Lefthander Ian Krol, No. 26 on the High School Top 100, has seen his season come to an end before he even made a start. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Krol was suspended for the season after his second violation of athletic code of conduct. The punishment came down after he was allegedly found to be in the presence of alcohol.
In an e-mail to Baseball America’s Conor Glassey, Krol explained that he went to a basketball game with another young man that had brought alcohol in the car. Krol said he called his parents to pick him up. The young man was pulled over later by police for allegedly driving under the influence. The driver told police Krol had been with him earlier, which was relayed to the school’s administration.
"Unfortunately I made a poor choice by going to a basketball game with a guy who had brought alcohol in the car," Krol said in the e-mail. "He told the police that I wasn’t drinking but just being in the presence of alcohol is a violation of our school’s athletic code. I shouldn’t have gone to the game."
An Arizona signee and the ace of Neuqua Valley High (Naperville, Ill.), Krol went 9-1, 0.98 in 2008. Baseball America recently featured him in a story about cold-weather pitchers, which subscribers can read here.
Neuqua Valley was set to open its season on March 28, but the game was rescheduled for March 30.
Just over two weeks ago, at the Impact Invitational in Cary, N.C., Wil Myers was one of several North Carolina prep prospects playing under the keen eyes of area scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors. Baseball America was on hand, shuffling between fields like the rest.
Myers didn’t stand out as much as others on that day, but he didn’t hurt himself either. After the day at the USA Baseball complex, several rain outs and a senior trip, he was back on the field on Tuesday for Wesleyan Christian in High Point, N.C., giving BA a second chance to see him without interruption.
Myers was on his usual merry-go-round, shifting through different positions every couple of innings. He started on the mound against North Stokes High (Danbury, N.C.). Though he sat at 86-87 mph with his fastball and mixed in a low 70s curve, he’s a prospect as a hitter. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES—On a sunny and windy Tuesday afternoon in Riverside, 60 scouts watched intently as top prospects Matt Hobgood of Norco High faced Jake Marisnick of Riverside Poly High.
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound righthanded pitcher, Hobgood resembles a young Rich Gossage, sans the walrus moustache. Hobgood is BA’s No. 22 high school prospect. Ranked just above him at No. 21, Marisnick is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound outfielder that bats and throws righthanded. Many scouts have compared Marisnick’s tools to those of Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur.
With his first delivery of the game, Hobgood attempted to invent a new pitch. An 85 mph something or other flew out of his hand, befuddling all scouts in attendance. After an awkward pause, several scouts were heard to ask, “What was that?” In most of the queries, a familiar colloquial two-word phrase was placed between “what” and “was”. One scout was kinder and more charitable: “It looked a little funny coming out of his hand."
The remainder of Hobgood’s pitches were easier to decipher but difficult to hit. He efficiently brushed aside a strong Poly lineup by tossing a complete game shutout as Norco won, 7-0. Hobgood allowed three hits, walked one, and struck out seven.
Hobgood has electric raw stuff. His fastball exhibits plus velocity, ranging from 90-94 mph. His 78-81 curveball displays sharp and hard break. Despite being rarely used, his 80 mph changeup and 83 mph slider are also promising.
LOS ANGELES—Understandably, the majority of attention and publicity for the draft is focused on the top prospects. In Southern California in 2009, that list would include Stephen Strasburg, Grant Green, Tyler Matzek and Tyler Skaggs, to name a select few.
Scouting directors and crosscheckers typically decide their club’s selections at the top of the draft on day one. Day two is often referred to as “Scout’s Day,” in which local area scouts have a significantly increased influence on who gets picked.
This past week in Southern California, I observed a sampling of second-day draft possibilities. None of these players are the near “slam dunk” candidates for professional success as the upper tier prospects; however, they all possess tools and abilities which are both intriguing and tempting for scouts.
Every scout in any portion of the country yearns to see games where upper echelon prospects match up against each other. Southern California scouts have been treated to an unusually frequent number of such opportunities early in this 2009 season.
Back on Feb. 28, righthander Chad Thompson of El Toro High squared off with lefthander Tyler Matzek of Capistrano Valley High in a highly-anticipated showdown.
The festivities continued as the teams for shortstop Jiovanni Mier and catcher Cameron Garfield faced off on March 12, followed by a summit between lefthander Tyler Skaggs and righthander Bryan Berglund on March 13.
[...] Continue Reading »
Back around 1990, I was rummaging through the discount bin in a video store when I spotted an unexpected gem. Hidden under several random cassettes was a tape encased in a glossy box titled, “Baseball Thrills! The World Series of 1951! Plus Special Bonus Footage!”
After sacrificing a dollar, I went home to view the tape. The “Bonus Footage” featured Connie Mack giving a speech on sportsmanship. Mack was clearly uncomfortable with the new fangled invention called a moving picture camera, and his chat would today be fodder for SNL or “Mystery Science Theater 3000." [...] Continue Reading »
The people at Impact Baseball couldn’t have asked for a better weekend for their tournament. They were probably a little nervous when there was about an inch of snow on the ground on March 2, but by the weekend, the weather cleared up with the temperature touching 80. In other words . . . perfect baseball weather.
That was a relief, because the 2009 Impact Inivtational on March 7 featured 18 teams from all over North Carolina playing at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. With North Carolina also playing against Clemson at home this weekend, it was a good bang-for-your-buck trip to the Triangle for a few dozen area scouts, crosscheckers and at least six scouting directors that were in attendance. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES–The twin Tylers of Southern California high school pitching prospects—Matzek and Skaggs—were in action this past weekend to christen the opening of the 2009 local high school baseball season.
Matzek, from Capistrano Valley High in south Orange County, toed the rubber on Friday at home in front of a dozen scouts. The talented lefty posted a complete game shutout against Huntington Beach, allowing two hits, walking three and striking out six.
Beau Amaral was Matzek’s primary threat in the Huntington Beach lineup. The speedy center fielder, who is the son of former big leaguer Rich Amaral, laid down a perfect drag bunt in the first inning and hot footed down the line in less than four seconds for a base hit. The younger Amaral was later nipped by an eyelash on an infield hopper; he blazed down to first in 4.03 seconds.
Uncharacteristically, Matzek battled his command all day long, and struggled mightily to keep his heater down in the zone. Matzek’s fastball sat in the 88-91 mph range, and he showed difficulty in corralling his 74-77 mph curve and 80 mph slider.
[...] Continue Reading »
With the signings of two more compensation free agents this week, the 2009 draft order is nearly finalized.
The Dodgers re-signed Type A free agent Manny Ramirez for two years and $45 million on Wednesday. The Cardinals agreed to terms on a two-year, $3 million contract with Type B free agent Dennys Reyes on Thursday, which will net the Twins, his former club, a supplemental first-round pick.
That leaves just three free agents who would yield compensation picks, and two of them may not sign before the draft. Ben Sheets (Brewers, Type A) had elbow surgery on Feb. 10 and is expected to be out until after the all-star break, while Paul Byrd (Red Sox, Type B) has shown no interest in pitching a full season. Mark Grudzielanek (Royals, Type B) also is looking for work.
Below is the updated draft order. [...] Continue Reading »
The primary pet peeve among scouts is the tendency of some D-I programs to take batting practice with numberless jerseys, making identifying players frustratingly difficult. (Editor’s note: In fact, scouting directors brought this up to college coaches at their annual Winter Meetings get-together, and the college coaches remain somewhat stubborn on the matter.)
The University of California Golden Bears are an offender on this point. However, no one has a problem in picking out Brett Jackson, Cal’s 6-foot-2, 200-pound, lefthanded-hitting, righty-throwing center fielder.
Jackson sticks out with his high socks and distinct inward-turning, hand-pumping, leg-kicking, load-up and let-it-fly swing. Solidly built with a muscular and athletic frame, Jackson also possesses a distinct swagger on the field.
Type A free agents Orlando Cabrera and Juan Cruz have struck deals with new teams, resulting in the creation of two additional supplemental first-round choices and the reassignment of two second-rounders.
Cruz, who spent last season with the Diamondbacks, signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Royals on Saturday. Arizona will receive a sandwich pick (currently No. 41) and Kansas City’s second-rounder (currently No. 59) as compensation.
Cabrera, late of the White Sox, agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Athletics on Monday. As a result, Chicago gets a supplemental first-rounder (currently No. 38) and Oakland’s second-rounder (currently No. 60). [...] Continue Reading »
Having done draft coverage in the West the last two years, I’ve talked to plenty of scouts and junior-college coaches about Josh Spence, who had two amazing years at Central Arizona JC. Now he’s taking Division I by storm while pitching for Arizona State, but I was interested to see what our scout would say about seeing Spence take on Missouri. The Tigers won the game, 5-2 in eight innings; how did Spence fare?
DeMarini Tournament Day 4
Spotlight player – Josh Spence
“Man at Work”
All of the middle-aged people who love and reminisce about 80’s music will certainly remember the group “Men at Work.” They were the Australian band that had several catchy hit songs in the 80’s. One of the tunes was “Down Under,” the song that they play at Packard Stadium when Australian Josh Spence takes the mound for the Arizona State Sun Devils.
As the lean 6-foot-1 lefthander tosses his warm-up pitches, he hardly intimidates opposing hitters. In fact, tossing seems appropriate. He tossed a fastball to the catcher at 68 mph just before the throw down to second base prior to starting the game. His first game pitch registered at a menacing 81 mph.
But the Jamie Moyer of college baseball wants to lull hitters to sleep. He wants them to feel comfortable in the box. He wants them to be looking for a certain pitch, in a certain spot, at a certain speed. Because one thing that is for certain, is that the hitter rarely gets it. If the hitter is looking soft away, as he’s thrown the two prior pitches, zip . . . 86 on the hands. [...] Continue Reading »
Arizona State’s Jason Kipnis was a fourth-round pick a year ago, but scouts still aren’t sure what to make of him. Our scout at the DeMarini Invitational, at ASU’s Winkles Field-Packard Stadium, has not seen Kipnis at his best, as he relates.
DeMarini Invitational Day Three
Spotlight player: Jason Kipnis
What do Aaron Crow, Gerrit Cole, Tanner Scheppers, Scott Bittle, Chase Davidson and Zach Cone have in common? They were the only current college baseball players selected higher in the 2008 draft than Jason Kipnis at pick 135.
Kipnis burst onto the scene in the desert last year as a sophomore eligible after transferring from Kentucky. After hitting .337 as a freshman, off the field incidents at Kentucky led him to transfer to Arizona State for the 2008 season. He hit .371 with 16 doubles and 14 home runs, and the Padres drafted him in the fourth round. After summer negotiations, he failed to sign prior to the new draft deadline and returned to ASU for his junior season.
The 2009 opening weekend was a banner weekend for Kipnis as he hit over .700 and was BA’s Golden Spikes Award spolight player of the week. But, delving deeper into this player and breaking down his tools, it’s plain why scouts have a wide variety of opinions on him. Grading out his speed, he’s a fringe-average to average at best. So that would seem to rule out center field for most clubs. Not many everyday center fielders in the major leagues are fringe-average runners as amateur players.
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