May 2007

The end of an era

The days of the draft-and-follow ended with a bang last night.

Not only did the Angels sign Jordan Walden and the Padres ink Matt Latos, the Diamondbacks managed to come to an agreement at the very last minute with Max Scherzer.

Scherzer, of course, isn’t really a draft-and-follow in the true sense of the term. He was Arizona’s first-round pick last year, a Scott Boras client, and was pitching indy ball waiting to see if he’d be this year’s Jered Weaver and sign or this year’s Luke Hochevar and re-enter the draft pool. As of last evening, it looked like he was going to be the latter. But it’s amazing how much can happen between 11:55 p.m. and midnight at deadline time and the two sides were able to agree on a deal. Read MLB.com reporter Steve Gilbert’s account here.

This, of course, is the last year something like this can happen, in terms of a drawn out, year-long holdout. With the new rules in place, teams (and players) have until Aug. 15 to make a decision or they re-enter the pool for the following year. I’m sure there will still be the 11th hour negotiating, but it’ll happen a lot sooner. I wonder if teams will be more likely to draw a firmer line in the sand since with the new rules if they don’t ink their first round pick, they get a close-to-equal first round selection the following year.

Walden and Latos both got seven figures to sign and Scherzer’s deal is north of 4 million. There were some other draft-and-follow candidates out there and I’ll update as I have more details…

Another signing

The San Diego Padres got into the act on Wednesday  night, signing the "other" top draft-and-follow who would’ve been an early draft pick on June 7 had he re-entered. The Padres announced they had come to terms with Matt Latos, their 11th round pick from a year ago.

Latos had pitched incredibly well for Broward CC this year, showing a lot more consistency than he had as a senior in high school. Rumors earlier in the day were that the two sides were very far apart, but evidently not too far to come to an agreement.

Still nothing on the Scherzer front. There’s about 2 hours to the deadline at this point and there was some talk the sides were still having discussions and there was some movement in a positive direction in terms of coming to an agreement. It may be too little too late, but we likely won’t know until midnight.

On Walden Pond

A little draft-and-follow update for you…

I’ve learned that Jordan Walden, one of the top draft-and-follows in the country, will indeed sign with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. There should be an official announcement in the next day or two, but expect the bonus to be in line with what an end of the first round type of pick.

Walden was one of the top high school arms heading into the 2006 season, but he was hampered somewhat by a groin injury that affected him on the mound. Once he didn’t go in the first couple of rounds, teams must have feared he’d be too tough to sign and would instead head to the University of Texas. The Angels, never one to shy away from that kind of risk, popped him in the 12th round and they decided together he should go to Greyson Community College in Texas so he could stay under the Angels’ control. He’s thrown well this season and PGCrosschecker.com had Walden listed as the 52nd best prospect in the draft class had he re-entered. Baseball America had him at No. 69.

Those rankings are moot, now, as he’ll enter into the Angels system officially soon. In this last year of draft-and-follows, that leaves Matt Latos (Padres) as one other big name still floating, along with first-round pick Max Scherzer, who’s still under the Diamondbacks’ control. The teams have until May 30th to sign any draft-and-follows or they’ll re-enter the draft this year. It’s expected the Padres will sign Latos but it’s still unclear what will happen with Scherzer. That one will likely come down to the wire.

Nail-splitter

Turns out Detwiler was trying to pitch with a split fingernail last night, which clearly affected his command. Shouldn’t have a real draft impact.

Settling in to watch David Price now. One batter so far, one strikeout. I think he has a future in this game…I’ll be back with a report tonight.

Sweet Home Alabama

Greetings from the greater Birmingham area…Hoover, to be exact. The site of the 2007 Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament. And boy, is there a lot to talk about.

I saw some great left-handed pitching here on Wednesday…and David Price didn’t even throw (He goes on Thursday afternoon, in case you were wondering).

Both Arkansas’ Nick Schmidt and Tennessee’s James Adkins took no-hitters into the eighth innings of their respective games. Schmidt ended up with a two-hit, complete-game shutout against Alabama to kick off the tourney; Adkins pitched into the ninth against the top-ranked Vanderbilt squad. Both fit the "pitchability lefty" mold well. Schimdt stymied Alabama, a team he did not pitch well against the last time he faced them, mostly because he was able to spot his fastball in and out as well as throw his throw his breaking ball for strikes.

Adkins pitches a little backwards, pitching off of his breaking ball more than his fastball, which was in the 87-89  mph range, touching 90 at times. But he was able to throw his breaking stuff for strikes wherever and whenever he wanted to, thus making his fastball appear even better. He kept the ball down and induced a ton of groundballs while allowing just one hit. Schmidt’s name has been mentioned as a first-round possibility and this certainly didn’t hurt his stock. Adkins isn’t mentioned as  highly, but if he gets the chance to pitch again this postseason and he repeats his performance from Wednesday, he could creep up some. Those college lefties are always in high regard.

Elsewhere around the country…

With people still trying to figure out if Clemson’s Daniel Moskos is a starter and if he’s worth a top pick, he went out and pitched into the eighth inning. He didn’t miss many bats, but just the fact he was able to get that deep into a start, during the ACC tournament  no less, is encouraging.

It wasn’t as encouraging for Ross Detwiler at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. It was supposed to be a good matchup between Detwiler, Missouri State’s ace, and Travis Banwart from Wichita State. Didn’t really work that way. Banwart got knocked out in the sixth. Detwiler, expected to go as high as the top 5, only went three innings. He gave up four hits and four walks that led to two runs before he left. He threw 75 pitches in the three innings. There was talk of a blister issue, so stay tuned to find out what exactly happened there. But there were a lot of people into see him, including at least one general manager of a top 5 picking team.

Finally, in the California high school playoff scene, Mike Moustakas added to his career and season home run records. He hit two more out for Chatsworth High in a first-round game. There were plenty of scouts on hand to see him and teammate Matt Dominguez. It’s hard to say where he’s going to go yet because of perceived signability (he’s a Scott Boras advisee), but that could end up being just a perception. Remember Mark Pawalek signed very quickly with the Cubs a couple years back.

Anyway, Price goes tomorrow. I’ve never seen him throw and I’m extremely excited. Not that it’s  a mystery with him at this point, but I’ll report back tomorrow on how he threw.

Draft rumblings

Just a quick update from things going on over the past few days.

Draft wild card Max Scherzer, who is still technically under the control of the Arizona Diamondbacks, started again on Friday for the indy league Fort Worth Cats. And reports were very positive. While he wasn’t pumping 97, 98 mph fastballs in like he did last time out, he was at 93-94 mph with good command. More intriguingly, Scherzer was featuring what one scout graded as a plus changeup, a pitch he had not shown at all in the past. Many teams, including the Diamondbacks, were there to see the performance. Of course, with each good outing, the price tag could go up making it more difficult for Arizona to get a deal done. If he re-enters the draft, I don’t see him getting out of the top 10, with Washington at No. 6 looking like a very good home. He doesn’t officially go back into the draft pool until May 31.

On the high school front, circle Wednesday on your calendar if you’re in southern California. That’s when top-seeded Chatsworth High school, with Matt Dominguez and Mike Moustakas — both expected to be high first-round pick — plays its first Los Angeles City Playoff game. They play at 3 p.m. PT on Wednesday; a win would give them a game on Friday. The championship will be played next week in Dodger Stadium, an excellent time to see two high-profile players on a very big stage.

Got this comment on the last post from npurcell:
Do you have any info on who the Dodgers have been looking at or wanting
with the 20th pick? With a new scouting director in Tim Hallgren, are
they still going to heavily favor the high school route?

I’m working on my first projection of picks 1-20 (I did 1-10 last week). That will be up on Wednesday, so be sure to check out Draft Central. Today, we’ve got a breakdown on the top catchers in the class, if anyone’s interested. I will say this. Just because there’s a new scouting director does not mean that Logan White still isn’t overseeing the draft. And while he’s, on occasion, not gone the high school route, I think there will be some good high school arms for the Dodgers to choose from at No. 20.

More later…

Top 10 Reax

Well, my first shot at the first 10 picks of the draft is on the site. In case you missed it, you can check it here or I’ll re-print it now:

1. Devil Rays: David Price
2. Royals: Rick Porcello
3. Cubs: Josh Vitters
4. Pirates: Daniel Moskos
5. Orioles: Ross Detwiler
6. Nationals: Phillipe Aumont
7. Brewers: Jarrod Parker
8. Rockies: Matt Dominguez
9. Diamondbacks: Mike Moustakas
10. Giants: Andrew Brackman

OK, so what have been the picks that have drawn the most reaction? You certainly can post comments below and keep the dialogue going until I update next week, but here are a few things I know that I didn’t put into the story or didn’t know at the time.

1. Royals and Porcello. Based purely on the evaluation of talent, the Royals (at least some of them) have David Price No. 1 and Rick Porcello  No. 2. Yes, they’ve spent money in the past few drafts. They also spent a lot of money during the offseason, so they might end up trying to save a little. I’m not ready to take Porcello off this spot yet because they could very well pull the trigger on him. But a cheaper college arm — who also could get to Kansas City faster, presumably — may end up happening here.

2. Pirates and Moskos. I’ll be honest. At this point, I don’t think they take Moskos here. The problem is, I don’t have any idea who they do take. Taking a college lefty just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, especially one who people may not be 100 percent convinced can be a starter. Do you really want a setup guy or closer at No. 4 overall? I wouldn’t, but that’s just me. There are some very good high school arms available, but the Pirates have had some trouble/bad luck with the health of young arms. They really want a bat. Maybe they can send subliminal messages to the Cubs about Jarrod Parker.

3. Mike Moustakas. His stock has gone up about as much as anyone’s and you might see him move up a few notches to No. 7 next week. The one caveat: Word on the street is that his bonus demands are extremely high and some aren’t sure what position he’ll play. How those variables play out will be very interesting.

4. The Nats. Still to me the most interesting team to watch simply because of all the people involved in the decision-making. Keep in mind, they have four picks in the sandwich round and 2nd round so even if they don’t go for the "big splash" with this top pick, they’ll be able to collect a nice amount of talent. With the Max Scherzer wild card thrown in, we may not know exactly what’s going on here for a while.

5. Matt Wieters. Finally, a chat about the biggest name not on my top 10. Frankly, there just wasn’t a fit for him there. There are some teams who’ll probably look at him as they realize he’ll be there (trust me, they already know), but will they pull the trigger knowing what the asking price may be. He’s come on lately, but his performance for much of the season has been very uneven, making some even more hesitant. There’s been a lot of talk that he and Andrew Brackman will be this year’s Drew and Weaver (The main problem with that scenario is that Weaver was FAR more polished than Brackman. His slide was all about money, while with Brackman there are some actual on-the-mound concerns). Anyway, stay tuned to see where I think Wieters will land, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it will be in the top 10.

The weekend that was…

It wasn’t a great weekend for some of the projected top picks, while some others stepped up. Here’s a sampling, using the weekend guide I wrote on Friday as a compass of sorts:

David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt: Yes, he got the win and he threw just 103 pitches in eight innings in the process, a relatively low number. But he gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits. Price said after the game that he couldn’t command his fastball or slider. This won’t hurt his draft status, mind you, as he’s still the presumed No. 1 pick.

David Moskos, LHP, Clemson: The closer-turned-starter was not very good at Florida State on Friday. He was pitching at 88-92 mph, but it was very hittable and he didn’t have good command. As a result, he gave up four runs on seven hits and five walks over 5 2/3 innings as Clemson lost to the  No. 2 Seminoles, 11-1. How much this hurts him remains to be seen as Moskos was being mentioned as a top five pick in some conversations.

Andrew Brackman, RHP, North Carolina State: What to make of the big right-hander? His pure stuff is very good, but his results have not been. And those who are concerned with his ability to carry that stuff deep into games weren’t helped on Saturday when he only went four innings. He gave up three runs on five hits and five walks, striking out five. He threw a ******** 101 pitches over four innings.

Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech: The top college bat in the class went 6-for-13 with a homer, double and 5 RBIs over the weekend. The home run and two-bagger came in a Sunday slugfest. For the year, he’s now hitting .376 with a .639 SLG.

Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri State: The left-hander’s team lost the game, but it wasn’t his fault. Detwiler went 8 innings, K’s 14 and allowed two runs in an effort that certainly didn’t hurt his status.

Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Ecole du Versant: Things couldn’t have gone much better for the big Canadian right-hander on Sunday in what may have been his last outing in North America (he’ll throw in the Dominican Republic at the end of the month). Pitching in Ottawa’s Lynx Stadium, he went four innings, didn’t allow a hit, a run or a ball beyond the infield grass. He walked three and struck out seven over 69 pitches. He topped out at 98 mph and sat very comfortably in the 93-95 mph range. I’m not sure how much farther he can climb, but it could be into the top five. Stay tuned on this one.

Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep: The concern with the Northeast pitchers is that they start so late, it’s hard for them to have enough time to impress enough. Not a problem for Porcello, who will go very early on June 7. The NJ prep senior tossed a perfect game at the semifinals of the Greater Newark Tournament against Newark Academy for a 2-0 win. Porcello struck out 12 in the seven-inning game and was clocked at 95 mph in the first inning and 94 in the seventh. He only threw 77 pitches.

Tim Alderson, RHP, Horizon High School: While Alderson isn’t mentioned at the top of the draft like these other guys, he is first-round material. It’s hard to get a read on his win on Saturday to give Horizon the state championship over rival Brophy. He did go the distance and "made pitches when he had to," according to his coach. He also struck out 12 and, as usual, walked just one. But he yielded 12 hits and six runs. You figure out what that means.

Max Scherzer, RHP, Fort Worth Cats: Techinically, he’s not in the draft class yet, but that certainly didn’t keep scouts from checking out his latest indy league outing. Last year’s No. 11 overall pick hasn’t signed with the D-Backs yet (they have until the end of the month), so Scherzer headed to Fort Worth just like Luke Hochevar did a year ago. He pitched on Saturday night and tossed five innings of one-hit ball, striking out eight. Reports from onlookers said the fastball looked good, but the secondary stuff wasn’t as sharp as it was last year.

More later…



Is it really that time of year already?

It’s hard to believe that we’re just four weeks (ish) from draft day on June 7. But here we are with all 30 teams trying to line up their draft boards. I, too, am working feverishly to try and figure out my own projections (First one comes out next week).

Between now and June 7, those lists and rankings will undoubtedly change several times over. And I’ll be here reporting it all up until draft day. We’ll have tons of great coverage on MLB.com in the draft section and if you check it out every day, you’ll have everything all the basics you need to be in the know come Draft Day.

But one of the best things about the draft season is how quickly storylines change and how quickly the rumors fly about. That’s what this blog will bring to you. The stuff that might otherwise fall between the cracks. Sure, we know that Vandy lefty David Price will almost certainly be the No. 1 pick (be sure to check out his first-person journal for us, by the way). Beyond that, however, there are several question marks that will need to be answered before we really know who will go where. Will Max Scherzer re-enter the draft? How will he and other Scott Boras clients fall in the draft, i.e., what impact will the Boras Factor have? There aren’t many college bats out there, so will the ones available be over-drafted?

We’re just getting started. Check back early and often and we’ll keep you updated on what’s going on out in the draft world.

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