Draft Tracker: May 13
Here are six scouting reports on Top 200 players that haven't gotten much publicity this year. . .
Seth Blair, rhp, Arizona State
A Top 200 prospect out of Rock Falls (Ill.) High in 2007, signability caused Blair to drop to the 47th round and he headed west to Tempe, Ariz. He's always had good stuff and his results have taken a step forward every year there. He came into the season expecting to be Arizona State's Saturday starter, but was thrust under Friday night lights when lefthander Josh Spence was shut down all season with a mysterious injury. He stepped up nicely, helping the Sun Devils get off to an epic 24-0 start to the season. Blair showed electric stuff earlier in the season, sitting 93-95 mph and even touching 97. He's tailed off a little as the year has gone on, but he still pitches at 92-94. It's a heavy fastball with riding life and some sink when it's down in the zone, although it can flatten out on him later in games. His curveball is an average pitch now with a chance to be plus. He has a good changeup and a cutter that he uses occasionally. A long arm action in the back and some pulling off to his glove side cause him to have average command at best. His walk rate is still down this year, but he hits a batter nearly every game and runs up a high pitch count that causes him to leave games earlier than teams would like to see out of top pitchers. Blair is a Scott Boras client, but teams don't believe he'll be a particularly tough sign.
Dan Klein, rhp, UCLA
An outstanding quarterback at Servite High in Anaheim, Klein turned down numerous college football scholarship offers to play baseball at UCLA. Selected by the Orioles in the 24th round of the 2007 draft, Klein struggled in his first season at UCLA in 2008 and then took a medical redshirt in 2009 due to shoulder problems. Pitching exclusively as a closer in 2010, Klein has found his niche and is having a terrific season. Over his first 27 appearances, he is 3-0, 2.02 with 43 strikeouts and seven walks over 36 innings. While Klein may not project as a closer in pro ball, he is perfectly suited to work as a righthanded setup man. Klein relies on three effective pitches: a 91-93 mph fastball which he uses to run in on a hitters hands; an 80-81 change, and a drop straight down mid 70's curve, which hitters find difficult to read and time.
Mason Williams, cf, West Orange HS, Winter Garden, Fla.
Williams evokes comparisons to Doug Glanville as a slender African-American center fielder. A South Carolina recruit, his perceived signability and talent have run him up draft boards, and run is what he does best. Listed at just 6-foot-1, 155 pounds, Williams has 65 or 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, depending on the scout , and has enough arm to pitch for his team, using a low arm slot. Those tools and his above-average athleticism profile him well in center field, and he's an excellent defender in the middle garden. What makes Williams a potential high draft pick, though, is his impressive offensive ability. Already a good bunter (he's turned in 3.6-second times to first base on drag bunts), he's added some polish, wiry strength and contact ability to his offensive package. Williams will be under the microscope next Friday when West Orange High faces defending state champion Alonso High in a playoff game. According to the Tampa Tribune, he's expected to face junior righthander Jose Fernandez, a recent arrival from Cuba who is 8-1, 0.76 with 77 strikeouts in 55 innings. If he doesn't see Fernandez—Alonso coach and ex-big leaguer Lenny Faedo hasn't named a starter—he could face lefty Thomas Dorminy, a South Florida recruit who was the star of Alonso's title team a year ago. "There aren't many games left, not many with prospects involved," one area scout said, "and he'll be facing some pretty good pitching, so it will be a good test for him."
Zach Cates, rhp, Northeast Texas CC
Undrafted out of an Arkansas high school in 2008 and bypassed again at Northeast Texas CC last year, Cates won't be overlooked a third time. He spent most of his freshman season as a catcher, standing out for his strong arm and working just seven innings on the mound. A strong fall as a pitcher landed him on follow lists, and he has steadily risen up draft boards this spring. His fastball ranges from 90-93 mph to 95-97, and there should be more consistent velocity in his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame. For an inexperienced pitcher, he has a relatively advanced changeup, which grades out as a better pitch than his curveball. His curve does have its moments, and he could have an easy plus fastball with two solid secondary pitches once he develops. His command and control still need some work, but neither is close to a red flag. He's a tough competitor. Cates hasn't committed to a four-year school for 2010 and should be signable.
David Filak, rhp, Oneonta State (N.Y.)
Filak has a fresh, explosive arm; he did not pitch in high school and walked on at Oneonta State as a catcher. He was quickly converted to the mound, where he led all Division III pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings (14.86) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.07) as a sophomore last year. Scouts were buzzing about Filak after he ran his fastball up to 95 mph and flashed a plus-plus 83 mph spike curveball in his 2010 debut in Vero Beach, but he exited his third start of the season after just two innings because of elbow stiffness, which caused him to miss his next outing. He did not show quite as much velocity after returning to action, but he still posted a dominant season, going 8-0, 1.82 with 96 strikeouts and 16 walks through 59 innings. Filak's fastball settled in at 90-93 mph, and he still regularly flashed a plus curveball with 12-to-6 break in the 77-80 range. Filak did not learn to throw a changeup until last fall, and the pitch is a work in progress. Filak has a physical, athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame, and he could still add velocity as he learns to make better use of his lower half in his delivery.
J.R. Bradley, rhp, Nitro (W.V.) HS
West Virginia's Jedd Gyorko isn't the only player generating interest in the Mountain State this season. Coming on strong is J.R. Bradley, a prep righthander from outside Charleston. Bradley is a tall, thin and projectable at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds. His fastball ranges from 88-92 mph, but lives at 89-90 and has shown he can touch 93-94 a couple times in a game. His secondary stuff is decidedly raw, but he's shown flashes that the pitches could be average. He has outstanding control for a high school arm. He reportedly has walked just two batters in the last two seasons. He has struck comparisons to another 2010 righty in Keenan Kish. Bradley offers more projection, but less polish than Kish. He is committed to North Carolina State, but figures to be signable. There isn't a consensus on where he gets popped, but considering his projection and signability, there is little chance he lasts past the fifth round.
Contributing: Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, Conor Glassey, John Manuel, Dave Perkin and Nathan Rode