So I've let this series drag on a bit, but here is the final third of the incoming baseball recruiting class. Best part: it's completely intact, at least as far as MLB is concerned. Not a single one of our players was even drafted, a statistic that gets an assist from Nathan Kirby's voluntary withdrawal. Early returns on the new draft slotting system and earlier deadline are a big positive for college baseball.
David Rosenberger - LHP
Allentown Central Catholic HS (PA)
You always love those players for whom UVA is the dream school. David Rosenberger attended a camp at UVA four years ago - before his freshman year in high school - and wanted to be a Hoo ever since. A southpaw, Rosenberger capped his high school career by being named all-state in Pennsylvania.
A well-deserved honor: he struck out nearly two batters per inning (96 Ks in 56 IP) and set a personal best as a junior by striking out 19 in one game. A tendinitis-shortened junior year saw him strike out 70 in 34 innings(!) and rack up a 0.80 ERA; he topped that his senior year with an ERA of 0.50. Rosenberger isn't a hard thrower; his fastball "touches 89" which means it's really in the 85-86 range, but Perfect Game rates him highly and speaks well of his change-up and curve, noting that he maintains his arm speed well (essential for a good change) and that his "fastball has life." (It had better, if it only sits 85.)
As a lefty who doesn't light up the radar gun, Rosenberger will probably be saddled with the "crafty" label at some point. I'm torn on whether his future is the rotation or the bullpen; it can be tough for a guy without really overpowering stuff to last two or three times through the order. Then again, he probably has pretty good stuff if he can strike out 19 in a game and average two per inning. Even in high school that is something. And Whit Mayberry doesn't have a wicked-ass fastball either, but he knows like hell how to locate. I could see Rosenberger fitting into any number of roles from Saturday or Sunday starter to closer, and doing them well.
Josh Sborz - RHP
McLean HS (VA)
You know I'm gonna brag on my Tigers during baseball season, and here is another prospect with a Tigers connection; Josh Sborz's older brother Jay was a hotshot prospect in the Tigers' system for a while. I won't tell you about the part where he appeared in one major league game and left baseball with a 67.50 ERA.
Very little chance of that happening to Josh at Virginia. Sborz was the Virginia Group AAA Player of the Year - yes, beating out Nathan Kirby - as he's a dangerous two-way player. Sborz throws a 90+ fastball and has two excellent off-speed pitches, and at the plate, has homered 20 times in his career. Sborz is a big, big guy, standing 6'4", and plays first base when not pitching.
Jared King will be a tough one to knock off his first base perch, as he's a strong hitter and sterling fielder, but Sborz will be in the mix for that role as soon as 2013, and of course, he's one of the top moundsman prospects in the class. He and Kirby make up the top two in that regard. Sborz could push for a spot in the rotation this coming spring, and might get one of those early-season midweek starts that the coaches like to use to evaluate their arms. By 2013 and 2014, he and Kirby could be the next Danny Hultzen-Tyler Wilson combo on Fridays and Saturdays. Not to peg expectations too high.
Cameron Tekker - RHP
Cuthbertson HS (NC)
Tekker won't have a lot of adjustment to do in getting to college, at least in one respect. The other neat thing about him: he might be the hardest thrower in the class, with a fastball that reaches 93. Tekker is a tall (6'3") well-built right-hander, and might have something to say about pre-ordaining Josh Sborz as the second part of any 1-2 punches.
Tekker is also a versatile player; he's a good hitter with a little pop, and plays the outfield, and was used both as a starter and in relief for his high school team. His future is almost certainly as a pitcher, though. His ERA this season: a sparkling 0.39, and he recorded a few saves along the way to go with his wins as a starter. There's a good chance he makes his way sooner or later to the starting rotation at UVA, but he also has the mentality to come in from the pen whether in long relief or as the closer and slam the door. The only thing: he'll need education on the ironclad rule about keeping your trap shut when a no-hitter is in progress.
Brandon Waddell - LHP
Clear Lake HS (TX)
I always hate to give anyone the short shrift, but it happens every year; Waddell is the guy in this class where there isn't much out there on him. He's a soft-tossing lefty whose fastball tops out at 85, and he did make all-district in the Houston area - as a first baseman. That said, his bat likely is not college-caliber, and it's as a pitcher where he'll make his bread. But he's a dead-certain lock for the bullpen, and has an uphill battle. He's got a good slider but a "mostly straight" fastball (Perfect Game's assessment) and is probably a future LOOGY or one-inning specialist.
Scott Williams - C
Conestoga HS (PA)
Here's a guy who's been to the top and bottom already. Williams won a state championship with his Conestoga team last spring as a junior - and then missed his whole senior year with an injury. It's not even a guarantee he'll be in playing shape for the fall.
However, when healthy, he's an excellent hitter and very good defensive catcher. He and Robbie Coman will eventually have a pretty good battle for the second spot behind Nate Irving, and catcher is a place where the #2 guy will always see some playing time. Williams is probably the superior defensive catcher, with a pop time (glove to glove on a stolen-base attempt) of 1.88, outstanding for a high school junior. He has probably a slight edge with the bat, but Coman comes to us from Florida where the competition is stronger.
Regardless of how the competition turns out, though, it's great that we're having one. You have to admit, as thoroughly awesome as Keith Werman is, it's not ideal to have your neutron-sized second baseman as your backup catcher. Between Coman and Williams we're sure to have a solid option on days when Irving is getting a rest, and both of these catching prospects have enough potential that they can ensure Irving doesn't get too comfortable in the starting job.