Mississippi righthander Scott Bittle will miss his second consecutive start this weekend for the Rebels due to biceps tendinitis, coach Mike Bianco said Wednesday.
"He will not pitch this weekend," said Bianco, who added that Bittle threw a bullpen Tuesday to see if he could get ready for the weekend. "The good news is he’s a lot better than he was last week in throwing the ball, actually got to long toss a little bit yesterday. (He) still feels some stiffness in the biceps area. We just felt we’ve gone this far and made so many gains, it wasn’t worth the risk to run him out there if he’s not 100 percent." [...] Continue Reading »
California’s Blake Smith, one of the nation’s top two-way talents, will miss the rest of the season on the mound with a lat muscle strain. He also is going to be limited to the DH role.
Smith has hit fairly well this season, batting .318/.399/.544 with 10 home runs for the Bears, who have struggled to a 22-27 record, including just 8-16 in the Pacific-10 Conference. The Bears have struggled significantly on the mound, with a 5.86 team ERA, and Smith contributed to the problem while working both as a starter and as a closer. He was 0-1, 5.85 with two saves, having walked 20 and struck out 26 in 20 innings. [...] Continue Reading »
As a pair of former college righthanders now pitching in the independent leagues as they await the June draft, it’s hard not to compare Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers. The two are both righthanders with plus fastballs (although Scheppers throws harder) and solid breaking stuff. And now they are throwing on roughly the same schedule.
In their first outings, Scheppers was clearly the sharper of the two. But this weekend while Scheppers struggled in St. Paul, Crow dominated Wichita Saturday night in an exhibition outing. Crow allowed two hits and struck out two in four scoreless innings.
"He was a lot sharper. He was around the zone a lot better," Fort Worth manager Chad Treadaway said. "That’s what I’m expecting–for him to be shaper every time out. To me he looked better as far his control." [...] Continue Reading »
In his first outing as an independent leaguer, Tanner Scheppers was unhittable. In his second outing, the indy leaguers hit back. Scheppers allowed five runs on five hits, walking two and striking out five in four innings of work in an exhibition game as St. Paul rallied to beat Winnipeg 7-5.
Scheppers is pitching in St. Paul after a shoulder injury cut his 2008 season at Fresno State short. He was still drafted by the Pirates in the second round, but Scheppers and the club couldn’t reach an aggreement on a deal before the Aug. 15 signing deadline. Scheppers signed with the Saints to get game action in front of scouts in the leadup to June’s draft. [...] Continue Reading »
Here’s a look at the stats over the weekend from some of college baseball’s top draft prospects.
|WHAT THE TOP HITTERS DID|
|ASU||Jr.||Kipnis, Jason of||14||8||8||5||.391||2B (17), 2 3B (3), HR (13)|
|ASU||Jr.||Ramirez, Carlos c||12||4||7||9||.335||3 2B (11), HR (15)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||Ackley, Dustin 1b||11||3||5||3||.401||2B (12), 3B (4), HR (16)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||Seager, Kyle 3b||6||3||3||1||.386||2B (22), HR (4)|
|Notre Dame||Jr.||Pollock, A.J. of||14||4||5||3||.354||2B (15), 3B (2)|
|Ohio||Jr.||Krauss, Marc 3b||13||4||6||7||.408||2 2B (12), HR (21)|
|Sac. State||Jr.||Wheeler, Tim of||16||4||7||7||.397||3B (3), HR (18)|
|USC||Jr.||Green, Grant ss||7||1||2||2||.365||2B (15)|
|WHAT THE TOP PITCHERS DID|
|Arizona St.||Jr.||Leake, Mike||7.0||6||1||0||0||8||1.47||W (12-1)|
|Indiana||Jr.||Arnett, Eric||9.0||5||2||2||6||8||2.78||W (11-1)|
|Kentucky||Sr.||Rusin, Chris||9.0||6||3||3||3||9||3.96||W (6-4)|
|Monmouth||Jr.||Buch, Ryan||6.0||3||0||0||3||8||3.54||W (7-3)|
|N. Carolina||Jr.||White, Alex||6.0||5||3||3||5||5||3.45||L (7-2)|
|Okla. St.||Jr.||Oliver, Andrew||8.0||6||3||3||2||6||4.83||L (5-6)|
|SD State||Jr.||Strasburg, Stephen||9.0||0||0||0||2||17||1.24||W (11-0)|
|Vanderbilt||Jr.||Minor, Mike||9.0||5||2||2||2||12||3.72||W (5-4)|
The 2004 draft wound up being a decent one despite the follies of No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush. He wasn’t the only disappointment in that class, of course, but one aspect of the ’04 draft that was considered a strength at the time—lefthanded pitching—hasn’t panned out.
Of the 41 picks made that year in the first and supplemental first rounds, 28 were pitchers, and 11 of those were southpaws. The group hasn’t produced a stud yet—Glen Perkins (Twins, 22nd overall) and J.P. Howell (Royals, 31st overall) have had the best careers so far, with hope yet for the likes of David Purcey (Blue Jays, 16th), Scott Elbert (Dodgers, 17th) and Gio Gonzalez (White Sox, 38th). The group also includes some busts, such as Matt Campbell (Royals) and Tyler Lumsden (White Sox, who also wound up a Royals farmhand).
This year’s draft class has similar depth of lefthanded pitching, both on the college side and the prep. In the Southeast alone, lefthanders in and out of the Southeastern Conference figure to push into the first three rounds. The group includes Vanderbilt’s Mike Minor, Tennessee’s Nick Hernandez and Bryan Morgado, Alabama’s Del Howell, Kentucky’s James Paxton and Georgia’s Alex McRee. [...] Continue Reading »
We got sidetracked during a marathon two and a half hour draft conference call tonight when we noticed Stephen Strasburg had a no-hitter going against Air Force in the seventh inning. Now, following a no-hitter via GameTracker isn’t the most exciting method, but does add a little extra suspense when you’re yelling at the computer screen, "C’mon—update already!"
It was a storybook ending to what was likely his final start at Tony Gwynn Stadium. In front of a record crowd of 3,337, Strasburg struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning to notch his first collegiate no-hitter.
All in all, Strasburg struck out 17—the second-highest total for him this year—and walked two. On the season, he’s now 11-0, 1.24 with 164 strikeouts and just 17 walks over 87 innings.
The theme in Georgia this spring is that none of the top arms for the 2009 draft are at Georgia and Georgia Tech. That doesn’t mean those teams lack arms; Tech’s Zach Von Tersch will go in the single digit rounds despite an inconsistent season, sophomore Deck McGuire will be a first-rounder next year if he keeps it up, and burly righty Kevin Jacob has a chance to be an early round pick if he shows more mid-90s heat and more consistency next season. Georgia has Dean Weaver and Alex McRee throwing in the low 90s and pushing the first few rounds as well (signability pending).
But for ’09, the big arms are at Kennesaw State (as previously written here) with Chad Jenkins and Kyle Heckathorn. And the state’s pop-up guy for the year is sophomore-eligible Daniel Sarisky, who was at Division III Oglethorpe this spring. Oglethorpe’s season has ended (hey, it’s D-III), and scouts are sure to work out Sarisky individually to get a look at one of the state’s hardest throwers. [...] Continue Reading »
Finding and ranking the top high school teams in the country is a daunting task. Not only is there an overwhelming amount of talent, it is difficult to stack contenders against each other as they don’t play each other or the same opponents as often as teams of the college variety might.
And since it is hard finding the teams, it is rare to see two face off, especially when you factor in the unpredictability of this year’s weather on the East Coast. This spring has been especially harsh to high school baseball from the Mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. So, I considered myself blessed by the baseball gods when I was able to see outfielder Mike Trout on one day and New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep take on Pennsylvania’s Malvern Prep the next.
Rain threatened the entire value of the trip, but the clouds managed to part for a total of about five hours the whole weekend, allowing me to take in some top-notch baseball. [...] Continue Reading »
Kent State righthander Kyle Smith, a projected second- to fourth-round pick, sat out last weekend’s series against Buffalo and will have an MRI on his shoulder this week. Smith had been trying to pitch through some shoulder tightness before the Golden Flashes shut him down as a precaution. An orthopedist diagnosed him with shoulder tendinitis earlier in the year.
Smith hasn’t pitched since April 25, when he started and worked just two innings in a 28-16 win over Ohio. When he’s at his best, the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder features a lively low-90s fastball, a quality slider and a decent changeup. He has gone 3-2, 5.14 in nine starts, with a 34-16 K-BB ratio in 42 innings.
In a draft where Stephen Strasburg is a clear No. 1 but no one is established as the surefire No. 2 prospect, righthanders Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers got their first opportunities to convince scouts that they should be part of the conversation.
Both were premium prospects in last year’s draft who didn’t sign, and now they’re trying to boost their stock for this year’s draft by pitching for independent minor league teams. They saw their first action in exhibition games on Monday.
Scheppers made the stronger opening statement in the independent American Association, where he’s pitching for the St. Paul Saints. He struck out the side in the first and worked four hitless innings, striking out six and walking four, against the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. He sat at 94-95 mph for much of the outing, touched 97 and 98 and broke off several hard-biting curveballs, getting a couple of called third strikes with the curve. He flashed his changeup, but mainly stuck with the breaking ball/fastball combo. [...] Continue Reading »
SEATTLE—With boating season set to kick off today, I made sure to leave extra early for yesterday’s University of Washington game against Southern California. A commute that normally takes about 20 minutes took an hour, as every car wanted to slow down and gawk at all the boats lining up in Lake Washington as they drove over the floating 520 bridge.
My foresight allowed me to still arrive in time for batting practice. Of course Huskies right fielder Kyle Conley was pulling balls over the wall, but sophomore first baseman Jacob Clem, who has been limited to just 22 at-bats this season with injuries, also looked impressive. Righthander Brian Pearl has been a position player his whole life, but has seen just one at-bat this year, as he’s primarily been the team’s closer. Still, he has a clean, line-drive stroke and the ball jumps off his bat, especially for a guy his size. He also takes balls at shortstop during batting practice. [...] Continue Reading »
Major league clubs still are waiting for a player to step forward as the obvious No. 2 prospect in this draft behind San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg. Two more candidates are about to throw their hats in the ring, as righthanders Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers are about to join independent league clubs.
Crow and Scheppers both will make appearances in American Association exhibition games on Monday, with Crow taking the mound for the Fort Worth Cats and Scheppers pitching for the St. Paul Saints.
A year ago in our Draft Preview , we rated Crow (then at Missouri) as the fifth-best prospect and Scheppers (then at Fresno State) as the 10th-best in the 2008 draft, and they were the top two righthanders overall. The Nationals drafted Crow at No. 9, but his agents (the Hendricks brothers) and the club never found any common ground and ended up $500,000 part at the Aug. 15 deadline, with Crow seeking $4 million and turning down $3.5 million. Scheppers hurt his shoulder in April—with conflicting reports as to the specific injury and how it occurred—and went to the Pirates in the second round. Pittsburgh evaluated him at the end of the summer but ultimately decided not to sign him. [...] Continue Reading »
BA’s Dave Perkin reports lefthander Tyler Skaggs will miss his next start and could miss several weeks as he recovers from a left ankle injury.
Skaggs, No. 19 on BA’s Midseason Top 50 rankings, pitches for Santa Monica (Calif.) High, locally known as Samohi. He sprained the ankle April 13, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press, and wound up having to leave his start Thursday after just three innings. Skaggs’ stuff was down in the outing, with his velocity dipping into the mid-80s. Perkin reports Skaggs had a physical examination and X-rays Friday and no structural damage was found.
Thom Loverro of the Washington Times wrote an interesting column on former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden’s new gig as a recurring guest on a Los Angeles radio show. The best part of Loverro’s piece, from a Draft Blog perspective, was Bowden’s take on whether his old club would pop San Diego State righthander Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick.
Strasburg is clearly the best talent in this draft and perhaps the best pitching prospect of the draft era, and he’ll be represented by the Scott Boras Corp. Boras reportedly has likened Strasburg to the mythical Sidd Finch and is believed to be seeking a $50 million big league contract for Strasburg—nearly five times the draft-record $10.5 million that the Cubs guaranteed Mark Prior in 2001.
Bowden said Washington definitely will select Strasburg. On air, he said:
"The decision has already been made. It was made when I was there. That is who they are going to take . . . This is the best amateur pitcher since I was born. He is that good--his delivery, his stuff, 100 miles an hour in the eighth inning, his makeup. He's got the entire package . . . Strasburg is going to be drafted by Washington. You think they are going to sign him early? No, it's going to be Aug. 15 at 11:57 p.m. It will end at around $15 million, about under $35 million of what Scott wants, but that is where it ends up. It will be record-breaking, and he will be pitching in the big leagues in September. He is that good."
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