Analyzing Amateur Baseball Talent as it pertains to the MLB Draft

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Draft Notes 5-5-09

Scheppers’ stuff is back

My associate as PG Crosschecker, David Rawnsley, reported a few days ago that Tanner Scheppers’ velocity has returned, and then some, and that he has looked incredibly good in bullpen sessions so far this spring (the story is for subscribers only, please visit PG Crosschecker for more details). He will be pitching for the Saint Paul Saints, whose season hasn’t started yet.

That stuff includes a fastball that can sit in the mid-90s and approach the upper-90s, better than what we saw last spring, but on par with what was reported out of Fresno State’s fall camp. He also has an absolutely filthy slider, and the one-two punch could put Scheppers back in the top 10, and he may put himself in consideration to be selected second overall since the draft pool after Stephen Strasburg is uncertain at best.

Teams are still going to have to be a little concerned about his arm, although he did avoid surgery and decided to rehab through his arm troubles from a year ago. Since his stuff has returned significantly, teams can take some solace that the arm issues are behind him.

Nationals poised to take Strasburg

As Jim Callis kindly shared on Baseball America’s draft blog, there is a story in the Washington Times with quotes from the Washington Nationals’ former General Manager Jim Bowden that the team has already decided to select San Diego State RHP Stephen Strasburg.

I’m not completely convinced that this will occur, as Boras has already floated some insane contract figures that could scare away just about any team. Plus, the Nationals have a compensation pick (the 10th overall selection) for unsigned first-round Aaron Crow from a year ago, a pick they will not receive a compensatory pick for, since it already is a compensatory pick, if they are unable to sign that player. Of course, they could reach and take a signability pick if they need the extra money to get Strasburg in the fold.

Teams have shown a dramatic change in direction in past years, although the Nationals should, and need, to take Strasburg with the first overall pick. He may not need a single day in the minors, and the biggest concern moving forward may be his overall work load. I guarantee you that will be a big topic of discussion once Strasburg is pitching at the professional level, and the Nationals (or whatever team selects and signs him) will have to be very careful with how they handle him over the first two to three years of his career.

Baylor vs. Oklahoma

I’ve had the chance to see Baylor LHP/OF Aaron Miller pitch twice in two weeks, the second time against high-powered Oklahoma. The results weren’t as good as they were from the week before versus Oklahoma State, but he still showed a very loose arm, good fastball velocity and command and the feel for both a slider and a changeup. As I noted after watching him the first time, I really think his future is brighter on the mound.

He has a good swing at the plate as well, with a nice looking left-handed swing and easy lofty power (I saw him hit a home run to deep left-centerfield against Chance Ruffin this past week), but he was regularly hitting 91 with his fastball and was able to spot it very well to both the inside and outside corners of the plate.

Garrett Richards started for the Sooners opposite Miller, and he looked a lot better than the first time I had saw him a few weeks before. I’m more confident that Richards could develop more as a starter with the more experience he gets. He has a great pitcher’s body, built tall and muscular which should allow him to handle the rigors of starting every fifth day at the next level. His fastball sat in 95-96 range, touching 97, and he also showed good break on his curveball/slider.

He throws two different variations of his breaking pitch, taking a little off for more of a true curve, and adding a little more zip on it to get it over for strikes. The pitch still needs to be refined, and he does tip the pitch a little by slowing down his arm, but it looked a lot better than the first time I had seen it.

He also needs to hone his control, as right now he works best by being effectively wild, but he carved up a pretty good Baylor lineup. With his body and fastball, he is going to be an early round pick even if he is a work in progress.

Baylor vs. Texas

Baylor’s schedule hasn’t been kind to them the past few weeks, and they have scuffled down the stretch despite the amount of draft-eligible talent they have on their team. As noted above. I got to see Chance Ruffin and the Texas Longhorns host Kendal Volz and the Baylor Bears this past weekend.

Ruffin is a sophomore, and he along with his weekend rotation mates, Brandon Workman and Cole Green, are among the top prospects available for the 2010 draft. I’ve seen Ruffin several times before, as I was initially impressed with his stuff the first time I saw him a year ago when he was a freshman.

He’s a smaller righty with a big breaking curveball. His fastball maxes out in the low-90s, as he usually works in the 87-91 range, but his curveball is his best pitch. He exhibits very good control, and has thrived since stepping on the mound for Texas, assuming the team’s Friday role mid-way through his freshman year.

Volz is draft eligible this year, as he entered the spring as a potential first round pick. He has a big, athletic body somewhat similar to Garrett Richards as profiled above. He isn’t as tall as Richards, and while he has good fastball velocity, it isn’t as explosive. He generally works in the low-90s, and thanks to his size he is able to maintain that velocity deep into ballgames. He has a pretty wicked slider as well, but he struggles to command it consistently, and it isn’t as always as sharp as it needs to be from start-to-start. His overall control is also inconsistent, and overall he looked a lot better last summer when I saw him pitching out of the bullpen for Team USA.

And many have felt that the bullpen may be his future destination. Pacing himself may be an issue with Volz, as he may be better off throwing as hard as he can on each and every pitch. He is a max-effort type of pitcher, and even his slider is thrown with a lot of torque on his arm. Again, like Richards, his size and stuff are good enough to go in the first round, but he’ll need some patience at the professional level to give him the proper time and experience to work out the kinks in his game.

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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