
- No. 1 in NJCAA with 21 doubles
- 25% CS-rate
- 1.000 FLD% (not a full time catcher)
- Tied for No. 9 in NJCAA with 67 RBI
- Tied at No. 3 in NJCAA with 18 HR
- Big guy (listed anywhere from 6’2” to 6’5”) with lots of power, good walk rate, but will also strike out
- Transferred from South Carolina - missed 2017 with a knee injury
- Good mix of size, speed and hitting (defense needs work)
- 20 SBs
- Rated No. 5 by PerfectGame.org’s JUCO list
- Drafted in 22nd round by Blue Jays in 2017
- Power/speed combo that has 35 XBH & 15 SBs
- No. 2 in NJCAA with 72 RBI
- Tied at No. 2 in NJCAA with 19 HRs
- Rated No. 6 on PerfectGame.org’s JUCO list
- No. 2 in NJCAA with 34 SBs
- Selected in the 12th round by the Pirates in 2017
- Transferring to TCU for the 2019 season
- Rated No. 1 on PerfectGame.org’s JUCO list
- Selected in the 36th round by the Astros in the 2017 Draft as a J1 player
- Brother Joe was also selected in the 36th round by the Phillies, but transferred to Alabama (hitting .224)
I’d say the two players that stand out amongst the pack are Joey Polak and Mark Castelblanco. I find each intriguing in their own way, but the main thing is that they are putting up monster numbers. What are your thoughts? Did I miss anyone?
Look for part 2 to come out soon on JUCO pitchers with pumped up stats.