The Situation: Underperformance in the Astros’ outfield and the passing of enough days to guarantee that coveted seventh year of team control has opened the door for the promotion of the organization’s no. 2 prospect on Jason Parks’ 2014 team rankings and the 20th-ranked prospect overall on Parks’ 2014 Top 101. The powers that be in Houston are ready to show off to the franchise’s patient fan base another young piece of what they hope will become the foundation for future competitive Astros teams.
Background: Springer, a University of Connecticut product, was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2011 draft. Considered perhaps the toolsiest player in an absolutely stacked draft class, Springer was a divisive collegiate player for evaluators due to the nature of his aggressive approach and the amount of swing-and-miss in his game. Even with a troubling start to his junior season, Houston was not dissuaded and jumped on the opportunity to add his potential plus power/speed talent as the cornerstone of their rebuilding process.
More names to know before the upcoming amateur draft.
This week we finish up with some trailing NHSI reports (last week’s Ten Pack had notes on ten participants), hit some more high school kids, and provide an introduction to FIU backstop Aramis Garcia and an update on FSU ace Luke Weaver.
A number of this year's top prep prospects were at the USA Baseball invitational.
At the end of March, USA Baseball held its third annual National High School Invitational at the USA Baseball training complex in Cary, NC. The event featured 16 of the top high school programs in the country in a single-elimination tournament format, with each team guaranteed four games via consolation matchups. The First Academy (Orlando, FL) took home the crown after back-to-back Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) titles (Mater Dei did not participate this year). Below are notes and some video on 10 of the event’s top participants, including a number of first round candidates for this year’s June draft. I’ll have notes and video on more participants in this week’s BP Prospect Team Ten Pack entry.
Scouting reports and video of some of the top college players eligible for this June's draft.
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.
Starring a showdown between two of the highest profile arms in the 2014 draft, Tyler Beede and Aaron Nola.
I was in Nashville two weekends ago for the much-anticipated matchup between two of the top programs in the SEC, as well as two of the top arms in the 2014 draft class: Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede and LSU’s Aaron Nola. Beede and Nola took the bump opposite each other in Friday night’s opener and proceeded to solidify their claims to first round consideration. The series concluded with a doubleheader on Saturday, with a number of talents on each side standing out—particularly a handful of underclassmen with first round aspirations.
Eyes on Austin Bergner, Brendan Rodgers, Matt Imhof, Michael Conforto and other draft prospects.
We follow last week’s two-part “jumbo” edition of the Draft Ten Pack with a more restrained collection of updates from the scouting world of amateur baseball, headlined by a player spotlight on Oregon State’s Michael Conforto. Ronit Shah and Perfect Game’s Todd Gold caught USC’s Wyatt Strahan on back-to-back weekends while Steffan Segui continues his immersive coverage of baseball in the sunshine state, with collegiate and prep notes on 2014 players and some high-profile underclassmen.
We put eyes on Alex Blandino, Casey Gillaspie, Bradley Zimmer, and other amateurs of interest for this year's draft.
After a focus on the Virginia/East Carolina series last weekend, this week’s Draft Ten Pack returns to catching you up on early-season action across the college ranks. Steffan Segui and Ethan Purser provide notes from the southeast, while Perfect Game’s Todd Gold contributes from the west coast, with thoughts on some of the top underclass arms in the country. I chip in with some national notes, including a player spotlight on an infielder who is ringing in the season with a loud offensive performance. Tomorrow, we’ll have another Ten Pack on prep prospects.
One of the top collegiate arms squared off with one of the nation's best squads last weekend; here are eyewitness accounts of players who stood out.
I was down in Charlottesville this weekend for the highly anticipated matchup between Virginia and East Carolina, featuring one of the top arms in the draft class, Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina), and one of the deepest teams in the country in UVA. While there were plenty of 2014 draft eligibles on display, Virginia’s impact talent stretches to the 2015 and 2016 classes, as well. We’ll have some additional notes on ECU players, as well as further collegiate and prep updates, in next Monday’s extended Draft Ten Pack.
Player Spotlight: Jeff Hoffman (RHP, East Carolina)
The Phillies and the NCAA do a college player wrong, and only the player suffers.
Last June the Philadelphia Phillies used their fifth- and sixth-round draft picks to select Pac 10 talents Ben Wetzler (LHP, Oregon State) and Jason Monda (OF, Washington State), ultimately failing to sign each. Earlier this week Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt broke the news that last fall the Phillies turned in both Wetzler and Monda to the NCAA, claiming that both violated NCAA regulations that prevent an amateur player from using an agent to negotiate a contract on the player’s behalf. Violation of those regulations has the potential to negate the player’s NCAA eligibility. Monda has since been cleared to play, while Wetzler sits on the sidelines with his case still under review.
USA Baseball arms (including Carlos Rodon) and Florida High School updates.
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
As part of Baseball Prospectus’ increased draft coverage in 2014, we are excited to introduce an addition to the “Ten Pack” series: the MLB Draft Edition. Each Tuesday we will touch on 10 draft-eligible players, sometimes a few more, with a combination of stock updates, scouting notes, and video. This week we open the series with scouting notes from three of the top prep winter showcases, each taking place annually in early February. I was in attendance at the Prep Baseball Super 60, which focuses on some of the top Midwest talent at the high school ranks. Our partners at Perfect Game had Todd Gold in attendance at the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau’s SoCal Invitational, and David Rawnsley in Cedar Rapids for the Perfect Game Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase.
Simeon Lucas, C, Grant Community (Fox Lake, IL) Scouting Video Lucas continues to see his stock rise, as he carried his momentum from the fall to his Super 60 workout on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. He produced consistent loud contact through batting practice, launching several balls on a line to the net hanging a couple hundred feet away, giving scouts more of what they have come to expect from the offense-minded backstop. Where we saw a step forward, however, was behind the plate, where Lucas’ pop times hovered around 2.00 throughout his catch-and-throw workout, while he simultaneously demonstrated improved footwork both to second and on his block and back-pick drills. While catching bullpen sessions for the pitchers, Lucas drew a couple of arms that regularly buried their breaking balls, which turned out to be a blessing. Scouts walked away generally impressed with his lateral movements and blocking. The jury is still out, but the Super 60 was another good day for Lucas from a draft stock standpoint. –Nick J. Faleris