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2019 MLB Draft Prep: I want an ace, Xavier Musketeers edition

Could a MLB ace come from a losing college program?

Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

A traditional draft reprise in baseball is “I want an ace.” It can be a bit infuriating on the draft-tracker. After all, a person with next to no interest in high school baseball, college ball, or development methods, wants one of the biggest gets in baseball dropped on his plate like a seasonal entree from a high-end restaurant. At no cost (time or money) to him. If the “ace” isn’t delivered in due time (whatever that is), someone in the front office clearly bungled, or the draftnik is dumb. Because aces ought to be deliverable to one’s front door like a shirsey from a sporting apparel provider. This is a look at the Xavier Musketeers.

I'm going to try to be as receptive to questions from as many corners as possible. For instance, in late May, if an unfamiliar commenter buttonholes me on a potential late-third day pick, I’ll try to be as useful as possible. The margin between a 16th round selection, and a player who will need to start in independent ball is rather slight. However, if a similar request comes from a regular contributor, the comment might be more thought-out. That shouldn't be a huge surprise. These articles will be a bit regular. If you want a read on a guy from home, follow his team.

In reality, we both know that many eyes will roll when these articles post. Many just want a divining rod to determine which guy will be really good seven years on. People seem to think that's how wisdom works. Ask a question when you're unsure, and hope the answer is correct. However, this is more "group project” than oracle. More so, though, they want articles on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

Imagine for a moment that there is a valid D-1 pitcher that could be a bonafide ace, or a waste of a late round draft pick. Wouldn't that be a curious follow? He has the upper-nineties velo, and numbers that scream "stay away." Which do you buy into? As it happens, that sort of player exists.

The Musketeers play baseball out of the Big East Conference, which is one of about seven conferences that might make a somewhat valid claim to being the fifth major conference in college baseball.

Last season, Xavier finished 20-35, and lagged the Big East. That said, they only had one player drafted. That player was Conor Grammes, selected in Round 35 by the Orioles.

A two-way player for the Musketeers, the interest here is in his upper-nineties velocity. The downside has been his production, so far. However, he showed signs on The Cape (the widely respected Cape Cod Summer League). tossing 9⅓ innings for the Brewster Whitecaps, and fanned thirteen. While walking nine. Two steps forward, one step back.

As I will occasionally do, I'll loosely run down the "rules" here. With a Musketeers sort of case, you could perfectly well meet the basics, help educate us in the process, and I'll walk you through how.

The expectation is that, if you claim a team, you do roughly 30 minutes of homework per week on the team, at least through late March. At some point, you check on with your findings. Also, you watch or listen to at least one hour of at least one game of your team, again, reporting on your findings. By doing this, some of the names spring to life. From there, you've done the basics. If, after tracking them for six weeks of games being played, and you are no longer interested, then so be it. Figure out a better fit for next season.

If you choose Xavier, look them up. Who are their top recruits, et cetera? A reason they'd be an easy test case is as follows. The Musketeers open on February 15 (as do other D-1 squads) against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Finding out which game Grammes will start would be easy, if you're doing your homework. Watch his start on the ESPN family of networks, and you're good. You won't even miss a Cubs game.

However, it would be an unacceptable slight to imply the Musketeers are a one-man squad. Far from it. Five of their top seven, and seven of ten, pitchers in terms of innings were 19 years old last season. Matt Kent, who tossed 64⅓ innings, returns.

Top home run hitter Matthew Warkentin (14) returns, along with Grammes, who hit ten. Chris Givin hit .342 with an OPS of .910, and will be back. The Musketeers have some quality returning.

For this exercise, unless you're a big fan of the Cincinnati institution, or a fan of head coach Billy O'Conner, it's likely about Grammes. Do the research, and tell us if his bat represents better than his heater. Then, you're playing by the rules, and educating all of us. Which is the premise from the start. Maybe you can fill us in on a future ace.