Draft Tracker: April 11
Draft Tracker returns as part of BA's
32nd year of draft coverage, including 13 drafts here at
BaseballAmerica.com. In the third installment of Draft Tracker this year, here are scouting reports on four more players
generating buzz this spring. . .
D.J. Davis, of, Stone HS, Wiggins, Miss.
Davis stood out on the showcase circuit last summer mostly for his blazing speed. Now that he's showing more promise with the bat, he has major helium for the draft.
Davis comes from the same small town that produced outfielder Fred Lewis. His father, Wayne, was an outfielder who also played at Stone High and was signed by Toronto as a nondrafted free agent out of Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and spent four years in the Blue Jays' farm system.
Davis is considered signable and is committed to Meridian (Miss.) CC. Some scouts believe he is better than the fastest player in last year's class, Florida prep shortstop Roman Quinn, who went 66th overall to the Phillies, so Davis figures to be selected in the top two rounds of the draft this June.
"It's been a big improvement from the end of last year and early on in the summer," a National League area scout said. "Once he caught on, he pretty much caught fire. There's more consistent hard contact with the bat, he's having more quality at-bats. I haven't seen him look overmatched at all this year. It looks like he's improved his plate discipline. With that run tool he has, for him to make consistent contact, that's a big help for him."
A lefthanded hitter, Davis is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale. He ran a 6.38-second 60-yard dash at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer. But Davis' speed isn't his only tool.
"I like the swing," the scout said. "He has good hitting mechanics, I like the bat path, he has good bat speed and there's a lot of strength in his hands. He's got a lot of things working for him offensively that gives him a chance to hit in the future. I think he's got a chance to hit for average power, too. I think he'll be a guy who will eventually give you 15-20 homers. Probably closer to 15, but he'll have a chance once he fills out to hit for that type of power."
Davis has some room to improve defensively. He needs to work on taking better routes to balls in center field, but his speed helps him make up for his lack of defensive instincts at times. His arm is well below average, but could be a 40 eventually, and is his only tool that projects to be below average.
Dane Phillips, c/of, Oklahoma City
Phillips spent the first two years of his college career at Oklahoma State, where he hit .337/.409/.477 over 193 at-bats as a freshman and .339/.391/.518 over 245 at-bats last year.
After tying for the batting title in the Cape Cod League this summer (and ranking as the No. 29 prospect
in the league), Phillips transferred to Arkansas to pursue a criminal justice degree. Phillips said if baseball doesn't work out, he would like to try to join the F.B.I.
But the NCAA wouldn't grant Phillips a waiver to play this year, so he decided to transfer again in the spring, this time to NAIA powerhouse Oklahoma City so he would not have to sit out his junior year under the NCAA's transfer rules.
Even though he was only at Arkansas for a semester, Phillips said the time was beneficial.
"At Arkansas, that was the first time I'd ever worked with a catching coach," he said of assistant coach Brian Walker. "He helped my catching game a lot and (assistant coach) Todd Butler, he really helped me hitting-wise. That's just a great program and I learned a lot."
For Oklahoma City this year he's hitting .417/.500/.826 with 17 doubles and 11 home runs over 132 at-bats.
"He's come in here and he's hit for some average," Oklahoma City head coach Denney Crabaugh said. "He started off a little slow, but he kicked it in gear a little bit. His average is above .400 right now and he's hitting some home runs and he's driving in runs. He's done everything that we'd hoped he'd be able to do here."
Crabaugh said the slow start was because Phillips had to adjust to being pitched around and seeing so many offspeed pitches.
"One at-bat, I think I might have set a record for breaking balls," Phillips said with a laugh. "The other day I saw a rookie on the White Sox throw Josh Hamilton seven changeups and one curveball in one at-bat and I'm sitting there watching and I'm like, 'Man, I feel your pain.' "
Crabaugh said that Phillips was interested in playing the field more. After spending most of his time at Oklahoma State as a DH, he wanted to catch more. Primarily a catcher since eighth grade, Phillips is splitting time about 50-50 between there and the outfield for the Stars, with a little more time in the outfield.
"I prefer catching," Phillips said. "I like to be in charge of the field. I like to be in command. I like the outfield as well and I've worked on both of them a lot, but catching is my favorite because I like being in charge and I like working with the pitchers."
Scouts know that Phillips will be a work in progress behind the plate.
"He's strong," a National League area scout said. "There's some stiffness, but he's not hopeless back there. I think he'll at least get a chance. He's definitely a project and you're buying the bat and hoping he can catch. But he's athletic and he'll show an average arm."
Phillips' hitting tool is better than his power. He has a line-drive stroke and can spray the ball to all fields, while his power is mostly to the pull side. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner.
What separates Phillips from other prospects, Crabaugh said, is his work ethic and love for the game.
"He's a great kid," he said. "He's one of the first ones to the field everyday. He hustles all around everyday and he's one of the last ones off the field everyday. He works extra beforehand, he works extra after and just loves being on the baseball field. And he's a 4.0 student in the classroom. He's a smart kid and he's a complete joy to be around. I'm just happy he's wearing our uniform."
B.J. Boyd, of, Palo Alto (Calif.) HS
Boyd is benefitting from playing home games right across the street from Stanford. It's a great year for draft prospects in Northern California, making it easy for crosscheckers to double-up and see Boyd and Stanford in the same weekend or even the same day.
Boyd has a compact, muscular frame at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. He starred on Palo Alto's football team as a running back, wide receiver and kick returner and his speed is at least a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Playing both sports means Boyd is understandably a little raw on the baseball field. Boyd has some mild Division I interest as a football player, but remains uncommitted and scouts believe he is more interested in baseball.
"B.J. is a kid who played a lot of football, he hasn't played a lot of baseball," an American League area scout said. "So the game is starting to come to him. It's going to take him a little time, but now he's on track and his skills are starting to show."
Boyd has put his above-average speed to use this year for the Vikings, stealing 24 bases in his team's 19 games. He also has the elements in place to be an above-average hitter from the left side of the plate and projects to hit around 10 home runs annually as a pro.
"You can't teach quick-twitch—either you're born with it or you're not," the scout said. "So I look for bat speed and he has that. He has the tools and he has the aptitude for the game, he just needs instruction and reps."
Kyle Twomey, lhp, El Dorado HS, Placentia, Calif.
Twomey was generating buzz as a player on the upswing even before his 14-strikeout no-hitter against Galena High (Reno) on April 9.
The no-hitter was the first of Twomey's career and it came in El Dorado's first game of the National Classic tournament in Anaheim. The night became even more memorable because of a late twist to the plot.
"I actually had Chris Rivera catching me because our catcher was out with an injury to his wrist," Twomey said. "And I think that was Chris' first time behind the plate and he was unbelievable. He was just the man and it was cool just because we have such a great relationship."
Rivera, a junior, is normally a shortstop and is one of the top prospects for the 2013 draft.
"I was able to get ahead of hitters and throw a lot of strikes," Twomey said. "The only time I really threw any balls was in counts where I wanted to waste a couple pitches. I was able to get ahead in a lot of counts with fastballs and then pretty much from there just continue to attack and put them away."
Twomey throws his fastball in the 88-90 mph range. He said his changeup is his bread-and-butter and he's been working to throw it with better arm speed and command it down in the zone more this year. He's only been throwing his low-70s curveball for a year and he even added a new pitch to his arsenal against Galena.
"I just started throwing a cutter last night," Twomey said. "I'd been messing around with kind of a cutter/slider but I never committed to throwing it in games. But last night I figured, 'Well, I might as well bust this out and see how effective it can be,' and it ended up being a great pitch for me last night and caught some people off guard. I was able to throw the two-seam away and then run the cutter in on their hands and kind of froze some people up in the later innings."
His stuff is good, but scouts have been more impressed with his feel.
"He's showing more control of his stuff from the summer to now," a National League area scout said. "The velocity's about the same, but he's showing more command of his pitches, which is good to see."
With Twomey's slender, 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame, scouts believe there may be even more in store for the Southern California commit.
"You'd like to try and project on him with the lean body he's got and he's got some broad shoulders, so you'd think he's going to get bigger and stronger and hopefully throw harder," the scout said. "That's what we're trying to do—trying to project—and he's got the body to do that, so hopefully it'll happen."
After the no-hitter, Twomey is now sporting a record of 5-0, 0.44. He has allowed just 12 hits and nine walks to go with 35 strikeouts over 32 innings.
"I think he's pitching with more confidence and he's more relaxed," the scout said. "He's pitching to get guys out and pitching to win as opposed to pitching because all the scouts are there and he has the one inning to show us what he can do. . . He's a good kid. He has baseball savvy, he has fun and that swagger to him. He's confident, he likes to play and he competes."