Baseball America

Draft Tracker: Players Popping Up

Things are starting to heat up around the country with about two months to go before draft day. Teams are starting to get a clearer picture of how their draft boards will come together, but there is still plenty of time for players to pop up. Here are scouting reports on four such players: 

Tim Anderson, ss, East Central (Miss.) CC

Anderson made some noise as the No. 2 prospect in the Jayhawk League last summer, but his game was still a little raw. That’s to be expected, as Anderson mostly focused on basketball at Hillcrest High in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Now that he’s turned his attention solely to baseball, Anderson’s game has taken off and scouts love his athleticism and tools so much that he’s getting buzz as a potential Top 50 pick in June.

A righthanded hitter, Anderson stands 6-foot-1 and 171 pounds. He stands out most for his speed, as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. He knows how to use his speed on the diamond, too, with aggressive base stealing instincts.

“Offensively, he’s got strong hands, he’s got good bat speed and he’s got a pretty good feel to hit,” a National League area scout said. “He uses the whole field, he’s not just a pull guy. He’s more of a gap hitter right now, but he’s got a chance to hit some home runs as he fills out. And he’s got enough bat speed and hand-eye (coordination) to where he’s going to hit for a pretty good average, too.”

Defensively, Anderson profiles better in center field or second base because of his fringy arm strength. But, wherever he winds up, he has dynamic potential.

“He’s really exciting to watch,” an American League area scout said. “He’s got bat speed, running speed, and you hardly ever see him swing and miss. The hand-eye (coordination) is well above average and he hits balls hard. He’s electric. He’s got a chance to be a star.”

Garrett Hampson, ss, Reno HS

As crosscheckers and scouting directors have headed into Reno to see Nevada righthander Braden Shipley, a few high school prospects in the area have given them reason to stick around or try to double-dip on games.

The best position player in the area is Hampson, who plays for UCLA head coach John Savage’s brother, Pete. Hampson, who is 6 feet and 165 pounds, is an exciting athlete. He was the point guard for the Huskies’ basketball team and has been the starting shortstop on the baseball team the past three years.

That leadership experience shows on the baseball field, where Hampson is regarded as having a very high baseball IQ. He also maintains a 3.8 grade-point average in the classroom and is committed to Long Beach State.

Hampson’s best tool is his speed, as he’s a 70 runner with excellent baserunning instincts. A righthanded hitter, he’s a table-setter at the plate with a quick, compact, line-drive swing. Defensively, he is sure handed with plenty of range. His arm is a little fringy right now, but still has projection and he has a quick release.

Though he wasn’t at many major showcase events over the summer, Hampson has some experience on a big league field. During the 2005 All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit festivities, there was a Pepsi MLB Pitch, Hit & Run contest, which already featured a sixth-round pick. Josh Elander was the player in the 13-14-year-old division and went on to play at Texas Christian, where he was drafted as a catcher by the Braves last year.

Hampson, who won the 9-10-year-old division title, was also there and looks like he’ll wind up being the better pick.

“He’s a line-drive machine,” one scout said. “If he would have done the Area Codes and those tournaments, he’d be up there with (J.P.) Crawford and those guys.”

Jordan Paroubeck, of, Serra HS, San Mateo, Calif.

Unlike the other players in this week’s Draft Tracker, Paroubeck entered the spring already highly-ranked. He was the No. 50 high school prospect in the country in our preseason ranking of the Top 100 high school players. But even with such a high ranking, Paroubeck has still improved his stock with a strong early showing.

Paroubeck, a Fresno State recruit, first stands out for his frame at 6-feet-2 and 185 pounds with broad shoulders and a tapered waist.

“He’s what they look like,” an Amrican League area scout said. “The only thing that’s going to stop him from playing center field is if he gets too big, but he’ll still work in a corner because he’s going to have power from both sides.”

Paroubeck, a switch-hitter, has a loose, simple swing from both sides of the plate. He has a pretty good teacher, too. Paroubeck attends the same high school that produced Barry Bonds, who is childhood friends with Paroubeck’s father, and is giving Jordan private lessons.

Over his team’s first 13 games, Paroubeck is hitting .421/.593/.921 with five doubles, a triple and four home runs. He has walked 15 times, struck out eight and has seven stolen bases.

“Jordan Paroubeck is the flavor of the month,” a National League scout said. “He’s playing great. He has a real good swing from both sides of the plate and he’s just a tremendous kid. He’s got a chance to stay in center field, but I think he’ll just continue to grow and be a corner outfielder.”

Thaddius Lowry, rhp, Spring (Texas) HS

One look at Lowry’s Twitter handle (@BigBadThadd) and it’s easy to see that he basically epitomizes Texas with his big fastball and his big belt buckle.

Lowry, who stands 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, has stood out this spring in a year in South Texas when not many players are making a jump up draft boards.

“He’s a big strong kid with a power arm,” a National League scout said. “I’ve seen him up to 96 (mph). His fastball’s got good life . . . and it’s a relatively fresh arm because he’s new to pitching, but the secondary stuff and command are a little ways off still.”

Growing up, Lowry was always a catcher. It’s been only recently that he’s transitioned into more of a pitcher, but that’s what Texas Tech recruited him as, an that’s what has scouts flocking back to the school that produced Josh Beckett 14 years ago.

He throws a mid-80s slider, as well as a splitter and changeup, and because he’s so new to pitching, Lowry will be a project on the mound and may profile best as a power reliever.