SoCal College Scene Doesn’t Take Offseason

LONG BEACH–This weekend Blair Field played host to the first game of
the San Diego-Long Beach State fall series, and up the road in
Compton, UCLA held its scout day at Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth

Victor Sanchez and Zach Walters were impressive underclassmen for USD,
but many of these two teams’ top prospects were not in action,
including Brian Matusz (San Diego), Bryan Shaw (LBSU) and Shane Peterson, a two-way player, were among the players who
did not pitch for Long Beach. Travis Howell is a strong-armed catcher
for LBSU who could be a nice middle-round draftee. Jason Corder’s
outing for the Dirtbags was lackluster Friday night.

Zach Barger, meanwhile, made a good impression. At 6-foot-3, 205
pounds, this lefthanded-hitting senior outfielder is a toolsy player
with speed, a strong arm and a powerful lefthanded swing. Health hasn’t
been Barger’s friend, but if he is able to get into and stay in the
lineup, he may be able to turn that ability into results.

Danny Espinosa is the premier position player for Long Beach State.
Hard working, enthusiastic and energetic, Espinosa gets everything he
can out of a modest tool set. He’s a slightly-below-average runner and
his arm is average at best. Though he played above-average defense at
shortstop for the U.S. college national team this summer, there were
some small items in his defensive game that need to be cleaned up
during this showing. He occasionally takes too many steps during his
exchange, and his range was substandard.

A switch-hitter, Espinosa’s swing lacks balance and fluidity, though he
has a knack for putting the barrel on the ball when he keeps his swing

Approximately 40 scouts showed up at the UCLA scout day, as UCLA has
four players who made BA’s offseason Top 100 draft eligible college

Here’s how they looked:

Tim Murphy, lhp/1b

While his frame indicates little projection, he is strong, athletic
and physically mature. Murphy put on a show with a wood bat in BP,
blasting the ball all over and out of the main academy field. He has
the arm and bat to play first base, and perhaps the outfield corners,
but I like him best on the mound.

He has a fastball that ranges from 88 to 92 mph and an 80 mph
changeup.  Murphy tosses a two-plane, 12-to-6 curveball at 70 mph,
and a sharper slurve-type breaking ball at 76. His mechanics are
smooth, easy and repeatable, and he displays the ability to change
speeds and locations and work the ball both vertically and horizontally
around the strike zone.

Brandon Crawford, ss

Crawford did not play well here. His frame, speed and quickness graded
as below-average, and his throwing and fielding skills were not pluses,
either. Crawford failed to make consistent hard contact in BP,
and he carried that over into the scrimmage game.

There have been days in the past during his days as an underclassman
that Crawford looked like a first-rounder in the making, but he had an
uninspiring showing in the Cape Cod League this summer and he did not
show the tools that made him a prospect on this occasion, either.
Crawford may be one of those guys who in games plays above his tools,
but on this day he played under below-average tools.

Ryan Babineau, c

Babineau has a perfect tall, big and strong catcher’s frame combined with monster
catch-and-throw skills. UCLA took two rounds of throws for its catchers
and Babineau was erratic in his first round, but stunning in his second
round, reeling off one throw at 1.85 seconds.

Babineau’s bat has a long ways to go. His swing is long, his balance is
poor, and he has little load or leverage to his swing. He can sting the
ball, but that is occasional and inconsistent. If a club wants a
well-above-average catch-and-throw backstop and is willing to sacrifice
the bat, Babineau could be an attractive commodity.

Jermaine Curtis, 3b

Curtis is a wonderful athlete with a build that makes girls swoon, and
he flashes 6.71-second and 6.62-second 60-yard-dash times to boot. A
tweener who doesn’t easily fit any position, he has the speed, but not
the arm for the outfield; he plays third but doesn’t have the arm for
that spot either. Second base may be an option, but his glove will need
work at that spot.

Like Anthony Gose, a high school senior from SoCal, Curtis has
extremely intriguing upside if he is able to figure out a consistent
plan at the plate and develop his offense. He shows some line-drive gap
power but he will have a tough time making the transition to wood bats.
He will appeal to a ballclub that prefers premium athletes. However,
that club will have to be patient.