Florence-Darlington Tech (S.C.) JC righthander Chris Oakley has been on scouts' radars for quite some time. A graduate of the prestigious baseball program at St. Augustine Prep in New Jersey, Oakley showed elite velocity in high school, with his fastball peaking at 95 mph in the summer before his senior year. Oakley struggled with command, and was undrafted in high school, and did not pitch as a freshman at North Carolina in 2014.
Transferring to Florence-Darlington checks off a number of boxes for Oakley. He is now draft-eligible in 2015, he'll get consistent innings for an up-and-coming juco powerhouse, and he can go back to Division 1 baseball (he's committed to Tulane) as a junior without having to sit out for a year. The biggest thing for Oakley's development at this point is logging consistent innings.
On Feb. 21, Oakley tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a victory over Cecil College. His fastball ranged from 87-93 mph, working consistently at 89-91. He flashes plus arm speed, and projects to throw consistently in the low 90s if he can harness his delivery. Oakley's best potential secondary is his slurvy breaking ball, which he didn't have great feel for that day. The pitch has the makings of a 50 offering, with late break down and to his glove side and average depth, though he'll need to show the ability to get strikes with it in the zone. His changeup is not a weapon right now, though he does have some feel for it, and he showed the ability to bury it down in the zone to left-handed hitters.
Oakley's delivery is raw. He starts with a high leg kick and tuck, then swings his front side down and out, creating drop and drive. Oakley has an abbreviated arm circle and hides the ball behind his back, but he leans to his glove side and tends to show the baseball early, which leads to more solid contact than you would expect from someone with his repertoire. His short arm action finishes cleanly, and there is minimal across-body motion.
In the outing, Oakley allowed just two walks and two hits. If he can continue to limit his walks and keep the ball down in the zone, Oakley will be very appealing to teams in the draft come June.
• Closing for Florence-Darlington, Nick Jobst showed potential for elite velocity. His first few pitches came in at 91 mph, then he sat 92-94 against the final two batters he faced. His fastball flashed late arm-side run, and he complemented it with a potential 45 (0n the 20-80 scout scale) breaking ball. The curveball mostly broke throughout its path to the plate, but it flashed average depth and tight spin. Jobst is definitely a reliever, with a max-effort delivery and an across-body finish, but he was clocked as high as 96 by scouts last fall, and certainly has a place in pro baseball.
• Liberty righthander Parker Bean gave the Flames five strong innings in Sunday's matchup against East Carolina. Bean has an impressive three-pitch mix and a projectable arm. The raw materials are there for the sophomore to develop into a top five rounds pick for the 2016 draft.
At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Bean has an ideal pitcher's body, with a full trunk and thick, muscular shoulders. He is an above-average athlete and as a result, he's able to repeat his delivery extremely well for a 19-year-old. Bean has plus arm speed, and should be able to pitch in the low-to-mid 90s as he continues to gain strength. On Sunday, his fastball sat at 88-92 throughout the game, and at times showed above-average movement down and to his arm side. Bean also has a consistently tight slider that flashes late bite and above-average depth. The pitch competes in the strike zone, and hitters who can get a barrel on it struggle to do real damage with the pitch. Bean's third pitch is a changeup, which he throws from the same arm slot but with a noticeably slower arm action. Still, the pitch checks in about 10 mph slower than his fastball and mimics his fastball movement. Bean showed feel for burying the pitch down and away to lefties, and despite his arm action difference, the changeup generated swings-and-misses and poor contact throughout the outing.
Bean has a full arm circle and finishes across his body. He throws from a slightly lower three-quarters arm slot. He finishes online with his landing foot, though his toes point towards the lefthanded batters box, and he can place any of his pitches down and to either side of the plate. Bean shows the ball above his head during his arm path, but extends very late, getting the most out of his wrist and forearm, and allowing his velocity to appear more firm.
• St. John's righthander Joey Graziano showed some upside against East Carolina last weekend. With an abbreviated arm circle and a long, across-body arm path, Graziano is a relief-only prospect at the next level. His fastball worked 90-92 mph and touched 93, and he showed a rolling curveball with 40 potential. Graziano, a junior, could be drafted this year, but may make more sense as a senior sign in 2016.
• East Carolina junior Luke Lowery has plus-plus raw power, and he showed it this weekend, lasering balls to every part of the ballpark. Lowery has extreme swing-and-miss issues, which stem more from his poor timing than from any obvious mechanical flaws. His approach is to attack the baseball early in the count, which should limit his two-strike counts, but he will need to take serious steps in pitch recognition and timing. Lowery has a short stroke with plus bat speed. If Lowery can put the ball in play consistently, many teams will be in on him this spring, especially given the dearth of righthanded power in today's game.
• Duke righthander Sarkis Ohanian has the potential to pitch in middle relief at the Major League level. On Wednesday, Ohanian tossed a shutout inning against N.C. Central, showing a strong three-pitch mix in the process. Ohanian's fastball sat at 91-92 and touched 93, and he pitched off of his late-breaking cutter, which sat 87-89 with late vertical movement and cut to his glove side. Ohanian only threw a pair of sliders, with one showing average potential, with late break and average depth.
• Getting the start for N.C. Central on Wednesday, outfielder/righthanded pitcher Eric Kimber showed an intriguing set of tools. Kimber has very raw arm strength, pitching at 87-89. He doesn't know how to use his lower half yet, with an inconsistent stride that doesn't allow him to use the power in his hips. He has some feel for spinning a breaking ball; at times his curveball showed late break and above-average depth, though he was not able to consistently throw the pitch for strikes. Kimber isn't quite ready for pro baseball, but he has the raw materials to become a low-90s arm with a quality secondary offering.
• Duke freshman third baseman Jack Labosky showed advanced ability throughout the pre-season, and is quickly developing into one of the strongest freshman hitters in the country. He has a short stroke with above-average bat speed and a natural ability to hit line drives to either side of the field. His timing at the plate is way beyond his years, and he shows smooth actions at third base with an above-average arm. Labosky has plenty of time to develop, and he could become one of the top players in the ACC.