West Tidbits

The problem with having a website AND magazine is sometimes one has to come first. Prioritizing the magazine has meant sitting on a few draft tidbits, but I’ve got 10 minutes to do this instead of eat lunch. I’ll just live off my hump a little while longer . . .

• Fresno State righthander Tanner Scheppers is expected to pitch this weekend after missing his turn last weekend for the Bulldogs. Scheppers relieved in the first game of the Bulldogs’ New Mexico State series—reportedly touching 99 mph in one of his seven pitches—and then started on one day’s rest in the series finale. The next Friday, prior to his scheduled start against San Jose State, Scheppers’ shoulder was tender during his bullpen. They backed him off of that start and then tried again Sunday, but decided to back off again when Scheppers again felt some tenderness. According to Fresno State assistant coach Matt Curtis, all signs pointed to a Saturday start this weekend for Scheppers against Gabe Jacobo and Sacramento State.

• Arizona State coaches report first baseman Ike Davis will play this weekend after missing most of the last two weeks due to a ribcage injury. Davis was having a Pac-10 Player of the Year kind of season before his injury as the Sun Devils’ top hitter and most reliable reliever. ASU plays host to Washington this weekend.

• Stock Rising in the West: Utah righthander Stephen Fife. Many teams still haven’t crosschecked Fife, who has helium into the second-third round range. His profile rose significantly when he pitched 6 2/3 strong innings against San Diego State in a 1-0 loss, the game when Stephen Strasburg struck out 23. Fife’s confidence picked up, and fastball reached 95 in his next start. He sits 89-92 and one Four Corners area scout reported he held velo as good as 93 into the eighth inning of a recent start. Moreover, Fife’s showing an ability to spin a breaking ball at altitude. "If he had USC or UCLA on his chest instead of Utah," one area scout said, "he’d be a first-rounder." One caveat—despite three pitches getting average or above-average grades and a solid 6-foot-3, 215-pound body, Fife had just 69 strikeouts in 79 innings while going 6-4, 3.29 for a 22-24 club.

• Stock Falling: Not to beat up on UCLA too much, but no one’s sure what to make of Bruins shortstop Brandon Crawford. He’s crossed the 50-strikeouts threshold for the second straight season and has dropped back below .300. He’s pressed at the plate and opposing coaches and scouts criticize him for a lack of energy from play to play. That said, Crawford’s an average athlete, which makes him one of the better athletes available in the college ranks this year, and can play shortstop with an accurate, above-average arm. In fact, his arm is his best tool, but in 2008, the fact he struggles to make consistent contact, hit .189 with wood in the Cape Cod League and doesn’t profile to hit enough to be a regular will drive him down draft boards.