Ross Detwiler became the first 2007 draftee to appear in the majors, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in a 7-1 Nationals loss to the Braves tonight. He consistently popped 94-mph fastballs, and used one to freeze Willie Harris for a called strikeout to end his inning of work.
I think you're confused about something I said regarding Hughes in the August 26 Ask BA. I said his stuff wasn't as good as that of Matt Cain, Joba Chamberlain and Tim Lincecum, but that's no knock on Hughes. There are precious few pitchers who can match those guys.
Coming into 2007, I rated Hughes as the top pitching prospect in the minors. I still am very high on him, but the bottom line is that he hasn't shown the same quality of pitches that he did a year ago. Instead of ranging from 91-95 mph with his fastball, he's showing just average velocity at 88-92 mph. His curveball has gone from an out pitch to just mediocre.
This just isn't the real Phil Hughes. What we're seeing is probably related to the severe hamstring injury he sustained in his second big league start back in May. His command hasn't been as sharp as usual, either, though that's typical for rookie pitchers. In 2008, when Hughes is fully healthy and better acclimated to the majors, I think we'll see why he was so highly regarded in the minors.
At its 1974 convention, the NCAA changed its rules to allow athletes to be professionals in one sport while retaining their amateur eligibility in another. So Dixon, like Cubs righthander/Notre Dame wide receiver Jeff Samardzija was last fall, can be paid to play minor league baseball and then return to play college football.
Dixon signed with the Braves for $137,700 as a fifth-round pick last June. The Reds took him in the 20th round of the 2003 draft, after he showed above-average raw power, speed and arm strength as a California high schooler. However, scouts thought he was shaky as a hitter, and he has added three years of rust because the Ducks didn't have a baseball team. His inactivity was evident at two Rookie-ball stops in the Atlanta system, as he hit .176 with 22 strikeouts in 74 at-bats. The chances are slim that he'll turn into a productive hitter after skipping at-bats for most of four years.
Dixon looked good in his first football game of his senior season, directing Oregon to a 48-27 win over Houston last Saturday. He accounted for 275 total yards and produced three touchdowns in a 112-second span in the third quarter, tossing a pair of scoring passes and breaking off an 80-yard run. Dixon slumped at the end of his junior season, but he has NFL size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and athleticism. The guess here is that he pursues an NFL career instead of playing baseball next summer.
Interesting question, pitting Kazmir, who was an all-star last year at age 22 and currently ranks third in the American League in strikeouts, against Price, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft. Both have huge ceilings, and Kazmir is further along the path toward reaching his.
Yet I'm going to select Price. Both guys have outstanding fastball-slider combinations, but I think Price's superior feel for pitching will make the difference. He has a better changeup, along with better control and command, and he can get hitters out with both power and finesse.
Both Kazmir and Price are frontline starters, and in the near future the Devil Rays will have the best pair of lefty starters in the majors. They'll have the best trio as well, as Jacob McGee is close to being ready for the majors.