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February 18, 2014

Draft Ten Pack

Feb. 18, 2014

by Nick J. Faleris and BP Prospect Staff

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Last Friday marked the beginning of the baseball season for the vast majority of collegiate programs (junior colleges have been in action since Feb. 1st), and it was an eventful opening weekend for a number of high-interest USA Collegiate National Team alums. The draft’s presumptive leader for 1-1 honors, Carlos Rodon, (LHP, NC State), had a less-than-stellar opener, while a quartet of his Team USA rotation-mates found varying levels of success in their respective starts. Down in the Sunshine State, high school ball is underway and we have notes on five arms and their early season starts.

Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State
Scouting Video
It was a disappointing start all around for NC State ace Rodon. After weather-related issues bumped State’s opener from Friday in Southern California to Sunday in Raleigh, the lefty took the mound without his usual overpowering arsenal. Rodon sat as low as 89-90 mph and generally 90-92, several ticks shy of his usual comfort zone, while struggling to command the pitch to his typical ability. His power breaker, normally the go-to pitch in his repertoire, was unresponsive, and with his fastball velocity down Canisius was able to succeed with a choke-and-poke approach, taking advantage of Rodon’s bouts of wildness and a flat NC State defense. The final line was a ho-hum six innings pitched, four hits, three runs (one earned), and one walk allowed, with six strikeouts and three batsmen hit by pitches. While Sunday’s performance was less than ideal, Rodon’s track record, and the fact that he has more than three months’ worth of starts before draft day, lessen the blow for evaluators. He gets Appalachian State next weekend. –Nick J. Faleris

Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Scouting Video
Beede enters the season as one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the 2014 draft. It's a deep crop and while he's near the top as the season begins, the former first-round pick will face heavy competition for the top half of the first round. Beede's arm is fast and loose with a clean arm action, allowing him to work comfortably in the low-mid-90s throughout his starts and occasionally reach a bit higher. He features a hammer curveball that flashes plus and a changeup with average to above average potential. In his opening day start at Long Beach State his command and secondary stuff were both inconsistent, particularly in the early going. But he made adjustments and found the release point on his curveball and was able to be efficient in his later innings, getting through five innings while allowing just an unearned run. If he improves command and consistency as the season progresses he has a chance to come off the board in the first 10 picks. While that is not a foregone conclusion, going by physical capacity Beede is among the elite prospects in the 2014 class. Viewed in a vacuum, Beede looked like a mid-late first rounder in a rusty first start of the year. But given his track record, ceiling and clean bill of health, he is likely to go higher come June, with a profile similar to that of Kevin Gausman in 2012. –Todd Gold

Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
Scouting Video
The diminutive lefty ran roughshod over an overmatched Jacksonville squad this weekend, racking up 13 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings while allowing three hits and three walks. Finnegan boasts mid-90s velocity that he can carry late into starts, and Friday was no exception as he worked the heater well to the quadrants and kept the Jacksonville bats off balance throughout. His slider has grown into a legit plus weapon with good plane and arm-slot deception, capable of drawing swings and misses as well as freezing opponent hitters as a drop-in pitch. The changeup, likewise, comes with deception at its best, and there is a grade or so bump somewhere in there for Finnegan to tease out as he learns to soften the offering. TCU has the Kleberg Bank College Classic on the docket next weekend, with Finnegan drawing BYU in the opener. –Nick J. Faleris

Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
Scouting Video
Fedde improved his draft stock dramatically during last summer’s Team USA and Cape showings and an impressive run through fall workouts. This year’s season opener saw the projectable righty shut down Central Michigan over 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and no walks while striking out 11. Fedde was able to carry over his upticked velocity from the fall, regularly touching the mid-90s on Friday, while mixing in a low-80s slider and off-speed pitch. He was at his best working down and fastball-heavy, with the breaker working both in and out of the zone. If the Rebs ace can show consistency in execution while maintaining his elevated stuff, he’s a first round pick come June. UNLV will head to Knoxville next weekend to take on the Vols. –Nick J. Faleris

Luke Weaver, RHP, Florida State
Weaver walked Niagra leadoff man Anthony Firenzi on four pitches to start the season, then proceeded to retire 16 straight batters en route to a six-inning, no-hit performance backed by a handful of terrific defensive plays. The only other batter to reach base was freshman Geoff Seto, on an E5 in the sixth inning. He was subsequently picked off. Weaver’s best offering is a heavy low-90s fastball that can climb to 96/97 mph with arm-side action out of a low three-quarters slot. On Friday he showed a high level of comfort with his changeup, particularly inside to same-side bats, while flashing a merely average breaker. Scouts aren’t yet sold on Weaver as an impact starter given the lack of a swing-and-miss breaking ball, leading to widely varying opinions on his spot in a class deep with college arms. The two certainties we have right now are 1) the fastball/changeup combo is legit, and 2) the seats behind home will be filled with evaluators each Friday night, as teams continue to sit on the promising righty while trying to nail down his June placement. –Nick J. Faleris

Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell (Holiday, FL)
Scouting Video
Johnson features a fastball that gets up to 92 mph with very good life, and an excellent hard curveball. The FSU commit has a very flexible frame, with a linear delivery that creates deception by staying closed with a noticeable head jerk after a high release point. Johnson’s body tends to get out of sync, with his top and bottom halves not always working together. The curveball is what stands out. He can overthrow it at times but it has a hard, late, sharp break, with excellent vertical depth and a tick of horizontal movement. He has a good idea of pitching and is an excellent athlete. Johnson is the most complete pitcher I have seen this season. He has a big durable frame that he uses to deliver with angle, the potential for two plus pitches, and great flexibility and athleticism. –Steffan Segui

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood (Jacksonville, FL)
Scouting Video
There are a number of high school arms jockeying for supremacy on draft lists, but Reid-Foley is entrenched as a potential early-first round arm. His stable of pitches is one of the deepest and most impressive. The FSU commit was one of the more impressive arms throughout the summer/fall scouting circuit, showcasing four distinct offerings, each of which could be above average or better when all is said and done. The arsenal starts with a low-to-mid-90s fastball that can flash multiple looks and late life, with solid precision to the quadrants. He will fold in a quality low-80s changeup with deception and drop, as well as a swing-and-miss slider in the low-to-mid-80s, and an upper-70s curve. The start to the 2014 season has been smooth for the Sandalwood standout, as he has carved through his first two outings of the spring, totaling 13 strikeouts to just three walks over eight innings. He has yet to allow a hit. –Nick J. Faleris

Keith Weisenberg, RHP, Osceola (Largo, FL)
Scouting Video
Weisenberg is one the most projectable arms in this year’s draft class, standing 6-foot-4 with a good frame to build onto. In his most recent start, Weisenberg’s velocity was up to 93 mph with good angle out of an easy delivery. In the second inning he was able to show a better feel for his short sharp slider and his changeup. The Stanford commit showed a poor mound demeanor after giving up a few hits, showing some frustration. His delivery looked somewhat mechanical and he is very much an arm thrower but he repeats it well. Weisenberg has a high finish that could cause problems going forward, his fastball routinely was up in the zone and flattened out. The mechanical issues are definitely fixable and he should be a high round pick in June if he is signable. –Steffan Segui

Andrew Karp, RHP, West Orange (Winter Garden, FL)
Scouting Video
Karp is a more advanced pitcher with good command of his fastball, which got up to 92. The FSU commit has a quick arm but there are concerns about his short arm stroke. That, along with an inconsistent off-speed, may make a bullpen role the best long-term fit. Karp’s overall delivery is sound but with some effort. He keeps his front half closed and rides down the mound, showing the ball late before delivering from a high ¾ arm slot. He has a battler’s mentality and works quickly. Karp is 6-foot-2 and is thicker than most high school pitchers, with a strong-looking frame that looks to be mostly filled out. He doesn’t have the higher ceiling of some other top high school pitchers but possesses a lot of great qualities you want in a pro pitcher. –Steffan Segui

Weston Davis, RHP, Manatee (Bradenton, FL)
Scouting Video
Davis throws from a very low, almost sidearm slot out of a 6-foot-4 frame. It is a forced delivery, more arm than lower half, with similarities to Walter Johnson. He runs his fastball up to 94 mph with wicked sidearm sink and tail, but his off-speed offerings lag developmentally. Davis’ curve lacks definition and true shape due to the low arm slot, while his turnover change is a bit soft but not without projection. An area of concern is a Strasburg-like inverted-W at power position, and deceleration after release where his arm finishes across and is forced to stop by his body. The rail-thin Florida commit should add bulk once introduced to pro/college strength training. It’s hard to deny the pure ability that Davis possesses; higher-level coaching will do him well and could turn him into a guy with potentially elite stuff. –Steffan Segui

Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here

Related Content:  Draft,  Prospects,  Carlos Rodon

6 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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tschritter

Going to the Friday or Saturday UT / Stanford matchup here in Austin this weekend. Anyone I should be watching?

Feb 18, 2014 10:39 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

Stanford - Blandino, Taylor, Jose (if playing), Vanegas, Slater. Underclass Avis, Stalwart, Quantril, Jackson.

Texas - Peters, French, Curtis, Schiraldi. Underclass McGuire, Barrera, Hinojosa, Sawyer, Goins, Hollinsworth.

Feb 18, 2014 10:54 AM
 
tschritter

Thanks!

Feb 18, 2014 14:15 PM
rating: 0
 
wbw6b6

You compare Beede to Gausman, but I was thinking that was a pretty good comp for Weaver?

Plus fastball with some life, plus plus changeup, and a so so breaker that leaves some question as to what if.

Is that a valid comp for weaver or is that too high? Do you see Weaver rising into the top 10 like some see?

Feb 18, 2014 15:57 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Nick Faleris
BP staff

Not Todd, but I'll answer as to Weaver/Gausman. In his final year at LSU, Gausman showed borderline elite velocity deep in games, a nice change up, and two breaking balls that were hot/cold depending on the night. He was a better overall prospect then than Weaver is now, by grades, pedigree, and general mechanical analysis.

Top 10 seems unlikely to me given the composition of the draft class on the whole, but he could certainly climb to mid-1st round. And, of course, it only takes one top 10 team to fall in love with an aspect of the profile for him to get popped early.

My guess is his stock will split between camps that like the production but question its utility against Major League bats, and camps that think the unique aspects of the profile will be advantageous to the righty. One evaluator with whom I've spoken has quipped some changes in arm slot could really help the breaking ball, but doing so could negatively impact the life on the fastball/fade on the changeup.

Feb 18, 2014 18:57 PM
 
buckoneil

I'm new to following the amateur draft, so I'm largely ignorant to the way the it works. But looking forward to following your coverage. I'm aware that signability plays a major role, and I thought that accounted for much of the volatility.

Curious about Beede, as Keith Law just wrote that he sees him as a top 5 pick, and as early as 3. Any idea why you two value them differently? I know Beede didn't sign in the past. Is that why? Or does it have more to do with your projection of his ability.

Mar 09, 2014 13:19 PM
rating: 0
 
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