Results tagged ‘ MLB Draft ’
As 2013 Draft picks are signing left and right, it’s time to start looking at the Draft class of 2014. And there are plenty of places to look. As I mentioned in my story about the Class of ’14 and the summer schedule, it’s already beginning. The Perfect Game National Showcase starts today in Minneapolis and scouts are flocking to the Twin Cities to check out the annual kickoff event of the summer for the high schoolers.
At the same time (well, yesterday), the college summer season is underway, with the Cape Cod League starting on Wednesday. I’ll try to update regularly here on how the summer is looking. In Wednesday’s openers, it appeared the pitching was ahead of the hitting on the Cape. Some highlights:
- Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV: 6 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
- Kyle Kubat, LHP, Nebraska: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, 3 K
- Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
- Andrew McGee, LHP, Monmouth: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
- Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 6 K
That’s just a smattering, obviously. But it was a good day for lefties. Much, much more to come.
We’re winding down here, with less than a week before the Draft. As always, I’m efforting to figure out who goes where. Some may call it a fool’s errand, but so be it.
Perhaps the one player making it the most difficult to figure out the first round is Sean Manaea. Once thought to be a potential No. 1 pick, the big, hard-throwing lefty struggled for much of this season, a hip flexor the biggest issue. Given his health issues, he has a big question mark around his name right now, making figuring out a mock draft really tough. You’ll see I put him 19th (Cardinals), but that’s not based on any solid information. I just felt someone would roll the dice on Manaea and St. Louis hasn’t shied away from taking college pitching that slides to them later in the round.
It’s all going to depend on the medical reports. There was a little talk of shoulder stiffness coming from when Manaea was supposed to start in his conference tournament, but was scratched after three warmup pitches. I don’t know if the medical report will have information on the shoulder — it’s extremely possible that whatever shoulder discomfort he felt was because of trying to overcompensate for the hip.
See? A lot of questions to be answered. One thing I can tell you is that whoever takes Manaea should not expect a discount. I’m guessing that the Manaea camp will feel it’s a temporary issue and teams should plan accordingly. Manaea was a guy who was a top of the Draft arm before the hip got in the way, that feeling goes.
Teams will take a look at the medical report, once they get it (if they haven’t done so already). If they see that it’s a non-permanent hip thing, and there are no issues with the elbow or shoulder, then they might be willing to roll the dice and take the big lefty. When healthy, stuff-wise, he belonged in conversations at the top of the Draft.
Buyer beware? Or at least buyer, be aware. Just because Sean Manaea drops does not mean he’s going to sign for that pick value (Pick No. 19, by the way, is $2,055,800).
I’m hoping to get a better sense of what might happen with the lefty as teams get a look at that all-important medical report.
As you all know, we’re running full-tilt on 2013 Draft content — just check out our 2013 section to see what I mean — currently going through our postional breakdown stories. Today’s breakdown is on high school pitchers, with a spotlight feature on Hunter Harvey (yep, that’s Bryan’s kid).
But I wanted to hop on here quickly because someone asked me a good question on Twitter (I know, shocking, right?). It comes from “The Minor League Guy” (@TMLGSports). The question basically was: Where would you put Clint Frazier on a list of high school prospects from the last five years?
I couldn’t answer that one in 140 characters so, with his permission, I wanted to tackle it here. Took me a few days longer than I had hoped, but here goes.
For the sake of this exercise, I’m sticking to high school hitters. I’d rather not try to contextualize Frazier with, say, Dylan Bundy. The biggest issue I’m finding is one of hindsight. A guy who’s been playing in the Minors and has had success — it’s had to go back to thoughts of him as an amateur, but I did my best. First, lets look at the high school hitters taken in the first round since 2009 (2009-2013 being the five-year period).
2009 (9 total)
Donavan Tate (No. 3, Padres)
Bobby Borchering (No. 16, D-backs)
Jio Mier (No. 21, Astros)
Randal Grichuk (No. 24, Angels)
Mike Trout (No. 25, Angels)
Nick Franklin (No. 27, Mariners)
Reymond Fuentes (No. 28, Red Sox)
Slade Heathcott (No. 29, Yankees)
LeVon Washington (No. 30, Rays)
Manny Machado (No. 3 pick, Orioles)
Delno DeShields (No. 8, Astros)
Jake Skoke (No. 15, Rangers)
Josh Sale (No. 17, Rays)
Kaleb Cowart (No. 18, Angels)
Kellin Deglan (No. 22, Rangers)
Christian Yelich (No. 23, Marlins)
Chevy Clarke (No. 30, Angels)
Justin O’Connor (No. 31, Rays)
Bubba Starling (No. 5, Royals)
Francisco Lindor (No. 8, Indians)
Javier Baez (No. 9, Cubs)
Brandon Nimm0 (No. 13, Mets)
Blake Swihart (No. 26, Red Sox)
Jake Hager (No. 32, Rays)
Carlos Correa (No. 1, Astros)
Byron Buxton (No. 2, Twins)
Albert Almora (No. 6, Cubs)
David Dahl (No. 10, Rockies)
Addison Russell (No. 11, A’s)
Gavin Cecchini (No. 12, Mets)
Courtney Hakwins (No. 13, White Sox)
D.J. Davis (No. 17, Blue Jays)
Corey Seager (No. 18, Dodgers)
Stryker Trahan (No. 26, D-backs)
Clint Coulter (No. 27, Brewers)
Lewis Brinson (No. 29, Rangers)
Before I try to make heads or tails of this, a couple of things stand out:
- The 2012 Draft was a good year to be a high school hitter (12 first rounders)
- Boy, the Angels and Rays like prep bats.
OK, so, now to the question. How do they rank, and how does Clint Frazier, the highest ranked high school hitter in the 2013 Draft class, figure into the mix? Here’s my best crack at ranking the top 10, openly admitting that that ol’ hindsight is playing a part:
1. Mike Trout
2. Manny Machado
3. Byron Buxton
4. Christian Yelich
5. Francisco Lindor
6. Carlos Correa
7. Javier Baez
8. Clint Frazier
9. Addison Russell
10. Bubba Starling
This leaves off some very, very good names — Franklin, Almora, Dahl — come to mind, with some others right behind them. Highly unscientific, completely subjective and, admittedly, done without consulting scouts on the matter. But perhaps fun for debate. I think you could make an argument that Frazier doesn’t belong in the top 10, perhaps a testament to the overall strength (or lack thereof) of this Draft class. I also think, with his bat speed and power and overall tools, you could argue he belongs up a touch or two higher.
What does everyone think?
Yesterday, USA Baseball released it’s Watch List of 60 amateur players for this year’s Golden Spikes Award. It’s a rolling list, meaning players can be added/subtracted, until May 28, when the group of 30 semifinalists will be announced. The Golden Spikes Award winner will be announced on MLB Network on July 19 (simulcast live on GoldenSpikesAward.com and USABaseball.com). The release states that 28 players have been added to the list from the initial watch list of 32 that came out back in February.
The watch list has amateurs from a variety of classes, but obviously, I was interested in the Draft-eligible guys on the list. With that in mind, here are the Golden Spikes watch list guys who are on MLB.com’s Top 100 Draft Prospects list. Guys in bold are the ones who are a part of the 28 who were added. I’m listing them in order of where they are on the Top 100 — it does not reflect any kind of Golden Spikes-related ranking.
1. Mark Appel, RHP, Senior, Stanford, Pac-12
2. Jonathan Gray, RHP, Junior, Oklahoma, Big 12
5. Kris Bryant, UTL, Junior, San Diego, West Coast
6. Sean Manaea, LHP, Junior, Indiana State, Missouri Valley
7. Colin Moran, IF, Junior, North Carolina, ACC
9. Ryne Stanek, RHP, Junior, Arkansas, SEC
10. D.J. Peterson, IF, Junior, New Mexico, Mountain West
15. Chris Anderson, RHP, Junior, Jacksonville, Atlantic Sun
16. Braden Shipley, RHP, Junior, Nevada, MWC
17. Marco Gonzales, LHP, Junior, Gonzaga, West Coast
22. Phillip Ervin, OF, Junior, Samford, SoCon
24. Aaron Judge, OF, Junior, Fresno State, Mountain West
28. Bobby Wahl, RHP, Junior, Mississippi, SEC
29. Tom Windle, LHP, Junior, Minnesota, Big 10
30. Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Junior, Vanderbilt, SEC
35. Eric Jagielo, IF, Junior, Notre Dame, Big East
37. Aaron Blair, RHP, Junior, Marshall, C-USA
41. Jason Hursh, RHP, RS Sophomore, Oklahoma St, Big 12
44. Michael Lorenzen, OF/RHP, Junior, Cal State Fullerton, Big West
45. Corey Knebel, RHP, Junior, Texas, Big 12
51. Trevor Williams, RHP, Junior, Arizona State, Pac-12
66. Andrew Knapp, C, Junior, California, Pac-12
68. Kent Emanuel, LHP, Junior, North Carolina, ACC
73. Matt Boyd, LHP, Senior, Oregon State, Pac-12
81. Trey Masek, RHP, Junior, Texas Tech, Big 12
94. Hunter Renfroe, OF, Junior, Mississippi State, SEC
100. Buck Farmer, RHP, Senior, Georgia Tech, ACC
A total of 27 Top 100 guys on the watch list, including five who have been added since that February list. Fifteen on this watch list are in the Top 30 Draft prospects, for whatever that’s worth.
With the Draft about six weeks away, the Houston Astros — owners of the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight year — have narrowed their focus for the top pick down to a half-dozen main candidates. Four of them hail from the college ranks and two are high schoolers.
Most in the industry have felt Houston would be looking pitching, and college pitching in particular, with the top spot. And three of the six candidates do fit that description. Stanford’s Mark Appel, a No. 1 pick potential a year ago, is back and pitching better than he ever has in his Stanford career. He’s joined by Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray and Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea.
The Astros have one college bat on that final list: San Diego third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, who has been raking for most of this season.
Finally, there’s the two high school outfielders from Georgia, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, to round out the half-dozen.
There might be a couple of players on the periphery — a Colin Moran from North Carolina, perhaps — but those six appear to be the main candidates. All are in the top 10 of MLB.com’s Top 100 Draft prospects list.
Expect the list to stay more or less the same up until Draft time. Don’t be surprised if Houston keeps its options open in case it wants to be creative at the top, like it was with Carlos Correa a year ago.
We’re in the process of putting together a weekly feature that recaps the weekend action on the amateur scene. It won’t be just stats, though they’ll be included when possible. The idea is that I’ll talk to scouts at the end of each weekend to see who stood out/who didn’t and report back to you what the Draft landscape is looking like. I got a little bit of a late start for this week as we’re getting the ball rolling on Draft-related coverage, so I wanted to just post some “news and notes” on 2013 Draft prospects and their performances from last weekend to whet your appetite.
May have been Stanford vs. Fresno State. Friday saw a good power vs. power contest with Mark Appel facing Fresno State’s Aaron Judge. The Stanford senior had a much better start than he did against Rice the previous week, tossing a complete game, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out 11. He also got nine ground ball outs.
Judge went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in that game, but he finished off the series with a 5-for-5, 3 RBI performance, including his second home run of the season. People will talk about the swing and miss to Judge’s game, but as one scout put it… there are guys in Cooperstown who had swing and miss to their game. More than one scout projects Judge as a first-rounder.
Stanford will be watched carefully throughout the year because of the depth of talent there. Brian Ragira looked good over the weekend as well, going a combined 5-for-13 with a homer, a double and two RBIs
Sean Manaea, the Indiana State lefty was reportedly sharper in his second start of the year than his first. Facing College of Charleston in an Auburn tournament, Manaea gave up one hit and one walk while whiffing 10 over six shutout innings. He showed at least solid average stuff across the board as the top lefty in the class has made a very strong early case to be a top of the draft candidate.
Vanderbilt lefty Kevin Ziomek isn’t quite in that stratosphere, but he threw well on Friday, albeit against Monmouth. Ziomek was sitting at 91 mph with his fastball, touching 93 mph, to go along with a solid average curve, thrown 75-77 mph. His changeup is fringy, but he threw strikes and impressed with his mound presence as he went seven innings and allowed a run on five hits and two walks while striking out 11. Some scouts see him as a back end of the first round type of college lefty selection.
Appel wasn’t the only right-hander to throw well for scouts. Florida’s Jonathon Crawford didn’t go deep, going just 3 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out four. He had some command issues, which got him into trouble. But he was aggressive with his fastball, up to 94 mph, sitting 91-92 mph. He showed flashes of a plus slider and a fringe-average changeup.
Texas Tech’s Trey Masek got the ball on Sunday against UConn at the UCF tournament in Orlando and tossed nine shutout innings in a no-decision, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out seven. He was up to 93 mph with his fastball and worked very quickly, going right after hitters.. He also showed feel for three secondary offerings — an average slider, a fringy, but usable curve and a playable changeup. He’s not overpowering, but he showed how effective he can be.
Hunter Brothers of Lipscomb might be a little further out on the radar, but his arm strength might be something scouts will continue to monitor. Pitching Saturday at the tournament his school was hosting, Brothers was up to 95 mph in his start, sitting at 92 mph. He had given up just one run through five, but ran out of gas in the sixth, leaving with one out. He ended up allowing five runs total (two earned), allowing four hits and four walks wile striking out two. His command wasn’t good on all of his pitches. He showed glimpses with his slider and he kept attacking hitters, but delivery inconsistencies hurt him. With his arm strength, but lack of command and a changeup that’s not a factor, you have to wonder if teams will look at him as a future reliever.
High school arms
One of the more intriguing names to watch is that of Jordan Sheffield, and not just because of who his uncle is (Gary). The Tennessee high school standout showed some excellent arm strength in his last outing. He touched 95 mph with his fastball, sitting around 91 mph, and he showed a solid changeup, especially for a high schooler. What he didn’t have was good command, especially of his breaking ball. He competes well, though he’ll have to work on managing his effort level.
High school hitters
Scouts hoping to see top SoCal high school hitter Dominic Smith in action on Monday were disappointed. Smith, the Serra HS standout walked his first time up. Then he struck out in his second plate appearance. When he hit the catcher on his backswing — inadvertently, according to reports I received — Smith was ejected from the game by the umpire, leaving many frustrated.
Florida high school shortstop Oscar Mercado had a so-so showing over the weekend as well. Reports were good about his batting practice and infielde pre-game, but his at-bats were just fair and didn’t stand out. He did make some good defensive plays, but also threw a couple of balls away.
While most people look at this time of year as Pitchers & Catchers time, with good reason, it’s also right around the time when things start to pick up for the Draft season.
Case in point, the Major League Scouting Bureau hosted their annual showcase at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., on Saturday. Southern California, as most of you know, is typically a hotbed for amateur talent, and this one-day showcase has been a must-see in years past.
The overall sentiment after the event was, “Ehhh.”
Yes, scouts tend to be skeptical. Yes, I typically will report, nearly every year, that this year’s Draft class isn’t very good. So we’ll add some grains of salt if it makes you feel better. But it does seem that the SoCal high school scene isn’t thrilling.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good players. There are. But there aren’t too many “wow” types, top of the first round guys like, say, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were a year ago at this time. Dominic Smith is the best player in the area, but he didn’t attend the showcase as his team was playing in a tournament last weekend.
In the end, the best player at the event was actually from NoCal. Carlos Salazar is a right-hander committed to Fresno State, more or less in his backyard. Often at these events, the young arms shine in one-inning outings. Salazar was the only one who lit up radar guns, throwing 94-97 mph and showing a sharp breaking ball with decent command. He reminded one scout of Javy Guerra in terms of his delivery.
Lefty Ian Clarkin, from the San Diego area, also threw well, 89-92 mph with a very good curve.
That may have been it in terms of “standout performances.”
One scout I spoke with said that there’s depth, but it’s all round 5-10 type guys, and most will go on to college (and most need it, he thought).
While there were no “coming out parties,” kind of like Christian Yelich had at this event a few years back, so guys did turn in solid performances. Some “highlights”:
- 3B Kevin Franklin, from Gahr HS and an Arizona State commit, had the best raw power.
- SS Chris Rivera (El Dorado HS) was the best defensive shortstop, but there are questions about his bat.
- SS Terrian Arbet (Great Oak HS, commited to U of San Diego) looked like a solid all-around player. He reminded some of Brandon Martin, the Rays’ 2011 draftee from SoCal, though the scout who mentioned him didn’t think he’d be a sandwich pick like Martin was.
- 1B Jake Bauers (Marina HS) may have been one guy to help himself. He simply just hits and had a balanced approach and good at-bats. It’s all about his bat, as he doesn’t have many other tools. But the kid can hit.
- SS J.P. Crawford (Lakewood HS, USC commit) looked good, but he’s all about projection. The now tools weren’t on display. It’s a high risk/high reward kind of situation, but is the reward enough for him to be a first-rounder?
- C Jeremy Martinez (Mater Dei HS, USC commit) was solid, but a scout I spoke with about him worried about his low ceiling.
- 3B Ryan McMahon (Mater Dei HS) is a solid athlete with the right body and toolset to be a solid third baseman.
- C Tyler Alamo (Cypress HS, Cal State Fullerton commit) looked the part of a catcher. He was athletic behind the plate and showed an at least average arm with some accuracy. He was a little stiffer with the bat, though.
- LHP Stephen Gonsalves (Cathedral Catholic, U of San Diego commit) did not throw well, clocking in at 85-88 mph with poor command and a below-average breaking ball. He’ll need to prove that he’s more than that this spring, and perhaps in three years of college.
Over the weekend, Perfect Game held their World Showcase down in Florida. Over the years, a number of players have come through this event, a sort of kickoff to the new year on the amateur scene. Last year, Carlos Correa helped himself at the World Showcase, and we all know how that turned out.
I spoke to a scout who was in Fort Myers over the weekend to get the low-down on who stood out at the event. He gave his feedback along with the qualification that this is an event VERY early in the process. “It’s like a Spring Training game. When was the last time these kids played in a game?” he said.
He also pointed out that because it’s so early, the top-flight pitchers in the Draft class don’t tend to come anymore. Still, there were a number of pitchers who were 90+, a good sign considering it’s only early January.
The best player of the weekend, hands down, was Oklahoma-area catcher Jon Denney, currently ranked No. 36 on MLB.com’s Top 50 2013 Draft prospects. Especially given the time of year, Denney stood out. He swing the bat very well, showed power in batting practice and also looked good in his two games. He was solid behind the plate, again impressive since it’s not like Denney’s spent time recently in Yukon, Okla. catching top-notch pitching. Denney had looked really good at the Area Code Games, but hadn’t performed quite as well in Jupiter, at Perfect Game’s WWBA World Championship in October. So this was a nice move back in the right direction. He looked like a first-round pick candidate over the weekend.
Two of the top players from Puerto Rico were in attendance as well, though neither seemed to look their best, or as good as they’ve looked in the past. Both are shortstops. Jan Hernandez, from the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, and Edwin Diaz, from Ladislao Martinez Otero, were both OK over the weekend. Hernandez is considered the better prospect. He played very well in October and has been on the showcase circuit and is still considered one to watch closely this spring, even if he didn’t do that much to stand out in Ft. Myers.
There were some international players at the event as well and some stood out. The first is LHP Jacob Constante. He’s 6-foot-4, 215 lbs and was 90-93 mph with a solid slider. He’s eligible to sign right now. There were some questions about his age/documentation that teams were looking into (teams always want to be sure on this front now before moving forward), but there was a lot of interest. If he’s legit, he’s going to find a deal somewhere soon.
And there was 3B/1B Rafael Devers. He’s eligible to sign this coming July 2 (the start of the international signing period) and he’s definitely one to watch. He swung the bat very well, showing an ability to drive the ball. And that’s at age 15 against more advanced arms.
Finally, a nod to 2014. There were some underclassman there and it was Nick Gordon who stood out the most. He’s the son of Tom “Flash” Gordon and, obviously, brother of Dee. He, too, is an infielder, but his future is on the mound. He’ll be one to watch in ’14.
I wasn’t at the Area Code Games in person (that job fell to colleague Jesse Sanchez, but I am equipped with opinions from scouts. In a future post, I’ll talk about some cool new performance analysis type things done by Trackman, a Danish company that started in golf but has been making a splash in baseball of late.
First, here are some names mentioned by scouts in attendance (by no means exhaustive):
Phillip Bickford, RHP (Oaks Christian HS, Calif.)
Cavan Biggio, INF (St. Thomas HS, Texas)
Ian Clarkin, LHP (Madison HS, Calif.)
JP Crawford, SS (Lakewood HS, Calif.)
Jonathan Denney, C (Yukon HS, Okla.)
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (Cathedral Catholic HS, Calif.)
Jeremy Martinez, C (Mater Dei HS, Calif.)
A.J. Puk 1B/LHP (Cedar Rapids HS, Iowa)
Chris Rivera, SS/OF/C (El Dorado HS, Calif.)
Corey Simpson, 1B/C (Sweeny HS, Texas)
Dominic Smith, 1B/OF (Serra HS, Calif.)
Kohl Stewart, RHP (St. Pius X HS, Texas)
Overall, scouts were a little more enthusiastic than they were earlier in the summer about the crop. Still no jump out at you elite talent, but some decent depth to look at for next year.
Three more games are in the books here in Syracuse and there were some solid performances once again at the East Coast Pro Showcase.
There are still two days to go, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone will have a better showing here than LHP Robert Kaminsky. The southpaw from New Jersey (St. Joe’s) threw three outstanding innings, hitless innings to be precise. While this Draft class may not have any of those huge power arms that blow you away, there’s no question Kaminsky knows how to pitch.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of stuff there. Kaminsky was up to 93 mph and, outside of two walks, located his fastball well. He threw a number of simply outstanding curve balls and mixed in several changeups as well. It’s not often in showcases like this that you see a pitcher mix three pitches so effectively. Kaminsky struck out the side in his first and second innings. Then he struck out the first batter he faced in his third inning of work. Even with his velocity dropping a touch in the last inning, his other stuff was so effective it didn’t matter. He got his last two outs on ground balls.
He got strikeouts with all of his pitches. He froze two batters in his first inning with the changeup, then got the last batter of that frame with a fastball. He used all three of his pitches in inning No. 2, striking out a batter each with the fastball, curve and changeup. As one scout put it, “He has moxie.” Moxie is a scouting term, by the way. Kaminsky does go right after hitters and has no fear. He told me after the game that he likes pitching inside.
While Kaminsky was clearly the star of the day, he wasn’t the only lefty who stood out. Scouts had good things to say about Trey Ball as well. Ball hails from Indiana (New Castle High School) and he threw well in the first game of the day. He doesn’t throw as hard as Kaminsky, but he was 88-90 mph consistently with a very free and easy delivery. What makes Bell interesting is that he’s a two-way player. Most high school players who pitch also hit at that level. But while it’s obvious that a player like Kaminsky will definitely be a pitcher at the next level, the jury is still out on Ball. He also hit well in Thursday’s game. Oh, and he ran a 6.82 60 on Wednesday. Tall and very lanky, he could easily add 20 pounds to his frame in the future. On both sides of the ball, scouts like his actions. Everything he does “looks right,” as one scout put it. He does things easy, as they say.
Scouts continued to like Oscar Mercado, pointing to him as a potential top of the first round type talent. He absolutely smoked a ball back up the middle in the last game of the day on Thursday and shows very good actions at shortstop. He’ll need to add some strength, but true up the middle guys always get a lot of attention.