June 5, 2013
Perfect Game Presents
MLB Draft Prospect Reports 26-50
26. Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts (Jr.)
Gonzalez grew up in Boca Raton, Florida and was a mid- to upper 80s thrower with a pretty firm mid-70s curveball in high school. The Baltimore Orioles thought enough of him to draft him in the 11th round in the 2010 draft, but interestingly it seems as if the Florida schools did not recruit Gonzalez heavily, as his Oral Roberts bio states that Gonzalez “chose ORU over UNC Greensboro, College of Charleston and Western Kentucky.” That oversight has been a boon for Oral Roberts, as Gonzalez has been their top starter for each of his three college seasons, including posting a 7-4, 1.89 mark in 90 innings this spring, with 101 strikeouts and only 69 hits and 20 walks allowed. Gonzalez stuff has grown since high school, of course, and he has filled out to a solid 6-foot-3, 200-pounds. He now throws in the 90-93 mph range and will touch higher occasionally. More important than the velocity of his fastball is the frequent plus/plus cutting life he gets on the pitch and his ability to command that movement. Some scouts have even called it a “Mariano Rivera” type fastball that could make him a very effective closer by itself. Gonzalez has also gone from a hard curveball to a true slider in the low-80s that is a second potential plus pitch and resembles a slower and somewhat deeper version of his fastball. He also throws a steadily improving changeup that will become a bigger factor for him as a professional, especially as he learns to make it run and sink to differentiate it from his other two pitches. Gonzalez has been picking up huge momentum during the spring as more and more decision makers get in to see him, and is now frequently mentioned in late first-round conversations.
27. Chris Anderson, RHP, Jacksonville University (Jr.)
Anderson was a virtual unknown coming out of a Minnesota high school in 2010 and hardly raised his profile during his first two years at Jacksonville. He began to attract scout’s attention last summer in the Cape Cod League and vaulted into first round status early this spring when his fastball was topping out at 96 mph to go with a present plus slider. Anderson’s past few starts have been a bit rough, taking a bit of the shine as a possible top half of the first round candidate off, but he seems like a secure bet to be the first Florida based player off the board.
28. Ian Clarkin, LHP, Madison HS (Calif.)
Clarkin's background is the opposite of Krook's, as he's been a well-established prospect on the national scene for years. He was long viewed as a quality projection lefty who had a chance to take a step forward, but he was generally viewed as a second tier prospect until he began to show significant improvement with his breaking ball. Clean arm action, sound delivery and advanced feel for pitching have always been trademarks of the young southpaw, but when his curveball picked up 4-5 mph and significantly increased bite, he took the next step forward to become a top tier prospect. Clarkin typically works in the 89-91 mph range with his fastball, topping out as high as 93 when he needs to reach back for more. He has good command, and as mentioned before his mid- to upper-70s curveball now gives him a potential out pitch. His changeup also flashes plus at times in the low-80s with good fading life, and he has the pitchability to utilize his arsenal effectively.
29. Devin Williams, RHP, Hazelwood West HS, Florissant (Mo.)
Williams has been steadily moving up draft boards all spring and will be talked about by many clubs in the later parts of the first round. He is the epitome of projectable with a fast, loose arm and an athletic 6-foot-4, 190-pound build that has plenty of room to add strength. Williams pitches with a fringy plus fastball that will reach 95 mph now with the anticipation that it will be comfortably a true plus velocity pitch in the near future. His ascension on the draft boards actually stems more from his continued flashing of a potential plus changeup and the improvement in his slider, which he just started throwing in the last year.
30. Philip Ervin, OF, Samford University
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Ervin established himself as a first-rounder last summer in his first 15 games in the Cape Cod League, when he went deep eight times on his way to earning league MVP honors. He has continued to sting the ball at a steady clip this spring for Samford, hitting .364 with a team-high 10 homers, even as he has been pitched around extensively while not being afforded protection in the Bulldogs batting order from the likes of Brandon Miller, who led the NCAA Division I ranks in homers a year ago. Ervin’s play of late, though, has been compromised to a degree after he rolled his ankle, which caused him to miss several games and relegated him to a DH role in others. Though he isn’t overly physical in his sub 6-foot frame, Ervin generates excellent bat speed with his lightning-quick hands and flashes raw power to all fields. More than just a power threat, Ervin has a solid all-around approach to hitting with good bat control and a patient approach, and stays inside the ball well while emphasizing going the other way. His speed and ability to run down balls in center field are also significant assets, and he has been clocked up to 93 mph off the mound in occasional stints as a pitcher.
31. Andrew Thurman, RHP, University of California Irvine (Jr.)
Thurman was already a solid prospect a year ago when he worked with average velocity at 89-91 and showed advanced command and pitchability. Fast forward a year and he's seen an increase in his velocity, while maintaining that pitchability. He has climbed into the mid-90s at times this spring while working with a quality four pitch arsenal. While he has never posted high strikeout rates at any point in his career at UC Irvine, he also has been very stingy on issuing free passes and most of the hits he's yielded have been of the single variety. He could continue to develop into a front of the rotation starter if his stuff continues to improve, but more likely profiles as a high floor mid-rotation starter.
32. Ryan Eades, RHP, Louisiana State (Jr.)
Eades and sophomore right handed pitcher Aaron Nola give LSU a pair of true Friday Night starters as talented as any duo in the country and they have combined to go 15-1, 2.21 in 22 starts this spring. In terms of draft stock, Eades has been trying to separate himself from a deep pack of college pitchers, including Arkansas’ Ryne Stanek, Nevada’s Brandon Shipley, Indiana State’s Sean Manaea and Jacksonville’s Chris Anderson, to determine who is the third best collegiate hurler behind Stanford’s Mark Appel and Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray. The see-saw race seems to change every week.
33. Jonathan Crawford, RHP, University of Florida (Jr.)
Crawford was considered a potential top 10 pick coming into the season as scouts still remembered his scintillating no-hitter in the NCAA tournament last May. That speculation quickly ended as Crawford started the year 0-4, 5.67 in his first six starts with a fastball that had lost 4-5 mph from its previous peak of 98 mph and a flatter slider from his sophomore season. Crawford’s raw stuff and ability to use has picked up over the last month, but he probably fits in best in the pick 25-40 range of the draft now.
34. Tim Anderson, SS/OF, East Central CC (Miss.)
A virtual unknown to scouts last summer when he began play in the Jayhawk League, Anderson opened plenty of eyes then with his range of projectable tools. He has built on his impressive portfolio this spring to such a point that he now ranks as an early favorite to be the first junior college player drafted. Anderson’s raw speed and superior athletic ability stand out above all else, but he also has serious juice in his bat, along with all the raw tools to one day be a major-league shortstop. Primarily a basketball player at an Alabama high school, Anderson turned his attention to baseball when he sustained a broken leg but was considered an afterthought as a prospect when he enrolled at a Mississippi junior college. He had a solid freshman season for East Central (.360-4-37, 30-of-30 SB), began to develop his all-around game in the Jayhawk League (.352-8-39, 30 SB) and with physical maturity and better pitch selection has enjoyed a breakout spring as a junior-college sophomore, hitting .504-7-30 with 11 triples and 32 steals in 35 attempts. He hit three homers in an early February game and had three triples in another game later that month, when interest in Anderson started reaching a fever pitch. While he has made strides at shortstop and showcases impressive range, quick hands and above-average arm strength, he still needs a lot of coaching and repetitions to improve his footwork at the position, eliminate the errors and generally smooth out some of the rough edges, though center field is an obvious fall-back position.
35. Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West HS (Texas)
McKinney has been frequently mentioned as a potential first round pick this spring, which is a testament to his hit tool, which ranks among the best in the 2013 high school class. A strong and tightly wound 6-foot-1, 195-pound left handed hitter, McKinney has plus bat speed and the ability to square up the ball consistently with a sound and compact swing. He especially excelled early in the year when teams were sending their cross-checkers in to see him, which was fortunate as the high school competition on the northeast side of Dallas has essentially decided to stop pitching to him. A 2012 PG All-American, McKinney is hitting .406-4-16 on the season, but the interesting numbers are that he’s been walked 30 times, hit by seven pitches and has only struck out three times in 28 games. McKinney’s peripheral tools aside from his hitting are solid but not specutacular. He is an average runner with 6.9 60 speed and has an average throwing arm that should enable him to play a corner outfield position. But it’s the hit tool that distinguishes McKinney. One scout remarked earlier this year., “If Austin Meadows swung the bat right now like Billy McKinney, with all the rest of his tools, then we wouldn’t be talking about who was going to be the number one pick.”
36. Kyle Serrano, RHP, Farragut HS, Knoxville (Tenn.)
Kyle Serrano is the son of second-year Tennessee coach Dave Serrano, who is looking to right the ship of the Volunteers to make them once again a force to be reckoned with in the Southeastern Conference. Kyle has blossomed from almost out of nowhere into one of the elite high school pitchers in the country, and conceivably could work his way into the bottom end of the first round in this year’s draft. At the same time, that represents something of a good-news, bad-news scenario for the elder Serrano as Kyle is one of his prized recruits, and could give his youthful college team a major shot in the arm a year from now. But that is looking increasingly doubtful as his son continues to climb draft boards. Serrano always had a quality arm with an advanced feel for pitching and projectable secondary stuff, but was rarely able to sustain the velocity on an average fastball into the middle innings. But the 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander became much stronger, and more physical in the off-season leading up to his senior year at Knoxville’s Farragut High, and it has transformed him almost overnight into an elite-level talent. Serrano’s fastball has been consistently in the 91-95 mph range this spring, and he has been able to hold his newfound velocity deep into games. Even more noteworthy has been the development of his breaking ball into a true power curve at 82-84 mph. He rarely throws a changeup in high school, but that pitch also shows the makings of becoming above-average with his superior arm speed. Even with an obvious spike in the quality of his raw stuff, Serrano continues to pitch with pinpoint accuracy.
37. Aaron Blair, RHP, Marshall University (Jr.)
If not for the historical performance of Sean Manaea last summer, there would not have been a more talked about pitcher in the Cape Cod League than Aaron Blair. He worked at 90-94 mph for the Y-D Red Sox, and showed two above average secondary offerings. His change was arguably his best pitch, coming in at 83-85 mph with late fading action. It was proved to be a consistent swing-and-miss pitch that he was able to locate with ease to left handed batters. He also proved willing to pitch backwards with it, or go to it behind in counts. A little less consistent for him was his curveball, which flashed plus action at 76-79 mph. There were nights when this pitch didn’t show up consistently before him, but when he was right, it was a legitimate three above average pitch arsenal. He ended the summer with a 6-0 record with a 1.17 ERA, striking out 44 in 38 1/3 innings of work. And, as good as he was last summer, he’s been even better this spring, at least in terms of stuff. He’s consistently reached 96 mph with his fastball, and according to scouts, has been more consistent and sharp with his curveball. His big league frame, at 6-foot-5, 220-pounds, and of course his arsenal, makes him a a legitimate candidate to go in the 25-30 range in the first round.
38. Matt Krook, LHP, St. Ignatius HS (Calif.)
Honors for top lefty in California are up for grabs between San Francisco's Matt Krook and Ian Clarkin of San Diego. After a quality showing against outfielder Jordan Paroubeck last week his stock is back on the upswing. He's a player with a relatively short resume in terms of national level events, though he had two very strong innings during a three inning outing at the 2012 Area Code Games. Krook reportedly touched 95 mph with his fastball earlier this spring and has typically worked in the 91-93 range and combines it with a plus curveball with 12-to-6 shape in the low-80s. His lack of experience on the mound shows at times, but it's also a positive in that he has less mileage (and corresponding wear and tear) on his arm than most of his peers in this draft class. His changeup is still a very new pitch to him and will be a key in his development, but he has the body, the arm and the makings of a repertoire that give him a great deal of upside. If he can learn to harness that potential with the help of a player development staff over the next few years, it is not out of the question that Krook could eventually become a front of the rotation starter.
39. Bobby Wahl, RHP, University of Mississippi
Wahl has thrived as a Friday starter at Ole Miss the last two years, especially this season with his 8-0, 1.22 record through his first 10 starts, but the 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander’s true calling appears to be at the back end of the bullpen. He thrived in that role the last two summers—first in the Cape Cod League, and last year with USA Baseball’s college national team—when his fastball peaked at 97 mph, and scouts say his bulldog demeanor and power approach to pitching are best suited for a short role at the next level. Even though relief pitching appears to be in his future, Wahl made a seamless transition to a starting job for the Rebels, going 7-4, 2.55 with 104 strikeouts in 99 innings as a sophomore, and he has largely duplicated that success this spring, even though his command has wavered at times and he always seemed to be pitching out of trouble. As a starter, his velocity backed off to 90-93 mph and only occasionally reached the mid-90s, but he has learned to become a more complete pitcher than just a hard thrower as his 82-84 mph curve has developed into a true out-pitch and he developed a changeup this season to more effectively counteract left-handed hitters. He walked 32 and struck out only 56 in his first 67 innings this season, but continued adjustments to his delivery should improve his location and the consistency of his stuff.
40. Hunter Green, LHP, Warren East HS, Bowling Green (Ky.)
With his lanky, projectable, athletic frame, Green’s talent was evident a year ago, when he ranked only as the second-best high school pitching prospect in the state at the time. With a more mature, confident approach to pitching, along with better command of his raw stuff, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Green has leap-frogged Woodford County High right-hander Clint Hollon, along with every other prospect in Kentucky, to emerge as a potential first-rounder in this year’s draft. Green had a shaky outing in unusually rough weather in his first appearance of the 2013 season, but got progressively better and didn’t allow a run in his next eight starts while compiling a 3-1, 0.15 record overall, along with 30 walks and 101 strikeouts in 46 innings. A lack of run support has cost him several wins. Unable to throw strikes consistently a year ago, Green has pounded the zone more routinely this spring with a fastball that has ranged anywhere from 87-95 mph, and gets good arm-side run coming from a low three-quarters angle. He also has demonstrated better feel for his sharp, biting curve and sinking changeup, though still needs to work out some wrinkles in his delivery that impact his command of those pitches. His arm works extremely free and easy, however, and Green profiles as a left-handed starter with plus pitchability.
41. Jason Hursh, RHP, Oklahoma State University (So.)
Hursh came to the Perfect Game Sunshine South Showcase in Brenham, Texas at the end of his junior season as a primary shortstop with a limited pitching background. After throwing 90 mph during infield drills and 91 mph during outfield drills, he was asked if he would throw an inning on the mound during the showcase games. Hursh did and essentially launched his baseball career, topping out at 90 mph and was immediately invited to the following week’s PG National Showcase. He pitched full-time as a high school senior, going 11-2, 2.47 in 70 innings and was drafted in the sixth round by the Pirates, but chose to attend Oklahoma State instead. He threw in 10 games, with four starts, for the Cowboys in 2011, but injured his elbow pitching in the California Prospect League that summer and underwent Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss the 2012 season. Hursh has been outstanding in his comeback this spring, although he has understandably started to wear down a bit as the spring as progressed and stands at 4-4, 2.63 in 82 innings, with 82 hits allowed, 65 strikeouts and only 22 walks. Velocity comes easily for Hursh as he pitches in the 92-95 mph range and will top out at 97-98 mph occasionally, frequently with very good life. His off-speed pitches, including a curveball and changeup and occasional slider, are far less consistent than his fastball, although his curveball and changeup will flash the potential to be average pitches in the future. Hursh’s sustained plus to plus/plus velocity and command garnered him plenty of first round talk early in the season, although that has been tempered a bit by his recent outings over the last month and the reminder that he is coming off surgery.
42. Hunter Dozier, SS/3B, Stephen F. Austin (Jr.)
Dozier was a multi-sport high school athlete in high school, playing quarterback in football while pitching and playing shortstop at Denton High School. He not only escaped the attention of the professional scouts, going undrafted out of high school, but also that of the recruiters from the major state programs, ending up at Stephen F. Austin, which only re-started its long dormant baseball program in 2006. A 6-foot-4, 220-pound right handed hitter, Dozier gets very high marks from scouts for his overall athleticism and many teams plan on sending him out as a shortstop despite his size. His relative lack of side-to-side range will likely move him over to third base eventually, but he has all tools in his plus arm strength and athleticism to be a solid defender at that position. Dozier also has by far the best bat and offensive potential of any collegiate hitter in the state. He’s hitting .401-12-38 while being consistently pitched around (34 walks vs. 27 strikeouts), and has shown both the ability to make adjustments at the plate to go with plus bat speed and power potential.
43. Connor Jones, RHP, Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake (Va.)
Jones has been a known commodity for some time now and starred at last year’s Perfect Game National Showcase. But, the right-hander has taken another step forward this spring, reaching 96 mph with his fastball and showing a better feel for his off-speed pitches. In terms of performance, he’s been nearly flawless for Great Bridge High School. Over his first 31 innings of work, Jones did not surrender an earned run. He’s consistently worked at 90-94 mph and has placed himself firmly in contention for the back of the first round.
44. Michael Lorenzen, of/RHP, California State University Fullerton (Jr.)
The top two-way prospect in the state surprisingly comes from the college ranks. Lorenzen earned billing as the top athlete in the state in the "Best Tools" section above, and is a well above average runner who plays a quality centerfield for the Titans. But for some scouts, it's Lorenzen's power arm that is most intriguing. He has run his fastball beyond the mid-90s at times and has quality secondary stuff to back it up. The biggest question regarding his future profile though is regarding what type of pitcher he can profile as. While you can find plenty of scouts who prefer him on the mound, most see him sticking with his current pitching role as a reliever. When you weigh the value of a relief pitching prospect, no matter the caliber, compared to that of a potential everyday right fielder, it becomes likely that whichever team selects Lorezen in the top two rounds will do so as an outfielder, even though there seems to be a slight lean towards the mound amongst the scouting community. Lorenezen's power potential, athleticism and arm strength give him the ingredients to be a high level position prospect in the professional game, but his ability on the mound also provides a built-in insurance policy as a reliever.
45. Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing HS (Minn.)
Boldt entered the spring with a chance of becoming the highest drafted player out of Minnesota since Joe Mauer went No. 1 overall back in 2001. He is a true five-tool prospect, with an exciting blend of speed, power and arm strength. He posted a 6.46 time in the 60-yard dash at the 2012 PG National Showcase, where he also threw 89 mph from the outfield. Boldt has a crisp, clean left-handed swing that he uses to regularly put on hitting clinics during BP. He is also short to the ball, and he uses that swing to lace line drives to all parts of the park, and also has enough strength to pull balls over the right field fence. With a keen eye at the plate, his tools and overall skill-set make him an ideal fit at the top of the lineup, with enough juice in his bat to hit in the three-hole or even cleanup spot. Boldt was named the MVP of the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic, going 2-for-3 with a triple, and helped propel Team USA to a Gold Medal victory at the XXV IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship held in Seoul, Korea last September. Unfortunately Boldt sustained a knee injury during his team's first game this spring, a season that was already pushed back due to the poor winter and spring weather in the Upper Midwest. He had surgery in early May to clean up his knee in which no structural ligament damage was found. Boldt is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, which may give him a handful of weeks to show what he can do playing for the nearby Rochester Honkers of the Northwoods League prior to the mid-July signing deadline.
46. Andrew Mitchell, RHP, Texas Christian University (Jr.)
Mitchell’s season has mirrored TCU’s, an almost non-existent start followed by some scrambling to get caught up. Mitchell was a starter for the Horned Frogs as a sophomore, going 5-3, 3.74 in 77 innings with 101 strikeouts. With a staff of solid potential starters and a less certain bullpen, head coach Jim Schlossnagel decided to move Mitchell to the closer’s role for his junior season. Unfortunately, TCU scored only eight runs in starting the season 0-6 against nationally ranked Mississippi and Cal State Fullerton teams, and didn’t have a save situation until their 12th game of the season, leaving Mitchell with virtually no opportunities to take the mound. That also left 30 teams of scouts very frustrated at not being able to evaluate a potential top round talent. Mitchell moved back into the starting rotation about half way through the spring, however, and has compiled a 0-1, 3.50 record in 36 innings while getting his arm stretched out, and has struck out 49 hitters. The rationale in moving Mitchell to the bullpen had good basis, as his command and consistency as a starter has never been Mitchell’s strength, but his velocity sits at 94-96 mph out of the bullpen and his 78-82 mph curveball gives him two legitimate strikeout pitches. Mitchell’s velocity is more steady in the 91-93 range, touching a bit higher, as a starter, still plenty firm enough, but his still developing changeup and command work against him in that role.
47. Tom Windle, LHP, University of Minnesota (Jr.)
After sustaining a left shoulder injury during his sophomore year in 2012, Windle was placed in the bullpen to close out the 2012 season and finished the season strong. He carried over that success to the Cape Cod League where he enjoyed a very successful summer as a starter which led to him being named the No. 14 prospect in that league. With an athletic, repeatable delivery Windle pitches to contact with a polished three-pitch repertoire. He uses his 89-91 fastball, that touches 93 in the early innings and drops to 87-89 in the later frames, to set up his 82-84 mph slider well. He also throws an improving 80-82 mph changeup, maintaining his arm speed, and overall does a nice job inducing weak groundballs off the bats of opposing hitters. Windle threw a no-hitter in an early season start against Western Illinois and followed that up with a complete game effort against Sean Manaea and Indiana State. While he doesn't have the highest ceilings of those available for this year's draft, he does have one of the highest floors, and is a relatively sure bet to develop as a solid 3-5 starter. On the year Windle is 6-4 with a 2.05 ERA in 13 starts, including four complete games. He has struck out 81 and walked 27 in 87 2/3 innings of work.
48. Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt University
Ziomek’s chances of becoming an elite-level draft this year hit a significant snag in the summer of 2011 in the Cape Cod League, when his mechanics were inconsistent, his fastball velocity languished and he had trouble repeating his stuff. His performance also lagged noticeably the following spring as a sophomore at Vanderbilt, where he lacked consistency with both his stuff and command, and went 5-6, 5.22 with 39 walks, 79 hits allowed and 79 strikeouts in 79 innings. Clearly with something to prove last summer in a return engagement in the Cape, Ziomek responded by going 3-0, 1.27 with six walks and 36 strikeouts in 28 innings. He was as dominant in his short stint as any pitcher on the Cape with the possible exception of Hyannis left-hander Sean Manaea, a top prospect for this year’s draft, with his solid-average major league fastball, tight, downer breaking ball and changeup all working in unison, all thrown with the same arm action. His changeup, in particular, was outstanding and made his 91-93 mph fastball look even faster, and also enabled him to freeze hitters with his breaking ball. For the second straight year, Ziomek’s performance in summer-league competition—good or bad—has largely carried over to the following spring, and he has gone a sparkling 9-2, 2.03 through his first 12 starts as Vanderbilt’s Friday starter. In 89 innings, he has allowed just 53 hits, walked 29 and struck out 88—a significant upgrade from 2012. With a couple of minor exceptions when his velocity dipped, Ziomek has pitched every bit as impressively as a junior for the Commodores as he did in his five-game cameo on the Cape, with stuff and command to match. In the end, Ziomek has done pretty much everything this spring that he was supposed to do from the beginning of his career at Vanderbilt, after he arrived there from a Massachusetts high school in 2010 with all the credentials of a first-rounder, only to have been passed over in that year’s draft because he was so intent on pursuing a quality education at a Southeastern Conference baseball power.
49. Riley Unroe, SS, Desert Ridge HS, Mesa (Ariz.)
Unroe’s father, Tim, was a 28th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992 out of Lewis (Ill.) University, and went on to spend parts of five seasons in the big leagues, though accumulated just 95 at-bats along the way, mostly as a third baseman, while batting .221-3-11. The younger Unroe doesn’t share his father’s 6-foot-3, 200-pound physique, but should easily trump his draft appeal, if not his modest accomplishments as a big leaguer—especially after rising from a fifth- to seventh-round consideration at the outset of the 2013 season, to a potential late first-rounder or sandwich pick. The 6-foot, 180-pound Unroe has exponentially improved his draft worth in a matter of 2-3 months by not just improving his power production by leaps and bounds, but possibly becoming the top power threat in the Arizona high-school ranks by launching numerous tape-measure blasts. Entering the final week of April, Unroe was hitting a robust .565-10-59 for Desert Ridge High and was on a pace to set a state 5-A record for RBI in a season. Unroe, a Southern California signee, was a solid prospect anyway with his polished approach from both sides of the plate, 6.5-second speed in the 60, steady glove work and above-average arm strength at a premium position, and confident, aggressive approach, and his new-found power surge should enable him to pursue options in the field beyond shortstop, if necessary. His actions at that position are regarded as adequate by pro standards, but Unroe’s versatility might end up making him a better fit in center field, or even at second base in the long run.
50. Corey Knebel, RHP, University of Texas (Jr.)
It’s very possible to follow the greater fortunes of the Texas Longhorns baseball program by looking at the snapshot of their closer and top prospect, Corey Knebel. In 2011, the Longhorns went 49-19 and Knebel was the best reliever in the country as a freshman, going 3-2, 1.13 with 19 saves, only allowing 40 baserunners in 55 innings while being used in an expanded traditional closer’s role. In 2012, with Texas fighting weekly to earn a NCAA tournament berth, Knebel was ridden hard, going 4-5, 2.08, with 7 saves while throwing an eye opening 73 innings, and he even started three games. In 2013, with Texas struggling to a 22-20 record and an NCAA berth increasingly less likely, Knebel has thrown only 36 innings, going 3-3, 2.75, with 7 saves, while striking out 46 hitters and allowing only 24 hits. Moving on from the team aspect, Knebel has solidified his draft standing among the scouting community this spring and could be a first round pick to a team that is looking for immediate return on their investment. His fastball has generally stayed in the 94-98 mph range all spring, with a powerful low-80s curveball that is a plus secondary pitch. While there has been past speculation that Knebel could develop as a starter if given a chance, despite his somewhat high effort delivery, the reason that most scouts don’t go in that direction is because Knebel simply has a closer’s mindset, with no fear of any situation and a hunger to get the ball every day possible.