Virginia is for lovers … of the draft

I made the trek to Charlottesville, Va. late last week for some draft action (as well as a nifty Daniel Moskos-Matt Wieters matchup, as chronicled on my Minors blog, B3 — how’s that for cross-promotion?). Along the way, I had the pleasure of chatting with Kyle Long, Jacob Thompson, David Adams and Greg Miclat.

Let’s start with Long. The son of Howie (not the one just taken in the first round of the NFL draft), Kyle could easily have taken any number of football scholarships. Instead, the 6-foot-7, 270 pounder wants Kyle_Long2.jpg
to play baseball. He’s been clocked as high as 97 mph on the mound and has tremendous raw power (big shocker there). Oh, he also runs a 6.7-60, so don’t think he’s some big stiff. The guy is just an athlete. Plain and simple. And one who has his head clearly on his shoulders. I don’t know what Howie and his wife did, but they deserve some serious kudos for raising their kids well. Kyle is confident in what he can do without being cocky. Think about it, he easily could be a kid who feels he owns the world, and he’s nothing like that. He’s the kind of kid you walk away from after talking to him and realize that even if he never makes it in pro ball, he’s going to be very successful at whatever he does.

Unfortunately, the game he was supposed to pitch in was rained out, so I didn’t get to see him play. But he admitted himself (we’ll have a video feature on him later in the month) that he’s raw — as much as I’d love to see him go pro so we can do more stuff with him, a few years at Florida State (the only school that offered him a baseball scholarship) as a two-way player might not be a bad thing. And don’t think he’ll be pulled to the gridiron. One thing he said in our interview, about next year, was: “The only thing I’m certain of is that I won’t be putting on a football helmet.” Look for a team to draft him a little bit later and maybe offer him a little extra money to come and develop his raw talent in its system, instead of at FSU.

From there, it was on to UVa. We caught a little break there. Pitcher Jacob Thompson was one of our targets for video stuff, but because of an uneven performance all year, he was no longer the Friday starter. A little injury to senior Pat McAnaney (don’t worry, he made the start on Saturday) enabled us (myself and multimedia producer Joe Cronin) to see Thompson first-hand. He was, in a word, OK. The final line — 6 IP, 9 H, 6 ER — doesn’t look so hot, but he wasn’t as bad as the stats indicate. He was victimized by some bleeders and bloops and wasn’t exactly knocked around. He was in the 90-91 mph range most of the night and threw his curve for strikes. From what I saw, when he struggled with his command — walks have been an issue — it was within the strike zone, as he tended to be too up in the zone for a guy who has to rely on pitching to contact and keeping the ball down.

It’s hard not to like Adams and Miclat, the Cavaliers DP combo. Miclat has utility guy written all over him. He went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base as the leadoff hitter in the Friday night game. Adams, hitting third, also went 3-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs. He stole two bags on the night. Both are hard-nosed “play the game right” kind of guys, even if Adams’ sophomore season was better statistically. Both guys had dirty uniforms by the second inning and from talking to scouts who have seen them regularly, that’s not exactly rare.

So maybe we’re not talking Ryan Zimmerman or Mark Reynolds here (of course, Mark Reynolds wasn’t Mark Reynolds as a 16th-round pick), but all three should get drafted pretty well and will continue to help build out the program Brian O’Connor has built since coming in 2004. Look for a video feature on the program in the draft preview show (to air on June 2, I believe) as well as detailed reports on the Va. trio in next week’s Draft Report.

I’ll leave you with one quick note about that top pick. It looks like we can narrow down to five the amount of players the Rays are considering with the pick. Seems like Aaron Crow is no longer in the running for 1-1. That leaves:

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt University
Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin HS, Griffin, Ga.
Brian Matusz, LHP, University of San Diego
Buster Posey, C, Florida State
Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot HS, Riverside, Calif.

And I’ll have reports on Alvarez and Matusz on Wednesday, along with my first crack at projecting the first 10 picks of the first round (hoo boy). So be sure to check out Draft Central early and often.

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