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.
With the news yesterday that California prep righthander Lucas Giolito will be sidelined at minimum six weeks with an elbow sprain, the attention quickly turned to what will happen to him come draft day. There's no way to know in March what will happen in June for any player, let alone a wild card like Giolito. This is especially true with the draft changes from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new draft rules make it tougher for teams to throw money at players who fall in the draft, so the farther the Harvard-Westlake High senior falls in the draft, the more likely it is that he winds up going to school. However, some teams are simply better suited to pursue such a player. But before we start talking about potential fits, let's make a couple of assumptions . . . [...] Continue Reading »
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.
In Georgia Southern's second game Feb. 25 against Radford, Eagles right fielder Victor Roache left the game in the second inning with an injury after diving for a ball.
Roache fractured his radius and dislocated his wrist.
"He was just playing hard, like he always does, and he came in on a ball and was diving straight ahead and his hand got caught in an awkward position," Georgia Southern head coach Rodney Hennon said. "You could tell when he fell, it looked like he was hurt pretty bad. . . It's about as sick of a feeling I've ever had on a baseball field. It kind of made you sick to your stomach to watch."
This marks the second-straight year a preseason All-American has been sidelined with a broken wrist and Roache's injury sounds similar to what Jackie Bradley went through at South Carolina last year.
According to Roache's Twitter feed, he said he could miss the rest of the season.
"He's a strong kid and he's had to deal with adversity before," Hennon said. "I know he'll make the best of this situation. He actually broke his ankle in the fall a year ago and went through that whole rehab process and came back strong from that. I'm sure he'll do the same with this injury."
Last year, with offense down in college baseball after the new bat regulations, Roache went out and hit .326/.428/.778 with 30 home runs. It was the most home runs in college baseball since Billy Becher hit 33 in 2003 for New Mexico State and more home runs than two of the teams (Virginia and Texas) that made it to the 2011 College World Series.
He entered the season ranked No. 9 on our Top 100 prospect list for the 2012 draft and was hitting .412/.600/.765 with two home runs this year before the injury.
Updated Feb. 27 with quotes and more detail.
Texas Christian lefthander Matt Purke will return to the mound May 19 at New Mexico, according to the Star-Telegram.
Purke, who entered the season as the No. 3 prospect, last pitched April 16 at San Diego State before going down with shoulder soreness. Purke was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews on April 20.
"We recently saw him because of some discomfort in the front part of his shoulder, which has been evaluated very thoroughly not only by myself but also by Dr. John Conway, who is the team physician for TCU in Fort Worth, Texas," Andrews wrote in his report. "We certainly don't have any reservations recommending him for being drafted as a professional lefthanded baseball pitcher. His prognosis looks good and he should respond to a minimum period of active rest and conservative treatment to get his shoulder built back up."
The plan is for Purke to pitch a couple innings, followed by righthander Kyle Winkler.
Because of his roller coaster of a season, Purke's draft status is up in the air—the situation is similar to what Anthony Ranaudo went through last year. Purke's stuff was noticeably down in his last start, so his performance tomorrow is critical. If his stuff looks like it did last year and earlier this year, it could help ease concerns that have developed the past couple months. If it's not good, he could continue to slip down draft boards.
About two months ago, just days before The Bolles School began baseball tryouts, shortstop Austin Slater was playing Frisbee with a few teammates, just blowing off some steam before the season. The game ended when Slater came down awkwardly and broke his ankle.
The injury, which Slater described as “kind of a bummer,” required surgery and doctors inserted a plate and a couple screws about a week later. Slater’s senior season is in jeopardy, though he is hopeful he will be able to return to action in time for the playoffs in early May.
Missing all or most of his senior season will likely hurt Slater’s stock in June’s MLB Draft. He is committed to Stanford, but was drawing plenty of attention from pro scouts as well. Before he was injured, Slater said teams had already invited him to predraft workouts and many others were interested in scouting him during the season.
“I’m hoping to be 100 percent by then,” Slater said. “Hopefully [teams] like what they see if I went out to some of those predraft workouts.”
[...] Continue Reading »
Here is a final update on our Top 50 overall prospects before the draft. This isn't a ranking of where we think players will go, but how they line up based on talent. The First round is picks 1-32 and the supplemental first is 33-50. What do you think?
1. Bryce Harper, c, JC of Southern Nevada
2. Jameson Taillon, rhp, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
3. Manny Machado, ss, Brito Miami Private HS
4. Chris Sale, lhp, Florida Gulf Coast
5. Drew Pomeranz, lhp, Mississippi
6. Zack Cox, 3b, Arkansas
7. Christian Colon, ss, Cal State Fullerton
8. Josh Sale, of, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle
9. Deck McGuire, rhp, Georgia Tech
10. Michael Choice, of, Texas-Arlington
From Dave Perkin's College Blog post:
FULLERTON, Calif.—Two first-round candidates did not fare so well Friday night when host Cal State Fullerton lost 3-1 to Minnesota. Titans shortstop Christian Colon went a soft 0-for-4 and made an error in the field. Early-round draft rumors are surrounding Minnesota right fielder/catcher Michael Kvasnicka; the Mets are believed to have interest in him with the No. 7 overall pick.
Kvasnicka had a single in five at-bats, but did show flashes of early-round talent. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, he is a mature-framed switch-hitter who in build and swing resembles David Cooper, taken by the Blue Jays out of California in the first round in 2008. [...] Continue Reading »
LONG BEACH—Nothing much seems to bother Peter Tago.
Like Harry Houdini escaping from a locked water tank, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Tago wriggled out of jam after jam on Tuesday at Blair Field, leading his Dana Hills High squad to a 5-3 win against El Dorado High of Yorba Linda in a CIF Southern Section semifinal playoff game.
With two outs in the sixth inning, the righthanded Tago—ranked 36th on BA's Top 200—paused for a moment on the mound. He dropped his head, pinned his chin to his chest, and appeared to be practicing a form of Zen meditation. Suddenly, Tago snapped to attention, went into his windup—and delivered a curveball that seemed to veer around the on-deck circle before dropping onto the outside corner at the knees. Strike three, inning over. [...] Continue Reading »
Putting together our Top 200 prospects list for the draft is a sometimes-fun, often excruciating process. It used to be a one-man show (Allan Simpson, inventor of draft coverage, was still doing it all as recently as 1999), then it was a two-man show (Jim Callis or Dave Rawnsley would assist Allan). As the draft has grown, our coverage has grown, and now that Top 200 meeting is a big production, as seven of us wrote up players for the Top 200.
With that many players involved and that many cooks trying to reach a Top 200 consensus, the list will be one giant compromise. Every year we miss a late riser due to timing, or we just miss on a player because we forget to ask about him or don't get good enough information early on in our reporting process. Nolan Reimold always sticks out in my mind as a player who just missed our 2005 Top 200, and he heated up right after the went to press. We had him as a third-to-fifth rounder coming into the year, then started hearing he was falling, and then he tore up the Mid-American Conference right after we took him off the Top 200.
This year, doing Georgia, the state was go good that new names kept popping up, or names that I had early information on proved to be outdated a month later. So if Jake Skole or Jordan Akins go out in the first 100-150 picks, don't be surprised or think they were over-drafted just because they weren't on our Top 200. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES — MLB Network will televise the first and first supplemental rounds of the draft on Monday, June 7. Once the cameras have been switched off and the pundits depart, the final stages of the draft will take place on June 8 and 9.
In Southern California, playoffs are continuing for both Division-II and junior college programs. Over the past two weeks, Baseball America bird dog scout Dave Perkin has hit the road to get a peek at several talented but relatively unknown players who, if selected, will probably be chosen in the non glamour rounds: 7 through 50. Here are some reports on small-school players making some noise. Make sure to check out Baseball America's Draft Tracker on May 26 for a look at some under-the-radar high school and Division-I prospects from Southern California this year.
Josh Thompson, OF, El Camino JC
A lefthanded-hitting center fielder, Thompson has tremendous speed and is a wonderful defensive outfielder, tracking down drives from gap to gap. Thompson has swiped 28 bases this year, and his bat has shown marked signs of improvement. A late-round draft prospect, Thompson may not be ready for pro ball just yet, but his skills fit comfortably at the D-II, D-III, NAIA—and possibly D-I—levels.
[...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES — The Southern California class of draft eligible high school righthanded pitchers in 2010 is the most talent laden in many years. In this crowd, infielders have as much chance of getting noticed as the comedy act that followed the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
Nonetheless, this past week I took a peek at two of the best prep infielders in the area, as well as the nation: shortstop Tony Wolters of Rancho Buena Vista High in Vista and third baseman Chad Lewis of Marina High in Huntington Beach.
Wolters was named MVP of last summer’s Aflac game, and is ranked No. 22 on Baseball America's list of top high school prospects for the June draft. His undersized, 5-foot-10, 170-pound build and 7.15 speed may depress his draft stock, but scouts are intrigued by Wolters excellent glove, quick bat and sharp baseball instincts. On Saturday, Wolters played shortstop for RBV in a doubleheader at El Camino High of Oceanside.
[...] Continue Reading »
Here are this season's Friday-night splits for every Division-I college hitter that entered the year on Baseball America's Top 100 list.
While not always the case, in general, college teams throw their aces on Friday nights. On average, hitters will face better velocity on Friday nights than any other night of the week. At the very least, Friday night starters will be around the strike zone. But, while the data might provide a little insight into how a hitter has done against better competition, it should be taken with a pretty sizable grain of salt, for a few reasons: [...] Continue Reading »
Canadian lefthander Jake Eliopoulos has left the Chipola (Fla.) JC baseball team. Indians coach Jeff Johnson confirmed that Eliopoulos, a freshman who was the Blue Jays' unsigned second-round pick a year ago, will not pitch for the team the rest of the season.
"I hate that the situation happened like this," coach Johnson said. "I wish the best for the kid is all I can really say."
Nothing clicked for Eliopoulos at Chipola, on or off the field. He went just 1-2, 8.44, though he did have 24 strikeouts in 21 innings. He also walked 21, and one opposing coach who saw Eliopoulos this season told BA today that while Elipoulos "kept us off-balance, he didn't look like a second-round arm. I heard he threw 92 (mph) in high school, but he didn't do that against us."
Sources told BA that Eliopoulos has returned to Chipola to complete the academic year, then expected to return to Ontario to play in Canada's Inter-County League, a senior semi-pro league where he's played in the past.
It's not shaping up as a very strong season for college hitters in the draft, but relatively speaking, the talent is stronger in the Southeast than it is in the West or Midwest. Recently, I spoke with a scout that covers that part of the United States. Here are his thoughts on a few of the top college players from his area for the 2010 draft.
Zack Cox, 3b, Arkansas
"Cox is another one who's going to have to hit. He's certainly not your prototype at second base or third base—I've seen him at both spots this year. Some of his stuff has gone a little bit backwards for him since high school. His arm strength has gone a little backwards, but he's always going to be a fringy fielder. His hands are fine, balls hit to him are OK, he's got slow feet, his range should be good enough for third base. The thing that I can't figure out with him is he goes out and hits .260 with 15 home runs or whatever for Arkansas last spring and then he goes out to the Cape and hits .340 with no power and now he comes back this year and what's he hitting? [.414/.516/.606 with nine extra-base hits.]
"He's strong, he's a real strong kid. You watch him in BP and he can launch balls. But it seems like he has to make a tradeoff. Either he's going to hit for power or he's going to hit for average and I'm not certain that he can do both. The thing that concerns me about his swing is that he has a lot of head movement in his swing. He starts off with his head upright—a fairly standard look—but when he's actually making contact, his left ear's touching his shoulder. He's figured it out against college pitching, but I'm concerned about as he gets more advanced. I think he is going to hit and he's a good prospect, but we'll see how everything goes signability-wise and how all that plays into it. But he's a hard-working kid, good kid, that can swing the bat a bit and I think he'll play third base enough to stick there."
[...] Continue Reading »
East Valley High (Redlands, Calif.) righthander Tyler Shreve—who ranks No. 60 on our Top 100—was kicked off his high school baseball team on Feb. 24, according to Jesse B. Gill of The Sun newspaper in San Bernadino, Calif.
That's the least of his problems right now, though.
After hearing the news that he was kicked off his team, Shreve allegedly wrestled his coach, James Cordes, to the ground and tried to punch him before being pulled away by his father.
[...] Continue Reading »
Orange Coast College—without suspended coach John Altobelli in the dugout—won the California Junior College championship this past weekend at Fresno. It was an emotional season for OCC, as detailed in the above subscriber-only column, but they rallied in the postseason, Altobelli said Wednesday.
"I think we were 4-4 at one time after I got dumped," he said. "But we pulled the guys together and told them, if the coaches tell you to hit and run, you just have to trust them. It’s just like if I was there. I was able to do everything but coach during the games, which was difficult, but the guys pulled through. In the playoffs, we really got on a roll.
"It was very emotional. It was just a crazy, crazy year."
Several draft eligible pitchers were in action at the JC tournament. Our scout source had these insights on three of the JC hurlers, including two at OCC:
Brett Wallach, OCC: “He did himself a lot of favors—89-91 fastball, good curveball, nice frame. Could go three-to-four rounds.”
Calvin Drummond, OCC: “He sat around 91, but it was straight and he got hit. He looks a little stiff to me, a little complacent also.”
Brian Peacock, Santa Ana JC: Peacock is a highly projectable freshman lefthander who is a “real interesting guy. When his fastball is on it shows nice late sink. In this game it was 88, but it was up, straight and got hit. He doesn’t have a feel for the change, but he has a good tight breaking ball. There were some guys (scouts) out there who were paying real close attention to him.”
A quick update on what I wrote earlier on Scott Bittle. His current shoulder problem—involving the capsule that surrounds the humerus where the ball of that bone meets the shoulder joint—is not related to the shoulder issue that kept Bittle from signing with the Yankees last summer.
"I’m not a doctor, but I was told it’s a strain," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said Friday afternoon. "We were told that with rest, there’s a very good chance his shoulder will be fine, and he will not need surgery."
The shoulder is a complicated joint, and Bittle’s injury is complicated as well. I’ll be more precise reporting on it from here on in.
Mississippi righthander Scott Bittle’s college career is probably over, and his draft future is in doubt after he was diagnosed with a strained shoulder capsule this week.
"He can throw, but when he gets cranked up, he gets to a certain point where there’s pain," Ole Miss assistant coach Rob Reinstetle said. "We had one MRI and couldn’t find out what the problem was, but then Dr. (James) Andrews examined him personally and had a second MRI."
Reinstetle said Bittle had yet to decide whether or not to have surgery or if he would try to rehabilitate the shoulder without surgery. He also said Bittle could try to throw once more and see if he can grit his way through regionals. Bittle declined comment. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES—When scouting high school players, scouts yearn to see so-called “matchup” games. Those are rare contests in which a top pitching prospect faces a top hitting prospect.
Last year’s Cutter Dykstra-Mike Montgomery staredown drew a bushel full of scouts to Hart High, north of L.A. Earlier this season, Matt Hobgood of Norco High and Jake Marisnick of Riverside Poly squared off in front of approximately 60 scouts.
Ideally, a scout wants to see a high school hitting prospect when his team plays on the road. Prep games are only seven innings, and seeing a batter play a road game gives the scout a greater chance of seeing an extra at-bat later in the game. If that player is matched up against a top notch pitcher, then . . . voila! [...] Continue Reading »
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