TigsTown Draft Notebook: 4/12

With two months to go until draft day, Vanderbilt left-hander David Price has established himself as the clear-cut favorite to go to Tampa Bay with the first pick in the draft, but not many others have separated themselves from the pack.

Michael Burgess (Hillsborough HS, Fla.) started the season as the top prep prospect in the country, but the senior outfielder has been pitched around for most of the season (26 walks in 71 plate appearances), and has only 45 official at-bats in 17 games. Cypress (Ca.) third baseman Josh Vitters had made a strong bid for the top spot, but he missed two weeks with pneumonia and is just getting back to full strength having returned to the lineup last Tuesday.

With power-armed pitchers Rick Porcello (Seton Hall Prep, N.J.), Matt Harvey (Fitch HS, Conn.), and Jack McGeary (Roxbury Latin HS, Mass.) yet to establish themselves due to the weather in the Northeast (Porcello did reach 96 in a March scrimmage on a chilly day), that has allowed a couple of players to solidify their standing.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner (South Caldwell HS, N.C.) has not only shown the mid-90 s heat he is capable of, he has also shown a tighter breaking ball and has kept his standing as arguably the top prep left-hander in the country.

If there is one pitcher who may have cracked the top 10 with his performance, it has to be Blake Beavan (Irving HS, Texas). The right-hander not only has thrown a perfect game and has a combined no-hitter on his resume, he has simply dominated. Beavan has allowed exactly one earned run in 46 innings of work, and he has struck out 95 batters with only two walks.

Among position players, Jason Heyward (Henry County HS, Ga.) has solidified himself as a potential top 10 selection with his mammoth power potential.

Several prep players have made big jumps to the top of many draft boards. Canadian right-hander Phillippe Aumont showed a fastball that sat in the 91-95 range in his first trip to Florida with Team Canada, and you can bet scouts will be out in full force when Aumont returns to the Sunshine State next week. Liberty Eylau (Texas) shortstop Will Middlebrooks has turned heads with his size and athleticism, and has moved into a potential early round selection.

Jarrod Parker (Norwell HS, In.) may have made the biggest splash with his season debut last week. The right-hander who has signed with Georgia Tech touched 98 in his three-inning stint, despite the cold weather that plagued much of the country. Another right-hander that has moved up many boards is Nevin Griffith (Middleton HS, Fla.), who consistently sat 94-96 with his fastball to go with a mid-80 s slider in a start against Hillsborough (he reportedly broke Burgess metal bat).

Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters is expected to go in the first three picks, but after that, the top of the college crop hasn t performed as well as scouts have hoped. N.C. State right-hander Andrew Brackman has shown electric stuff, but has also been hit hard at times. Tennessee s Julio Borbon and J.P. Arencibia have struggled with injuries, and Rice left-hander Joe Savery has also been slow in recovering from minor labrum surgery. Fellow Rice lefty Cole St. Clair has also pitched very little due to shoulder soreness.

One pitcher who has struggled with his stuff is Georgia closer Josh Fields, who after showing near triple digit heat with a filthy slider, has struggled immensely with his breaking ball. Two seniors have flown up draft boards after turning down offers to turn pro last summer.

The Tigers took a 25th-round flier on Vanderbilt closer Casey Weathers, who made it clear from the beginning he wanted to finish his eligibility in Nashville. The right-hander made huge strides last summer, first in the Alaskan League, then later with Team USA, and after spurning the Tigers, he has been superb this spring, with a fastball reaching the high 90s to go with a nasty slider.

Even though the Red Sox signed a plethora of players in the later rounds, 14th- rounder Matt LaPorta was not among them. After a subpar junior year, the Florida slugger has returned to form and is among the leaders in homers. He also has been an on base machine with a terrific BB/K ratio (29/9), and has also been hit with a pitch 15 times.

At this stage, the candidates for the Tigers with the 27th pick are endless, and with no one really separating themselves, it will be intriguing to see where they go. Keep in mind that David Chadd has taken just one high school player (Cameron Maybin) in the first 10 rounds in his first two drafts, so will the Tigers continue to stay college heavy, or dip into the promising prep pool? We have two months to find out the answer.

Tigs Town Top Stories