No surprise that the most intriguing pick of this round range came in the 22nd round. That's where the Reds drafted Las Vegas area lefthander Amir Garrett, better known for his basketball prowess. He's signed to play at St. John's, and ESPN.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep has him at No. 97 on his Top 100 list of high school seniors. We've written about the 6-foot-6 lefthander's baseball workouts in Draft Tracker and, after speaking to Garrett, in this column. The Reds are expected to make a serious run at signing him.
Elsewhere in this range:
• Round 21: Seattle snagged Seton Hall ace Joe DiRocco, a senior who went 8-2, 1.97 this season in leading the Pirates to the Big East conference championship. He commands a 90-91 mph fastball and decent secondary stuff . . . The Athletics popped Arizona State football player Brandon Magee, who was profiled in the same draft tracker as Garrett. He's a physical 5-foot-11, 230-pounder with plus raw power and speed who hasn't gotten tremendous baseball exposure, as he has just three hits in 29 career at-bats . . . The Rockies drafted Fresno State first baseman Jordan Ribera, who led the nation in home runs in 2010. Of course, that was before the BBCOR bats. Ribera eventually adjusted this season but hit .240 with eight homers this year after batting .343 with 27 jacks in 2010 . . . The Giants drafted Southern California righthander Andrew Triggs, a Tommy John surgery alumnus who had a big fall in 2009 and vaulted onto Baseball America's College Top 100 in our 2010 Early Draft Preview. An uneven redshirt sophomore season (2-7, 3.95) led Triggs, a 24th-round pick last year, back to school for 2011. He performed better, cutting his walk rate and going 5-4, 3.67 while holding his fringe-average fastball velocity deeper into games. He has good sink on his fastball and also throws a curveball and changeup . . . The Phillies took a tough sign with the last pick of the round in catcher Riley Moore out of Santa Barbara's San Marcos High. No. 150 on our Top 200, Moore has a plus arm, solid athleticism and advanced receiving skills for his age.
• Round 22: The Blue Jays' Tough Signability Draft of 2011 added another member with the top high school talent in Louisiana, righthander Aaron Nola. The younger brother of Louisiana State shortstop Austin Nola also has a commitment to play at LSU. They may play together one way or the other—Toronto drafted Austin in the 31st round Wednesday . . . Minnesota drafted Florida State's top offensive player in outfielder James Ramsey, whose tools play average or above other than his throwing arm. Ramsey, whose parents are both Florida State alumni, was considered a tough sign entering the draft, and his 6-foot, 190-pound frame is fairly maxed out. He had a strong season, batting .364/.444/.593 with 10 home runs and 11 stolen bases to help lead the Seminoles into super regionals.
• Round 23: Two Southeastern Conference players whose performance was tough to measure went in this round. The Pirates drafted eligible sophomore Jordan Cooper, whose fastball touched 94 at times this year but who pitched with a fringy fastball in weekend starts more consistently. Cooper's performance suffered as a result, as he went 3-2, 4.61 as hitters batted .318 with eight home runs in 66 innings. South Carolina outfielder Adam Matthews went to the Diamondbacks after hitting just .269/.368/.398. He returned to play in regionals after missing half the season with a hamstring. While his righthanded-hitting, righthanded-throwing profile doesn't help his cause, Matthews has tools; he runs better than teammate Jackie Bradley when healthy and has shown plus raw power. He figures to be a strong summer follow.
• Round 24: The Indians took a flier on shortstop Taylor Sparks, ranked No. 131 on the BA Top 200. The St. John Bosco High star has baseball bloodlines (his dad Don played nine seasons) and was a fine football player with a physical 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. His performance didn't match his tools this spring, but he has plus raw power, an average arm and the hands and actions to move to third base in pro ball . . . Milwaukee took Georgia righthander Michael Palazzone, who already has been drafted twice. After pitching with above-average velocity earlier in his career, Palazzone dialed back into the mid-to-upper 80s in 2011 and had much more success for the Bulldogs, anchoring their rotation in a 10-5, 3.14 season. Already 22, Palazzone also has a slurvy breaking ball and changeup and was expected to get drafted earlier . . . Another Top 200 prospect went to the Twins toward the end of the round. Righthander Nick Burdi had the best prep arm in the Midwest and had a seven-figure price tag to buy him out of a Louisville commitment. At his best, he has hit 97 mph with his fastball, but his velocity varied widely this spring.
• Round 25: This was the #personalcheeseball round for BA staffers. The Rockies took North Carolina righthander Patrick Johnson, the Tar Heels' ace whose fastball tops out at 92 mph and throws four pitches for strikes. The 5-foot-11 senior was 12-1, 2.36 entering super regionals with a sterling 113-29 strikeout-walk ratio in 99 innings. Washington State first baseman Taylor Ard went to the Red Sox later in the round. He's a good pure hitter with a tough profile as a right-right, bat-first college player, but he produced in 2011 for the Cougars (.337/.408/.577, 10 HR) . . . The Cubs took Florida products with their first three selections and went back to the Sunshine State in round 25 with first baseman Roderick "Rock" Shoulders, a burly power plant who was a 20th-round pick last year and fell in the draft despite hitting 14 homers at State JC of Florida this spring . . . The Astros took the highest-ceiling player in the round with Modesto, Calif., prep product Billy Flamion. He's an athletic lefthanded hitter who lost some draft stock after projecting as a top-two-rounds pick last summer. He's headed to Oregon . . . The Blue Jays took a flier on Eric Arce, who ranked 32nd on our Florida draft list out of high school in 2010. A former Florida State recruit, Arce was rated as an excellent hitter in high school whose receiving skills behind the plate and limited athleticism in his 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame held him back. He also had a lewd battery and lewd molestation charge in April 2010 that was later dropped. The Jays drafted him in the 27th round last year.
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