4/17/2012 11:14:05 AM
I didn't get a good look at many 2012 draft eligibles this past week, but I did watch a handful of pitchers that will factor into the early rounds in the 2013 and 2014 drafts.
Bobby Wahl: I shared my thoughts on Wahl in a previous post. He didn't look to have his best stuff in this game, but really competed and continued to show his aggressive approach which makes him that much more difficult to hit and hit hard. He's fearless on the mound with some controlled emotion. He also didn't have his best command, but walked only 1 batter while striking out 6 in 4.1 innings. He did allow 2 ER, but none before the 5th in which he quickly induced the first batter to ground out before allowing a bloop to shallow RF, a 1B to LF a flare to LF and a single through the hole on the left side of the infield before being removed. His breaking ball was thrown more like a slow curve in this game, and he used this pitch well to get some weak swings and misses. Again, he's not afraid to climb the ladder with his fastball.
Michael Palazzone: Palazzone pitched a very good game opposite Wahl, going the distance while striking out 8 and not walking a batter. We've been following Palazzone for a very long time, as he started the 2007 PG/Aflac All-American Classic for the East squad and made a name for himself with a very sharp curveball. He still has the curveball, but didn't use it in the first inning, saving it for later to give hitters something different to look at while changing their eye level. The pitch has a very pronounced 12-6 break, although it isn't a true power hammer since it is thrown in the low to mid-70s. His changeup is also a very good pitch, and he command his sinking fastball well. He tops out in the upper-80s and around 90 mph, using the lower half of the zone well. He is composed on the mound and knows how to pitch, and also has a lean, projectable build, although as a college senior he likely isn't going to be packing on many more pounds.
Carlos Rodon: Kendall Rogers recently profiled Rodon in this feature. He's a very well put together athlete that looks every part of his listed 6-foot-3, 234-pound frame. He has a power arsenal highlighted by his fastball that peaks around 97 and sits at 93-95 that also has very good late, sinking life, as well as a nasty slider that projects as a ++ pitch. There is some deception out of his hand making him that much more difficult to hit, and he attacks the strike zone with an advanced, aggressive approach. He hit the corners well and like Wahl has the ability to elevate his fastball to get a K. Overall he moves his fastball around, using the pitch to set up the rest of his repertoire. He did throw 129 pitches in this game, as he was over 100 in the 6th, so I wasn't thrilled to see that from any college pitcher, much less a freshman.
Richie Shaffer: Shaffer didn't do much in this game facing Rodon, but overall continued to show a good overall presence and approach in the batter's box, with very good bat speed and extension. His power potential is evident even when he's not hitting the ball, as he's plenty confident in his abilities to put a big swing on a ball he thinks he can drive.
Aaron Nola: This was my first time seeing Nola this year, his first appearance after he was sidelined for a week or two. I really liked the way Nola pitched, pounding the strike zone with a steady diet of sinking fastballs and curveballs, breaking out a polished fading changeup in the latter innings of his 5 inning appearance. He's yet another slender athlete with a high waist that really projects well physically. He competes on the mound and is aggressive, creating some deception out of his hand making his stuff seem that much higher. His fastball tops out in the low-90s, usually sitting in the upper-80s, with a low-70s curve and a changeup right around 80. The only ER he gave up in this game was a solo shot in the 1st, otherwise he cruised, and did a nice job getting out of a 1-out bases loaded jam in the 3rd. His advanced feel for changing speeds while adding good movement on all of his pitches should allow him to enjoy great success at the college level, and if he adds a few ticks to his fastball as he fills out the next 2-3 years, he could blossom into a frontline starter at the pro level as well. For now, he, Eades and Gausman form one heck of a weekend staff, McCune fits perfectly in a swing/mid-week starting role, while Bourgeois, Cotton and Goody create a formidable trio out of the 'pen.
JaCoby Jones: Every time I've seen Jones play this year he has a big hit, and he has the natural strength to drive the ball even when he doesn't get a good swing on it. In this game he drilled a double over the CF's (Taylor Dugas) head. His upper half is more developed than his lower at this point, and he continues to make solid plays at second despite a lot of people thinking he'll eventually have to move to the OF.
One additional note, keep an eye on New Mexico 3B D.J. Peterson, who we heard from a scout earlier in the week may be the best college hitter West of the Mississippi. I watched 8-10 of his at-bats from over the weekend, and while he didn't do much in the series against San Diego State, at least in the 2 games I watched, I was able to get a sense for his swing and overall game. He's a mature athlete, seemingly the type that the Southwest typically develops, with good strength throughout and some question as to whether he'll be able to stay at 3B. He's a sophomore and isn't eligible until 2013, but he showed very good bat speed taking some confident, aggressive hacks at the plate.