Draft Tracker: April 6
Here are scouting reports on six players generating buzz this spring. . .
Granden Goetzman, ss, Palmetto (Fla.) HS
Goetzman didn't play in any major showcases this summer. He played in a few showcases put on by Prospect Wire in the fall and in the International Power Showcase. He hit six home runs at the Power Showcase at Chase Field—all in the metal bat portion of the event—but didn't really perform well at the other showcases.
"He has raw power and he's a plus runner, but if you didn't stick with him, he didn't show you that all the time," an American League area scout said. "But the body, the swing, the leverage and the approach is what really made him interesting . . . He's on everybody's radar screen now."
In the fall showcases, Goetzman would foul off pitches that he should have hit and was even inconsistent during his batting practice sessions. This spring, things are different. Everything has come together for Goetzman, who is committed to Florida Gulf Coast, and he projects to be picked in the top three rounds this June.
"He's just squaring it up more and being more consistent," the scout said. "He's getting to his power—he's got raw power and he's getting to it as well. It's plus raw power, some people might say plus-plus. He's a long-striding, plus runner and it's hard to find plus power and plus speed."
Listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Goetzman is playing shortstop for his high school team but profiles better in the outfield. While his arm strength could play at third base, scouts question whether he has the hands to stay in the infield.
"I think the consensus is that he's more of an outfielder," the scout said. "He's got the arm for right field and being a plus runner, he's got the speed for center field, but if a club puts him in center field, he just doesn't look like your prototypical center fielder, with his size, but he does have the speed to play center."
Kyle Winkler, rhp, Texas Christian
While teammate Matt Purke's stock (and stuff) has been down a tick this spring, Winkler's has been on the rise. He's undersized at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds and won't blow evaluators away with his pure stuff, but he has a long track record of success, going back to his USA Baseball success in high school, and really knows how to pitch.
Winkler has good life on his fastball and always has had a good changeup, going back to his high school days. He's starting to miss more bats this year thanks to an improved slider with hard break and good depth that he throws around 86 mph.
So far this season, Winkler is 5-1, 1.05 with 61 strikeouts and just seven walks over 51 innings. He ranks sixth in strikeouts in Division I after having 140 in 190 innings in his first two seasons, when he went 19-4, 3.69.
"He's a small guy, but he competes like he's a big guy," a National League scouting director said. "He's right there in the second tier of college righthanders, one of the better guys in that group. He sits in that 88-91 (mph) range and he'll touch some 92s. And he still shows you the good changeup, he even had that in high school. He's a terrific college pitcher, and I don't think there's huge upside in the big leagues, but he'll pitch in the big leagues."
Senquez Golson, of, Pascagoula (Miss.) HS
Like Goetzman, Golson didn't play in many summer showcases; instead, he spent the summer gearing up for his senior season on the gridiron.
At 6 feet and 180 pounds, Golson is a standout football player and is committed to Mississippi as a wide receiver and defensive back, but would also have the opportunity to play for the baseball team there. Typical of many two-sport athletes, Golson is a little raw on the baseball field, but his tools are promising.
"He's been getting a lot of attention and I like him," a National League area scout said. "He's very athletic. Plus-plus runner, has some bat speed and has a chance to be a plus defender in center field. He has a good arm, but he's kind of raw, so he might be a two-year rookie ball guy. But he's athletic enough to hopefully pick it up and be a pretty good player."
Golson's strong, compact build reminds the scout of Jared Mitchell, and he has a similar skillset. Golson has 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale and projects to be a well-above average center fielder with a solid average arm. The speed will also benefit Golson on the basepaths. He projects to be an average hitter with mostly doubles power and a lot of stolen bases.
Jeff Ames, rhp, Lower Columbia (Wash.) JC
Ames has already been drafted twice—in the 46th round by the Phillies out of Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash. and last year in the 30th round by the Rockies out of Lower Columbia.
His stuff has gradually increased each year and he really took things up a notch last summer, sitting 92-95 and touching 97 for the Wenatchee AppleSox in the West Coast League, ranking as the league's third-best prospect.
The stuff has held up this spring.
"He was up to 97 the other day," an AL area scout said. "For three innings, he'll be anywhere from 93-96, with a lot of 4s and 5s and some nasty riding life, arm-side. But, at the same time, he's working at a little higher effort now and the breaking ball is kind of rolling, it's not snapping. The changeup's just OK, but you can't argue with the arm strength. He's going to jump on the board, that's for sure."
Clay Holmes, rhp, Slocomb (Ala.) HS
An Auburn recruit, Holmes is showing scouts everything they want to see out of a high school pitcher. He has a great pitcher's frame at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, he's a good athlete that also plays basketball and he's showing arm strength and polish.
"He's got a good fastball that sits 90-93 (mph)," the NL scout said. "He's got a good, downward plane and he also showed a sinker. He throws a spike curveball with 12-to-6 movement that has a chance to be pretty good. He has good arm speed and solid pitchability for a high school kid. He throws strikes and has pretty good control and command of the fastball and throws the curveball for strikes, and the sinker for strikes pretty consistently. He's got a solid delivery and a strong body. He's an athletic kid with your prototypical pro pitcher's body. It's one of the best bodies you're going to see from a high school kid."
Taylor Cole, rhp, Brigham Young
Brigham Young righthander Taylor Cole spent the last two seasons away from baseball on a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But you wouldn't have known it judging from his performance March 17 against rival Utah.
Cole earned a no-decision, but struck out 11 and gave up just two late runs in 7 1/3 innings while looking every bit the prospect he was before his mission when he was one of the top draft-eligible pitchers in the nation.
The performance wasn't out of the ordinary for Cole, who in seven starts this season has eased many doubts as to whether he could come back strong from his mission. Over 45 innings, Cole has given up 11 earned runs, 33 hits and 15 walks while striking out 32. Batters are hitting a meager .216 against him. Still, Cole doesn't think he's fully back to where he was physically before his mission, hinting that perhaps he can reach another level this season.
"As far as arm strength, it's going to continually get stronger throughout the season as far as velocity," Cole said. "As the season goes on, I'll get there."
Having to pitch without his usual arm strength and velocity has been a blessing in disguise for the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Cole, who has had to rely on other factors to get outs.
"Back in the day I was a guy that liked to just go blow it by people and compete in that regard," Cole said. "But because my arm strength is not 100 percent right now, I've had to learn how to pitch and learn how to get people out in different ways. As I've done that, I've realized I'm not striking out as many people, but I'm being more effective."
Cole went to his slider, which sits 80-84 mph, whenever he was ahead in the count against Utah and induced several swing-and-misses and off-balance swings. He also throws a changeup, but between his slider and 90-92 mph fastball, he didn't need to use it much, though he says it's there when he needs it.
"That's one thing I really worked on was my slider, having it look like a fastball and getting some late break," Cole said. "My slider's been really effective, and I'm trying to implement my changeup more. That's something I haven't implemented too much this year, but I think it's going to be one of my best pitches as I continue to develop feel for it."
Count Utah coach Bill Kinneberg among those who are convinced Cole is as good as he ever was. The Utes have faced several quality starters this year, such as Texas A&M's John Stilson and California's Erik Johnson and Justin Jones, but Kinneberg says Cole was as good as his team has seen.
"Cole was outstanding," Kinneberg said. "We didn't see the ball very well against him. We've seen some really good pitchers this year, and he had us more off-balance than basically anybody has all year."
Contributing: Aaron Fitt & Bubba Brown