Results tagged ‘ MLB Draft ’

Highlights from the Perfect Game World Showcase

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.

At last: A look at the Area Code Games

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.

 

Day 2 at the East Coast Pro Showcase

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.

Top performers at Prospect Classic

Quick turnaround for us here at B3. Home quickly from North Carolina, turn around and head to Kansas City for the All-Star Game festivities (In B3 land, that’s the Futures Game and then that other stuff on Monday and Tuesday).

But I wanted to take a quick minute to provide a top prospects kind of list from the recently completed Prospect Classic, run by USA Baseball. The four-game event was extremely well attended by scouts, with a good amount of high-end talent from the high school and college ranks on the same field at the same time.

Overall, the scouting community has not been overwhelmed to date about the Class of 2013. That’s not to say there’s no talent or that some guys haven’t performed, but the overall evaluation of the group this summer has been so-so, at best. After talking with a few scouts, here are some of the better performers from the Prospect Classic, broken into college and high school groups.

Also, for your reading pleasure, there are features on Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek and Mater Dei high school catcher Jeremy Martinez.

College

Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
Marco Gonzales, LHP/1B, Gonzaga
D.J. Peterson, 1B/OF, New Mexico
Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
Trea Turner, 2B, NC State (2014)
Bobby Wahl, RHP, Mississippi State

High School

Willie Abreu, OF, Hialeah, Fla.
Cavan Biggio, IF/OF, Houston, Texas
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, San Marcos, Calif.
Robert Kaminsky, LHP, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Christian Martinek, LHP, Portland, Ore. (2014)

Perfect Game National Showcase standouts

Players (and scouts) are already on to the next event, the Tournament of Stars, USA Baseball’s fantastic event that will lead up to the Prospect Classic (games being broadcast by Pete McCarthy and yours truly!), but those games don’t start until tomorrow. So this seemed like an opportune time to talk about who scouts felt stood out at this year’s Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome.

This isn’t a ranking — I’ll list hitters and pitchers separately in alphabetical order. If I put a (TOS) next to their name, that means that they’ve gone on to Cary, North Carolina for the Tournament of Stars. From that large group, the US 18U national team will be formed and many of these players will be in that Prospect Classic, which will be streamed on MLB.com and the first two games of which will be on MLB Network via tape delay.

Hitters

  • Cavan Biggio, 3B/2B, St. Thomas HS, Texas (TOS)
  • Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington HS, SC (TOS)
  • Zack Collins, C, American Heritage HS, Fla. (TOS)
  • John Paul Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS, Calif.
  • Clint Frazier, 3B, Loganville HS, Ga.
  • Jan Hernandez, SS, Carlos Beltran Academy, PR
  • Hunter Hope, 3B, W.T. Dwyer HS, Fla.
  • Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS, Calif. (TOS)
  • Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS, Wash. (TOS)
  • Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS, Ga.
  • Chris Okey, C, Eustis HS,  Fla. (TOS)
  • Christopher Rivera, SS,  El Dorado HS, Calif. (TOS)
  • Dominic Smith 1B Serra HS,  Calif.
  • Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Elk Grove HS, Calif.

Pitchers

  • Cheyne Bickel, RHP, Dwyer HS, Fla. (TOS)
  • Taylor Blatch, RHP, Jensen Beach HS, Fla.
  • Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS, Calif. (TOS)
  • Trevin Haseltine, RHP, Will C Wood HS, Calif.
  • Clinton Hollon, RHP, Wood Ford County HS, Kent.
  • Robert Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph Regional HS, NJ (TOS)
  • John Kilichowski, LHP, Tampa Jesuit HS, Fla. (TOS)
  • Brett Morales, RHP, King HS, Fla.
  • Chris Oakley, RHP, St. Augustine Prep, NJ (TOS)
  • Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy HS, Calif.

As one scout put it to me: “It’s not a great group, but it will probably look better by the end of the summer. It usually does.”

So stay tuned for updates from the Tournament of Stars, Prospect Classic, East Coast Showcase, PG All-American Classic and the UnderArmour All-American Game on these high schoolers. Those wanting info on the college set, there’ll be some from the Prospect Classic as well as the Cape Cod League

Mariners keep going with Pike signing

Yesterday, the Mariners announced the signing of 25 Draft picks, most notably second-round selection Joe DeCarlo. On Wednesday, it was learned they’ve also signed the player they took with their Compensation B (between rounds 3 and 4) pick, high schooler Tyler Pike.

Pike will receive $850,000, above the assigned value for the pick, which was $370,800.

It is not the first player to get above the assigned value from the Mariners thus far. DeCarlo signed for $1.3 million (assigned value: $806,000). Fifth-rounder Chris Taylor signed for $500,000 (assigned value: $264,500). And Timmy Lopes got $550,000 in the sixth round (assigned value: $198,100), showing that it is possible to be aggressive in this new system.

They are currently over their pool ($1.42 million over) when adding up the assigned values for all signed picks, but they still haven’t signed first-rounder Mike Zunino, third-rounder Edwin Diaz and eighth-rounder Nick Halamandaris. The combined assigned values for those three picks is $5,825,500. The Mariners currently have $5,253,200 left after the Pike signing. It’s easy to do the math — look for some value to be found in that trio and for the Mariners not to incur any penalties for going over.

 

Travieso and Reds agree on deal

Nick Travieso, the No. 14 overall pick in this year’s Draft, will officially sign with the Reds on Wednesday.

The Florida high school right-hander, who was ranked No. 32 on MLB.com’s Draft Top 100 prior to the Draft, will sign for $2 million. That is below the assigned value for the pick, $2.375 million.

The Reds also agreed with second-round pick Tanner Rahier, the SoCal high school shortstop who was No. 37 on the Draft Top 100. He will get a bonus of $649,700, the assigned value for the No. 78 overall pick in the Draft.

 

 

Max Fried Returns

I’m wondering how many of you got the reference to the slightly obscure Matthew Broderick film, circa 1983. But I digress.

As I mentioned yesterday, Max Fried was heading back to the mound in a playoff game for Harvard-Westlake out in Southern California. The high school lefty, the highest rated prep arm on our Draft Top 100, had been shaky his previous two outings. Most concerning was that after a good start in the first inning or so, he was losing velocity and command, leading to poor results. A seemingly sure-fire Top 10 pick, there was talk of him sliding as teams tried to figure out what was wrong with Fried. Could it be just chalked up to fatigue — Fried has been a two-way player all year and has been the team’s ace since Lucas Giolito went down with his elbow issue — or was there something physically wrong?

If Thursday’s start was any indication, reports of Fried’s demise were greatly exaggerated. With a ton of scouts in attendance — every team picking in the first half of the first round was there in some fashion — Fried was back to his old self. He threw a complete-game shutout, striking out 10 and walking just one.

More importantly was the bounce back of his stuff. His fastball was 90-95 mph throughout the outing. His 12-to-6 curve (72-78 mph) was sharp and he commanded it extremely well. He mixed in an effective changeup (82-84 mph). In other words, lights out.

There may have been a time when teams in the middle of the first, or maybe even the second half of the first round, thought they had a shot of Fried getting to them, it’s hard to imagine that happening now. My first projection had him going No. 10 to the Rockies, though as someone pointed out to me recently, Colorado might be a little gun shy about taking a SoCal high school lefty this high (see Matzek, Tyler). That point may now be moot as Fried could be gone by the time the Rockies make that selection.

 

Draft notes and tidbits

As I make calls for various stories regarding the Draft, I invariably pick up some good info/rumors along the way. It isn’t always the kind of stuff that goes into a story, so I’ll try to hop on here from time to time and pass along what I know to you as the Draft gets closer.

  • Teams will have private workouts as things get a little closer, so they can get a longer look at a player. Case in point: Carlos Correa, currently ranked No. 5 on our Draft Top 100, worked out for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins pick at No. 2 overall. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly a front-runner there, but they are taking a longer look at the talented shortstop from Puerto Rico.
  •  The Braves are bringing in SoCal shortstop Tanner Rahier for a workout soon.
  • There will be a lot of eyes on the Southern Section Div. II baseball playoffs in SoCal today. Lefty Max Fried (No. 7 on top 100) hasn’t pitched as well his last two starts and scouts will undoubtedly be watching closely to see if he can rebound. A strong outing could help solidify a place in the Top 10 picks for Fried.
  • Potential first-rounder Lucas Sims (No. 20) threw well in his playoff game in the Georgia Class AAAAA high school playoffs. He pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on four hits and struck out eight. He was 91-92 mph. When he was on his breaking ball, it was good and he threw a pretty good changeup. He’s been pretty consistent all year.
  • The bieggest matchup of the day (Thursday) is in Oklahoma State. Expect a lot of action as scouting directors and GMs can see two first-round arms go against each other: Oklahoma State’s Andrew Heaney vs. Texas A&M’s Michael Wacha.

‘Tis the (Draft) season

As I’m hoping you already know, Draft season officially started on MLB.com yesterday. Yes, I know, Draft season started long before that in terms of scouting, etc., but I meant in terms of our coverage.

In case you missed it, 2012 Draft Central is up and running (and sponsored by CenturyLink). It’s going to be the place to go for Draft news and features leading up to the June 4-6 event.

So far, there are two newer stories up there, written by yours truly, to get the ball rolling. One is a general preview on how the new rules could change things, especially for teams with multiple early picks. The other is a look at what the new Top 100 looks like.

Oh, and yes, that means the Top 100 list is alive and well. Keep in mind, this is a list based on talent, not a projection. So while Byron Buxton is No. 1 on this list, that doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily going to be taken by the Houston Astros. More on this to come in a story on Friday about who the candidates to go No. 1 are (along with a story from the Astros by our intrepid beat writer Brian McTaggart), but most seem to think the Astros won’t take the high school outfielder from Georgia.

We will have much, much more — mock drafts, chats, you name it — in this month run-up to June 4. So check back early and often.

 

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