Draft Tracker: April 27
Brandon Martin, ss, Santiago HS, Corona, Calif.
Martin has surged toward the top of a weak field of SoCal prep talent. A less-than-stellar crop in Southern California is one of the few holes in the 2011 draft class, but Martin's improvement has deepened the group. He started strong with a good performance at the Southern California Invitational Showcase at the MLB Urban Youth Academy, hitting well and running a solid if unspectacular 6.75-second 60. He's had a strong spring as well for Santiago High, hitting his fifth home run April 19 in a 10-6 win against Riverside Poly.
Martin's bat had been in question coming into the season, but a scout who saw him hit the home run said he's made strides offensively to go with average-to-plus tools otherwise.
"The glove is really good," the scout said. "The glove brought guys in to see him in the first place. He makes the tough play look easy. I believe he will stay at shortstop. But now, he's starting to hit, and he's running well. He's a guy that used to hit ninth for his high school team, but he's hit third all year this year and he's been hitting a lot better. It sounds like he's the guy making the biggest push up the lists in Southern California this year."
Edison High's Christian Lopes has been the higher-profile player for several years among SoCal infielders, and a National League crosschecker said Lopes and Martin are an interesting contrast. Just putting Martin in Lopes' class, though, is a big step for Martin, who has committed to Oregon State after originally signing with Cal State Fullerton.
"Brandon Martin is a toolsy shortstop with more upside than Christian Lopes," a National League crosschecker said. "But if I'm a high school coach, I want Lopes at shortstop. It's the classic scout's dilemma."
Kes Carter, of, Western Kentucky
Carter is heating up this spring, hitting .371/.463/.570 and high-profile scouts are bearing down on the 6-foot-2, 205-pound center fielder that bats and throws lefthanded.
"Kes is a good-looking kid," a National League area scout said. "He's a big, strong, athletic kid. He can run, he can throw, he has power, he can play center field. The bat needs to come a little ways. Everything's there for him to do it, but I just need to see a little more consistency and see him hitting the ball with a little more authority. It's really a timing thing with him. He doesn't seem to get the bat head out into the zone as consistently as other guys and you see him making a lot of contact to left field and not really driving it. But when everything's on time and together, he can drive the ball to pretty much any part of the field.
"He doesn't run plus down the line, it's pretty much an average runner down the line. But in center field, he's probably a 55-60 runner. He's not an absolute burner, but he covers the ground. You don't see many guys that are as big as he is that can move as easily as he does."
In addition to the size and tools, scouts like Carter's hard-nosed style of play.
"He's a tough kid," the scout said. "His freshman year he ran into a wall down at Middle Tennessee and really tore himself up. But he hasn't shown any signs of that affecting him the way he plays the game or anything like that since then."
Carter, a lefthanded hitter and thrower, probably fits into the second or third round in this year's draft.
"That's where I think he goes," the scout said. "In a draft like last year's that was not nearly as talented, you might have him a little higher on the board, but I think that's probably where he ends up going, right in there."
Adam Morgan, lhp, Alabama
Alabama lefthander Adam Morgan has an over-the-top delivery and a solid 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame that earn comparisons to Cliff Lee, who was a fourth-round pick back in 2000. Morgan fits in the same round range for this year's draft, but that's where the comparisons to Lee stop. While Morgan has had his moments, it's a deep year for college lefthanders, and Morgan's inconsistency has caused his own draft stock to fluctuate.
With help from the new, less-nuclear bats, Morgan has improved his performance from last season's 7-5, 6.18 line. He's yielded just three homers in 61 innings and is 4-4, 4.28 overall with 51 strikeouts and just 13 walks. He's at his best when he uses his high release point to locate his fastball down in the zone, and when he's right, he has average to above-average velocity, at times sitting in the 90-92 mph range. He also shows a slider that reaches 84 mph, an average changeup and has the clean arm action scouts covet.
"He developed a little rhythm later in the game," one scout said after seeing him in March against Mississippi, a six-inning outing, "and he really pitched. I saw the 91, maybe 92, and pitched right there at average. I was surprised, really surprised, (because) he threw a decent changeup."
However, Morgan's inconsistent performance stems from an inconsistent delivery. He tends to be too firm on his front leg, causing him to elevate his fastball. The pitch also tends to be very true, according to one area scout. Morgan fared poorly in a head-to-head matchup against similar southpaw Grayson Garvin of Vanderbilt three weeks ago, giving up nine hits in six innings in a loss to the Commodores while Garvin—who has less of a breaking ball but has a more consistent, better-commanded heater at 90-92—held the Crimson Tide to four hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
Still, Morgan's lefthanded and has shows three average pitches at his best. A strong finish should cement his place in the first four rounds.
Blake Treinen, rhp, South Dakota State
Treinen didn't play in an official game in the first three years of his college career, serving a stint on the junior varsity team at NAIA Baker (Kan.), not playing baseball at Arkansas and sitting out 2009 at South Dakota State after transferring.
South Dakota State head coach, Ritchie Price, roomed in college at
Kansas with Don Czyz, the Jayhawks' closer who went on to play three
years in the Marlins' system. Czyz was running a clinic at Treinen's
former high school while Treinen was there working out and tipped off
The top prospect in the Dakotas last year would have signed with the Marlins as a 23rd-round pick, but there were some concerns about his shoulder, though he's never been hurt.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound righthander was a revelation last spring, topping out at 94 mph and he's been even better this year as a senior.
"He's been ever better this year," Price said. "He's sitting 92-94 and touching 97. He's doing well with his slider and throwing more strikes. His overall command is better. He has a usable changeup, but he hasn't had to use it much because the fastball is so good."
Contributing: Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, Conor Glassey & John Manuel.