With another showcase season upon us, we were once again reminded of our lucky we are to be located in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Despite the sweltering heat and humidity we get to see some pretty good baseball. With USA Baseball’s offices located just down the road as well as the National Training Complex, summers bring players from across the country whether they be high school, college or even professional, as the Olympic team trained less than 20 minutes from our headquarters.
One of our favorite events is the USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars, an event used to select the trials roster for the 18U National Team. The tournament is made up of eight teams, representing seven youth leagues across the country as well as an at-large team put together by the USA Baseball staff. There are 144 players that participate and most of the top guys for the next draft make it out to the complex in Cary. A few graduates and underclassmen are sprinkled in as well. [...] Continue Reading »
The 16U Championships in Arizona and Florida, as well as the Tournament of Stars in North Carolina, have been played. From those events USA Baseball selected trials rosters for their 16U and 18U National Teams. At the respective trials, the National Team will be selected to participate in international tournaments.
The 18U National Trials will be held Sept. 12-18 in Cary and Durham, N.C. The final roster of 20 will then travel to Venezuela to participate in the COPABE Pan Am "AAA" (18U) Championships from Sept. 24-Oct. 4.
The 16U National Trials will be held the first week of August on the campus of Cal State Fullerton. Those that make the team will participate in the IBAF "AA" Youth (16U) World Championships in Taiwan.
We’ll have more on the Tournament of Stars and 18U players as we decipher our notes and hit the phones. In the meantime, here are the trials rosters for both teams:
The Diamondbacks and Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock have agreed to terms on a $1.4 million bonus. Pollock, the No. 17 overall selection in the draft, becomes the sixth first-rounder to sign this year.
The other five are Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez (No. 4, Pirates, $2.5 million), Stanford righthander Drew Storen (No. 10, Nationals, $1.6 million), Texas high school outfielder Randal Grichuk (No. 24, Angels, $1.242 million), Indiana righthander Eric Arnett (No. 26, Brewers, $1.197 million) and Sacramento State outfielder Tim Wheeler (No. 32, Rockies, $900,000).
LOS ANGELES—In Southern California, the 2010 High School draft class is unusually deep in righthanded pitching, but unusually thin in lefthanded pitching. Henry Owens of Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif., is perhaps the area’s top lefty. In an odd twist, he has the birth date of a 2010 grad but is not scheduled to graduate until 2011.
Scouts and college recruiters will not have to wait to avail themselves of quality righthanders. The top righties include: [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES—No rest for the weary. With the 2009 Major League Baseball amateur draft now safely tucked away for posterity, it’s time to focus on the 2010 draft.
Even at this early date, high schools in Southern California offer a fascinating array of prospects.The local 2010 class figures to be deeper in speed, multi-tool position players and righthanded pitching than the 2009 class, which carried an edge in power hitters and lefthanded pitching.
In fact, the 2010 group may rival the remarkable local classes of 2007 and 2008, both in quality and depth.
Today we’ll offer some thumbnail reports on SoCal position players, many with exciting three to five tool potential. [...] Continue Reading »
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Jamie Mallard. But he’s prepared for it and expects people to doubt him and his abilities.
"I’ve had a lot of haters and critics throughout my life." Mallard said.
Major league teams don’t often pay attention to 5-foot-11, 270-pound baseball players. They’re usually written off before receiving one quick look. But Jamie Mallard has proven to be different.
"I had people when I was younger telling me that I would never make an AAU team. I played in AAU. Then I had people telling me that I would never make a high school team. I started as a freshman and put up numbers," Mallard said.
"People were telling me that I would never get a college scholarship. I had college offers and signed with (Central Florida) and ended up going to (Hillsborough, Fla., Community College). And then I had people telling me that I would never be drafted. Now I’ve been drafted both years that I’ve been eligible to be drafted."
The Duquesne baseball program is coming off of a 14-41 season, but the program made some news on draft day.
Junior catcher Mark Tracy was drafted by the Rockies in the 49th round on Thursday. Tracy is coming off a .250/.325/.515 year with 14 home runs. Mark is the son of former Dodgers and Pirates manager Jim Tracy, who recently took over the managerial reigns in Colorado after Clint Hurdle was dismissed. Duquesne head coach Mike Wilson says family ties weren’t the only reason Mark was drafted by Colorado.
"A Rockies scout had been following him all spring." Wilson said. "He called me a number of times this spring to check up on Mark."
Tracy originally began his collegiate baseball career at Pepperdine, where his brother Chad previously played. After his freshman year he transferred to Duquesne. Chad was drafted in the third round of the 2006 draft by the Rangers and is currently at Double-A Frisco. Mark played football in high school in addition to baseball, and coach Wilson complimented Mark’s work ethic.
"After his first season with us his father told me, ‘Wow you’ve sculpted his body,’" Wilson said. "Mark works hard to make his body stronger."
Wilson believes Mark is seeing more success now that he’s decided to focus on just baseball. Mark hit 14 home runs in 2009 compared to just three in 2008.
"He understands the value of getting his body into baseball shape. He’s really come on this year," Wilson said.
With one season of eligibility remaining Tracy could decide to come back to Duquesne or sign a professional contract.
"I think Mark would like to sign and go. But I’m not sure if his mom would agree with that," Wilson said. "I’m sure his father will support whichever decision he reaches."
Bryce Harper, the top prospect for the 2011 draft and recent Sports Illustrated cover boy, has taken his first step toward being eligible in 2010. As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, Harper has enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada and plans on taking classes starting in August.
In order to be eligible to play for Southern Nevada, Harper must pass his G.E.D. which he intends on taking this fall. If he passes he will be eligible for the 2010 draft.
An interesting side note, Bryan Harper, Bryce’s older brother, is leaving Cal State Northridge to play at Southern Nevada so they can potentially play together for one more year. Bryce was a freshman at Las Vegas High when his brother was a senior, giving them one year on varsity together.
Bryce, a lefthanded hitting catcher, will be in Baseball America’s backyard at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars starting June 23. We will have more about Harper then.
Two first-rounders agreed to terms Friday. Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez, the No. 4 overall pick, accepted a $2.5 million bonus from the Pirates. Indiana righthander Eric Arnett, the No. 26 choice, will receive a $1.197 million bonus from the Brewers.
Sanchez’ deal was slightly higher than MLB’s bonus recommendations, estimated to be $2.475 million at No. 4, while Arnett’s equals MLB’s guideline at No. 26. The commissioner’s office decided to reduce all slot recommendations 10 percent from a year ago, when the industry spent a record $188 million on the draft.
Pittsburgh’s decision to pay a full-slot bonus to Sanchez is stunning. The top talents on the board at No. 4 all had asking prices significantly higher than $2.5 million, so the Pirates decided to choose a lesser player and spend more money later in the draft. Sanchez is a defensive standout but several clubs questioned his offensive potential, and Baseball America rated him the 30th-best player available in its final predraft rankings.
The only other team known to consider Sanchez in the top half of the first round was the Royals at No. 12, where the slot recommendation is an estimated $1.719 million. Bonus recommendations at the bottom of the first round, where Sanchez was projected to go, average about $1 million.
On Day Three of the draft, another Division II College World Series player was popped.
Dowling (N.Y.) senior catcher David Wendt was selected by the Rays in the 50th and final round of the 2009 draft. He was the 1,519th lucky player chosen—third to last.
"I just wanted to get drafted," Wendt told the Eagle Tribune (North Andover, Mass.), "I didn’t care if it was 20th round or 50th round."
A three-year starter for the Golden Lions, Wendt consistently hit between .290 and .300 each season as the teams starting catcher. Wendt batted .299 with 12 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBIs last season.
Wendt’s club appeared in the D-II College World Series but was eliminated by UC San Diego before the championship game. He finished among Dowling’s career leaders in most offensive categories following an impressive 2009 season—in which he stole 21 bases in 28 attempts and threw out 24 of 58 basestealers.
With the 1,521st pick, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim took first baseman Alibay Barkley of Washington HS in New York City. While he was the last pick of the draft, relevance can be found with Barkley.
First, he has good raw power. He was a participant in the 2009 International Home Run Derby in Tampa, which was won by Kennedy-Kenrick (Limerick, Pa.) High’s Christian Walker, a third baseman taken in the 49th round by the Dodgers. However, you may have heard, but uber-prospect Bryce Harper stole the show.
Also, Barkley hails from the same high school that produced one of the best hitters baseball has seen, Manny Ramirez. Ramirez was drafted out of Washington High in 1991.
Northern Iowa and Vermont shuttered their baseball programs after this season, ostensibly owing to budget shortfalls in their respective athletic departments. Both schools went out with a pair of players drafted apiece.
Vermont’s duo went in the 37th round, with the White Sox selecting lefthander Joe Serafin, and two players later, the Yankees selecting lefty hitting outfielder Justin Milo. Serafin, a fifth-year senior, is the Catamounts’ all-time leader in wins and strikeouts, and unless the program comes back in the future he’ll hold those records in perpetuity. Milo, a junior transfer from Cornell, should be a tough sign, as he’s also a hockey player, and Vermont isn’t getting rid of hockey anytime soon. He is the Catamounts’ leading returning goal scoreer (12) and helped lead them to the Frozen Four last season.
Northern Iowa’s two drafted players were pitchers—righthander Shuhei Fujiya (18th round, Padres) and lefthander Nick Kirk (19th round, Indians). Kirk hasn’t been quite the same since a forearm injury in 2008, and Fujiya is a college closer who tied a school record with nine saves this spring, when he struck out 29 in 22 innings.
In our 2009 Draft Preview issue, our scouting report of Bonita HS, La Verne, Calif. shortstop Jiovanni Mier made mention of his large and enthusiastic support group, which consists of 36 first cousins and nearly 200 extended family members.
So one could have imagined the scene at the Mier household when Commissioner Bud Selig announced (in the bumbling fashion that persisted throughout the first round) that the Astros had tabbed Mier with the 21st overall pick.
“Sitting here watching it at my house, when I saw the 21st pick come up, I said, ‘This could be it,’" Mier said. [...] Continue Reading »
Oregon State’s Ryan Ortiz was a sixth-round pick by the Athletics after hitting .352/.454/.509 with 17 doubles and five home runs. I caught up with Ortiz to get his thoughts on the big news.
"I was excited to go to a good organization," Ortiz said. "Oakland’s a great organization and it’s a good feeling to be drafted. The first time being drafted is a good feeling."
Ortiz said he knew the A’s might take him.
"They showed a lot of interest the few days before the draft, so I was looking at them selecting me," he said. "So, when they did it, it was kind of expected."
[...] Continue Reading »
I’m not going to lie—I’m a big Nick Franklin fan. I was at the FACA Baseball Classic in Sebring (the state’s all-star high school event), where he stood out and played his way into the first round. I wrote about him as a guy moving up draft boards and, sure enough, the Mariners took him in the first round with the 27th overall pick in the draft. I caught up with Franklin to talk about the experience of hearing his name called on TV and what the future may hold.
"I was watching with a friend of the family," Franklin said. "My family was there and a couple friends. We were watching the draft on TV there and just waiting for the countdown, pretty much. I had a good feeling, but I never took anything for granted and I just kind of took it as something, not to expect, but to be looking out for."
[...] Continue Reading »
Every college player that’s selected in the draft each June does not always come from a well-known D-I baseball program. Some of the top players at the D-II level also receive the opportunity to play professional baseball after doing without some of the attention and hype that high draft picks from the top D-I programs receive. And they still have a shot of one day making it to the big leagues.
Outfielder Gabe MacDougall of national champion Lynn (Fla.) went to the Royals in the 27th round. He was the 812th player selected. After a monster junior year in which he hit .389/.489/.829 with 20 home runs, MacDougall, who is 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, regressed to a .302/.429/.529 senior season with 10 home runs. He was still second on his team in homers. The Royals selected him as a left fielder.
One round later the Athletics selected Emporia State (Kan.) center fielder Connor Crumbliss with the 843rd overall pick. Crumbliss is only 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, but he’s a threat on the basepaths as he swiped 30 bases this past season in 32 tries. In 2009 Crumbliss hit .397/.483/.619 with five home runs. He was Emporia’s starter in center field this year after he began his career as a second basemen with the program. Oakland announced him as a second basemen on draft day.
Both of these players should be relatively easy signs for the two teams if they wish to continue their careers, since they both graduated from their schools. They’re also a pair of underdogs worth rooting for.
With 20 rounds left to play out, here are some of the top players available for day three. Note that some of these players, since they haven’t been drafted already, might not hear their names called at all because of signability issues and the like.
Jake Smith, 3b/rhp, Alabama
Luke Stewart, 1b, Alabama-Birmingham
Jimmy Patterson, lhp/of, Central Arizona JC
Kevin Gelinas, lhp, Central Arizona JC
D.J. Baxendale, rhp, Sylvan Hills HS, Sherwood
Michael Bolsinger, rhp, Arkansas
New Mexico outfielder Cameron Monger is one of the fastest players in the draft, but was just a role player for the Lobos this year. He’s raw at the plate, but the Padres took a chance on his tools and his Eric Byrnes-like body with their 27th-round pick.
Coco Beach lefthander Brian Johnson was another pitcher that showed well in front of about 100 scouts in Sebring a few weeks ago. He squeaked onto the back of our final Top 200 list, but fell to the 27th round and is likely headed to Florida.
Minnesota outfielder Eric Decker is one of the best pure athletes in the draft. He also plays wide receiver for the Golden Gophers and has said repeatedly that he’ll return for his senior year on the gridiron. That’s what caused him to last until the 27th round, though it could get interesting as the hometown Twins called his name.
[...] Continue Reading »
Providence High third baseman Richie Shaffer from Charlotte was one of the draft’s best power threats coming into the season, but his year was marred after surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left hand. The Dodgers took a chance on him in the 25th round, but they’ll likely have to buy him out of his commitment to Clemson, where he’ll play both ways.
Kennewick High righthander Tony Bryant entered the year slated to be the best prep pitcher in the state of Washington, but came into spring out of shape with stuff that was way down from where scouts saw him this fall. No injuries were reported, but his mechanics were different—possibly to the extra weight?—and he was a big disappointment in a state full of them. He’s a big kid that has shown flashes of greatness in the past, but will likely end up trying to reclaim his dominance in Corvallis with the Oregon State Beavers.
[...] Continue Reading »
Ryan Weber is a short righthander that was a 12th-rounder by the Phillies last year out of high school, but didn’t help his stock by going the junior college route. He went in the 22nd round this year to the Braves.
Another former draftee is the Reds’ 22nd-rounder, first baseman David Stewart. A great athlete, Stewart was also a standout volleyball player in high school before spending his freshman year at Nebraska and then this year at Grayson County College in Texas. Stewart is 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds with a lefthanded bat.
Talking to Arizona junior college coaches this spring, the name that kept popping up as the most impressive guy in the league was Merrill Kelly. Scouts didn’t like him as much (which explains how he lasted 665 picks deep), but opposing coaches gushed about the guy. It’s easy to see why: He probably beat them all, going 10-1, 1.51 with 95 strikeouts and 24 walks over 96 innings. His mechanics are a little rough and he doesn’t have jaw-breaking stuff, but he won my heart the moment I heard he experiments with an almost eephus-like, Bugs Bunny changeup.
[...] Continue Reading »
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog