By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
January 13, 2010
Justin O’Conner’s college commitment is to Arkansas, where he could be teammates with Fullerton’s Dominic Ficociello. That could make for a very interesting Fall Ball season in 2010, but we’ll have to get past the draft cycle with both players first.
O’Conner is a guy who is very popular around the draft rumor water cooler. Based on what I’ve seen, I think O’Conner might be best as a college player before turning pro. As a two-way player, O’Conner has some physical projection and some power projection. As a hitter, he likes to get extended and use his arms, but he doesn’t quite have the raw strength just yet to be that kind of power hitter. He’s an amateur third baseman, but I wonder if his athleticism might lead him to second base, where he would have an Adam Kennedy type of body and more gap power than normal for that position.
O’Conner’s arm is also a tool. On the mound he pitched at 88-92 at the end of the summer and his body type indicates there is more in there. If he stayed on the offensive side, his arm strength plays at second base at a position where he might end up having more offensive value than he would at third. He’s rangy and tall and his athletic actions indicate that he can be an everyday player.
I tend to like college baseball for these kinds of players for one specific reason. Some players benefit from continuing to pitch and hit in college before they settle into their future roles as pro players. It definitely enhances athleticism and it lets one skill set dictate the other. A player who can go both ways out of high school sometimes risks shortchanging what he is better at when the organization that signs him makes the wrong decision.