February 2009

Odds and ends

Had a couple of things I wanted to throw at you today.

Disco Hayes

That’s right, you read right. But what is Disco Hayes, you ask? I’ll tell you.

It’s the new blog from Royals Minor League reliever Chris Hayes. Some of you might remember Chris’s ridiculously funny guest blog from the Arizona Fall League. Even if you didn’t read that one, you’ll want to make Disco Hayes a regular stop in your trip ’round the ‘net.

I think it’s safe to say that you’ll get perhaps the most unique perspective about life in the Minors from the submariner. So check it out now and welcome him back to MLBlogs. It’s a great way to start the day.

Just so’s you know, we’re efforting to get 30 Minor League player blogs going during 2009, one for each organization, kind of like we did during the AFL. So stay tuned for more info on those in the near future…

Draft Aft: Weekend preview and stuff

A good friend suggested using “Draft Aft” — borrowing a nautical term — for when I’ve got draft news. I liked it, so I went with it (Besides, I got no other suggestions).

I have to admit I love this time of year. Not because of the weather here in my Pittsburgh home, that’s certainly not it. No, it’s because draft season is really upon us.

If you’re jonesing for some baseball and can’t wait for Spring Training games, you don’t have to. There’s some good amateur baseball to follow, with some top draft prospects in action. Some of it is even on TV.

This weekend, at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., there’s the Urbanstephen_strasburg.JPG Invitational. The colleges involved are San Diego State, University of San Diego, Bethune-Cookman and Southern University. Games start Friday, but you’ll want to tune into the MLB Network on Saturday as they’ll broadcast the doubleheader. At 5 p.m. ET, you can watch USD take on Bethune-Cookman. The nightcap is SDSU vs. Southern. If you’re only going to watch one of them, that’s the one to watch because it looks like Stephen Strasburg will be starting for Tony Gwynn’s San Diego State team. Strasburg, in case you don’t know, is generally considered to be the top talent in the 2009 draft class and is a pretty good bet to be the top pick when all is said and done.

In the early game, San Diego sophomore Kyle Blair will start. Blair was a good high school prospect back in 2007 and was selected in the fifth round by the Dodgers that June, but opted to go to school. Throughout this tournament, you’ll also likely get to see how USD right-hander Matt Thomson looks. There’s also RHP AJ Griffin from San Diego and lefty Nate Solow from SDSU. A sleeper to watch is San Diego’s Darrin Campbell, a red-shirted sophomore who is coming off TJ surgery, but has been up to 93 mph at times.

Other college tourneys worth checking on (with draft prospects listed underneath):

Big East-Big Ten Baseball Challenge
Clearwater/St. Petersburg/Bradenton/Dunedin, Fla.

Teams: Michigan, South Florida, Cincinnati, Purdue, Connecticut, Michigan State, Georgetown, Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia, Minnesota, Seton Hall, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, St. John’s… is there anyone NOT playing in this thing?)

Players to watch: Matt Bashore, LHP, Indiana; Sean Black, RHP, Seton Hall; Eric Decker, OF, Minnesota; Josh Phegley, C, Indiana; A.J. Pollock, OF, Notre Dame

Coca-Cola Classic
Mobile, Ala.

Teams: Liberty, Mississippi, Mercer, South Alabama

Players to watch: Aaron Barrett, RHP, Mississippi; Scott Bittle, RHP, Mississippi; Jordan Henry, OF, Mississippi

Grand Canyon Tournament
Phoenix, AZ
Missouri, Nevada, Gonzaga

Players to watch: Trevor Coleman, C, Missouri; Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri; Aaron Senne, OF, Missouri

Other odds and ends…

Someone left a comment recently about Austin Maddox, out of Eagle’s View Academy in Jacksonville, Fla. (it looks like they play on Friday, also, in Jacksonville, if you want some HS ball). The comment was:

Where does Austin Maddox from Jacksonville Eagles View rank for this
upcoming draft? Is he likely to be drafted as a catcher or pitcher? Any
info would be appreciated. Thanks!!

Thanks for the question. Obviously, it’s early, but early signs point to Maddox being very highly regarded come June. With a plus arm (one scout said it rated 70 on the scale, 80 being the highest one can get) and legit power, people will be watching his performances. Catching usually gets over-drafted, and there’s not a ton of it in any draft class, particularly legit catchers coming out of high school. If Maddox performs well this spring, it wouldn’t shock me to see him at least be in first-round consideration… as a catcher.

If you’ve got more questions about the draft, or the Minors, don’t hesitate to leave ’em in comments (I’ve got a question from a while back about LHP prospects that I promise to answer soon).

Finally, back a couple of weeks ago, our own Ben Platt covered the high school draft showcase at the Urban Youth Academy. He interviewd 3B prospect Matt Davidson. Been meaning to add it, so you can listen to it here:  020809_matt_davidson.wma 

Alright, kids, that’s it for me. Talk to you soon.

Draft update: UYA Showcase and other tidbits

I need to come up with a better way to show that i’m blogging about the draft, don’t I? I mean, just saying “Draft update” or “Draft alert” is extremely ho-hum. Any ideas? Let me know.

At any rate…. A few things I wanted to pass along. First, let’s talk about the showcase at the Urban Youth Academy. I was able to talk to some scouts and wrote up something that threw out 10 names to watch based on performances that day.

Aside from those 10 names, a couple of others who stood out were Aaron Wirsch, a LHP out of El Toro High School and Paul Strong, another lefty out of Marina High School. One of the bigger surprises was outfielder Austin Wilson. Don’t go looking on your 2009 draft lists for him. He’s not eligible until 2010. Dave Perkin did a nice job detailing that over on BA and I had one scouting director tell me that Wilson put himself on the radar quickly with good showings in BP and in infield/outfield. Wilson as a good, live, althetic body with tools aplenty. It sounds very similar to Aaron Hicks, the Twins’ first-round pick this past June. Hicks, an Urban Youth Academy product, played in this showcase as a junior in 2007, putting him on the map for ’08. We’ll have to see if Wilson can do the same thing in ’10.

Elsewhere, there was the annual Major League Scouting Bureau workout in Puerto Rico in late January. My apologies for not getting to it sooner, but better late than never. I talked to a scout who was there and he mentioned a pair of names. The good thing about the two-day event is that it brings together the players from the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy along with the top players from all over the island. The first day is dedicated to workouts and on Day 2, a game is played. There wasn’t much pitching to speak of, but a couple of outfielders opened some eyes. One is Reymond Fuentes from Fernando Callejo High School. He’s a speedy center fielder who is a Johnny Damon type, a future leadoff hitter with good running ability. The second is a name that might sound familiar to many: Ruben Sierra Jr.

The elder Sierra actually played in the bigs as recently as 2006, at age 40, and finished as a four-time All-Star who hit 306 homers, 2152 hits and 1322 RBIs. It seems that Junior inherited some of dad’s abilities. The scout I spoke with said he didn’t see Sierra Sr. as a kid, but could just imagine that this is what he looked like. He’s a five-tool guy who oozes ability and could be quite a draft, especially if the bat comes around. But he ran extremely well — he covered a lot of ground in the outfield gracefully, as well as posting a good 60 time — and he had a 60 arm (that’s pretty darned good for those of you scoring at home). Dad ended up as a corner OF guy, but at least right now, Junior seems to have more than enough to handle center.

Finally, on the college front, you can put Andrew Oliver back on the map. Originally supposedAndrew Oliver.JPG to be suspended for most of the 2009 season, the Oklahoma State lefty won his suit against the NCAA to be reinstated. The NCAA had suspended him over claims that his advisors had directly contacted a Major League club when he was drafted in 2006. Direct contact, according to NCAA rules, is a supposed no-no. The NCAA said they plan to appeal, but for now, pencil in getting to see Oliver pitching for Oklahoma State soon (their season opens on Feb. 20). If he’s able to pitch all season, he could be among the first college pitchers taken in the draft, and certainly among the first southpaws selected.

Scouting the Top 50: The big finale

At long last, the final four Top 50 scouting reports. Hope you’ve enjoyed them. Stay tuned for some draft stuff in the coming week, particularly regarding the the Urban Youth Academy Showcase that they squeezed in around some rain in LA on Sunday. But more on that later. Now on to those final reports…

4. Rick Porcello, RHP, Tigers
rick_porcello.jpgSeen: April (Florida State League)

Fastball: 88-95 mph
Curveball: 78-80 mph
Changeup: 77-81 mph

Very advanced feel for pitching, polished on the mound. Excellent command of sinking fastball that darts, uses both halves of plate. A little quick with delivery, release point on curve was inconsistent, doesn’t throw consistent strikes. Does spin it well. Shows plus change at times. Secondary stuff will get there to make him a No. 1 or 2 starter, but shouldn’t be rushed.

3. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
jason_heyward.jpgSeen: June (South Atlantic League)

Hits ball hard to all fields with short, easy stroke. Can go with pitch. Sometimes can look bad an unorthodox, other times looks better than most at plate. Small dive-in on approach leads to hole inside, but adjusts, can open and turn to get hands in. Makes things look easy in right field.

2. Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
matt_wieters.jpgSeen: November (Arizona Fall League)

Expect above-average to plus power. Swing is better from left side. Shows more power right-handed. Terrific eye at plate, will take a walk, doesn’t strike out much. Low-key demeanor, does job quietly, doesn’t waste energy. Plus throwing arm, receiving skills overall not as strong. Easy to see him as a Major League regular.

1. David Price, LHP, Rays
david_price.jpgSeen: July (Southern League)

Fastball: 92-95 mph
Slider: 81-85 mph
Changeup: 84-86 mph

Lanky frame. Loose arm action, small recoil on finish. Works fast, can throw strikes with all three pitches. Sinker/slider approach, relies on slider too much. Can move fastball with sink and tail in and out. Slider is short and hard, occasional bite, Sink on changeup as well.

Scouting the Top 50: 9-5

Getting down to the good stuff here, into single digits…

9. Neftali Feliz, RHP, Rangers
neftali_feliz.jpgSeen: June (Midwest League)

Fastball: 93-99 mph
Curveball: 74-82 mph
Slider: 86-88 mph
Changeup: 82-87 mph

Plus arm speed helps him throw 96 mph consistently. Throws strikes with fastball, sometimes gets too much of plate. Breaking pitches are developing, didn’t throw them with confidence in this outing. Changeup is outstanding, falls of table. Small mechanical flaw when he flies open and shows the ball too soon. Can be corrected. Franchise-type arm with plenty in there for starting role.

8. Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers
alcides_escobar.jpgSeen: May (Southern League)

Good understanding of strike zone, battler at the plate, a tough out. More strength to come than you’d think as he matures. Glove will get him there, sets him apart. Easy arm strength with plus accuracy. Good reads in field, gets in position. Future major contributor as every-day shortstop in Major Leagues.

7. Travis Snider, OF, Blue Jays
travis_snider.jpgSeen: June (Eastern League)

Thick frame, but surprising agility and quickness for his size. Bat with plenty of pull power. Begins and remains open. Very patient at plate, waits for strike. Upper-cut on swing, swings hard. Makes consistent hard contact with home run pop. Steady in outfield, with decent jumps and routes. Profiles as Major League power bat.

6. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
madison_bumgarner.jpgSeen: May (South Atlantic League)

Fastball: 89-94 mph
Slider: 77-82 mph
Changeup: 77-78 mph

Fastball consistently 91-93 mph with tail. Can cut it as additional weapon. Good location, not afraid to go upstairs with it. Smooth delivery, fastball gets on hitter in a hurry. Slider is hard and down, almost a  power curve action to it. Didn’t need changeup much, it’s a work in progress. Some small mechanical flaws, but nothing major to worry about.

5. Cameron Maybin, OF, Marlins
cameron_maybin.jpgSeen: May (Southern League)

Lengthy approach when making contact. Very strong wrists, shows power to all fields. Aggressive looking for fastballs, prone to chasing and pullling off contact. Will have to adjust to reach potential. Gets out of box quickly. Effortless in outfield. Regular, every-day center fielder in future.

Scouting the Top 50: 14-10

You guys ready for another set? OK, here it goes…

14. Matt LaPorta, OF, Indians
laporta_matt.jpgSeen: May (Southern League) and August (Team USA)

Middle of the lineup type, run-producing bat. Plus bat speed, plus lift for power. Big swing, can drive ball to all fields. Kills mistakes. Great fastball hitter, trouble with sliders away, but adjustments will come in future. Good corner bat in bigs. Decent in outfield, comfortable, catches what speed lets him get to. Chance to become reliable outfielder. Power bat will carry game.

13. Brett Anderson, LHP, A’s
brett_anderson.jpgSeen: August (Team USA)

Fastball:  88-92 mph
Curveball: 72-73 mph
Slider: 80-83 mph
Changeup: 79-83 mph

Lefty with feel for four pitches. Very composed on mound. Good competitor, even without best stuff. Tail and sink on fastball in and out, gets in on hands of hitters. Slider is out pitch, can back foot for right-handed hitters. Sink on changeup with deception. Curve has good bite and location when locked in, though that was lacking in this particular outing. Good middle of the rotation type in future.

12. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates
andrew_mccutchen.jpgSeen: July (International League)

Excellent bat speed. Surprising ability to generate power. Uses speed to his advantage. Knows how to steal a base and is a good bunter. Will chase pitches, inconsistent with balance and plate discipline. Good range in outfield, reads balls well. Projects as quality every-day outfielder at Major-League level.

11. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
mike_moustakas.jpgSeen: April (Midwest League)

Big bat with a big future. Was playing shortstop at time — which didn’t work — now moved to third. Plus arm to handle infield or outfield corner. Bat will carry at any position. Quick bat speed, plate coverage, power. Plus producer, a middle of the order type when it all clicks. Struggled to adjust at this time, but made adjustments later in season.

10. Colby Rasmus, OF, Cardinals
colby_rasmus.jpgSeen: July (Pacific Coast League)

Just off of disabled list at this time, so rust was apparent. Carries himself like a player. Quiet approach, easy actions. Uses whole field at plate. Knows how to bunt. Good instincts on basepaths, can steal a base. Good jumps and routes in center field. Has ability to become solid Major League outfielder.


Scouting the Top 50: 19-15

First off, the latest MLBlogs rankings are out. From Jan. 29 – Feb. 4, B3 has risen up to No. 19 on the Pro Blogs list. So thanks for that. Keep reading, and tell your friends. Lets keep B3 moving up the charts!!!

For your efforts, I give you the next set of scouting reports:

19. Buster Posey, C, Giants
buster_posey.jpgSeen: October (Hawaiian Winter League)

Great instincts and makeup. Natural leader. A little mechanical, but does everything right. Outstanding hitting approach, makes good adjustments. Can go other way when needed. Power will come. Moves well behind plate, will catch strikes. Arm works, fringe plus. Combination of bat and defense should make him solid-average to plus Major League backstop.

17. Trevor Cahill, RHP, A’s

trevor_cahill.jpgSeen: May (California Leauge) and August (Team USA)

Fastball: 87-92 mph
Curve: 75-79 mph
Slider: 80-85 mph
Changeup: 78-81 mph

Some effort to delivery, but doesn’t hurt location. Stiff front leg, snaps head on delivery at times. Good late sinking movement. Gets groundballs. Stays down in zone. OK curve, good rotation. Slider is slurvy, throws for strikes, very effective vs. right-handed hitters. Flashes good changeup with sink. Aggressive, works fast. Solid Major League starter in future.

16. Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles
chris_tillman.jpgSeen: April (Eastern League)

Fastball: 89-94 mph
Curve: 77-79 mph
Changeup: 79-81 mph

Tall and lanky. Power-style starting pitcher. A lot going on in delivery, arm action hooks and wraps at times. Command is spotty. When off, wildness streaks. When on, it’s pinpoint. Goes after hitters with cutting fastball. Three-quarter curve is plus at times. Future in big-league rotation.

15. Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
dexter_fowler.jpgSeen: June (Texas League) and August (Team USA)

Toolsy outfielder with a ton of athletic ability and a body to dream on. Plus defense now, glides with long strides. Good routes, outruns gaps and covers a lot of ground. Can turn and go. Good arm, accurate with carry. Good idea at plate from both sides. Stronger from right side, with some pull power. More power will come as he matures. Long swing at times from both sides, but cuts down with two strikes. Will make things happen. High ceiling.

Scouting the Top 50: 24-20

Yesterday’s post, in all honesty, was an embarrassment. I hope today’s makes up for it some, with four lengthier scouting reports for your perusal…

24. Tommy Hanson, RHP, Braves
tommy_hanson.jpgSeen: June (Southern League) and October (AFL)

Fastball: 90-95 mph
Curveball: 70-77 mph
Slider: 82-88 mph
Changeup:  82-86 mph

(Hanson’s two reports were both interesting, so I’m including both here instead of combining)

Double-A: Seen at no-hitter… started slow, threw better as game went on. Deception with fastball, picked up velocity late. Plus location on fastball. Slider can be untouchable with plus location. Curve approaches average. Needs to improve changeup. All business on the mound. Future at top of rotation.

AFL: Throws fastball to both sides of plate with plus command. Right-handed hitters helpless when he locates away. Plus, plus hard 3/4 curve, commands well, knee-buckler, unfair at times to hitters. Slider is tighter version of curve, plus as well. Changeup still needs work. Top of rotation future, could be ready in 2009.

23. Mat Gamel, 3B, Brewers
mat_gamel.jpgSeen: May

Outstanding hitting approach, gets bat through strike zone well. Can hit to all fields and can drive ball with power. Gets foold at times with off-speed stuff, will chase pitches down in zone. Glove work is spotty, but has soft hands and good arm strength. Bat will carry him and give him chance to be Major League contributor.

21. Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers
elvis_andrus.jpgSeen: May (Texas League) and November

Great tools and instincts at premium position. Defensive tools to play now. Makes all plays in field. Soft hands and ability to wow you in feild. Will save runs. Sometimes stays back on balls a little. Arm very true. Singles hitter now, but hands work and swing will play. Very young, needs more innings, particularly at plate.

20. Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles

brian_matusz.jpgSeen: November (AFL)

Fastball: 89-94 mph
Curveball: 72-76 mph
Slider: 81-85 mph
Changeup:  80-81 mph

Lefty with excellent future. Throws strikes with four competitive pitches. Fastball a little straight, without too much deception, though angle helps some. Fastball was hit until he started mixing pitches better. Curve and slider are two distinct pitches. Will challenge hitters with both, slider a touch better. Middle of rotation type at least.

Scouting the Top 50: 29-25

And now, a new set of scouting reports for your perusal:

29. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals
It’s hard to get a scouting report on a guy who saw only three games of action in the Pioneer League, so we’ll have to move on…

28. Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Phillies
carlos_carrasco.jpgSeen: May (Eastern League) and November (Venezuela Winter League)

Fastball: 90-96 mph
Curveball: 75-80 mph
Slider: 87-88 mph
Changeup: 83-88 mph

Tall, athletic body, ideal for pitcher. Quick arm action, good mechanics. Quick worker. Plus stuff with future command. Live arm. Fastball jumps on hitters, sinks and tails. Downer curve with bite, plus at times. Cut-like slider. Can change slot on change, good late sink and deception, looks like splitter. Good feel for pitching, can get outs, strikeouts on all pitches. Future top of rotation type.

27. Austin Jackson, OF, Yankees
austin_jackson.jpgSeen: April (Eastern League) and October (AFL)

Live-bodied, graceful athletic type. Mature beyond years, plays hard. Good, balanced approach at plate, sprays balls to all fields. Can bunt. Power will come in future. Good baserunner, will steal bases. Outstanding in center field, makes plays look easy. Can run down balls in gaps. Arm more than good enough. Future as Major League center fielder.

26. Mike Stanton, OF, Marlins
Sorry, no scouting report on him at this time…

25. Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox
Again, my apologies, no scouting report as the scout who saw his team in Lancaster was there when Anderson was on the shelf.

Sorry so brief today, with the holes. Tomorrow will be better, I promise…


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