This is a companion piece to the free breakdown of the 2014 MLB Draft crop by tiers, along with the top 53 college notebook and Florida Juco notebook. Click on each player's name to see previous content, including more video and scouting reports. Also see my comprehensive breakdown of the Phillies-Wetzler siuation, Rankings Index and July 2nd Index for previous similar articles along with my twitter feed for up to date news and analysis.
I'm about to hit the road to head to Miami this weekend to see Florida Atlantic lefty Austin Gomber, prep RHP and Vanderbilt commit Touki Toussaint, Miami lefty Andrew Suarez and Florida righty Karsten Whitson, among others.
More College Draft Eligible Notes
There's something in the water in Miami, with velo pops all over the area. FAU LHP Austin Gomber had a January velo spike, jumping from 87-90 to 90-92. He sat in that range for his debut, reaching 94 mph and now is in the top 3 rounds discussion. Another lefty from South Florida, Miami LHP Andrew Suarez sat 91-94 and hit 95 in his debut after also working mostly 87-90 in 2013 with some shoulder problems. Suarez has consolidated his fall velo spike (despite Biogenesis jokes from scouts) and also is in the 3rd round conversation with yet another pop-up lefty from the same area. Even formerly soft-tossing Miami lefty Chris Diaz (85-88 mph much of 2013) was 88-91 in his 2013 debut. Miami-Dade JC lefty Kyle Carter was covered in more depth in the Juco notebook, but the two-way athlete is now sitting 90-92 with three pitches that flash above average.
Oft-injured Florida RHP Karsten Whitson drew mixed review from scouts on Opening Weekend. They agree that he sat 90-92 and hit 93 mph in his two inning debut, slowly settling in after a jittery first few batters. They disagree about how crisp his three pitch mix and delivery were. I'll be seeing him Sunday to monitor where his progress is now.
UNC-Wilmington RHP Jordan Ramsey was 89-92 and hit 94 mph as he did at times last year, and showed a three-pitch mix that profiles in a rotation. He got hit around and a scouts I talked to didn't love how he finished his delivery, which contributed to flat stuff up in the zone. Virginia closer/third baseman Nick Howard was up to 95 mph in his debut as scouts saw late on the Cape when he emerged on the mound as a top 3-4 round prospect. He has the stuff to start and may get drafted as such, but is best used on a stacked Cavalier team as a hitter/closer.
Louisiana-Lafayette RHP Carson Baranik was 88-93 with a potential above average hook in his debut, while oft-injured Mississippi State RHP Brandon Woodruff was just 88-92 in his debut after getting up to 96 mph again in the fall, a number he'd hit in the past before an injury-shortened 2013. Other names I've heard good things about in the fall that had solid debuts and project for the top few rounds: St. Louis RHP James Norwood, USC RHP Wyatt Strahan, Cal Poly LHP Matt Imhof and Wichita State 1B Casey Gillaspie (brother of White Sox 3B Conor Gillaspie). Also, keep an eye out for Kennesaw State LHP Will Solomon, who is close to returning from injury and was 90-94 in the fall.
College Underclassmen Emerge
One of the story lines of the first weekend of the college season was the embarrassment of riches of sophomores on the Vanderbilt pitching staff (see yesterday's article for notes on junior Tyler Beede). I saw Carson Fulmer a lot in high school and he's still the same guy: higher effort with a head whack, but regularly up to 96 with an above average breaking ball and changeup. Fulmer is joined in relief by Walker Buehler, another high-profile recruit that's getting started on campus in the bullpen. Buehler has a much more fluid and controlled delivery that projects in the pros in the rotation and has the stuff to match: 90-94 mph with an above average to plus curveball. They were both eclipsed by one of the best 2015 draft popup arms of the fall, RHP Tyler Ferguson. The 6'3/215 starter sat 93-95 and hit 96 mph deep into the game and an above average curveball and slider. All three prospects have top 2 round potential, will be targets for me later this year (along with Beede) and are priority follows for 2015.
Another storyline to follow was Stanford's rebuilding of their pitching staff: their first 4 games were all started by true freshmen. Their Friday starter was Canadian RHP Cal Quantrill (son of former Blue Jay reliever Paul Quantrill), who is the most advanced now, with good command of an average-ish three pitch mix. Quantrill has some projection but is more of a back-end starter type while Sunday starter RHP Chris Viall is what one scout called "a potential monster." The 6'9/230 righty sat 91-94 with all kinds of downhill plane and feel for three pitches--definitely an arm to watch. All this while the two heralded veteran arms for the Cardinal (sophomore RHP Freddy Avis and senior RHP A.J. Vanegas) are still rehabbing injuries.
Two more premium underclassmen arms that broke out during the fall sustained those gains in their 2014 debuts. Mississippi State freshman RHP Dakota Hudson sat 93-96 and hit 98 mph (thanks to Gene Swindoll for the velos) with an 82 mph hook. Duke sophomore RHP Mike Matuella may be one of the top 2015 arms in the country as the 6'6 righty was 94-98 mph in his debut, after whispers he was up to 96 mph in the fall appear to have underestimated him. I'll be seeing both of these guys later in the year. As a note, every major agency in the country is reading this paragraph right now, on the search for new clients. I can see when you guys are subscribing and thanks for the support!
Rounding out underclassman popup weekend, Azusa Pacific sophomore RHP Josh Staumont was effortlessly up to 97 mph, Louisiana-Lafayette freshman RHP Reagan Bazar was up to 98 mph in both of his first two relief outings and Kennesaw State sophomore LHP Travis Bergen was 90-93 after sitting 85-88 mph just last year. And as a super bonus, 2016 high school arm (sophomore) RHP Anthony Molina was up to 96, after the Miami commit broke out this past summer, hitting 93 mph in Jupiter in front of a lot of scouts.