Tuesday was the second day of the 2011 MLB Draft. As always, players have been sliding from their projected draft spots which will either hurt their negotiating power or could return for a bigger bonus next season. Here are our Top 5 players that should return to college next year after sliding in the draft.
1. Matt Purke (TCU)
Matt Purke is a sophomore lefty that entered the season as the second best player in the country according to our Top 100 countdown while widely being considered the best LHP in the draft. His stock slipped mightily mid-season when he was shut down with an arm injury plus his velocity dropped below 90 MPH after being 94-95 last season. Purke ended up finishing the season with a 5-1 record while having an ERA of 1.71 in eleven appearances. The Washington Nationals decided to draft him in the third round which was two rounds lower then Purke went in the 2009 MLB Draft when he was the 14th overall pick. Purke has the ability to go back to TCU for the next two seasons as he was a draft eligible sophomore so another year of seasoning with the Horned Frogs might be the best bet for him.
2. Taylor Ard (Washington State)
Taylor Ard is a redshirt sophomore infielder who spent his first season with Washington State this year after spending the last two years at Mt. Hood Community College. He had an outstanding 2009 freshman season at Mount Hood hitting .490 with 12 HR and 49 RBI. He suffered an injury before the 2010 season which kept him out of competition but played in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Brewster Whitecaps. He hit .263 with a homer and 14 RBI while being named a CCBL All-Star. Ard continued to hit at Washington State as he led the team with a .337 batting average while hitting 10 homers and driving in 55 runs. The Boston Red Sox selected Ard in the 25th round but I believe that he is capable of being picked much higher then this and in the top five rounds if he returned for his redshirt junior season.
3. Mitchell Lambson (Arizona State)
Mitchell Lambson is a junior LHP entered this season 19th on our Top 100 Players Countdown. He had a semi-rough season as he went 7-3 including eight saves with a 4.41 ERA in a team high 29 appearances including making two starts. Coming into the year, he had a career record of 17-7 with eight saves while having an ERA of 2.61 and holding opponents to a .181 batting average. The Houston Astros selected him in the 19th round and he should be able to get selected in about that same round next season even if he has a tough season.
4. Garrett Buechele (Oklahoma)
Garrett Buechele is a junior infielder from Arlington, Texas and Oklahoma University entered the season as the 67th best player in our Top 100 Countdown. Buechele had a disappointing junior season though as he hit .317 with eight homers and 63 RBI. His homerun totals were not surprising at dropping off from his 2010 total of 17 due to the new bats in the college game. The San Francisco Giants selected him in the 14th round but will they really go hard after him? We should see but I believe that Buechele if he returns to school has a chance to be selected in the Top 7 rounds of the 2012 MLB Draft.
5. Austin Wood (USC)
Austin Wood is a junior RHP who has pitched for three different schools during his collegiate days. He started his career at Florida State as he made five starts (nine appearances) while having a disappointing ERA of 6.35. After the season, he decided to transfer to St. Petersburg College with a record of 3-4 with a 4.81 ERA. After the collegiate season, he was fourth round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. He tried to improve his signing bonus by playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League as he went 3-0 record with a 0.58 ERA while being selected to the CCBL All-Star game. Wood was not able to come to terms with the Rays. He decided to head to USC where he went 5-7 record with a 5.61 ERA while appearing in 16 games including 14 starts. The LA Angels of Anaheim selected him in the fourth round of the 2011 Draft. Yes, this is a high selection but Wood has the potential to up his talents to a potential first rounder.