Draft Tracker: May 4
Joe Musgrove, rhp, Grossmont HS, El Cajon, Calif.
Musgrove was solid but unspectacular at the Southern California Invitational Showcase at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in February, working in the 88-91 mph range. Since then, his velocity has jumped, and scouts now regard him as the best high school righthander in Southern California's thin crop.
Musgrove, a San Diego State commit, has a physical 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame and an easy delivery. For most of this spring his fastball has sat comfortably in the 90-92 mph range with heavy sink, and he can reach back for 93-94 when he needs to. At his best, some scouts say they saw him touch 97-98, to go along with a hammer curveball in the 76-82 mph range. Usually, though, he throws a three-quarters slurve in the 77-80 range. Musgrove also mixes in a split-change.
Musgrove's stock is on the rise, but he's still not a lock to be drafted in the top two rounds, even if he is the top prep righty in the region.
"He's got a long ways to go as well—he's not a finished product by any means," an area scout said. "The delivery needs work. There are times he's sinking it down in the zone, and times he'll elevate the fastball. He always slidesteps from the stretch, that gets him into trouble. There are times he gets between breaking balls, and he doesn't have a true changeup."
But it's easy to dream on Musgrove.
"What don't I like about him?" another area scout asked rhetorically. "He's a big, physical righthanded pitcher—6-foot-5 and does things really easy."
Connor Barron, ss, Sumrall (Miss.) HS
Barron has been "a guy" for a strong high school program for several years. He helped lead Sumrall to a 67-game winning streak that ended last year, and he replaced Chad Lewallen (now at Pearl River, Miss., JC) as the program's everyday shortstop this season. At last summer's Tournament of Stars, Barron didn't show great bat speed and struggled defensively, and he didn't hit the rest of the showcase circuit hard, playing locally and in a tournament in Oklahoma.
He's improved physically since then, however, going from a listed 6-foot, 170 pounds to close to 6-foot-3, 195 pounds now. Despite his added size, he has remained an above-average runner, and he has the arm strength for shortstop. Throw in his promising, fluid lefthanded swing, and Barron has gone from a solid local follow for veteran scouts to a genuine pop-up guy who is making Southern Mississippi sweat. He grew up in the Golden Eagles' back yard and would replace B.A. Vollmuth as their shortstop next season, if he makes it to school.
"That school plays everybody," one recruiting coordinator said, "so he's
seen everybody. He can swing it and has arm strength, and now he's
physical, he's gained 15 or 20 pounds in the last year. He's really
starting to play well, and there's a lot of heat on him."
Evaluators liken his profile to that of Rays big leaguer Reid Brignac, who was a second-round pick back in 2004, and Barron is getting crosschecked enough that he now could go close to that range.
Patrick Connaughton, rhp, St. John's Prep HS, Danvers, Mass.
In most cases, baseball and football are the sports of choice for two-sport athletes. In the case of Connaughton, it's baseball and hoops, which isn't surprising considering his 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame. The righthanded pitcher plays small forward on the hardwood, and he has committed to Notre Dame for both sports.
Connaughton has been drawing scouts' attention this spring for his athleticism, physicality and projectability, but his signability has come into focus: What will it take to pry him away from the Fighting Irish, and how will that impact his draft stock?
If he concentrates on baseball, Connaughton's potential is significant, and one national league area scout said he "has a real chance to be a special talent." Connaughton throws from two arm slots — high three-quarters and close-to-sidearm — and shows easy velocity, sitting anywhere from 87-93 mph. From the lower slot, Connaughton gets good run and sink on his fastball, which induces a lot of swings and misses. He throws both a 74-76 curveball and a 78-80 slider, the latter showing more promise. His secondary stuff and command need refinement, mostly because he hasn't fully dedicated to baseball and hasn't pitched many innings. Connaughton's arm action is deep in the back, going out toward centerfield and then first base before his release, but the ball comes out of his hand well in the front.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre righthander Andrew Brackman, the Yankees' first-round pick in 2007, might be the closest comparison to Connaughton, at least in terms of his basketball background. Brackman played basketball for two years at N.C. State.
Now, in more ways than one, the ball is in Connaughton's court.
Kyle Crick, rhp, Sherman (Texas) HS
It's amazing that this draft is so deep, especially when you consider that it's a down year in Southern California and there aren't a lot of Texas fireballers getting consideration in the first two rounds—until now.
Crick first came on the national scene at the Area Code Games, but he's really been climbing draft boards this spring, much like Noah Syndergaard did last year. Crick has a sturdy build, too, standing 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.
A Texas Christian commit, Crick is an impressive athlete that also plays defensive end for the Bearcats' football team. He's shown an above-average fastball this spring, sitting 93-95 in most of his outings and topping out at 96. When he keeps the pitch down in the strike zone, it has some really heavy life.
He also throws a slider that is a little short right now and shows some feel for a changeup, but just doesn't have to use it much against high school competition. His arm works well, but he will have to tighten up the lower half of his delivery at the next level, though it shouldn't be a problem for him, given his athleticism.
Contributing: Aaron Fitt, Matt Forman, Conor Glassey & John Manuel