SEC Tournament Scouting Notes - Day 2

HOOVER, Ala. - As the games rolled along on Thursday, many of the scouts in attendance had one name in mind. That name was Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray. Although Gray did end up being the star of the show in the last game of the night, there were other standouts making a last minute impression in front of a crowd of scouts.

As talented as Sonny Gray is and as firmly entrenched as he is in the first round, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to just where he'll end up going in the first round. With that said, there was still a large number of scouts keeping a close eye on the Vanderbilt star on Thursday night. Among the clubs heavily represented in the stands to see the hard throwing righty were the Astros, Padres, Royals, Mets, Athletics, and more.

And, all on hand got to see a very typical Sonny Gray performance. Gray pitched into the seventh inning against South Carolina, and carried his plus stuff throughout the outing. Gray worked consistently at 92-95 mph, reaching 96 a couple times. More impressively, as he's shown in the past, Gray is willing to take a little off his fastball at times to locate or get movement.  And, he's also able to reach for that 95-96 mph when he needs it. This is just one aspect of his game that allows the 5-foot-11 righty to stand out as one of the nation's most advanced college pitchers.

Gray does have a plus fastball, but his ability to mix his secondary pitches and keep hitters guessing is what once again had the scout section raving on Thursday.  He mixed in his 85-88 mph changeup nicely, and got a good number of swings and misses on his sharp, late breaking 81-84 mph curveball. Some mild delivery concerns linger with Gray, and based on this viewing of him, those concerns are still not unfounded. But, if you're evaluating on stuff, command, and pitching aptitude, few pitchers in the country stack up with Gray. With a draft stock with nowhere to go but down, Gray did all he had to do to keep himself firmly in the top 10-12 pick conversation.


- Anthony DeSclafani came in to pitch the ninth for Florida on Thursday and could not have done more to impress in front of the scouts. While he didn't showcase much of his secondary arsenal, nor did he need to, the 6-foot-2 right-hander came out of the pen throwing bullets.  He worked at 93-95 mph with good, late life through the zone.  And, he registered a few 96s on some guns as well. The command of the fastball was impressive, as he showed he could keep the ball on the edges of the plate. He also flashed a straight changeup at 81 mph.  And, he mixed in a couple sliders at 78-80 mph. Both pitches need work, but the slider in particular showed above average potential. 

It was a thoroughly dominant one inning performance.  And, it's one that will be burned into the minds of the scouts in attendance.  His season has been pedestrian, but plus stuff and a power arm goes a long way this time of year.  I would expect DeSclafani to come off the board between rounds three and five.

- Scouts have long raved about Vanderbilt's Aaron Westlake and his sweet left-handed swing. And, he's brought that sweet lefty swing with him to the SEC tournament. Westlake drove the ball well to the left-center field gap on Thursday.  He has the look of a hitter, considering his clean swing mechanics and good approach, that shouldn't have much of an issue transitioning to wood bats. One club that's been linked to Westlake of late has been the Tampa Bay Rays. They were keeping a close eye on him on Thursday and he could be a solid and affordable choice for them with one of their several early picks.

- The focus is obviously on the draft, but most of the scouts in Hoover this week would agree that Gators' catcher, Mike Zunino has been the star of the show. No one has hit the ball harder in the first two days, and no hitter has looked as pro ready. One thing's for sure and that's that it will be a fun summer for scouts keeping tabs on Zunino for next year's draft.

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