Draft Tracker: May 23
Last year, Baseball America used various installments of Draft Tracker to spotlight two-sport players like lefthander Amir Garrett, righthanders Tayler Scott and Patrick Connaughton and outfielder Brandon Magee. This installment has four two-sport guys all in one place . . .
Shaq Thompson, of, Grant HS, Sacramento
Thompson is one of the top football recruits in the nation. He was committed to California, but in January when the Bears' recruiting coordinator, Tosh Lupoi, headed north to Washington, his prize recruit followed suit.
Thompson is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound physical specimen. He'll spend most of his time on the gridiron as a safety, but also starred at Grant as a running back, kick returner and punter. Thompson's brother, Syd'Quan, is a cornerback for the Denver Broncos.
Shaq is also shows off his athletic ability on the baseball field and a team may try to persuade him to keep playing both sports—baseball in the minor leagues and football at Washington. If that happens, the team will have to be patient.
"He'd be a complete project for player development," one scout said. "But the athleticism is there. It's ridiculous how he moves and controls his body. But he's far from a baseball player. If you throw a ball in the air, he can track it down with the best of them. But as far as his routes and first step and his reads off the bat, that's going to take some time. At the plate, it's going to take a lot of patience. He has some strength and there's some bat speed there, but pitch recognition, pitch selection and having a plan in the box are far away. It would take a lot of time. Baseball's a hard game. You have to be all in, and I just don't know if he'll have the time to do that if he's playing football too."
Patrick Kivlehan, 3b, Rutgers
The coaching staff was unaware, but a future Big East triple crown winner and player of the year was attending baseball games, longing to take the field again. Kivlehan played defensive back for four years and approached the coaching staff about playing baseball.
"He showed up after football season talking about wanting to try out," assistant coach Joe Litterio said. "We did some background on him. He was a good player in high school but decided to play football in college."
Kivlehan started slowly, but his athleticism took over and he crushed opposing pitchers to the tune of .399/.484/.710 in 183 at-bats with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. He was named Big East Player of the Year on May 22 after leading the conference in all three triple crown categories. He's the first Rutgers player to win the award since Todd Frazier in 2007.
"Looking back now, it's unbelievable what he's done in such a short time," Litterio said. "He hasn't really swung a bat in the last four years. He started off slow. You could see the potential, but you don't think this is the type of year he could have. He started to put it all together. He keeps wowing you with what he can do."
Not all scouts are sold on him translating to pro ball, but they all admit they're intrigued by what he's done with so little experience. Kivlehan is a good athlete and at least an average runner, depending on who you ask. He plays third base for Rutgers but is a better fit in the outfield. He has average to above-average power to the pull side, but showed an ability to make adjustments and go the other way late in the season.
Aaron Porter, of, La Habra (Calif.) HS
An elite football recruit for UCLA as a linebacker, Porter was garnering late buzz as a baseball prospect leading up to the draft, but he is considered an extremely difficult sign. Porter's physical 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame and athleticism evokes former Stanford outfielder and current Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart. His baseball skills are still raw, but his upside is tantalizing. He has decent feel to hit for a multi-sport athlete, but his bat still needs to develop. He flashes plus raw power and has solid-average to above-average speed. His routes in center field need refinement, but he can glide around and cover plenty of ground. His arm is below-average but playable.
Porter's two-sport status makes him a real wild card for the draft.
"He's a strong kid," one scout said. "He's a better hitter than Gerhart. He's got pretty good feel to hit, I think. He's not as fast as Gerhart was, and doesn't throw very well. But that's mostly due to the stiffness in his upper body. He's intent on football, but a couple of teams might do something."
Storm Throne, rhp, Morningside (Iowa)
Morningside hasn't had a draft pick since outfielder Kory DeHaan went in the seventh round to the Pirates in 1997. The team's most famous baseball alumnus is lefthander Paul Splitteroff, who spent 15 years in the big leagues with the Royals.
Throne is getting some attention this year. At 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, he's hard to miss on the field. He's also the center on the basketball team, where he averaged 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 19.7 minutes on Morningside's 18-13 team this season. Reports were that Throne was touching 96 mph this fall, but scouts haven't seen that kind of life lately.
Scouts have seen Throne in the 88-92 mph range this spring. He has below-average secondary stuff and is a good student, so he's considered a tough sign. If he were signable, he could be drafted in the teens.
Contributing: Conor Glassey, Nathan Rode, Aaron Fitt & Jim Callis