June 2009

Whither Scheppers and other tidbits

It can be a little difficult to keep tabs on the indy league front, what with all the college regional action and the end of the high school playoffs. Obviously, there’s an interest in knowing what’s going on in St. Paul and Fort Worth, the temporary homes for Tanner Scheppers and Aaron Crow.

Scheppers hasn’t pitched since May 27, a game in which he was still lighting up the radar gun, but scuffled a bit with command (though he settled down). He was supposed to pitch on Monday, but it got rained out. Imagine my confusion when I didn’t see his name in the reports for either game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Here’s, evidently, what happened:

The Saints are on the road and after his Monday start was rained out, they realized that whenever he made his next start, it would be his final one with the Saints. There was a desire, from all parties, it seems, for that last start to be at home. Obviously, the Saints want to reap the benefits of one more outing from the potential first-rounder and the Scheppers camp liked the idea of it as well. So a plan was made to have Scheppers make his final indy league start on Friday at home. A few big-league teams asked if it could be moved to Saturday — I guess to make it more feasible for some to make it to the start for one final look-see — and the Saints and Scheppers were amenable. So Scheppers will make his final pre-draft outing on Saturday.

Some other bits of information and rumor. Keep in mind that rumors can be just that.

  • Zach Wheeler was in Baltimore yesterday for a
    private meeting/workout, but my understanding was that they didn’t talk
    money.
  • The O’s did, it seems, have a
    conversation with Alex White‘s advisor about whether he would sign for slot if
    they took him at No. 5. I haven’t heard what the response was.
  • Matt Hobgood and others were in  Baltimore for a
    separate workout. No idea who else was there.
  • Drew Storen and Chad Jenkins threw in
    Washington
    today. I heard both threw pretty well. They
    also had a bunch of HS SS in for later-round consideration – Stephen Perez, Nick Franklin,
    Billy Hamilton were all there and all performed well.
  • Latest word on the Royals’ pick at No. 12 is that they might be honing in on a college position player, with a bent toward a premium position. That would make the rumors of BC catcher Tony Sanchez make some sense. So would USC shortstop Grant Green, if they feel they can afford that. Wil Myers has come up here, and while he’s not a college guy, he would fit the “premium position” part of the deal and he supposedly impressed in workouts.
  • Speaking of workouts, they’re one of those funny draft-related things that can be over-valued from a rumor standpoint. Just because a guy goes to a workout doesn’t mean the team is going to take him in the first round. Case in point: Hobgood going to Baltimore shouldn’t make him the front-runner to be a sleeper pick at No. 5. Could they consider him? Maybe. Are they taking him, not necessarily. That being said… Cameron Garfield has reportedly been tearing it up at workouts for a number of teams, including the Angels, Diamondbacks and the Astros. Not sure what that means yet, but he could be erasing any doubts based on his up-and-down senior season in high school.

That’s it for now, but trust me. There’s going to be much, much more

Regional wrap-up — AKA the Money Round

A scout told me before the regionals started this past weekend that someone was going to make himself a million dollars (no, he didn’t say it like Dr. Evil). What he meant was that, especially with the lack of separation among college pitching, that a good performance over the weekend could enhance a guy’s draft stock. He moves up enough spots, he gets that much higher a bonus… get it?

Some are through to super regional play, where they can get one more shot to show off. ASU’s Mike Leake, UNC’s Alex White (along with Dustin Ackley et al, of course) and LSU’s Jared Mitchell are all first-round hopefuls who will keep playing.

Boston College’s Tony Sanchez, San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg (Yes, he doesn’t need more help, but he did lose his first game of the year by giving up two runs over 7 IP, albeit with 15 K, on Friday), Georgia 1B Rich Poythress, Indiana’s Eric Arnett, Mizzou’s Kyle Gibson — they are all done.

Still waiting to see what happens with games tonight are guys like Oklahoma State’s Andy Oliver, Clemson’s Chris Dwyer and South Carolina’s Sam Dyson. They could get one more pre-draft start in if their teams can win tonight.

So, looking back over the weekend, who made money and who may have lost some? Let’s take a look and the winners and losers from an exciting weekend of college action:

Winners

leaker.JPGMike Leake, RHP, ASU: This guy has been all about performance and he did it again at the regional Arizona State hosted. Facing No. 2 seed Oral Roberts, the top-seeded Sun Devils won, 4-1, behind Leake’s complete game. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out 15. He’s now 15-1 with a 1.23 ERA, a .169 batting average against, 20 walks and 143 K’s in 124 2/3 IP. His name isn’t just being whispered in the top 10 right now, he’s being seriously discussed.

Chris Dwyer, LHP, Clemson: He’s a tough one to figure out, both from a peformance standpoint and because he’s an anomaly — a draft-elibible freshman. He certainly didn’t pitch like one on Sunday. Needing a win against Oklahoma State to force a game on Monday to decide who goes to a super regional, Dwyer went 8 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits, walking one and striking out 12.

Andy Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State: One of the reasons for Clemson’s need to beat Ok St. on Sunday was because of what Oliver did on Saturday. He didn’t get the win, but he did go 7 1/3 IP, allowing just two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out six. It wasn’t a hugely dominant performance, but the enigmatic lefty hadn’t pitched this well in a while and it came in a big spot with plenty of scouts on hand.

Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia: I had to throw one hitter on here, right? Poythress began his regional experience quietly, by going 4-for-4 with three homers and 7 RBIs. He homered again on Saturday, though his season ended with a hitless day on Sunday. Still, he finished with a .376 average, 25 homers, 86 RBIs and a .764 SLG. Not too shabby.

Losers

Alex White, RHP, North Carolina:  Boy, he’s picked the wrong time to pitch poorly. White had the opportunity to reverse the trend with a strong regional start. Instead, he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, allowing five runs on four hits and four walks, striking out five. The Tar Heels won the game and did advance to the super regionals.

Brooks Raley and Alex Wilson, P, Texas A&M: It was an ugly day on Friday for A&M pitchers. Raley started the game, went two innings, gave up four runs (just one earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out two. Wilson, once considered to be the top starter on this team, came on in relief and promptly yielded five runs on eight hits over four innings. He walked three and struck out four.

Huh? Not sure what to make of it

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri:  On the results side, it looked just fine. He tossed eight shutout innings against Monmouth on Saturday, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out eight. Perhaps he should have pitched Friday, but the plan was to have him for Saturday against Ole Miss. But since Mizzou lost on Friday, it had to play Monmouth. But the real reason for the question mark are reports coming from that start that had the right-hander throwing in the 82-86 mph range. Is he overworked? Perhaps. But if the velocity reports are true — and I’ve heard they are from two different national scouts (who, granted, weren’t at that particular start) — teams are going to be concerned.

Mike Minor, LHP, Vanderbilt: On the one hand, he gave up four runs in the first inning, five total, while losing to Middle Tennessee State on Friday. He walked four and allowed 10 hits. On the other hand, he battled like heck and kept his team in the game by going all eight innings. He put up five shutout frames after that rocky first before giving up run No. 5. Unfortunately, Vandy scored two in the eighth to make it 5-4. The Commodores play today with a chance to move on to a super regional in the balance.

Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana:
It wasn’t a great start for Arnett, who lost to Louisville. He went seven innings, gave up five runs (only one earned) on five hits while walking four and striking out six. I got very contrasting reports on the start. One scout told me he really liked what he saw, that his team’s defense didn’t do him any favors and threw the ball really well. Another scout really didn’t like what he saw and thought he’s a reliever in the future. That’s what makes the world go ’round. And while this second scout felt it would be a reach for Arnett to go too early, it still sounds like he’s creeping into conversations in the top half of the first round as teams look at least to have a viable, affordable option if all else fails.

Last thing, on the indy front. Aaron Crow pitched over the weekend. Went 6 innings, allowed two runs on six hits, walked three, struck out four. Tanner Scheppers goes tonight.

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