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Mock Draft #4 – Supplemental First Round

Happy tax day!

33. Houston Astros – Robbie Aviles, RHP, Suffern HS (NY) – The Astros have been building strong pitching depth through the draft in the two years since Bobby Heck took over, and I expect more of the same this year. After getting their hitting prospect with Austin Wilson early, going with Gausman and Aviles, a pair of high-ceiling arms in the Astros’ style of drafting would make a lot of sense. No matter who the names are on draft day, I expect the Astros to walk away with at least a pair of high-level arms. Previously: NR, 42, 31.
34. Toronto Blue Jays – Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington – Choice is really rising up boards with an excellent junior season, and the only thing holding him back from being a surefire first-rounder is a lack of elite tools beyond his bat. He offers plus to plus-plus power, and I expect the Jays to look for power arms and power bats, though they might want a little more athleticism than Choice from their picks under a new regime. Previously: NR, 50, 41.
35. Atlanta Braves – Cameron Bedrosian, RHP, East Coweta HS (GA) – I know plenty of Braves fans would be absolutely thrilled with this selection, and this pick would also carry a lot of weight in the local media, who are almost on the fence in terms of support for the front office. Bedrosian has been solid all year, and even though he’s not very projectable, he’s a solid mid-rotation prospect who knows how to pitch and has incredible bloodlines. Previously: NR, 32, 33.
36. Boston Red Sox – Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas – I don’t have any overwhelming reason as to why I dropped Workman down in this mock, but a combination of questions and the fact that there are pitchers jumping over him makes him fall just a tad. The Red Sox have a good history of picking power Texas arms from the college ranks, with Alex Wilson being the most recent example. I’m sure they’d be thrilled to get an arm like Workman with this pick. Previously: 15, 31, 13.
37. Los Angeles Angels – Griffin Murphy, LHP, Redlands East Valley HS (CA) – Murphy has risen up as the top prep left-handed arm in this class, and he continually impresses from start-to-start. I’m not short on reports at all for him, as dozens of scouts attend each and every start. The Angels always look for strong prep left-handed pitching, especially from their own backyard, and this pick makes a lot of sense, though Murphy could rise even higher than this. Previously: NR, NR, NR.
38. Toronto Blue Jays – Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami – Grandal is still in a fight for the top college catcher in this class, though I give a slight edge to Micah Gibbs for his receiving skills right now. However, Grandal has the better bat and a higher ceiling, and I’m sure that Toronto is looking to fill out as many positions as possible with their huge number of early picks in this draft. Previously: NR, NR, 22.
39. Boston Red Sox – LeVon Washington, OF, Chipola JC (FL) – Washington has been coming around lately, but the tools are still not what they were. Combine that with the fact that he’s still a Boras client, has huge leverage as a junior college freshman, and other options have shown up, and you have a falling star. However, some people will start to sleep on Washington too early, and he could still be a major factor, especially to a team like the Red Sox that has a big draft budget. Previously: 14, 8, 32.
40. Los Angeles Angels – Bryan Morgado, LHP, Tennessee – Ok, maybe I’m going overboard with the Angels and left-handed pitching. However, they drafted three left-handers early last year in Tyler Skaggs, Tyler Kehrer, and Pat Corbin, so I’m not exaggerating too much, if at all. Morgado gets mixed results, but he still has mid-rotation upside and excellent stuff from the left side, so he’s a candidate to have a better pro career for numbers than collegiate career. Previously: 31, 39, 49.
41. Toronto Blue Jays – Chad Bettis, RHP, Texas Tech – Power arms are power arms, and though most project Bettis as a long-term reliever, I’m a firm believer that there are enough teams out there that will try Bettis as a starter. He’s done quite well in a difficult transition this year, and if he’s healthy and successful come June, I think a team with multiple picks could pick him early as a possible starting arm. Previously: NR, 26, 37.
42. Tampa Bay Rays – Barret Loux, RHP, Texas A&M – Though the Rays rarely venture into the college ranks early on, I think budgetary reasons might change that a little this year. In addition, their history shows that when they do venture into the college ranks, it’s for big-armed pitchers, and Loux is quickly on the rise as just that. Durability is still a question for Loux, but as the season goes, he should answer some of those questions, and he could sneak into the true first round. Previously: NR, NR, NR.
43. Seattle Mariners – Todd Cunningham, OF, Jacksonville State – This is the Mariners’ first choice, and I’m split between them going for a big name that’s dropped due to bonus demands and a solid name for quick movement up the chain. They spread it out last year beyond the selection of Dustin Ackley, and collegiate picks dominated past their selection of Steve Baron in the supplemental first round. Cunningham is still a solid hitter with upside as a starter. Previously: NR, 47, NR.
44. Detroit Tigers – Stetson Allie, RHP, St. Edwards HS (OH) – This is also the Tigers’ first pick, and I think their history clearly shows that they like big-armed pitchers if the fit is right, and signability isn’t as much of an issue, as they open their pocket books for players regularly. Allie is seen almost completely as a future reliever at this point, but the talent is just too good to ignore. The North Carolina commitment is an issue, though, and it shouldn’t be ignored. Previously: 16, 20, 25.
45. Texas Rangers – Tyrell Jenkins, RHP, Henderson HS (TX) – Though I see the Rangers adding in more hitting into their draft mix this year, they’ll still get their share of pitching, especially on the high school side early on. Jenkins has had one of the best early-season runs in terms of improved stuff and performance, and this slot might actually be too low for him. He’s athletic and offers #2 starter upside, and that could be a steal in this range. Previously: NR, NR, NR.
46. St. Louis Cardinals – Kyle Blair, RHP, San Diego – With Matt Harvey having been their first selection in this mock draft, I think the Cardinals might be looking at a pitching-hitting combo in the supplemental first round. Blair has had a rough go at times this year, but his stuff is too hard to ignore at times when he’s on, and teams that like prototypical pitching prospects, like the Cardinals, should be looking at him starting in this range. Previously: 26, 40, 38.
47. Colorado Rockies – Jedd Gyorko, 2B, West Virginia – Gyorko hasn’t been as on fire as he’s been in previous years, but the hitting impact is still there, even if you think he’s done all his damage against weaker pitching. The Rockies typically like college bats, and even though Gyorko’s defensive value is up in the air, teams in this range could be looking at him as a hitter that could move quickly and provide value in short order. Previously: 29, 36, 45.
48. Detroit Tigers – Kris Bryant, 3B, Bonanza HS (NV) – Though Bryant’s stock isn’t as shiny as it used to be, there are still a fair number of teams that see him as a potential impact bat. The question is more about how much of a chance a team has to mold that bat into a consistent performer. The raw power is unquestioned, and teams that value power could easily pick him in the range of the supplemental first round or second round. Previously: 11, 44, 34.
49. Texas Rangers – Reggie Golden, OF, Wetumpka HS (AL) – Like I said above, the Rangers are expected to mix in a few more bats in the early going, and after getting Gibbs in this scenario, I see them adding to outfield depth within the prep ranks. Golden has huge power in a tightly-coiled, athletic body, and though his bust rate is a little high, he’s still a desirable candidate for the first couple of rounds come June. Previously: NR, NR, 44.
50. St. Louis Cardinals – Austin Wates, OF, Virginia Tech – After getting Kyle Blair with their first supplemental first round pick, I’d expect a hitter to be selected here, and Wates offers plenty of value for this range. Wates is much more athletic than his normal first base position suggests, and he’s going to get a fair shot to play center field as a pro, and the Cardinals value players with defensive value from the collegiate level. Previously: NR, NR, NR.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Mock Draft | 4 Comments

Mock Draft #4 – First Round

It’s been three weeks since my last mock draft, and there’s enough movement for me to feel comfortable updating my projections. I feel much better with this mock than I did the last one, and like last year, I’ll feel the same way with each mock as the draft gets closer.

This is the fourth installation, and I’ve put the last three draft positions I had players at next to their names for your enjoyment this time, with the most recent position coming last.

1. Washington Nationals – Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada – Well, we’ve reached the point where the common fan only knows of Harper’s faults, and they’re about ready to tear him down as the next overhyped bust. That’s what incessant media coverage and nitpicking does. However, I feel very comfortable with this placement, and I don’t expect any movement between now and June. Previously: 1, 1, 1.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates – Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss – Though I’m sure some people will think this movement has to do with me seeing Pomeranz in person last weekend, I had already made my mind up for this change before I ventured up to Athens. Pomeranz is showing the best stuff of the college pitching class, along with incredible on-field performance, and he’s a legitimate top five option. Previously: 9, 16, 4.
3. Baltimore Orioles – Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU – I’m glad to see that Ranaudo is starting to get back into shape, and if he stays healthy, there’s no reason that he won’t be back in the competition for top college arm. I know that the placement of Ranaudo and Jameson Taillon is most tricky, and I think one of the biggest questions will come with the picks of the Pirates and Orioles. Previously: 2, 4, 14.
4. Kansas City Royals – Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX) – Kansas City fans rejoice! The Royals are bound to find themselves picking from a big pool of top talent, and it’s likely they’ll pick a top-tier starter, either at the college or high school level. A lot of their choices will depend on how much the Pirates and Orioles spend on their first picks above them, and if 2009 is a true barometer, then the Royals could up with the second-best talent in the class in the fourth spot. Previously: 3, 3, 3.
5. Cleveland Indians – Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast – I still see the Indians going with the top available college arm as they re-stock the pitching in their system during a rebuild. I point to a college arm, because they haven’t historically spent much more than slot in their top picks, and collegiate pitchers typically come in close to slot. The choice here is between Sale and Deck McGuire, and Sale represents a higher ceiling, though with more risk. Previously: 10, 12, 5.
6. Arizona Diamondbacks – Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech – It’s time to take the Diamondbacks away from the A.J. Cole selection. The reason for that is simply that there is a strong possibility that they’re likely to be able to choose one of the top college arms, and that makes more sense to me considering their history outside of Jarrod Parker. McGuire hasn’t really fallen in the last three weeks, but with Ranaudo coming back, he could slip into the tier below Pomeranz and Ranaudo. Previously: 5, 10, 2.
7. New York Mets – Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS (FL) – Sometimes pitchers that slowly improve over time are overlooked by the names that explode onto the scene. Whitson is one of those steadily-improving pitchers that is flashing top tier stuff, coming out in better shape and with sharper command than in the summer and fall. I see the Mets going after a prep arm, though if Taillon slides, I don’t see them spending that money. Previously: 7, 9, 11.
8. Houston Astros – Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) – This pick assumes that Wilson doesn’t want $10 million, not that I’m saying I’ve heard anything about him wanting that much. Wilson represents the best raw upside in the entire hitting class outside of Harper, and the Astros typically love their raw, powerful, athletic hitters. With a pair of first-round picks, it’s questionable that they could afford an Austin Wilson type of prospect, but don’t underestimate them. Previously: 17, 13, 10.
9. San Diego Padres – Manny Machado, SS, Brito Private HS (FL) – I would probably put Machado up a spot with the Astros if they hadn’t drafted and signed Jiovanni Mier a year ago. The new San Diego front office finds itself in the midst of a big re-build with their system, and I see them going for one more position prospect up the middle to build a potential big-time lineup including prospects Logan Forsythe, James Darnell, Everett Williams, Donavan Tate, and Jaff Decker. Add in a shortstop or catcher and you have the potential for elite production in a few years. Previously: 21, 11, 9.
10. Oakland Athletics – Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas – Once again, no matter who I pick for the Athletics, I’m going to be told I’m behind on their new scouting techniques, which focus more on athleticism and upside. Well, I think people constantly undersell Cox, who is the best collegiate hitter behind Harper. Though there are concerns about his power projection, he could be a .300 hitter with 20-25 home runs a year, and that’s about the level that people expected from a Brett Wallace or Ike Davis in a loaded class in 2008. Previously: 8, 5, 8.
11. Toronto Blue Jays – A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS (FL) – Lately, I’ve found myself really wondering where the Blue Jays will go with their bounty of picks. How willing are they to really spend the most they’ve ever spent in the draft? Well, I believe in their commitment, though I completely dismiss the notion that they’ll spend $16 million this year. Cole represents an option they’ll likely have for extreme upside in their pick, and they could go either way with a position player or pitcher. Previously: 6, 6, 6.
12. Cincinnati Reds – Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio State – Wimmers has had an excellent season so far, and most teams are comfortable with the idea that he’s a first round prospect, likely sitting in the middle third of the round. The Reds generally prefer polish with their first pick under this current front office, and Wimmers offers a solid amount of polish with above-average stuff. He profiles similarly to Mike Leake, though with a little more upside and less polish. Previously: 12, 15, 15.
13. Chicago White Sox – Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee – I get the feeling that the White Sox are in the midst of trying to rejuvenate the hitting side of their system, even while hearing whispers about their desire for pitching this year. Brentz has convinced some detractors with strong performances this year, though that was before he went down with an ankle injury a couple weeks ago. He offers one of the best bats in the class, though with question marks about his pitch recognition. Previously: 20, 22, 26.
14. Milwaukee Brewers – Christian Colon, SS, Cal State Fullerton – Colon started out cold, but he’s been heating up since my last mock draft. I think the Brewers will find themselves in a unique position to snag a player that was considered a top ten prospect at one point or another, as they pick right at that cusp between elite talent and above-average talent. They have a good relationship with Scott Boras, and I think Colon won’t need ridiculous money to sign. Previously: 4, 2, 24.
15. Texas Rangers – Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (CA) – A lot of the lineup for the next five picks depends on how much the Rangers will be willing to spend on a pick that’s not protected by compensation. Covey has had a good spring so far, but his command has been lacking just a tad, and the Rangers have had an increasingly strong Southern California presence over the last few years. This seems like a solid fit, but it depends on Covey’s asking price. Previously: 23, 7, 7.
16. Chicago Cubs – Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech – Hahn continues to improve as a starting pitcher, and more and more teams are starting to really view his long-term projection as a starter, too. That can only bode well for Hahn. The Cubs are always an interesting club to project, as they like athletic pitchers and athletic hitters from the college ranks, and Hahn has the type of power arm that could fit well in their system. Previously: 13, 35, 16.
17. Tampa Bay Rays – Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS (WA) – The Rays typically focus on the high school ranks on both the pitching and hitting side for their early picks. They also have a strong presence in the Northwest, so there’s a strong possibility that Sale is high on their board. A lot depends on how the Rays view Sale’s athleticism, which might be below what they want as an organizational philosophy. Sale could easily be off the board before this pick, and I don’t see him lasting past the Red Sox at #20 if he’s healthy and raking come June. Previously: 24, 14, 18.
18. Los Angeles Angels – Yordy Cabrera, SS, Lakeland HS (FL) – Cabrera and teammate Eric Arce haven’t had the best spring, and Arce has gone as far as getting kicked off the team following an arrest. Cabrera hasn’t been hitting as well as expected, though he stills shows all the tools of a powerful corner infielder or right fielder. The Angels have the best Florida area scout in Tom Kotchman, and Cabrera has a long baseball history, and I don’t expect him to fall as far as some have been speculating. Previously: 25, 17, 17.
19. Houston Astros – Kevin Gausman, RHP, Grandview HS (CO) – It really bothers me when I continually plug in the same player in the same slot over a number of mock drafts. However, this pick just makes too much sense. The Astros really like projectable prep arms with good command and plenty of potential, and they also aren’t afraid to find those pitchers in non-traditional baseball states. Gausman fits all of that criteria, and his season is just heating up. Previously: 27, 19, 19.
20. Boston Red Sox – Kaleb Cowart, RHP, Cook County HS (GA) – The Red Sox always have some of the most diverse drafts, and their success rate with draftees is pretty interesting. They have had enormous success with former two-way player Casey Kelly, and Cook brings the most upside of two-way players in this class. He’s starting to look more like a pitching prospect than a hitting prospect, though he’s strong either way. I expect he’ll be off the board in the first round quite easily, and he represents someone who could explode as a prospect while only focusing on pitching. Previously: NR, 21, 21.
21. Minnesota Twins – Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL) – Castellanos continues to be slightly polarizing in the scouting community. Some scouts see him as a premier hitter in this class, while others see him as a slow future first baseman without enough upside at the plate to warrant a solid first round spot. I fall closer to the former argument, as I still see him as a future third baseman with good hitting upside, though he’s no Josh Vitters or Mike Moustakas. Previously: 18, 18, 20.
22. Texas Rangers – Micah Gibbs, C, LSU – I still see the Rangers investing an early pick on a catcher, and if they wait a little on going that direction, they’ll at least make a solid investment in hitting in this draft. Gibbs offers the best defensive polish of any catching prospect in this class, and while he may be viewed as the Jason Castro of this draft, he has enough secondary skills and plus makeup to warrant a first round selection, though he needs to go in the back third. Previously: NR, 49, 12.
23. Florida Marlins – Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Barstow HS (CA) – Predicting a Marlins pick is hard at this point, because they generally stick very close to slot, while also sticking close to the high school side of prospects. It’s hard to gauge signable players right now, but Sanchez is one of the fast risers who’s considered signable and worth a late first round selection. While I personally prefer a few other prep arms above Sanchez, the hype is definitely building. Previously: NR, NR, NR.
24. San Francisco Giants – Brett Eibner, RHP, Arkansas – A lot of the two-way players in this class have started to really succeed on the mount. Eibner represents the top collegiate two-way player, and his pitch-controlled outings for Arkansas have been very successful. Though John Barr went with the prep arm last year, I see him going with an athletic pitcher regardless of classification this year. Eibner represents one of the biggest upsides in the collegiate pitching class. Previously: 28, 43, 43.
25. St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina – As Matt Harvey continues to answer questions about his checkered collegiate career this year, I continue to look for a draft slot that fits in with his talent. I believe that he’s reached consideration for the back end of the first round, and the Cardinals aren’t afraid to invest in pitching in the draft, especially if they consider that pitcher elite, as they did with Shelby Miller last year. It’s all about Boras and Harvey’s performance for the balance of the season. Previously: NR, NR, 36.
26. Colorado Rockies – Asher Wojciechowski, RHP, The Citadel – I named Wojciechowski as one of the players that just missed my last mock draft, and I don’t think he’ll miss another mock for the rest of the year. To go along with good physical size, Wojciechowski’s stuff has matured, as has his command, which was a big question entering the year. The Rockies have an affinity for college pitching, Tyler Matzek aside. Previously: NR, NR, NR.
27. Philadelphia Phillies – Chevez Clarke, OF, Marietta HS (GA) – The Phillies are going to pick a high school player, and that high school player is going to be athletic with a high ceiling, whether it be on the mound or in the field. Clarke fits into the Phillies’ mold rather well, as he has the potential to turn into a solid five tool player if his power matures as a few scouts have predicted it might. I’m not as high on his power as some, but the rest of his tools aren’t questioned, and he could be the best defender to come out of this class. Previously: NR, 28, 27.
28. Los Angeles Dodgers – Gary Brown, OF, Cal State Fullerton – Speaking of good defenders, Brown could turn out to be the best big leaguer in the entire draft class, depending on how much you value defense. A burner at the plate and in the field, Brown has steadily risen throughout the season, as he’s really matured at the plate and gotten a chance to show what he can do in center field. The Dodgers typically value athleticism and instincts, and Brown shows both. Previously: NR, 46, 46.
29. Los Angeles Angels – Justin O’Conner, SS/C, Cowan HS (IN) – Sadly for a number of scouts, the number of times they’ll be able to see O’Conner catch this spring is less than they expected. That means he’ll really have to show he can continue raking at the level that’s expected, as there will be more doubts about his catching ability than Wil Myers had a year ago. I expect the Angels are one of the teams interested in his catching ability, as they would love to find a long-term solution that is plus defensively. Previously: 32, 30, 23.
30. Los Angeles Angels – Sammy Solis, LHP, San Diego – The Angels once again have a huge number of picks in the early going this year, and they’re bound to go to the collegiate pitching class to fill in with signable arms. Solis offers significant upside from the left side, and if Tyler Kehrer and Pat Corbin taught us anything last year, it’s that the Angels value high-upside left-handed pitchers. Solis does need to show continued improvement and strength this year, but most view him as the better prospect between him and teammate Kyle Blair. Previously: NR, 37, 28.
31. Tampa Bay Rays – Justin Grimm, RHP, Georgia – This is another pick, like Texas’ at #15, that is hard to gauge, as the Rays could go for upside or signability. Grimm fits into both, depending on how they view his long-term potential. If a team can settle down his mechanics, Grimm could slot in as a mid-rotation pitcher in relatively short order, and if the Rays are looking for solid collegiate upside and signability after picking a more expensive pick first, then Grimm could be an option. Previously: NR, 41, 47.
32. New York Yankees – James Paxton, LHP, Grand Prairie AirHogs – The Yankees, as usual, are in a position to pick up the high-upside names with signability questions that fall to the end of the round. Paxton could end up being one of those names. He’s signed with the independent Grand Prairie AirHogs since my last mock, and with a little more certainty, he could be a late first round pick, though Scott Boras complicates things sometimes. Previously: 19, 25, 35.

April 14, 2010 Posted by | Mock Draft | 9 Comments

Editing Position

To those who have already sent me an e-mail about editing the MLB Draft Notebook, thank you. I’m going to start going through them tomorrow, as I simply haven’t had any time to do so yet.

If you are interested in editing, I’m still taking applications for the unpaid spot, so e-mail at MLBBonusBaby at Gmail dot com.

I’ve also gone through and answered most of the comments from the last week or so, so take a look through them if I had something unanswered.

Something interested will be coming out tomorrow morning, so stay tuned.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | MLB Draft Notebook | Leave a comment

Game Report: Georgia v. Ole Miss, 4/9/10

I wanted to try an unconventional game report for Friday’s matchup between Justin Grimm and Drew Pomeranz, so I thought I’d give you the notes as I wrote them down, word for word. No editing, no polishing. This is what is in my notebook from the game. I didn’t try to pull together any final thoughts, as I would normally do from my notes, instead letting my notes speak for themselves.

Each inning contains velocity numbers I was reading from a Stalker radar gun (not from the stadium gun), and the innings that have numbers right below the velocity numbers are innings with delivery times for the pitchers with a runner on. The play-by-play for each inning with any comments are below that, and I take you through the matchup as I saw it, alternating between Grimm and Pomeranz. I think you’ll get the feeling of why I really loved what I saw from Pomeranz.

I can address any terminology questions in the comments, but without further delay, here are my notes from the best head-to-head pitching matchup I will probably see this year:

1st – Grimm
90 x 2
91 x 1
92 x 3
76 CB x 1

Ferguson F-8, Medium on 92 FB
Tracy 4-1, Grimm good athleticism
Smith lineout to 1B

Pomeranz
90 x 1
91 x 4
92 x 4
77 CB x 1
78 CB x 2
79 CB x 1
81 CB x 1
84 CU x 1

1.46, 1.49, 1.55

Taylor out on 1-3 GB, jogged, but 65/70 speed
Verdin BB, command shaky early
Hyams K on 91 FB
Cone out on F-5, 78 CB, plus power just to get ball that high

2nd – Grimm
89 x 1
90 x 1
91 x 3
92 x 1
84 CU x 1
76 CB x 1
78 CB x 1

1.24, 1.32, 1.36, 1.38, 1.41, 1.42, 1.47

Such easy velo, but too many moving parts
-Easily get out of whack
Snyder 3U on GB, not much hard contact so far
Miller 1B to LF, hard grounder on 91 FB
Hamblin K on 78 CB, not seeing the ball well
Yarbrough out on 4-3 GB, 92 FB
-Hard hit right at 2B, 4.28 to 1st

Pomeranz
90 x 1
92 x 1
94 x 1
76 CB x 1
77 CB x 1
78 CB x 1
86 CU x 1

Farmer K on CB, no hitters squaring up anything so far
DeLoach out on 6-3 GB, good play charging by Mort
-4.35 to 1st
May K on 92 FB
Pomeranz getting downhill plane on FB, makes it impossible to square
-Results in hitters simply unable to do anything but fight off the CB/CU

3rd – Grimm
88 x 1
90 x 3
91 x 1
68 CB x 1
85 CU x 1

Schilling with 2.22 pop time in-between innings
Hightower K on 91 FB
Mort out on F-8, very hard hit to RCF, Cone good tracking
Ferguson out on 5-3 GB, 4.28 to 1st, very slow out of the box, plus runner underway

Pomeranz
90 x 3
91 x 7
77 CB x 1
78 CB x 1
83 CU x 1

Ruiz out on 4-3 GB, easy, routine GB out
Schilling K on 91 FB, up and away
-Stood no chance, Pomeranz started him off with 2 CBs
Taylor K on 90 FB
-Long AB, fought off FBs, CBs, and the CU, but FB just too much to handle (too lively)

4th – Grimm
90 x 1
91 x 6
92 x 2
72 CB x 1
77 CB x 1
78 CB x 2
81 CU x 1

Tracy F-9 to deep RCF on 91 FB left up
-Ball not carrying well on the night
Smith out on 6-3 GB, jogged down the line, no reading
-Wasn’t routine enough to jog
Snyder out on F-8, routine play, 92 FB

Pomeranz
90 x 4
79 CB x 2
80 CB x 1

1.38, 1.42

Verdin BB on 3-2 FB up
-Works counts well
Hyams bunts into 1-6 FC
-Pomeranz off the mound well, but shaky throw, good scoop by Mort
Cone K on 90 FB up
-Overmatched
Farmer 3B to RCF on hung CB
-Should have been caught by Smith, but obviously uncomfortable in RF, run scored
DeLoach K on 90 FB
-Hightower with great block on 80 CB, bounced on plate

5th – Grimm
90 x 2
92 x 2
72 CB x 1
86 CU x 1

Miller out on 6-3 GB, 4.54 to 1st letting up at the end
Hamblin out on F-5 in foul territory
-May with plus instincts and awareness, leaning over dugout railing
Yarbrough K on 92 FB up
-Grimm in serious rhythm, mechanics for him are all about tempo
-Could be disrupted by pro hitters

Pomeranz
90 x 2
91 x 4
92 x 4
93 x 3
78 CB x 3
79 CB x 1
80 CB x 1

May out on 5-3 GB, soft GB, below-average runner
Ruiz K on 92 FB
-Stood no chance, stuff simply ridiculous
Schilling BB, temporary loss of control of FB
Taylor K looking on 90 FB, outside corner
-Starting to like Pomeranz over McGuire, loving this outing/potential

6th – Grimm
89 x 1
90 x 5
91 x 4
92 x 1
76 CB x 1
78 CB x 1

1.39

Hightower out on F-8 to LCF, some juice behind it
-Left up a little
Mort out on 6-3 GB, routine GB
-Grimm working very quickly, in rhythm
Ferguson reaches 1B on GB down 3B line
-May knocked it down, safe at 1st on unadvisable throw, 4.29 to 1st
-SB on 76 CB + 2.10 pop time
Tracy K looking on 90 FB up in the zone

Pomeranz
89 x 1
90 x 3
91 x 2
93 x 2
79 CB x 1
80 CB x 1

Verdin out on F-7, jammed on 90 FB on 1st pitch
-1st pitch swinging out of character from 2 ABs earlier
Hyams K looking on 90 FB on outside corner
Cone K looking on 93 FB on inside corner
-Pomeranz cruising, using inside corner to RHH, outside corner to LHH

7th – Grimm
89 x 1
90 x 8
91 x 1
92 x 1
72 CB x 1
74 CB x 1
77 CB x 1
78 CB x 1

Smith with 1B over 2B head, medium line drive
-77 CB almost frisby-like slurve, no break
-78 CB very sharp, command is ?
Snyder BB on 4 straight pitches
-Control has departed, visibly frustrated
Miller HBP on 1st pitch, 90 FB
Hamblin out on SF-7 down LF line, Taylor has well below-average arm
Yarbrough F-4 to shallow RF
-Weak AB
Hightower out on F-7 on hard line drive to warning track
-Control meltdown by Grimm met by aggressive hitters, got lucky

Pomeranz
90 x 2
91 x 4
92 x 1
93 x 2
78 CB x 2
79 CB x 1
80 CB x 1
81 CB x 1

Farmer 2B to RCF on hard line drive
DeLoach out on 4-3 GB, chopped, good play charging by Yarbrough
-4.44 to 1st, Farmer advances to 3rd
May K on 79 CB in dirt
-Just waved at it, one of the nastiest CBs of the night, but May not a good hitter
Ruiz K on 81 CB in dirt
-Another wave, also wasn’t able to read it, score still 1-1

8th – Grimm
88 x 1
89 x 1
90 x 4
91 x 1
73 CB x 1
75 CB x 3
77 CB x 2

Mort with HR on 90 FB left up, hard line drive to LCF, barely cleared fence
-Grimm noticeably tired, still left out there
Ferguson out on F-8, routine FB
Tracy 2B to LCF on hard line drive
-Command completely gone, control next?
Smith K looking on 77 CB
-Completely fooled him, expecting FB on 3-2 count, long AB
-Questionable call too
Snyder K on 91 FB, serious head tug on swing

Pomeranz
88 x 1
89 x 3
90 x 8
91 x 2
92 x 1
78 CB x 1
79 CB x 2

1.45, 1.47, 1.47, 1.56, 1.57

Schilling out on F-9 on 1st pitch, 90 FB
-Easy play and bad AB
Taylor with slap 1B to LF in hole between SS and 3B
Verdin K on 90 FB
-Taylor steals 2nd on bad throw caused by Verdin lunging swing obstructing Hightower
Hyams K on 89 FB
-Pomeranz shows grit, down 2-0 and 3-1 in AB, came back for K, should be done

9th – Grimm out, Pomeranz in for 1 Batter
89 x 1

Cone with 1B up the middle on medium velo GB
-Pomeranz pulled (why even bring him out for 9th?)

That wraps up the duel between Justin Grimm and Drew Pomeranz. Ask me any questions about interpretation or about the performances, and I’ll be glad to answer.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Game Report | 6 Comments

2010 Players I’ve Seen Live

I wanted to give you a quick list of the players I’ve seen in person this spring, focusing on the players eligible for the 2010 draft. The Ole Miss-Georgia writeup will likely have to wait for tomorrow, and I’m sure you’ll love what I do with it.

Here are the players I’ve seen this spring. Feel free to ask questions about any and all:

Derek Dietrich
Deck McGuire
Brandon Cumpton
Kevin Jacob
Zach Brewster
Cole Leonida
Tony Plagman
Chase Burnette
Jeff Rowland
Andrew Robinson
Roddy Jones
Thomas Nichols
Justin Grimm
Justin Earls
Reggie Williams
Blaine O’Brien
Nathan Fawbush
Heine Rivera
Bryan Benzor
T.J. Rich
Chevez Clarke
Kevin Jordan
Andrew Smith
Ralston Cash
Andrew Toles
Chris Triplett
Aaron Warren
Zane Evans
Conner Kendrick
Myles Jaye
Jaren Matthews
Mike Lang
Casey Gaynor
Dan Betteridge
Jayson Hernandez
Aaron Meade
Mike Kickham
Steven Brooks
Pay Doyle
Aaron Conway
Drew Pomeranz
Matt Smith
Robert Crews
Mike Murray
Tim Ferguson
Miles Hamblin

That’s all I can think of right now. I’ll add more as I see them.

April 10, 2010 Posted by | Scouting | 15 Comments

Georgia v. Ole Miss Tonight and Open Thread

I’m heading to the Georgia-Ole Miss game tonight, so I thought I’d do an open thread today, answering pretty much any questions you might have about the draft.

Consider this an all questions answered thread. I’ll be checking in and answering throughout the day.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Open Thread | 12 Comments

Drafting Injured Players

I got an interesting question in the comments of yesterday’s stock report for corner infielders, and I felt it deserved an answer in a full post, because it’s a very relevant question. Here’s the question:

“Do you believe an injured player is a good opportunity to buy low? Over the last few drafts I found picks like Kyle Gibson and Tanner Scheppers to be really good for the teams involved. Should teams really [be scared] off when a player hurts themselves? Just to give you an example, Anthony Ranaudo this year, should teams really be scared off given his previous track record?”

Thanks to Jeffrey for the question, as it has become a more relevant question in recent years.

Not too long ago, an injury, especially one that would require lengthy rehab, could scare off the vast majority of teams. For pitchers, blowing out an elbow or a shoulder essentially tanked your draft stock, and you stood no chance of getting any sizable bonus.

That all started to change in the middle of this decade, with the ice really being thawed when the late Nick Adenhart received a $700,000 bonus despite a major elbow injury after being drafted in the 14th round of the 2004 draft. That signing represented a big shift in thinking about injuries, and more and more teams have started entering the risky waters of drafting injured players.

A quick run through the last three drafts shows that no less than 14 teams have invested a draft pick in the 11th round or higher on a player coming off an injury that could be seen as significant. That includes 3 first round draft picks, two of which went to the Yankees (Andrew Brackman and Slade Heathcott). You can argue that Heathcott shouldn’t be included in that group, but recovery from ACL surgery is still significant, as is the shoulder injury he suffered in the spring. Any player having to DH due to injuries in their draft season represents significant risk, especially when speed is a part of their game.

Here is a quick list of those players coming off or about to receive Tommy John surgery that were either given a significant bonus or were drafted in a significant position with that knowledge:

-Luke Bailey, C, Tampa Bay, 4th Round in 2009
-Andrew Brackman, RHP, New York Yankees, 1st Round in 2007
-Cameron Coffey, LHP, Baltimore, 22nd Round in 2009
-John Gast, LHP, Texas, 5th Round in 2007 (DID NOT SIGN)
-Colby Shreve, RHP, Philadelphia, 6th Round in 2008
-Alex Wilson, RHP, Chicago Cubs, 10th Round in 2008 (DID NOT SIGN)

So with four players signing for significant bonuses, it’s obvious that Tommy John surgery isn’t seen as a disqualifier anymore.

What about shoulder issues? Here’s another list:

-Ryan Berry, RHP, Baltimore, 9th Round in 2009
-Sam Dyson, RHP, Oakland, 10th Round in 2009 (DID NOT SIGN)
-Anthony Gose, OF/LHP, Philadelphia, 2nd Round in 2008
-Tanner Scheppers, RHP, Pittsburgh, 2nd Round in 2008/1st Supplemental in 2009

Two of the four signed on the first go-around, and Scheppers signed with more questions lingering last year. Shoulder issues aren’t seen as a huge deal like they used to be, but scouts are generally more cautious around shoulder injuries than elbow injuries.

Ok, what about more minor elbow issues? I’ve got some of those, too:

-Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota, 1st Round in 2009 (officially forearm stress fracture)
-Brett Hunter, RHP, Oakland, 7th Round in 2008 (Elbow Soreness)
-John Lamb, LHP, Kansas City, 5th Round in 2008 (Elbow Fracture from car accident)
-Adam Reifer, RHP, St. Louis, 11th Round in 2007 (Tendinitis and a stress reaction)

Each of those players signed. Gibson is lumped in here, because most consider forearm issues a precursor to elbow issues. Whether you believe that or not is irrelevant, because this is a discussion about how teams view injuries, and plenty of teams thought Gibson might be on his way to Tommy John surgery in the near future.

To answer the question, I think teams have made it clear that they generally don’t shy away when the value is right. There’s a lot of risk in signing players coming off injuries. However, it does provide some value, depending on how you view it.

Looking at the injured players of 2009, sure it has the potential to provide excellent value. At the top, Kyle Gibson was able to be taken by the Twins with the 22nd pick, which shouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t hurt, but they did have to pay slot money ten slots higher than their pick to sign him. They got good value for their draft slot, but it might not have saved them any money. The best possible value I can see of the injured players from 2009 is in Luke Bailey. The Rays were able to not only get a 1st round talent in the 4th round, but they also signed him for 2nd round money. They essentially won on both counts, and that’s where the value lies.

I do think it is way too early to call this sort of strategy a sound one. What if Tanner Scheppers’ shoulder needs surgery in July? What if Gibson does indeed fall victim to Tommy John surgery? You may not be able to tie that surgery with the pre-draft injury that crept up, but that’s always going to be in the back of your mind. Since this is such a new strategy, I generally take a wait-and-see approach. The Bailey signing represents one of the best signings in the entire 2009 draft to me, as they got value for their slot in terms of both talent and money. Getting a 1st round talent in the 4th round for 2nd round money is great, and with the success rate of Tommy John surgery being approximately 90%, it’s a sound investment.

It’s all about your risk preference. Some teams feel they need to invest in more risky players to get value, while others are very risk-averse. It depends on what you can take. If you have a very limited budget, you don’t want to wrap up too much of your budget in a player that’s hurt. That’s common sense, but it’s something that a lot of fans don’t think about. There’s value to be had, but there’s risk there, too. As medicine advances, we’ll see more calculated gambles into the injured player market, but right now, it’s going to proceed at a relatively slow and steady pace.

How does this affect 2010? I don’t know yet. Anthony Ranaudo represents the most significant injury time of the top prospects, but he’s come back pretty well so far in a couple of outings, with more to come tomorrow. He might not make this list if I were to make it 5 years from now if he’s all the way back in June. However, if you start seeing players go down with injuries, remember that it’s all about risk and return, and unless the price is right, investing in injured players just might be too risky to take.

April 8, 2010 Posted by | Injuries | 1 Comment

Stock Report: Corner Infielders

Corner infielders aren’t very plentiful in the 2010 draft class. The more accurate statement is that quality corner infielders aren’t very plentiful in the 2010 draft class. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to find, though. A player such as Zack Cox would be sought after in any draft class, though maybe not as highly as he is in this year’s class due to the lack of hitting available.

Enter my first stock up/stock down column of the spring. It’s getting to be that time, folks. Today is two months until day one of the draft. There are a lot of games to be played between now and then, but not as much time as you think. There are 61 days to go, which is just under 9 weeks. Teams are starting to really formulate their ideas, and though there’s a lot of action left, players from warm weather states have pretty much had their chance to make a big national impact. As cold weather states warm up for playing temperatures, crosscheckers will head north, taking that limited time to evaluate the cold weather players that could make a big impact.

Knowing these things, let’s jump into the first installment. Corner infielders are expected to hit. There should be no doubt about that fact. Those corner infielders listed as having their stock going up do just that. I’ll place the caveat that stock is relative to where they were entering the season, since I haven’t written a column like this since then. Some players are hot as of late, some were hot earlier, but their overall production is up, both in terms of pure numbers and in terms of tools/skills. The players here are listed by their likely future pro position, not necessarily their current position, so that is why you’ll see a few names that stand out as out of place. These positions reflect the scouting community’s consensus for the future, so that is the reason.

Without any further explanation, here are the ten corner infielders that have seen their stock swing so far this spring (listed in alphabetical order):

Stock Up

Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL): I think I was a little early to the Castellanos bandwagon, as there wasn’t true scouting consensus about his value entering the spring. Some teams saw him as first round material, while others saw a future first baseman without enough raw power for the position. While the answers about his fielding haven’t been answered definitively, Castellanos has flat-out hit this spring. He is showing an advanced eye, plus raw power, and a plus hit tool, and he should be a middle of the order force in the long run. He’s gone from possible late first rounder to possible mid first rounder, and that’s agreed upon more now than it was a couple months ago.

Derek Dietrich, 3B, Georgia Tech: Though Dietrich is a current shortstop, I haven’t met a single scout in my experience at Georgia Tech games that wants to keep him at short. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, but those who want to keep him at short aren’t part of the consensus. Dietrich has had a number of late-inning showcases at third in blowouts, and he’s shown the ability to be an above-average defender there, despite having slowed down considerably since high school. He still has a plus arm, and he’ll stick at third. At the plate, I was very critical of Dietrich early on, and that was echoed back to me in one particular conversation I had at the ballpark in early March. The scout didn’t like Dietrich’s swing or mindset at the plate, but it seems that has turned around the last month. After trying to pull everything for the first few weeks, Dietrich has calmed down and gone with his strengths, spraying the ball around the field and showing power to all fields. It’s hard to get pitches by him now with his new approach, and that has been refreshing to scouts that have been frustrated by a waste of natural talent for the better part of a year. He’s sneaking quickly up into the late first round conversation, and he’s more likely to land in the supplemental first round.

Joe Leonard, 3B, Pittsburgh: I received a question about Leonard in a chat about a month ago, and I answered that most of the questions about Leonard aren’t about his defense, but about his bat. He’s started to answer those questions, and his stock has been rising as a result. He’s putting up a strong .432/.496/.649 slash line so far, while continuing to play above-average defense. There’s also hope for continued development in the power department, as he’s still a tall, skinny hitter at the plate, though he’s matured over the last 12 months in his frame. He’s worked hard on his plate discipline, and while he won’t walk anything more than the league average in the pros, he’s not going to swing at everything like he has sometimes in the past. The doubles he hits now will turn into some homers in the future, and while his ceiling looks like a 15-20 home run slugger in his prime, his defense and hit tools are good enough to make him a league average third baseman in the big leagues. He’s looking at a possible 2nd-3rd round selection now, up from the 4th-6th round level he was looking at entering the season.

Andy Wilkins, 1B, Arkansas: Wilkins offers rare plus power projection in the 2010 class, and that is what is raising his stock quickly. Is he a first round hitter? No. However, that doesn’t mean that Wilkins has no value. A pure left-handed hitter, Wilkins is a right-handed fielder that was considered a third base prospect entering college after being drafted by the Rangers out of high school in 2007. His days at third base are over, but he should be an adequate fielder at first, meaning that a team can rely on him to be more than a designated hitter, opening up National League teams to feel safe in scouting him. I see him as an average fielder in the future, though he’ll need some work to get there, and I feel safe in saying that due to a strong work ethic and plus makeup that is universally praised around the game. At the plate, he can sacrifice some average for power, and his hit tool is probably below-average in the long run. He’ll probably hit in the .250-.260 range, but he’s one of the few in this class with 25-30 home run power, power that can go to any field. He’s been scuffling a little bit lately, but when he’s on, his approach is also plus, and he’s good at waiting for his pitch. He’s probably a 2nd-3rd round name now, up a similar amount to Leonard. He’s going to miss the next couple of weeks due to a pulled hamstring, but that shouldn’t affect his stock much.

Christian Yelich, 1B, Westlake HS (CA): I featured Yelich’s name on the list of the players I left off my third mock draft, and I feel comfortable calling him the best prep first baseman in this class. Yelich is blessed with good natural size for a first baseman, and as I mentioned in my writeup for him in the aforementioned player list, he has solid-average speed and a fringe-average arm, two traits that could make him a plus fielder at first base. I also mentioned that some teams are entertaining the idea of having him play left field, but I still see his long-term position as first base, which would take advantage of his defensive tools. He does have the bat for the position, too, though there’s more projection involved in saying that than with some elite prep first basemen of the past, such as Eric Hosmer. Yelich has an above-average to plus hit tool, and the easy comparison for him is Lyle Overbay, a doubles hitter more than a home run hitter. However, Yelich has more power projection in him, so listing Overbay as his ceiling is unfair. He’s starting to tap into that power now, and scouts like how he’s approach his at-bats this spring. He could be a strong 2nd round candidate now, though Jeff Malm also seemed to be that high as a prep first baseman before slipping to the 5th round last year. Regardless, Yelich has gone from a 7th-10th round prospect to a 2nd round candidate in just two months.

Stock Down

Kris Bryant, 3B, Bonanza HS (NV): I always seem to be right when it comes to Bryant, and then I second-guess myself. In my second mock draft, I dropped him from mid-first round potential to the latter part of the supplemental first round, then relented and placed him in the beginning of the supplemental first round with my latest mock, citing some scouts thinking that they can make his transition to wood bats easier than is speculated. Well, that feeling has essentially evaporated, which was my gut feeling entering the spring. Bryant still has one of the most projectable hitting frames in this entire class, along with the best raw power, but the ability to hit with wood against quality velocity is really in question. I mean seriously in question. He’s starting to get the label as a metal bat hitter, and that’s something hitters should avoid at all cost. His hitting this spring is very mechanical and raw, and most scouts now think he’ll head to college, trying to elevate his stock for 2013. This isn’t even getting into the defensive questions, where he faces the same issues as Castellanos, putting more pressure on his hitting. It’s a vicious circle.

Garin Cecchini, 3B, Barbe HS (LA): This one can probably go without explaining. Cecchini tore his ACL in March, and the few scouts that thought he had any future of sticking at shortstop had their hopes shredded along with his ACL. Considered a third base prospect in the long run, Cecchini had lots of things to like about him, but with the injury, he’s going to get no time whatsoever doing baseball activities between now and the draft, so teams that are considering him as a high pick will have to make their assessments based on information from last fall and summer. Add in the fact that Cecchini’s LSU commitment is strong and the fact that he’ll be draft-eligible again after only two years there, and you have a high bonus expectation along with the lack of spring looks. That’s a tough combination, and I expect Cecchini to drop further than Luke Bailey did last year, as Bailey’s injury was later in the spring, and he also had clearly established himself as an elite prospect, which Cecchini failed to do.

Rick Hague, 3B, Rice: Yes, I know Hague is a shortstop right now. I’ve also been one of the vocal supporters for keeping him at shortstop. However, I think the time has come to admit defeat. Hague has looked a step slower this spring, if not more than a step, and he looks destined for third base. That’s strike one in this instance. Strike two is that along with his declining range, his once plus hands have been inconsistent so far, flashing plus at times, but also flashing below-average and turning into stone. After a great showing with Team USA at third base last summer, I thought he’d easily be a plus defender there in the long run, but he’s starting to make me think that he might just be an average third baseman with no versatility. This is all before we get to the hitting. Hague’s struggles at the plate have been well-documented. He still hasn’t learned how to recognize a breaking ball with any sort of consistency, and he’s been pressing at the plate, probably a result of the combination between the slump he’s been in and the increased pressure of being in his draft year. He’s starting to come around a little bit, and his current slash line of .275/.344/.404 is better than it once was, but he’s gone from possible first round pick to third round pick or lower. This couldn’t happen to a better guy, too, as Hague gets good grades for makeup and work ethic, so I only hope that he can turn it around and reestablish some draft value.

Tony Thompson, 3B, Kansas: Count this one as unfair, as Thompson has had little time to come back from a knee injury he suffered before the season. After missing the first 19 games of the season, he’s come back slowly. At the plate, he still has good potential, but he’s struggled early on, a result of a lack of baseball repetitions during his time off.  He’s not recognizing pitches enough, getting in bad counts and swinging at bad pitches. His current slash line of .229/.349/.429 so far isn’t indicative of his future potential, but it’s just something to be concerned about. The reason he makes this list is the stiffness at third base he’s shown. His hands have never been praised as plus, but simply as solid, and now he’s slipping slowly past that. His range has been below where it was before the injury, and while I expect him to recover most of it, he could easily have reached the point of regression in terms of his size and agility. Some scouts are thinking he might have to be shifted across the diamond, which really puts pressure on his bat, though I do expect his bat to recover. Thompson was considered a second round candidate before his injury, and he’s looking like a 4th-6th round player right now, though I expect some bounce back.

Brett Weibley, 3B, Kent State: Talk about a rough year. Weibley was a converted third baseman entering the spring, someone who had big closer potential. However, he was still expected to be a possible option at third base, too, as there was some potential in his bat. Not only has Weibley struggled with the bat, he’s probably closed the door to any hitting possibility as a pro. He’s started off at a .228/.302/.421 clip, and he’s now a part-time player. In the bullpen, he’s had a solid season, though with a lot of inconsistency, which is to be expected from a new pitcher. He hasn’t been very hittable, but he hasn’t helped himself with his control, as he hits or walks more than a batter an inning. I guess you can put Weibley’s stock down across the board, and I’ve simply chosen to place him in the corner infield section. Once considered a solid hitter, I see a future relief prospect, and that’s a little disappointing. He’s still a solid fielder with a plus arm, but that won’t be enough to make him more than a one-dimensional relief prospect to scouts.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Stock Report | 17 Comments

Game Report: Georgia Perimeter JC v. Middle Georgia JC, 4/3/10

It’s about time I get this writeup done. These past two weeks have been hectic to say the least, so I’m happy to be able to focus back in here.

On Saturday, I caught a matchup between Georgia Perimeter JC and Middle Georgia JC in Newton, Georgia. It was played on one of Perimeter’s campuses, and it is officially in the middle of nowhere. We drove down a dirt road to get there. That’s how country it is.

I was going to the game in order to see a number of prospects. The most notable name that is recognized nationally is Reggie Williams, who was a top prospect in the 2009 draft, only to slip due to signability and pitch recognition issues. He went unsigned by the Rangers as their 32nd round pick, and he headed to Middle Georgia to increase his draft stock. He’s already 20 years old, making him the same age as junior college sophomores, so he might be more signable than the majority of junior college freshmen.

The other hitting name I wanted to see was LeAndre Davis, a freshman shortstop for Perimeter who went unsigned as the Twins’ 13th round pick in 2009. Unfortunately, Davis has been in a season-long slump, losing ground both in terms of draft stock and in terms of playing time. He’s not the regular shortstop for Perimeter anymore, and he didn’t play during the game I attended. I think he’s played himself off of any sort of early draft contention for 2010, instead putting himself in a position to reestablish his value next year as a junior college sophomore, when he’ll be more signable.

The pitching matchup on the day featured the best pitching prospect from each team. For the home team, Perimeter, Nathan Fawbush took the hill. Fawbush has prototypical starter size, towering over most players at 6’7’’. He still has plenty of room to fill out, too, making him very projectable and very intriguing to watch. I watched him closely from about 15 feet away during his pre-game bullpen session, and it’s clear that there’s mechanical work to be done, especially with his breaking ball deliveries, but there’s a good amount of potential.

On the hill for Middle Georgia was another intriguing name, one that could almost match Fawbush’s size. Blaine O’Brien is listed at the same size as Fawbush, but I’d say he’s an inch or two shorter, and his body is more mature physically than Fawbush’s. He easily has 15-20 pounds on Fawbush, and he carries more present strength. O’Brien was a 34th round pick of the Phillies out of high school in Massachusetts in 2008, but he made his way to Middle Georgia instead. Though O’Brien has more advanced stuff now, the two scouts that were there at the beginning of the game were there for Fawbush, so that should tell you something. O’Brien has a scholarship to Maryland if things don’t work out in the draft this year, though I think some team will like what they see.

Fawbush got the ball in the first inning, and he was much more confident on the hill than he was in the bullpen. In the bullpen, he was clearly uncomfortable with his pair of breaking balls, a slider and a curveball. In the game, he was much more confident attacking with his fastball. Reggie Williams was the first hitter up for Middle Georgia, and he promptly deposited a Fawbush fastball into right field for a single, with the hit registering 105 mph off the bat of Williams. Williams flashed plus bat speed and read Fawbush’s pitches well to start off the game. The negative I saw immediately in Williams’ game is raw baserunning ability. With the next batter up, Fawbush delivery a wild fastball up and in, barely missing the batter and getting by the catcher. Williams misread the ball completely, running back to first base. However, he had the speed to get to second once he realized where the ball was, but against better catchers, he could have been nailed at second. Fawbush was quick to the plate during the time Williams was on base, too, registering times of 1.20-1.35 to home. He was really struggling with his release point and consistency, and his command was well below-average for most of the game. I graded his control out to be below-average in the future, with his command being worse. There’s just not a lot of feel to the way he pitches. He pitched mainly 86-88 with his fastball in the first, getting above-average armside run on the 86 mph pitches, but his 88 mph fastballs were straight as an arrow. He added in below-average sliders and a curve, the sliders coming in at 77 and the curve at 71. He was more comfortable with the sliders, but neither pitch was strong. His best secondary pitch was a 79 mph changeup that didn’t have much depth, but it got plus late fade for a lot of weak contact when he buried it. It looks like a potential above-average pitch with some work. However, after not being able to put hitters away over and over, he left an 88 mph fastball up to Middle Georgia hitter Javy Sujo, who promptly hit it about 375 feet and over the wall in center field for a grand slam, making it a quick 5-0 MGC lead. Fawbush fought back to end the inning, getting a strikeout of a left-handed hitter with a deadly 81 mph changeup, then getting an easy groundout to third base. The damage was done, though, and it was clear where Fawbush needed to improve.

Blaine O’Brien came out for the bottom of the first, and by the time the inning was done, it was clear that it was going to be a slugfest. O’Brien looks like a slinger when he’s on the mound. He delivers from a whipping three-quarters arm slot that scares me. He did quite well to last a long time in this game, but after seeing his motion, I would want to put him in the bullpen, where he’d be able to go all-out with his fastball and devastating slider. He came out in the first inning firing fastballs in the 87-90 mph range, adding in an 80 mph slider with plus late break at times. He had a couple of tough breaks in the first, allowing a pair of infield hits to start it off, then allowing a double just inside the right field line on a wicked 80 mph slider that scored those two runners. He then walked a batter, which happened a lot in this game, but recovered well, getting three consecutive outs to end the inning. The first two came on a baserunning mistake, as the runner got doubled off at first on a line drive to the first baseman, then O’Brien induced a groundout to the shortstop to end the inning with a 5-2 lead. There wasn’t any hard contact early on, but it was clear that O’Brien also lacked control like Fawbush.

Fawbush came out in the second working in the range that he normally sat for the rest of the game, 85-87 mph, touching 88. That’s fringe-average for a right-handed starter, but there’s room for more in his frame. He consistently added 77-78 mph sliders and 78-81 mph changeups, the changeups being his best pitches throughout the entire game. After getting a quick, lazy flyout to start the inning, Reggie Williams came up to bat again. This time, Williams promptly delivered a fastball out over the plate into the right-center field gap, and I timed him at 4.21 seconds to first base on the turn towards second. Unfortunately for Williams, he stumbled around first base, falling to the ground hard. He managed to get up and get to second base with his plus speed, but that kept him from a possible triple. After an infield single, MGC first baseman T.J. Rich, who has a Memphis scholarship for next year, went with an 86 mph fastball on the outside corner, hitting a double down the left field line from his open left-handed stance. That double scored a pair of runs, and I was impressed with Rich’s hitting ability for most of the game. He doesn’t have much power or power projection that you’d like to see in a first base prospect, but he features a solid-average hit tool and a good idea of what he’s doing at the plate. After another flyout, I saw the first in a long line of errors to come in the game, which I quickly labeled as the sloppiest game I’ve seen this year. With Rich still on second and two outs, Fawbush induced a normal groundball to shortstop Dadynoel Lorenzo, who turned towards second to do an underhand toss, as if there was a runner at first and there was a force at second. After realizing that he made a big mistake, he delivered the ball high over the first baseman’s head, scoring Rich and extending the inning. Fawbush got a groundball from the next hitter to end the inning, but now Perimeter was down 8-2 due to Lorenzo’s big mistake.

O’Brien settled in to his normal routine of 88-89 mph fastballs in the second, along with sliders in the 81-83 mph range, though he snapped off one power slider at 85 that was just nasty, a plus-plus pitch that is rare from any pitcher, much less a junior college sophomore. He allowed a single, a swinging sacrifice bunt, then a double, setting up the next hitter with runners at second and third and only one out. Lorenzo then stepped up and had a quality at-bat, not trying to do too much after his error, instead lofting a flyball to right-center field, where Reggie Williams made the catch, both runners tagging and advancing. Williams tried to throw out the runner going to third, flashing an average arm in the process, but both runners were safe, making it 2 outs with a runner on third. O’Brien allowed one more single for another run, and then I got to see how Williams breaks in on line drives. The following hitter hit a low, sinking line drive, and Williams got an excellent read off the bat. He was charging in hard, made a great effort for the ball, but it short-hopped his glove, kicking off to the side. He did a great job of keeping the ball in front of him, despite not catching it, and that saved at least a run. The runners ended up at second and third, but O’Brien sat down the next hitter with a plus 81 mph slider, ending the inning with an 8-4 lead.

Now that you’ve gotten a feel for the offense and the pitching in this matchup, I’ll take you through the highlights of the rest of the game in terms of scouting notes:

-Fawbush continued to lose velocity bit by bit for the rest of his outing, and he only lasted 4.1 innings, throwing 89 pitches in the process. By the time that fifth inning came around, he was sitting 84-86 with a 69 mph curveball and a 77 mph slider, and neither pitch had much break on it. He seemed to lack the durability you want in a pitcher, especially one his size, and though it could have been the heat, he didn’t really impress me. The scouts there lost interest at about the same time I did, so I know he has a lot of work to do. He could be an early-teens pick for me, but only if he signs for under $100K.
-Williams finished out the game 3-6, and he essentially confirmed everything I’ve been hearing. He has real trouble reading breaking balls, but he has good raw tools to work with. He’s really big for a speedster, and while I peg him as a 65 runner right now, he might be a 55-60 runner as he matures. However, with an average arm and plus range, he’ll be a very good center fielder. He has some raw power in his swing, and he could hit 10-12 home runs a season in his prime, but he’s probably a bottom third hitter due to his pitch recognition problems, as he should strike out a fair number of times.
-O’Brien was the most physically impressive pitcher on the day from a scouting perspective, but he didn’t get the results his stuff indicated. He was still sitting 87-89 in the sixth inning, but he lost all control late, and he was left out to dry a little by his coach, who didn’t want to bring in any more arms, as this game was game one of a doubleheader. There are some positives to work with here, and I think he could make a shutdown eighth inning guy as a pro. I don’t like his arm action, but his two-pitch mix really works for him in short stints, and he can dial it up to 91 over a six inning outing, so I can see him up to 95 as a reliever. He’s an interesting 8th-12th round name if he’s signable as a reliever.
-Most of the hitters on the day were mistake hitters. Josh Purvis, the DH from MGC, hit a pair of home runs, but they were on a pair of pitches that should be driven, so I don’t give him a lot of credit other than to say he’s a solid mistake hitter. The ball was carrying well to right and right-center on the day due to 10-15 mph winds headed that direction, and the four home runs took advantage of that.
-The only other pitcher of note was the Perimeter pitcher that followed Fawbush. Bryan Benzor has a high-effort delivery from a smallish frame, and he has middle reliever written all over him. He pitched in long relief on the day, and while he didn’t exactly put out the fire, he did a solid job of keeping his team in the game on a day where the field was a launching pad. He worked 88-90 with his fastball and was very confident with a 79-81 mph changeup that got some swings and misses. He had the best actual performance of the day between the pitchers, as he struck out 7 batters in just 4 innings. He looks like an interesting summer follow, as he’s only a freshman, but he could be an 8th-12th round guy next year.

It’s always frustrating to watch a game with 10 errors, especially at the junior college level. That’s in addition to the 13 walks, 3 wild pitches, and the hit batter. It was just a really sloppy game. Dadynoel Lorenzo showed some potential and some tools, but his three errors and mental mistakes were frustrating, and I wish LeAndre Davis had been out there at shortstop instead. However, when you’re out scouting, you don’t get to pick the lineups, so you go with what you get.

If you have any questions about the players I saw, post them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you. Stock up/stock down to come tomorrow.

April 6, 2010 Posted by | Game Report | 1 Comment

Seeking Editors

My wife and I have been suffering the effects of sitting directly in the hot sun for 4 hours since the game on Saturday, so my ability to write out a report has been a little slow. Note to self: bring sun screen when it is 85 degrees and you know you’ll be without shade for hours on end. That’s my first real sunburn experience at a game this year, so I figure I get one free pass. The game report will be up this evening.

In the meantime, with the draft just two months away now, and with Opening Day upon us, I’m putting out a call for an editor or two for the MLB Draft Notebook. This position would be unpaid, but with credit in the book as an editor.

I need people to go through and help me with typos and consistency, meaning that if I spell groundball pitcher like this, then I don’t spell it ground ball pitcher in another player’s writeup. Stuff that is that simple.

If you’re interested, send an email to mlbbonusbaby at gmail dot com, and include your name, contact info, your education, and your schedule availability from mid-May through the weekend before the draft. Also include a writing sample or a link to something you’ve written so I can see your ability in terms of spelling and grammar. It doesn’t have to be baseball writing. Any writing will do.

Just to be clear, the editing won’t involve changing any content. The reports you receive will be in final form, and your job will be to polish them by fixing typos and ensuring there is consistent grammar. Once you’ve sent them back, I’ll be looking them over one last time, then inserting them into the book.

April 5, 2010 Posted by | MLB Draft Notebook | 1 Comment

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