Andrew Brackman, RHP, North Carolina State
It’s hard to find a player whose stock is dropping more than Brackman’s. He went into the year as one of the top-rated college arms in the class, but much of that was based on promise rather than reality, as Brackman had rarely pitched, focusing more on hoops than the diamond during his first two years with the Wolfpack. Focusing only on baseball this year, Brackman started out pitching very well, as the 6’11” righthander with an upper-90s fastball looked like a surefire top-five pick. Then, beginning in April, Brackman began struggling in his starts, and by May he was on the sideline with what was being categorized as a “tired arm.” That’s a tired arm after just 78 innings. His missed a start, and then another, and the concern deepened when he missed the postseason, sitting out this weekend’s regional play as the Wolfpack was eliminated without him. Brackman is currently in draft limbo, with teams wondering if he’ll return to school for his senior year in order to prove he can stay healthy, or if he’ll just not sign and work out privately in order to get his stock back up. He’s become the biggest wild card in the draft as teams head into the war rooms for their final preparations.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell HS (NC)
Bumgarner had a memorable final weekend of his prep career, as his Spartans won the North Carolina 4A state title with a two-game sweep of Wilmington Ashley. In the first game, Bumgarner struck out 12 as his team rallied for a 4-1 victory, while in the second, he smashed an inside-the-park home run as part of a 10-0 blowout. Make no mistakes, his future is on the mound–despite a three-quarters arm slot and below-average secondary stuff, no prep southpaw can match Bumgarner’s size (6’5″, 220 pounds) or velocity (92-96 mph), and he’ll be drafted in the teens.
Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsutawney HS (PA)
Every draft has that one high school guy, the guy who starts the year as a pretty good prospect. and then keeps going up from there. Mesoraco is that guy. He began the year as clearly the best player in the state, and a guy who was seen as a second- or third-round pick. By May he had entered the first round, and now, with three days to go, it’s quite possible that he’ll be a top 10 pick. He’s as athletic a catcher as you’ll find, teams love his projection, and he’s seen as very signable. Also, let’s face it, his hometown is rife with headline possibilities. Hometown hero to the Pirates at number four? It’s possible, if they decide to save a little money.
Beau Mills, 3B, Lewis-Clark State
Last week, the Warriors won their 15th NAIA title, and fifth in the last eight years, winning all five games they played for the crown, and outscoring their opponents 43-17. Once again, Mills was in the spotlight. In the first four games of the series, the third baseman went 5-for-14 with a double, triple, and two home runs, but he saved the best for last, going 3-for-4 with three homers and eight RBI in a 9-2 win over Spring Arbor to clinch the title. Yes, it’s just NAIA, but Mills’ final numbers are still staggering. His .458/.556/1.033 line tells just part of the story–in 62 games, Mills established a new NAIA mark with 38 home runs, and added 100 runs, 123 RBIs, and six stolen bases. He drew 43 walks (17 intentional) in 240 at-bats, and struck out just 22 times. In a draft very light on college bats, Mills might be the best pure hitter available, and despite questionable competition and a defensive future that likely lies at first base, Mills is looking more and more like a top 10 selection.
Mike Moustakas, SS, Chatsworth HS (CA)
On Saturday afternoon, Moustakas scored the winning run at Dodger Stadium in the City Championship game. For Moustakas and his fellow seniors, it was their second Los Angeles championship, although they should have had four, as the team was upset in the final game in each of the last two years. Moustakas rewrote the state record book for home runs in his career, and will likely be selected in the first half of Thursday’s first round. At the same time, there are some concerns… or at least there should be. Nobody can really agree on where Moustakas will play as a pro, with opinions ranging from catcher to third base to a corner outfield slot. Then there is his size–listed at six feet and 185 pounds, Moustakas is undersized for a middle-of-the-order run producer. The glass-half-full guy will tell you they’d rather have this kind of power–the kind generated from bat speed and strong wrists–while the glass-half-empty type will ask you to look up the number of players his size drafted in the top 10 picks who have become elite players. It’s not a long list.
Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep (N.J.)
Porcello could be the second overall pick in the draft. His talent certainly merits it, and one scouting director I’ve spoken to admitted that if he had the first pick in the draft, he’d even consider selecting him over Vanderbilt’s David Price. Now, with a week to go, as always money has entered the picture. Porcello’s agent is none other than Scott Boras, and according to one insider, Boras has indicated that Porcello wants, “Josh Beckett money, adjusted for inflation.” Beckett’s deal included a big-league contract worth $7 million, and that was eight years ago. All of a sudden we’re talking $10 million dollars and an accelerated development time forced by the major league portion of the contract. He still could go second, but he also could drop until a team is willing to write that big check and/or call what they might believe is a bluff.
David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
The college postseason allowed Price to put on another show, and he didn’t disappoint on Friday night. Despite giving up a game-tying home run in the ninth inning to lose his shutout, Price struck out 17 Austin Peay batters over nine innings and 130 pitches, giving him 192 punchouts on the year in just 132 innings. Despite being the best team in college baseball (sitting atop Baseball America’s college rankings for nine weeks running), the Commodores need to beat Michigan today in order to prevent that Friday game from being Price’s final collegiate start. During the Draft Preview Show on MLB.com, Devil Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison told us that he was still considering three players, but even he had trouble doing it with a straight face.
Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
Savery has been one of this year’s disappointments for scouts. Seen as the top college lefty not named Price coming into the year, Savery had minor shoulder surgery (is there any such thing?) prior to the season, and his stuff at the start of the year was off from what it had been in 2006. He seemingly never recovered–despite losing just one game and posting an ERA well under three, Savery’s fastball was consistently 3-5 mph below his 2006 velocities, though his curveball and changeup remained highly effective. On Sunday, Savery pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one run in a 3-1 win over TCU that pushed the Owls into super-regional play. While he struck out just three, Savery was as impressive as he’s been all year on a stuff level, including a fastball that touched 96 mph. So, in the final weeks of the season, Savery is finally hitting his stride, finally moving him in the right direction on many team’s draft boards.
Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
No player pitched better down the college stretch than Schmidt, who nearly tossed a no-hitter in the SEC tournament, and then delivered seven two-hit innings against Creighton on Sunday in the Razorbacks’ lone regional win. Plenty of rumors have Schmidt pitching his way into the 15-20 range of the first round with his recent performance, and while he’s one of the easier-to-project pitchers in the college class, he’s also one with a limited ceiling. His fastball is average, his curveball is decent, and his changeup is merely OK. He’s aggressive, he changes speeds effectively, and he knows what he’s doing out there, and that’s all well and good, but the first round is about trying to find stars, not sure things. A pick of Schmidt will be highly similar to the White Sox’ selection of Lance Broadway in the first round two years ago. Like Schmidt, Broadway finished his college career on a roll, and like Schmidt, Broadway doesn’t project as much more than a No. 4 starter.
Eric Sogard, 2B, Arizona State
It’s almost impossible to talk about Sogard and not throw out a Dustin Pedroia comparison. Arizona State? Check. Middle infielder and PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year? Check. Small? Check. Good Player? Check. Arizona State breezed through regional play over the weekend, winning games against Monmouth, UC Riverside, and Nebraska, and scoring 33 runs in the process. While Sogard went 0-for-4 on Friday, he went 6-for-11 with five runs in the next two games, and will enter super-regional play with a batting line of .390/.485/.610, with 38 walks and just 23 strikeouts in 228 at-bats. Pedroia’s hot bat just might help Sogard out on Thursday, allowing some teams to trust the performance over the tools. Pedroia was the 65th overall pick in 2004, and while it will be nearly impossible for Sogard to match that, he shouldn’t last past the third round.