The Diamondbacks can now start the process of attempting to sign two more of their draft picks as Vanderbilt was eliminated from the College World Series by Texas Saturday afternoon.
Both Cesar Nicolas (6th round) and Antoan Richardson (13th round) are highly thought of by the D’Backs, and though both players are undoubtedly disappointed by the loss both can also take pride in the fact that this Vandy team went farther into the CWS than any other in school history. It was a tough game for both players as Texas banged out 14 hits in route to a 10-2 win, the second time in as many days Texas had beaten Vandy with double digit run scoring.
Nicolas, a big first basemen who hit 15 home runs this year in only 235 at bats struggled in the series against Texas going two for nine including an 1-4 in the elimination game, but that does not diminish the high hopes the D’Backs have. Corbin says that as strong as Nicolas is now there may be even more power coming for him. An outstanding athlete, he was a high school shortstop, moved to 3rd when he got to college, and then made the transition to 1st after his sophomore year. “He’s a good glove, but I’m sure the Diamondbacks got him for his bat,” Corbin says.
Richardson, who Vandy head coach Tom Corbin says, “Might be the fastest guy in college baseball” also struggled, though he managed a single late in Saturday’s game. An outstanding defensive centerfielder (only one error in 168 chances during his three years at Vandy) who is still maturing as an offensive player, Richardson’s ticket to the majors will be directly tied to his work on the base paths. “Antoan’s a guy who can steal bases almost at will,” Corbin says.
Nicolas is expected to sign with the Diamondbacks soon and may report as high as AA El Paso, though more likely he will start the season at High A Lancaster. According to Corbin Richardson may be harder to sign. The junior is a chemical engineering major with a near perfect GPA, and according to Corbin will most likely return to Vanderbilt for his senior year. “He’s an extremely smart young man, and he’s followed the career paths of a lot of other players, so he’ll sit down and weigh his options, but I think he’ll be coming back next year.”
For both players the ceiling is high. With Nicolas’ right handed power and above average glove work he immediately becomes a 1st base prospect worth keeping an eye on. Meanwhile Richardson has the one thing that can not be taught, fantastic speed. With 32 steals this year at Vanderbilt, even if he does not sign with the Diamondbacks this year, he will undoubtedly be drafted again after his senior season, and can choose to give professional ball a try then. Richardson was previously drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, do not be surprised if the Diamondbacks, who have a history of redrafting players who choose to return to school, move Richardson right back onto next year’s draft board as soon as he officially decides to return to Vanderbilt.