Draft Tracker: May 9
As Baseball America transitions into "Draft Fever" mode, here's a sneak peek with scouting reports on five players getting positive buzz with the draft right around the corner. . .
Corey Seager, 3b, Northwest Cabarrus HS, Concord, N.C.
The younger brother of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, Corey has been a big name among draft prospects for several months.
Early in the year, Corey was considered a tough sign because he's advised by Boras Corp. and because his brother had such a great experience in college at North Carolina. But now, Corey has some helium and could go as high as the middle of the first round.
He has a big, physical frame at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with plenty of strength. He plays shortstop now and is a good defender, but scouts see him shifting to third base where he could provide above-average defense. A lefthanded hitter, he has a simple swing and can go the other way with power. The game comes easy to him and scouts dream on his upside considering his brother was a third-round pick and made the big leagues after just 279 minor league at-bats. The younger Seager is committed to South Carolina.
"This is the most underrated player in this draft," a National League crosschecker said. "I'm here to tell you, if it looks like a big leaguer, walks like a big leaguer and swings like a big leaguer, it's probably a big leaguer. By the way, he has bloodlines. By the way, it's as advanced an approach as there is in this draft."
Brett Phillips, of, Seminole (Fla.) HS
Last year, North Carolina State spirited an athletic speedster out of Florida, and third baseman Trae Turner has helped transform the Wolfpack with his plus-plus speed, leading the nation in stolen bases.
The Wolfpack and recruiting coordinator Chris Hart hoped Phillips would follow Turner as another athletic, speedy recruit, but many more teams are on Phillips than were on Turner at this time last year. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound outfielder has a good profile as a lefthanded hitter with plus speed, and his athleticism helped him become an all-county honoree in football as a senior—the only year he played varsity.
Phillips is somewhat raw but has plenty of tools beside his speed, including perhaps the state's best throwing arm for a position player, and he should be an above-average center fielder with experience. Scouts' biggest questions (aside from signability) center on the bat. Phillips has a solid approach in that he isn't afraid to use the whole field, but his power grade requires projection to get to average or better. He uses more of a contact-oriented swing at this point.
"You're projecting on the bat and the power," a National League area scout said. "But he can run and throw and play center. He's definitely gained a lot of helium lately."
Some scouts were buzzing that Williams could jump into the first three rounds, but more considered him a better fit in rounds three to seven.
"He's got some power in there," one evaluator said. "But he's still learning how to hit. He'll turn in some 4.0(-second) times to first because he kind of jail breaks out of the box, but when he learns to hit those times will slow down. He's got some juice though; there's a lot of fast-twitch in there."
Derick Velasquez, rhp, Merced (Calif.) JC
Velasquez came to Merced from a small high school—Los Banos (Calif.) High—so he didn't get a lot of scouting attention last year. This year, it's been a different story. Scouts are noticing Velasquez as one of the area's most interesting talents and he projects to be picked between the second and fourth round in June.
"I didn't get much attention in a small town," Velasquez said. "So I just tried to come out to Merced and do as good as I could. Luckily, I got noticed by a few people and it's just grown. It's a great feeling."
Velasquez sits in the 88-92 mph range with his fastball and has been down into the mid-80s at times later in the game. Scouts think it's because he's worn out from playing both ways. It's all about the projection. Standing 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, he has a loose, athletic body scouts can dream on.
"He's the reason why you scout," a National League area scout said. "Whichever team is lucky enough to get this guy, he'll be in their instructional league two years from now throwing 96 and I won't be surprised at all."
Velasquez is 18 and won't turn 19 until November. Even though he is a freshman in college, he's younger than many of the top high school pitchers in this draft.
"For my age, a lot of kids I play against are usually older than me," Velasquez said. "But I'm very competitive and it doesn't matter who I play against, I battle with them."
Velasquez throws a circle changeup and a curveball, he hides the ball well and shows good command of his pitches.
"I like to throw the fastball a lot to get ahead of hitters," Velasquez said. "Once I get used to throwing my fastball a lot and the hitters start looking for it, then I'll start throwing my curveball and my changeup just to keep the batters off balance."
Timothy Robinson, of, Ocean View High, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Robinson is the half-brother of Twins righthanded reliever Alex Burnett, who was a 12th-round pick out of Ocean View High in 2005. Robinson flew under the radar for most of his prep career, but his monstrous numbers this spring (.531 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 81 at-bats) have attracted flocks of scouts in recent weeks. He has gotten particularly hot in the last two weeks, hitting five homers in his last four games.
Robinson has a strong, thick build at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, and he is more athletic than he looks at first glance. As Ocean View's quarterback last fall, he passed for 1,236 yards and 14 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,678 yards and 25 touchdowns. Some scouts call him an average runner, others say below-average, but either way he projects as a below-average runner as he matures, and he'll be tied to left field. He has decent defensive instincts but his arm is below-average.
Robinson has a chance to hit enough to be an everyday player there. He bats and throws righthanded and shows big raw power that translates in games. While his swing isn't exactly pretty, he has decent timing and pitch recognition, and he shows enough feel for hitting that his power should play. His offensive upside should get him drafted in the fourth or fifth round.
"It's not an orthodox swing, but there's strength in it, bat speed in it, and when he contacts the ball, it jumps off his bat really good," a National League scout said. "It's one of those that the ball picks up speed in flight. It's easily between 60 and 70 raw power, I mean easily. He's a bull."
Mitch Brown, rhp, Century HS, Rochester, Minn.
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Brown doesn't have the classic pitcher's build. But that's to be understood. His father, Jeff, is a Korean powerlifter and Mitch spent a lot of time himself in the weight room.
Scouts love that Brown has continued to get better over the last two years. He sits in the low 90s with his fastball and has been clocked as high as 95 mph this spring. Brown could wind up with four plus pitches in the future, and he has a tremendous feel for pitching.
The San Diego commit threw his best game this spring in his first outing, with plenty of eyes and radar guns on him. He didn't throw a pitch under 90 mph and flashed plenty of 94s. He mixed in a cutter with slider action at 87-88 mph, a good curveball and flashes of a changeup.
"I saw three plus pitches and one average pitch," a scout said after the game. "It was maybe the best high school game I've seen pitched in 10 years."
Contributing: Nathan Rode, John Manuel, Conor Glassey, Aaron Fitt & Jim Callis