Draft Tracker: April 25
Draft Tracker returns as part of BA's
32nd year of draft coverage, including 13 drafts here at
BaseballAmerica.com. In the fifth installment of Draft Tracker this year, here are scouting reports on four more players with draft helium with the big day quickly approaching . . .
Mitch Haniger, of, Cal Poly
It's a down year for college talent in Southern California. The region has produced a college player drafted among the top five overall picks in each of the last four years and six of the last seven. But coming into this spring, there was no college player south of Fresno who looked like a lock to go inside the top five rounds.
Though SoCal lacks a blue-chip college talent like Gerrit Cole or Trevor Bauer a year ago, a pair of outfielders have emerged this spring as sure-fire top-five-rounds talents. We spotlighted UCLA's Jeff Gelalich in Draft Tracker
earlier this spring. Some scouts view Gelalich as the top college prospect in the region, but a torrid last three weeks has helped Cal Poly's Haniger pass him as the likely first collegian drafted out of Southern California. Scouts are now buzzing that Haniger might not get out of the top 50 picks.
In his last 12 games, Haniger is hitting .456 with two homers, three doubles, 11 runs and 10 RBIs. On the season he is hitting .345/.407/.595, leading the Big West in slugging, home runs (eight) and RBIs (41). A 6-foot-2, 215-pound specimen, Haniger showed off his provocative righthanded power potential Saturday at Cal State Fullerton, launching a low, rising missile over the left-center-field fence for a three-run homer on a Kenny Mathews fastball.
Scouts say Haniger has two legitimate plus tools in his power and arm strength. His throws are low and accurate with good carry, leading scouts to believe Haniger can play right field in the big leagues, though he plays a decent center field for the Mustangs. In just 39 games, Haniger has nine outfield assists.
He's a fringe-average runner and an average defender with a chance to be a fringe-average hitter. He has refined his setup this spring, getting his hands in better hitting position and staying in sync more consistently. He also has become more selective, drawing 18 walks while striking out 19 times in 148 at-bats.
"He's made really good strides on the offspeed pitch," a National League area scout said. "Before he was always 1-2, 0-2. Now he'll work counts a little bit, he's a little more patient. The pitch recognition is coming."
"He's definitely got a lot of tools," another scout said, "but you're banking on the bat."
And Haniger has given scouts plenty of reason this spring to believe in that bat.
Reid Scoggins, rhp, Howard (Texas) JC
The list of live-armed relievers in this year's draft continues to grow and Scoggins may throw the hardest of them all.
As a redshirt sophomore, Scoggins is a year older than most junior college players because he missed all of last year after having Tommy John surgery in October 2010. Scoggins has a physical build at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. The coaches at Howard have been working with him to smooth out his delivery, which he had trouble repeating early in the year. But over the last month, he's gotten a better feel for things which has helped his command.
His stuff has also been a little better over the past few weeks and teams will have to figure out how high they'll want to take him. Scouts contacted by Baseball America have seen Scoggins in the mid-90s, but Howard head coach Britt Smith said he's been sitting 97-98 mph over his last three outings and even touching triple digits.
"It's 100 with sink and location. It's completely unfair," Smith said. "He's gone from erratic to spectacular."
Scoggins' secondary stuff lags behind his pure arm strength. He throws a fringy breaking ball and has a changeup, though he doesn't use it much in games.
Scoggins is committed to Florida International, but it would be a surprise if he got there with this kind of buzz. Scouts will have to determine how much they like Scoggins—he does have some things working against him, such as his medical history and his underwhelming statistics this season (1-0, 4.50 with 16 walks and 30 strikeouts over 16 innings), but that kind of arm strength is hard to ignore.
Isaiah Yates, of, Clovis (Calif.) East HS
It's a banner year in Northern California. There are the elite prospects like college righthanders Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco) and Mark Appel (Stanford) in addition to plenty of other single-digit selections. But it's not just the college scene that's making it a standout year for scouts in the region. There are plenty of intriguing high school players, as well.
We already spotlighted B.J. Boyd in the April 11 installment of Draft Tracker
and he joins Giovanni Brusa as outfielders from the Athletics Area Code Games team getting the most hype this spring. Yates didn't make that team, but he's in the same discussion as those guys after another strong spring.
Though Yates does pitch, he's a prospect as a position player, where he has a "backwards" profile since he bats righthanded and throws lefthanded.
"He could sneak up on some people because he has some tools," an American League area scout said. "He's an average runner and he has a 60 arm right now. But the kid can hit. The kid can flat-out hit. His power will come. His dad is about 6-4 or 6-5, so he hasn't come into his physical strength yet, but he stays inside the ball, can hit the ball the other way and he'll show you some power."
Yates, who is not yet committed to a college, stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 185 pounds with room to fill out. Unlike Boyd, Yates has always focused on baseball and played this fall with the Central Valley scout team.
"It was good, it was something different playing against different levels of competition with all the other scouts' teams and junior colleges and all that," Yates said. "There's better competition, that's for sure. I think it got me more prepared for high school once it all started. It helped develop me and get me ready for the high school team."
Dan Langfield, rhp, Memphis
In recent years, Vanderbilt has consistently provided the top draft pick out of the state of Tennessee, with six first-round picks since 2004. The Commodores are down in 2012, though, while first-year coach Dave Serrano is rebuilding at Tennessee. Even Middle Tennessee State has hit a rough patch.
At the state's western tip, Memphis is just 18-23 overall despite a respectable 4.19 ERA. Sophomore lefthander Sam Moll has allowed just six extra-base hits in 66 at-bats and has a 2.32 ERA but is just 4-4. Moll replaced Dan Langfield as the Friday starter to begin the year, but the junior righthander has supplanted him as the No. 1 starter in recent weeks.
He's lost both starts, getting three runs of support in the process while striking out 15 and walking three in 14 innings. It's a continuation of the improvement the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, who is 5-5, 3.02 overall and who has lost more than 20 pounds since his freshman season. Langfield ranks second in CUSA in strikeouts behind Rice senior Matthew Reckling, with 77 in 65.2 innings, as well as in average against (.197 to Reckling's .151).
According to scouts, who expect Langfield to be drafted as high as the second or third round, he has three strikeout pitches. Langfield's fastball tends to be true but has plenty of power, touching as high as 97 mph and sitting in the 92-94 mph range. Some scouts prefer his hard slider, which has some depth but has cutter velocity at 85-87 mph. Most prefer his downer curveball, also thrown with power in the 78-81 mph range. His control can be spotty, but he's lowered his walk rate from 5.2 per nine innings last season to 3.7 so far in 2012.
Most evaluators consider Langfield more of a reliever than a starter due to his short size and delivery, which has plenty of effort.
Contributing: Jim Callis, Aaron Fitt, Conor Glassey & John Manuel