CARY, N.C.—In the first game of the regional here between UNC Wilmington and Elon, Bradley Holt vividly showed the difference between a prospect projected to go in the first 50 picks and one slotted closer to the 150th selection. Holt was the starting pitcher for the Seahawks and was matched up against Elon righthander Steven Hensley. Both pitchers have been their teams’ aces this season and entered the matchup with almost identical statistics:
Holt: 10-1, 3.30 ERA, 84.2 IP, 72 H, 31 ER, 30 BB, 92 SO
Hensley: 10-1, 3.34 ERA, 86.1 IP, 70 H, 32 ER, 37 BB, 97 SO
To continue with the comparison, only an inch separates the two as Hensley is listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and Holt at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds. The two even started the game in similar fashion when Hensley allowed two runs on four singles in the bottom of the first inning and Holt did the exact same in the top of the second. After the second inning, however, the difference between Holt and Hensley became clear—and it was all in the fastball. [...] Continue Reading »
Whether by design or pure coincidence, each year the NCAA tournament committee creates intriguing pitching matchups in the first-round regionals. No matchup on the East Coast is more important for a duo of starting pitchers in the opening round than Friday’s bout between second-seeded UNC-Wilmington and the third-seeded Elon in Cary, N.C. Both teams boast established righthanders who are eligible for the draft but whose stock is still volatile.
UNCW’s Brad Holt has been a late bloomer and a pleasant surprise for the Seahawks this year. His fastball has gained velocity every year since arriving on campus and now sits between 92-94 mph and can reach 96-97 at times. Holt is tall and projectable and holds his velocity late into games. With improved command this season, Holt vaulted himself up draft boards and was recently listed as BA’s No. 98 prospect for the 2008 draft. However, Holt’s stock continues to rise. With first-round caliber starters such as Tanner Scheppers and Brett Hunter falling due to injury, major league teams may have to look deeper into this year’s draft class for a quality college starting pitcher, and Holt could sneak into the first two rounds.
Two bits of news involving a pair of Western pitchers who were expected to be drafted highly in two weeks.
Legacy Sports Group, which is advising Fresno State righthander Tanner Scheppers, reports that Scheppers has had a more detailed examination of his troubled shoulder by Angels team doctor Dr. Lewis Yocum. While Dr. Yocum’s report hasn’t been completed, Legacy Greg Genske said Dr. Yocum assured him Scheppers did not have a stress fracture in his shoulder.
"Tanner had an MRI with a doctor in Fresno, but there was no bone scan, so there’s no way to know if there was a stress fracture—there has never been a stress fracture," Genske said. "There may be a bone bruise, but the MRI was clean. Dr. Yocum said there’s some wear and tear in the shoulder, and naturally we’re waiting to see how significant it is when he tells us the results of the examinations."
One part of the initial diagnosis remains consistent with Scheppers’ initial diagnosis of two weeks ago, when he was pronounced to be out for the season: He’s still done. Fresno State coaches said Monday that they don’t expect to have him back, and Genske said Scheppers wasn’t expected to start working his way back until late June at the earliest.
Pepperdine welcomed ace righthander Brett Hunter back to the mound this week for the first time since Feb. 29, but the Waves might be without West Coast Conference player of the year Eric Thames for the rest of the spring. Read more about the two Waves on the College Blog.
Two huge high school playoff matchups with draft implications happened Thursday night. In Nevada, the state’s top two prep pitchers, righthanders Joe Weiland of Reno’s Bishop Manogue and Donn Roach of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman, faced off as Gorman continued its run for a third straight state title. To the southwest in Los Angeles, Cutter Dykstra, Shane Kroker and Westlake High faced lefthander Mike Montgomery of Hart High. A few highlights:
• Gorman rallied after being no-hit by Weiland for four innings, but neither Roach nor Weiland was at his best. Roach only lasted four innings, wasn’t able to reach his peak velocity (up to 94-95) and sat in the 90-91 mph range. He also wasn’t as effective with his curveball, which at times is above-average, and his split-finger fastball. Weiland had a two-run lead and pitched into the seventh inning before Gorman rallied for the victory. According to one source, Weiland sat in the 87-90 mph range (he usually is a bit higher) and threw plenty of curveballs and changeups. Both pitchers are third-to-fifth-round targets, with Weiland signed to San Diego State and Roach committed to Arizona.
• Hart High lefty Montgomery pitched five innings and regularly pushed past 90 mph, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, as Hart defeated Westlake High 5-1. Hart struck out seven and gave up five singles in five innings. Dykstra, son of Lenny and a UCLA signee, and Kroker, a Wake Forest recruit, had four of the five hits.
• The hotspot in the West on Thursday night, according to one scout, was in Salt Lake City, where approximately 20 scouting directors and even more area scouts were on hand to see Utah righthander Stephen Fife pick up his seventh victory. Fife pitched well, according to this source, touching 93 mph several times and sitting in the 90-92 mph range while showing his plus curveball. Utah beat rival Brigham Young 5-3.
The full details are over on the Baseball America College Blog, but we wanted to make sure that our regular Draft Blog RSS readers see the news: Fresno State junior righthander Tanner Scheppers will be sidelined until after the draft with a stress fracture in his right shoulder. The injury is expect to shake up the first round, as Scheppers was considered one of the top college pitchers in the draft.
The problem with having a website AND magazine is sometimes one has to come first. Prioritizing the magazine has meant sitting on a few draft tidbits, but I’ve got 10 minutes to do this instead of eat lunch. I’ll just live off my hump a little while longer . . .
• Fresno State righthander Tanner Scheppers is expected to pitch this weekend after missing his turn last weekend for the Bulldogs. Scheppers relieved in the first game of the Bulldogs’ New Mexico State series—reportedly touching 99 mph in one of his seven pitches—and then started on one day’s rest in the series finale. The next Friday, prior to his scheduled start against San Jose State, Scheppers’ shoulder was tender during his bullpen. They backed him off of that start and then tried again Sunday, but decided to back off again when Scheppers again felt some tenderness. According to Fresno State assistant coach Matt Curtis, all signs pointed to a Saturday start this weekend for Scheppers against Gabe Jacobo and Sacramento State. [...] Continue Reading »
ATHENS, Ga.—Five games, four days, three nights on a couch and two premier college conferences all in one weekend. At this time of year, with a month to go until the draft, so is the life of a major league scout (substitute the couch for a queen size bed in a Courtyard Marriott), and in an attempt to get a better grip on some players in the Southeast, I hit the road as well.
The first three games featured a Southeastern Conference showdown as Georgia hosted Mississippi at Foley Field. Five of the six starting pitchers that took the mound in the series are draft eligible and expected to be drafted in the top 10 rounds come June. However, the top two pitchers in the park were the closers from each respective school—Georgia’s Joshua Fields and Mississippi’s Scott Bittle–both potential first-rounders.
Also on display were Georgia shortstop and top 10 overall prospect Gordon Beckham, and top 200 player Mississippi third baseman Cody Overbeck.
On Sunday, after Georgia wrapped up a 2-1 series victory over the Rebels at just past 5 p.m., I hopped in my car and headed to Clemson, South Carolina to catch the second game of an ACC series between the Tigers and Florida State, beginning at 7 p.m. Florida State’s starter on the mound was Elih Villanueva who has continued to increase his draft stock into the top 10 rounds with solid outings over the past month.
There have been twists and turns with Colby Shreve, the CC of Southern Nevada righthander who entered the year as the top junior-college pitcher in the country. The unsigned eighth-round pick of the Braves in 2007 has been sidelined of late with elbow problems, and after getting a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum that said he should be able to try the rehabilitation route, Shreve now has been diagnosed with enough ligament damage to require Tommy John surgery. His advisors at Sosnick-Cobbe confirmed the latest diagnosis.
Shreve’s draft status takes a significant hit, as his 2009 season is essentially a wash now as well. He’s committed to play college ball at Arkansas, but Shreve now has had consecutive seasons where he couldn’t make it through a full junior-college season, against hitters using wood bats.
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