MLB.com has confirmed that high school outfielder Josh Bell, considered one of the better high school bats in this year’s Draft class, has indeed sent a letter to the Major League Scouting Bureau informing the Bureau that he does not want to be drafted because he won’t sign and will honor his commitment to the University of Texas.
Report about the letter first came via Baseball America’s Conor Glassey via Twitter, a tweet that read “Heard that Dallas Jesuit OF Josh Bell sent a letter to the Scouting Bureau saying he doesn’t want to sign & wants to go to Texas.” Glassey followed it up with a blog post.
A source with knowledge of the letter confirmed that it was sent to the Scouting Bureau. When reached for reaction to the initial report, the Bureau would not comment..
There are two possible reasons for such a letter to be sent. The first is that Bell is being genuine and simply wants to inform teams that taking him would be a waste of a pick because he truly does want to go to college. The second reason, which is more cynical, is that the Scott Boras Corp. advised player sent the letter as a ploy to push him down to a team that would meet his asking price to sign him away from his Texas commitment.
In either case, it certainly thickens the plot of this year’s Draft. Bell is ranked No. 23 in MLB.com’s Top 50 Draft prospects. The switch-hitter would be a first-rounder based solely on talent.
A few weeks back, I wrote about basketball standout Amir Garrett taking a look at playing baseball instead of potentially going to St. John’s on a hoops scholarship. He threw for close to 50 scouts that day and showed considerable arm strength.
The big lefty threw again for scouts on Tuesday at the College of Southern Nevada and again seemed to impress. According to one source, Garrett sat in the 91-93 mph range and touched 94 mph. His curve and changeup were better than what he showed in the previous workout. Garrett threw 35 pitches in the session.
There’s not much time for Garrett to impress further between now and the Draft. As a hitter, he could have taken batting practice for any of the teams — word was as many as 15 wanted to see him throw again in a private workout — but as a pitcher, he’ll only be able to throw a few more times, at most. The Garrett camp will likely choose carefully in where they might have a private workout, pinpointing teams who would have a real interest in signing him away from college basketball.
Anthony Meo, initially ranked No. 26 in the Draft Top 50, threw a no-hitter on Wednesday in the opening round of the Big South Conference Tournament.
It was the first tournament no-no in the history of the conference. Meo did walk one and two other runners reached via error, but he struck out nine. The right-hander retired the first 16 batters he faced. Coastal Carolina is the top seed in the Big South Tournament and will play either Charleston Southern or Winthrop in the second round.
Meo has an excellent fastball and slider, though his changeup lags behind. That, combined with some effort in his delivery, have many feeling Meo will be a reliever in the future, though he could begin as a starter. Either way, today’s performance certainly doesn’t hurt his stock.
Just a real quick update today as I’m kind of entrenched in Draft stuff these days. Speaking of which, be sure to join me in my Draft chat at 2 p.m. ET today.
Here are the Top 50 hitters:
For Hitter of the Week, I’ve got to go with Brett Lawrie again. Not only did the Blue jays 3B prospect go 13-for-26 with three homers and 11 RBIs, he hit in every game during the week and had five multi-hit games. He finished off the week wiht a two-homer game on Sunday. And, to make things interesting, big league manager John Farrell took some by surprise my mentioning Lawrie as someone who could be playing in Toronto sooner rather than later
And now, for the pitchers…
Pitcher of the Week honors go to Martin Perez of the Rangers. In two starts, the young lefty went 13 2/3 innings, allowed just two earned runs on 10 hits and five walks, while striking out 16. It looks like he’s continuing his progress quite nicely for Double-A Frisco.
A story on Yahoo! Sports stated that top high school pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has told some teams — including the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals — not to select him because of concerns those teams would force him to abandon his long-tossing program. You can read Jeff Passan’s story here.
Bundy uses a program where he’ll throw from distances up to 300 feet, something some teams don’t do. A discussion about the success of different throwing programs is a subject for another time. The question now is if Bundy is indeed instructing teams to stay away from him because of this, or any other, issue.
Based on conversations I’ve had with those two teams — picking first and fifth, respectively — this is news to them. The Royals told me that they have not communicated with Bundy regarding this subject in any fashion. The Pirates echoed that, saying they were unaware of any such concerns or demands.
This is not to say that Bundy doesn’t have concerns about continuing his slightly unorthodox workouts. But at least according to the two teams referenced in the story, he has not vocalized it to them. There has been a very big price tag being mentioned with Bundy and there are those who feel that the bonus demands, and maybe this talk about the throwing program, are designed to steer him to a specific club. There’s no buzz about which team that is, but this is bound to get more interesting as we get closer to the Draft.
There should be new updates to the Top 50 coming soon, with new graduations meaning new players being added. Since last week, Dellin Betances has been added, so be sure to keep checking in on Prospect Watch for updates.
There were some outstanding performances this past week. I guess that’s why they’re considered top prospects… Let’s take a look, starting with hitters.
Hitter of the Week: Yonder Alonso
I do believe it’s officially time to start a Free the Prospect campaign here. Alonso, the Reds’ top pick in 2008 (No. 7 overall) is just going off. Last week, he hit .433 (13-for-30) with a homer and 7 RBIs. In May, Alonso has hit .404 with a .475 OBP and .692 SLG. He’s got a 10-game hitting streak going and you can see his season stats below. Really a first baseman, he’s not going to see any time there in Cincy, so he’s been playing left field. Sure, Jonny Gomes has struggled, but there’s also Chris Heisey up there, so there doesn’t appear to be an opening for Alonso. For now, at least, he’ll have to just keep on raking in Triple-A.
Pitcher of the Week: Matthew Moore
It looks like the Rays’ talented lefty is back on track. For the week, the strikeout artist threw 11 1/3 innings, gave up just five hits and one run while walking five and striking out 15. The Minor League leader in strikeouts the last two years running is now on the leaderboard, with his 56 K’s tying him for fourth (As an aside, Tyler Skaggs, who could have easily been this week’s Pitcher of the Week, is just ahead of Moore in a three-way tie for first with 59 K’s.). For those who might worry about Moore’s command and control, it should be noted that he’s walked just 2.4 per nine innings so far this year, far below his career 4.2 ratio. And at 12.4 K/9 so far in 2011, it has impacted his ability to get swings and misses. Moore, in fact, has lowered his walk rate each season, from 5.1 in 2009 to 3.8 a year ago to his current 2.4. That’s the kind of progress you like to see.
A day late with a Top 50 update… I apologize for the tardiness. I’ve kind of shifted focus to the Draft and that will take up most of my time over the next few weeks. Be sure to c heck out our 2011 Draft section early and often. As always, we’ll have everything you’ll need to know about this year’s Draft class. We’ve also been busy updating Prospect Watch. By now, I hope all of you have perused the new section. We’ve been updating all the lists as guys have “graduated.” When a player loses rookie status via at-bats and service time, we’re going to be as vigilant as possible to find replacements. If you check it out now, you’ll see some new names at the end of the list. Three arms — Jarred Cosart, Tyler Skaggs and Dellin Betances — are now No.s 48-50 on the Top 50, replacing Jeremy Hellickson, Kyle Drabek and J.P. Arencibia. The team and position Top 10s have also been updated accordingly. You’ll see Cosart and Skaggs in this week’s update (stats as of Monday). Hopefully, this will make the prospects list much more dynamic all season. Several other Top 50 guys have made their big-league debuts. Congrats to Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran and Julio Iglesias for getting “the call.” Now, on to this week’s update, hitters first: Hitter of the Week: Domonic Brown, Phillies Looks like he’s coming off the injury just fine, isn’t he? After five games of rehab with Class A Advanced Clearwater, Brown moved up to Triple-A and looks to be just about big-league ready. He hit .409 with a pair of homers over his first 22 at-bats with Lehigh Valley. Including yesterday, he’s played seven games at this level and has hit in all of them.
And now, the pitchers… Pitcher of the Week: Casey Kelly, Padres I thought about going with Jameson Taillon getting his first professional win, but something tells me there’s time yet to sing his praises. Kelly is in his first season with the Padres, one of prospects they got for Adrian Gonzalez (another, Anthony Rizzo, is flat-our raking). Last year was Kelly’s first full season as a pitcher-only — he split time between the mound and shortstop in his first full season (2009). The reports were always that the stuff was just fine, but the results were not. Well, the results might be catching up a bit now. In his one start last week, he went seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out four. Including his win yesterday, he’s thrown 18 innings over his last three starts, yielding just four runs (2.00 ERA) on 19 hits and four walks while striking out 11. For the year, his ERA is down to 3.43 and don’t be too alarmed about the hit rate (40 in 39 1/3 IP). He’s showing a very good GO/AO ratio of 2.18. Things do look like they’re headed in the right direction. And here’s all the pitchers…
Well, this could certainly get interesting.
As I wrote earlier today, college basketball recruit Amir Garrett is known mostly for his work on the court and he’s got a commitment to St. John’s to play hoops there.
We might want to hold off for just a minute. Garrett has played some baseball, too, though it had been a while — though he evidently was at Team USA trials last summer, but didn’t make the team. The fact there was some interest in baseball, then, isn’t a huge surprise and he’s been on some teams’ follow lists as a result. Still, he hasn’t been on radar screens much because he’s not on his high school team and hasn’t played in a game (and won’t).
But for the past two months or so, he’s been working with a pitching coach, throwing bullpens and this afternoon (Wednesday), he threw for close to 50 scouts at the College of Southern Nevada’s field, one-time home of super-prospect Bryce Harper.
He’s 6-foot-5 and he’s left-handed. And during his approximately 40-pitch long workout, he was throwing fastballs in the 92-95 mph range, with a report or two of 96 mph. He doesn’t have much in the way of secondary stuff, throwing a couple curveballs and changeups, neither of which really stood out. A cutter might work for him down the line. While he’s obviously very raw on the mound, the athleticism he has on the court showed up on the mound. He may not have had much of an arsenal yet, but he looked fairly effortless in pumping in plus fastballs.
So, what next? There likely will be more bullpen sessions, though one hasn’t been officially set up as of yet. He’s likely to draw more attention whenever that comes. The biggest questions that need to be answered are: Does he really want to play baseball? How much will it take bonus-wise to get him to walk away from St. John’s basketball? And how will teams evaluate just what they have here with a guy just throwing bullpens and not playing in a game situation? There’s no doubt he’s a project, but is he one a team would be willing to take fairly early in the Draft and give him the payday that might be necessary to get him to pitch professionally? Time will tell…
Stay tuned on this one…
Those of you who follow the college hoops scene likely know the name Amir Garrett. He’s a top recruit out of high school who is set to go to St. John’s on a basketball scholarship. In this youtube world, you can find many a clip of him skying, dunking, etc. Here’s one, just for fun (he’s much more than a stunt-dunker, by the way):
So, why am I writing about a basketball recruit? Well, because Amir Garrett used to be a pitcher. And a good one. And left-handed. He hasn’t pitched for a team in a while, but he’s been working with a coach and is back on the mound. I’ve learned that he’s throwing for a number of teams — as many as nine — today in Nevada. He’ll be on the College of Southern Nevada’s field, the one Bryce Harper made his playground a year ago. And teams aren’t just sending in area guys. There will be some higher ups in attendance.
While Garrett is obviously a bit raw, he’s extremely athletic and word was that even though he hadn’t pitched in a while, he was up to 91-92 mph with his fastball. He’d done interviews in the past saying that he’d have to make a decision between basketball and baseball, though it certainly seemed like he was headed down the college hoops path. But there are those close to him who want him to play baseball and it appears he’s at least kicking the tires on that possibility.
I’ll update you with how things went at this workout and will try to find out just how serious this is. An athletic lefty with that kind of life in his arm isn’t always easy to find, so if he throws well today, you’ll likely hear a lot more about him between now and draft day.
And we’re back with another update with our Top 50 prospects. There are some changes in store, so stay tuned to MLB.com tomorrow for an exciting new way to look/view/peruse our top prospects lists. I think you’ll find it pretty cool to take a look at. In that, there will be some changes to the initial Top 50 which I’ve been updating, thanks to players on the list surpassing the at-bats or service time levels to maintain rookie status, the benchmark I use when compiling the list.
Let’s start with the hitters, shall we?
Hitter of the Week: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Remember when he was “strugggling?” That lasted a long while. Last week, April 25-May 1, Harper went 9-for-24 (.375) with four doubles, three homers and 6 RBIs. That allowed him to raise his triple-slash line from .306/.414/.551 to .329/.424/.671. And he’s not done. He went 3-for-3 today (Tuesday) with another double. He’s now got a seven-game hitting streak going. Over his last 10 games, last year’s No. 1 pick is hitting .500/.600/1.156 over 32 at-bats. Of his 16 hits, 11 have been for extra-bases. He’s now hitting .355/.456/.697 for the year.
Pitcher of the Week: Jake Odorizzi, KC
There were a few candidates for weekly honors with several pitchers pitching well (and kudos to Jameson Taillon for getting his pro career officially started, albeit in a rain-shortened/suspended, two-inning stint). But Odorizzi, who is a step or two behind most of the Royals’ pitching prospects — perhaps in level only — deserves the shout out. On April 29, the right-hander tossed seven shutout innings for Wilmington in the Carolina League, allowing just three hits, walking none and striking out 10. It was the second straight 10-K performance for the young pitcher the Royals got from the Brewers in the Zack Greinke deal. For the year, Odorizzi’s got 30 K’s in 20 IP, while walking just four. I’m no stats genius, but I think a K/BB ratio of over 7/1 is good, right?
Don’t forget … keep an eye out for exciting new prospect coverage on MLB.com in the very near future.