ATLANTA, GA- While likely first-rounders Dustin Ackley and Alex White were the headliners who brought twelve scouting directors to Russ Chandler Stadium on Friday, there were three other prospects playing in the North Carolina-Georgia Tech matchup whom we have ranked in the Top-500.
Two additional Top-500 prospects I did not see because they went against each other as starting pitchers on Saturday: UNC’s Adam Warren (#311) and Georgia Tech’s Zach Von Tersch (#185).
But UNC was loaded as usual with position players. Third baseman Kyle Seager (#102) is a smooth-swinging lefthanded hitter. He generates average MLB bat-speed out of an open stance with a quick pickup stride. He went 0-2 with two walks in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Yellow Jackets as he got under balls in both at-bats, hitting two pop-ups.
I noticed that Seager is flaring his left elbow a lot before he starts his swing and it made me wonder if that was tying him up and making him late to the ball. I’d seen him with a quicker trigger in the past.
Though the ball jumps off well with line-drive power in batting practice, Seager has not hit for power in college (.380-1-22 in first 121 ABs) though he has hit 15 doubles. (The next highest on the team is nine.) His frame is still lanky (6-1, 187) and while I don’t see him as a middle-order power buy, I can see 10-15 HR down the road.
Where he’s improved is as a fielder since he went to Perfect Game high school events. Our scouts who saw him at the 2005 National liked his bat and thought he made the plays on the infield, but graded his feet and his arm-strength well below-average. Seager showed me good hands on Friday at third base. His arm-strength is below-average, but he gets rid of it good enough and he will have average range. Seager can also play an adequate second base (given time and repetitions) and that could very well be his position in pro ball. His run times are below-average, but his feet work okay moving laterally on the infield. I’d project him 3rd-5th rounds.
Tarheel catcher Mark Fleury (#208) went 1-4 with two strikeouts. He’s a 6-0, 194 lefthanded hitter with loft power (.324-7-34 in 108 AB) coming out of a crouched stance. His upside is as an offensive catcher; I see him as an average receiver and a 40 thrower in the long run. He performed very good pop-times in high school (at the 2005 PG Southeast Showcase), but his throws during Friday’s game were in the 2.1 range.
As a hitter, Fleury holds his hands low, but he seemed to catch up to high fastballs okay. He struck out on a change-up where he simply didn’t stay back long enough with his hands. His holes will be against off-speed pitches. Fleury isn’t a surefire big league hitter, but he has a chance to become an average left bat with occasional power, which would give him a role as a starter or strong backup in the big leagues. Fleury should go in the first ten rounds.
Closer Collin Bates (#125) came into save the ninth inning for Alex White. Though he got drilled the next day, Bates pitched a scoreless inning on Friday with two strikeouts. He’s an undersized righty (I eye-balled him at 5-11, 170, listed at 6-1) who throws over-the-top and gets good run/sink on his fastball at 90-91 MPH. Bates is a fast-working pitcher with a closer mentality who challenges hitters. I only saw one curveball (78 MPH) and it looked like it could be an average pitch in the future. The redshirt-sophomore has good arm-action and decent athleticism. He has a high kick in his delivery and jerks his head on occasion, which could make it difficult to repeat.
Bates’s stuff is solid, but not plus. He seems to get by on movement and pitchability when he’s on. Closing for such a high-profile program in big games will get scouts to notice, however, because he’ll prove whether or not he has ice water veins.
He was redshirted as a true freshman after requiring shoulder surgery to remove a blood clot back in November, 2006. Bates has worked hard and recovered nicely. He played high school ball in the Chicago area.
UNDERCLASS STARS AT GA TECH-UNC: Georgia Tech sophomore shortstop Derek Dietrich is a 6-1, 195 lefthanded hitter who went in the third round out of high school and will probably beat that in 2010. Dietrich is an advanced bat who hits the ball to all fields. He’s not a pure power hitter, but has the upside as a 20 HR guy. I believe scouts will want to move him to second base, third base, or maybe the outfield at the professional level…. UNC has a couple of “little guy” prospects in freshman second baseman Levi Michael (eye-balled 5-9, 170) and sophomore centerfielder Ben Bunting (5-7, 157)for the 2011 and 2010 drafts, respectively. Michael is a switch-hitter who hit a homerun righthanded and showed a very quick left bat as well. He’s off to a great start (.306-10-30 in 124 AB) to his college career and should be one of the best hitters for 2011. Defensively, Michael is not as natural but should become average. Bunting is a speedster who hasn’t developed a basestealing game yet, but can really cover ground in the outfield. He needs to master small ball at the plate to have a chance, but he has the potential to fill a niche that is difficult for MLB teams to find…. Georgia Tech’s Friday starter was sophomore Deck McGuire. I believe the 6-6, 223 righty will be a reliever in pro ball. He’s a high-effort thrower with one of those long-stride/abrupt finish deliveries. McGuire pitched a good game Friday in six innings of work (2H, 1ER, 11K), but walked seven. His mechanics make it difficult to repeat his slots. McGuire did show an average major league change-up to go with a 90-91 MPH fastball. His heater had average two-seam movement coming out of a high three-quarter angle. I watched him in relief as a freshman, where he threw harder and sharper. He’ll certainly be looked at in 2010, but as his seven walks in six innings indicate, he’s a project. On the other hand, something has to be said for a pitcher who walks seven and still only gives up one earned run against a team as loaded as the University of North Carolina! McGuire got some good defense behind him, but he also stayed cool with runners on base, another reason I think he’d be more suited to the short relief role as a pro.