Results tagged ‘ 2011 Draft ’

Go out and play!

As most of you know, if you’ve ever heard me talk about it, or ever read my stuff, I’m a big fan of guys who sign early out of the Draft and get their careers started. I understand from the players’ (and advisors’) perspectives, waiting and using the deadline to their advantage in terms of getting larger pay days. Anyone who watched deadline day unfold can tell that it’s a very successful strategy.

But nothing beats playing. It’s not that those who signed late won’t be very good down the line. And it’s not like those who signed early are guaranteed success or to be better than those who held out. But getting some Minor League time in before the season ends has often helped speed a player’s ascent to the big leagues. Just ask Nationals closer Drew Storen, who signed immediately out of Stanford and now has 113 Major League appearances under his belt, all while just turning 24 a couple of weeks ago.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of those early signees and how they’re professional careers have begun:

Corey Spangenberg, Padres: No first rounder signed faster than Spangengerg. The No. 10 overall selection came to terms on June 10. As a result, he’s piled up 215 pro at-bats already. He dominated in the short-season Northwest League, hitting .384/.545/.535 with 10 steals over 25 games. That earned him a bump up to the full-season Midwest League. After hitting just .154 in 17 July games, the infielder has hit .375 in 16 August contests. He’s also had the opportunity to play second base full-time for the first time, putting him in good position to jump on the fast track in 2012.

Joe Panik, SS, Giants: He may have been a surprise first-round pick for many, but the No. 29 pick signed just a day after Spangenberg and has been raking in the short-season Northwest League. He leads the circuit with his .346 batting average and is third with his .405 OBP.  He’s even slugging .483 while swiping 12 bags.

Kevin Matthews, LHP, Rangers: All these college guys signing early is great, but when a high school arm gets going quickly, you have to love that. This Georgia prep product joined the Rangers on June 16 and has already gotten a taste of two levels, the rookie-level Arizona League and the more advanced Northwest League. Pitching largely in shorter outings, the 18-year-old No. 33 overall selection has nonetheless been impressive over 24 2/3 IP, allowing just 19 hits (.207 BAA) while striking out 26. He hasn’t been over-matched playing against largely college-age competiton in the NWL. If he breaks with a full-season team next year while other high school arms are staying back in Extended Spring Training, this is why.

Jake Hager, SS: One of the Rays’ 437 picks over the first couple of rounds, the Nevada area high schooler joined the organization on June 23. Taken No. 32 overall, Hager has put up modest numbers with Princeton in the rookie-level Appy League (.247/.287/.392), but he’s 39 games and 158 ABs richer than many of his contemporaries.

Kolten Wong, Cardinals: The No. 22 overall pick has had no trouble adjusting to the Midwest League, going right to Quad Cities after signing on June 25. The second baseman hit .432 in 10  August games before landing on the disabled list with a tweaked hammy. Overall, Wong is hitting .327/.386/.500 over 40 games.

C.J. Cron, Angels: The Utah product signed on June 28 and even though he needs shoulder surgery, he’s been able to get some professional ABs under his belt first. Playing for Orem in the Pioneer League, the first baseman has hit .308/.371/.629 with 13 homers in just 143 at-bats.

July 25 was a good day for a couple of college pitchers who bucked the typical trend. No. 3 pick Trevor Bauer (Diamondbacks) and No. 18 Sonny Gray both signed early (I have no problem with college pitchers who threw a ton of innings taking a break before signing). Gray has had two scoreless outings in the Double-A Texas League. He’s not piling up innings, but just the taste — and the fact he’s in Double-A now — shows how quickly he can move. Bauer, of course, is the best example. Guys in the top five, unless they are signability picks, don’t sign early. He’s now made two Double-A starts, totalling 10 innings, where he’s struck out 16, walked only four while allowing just eight hits. Look for him in Arizona’s bullpen come September.

Those are just the first rounders. I’ll be back soon to talk about the supplemental guys on down who have made a strong first impression.

The unsigned Top 50 draftees

We’re about 33 hours from the Draft signing deadline and all signs point to Monday being an extremely busy day. Most everyone I talked to has said that things with the top picks will more than likely wait until tomorrow and that things are extremely quiet… almost too quiet. That should make for a ton of news to cover, with 23 unsigned first-rounders to follow up on.

I will update when I can, but for now, here’s a look at the initial Draft Top 50, listing all from that list that are still unsigned. The number listed is each player’s Top 50 rank:

1. RHP Gerrit Cole (Pirates)
2. 3B Anthony Rendon (Nationals)
3. LHP Danny Hultzen (Mariners)
4. RHP Dylan Bundy (Orioles)
5. OF Bubba Starling (Royals)
7. RHP Taylor Jungmann (Brewers)
8. LHP Jed Bradley (Brewers)
9. SS Francisco Lindor (Indians)
11. OF George Springer (Astros)
12. RHP Archie Bradley (D-backs)
13. RHP Taylor Guerreri (Rays)
14. RHP Matthew Barnes (Red Sox)
15. LHP Daniel Norris (Blue Jays)
16. SS Javier Baez (Cubs)
17. RHP Jose Fernandez (Marlins)
18. RHP Dillon Howard (Indians)
19. C Blake Swihart (Red Sox)
20. RHP Alex Meyer (Nationals)
22. OF Mike Mahtook (Rays)
23. OF Josh Bell (Pirates)
24. LHP Tyler Anderson (Rockies)
27. LHP Matthew Purke (Nationals)
28. OF Jackie Bradley (Red Sox)
29. OF Brandon Nimmo (Mets)
30. RHP Robert Stephenson (Reds)
31. C Austin Hedges (Padres)
33. SS Levi Michael (Twins)
35. C Andrew Susac (Giants)
36. OF Brian Goodwin (Nationals)
38. LHP Andrew Chafin (Diamondbacks)
39. C Peter O’Brien (Rockies)
40 3B Jason Esposito (Orioles)
41. OF Derek Fisher (Rangers)
42. C Nick Delmonico (Orioles)
44. OF Charlie Tilson (Cardinals)
46. 3B/1B Ricky Oropesa (Giants)
47. RHP Joe Ross (Padres)
48. RHP Michael Kelly (Padres)
49. RHP Tyler Beede (Blue Jays)
50. LHP Josh Osich (Giants)

If it seems like a lot of of names, it is. 40 in total. Colleague Jim Callis at Baseball America was reporting that Andrew Chafin had signed with the Diamondbacks, so that brings it down to 39. Needless to say, there’s a lot of work to be done tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Draft stuff

I know, thrilling title. But what can you do? It fits.

It’s been busy here in Draft-ville, what with the big day coming up on Monday. My latest mock is up on the site now, if you’d like to check it out. I’m sure there will be plenty of changes for the final one coming late Sunday or early Monday.

I’m using that very generic headline because I wanted to use this post just to pass along some tidbits about what’s going on.

First thing to talk about is NCAA Regional play starting tomorrow (Friday). It’s the very last time for the college players to make an impression.  Here’s some information of where you can catch some top Draft talent:

Charlottesville: Danny Hultzen will make his final pre-Draft start on Saturday against St. John’s or East Carolina.

Los Angeles: Gerrit Cole goes on Friday against San Francisco. It stands to reason that Trevor Bauer will follow on Saturday against UC Irvine or Fresno State.

Fort Worth: Kyle Winkler, who stepped in as the Friday starter and has excelled, isn’t pitching TCU’s first game of the Regional. That honor goes to Andrew Mitchell, but keep an eye out for Winkler and Matt Purke in later games.

Houston: No top pitchers here, but Anthony Rendon will be in action for Rice. Will his work at second base continue?

Tallahassee: Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin, a polished lefty, will not pitch against Peter O’Brien and Bethune-Cookman on Friday

Clemson: This might be the best Friday matchup in the nation. UConn is sending Matt Barnes to the mound. Coastal Carolina is countering with their ace Anthony Meo, who’s fresh off a conference tournament no-hitter.

Atlanta: Mark Pope starts for Georgia Tech on Friday, but rest assured Jed Bradley will start soon thereafter.

Austin: Sam Stafford may be pitching the opener for Texas on Friday, but don’t fret. Ace Taylor Jungmann will go on Saturday.

Nashville: Vanderbilt has a whole mess of draftable talent, highlighted by ace Sonny Gray, of course. But there’s also 3B Jason Esposito and LHP Grayson Garvin, all of whom should go in the first couple of rounds.

Corvallis: Oregon State lefty Josh Osich, who’s crept into some late first round talk, will start on Saturday against either Georgia or Creighton. And, of course, Andrew Susac will there to add to the first round buzz.

Fullerton: Starting pitching-wise, there are some interesting names, like CSF’s Noe Ramirez, but the guy I’d want to see is Stanford’s Chris Reed, who’s been moving up boards. He’s their closer, but many think he can start at the next level.

Chapel Hill: It seems nearly certain that UNC’s Levi Michael will go in the first round, but where? The team that thinks he can stay at short might be the one to take him. Check out this regional to form your own opinion.

In other news…

  • Anthony Rendon’s medical report has recached teams and they are currently reviewing it. No news yet what the report means, but how teams evaluate the information they are given about the Rice third baseman’s shoulder could determine where he goes at the top of the first round.
  • Remember my favorite topic, Amir Garrett? Well, it seems like the hoops recruit (St. John’s) who’s at least toying with the idea of pitching instead, threw to live hitters for the first time since he started workouts for scouts. The lefty threw to hitters from the College of Southern Nevada, where Garrett has had his other bullpen sessions. According to one source, he was up to 95 mph and continued to show improvement with his curve and changeup, throwing 55 pitches in total. There are a number of teams who have continued to show interest in Garrett and he might try to squeeze in one more private workout before Draft day. It’s going to take a good bonus to sign him away from basketball, but there are teams that might be willing to meet that price after taking him in the second or third round.

Finally, wanted to share a few things with you. As part of this crazy lead up to the Draft, I get asked to do a fair amount of interviews to talk about it. A variety of markets, different media, so I figured I’d add some links of stuff I’ve been doing. Much of it is from a particular team’s perspective, focusing in on the local market.

Pittsburgh: Pirates Extra Innings on the radio flagship.

Talking Pirates draft with Stan Savran on 970.

New York: SNY.TV to talk both Yankees and Mets

I’ve done some stuff in Milwaukee and will be talking in Tampa tomorrow, so I’ll pass along more as I get them.

As I hear things as we get closer, I’ll try to be more active in getting them up here quicky.

Josh Bell wants to go to Texas

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.

Amir Garrett throws again for scouts

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.

Draft: Oh Meo My! Coastal Carolina P tosses no-no

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.

Draft update: Matt Purke and other injury news

TCU will be issuing a statement today officially clearing lefty Matt Purke to make his way back to the mound, I have learned.

The draft-eligible sophomore who was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009, but chose to go to college instead, had been shut down by a sore left shoulder. He went to see renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews who diagnosed Purke with bursitis.

The plan will be to shut down Purke for now, have him rehab his shoulder and then begin throwing on flat ground, likely next week. The hope is that he’ll be back before conference tournament play — perhaps getting two starts in — and ready to really go full-tilt during the tournament, which begins on May 24.

There’s been a lot of speculation about Purke and his prized left arm for much of the 2011 season. Some scouts felt something wasn’t quite right all season, and there were some people who questioned the validity of reports about a blister shutting Purke down in the early part of the season, thinking perhaps that it was a cover for the shoulder. Someone familiar with the situation assured Purke did indeed have a nasty blister and that his shoulder didn’t bother him until after he returned. It’s possible that the 10 days he had to take off from throwing to let the blister heal contributed to the shoulder issue he’s now dealing with.

How this impacts his Draft status remains to be seen, as shoulders always do make teams wary. If Purke can come back and look like the guy many felt was the top left-hander in the class before the year began, he could regain some of that status.

In other injury news, University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. hurt his wrist diving for a ball in the outfield last Saturday. It now appears the toolsy Bradley will have surgery on the wrist on Friday. Most feel that will end his season, but as Bradley stated on his Twitter account (@JackieBradleyJr) “We will all witness this together. Surgery is Friday so then we will start the calendar. #MiraculousHealing” Bradley is hoping he can prove people wrong and make it back in time for postseason play for the highly-ranked Gamecocks. Bradley hadn’t been hitting all that well, but those who believe in his tools will likely be willing to take him where they originally had him prior to this injury.

Draft news: Matt Purke shut down

It’s been fairly widely reported that 2011 Draft prospect and LHP Matt Purke has been shut down with shoulder

Matt Purke will have his shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews.

soreness and will be examined by Dr. James Andrews today. You can read the note in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram right here.

The Draft-eligible sophomore was a first-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2009 (No. 14 overall), but turned down a sizable bonus to go to Texas Christian University, knowing he’d be eligible again in two years. As a freshman, Purke went 16-0 for the Horned Frogs, with a 3.02 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings. That led many to think he’d be among the top picks in this June’s Draft, perhaps the top college lefty in the class.

While his numbers this season — 4-1, 1.55 ERA, 47 K’s in 40 2/3 IP — certainly aren’t bad, scouts who know Purke well had felt that he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was a year ago. Even before news of this shoulder issue came out, Purke’s draft stock had been slipping a bit. He began the season late, with a blister keeping him from getting going initially. He began pitching on Sundays, then moved up to Saturday, with TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle evidently preferring to keep an effective Kyle Winkler as his Friday starter.

While some felt something wasn’t quite right with him all season — could he have been pitching hurt all year? — it really was evident he wasn’t himself on Saturday at San Diego State. Purke went just four innings before being removed from the game and reports from scouts were that the southpaw’s velocity had dropped drastically, down to 84-86 mph.  A scout in attendance said he was at around 91-92 mph the first two innings, then didn’t throw one over 87 mph after that and clearly seemed to be laboring. Keep in mind that Purke came out of high school two years ago sitting 92-93 mph and topping out at 95 mph, so it was obvious something was amiss.

We’ll see what Dr. Andrews has to say. Schlossnagle said he hoped he might be back for conference tournament action (May 24-28), but there’s no question his Draft stock will continue to fall unless he can come back and show he’s completely healthy. But with the concern about shoulder injuries, it might be very difficult for Purke to get back to anyplace close to where some saw him before the 2011 season began.

Jesse Flores Memorial All-Star Game

For the fourth year in a row, scouts in Southern California ran an outstanding event, the Jesse Flores Memorial All-Star Game. MLB.com reporter Rhett Bollinger did an outstanding job covering the Draft showcase for us (read the story here).

This year’s edition was held at Mt. San Antonio College, a JUCO in Walnut, Calif. The initial rosters were jam-packed with the top talent in the state of California, but some cancellations did water it down a little bit. Here’s a list of some of the bigger names who ended up not playing on Sunday:

  • Henry Owens — Got shut down this fall, just for rest, as a precaution.
  • Austin Hedges — Has been out the past two weeks with a minor ankle injury
  • Travis Harrison — Has been dealing with a few different minor injuries
  • Daniel Camerana — Had the flue

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some very good players in attendance. And sometimes when some “names” don’t show, it allows others to step up into the spotlight.

Without Owens there, the consensus was that LHP Daniel McCreery stole the show on the mound. The big (6-8) lefty breezed through his inning of work, throwing 89-92 mph fastballs with plenty of movement (one scout described it as a cut fastball). He also threw a very good breaking ball which some think is better than Owens’.

RHP Danny Keller also impressed some. The 6-4 right-hander was throwing 90-94 mph and sat comfortably in the 92-93 mph range. He also showed a pretty good slider.

Catcher  Bryce Mosier was the MVP with two hits — both hard-hit opposite field line drives — a pair of RBI and some strong defense behind the plate. He was strong in BP as well and threw out a runner during the game.

Taylor Sparks was a guy who wasn’t initially selected for the game, but took advantage of the opportunity when others sat out. The 3B is a specimen at 6-3, 195-pounds, runs a pretty good 60 (6.8) and shows average power. He’s average defensively with an OK arm at third. But he was very impressive during BP, showing plus bat speed and hitting line drives consistently.

Other players who stood out to scouts:

Jacob Anderson, OF
Brandon Berry, 1B
Aaron Brown, OF
Dante Flores, SS
Ryan Garvey, OF
Trent Gilbert, 2B
Ryan Keller, RHP
Christian Lopes, SS
Brandon Martin, SS
Riley Moore, C

An early, early look at the Class of 2011

Sorry, folks, I meant to get this up here on Friday and just didn’t get it done. But here it is, a very early look at the top names at the Draft class of 2011. I thought it would be a nice respite from all the World Series talk (really, who can get tired of that?). But seriously, all 30 teams are working behind the scenes on next year’s Draft, so why not me? OK, so maybe right now there’s not a ton to do — some fall workouts are about it — but especially for the 28 teams no longer competing in 2010, thoughts of the future are important.

So I polled some scouts to get a sense of what the industry thought of the class after all the summer leagues and showcases were over. This is by no means scientific (what about the Draft is, after all?) and this list could very well look completely different once we get into the spring and Draft season. So I’ll try to update it as the year goes on, especially once the 2011 season is set to begin.

Without further ado, then, an early look at the top 10 in the Draft class of 2011:

  1. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice Universityrendon_anthony_2.JPG
  2. Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA
  3. Matthew Purke, LHP, TCU
  4. George Springer, OF, University of Connecticut
  5. Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt University
  6. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS, Oklahoma
  7. Taylor Jungmann, RHP, University of Texas
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, University of South Carolina
  9. Matt Barnes, RHP, University of Connecticut
  10. Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow Senior HS, Oklahoma

Others to watch (in alphabetical order):

Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA; Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech; Dillon Howard, RHP, Searcy HS, Ark.; Danny Hultzen, LHP, U of Virginia; Michael Kelly, SS/RHP, West Boca HS, Fla.; Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde HS, Fla.; Alex Meyer, RHP, U of Kentucky; Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill HS, Tenn.; Joseph Ross, RHP, Bishop O’Dowd HS, Calif.; John Smith, OF, McIntosh HS, Ga.;  Derek Starling, OF/RHP, Gardner Edgerton HS, Kansas; Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS, Calif.; Blake Swihart, C, Cleveland HS, Texas; Kolten Wong, 2B, U of Hawaii; Tony Zych, RHP U of Louisville

As you can see, the top of the list is college heavy and there are some very good college arms for the taking. The two Oklahoma high school right-handers will create a buzz all spring. The next 10-20 names are a little more high-school dominant and it’s quite possible many of those prep players will move up the ranks as 2011 gets going.

So, there you have it. I’ll be back a little later today with some stuff to watch from the Arizona Fall League.

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