Draft Tracker: April 8

Spring is in the air and baseball is underway at nearly all levels and, here at BA, we’re tracking the draft’s movers and shakers as the big day is about two months away. From now until June 9, we’ll use the Draft Tracker to spotlight players that are moving up or down teams’ draft boards.

Sam Dyson, rhp, South Carolina

In 2007, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Dyson was a medical redshirt as he rehabilitated after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Last year, he went 8-0, 4.09 with 44 strikeouts and 28 walks over 51 innings. He’s following that up this year, as a draft-eligible sophomore, by starting out 4-2, 4.85 with 40 strikeouts and 20 walks over his first 43 innings. Since out-dueling LSU’s Anthony Ranaudo—another sophomore and a possible first-rounder next year—on March 21, Dyson has been hit around a bit. He gave up eight runs over 6.2 innings against Kentucky on March 28 and then six against Arkansas over 6.1 innings last weekend. But he’s showing a 93-96 mph fastball, even touching 97 and 98 on occasion, and mixing in a sharp, hard, 78-82 mph curveball and a work-in-progress changeup.

Cole White, rhp, New Mexico

Transferring in from Paris Junior College, righthander Cole White has emerged as the Lobos’ relief ace this season. A Grammy-nominated songwriter, White has put his music career on hold to focus on baseball. In one of the toughest places to pitch in the country, White leads the team with 15 appearances and is 1-0, 1.12 with 30 strikeouts, 16 walks and three saves over 24 innings. White dials his fastball up to 95 mph and mixes in an 83-84 mph slider . . . sweet music for New Mexico fans’ ears.

Braden Tullis, rhp, Skagit Valley (Wash.) Community College

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Tullis went relatively unnoticed at Timberline High in Boise, where he pitched and played the outfield. Tullis is a great athlete, who also played linebacker on his school’s football team and ran the fastest 60-yard-dash for Skagit Valley this year. Though he’s played outfield in the past, his future is on the mound. Over his first 28 innings, Tullis is 4-0, 0.33 with 27 strikeouts and 11 walks. He’s getting it done with a fastball that’s sitting 88-91 mph and has good armside run and sink. “He’s got a lot of movement, which you can’t teach,” Skagit Valley coach Kevin Matthews  said. “He has a real good feel for the change and he’s working on his breaking ball. He throws all three pitches for strikes and all are quality pitches.”

Moving Down

Mike Minor, lhp, Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt lefthander Mike Minor was our summer player of the year after beating the Cuban national team twice this summer with Team USA. The shine has worn off a bit this spring, however. While Minor’s numbers—2-3, 3.55 with 43 strikeouts and 12 walks over 46 innings—don’t look too bad, reports are that he’s pressing, his velocity is down a bit and his breaking stuff has been soft. Part of this could be attributed to the fact that, because of injuries, Vanderbilt is on it’s fourth catcher so far this year. One crosschecker summed it up, saying: “If you’re buying into Minor, you’re buying the feel and the pitchability and not necessarily the stuff.” In a strong year for college pitching, Minor can’t match the raw stuff or upside of many other pitchers. He’s a safer pick that will probably go in the back half of the first round, but it’s possible that Vanderbilt won’t have their third-straight first-rounder this June.

Brian Pearl, rhp, Washington

It’s been an up-and-down year for Pearl. There was some buzz surrounding the converted third baseman after he went 2-0, 0.84 with 32 strikeouts and six walks over 22 innings for the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the Northwoods League and then touched 94 mph in the fall. He got off to a good start this spring coming out of the Husky bullpen, earning him two weekend starts. The first was on March 21 against Portland, where he allowed two runs on four hits with a walk six strikeouts over six innings. But his second start was rough—five runs on seven hits over 3.1 innings against Stanford—and he mentioned in a BA Q&A in last week’s Weekend Preview that his lat muscle tightened up on him during that start. He didn’t start that weekend when the Huskies faced off against Arizona State, instead coming out of the bullpen on Friday and Sunday. Gonzaga roughed him up on March 31, scoring five runs in the ninth inning to come back and win the game, and his fastball was way down, sitting in the 86-88 mph range. He’s shown the velocity in the past and overall he’s still having a productive season for the Diamond Dawgs, but there seem to be more questions than answers at this point with Pearl.

Daniel Webb, rhp, Northwest Florida State JC

Webb has been in a bit of a tailspin since late last spring. Talent-wise, he figured to be drafted in the first few rounds of last year’s draft our of Heath High in Paducah, Ky. If he didn’t sign, he would attend the in-state Kentucky where he would pitch for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder flashed some of the best stuff in the state last year, consistently working at 90-93 mph and touching 96. He fell to the 12th round of the draft to the Diamondbacks and when he failed to qualify academically to play at Kentucky, he lost negotiating leverage. The sides did not reach an agreement and Webb ended up at Northwest Florida State (formerly Okaloosa-Walton), where he’s been pitching for the Raiders. Through 40 innings this season, Webb is 2-1, 4.46 with 32 strikeouts and 22 walks. He’s still showing good stuff, but needs to harness his control if he’s going to pitch his way back into the first few rounds. A National League area scout said Webb’s inconsistency stems from the fact that he tends to rush through his delivery when he doesn’t feel he has his best stuff.

Contributing: Conor Glassey, Aaron Fitt, Nathan Rode, John Manuel, Jim Callis