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4/12/2012 12:51:53 PM
College notes wk 8 - Rodgers, Gausman, Zunino

LSU vs. Florida

Brian Johnson: Very good size and rhythm on the mound. Johnson is a big, well proportioned athlete, although his fastball velocity doesn't match his size. He works mainly in the upper-80s, peaking around 90-91. He started the game off a little shaky, working down but missing quite a bit, while also trying to work the outer half of the plate against RH hitters. That led to a few early runs, but he settled down nicely and pitched more aggressively, like I've seen of him in the past, in innings 2-4. He just looked impatient early, nibbling more than he usually does. His low-80s slider is a good pitch, as his his slow overhand mid-70s curve. He was also throwing a lot of CBs early, seemingly not trusting his FB/command.

JaCoby Jones: Jones, similar to Marrero, is a great looking athlete whose upside will ultimately depend on how well he adjusts to higher level pitching. He's strong throughout with broad shoulders, and I could see him settling in at an OF spot down the road, possibly CF given his speed. He showed his strength by driving a ball to the left-centerfield gap that carried to the wall. He has the speed to swipe some bases, although could slow down over time as he continues to mature and add strength.

Kurt McCune: Similar to his LSU starting mates, McCune has a tall, skinny and projectable frame. He has broad shoulders and a narrow waist, suggesting plenty of room for added strength and the possibility of him adding a few ticks to his upper-80s fastball that peaks in the low-90s. He has long and lean wiry strong limbs and also throws a hard downer mid-70s curveball. He hit the corners well in this game, although his fastball is on the straight side and doesn't have the velo to get away with mistakes. He also threw a handful of changeups that he maintained his arm action well.

Mike Zunino: In both Thursday's and Friday's game Zunino drove a belt high fastball to deep centerfield, a shade to the right field side, for doubles, showing his ability to stay back and drive quality fastballs. He has really improved his swing and overall approach since his freshman year, using his lower half well as part of his swing while taking confident, aggressive hacks. One of those swings was against Gausman on Friday, and also hit a single against him by drilling a low outside fastball through the left side of the infield. Gausman did get Zunino swinging on a diving slider in the 7th, but Zunino added an RBI double in the eighth off of Joey Bourgeois by ripping another fastball down the left field line. Zunino's defense behind the plate has always been one of his strengths, and his maturation as a hitter could lead to him being taken among the top 1-3 overall picks come June.

Jonathan Crawford: I went into much greater detail on Crawford a few weeks ago, but every time I see him I'm surprised that his numbers are as high as they are. I must catch all of his good starts. Everything he throws moves, and he has gotten better commanding his repertoire, as previously he looked as though he wasn't sure where his stuff was going.

Kevin Gausman: The ball was really exploding out of his hand in this game, a big difference from when I watched him pitch 2 weekends ago, but similar to how he threw a week ago. Similar to a week ago, he was hit around a little bit despite having ace stuff. He throws downhill and does a nice job working the lower half of the zone. He continues to develop his slider, although in this game it was used more as a wipeout pitch than something he uses to throw strikes and get ahead in the count. He is able to throw strikes with both his sharp breaking curveball and his nice fading changeup, giving him a legit 4-pitch mix that includes his 93-99 FB, 85-87 SL, 80-81 CH and 76-79 CB, a nice variety of movement and velocities. He also has a pretty good pickoff move and repeats his delivery well. As he continues to get better and better, it's easy to envision him being the No. 1 overall pick to the Astros, as I have thought he could go that high for over a year now.

Joey Bourgeois: Throw Bourgeois into the mix among LSU's promising, projectable pitching staff. His best pitch is his curveball with sharp 12-6 downward break. He spots his fastball well, although it can be straight, as I envision his future as a reliever given how dominant he can be with his curve over short stints. He has a modest, medium athletic build and a low waist, hits the corners well and has enough velocity to rack up Ks.

Austin Maddox: Maddox is such a big dude that I've seen several times already this year. He pitched in both games, throwing mostly sliders, although looked more comfortable in his 2 inning stint on Friday that he did his 1 inning appearance on Thursday. He looked anxious on Thursday, overthrowing some, but recorded 3 relatively quick flyball outs. On Friday he K'd 3 in his 2 innings, getting 1 looking and 2 swinging on his dynamic slider. I'd really like to see how he looks in a starting role, although his delivery, approach and demeanor may be better suited to short relief.

Steven Rodriguez: Rodriguez is a big LHP with broad shoulders and good overall size. He has a nasty cutter to go along with his upper-80s fastball, and his low 3/4 delivery creates very good deception. It's easy to envision him pitching in the big leagues someday soon in a similar role.
4/17/2012 11:14:05 AM
College notes wk 9 - Rodon, Wahl, Nola

I didn't get a good look at many 2012 draft eligibles this past week, but I did watch a handful of pitchers that will factor into the early rounds in the 2013 and 2014 drafts.

Ole Miss/Georgia

Bobby Wahl: I shared my thoughts on Wahl in a previous post. He didn't look to have his best stuff in this game, but really competed and continued to show his aggressive approach which makes him that much more difficult to hit and hit hard. He's fearless on the mound with some controlled emotion. He also didn't have his best command, but walked only 1 batter while striking out 6 in 4.1 innings. He did allow 2 ER, but none before the 5th in which he quickly induced the first batter to ground out before allowing a bloop to shallow RF, a 1B to LF a flare to LF and a single through the hole on the left side of the infield before being removed. His breaking ball was thrown more like a slow curve in this game, and he used this pitch well to get some weak swings and misses. Again, he's not afraid to climb the ladder with his fastball.

Michael Palazzone: Palazzone pitched a very good game opposite Wahl, going the distance while striking out 8 and not walking a batter. We've been following Palazzone for a very long time, as he started the 2007 PG/Aflac All-American Classic for the East squad and made a name for himself with a very sharp curveball. He still has the curveball, but didn't use it in the first inning, saving it for later to give hitters something different to look at while changing their eye level. The pitch has a very pronounced 12-6 break, although it isn't a true power hammer since it is thrown in the low to mid-70s. His changeup is also a very good pitch, and he command his sinking fastball well. He tops out in the upper-80s and around 90 mph, using the lower half of the zone well. He is composed on the mound and knows how to pitch, and also has a lean, projectable build, although as a college senior he likely isn't going to be packing on many more pounds.

NC State/Clemson

Carlos Rodon: Kendall Rogers recently profiled Rodon in this feature. He's a very well put together athlete that looks every part of his listed 6-foot-3, 234-pound frame. He has a power arsenal highlighted by his fastball that peaks around 97 and sits at 93-95 that also has very good late, sinking life, as well as a nasty slider that projects as a ++ pitch. There is some deception out of his hand making him that much more difficult to hit, and he attacks the strike zone with an advanced, aggressive approach. He hit the corners well and like Wahl has the ability to elevate his fastball to get a K. Overall he moves his fastball around, using the pitch to set up the rest of his repertoire. He did throw 129 pitches in this game, as he was over 100 in the 6th, so I wasn't thrilled to see that from any college pitcher, much less a freshman.

Richie Shaffer: Shaffer didn't do much in this game facing Rodon, but overall continued to show a good overall presence and approach in the batter's box, with very good bat speed and extension. His power potential is evident even when he's not hitting the ball, as he's plenty confident in his abilities to put a big swing on a ball he thinks he can drive.


Aaron Nola: This was my first time seeing Nola this year, his first appearance after he was sidelined for a week or two. I really liked the way Nola pitched, pounding the strike zone with a steady diet of sinking fastballs and curveballs, breaking out a polished fading changeup in the latter innings of his 5 inning appearance. He's yet another slender athlete with a high waist that really projects well physically. He competes on the mound and is aggressive, creating some deception out of his hand making his stuff seem that much higher. His fastball tops out in the low-90s, usually sitting in the upper-80s, with a low-70s curve and a changeup right around 80. The only ER he gave up in this game was a solo shot in the 1st, otherwise he cruised, and did a nice job getting out of a 1-out bases loaded jam in the 3rd. His advanced feel for changing speeds while adding good movement on all of his pitches should allow him to enjoy great success at the college level, and if he adds a few ticks to his fastball as he fills out the next 2-3 years, he could blossom into a frontline starter at the pro level as well. For now, he, Eades and Gausman form one heck of a weekend staff, McCune fits perfectly in a swing/mid-week starting role, while Bourgeois, Cotton and Goody create a formidable trio out of the 'pen.

JaCoby Jones: Every time I've seen Jones play this year he has a big hit, and he has the natural strength to drive the ball even when he doesn't get a good swing on it. In this game he drilled a double over the CF's (Taylor Dugas) head. His upper half is more developed than his lower at this point, and he continues to make solid plays at second despite a lot of people thinking he'll eventually have to move to the OF.

One additional note, keep an eye on New Mexico 3B D.J. Peterson, who we heard from a scout earlier in the week may be the best college hitter West of the Mississippi. I watched 8-10 of his at-bats from over the weekend, and while he didn't do much in the series against San Diego State, at least in the 2 games I watched, I was able to get a sense for his swing and overall game. He's a mature athlete, seemingly the type that the Southwest typically develops, with good strength throughout and some question as to whether he'll be able to stay at 3B. He's a sophomore and isn't eligible until 2013, but he showed very good bat speed taking some confident, aggressive hacks at the plate.
4/25/2012 10:28:23 AM
College notes wk 10 - Stratton, Gausman, Purdue

One nice thing about the TV schedules this year is that viewers nationwide have had an opportunity to see Kevin Gausman pitch at least 3-4 times this year. Gausman of course is a candidate to go No. 1 overall come June, who David Rawnsley had going first to the Astros in his latest mock draft.

I'm not going to spend too much time on Gausman, who I have detailed plenty of times before. His curveball and changeup weren't working as well against Kentucky, but he was dominating with his fastball. A few of his sliders continue to show great promise as well. He's inconsistent, but he has the raw stuff to succeed even when his entire repertoire and/or command isn't working for him. That's something I'm not sure I can say about a few of the other pitchers being discussed at 1/1.

Taylor Rogers: Rogers, like Gausman, is a product of Colorado, as are other premium draft prospects such as Stephen Johnson and Pierce Johnson. Rogers is more of a prototypical lefty, although he isn't a finesse guy. He throws from a low 3/4, somewhat crossfire delivery that creates deception. His fastball can peak in the low-90s, but usually sits around 88. He'll work away from RH batters before busting them inside, and shows good command of a sweeping slider and a changeup with the ability and knowledge of how to change speeds effectively. He has a lean build with a stronger lower half than upper.

Luke Maile: I probably like Maile (pronounced MAY-lee) more than most. As I've noted before he has good size and yet is still loose enough looking as an overall athlete. He also showed the ability to catch up with superior stuff with good bat speed, yanking a fastball down the LF line against Gausman for a double. He is up to 11 home runs on the season (and 10 doubles), and continues to do a good job working the count.

Chris Cotton: I mentioned LSU's pitching staff and bullpen a week ago, and Cotton has been a big part of that. It's easy to envision him at the next level as a LHP specialist, throwing a ton of breaking balls that should make him at worst effective against LH hitters. His fastball isn't a big pitch (and he didn't even throw many), and he's on the shorter side, but again, he could advance quickly at the next level if developed as a specialist.

Nick Goody: I also mentioned Goody last week and how much I liked the way he pitched. He is perfect for a short relief role with his approach and intensity. He pitches exclusively out of the stretch with somewhat of an old school feel about him. He's fearless with an exaggerated delivery that creates deception. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but his best pitch is his slider. He probably doesn't have the fastball velo to be a closer at the next level, but he may evolve into a good set-up man.

Chris Stratton: He was electric on Thursday night in a nationally televised game against Tennessee, and showed why he is being talked about now for the top 10-20 overall picks in the draft. We recently provided a draft focus profile on Stratton to paint a better picture of what he's all about. He has good, not great size and apparent athletic ability on the mound. He was elevating his fastball, which usually sits in the 90-93 range, in the first inning, but did a much better job keeping the pitch down in the zone as the game progressed. He maintains his velocity deep into games, still throwing 91-92 in the 8th inning. His delivery and arm are simple and easy and he repeats it well. His slider is his best pitch, and he throws it a lot. He can given how well he commands it, and is has sharp, late break that makes it not only hard to hit, but difficult to hit hard. When he's not missing bats he's inducing a lot of groundballs. If I were a team picking in the top 10 I would be looking hard at Stratton.

Hunter Renfroe: Renfroe isn't hitting the ball very well right now, but his physical stature and overall tools are apparent. Plus, he showed an absolute cannon for an arm in this game while playing right field.

Zach Godley: Tennessee RHP Zach Godley started opposite Stratton, and while he doesn't have Stratton's dynamic stuff, he does have some pro potential. He has a sturdy build, listed at 6-3, 245, although he doesn't look quite that big. He does have a compact build with strength, and commanded the strike zonechanged speeds well using a 88-91 fastball a sweeping curve and a solid change.

Will Maddox: Freshman infielder Will Maddox showed some solid skills, and in particular had a great at-bat against Stratton in the 8th inning in which he continually fouled ball after ball off, worked the count full and eventually smacked a base hit up the middle of the field to drive in the tying run (Stratton had 2 outs in the innings, and struck out the 3rd batter, who reached on an error, only to give up 2 consecutive base hits to lead to the 1-1 tie which forced extra innings). There's some Chris Burke to Maddox's game, a high energy player that has good, not great speed/athleticism/tools.

Drew Steckenrider: Steckenrider played in the PG/Aflac All-American Classic back in 2008, and continues to show his 2-way potential for the Volunteers. He isn't hitting the ball very well this spring, but offers a very big, physical and athletic build. His pro potential is likely on the mound, and likely in the bullpen thanks to a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and touches 91-92, with reports that he has been even a few ticks higher than that. He has made 3 starts this year out of his 21 appearances, but has been Tennessee's most reliable option out of a pretty solid bullpen (and overall pitching staff despite not having any big names).

Cameron Perkins: Purdue traveled to Nebraska to play the Cornhuskers last weekend, and Perkins kicked off game 1 of the series with a bang. He hit 2 home runs, both pulled to left field, and drove in 3. The first home run he turned on an inside fastball, and while it didn't look like a HR shot off the bat, he clearly has the strength to pull his hands in and drive the ball out of the park. The second he drilled over the wall in left center, taking another fastball on the inner half, this one thigh easy, putting an extremely easy swing on the ball. His bat stays in the zone and he exhibits excellent bat control. The times I have seen him before he has shown excellent oppo field power lacing doubles to the wall in right center, while also having the ability to be labelled a "bad ball hitter." He has a very strong arm at 3B that would play well in RF if he moves off of the hot corner down the road. He's not generating a ton of early (top 3 rounds) draft interest, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him enjoy success as a pro.

Kevin Plawecki: Purdue's catcher may have better tools that translate well to the next level than Perkins, largely due to his presence, leadership qualities and defensive skills behind the plate. He too has a very strong arm, and also had 2 hits in this game, both of which were singles. On both he really did a nice job going with the pitch, pulling in his hands on the 1st pitch he saw in his 1st at-bat to lace a single to right field, while staying with a hanging changeup in the 7th to drive a ball up the middle. His large frame is loose and flexible and is another guy that I could see performing at a high level as a pro.

Tom Lemke: Lemke came out of the bullpen in the 6th to get the Huskers out of a jam, although put himself in his own in the 7th. He's a big, big fellas, with a very strong lower half. He doesn't throw as hard as you might think with that frame, pitching in the upper-80s, but he does throw a very nice changeup. He'll be drafted for his size alone, and it's important to note that he has missed a lot of time during his college career.
5/2/2012 9:14:18 AM
College notes wk 11 - Stratton, Naquin, Kline

For the second week in a row I was able to watch Chris Stratton pitch, this time taking on talented 2013 RHP Bobby Wahl and Ole Miss.

Stratton pitches extremely efficiently, pounding the strike zone with his low-90s fastball and polished slider. His slider looks and feels like his fastball out of his hand before diving down and away from RH batters, making it an extremely effective pitch. His fastball can touch the mid-90s, but typically sits at 90-93. He works quickly and has a very clean arm action with easy, repeatable mechanics. I don't think he's projects as a staff ace, but it's hard not seeing him enjoying success, and moving quickly, at the next level.

Wahl is a pure power pitcher as noted in previous threads. He has very good size/stature and is very aggressive, attacking hitters with his fastball and a pretty good slider of his own. He'll be fun to watch between now and this time next year.

Alex Yarbrough, Ole Miss' 2B, is having a very good season at the plate. He has long, tapered proportions and sloped shoulders with room to add some strength. He has a pretty quiet setup at the plate as a LH hitter, with a clean and easy stroke made for hitting line drives up the middle and to the gaps. I'm not sure how much HR power he has at the next level, but he's pretty advanced as a hitter with good patience and a solid overall approach.

Hunter Renfroe for the second week in a row showed one of the best OF arms I have ever seen. He's a big, powerful guy, and while he's not hitting the greatest as of late, his arm is clearly a plus-plus tool.

Tyler Naquin and Texas A&M took on Texas over the weekend, and playing a few wild, hotly contested games. Naquin isn't a physically imposing presence, but he is a heady ballplayer that is polished both at the plate and in the OF. He has good, not great speed and a good, not great arm. He showed the ability to take solid routes on fly balls playing RF, and it will be interesting to see if he can stick at CF as a pro, where I'm guessing he'll be playing. He has a smaller frame with sloped shoulders and a slender lower half. Like Yarbrough, there's some room to add strength, but he's probably not going to get too much bigger than what he currently is. He is very quick down the 1B line out of the box, and handles the bat well as a LH hitter. He did a nice job laying off soft stuff from a Texas LHP that came in to face him in the 9th of Saturday's game, waiting for a pitch he could drive, which he did to the opposite field for a 2-run HR. Last summer I saw him drive a pitch to deep CF for a booming 2B, a hit that left a lasting impression with me. Power is the biggest question with Naquin, particularly when it comes to where he projects to play. There is clearly power in his swing, it's just a matter of tapping into it more often as his approach is to sting the ball hard up the middle and to the alleys. That approach will serve him well, as hitters like this as amateurs often discover their power at the next level as they continue to progress.

Erich Weis is a tall, skinny LH hitter that takes a ton of pitches at the plate. He has a line drive swing, although I'm not sure how much power he'll develop, and he had a rough day on Saturday at 3B, committing 3 errors. He's another player I saw last summer with Team USA, although I need to see more of him to have a stronger opinion of what he's capable of.

Jonathan Walsh is a player I really liked after watching him play in the 2008 PG/Aflac All-American Classic. He just sneaked into my rankings of the top 75 prospects in the Northwoods League last summer despite not putting up big numbers, and overall some have questioned his dedication to the game since arriving on Texas' campus. It seemed clear to me just by watching a handful of ABs so far this year that he is taking a different approach to the game, as he was much more intent at the plate to drive the ball with authority, working the count to get a pitch he could hit hard. He has a good approach with a good stroke from the left side of the plate.He had a really nice AB in the 4th inning of Saturday's game, fouling off a series of pitches from Ross Stripling before drilling a sinking fastball that hung up a little over the RF wall for a solo HR. He also hit a rope to RCF in the 1st for a single. He has good size and strength, and his more confident approach to the game should get him more looks come draft day.

Speaking of Ross Stripling, he's a good, well proportioned athlete with the ability to pound the strike zone with a sinking upper-80s fastball that peaks in the 90-91 range. He also commands a solid curveball very well and a fading changeup. He works quick, and while he's not over-powering, he's not a nibbler either, going right after hitters showing confidence in his ability to throw strikes with any pitch in any count. He reminded me of former LSU RHP Austin Ross.

Hoby Milner is a LHP for the Longhorns, and another player I saw play for Team USA last summer. He's very thin, particularly in his limbs through his wrists and ankles, but there is strength in his core. He has a deceptive, low 3/4 delivery with a fastball that usually sits 87-91 but has the ability to touch a few ticks higher on occasion. He also can snap off a pretty good slow curve. Even if he doesn't start at the next level I could see him having success as a reliever. He should be very tough on LH hitters, but has good enough stuff and command to get RH hitters out as well.

John Curtiss is a freshman RHP and a big part of the Longhorns' promising young team. If it weren't for his Texas commitment he could have gone a lot higher than the 30th round (Rockies) a year ago. He has been used predominantly as a reliever this year, not uncommon for young pitchers on Augie Garrido's teams, but should be a fixture in the starting staff in the years to come. He creates deception with a little herk/jerk to his delivery, with good size while working quickly. He pitches aggressively with his sinking fastball that sits in the low-90s. When ahead in the count he'll show a sharp slider that break hard and away from RH hitters, but he didn't show the ability to drop the pitch in for strikes as well, at least not in Saturday's game. He has touched the mid-90s in the past, and as he progresses as a pitch he could be a premium pick in the 2014 draft.

Virginia is rolling right now, sweeping Miami over the weekend with yet another solid, well built team from top to bottom. It took a little while for Branden Kline to hit his stride making the conversion from closer to starter, but he has been pitching much better as of late. He didn't have his best appearance on Saturday, but still pitched well enough for the win in a game that started with a steady rain. Despite the rain Kline did a pretty good job throwing strikes with his boring fastball that sits in the low-90s and can hit 94-95 at times. His slider is a plus-pitch, with very sharp, late break while using the same arm action and having the same trajectory out of his hand as his fastball. I really liked the way he paced himself, as I noted in my notes from the College World Series last year that I didn't see any reason why he shouldn't be starting this year despite being such a dominant closer. He also has a solid change, and is a very good, well proportioned athlete that should have no problem sustaining his velocity late into games as he continues to progress as a starter. I definitely liked Kline on this day a lot more than the last time I had seen him pitch.

The same can be said for Miami RHP E.J. Enicosa, although I would much rather see him in a starting role than to be used as a closer. Enicosa will have to watch his conditioning, with a low waist and a thick lower half, and he employs what I describe as a "lazy" delivery in that he doesn't get his full body into his delivery and lands upright. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. There is deception to his low 3/4 delivery, which helps make his fastball that much harder to hit. His fastball has significant sink to it, and is one of the single best pitches I have seen this spring to go along with Austin Maddox's slider and Marcus Stroman's fastball/slider combo. The pitch sat in the low-90s and peaked at 94 according to the broadcast. That pitch alone gives Enicosa promise. He's not dynamic enough to be a closer at the next level, but could be a very effective set-up man, although he'll likely be given the chance to start.

Virginia's lineup has several bats that have pro promise. Shortstop Chris Taylor has taken over the leadoff spot and fits well in that role at the college level. He has a solid, line drive approach although doesn't have the strength in his swing or overall slender frame to be considered much of an extra base threat at this point in time. He's a gamer that plays the game the right way and is an asset on defense.

Stephen Bruno and Jared King are very similar hitters and overall players with shorter, compact and strong builds. Both look to hit line drives and are proven run producers. Bruno has a higher upside as a pro given that he has more defensive versatility and the ability to play 3B, or corner OF spot and possibly even 2B. Bruno has really improved this year, somewhat similar to Walsh, in that he looks much more confident this year.

I've already written about Derek Fisher this year, but he is definitely going to be a premium pick coming out as a college junior in two years. I've put a comp of Jay Bruce on him in the past, and that still definitely applies. Fisher already is a physical specimen and he should continue to fill out. Despite his size he still has good speed and flexibility. He takes aggressive swing at the plate looking to drive the ball, and is hitting cleanup now for the Cavaliers, leading the team in both home runs and triples.
5/10/2012 10:40:21 AM
College notes wk. 12 - Bryant, Wood, Covey, Heaney

Kris Bryant is having a big year for San Diego, and had a huge weekend against BYU. He really has added muscle mass to his frame since high school and looks a lot differently physically, and he still has some room to add more. He really looks like a big leaguers in terms of his stature. He always had big power (I think he won the HR derby at the PG/Aflac game a few years ago), as the ball continues to jump off of his bat. He employs a crouched stance and has very good bat speed. He shows a good eye and takes confident, aggressive swings at the plate. He did a nice job keeping his hands back before drilling a fastball down the pipe to the opposite field for a big home run, allowing the ball to travel deep in the zone to use his strong hands, wristbands and forearms to drive the ball. He also drilled a solo shot in another at-bat, driving the ball to the right field side of center. He added a 2-run shot later in the game, an absolute laser line drive to left center. He has enough strength that he pulled a ball on the ground that had enough force to squeeze through the left side of the infield, and also hit a single up the middle in another AB. Overall I liked the way he waited for his pitch, laying off soft stuff away, as that is how teams apparently try to pitch him. He's going to be an early pick in next year's draft.

Dylan Covey: As a Brewers fan it was particularly nice to see Covey pitch, who is quietly having a nice year. He didn't have as strong of a start vs. BYU, lasting only 3.2 innings, and he also hasn't been missing many bats this year, but the talent is evident. He too continues to fill out, and reminded my both physically and stuff-wise to former USD RHP Kyle Blair with thick proportions, particularly in the lower half. His breaking ball continues to have sharp, late break and he showed pretty good command of his fastball. He was sharp in the first inning of work, but labored after that, throwing a lot of pitches and not hitting his spots. He was 93-94 and also showed a really good changeup, a perfect slow ball. He and Bryant give USD a pair of premium prospects for the 2013 draft.

Louie Lechich: I covered Lechich last summer in the Northwoods League when I rated him the No. 30 prospect based off of his strong, athletic frame, and didn't realize he had transferred to USD after playing his freshman year at Cal. His physical presence is obvious, and currently plays CF for the Toreros. He employs an open stance showing good speed and instincts in center, and made a really nice diving catch on one play. He's an aggressive hitter that kind of reminded me of Jim Edmonds given his size, strength and LH bat. He'll need to refine his approach, but has the strength to hit the ball out.

Andrew Heaney: Heaney pitched one heck of a game against Oklahoma, going the distance while giving up only 3 hits and 1 walk, striking out 7. He also had a 12:6 groundout to flyout ratio, doing a really nice job inducing weak contact, and faced only 30 batters. I've profiled Heaney before, who employs a low three quarters delivery that creates plenty of deception. He has good size with long limbs, working quickly and throwing strikes. I remember his throwing more of a true curveball, but looked to throw more of a slurvy breaking ball in this game while throwing around 90-93, keeping the ball down in the zone. He also has a good changeup, giving him a deep arsenal of pitches, and he knows how to change speeds and move the ball around to change the batter's eye and upset their timing. He reminded me a lot of Danny Hultzen from a year ago, although he doesn't throw as hard as Hultzen did his junior year. If Hultzen went No. 2 overall last year there's no reason to think Heaney can't go in the 5-10 range this year.

Jordan John: Oklahoma's starter opposite Heaney and a fellow LHP has very good size and strength, with thick proportions throughout his frame. He threw strikes with 3 pitches FB/CB/CH, sitting in the upper-80s. He has some deception in his delivery and exhibited good command. He'll get drafted and has some pro promise, and if he can find a way to add a few ticks to his fastball (his size indicates he might) at the next level I could see him enjoying success given his current abilities.

Alex Wood: This was my first chance to see Wood, and I got a chance to see the odd delivery that David Rawnsley described in his Draft Focus report. There is effort to his delivery, with an odd windup in which he brings his arm and shoulder back before bringing his whole upper body forward toward the plate. He has long arms and wiry strength, and the moving parts creates good deception even if it isn't conventional. The opposing hitters had a hard time catching up with his low-90s fastball, which he commanded pretty well. His slider is a sweeper, keeping the ball in the lower half of the zone, and also threw a pretty good changeup. He struck out 10 in 8 innings of work, including 7 through the first 4 frames. As a lefty with good size and good stuff he'll get drafted early, and it will be interesting to see if the team that drafts him tries to polish up his mechanics/delivery at the pro level.

Austin Kubitza: Kubitza reminded me of a right-handed version of Brett Mooneyham, both physically and facially as well as his stuff and the way he pitched. He has good stuff and his fastball explodes out of his hand and sits in the 91-93 range. He threw both a sweeping slider down and away from RH hitters and a curve that he dropped in for strikes. He has a slow windup and easy delivery, but I would like to see him pitch more aggressively given his stuff. His fastball has very good late sinking movement, and he lands a little upright as part of his delivery. That said he still creates some good downward plane to the plate, and I could see his draft stock exploding a year from now if he makes some minor adjustments and everything starts to click.

Taylor Wall: Wall came in for Kubitza in the 4th inning and kept the game against Houston at 1-0 leading up to J.T. Chargois as Rice won in extra innings. He's a LHP with good size and a very good looking overall athlete. There is some attitude to his approach, as he attacks hitters with his fastball and isn't afraid to elevate the pitch looking for a K. There is some twisting to his leg as part of his drive and plant, and he also threw a solid curveball. I didn't see a changeup, so I'm not sure if starting is in his future, but I could see him having success in middle relief.

J.T. Chargois: This was my first time seeing Chargois pitch, and it was immediately evident why some people think he could be pitching in the big leagues by the end of the year. He's a great looking athlete with an exaggerated delivery and some attitude/edge to the way he pitches, making him a perfect fit for a setup, and eventually, closing role. He snaps off a sharp yet short, late breaking curveball in addition to his explosive mid-90s fastball. The Houston hitters had a tough time catching up with his stuff. He also throws a more violent breaking ball that is a swing-and-miss pitch in the dirt that resembled more of a slider, but he doesn't appear to use that pitch to get ahead in the count.

Jace Fry: I was expecting to see Brett Mooneyham throw for Stanford on Saturday, and while that didn't happen, I was treated to seeing Fry pitch. Pitch is the key word for Fry, as he's very advanced as a pitcher, moving the ball around and changing speeds to get outs. He's aggressive with his approach, attacking hitters while showing a fearless approach. He has a low three quarters delivery with a 4- and 2-seam fastball and a quick arm. He uses his 2-seamer down in the zone before busting hitters upstairs, changing the batter's eye. He also threw a sweeping curve that reminded me of Kevin Ziomek's, who he profiles in a very similar fashion overall. He doesn't overpower hitters, at least not at this point, but similar to guys like Heaney and Hultzen, I could see his velocity increasing over the next 2 years to become a premium prospect for the 2014 draft.
5/16/2012 9:35:42 PM
College notes wk. 13 - Selman/Nola, Beede/Eades

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.
5/19/2012 10:32:06 AM
College notes wk. 13 - Selman/Nola, Beede/Eades

To start, I incorrectly called Jeff Thompson Derek in my last post, but here are my notes from the Louisville/St. John's contest from last weekend. I'm not sure if I'll have any notes for this weekend's action as my focus is on our 2012 MLB draft reports.

Jeff Thompson: Thompson was named the No. 1 prospect in the NECBL last summer, and is projected to be a first round pick for the 2013 draft. The first thing that is evident is his size, as he's 6-5 or 6-5 and close to 250 pounds. While he carries that size well, he has some CC Sabathia to him in that he's a very good athlete, but will have to watch his conditioning as he gets older. He has a high waist and is strong throughout. The ball explodes out of his hand with a very quick arm, and his fastball is hard to catch up with. He has a very nice, sharp, short-breaking slider that gives him two very good pitches. He hit the corners pretty well, and gave up only his 1st HR of the year to Baltz in the 2nd.

Matt Koch: Koch entered the season as Louisville's closer, but has now assumed a more versatile short relief role, tossing 2 innings in this game as Derek Self has taken over as their late inning stopper. Koch has a tall, skinny well proportioned build. He has a live arm, employing a low 3/4 delivery. He too has a short, sharp breaking slider to go along with his low to mid-90s fastball. I would like to see Koch return to a starting role as a pro, and I'm guessing whoever drafts him will be thinking the same, at least to begin his pro career.

Nick Burdi: Burdi was one of the more promising members of Louisville's most recent recruiting class, and has assumed an integral role out Louisville's bullpen as a freshman. The best way to describe his delivery is unconventional. He lands upright and doesn't seem to incorporate his whole body into his delivery as he could. That said, that delivery creates a fair amount of deception, and the ball appears to explode out of his hand. His fastball has very good late, darting life down in the zone, and he makes his delivery work for him. As he currently throws he is projected to continue to develop as a short reliever, although I could see Louisville inserting him into their rotation next year.

Jeremy Baltz: Baltz was one of the players I kept my eye on as the season opened, as he has put up very good numbers since his freshman year at St. John's when he hit 24 home runs. He hasn't matched that power with the new BBCOR bats, but who else has? He has good size with strength throughout, and is an outfielder in the mold of TCU's Jason Coats, who I have compared to Jason Bay in the past. He jumped all over a belt-high Thompson fastball in the 2nd to jack a solo shot, and just missed another doing the same on a hanging slider in the 4th, only to pull his hands in to go with a pitch in that same at-bat to lace a single up the middle. He has good bat speed and strong hands and wrists, and could develop into a run producing LF at the next level.
9/11/2012 7:58:59 AM
Team USA player notes

Here are some misc. notes on some observations I made while watching a couple of games for Team USA during their Stars/Stripes Prospect Classic. I'm starting with the collegians since I saw most of the high school players at Perfect Game events this summer.

Trae Turner: Good approach for his speed skill-set. Has somewhat of a slap and dash approach, and yet is still aggressive with some power potential. Lean athletic build with room for added strength but his game will always be defined by his speed. Had a huge freshman year for NC State leading the nation in stolen bases.

Ryne Stanek: Easy, electric arm that creates mid-90s heat with the ability to peak 96-98. Great size and athletic proportions. Somewhat of a chucker with some effort. Has a short, sharp breaking ball that looks and acts like both a curve and a slider at times. He's able to effectively bury his breaking ball in the dirt as a swing-and-miss pitch that hitters have no chance to hit, and it comes out of his hand so hard that it's difficult to lay off with 2 strikes. For as easy and his arm strength is, I've seen him better.

Jake Reed: Good size and proportions. Broad shoulders with a slender, tapered build. Really low funky ¾ delivery, almost side-arm, creates great deception but limits upside and eventual role. Fastball has some dip thrown in the upper-80s.

D.J. Peterson: Watching him play the first thing I thought was “he'll be a big leaguer some day.” Obviously how great of an impact he makes depends on how well he makes adjustments as he moves up. Powerful build with very good strength. Patient eye with very good bat speed. Hits the ball consistently hard. Very exciting power potential. I think he's a 1B down the road.

Michael Conforto: Well put together, strong build with powerful left-handed swing. Put up good numbers as a freshman and should continue to improve at Oregon State.

Adam Frazier: Left-handed hitter with smaller stature. Reminds me of Nolan Fontana with similar all-around approach and upside. I don't think there's much power at the next level, and his value will come in his ability to get on base, put ball in play and play solid defense.

Jose Trevino: Shorter athlete. Quick bat can put a charge in the ball. Hit ground-rule 2-run double and grand slam in one game, proving he can turn on high velocity fastballs. Upside limited due to stature, but has offensive promise. Not sure on future position. Can pitch, showed low ¾, live arm, has some feel for spin on curveball. Good change, same arm action as fastball on pitch.

Tommy Thorpe: Big LHP. Good size, moving parks in delivery creates deception, making mid- to upper-80s fastball look harder than it is. Works quickly, high energy player. Really nice change.

Marco Gonzales: Nice approach and smooth swing as LH hitter. Good athlete very similar to Sean Gilmartin in almost every way. Very smooth mechanics, easy, low effort, repeatable delivery. Good command and off-speed stuff. Not overpowering, but knows how to pitch.

Kris Bryant: Very good size and strength to his frame. Swing, approach and overall upside remind me of Phil Nevin. Will continue to add strength. Likely that he always strikes out a lot with his aggressive approach and big swing, but he has power to all fields. Exciting slugger.

Colton Plaia: Big, strong build. Low waist. Physically reminds me of Jim Leyritz. Not particularly loose, limiting upside.

Zack Godley: LHP from Tennessee. Good size, strong lower half, well proportioned. Sinking FB. Has good off-speed pitches but throws them too much. Doesn't have dominant stuff so he needs to change speeds, mix it up for success.

Michael Lorenzen: I still think he profiles very well to Drew Stubbs. Tall, long-limbed athlete with promising tools. Has cannon in OF with great range, arm also allows him to close for Titans. Has power potential as well, but I'm not sold on his ability to make adjustments to hit at next level. High character guy, hard worker.

David Berg: Side-arm to submarine delivery. Short-arm, very unique. Hardly extends. Rises up on delivery. Hard to pick up ball out of hand, especially for RH hitters. Good movement product of arm angle. HS hitters John Sternagel, Ryan Boldt and Nico Giarratino had no chance as he struck out the side. Specialist at next level.

High School Players:

Reese McGuire: One of the most polished defensive catchers from the high school ranks that I've ever seen. So good at blocking balls with an incredibly quick, accurate and strong release. Threw one ball to second from his knees as it was his only chance to get the runner, and while the runner was safe, he made the play closer than it should have been given the runner's jump off the pitcher. Has promise at the plate as well with a solid line drive approach as a left-handed hitter.

Garrett Williams: I saw Williams pitch at the PG National in mid-June, and was impressed with his overall athletic ability and presence in the batter's box for Team USA. He has good bat speed with a smooth LH swing. He passes the eye test athletically with sloped shoulders and long, lean limbs. He also made a really nice play in the outfield, ranging back to the warning track to make a fine running over the should catch.

Carson Sands: 2014 grad. Really good size, low waist with a strong lower half. Overthrowing in the game I saw him, but he has a live arm with live stuff and some deception out of the hand. That makes his fastball, which currently sits around 90 mph, look like it explodes out of the hand. His breaking ball needs to be tighten up but it too has promise. He got hit around, but he's a name to watch.

Ian Clarkin: Low-90s fastball, easy arm strength, repeatable delivery with sound mechanics. Smooth. Sharp low-70s curve as well with a good pickoff move. Overall feel for the game and 3-pitch repertoire somewhat reminiscent of Max Fried, although he doesn't have the same stature.

Dominic Taccolini: Extra large framed RHP. Max effort delivery with pronounced head snap. Good off-speed stuff as well as aggressive approach, but mechanics need work.

Keegan Thompson: Strong lower half, high waist, thick proportions. Broad shoulders, aggressive with fastball. Short-breaking curve. Good athlete. Has some projection left with current build/strength. Some deception out of hand. Good presence on mound, competes. Could be 2-way guy in college, RHP as a pro prospect.

Stephen Gonsalves: Long limbs, neck, easy low-90s velo. Works quickly. Nice sweeping curveball. Struck out 2 polished college hitters in the game I saw (Michael Lorenzen and Michael Conforto). I really like his upside, easy to envision him 92-95 in the next 1-2 years.

Cameron Varga: 2014 grad. Appears to have live arm with “rising” fastball. Very promising physical stature, although wasn't as sharp overall during summer as he has been in past. Sharp breaking ball and live arm, although some effort to delivery.

William Abreu: Really good looking athlete, quick bat. Player to watch with easy parallels to Albert Almora. Not quite that dynamic of an overall athlete, but has an exciting blend of power and speed. LH hitter with good bat speed and pull power.

Connor Heady: Lean, flat chested build, long and lean with plenty of room for added strength. Similar size to Gavin Cecchini at this time last year. Good presence in batter's box and actions at shortstop. I like his upside.

Andy McGuire: Somewhat similar profile to Heady/Cecchini but with more present strength. Patient approach, easy swing. Game looks to come easy to him.

Riley Unroe: Hard not to admire the way he plays the game. Very hard worker, high energy/aggressive. That and smaller yet well put together frame reminds me of Brian Giles. Switch hitter that is a tough out, can sting the ball.

Drew Ward: Obvious physical presence. Turned on Jose Trevino FB on inner half drilling solo HR to RF. Easy power potential, impressive physical stature.

Anfernee Grier: Very good upside. Quick-twitch athlete that has better upside at second base with physical and tools similarities to Brandon Phillips.

Ryan Boldt: Very good size. He clearly has added strength over the last year since when I saw him prior to mid-June (last fall at Jupiter and the Kernels championship). Easy speed glides to balls in the outfield and runs bases extremely well. Improving power as LH hitter as he adds more strength, with more to come.

Nick Ciuffo: Showed really nice eye and hung in well in AB against Ryne Stanek, laying off breaking balls in the dirt to work him for a walk. I really liked what I saw from Ciuffo at PG National, PG All-American Classic (where a bunch of these guys played as well). Hard nosed competitor.

Bryson Brigman: 2014 grad. I had never seen him before. Sloped shoulders, very fast speed player. Has room to grow, physically reminded me of Carlos Baerga.

Billy Roth: RHP with good size/projectability. Lands a little upright with slightly exaggerated mechanics. Works quick, almost seems rushed/impatient. Easy low-90s with high waist, long, strong legs.

Christian Arroyo: He is what he is, a very sound hitter with good, not great tools but a great approach to the game. Refined hitter, and consistently hits high level talent. Good approach, sound mechanics.

Ronell Coleman: Little bugger. Hangs in there against advanced pitching. Speed guy, needs to add more strength/hope he grows.

Pete Alonso: Exciting power potential. Low waist, sloped shoulders, likely 1B down the road. Good strength, easy raw power. Not overly toolsy, but has a good arm and runs ok. Bat guy that could be a more recognizable name in a couple of years, especially if he plays for the Gators.

Dom Nunez: LH hitter, clean, smooth swing, promising offensive potential, especially for MIF. Probably not a SS down the road, but can play there now, and could handle 2B.

Cavan Biggio: Incredibly impressive at PG National, also impressive here. Obvious hand strength/bat speed and sound overall approach. Not overly imposing physically, but consistently hits the ball hard and knows how to work count to wait for his pitch.

Hunter Green: Tall, long limbs, broad shoulders, Strong lower half, live arm. Works down. I could see him throwing consistently harder than current upper-80s velo, peaking around 90-91 currently. Works quickly, somewhat wild (and somewhat effectively).

John Kilichowski: Tall, projectable LHP. Low ¾ delivery. Easy arm, not overpowering now but could see him adding velo in next 2-3 years. Deception, can locate, perfect profile for Vandy recruit.

Ryan Olson: Tall, long legs, high waist. Slow windup, quick delivery, good arm speed. Low ¾. Fastball has some dip. Sharp slider thrown down in zone. Sinker/slider type. Fields position well. Good athlete, fluid. Projectable, like his upside.

Christian Martinek: 2014 grad. Good size/projects. Well proportioned, good current strength. Easy delivery, looks like he's playing catch as ball explodes. Telegraphs breaking ball a little at this point in time. Big upside, keep an eye on.

Logan Shore: RHP prospect but with sloped shoulders and athletic build looks the part of a positional prospect. Didn't see pitch for TUSA, but have in past. Have been impressed before, looking forward to seeing him again.

Nicholas Gordon: Son of Flash. Good arm speed and great athleticism with easy, repeatable arm. Very skinny now but projects really well as dynamic, quick-twitch athlete. Only saw pitch, not play SS/hit (although I have before).
edited by pebert on 9/11/2012
9/11/2012 8:10:52 AM
Cape Cod League All-Star Game notes

You can probably tell by the timing of these reports that it's been a busy summer. Things really kicked off Memorial Days weekend with the WWBA tournament season, followed by our Sunshine and National Showcases in June and then the WWBA and BCS national championships in late June and July. This year we had a new tournament series, the PG World Series, in four different age divisions, and then turned our attention back to showcases, and the PG All-American Classic in August. We still have quite a few tournament events to go here in September and into October, with most of those events culminating in Jupiter, Fla. for the WWBA World Championship.

Along the way I have been watching games in addition to our own events. I am not going to supply my opinions on players from our events because that is why we have scouts and player profile reports. If you do happen to read these and have any questions on specific players not mentioned, don't hesitate to ask.

Anyway, I already shared my thoughts on the Team USA players. I'm not a huge fan of the college/high school merged format, as I don't think it benefits either group of players, but it obviously does create a pretty cool showcase type format with some of the best high school and college players on the same field.

I was also able to watch the Northwoods League All-Star Game in person and shared those thoughts here.

Stay tuned to the site as we will also start to unveil our top overall 2013 MLB draft prospects this week before turning our attention back to the summer collegiate leagues next week.

Now onto the Cape All-Star Game.

East pitchers (in the order they threw):

Aaron Blair: Slow wind, quick arm on delivery. Good arm speed, nice sink on fastball. Works down. Good size, strong sturdy frame. Low ¾ delivery. Much more hittable when elevates. Didn't get a chance to see good breaking ball.

Matt Boyd: Over the top delivery, broad shouldered build. Likes throwing hard slurve. Has some herk/jerk to delivery. Aggressive approach, attacks hitters. Also has change. See him as a reliever, possibly specialist in pro ball, and could enjoy success in that role.

Pat Christensen: Quick, quirky/funky mechanics and delivery. Low ¾. Has decent breaking ball, attacks hitters.

David Whitehead: Good size, well built, workhorse stature. Low waist. Reminiscent of Jimmy Nelson (Alabama). Kept ball low and to no surprise got ground ball outs. Sweeping slider. Low leg raise, compact delivery given size/stature. Works away with breaking ball, needs more consistent bite on pitch. Two runners reached on bad defense behind him, got out of inning when he induced DP with bases loaded, 1 out.

Kyle Crockett: Lean projectable LHP. Long arm delivery. Very lean, needs to add strength. Pitches down in zone. Promising spin on curveball.

Brian Verbitsky: Challenges hitters with fastball. Not overpowering but good stuff and aggressive approach. Has solid changeup, breaking ball loopy, but not many pitchers in this game had sharp breaking stuff given length/nature of appearance.

Ryan Thompson: Quick off mound. Well proportioned/put together athlete. Has some added movement to delivery which creates some deception. Low ¾ arm slot. Nice changeup, pulled string perfectly. Works away, fastball has some movement. Sinker/slider profile.

Tom Windle: Good size/stature with room for added strength. Slurvy breaking ball with sharp break. Started all over the place, overthrowing. Needs more consistency on breaking ball and with command, similar to what I saw in start last March. Did snap off a few really sharp breaking balls so potential is there. Easy arm strength, FB up to mid-90s this summer, sits upper-80s to low-90s. The run he gave up came on a wild pitch (slider in dirt).

Michael Wagner: Broad shouldered/low waist build, low ¾ somewhat crossfire delivery. Sweeping slider he uses well to pitch in on the hands of LH hitters. Moves ball around, changes speeds well between fastball and slider.

West pitchers

Sean Manaea: This was the first time I've seen Manaea. Believe the hype, very exciting prospect. Long arms and legs with tall stature. Uses size incredibly well throwing downhill. Ball looks like its released on top of batter's hands. Smooth, repeatable mechanics. Easy arm strength/velocity. Gave up leadoff single, which was a weak tapper up middle. Manaea picked off that batter. Patient presence on mound with slow, deliberate delivery. Low ¾ arm slot. Good fastball command. Really sharp, short-breaking slider. In rhythm, perfect package to be future staff ace a la David Price.

Konner Wade: Low waist, strong lower half. Low ¾, throws across body some. Long arm action, works away, lulls hitters to sleep. Nice late dip on fastball. Good changeup too. Groundball machine.

David Garner: High waist, long arm action. Very smooth, repeatable delivery. Decent off-speed SL/CH. Has live arm, not over-powering but room for improvement.

Trey Masek: High leg kick, shorter with strong lower half. Sharp curveball. Fastball has sink. Works lower half well. Nice 3-pitch mix, repeats well, quick inning in this game, groundballs.

Jeff Hoffman: Nice size and overall athlete with projectability. Best looking pitcher's build of those that took the mound. High waist with lean, long limbs and current strength. Promising curveball, good break has some sweeping action now. Low ¾ arm slot.

Timothy Giel: Wider lower half, short arm delivery. Sturdy build. Sinking fastball with sweeping breaker. Throws a lot of off-speed, not overpowering.

Nick Rumbelow: Shorter build, max effort delivery with hard recoil gives him reliever profile. Good athlete. Comes over top. Very sharp curveball.

Colby Suggs: Shorter with wide lower half. Goes right after hitters with fearless approach. Quick inning got Andrew Knapp on high fastball to end frame. Hitters didn't look to have much of a chance. Short reliever profile.

Dan Slania: High waist, broad-shouldered build. Barrel chest gives him a Roger Clemens feel with similar delivery, minus the low ¾ arm slot. Has a good changeup.

East hitters

Alex Blandino: Smaller, quick-twitch athlete. Patient approach at plate with bat speed and gap power. Runs well. Smooth defensively, turned a nice DP in the 6th. Shows pro MIF actions.

Phillip Ervin: Exciting player to watch. Very quick bat with good power despite smaller stature. Well put together athlete that clearly puts a lot of time in the weight room. Did a nice job working count, fouling off pitches and going with pitch to hit oppo. single in 7th. Has enough speed to be stolen base threat, but isn't a burner.

Conrad Gregor: I've seen Gregor quite a few times. He's a very polished hitter, one of those guys who is who he is. Has played OF but fits best at 1B. Bat will always define value. Home run production hasn't developed yet but power is there, and will need to show up more during games for him to reach his potential.

Andrew Knapp: Switch hitting catcher with line drive swing. Swing made more for contact and to the gaps. Good strength in frame but likely won't be a huge HR threat. Needs work defensively particularly in his arm strength and release. Could be Brian Harper type behind plate.

Eric Jagielo: Upright stance, thick lower half, promising power potential. LH hitter that has some Kevin Youkilis qualities to him.

West hitters

Pat Biondi: Very short but well put together. Quick compact stroke and good wheels. Has a little pop, but game is best served putting ball in play and using speed to get on base/stretch extra base hits.

Jacob May: Really good athlete with room to grow and add strength. Switch hitter with some pop and bat speed. Solid instincts in the outfield with the speed to run balls down.

Tyler Ross: Strong, broad-shouldered build. I've seen several times before and I'm very impressed with his defensive tools. Good presence behind plate with solid blocking skills, strong/accurate throwing arm.

Mason Robbins: Really good looking athlete with a very good approach at the plate as a LH hitter. Has a clean swing with power potential. Has some speed but fits best on OF corner, enough arm strength for RF. Most power is to the gaps at this point in time but there's reason to believe he'll add more. Very well known in HS and had good year as freshman at Southern Miss.

Colin Moran: Looks like a big leaguer, does all of the little things well and is an obvious presence on the field. Very polished defensively at third base, did a really nice job picking ball to start 5-4-3 DP with perfect relay throw to 2B. Smooth LH swing with a very good approach and obvious hand-eye coordination. Did a nice job going with outside pitch and slicing it to left field. Makes the game look easy, although eventual power production will be in question. More of a singles/doubles hitter and profiles in similar fashion to former UNC 1B Dustin Ackley.

Daniel Palka: Had 3 hits in the game, one of the best college hitters out there. Very strong build. Profiles best at 1B but has impressive power potential. Good overall approach with the ability to hit for average and power with solid on-base skills.

Mitchell Garver: Well built, strong upper half. Runs well for catcher. Quick behind plate, really good blocking skills. Quick release with strong, accurate arm. Gunned down 2 runners in game with absolute hoses to 2B. Promising bat as well.

Mott Hyde: Similar build/profile to Craig Biggio. Smaller but strong sparkplug type build. Really nice range at 2B. Made really nice play ranging far to his right to make play behind the 2B bag.
3/6/2013 10:10:11 AM
College player observations - Weeks 1-3

Welcome back to the PG Draft Forum! Based on the number of views the threads have received, I know you're out there and welcome you to participate in the conversation.

Obviously the college season started several weeks ago, and I have been able to catch some games on TV and online. Kendall Rogers covers the sport like no one else between his own daily features, tweets and posts on his blog. I plan to continue to use this forum to share my own thoughts from the players I am able to see over the course of the spring.

That will include (weather permitting) taking in the expected Sean Manaea/Tom Windle matchup at the Metrodome next week as Indiana State travels to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota.

I'm going to start with one of my favorite players eligible for the 2014 draft:

Michael Cederoth: Built tall and strong with a high waist, very projectable and without a doubt you're going to hear comparisons to Stephen Strasburg between now and next June due to SDSU connection. Cederoth doesn't have Strasburg's electric overall repertoire, or command, but he throws hard (reports have him up to 97/98 this spring, sitting in the 93-95 range) and has a potentially dominant breaking ball. What is most impressive is the way he throws, using his size incredibly well to throw on a downward plane. Physically, and his delivery, are very reminiscent of Kevin Gausman, another player I was (am) very high on.

Adam Choplick: A very big-bodied freshman LHP that has been handling the Sunday role behind Oklahoma's exciting Friday/Saturday combo of Dillon Overton and Jonathan Gray. Choplick's stuff isn't nearly as electric as those two, but for his age, and size, he does a pretty good job commanding his 3-pitch repertoire. The biggest question with Choplick is how much better can he get? He's 6-8/260 or so, but looks to throw in the upper-80s, topping out in the low-90s in the early innings. He can add/subtract off of his curveball, and throws a changeup that he currently lacks feel for but there's enough there to get better. His breaking ball lacks consistent bite at this stage (or at least in this game), but again, there's enough there to build off of and he can throw it for strikes. Physically he resembles Brett Mooneyham, with broad shoulders, and is pretty smooth and repeats well for a big guy.

Dillon Overton: Oklahoma's Friday starter, has been enjoying very good season outside of Friday's start against Scott Frazier and Pepperdine. If you watched this game is was really boring, as neither team looked particularly enthused to be out on the field. It was cold and damp, which may have played a part in this. Overton did have 7 Ks through 3 IP, giving up all 6 runs in the 4th inning (going 6 innings in the game). He has a pretty big leg kick, which he even uses at times out of the stretch. His delivery is very smooth and repeatable, and he moves the ball around well in the strike zone. He doesn't have big velo (reports on the velocity of all Oklahoma pitchers is exaggerated from what I've heard), but he can still dial it up to the low-90s. He also throws a nice changeup with the perfect/exact arm action as his fastball, serving as the perfect 'slow ball.' He needs to tighten up his breaking ball which currently is a slurvy sweeper, but again, he may show better with this pitch other weeks. It's easy to see why he's gaining steam as a 1st rounder come June.

Scott Frazier: His start was similar opposite of Overton in that he went 6 innings, but gave up one huge inning in a 7-run third. Frazier is huge, iwth an exaggerated, multi-piece delivery and obvious emotions expressed on the mound. He commands his fastball well, with reports on it being up to 96-97 this spring. Similar to his past profile, he has yet to develop consistent secondary offerings, but it is clear he is working to develop these pitches. Even during the big 3rd inning, he wasn't hit that hard, although quite a few balls were hit in the air. Basically, without much of a breaking ball or off-speed pitch his fastball is exposed that much more no matter how hard it is thrown. He did throw one incredibly nasty curveball to close out the 5th inning, so it's in there, he just needs to find it more often. As it stands right now he could develop into a one-inning reliever with a big fastball in the mold of Kyle Farnsworth.
3/6/2013 10:19:39 AM
College player observations - Weeks 1-3

Like any year, you can watch a lot of Florida baseball from afar. I think I saw 50-70 of Nolan Fontana's at-bats while with the Gators, and that type of exposure allows you to draw some pretty solid conclusions, especially over a 3-year span. With a young squad, I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing in 1-2 years with some of their current players.

Jonathon Crawford: Without a doubt there are going to be questions about Crawford's delivery, as he appears to throw across his body with some effort on his arm. He is an excellent overall athlete as he quickly passes the eye test, and if a team believes his arm can hold up over time you have all of the pieces for a frontline starter for years to come. His stuff wasn't the best on this day (last Friday vs. Miami), and he has always been better when he keeps his stuff down in the zone. When thrown down in the zone his fastball shows excellent life, and hitters have had a very hard time driving the ball at all. He induces a lot of ground balls with this pitch and his slider, which also is an explosive offering. His curveball is more of a show-me pitch that he's able to drop in for strikes. He does elevate his fastball for more velocity, but again, just isn't as effective when pitching like this.

Jay Carmichael: A freshman serving a big role in the Gators' bullpen, Carmichael threw the final 3 frames of their game against Miami on Friday, striking out 5 despite giving up the go-ahead run in the 9th. He actually had recorded 2 quick outs in the 9th, throwing almost entirely nasty sliders, before giving up a single, stolen base, and another single. That slider is a really nice pitch. He needs more consistency with it, but has the ability to drop it in for strikes, backdoor it on RH hitters and bury it in the dirt for swinging strikes. His fastball has good velo and command as well. He's a lanky, skinny RHP with plenty of room for added strength. He'll need to work on repeating his delivery better, and if he throws a changeup I didn't see it in this game. He should be starting for the Gators next season, if not later this year.

I'll have more thoughts on the Gators and a couple of their opponents later on.
3/6/2013 11:40:47 AM
College player observations - Weeks 1-3

Tyler Beede: PG All-American in 2010. Improved command this year as opposed to last. More consistent, higher velo with his fastball with reports of him peaking at 95/96. Shows a very good changeup with the same arm speed/action as his fastball. Still working to develop more consistent breaking ball. I could see him going with more of a traditional slider, as he's currently trying to throw a slurvy curveball. Very exciting RHP prospect for 2014.

Brandon Lopez: Miami freshman SS. Very slender, athletic build with sloped shoulders. Room to add muscle/strength. Good approach at the plate with promising bat speed. Had 3 hits in this game, the most impressive of which was going with a hanging slider to lace it up the middle in the 6th inning. Easy, fluid actions all-around, including on defense. Keep an eye on him as he's a potential 1st rounder in 2015.

David Thompson: Miami has quite the pair of promising freshmen, although Thompson also plays QB for the Hurricanes, clouding his future on the diamond. Obvious, powerful build. Very good bat speed, shows ability to make adjustments and take pitches. Struck out swinging on Carmichael fastball in 7th (after he got 2 strikes trying to bunt), but made up for it by hitting sharp RBI single on slider to drive home the go-ahead run. I really look forward to seeing him play again, as he's going to hit some big home runs with his swing/approach/strength.

Sean Dwyer: Florida Gulf Coast OF. Mature, stocky yet athletic build. Good approach at plate, shows interesting power potential. Went 4-6 in games vs. Florida, including turning on a high FB for a 3-run go ahead HR in the 11th inning.

Michael Suchy: Another FGCU OF, plays CF now, likely corner OF down road. Big guy with obvious strength, well put together, narrow lower half with room for added strength; Upper body already pretty well developed. One of NWL top prospects last summer. Big uppercut swing with obvious power potential. Seems to swing for the fences every time up, needs to rely on hand/wrists/bat. Made a really nice diving catch game.

Harrison Cooney: FGCU reliever making waves this spring. Very good athlete with easy, repeatable delivery. High-waist build, slow wind, quick arm. Throws strikes with fastball. Telecast said he was up to 96, but take that for what it's worth (first-hand observations do have him in similar range). Threw mostly fastballs early, inducing groundballs and getting weak swings. Leaves ball up at times. Needs to improve off-speed, not surprising since he's a converted C. A handful of curveballs showed promise, but need added velo, break and consistency in command. Changes release on breaking ball. Can also spike what looks like a slider in dirt.

Florida players:

Eric Hanhold: Saw back-to-back appearances. One of the top prospects for the 2015 draft, but has a lot of work ahead of him. Very raw, but very projectable. Very good size/strength with room for more. In 1st appearance recorded only 1 out and responsible for 3 runs (only 1 earned). Command/consistency issues, but very promising fastball/curveball combo. 2nd outing came out and visibly different (cut his moppy hair, I like to think it was because of his previous appearance). Has a very similar build to Jameson Taillon, similar upside as well. Looks like a potential workhorse. Changeup there but needs work.

John Magliozzi: PG All-American in 2010. Shorter stature with good, not great stuff. Pounds the strike zone. Sharp breaking ball that he can drop in for strikes or out of the zone for swings and misses. Stays composed/cool on mound. Likely future middle reliever/swing-man, serving in expanded role for Gators this spring that likely will get a ton of appereances.

Zack Powers: Is what is quickly defined as a "professional hitter." Good approach, swing path. Keeps his hands in and is short to the ball. His power stroke, which everyone knew was there, is starting to materialize more in games. Still somewhat of a tweener in that his actions aren't ideal for 3B and his power potential isn't idea for 1B. Profiles as a LH hitting Shea Hillenbrand.

Richie Martin: Freshman SS that will hold position down for 3 years just like Nolan Fontana did ahead of him. Very polished baseball player, plays the game the right way and very instinctive. Upside at plate is limited similar to Fontana due to smaller stature and limited strength. Plays SS well with quick hands/feet and accurate arm.

Taylor Gushue: Very interesting prospect with power from both sides of the plate as a switch hitter. Has good bat speed with very good extension and overall power potential but likely will always be prone to Ks. Has a strong throwing arm but also has some work to do behind the plate defensively. Provides a good target and can handle talented, hard-throwing staff.

Corey Stump: Low 3/4 LHP with good size/proportions/high waist. Not overpowering, but should be very effective throughout career and at next level against LH hitters at the very worst. Needs to sharpen breaking pitch, but could serve as a specialist as-is.

Ryan Harris: Broad shoulders, stocky build, one of the top prospects in the NWL last summer. Strong base generates torque from bottom up. Throws curveball for strikes -- not a huge breaker, but effective. Overthrowing with fastball in game I saw, but saw him spot better last summer. Future short reliever given current profile, but I'm a little surprised he's not getting a chance to start for Gators.

Limited looks at: Josh Tobias, former PG All-American, I really like his approach to the game but likely will have a hard time finding proper defensive home given upside offensively. Smaller athlete that can put a charge in the ball but may be best at 2B if he can play there. Daniel Gibson, can dial FB up to 93/94 at times, working upper-80s to low-90s, but hasn't received as many opportunities as you think he would with shaky overall staff. Seems to be used as a lefty specialist, but has good enough stuff to get RH hitters out at college level.
3/12/2013 2:08:35 PM
Prep Class - Catchers

Without a doubt the 2013 crop of high school catchers may go down as the best ever. You're also right that it is a very risky demographic.

As good as it is, your scouting grades are much too high pretty much across the board. An 80 hitter for instance is among the best historically in MLB. That's a Ted Williams type of grade. 80 power is Ruth-ian. Keep in mind that 50 is MLB average, and there's certainly nothing wrong with MLB average.

With 80 being near one-of-a-kind, that 70 is elite and 60 is above average. As good as the crop is, when all is said and done I don't think the draft produces 5-7 elite hitting prep catchers.

And there's a lot of people out there who don't drop an 80 grade on anyone, no matter how impressive the tool.
3/22/2013 8:02:22 AM
College observations, Weeks 5 - Reed, Beede

Not a ton of notes from last week's college baseball action as I took in the Sean Manaea/Tom Windle matchup at the Metrodome. Be sure to check out that feature if you haven't already, as I've included video of each pitchers.

Tyler Beede - Beede is clearly adding strength to his tall, slender frame. His delivery continues to be in rhythm and smooth. He has good fastball velocity, and while he's always around the zone his command could use some improvement. I think this could improve significantly once he learns to attack hitters more, as he currently works away from both RHH and LHH, not uncommon at the college level. His changeup is a plus pitch, thrown with the same arm velocity and overall action as his fastball, and the pitch just puts on the break right as it hits the zone. His breaking ball however continues to need work, and identity. I haven't seen him snap a very good one in two starts this year, and that was also a problem last year and even while in HS.

Catching Beede was fellow former PG All-American Chris Harvey. I didn't bear down on Harvey too much, but it was hard not to notice how impressive he was blocking balls in the dirt. He's receiving more regular playing time with Spencer Navin on the shelf. Harvey is in his second year after attending Vandy 1 year early last season after graduating early from HS.

A.J. Reed - I hadn't seen Reed pitch prior to his outing last week against Florida, and walked away impressed. He's a big, country strong kid, 6-4/245, and throws with a low 3/4 delivery making him difficult to pick up while throwing in the upper-80s to low-90s. His delivery and stuff is very similar to that of Kevin Ziomek, as he spots his fastball well, the pitch has some movement on it, and he throws a soft, sweeping yet effective slurvy curveball. He works the outer half well vs. RHH, and stays cool and composed on the mound. He also serves as Kentucky's cleanup hitter and has obvious power given his frame, and he doesn't get cheated at the plate. His future at the next level is on the mound.

Austin Cousino - Another sophomore, draft-eligible in 2014 like Reed (and both Beede and Harvey). Cousino (pronounced KOOZ-i-no) is pretty well put together with a very good approach at the plate. I don't know how much power is in his swing, but he handles the bat well, and did a good job going with a high FB and poking it to LF as a LH hitter in the 1st inning vs. Jay Carmichael and the Gators. He's a disruptive player on the basepaths, and manages to get on base at a high clip.

Jay Carmichael - After seeing Carmichael pitch in relief a few weeks ago the Gators, and he made me look good by stepping into the Friday night starter role. His curveball is his out pitch, with the ability to drop it in for strikes and spike it in the dirt for awkward swings. He throws the pitch a little too much, as he has enough giddy-up on his FB, but doesn't presently command it as well as he could/should.

Josh Tobias - Tobias also made me look good after I suggested his value is at 2B, and he started the game there to try and give Florida's offense a boost. He proved to be capable at 2B, and in particular started a really smooth double-play in the first inning, and also hit a solo shot in the 3rd inning. The blast probably isn't a HR with wood, but the ball rocketed off the bat on a high fastball the opposite way to RF (as a RHH). The hit alone was indicative of how well the ball jumps off his bat despite his smaller stature.
3/22/2013 8:07:31 AM
College observations, Weeks 5 - Reed, Beede

Forgot to add thoughts on Ryan Harris. He's not striking out a lot of batters this year, but his approach is to pitch to contact with his sinker/slider repertoire. He showed a much better slider in this game than the last time I saw him, and with an exaggerated delivery it seems probable that his future will continue to be in a relief role. He could start at the college level, and with his stuff has a knack for inducing weak ground balls. He could evolve into a Bob Wickman type of short reliever that is brought in to get a double play ball.
3/25/2013 2:12:03 PM
College observations week 6 - Gray, Stanek

There were some really good pitchers on display this past weekend pitching in some pretty cold/crappy weather conditions pretty much across the entire country.

Jonathan Gray - This was my first look at Gray, a big-bodied RHP with velocity to match his size. The TV broadcast had his fastball at 96-98, which isn't crazy considering reports indicate he's topped triple digits this spring. His breaking ball is an equally nasty pitch, thrown in the mid- to upper-80s with really sharp two-plane break away from RH batters. The velocity suggests it's a slider, but it looks to be thrown more like a curve. Whatever it is, it's nasty, and the hitters also had no chance catching up to his fastball. He attacked hitters with both pitches and really pounded the strike zone to go nine innings (in a 12 inning game). He maintained his velocity deep into the game, and he also mixed in a really nice changeup, which was just icing on the cake. That pitch showed really good fading/sinking action late and down in the zone, with a great speed differential to his fastball. There is some effort to his delivery, but I walked away very impressed. The only thing that came to mind is where he fell in the draft. With his stuff there's no reason to think he won't be in the Astros' discussion for the first overall pick, however his body type is somewhat unlike what you expect from a 1/1. You usually think of guys like Appel, Manaea and even Stanek with tall, lanky yet strong, projectable and well proportioned builds. Gray isn't out of shape by any means, but he's not in the same conversation when it comes to body type.

Preston Morrison - Morrison opposed Gray in the Friday matchup between OK and TCU. Morrison has some pro potential, although his upside is limited. He's rail thin with a low 3/4 delivery that alone could give him success, albeit more as a specialist. He has a good sinker/slider combo, and with his delivery should be able to induce his fair share of weak ground balls at the next level. He looks like a mid-80s guy, maybe high-80s, but with pitchability.

Dillon Overton - Gray has leap-frogged Overton in the Sooners' starting staff, which is one heck of a staff that should advance deep into the college postseason with a very good chance to make Omaha if they can get more bats going past Matt Oberste. I saw Overton and shared my thoughts on him a couple of weeks ago, but he's an interesting pitcher with legitimate pro promise. His upside isn't anywhere near that of Gray, but he should go in the early rounds. He has long and lean limbs with an athletic frame that still has room to add strength. His mechanics are smooth and repeatable with a fastball that tops around the low-90s with room for more He really hits his spots well with his fastball. His overhand curve has promise but the consistency and break just aren't there yet, something I noted in his last start. If he gets over it better I think he'll be able to snap off more effective offerings. He has a really good changeup that complements his FB perfectly. He really slows down with runners on, upsetting hitters, baserunners and just about everyone else's timing. I like that patience on the mound, as he's composed and makes sure he's the one dictating the speed of the game.

Brandon Finnegan - Another LHP and TCU's Saturday starter. TCU also has a pretty decent staff, but this season just hasn't come together for them. There's a lot of moving parts to Finnegan's exaggerated delivery but he did dial it up to the low- to mid-90s. He throws downhill and shows very good arm speed, but the delivery as it stands is probably better for relief. His secondary offerings also need work, throwing mostly fastballs early as he was unable to get his slurvy curveball over for effective strikes.

Kevin Cron - I don't have much to share on Cron, as he hasn't done much in the games I've watched him this year, but the dude's absolutely huge. I already knew that, but he's getting bigger, with his hulking frame likely to draw a ton of Adam Dunn between now and the 2014 draft.

Ryne Stanek - While Stanek hasn't enjoyed the best of starts to the 2013 season, Arkansas' pitching staff has been rock solid this year, and Stanek was very sharp against South Carolina on Saturday. Frankie Piliere was in attendance at this game and shared his thoughts in the PG MLB Draft Blog. I'm not going to add too much more to what Frankie said, since he painted the picture perfectly, but I will reinforce just how impressive he looked this weekend. The fastball was humming, the slider was sharp in the mid- to late-innings and he really seemed in tune in his dominant CG performance.
4/4/2013 12:40:26 PM
Jonathan Gray

I touched upon Jonathan Gray last week, and had the good fortune to watch last weekend's start as well. This time it was against Kansas, and the guy is just filthy. He went the full 9 innings, gave up 2 hits, one was a soft flare to RF, the other was on an infield single to the SS that could have been an out if played better (allowing the runner to go from first to third on the play, which should never happen). That runner scored on a DP ball to the next hitter.

He has great fastball velocity (mid to upper 90s) and command, and his mid-80s slider is probably his best pitch. It's really hard to identify out of the hand and breaks late, hard and away from RH batters. His low-80s changeup is also a very nice pitch that he uses perfectly to neutralize LH hitters. He has great temp on the mound, keeps his composure and really is the completely package you look for in a future staff ace.

I was actually talking to Kendall Rogers about this earlier today, but it is somewhat surprisingly that he hasn't gotten more pub early this season. He is a legitimate factor for the Astros and the No. 1 overall pick. While Appel has been dominant again this year and Manaea also offers the projected total package of a staff ace, Jonathan Gray is doing it week after week, and the weather has been rather cool this spring.
4/8/2013 6:50:38 AM
Jonathan Gray

Hi David, thanks for your interest.

1. We plan to update the top prospects at some point next week, although we won't be going 500 deep. 100 is more likely.
2. Players/rounds:

• Haupt: There's a chance he squeezes into the top 10 rounds based on his position (catcher), and the fact that he could be a cost effective senior sign for a productive player, but otherwise he goes somewhere in the 10-15 range.
• Brentz: We just had Brentz up to 96 yesterday as part of our IA spring league. That said, he's is still somewhat of a wildcard given how new he is to pitching. His delivery is very smooth, as Brentz is a great overall athlete, and for his inexperience he commands the pitch very well. However, the off-speed stuff still needs development. He has 1st round talent, that's for sure.
• Pinder: 2-3 round range likely, but could go in the 1S or possibly even late 1st based on position.
• Tarpley: Probably 2-3 round range.
• Dozier: Big spring for premium position, although questions will continue whether he can stick at SS. When you see him play the more you believe he can stick at SS. Like Pinder, he could sneak into late 1st/1S, but 2nd round more likely fit.
4/25/2013 1:50:58 PM
College updates - Crawford, Bregman, Eades

Catching up with the DVR during a busy time of year as we're rolling out our Draft Preview content.

Jonathon Crawford: Watching Crawford pitch now reminds me of the Crawford I covered 2 summers ago when compiling the top prospect lists for the Northwoods League. Scouts and coaches were in agreement that he had among the best and most well-rounded repertoire in the league, but lacked the command to be consistently effective. I was a little surprised last year when he was as consistently good as he was because of this, as the light switch seemed to go on pretty quickly for him. I'm not sure if he's regressed, if it's focus, or what, but his command again is in question, although he still has been fairly effective, largely on the strength of his pure stuff. He doesn't approach the upper-90s this year from what I've heard like he did a year ago, topping out around 94-95, which is still plenty good, but it's the command of his fastball that is lacking and would really go a long way to improve the rest of his arsenal. He has inconsistent mechanics/arm slots and almost looks rushed at times. One fastball will come in way high, and then the next is buried in the dirt (and that's not just a matter of him trying to change eye levels). His slider has very sharp break down and away from RH hitters, and he does a nice job dropping his curve in for strikes. His changeup is also effective. If he can learn to focus and find some patience to properly set up batters while keeping consistent mechanics, it's easy to see him going back to his successful ways from a year ago. If not, he could become a dominant reliever if he doesn't have to worry about pacing himself.

Alex Bregman: It's of no surprise to the PG staff that he's enjoying success this year, as he was dubbed one of the top prep hitters a year ago and was part of our All-American squad during the summer of 2011. He put on an incredible display of power at the 2011 National Showcase in Fort Myers, and was one of the best pure hitters in that class. He consistently squares up the ball very well and hits it very hard to all fields with very strong hands, wrists and forearms. He's not the tallest of athletes, but is very versatile, similar to someone like Brett Lawrie (although not quite as physical, yet, as Lawrie). You could even say he's like a RH hitting version of Brian Giles. He had 3 hits in the game against Alabama, a triple (a ball hit to the outfield that was misplayed -- should have been a single), a double that he ripped past the 3B bag and a home run in which he golfed a low, inside fastball over the LF fence. He makes very good adjustments, and his bat speed allows him to let the ball travel deep into the zone. He also hustles his tail off and shows very good, natural baseball instincts. He's going to be a very good MLB hitter, and a premium pick in the 2015 draft.

Ryan Eades: It's been a while since I last saw Eades, I believe in a matchup with Ryne Stanek a year ago. Eades is a tall, slender, long-limbed RHP. There's a little funk to his delivery, although his fastball comes out of his hand fairly straight over the top. His curveball is a really sharp pitch that he's able to add/subtract off of for a different effect. He throws a softer version in for strikes and a sharper version that is more of a true strikeout pitch. He somewhat reminds me of Taylor Jungmann for that ability. Eades got hit around a little in this game, tending to leave the ball up, and was much more effective keeping the ball down in the zone as his stuff, while good, isn't good enough to simply blow by hitters consistently. He did get into one part of the game where he threw his curveball too much, seemingly not trusting his fastball/command. He's a good athlete that consistently repeats his delivery, fields his position well, and he also flashed a few solid changeups.

JaCoby Jones: Jones also had a 3-hit day, although two of them were loopers to the OF for singles, and he didn't get a particularly good swing on either ball. His athleticism is obvious, although his upper body seems to be more developed than his lower. I know there's a lot of scrutiny with Jones given his potential (good) vs. his production (not so good), and while this was only one brief look at him, I've seen him enough times in the past to remain skeptical.

Mikey White: Like Bregman, keep an eye on this kid for 2015. He's a great looking athlete with very good bat speed that made hard contact on a couple of balls in this game. His numbers aren't the greatest, but I would bet he finished his freshman season strong and starts to make a bigger name for himself this summer and during his sophomore year in 2014.

More to come as I have to clear out my DVR soon to make room for a ton of good games this weekend...
5/3/2013 9:54:52 AM
College updates - Gray, Stanek, Wahl, Masek

Jonathan Gray - He wasn't as sharp as I had seen him earlier this spring, at least not initially. There was (understandably/expectedly) some serious scouting heat in to see him, and it looked as though he was really amped up and throwing max effort almost out of his shoes. The radar gun readings obviously reflected this with his usual mid- to upper-90s fastball that has reached triple digits. He settled down almost immediately after that, as he looked more like his usual self in the 2nd inning, having more of a plan, rhythm and tempo to his craft. He really has good FB command, with the ability to both catch the corners and simply blow hitters away.

Trey Masek - Gray faced Texas Tech's Trey Masek, who also has good stuff, but is the opposite of Gray physically with a slender, shorter stature. There's some funk to his delivery, but he has a very live arm. His fastball shows good dip late in the zone, and he's also not afraid to elevate his 4-seamer to get swings and misses up in the zone. He also threw a good slider, but he did get hit around a little, especially early, although some balls were badly misplayed behind him leading to 2 unearned runs. He also dropped in a couple of curveballs for strikes, using his more electric breaking ball, his sldier, as his out pitch. He also threw a quality changeup, but I'm guessing there's some concern from scouts about his size and effort.

Ryne Stanek - Interesting how his slow start, which really wasn't even that bad, got a lot of press, but the national chatter seems to have gone silent now that Stanek has excelled again in SEC conference play. This is the 3rd start I've seen of his in SEC play, and he looked just about as had he the previous 2 games. He pitched on his usual downhill plane with his electric fastball that has some nice sinking life at times. He pitches off of his fastball very well to set up his slider, which is untouchable when its at its best. He's able to add and subtract off of his breaking ball to drop it in for strikes and bury one in the dirt for ugly swings. I don't recall seeing a batter barrel up the ball well against him in the last 3 times I've seen him, and as he has filled out his tall, lean and once lanky frame, it's easy to remember why we had him ranked the No. 2 overall draft prospect to open the spring.

Bobby Wahl - Lots of pitchers with this update. This was the first time I saw Wahl this spring, and I didn't walk away as impressed as I did the times I saw him last year. He's a good, not great, all around pitcher that still likely will be taken in the first or sandwich rounds, and he's a good athlete on the mound with good size and overall athletic proportions. He wasn't as sharp to open the game, but really did a nice job settling down and finding his groove in the middle innings. He pitches to contact, or at least did in this game, going for the quick out rather than going for the punchout. He has good fastball command, but I've seen it better. His breaking ball was also soft at times, but other times was very explosive diving hard, down and away from RH batters. Some of the Kentucky hitters got good contact off Wahl early, including Austin Cousino, who yanked a belt-high fastball over the wall in RF in the 1st inning.

Wahl's battery mate, catcher Stuart Turner, has an absolute cannon behind the plate. That's one of the best arms from behind the plate I've seen, and, albeit in a very limited look, one of the single best tools for this year's draft.
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