5/16/2012 9:35:42 PM
I caught a bunch of Big Ten conference games over the weekend getting another look at prospects Kevin Plawecki, Cameron Perkins, Micah Johnson, Pat Biondi and Torsten Boss. I'm not going to share opinions on those players at this point in time as my thoughts, combined with those polled from a handful of scouts, will be shared in my state previews of Indiana and Michigan. I'm also responsible for Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming and Montana, so look for those reports, as well as all of the state previews in the coming weeks. In addition, we hope to get the first batch of state-by-state lists up on the site tomorrow. If you have never checked out these lists be sure to do so, as they are truly unrivaled by any other online/print prospect publication due to the sheer amount of draft-eligible prospects listed.
Here are some of the players that I watched that won't be part of these reports.
Michael O'Neil: O'Neil is a sophomore, draft-eligible next year, and created some buzz entering the season from those that follow the college game/Big Ten in addition to his showing during team practices/scrimmages last fall. He started off the season extremely hot, and while he's still having a solid season, his power numbers have cooled. It's very easy to recognize his size, strength and athleticism, with strength in his upper body and room to add more throughout. He looks like a slugger and takes some big, aggressive and confident hacks in the batter's box. He went 1-4 with 2 K in Saturday's game against Purdue, swinging at some bad breaking balls down and away in the dirt for each of his 2 punchouts, so it was pretty clear pretty quick that some plate discipline adjustments need to be made. I've seen O'Neil one other time, and look forward to getting more looks at him between now and this time next year.
Sam Selman: I watched both Saturday's and Sunday's games from the Vandy/LSU series, and got to catch a handful of impressive arms. I kept my focus on those arms and didn't spend much time evaluating the hitters. Selman got the start on Saturday for the Commodores, a live-armed lefty that has struggled quite a bit with control issues. I have seen Selman pitch before, twice in the Northwoods League, but never for Vanderbilt. Since I've handled the NWL reports the past few years, I am plenty familiar with him and am happy to see that he's finally getting some meaningful innings. He's tall and lean with wiry strength and broad shoulders, giving him room to add a few pounds over the next few years. He has an incredibly live arm with great arm speed, and while he continues to struggle to throw strikes consistently, he can be effectively wild. He also is difficult to hit. His slurvy breaking ball is also a plus pitch thrown in the 79-81 range, and showed the ability to drop it in for strikes, something I had not seen from him before. He threw 102 pitches in 5 innings of work while walking 4, a pretty good indication that he was continually working deep in the count. Regardless of the control problems, he has a relatively fresh arm and the ability to produce 91-95 fastballs, and touch a few ticks higher at times, easily, as a lefty. If starting doesn't work out long-term, I could see him becoming a dominant short reliever a la Dan Plesac back in the day.
Aaron Nola: Nola is pretty much the opposite of Selman, leap-frogging Ryan Eades in LSU's weekend rotation, at least for this series. However, Nola can dial his fastball up to 93, and as I talked with a player exec a week ago, it wouldn't be surprising to hear that he's sitting at 91-93 and peaking around 95 two years from now. I profiled Nola a couple of weeks ago, so I'm not going to add much else other than that it's really easy to like him as a pitcher. He changes speeds and commands his stuff so well, and as noted, his size and projectability leads me to believe he'll be throwing harder more consistently in a couple of years.
Tyler Beede: Beede was one of my favorite pitchers from the 2010 PG/Aflac All-American Classic, with great projectability similar to one of my favorites from the 2009 PG/Aflac game, Kevin Gausman. Beede's changeup is a plus pitch already, thrown with excellent arm speed that simply drops down and in on RH batters, down and away from LH hitters. He could throw his changeup with every pitch he throws and have success on most days, that's how good of a pitch it is. Beede also snapped off a couple of solid breaking balls, but it's nowhere near as advance as his change. He has somewhat of an old school, big roundhouse delivery from the windup in which he brings his hands high over his head and employs a fairly big leg kick. That said, he repeats it well, and shows a mature confidence on the mound. He struggled to command his fastball initially, leading to a lot of pitches thrown early, and walked 5 batters in his 3.2 innings of work. Certainly a lot of pressure was thrust upon this young man after being the highest drafted player from last year's draft not to sign, as he's clearly talented and one of the way early favorites to go among the top 3-5 overall picks in 2014, but not surprisingly, he also has some work to do.
Kevin Ziomek: I saw Ziomek much earlier this season and he wasn't as sharp as what I've seen in the past. He's a prototypical lefty that can dial his fastball up to the mid-90s at time, but typically sitting around 87-91, mixing his full assortment of pitches and hitting his spots with a low 3/4 delivery. He was painting the corners particularly well with his fastball on this day.
Ryan Eades: Another pitcher I've profiled recently, and as I've gushed about before, LSU has such an embarassment of riches in their starting staff. Like Gausman (and Nola), he has great size with a tall, lean frame and a very live arm. Eades can dial his fastball up to 95-97, sitting at 92-94, and then drops in a very sharp power curveball. Like Beede, he threw more pitches than he needed to as his command wasn't as sharp as what I've seen before and had a relatively short outing at 4.2 innings. He should be a top 5-10 overall pick next year, and with continued progression may just be in that conversation for the No. 1 overall pick.
That's enough for tonight. I hope to have the time to view St. Mary's/Louisville in the next few days as RHP Derek Thompson, Matt Koch and Nick Burdi all took the mound for the Cardinals, while Jeremy Baltz had a big day at the plate.