While writing some draft reports this morning, I was looking at our state-by-state coverage from 2009, and stumbled across this passage from Texas. Max Muncy and Dane Phillips were our 45th- and 46th-rated prospects in the Lone Star State:
Max Muncy and Dane Phillips are gifted hitters who would be more attractive to pro clubs if scouts believed they could catch. Muncy, who's 6 feet and 185 pounds, has a lefty line-drive stroke and arguably the best bat among Dallas-area high schoolers. He didn't look good behind the plate in a trial with his summer team, so it would take a lot of projection to believe in him as a catcher. An infielder in high school, he has some arm strength and will play second base, third base or the outfield if he attends Baylor.
Scouts give Phillips high marks for his lefthanded bat, athleticism and work ethic, but they're still skeptical that he can catch. He has enough arm strength but has struggled to handle quality arms such as former high school teammate Trey Haley (an Indians second-round pick in 2008) and select squad teammate Matthew Purke (a projected first-rounder this June). Six-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Phillips has solid speed and could move to the outfield if catching doesn't work out. He has committed to Oklahoma State and is believed to want first- or sandwich-round money to sign.
Three years later, those reports still ring true. Phillips, ranked No. 76 on our Draft Top 100 rankings, is now at Oklahoma City and splitting time between catcher and first base. Scouts still like his potent bat but think he's more likely to wind up in the outfield or at first base than behind the plate.
Muncy, who will check in at No. 140 when we unveil the players ranked 101-200 on our draft list tomorrow, continues to barrel balls consistently and show glimpses of power. He has started at first base for three years at Baylor, though scouts still dream of increasing his value by trying to play him elsewhere. The Bears gave him a look at second base in fall ball.
Because he at least has a chance to catch, Phillips will get drafted ahead of Muncy in June, probably in the second or third round. Muncy figures to go in the fourth or fifth round.
With the draft less than a month away, most people would expect the lion’s share of scouts in the central North Carolina area on Friday night to attend Duke’s surefire first-rounder Marcus Stroman’s start versus North Carolina. Yet more than a dozen talent evaluators, including scouting directors, national crosscheckers and regional crosscheckers, traveled to bucolic Buies Creek, N.C., to watch Radford University righthander Eddie Butler, a potential second-round pick, face Campbell University.
The Big South Conference’s second-rated prospect, according to Baseball America's preseason rankings, entered his second to last start of the regular season boasting a 1.94 ERA, supported by 74 strikeouts and 21 walks in 79 innings.
Butler’s start left something to be desired due to subpar game performance and inconsistent stuff. The junior allowed five runs in five innings, allowing 10 hits and registering his fourth loss of the season. To be fair, despite zero official errors, Radford’s defense was porous as defensive miscues routinely occurred with men on base. [...] Continue Reading »
After breaking his left wrist diving for a ball in late February, Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache no longer has a cast on his wrist and is working to hopefully pick up a bat before draft day
"I'm going to rehab three times a week now, working with a certified hand therapist," Roache said May 9. "I go back to the doctor May 16th to have another follow-up and see how it's doing and see from there what the next step of my rehab will be. It's going good. Every time I go to the therapist, I'm making progress."
Roache, who led Division I hitters with 30 home runs in 2011, broke his radius three inches up from the wrist and dislocated the ulna bone. On the radial side, the doctors put in a plate with six screws and put two pins on the outside to hold everything in place. The pins were removed when Roache got his cast off on April 18.
[...] Continue Reading »
In 2008, the Diamondbacks used their 10th-round pick on a high school lefty from Washington, D.C. A year later, a righthander from Frederick, Md., was popped in the sixth round by the Red Sox. Both players turned down large bonus offers and honored their commitment to attend Virginia. The lefty—Danny Hultzen—had a spectacular college career that was capped by a $6.35 million signing bonus as the No. 2 overall pick. While the righty—Branden Kline—hasn't had as loud of a career, he still projects to go at least a couple rounds higher than he did out of high school.
Nathan Kirby may repeat Hultzen and Kline's path over the next few years, as he soon will have to choose between UVa and pro ball.
Kirby, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound lefthander at James River High in Midlothian, Va., has made it relatively clear to scouts that he intends to go to college, but that may not stop a team from taking their chances in the first 10 rounds. Kirby's fastball ranges from 88-92 mph and can sit 90-91. He also mixes in a good, sharp curveball in the high 70s that would give him a second plus pitch. He threw well early in the season but seemed to take a hit when his team traveled to Anaheim for the Hard 9 National Classic. Kirby pitched the first game against El Toro High (Lake Forest, Calif.) and had a shutout into the sixth inning despite only throwing about 50 percent strikes. The wheels came off that inning and Kirby exited with two outs having allowed five runs on four hits, two walks and two hit batters in 5 2/3 innings. Along with the development of a third pitch, command will be key for Kirby down the road. He has a long arm swing and a head snap that causes it to waver at times. He's a good athlete so it's not a dream to think he can figure it out.
"Hopefully he'll go (to Virginia) and be a dude on a Friday," an American League scout said. "He's not going to be a Hultzen, physical type, but he could be first rounder (in three years)." [...] Continue Reading »
San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer will miss his start this weekend at Pepperdine due to a right hamstring injury.
Director of baseball operations Bryan Zahn said the Dons intended to err on the side of caution with the junior, who is 4-3, 2.71 and has vaulted toward the top of teams' lists for the 2012 draft. He has an 85-13 strikeout-walk ratio in 76 1/3 innings with 63 hits allowed and just three home runs.
Zimmer, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, tweaked his right hamstring while fielding a bunt last week in his 10-strikeout, seven-inning outing against Brigham Young. Earlier in the week, Dons coaches indicated Zimmer was physically about 85 percent, and they expected him to start, but he hasn't progressed as they'd hoped. He's expected to return to action next weekend.
For more on Zimmer see this earlier blog post.
USA Baseball announced Wednesday afternoon that the Prospect Classic will return in 2012, but with some tweaks to the event. The event features Team USA's Collegiate and 18-and-under National Teams against each other and will expand from two to four games this year. The games will be held in late June and early July at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
Last year, the college players and the high school players faced off against each other, with the college team predictably winning both games by a combined score of 20-2. This year, the first two games (June 29-30) will feature Stars vs. Stripes, with each team being made up of a combination of Collegiate and 18U players. The rosters will have a total of 62 players and be announced the morning of June 29. The second half of the event will take place July 2-3 and pit the Collegiate National Team against the 18U squad, just like it did in 2011. The Prospect Classic will serve as part of the selection process for the 18U team and the roster will be trimmed from 40 to 28 players on July 1.
“The response from fans and scouts alike to last summer’s Prospect Classic was extremely positive, and we’re looking to build upon that in 2012,” USA Baseball executive director Paul Seiler said. “This year’s event features more games, and by combining the teams for two of them, we’re once again providing followers of the MLB Draft a unique opportunity to catch amateur baseball’s top prospects in action.”
The first two games will be aired on a delay on MLB Network at 12 p.m. EST on July 2-3. The three games played in Durham will also be aired online at USABaseball.com and MLB.com.
Indiana second baseman Micah Johnson received full medical clearance this morning to return to the team. A preseason third-team All-American who ranked No. 92 on Baseball's America's initial College Top 100 Prospects list for the 2012 draft, he had surgery on his throwing elbow on March 7. Johnson returned from the Cape Cod League last summer with a sore elbow that bothered him throughout the offseason. Unable to throw without pain when the season began, he opened the season as the Hoosiers' DH. After he went 3-for-21 in nine games, he opted to have surgery. He has been taking swings and grounders in anticipation of his return, which should come this weekend in a home series against Nebraska. Johnson batted .335/.402/.474 with 19 steals as a sophomore in 2011. He's an offensive-minded second baseman with plus speed and a quality bat. He projected as a top-five-rounds pick before his injury.
BATON ROUGE, La.—A pair of Southeastern Conference aces with first-round aspirations squared off at Alex Box Stadium on Friday night. The showdown between Georgia lefthander Alex Wood and Louisiana State righty Kevin Gausman didn't exactly live up to its billing, as the two teams combined for 23 hits in LSU's 6-5 win, but the stats are deceiving. Gausman and Wood both showed impressive stuff and composure despite their pedestrian lines.
Gausman, a flame-throwing draft-eligible sophomore with a chance to be drafted first overall this June, allowed five runs (three earned) on 10 hits and no walks over six innings, but his nine strikeouts were a better indication of the quality of his stuff. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Gausman gave up three hits in the second and five more in the third, but none of those eight were hit particularly hard—they were a collection of seeing-eye choppers and bloops that fell in. And he showed plenty of poise by striking out Justin Bryan and Jonathan Hester with the bases loaded to minimize the damage in the two-run third.
"In the third inning, I've never seen such bad luck for a pitcher as Gausman was having, it was unbelievable," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "They weren't even getting balls out of the infield, and we were fortunate they only got two runs—Gausman had to really show what he was made of again."
The defense behind Gausman didn't help, as three of Georgia's hits in the third could have been outs if the left side of the infield had made better plays. The defense let Gausman down again in UGa.'s two-run fifth, as two Tyler Hanover throwing errors led to two unearned runs. [...] Continue Reading »
Successful college shortstops tend to be overdrafted. Take 2010, when the consensus of area scouts in Southern California preferred Cal State Fullerton speed-merchant outfielder Gary Brown over shortstop Christian Colon, while national evaluators preferred Colon for his track record of hitting and steady, if less flashy tools.
The college middle infielder that can hit is one of the safest profiles for scouts, so Colon went fourth overall, while Brown went 20 picks later and signed for $1.3 million less than Colon. In their first season as pros in 2011, Brown outshined Colon. Both are in Double-A now.
This year's crop of college middle infielders is thin, contributing to the subpar college hitting crop overall. Arizona State's Deven Marrero and Stanford's Kenny Diekroeger led the crop of such players coming into the year, but neither has shined this spring, with Diekroeger (.310/.360/.441) moving to second base while sophomore Lonnie Kaupilla was healthy for the Cardinals and Marrero slumping to .268/.329/.396.
That has left room for others to move up, including two from the rival schools that have occupied the top spot in BA's Top 25 college rankings: Florida State's Justin Gonzalez and as Florida junior Nolan Fontana.
Missouri State righthander Pierce Johnson had pitched himself into the first round of the 2012 draft before leaving a March 30 start against Dallas Baptist after just three innings. He missed his next two starts with what was diagnosed as a forearm strain, putting his draft status in question. When he finally returned to the mound Sunday against Wichita State, he provided the answers scouts wanted to see.
Johnson followed a shaky first inning in which he allowed two runs to pitch five strong frames afterward. He struck out nine and walked none in his six innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs while throwing 49 of 74 pitches for strikes. Despite his layoff, his fastball ran from 91-94 mph and he backed it up with a hard curveball and an effective changeup in a 3-2 loss to the Shockers.
"Other than being a little rusty in the first inning, he was good," said Bears assistant Paul Evans, who has coached eight Missouri State pitchers who have advanced to the major leagues. "You could tell he was a little jittery at first, but then he settled in. I was very pleased with what I saw."
Before his forearm strain, Johnson was working at 92-94 mph and topping out at 96 with his lively fastball. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder is doing a better job of repeating his delivery and commanding his pitches than he had in his first two college seasons. A 15th-round pick by the Rays out of a Colorado high school in 2009, he has a 2-4, 2.28 record with 80 strikeouts in 55 innings over eight starts this spring.
Friday night against Duke ace Marcus Stroman, Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer showed about 20 scouts—including several crosscheckers and a few scouting directors—that he has no trouble catching up to premium velocity.
Shaffer went 2-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout Friday night, with both singles coming off of 95 mph fastballs from Stroman. The strikeout came against Duke reliever Andrew Istler.
After the game, Shaffer was complimentary of Stroman's stuff.
"He was electric today," Shaffer said. "You can't be thinking anything besides fastball, because he's really got a heavy ball. He kind of has that short arm motion, so it really gets on you real fast. I was just trying to look for something up in the zone and was trying to stay off his slider, because when it's on, it's almost unhittable. . . the at-bat that I walked, he threw me a 2-0 slider and I think it might be the sharpest slider I've ever seen. Thankfully, it was a couple inches off the plate and wasn't a strike. But there's a reason he's as good as he is. He has great stuff and I was fortunate enough to get a few pitches up in the zone and get a few hits."
Stroman threw nine innings, giving up one unearned run off of seven hits. He walked three and struck out 13 for a no-decision. Clemson eventually won the game, 4-1, in 11 innings. After the 2-for-4 performance, Shaffer is now hitting .349/.489/.670 on the season with 11 doubles and seven home runs.
Clemson coach Jack Leggett has been impressed with Shaffer's development over the past three years.
"He's been more selective at the plate," Leggett said. "He's patient but aggressive and he's using all fields. He's understanding that line drives and hitting the ball in the gap and those sorts of things are big. He's a big RBI guy, got a big hit early in the game to break the ice early. He's playing good defense at third base and is getting more comfortable all the time over there and he's doing a lot of good things, leadership wise. His leadership colors are coming out."
Shaffer has a tall, physical frame at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. He has broad shoulders, but a trim ways and moves well for his size. He's light on his feet at third base and isn't a clogger on the bases. He has above-average arm strength and, if he has to move off of third base, may be able to handle a move to a corner outfield spot instead of heading straight to first base.
While scouts have to think about the future, Shaffer is very much living in the present.
"People can say whatever they want about me, but I'm confident in my abilities at third base," Shaffer said. "Right now, my goal is to play a good third for our team here. That's the most important thing now for me, is to make all the plays I can make and help our pitchers get outs. Whatever my future holds down the road, that's not really a priority for me right now. I'm just trying to focus on helping my team get wins, but I'm confident in playing wherever on the diamond."
• Even though Stroman's effort was marred by a loss, he still looked brilliant. His fastball was in the 93-96 mph range and he mixed in his 82-86 mph slider and his 81-83 mph changeup.
• Clemson starter Kevin Brady started out in the 92-94 mph range, but settled in at 90-92 and was down to the 89-90 range by the fourth inning. He recently scrapped his curveball for an 80-82 mph slider, which was a good pitch considering the circumstances. Brady allowed one run on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts over six innings. Righthanded reliever Scott Firth throws across his body a little, but shows a loose arm and a fastball in the 93-95 mph range. The arm strength is interesting, but Firth doesn't have good control—as evidenced by his five walks over five relief innings—and his 83-84 slider is inconsistent.
By Peter Wardell
Editor’s note: Baseball America intern Peter Wardell hit the road last week to get a look at San Francisco ace Kyle Zimmer and Camarillo (Calif.) High lefthander Hunter Virant, who took the mound at Oxnard. He filed this report.
Kyle Zimmer, rhp, San Francisco
Zimmer has been one of the hottest names among draft circles this spring. Over 46 innings, the Dons junior is 2-2, 2.14 with a 51-7 strikeout-walk rate. In just a couple of months, he’s gone from a presumed late first-rounder or supplemental pick to a strong candidate for the top overall selection.
Following a pair of complete game shutouts the past two weekends against Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara, Zimmer took the mound Friday against No. 24 San Diego on Friday in front of a dozen scouts and even a couple GMs. While the Toreros did knock around the La Jolla native for four runs on 10 hits over 7 1/3 innings, Zimmer impressed, displaying solid command and composure and flashing dominance, finishing the contest with six strikeouts and just one walk.
Zimmer utilizes four pitches, all of which have the potential to rate as above-average offerings. His fastball sat 92-94, touching 96 mph, with decent life. The pitch flattens out at times up in the zone, but overall Zimmer commands it well, working both sides of the plate and challenging hitters. His curveball came in 79-81 with sharp, 11-to-5 break, and already rates as a solid out pitch. It has hard falling-off-the-table drop, drawing lots of swings and misses. [...] Continue Reading »
• South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker mashed against Vanderbilt this weekend, going 6-for-12 with three home runs as the Gamecocks won the series, 2-1. Walker is now hitting .332/.452/.569 on the season with six doubles and six home runs.
• California catcher Chadd Krist went 5-for-12 with two doubles and a home run this weekend against Texas. Krist is now hitting .315/.353/.454 on the season.
• Georgia Tech righthander Buck Farmer and Duke righthander Marcus Stroman went head-to-head on Saturday in what turned out to be the pitching duel of the weekend. Farmer and the Yellow Jackets got the best of Stroman’s Blue Devils, winning 1-0. Farmer threw a complete game shutout, giving up three hits and no walks while striking out 11. Stroman threw 7 2/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts.
• Georgia Southern righthander Chris Beck dominated against College of Charleston, striking out 16 over six innings. He also gave up two runs on seven hits and walked two. Beck’s 16 strikeouts were two short of the school record, set in 1959 by Ray Mims.
• Texas A&M righthander Michael Wacha is rising on draft boards as he continues to carve teams up this spring.
• Oklahoma State lefthander Andrew Heaney continues to dominate. In his start against Missouri this weekend, Heaney threw a complete game, giving up two runs on seven hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. Heaney got the win, improving his record to 5-1 and is second for Division I pitchers with 65 strikeouts this season.
• The pitcher with the most strikeouts so far this season (66) is Missouri State righthander Pierce Johnson, who took the lead this weekend after posting 16 strikeouts in a comple-game shutout against Creighton. Johnson gave up five hits and one walk in the effort, picking up his second win of the season and lowering his ERA to 1.94.
• Catcher Dane Phillips continues to rake for NAIA Oklahoma City. This weekend, he went 6-for-13 with five doubles, raising his season line to .416/.500/.850. Phillips' Stars are now 25-6 on the year.
• Florida State senior outfielder James Ramsey has been red-hot all year for the Seminoles. This weekend against Wake Forest, Ramsey went 4-for-11 with a double and three home runs. He's now hitting .427/.564/.890 with five doubles and nine home runs.
• Florida catcher Mike Zunino only had two hits on the weekend, but they were both home runs against South Carolina, helping the Gators win the series over the Gamecocks.
Here are all of the weekend stats for the nation's top draft-eligible college players, listed alphabetically by school. The stats were collected by CollegeSplits.com. Follow CollegeSplits on Twitter @collegesplits. The list of players was selected before the season to include this year's top college talent for the draft. . .
MALIBU, Calif.—We've written this spring about San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer and Duke righty Marcus Stroman establishing themselves as strong candidates to be drafted inside the top 10 picks. Stanford's Mark Appel and Louisiana State's Kevin Gausman projected as top 10 picks in our preseason Top 100 draft prospects list, and both remain top candidates to be drafted first overall.
In recent weeks, Texas A&M junior righty Michael Wacha has generated more and more buzz as another candidate for the top pick, just as Zimmer has. After allowing nine runs on 11 hits against Kansas State last week, Wacha bounced back in overpowering fashion, allowing just two hits in a complete-game shutout at Pepperdine, as the Aggies won 4-0 on Friday.
Wacha carried a perfect game into the eighth inning and struck out Tony Cooper to lead off the eighth—but a passed ball and an errant throw to first allowed Cooper to reach second base, ending the perfect game bid. The next batter, Aaron Brown, broke up the no-hit bid with a comebacker off Wacha's glove. The Waves loaded the bases with two outs, but Wacha escaped by inducing a pop-up to center, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth to end it. He finished with eight strikeouts and no walks, improving to 4-0, 1.84 on the season.
DURHAM, N.C.—Catcher Peter O'Brien has been a force for Miami this year. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior is leading the team in nearly every offensive category, hitting .389/.483/.792 for the 16-4 Hurricanes with eight doubles and seven home runs.
O'Brien grew up in Miami and attended Braddock High before spending his first three college years at Bethune-Cookman. He broke out as a sophomore, hitting .386/.445/.748 with 20 home runs, but stepped back a little last year (.304/.382/.557). The Rockies drafted O'Brien in the third round in 2011, but could not come to an agreement.
O'Brien decided to transfer to Miami for his senior season, but his homecoming with the Hurricanes almost didn't happen. He applied for an eligibility waiver from the NCAA because he transferred to be closer to his family—specifically his mother, who was battling health problems. The first batch of paperwork was sent to the NCAA in August and he found out he was denied in December. O'Brien appealed the decision with a conference call and had to wait the entire winter break before hearing the good news that he'd be eligible to play. O'Brien never let the process bring him down.
"I'm a confident guy, so from day one I said I'm going to be playing at Miami this year, for my senior year," O'Brien said. "I gave it 100 percent and knew I was going to be on the field come season time."
From the get-go, O'Brien has been a difference maker for the Hurricanes, both on and off the field.
[...] Continue Reading »
Twitter and baseball go hand-in-hand. Baseball fans can use Twitter to get breaking news, interact with other fans and get a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of their favorite players. Follow @BaseballAmerica, @jimcallisBA @JohnManuelBA @aaronfitt @ConorGlassey & @BAHighSchool for all your #mlbdraft news. You can also click below for a chart with links to the Twitter accounts of some of the top prospects for the 2012 draft. . .
Georgia Southern entered the year with high hopes. After all, the Eagles had two first-team All-Americans in outfielder Victor Roache and righthander Chris Beck. But ever since Roache injured his wrist, the team is 2-5 and that includes two losses by Beck. Last week, he gave up seven runs against North Florida. Friday night against Elon, Beck—ranked No. 7 on BA's preseason Top 100 draft prospects—was better but definitely did not look like one of the top pitchers in the country.
With about 15 scouts on hand, including several crosscheckers and a pair of scouting directors, Beck sat at 90-91 mph for the first few innings, touching 93 once (his first pitch of the game). Later in the game, his fastball dropped to the 88-90 mph range. The pitch didn't haven much movement, either—occasionally he got a little run and sink, but overall it was pretty true. Beck mostly pitched away from hitters and one scout said he gets under his pitches, which leads to the fastball being straight and the inconsistency with Beck's 83-85 mph slider. Beck's best pitch of the night was his 80-81 mph changeup that showed good fade.
[...] Continue Reading »
GREENVILLE, N.C. — Scouts up north generally spend a lot of time in the beginning of the season down south. The weather is usually warmer and oftentimes it's a good chance for the scouts to see players from their area take on stronger teams than they'll face once conference play begins.
Both of those conditions were on display this weekend as Stony Brook came down to take on East Carolina. The Seawolves lost three one-run games, but about 30 scouts showed up each day, mostly to take a look at Stony Brook center fielder Travis Jankowski.
Jankowski went 3-for-5 with a double Sunday and is now hitting .370/.469/.593 on the season. He also showed three above-average tools—hitting, speed and defense. Those, along with his good eye at the plate, allow Jankowski to profile as a prototypical leadoff hitter, and that's why he ranked No. 24 on Baseball America's Top 100 list for the 2012 draft prior to the season.
Stanford righthander Mark Appel entered the season as the No. 1 prospect on Baseball America's Top 100 list for the 2012 draft. With the top billing comes added scrutiny. Appel has premium stuff—including a fastball that touched 98 mph and a nasty slider—but just hasn't dominated like top pitchers from other years.
In fact, of all the college pitchers over the last 10 years who were drafted in top 5 picks or ranked as one of the top 5 picks in Baseball America's Draft Preview, Appel had the second-lowest strikeout rate during each pitcher's sophomore season.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog