Collier sounds up the Reds ally. Probably cheap to sign too.
Collier sounds up the Reds ally. Probably cheap to sign too.
It's a-rolling hot and heavy these days. Here's the thing, it's nearly impossible to tell what's legitimate and what's hogwash (always wanted to use that word). Here's what I've heard tossed out there today. Take it or leave it at your own risk. Hopefully, in the coming days I'll be able to sort some of this out. But here are some tidbits.
* The Rays have narrowed their choice to either Buster Posey or Pedro Alvarez. Some I spoke to thought it might just be propoganda, so proceed carefully here. The Rays haven't said anything about cutting names from the original five. If they take Alvarez, the idea would be to move Evan Longoria to second base when the time comes, which could be right around when Mr. Iwamura's contract runs out.
* The Orioles top choices remain the top college arm in Brian Matusz and one of the better college bats in Justin Smoak. But there's some talk of there being a third candidate, a "dark horse" if you will. No idea who that is at this point, but something tells me one of the Beckhams does not count as a dark horse.
* The Chicago White Sox, while looking hard at some of the corner infield power bats -- namely Justin Smoak or Yonder Alonso -- are also looking at a power arm. Word has it that GM Kenny Williams is in Stillwater, Oklahoma this weekend for the regional hosted by Oklahoma State. At that regional is Texas Christian University, whose closer is power-armed Andrew Cashner, the fast-rising reliever who's been hitting the upper 90s as a short man, but has the size and delivery to make many think he can be a frontline starter.
That's all I got for right now. As I do, remember to take any and all of these items with at least one grain of salt.
I miss Adam Dunn.
Crow hopes to follow Scherzer's lead
Right-hander may be drafted higher than former teammate
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Aaron Crow can vouch for the fact that those Max Scherzer watch parties have been extremely popular on the University of Missouri campus in recent weeks.
Since Scherzer, the former Missouri right-hander, burst into prominence as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation, Crow and his Missouri teammates have considered Scherzer's appearances to be must-see television.
"Every time he pitches, we go somewhere and watch him," Crow said.
If the talent evaluations hold true regarding the upcoming 2008 First-Year Player Draft, the next wave of Missouri players may have some Crow watch parties to attend in the not-so-distant future.
Crow, the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, has been prominently mentioned all spring as a potential high first-round pick. Scherzer went No. 11 overall to the Diamondbacks in 2006, and many of the mock drafts suggest Crow could go higher than that.
Performing in a league that delivered six teams to the NCAA Tournament, Crow finished 12-0 with a 2.56 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. Crow went into the NCAA Tournament with 117 strikeouts versus just 33 walks, which provides a reference point for an electric three-pitch repertoire.
But there's more, much more.
"One of the things that makes Aaron special is that he can locate his other pitches in addition to the fastball, which has been consistently 93 to 96 [mph] all spring," Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson said. "If you have a guy with a mid-90s fastball and you don't know if that's coming in a fastball count, it's very difficult for the hitter. He has been able to throw the offspeed pitches in fastball counts."
Crow, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, falls into the late-bloomer category. He wasn't drafted out of Washburn Rural High School in Wakarusa, Kan. But after incremental progress in the Missouri program and a true coming-out party last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he posted an 0.67 ERA, Crow has zoomed past scores of pitchers who were considered better prospects three years ago.
This year, the scouts have been on hand at Missouri games since the chilly days of late February and early March. Crow was somewhat shaky in his first two starts, but then hit a groove that left Missouri players and coaches shaking their heads in amazement.
At one point this season, Crow pitched 42 2/3 scoreless innings.
"I'd say the fastball is my best pitch, but the slider isn't far behind," Crow said. "And my changeup is getting a lot better every time I pitch. It is improving all the time."
Crow grew up in the Topeka, Kan., area, which is just an hour drive from Kansas City. The Royals will have the No. 3 overall pick and Crow knows there have been projections indicating that he's in the Top 10 mix. Whether he lands close to home or not, Crow figures to have a smile on his face come Draft Day.
"I've been a Royals fan my whole life," Crow said. "That would definitely be a fun experience. But whoever drafts me, I'm confident it'll be a good fit."
After thriving in the Cape Cod League, where he was named the top pro prospect, Crow has turned in a body of work this season which is punctuated by his penchant for reaching a different gear when runners are in scoring position.
"In his first two starts, you could tell he was overthrowing and trying to live up to the hype and the expectations," Jamieson said. "Then he backed off and became more of a pitcher who worried more about location.
"When he tries to create velocity, the ball flattens out. But when he just tries to pitch and locate, he has great movement."
Besides using his three years at Missouri to develop into a pitcher who is now considered a prize prospect for some Major League club, Crow has moved close to a degree as a banking and finance major.
"It has been three of the best years of my life here in college," Crow said. "From a baseball standpoint, I've gotten a lot stronger and a lot better. And hopefully, I'll be able to use that degree somewhere down the line."
Scherzer needed just over one year of Minor League baseball before joining the Diamondbacks in late April. The way Scherzer prepared himself at Missouri as a junior in 2006 made an impression on Crow, who was just a freshman.
"He was great to learn from," Crow said. "He taught me a lot of stuff about pitching, and it was great to have him at Missouri as someone to look up to."
Now, the young pitchers at Missouri will have another ex-Tiger to look up to as Crow gets ready for Draft Day.
"Work ethic and intangibles have to be a big part of it when you are talking about drafting a guy you hope will be part of your organization for a long period of time," Jamieson said. "Max had it and Aaron has it as well. Work ethic and intangibles have helped make Aaron what he is."
I miss Adam Dunn.
College corner infielders, relievers represent strength of draft
By Keith Law
Updated: May 30, 2008, 3:57 PM ET
Compared to recent drafts -- from the superstar-laden 2005 first round (Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman), to the Evan Longoria-Clayton Kershaw-Tim Lincecum top 10 in 2006, to last year's high school pitcher bonanza -- the pool of top-shelf talent in 2008 is subpar.
This year's crop better resembles 2004's low-upside college-centric first round. If you want to look at the glass as half-empty, this year's first round has more than a few things in common with the 2000 first round, which has produced three stars in Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Adam Wainwright, but which on the whole has been a dud. None of the 13 picks between Gonzalez (No. 1 overall) and Utley (No. 15) from that 2000 draft has appeared in a big league game this season, and eight of them have never appeared in the majors.
Corner-ing the market
The draft's top tier of talent is deepest in an unsexy area -- college corner infielders. That category of player has typically yielded high returns -- from past names like Mark Teixeira, Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro to more recent picks including Gordon, Zimmerman, Braun and Nick Swisher -- but doesn't fit the standard first-round profile of players who offer a wide set of plus tools or pitchers with big fastballs and good breaking balls.
The 2008 draft should see three college corner infielders go in the top 10 picks (South Carolina first baseman Justin Smoak, Miami first baseman Yonder Alonso and Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez). All three have plus raw power; Smoak is a switch-hitter who plays great defense, while Alonso has an outstanding eye at the plate, and Alvarez offers the promise of greater value relative to position. The first round should also include Cal first baseman David Cooper and Wichita State third baseman Conor Gillaspie, while South Carolina third baseman James Darnell and Wake Forest first baseman Allen Dykstra should be early selections. None offers the upside of the front three, but all project as average big leaguers.
It's a very strong year for college relievers, which is good news for teams looking to spend a top pick on a now player who can help them in 2008 or, at worst, in 2009, but bad news for teams in the latter half of the first round hoping to land an impact long-term prospect. The crop is led by two righties, TCU's Andrew Cashner and Georgia's Josh Fields, who both sit in the 95-97 mph range with plus breaking balls, as well as Mississippi State's Aaron Weatherford, whose splitter may be the best swing-and-miss pitch in the draft. Weatherford's strikeout rate, on a per inning and per batter faced basis, is actually ahead of that of Ryan Wagner, the 13th overall pick in 2003 out of Houston who reached the big leagues that summer.
Behind that troika sits a long list of college relievers and closers with somewhat lower upsides but who still offer that same quick-to-the-big-leagues potential. Arizona's Daniel Schlereth, son of my colleague Mark Schlereth, has exploded up draft boards in the last three weeks, as his velocity has jumped into the mid-90s, and at times he's had two pitches that would grade out at 65 or better on the 20-80 scale. Purdue's Josh Lindblom followed up a strong Cape Cod League performance with a dominant run through the Big Ten this spring, boasting a very sharp curveball, above-average velocity, and great control.
Rice's Bryan Price came out of nowhere after a near-8 ERA in 2007, and could either move quickly as a closer or be converted to a starting role in pro ball. The parade should continue with Kyle Weiland (Notre Dame), Bryan Shaw (Long Beach State), and Zach Stewart (Texas Tech). And that's without considering Scott Green, the enigmatic Kentucky pitcher who has touched 96 this spring but doesn't show the same stuff from one outing to the next; or Brett Jacobson (Vanderbilt), who has touched 98 but doesn't pitch in critical situations because his command is poor.
That depth in college relievers is necessary to balance out the scarcity of top-end high school arms. The 2007 draft's first round featured eight high school pitchers and 17 high school players in total, both the highest since the 2000 first round, but this year's top round may look more like those of 2003 and 2005, with just three prep arms taken in each (Chad Billingsley, Jeff Allison, and John Danks in 2003, and Chris Volstad, Aaron Thompson, and Mark Pawelek in 2005). Only two high school pitchers are very likely to go in the first 30 picks: Ethan Martin from Toccoa, Ga., and two-way star Aaron Hicks from Long Beach, Calif., with a handful of others vying to go in the final third of the round.
Weak prep arms
What's lacking in this year's high school pitching class is arm strength. There are very few high school seniors this year who consistently work in the mid-90s, and only Martin and Hicks have that in combination with other positive attributes -- both are athletic two-way players with good breaking balls -- to solidify themselves as first-rounders. They could be joined by Gerrit Cole, a very hard-throwing right-hander from Orange, Calif., who reportedly hit triple digits in a playoff outing, but whose signability is questionable between his advisor (Scott Boras) and college commitment (UCLA).
The best of the rest include players with good command and secondary stuff but average fastballs, like shortstop/right-handed pitcher (and Tennessee quarterback recruit) Casey Kelly of Sarasota, Fla.,; pitchers who've seen their stuff and stock slip slightly this spring, like Tim Melville of Wentzville, Mo.; or one-pitch guys with other question marks, like Jake Odorizzi of Highland, Ill., and Jason Knapp of Annandale, N.J.
Compared that to last year's class, which ran deep with high-ceiling prep arms -- from the more polished Rick Porcello and Jarrod Parker -- either of whom would comfortably be the best in this class -- to raw but still talented Chris Withrow and Madison Bumgarner to two-way player Michael Main. Last year, teams drafting in the last half of the first round knew they'd have their pick of hard-throwing teenaged pitchers with second pitches and/or physical projection; this year, the same teams are preparing to be disappointed with the high school pool that's going to reach them.
Sign of the times
Compounding the problem is the number of "signability" players from the 2005 draft who went to school but didn't improve their draft stock in the three years they were gone. Three of the top players in this draft were solid prospects out of high school, with Pedro Alvarez and Justin Smoak both looking for seven-figure bonuses in 2005 but likely to more than double that this year. But Justin Bristow (East Carolina) and Jordan Danks (Texas) had chances to go in the first round in 2005, and will be lucky to be first-day drafts this year, and David Adams (Virginia), Brett Jacobson, and Zach Putnam (Michigan) also lost ground in the three years they spent in school. Smoak's college teammate, Reese Havens, was in the latter group until he surged offensively this year. While he may not get first-round money, he should go before the second round starts. Signability players who slip in the draft and end up in college can provide a solid layer of impact talent in the draft three years down the road, but the 2005 crop proved a mixed bag.
The most interesting subplot in this year's draft will be whether the slotting system, already on life support, collapses entirely. "Slotting" is the informally-enforced practice by the commissioner's office of telling teams what they should pay their top picks in the draft. The number is determined not by player quality, but by the pick number. Just as the draft itself was instituted to reduce the amount of money the industry was giving to amateur players, the slotting system (not enforced by formal punishment for violators) was designed to stem the rapid growth in amateur bonuses in the 1990s, and even to roll those bonuses back. Certain teams have broken with these recommendations, particularly to sign players advised by Boras, but by and large, teams played ball with Bud Selig and the system's overseer, Frank Coonelly, who's now the Pirates' team president.
Last year, the commissioner's office sent out slot "recommendations" that were about 10 percent below the 2006 figures, and the system snapped. By my estimate, 12 players received bonuses over the 2007 slot figures, although many of them received the slot figures for the equivalent pick in the 2006 draft. Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Detroit, the Cubs, Kansas City, and the Yankees all exceeded their slot recommendations by significant numbers. The Yankees and Red Sox both spent heavily in later rounds of the draft, signing three and five players respectively over the commissioner's round recommendations after the fourth round, while Detroit and Baltimore each splurged on a first-round talent in the fifth round. The more that teams break the system, the more it will embolden agents (other than Boras, who seems to look upon the slotting system as something that other people have to worry about) to demand more money for their clients than the system offers.
Aaron Crow and Yonder Alonso are both rumored to be looking for money well over any slot recommendation, and a wide range of high school prospects, including every Vanderbilt recruit, are also looking for first-round money to buy them away from college. Combine the increased resolve of certain agents with the ire of teams that have walked in lockstep with the commissioner's office only to see premium players make their way to the teams that disobeyed the edicts and a new sheriff responsible for enforcement (Dan Halem, the replacement for Coonelly), and you have a powder keg waiting for someone to light the match.
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
I hope this works!
List expanded to 75, but Beckham's still No. 1
By Keith Law
Updated: May 30, 2008, 3:31 PM ET
On May 9, I posted my ranking of the top 60 draft-eligible prospects. This time, I've expanded the list to 75 players. Remember, this is a ranking, not a projection. Click here for my first-round projection. I'll update the top 75 list one final time next Thursday, the first day of the draft.
NO. PLAYER POS. SCHOOL
1 Tim Beckham SS Griffin (Ga.) H.S.
2 Buster Posey C Florida State
3 Justin Smoak 1B South Carolina
4 Eric Hosmer 1B American Heritage H.S. (Plantation, Fla.)
5 Pedro Alvarez 3B Vanderbilt
6 Aaron Crow RHP Missouri
7 Brian Matusz LHP San Diego
8 Gordon Beckham SS Georgia
9 Brett Wallace 3B Arizona State
10 Gerrit Cole RHP Lutheran H.S. (Orange, Calif.)
11 Kyle Skipworth C Patriot H.S. (Riverside, Calif.)
12 Christian Friedrich LHP Eastern Kentucky
13 Aaron Hicks RF/RHP Wilson H.S. (Long Beach, Calif.)
14 Yonder Alonso 1B Miami
15 Ethan Martin RHP/3B Stephens County H.S. (Toccoa, Ga.)
16 Josh Fields RHP Georgia
17 Casey Kelly SS/RHP Sarasota (Fla.) H.S.
18 Tim Melville RHP Holt H.S. (Wentzville, Mo.)
19 Shooter Hunt RHP Tulane
20 Jason Castro C Stanford
21 Conor Gillaspie 3B Wichita State
22 Andrew Cashner RHP Texas Christian
23 Lance Lynn RHP Mississippi
24 David Cooper 1B California
25 Reese Havens SS South Carolina
26 Jake Odorizzi RHP Highland (Ill.) H.S.
27 Daniel Webb RHP Heath H.S. (Paducah, Ky.)
28 Robbie Ross LHP Lexington (Ky.) Christian Academy
29 Aaron Weatherford RHP Mississippi State
30 Zach Collier OF Chino Hills (Calif.) H.S.
31 Jemile Weeks 2B Miami
32 Josh Lindblom RHP Purdue
33 Bryan Price RHP Rice
34 James Darnell 3B South Carolina
35 Petey Paramore C Arizona State
36 Brett DeVall LHP Niceville (Fla.) H.S.
37 Adrian Nieto C American Heritage H.S. (Plantation, Fla.)
38 Ezekiel Spruill RHP Kell H.S. (Marietta, Ga.)
39 Kyle Lobstein LHP Coconino H.S. (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
40 Michael Montgomery LHP Hart H.S. (Valencia, Calif.)
41 Cody Satterwhite RHP Mississippi
42 Niko Vasquez SS Durango H.S. (Las Vegas, Nev.)
43 Ryan Perry RHP Arizona
44 Alex Meyer RHP Greensburg (Ind.) H.S.
45 Wade Miley LHP Southeast Louisiana
46 Ike Davis 1B Arizona State
47 Aaron Shafer RHP Wichita State
48 Roger Kieschnick OF Texas Tech
49 Isaac Galloway OF Los Osos H.S. (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)
50 Kyle Weiland RHP Notre Dame
51 Tim Murphy LHP UCLA
52 Brett Lawrie C/2B Langley (B.C.) H.S.
53 Nick Maronde LHP Lexington (Ky.) Catholic H.S.
54 Destin Hood OF St. Paul's Episcopal School (Mobile, Ala.)
55 Taylor Hightower C Cartersville (Ga.) H.S.
56 Brad Holt RHP UNC Wilmington
57 Ryan Flaherty SS Vanderbilt
58 Daniel Schlereth LHP Arizona
59 Ross Seaton RHP Second Baptist H.S. (Houston
60 Allen Dykstra 1B Wake Forest
61 Logan Forsyth 3B Arkansas
62 Vance Worley RHP Long Beach State
63 Daniel Marrs RHP James River H.S. (Midlothian, Va.)
64 Jaff Decker RHP/3B Sunrise Mountain H.S. (Peoria, Ariz.)
65 Tyler Ladendorf SS Howard JC (Texas)
66 Tyler Sample RHP Mullen H.S. (Denver, Colo.)
67 Lonnie Chisenhall 3B Pitt CC (Greenville, N.C.)
68 Anthony Gose LHP Bellflower (Calif.) H.S.
69 Zach Cox 3B Pleasure Ridge Park (Lexington, Ky.)
70 Dennis Raben RF Miami
71 Jason Knapp RHP North Hunterdon H.S. (Annandale, N.J.)
72 Blake Tekotte CF Miami
73 Zach Cone OF Parkview H.S. (Lilburn, Ga.)
74 Anthony Hewitt SS Salisbury (Conn.) School
75 Tanner Scheppers RHP Fresno State
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
Here's a pretty good draft report on Brian Matusz from a Baltimore Orioles blog, Camden Depot. It contains some nice YouTube videos of his windup.
I'm not a hooligan. I'm a Reds supporter.
http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Lo...all_draft.htmlLocal phenom could go high in baseball draft Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Last updated: Thursday June 5, 2008, EDT 5:25 AM BY TOM GULITTISTAFF WRITER
Although Hunt was used to seeing major league scouts with radar guns whenever he pitched, he already had committed to the University of Virginia and teams usually shy away from college-bound players.
As it turned out, the Texas Rangers took him in the 34th round, which wasn’t nearly enough to persuade Hunt to change his mind about going to college.
The circumstances are a lot different heading into this year’s draft, which begins today at 2 p.m.
After a stellar junior season at Tulane University in which the 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hander was named a second-team Louisville Slugger All-American and Conference USA’s Pitcher of the Year, he is expected to be taken in the first round today and has been projected by some to be a top-10 pick.
“It would be real exciting,” said Hunt, a Wyckoff native. “After all of the work that I’ve put in, to have that happen and get to go play professional ball would be amazing.”
In mid-May, Baseball America projected Hunt to go 10th overall to the Houston Astros, but last week it had him going to Minnesota at No. 14 because of control problems and signs of fatigue as the season wore on. MLB.com originally had the Rangers picking Hunt again with the 11th pick overall, but now has him 20th to the Seattle Mariners.
Still, Baseball America has him ranked as the fourth-best pitcher available.
“It’s a little nerve-racking for me,” admitted Mickey Hunt, Shooter’s father and his coach at Ramapo High School. “It’s every father’s dream who puts a baseball in his kid’s hand when they’re born. It’s really played out well. He loves it. He’s always shown that love for the game.”
Shooter, who will turn 22 on Aug. 16, might have hurt his draft standing a little with his performance in the NCAA regionals last weekend in Tallahassee, Fla. In two starts, he allowed 10 runs – five earned – on 13 hits and five walks while striking out seven over nine innings.
Starting on only two days’ rest, he gave up six runs – two earned – on six hits and three walks while hitting three batters and striking out two over 3ª innings in a 16-7 loss to Florida State in Monday’s regional final.
“I left everything I had out there,” he said. “I think all of the guys did.”
That might have been Hunt’s final college game. Although he says, “I haven’t made any decisions yet,” the millions that come with being a first-round draft pick will be tempting.
Hunt planned to speak with his advisor, former major league pitcher Bobby Witt, and will rely heavily on his family as well.
Regardless, his decision to go to college has clearly paid off – though it required a transfer from Virginia to Tulane following his freshman season for an opportunity to start more often.
“I knew that I still had things to learn and I had to improve on all my skills,” said Hunt, who went 9-4 this season with a 2.68 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 100ª innings. “Luckily, playing up in the Cape Cod League [where he led the league in strikeouts in 2006] with the Falmouth Commodores helped me out tremendously and coming to Tulane was a huge part of helping me to improve my draft status.”
Three years of physical maturity and two years of tutoring from Tulane pitching coach Chad Sutter (son of former major-leaguer Bruce Sutter) has made Hunt into a more complete pitcher. He consistently hits between 90 and 95 mph with his fastball and has started working a change-up into a repertoire that also includes a sinking two-seam fastball and what scouts call a “plus curve.”
“I think I improved on everything,” Hunt said. “I was really just a thrower, just trying to go out there and do everything without having an actual plan. After being here, I’ve really developed a consistent plan that’s a way to attack hitters.”
http://www.northjersey.com/sports/mo..._on_deck_.htmlLocals on deck for the draft Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Last updated: Wednesday June 4, 2008, EDT 3:08 PM
College: James Madison
High School/Hometown: St. Joseph/New City, N.Y.
Scouting report: The power-hitting, left-handed junior had a strong season and could sneak into the first five rounds of the draft. However, the draft is stocked this year with promising first basemen.
College scholarship: Boston College
High School/Hometown: Don Bosco/Oradell
Scouting report: The right-hander is able to throw three pitches consistently for strikes and has been dominating on the mound this season. He could go anywhere from rounds 5-10 as scouts know his velocity will improve.
High School/Hometown: Ramapo/Wyckoff
Scouting report: The junior right-hander and son of Ramapo coach Mickey Hunt, could be a first-round selection as he throws a mid-90s fastball mixed with an above-average curveball.
College: George Washington
High School/Hometown: Fair Lawn/Fair Lawn
Scouting report: The junior right-hander has a good arm and has also shown strong potential as a hitter. He could be selected in the mid- to late-rounds of the draft.
College scholarship: St. John’s
High School/Hometown: St. Joseph/Ramsey
Scouting report: The fact that he’s a left-hander and his baseball pedigree may get Lobban a look in the draft. He has a live arm but must work on his off-speed pitches.
College scholarship: Duke
High School/Hometown: Don Bosco/Saddle River
Scouting report: The left-hander changes speeds well and also throws a strong breaking ball. The fact that he’s a left-hander is a big advantage in the draft, and teams will weigh that against his signability. He’ll likely slot no lower than the 10th round and potentially much higher.
College scholarship: Virginia
High School/Hometown: Don Bosco/Suffern, N.Y.
Scouting report: Proscia has all the tools to be taken in the first five rounds – he hits for power and average, he has a strong arm and a great glove and range. What’s overlooked sometimes is that he also has above-average speed.
College: George Mason
High School/Hometown: St. Joseph/Suffern, N.Y.
Scouting report: The slick-fielding junior, the nephew of former American League Rookie of the Year Walt Weiss, was picked by the Colorado Rockies in the 47th round of the 2005 draft out of high school.