We're putting Part I of BA's Draft Preview issue to bed. We're lining up the top 200 or so players by position, with 100 or so scouting reports, before the Part II blowout later this month and before the state-by-state scouting reports start going online in about 10 days. We've also got a four-man Deluxe Podcast that goes a bit more into some of the draft's bigger issues.
In the course of gathering all that information, we've got a few tidbits to share, from all our staffers covering the proceedings:
• James Paxton has started throwing for Grand Prairie in the independent American Association in two exhibition games. While there's one report of Paxton flashing his mid-90s stuff from his peak in 2009 at Kentucky, one scout told BA that he sat 88-90 mph and had quite a bit of rust to shake off. On Sunday, he retired the first seven batters in an exhibition against Shreveport-Bossier before tiring, and didn't make it out of the third inning. The regular season begins Friday against Pensacola.
• Georgia is without question the hot spot for the 2010 draft. While the common refrain from evaluators around the country is, "We're down this year, but we'll be strong for 2011," no one is saying that in the Peach State. That's despite a horrific year for the home-state Bulldogs, college baseball's biggest train wreck at 14-33 and riding a 10-game Southeastern Conference losing streak.
The state has around 30 high school players who are candidates for single-digit picks, according to area scouts. Two of the biggest movers of late are center fielders Aaron Shipman of Brooks County High in Quitman (just north of the Florida border in South Georgia) and DeLino DeShields Jr., from the suburban Atlanta area.
DeShields is the obvious big name with his bloodlines, and he was BA's top-ranked 12-year-old in our final Baseball for the Ages in 2005 (subscriber-only link). Others on that all-star 12-year-old roster include probable 2010 first-rounders A.J. Cole and one Bryce Harper. Kudos to Allan Simpson for sniffing those guys out.
DeShields had a hitless game Wednesday night in front of a lot of scouting heat, including at least three scouting directors. He's a candidate to go in the first round, though the area-scout consensus seems to be that he's more of a supplemental-to-second-round talent.
Shipman has shined all spring and keeps bringing scouts down from the Atlanta area. He's outperformed more famous, East Cobb program alumni all spring, and the only tool scouts give a below-average grade is his power. He also has bloodlines, as his father Robert was a 10th-round pick of the Tigers in 1987, and his older brother (also Robert) plays at Georgia.
• Tennessee Tech closer Stephen Pryor has emerged as one of the hardest throwers in the draft and was expected to go in the sixth-to-10th round range, but he may have jumped up draft boards by hitting several 98s on radar guns in a matchup against Middle Tennessee State and probable first-rounder Bryce Brentz. Pryor gave up a home run but struck out two and showed off his power stuff and sturdy 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame in front of an assortment of scouting directors, assistant general managers and even some GMs who were in to evaluate Brentz. While Pryor is just 3-3, 5.04, he's also struck out 57 in 30 innings, including Jacksonville State prospect Todd Cunningham during one extended outing when he recorded all nine of his outs via strikeout.
• Outside of Las Vegas, it's a down year in the Four Corners area. But there are two catchers that didn't make our Top 200 that could still go in that range. They both have a chance to be offensive for the position, and guys that can hit and have a chance to stay up-the-middle always have a chance to go pretty good on draft day.
The first is Rafael Neda at New Mexico. Neda isn't a premium defender. He needs to improve at blocking balls, and his transfer on stolen-base attempts creates some lag in throws down to second base. But he's a good receiver with soft but strong hands and has the potential to hit in the middle of a lineup. Judging power can be tricky in New Mexico, but Neda has above-average raw power. Scouts like him more than Carlos Ramirez (Arizona State) last year and Neda could sneak into the fifth or sixth round.
The other is T.C. Mark from Pinnacle High in Phoenix. Scouts are very divided on Mark. Some don't believe he'll catch, but those that do really like the package, as Mark has a strong, line-drive approach from the left side of the plate.
• Grandview High righthander Kevin Gausman from Centennial, Colo. has slipped a little bit on teams' draft boards because he came out of the gate slowly, sitting more 89-92 mph with his fastball. In his defense, he pitched as much or more than any high schooler this summer, then played basketball all winter and then had to pitch in nasty Colorado weather for most of the year. He was back up to 93-95 in his last outing, but his fastball tends to be flat and teams are also underwhelmed with his curveball and changeup. Gausman's team is in the playoffs and there will likely be a lot of scouting interest in those games, but scheduling could be tricky after Centennial got six inches of snow yesterday.
Although he has a much higher profile, some scouts believe there's actually a better high school pitcher than Gausman in the Centennial State. The challenger is righthander Kevin Walter from Legacy High in Broomfield, Colo. Walter is a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder committed to Boston College. But he might not end up there, as he's getting fourth to sixth-round buzz. He doesn't have Gausman's pure velocity—he sits mostly 88-90 with some sink and touches 92—but he's got a huge frame and scouts believe there's more velocity to come. He throws two different breaking balls—a power curveball and a cutter—and both have a chance to be plus pitches.
• Spanish Fork (Utah) High's Adam Duke was electric earlier in the year, sitting 91-94 mph with a power curveball, but scouts said he was down to 87-89 lately and opinions varied on the reasoning. Some scouts believe he was coasting late in the year, others thought he might be hiding a shoulder injury or perhaps going through a dead arm period. Yesterday, Duke was back up to 90-92 and threw a one-hit shutout against Box Elder High in the opening round of Utah's 5-A state tournament. Duke is committed to Oregon State and his signability and the status of his arm will determine where he goes, but he's a third to fifth-round talent.
Contributing: Conor Glassey
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog