Hitters To Watch

Two quick notes before we bear down this weekend as action picks up around the country . . .

• In a draft where college hitters provide some depth but few elite bats, Lamar is giving scouts two good reasons to visit Beaumont, Texas. Redshirt junior catcher Michael Ambort is the bigger name because he was drafted out of high school (41st round, 2003) and again last year (18th round), a season that he missed due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. He’s returned to health this season, and while he’s hitting and hitting for power (.412, 10 doubles, three homers in 97 at-bats), he’s no longer viewed as the best prospect on the Cardinals roster. For one, his arm hasn’t bounced back very well after surgery, and his defense behind the plate is not ready for prime time. Second, junior outfielder Collin DeLome, also off to a hot start (.397/.434/.602), has continued to build off his strong 2006 season, when he was the Southland Conference player of the year.

DeLome has athletic ability, some speed, some power–he just doesn’t necessarily grade as above-average at the big league level in any category, according to one area scout we contacted. He’s more of a tweener, but if an organization believes DeLome can play center field at the big league level (and he’s been clocked as fast as 6.6 seconds over 60 yards), he could sneak higher than the third-to-fifth-round range projected for him. DeLome also needs to be more selective (15-5 K-BB ratio in 103 at-bats).

• Chatsworth (Calif.) High is off to a poor start (7-3) by its own standards, with three losses already, but third baseman/catcher (and fellow Greek-American) Mike Moustakas has clearly been eating his moussaka this season. Actually, he hasn’t been–he’s lost weight according to area scouts and looks more athletic, and his bat has shown more explosiveness this spring. He banged three home runs (two grand slams) and drove in 10 on Thursday in a 22-0, five-inning victory, and now has 10 homers in 10 games this season. He may never catch teammate Matt Dominguez in terms of prospect status, but Moustakas has made himself a legitimate first-five-rounds option for teams looking for hitters. BA’s Prospects Plus ranks him No. 30 among high school players in the 2007 draft class, and he’s validating that ranking with every at-bat this spring.