TigsTown '09 Draft Blog

Baseball is back! Get the latest on the 2009 draft from JA inside!

The Dust Has Settled

It's over. After two months of watching, evaluating and negotiating, the 2009 draft is officially in the books. The Tigers took it to the wire, but they were able to sign a key trio of players in Jacob Turner, Andy Oliver and Daniel Fields, as well as 30th-round pick James Robbins (per the Detroit News) before the clock struck midnight.

Although the cost was steep (nearly $8 million upfront) for the services for the aforementioned trio, it gives the Tigers a much-needed infusion of potential impact players. Turner gives the Tigers another young arm that could give them a frighteningly powerful rotation in time, and while Oliver has an outstanding fastball and solid changeup, he needs to regain the feel for his curveball for him to take the next step as a prospect. Fields gives the Tigers a position prospect with a significant ceiling who could wind up at third base or possibly centerfield in time, but there is no questioning his tools.

He certainly won't get the ink that the others above got, but landing Robbins is a terrific get for the Tigers. A top two-way prospect who had significant draft interest as a left-handed pitcher, Robbins opened the Babe Ruth World Series by firing a five-hitter, but the Tigers liked him more as a hitter.

He has plenty of pop in his bat, and he enjoyed a solid summer (.373 BA, 7 HR, 29 RBI) that piqued the interest of the Tigers enough to fly him across the country to work out in Lakeland a few weeks ago.

Robbins was drafted as a first baseman, but with Miguel Cabrera entrenched at that spot with the big league team, he could wind up on an outfield corner spot where his arm strength would be more of a factor than at first base.

Now that it's all said and done, I like what the Tigers have done. Again, they went well over slot to secure some very talented players, and the Tigers have also gotten some nice performances from a few picks who signed back in June, so the potential is there for this to be a very good draft. Obviously, it's way too early to place a grade, but the Tigers added some players with high upsides, and that is something the organization needed badly.

However, with the good comes the bad. I don't think there is any question that you can argue that the Tigers were the team that left the most talent from this year's draft unsigned. Of course that comes with the high number of high school players drafted, and while there was no way the Tigers were going to approach the number of signees they've had in the past, I think you'll see many of the unsigned players become significant factors in the 2012 draft.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 8/18

Corcino Signs

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here, but news on the Tigers' picks has been painfully slow in coming in. However, with two weeks left until the signing deadline, things are finally starting to pick up, and that includes the signing of 26th-round selection Edgar Corcino of Puerto Rico.

Corcino was one of four players to work out last week in Lakeland (James Robbins, Tarran Senay and Danny Canela were the others), and the Tigers were able to sign the last of their draftees from Puerto Rico.

Corcino was originally drafted as a third baseman, but reportedly will make the switch to catching, where he profiles best. He is one of the youngest picks to sign, as he just turned 17, and he has the chance to hit for some power in time.

Two Weeks Left

The Tigers have no shortage of players to mull over whom to make a run at in the last two weeks. The Tigers obviously have definite interest in the above trio that didn't sign after working out, as well as their early unsigned players outside of top two picks Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver, (Daniel Fields, Craig Fritsch, Matt Thomson and Mark Appel), not to mention pitchers Tobin Mateychick (28), Andrew Walter (31) and Parker Markel (32).

The Tigers are also getting final looks at a few of their other players, and they could see two of them next week at the Connie Mack World Series. Canela will be there with the Florida Legends, while Jimmy Brennan (45) is slated to play there as well. Incidentally, for those baseball buffs who enjoy watching movies on the game, you can see Brennan get a cameo in Nick Nolte's film Off the Black.

Whose On The Outs?

There are several players that have made indications that they are very likely headed to school. The highest pick that is seemingly headed in that direction is Victor Roache (25). Roache certainly doesn't lack tools, but with a firm commitment to Georgia Southern, he has a good chance of being a premium-round pick in 2012 if everything comes together for him.

Two players who were injured earlier this summer that have made progress with their ailments, but aren't likely to sign are Derek Kline (34) and Ben Crumpton (36). Some other names that are very good bets to make it to school are Cody Keefer (33), Pat Biondi (35), Chad Duling (39), Ben Bechtol (40), Larry Balkwill (41), Nick Avila (42), Andrew Allen (43), Charlie Markson (45), Nate Goro (46), Kevin Chambers (47), Jake Porcello (48), Cameron Giannini (49) and Nico Rosthenhausler (50). I also want to point out that while these players are likely headed to school, in several cases, the door hasn't been completely closed on them not signing, although it would be a big surprise if they did sign.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 8/3

Injuries Taking Toll On Picks

After right-hander Derek Kline (34) elected to rest after making just two starts this summer, another draft pick has seen his summer season come to a premature close.

Drafted in the 36th round out of Hot Springs (Ar.) Lakeside High School, Ben Crumpton is out with patellar tendinitis in his knee, but the Tigers were able to see him before he went down, and although he has signed with Arkansas, the Tigers could still make a run at the athletic shortstop.

One draft choice that is getting back into the swing of things after missing time with groin injury is Dearborn Divine Child's Pat Biondi. Selected just before Crumpton in the 35th round, the Michigan recruit has been slowed by a groin injury, but was due to be back playing this week.

Power Arms

The Tigers have always had a fetish for drafting pitchers with potentially overpowering stuff, and three of them have been flashing it this summer.

The Tigers have made Oklahoma one of their favorite haunts in the draft, and in the 28th round, they tabbed Enid High School's Tobin Mateychick. A Wichita State signee, Mateychick is very projectable at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, and he is very athletic for his size.

He has been topping out at 93-94 this summer, and in his last start, he allowed just one hit in five innings to go with seven strikeouts. Pitching for the Enid Majors, Mateychick has made the adjustment of pitching in a pro-style rotation, and he also threw a two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts earlier this summer.

Mountain Ridge (Ariz.) right-hander Parker Markel was selected in the 31st round, and after ironing out some kinks in his delivery, Markel's command of his considerable stuff has gotten better. His fastball sits in the 88-92 range with outstanding sink, and his changeup gives him a second solid pitch, but he has made very good strides with his slider. Over his last eight innings of work, Markel has racked up 20 strikeouts. He has signed with Yavapai (Ariz.) JC.

When your selected in the 49th round, the chances of signing are pretty remote, but Hargrave Military Academy's (Va.) Cameron Giannini is forcing the Tigers to give him a long look after topping out at 94. A Liberty recruit, Giannini gets lots of ground balls with his heater, and he also throws a slider and a changeup. He has fanned 36 batters in 19 innings of work this summer.


I wanted to use this spot to post some quick hits on a few of the Tigers' draftees. Despite being the draft choice under the most scrutiny, U-D Jesuit's Daniel Fields (6) has been swinging a hot bat of late, including a home run last Saturday, and the Tigers have been very frequent spectators.

Monte Vista (Ca.) right-hander Mark Appel (15) went the distance and allowed one run in his start last weekend, and the Tigers are reportedly going to have a crosschecker in attendance for his outing this weekend.

Whitefish Bay's (Wisc.) Charlie Markson (44) has seemed to recover nicely from mononucleosis, as he is hitting .380 with 15 RBIs, and 10 of his 19 hits have gone for extra bases.

Shorecrest's (Wash.) James Robbins (30) ranks as one of the top two-way prospects in the Northwest, and he has lived up to that billing this summer. Although the Tigers drafted him as a position player, and he has launched several home runs, he is also a left-handed pitcher that has topped out at 92. If Robbins attends Washington State, he will go both ways, but he may not make it to college with his performance this summer.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 7/9

Summer Season Underway

After a brief hiatus to tend to the draft and its fallout, I wanted to post some early info on a few of the Tigers college summer follows.

At this time last year, Baylor's Craig Fritsch was on his way to being named one of the top prospects in the Cape Cod League with Yarmouth-Dennis, but after a rocky sophomore year, Fritsch's hopes for being a premium-round pick were dashed.

The Tigers selected the right-hander in the eighth round, and thus far, Fritsch has fared well by posting a 3.18 ERA in his first three appearances, including 3 2/3 scoreless innings in 10-9 win over Brewster.

When Fritsch is on, his fastball can reach the mid-90s, and his slider and changeup are both solid offerings. He also has a very projectable frame, and if he regains the form he showed last summer, you can bet the Tigers will make a serious at him, although he won't come cheap being a sophomore-eligible with potentially overpowering stuff.

Another sophomore-eligible arm the Tigers selected was Millersville (Pa.) right-hander Derek Kline. Selected in the 34th round, Kline made two starts with New Market in the Valley League, but after seeing his velocity decrease significantly, Kline elected to head home and give his arm some rest.

The move is strictly a precautionary measure for Kline, who pitched for the first time this year while hitting .393 as Millersville's first baseman. As a pitcher, Kline went 3-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 appearances (six starts) this spring.

With Kline out of action for the foreseeable future, the Tigers will be limited in their opportunities to see him, and given his sophomore status, Kline is a good bet to return to school.

One pitcher who should be making his debut soon in San Diego right-hander Matt Thomson, who the Tigers drafted in the 12th round.

Like Fritsch, Thomson had a solid showing on the Cape last summer, but a so-so junior year saw his stock fall. Thomson is slated to pitch for the Santa Barbara Foresters, who are the reigning NBC World Series champions.

A new trend has been for high school players to showcase themselves against older players in the various college summer leagues, and one of the Tigers' prep picks is doing that this summer.

Cody Keefer, the Tigers' 33rd-round pick out of Davis (Ca.) High School, is off to a blistering-hot start with the Wenatchee Apple Sox of the West Coast League by going 9-for-18 in his first five starts, along with three RBIs and a stolen base.

A UCLA recruit, Keefer has a good understanding of the strike zone and has a great approach at the plate. He has projectable power, runs very well, and although his arm strength is playable for center field, his future looks to be in left, which is where he has played thus far this summer.

Like all of the high school players taken on the draft's final day, Keefer will be a tough sign, but if the Tigers land him, they will have an intriguing player with a very significant amount of upside.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 6/27

Clock Continues To Tick

With less than a week to go until the draft, the Tigers seem to have narrowed their focus on high school pitching with the ninth pick, although Scouting Director David Chadd was quoted in an MLB.com story as saying there were a couple of wild cards among the group of players they are considering.

Chadd's comment certainly opens up for interpretation what the Tigers could do should their top targets go off the board before they pick. I mentioned Donovan Tate and Grant Green last week, but given their price tags and other question marks, I can't see the Tigers going after either.

One name I didn't mention last week was Texas prep left-hander Matthew Purke, and while he could be in the mix, he reportedly is looking for a contract in the $3-5 million range, which could send him tumbling down some draft boards. He also ranks a clear second behind Tyler Matzek as the top prep left-hander in the draft, and some clubs may prefer right-handers Jacob Turner, Shelby Miller and Zack Wheeler to Purke both on overall ability and signability.

The Tigers have taken a close look at Yukon (Okla.) left-hander Chad James, but he would be a reach considering some of the other arms that should be available, and the same would be said of Kansas prepster Garrett Gould, who would be a second-round target in the unlikely event he slides that far.

With the draft being loaded with quality catching, one would think the Tigers would be able to get one of their liking in a later round, but that certainly isn't guaranteed, especially with the crop thinning out a little with Luke Bailey (Ga.) and Wes Luquette (La.) having to undergo Tommy John surgery.

With Bailey sidelined, Yuba City's (Ca.) Max Stassi has emerged as the top prep catcher, and while he is considered a first-rounder, it wouldn't surprise me if a team wanting a catcher grabbed him earlier than expected to ensure that they get the player they want. Would the Tigers select him with the ninth pick? I don't think they would, but if they make a pick that no one is expecting, he may be the guy.

Other Names To Watch

As the draft creeps closer, the Tigers are closely watching players they could select in the later rounds. The Michigan prep class is very strong this year, and the Tigers are keeping close tabs on UD-Jesuit shortstop Daniel Fields, Forest Hills Central shortstop Derek Dennis and Ypsilanti Lincoln outfielder Victor Roache, with the latter two having been asked to workout for the team.

In addition to Gould, the Tigers have also taken several looks Temecula Valley (Ca.) right-hander Brooks Pounders, who has touched the mid-90s and has signed with USC. If he is signable, he should go in the first five rounds.

Owasso (Okla.) High School has been a favorite haunt for the Tigers. Over the last few years, they have drafted pitchers Dallas Trahern and Matt Hoffman, and the school has one of the faster risers in Oklahoma recruit Austin Kirk. A left-hander, Kirk has touched 95 while sitting in the 88-92 range. He also throws a slider and a changeup.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 6/3

Trying To Make Sense Of The Senseless

With under two weeks to go until draft day, very little has been settled for the teams sitting after the first pick. North Carolina's Dustin Ackley is the leader to be taken second overall to Seattle, but after that, it anyone's guess as to who will go where.

Along with Ackley, USC shortstop Grant Green and Georgia prep outfielder Donovan Tate were considered the top position players available, but both have seen their stock tumble. Green had an up-and-down year, while Tate has faced questions about his bat and has a huge price tag. Both are being advised by Scott Boras, and while there is the possibility both could still go in the first 10 picks, that likely won't be the case.

As far as the Tigers go, the possibilities for them with the ninth pick are seemingly endless. They could take either Green or Tate, but they have extensively scouted the top prep pitchers in the draft.

California left-hander Tyler Matzek is a good bet to be gone before the Tigers pick, but the Tigers will likely have their pick of right-handers Zack Wheeler (Georgia), Shelby Miller (Texas) and Jacob Turner (Missouri). The Tigers have scouted Wheeler and Miller heavily all spring, and they have been in attendance in two of Wheeler's postseason starts. Turner is reportedly seeking a contract similar to what the Tigers gave Rick Porcello two years ago.

They could also have a shot at independent league pitchers Tanner Scheppers and Aaron Crow, or college pitchers Kyle Gibson (Missouri) and Alex White (North Carolina), although Crow and Gibson seem long shots to be available when the Tigers pick. Like many of the top college pitchers, White has been inconsistent and figures to go in the early teen picks, and teams will need to clear Scheppers medically as he recovers from the shoulder injury that caused him to slide last year.

Having said all of that, I believe Turner, Wheeler and Miller are the Tigers' top candidates as of now for the ninth pick, but with so much uncertainty surrounding the teams ahead of them, that could change dramatically on draft day.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 5/29

Late Risers

Several high school players across the country have gone from obscurity to possible top-10 round selection thanks to their outstanding seasons, and I wanted to highlight these guys, starting with a sextet of pitchers.

Two Tennessee arms on opposite sides of the state have made a move up draft boards. Sullivan South right-hander Tristan Archer has been topping out in the low-90s and has a solid curveball and changeup to round out his formidable arsenal of pitches. A Michigan native, Archer is a very good athlete who also projects nicely, and is a good bet to not make it to Tennessee Tech, where he is committed.

While Archer has become one of the top prospects on the Eastern side of the state, Houston's Daniel Palo has joined Germantown's Jason Thompson and Michael Faulkner as the top prep draft prospects from the Memphis area.

A right-hander who has signed with Middle Tennessee State, Palo, whom the Tigers have seen, sits in the 88-93 range and his curveball and changeup have become very effective pitches. Improved mound presence has also been a big reason for Palo's success.

After having a terrific group of high school players last year, Kentucky has seen a significant drop-off in the talent available this year, but one left-hander has moved to the head of the class.

Rockcastle County's Tanner Perkins is a three-sport athlete who has just started to focus on baseball full time. The lefty has a very muscular build and uses both a two and four-seam fastball as well as a curveball and changeup.

Perkins consistently sits in the 88-90 range and tops out at 92. One thing Perkins does not have an issue with is throwing strikes. For the year, Perkins has walked only seven batters while striking out 101 in 50 innings. A Western Kentucky recruit, Perkins has a chance to go in the first 10 rounds.

North Carolina has a deep crop of prep pitchers, and McMichael right-hander Joseph Hughes has emerged to the forefront of those arms. The East Carolina recruit had his best start of the year by striking out 17 and not walking a batter in front of 25 scouts. Hughes has slimmed his frame down, and he commands four pitches well. His fastball has been up to 94 and he holds 90-plus velocity deep into games. He also has a good changeup to go with a curveball and a slider.

New Jersey's high school ranks have been a fertile ground for both colleges and pro scouts in recent years, and 2009 is no different.

Newark Academy right-hander Andrew Del Colle has been known to scouts after losing to Tigers rookie Rick Porcello as a sophomore in a postseason game where Porcello threw a perfect game in a 1-0 victory.

After a a disappointing junior year, Del Colle has been sitting in the 91-92 range and holding his velocity deep into games. He also throws a curveball and changeup, and he has good command of all of his pitches. A stiff shoulder has hindered Del Colle of late, so his draft status may be up in the air if he's unable to throw for scouts in the weeks leading up to the draft. A Boston College recruit, Del Colle was making a push for the first five rounds until being sidelined.

The final pitcher I want to mention is someone who popped up early in the season and has held his spot as one of the top arms in talent-laden Texas. Left-hander Sam Selman (St. Andrews Episcopal) profiles as one of the most projectable pitchers in the draft. At 6-foot-4, Selman could conceivably add 35 pounds to his frame as he matures, but his present stuff is intriguing.

Selman has reached the mid-90s this spring while using a cutter, big-breaking curveball and changeup to carve up opposing hitters. There is no question that Selman is an arm scouts can dream on, but he is also a Vanderbilt recruit, which clouds his signability.

A trio of position players have also moved up scouts' boards. Mississippi's Darren Farmer (West Lauderdale) has swung a blistering-hot bat by smashing 19 home runs in his first 31 games. A 6.6/60 runner with good arm strength, Farmer presently catches, but could very well wind up moving to the outfield. Farmer has signed with Meridian Community College.

Staying close to the Gulf Coast, Sam Houston (La.) shortstop Tyler Theriot has 12 home runs to his credit. A solid athlete, Theriot is a late bloomer who hasn't quite put everything together and is developing and refining his tools. Like Farmer, Theriot has a junior college commitment, as he has signed with LSU-Eunice.

Santa Margarita (Ca.) outfielder Trayce Thompson isn't the only basketball player playing baseball that has shot up draft boards. Red Oak (Okla.) outfielder Lane Adams was slated to continue his hoops career at Missouri State, but that could change depending on how the draft shakes out.

As you might expect, Adams is a terrific athlete who runs a 6.62/60 and has a 40-inch vertical leap. He has good arm strength and has plus-power potential in his 6-foot-4 frame. Scouts were scared off originally because of basketball, but his tools have made them take notice.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 5/18

Pre-Draft Showcase

Perfect Game will be conducting it's annual Pre-Draft Showcase today that allows scouts the opportunity to see some of the tougher draft prospects before the draft.

Neuqua Valley (Ill.) left-hander Ian Krol hasn't pitched this spring after being suspended for the season, and this will be a very significant event to see if he can restore some of his luster.

Yukon (Okla.) left-hander Chad James, who has made his way into the top two rounds, is another big name that will be in attendance, but there are several other prospects to keep an eye on.

Whitefish Bay has two of the top prep players in Wisconsin in outfielder Charlie Markson and left-hander Kevin James. Markson is a Notre Dame recruit, while James has signed with Boston College. Since Wisconsin's baseball season starts just before the draft, this will be one of the few opportunities for scouts to see them.

L.J. Mazzilli and Josh Mooney are two names I've mentioned here that will be at the showcase. Catalina Foothills (Ariz.) two way-standout Breck Ashdown, an Oregon State recruit, and Tuscaloosa County (Ala.) catcher Brett Booth, an Alabama recruit, are also expected to attend.

As you might expect with Perfect Game's headquarters located in Iowa, top prospects Matt Koch, Chad Christensen and Matt Carmody will be there along with a few others from the Hawkeye State. Also attending will be Cole Frenzel and Ryan Bollinger, who could become rare high school drafts from North Dakota next month.

A few college players are expected to attend, including Wabash Valley's (Ill.) Blake Drake, and Chattahoochee Valley's (Ala.) Johnny Gunter, who are two of the top arms from the junior college ranks. Drake has signed with Arizona, while Gunter is uncommitted.

A few of Iowa's collegians are slated to appear including Hawkeyes reliever Steve Turnbull and leading home-run hitter Wes Freie, as well as Northern Iowa outfielder Brett Douglas, who is the twin brother of Tigers 2008 draft pick Brandon.

What does it all mean? Well, in some cases, it's an audition, as some of these players haven't been seen by scouts in a competitive environment during the spring. In other cases, it's a final chance for scouts to see players that they wanted to get another look at before the draft, and to also gage signability, particularly on the prep players.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 5/18

Prospects in the Wolverine State

It's always nice to not have to travel very far to see top prospects, and the Tigers have several to look at across Michigan this spring.

While the college ranks are down, the high school crop is one of the deepest in recent memory, although it's one that likely figures to make more of an impact in 2012 than the present.

With the success Rich Maloney has had at rebuilding the Michigan program, the Wolverines have been able to secure commitments from several of the top prospects in the state, including UD-Jesuit shortstop Daniel Fields, Forest Hills Central shortstop Derek Dennis, Divine Child outfielder Pat Biondi, St. Joseph first baseman Cameron Luther, and right-handers Tyler Higgins (Mount Pleasant) and Kyle Clark (Portage Central).

The Wolverines should be able to keep most of their recruits, although they will have to sweat it out with Fields, who is the son of former Tigers outfielder and hitting coach Bruce, and a potential premium-round selection if he is deemed signable.

Michigan State has commitments from toolsy outfielders Torsten Boss (Lowell) and Jordan Keur (Hudsonville), as well as right-handers Andy Waszak (Rochester Adams) and Andy Tinkey (Walled Lake North). The Spartans have a football flavor to their class, as three of the four players played on the gridiron in high school.

Western and Central Michigan also could get immediate contributions from some members of their classes. Left-hander Kyle Strube (Jefferson) and catcher Kory Bauswell, a teammate of Keur's at Hudsonville, have signed with the Broncos, while the Chippewas have left-hander Josh Cok (Grosse Point North) and Bullock Creek shortstop Jordan Dean coming in.

Not all of the top prospects stayed in Michigan, as Ypsilanti Lincoln outfielder Victor Roache signed with Georgia Southern, Detroit Country Day right-hander Michael Theodore inked with Tennessee, Brother Rice 1B/LHP Matt Conway is headed to Wake Forest and Divine Child shortstop Stephen Claypool is bound for Ball State.

If these players wind up in school as expected, they could be a special college crop in three years if everything comes together.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 5/8

In A New York State Of Mind

With the Yankees in town this week, I wanted to spend some time on a pair of pitchers in New York that the Tigers have had crosschecked recently.

At 6-foot-7 and 190 pounds, St. Dominic right-hander Kyle Hansen, brother of Pirates reliever and former first-round pick Craig, exudes projection.

So far this spring, Hansen has been lights out. It's not often you can say a pitcher who has allowed two runs all year would have two losses, but Hansen does having lost a pair of 1-0 games with one being a nine-inning contest where he was matched up with Kellenberg's C.J. Ferriggi, a Hofstra recruit. The other loss came when Chaminade's Charlie Steinman, a Georgetown signee, threw a no-hitter to beat him.

Hansen's velocity has spiked upwards this spring. He was 90-91 in a cold-weather outing, and has been clocked mostly in the 92-93 range with a few 95s sprinkled in. Hansen has also made good strides with his slider and changeup, and he has a perfect game to his credit.

Like Hansen, Ward Melville's Steven Matz is projectable, and has seen a spike in his velocity this spring. A left-hander, Matz has touched 94 several times this spring and has sat 90-92 deep into games.

Through the weekend, Matz had allowed just three hits in his first 23 innings, and he delivered a scintillating performance against Patchogue-Medford's Marcus Stroman, a Duke recruit who ranks as one of the top prep players in the state along with Hansen and Matz.

Matz fired a one-hitter, walked four and fanned 12 to outduel Stroman 1-0 with the lone run scoring in the seventh inning. Stroman allowed three hits, walked none and had 14 strikeouts. According to Newsday, both pitchers hit 93, and were still throwing 90-plus in the seventh. Newsday also reported that representatives from every major league team were in attendance.

With the chance to play both ways at Duke, Stroman, who would likely be drafted as a shortstop due to his smallish (5-foot-9) frame, figures to be a tough sign with a commitment to a top academic school. Hansen could follow in brother's footsteps by attending St. John's, and Matz has signed with Coastal Carolina, but if both keep pitching as well as they have, there is a good chance that neither winds up in school.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 4/29

Uncertainty After Strasburg

As we creep ever closer towards draft day, there is very little in the way of having a definitive picture of how the top of the draft will look after San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg.

USC shortstop Grant Green got off to a slow start, but has rebounded over the last few weeks and restored himself as a candidate to be a top-five pick. North Carolina's Dustin Ackley is enjoying an outstanding season with the bat, although scouts haven't had a chance to see him play in center field as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Among college pitchers, Missouri's Kyle Gibson has solidified himself as a top-10 pick with a stellar season to date, but Oklahoma State's Andy Oliver, North Carolina's Alex White and Vanderbilt's Mike Minor have all had their ups and downs.

Of the trio, White has pitched better of late, and should still profile as a top-10 pick, although he isn't the surefire selection he was at the start of the year. Minor likely will be a mid first-rounder thanks to his polish, and despite his ugly numbers, Oliver could still be a factor if he can finish strong.

The high school players at the top of the draft also have their own questions. Capistrano Valley (Ca.) left-hander Tyler Matzek has had to deal with a blood blister on his pitching hand, and some scouts think he has to improve his secondary stuff and pitchability.

Klein (Texas) left-hander Matt Purke has reached the mid-90s this spring, but scouts have questioned his delivery. Cartersville (Ga.) outfielder Donovan Tate ranks as the top position player from the prep class, and despite his five-tool ability, he faces questions regarding signability, as he is being advised by Scott Boras and is committed to North Carolina to play both football and baseball.

All three have shots at being selected in the top 10, as does Brownwood (Texas) right-hander Shelby Miller, who has been holding high-90's heat late into starts.

So what does it all mean for the Tigers? With the ninth overall pick and questions surrounding many of the draft's top prospects, there is no shortage of candidates for the Tigers to look at, and with several players such as Lipscomb left-hander Rex Brothers having played their way into first-round consideration, the Tigers' forecast becomes more cloudier. With seven weeks to go until draft day, more questions than answers remain not just for the Tigers, but for many other teams.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 4/22

Sleeper in Mississippi

Much of the focus this spring for scouts who have the Magnolia State in their coverage besides the colleges has centered on South Panola's top duo of David Renfroe and Ethan Bright.

Renfroe has been slowed somewhat by a strained oblique muscle, but he has been back touching 93 in one outing, and Bright has also been reaching the low-90s, but another pitcher has begun to attract the attention of scouts.

At 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds, Ingomar's Josh Hodges is a tough player to miss on the baseball diamond. A right-hander, Hodges began to see a spike in his velocity late last summer, and that has continued into the spring, where he has topped out at 94. In a start last week, Hodges was sitting in the 89-92 range. He also has a curveball, slider and circle changeup in his arsenal.

Hodges does have to work to do as far as cleaning up his delivery and fine-tuning his breaking balls, but he definitely has some solid tools to work with. A recruit of Northeast Mississippi Community College, Hodges could be an intriguing name to watch for on draft day.

Murphy On The Rise

A few weeks back, I wrote about the incredible class of prep catchers available. One name that I didn't mention was J.R. Murphy, who attends the Pendleton School.

Murphy is a Miami recruit who could wind up playing in the outfield should Lakewood Ranch's Mike Ohlman also make it to school, although the those chances of both players becoming Hurricanes seems to be getting remote with their stellar play.

Murphy in particular has made a mockery of opposing pitchers by hitting .610 with nine home runs and 55 RBIs in aiding Pendleton to a 25-0 start. Murphy has also drawn 15 walks and has fanned just three times in 82 at-bats. He is 12-for-13 in stolen bases.

Murphy profiles as a potential five-tool catcher who has been primarily been listed as an outfielder because he spent time there last year during summer baseball. However, with Yasmani Grandal, a top catching prospect for the 2010 draft, as well as the possibility of Ohlman, there isn't much room for Murphy behind the plate, but he will be drafted as a catcher.

Presently, Murphy stands to be the first of three potential draftees from Pendleton by factoring in the premium rounds. Blaze Tart, one of the top two-way players in Florida with a great name to boot, also has a chance to go in the first 10 rounds, while L.J. Mazzilli, son of former major leaguer Lee, could also be drafted.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 4/15

Howard Still Perfect

With Opening Day upon us, hope reigns supreme across the country, as fans of their respective teams hope their team will be a contender.

In the junior college ranks, one team has stood above the rest by racing out to a 34-0 start. Howard (Texas) JC has battered opposing pitching staffs by a hitting a resounding .427 so far this season, and several players have a chance at being drafted.

Although he is new to catching, Miles Hamblin has done nothing but hit at Howard, and this spring, the sophomore is hitting .450 with a team-leading 10 homers and 42 RBIs. If the draft doesn't intervene, Hamblin will attend Mississippi.

Howard also has a pair of toolsy outfielders in Runey Davis and Joey Leftridge. Davis got one at-bat as a freshman at Texas before transferring. The sophomore is presently hitting .377 with four home runs and 24 RBIs. Leftridge, a former AFLAC All-American, has .405 average with two homers and 35 RBIs. With a whopping six players sporting double figure totals in stolen bases, Howard obviously likes to run, and Davis and Leftridge are at the head of the class with 18 stolen bases apiece. Davis is headed for Mississippi State if he doesn't sign.

It's not all offense at Howard. Freshman Burch Smith is 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA and has 40 strikeouts in 30 innings thanks to a good three-pitch mix, and although he's on the smallish side (5-foot-10, 205 pounds), left-hander Anthony Collazo has gone 6-0 with a 2.50 ERA. The sophomore leads the team with 57 strikeouts in 36 innings.

Golden State Duo

A big reason why Mount St. Jacinto is off to a 15-3 start in the Foothill Conference and is 24-7 overall is due to the stellar pitching efforts of Drew Madrigal and B.J. Salsbury.

Madrigal gets heavy sink on his fastball that sits in the 88-91 range, but has topped out at 94. A former basketball player, Madrigal is a good athlete who also has a hard slider and good changeup to round out his arsenal.

A right-hander, Madrigal has been dominant by leading the state with 14 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, and his 83 strikeouts ranks him second in the state.

Salsbury is no stranger to the draft having been picked by the Rangers in the 37th round back in 2007. Also a right-hander, Salsbury threw the first no-hitter in school history.

While Madrigal has more of a power approach, Salsbury uses good control and good secondary pitches to befuddle batters.

Salsbury works in the 88-91 range and he'll cut his fastball some. He also throws a curveball that grades as above-average and a solid changeup. Another factor that works in Salsbury's favor is his age. He won't turn 20 until October.

As of now, both have not officially signed with a four-year school, and both should hear their names called during the draft proceedings.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 4/6

Catching The Draft

It's been well-documented how good this year's crop of catchers is, and depending on signability, there could be a record number of catchers selected in the early rounds of the draft.

One catcher the Tigers have been keeping close tabs on is Troup County's (Ga.) Luke Bailey. An AFLAC All-American, Bailey has the total package of tools. An Auburn recruit, Bailey is extremely athletic and has terrific arm strength, but he also runs exceptionally well for a catcher and is one of the top hitters in his class regardless of position.

Despite his team having played just nine games, the Tigers have scouted Bailey extensively and have already had a crosschecker in to take a look at him.

With pitching likely dominating the early selections, it will be interesting to see if the Tigers buck that trend and take Bailey under consideration for the ninth overall pick. If they don't select him at that spot, there is a strong likelihood Bailey would be long gone by the time the Tigers make their second-round pick.

However, with the plethora of catchers available, not to mention signability, teams will likely have a wide variety of opinions on where some of these catchers should go on their draft boards. Could the sheer number of quality catchers being available possibly push some down a round or two? It's possible, but with quality catching being one of toughest commodities to find, most won't fall too far, if at all.

Former Tigers Coaching Prospects

One would think that a modern major leaguer that makes plenty of money would simply want to stay out of the limelight and live quietly, but that's not the case for two former Tigers.

Former Tigers center fielder Chet Lemon coached at Eustis (Fla.) High School before health problems forced him to step down and focus on his travel team. Known as Chet Lemon's Juice, the club ranks annually as one of the top travel teams in the country.

Another member of the Tigers' 1984 World Series team is also in the coaching fraternity, and he also has a solid prospect for the 2009 draft. Randy O'Neal is presently the head coach at Olympia (Fla.) High School and outfielder Jabari Henry, a Florida International recruit, played on Detroit's entry at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer.

Henry has good athletic ability and has the arm strength and hitting ability to profile as a right fielder as a pro.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 3/30

Strasburg Wants $50 Million?

According a report by Peter Gammons that was published at mlbtraderumors.com, Scott Boras, who is advising the San Diego State right-hander that projects as the No. 1 pick in the draft, could be looking for upwards of $50 million. The report attributed that figure to unidentified team officials from around baseball.

With the draft still a little over two months away, I chalk this up to the usual hyperbole that comes around this time of year when speculation for Boras' guys begins to make the rounds.

His top two guys from last year were Eric Hosmer and Pedro Alvarez, and while both got hefty deals, they were below what Boras had reportedly floated earlier in the spring. Hosmer signed for $6 million with the Royals, which was down from the reported $7 million that Boras wanted. Alvarez got a major league contract worth $6.35 million, but Boras' supposed original number was close to the 9.5 million Mark Teixeira got on his deal in 2001.

My point above being is that Boras likes to put out inflated numbers to see which teams will either listen, or perhaps in Strasburg's case, push him to a team with the right fit or financial wherewithal (Red Sox, Yankees) to get the money he feels his client deserves.

Now would anyone pay $50 million for a pitcher before he evens makes his first pitch as a pro, I doubt it, but I do think you'll see Strasburg get a deal that will blow both Teixeira and Mark Prior's out of the water. I think when it's all said and done, he'll get a major league deal in the $15-20 million range with perhaps as much as $8 million in bonus money up front from Washington as the first pick in the draft.

Tigers Looking At Prep Arms

One area that the Tigers seem to be taking a close look at this spring is high school pitching. The Tigers have seen several of the top prep arms on multiple occasions early on in the season, so it will be interesting to see if the Tigers continue to focus more on the prep players or if they stay heavy on college players.

One name that tends to get lost in the shuffle as far as arms at the very top of the draft goes is Brownwood (Texas) right-hander Shelby Miller, but that will be changing.

Following in the long line of power pitchers the Lone Star State has produced, Miller reportedly touched 98 in his start on Friday, and was still sitting in the low-90s in the seventh inning. He had a no-hitter through five innings and finished with 14 strikeouts.

Miller has electric stuff, and unless he has no desire to sign a pro contract and fulfill his commitment to Texas A&M, he projects to be a first-round pick with the Tigers being a candidate to take at ninth overall.

The Tigers have been active in Louisiana in the past, and they have been in to see two of the more projectable arms in the state several times in Zachary's Zach Von Rosenberg and St. Thomas More's Brody Colvin.

At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Von Rosenberg is one of the most projectable pitchers in this year's class. Thus far, the right-hander has reached 93 while sitting in the 88-89 range. An LSU recruit, Von Rosenberg has a deep arsenal of pitches that could all be average or better in time.

Colvin, also an LSU recruit, has run his fastball into the mid-90s as he has become more of a pitcher than a thrower this spring. Also a right-hander, Colvin has a curveball and a changeup, and he has also been toying with a split-finger. If Colvin and Von Rosenberg are signable, they have the chance to go in the premium rounds, but LSU has usually hung on to their recruits under Paul Mainieri's watch.

One last pitcher I wanted to mention is Port Charlotte (Fla.) left-hander David Holmberg, whom the Tigers were in see a little over a week ago in a start against Manatee High School, per the Charlotte Sun.

A Florida signee, Holmberg brings more of a finesse approach and sits in the high-80's, but will touch 91 on occasion. He has good size and a solid curveball that serves as his go-to pitch.

Holmberg may not be the hardest thrower, but he is one of the more polished pitchers available in this year's draft, and the Tigers are familiar with him as pitching coach Rick Knapp resides in Port Charlotte and his son also plays on the team. The elder Knapp also helps out with the team during the offseason. A lefty with Holmberg's size, stuff and polish typically doesn't last very long on draft boards, and that should be the case here if he's willing to sign.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 3/23

California Showdown

Two of the top pitchers in the Golden State squared off on Friday in front of a huge throng of scouts, as Royal's Bryan Berglund and Santa Monica's Tyler Skaggs hooked up.

Royal rallied from a 2-1 deficit with three runs in the sixth inning to give Berglund a 4-2 win. The right-hander scattered eight hits in six innings of work while walking one and fanning eight. A Loyola Marymount recruit, Berglund has a projectable build, throws in the low-90s and his slider ranks as one of the nastiest pitches in the prep pitching class. If Berglund continues to make strides, he could be a premium-round selection.

If there is one player who has early draft helium, it's Skaggs. The left-hander turned in a solid outing by striking out 12 and allowing just one hit in five innings of work. Skaggs is one of the most projectable players in his class, and his fastball creeps into the low-90s. His signature pitch is a slow curveball with big break. A Cal State Fullerton recruit, Skaggs is making an early push for the top three rounds.

Bucking The Opposition

In a state that is as talent-laden as Georgia, sometimes even blue-chip prospects can get lost in the shuffle, particularly if they don't hit the showcase circuit.

Such is the case for Rockdale County right-hander Buck Farmer. A Georgia Tech recruit, Farmer is an imposing 6-foot-4, 220 pounds on the mound, and he was 91-93 in his first start where he fanned eight batters in a three-inning stint on a chilly evening.

Farmer took a tough loss on Friday night after allowing four hits and racking up 16 strikeouts, and his velocity was down in the 86-89 range, but Farmer could one day be one of the hardest throwers in the prep class.

The right-hander has one of the deeper arsenals one will see that includes a good curveball and changeup, and he has also experimented with a cutter and a split-finger.

With a quartet of AFLAC All-Americans (Donovan Tate, Zach Wheeler, Drew Steckenrider and Luke Bailey), it's easy overlook Farmer when evaluating Georgia's top prospects. If scouts deem Farmer signable, he could go in the first five rounds of the draft, but Georgia Tech has a tendency to hang on to their recruits, so signability will be a factor.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 3/16

Picture Perfect

Grand Valley State's Danny Richard made a memorable return to the mound after a stomach ailment forced him to take a medical redshirt after making only three starts last year. The right-hander got 13 ground-ball outs on his way to throwing a perfect game against Kentucky Wesleyan. Richard had four fly-ball outs and four strikeouts to round out his outing.

Richard followed his perfect game by allowing just two hits and an unearned run over six innings of work, as he beat Wheeling Jesuit. He walked one and fanned two. As a redshirt sophomore who also doubles as a defensive lineman on the football team, scouts will have to bear down on his signability when the draft rolls around, but he is a candidate to be the first college player from Michigan selected this June.

Pigskin Impact

Richard is just one of a litany of college football players with ties to baseball that could be drafted if the NFL doesn't intervene. The most significant is Washington quarterback Jake Locker, who poses as the draft's biggest wild card. A potential first-round pick as either a pitcher or position player out of high school, Locker turned down baseball to go to college.

After a two-year hiatus, Locker played in a handful of games in the West Coast Collegiate League, where scouts took notice of his immense ceiling. Locker missed a good chunk of the football season with a broken thumb, and the Huskies have a new coach in Steve Sarkisian. As a redshirt sophomore who has not played any kind of college baseball, Locker seems set to take football as far as he can, and it will very likely take mega bucks for Locker to even take notice of baseball again, although by playing last summer, I don't think he has completely closed the door on it.

While Locker may be out of reach for clubs, several football players remain squarely in their crosshairs. Staying in the Pac-10, Stanford's Toby Gerhart set the school record with 1,132 yards rushing last year, and on the baseball diamond, he has a lot of power in his bat and a full tool shed.

Florida could have a pair of football players selected in outfielder Riley Cooper and right-hander Tate Casey. Cooper caught 18 passes last fall as a wide receiver, and so far this spring, he is hitting .325, although his 17 strikeouts in 40 at-bats shows he has a lot of rust to shake off after getting just 58 at-bats last spring. Casey, a tight end, hasn't played baseball in several years, but should next month's NFL draft not work out, he would make an intriguing senior sign. One thing that does work against him is his age. He'll be 24 on July 1.

Three gridiron standouts who are being closely watched are Minnesota's Eric Decker, Florida State's D'Vontrey Richardson and LSU's Jared Mitchell. Decker, a wide receiver, turned down the Brewers last year after being eligible as a sophomore. He leads the Gophers with a .439 average, and has a chance to be a premium-round pick if scouts think he's signable.

Richardson hit .351 as a freshman before missing last year, and he is off to a bit of a slow start by hitting .286 with two RBIs in 28 at-bats. Richardson, a quarterback, is also a redshirt sophomore, so scouts will have to get a good read on his signability.

Mitchell is a former AFLAC All-American who turned down the Twins as a 10th-round pick out of high school. A wide receiver, the junior is off to a hot start by hitting .455 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 22 at-bats. With his upside, Mitchell could be selected in the first three rounds if scouts think he's ready to give up football.

One football player who will get a shot at pro baseball is Marshall native Evan Sharpley, who plays first base at Notre Dame. After hitting a team-leading 13 homers last year, the senior is hitting just .190 in the early going, but as evidenced by last year's numbers, he has nice power potential, and should be a solid senior sign.

The football player who has been drafted the most by baseball teams is very likely done for good with the game. West Virginia's Pat White has been drafted three times, including as a fourth-round pick by the Angels out of high school, but after a superb career at the Mountaineers' quarterback, White should go high enough in the NFL draft to make baseball a non-factor.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 3/9

March Madness

With the calendar now flipped to March, the sporting world casts its eye on college basketball, and one player with a hoops background has an opportunity to get a pro career started on the diamond this summer.

Indiana outfielder Kipp Schutz played basketball in high school, but after turning down the Orioles as a 26th-round selection in the 2006 draft, he was granted a medical redshirt after breaking his collarbone while running into a wall.

Schutz returned last year to hit .317 with six homers and 48 RBIs, and he hit four more home runs on the Cape last summer while finishing with a .260 average and 11 RBIs.

As a redshirt sophomore, Schutz is eligible for the draft, but he wound up on the basketball team after impressing coach Tom Crean in a 3-point shooting contest that involved other baseball players going up against the basketball players. He played in six games, but the injury bug has continued to persist. He suffered a minor injury in basketball practice and he has missed Indiana's first five games of the season while recovering from appendicitis. Schutz should make his return the lineup very soon.

At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Schutz has a solid set of tools. He is a solid defender that gets good jumps and reads in the outfield. He made strides with the bat, and has nice power potential. He also runs well. If he can stay healthy and put together a solid year, he could make his way into the early rounds of the draft.

Bedeviling Hitters

If you're looking for a player with early draft helium, Cardinal Mooney's (Fla.) Michael Heller is your man. One of the top two-way players in the country, Heller has come out of the gate hitting 97 while sitting in the 93-95 range.

He also has a curveball and changeup in his arsenal, but if he honors his commitment to Florida, he'll very likely get a chance to play as an infielder. Heller won't be pitching presently after tweaking his knee on a slide into home plate, but should be back on the mound soon.

What's interesting about Heller is that the Tigers may have an in with him. Third-base coach Gene Lamont resides in Sarasota where the school is located, and his son Wade, who is presently in the organization, attended Cardinal Mooney.

The elder Lamont helps out the team before he heads to spring training, and has kept tabs on Heller. The Tigers themselves have looked at Heller, and for those wanting to look ahead to the 2010 draft, Cardinal Mooney also has right-hander Ryan Heuler, who has bumped 93 in the early going, and profiles as a premium-round pick.

Prospecting In Utah

One normally doesn't associate Utah with being a baseball hotbed, but the high school ranks have produced Tanner Robles and Garrett Nash, both of whom were drafted and are now at Oregon State, as well as Utah Valley's gigantic Kam Mickolio, who is with the Orioles. Tigers reliever Brandon Lyon is also a Utah native.

The high school ranks could have another productive year with the draft, as a trio of pitchers could make their way into the early rounds in Canyon View's Michael Dedrick, American Fork's Josh Mooney and Timpanogos' Rhett Nelson.

Dedrick is a potential premium-round pick thanks to a fastball that reaches the low-90s, as well as a solid curveball and a changeup. He has signed with San Diego. Nelson, who has signed with Santa Clara, uses a hard-breaking slider along with his fastball to baffle hitters.

A draft choice potentially both as a pitcher and an outfielder, Mooney has a live arm and has topped out at 91. He throws both a two-seam and a four-seam heater that moves. He is developing a slider, but his best pitch is a changeup.

As an outfielder, Mooney has the arm strength for right field, and has very good athleticism. He runs very well and has power potential in his 6-foot-4 inch, 220-pound frame. He has signed with Salt Lake Community College, and the Tigers have shown some interest in Mooney.

The college ranks should also produce several draft picks. Right-hander Jeremy Toole leads a deep brigade of Brigham Young players that could be drafted in June, and Southern Utah has one of the better senior signs in outfielder Nick Freitas, who has an intriguing speed/power combination.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 3/2

Sooner State Shines

Oklahoma has been a popular spot for the Tigers to draft players over the years, and I wanted to use this post to showcase the talent the state has to offer. In 2008, the Tigers drafted Oklahoma State reliever Robbie Weinhardt (10) and Oklahoma second baseman Mike Gosse (23), but that number could go significantly upwards this year.

Oklahoma State left-hander Andy Oliver is a candidate for the Tigers to take with the ninth overall pick thanks to fastball that sits in the low-90s to go with a slider and changeup, and the Cowboys have several other players that could factor in the early rounds including toolsy outfielder Neil Medchill, who is a Michigan native. Left-hander Tyler Lyons and right-hander Tyler Blandford are also candidates for the early rounds. Lyons has a solid four-pitch mix and runs his fastball into the low-90s, while Blandford can dial his fastball into the high-90s.

The Sooners have right-handers Garrett Richards and Antwonie Hubbard, as well as power-hitting first baseman Aaron Baker who could factor early on, although Hubbard is eligible as a redshirt sophomore. Like Blandford, Richards can run his fastball over 95, and Hubbard has solid pitchability to go with a nasty three-pitch arsenal.

Should Oliver slide due to his bonus demands (he is being advised by Scott Boras), Oral Roberts could have the first college player taken from the state in right-hander Jerry Sullivan. A former AFLAC All-American who would've been a potential premium-round draft pick coming out of high school, he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed his senior year. He hasn't shown the power stuff he had in high school, but he has developed a good changeup and is tinkering with a slider.

Oklahoma City has been a powerhouse in the NAIA ranks, and that is no different in 2009, as the Stars have raced out to a 13-0 start. Senior Brent Weaver has made a mockery of opposing pitching by hitting .489 with 11 homers and 31 RBI in his first 47 at-bats, but the Stars' best draft stands to be left-hander Ashur Tolliver, who transferred after a coaching change at Arkansas-Little Rock, and can run his fastball into the mid-90s.

Scouts always like to find solid bargains in college seniors, and the state has several that should get their shot in pro ball. Oral Roberts right-hander Andre Lamontagne can his his fastball into the mid-90s, and Oklahoma should have several seniors get drafted including catcher J.T. Wise and right-handers Trey Sperring and Stephen Porlier. Oklahoma Baptist first baseman Josh Collazo could also get a look. After hitting 22 homers and driving in 100 runs as a junior, he has nine homers and 21 RBIs in his first 38 at-bats. Oklahoma City should also have a few seniors get drafted with former Tigers draft-and-follow Ryan Lindgren ranking among them.

The high school ranks have several pitchers that could make solid drafts in three years if professional baseball doesn't come calling this summer. The top prep prospect in the state is Yukon left-hander Chad James, who has all the hallmarks of being a premium-round pick.

James, whose older brother Justin is in the Reds organization, was 92-93 in a three-inning stint in front of 50 scouts, and he followed that by reportedly touching 94 in a second three-inning outing where he didn't allow a hit.

In addition to having a curveball and changeup, James has also been working on a slider to add to his arsenal. Long, lean and projectable, James is an Oklahoma State recruit.

James isn't the only pitcher getting draft attention at Yukon. Ryan Gibson, also a left-hander, got an in-home visit by the Tigers during the offseason.

An Oklahoma recruit, Gibson lacks the projection James has, but has good size at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and his stuff his solid. His fastball was clocked at 92-93, and he gets good movement on the pitch. He also has a sharp-breaking curveball to go with a good changeup, and he will be one of the youngest players in the draft. He won't turn 18 until the end of July.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 2/23

Florida Southern Bouncing Back

After talking about the JUCO ranks exclusively for the last two weeks, I wanted to talk more about those four-year schools that have started their seasons.

Florida Southern entered the 2009 season ranked 16th in the Division II poll, but the Moccasins started 1-3 before winning their last five games. The Moccasins will be one of the more heavily scouted Division II teams with shortstop Robbie Shields ranking as a potential premium-round pick, but thus far, Shields is hitting just .258 with seven RBIs. He has drawn nine walks and struck out eight times in his first 31 at-bats.

Florida Southern also has three players that could be premium-round picks in 2010 in right-hander Daniel Tillman, left-hander Max Russell and infielder Wade Kirkland.

Spartans Hit Speed Bump

Tampa opened as the No. 2 team in the country, but moved up to the top spot when defending national champion Mount Olive got off to a sluggish start. The Spartans, who are seeking their third national title in four years, were 5-0 before losing twice to Southern Arkansas and splitting two games with West Alabama this weekend.

Despite losing three of four games this weekend, the Spartans will be scouted heavily by having two of the top prospects in the Division II ranks in left-hander Carmine Giardina and right-hander Alex Koronis.

Giardina transferred after struggling in his first two years at Central Florida, and those struggles have continued in Tampa. In his first two appearances, he has allowed seven hits, six runs (all earned) and six walks in five innings of work.

Koronis transferred from Miami and has had elbow surgery in his past, but he has fared better than Giardina by going 1-0 with a save in his first four appearances. He was unscored upon in his first three appearances before this weekend, but he still has allowed just three hits and three runs (one earned) in 7 2/3 innings. He has walked four and fanned six.

Coyote Classic

After splitting four games at last week's Rahal-Miller JUCO National Classic, the College of Southern Nevada ripped off four straight wins over the weekend at home in the Coyote Classic. The Coyotes, who will also be hosting the Coyote Baseball Slugout next weekend, knocked off San Jacinto, St. Petersburg, Chipola and Fullerton.

CCSN left-hander Egan Smith, who can reach the low-90s with his fastball, scattered six hits and fanned seven over six innings of work to get the win on Thursday, and the Coyote bats battered St. Petersburg's Ryan Weber for 11 hits and seven runs in five innings of work in Friday's 12-4 win.

CCSN then outlasted Chipola 9-8 in 11 innings on Saturday, and Gentry Croft and Trevor Clausen combined on a three-hit shutout against Fullerton on Sunday.

Scouts Flock To Givens

H.B. Plant (Fla.) star Mychal Givens made his first appearance on the pitching mound last weekend in front of upwards of 75 scouts in attendance.

A potential first-rounder as both a shortstop and pitcher, Givens worked in the low-90s while topping at 93 in his three innings of work. Coaches have worked on raising his hand angle to compensate for a low arm slot, and the adjustment has taken some time to get used to.

As a pitcher, Givens offers arguably the most raw arm strength in the country. He was up to 97 last summer, and as a shortstop, he offers five-tool potential if the bat can continue to develop.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 2/16

Pitching Dominates

There is an old baseball adage that says pitching is usually ahead of the hitting early in the season, and that was evident with some scintillating performances turned in by some of junior college's top arms.

Walters State's Trent Rothin and San Jacinto's Jake Cowan each were winners in their opening starts with near identical pitching lines. Both right-handers went six innings and yielded just three hits.

Rothlin allowed one run, walked three and fanned 10, while Cowan was unscored upon, walked two and struck out nine. Northwest Florida State's Daniel Webb, who ranks as the top prospect in the JUCO ranks, allowed three hits and fanned four over four innings of work in his season debut last weekend.

Chipola/Rahal-Miller National Classic

It's not often that the JUCO ranks serve as the center of baseball's universe, but when you have five of the best teams in the country, each of whom are chock full of draft prospects, you're going to get a lot of attention in the scouting community.

Such will be the case at Chipola College in Florida at the Chipola/Rahal-Miller National Classic that will feature Walters State, San Jacinto, St. Petersburg, College of Southern Nevada and the hosts from Chipola.

Chipola has outstanding pitching depth with Patrick Corbin and Austin Wright ranking as two of the top lefties in JUCO baseball, as well as right-handers Jason Townsend and David Buchanan. Corbin and Wright both can reach the low-90s with their fastballs, while Townsend and Buchanan both have reached 94.

In addition to Ryan Weber, St. Petersburg has a power arm in Alabama transfer Connor Hoehn, and although Taylor Cole went on a Mormon mission, CCSN has a pair of solid prospects in lefty Egan Smith and right-hander Gabe Weidenaar.

Going to California

Two left-handers that will get plenty of attention hooked up last weekend, as Palomar's Shawn Sanford and Bakersfield's Jarret Martin faced off against one another.

Neither pitcher was particularly sharp, as Sanford allowed four hits and walked three in just three innings of work. He allowed two runs (one earned) and fanned five.

Martin walked six and fanned seven over five innings in taking the loss. He allowed six runs (four earned) on four hits.

Sanford ooses projection with his 6-foot-5 frame and three-pitch mix, while Martin continues to try and improve both his delivery and command, although the latter could become a position player after hitting 18 homers as a senior in high school.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 2/5

Seasons Beginnings

Although most of the country is presently locked in a deep freeze, junior colleges in warm-weather states will get their seasons started this weekend.

There will be a large contingent of scouts in Houston this weekend, as the defending NJCAA champions from Grayson County will be taking on traditional powerhouse San Jacinto, who will also be taking on Navarro.

Two of the top arms in the JUCO ranks could be on display this weekend with San Jacinto's Jake Cowan and Grayson County's Brett Bruening possibly pitching against one another.

Cowan was drafted by the Red Sox in the 14th round out of high school back in 2007, but he spent just one year at Virginia before transferring. The right-hander has outstanding stuff that includes a fastball that reaches the mid-90s. If he's deemed signable, he could be a premium-round pick, but he has signed with Texas.

Bruening spurned the Cardinals last year as a 30th-round pick, and the right-hander has surged upwards towards the top of the class, thanks to some refinement to his delivery that has improved the quality of all of his pitches. At 6-foot-6, Bruening runs his fastball up to 96, and he is a part of a very talented and deep LSU recruiting class.

San Jacinto also has a pair of talented freshmen in left-hander David Rollins and right-hander Tommy Collier.

Rollins was drafted by the Dodgers in the 19th round and elected to go the JUCO route rather than attend Missouri, while Collier was a teammate of Pirates signee Robbie Grossman at Cy-Fair High School. Both have the stuff to be taken in the early rounds of the draft if they are open to signing.

Grayson County and Navarro also will be represented with outfielders David Stewart and Jaron Shepherd.

Stewart transferred from Nebraska after getting limited playing time as a freshman, and he offers huge power potential in his chiseled frame. Shepherd also offers an immense ceiling with his speed/power combo along with the ability to play in center field, and in a year where pitching dominates the JUCO ranks, he stands as one of the top position players available in June. Shepherd has signed with Mississippi State.

Around The Country

Two prospects who turned down the opportunity to attend four-year schools after electing not to sign rank as the top two prospects in the 2009 class.

Daniel Webb, a 12th-round pick of the Diamondbacks, enrolled at Northwest Florida State (formerly known as Okaloosa-Walton) after poor grades wouldn't allow him to enroll at Kentucky. Webb has overpowering stuff with a fastball that has touched 96 along with a nasty curveball.

Ryan Weber is Webb's opposite in that he is a finesse pitcher and isn't as physically imposing, but all Weber does is win. A member of Team USA's pitching staffs when he was in high school, Weber has a very polished three-pitch mix. A right-hander, Weber originally signed with Florida before electing to attend St. Petersburg JC.

If anyone has any questions, you can send them to me at Jason@TigsTown.com

Posted by: JA, 1/29

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