Analyzing Amateur Baseball Talent as it pertains to the MLB Draft

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College Notes 5-25-09

Thanks to the excellent television of both the ACC and Big Ten tournaments, I was able to catch some really good players recently. From Dustin Ackley and Alex White of North Carolina to Eric Arnett of Indiana, that’s three likely first-rounders in this year’s draft, and Deck McGuire is poised to go in the first round a year from now.

Eric Arnett

Arnett’s outing in the Big Ten tournament on the Big Ten Network prompted me to make him the focus of a blog over at PG Crosschecker.

During the telecast they talked about how Arnett also played for Tom Crean and the Hoosier basketball team. It’s easy to see why, as he is built like a power forward, tall and lean with broad shoulders and athletic proportions. He has pitched mostly out of the bullpen prior to this year, but has taken off as a starter this year. He was pitching in the 94-96 range with a very good slider against Purdue, and as I mentioned in my blog above, Arnett’s stock continues to rise. I think he could go a lot higher than where some have projected.

Dustin Ackley

Ackley hit a pair of bombs during UNC’s first game in the ACC tourney, and one of them was an absolute shot to right-center field. It was the first time this year that I saw him really drive a pitch, as I haven’t caught his best games prior to this one.

When he gets full extension you can see the power in his swing. His body certainly doesn’t make it look as though he’s a true slugger, but his bat is so fast and he has natural loft to his swing that makes it easier to see 20-30 home run power at the next level.

Alex White

Outside of a handful of pitches, this was the first time I saw White this year. I’ve always liked White, as he is arguably the best looking athlete in the nation, with a body that reminds me of Brewers farmhand and former first-round pick Mike Jones.

He was absolutely dealing during the first two innings in a contest against Virginia. His fastball touched 97 once, never dipped below 92, and he was consistently throwing 94-96. His slider wasn’t working for him all that well. The few that were breaking as they should were swing and miss pitches in the dirt, and the only ones he threw in the zone he left up and they hardly broke at all. I’ve seen this pitch much, much better, so I won’t let this one appearance change my opinion of him.

There was a healthy crowd of scouts in the stands, and between that and the excitement of pitching in the ACC tournament I wonder if White was a little too fired up. After using all of 17 pitches to get though the first two innings, he only recorded one out in the third before being removed from the game. He wasn’t hit all that hard, but a series of dinks and dunks, a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch led to an ugly frame. I still envision White going among the top three to four overall picks.

Danny Hultzen

The ACC Freshman of the year, Danny Hultzen, started opposite White. Hultzen managed his arsenal very efficiently and effectively, keeping the Tar Heels batters off balance all day. North Carolina’s lineup is rather left-handed heavy, so that worked in Hultzen’s favor as well.

He sat at 87-88, touching as high as 91 and not dropping below 86. He also threw a decent changeup and a slow, sweeping curveball. He has a good pitching frame and an easy delivery. He also bats and serves as the team’s DH on days he pitches, but his future seems to be brighter on the mound (although I thought the same about former Cavalier Sean Doolittle a couple of years ago).

Deck McGuire

ACC pitcher of the year Deck McGuire was dominant through five innings against Miami in Georgia Tech’s first game of the tournament. I had never seen McGuire before, so this was a nice treat.

He’s built like a prototypical workhorse, with a tall, thick build, barrel chest and strong through the hips and upper legs. It’s easy to see him piling up a lot of innings over the course of a full season, and he has done a better job maintaining his velocity deeper into ballgames.

His fastball was up to 94 in this game, and he stayed in the 92-94 range for most of the. While he does have four pitches, all I saw him throw were his fastball and his curveball, a true 12 to 6 curve that he commands very well. His style of pitching somewhat reminded me of Shooter Hunt, even if the two have different body types.

Things fell apart for McGuire in the sixth inning. Similar to White’s first appearance in the ACC tournament, McGuire wasn’t hit particularly hard, but some well placed base hits ended his day.

Keep an eye on McGuire for the 2010 draft. I don’t think he’s a premium, top three to five pick, but he’s a legitimate first rounder.

Derek Dietrich

I only watched Dietrich in a couple of plate appearances, but have seen him plenty of times in the past, including the Aflac All-American Classic during the summer of 2007. He’s a good looking, well-proportioned athlete that is currently playing shortstop for the Yellow Jackets. He’s probably a second or third baseman at the next level.

A left-handed hitter, he’s short to the ball, has good bat speed and shows good extension on his swing meaning there is exciting power potential. He has had a fine sophomore year after a very good freshman season, and I think he’s going to explode next spring during his junior campaign. Keep an eye for him to put up some big numbers this summer as well for Team USA.

Dandy Dozen

SP
Tyler Matzek Polished lefty with power arsenal
SP
Alex White Second best college RHP to Strasburg
SP
Zack Wheeler Rising draft boards with impressive FB/CB
UT
Brooks Raley Smooth lefty leads A&M in ERA, BA
C
Luke Bailey Baseball rat with compact build, swing
1B
Jonathan Singleton Powerful prep slugger with big LH bat
IF
Ryan Jackson Slick defender with questions about bat
3B
Jiovanni Mier True SS with exciting tools
SS
Robbie Shields 2B/3B type with promising bat
OF
Tim Wheeler Exciting blend of power & speed
OF
LeVon Washington Blazing fast with exciting leadoff tools
OF
Everett Williams Great athlete with tools galore

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