TigsTown Draft Update: DFE's and Collegiate

With the college baseball season nearly a month old for many teams, some players have already seen their draft stock rise and fall. Plus, how are the Tigers' Draft-and-Follow players performing so far in this young season.

Mitch Canham was a key cog in leading Oregon State to the national championship, and the Beavers might have lost him afterward, had he been more receptive to signing as a draft-eligible sophomore. The Cardinals drafted the catcher in the 41st round, but Canham returned and is off to a sizzling start, hitting .462 with one homer and 14 RBIs in the early going. Canham also has drawn 11 walks and has struck out only four times in his first 39 at-bats.

Another player with some helium towards the top of draft boards is Arizona State's Matt Spencer. After two years of limited playing time, Spencer transferred at the semester break, and has made an immediate impact. The junior is hitting .455 with four homers and 20 RBIs on the young season, and one of Spencer's homers was a 400-foot blast at Houstons Minute Maid Park.

UC Riverside's James Simmons entered the season as a solid candidate to go in the first round, and the right-hander has done nothing to dispel that. The junior outdueled San Francisco left-hander Aaron Poreda (another fast mover) by striking out 15 in a four-hit shutout, and last Friday, he outpitched San Diego State's Donnie Hume by tossing a three-hitter.

For the year, Simmons is 4-0 with a ridiculous 0.62 ERA in four starts. In 29 innings, he has allowed just 13 hits and three runs (two earned) to with four walks and 34 strikeouts. Simmons has also bumped up his fastball velocity to the 90-92 range from the customary high 80's he has worked at in the past.

On the downside, Stanford's Nolan Gallagher, who entered the season as a potential premium pick, has been pummeled to the tune of an 1-2, 6.87 ERA in his first four starts. In 18 1/3 innings of work, he has allowed 21 hits and 15 runs (14 earned). The right-hander has a three-pitch mix and projects nicely. Fellow Cardinal Michael Taylor is built like a linebacker, and has the physical tools, but it hasn't translated to games. The outfielder is hitting .229 with two homers and eight RBIs in 12 games. Also struggling mightily is Ole Miss shortstop Zack Cozart, who is hitting .206 in nine games after having a tough summer adjusting to wood bats last year.

Two years ago, Louisiana right-hander Josh Wall vaulted up draft boards after a sterling performance at Perfect Game's World Showcase event.

Wall eventually was taken by the Dodgers in the second round, and in 2007, it appears another prospect could be well on his way to being taken in the early rounds.

Chris Turner, an outfielder at Brandon High School in Florida, made a great impression on the scouts that attended by flashing four above-average tools and a bat that projects power in time. Because Turner hasnt performed at any showcases in the past, he flew under the radar, but that should change dramatically with this performance. Turner hasn't committed to a college as of yet.

Most of the players the Tigers have under control have gotten their seasons underway, and a few are off to great starts.

After missing all of last year with an assortment of injuries, Sacramento City College catcher Ben Petralli is making up for lost time. The redshirt sophomore is hitting .333 with seven RBIs in 13 games. He has already drawn 10 walks in 45 at-bats.

Scottsdale CC's Phil Ortez is hitting .340 with one homer and seven RBIs, and Chipola JC's Daniel Renfroe has hit two homers and driven in 10 runs, despite getting a late start due to his recovery from knee surgery.

The Tigers' highest draft-and-follow from last year was Broward CC catcher Franco Valdes, and he has clubbed two homers and driven in 10 runs in 14 games. As you might expect with one of the top JUCO prospects in the country, the Tigers have been in to see Valdes very often in the early going.

In other DFE news, Ryan Lindgren transferred from Seminole State to Western Oklahoma State, the same school that the Tigers plucked Angel Castro from in the 2006 draft. Lindgren continues to stay well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and should get some time on the mound later in the spring.

Another Tommy John alumnus is Connors State right-hander Tyler Mattox, who made his first start since undergoing surgery in the fall of 2005 on Thursday. He allowed two runs in two innings of work, and still remains a work in progress with his rehab.

Lance Durham, the son of Toledo hitting coach Leon, has elected to attend a junior college and is at Kaskaskia College, but unfortunately for the Tigers, they do not control his rights because Durham spent the fall semester at Eastern Michigan. Durham was going to be redshirted at EMU, but elected to transfer during the winter break.

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