Unsigned Draftees Struggling In 2010





Eight picks from the top three rounds of last year's draft went unsigned, and five of them are draft-eligible again this season. The highest pick that's eligible again this year is outfielder LeVon Washington, the Rays' first-round pick at No. 30 overall who ended up at Chipola (Fla.) JC.

"He's playing really well," Chipola coach Jeff Johnson said. "He finally got through some of his injury stuff and is really starting to swing the bat extremely well. I think he's hit five home runs in his last seven games, something like that. He's running really well in the outfield, running balls down and doing all that. He's just really playing well right now. He's showing everybody right now why he was taken where he was taken."

Washington got off to a slow start when the weather was cold and then missed time after getting his hand stepped on. But he heated up and was hitting .356 with eight doubles and eight home runs through 104 at-bats.

"He's running 4 (seconds) flat or 3.9 down the line pretty consistently," Johnson said. "He doesn't get out of the box real well because he's not a guy that slaps, he's a guy that swings and has some pop in his bat. He steps a little closed when he's swinging, so he doesn't get out of the box great, but when he gets on the move, he gets from home to second pretty quick."

Johnson said that Washington is working on his jumps and instincts on the bases, but he always has the green light to run. His speed also helps him patrol center field.

"Our scoreboard is in right-center and I don't hardly ever remember our center fielder making any plays under the scoreboard, but he's made two catches in the last week on balls over there where he's had to run like 50 yards to get to it," Johnson said.

But Washington is the exception when it comes to highly drafted players from last year that chose not to sign. His teammate, Jake Eliopoulos, isn't going to be a second-round pick like he was last year for the Blue Jays.

"Eliopoulos isn't doing very well, he's just been struggling," Johnson said. "He hasn't had a lot of command and his velocity's been down a bit."

The Canadian lefthander was 1-2, 8.44 with 21 walks and 24 strikeouts in 21 innings.

About 500 miles north at Tennessee, another lefthander, Bryan Morgado, has also seen his stock drop after the White Sox drafted him in the second round as a draft-eligible sophomore last June.

Last year, Morgado was hitting 97 mph out of the bullpen. He's starting this year and his stuff has been way down.

"Morgado looks like a different guy this year," a National League area scout said. "He looks like someone told him at some point, 'We want you to pitch and we don't want you to show the big arm strength.' I've seen him in the past up to 95-96 and certainly heard reports of a little bit better than that when he was just coming out of the pen and blowing it. This year, it's 88-91, mostly working 88-90. But he has smoothed out his delivery a little bit, he's showing better command and he's keeping the ball down in the zone."

One of the best stories in college baseball this season has been Arizona State's rise to the top. Not only have they done it after head coach Pat Murphy was forced out last fall, but they've also done it without their ace, lefthander Josh Spence.

The crafty Australian was phenomenal last year, going 10-1, 2.37. While Spence has always gotten results, he went about as high as a guy with an 84-86 mph fastball can go, as the Angels made him their third-round pick last year. But he didn't sign and hasn't pitched at all this year. As a senior with no leverage, it's tough to see him being a single-digit pick the second time around.