Today's Ten Pack features more than a few notable A-ball performances in systems that could use some good news.
Tyler Austin, 1B/OF, Yankees (Low-A Charleston)
A 13th-round pick in 2010 who signed for an above-slot figure of $130,000, Austin showed impressive offensive ability in the New York-Penn League last year; on a Sally League squad loaded with much more well-known prospects, it's Austin who has stood out, going 8-for-13 with three doubles, a triple and his third home run of the year. His season line is at .438/.471/1.031 after eight contests. He has nowhere near the tools of some of his Riverdog prospect brethren, but the bat stands out, and is very much for real.
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Profiling five former top prospects in the AL who have to make a move this season or risk being busts.
Following the development of baseball prospects can be a heart-wrenching addiction. The can’t-miss wunderkinds miss, the overlooked organizational soldiers earn major-league roles out of nowhere, and players you’ve grown fond of slowly fade out of the top 10s, top 20s, and top 100s as the years pass.
The five players highlighted below were all, at one time or another, considered potential major-league stars. Ineffectiveness, failure to make adjustments, and injuries have contributed to their collective fall from grace, and all five now face a make-or-break summer that will either re-establish them as prospects or push them into non-prospect territory.
With Texas and LSU squaring off for the title, what does the matchup make for in terms of quality baseball action?
It's been four and a half months since I returned to BP to cover the 2009 college baseball season, but we're set to finish the year where we began, with LSU and Texas atop the rankings. I'd love to brag that I saw this final coming all along, but to be honest, I had an inkling about Cal State Fullerton before the season began, and I picked Arizona State to win just ten days ago. The Tigers and Longhorns have always seemed like the best teams, but the best two teams reaching the finale of the season is a rarity in college baseball (cue highlights of Cinderella-story Fresno State one year ago).
Winnowing the wheat from the chaff out in the grain belt.
With the draft now in the rear-view mirror, college baseball's focus returns to the diamond in the weekend ahead, as eight programs have made the annual trek to Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. Four months ago, when I released my Pre-season NCAA Top 25, half of the CWS teams were in the top eight: Louisiana State, Texas, Cal State Fullerton, and North Carolina. I said then that "six programs stood out as the cream of the crop," and 60 games later, two-thirds of those praised programs validated the rankings. Arizona State, who found a home at #23 near the bottom of the rankings, as well as Arkansas, Virginia, and Southern Miss, proved themselves consistently during the season to make it this far. In Omaha, as Fresno State proved a year ago, all teams are equal.
One expert's educated guesstimate on how things will go down later today.
This one could be a mess folks, and it's all about bonus demands at this point. Right now, you have as many as four high school pitchers-Jacob Turner, Tyler Matzek, Matt Purke, and Shelby Miller-looking for big, big money, with the first three all telling teams they're looking for Rick Porcello-level deals (or more). This has the potential to blow the first round wide open, and turn it into into a very college-oriented first 30 picks, with numerous top talents falling to later picks than initially expected. One team picking in the top ten I spoke to this morning said he still had very little idea of who was going to be picked ahead of his club's choice.
A slew of lefties in the Pepperdine/San Diego series this weekend could mean trouble for a top player, and a few teams look to prove themselves before the regionals.
You can bet the Pepperdine/San Diego series was bookmarked by scouts a long time ago, as it could be the opportunity to see Brian Matusz go up against Brett Hunter just one month before the draft. Matchups like that can happen in February, where non-conference games can pit a few of the best in the nation against each other, but in May, they're few and far between. I know I was looking forward to it.