Draft Tracker: March 14
Draft Tracker returns as part of BA's 32nd year of draft coverage, including 13 drafts here at BaseballAmerica.com. Here are scouting reports on four players generating some early buzz this spring. . .
Alex Wood, lhp, Georgia
Wood missed his freshman year at Georgia after having Tommy John surgery but was the Bulldogs' Friday starter for much of last year, going 6-7, 4.44 with 79 strikeouts and 25 walks over 101 innings.
He was named Southeastern Conference pitcher of the week last March after going toe-to-toe with Gerrit Cole and beating UCLA in Los Angeles, while recording a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven innings.
Wood lost the rematch against UCLA last week, but his performance this year has still been very good. Through the first month of the season, Wood is 3-1, 2.36 with 31 strikeouts and just two walks over 27 innings.
The low walk total has been the key to his success and the biggest difference for Wood this season has been his improved location.
"I've seen him up to 94," an American League scout said. "I think his stuff is the same, but I think his command has improved. When you're lefthanded and you throw 94 and you can throw your curveball for a strike, you're going to get some dudes out. The kid's confidence grew and he's out there pitching with a little bit of an attitude, which is awesome."
Wood typically sits in the 91-92 mph range, but his secondary stuff still needs some improvement. His curveball isn't a plus pitch and he only uses his changeup as a show-me pitch to keep hitters honest, the scout said.
Wood's next start will be on March 16 at home against Tennessee.
Justin Garza, rhp, Bonita HS, La Verne, Calif.
After a 13-0 season last year, Garza had an 18-game winning streak recently snapped, but his stuff has been even more impressive than the results.
Last year, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound righthander got it done with an 88-90 mph sinker and a curveball. But he's gotten a lot stronger since then, his stuff has improved, and he's also added to his arsenal. Two weeks ago his start attracted about 50 scouts.
"He was 90-94, I think he touched 95 with a two-seamer and he's got a cutter, a curveball and a change," a National League area scout said. "He's nasty, man. He just cuts 'em up. You're just going to have to draw the line and decide where you're going to take him because he's outpitching all these other big guys right now.
"The curveball is his out pitch, but he's been going to the cutter a whole bunch and it's like 81 mph. It's really effective and it's effective versus right and lefthanded hitters. He's got some weapons. For a little guy, he can create some downhill plane and he's got some deception because he's real quick to the plate. He's not afraid and he trusts his stuff."
Garza is a good athlete who plays shortstop when he's not pitching and is committed to Cal State Fullerton.
Steve Bean, c, Rockwall (Texas) HS
Bean's teammate, shortstop Spencer Edwards, received more attention on the showcase circuit this summer, but Bean is getting some early buzz this spring.
Bean first stands out with his 6-foot-2, 190-pound physique. Like Edwards, he is also committed to Texas and has offers good projection.
"He looks good behind the plate," a National League area scout said. "He's blocking well, his hands work good behind the plate and his arm works extremely well—it's a 65 arm. He looks like he can call games and handle the running game at the same time. He still needs some work catching, but he throws well."
Bean was the unanimous pick for District 10-4A defensive MVP in 2011. And, as if the catch-and-throw skills weren't intriguing enough, he also gives scouts something to dream on as a lefthanded hitter with some power.
"His bat is a little long, but he has some projectable power," the scout said. "As hard as it is to find catchers, he's what you would consider very projectable all around."
Adam Miller, rhp, Brigham Young
As a prep senior in 2008, Miller was high school teammates with junior Matt Davidson and sophomore Taijuan Walker. Now at Brigham Young, Miller is attracting attention and once again lighting up radar guns.
"He's done a great job and has worked really hard coming off his mission," BYU pitching coach Wally Ritchie said. "He's been sitting 92-93 (mph) and touched 97 against UC Riverside."
His stats this season aren't as impressive. Over three starts, Miller is 1-1, 1.93, but also has 12 walks and 10 strikeouts over 14 innings. But with Miller, context is key. This season is his first season back from a two-year Mormon church mission to Culiacan, Mexico.
Miller, who is being used as the Cougars' third starter, has a hard 12-to-6 curveball and a developing changeup. Harnessing the control will be key for 6-foot, 185-pound righthander.
"His control is still coming back," Ritchie said. "He's still trying to find consistency, but it'll come for him—he's already come a long way since the fall. If you take two years off from pitching, you're going to have some bumps in the road."
Miller said he lost 15 pounds during his mission, but is now back to the 185 pounds he was when he left. He returned to the U.S. in mid-July, but did not start a throwing program until September and didn't get back on a mound until mid-October. Obviously Miller was ecstatic when his velocity came back almost immediately, especially since he wasn't able to play catch at all during his two years in Mexico.
"I only saw one baseball the whole two years I was down there and it was covered in spider webs," Miller said. "Mostly I just saw soccer balls."