Scouting directors have been busy preparing for this June's draft since the summer. While some high school and junior colleges have already started their seasons, things get into full swing today when college baseball season starts.
With just a little more than three months until the draft starts on June 6, scouting directors really have to carefully plan their schedules and finding the season's best matchup games—where two or more top prospects are playing against each other—is key.
"You always sit down at the beginning of the year and look at all the Friday games and try to pick out the good matchups," an American League scouting director said. "Because there's only so many Fridays in the season, so they're definitely important."
With that said, let's look at some of this year's best college matchups from a draft perspective. . .
Feb. 18-21 — Hawaii vs. Oregon / Feb. 25-27 — Hawaii vs. Texas
Scouts who want to see Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong against good pitching will need to get out to Hawaii early in the season. He'll face the best pitching he'll see all year the first two weeks of the season, when Hawaii hosts the Ducks and the Longhorns on back-to-back weekends.
The same can be said for Utah catcher C.J. Cron. The Utes go on the road against California Feb. 18-20, then out to face Arkansas Feb. 25-27 and then to the Houston College Classic March 4-6, where they'll face Texas A&M, Baylor and Kentucky. The first three weeks of the season will be huge for Cron, and he'll have some easier matchups before his final exam vs. Texas Christian lefthander Matt Purke on May 13.
With a bit of driving, scouting directors can head to Texas at the end of February and see five of Baseball America's first-team All-Americans in three days. . .
Feb. 25. — Texas Christian vs. Cal State Fullerton, Fort Worth
This should be a great matchup between the draft's top lefthander (Purke) and Titans righthander Noe Ramirez. Each pitcher will have to face some tough, draft-eligible hitters too. TCU features outfielder Jason Coats and shortstop Taylor Featherston and Fullerton has outfielder Tyler Pill, third baseman Joe Terry and first baseman Nick Ramirez.
Feb. 26 — Connecticut vs. Indiana (College Classic in Corpus Christi, Texas)
It's more than a six-hour drive from Fort Worth to Corpus Christi, but the bill may be worth it on this weekend. UConn righthander Matt Barnes is slated to throw Saturdays for the Huskies with senior lefty Elliott Glynn pitching on Fridays. That gives scouts a chance to see Barnes, along with position player prospects like Huskies outfielder George Springer and shortstop Nick Ahmed, facing perhaps the college ranks' best lefthanded power bat in Indiana's Alex Dickerson.
Feb. 27 — Rice vs. Southern California
Four hours south of Corpus Christi, Rice will be hosting Southern California. Scouts watching this game won't be able to see the Trojans' two best draft-eligible arms in Austin Wood or Andrew Triggs, but they will be able to see the draft's best player—Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon—and another premium bat in USC first baseman Ricky Oropesa.
Feb. 25-27 — Vanderbilt vs. Stanford
If scouting directors and crosscheckers aren't in Texas this weekend, there's a good chance they'll be in Nashville for this series. For one thing, the schools are two of the best bets to be in Omaha at the end of the season, with Vanderbilt entering the year as the No. 4 team in the country and Stanford checking in at No. 13. Vanderbilt is loaded with draft talent this year, as righthanders Sonny Gray, Jack Armstrong and Navery Moore, lefthander Grayson Garvin, third baseman Jason Esposito and first baseman Aaron Westlake lead the way. Stanford, on the other hand, has lefthanders Brett Mooneyham and Scott Snodgress, but scouts watching the Cardinal will mostly be doing so to get a sneak peek at some of the top talent for 2012 and 2013.
Feb. 25 — Texas A&M vs. Gonzaga
The best matchup game for scouting directors and crosscheckers interested in seeing Gonzaga lefthander Ryan Carpenter is when he goes up against Texas A&M's righthanded reliever-to-starter John Stilson. If they miss him there, the next-best matchup would be on April 15 when the Zags take on Loyola Marymount and Carpenter should matchup against righthander Martin Viramontes.
In the Pac-10, scouting directors can basically throw a dart at their calendar and there's a good chance they'll pick a day with a stellar pitching matchup.
The two best matchups will take place on March 26 when UCLA righthander Trevor Bauer goes up against Southern California righthander Austin Wood (assuming he remains the Trojans' Saturday starter) and on May 6 when Bruins righthander Gerrit Cole faces Oregon righthander Tyler Anderson in Eugene.
But there will likely be many great Pac-10 pitchers duels and some big arms at the back end of some team's bullpens, too. Adding Oregon to the mix certainly helps, but this year's crop of Pac-10 arms—Cole and Bauer at UCLA, Anderson and Scott McGough at Oregon, Wood and Triggs at USC, Adam Conley at Washington State, Mooneyham at Stanford, Dixon Anderson and Erik Johnson at California, Gaviglio and possibly Josh Osich at Oregon State and maybe even lefthanded relievers like Mitchell Lambson at Arizona State or Bryce Bandilla at Arizona—could easily rival the 2006 crop that saw 10 pitchers—Greg Reynolds, Brandon Morrow, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy, David Huff, Dallas Buck, Patrick Bresnehan, Hector Ambriz, Kevin Gunderson and Zech Zinicola—from the conference go off the board within the first 200 picks.
April 1 — Coastal Carolina vs. Liberty
Teams split up their coverage of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic region differently, but this has the potential to be a great matchup game for scouts that have coverage in South Carolina and Virginia. If Coastal Carolina righthander Anthony Meo and Liberty righthander Blake Forslund wind up going head-to-head, there will be a lot of radar guns pointing toward the mound, as each pitcher sits in the mid-90s and can touch 97-98 mph.
Texas ace righthander Taylor Jungmann looks to have a nice matchup game each month.
March 4 — Texas vs. Stanford (against Stanford sophomore Mark Appel, the No. 1 prospect in the NECBL last summer and a top 2012 prospect)
April 8 — Baylor vs. Texas (against righthander Logan Verrett)
May 19 — Texas A&M vs. Texas (against Stilson)
May 13-15 — Vanderbilt vs. Florida
This matchup will be even better than Vanderbilt vs. Stanford. Like Stanford, Florida is brimming with high-end talent for the 2012 and 2013 drafts. But the Gators also have more 2011 likely draftees than Stanford with lefthander Nick Maronde, first baseman Preston Tucker and righthander Anthony DeSclafani. Plus, the two teams could easily be battling for top spot in the contentious SEC East.
April 8 — Georgia Tech vs. Virginia
The Atlantic Coast Conference's two best draft prospects (and two of the draft's top lefthanders) will square off when Georgia Tech's Jed Bradley toes the rubber for the Yellow Jackets and Virginia's Danny Hultzen does so for the Cavaliers. As players that rank as the No. 10 and 9 college prospects, respectively, this will give scouting directors the chance to see them at the same time and begin to determine which they prefer.
May 6 — Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt
The draft's best SEC pitching matchup won't take place until a month before the big day when Commodores righthander Sonny Gray takes on Kentucky righthander Alex Meyer. While both pitchers are possible first-rounders with power stuff, they're opposites in a lot of ways. Gray is a 6-footer with an impressively consistent college career, while Meyer stands 6-foot-8 and has been up-and-down over his first two years as a Wildcat.
May 13-15 — Connecticut vs. Louisville
As draft preparation heads into the home stretch, this will be a nice matchup series. In addition to Barnes, Springer and Ahmed at UConn, scouts will be able to see Louisville second baseman Ryan Wright and hard-throwing closer Tony Zych.
In addition to finding the big-time pitching duels, matchup games are also important for scouts that want to make the most out of seeing top prospects at smaller schools. Here are the the best matchup games for the rest of the mid-major prospects in Baseball America's College Top 100 list.
Bethune-Cookman C Peter O'Brien: March 17-20 vs./at South Florida
Kent State LHP Andrew Chafin: March 11 at Coastal Carolina
Valparaiso OF Kyle Gaedele: March 4-6 at Cal Poly
Texas State RHP Carson Smith: His best weekend matchup appears to be March 11 against Houston, with projected Friday starter Chase Dempsay. Better matcheups could be had if Smith pitches one of Texas State's midweek games such as Rice (Feb. 23 or May 17), Baylor (March 1 or 8), Texas (March 15 or April 26), TCU (March 22), Missouri (March 30), Arkansas (April 6) or Texas A&M (May 10).
Missouri State 2B Kevin Medrano: April 8-10 vs. Wichita State
Southern Mississippi SS B.A. Vollmuth: May 19 vs. Rice
UC Riverside RHP Matt Andriese: May 6 vs. Cal State Fullerton
Western Kentucky OF Kes Carter: Mid-week matchups against Vanderbilt (March 1 and April 26)
Stony Brook RHP Nick Tropeano: March 4 at North Carolina
Memphis OF Drew Martinez: March 8-9 at Auburn
One thing that is helpful for scouts this year to expand college weekends a bit is the fact that several SEC games will be televised this year and those weekend series will be Thursday through Saturday, as opposed to the more-traditional Friday through Sunday. Here is ESPN's schedule of televised SEC games this season. . .
|Thu, April 7||7:30 p.m.||South Carolina at Tennessee||ESPN U|
|Sat, April 9||8 p.m.||LSU at Arkansas||ESPN U|
|Thu, April 14||7:30 p.m.||Tennessee at Alabama||ESPN U|
|Sat, April 16||2 p.m.||Florida at Georgia||ESPN U|
|Sun, April 17||1 p.m.||Vanderbilt at South Carolina||ESPN 2|
|Thu, April 21||7:30 p.m.||Ole Miss at Auburn||ESPN U|
|Fri, April 22||8 p.m.||South Carolina at Mississippi State||ESPN U|
|Sat, April 23||6 p.m.||Alabama at Florida||ESPN 2|
|Sun, April 24||3 p.m.||LSU at Vanderbilt||ESPN 2|
|Thu, April 28||7:30 p.m.||Kentucky at LSU||ESPN U|
|Sat, April 30||1 p.m.||Arkansas at Georgia||ESPN 2|
|Sun, May 1||3 p.m.||Auburn at South Carolina||ESPN|
|Thu, May 5||7:30 p.m.||Florida at Arkansas||ESPN U|
|Sat, May 7||8 p.m.||Florida at Arkansas||ESPN U|
|Thu, May 12||7:30 p.m.||Mississippi State at Ole Miss||ESPN U|
|Fri, May 13||8 p.m.||SEC Wildcard||ESPN U|
|Thu, May 19||7:30 p.m.||Vanderbilt at Georgia||ESPN U|
|Sun, May 29||2 p.m.||SEC Championship||ESPN 2|
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