SEC Tournament Scouting Notes - Day 1

Hoover, Ala. -- Conference tournaments serve as the final pit stops for the scouting community before the draft.  The SEC tournament typically tops all of those other tournaments in terms of professional caliber talent.  Day 1 of the tournament, while not overflowing with great performances, showed off some solid talent, particularly in the pitching department.

- Pitching performances were certainly not the theme of the opening day of the tournament, but the talent itself was more than representative.  Leading that group was Florida left-hander, Nick Maronde.  The 6-foot-3 southpaw is strictly a reliever for the long haul, but has the type of stuff that profiles at the back of a big league bullpen.  Maronde worked at 92-94 mph on Wednesday and showed off a sharp slider that grades out as plus at the next level.  He's been consistently showing this type of plus stuff since last summer in the Cape Cod League, so this type of performance came as no surprise to the scouts in attendance on Wednesday.  His arm action is a bit of an issue, and the repeatability of his delivery will be a question mark.  But, showing that type of stuff from the left side should put him in the top 2-3 rounds come draft day.

-  The SEC tournament can help a player's draft stock at the last minute perhaps more than any other event.  And, that may be the case for another Florida hurler, Tommy Toledo.  Make no mistake, Toledo was shaky in terms of performance and command, but when you show quality raw stuff the way he did, there's still a good impression to be made.  Toledo worked at 90-93 mph in his brief start, and bumped as high as 94.  He showed flashes of quality secondary pitches, but it will be something he needs to work on as a pro.  Delivery and his erratic command will also be issues for him.  At 6-foot-3, he has a strong, durable frame.  Couple that with his raw arm strength and a lot of teams will be looking at taking a gamble anywhere between the 5th-8th round on Toledo.

- In terms of talent on display, it truly was the Gators stealing the show on Wednesday.  But, it wasn't just their draft eligible players putting on a last minute showcase for the scouts.  2012 prospects Nolan Fontana and Mike Zunino also put on a show and continue to establish themselves as first round candidates in 2012.  Fontana continues to show he has the ability to be a elite defensive shortstop, and Zunino is already looking like one of the elite few bats in next year's class.  In fact, he looks to already stack up well with some of 2011's best.  His swing path is as short and clean as you will find, and he shows the potential for plus power not just to his pull side but to right-center field as well.  It's too early for the scouts to fall in love with these two, but their performances will be well noted for next year.

- Taylor Dugas is not the most physically imposing player in this draft class, but he continues to show a real feel for the bat head and some surprising power for his 5-foot-7, 165 pound frame.  Considering the talent in this class he's not going to be picked in the first few rounds, but he's making a solid case for at least the top 5 or 6 rounds.  The Alabama standout has hung in with elite players in the past, with Team USA in particular, and continues to thrive on the big stage.

- Speaking of undersized, Nathan Kilcrease got the ball for Alabama on Wednesday.  The 5-foot-6 right-hander ultimately is what he is and lacks any sort of projection, but he's doing his best to make a case for himself.  He struck out 10 in 8 innings of work on Wednesday, and did it without world class stuff.  Kilcrease topped out at 90 mph, and sat consistently around 87-89.  But, what makes him interesting is his ability to locate his curveball. If he continues to do that, he will mis bats.  But, considering his size and lack of velocity, the ceiling is very limited as a potential pro.

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