College baseball is about three weeks into the season and high school play is just getting underway, but already players are creating some early draft buzz one way or another. From now until June 7, we’ll use the Draft Tracker to spotlight players that are moving up or down teams’ draft boards.
Scott Frazier, rhp, Upland (Calif.) HS
Frazier, who ranked No. 98 on our latest Top 100 (subscriber-only link), had a start to remember on March 9. With about 20 scouts on hand against Silverado High (Victorville, Calif.), Frazier threw a no-hitter while recording 18 strikeouts. According to one source on hand, Frazier was sitting 91-94 with a very good curveball.
“It felt really good,” Frazier said on the phone after the game. “All my pitches were working great and I was just in sync. Everything was working great. I was throwing all my pitches for strikes and hitting good locations. Everything was pretty much on the money today and I just felt good.”
Upland made an error in the game and Frazier walked a batter in the last inning. Although his teammates started to getting very quiet late in the game, he was trying not to think about the possibility of a no-hitter.
“I didn’t think too much about it, I was just going out there trying to focus on throwing strikes and getting out of the inning quick, but around closer to the game it clicked a little bit,” he said. “I was just focusing on getting outs.”
The gem was a first for the 6-foot-6, 205-pound Pepperdine recruit and Upland ended up winning, 17-0.
Joel Bender, lhp, Oak Hills HS, Cincinnati
Bender didn’t generate much buzz on the summer showcase circuit, but has come on strong in the spring—reportedly touching 92 mph with his fastball and showing flashes of an above-average curveball. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound lefthander is committed to Louisville.
“He’s definitely a guy that came on strong,” a National League area scout said. “He really made a turn for the better this fall. I’ve seen him up to 91. The secondary stuff is below-average right now, but he’s definitely one of those projectable kids that could end up making some noise closer to the draft. He’ll flash some signs there, but he’s just one of those kids that’s one of those late bloomers. It seems like every time you see him, he’s a little bit better.”
Sean Dwyer, of, Tavares (Fla.) HS
Dwyer got a lot of looks playing on the FTB Mizuno team in Jupiter from scouts that wanted to get an early look at two of the top 2012 high school hitters, shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Jesse Winker. The 6-foot, 190-pound Dwyer has a nice swing from the left side of the plate and is committed to Florida Gulf Coast.
“He’s a good looking hitter—good setup, good approach, swings the bat pretty good with wood, at least in batting practice,” an American League area scout said. “Good makeup kid, hard working kid, intelligent. He’s probably a first baseman or left fielder, however you like him—not third base. But the bat’s his best tool. He’s got a good approach and he’s out there hitting a lot and a lot of scouts have the ability to go out and see him take batting practice early in the day with wood. He’s been very accommodating with scouts, so I think that’s going to help him.”
Stumbling Out Of The Gate
Rick Hague, ss, Rice
Hague had a miserable weekend at the Houston College Classic in front of dozens of scouts, including multiple crosscheckers and scouting directors. He went 2-for-10 and made two errors (his fifth and sixth of the season), including a two-base error that nearly cost Rice the game against Texas Christian on March 7.
“I’m sure he’s pressing some,” Rice head coach Wayne Graham said. “There was a lot of early publicity, and he hit so well with the USA team. We haven’t put any pressure on him, because if you put too much pressure on players, they’re going to get worse.”
He hit a home run on March 9, but is still hitting just .204/.259/.347 with 17 strikeouts over 49 at-bats this season. Some scouts have commented that Hague looked a little less athletic and a step slower than he has in the past.
“He doesn’t do anything on the field with any quickness and when he’s forced to kind of speed his game up, it falls apart on him a little bit,” an American League scout said. “The body isn’t good. He’s very thick through the lower half, he has slow feet, slow hands . . . at best, I see him as a backup second baseman at the pro level.”
Josh Spence, lhp, Arizona State
Spence had a fantastic junior year in 2009, going 10-1, 2.37 with 125 strikeouts and 30 walks over 103 innings. Many evaluators feel he was drafted as high as he could be when the Angels selected him in the third round. He didn’t sign and his stock is dropping this year after sitting out the first three weeks of play with what has only been described as arm soreness. Arizona State has been tight lipped with details on the situation, although coach Tim Esmay elaborated a bit today in this BA College Blog post, explaining that Spence has no structural damage and that he started throwing again Monday. But Esmay said Spence is unlikely to return to game action for at least two weeks.
“There’s obviously something wrong with his arm,”
an American League area scout said. “I don’t know what it is. They’re not saying, he’s not saying, but where there’s smoke, there’s fire. He didn’t throw all fall, he hasn’t done anything. For us, he’s an afterthought. And then, after last year, getting drafted in the third round and telling everybody he was going to sign and then not . . . that’s not good.”
Georgia’s weekend rotation
The Bulldogs were swept last weekend by Florida State, falling to 6-6 on the season and dropping out of Baseball America’s Top 25. One reason for Georgia’s early-season woes is its pitching. Junior righthander Justin Grimm (1-1, 5.52), senior righthander Jeff Walters (0-1, 7.30) and draft-eligible sophomore Michael Palazzone (2-1, 9.45) have all struggled thus far.
Part of the reason for their poor numbers is Florida State’s explosive offense, but they bear some of the blame as well. For example, Palazzone has gone backwards since being ranked as the 139th-best player in the country heading into the 2008 draft.
“He was up to 93, but he was like Grimm and Walters, where their command was so poor that they just couldn’t get anything going because of their command,” said a National League area scout that saw him recently. “And the scary thing is that I think their mechanics are fine, so it comes down to your natural feel to pitch, and Grimm, Walters and Palazzone showed below-average feel across the board.”
CONTRIBUTING: Aaron Fitt