Greetings from the SEC

Tomorrow’s a big day here in Hoover, Alabama, with the start of the SEC Tournament. Four games today, four tomorrow. Dozens of scouts planning to attend.

They’ll get their money’s worth in Day One on Wednesday. That’s because Drew Pomeranz is pitching for Ole Miss against South Carolina in Game 2 and Anthony Ranaudo starts for LSU in Game 3. I talked to Pomeranz, who was named SEC Pitcher of the year, today for a story that will run in a few days.

I also talked to Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox. While Pomeranz is pitching Wednesday, scouts who were hoping to see Cox swing that bat in this tournament will be disappointed. Cox missed three out of the four games against Vanderbilt last weekend with a ribcage injury. Playing in that one game, it seems, aggravated the injury, so he’s not going to play. Arkansas is ranked highly and has the chance to host a Regional regardless of what happens here. For the same reason, Brett Eibner is unlikely to play much, if at all. The two-way player got hit in the hand a couple of weeks back and it’s continued to bother him. He pitched in relief over the weekend and the velocity was fine, but he gave up two homers and the Razorbacks think he was changing his mechanics because of the injury. Scouts will have to wait to get one more look at the potential first-round tandem (as well as lesser prospect Drew Smyly) until regional play. Smyly, for those interested, is Arkansas’ top starter and would’ve faced Vanderbit and Sonny Gray on Wednesday if it hadn’t been for a bliser problem.

There’s no doubt the starts for Ranaudo and Pomeranz are big. As detailed in my last post,  both have had some struggles lately, with Ranaudo’s more dramatic and slide-inducing. He ended up relieving twice over the weekend. Pomeranz started and wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t dominant and once again, was reported to have a drop in velocity.

This has created opportunities for other college arms to step up. There’s no doubt that Florida Gulf Coast’s Chris Sale has taken advantage and most people believe he’ll be the first college arm taken on June 7. Deck McGuire has been very good consistently. He may not wow people as much as some of the others have been capable of in the past, but sometimes slow and steady win the race. McGuire may not be a top 10 player in terms of raw stuff/talent, but there’s a good chance he’ll go there, particularly with the question marks left by the other supposed top arms.

Guys like Matt Harvey and Asher Wojciechowski have helped themselves as well, perhaps to a lesser extent. But again, they’ve generally been good and that stands out right now. Pomeranz still should go ahead of both of these guys, but they’ve cemented themselves more as middle-of-the-first types because of their consistency.

Be sure to check back here and on Twitter (@JonathanMayoB3) on Wednesday for reports from the tourney.

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