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pebert - all messages by user

2/25/2011 8:37:58 AM
Topic:
Weekend Weather

pebert
pebert
Administrator
I noticed the weather on the West Coast is going to make things interesting this weekend. USD/SDSU already bumped up their game today with rain expected later, and Washington State has postponed their game this afternoon with UC Santa Barbara due to cold weather. Pullman, Washington looks like its pretty chilly today and through the weekend, with highs of 18, 24 and 36 expected the next 3 days.
3/15/2011 8:08:23 PM
Topic:
HD vids of UCONN's George Springer/Matt Barnes

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Springer's bat speed is exceptional, and I agree 100% with David's assessment. The one thing I have noticed in Springer's swing is the fact that the barrel of the bat doesn't spend too much time in the zone. The bat head whips through incredibly quick, which allows impressive hard contact. He has always reminded me of Ryan Braun and Vlad Guerrero as a hitter because of this, which, like those two, should allow him to be a good bad ball hitter, but you're probably not going to see him have a classic at-bat in which he ends up pulling in his hands to square one up the other way. I like the aggressiveness, and he has proven that his swing, while somewhat unorthodox, works for him given his amazing talents.
2/17/2012 9:24:26 PM
Topic:
PG Opening Day Blog

pebert
pebert
Administrator
I had set the Florida/Cal State Fullerton game to my DVR, but it failed me. I've seen Hudson Randall and Florida a ton, so that part didn't bother me too much, but I was looking forward to seeing Dylan Floro and Michael Lorenzen of Fullerton, who I haven't seen too much.

So, I decided to hop on the computer and watch Vanderbilt take on Stanford.

Soph. LHP Kevin Ziomek squared off against RHP Mark Appel in a series loaded with pro talent. Mark Appel obviously was the storyline in this game (and series), and he has yet to show me the times I have seen him pitch that he is deserving of the first overall pick in this year's draft.

He has great size and athleticism, as his body reminds me of Mark Prior's. While he has the same kind of FB velocity, touching 97 in the 1st while settling in at 92-93 for the rest of the game, the pitch is straight as an arrow when left up in the zone, something he continues to do way more than he should. When he gets that pitch down it has some sinking life to it, and he also struggled to command both his breaking ball (something in between a curve and slider) and changeup. His changeup hardly did anything, and he couldn't snap off a decent breaking ball until the 5th.

Yes, its his first start, and while I don't meant to sound overly critical, this is basically the same pitcher I've seen dating back to last year, including his stint with TUSA, his start in the Regionals and 2 starts during the regular season.

Stanford overall is all about potential, with some very exciting athletes/prospects but little polish. Stephen Piscotty is the exception in the polish dep't., one of the best hitters in college baseball who golfed a low inside hanging slider from Kevin Ziomek over the fence in left-center in the 1st inning. Austin Wilson continues to get bigger, looking more and more like Frank Thomas. He'll have to be careful not to loose his looseness as he continues to bulk up, otherwise he'll end up at 1B like the Big Hurt did. Plus, Wilson really has to clean up his plate discipline, as any good pitcher with half a brain should never throw him a fastball until he proves he can recognize breaking balls better.

This may be hard to grasp, but I found more promising aspects in Kevin Ziomek's terrible start than Mark Appel's good one (terrible and good statistically speaking). Ziomek at least pitched as though he had a plan from one batter to the next, and pitched very aggressively with a fastball/slurve/changeup/cutter. He hung a few breaking balls early, and then struggled to find the strike zone, but I've always liked the way Ziomek pitches, and today was no different, despite the results. He was up to 92-93, although I'm not a huge fan of his low 3/4 somewhat slinging delivery.

Conrad Gregor is a breast. Easy power, as he flicked his hands out on an Appel fastball and drove the pitch to deep CF. It was an out, but a taste of the type of power Gregor has. Unfortunately he truly is without a position, as he looked clumbsy at 1B and his glove isn't particularly soft.
2/17/2012 10:44:11 PM
Topic:
PG Opening Day Blog

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Sorry for the typo. Meant to say that Gregor is a beast, as in 'beast-mode.' He's going to put up some big numbers for the Commodores this year, but is going to draw some scrutiny as to where he can and will play at the next level. As long as he hits, and hits for power, that won't be too big of an issue.
2/22/2012 2:05:25 PM
Topic:
Welcome to the PG Insider Draft Forum

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Welcome to the new Perfect Game Draft Insider based forum. This forum is currently open for all to view, as it will at some point be viewable to PG Crosschecker subscribers (Insider and up) only. Here we will provide news of different things we are hearing pertaining to draft-eligible players, or any other inside information that we come across.

Kendall Rogers provides similar information on his subscriber-based CBT forum, and both Todd Gold and Ben Collman shares what they hear on the High School forum.

To kick things off, here are some pitchers that have been making some noise early in the high school/college seasons:

Dylan Baker - RHP - Western Nevada (juco)
Baker pitched in front of some rather large scouting crowds a couple of weeks ago as his team faced Central Arizona College in Las Vegas. 3B Fernando Perez, the top rated juco player in the nation plays for Central Arizona, and Baker was impressive, throwing 92-94 with a hard curveball. Baker was recently ranked 130th on our recent top 200 juco prospect list, but he's certain to rise dramatically up that list the next time it's updated.

Mark Appel - RHP - Stanford
Appel's first start of the year was well documented, as he threw his fastball 93-97 in the first inning and settled in at 90-93 the rest of the way. I already shared my thoughts on his performance on the College Baseball Clubhouse forum, but he pitched as he has the handful of times I have seen him throw in the past. His fastball is straight when left up in the zone, which he does most of the time. It shows good life when he's able to get it down, and wasn't able to snap off a good curveball until the 5th inning. It looked like he was working on his changeup early in the game, but that pitch wasn't doing much for him either. He clearly has very good upside, with good size and a power arm, and while it was only the first start of the year, he showed the same areas that need improvement before I would consider him a candidate to go No. 1 overall come June.

Kyle Zimmer - RHP - San Francisco
Kendall Rogers reported this as well over the weekend, and we have confirmed through other sources that USF ace Kyle Zimmer was throwing 94-98 mph fastballs in the early inning of his first start of the year. He faced only one batter over the minimum in his 4 innings of work, allowing 1 hit while striking out 3.

Damien Magnifico - RHP - Oklahoma
Most already learned via Twitter that Magnifico, the Sooners closer this year, was up to 103 on the team's stadium gun. Even if that number isn't accurate, we've seen him up to 97 in high school, as he has always had a live arm. He was up to 98 last summer as he was named our No. 4 prospect in the NECBL, and pitched for Howard College prior to transferring to OU.

Tyler Gonzales - RHP - James Madison HS, TX
We've seen Gonzales up to 92 at our own events, including in late October at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter. He has always been able to pitch, and throws one of the better true sliders in the 2012 draft class. Recent reports have Gonzales pitching in the 93-94 range with his usual nasty slider, and that increased velocity combined with his pitchability could allow him to move up draft boards this spring.

Ty Buttrey - RHP - Providence HS, NC
Buttrey is like Gonzales in that we've seen him plenty of times before, and there has been plenty to like about him. He was up to 94 in Jupiter with his usual hard curveball and changeup, and recent reports indicate that he too has increased the velocity on his fastball a few ticks, with some 95/96 recordings. He is currently ranked the 35th among the high school class of 2012, and looks to have nowhere to go but up.

Shane Watson - RHP - Lakewood HS, CA
Watson continues a trend of prep pitchers that were already well known about, as we've seen him throw as hard as 93 and currently have him ranked 46th in the 2012 high school class. We've been hearing that he has been sitting more now in the 93 range touching 95/96. The USC recruit is tall and plenty projectable, and is another example of SoCal being loaded with prep pitching this year.

Max Fried - LHP - Harvard-Westlake HS, CA
Fried's outings have been well followed so far, thanks to the attention he and teammate Lucas Giolito receive. Fried continues to gain supporters with many believing he will be taken among the top 10 overall picks come June. His fastball ranges from 88-91 to 90-93 from start to start, and he continues to improve upon his already strong 3-pitch repertoire that includes one of the best curveballs in the 2012 draft class and a polished changeup.

Rex Hill - LHP - Tomball HS, TX
There has been plenty to like about Rex Hill the times we have seen him, who topping out at 89 previously was more about pitchability than blowing batters away. His fastball has also enjoyed a spike, now topping out at 93 mph. The Texas A&M recruit is yet another player poised to move up the rankings.

Colin Rodgers - LHP - Parkview Baptist School, LA
Rodgers was up to 91 at our PG Naitonal Showcase last June, as he has shown a live arm with room for added and sustained velocity. That appears to already be occurring so far this spring, as he recently sat at 90-92.

Jeremy Kivel - RHP - Spring HS, TX
As reported already by Todd Gold on the High School forum, Kivel was 91-95 the other night with a power curveball that he obviously has been working hard to tighten up. He was pitching 89-94 last October at our WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, so this isn't a huge jump in velocity, but he continues to make his case to become an early draft come June.
2/23/2012 7:47:31 AM
Topic:
Feature on UF's Austin Maddox

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Maddox's development will be interesting to watch this spring. As it pertains to the draft, there are more and more teams that target these kind of arms early in the draft, guys that have a power arm but not as many miles as some of the more well known starting commodities. Nolan Sanburn of Arkansas is another guy with a relatively fresh arm that has been used almost exclusively in relief during his college career but could profile well in a starting role as a pro.

I watched Florida's game last night against UCF, and continue to be amazed by how much talent they have on their team. They really have the feel of a big-league club, with a strong lineup, bench, starting staff and bullpen. I know Kendall has mentioned the departures of guys like Maronde, DeSclafani and Toledo recently, but Daniel Gibson, Ryan Harris, Justin Shafer and Bobby Poyner look as though they're all going to get plenty of appearances this spring, in addition to Maddox, Larson and Rodriguez.

We all know about their weekend staff, and then they have guys like Magliozzi and Crawford that can take the ball mid-week. When Zunino gets a day off from behind the plate, Taylor Gushue can start there. They have the talent to platoon effectively at several positions, and have star power at several others.

The same has been true the past couple of years, but similar to any year the New York Yankees don't win it all, anything less than a CWS championship will have to be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment to the Gators and their fans.
2/23/2012 7:56:18 AM
Topic:
Aaron West, RHP, Washington

pebert
pebert
Administrator
I caught up with some recordings I had from over the weekend, particularly the Washington/San Diego State matchup from last Friday. I was pleased to catch RHP Aaron West of Washington, who we ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Far West League last summer. Those reports had West working in the low-90s, peaking around 95, with a slider that tops out in the mid-80s.

I like the way West pitches, as he commands the strike zone really well and pitches to contact. That approach doesn't serve him as well at the college level, when a lot of pitchers are taught to pitch away from contact, and because of that I could see West enjoying more success at the next level. It took him a while to find the feel for his breaking ball, labelled a slider, but it has some downer curveball action to it. It could stand to be tightened up, and he also threw a handful of solid changeups that he throws with the same arm action/speed as his fastball.

He has a very good pickoff move, and does a nice job dictating the tempo of the game, really slowing down with a lot of moves to first base with runners on base. He's one of those pitchers that can lull undisciplined hitters to sleep by how long it takes him to deliver a pitch, and got the Aztecs swinging a lot on the first pitch almost seemingly because of this.

West has good, not great size with a medium, athletic build. His delivery is balanced and he repeats it well, and he appears to do a good job throwing downhill. He started the game leaving the ball up, as it was easy to see why he gives up so many base hits, but did a better job getting his pitches down in the zone as the game progressed.
2/27/2012 10:27:37 AM
Topic:
Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State

pebert
pebert
Administrator
I was happy to catch one of Michael Cederoth's appearances early in his college career. First of all I have to point out that if you switched the #35 on his back to the #37 you would may mistake Cederoth for former Aztec Stephen Strasburg. That comparison is for their physical statures, as Cederoth is listed at 6-6, 210 with plenty of projection yet a lot of current maturity in his frame, with a well proportioned build and strong lower half.

He uses his size well, throwing downhill to the plate with long limbs and very good extension off the mound. That make his low-90s fastball, that can touch the mid-90s, appear that much harder, and he started his 3 inning outing by doing a good job keeping the ball down in the zone. Similar to Mark Appel, when he does so, his fastball gets some nice sinking life to it. Cederoth also has the stuff to throw his 4-seamer up in the zone, in which he got some swings and misses as it's difficult to catch up with.

He snapped off a handful of good curveballs and 2-3 changeups. One of these changeups was particularly promising.

Of his 5 strikeouts, 2 came swinging on high fastballs, one looking on a fastball that caught the outside corner to a RH hitter (Jordan Dunatov), another came looking on a curveball and he used another curveball to get a batter swinging. His appearance was in a relief outing, but I'm sure we'll be seeing Cederoth used as a weekend starter moving forward, and could give SDSU a promising staff to go along with soph. Cole Swanson.

Dylan Davis also pitched in relief, throwing 2 innings for Oregon State. Davis was a PG/Aflac All-American a few summers ago, and his arm strength will probably point to a future as a RHP despite being a very athletic player that also excels at the plate and in the field as an OF.

He looks like a pitcher, with broad shoulders and a high waist and a mature, athletic build. He has a much more compact delivery than Cederoth, but can throw just as hard. His breaking ball isn't as refined, and he threw both a slow curveball that had short, tight break and a slider. He also threw a changeup that showed promise. He pitches aggressively, and wasn't afraid to bust RH hitters inside on their hands. Like Cederoth, he too is being used as a reliever at this point in time, but should be an accomplished weekend starter in the next year, if not by the end of the season.

Of course neither of these guys factor into this year's draft, or even next year's, but will be in the conversation for the early rounds in 2014.
2/27/2012 11:13:52 AM
Topic:
Michael Cederoth, RHP, San Diego State

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Just a few notes I missed on Cederoth before. His fastball sat at 95 during his 3 inning appearance and peaked at 97. It didn't just peak there though, as the SDSU staff informed me that he hit that mark 12-13 times. His slider topped out at 86 and his curveball was 74-75. His performance made an impression, as he will be taking the mound to start Friday's game against UW-Milwaukee.

SDSU catcher Brad Haynal broke a bone in his leg and will be out 6 months. Jake Romanski, who was expected to share time behind the dish with Haynal, is now the No. 1 catcher, and responded well Friday's by going 2-5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.
2/27/2012 12:52:37 PM
Topic:
Stock watch

pebert
pebert
Administrator
I'll use this thread to post notable performances by players. I already shared a batch of information in the introductory post to this forum here:

PG Draft Insider Forum intro

I also shared some thoughts and info on SDSU freshman Michael Cederoth, who was up to 97 last Friday, here.

Jacob Johansen, RHP, Dallas Baptist
Johansen is a draft-eligible sophomore, and there's certainly a lot to like about the 6-6, 215-pound RHP. The pure stuff is clearly there, as he has been throwing 93-97 to go along with a 88-90 mph slider. The need for command/control is easily shown in his stats, as he has made 2 starts, posting a 9.00 ERA, striking out 6 and walking 10 in 7 innings of work, although he has only give up 4 hits. Allan Simpson ranked him the No. 11 prospect in the Valley League last summer. Look for Johansen's name to start popping up more frequently this spring, and if shows any semblance of control he could be taken early in the draft.

Kyle Finnegan, RHP, Texas State
Finnegan won't be eligible for the draft until 2013, and has similar command/control issues that Johansen does, although nowhere near as extreme. In 2 starts so far this year he is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and a 10:5 strikeout:walk ratio in 12 innings of work. He has been consistently 91-92 this spring touching 96 to go along with a sharp 83-85 slider. He was named our No. 4 prospect in the Alaska League last summer.

Mitchell Traver, RHP, Houston Christian HS (TX)
Traver was a PG All-American last summer, and projected to be taken in the top 1-2 rounds come June. He was 92-95 with a plus slider in his most recent start, proving his early round draft value.

Austin Fairchild, LHP, St. Thomas HS (TX)
Fairchild is another 2011 PG All-American, and he continues to throw the ball well, peaking at 93 mph in his most recent outing.

Taylor Duree, RHP, Sandia HS (NM)
Duree is a player we are actively trying to dig up more information on, as he has reportedly been up to 94 mph. The last time we saw Duree was at the 2010 PG/EvoShield National Championship, when he peaked at 84. He showed plenty of room for growth during that tournament, and obviously is starting to fill out getting bigger and stronger while throwing significantly harder.

Kevin McCanna, RHP, The Woodlands HS (TX)
McCanna keeps getting better and better every time we see and/or hear about him. He was up to 91 at the PG/WWBA 17u National Championship last July, up to 92 at the WWBa World Championship in Jupiter in late October, and recent word has him throwing 89-93 peaking at 94 while also throwing a 76-78 curveball and a 83-85 changeup for strikes. One scout compared him to Ian Kennedy, telling us he is the best pitcher in Texas, which is pretty lofty praise.

Nick Grant, RHP, Milford HS (DE)
Grant is another RHP that keeps getting better, peaking at 90 at last June's National Showcase, hitting 91 at the PG/WWBA 17u National Championship with recent reports indicating he has been up to 97 recently.

Connor Jones, RHP, Great Bridge HS (VA)
A 2013 grad and Virginia recruit, Jones is a very projectable RHP with reports of him sitting at 92 in his most recent start peaking at 94. The last time we saw Jones was last October at the WWBA Underclass World Championship where he threw 83-88. He's definitely a pitcher to keep an eye on over the next year plus.
3/3/2012 9:29:20 AM
Topic:
Stock watch

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Continuing last week's breakdown of SDSU freshman RHP Michael Cederoth, he did indeed start last night against UW-Milwaukee in a game the Panthers kept scratching and clawing their way back only to lose late in the game to the Aztecs, 7-4. Cederoth didn't allow a run over the first 4 innings, giving up 3 over his final 2 frames. He went 6 innings giving up 6 hits and 2 walks to go along with 4 strikeouts. He was sitting at 96 mph, touching 98 several times, including 3-4 times in his final inning of work in the 6th. His slider once again was up to 86. More reason to keep an eye on this kid over the next 2-3 years and beyond.

USF RHP Kyle Zimmer pitched in the same tournament, going against Cal State Northridge. His final line was impressive at 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 K and 0 BB. The 0 walks is a little deceiving, as he fell behind early on almost every hitter he faced and really couldn't put himself in a position to use his plus breaking ball. His fastball sat at 95 all game, and was up to 97. He was overthrowing at times and the person I spoke to that saw him thought he was really good, but not quite as good as what had leaked out the first two weeks in which a few people had thrown out the possibility of him going No. 1 overall come June.

Some quick notes on a pair of prep bats:

Stryker Trahan put on a show yesterday, throwing out a pair of would-be base-stealers with POP times of 1.79 and 1.83. He hit the ball consistently hard, and continued to show his incredible athleticism. We here at Perfect Game have been a little hesitant to put a 1st-round grade on Trahan as others have, but he's starting to change our minds with his early season performance.

Courtney Hawkins has hit 5 home runs in his last 2 games. We have enjoyed watching Hawkins' progression since last June when we selected him to be a part of our PG All-American Classic. He hit the ball well in Fort Myers, San Diego and in Jupiter at the WWBA World Championship. In Houston I was standing next to one of Hawkins' Houston Banditos teammates (Rock Rucker) in the batting circle in which Rucker said something to the effect of, "How is he going to wow us today?" Truly a special talent.

I'll have some thoughts on the Andrew Mitchell (TCU) vs. Andrew Heaney (Okla. St.) matchup from last night either later today or tomorrow.
3/4/2012 9:40:18 PM
Topic:
Andrew Mitchell (TCU) vs. Andrew Heaney (Ok. St.)

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Friday offered an exciting matchup between two college Friday aces in TCU's Andrew Mitchell (RHP) and Oklahoma State's Andrew Heaney (LHP). Mitchell isn't draft eligible until next year when he's likely to be considered a likely first round pick.

I had seen Mitchell last summer pitch for Team USA in Omaha. The appearance was very brief, but I liked his size, fastball and bulldog approach. Those three points are still very evident, as the broad-shouldered Mitchell has a strong, square build with a high waist and plenty of strength throughout to sustain the rigors of long innings. Physically he reminded me of Jay Rainville, who to most may sound obscure, but to those that remember Rainville can likely paint a pretty good picture of Mitchell's build.

He throws mostly fastballs, but did start to throw more and more breaking balls that ranged somewhere between a curve and a slider the more he threw them. He has the velocity to throw his fastball by batters, but the pitch usually tops out around 94 and is fairly straight, although not telegraphed. He pitches very aggressively, and pulled the string on a few promising changeups starting around the third inning. He was pulled in the third after giving up a RBI double and a 2-run HR, but wasn't pitching terribly enough to get the hook in my opinion. Just another aspect of the college game that drives me crazy.

Heaney pitched incredibly easy. He looks like he's warming up, and was up to 92 in this game throwing from a low three-quarters delivery. As Allan Simpson profiled in his report of Heaney earlier this week, he is known to drop his already low arm slot on occasion, making him that much tough on LH hitters. I remember his curveball being bigger than what he showed, as it had a shorter albeit still sharp break. He's very smooth, has good tempo, creates natural deception, changes speeds well and commands three pitches. He also showed good composure on the mound, and clearly knows how to pitch. He reminded me somewhat of former Arkansas and current Tigers top prospect LHP Drew Smyly, and like Smyly Heaney is a near lock to pitch in the big leagues some day if he stays healthy, even if his ceiling isn't that of a staff ace.

I was happy to also catch Oklahoma State RHP Chase Stevens in this game, who I followed last summer in my coverage of the Northwoods League and is enjoying a very good season so far this year. Stevens reminded me a little bit of Chris Marlowe, another juco transfer to OSU that enjoyed a big season out of the bullpen a year ago thanks to a big bending curveball. Stevens' curveball doesn't have quite the depth or break as Marlowe's, and he also doesn't throw as consistently hard, but he's a smaller yet compactly built RHP with strength and an aggresive approach.

While I was focusing on the pitchers in this game, Josh Elander had a good day at the plate for the Horned Frogs. He hit a booming triple over the centerfielder's head to straightaway center off of Stevens, and he also hit a solo HR and a single in his 3-for-3 effort at the plate. He too played for Team USA last summer, and while he has obvious pro potential, I'm a little skeptical of his ceiling and ability to catch long term. He has a broad shouldered, strong build with obvious strength throughout.

Next up, I need to watch Sunday's Florida/Miami game. I caught the game off and on throughout the day, as the Gators rallied late to beat the Hurricanes and sweep the series. Austin Maddox, who Kendall Rogers profiled last week, pitched again in this game, and threw one of the nastier breaking balls I have seen all years. Maddox, as well as Nolan Sanburn, are two current relievers for promising college programs that I have a feeling could be drafted early and developed as starters early in their pro careers.

Stay tuned...
3/19/2012 1:45:10 PM
Topic:
College notes from weeks 4/5

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Since I was in Minneapolis at the Metrodome last weekend, I hadn't taken the time to check out the Florida/Florida Gulf Coast game that I had set to my DVR. I also tuned into Arkansas/Alabama this past Saturday, and still have to take a look at Kentucky finishing the weekend sweep of South Carolina from Sunday. Tonight, the final game of the FSU/Virginia series is on ESPNU (with Branden Kline on the mound for VA).

Jonathan Crawford has taken really well to a starting role for the Gators. He had another strong performance yesterday, and has really taken well to the Sunday role with Karsten Whitson shut down for the time being. I had the opportunity to cover Crawford last summer when he pitched for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League, and the general consesus on Crawford was that he threw 4 very promising pitches, all of which moved, but none of which he knew where they would go. That immediately reminded me of Jamey Wright, who was frequently compared to Kevin Brown due to the amount of movement on his fastball, but unlike Brown he didn't command the pitch well enough for consistent success.

Here is the report on Crawford from last summer, when he was ranked No. 10 on our top 75 NWL prospect list:

[font=verdana]One coach commented that he typically didn't like to consider a player with less-than-ideal productivity a legitimate prospect. Crawford struggled all summer for Madison, going 2-2, 5.21 ERA with 39 walks in 38 innings, but his upside was impossible to ignore. Throwing strikes is Crawford's biggest problem, but his projectable 6-foot-2, 175-pound stature and electric stuff suggest he has ace potential. Most of his control issues stem from mechanical problems and lapses in concentration, and he was pulled early in several outings. He will have difficulty gaining much-needed experience in 2012 as part of an incredibly-talented Florida pitching staff, and may struggle to work meaningful innings until he starts to pound the strike zone with greater regularity. His fastball sits at 88-93 mph and was as high as 96 on occasion this summer, with good late life, leading to the bulk of his 51 strikeouts. His curveball, slider and changeup also project as plus pitches.[/font]

The first thing that is evident is his size and overall athleticism as noted above. However, his command/control look to be significantly better. In particular he did a really nice job hitting the inside corners on both side of the plate with his fastball, and also back-doored a couple of curveballs into the zone. He threw almost all fastballs early, mixing in a 2-seamer later to go along with the curveball, slider and changeup that he also throws. His curveball is the pitch he snaps off to drop in the zone, while his slider got nastier the more he threw is, frequently using it to bury it in the dirt when ahead in the count to get batter fishing. The first hard-hit ball he gave up came in the sixth inning (a double), and then gave up another 2 batters later for the 2nd of the 2 runs he gave up. Should he stayed focused and keep the command he has been showing in recent weeks his stock could sky-rocket over the next 12+ months.

I'm not going to write too much on any of the other players in this game. I have seen a lot of Florida the last 3-5 years, and feel I have seen all I need to know about guys like Mike Zunino, Nolan Fontana and Preston Tucker. I know Kendall Rogers has gushed over Freshman Taylor Gushue, who should be a senior in high school, and I remember being impressed with his size and presence in the batter's box the first time I saw him in person last October in Jupiter. He provides great depth to the Gators lineup, playing 1B most of the time and filling in for Zunino about once a week behind the dish.

Across the infield was another freshman, Josh Tobias, who has filled in nicely at 3B with Zach Powers injury. Powers is going to have a hard time getting himself back in the lineup given the play of Tobias and Gushue. This is the third game this year that I have seen Tobias at 3B, and while he has had a few hiccups defensively, I really like his lateral quickness, release and arm strength at the position.

I've written before how impressive Florida's bullpen is. The whole team is impressive when it comes to talent, as I don't think I've ever seen a college team built like a pro team like they are. LHP Daniel Gibson and RHP Austin Maddox worked the final 4.1 innings of this game.

Gibson overall is a very similar prospect, both physically and in regards to his stuff, as Vanderbilt LHP Kevin Ziomek. Gibson throws from a low 3/4 delivery with a little bit of effort, although he may throw harder in shorter stints than he would as a starter (which I think he may be once Hudson Randall and Brian Johnson move on to begin their pro careers). He throws in the upper-80s to low-90s and lives in the lower half of the zone. He has a sharp curveball with a shorter, tight break and can also throw a more violent version of his breaking ball that acts more like a slider.

After making an immediate impression as a freshman positional prospect, Maddox is for real on the mound. He always has been, but for the second time this season threw the most devastating breaking ball I have seen so far this season. He is very thick throughout with a big and muscular frame, and pitching may be the better path for him long-term as his body is a little on the stiff side. His fastball is hard to catch up with, and he also throws a solid changeup that could give him the opportunity to start at the next level. He threw 6 pitches, all for strikes, to record the final 3 outs of this game. His last 2 pitches were sliders, the last of which froze the opposing batter to end the game.

As for the Arkansas/Alabama matchup, my focus was completely on RHP Ryne Stanek. Again, the hitters didn't do much in this game, and I was particularly anxious to see Stanek after Kendall Rogers took some quality video of him at the Houston College Classic.

As you can tell from the video, Stanek has a tall, skinny and very projectable frame with long legs and a high waist. In the game against Alabama, he was elevating his fastball, although he has the velocity to get away with it, and wasn't throwing his slider as consistently well as he has done in other games. He was throwing more of a sharp, short-breaking curveball, similar to Crawford's as detailed above, that he used well to drop in for strikes. His velo was reported in his usual 93-94 range, and he retired the first 6 hitters in order, including 2 via strikeout. He wasn't as sharp in the 3rd, struggling with control, and he gave up an RBI 2B to Taylor Dugas, the first extra-base hit he had allowed all season. He got back on track in the fourth, and was solid through the sixth before seeing his day come to a close.
3/20/2012 9:55:48 AM
Topic:
College notes from weeks 4/5

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Here are some more notes from the Florida State/Virginia series from over the weekend. I focused on three promising hitters in this series.

James Ramsey is enjoying another big season for Florida State. The first thing that stands out is his visible, vocal leadership qualities. He's barking at everyone he can the entire game, and proudly wears the Captain 'C' on his chest. As good as his numbers are, I'm not sure how well his swing translates to the next level. His approach is similar to that of most Japanese hitters, flying open while swatting the ball with a swing path parallel to the ground. Plus, there is a little hitch in his swing that you just don't see from big league hitters. That said, he does have intriguing power for his size, and I've seen him hit the ball deep to left-centerfield a few times (he's a LH hitter). He hustles, shows good instincts defensively and on the basepaths and has good, not great speed.

Jayce Boyd is also enjoying a big season hitting behind Ramsey. He has looked pretty much the same both physically and as a hitter since his freshman year. He has good size and athleticism, although there isn't much speed or quickness to his game. He played some third base early in his college career, but looks as though either first base or left field is his eventual destination. He'll never be known for his defense, as his run production at the plate is where he stands out. He has sloped shoulders with a very good and confident approach. He also has good bat speed with very strong wrists. He has a patient approach and takes a lot of pitches with the ability to foul others off until he gets something he likes. His approach is mostly to hit the ball hard to left field and up the middle. He hit a 2-run single in the game I watched, and ripped a fastball down the left field line for a double later in the game. The big question is his eventual position, as he doesn't loft the ball, at least not currently, to have the ideal power profile for first, but he does have a knack for driving in runs.

Derek Fisher is starting as a freshman for Virginia after he opted not to sign with the Rangers last summer as their 6th-round pick. The times I have seen him before he has reminded me of a younger Jay Bruce, and that comp still works. Like Bruce, Fisher is starting to fill out, has offers a strong, mature and physical presence in the batter's box. Also like Bruce, Fisher is likely to slow down as he continues to get bigger, but has a mature approach and a swing path made for power. We could/should be talking about Fisher as a first-rounder 2 years from now.
3/21/2012 8:34:15 AM
Topic:
College notes from weeks 4/5

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Notes from Sunday's Kentucky/South Carolina game. As detailed in Kendall Rogers' recent work, the Wildcats sweep of the South Carolina certianly added significant legitimacy to their 21-0 start.

Christian Walker has been the Gamecocks best hitter the past few years. He's a perfect college player that is unselfish that knows where and how to hit the ball to parts of the field to help move runners over, drive them in from 3rd with sac flies, groundouts to 2B, etc. He's a physically mature athlete, reminding me somewhat of a RH hitting version of Preston Tucker of the Gators. He squares the ball up consistently well with a line drive swing. He also works the count, but has more doubles power than home run power at this stage. He was the only player that hit the ball hard last June in Omaha, and there is power in his swing and body, as it may simply be a matter of him figuring out how to add loft and backspin to the ball off the bat.

Erik Payne is South Carolina's leading hitter this year. He has sloped shoulders and compact strength, built similar to former LSU IF Aaron Hill. He too has a patient approach and will take big, aggressive hacks when he gets a pitch he likes. He exhibited good bat speed, and like Walker is a very good college hitter whose upside at the next level is in question.

TJ Costen is one of several freshmen in the Gamecocks' lineup, and was rated as our No. 62 high school prospect in the class of 2011. He's an impressive looking athlete with a lean, tall frame with a lot of room for added strength. He showed very quick hands as a RH hitter, and did a nice job pulling his hands in to poke a ball down the RF line. His speed is his best tool presently, as he was very quick out of the batter's box down the first base line. He took some aggressive swings showing good bat speed, as I imagine Costen will be hitting much higher in the Gamecocks' lineup in the next 1-2 years.

I've been impressed with Adam Matthews' power/speed toolset in the past, and while he still gets down the first base line very quickly, he didn't show the same swing I've seen in the past. He used to employ more of a crouched stance with a wide base, but has straightened up. Everything he hit was on the ground in this game, which did lead to a pair of singles, but didn't hit the ball hard. He has bat swing and some patience, but also a propensity to swing and miss. He missed 30-40 games last year due to a hamstring injury, and his tightly chiseled frame reminds me of Bryce Brentz.

Tanner English is another freshman in the Gamecocks' lineup, and is a short little bugger that somewhat reminds me of former FSU star OF Shane Robinson. English can absolutely fly, as he showed off his speed at our 2011 World Showcase. He uses his speed well by hitting the ball on the ground to leg out infield base hits. In this game he hit two high choppers to the left side of the infield in which the Wildcats' shortstop had no chance to throw out English.

The best hitter in this game was Kentucky's slugging catcher Luke Maile. He has very good size, with room to still add strength without losing mobility. He is a loose athlete with good flexibility, leading me to believe there's a really good chance he could stick behind the plate for a long time. He is very patient at the plate, and showed his power potential and bat speed early by golfing a low curveball over the left field fence. He did so on a 2-2 count, showing the confidence that he has in his swing in any count. He hit a screamer later in the game that was snared by South Carolina's 3B, and did a nice job laying back on another low breaking ball and driving it to shallow right-centerfield for a single. Maile was rated our No. 3 prospect in the PGCBL last summer for his offensive prowess, and hit 9 home runs a year ago as a sophomore, putting him among the SEC leaders in that category. Keep on eye on Maile this spring as he's a candidate to be in the conversation for the early rounds come June.

Sophomore LHP Corey Littrell took the start for the Wildcats, giving Kentucky a very solid weekend rotation. He has good size and athleticism and pitches like a prototypical crafty lefty. There is deception out of his hand and he shows good command of his fastball that usually peaks in the upper-80s with the ability to drop in his 12-6 slow curve for strikes. His swing-and-miss pitch is a slider that he buries in the dirt. He also threw 1-2 good changeups. Like most lefties with a similar profile, he has a very good pickoff move.
3/21/2012 8:47:43 AM
Topic:
College notes from weeks 4/5

pebert
pebert
Administrator
A few quick thoughts from last night's Florida/Samford matchup:

Samford's C.K. Irby is an interesting player to follow. He's the team's second leading hitter, and came on to pitch the final inning, showing a 93-94 fastball and a wicked slider. He's definitely a short relief prospect with his max effort delivery, although he has started a handful of times. Command/control can be an issue, but he's a pretty intense competitor.

I covered OF Philip Ervin last summer in the Northwoods League, where he was named our No. 22 prospect and received support as one of the league's most athletic and dynamic players. He didn't do much in this game, going 0-4, but his athleticism is evident. He has a high waist and really long legs for a shorter player, and took good routes in CF.

If you haven't already noticed, Austin Maddox has been really impressive serving as Florida's closer. Not only does he have great stuff, but he has also showed very good command and the ability to play his fastball, slider and changeup off one another. He pitched a quick inning to secure a 5-3 victory.

LHP Lex Rutledge started the game for Samford. His stuff wasn't fooling the Gators hitters, and he doesn't (or at least didn't) have the command to establish the strike zone or find any kind of tempo. Kendall Rogers tweeted about this last night, but he's having a tough year.
3/26/2012 11:22:29 AM
Topic:
College notes from week 6: Appel & others

pebert
pebert
Administrator
I finally was able to watch Mark Appel pitch since catching his first start in the season. While Appel's stuff is obvious, the flatness of his fastball, lack of command of his breaking ball and overall control caused some concern with me, at least in context of someone being considered for the first overall pick.

While I hadn't seen any of his starts in over a month, it was reported by others that Appel was much sharper in his second start of the year, and he looked very impressive in his start against USC yesterday (Sunday 3/25).

His fastball stands out, reportedly 93-96 in this game and he maintained that velocity into the 9th inning. He was nearly unhittable in the early frames, and had a 1-0 lead going into the 9th, and recorded 2 quick outs on 3 pitches before USC rallied for 2 runs. He spotted his fastball well, and his mid-80s slider is also a very impressive pitch, coming out of his hand like his fastball before breaking down and away from right-handed batters. He threw a changeup, and also looked to take a little off of his slider to throw a breaking ball with more of a 12-6 curveball break, but his fastball and slider are his money pitches. When he wasn't striking batters out, he was inducing weak groundballs.

Stephen Piscotty started Stanford's rally in the bottom of the 9th with a double. I really like Piscotty's swing and overall approach, and think he will continue to add home run power as he learns to loft the ball more. Right now his swing is tailored more to make hard contact up the middle and to the gaps.

Austin Wilson had the big blow, a booming 2-run shot that led to Stanford's walkoff 4-2 win. Wilson is a great athlete overall, with a continually growing athletic and muscular frame. He can crush good fastballs, and physically he looks like he could star in the NFL as a LB or TE. The former PG/Aflac All-American has star written all over him, but still needs to make adjustments at the plate, particularly laying off breaking balls low and away (a common problem for many to most young hitters).

Andrew Triggs was the starter for USC, and did a nice job carving up the Stanford lineup for most of the game as Appel did to the Trojans. Triggs was in the upper-80s to low-90s with his sinking fastball, and he too threw a slider, although not as dynamic as Appel's. He worked efficiently and has obvious pro potential.

Brett Mooneyham started game 2 of the doubleheader on Sunday (rain postponed Saturday's game in a scheduled Sat-Mon series). He pitched a very solid game for Stanford, going 7 innings, allowing 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 9. He did throw 126 pitches in this game, which isn't surprising if you watched the game. While he was always around the zone, he struggles to consistently throw strikes. While it has been reported that his mechanics have dramatically improved, he still needs to work on his release point. He clearly has swing-and-miss stuff, with a low-90s fastball, a curve, slider and changeup that are all solid pitches, but I have never seen him command his full repertoire at the same time. He'll show flashes with one pitch or another from one inning to the next, as he did in this game. His upside is quite high given his size and left-handedness, and it may simply require him receiving the proper instruction at the pro level for him to reach that potential.

Like Mooneyham, Kevin Gausman had a solid statistical performance in his Friday start against Auburn (5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 5 BB), but he struggled to throw strikes. Gausman has enjoyed a very solid season this year, and continues to put his name in the conversation for the very early picks of this June's draft. We've had recently reports of him throwing in the mid-90s, peaking at 97, and staying in the 93-95 range late in ballgames. His fastball had plenty of zip in this game, and while he threw a handful of promising breaking balls, he didn't snap them off or command them as consistently well as I've seen in the past.

Going into the series I was curious to see how well, or even how much, Auburn would run on the basepaths with Ty Ross behind the plate. Coming into the game the Tigers had stolen 57 bases in 77 attempts, but in the 3-game series they were only successful once in 3 attempts. Ross has a cannon for an arm, and improving accuracy and overall defensive prowess behind the plate. He's a sophomore with a big, strong frame and enough looseness to his frame to believe he will only continue to improve. Ross had a strong weekend at the plate, and is now hitting .342 on the year. His 3 doubles aren't a good indicator of his eventual power potential.

Auburn OF Cullen Wacker is a brute. He's also appropriately named, with a huge, barrel-chested upper body, and can muscle the ball out of the park. I covered Wacker in the PGCBL last summer when he was named the league's MVP of their mid-summer all-star game thanks to a game-winning home run. He's hitting .321 this year, and only 1 home run, but hit a booming double off of Gausman in this game.

I also had the opportunity to watch Arkansas reliever Nolan Sanburn in the 3rd game of their series against Mississippi State. He came in early in this game after starter Randall Fant struggled to record an out in the 2nd inning of this game.

Sanburn was called upon with the bases loaded and no outs in the 2nd, and he only allowed 1 of those baserunners to score. His first pitch was hit sharply to the 2B to start an easy 4-6-3 double play, and after he walked the next 2 batters, he froze the final Bulldogs batter of that inning with a nasty curveball. His arm strength is apparent, and there is some sinking life to his fastball that is typically clocked in the low-to-mid-90s. His curveball has tight break, and he also throws a more violent breaking ball in his slider that he uses to get batters fishing in the dirt. He has good arm speed and is a good overall athlete despite not having the prototypical size. I'd like to see him start, which he may at the next level, as he has the repertoire to do so. He struggled somewhat during his 2 inning stint, giving up a pair of hits while walking 3, but didn't allow an earned run. He also struck out 4, the 2nd of which came looking on a fastball, the third swinging on a curve and the fourth swinging on a slider.

Fant started the game pretty well, working quickly pounding the lower half of the strike zone with his sinking fastball. He has a low waist and a tall, skinny frame with plenty of room for added strength.

Mississippi State CF Hunter Renfroe showed why he was named our No. 1 prospect in the Cal Ripken League last summer, and why he sits at No. 12 on our top prospect list for the 2013 draft.

The first thing that stands out is his size, as he is an impressive and physically imposing athlete listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. I wouldn't be surprised if his actual weight was around 220, and if it isn't already, it probably will be in the 220-230 range some day, and he will carry it well. He has long, strong limbs and is very loose for his size. He has caught some in the past, but played CF on this day, which may be a good call to take advantage of his athleticism. He takes an equally big and confident swing at the plate, ripping a belt-high inside fastball from Sanburn to left field in this game for a single, and he showed his selectivity by walking twice in the contest. He promptly stole second after his single, showing off his ability to run.

While he hasn't taken the mound at all this year, he also has promise as a right-handed pitcher.
4/5/2012 12:10:36 PM
Topic:
College notes from week 6: Appel & others

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Thanks H2, Gausman certainly was 100% last weekend. I'll share some quick thoughts on him in my next forum update.
4/5/2012 12:29:51 PM
Topic:
College notes from week 7 - big pitching matchups

pebert
pebert
Administrator
There were some marquee pitching matchups last weekend, including Marcus Stroman vs. Buck Farmer, Bobby Wahl vs. Hudson Randall and Ryne Stanek vs. Ryan Eades. My notes will be a little more broken than what I've done in past weeks to conserve time.

Buck Farmer (Georgia Tech RHP): Big kid, well built. Momentum carries him to 1B side on release. 93 FB. Sharp breaking ball that varies between curve and slider depending on how he throws it and based on the situation. Threw strikes in this game, working quickly. Did a nice job getting out of bases loaded jam in 4th getting a tapper back to mound for 1-2-3 DP. Pitches backwards at time using slurve to set up FB. Runs and fields position well for big guy.

Marcus Stroman (Duke RHP): Little guy, but well put together, good athlete, quick-twitch. Electric arm speed, ball explodes out of hand. 93-95 in this game. Well balanced on mound. Tight breaking slider to go with hard boring fastball. Slider is especially nasty when he's ahead of count and buries it. Mixed pitches/sequencing well. Holds runners well, really good mound presence/composure. Interesting as starter, maintained velo well deep into game. Induced lots of ground balls. Good command of zone.

Brandon Thomas (Georgia Tech OF): Tall, upright LH stance. Tall, rangy athlete. Good strength. Resembles Andre Ethier physically and as hitter at same stage of career. Good bat speed, easy swing, ability to catch up with Stroman's heat. Keeps barrel in zone, ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. Nice job working count.

Bobby Wahl (Ole Miss RHP): Nice big, athletic frame. Similar build to Karsten Whitson. Very good FB, has some late life. Good arm speed. Aggressive approach, goes right after hitters. Pitches off fastball. Sharp slider has sharp diving life. Also threw good change. Confident pitcher that shows some emotion on mound. Pitching style somewhat similar to Gerrit Cole. Effectively wild at times. Very impressive RHP that should be premium pick in 2013.

Hudson Randall (Florida RHP): Pitchability RHP. Changes speeds and commands ball extremely well. Throws in upper-80s, ability to touch 90/91. Sharp slow curveball, really nice fade on change. Some movement to FB. Did a nice job settling down in this game after giving up 3 runs in 1st, including 2-run shot to Ole Miss 1B Matt Snyder.

Ryan Eades (LSU RHP): Skinny with strength, great projectability. High waist. Slow windup, fast arm, smooth and easy delivery. Good fastball velo that sat in low-90s, touched mid-90s early (some reports had him up to 97). Sharp upper-70s curve, really nice changeup maintaing arm speed with sinking action. 3 quick outs to start game, using just 8 pitches. Good pitch sequence, pitches off fastball. Premium 2013 draft RHP.

Ryne Stanek (Arkansas RHP): Similar to Eades. Projectable, slender frame with broad shoulders. A little more effort to delivery than Eades, but pitches more like a true power pitcher. Easy FB velocity. Nasty, sharp slider. Curve more of a big bender, slider has tighter, sharper break. FB 93 (reports also had him up to 97), slider 84. Throws downhill. Another premium 2013 draft RHP in a very promising sophomore class in SEC.

Ty Ross (LSU catcher): Good size, target behind plate. Loose, flexible frame. Sets up well, very good defensive tools with cannon for arm. Good bat speed. Currently more of a line drive approach but power is there.

Kevin Gausman (LSU RHP): From brief video clips of Gausman during game, they showed him showing a few of the nasty sliders that we heard about after the weekend from his performance. The pitch had wicked break, thrown with the same arm speed as his fastball (which reportedly was up to 99) and is released out of his hand like his FB. Very impressive albeit in a very short taste of his outing. If he pitches like that more often he could push his name into the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick, if he hasn't already.
4/12/2012 11:20:07 AM
Topic:
College notes wk 8 - Rodgers, Gausman, Zunino

pebert
pebert
Administrator
Oregon State vs. Arizona State

Deven Marrero: If you don't already know about Marrero he is a great all-around athlete with a well-proportioned, tapered frame. He went 2-5 in this game, with his 1st hit being a push bunt infield single in which he showed very good straight line speed down the line. His second hit he smoked a slider on the outer half through the hole on the left side of the infield. He hasn't been driving the ball much this spring and overall his numbers are down, but he continues to excel defensively and has promising upside.

Brady Rodgers: Rodgers is all about pitchability. I had the chance to see him first-hand last summer for Team USA when the CNT travelled to Omaha to face Team Japan. 80 of the 106 pitches he tossed in this game were called for strikes, as he went 8 innings, allowing 7 hits, 2 unearned runs and 1 walk while striking out 6. He also posted a 13 to 4 groundout to flyout ratio, a very good indication of his ability to induce weak ground balls. His pitch sequencing is excellent, and while he's not a flamethrower, his success is predicated off of the command of his sinking 87-89 fastball that peaks around 90-91. He throws a sharp, slow overhand curveball at 70-74, a sharp 82-83 slider and a 79-81 changeup. He sets up hitters well, working away before busting them inside, or even climbing the ladder to get some swinging on high heat. His fastball looks to be thrown harder than it is given how well he commands it and uses his offspeed stuff to accentuate it. His delivery is clean and he's a good overall athlete. While his ceiling his limited, his floor is very high, as he has a good chance to not only get to the big-leagues, but do so quickly.

Dan Child: I had the opportunity to follow Child last summer when he was named PG's No. 9 prospects in the Northwoods League when he was throwing in the 93-94 range with a sharp 82-83 slider. That is the exact repertoire he showed in this game, although he tended to rely more on his slider than to trust his fastball. There is quite a bit of deception to his delivery, and he gets a lot of sink on his fastball, which in this game was 89-93. His slider was 81-85, showing very good break down and away from right-handed hitters. The throws over the top and has some downhill plane to his delivery. He's a big-bodied athlete with a sturdy, thick build, which drew some comparisons to Brad Lidge last summer from the scouts and coaches I talked to. He works slow, nearly Steve Tracshel slow, and he looks to lull hitters asleep before his FB/SL explodes out of his hand. He had a strong outing outside of a 4-run 3rd inning.

Michael Conforto: Conforto is a freshman outfielder for the Beavers that is enjoying a very good season at the plate. He has a crouched stance and a patient approach with an easy/smooth LH swing. He went with an outside fastball from Rodgers to stroke a double down the left field line in the first inning, and later worked the count to draw a walk, the only one Rodgers issues, in the 3rd. It's easy to envision him hitting for more and more power as he has a loose, strong frame to go along with his powerful swing. Keep an eye on this young man the next few years.
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