Even with scheduled extra-inning play, today’s games seemed a little less action-packed than yesterday. And, although we dodged the rain, it was 90 degrees with 50 percent humidity, so everyone was still soaking wet. Like I mentioned yesterday, the games got moved up to 9 a.m. and were scheduled to be 11-inning affairs, but the first game was only 10 innings for some reason.
Consolation Game: West 4, North 3
The North team got out to an early 3-0 lead with a second-inning rally and held it for a few innings, but the West battled back in the fifth. After grounding out in his first at-bat, Bobby Borchering walked in his second at-bat. He moved over to second when Michael Zunino singled after him and then scored the West’s first run on a single by Jacob Schrader. A few batters later, Spencer Wilson drew a bases-loaded walk to cut the lead to one and then center fielder David Richardson beat out an infield single, which scored the tying run and kept the bases loaded. An errant throw back to the pitcher brought another run home and gave the West a 4-3 lead that would hold for the remainder of the game.
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At about 1:30 today, after the North and South squads took batting practice, some serious rain started falling, sending everyone scattering for cover and making a mess of the field. The noise it created from hitting the metal roof covering the stands was deafening and the torrential downpour lasted for about 20 or 30 minutes. It cleared up after that and, after a little TLC, Firemen’s Field looked great, all things considered. However, the weather forced the event supervisors to limit today’s games to eight innings apiece. Tomorrow’s first game got moved up to 9 a.m. and both of those games will now be scheduled as 11-inning affairs. There are also some wacky rule twists that I learned about today. To allow as much playing time as possible for everyone, the home team bats in the final inning, even if they’re ahead, and the lineups have 10 spots. On to today’s action . . .
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BA’s Aaron Fitt and Dave Perkin were at the San Diego State-Virginia game, and check in all weekend from NCAA regionals at the College Blog all weekend. Here’s what Aaron wrote at the conclusion of Strasburg’s outing against Virginia.
IRVINE, Calif.—Reports of Stephen Strasburg’s demise are greatly exagerrated.
Strasburg settled down after a rocky first two innings, shutting out Virginia over the next five. His day is likely over after seven strong innings of work, as he untucked his jersey in the dugout after striking out Danny Hultzen to end the seventh, and he has thrown 119 pitches by my count.
Strasburg finished with 15 strikeouts and no walks. He allowed two runs on eight hits, but just three hits came after the second inning. He struck out the final three batters he faced, all on breaking balls. His fastball regained its explosive life in the middle innings, though he worked mostly in the 94-96 range. He had four strikeouts on his fastball over the fifth and sixth innings, two at 96, one at 95 and one at 94. The highest velocity I recorded on the Baseball America Stalker radar gun was 98, which he touched once in the first inning. I saw 97 a few times, including once in the fifth. [...] Continue Reading »
With their first few regular-season starts in the independent American Association, Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers have solidified their position in the upper half of the first round.
Crow hasn’t allowed a run in his first two starts for the Fort Worth Cats, striking out 13 in 11 innings and retiring 31 of the 38 batters he’s faced. His stuff has been nearly as good as it was when he starred at Missouri last spring—and good enough that he could go as high as No. 3 to the Padres or No. 4 to the Pirates. He’s believed to be seeking at least the $4 million his advisers, the Hendricks brothers, asked for at the Aug. 15 signing deadline last year. [...] Continue Reading »
SEBRING, Fla.—Between getting bumped off my first flight, sitting on the runway in the layover flight for an extra 45 minutes, waiting in a 40-person line to get my rental car, driving an hour and a half south of Orlando without seeing one Starbucks, spilling a giant glob of mustard on my shorts and realizing I lost a $5 bill out of my pocket when I was trying to buy a Gatorade, today wasn’t exactly my day. Not that I’m complaining. The worst day watching baseball sure beats the best days at some other jobs, and for that I am grateful. But, despite all my mishaps, this wasn’t anywhere near the worst day watching baseball—there are just too many good players here in Sebring for it to even come close.
2009 marks the 17th-consecutive year for the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Baseball Classic in Sebring, the event’s co-director Travis Rapp said, but an annual all-star game has taken place in the county for more than 30 years.
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Orange Coast College—without suspended coach John Altobelli in the dugout—won the California Junior College championship this past weekend at Fresno. It was an emotional season for OCC, as detailed in the above subscriber-only column, but they rallied in the postseason, Altobelli said Wednesday.
"I think we were 4-4 at one time after I got dumped," he said. "But we pulled the guys together and told them, if the coaches tell you to hit and run, you just have to trust them. It’s just like if I was there. I was able to do everything but coach during the games, which was difficult, but the guys pulled through. In the playoffs, we really got on a roll.
"It was very emotional. It was just a crazy, crazy year."
Several draft eligible pitchers were in action at the JC tournament. Our scout source had these insights on three of the JC hurlers, including two at OCC:
Brett Wallach, OCC: “He did himself a lot of favors—89-91 fastball, good curveball, nice frame. Could go three-to-four rounds.”
Calvin Drummond, OCC: “He sat around 91, but it was straight and he got hit. He looks a little stiff to me, a little complacent also.”
Brian Peacock, Santa Ana JC: Peacock is a highly projectable freshman lefthander who is a “real interesting guy. When his fastball is on it shows nice late sink. In this game it was 88, but it was up, straight and got hit. He doesn’t have a feel for the change, but he has a good tight breaking ball. There were some guys (scouts) out there who were paying real close attention to him.”
ORANGE, Calif.—After tossing three innings on Friday, Tyler Matzek took the hill for Capistrano Valley in its playoff game against Orange Lutheran. Hart Park, home of Division III powerhouse Chapman University, was the site of the nighttime contest.
Forty scouts were in attendance, including one veteran scout who has over 40 years of experience as a player, coach, amateur and pro scout. He was candid in his evaluation.
“Most of these scouts are wasting their time,” he said. “I can’t imagine Matzek lasting until a double digit pick. Anybody who came out here that picks beyond number 10 is wasting their money.”
Matzek threw six innings, struck out seven and walked three as Capo Valley advanced, 4-1. The scout observed, “Matzek’s arm action was free and easy, and he comfortably sat around 94. He showed good rotation on the breaking ball also.” [...] Continue Reading »
It’s a down year in general for Canada. Unlike the past two years, there won’t be a first-rounder from the Great White North. That said, lefthander Jake Eliopoulos will likely be the highest player from Ontario taken since Scott Thorman was a first-round pick in 2000. Eliopoulos opened some eyes last summer in the Under Armour All-America game at Wrigley Field and his stock has continued to rise this spring as a member of the Canadian Junior National team. His stock could get another boost, as the team is currently playing down in the Dominican Republic against Dominican Summer League teams.
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LOS ANGELES—Concern recently has surrounded lefthander Tyler Skaggs of Santa Monica High (locally known as Samohi). The lanky lefty has not pitched in two weeks, due to a badly sprained ankle. He gamely threw Tuesday, losing a 3-1 decision to Los Altos High of Hacienda Heights. While Skaggs did not alleviate all worries, he did show flashes of his early season stuff.
The ankle injury distinctly affected Skaggs’ fastball. That pitch sat at 88, down from its peak of 91-92 early in the year. A stiff and bulky brace prevented Skaggs from any movement or flexion in his left (drive) ankle.
In fact, as he drove off the rubber, Skaggs picked up his back foot almost instantly, losing any leg or lower half momentum any push and drive action would give him. That seemed to affect his arm action as well, which as a bit crimped on the back end instead of his usual “buggy whip.” [...] Continue Reading »
In a development first reported by Murray Chass, MLB commissioner Bud Selig said his office will reduce its recommendations for bonus slots by 10 percent. Selig made the comments at an owners meeting last week in New York, and Baseball America has confirmed his plan with multiple sources.
MLB recommends bonuses for each pick in the first five rounds, as well as a maximum for all picks afterward. Last year’s estimated slots ranged from $4 million for the No. 1 overall pick to $155,000 for the final choice in the fifth round (No. 172), with a $150,000 threshold for subsequent picks. A complete list of estimated slots can be found here. [...] Continue Reading »
A quick update on what I wrote earlier on Scott Bittle. His current shoulder problem—involving the capsule that surrounds the humerus where the ball of that bone meets the shoulder joint—is not related to the shoulder issue that kept Bittle from signing with the Yankees last summer.
"I’m not a doctor, but I was told it’s a strain," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said Friday afternoon. "We were told that with rest, there’s a very good chance his shoulder will be fine, and he will not need surgery."
The shoulder is a complicated joint, and Bittle’s injury is complicated as well. I’ll be more precise reporting on it from here on in.
Mississippi righthander Scott Bittle’s college career is probably over, and his draft future is in doubt after he was diagnosed with a strained shoulder capsule this week.
"He can throw, but when he gets cranked up, he gets to a certain point where there’s pain," Ole Miss assistant coach Rob Reinstetle said. "We had one MRI and couldn’t find out what the problem was, but then Dr. (James) Andrews examined him personally and had a second MRI."
Reinstetle said Bittle had yet to decide whether or not to have surgery or if he would try to rehabilitate the shoulder without surgery. He also said Bittle could try to throw once more and see if he can grit his way through regionals. Bittle declined comment. [...] Continue Reading »
In Southern California, the California Interscholastic Federation southern section playoffs began this week. I decided to take a brief respite from scouting 2009 players in order to take a preliminary peek at some top 2010 prospects.
Unfortunately, I ran into some obstacles even before leaving my house.
Upper echelon position players like catcher Stefan Sabol (Aliso Niguel High, Aliso Viejo, Calif.), infielder Christian Yelich (Westlake High, Westlake, Village, Calif.) and outfielder Austin Wilson (Harvard-Westlake High, Los Angeles) play on clubs that did not qualify for the postseason.
It’s still too early to get a good sense of how far first-round talents might drop because of signability. As of now, the three most likely candidates for a significant plunge are Cartersville (Ga.) HS outfielder Donavan Tate, Westminster Christian Academy (St. Louis) righthander Jacob Turner and Klein HS (Spring, Texas) lefty Matthew Purke.
Tate, the best high school position player and top athlete in the draft, has more leverage than most draftees. In addition to his considerable ceiling in baseball, he’s also a football star who has committed to play both sports at North Carolina. He’s the son of former NFL running back Lars Tate. Teams believe it may take $6 million to sign Tate, though MLB rules for two-sport athletes would allow a club to spread that money over as many as five years. [...] Continue Reading »
In case you missed it, projected No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg exited his start Wednesday with cramps in his back. BA college guru Aaron Fitt posted about it on our College Blog almost immediately:
San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg left his Mountain West tournament start today against New Mexico in the eighth inning with a cramp in his back. The Aztecs’ internet radio broadcasters suggested it was an oblique strain, according to friend of BA Kirk Kenney, but I just spoke with SDSU pitching coach Rusty Filter, who said it]s nothing serious.
"He just cramped up in his back," Filter said. "He was coming out in one more batter anyway. He threw one more pitch, and enough was enough. He’s fine—he’ll be ready to go. He’s back at the hotel bouncing around like college kids do."
Strasburg allowed just three hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in SDSU’s 2-1 win, striking out six (tying his season low). He left after just 83 pitches, the last four of which were balls to Adam Courcha—Strasburg’s only walk of the game.
We hope you are enjoying our 2009 draft coverage so far. There is a ton of information that is being rolled out this week so try to keep up. For just a moment, I’m going to steer away from 2009 and look ahead to 2011. If you haven’t heard of Bryce Harper, then it’s time to hop on the bandwagon–since Stephen Strasburg’s is so large, there’s still room to fit a couple of more people on Harper’s.
Harper is arguably the most anticipated high school prospect in … well, ever. He is a lefthanded-hitting, sophomore catcher from Las Vegas High and was a first team All-American this year. Unfortunately for him and his teammates, Las Vegas was eliminated from the playoffs after being beat by Bishop Gorman High, also of Las Vegas, on Saturday. Bishop Gorman is currently No. 5 in our high school poll. [...] Continue Reading »
The Nationals find themselves in a unique position. They’re the first club ever to have two of the first 10 picks in the same draft, the result of finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2008 (giving them the No. 1 overall choice) and also failing to sign No. 9 overall selection Aaron Crow (landing them the No. 10 pick as compensation).
When we posted our initial first-round projections last week, we projected that Washington would spend what it takes to sign überprospect Stephen Strasburg with the top choice and then look to save money at No. 10. Our forecast was that the Nationals would take Kennesaw State righthander Chad Jenkins.
Afterward, acting Washington general manager Mike Rizzo contacted Baseball America to say that talent would be the only consideration for that latter pick, which won’t be protected by compensation a second time.
"We do not have to take a signability pick," Rizzo said. "We’re going to take the best guy. We’re going to have 10 names up there on the board, and we’ll take one we like." [...] Continue Reading »
|ASU||Jr.||Ramirez, Carlos c||13||4||6||6||.344||2B (12), 2 HR (17)|
|LSU||Jr.||Mitchell, Jared of||10||4||6||1||.341||2B (9), 3B (4)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||Ackley, Dustin 1b||15||4||6||4||.405||2 2B (14), HR (17)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||Fleury, Mark c||11||5||3||1||.315||HR (12)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||Seager, Kyle 3b||13||5||6||3||.390|
|Notre Dame||Jr.||Pollock, A.J. of||13||5||5||5||.356||3 HR (10)|
|Ohio||Jr.||Krauss, Marc of||11||6||2||3||.392||2 HR (24)|
|Sac. State||Jr.||Wheeler, Tim of||13||3||3||3||.385||3 2B (16)|
|USC||Jr.||Green, Grant ss||12||2||4||1||.374||2 2B (18), HR (4)|
|Arizona St.||Jr.||Leake, Mike||9||3||0||0||0||12||1.35||W (13-1)|
|Kennesaw||Jr.||Jenkins, Chad||9||7||3||2||2||10||2.54||W (8-1)|
|Kentucky||Jr.||Paxton, James||5.1||11||9||8||0||6||5.86||L (5-3)|
|LSU||So.||Ranaudo, Anthony||7.1||6||4||4||5||6||3.26||W (7-3)|
|Monmouth||Jr.||Buch, Ryan||4||9||7||6||2||3||4.15||L (7-4)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||White, Alex||7||6||3||2||1||6||3.38||L (7-3)|
|Okla. St.||Jr.||Oliver, Andrew||2.1||7||8||8||3||1||5.58|
|SD State||Jr.||Strasburg, Stephen||7||6||2||2||1||10||1.34||W (12-0)|
|S. Carolina||So.||Dyson, Sam||9||4||2||2||1||13||5.32||W (8-4)|
|Texas A&M||Jr.||Wilson, Alex||4||3||1||0||0||4||4.00|
|Texas A&M||Jr.||Raley, Brooks||6||9||6||6||1||3||3.04||L (7-2)|
Arizona State righthander Mike Leake pitched a gem tonight at home against Oregon—not that it should necessarily surprise you, as Leake’s been one of the most consistently-good performers in college baseball this season. He tossed his fifth complete game of the year, and his first shutout in the Sun Devils’ 9-0 win. Over the nine innings, Leake allowed just three hits—two of which were soft choppers up the middle—no walks and struck out 12.
The outing was notable for Leake, as the nine shutout innings lowered his season ERA from 1.47 to 1.35—10 points lower than Floyd Bannister’s aluminum-bat era ERA record from 1976. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES—When scouting high school players, scouts yearn to see so-called “matchup” games. Those are rare contests in which a top pitching prospect faces a top hitting prospect.
Last year’s Cutter Dykstra-Mike Montgomery staredown drew a bushel full of scouts to Hart High, north of L.A. Earlier this season, Matt Hobgood of Norco High and Jake Marisnick of Riverside Poly squared off in front of approximately 60 scouts.
Ideally, a scout wants to see a high school hitting prospect when his team plays on the road. Prep games are only seven innings, and seeing a batter play a road game gives the scout a greater chance of seeing an extra at-bat later in the game. If that player is matched up against a top notch pitcher, then . . . voila! [...] Continue Reading »
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