4/25/2012 10:28:23 AM
One nice thing about the TV schedules this year is that viewers nationwide have had an opportunity to see Kevin Gausman pitch at least 3-4 times this year. Gausman of course is a candidate to go No. 1 overall come June, who David Rawnsley had going first to the Astros in his latest mock draft.
I'm not going to spend too much time on Gausman, who I have detailed plenty of times before. His curveball and changeup weren't working as well against Kentucky, but he was dominating with his fastball. A few of his sliders continue to show great promise as well. He's inconsistent, but he has the raw stuff to succeed even when his entire repertoire and/or command isn't working for him. That's something I'm not sure I can say about a few of the other pitchers being discussed at 1/1.
Taylor Rogers: Rogers, like Gausman, is a product of Colorado, as are other premium draft prospects such as Stephen Johnson and Pierce Johnson. Rogers is more of a prototypical lefty, although he isn't a finesse guy. He throws from a low 3/4, somewhat crossfire delivery that creates deception. His fastball can peak in the low-90s, but usually sits around 88. He'll work away from RH batters before busting them inside, and shows good command of a sweeping slider and a changeup with the ability and knowledge of how to change speeds effectively. He has a lean build with a stronger lower half than upper.
Luke Maile: I probably like Maile (pronounced MAY-lee) more than most. As I've noted before he has good size and yet is still loose enough looking as an overall athlete. He also showed the ability to catch up with superior stuff with good bat speed, yanking a fastball down the LF line against Gausman for a double. He is up to 11 home runs on the season (and 10 doubles), and continues to do a good job working the count.
Chris Cotton: I mentioned LSU's pitching staff and bullpen a week ago, and Cotton has been a big part of that. It's easy to envision him at the next level as a LHP specialist, throwing a ton of breaking balls that should make him at worst effective against LH hitters. His fastball isn't a big pitch (and he didn't even throw many), and he's on the shorter side, but again, he could advance quickly at the next level if developed as a specialist.
Nick Goody: I also mentioned Goody last week and how much I liked the way he pitched. He is perfect for a short relief role with his approach and intensity. He pitches exclusively out of the stretch with somewhat of an old school feel about him. He's fearless with an exaggerated delivery that creates deception. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but his best pitch is his slider. He probably doesn't have the fastball velo to be a closer at the next level, but he may evolve into a good set-up man.
Chris Stratton: He was electric on Thursday night in a nationally televised game against Tennessee, and showed why he is being talked about now for the top 10-20 overall picks in the draft. We recently provided a draft focus profile on Stratton to paint a better picture of what he's all about. He has good, not great size and apparent athletic ability on the mound. He was elevating his fastball, which usually sits in the 90-93 range, in the first inning, but did a much better job keeping the pitch down in the zone as the game progressed. He maintains his velocity deep into games, still throwing 91-92 in the 8th inning. His delivery and arm are simple and easy and he repeats it well. His slider is his best pitch, and he throws it a lot. He can given how well he commands it, and is has sharp, late break that makes it not only hard to hit, but difficult to hit hard. When he's not missing bats he's inducing a lot of groundballs. If I were a team picking in the top 10 I would be looking hard at Stratton.
Hunter Renfroe: Renfroe isn't hitting the ball very well right now, but his physical stature and overall tools are apparent. Plus, he showed an absolute cannon for an arm in this game while playing right field.
Zach Godley: Tennessee RHP Zach Godley started opposite Stratton, and while he doesn't have Stratton's dynamic stuff, he does have some pro potential. He has a sturdy build, listed at 6-3, 245, although he doesn't look quite that big. He does have a compact build with strength, and commanded the strike zonechanged speeds well using a 88-91 fastball a sweeping curve and a solid change.
Will Maddox: Freshman infielder Will Maddox showed some solid skills, and in particular had a great at-bat against Stratton in the 8th inning in which he continually fouled ball after ball off, worked the count full and eventually smacked a base hit up the middle of the field to drive in the tying run (Stratton had 2 outs in the innings, and struck out the 3rd batter, who reached on an error, only to give up 2 consecutive base hits to lead to the 1-1 tie which forced extra innings). There's some Chris Burke to Maddox's game, a high energy player that has good, not great speed/athleticism/tools.
Drew Steckenrider: Steckenrider played in the PG/Aflac All-American Classic back in 2008, and continues to show his 2-way potential for the Volunteers. He isn't hitting the ball very well this spring, but offers a very big, physical and athletic build. His pro potential is likely on the mound, and likely in the bullpen thanks to a fastball that sits in the upper-80s and touches 91-92, with reports that he has been even a few ticks higher than that. He has made 3 starts this year out of his 21 appearances, but has been Tennessee's most reliable option out of a pretty solid bullpen (and overall pitching staff despite not having any big names).
Cameron Perkins: Purdue traveled to Nebraska to play the Cornhuskers last weekend, and Perkins kicked off game 1 of the series with a bang. He hit 2 home runs, both pulled to left field, and drove in 3. The first home run he turned on an inside fastball, and while it didn't look like a HR shot off the bat, he clearly has the strength to pull his hands in and drive the ball out of the park. The second he drilled over the wall in left center, taking another fastball on the inner half, this one thigh easy, putting an extremely easy swing on the ball. His bat stays in the zone and he exhibits excellent bat control. The times I have seen him before he has shown excellent oppo field power lacing doubles to the wall in right center, while also having the ability to be labelled a "bad ball hitter." He has a very strong arm at 3B that would play well in RF if he moves off of the hot corner down the road. He's not generating a ton of early (top 3 rounds) draft interest, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him enjoy success as a pro.
Kevin Plawecki: Purdue's catcher may have better tools that translate well to the next level than Perkins, largely due to his presence, leadership qualities and defensive skills behind the plate. He too has a very strong arm, and also had 2 hits in this game, both of which were singles. On both he really did a nice job going with the pitch, pulling in his hands on the 1st pitch he saw in his 1st at-bat to lace a single to right field, while staying with a hanging changeup in the 7th to drive a ball up the middle. His large frame is loose and flexible and is another guy that I could see performing at a high level as a pro.
Tom Lemke: Lemke came out of the bullpen in the 6th to get the Huskers out of a jam, although put himself in his own in the 7th. He's a big, big fellas, with a very strong lower half. He doesn't throw as hard as you might think with that frame, pitching in the upper-80s, but he does throw a very nice changeup. He'll be drafted for his size alone, and it's important to note that he has missed a lot of time during his college career.