It's kind of crazy when one high school, California's Harvard-Westlake, has as much draft-eligible, first round talent as the entire ACC, but that's the case according to the consensus of prospect analysts. Teammates Lucas Giolito, if he has a clean bill of health (he missed part of his senior season with a UCL strain), and Max Fried (love that name; sounds like my diet) are projected top 10 picks.
As for the ACC, Duke's diminutive righty Marcus Stroman (6-5, 2.39 ERA) and Clemson's slick fielding, lefty-swinging third baseman, Richie Shaffer (.343-10-45), are the only consensus first round picks, with neither a lock to go in the top 10.
Until Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner reach draft-eligible status, the more likely question for Pack targets is whether or not they will go in the first 10 rounds, much less the first 10 picks, but there are likely to be a half dozen or more State players graduating to the professional ranks in June. Let's read all about them after the jump.
Possible Pack targets:
Matt Bergquist: The junior led the Pack in RBI as a sophomore while hitting .289, but slumped to .202 this year. Though he can handle both middle IF spots, his spotty track record, questionable plate discipline, and average speed make it unlikely that he is drafted.
Danny Canela: According to minorleagueball.com contributor Matt Garrioch, Canela is the most likely State player to go in the top 10 rounds. A 37th round pick of the Tigers out of high school, Canela has posted an impressive.960 OPS so far this spring. Canela, a junior, has a bad body at 5-9, 241 pounds, but has handled himself passably behind the dish, throwing out 25% of would-be thiefs but allowing 9 PB. He would make sense to an AL club as a possible backup C/DH type, especially since he swings it from the left side with some pop. Has very good plate discipline; his 38-36 BB-K ratio makes him one of just three Pack regulars to earn a free trip more than he Ks. A good comp for Canela would be professional hitter Matt Stairs, except that Canela can catch a little bit.
Andrew Ciencin: The senior four-year starter has had a productive career for the Pack, appearing in 220 games and totaling 23 home runs and 166 RBI. He appeared to be a prospect after leading the Pack in batting average as a freshman and following it up with 10 home runs and a team-leading 77 RBI as a sophomore, which put him tied for 5th most RBI in a season in the Pack record books. But Ciencin might want to sue the NCAA for changing the bats. In the two years since the rule change, Ciencin's 9 homers and 65 RBI are less than he managed in one season before the switch, and his average has fallen by about 60 points. If he was a slick fielding shortstop, Ciencin might get drafted, but as a first baseman, he simply lacks the hit tool and power to get a shot at the next level.
Chris Diaz: Diaz is the younger brother of Pack alum Jonathan Diaz, a 12th round selection of the Blue Jays in 2006 who has carved out a 7-year professional career but has not appeared in The Show. The younger Diaz is likely to get picked for the same reason as his big bro: he can pick it at SS. Little brother has also made great strides at the plate this year, putting up a .901 OPS, leading the team with a .367 average and posting 50 RBI to rank second on the Pack. Chris also ranks in the top 10 in the NCAA with 23 doubles, perhaps signaling that he has the potential to develop a little pop at the next level. I wouldn't be surprised to see him come off the board in the top 20 rounds.
John Gianis: The toolsy OF has great size at 6-3, 196 pounds and came to N.C. State with an excellent track record, including the N.J. state record with 108 career stolen bases. He also set a school record as just a high school sophomore for home runs in a season with 8 at Morristown-Beard. Despite a pedestrian .754 OPS and just one home run as a collegiate junior, Gianis was drafted in the 26th round by the Los Angeles of Anaheim of California of the United States of North America of the world of the universe Angels last year, but chose not to sign with the Halos. After losing his starting gig and batting just .213 in limited playing time so far this year, Gianis may not hear his name called again.
Ryan Mathews: His long journey will finally pay off with him hearing his name called in the 2012 draft. The frequent-flying Mathews signed with Florida out of high school before moving on to Western Carolina after a coaching change, transferred to Santa Fe Community College and then on to the Pack, where he has finally found the consistent playing time that breeds success. Mathews leads the team with 14 home runs, 54 RBI and a Pujolsian 1.025 OPS.
Though he was productive in stints with WCU and Santa Fe, his road got bumpy in Raleigh, where he missed nearly all of 2010 after an appendectomy. Mathews only managed 25 at bats in 2011, but reversed his fortunes playing summer ball for the Wilson Tobs in the Coastal Plains League. He set Tobs' records with 14 home runs and 53 RBI and impressed the Chicago White Sox, who offered him a deal as an undrafted free agent.
Unlike Gianis and Brett Williams (torn ACL), Mathews' decision to spurn pro ball has paid off. Considering he is also an adept defender in right field, and that power is always at a premium, all 30 MLB teams will be vying for his services this time, and it will probably take a pick in the top 20 rounds, not a free agent deal, to secure his services.
Ethan Ogburn: The lanky righty has made great strides from his sophomore to junior campaigns, shrinking his ERA from 4.52 last year to a stellar 3.01 in 77+ frames this season. Ogburn is not overpowering, but at 6-4 and under 200 pounds, he has a bit of projection left in his arm. If he could get his fastball in the 92-94 range, instead of upper 80s-low 90s, he could have a long career ahead of him. One thing he has on his side is command; Ogburn issued just 17 free passes in those 77.2 innings, or 1.97 walks per 9 innings. An MLB team will definitely offer him the opportunity to continue to develop in their system.
Chris Overman: Overman, a junior, emerged as the team's closer in 2011, going 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA and 6 saves. He was more of a finesse finisher last year, striking out less than a batter per inning while issuing a very stingy 7 walks in 49 innings (1.29 walks per 9 innings). This year he did not have a decision, but collected 6 more saves while posting a 2.67 ERA. Those numbers look similar to 2011, but his strikeout and walk ratios have gone haywire. He has fanned 37 in 30.1 innings (11 strikeouts per 9 innings), but done so by sacrificing command (he's walked 13, or nearly double what he did last year despite throwing a lot less innings).
Overman's most impressive stat is 45.2. That's how many innings he pitched spanning the end of last year and the Cape Cod league without allowing an earned run. As an experienced college reliever, Overman has the potential to move quickly if drafted, and I expect he will be.
Tarran Sennay: Baseball America ranked Sennay as a top 100 high school draft prospect, and he was selected in the 38th round by the Detroit Tigers out of South Park High School in Western Pennsylvania, but rejected an above-slot offer to honor his commitment to the Pack. Sennay, a powerful 6-foot, 218-pound lefty, has been given numerous opportunities to fulfill his promise with the Pack, but he has never consistently gotten the job done at the plate. The new bats seem to have sapped his power (7 homers over the last 2 years combined), he's slumped to .220 this year, and strikes out in about 25% of his plate appearances. Still, a lot of MLB teams focus on tools and projectability, so the junior may hear his name called again in June.
Anthony Tzamtzis: A draft-eligible sophomore, AT missed all of last year following surgery. AT was an excellent hitter in high school and came to State as an INF/RHP, but has ultimately settled in on the mound. In the batter's box, opponents do not settle in against him, as he has hit about a batter and a half per 9 innings, uncorked 10 wild pitches, and walked 5.9 batters per 9 innings. So, why is he on this list? Command is the last thing to come back after Tommy John surgery, and what AT lacks in command, he makes up for in nastiness. He's holding opponents to a stingy .183 batting average (lower even, than Rodon's OBAA) and has allowed just 8 extra base hits in 56.2 innings.
Though he has moved into the Pack rotation this year, smallish at 6-0, 175, AT projects as a late-inning reliever at the next level. The Astros drafted him in the 43rd round out of high school, and he should hear his name called again this year.
Brett Williams: Williams, a 25th round selection by the Diamondbacks in 2011, is a plus defender in CF who led the Pack in triples and runs scored in 2011. He played in exactly one game in 2012 before blowing out his knee. Season over. Hopefully he will get drafted again or receive a medical redshirt and resume his Pack career in 2013.
Vance Williams: At 6-1, 196 with average stuff, Williams is a pretty generic right-handed middle reliever and is unlikely to hear his name called in June. But the redshirt senior has been a useful cog for the Pack, making 65 career appearances, including a career-high 19 outings this year. He's gone 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA and 2 saves in 2012.
The Wolfpack had the 4th ranked 2011 recruiting class in all the land, and the mix of instant impact players like Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner and the talent listed above vaulted the Pack to rarely seen heights, including being ranked in the top 10, likely hosting a regional, and the potential for a conference tournament title. Only Mathews, Ciencin, Gianis, and Vance Williams are definitely not back with the Pack next year, but with so many potential losses from the junior class, the Pack's best window of opportunity to book a ticket to Omaha might be this year.