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March 28, 2014

Draft Ten Pack

Collegiate Update

by Nick J. Faleris and BP Prospect Staff

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Grayson Greiner, C, South Carolina
Scouting Video
Greiner entered the season as one of the top collegiate backstops eligible for the 2014 draft and he has solidified that status through his first 22 games played. He’s got a .338/.422/.514 slash line, just 12 strikeouts against 10 walks, and has thrown out 44 percent of would-be basestealers. He moves well behind the plate, able to block and deaden balls in the dirt. He has a quick transfer and release backed by above-average arm strength. He worked as the primary catcher for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer and showed little trouble handling the likes of Carlos Rodon, Tyler Beede, Erick Fedde, Brandon Finnegan, and Luke Weaver.

The biggest question surrounding Greiner is the extent to which the bat will continue to develop against more advanced arms. He boasts a solid understanding of the strike zone, and carries that understanding over to his approach, but the bat speed is average and a preference for contact out in front has limited his ability to utilize the whole field. The upside is that of an everyday backstop, with a fallback as a glove-first backup with fringe-average raw pop and a pedestrian on-base/batting average. He should garner second or third round consideration provided a solid finish to conference play. –Nick J. Faleris

Zech Lemond, RHP, Rice
Scouting Video (2013 vs Stanford)
Lemond ascended from bullpen ace to Friday night starter when Jordan Stevens went down for the year a few weeks ago. During my look he appeared to still be adjusting to the transition. He came out of the gate throwing like a reliever, airing it out with 95 and 96 mph fastballs but clearly over-throwing in the process, leading to erratic command. This also forced his slider up, causing it to lose its bite, and the lack of command with both offerings too often left him in hitter’s counts. As the start wore on, Lemond settled down and began to pitch, settling into the 92 to 93 mph range with his two-seam fastball and touching 94 a few more times while showing better feel and spotting his fastball more effectively.

His slider sat 82 to 84 mph with bite and two-plane movement, but remained susceptible to flattening out whenever he left it above the belt. The changeup did not feature great movement, but it did have some downward fade and, when paired with his long arm action, it had enough deception to keep college hitters honest. Early in the game, he choked the pitch off and pulled it into the left-handed batter’s box far too frequently, but he got a feel for it as the game went on. It’s clearly his third offering, but it could be usable.

Lemond did not miss many bats, but once he commanded his fastball he became a much different pitcher, and a much more effective one. He’s still learning how to be a starter, but the pure ability is there. If he can get his emotions under control and pitch instead of throw, he could even see an uptick in velocity as his endurance grows and he gets used to crossing the 100-pitch mark. His long arm action will never lead to plus command, but when he stopped overthrowing it was good enough to survive with 93-94. –Jeff Moore

Kyle Schwarber, C/1B, Indiana
Scouting Video

Schwarber began the season in some discussions for the top catching prospect in the amateur ranks, but that distinction might have been based on the false premise that he will remain behind the plate as a professional. While he isn’t a poor receiver, the pure arm strength is fringe-average at best, and the lack of accuracy on his throws doesn’t help. Furthermore, Schwarber struggles to move his feet and body quickly from side to side, and the lack of agility in his footwork shows in his throws, too. Add all that to a prospect who isn’t a strong athlete and it seems likely that Schwarber will be relegated to first base duties in pro ball, putting enormous pressure on the bat.

The raw power earns plus-plus grades and is generated from his 6-foot, 240-pound body through a solid weight transfer and brute strength. The hit tool grades out below the power tool, but he does head to the plate with a plan and the level swing (surprising for a power bat of this kind) gives the bat head extra time in the hit zone. In a draft class that is starving for college bats, Schwarber is expected to be a first round talent and might be off the board quicker than his profile would otherwise suggest, earning spots on a few teams’ draft boards as they search for polished collegiate hitters. –Ronit Shah

Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
Scouting Video
Fedde started the 2014 season strong and through six starts has continued to earn touts from first-round prognosticators. The projectable righty has been consistently registering mid-90s velocity with the fastball, with both secondaries showing average or better potential (a low-80s slider and a low-80s change). He’s averaging more than seven innings per start and has posted 47 strikeouts to just 13 walks this year, with opponents batting just .193 against him. The Rebs travel to Lincoln this weekend to take on an impressive Huskers offense headlined by freshman sensation Ryan Boldt, who is currently humming along at a .375/.462/.538 clip. –Nick J. Faleris

Mike Franco, RHP, FIU
Franco pitched better than Lemond, but simply doesn’t have the same stuff. Franco never topped 93 on the gun, and sat 90-92 with his two-seam fastball, but his command of the pitch allowed it to play up. He featured plus command with both fastballs and spotted each to both sides of the plate. His slider was his most effective pitch on the night, and he added to and subtracted from the pitch throughout the evening, throwing it anywhere from 79-84 and keeping hitters off balance. It’s an above-average pitch with plus potential. He also featured a changeup that he threw consistently for strikes. It was a third average pitch.

Listed at just 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, Franco did a good job of repeating his mechanics and is a better athlete than he appears, getting off the mound well on a few bunts. There is some violence in his short arm action, but not enough for concern, and his quick arm speed helps to make up for his lack of height and plane on his pitches. As a short right-hander, he’ll likely slip some in the draft, providing an opportunity for someone to grab a nice arm in the later innings. –Jeff Moore

Jake Cosart, RHP, Seminole State (JuCo)
Scouting Video
Cosart converted to pitching this year after transferring from Duke. He redshirted a year for the Blue Devils as an outfielder before a coaching change left him without much potential playing time. Very athletic pitcher with a live arm. Sat around 93 mph but touched 94 and 95 and held his velo most of the outing. Projects for even more velo as he gets more accustomed to pitching full time and fills in physically. Threw a promising slider I was told he had just learned a few months back. I joked that it looked a little like the “football slider” they teach little leaguers, but it fooled batters (perhaps because they were frightened of his heater) and he located it well.

Hand speed does appear to be there for further development of a breaking ball. No off-speed offering to speak of. Some trouble repeating, with a pause in the back and a bit of a catapult delivery. Athleticism, more experience, and added strength will help smooth him out. Power relief arm most likely, but given how new he is to pitching he has some chance to be a late bloomer and show dramatic skill growth over the next couple years. –Al Skorupa

Trea Turner NC State 14
Scouting Video
Turner’s selling point is that he’s a big-league shortstop and an 80 runner who can do something with the bat. I don’t want to understate the value of that profile—that’s a legit solution many teams would be delighted to have right now. Nonetheless I do have some reservations about how much Turner will hit. He has very good bat speed, and that bat speed allows him to overcome some difficulties he creates for himself with his swing mechanics. Turner starts his swing with a leg kick and then shifts his weight back balancing over his rear leg. He then drifts (and sometimes lunges) back toward the pitcher and ends up in a wide base. It’s a lot of moving parts and frankly it’s just not a swing type you see elite hitters around major-league baseball employ. The amount of drift in his swing has the potential to cause timing problems at higher levels, where he'll have less time to identify better quality secondaries. Timing that drifting action shaves precious fractions of a second off a batter’s reaction time. Turner’s quick hands and bat speed do allow him to mitigate much of this.

The swing is somewhat reminiscent of Deven Marrero’s, but Turner is a different prospect who has significantly louder offensive tools and controls the strike zone far better. I’d be almost tempted to see if he could cope well with a toe tap instead, but you don’t pay a kid what some team is going to pay Turner and then make him into a big project like that. Turner is definitely capable of some hard contact, but he doesn’t project for much in the way of over-the-fence power; noticeably hadn't added any muscle since I saw him last Spring. His frame is capable of adding some bulk and strength without losing speed or agility.

Turner’s quickness, speed and athleticism play both in the field and on the basepaths. It’s game changing speed that comes effortlessly. Projects as plus defender with a strong, accurate arm. Actions sufficient at shortstop but footwork and reactions could still improve; more an issue of technique than ability. As a basestealer Turner already reads pitchers well and gets great jumps. I think Turner may be more of a project at the plate than many reports would have you believe, but the fact remains he's a shortstop with impact speed who can hit a little and that's a rare and valuable asset in baseball. –Al Skorupa

Zach Tillery, 3B/RHP, Florida Gulf Coast
Scouting Video
Very quick arm. Athletic pitcher with bullpen mechanical markers. Some effort in his delivery and jerks head away upon release. Arm action looked cleaner from third base angle than I expected. Picks up the ball late and low behind him which creates some timing issues; release point drifts up and fastball command suffers. Below-average command and control. Fastball showed late sinking action; 91 to 93 mph early but fell off to high 80s after a long second inning where he visibly tired. Good size (6-foot-4) but doesn’t always pitch on a downward plane. Prone to leaving pitches up in the zone. Fastball becomes very hittable and flattens out when left up. Curveball had good spin and shape; 76 to 79 mph. Flashed a little feel for a change up; 81-82. Most likely suited for a middle relief role. Some potential for more important innings if he gets stronger and stuff or velo ticks up, but mechanics aren't all that conducive to the kind of command profile he'd need to set up. –Al Skorupa

Michael Suchy, OF/1B, Florida Gulf Coast
Suchy (pronounced SOO-kee) is a big, physical right fielder. Great build and solid athlete; lots of strength. Runs well for his size; 4.14 to first base. Powerful, leveraged swing; can drive the ball to all fields. Did show some tendency to drop his back shoulder and look to pull. Some stiffness in his swing; subpar bat control and long arms will result in a fair amount of swing-and-miss. Solid average defender in right. Easy plus outfield arm. Potential role 5 right fielder. –Al Skorupa

Patrick Peterson, LHP, NC State
Scouting Video
Transfer from Temple. Solid left-handed arm with good size. Three-quarters delivery. Fastball ranged 87 to 89 mph with arm-side run. Changeup served as best secondary; 74 to 75 mph with some fading action and a lot of drop. Great confidence in changeup, locating inside and out against left and right-handed batters both ahead and behind in the count. Curve sat 73 to 75 mph, showing flashes but with inconsistent shape and spin. High leg kick and raises hands. Hides ball well. Stays under control in delivery; repeats fairly well. Smoother and more fluid from stretch. –Al Skorupa

Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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