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General : : Crack The Bat
Hoosier Arms
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Friday, August 31, 2007

While watching Alex Meyer pitch at the 2007 Aflac All-American Classic, I was reminded just how many talented young arms have hailed from the state ofIndiana in recent years. Most notably, Jarrod Parker, who was the ninth overall selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks this past year. Meyer may be poised to join Parker as a player selected among the first 10-15 picks in next June’s draft.

Joining Parker in the early rounds this past year was fellow prep righty Brock Huntzinger. Drew Storen, another prep righty, could have been selected early based on talent alone, but Stanford recruits almost always are impossible to sign away from their commitments.

2006 saw Kyle Gibson decide to honor his commitment to Missouri , where he will be part of a very talented young staff next spring. Gibson also was one of the top prospects of the Cape Cod League this summer.

In 2005, the state of Indiana offered three extremely talented prep arms that decided to take their talents to college. Lance Lynn headed to Ole Miss, participated on Team USA last summer and could very well be a first round pick next June. Josh Lindblom headed to Tennessee before transferring back home to Purdue, while Tommy Hunter headed to Alabama .

A state that is clearly much more known for their rich basketball history, Indiana boasts some very good college baseball programs, programs that are known for developing more than their fair share of arms. Notre Dame, Purdue, Ball State and Evansville are much more adept at doing so than the two schools that adorn the state’s name: Indiana and Indiana State .

Starting near the turn of the century, Aaron Heilman of Purdue and Preston Larrison of Evansville highlighted an impressive first round for the Hoosier state. Heilman of course now is an integral part to the New York Mets bullpen.

2002 had one of the most impressive classes of Indiana pitchers, starting with the first overall pick Bryan Bullington of Ball State and including three more pitchers taken in the first and first-round supplemental rounds, Luke Hagerty, also of Ball State, Chadd Blasko of Purdue and Steve Obenchain from Evansville.

In 2004 Grant Johnson of Notre Dame was the biggest name of the collegians drafted from Indiana, while 2006 offered Jeff Samardzija and Jeff Manship of Notre Dame, Ben Snyder of Ball State and Jay Buente of Purdue in the early rounds.

Of all of the collegiate pitchers mentioned, all but Manship, Snyder, Johnson, Hagerty, and Larrison are originally from Indiana .

Even more interesting is that given the state’s basketball heritage, is that so many talented young, and tall athletes managed to find their way onto the diamond. Starting with the 6’7” Meyer you could easily assemble a formidable team to contend with on the court on size alone. Hagerty (6’8”), Blasko (6’6”), Bullington (6’6”), Lynn (6’6”), Johnson (6’6”), Heilman (6’5”), Samardzija (6’5”), Gibson (6’5”), Lindblom (6’5”), Obenchain (6’5”), Larrison (6’4”) and Hunter (6’4”) could rival the current Hoosiers basketball team of which the current height is 6’5”.

While Indiana may not produce the depth of high level talent that states in the sun belt do, you can always count on a handful of players to be high on crosscheckers follow lists each and every year.

PG (Inter)National

A big name has popped up on the international free agent market after turning 16 years old in late July, the minimum age a player can sign outside of the United States , Canada and Puerto Rico : Edward Salcedo.

Salcedo, listed at 6’3”, 190, doesn’t look like a typical 16-year old, and given the way he showed his stuff at the PG National Showcase in Cincinnati this past June, he doesn’t play like the typical 16-year old either, more than holding his own playing with and against players a year or two his elder.

Drawing comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera for his size, athleticism and offensive potential, he is now one of the hottest commodities to ever hit the international free agent market. There are rumors that his signing bonus and overall contract will blow away the money fellow Dominican players like Wily Mo Pena and Joel Guzman received from the Yankees and Dodgers respectively.

The usual big spenders on the free agent market, international or otherwise, the Yankees, Mariners and Mets, are all reported to be in the bidding for Salcedo’s talents, with a few mid and small market teams sprinkled in. There are a few reports that Salcedo, represented by Scott Boras, is looking for a deal in the five million dollar range with teams reportedly holding closer to three million dollars.

With signing bonuses for amateur talent already under scrutiny given the eye-popping number of bonuses handed out to some of the top players from this past year’s draft, and on the international market prior to when Salcedo became eligible, it doesn’t seem as though Major League Baseball has a handle on keeping teams in check from giving out an incredible amount of money to relatively unproven talent.

However, the teams that aren’t shy about opening their pocketbooks to sign players typically are the ones to reckon with down the road.

For instance, the New York Yankees, a team that is typically known to sign every notable free agent under the sun, has dropped more than four million dollars on the international free agent market already this year, and another seven million-plus on their first ten draft selections. Their recent re-dedication to scouting and player development is already making its mark at the big-league level, with Joba Chamberlain soaring through the minors in less than a year’s time, as he now is mowing down big-league batters coming out of the Yankees ‘pen and is already being pointed to as the next Yankees star.

Chamberlain of course is only one example (Ian Kennedy may be another), but this is the team that initially invested in Alfonso Soriano, and while they missed on Wily Mo Pena, just like everything else in life, you’re not going to hit on every investment you make.

Whether or not you agree with the amount of money being handed out to these young players, stateside and elsewhere, the bottom line is that Edward Salcedo very soon is going to be a very wealthy young man, and whoever takes the risk to sign him could have a future, perennial star in their hands.

The thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA . Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and Brewerfan.net, and can be contacted via email at pebert@brewerfan.net.