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 supposed 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.