TigsTown '10 Draft Blog

The draft is rapidly approaching! Get the latest on the 2010 draft from TigsTown associate editor Jason Avery inside!

Arms Race

After focusing on some position players that were on the rise last week, I wanted to spend this week on some pitchers that have seen their stock trend upwards.

Ty Linton, Matt Roberts and Connor Narron typically dominate the conversation among the top high school players in North Carolina, but Northwood right-hander Austin Brice has put himself squarely into the mix with the aforementioned trio.

With a fastball that has reportedly been clocked in the mid-90s, Brice was seen by plenty of scouts when he pitched against Roberts earlier this spring.

An Appalachian State recruit, Brice also throws a curveball and a changeup, although he hasn't needed to throw the latter much this spring given his dominant fastball.

As one might expect, Brice has worked out already for several teams, and the Tigers were in frequently to see him pitch during the spring.

One name that has surfaced as a late mover is Legacy (Texas) right-hander Noah Syndergaard. After striking out 15 batters in a start back on May 20th, the Dallas Baptist recruit came within one out of a no-hitter and fanned 14 in last night's start in the regional semifinals.

Syndergaard has steadily gained velocity during the season, and while he sits in the 92-93 range, he has hit 97 with plenty of 96's.

The right-hander holds his velocity deep into starts, and his curveball has 1/7 late break to it. He also has thrown his changeup with more confidence this spring. With his late run, Syndergaard is pitching himself into early-round consideration.

Another pitcher that has some draft helium is The Lakes' (Ill.) D.J. Snelten. A left-hander who is committed to Minnesota, Snelten has plenty of projection on his 6-foot-6 frame, and his deep arsenal of pitches will serve him well in the future.

Snelten occasionally touches 90 with his fastball, but he compensates by getting good movement on his two-seamer. His slider has taken a step forward this spring, and Snelten also has a good changeup, as well as a curveball.

In a draft that is short on prep left-handers, Snelten stands to be the next Illinois prep pitcher selected after Mike Foltynewicz, and the Tigers have kept tabs on his progress.

Another pitcher hailing from a cold-weather state that's made waves with scouts is Richland (Pa.) right-hander Austin Urban.

A Penn state recruit who also doubles as a shortstop, Urban's fastball has been in the low-90s, and he also has a good slider. A curveball and changeup round out his repertoire, and like Snelten, he projects.

As a hitter, Urban hit six home runs and runs very well, and should he make it to school, he could get the chance to go both ways for the Nittany Lions.

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

Posted by: JA, 5/29

On The Move

Every year there are several players who seemingly come out of nowhere to emerge as potential high-round picks, and I wanted to profile a few position players that have enhanced their draft stock.

It's hard to be overlooked in Florida, but Riverdale outfielder Kyle Waldrop has. A three-sport star who is finally healthy after suffering a broken hand two years ago and a broken leg from football last year, Waldrop has exploded by showing five-tool ability this spring. A South Florida recruit, Waldrop could go as high as the second round.

As is the case with Waldrop, Linden (Ca.) two-way standout Aaron Judge has stepped to the forefront of a very talented class in California. At 6-foot-8, Judge is a player that scouts have no problem identifying on the baseball diamond. A Fresno State recruit, Judge is very athletic for his size, and has plenty of power in his bat. Although he would seem to be a natural fit at first base because of his size, there is a possibility of him playing in right field. If he makes it to college, he'll go both ways, but he is a candidate to be selected in the first five rounds.

Another Californian that has also climbed draft boards is San Clemente catcher Aaron Jones. Playing in the same conference with Aliso Niguel's Stefan Sabol has given scouts the ability to compare the two Oregon recruits. Like Sabol, Jones runs well, and he has shown power potential this spring. He has also been a solid defender behind the plate, but he will be tough to sign away from the Ducks, as he could also play football in college.

Manvel's (Texas) Jonathan Mejia ranks as one of the most physical players in the Lone Star State at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, and his bat could be very imposing if everything comes together for him. Mejia generates great bat speed, and he could wind up either in the outfield or at first base. Mejia, who has signed with McLennan Community College, is rough around the edges, but could provide a handsome payoff for a patient team.

Yet another two-way player that has moved into early round consideration is Nitro's (W.V.) J.R. Bradley. An N.C. State recruit who is also one of the youngest players in the draft (he turns 18 one week after the draft), Bradley is a legitimate prospect both as a shortstop and pitcher. With a frame that oozes projection, Bradley has made better contact this spring and has a lot of power in his bat. On the mound, Bradley has touched the low-90s to go with a curveball, slider and changeup. While the consensus may be somewhat split on his future position, Bradley should factor in the first five rounds.

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

Posted by: JA, 5/21

Puerto Rico's Finest

A year ago, the Tigers drafted and signed Edwin Gomez, Giovanni Soto and Edgar Corcino from Puerto Rico, and with the annual Excellence Tournament taking place, I wanted to highlight some of the top players from what is shaping up to be a solid group of players to pick from.

The top player in Puerto Rico may be one that the professional ranks may not get for three years. Dickie Thon Jr., whose father spent 15 years in the big leagues with his longest tenure being with the Astros, is a shortstop who has outstanding athleticism and tools, but he will not be easy to pry away from his commitment to Rice.

One of the bigger movers up draft boards is Yadiel Rivera, who like Gomez, may get drafted as a shortstop, but may not be long for the position. At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Rivera has a projectable frame that should give him more power in time. He moves well defensively and has an average arm.

Two outfielders that have a chance to be picked early are Henry Ramos and Eddie Rosario. Ramos is a switch-hitter with more power from the right side, although he has only been doing it for a year. He has a cannon arm, and he has a chance to be an impact player in time. Rosario ranks as the best hitter in Puerto Rico and his tools are solid across the board. Of the two, Ramos has generated more draft interest with the Tigers keeping a keen eye on Ramos.

Another outfielder to watch is Omar Cotto, who runs exceptionally well, but will need plenty of refinement with the bat, and catcher Roberto Pena has made great strides since moving behind the plate from shortstop.

As far as pitching goes, left-hander Alexander Claudio isn't overpowering, but he throws strikes, has a very good changeup, and offers tons of projection. Right-hander Luis Benitez was known more as a position player in the past, but with a fastball that sits in the low-90s, he will likely get his shot on the mound. Benitez hasn't pitched much, so he'll need plenty of work on developing his secondary pitches while learning the nuances of the craft.

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

Posted by: JA, 5/10

Workout Season Begins

With the draft just over a month away, teams across baseball will start holding workouts with players they want to get a closer look at.

In the the Tigers' case, they held a workout with several of the top prospects in California in attendance.

The attendees included the Fullerton Union duo of OF/RHP Michael Lorenzen and infielder Dominic Ficociello, Marina infielder Chad Lewis, Los Osos catcher Jake Hernandez and Aliso Niguel catcher Stefan Sabol.

One of the top two-way prospects in the country, Lorenzen is one player doesn't come up short in the tools department, although those scouts that like the Cal State Fullerton recruit as a pitcher may not see him in that role this season. As of today, Lorenzen has yet to pitch, but that could certainly change with the playoffs looming.

Ficociello profiles primarily as a third baseman, and he has enjoyed a solid spring by hitting nine home runs. An Arkansas recruit, Ficociello ranks as one of the top hitters in his class, and should develop more power as he fills out his frame.

Hernandez is a player the Tigers have kept their eye on for some time. The club did an in-home visit with the USC recruit, who is solid defensively, and has enjoyed a good year with the bat.

Like Hernandez, the Tigers did an in-home visit with Lewis. A recruit of San Diego State, Lewis has the chance to be an impact player at third base in time both with his bat and glove.

Perhaps the most well-known name among the group that worked out is Sabol, who was an AFLAC All-American last summer. An Oregon recruit, Sabol could be the first catcher drafted, but some scouts believe he may not be long for the position. With outstanding speed and athleticism, he is a prime candidate to move to center field.

The Tigers are certainly fond of players with big tools, and it will be interesting to see how things play out during the draft with this group and the Tigers.

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

Posted by: JA, 5/3

Looking At The Top Of The Draft

As we get closer to May, there seems to be some consensus as to who will be selected with the first two picks in the draft, but after that, who knows?

College of Southern Nevada catcher Bryce Harper (.410 BA, 21 HR, 59 RBI) has had an outstanding season amid ridiculous expectations, and I fully expect him to be the man the Nationals select with the first pick in the draft.

The Woodlands (Texas) right-hander Jameson Taillon had a bump in the road with a tough outing against fellow draft prospect John Simms earlier this season, but with a fastball that reaches the high-90s, Taillon should be the favorite to be selected by the Pirates second overall.

After that, things get kind of hazy. LSU right-hander Anthony Ranaudo and Mississippi left-hander Drew Pomeranz rank as two of the top college pitchers available, but both were dreadful in a head-to-head battle on Saturday.

While both are likely to be taken early on in the draft, clubs will have more questions on Ranaudo. First, there is the matter of his medical issues, and when you factor in that he is being advised by Scott Boras, teams will have a lot to weigh on with the LSU right-hander. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Ranaudo, who could very well wind up being the biggest wild card in the draft.

Pomeranz and Florida Gulf Coast's Chris Sale rank as the top left-handers in the country, but there is the possibility that the Orioles could very well go the high school route with the third pick.

Maranatha (Ca.) right-hander Dylan Covey, Chipley (Fla.) right-hander Karsten Whitson and Oviedo (Fla.) right-hander A.J. Cole are all candidates to be drafted in the 10 picks, as could Brito Private (Fla.) shortstop Manny Machado, although like Ranaudo, he is a Scott Boras advisee. Georgia Tech right-hander Deck McGuire will also be in the mix for being selected in the top 10.

With so much uncertainty, this is one draft that could have a lot of surprises, and it will be intriguing to see what transpires in the weeks leading up to the draft.

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

Posted by: JA, 4/26

Tigers Have Options With Sandwich Picks

For the first time in nearly 20 years (1991 to be exact), the Tigers head into the draft without a first-round pick after signing free agent Jose Valverde from the Astros during the winter.

Despite not having a first-round pick, the Tigers do have a pair of sandwich picks after losing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon to the Angels and Astros respectively.

Although the Tigers don't pick until 44th overall, they should be in good position to pick up a pair of impact players with their picks. Given the Tigers' penchant for drafting power arms, they could have several to choose from.

If the Tigers want to go the prep route, two of the bigger movers have been Upland (Ca.) right-hander Scott Frazier and Minooka Community (Ill.) right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.

Frazier has gone through a growth spurt that now leaves him with a huge frame (6-7, 215) that still projects. With a fastball that has topped out at 96 along with a good changeup and curveball, Frazier has quickly moved into one of California's top talents. He has signed with Pepperdine. I profiled Foltynewicz a few weeks back, and the Texas recruit has continued to pitch well, as he fanned 15 batters in an outing last week.

The Tigers are certainly familiar with Texas A&M right-hander Barret Loux after drafting him in the 24th round in 2007. After undergoing surgery to have bone spurs removed from his elbow, Loux has been outstanding for the Aggies by going 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA in nine starts. Loux has also sat in the low-90s this spring, and his solid four-pitch mix makes him a solid candidate to go early in the draft.

The Tigers could also take a look at someone that may be available due to having a so-so season such as Georgia right-hander Justin Grimm and Texas Tech right-hander Chad Bettis, but of course the Tigers have never shied away from making a big splash either.

With that in mind, it's certainly possible that the Tigers could see if any targets fall due to signability issues, and there is a trio that could fit the bill. Henderson's Tyrell Jenkins and McKinney's Zach Lee are two of the top arms in Texas, and each has taken a big step forward this spring. Both have reached the mid-90s with their fastballs, but each figures to be very tough to sign away from their football commitments.

Of course, the Tigers have never had an issue taking a player that is advised by Scott Boras, so for the time being, that would put former Kentucky left-hander James Paxton in the mix as well, although that can certainly change depending on how he fares with Grand Prairie of the American Association.

The Tigers could also look at position players in a similar manner. If they want to go the high school route, they could look at Cowan's (In.) Justin O'Connor, who is loaded with enough tools that he could be drafted as a catcher, infielder or pitcher. Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.) third baseman Nick Castellanos offers one of the top bats in this year's class, and like O'Connor, Wetumpka (Ala.) outfielder Reggie Golden is not lacking in tools.

West Virginia infielder Jedd Gyorko was one of the top hitters in the Cape Cod League last summer, but scouts will have to decide where he fits defensively.

One other name to keep an eye on is Clemson outfielder Kyle Parker, who has put his abundant power to good use this spring by hitting 14 home runs. However, he will not be an easy sign given that he is also the quarterback on the football team, so unless he makes it clear he's ready to give up football, he could be a wild card in the draft.

Although I've mentioned several players, there are many more that I didn't mention that should be in the Tigers' plans, and it will be very interesting to see how everything plays out between now and June.

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

Posted by: JA, 4/19

Aviles Makes Season Debut

Pitching in front of a big throng of scouts can be very difficult for those not accustomed to doing so. Pitching in front of those same scouts while making your season debut as you grieve for two teammates who died in a car accident last month is an even more daunting task, but Suffern's (N.Y.) Robbie Aviles rose to the occasion.

Before the game, the late Christopher Konkowski and Vincent Crotty were remembered and had their uniform numbers retired along side former major league shortstop Walt Weiss, for whom Suffern's field is named after.

While the ceremonies were being held, Aviles warmed up in the bullpen under the watchful of the scouts that were eager to get their first look at him.

They certainly didn't come away disappointed, as Aviles struck out eight of the first 11 batters he faced and finished with nine in the contest, which was won by Suffern 15-0. He allowed five hits and didn't walk a batter in five innings of work.

With his solid three-pitch mix, Aviles profiles as a potential top-three round pick for June's draft.

Louisiana Sleeper

A career in pro baseball may have been the furthest thing from the mind of Covington (La.) right-hander Randy LeBlanc heading into the season.

Although his velocity had spiked upwards, he hadn't caught the attention of either pro scouts or D-1 colleges, but that has changed dramatically this spring.

After throwing in the low-80s, LeBlanc has seen his fastball jump into the low-90s, and with a lean frame that projects nicely, he could be throwing the mid-90s by the time it's all said and done.

LeBlanc has topped out at 93, but has held his velocity deep into games. A recruit of junior college powerhouse LSU-Eunice, LeBlanc throws a hard-breaking curveball with a changeup.

Having burst onto the scene, LeBlanc is rapidly rising to where he should factor in the first 10 rounds, although the first five rounds is not out of the equation if he can keep impressing.

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

Posted by: JA, 4/12

Californians Making Waves

It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle in a state that has prospects galore, but a couple of right-handers in California have shot their way up draft boards with one having distant ties to the Tigers.

Robby Rowland, the son of former Tigers catcher Rich Rowland, comes at hitters with a nasty four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that reached the mid-90s last summer, and has resided in the 92-93 range this spring.

A terrific athlete who has also starred in basketball, Rowland also has a slider, curveball and changeup that he commands well, and his 6-foot, 6-inch frame oozes projection. If he doesn't sign a pro contract, Rowland will head to Oregon.

Although he may not have Rowland's size, Northwood's Zack Weiss has outstanding present stuff.

A UCLA recruit, Weiss throws his fastball in the 90-94 range, and he complements his heater with a curveball that shows 12-to-6 break and a circle changeup.

With the way their springs have been going, both Rowland and Weiss both have a chance to go in the early rounds of the draft.

Kansas Duo Comes Out Firing

Given that Tigers scouting director David Chadd resides in Kansas, the Tigers tend to pay special attention to draft prospects in the state, and two of the top prep prospects have some intriguing upside to them.

Blue Valley right-hander Ryne Stanek, an Arkansas recruit, got his season off to a great start last week by reportedly touching 95 with the Tigers in attendance. Stanek pitched four hitless innings and recorded seven strikeouts in his season debut.

Projectable at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Stanek gets good sink on his two-seam fastball and he mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup to round out his arsenal. If Stanek can build on his first outing, he will definitely become a name to keep an eye on as the draft looms.

Coming off of a draft that was loaded with left-handed pitching, this year's crop drops off some after Mississippi's Drew Pomeranz and Florida Gulf Coast's Chris Sale, but one lefty to watch for is Lawrence Free State's Albert Minnis.

A Wichita State recruit, Minnis struck out 15 in his first start and has 22 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. Minnis' arsenal is highlighted by a fastball that resides in the 89-92 range along with a nasty slider.

The 700 Club

It's not uncommon for superior high school players to put up incredible numbers against their competition, but Mexia (Texas) infielder/RHP Trae Davis has put up ridiculous numbers this spring.

A Baylor recruit, Davis was hitting .784 in his first 46 plate appearances without a strikeout before a 2-for-4 evening dropped his average down to .756.

Overall, Davis has gone 31-for-41 at the plate, and he has driven 26 runs while going 24-for-25 in the stolen base department.

Heading into his senior year, Davis was more known as a pitching prospect with a fastball that has reached 95, but with the year he is having at the plate, Davis is getting looks from pro scouts as a hitter as well.

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

Posted by: JA, 4/5

Foltynewicz Off To Fast Start

As the weather slowly but surely starts to get warmer, draft prospects residing in cold weather states are starting to get their seasons underway.

One of the top pitching prospects in the Midwest got his season off on a good note last week. Minooka (Ill.) right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, a Texas recruit, came out of the gate touching 94 in his season debut while sitting 90-91. With a very projectable frame to go along with a good curveball and changeup, Foltynewicz has a chance to be a premium-round pick if he can build on his debut.

Empire State Teeming With Prospects

The crop of prep players available in New York is exceptional with outstanding depth this year, although one of the state's best players remains uncommitted to a college.

West Irondequoit's Chris Culver ranks as one of the top two-way players that has a future either on the mound or as a middle infielder. On the mound, Culver touched 92 at the Area Code Games last summer, and as an infielder, he has five-tool potential. Culver, who began playing on the varsity team in the eighth grade, has an opportunity to be selected in the first 10 rounds with a solid season.

One player that Culver will undoubtedly be compared to is George Washington shortstop Mike Antonio. Not many players in this year's prep class can match his projection and raw tools, and although he is far from a finished product, if everything comes together, Antonio has the chance to be an impact player at a premium position.

Joining Culver and Antonio among New York's finest are Suffern right-hander Robbie Aviles, Half Hollow Hills right-hander T.J. Pecoraro and Westhampton Beach outfielder Mark Podlas.

Aviles, an AFLAC All-American, ranks as the top prospect in the state thanks to a fastball that can reach the mid-90s along with a curveball and changeup. A Florida recruit, Aviles is a rare New York native who is a Tigers fan, and the club should be very familiar with him after drafting teammate Jimmy Brennan (now at St. John's) last year.

Pecoraro and Podlas are two players that should get more play from the pro scouts when they've had three years of school under their belts. Pecoraro has a solid three-pitch mix and has topped out at 94 with his fastball, but at 6-feet tall and 160 pounds, he'll have to overcome scouts' feelings on smallish right-handers to go early, plus his commitment to Vanderbilt will also give scouts pause.

Podlas has spent the winter adding muscle to his projectable frame, and with a smooth left-handed stroke, he should develop more power as he matures. A good athlete, Podlas has a solid set of tools in his arsenal, but as is the case with Pecoraro, he has a firm college commitment (Virginia), and scouts will have to bear down on his signability.

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

Posted by: JA, 3/29

Looking At The Numbers

Several of this year's top college prospects available for the draft have posted some rather inauspicious numbers to start the season, and I wanted to take a deeper look at them.

Heading into this weekend, Cal State Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon was hitting just .234 with one home run, but the junior exploded during the Titans' weekend series at Washington by going 8-for-13 with four home runs, eight runs scored, seven RBIs and two stolen bases.

The junior hit three of his four homers in Friday's win over the Huskies. Overall, Colon raised his average a whopping 65 points, and perhaps this weekend will get the potential first-round pick going.

Rice shortstop Rick Hague offers five-tool potential at a premium position, but he hasn't gotten on track thus far with the bat this spring. So far, Hague is hitting .268 with three homers and 16 RBIs, and the junior has also struck out 26 times in 82 at-bats while drawing eight walks. Hague certainly has the chance to be an early-round pick with his upside, but if things don't turn around, he could be one of the drafts wild cards.

Georgia Tech's Kevin Jacob and South Carolina's Sam Dyson both have fastballs that approach triple digits, but both have put up rather pedestrian numbers to date thanks to a few rough outings.

Jacob was dominant in the Alaska League last summer, but in seven appearances, he has allowed nine hits and walked four over 7 1/3 innings. He has struck out eight, and although his ERA is a gruesome 6.14, much of that damage can be attributed to one outing where he came in with a 9-0 lead to get work and allowed four runs.

Dyson pitched well in beating Tennessee on Saturday for his first win of the year by allowing five hits and two runs in six innings of work. He walked two and struck out five, but before beating the Volunteers, his ERA was 6.23.

Like Jacob, Dyson had a pair of rough outings against Brown and Clemson to inflate his ERA, and he has 27 strikeouts against just six walks in 23 1/3 innings. He has allowed 19 hits.

All of these players have premium-round ability, and I wouldn't be surprised if all of these guys heard their names called early on in the draft, despite their shaky numbers.

LSU Recruits Sidelined With Injuries

It's been a tough week for two of LSU's baseball recruits. First came the news from Baseball America of Barbe (La.) High School's Garin Cecchini having to undergo surgery for a torn ACL, and now, Princeton (Ohio) outfielder Marcus Davis will likely not play this season after having surgery on his non-throwing shoulder last week.

Although Cecchini is more known on the national level, Davis himself is a solid prospect who was among the deep crop of prep outfielders with the potential to be a five-tool player in time.

Despite their injuries, both are not mortal locks to arrive in Baton Rouge, as a team that saw Davis good last summer on the showcase circuit last summer could take a run at him, and Cecchini ranks as one of the top hitters in this year's class, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see a team draft either player and monitor their rehab during the summer before making a final determination on them.

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

Posted by: JA, 3/22

March Madness

In a month that is known for basketball, I wanted to profile a draft prospect that has also doubled as a basketball prospect.

Johnny Coy has already had a well-traveled career in college. After attending Arizona State to play both basketball and baseball, Coy transferred after a semester to Wichita State to be closer to his ailing father, but had to sit out last year due to transfer rules.

Coy resumed his baseball career in the MINK League last summer where he understandably was rusty, but he showed off his considerable raw power, and at 6-foot-8, Coy has outstanding athleticism for a player his size.

As a redshirt freshman with little experience, but massive upside, Coy, a former eighth-round pick of the Phillies in 2008, will be an intriguing player to keep eye on. Thus far this season, Coy is hitting .313 with six RBIs in 16 at-bats, and it should be duly noted that the Tigers had a great deal of interest in Coy two years ago coming out of high school.

Top Lefty Derailed By Injury

After a whopping 11 left-handers were selected among the first 49 picks last year, the crop of southpaws available in this year's draft is very thin with Mississippi's Drew Pomeranz and Florida Gulf Coast's Chris Sale projected to be taken in the first 10 picks, but it's slim pickings after that, and it got even slimmer with the news that one of the top prep left-handers in Tennessee will have to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Nathan Foriest, a Mississippi recruit out of Harpeth High School, suffered the injury during the team's scrimmage according to the Tennessean. At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Foriest has good size and a fastball that has reached the low-90s.

Although surgery makes Foriest a good bet to reach school, you can bet a team will take a flier on him to see if they can sign him ala Cameron Coffey with the Orioles last year, and the Angels with the late Nick Adenhart.

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

Posted by: JA, 3/15

Prospects Dabbling With The Pigskin

This year's draft crop has taken some hits courtesy of the NFL. Chad Jones, Toby Gerhart, Golden Tate and Eric Decker are a few names that have elected to pass up baseball for football, and the latter sport could get at least one more year out of Clemson's Kyle Parker and N.C. State's Russell Wilson, who are their respective schools' quarterbacks.

But while baseball has lost out to some players who are ridiculously gifted athletes, there are players in the high school crop that could turn this year's trend around and stick with baseball.

Charlotte Christian (N.C.) outfielder Ty Linton ranks as one of the top athletes in the draft, and he also stands out as a linebacker on the gridiron. Committed to North Carolina for both sports, Linton has one of the most intriguing speed/power combos in the draft, and could be a true five-tool player in time.

One player that may not have as much notoriety as some of his fellow multi-sport stars is Blessed Trinity (Ga.) outfielder Jake Skole. Like Linton, Skole is an emerging five-tool talent on the diamond, but is committed to Georgia Tech for both sports. If Skole winds up in college, he would join his brother Matt, himself a potential premium-round pick in the 2011 draft.

Year in and year out, Texas churns out some of the nation's best athletes that star in several sports, and while a few players like LaPorte's Kendrick Perkins and McKinney's Matt Lipka gave football to focus on baseball, I wanted to highlight a trio of players that are committed to sticking with football.

A teammate of Lipka's is pitcher Zach Lee, who doubles as one of the top quarterbacks in the country that has signed with LSU. A right-hander, Lee sits in the low-90s and throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball along with a developing curveball and good changeup.

Another pitcher who will solely be a quarterback in college in Ryan's Scotty Young. Despite the upheaval at Texas Tech in recent months, Young is committed as a quarterback for the Red Raiders. A right-hander, Young works in the 89-92 range with a hard-breaking curveball that serves as his out pitch. He also throws a changeup that has the potential to be a solid pitch should baseball stay in the picture.

Henderson's Tyrell Jenkins ranks with Linton and Lee as among the most freakish athletes in this year's draft. A four-sport athlete who also plays basketball and runs track in addition to baseball and football, Jenkins recently committed to Baylor for baseball and football.

A quarterback on the football field, Jenkins has the size and projection scouts love, and he has the stuff to match with a fastball that touches the low-90s along with a nasty slider.

One thing is for certain with these players. All of them have tantalizing upsides, but signing these players away from their college commitments will not be easy. The Red Sox have shown the most inclination to sign players with football backgrounds over the last few years with Casey Kelly, Will Middlebrooks, David Renfroe and Brandon Jacobs all getting big bonuses to turn pro, so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out.

Blowing Up

Wabash Valley (Ill.) ranks as one of the top junior college programs in the Midwest, and scouts have several reasons to watch them closely, as outfielder Mel Rojas Jr. and infielder Michael Mosby are two of the top JUCO prospects in the region, although the former is a better bet to go in the first 10 rounds thanks to his blazing speed.

However, first baseman Tyler Oliver has also emerged as a prospect thanks to a blistering start. A transfer from Marshall, Oliver started off the season by going 13-for-21 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in his first six games, and is presently hitting .558 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 43 at-bats.

Despite being listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Oliver is a good athlete and has plus power potential with a good approach at the plate.

Defensively, he could move to a corner outfield spot, or to third base in the future, but he is a solid defender at first base. A sophomore, Oliver hasn't committed to a four-year school.

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

Posted by: JA, 3/8

Draft Prospects Coached By Fathers

There are always strange quirks to the draft, and one that stands out this year is that several prominent draft prospects are being coached by their dads, and I wanted to highlight four of them.

Stetson Allie (St. Edwards, Ohio) has been on scouts' radar for some time, and he ranks as one of the top two-way players in the country. As a pitcher, Allie ranks as perhaps the hardest thrower in the entire draft class, but his command has wavered at times. As a third baseman, Allie has plenty of power both in his bat and arm for the position, and you can bet that scouts will be split on how they like him better.

Although he'll have a later start than his compatriots, Allie has a chance to be a first-rounder this June, although he is committed to North Carolina.

Barbe (La.) High School has been churning out prospects on an annual basis for years, but coach Glenn Cecchini will be taking special interest this year, since his son Garin has all the makings of going in the first three rounds.

As one of the top hitters in his class, Cecchini should provide plenty of offense on an infield corner with third base as a possible destination. Cecchini has signed with LSU.

Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.) third baseman Nick Castellanos gets most of the attention from scouts in the Miami area, but Felix Varela right-hander John Barbato is also among the elite prospects in South Florida this spring.

Committed to Florida, Barbato is projectable with a three-pitch mix that includes a low-90s fastball, solid curveball and a changeup. Despite a tough outing in his second start, Barbato has the chance to be taken in the first three rounds of the draft.

After sending one son to Georgia this past fall, Brooks County (Ga.) coach Robert Shipman has another son that is drawing the interest of pro scouts.

Aaron, who will go both ways at Mercer if he winds up in college, stars as an outfielder and left-handed pitcher.

As a position player, Shipman is one of the fastest players in the draft having run a 6.56/60-yard dash in the past, and he should hit for some power in time.

On the mound, Shipman works in the high-80s presently, but scouts will likely prefer him as a center fielder when draft time rolls around. He is a candidate to go in the first 10 rounds.

Despite their vastly different geographic locations, the Tigers saw all four players up close at last summer's East Coast Professional Showcase held in Lakeland.

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

Posted by: JA, 3/1

Upsetting Opening Weekend

The start of the Division I baseball season saw the top-ranked team in the country get upset, as Texas dropped two of three to New Mexico, while No. 5 Rice was swept at Stanford. Fourth-ranked Cal State Fullerton also lost their first two games of the weekend.

Reliever Edwin Carl threw six shutout innings in relief and Max Willis went 7-for-11 at the plate over the weekend for New Mexico, who rallied to win the series after losing on Friday.

While Texas will be a significant player in the draft, New Mexico should also have several players selected with Carl profiling as a solid senior sign, as well as right-hander Zach Cleveland and catcher Rafael Neda being targets for the first 10 rounds.

The Cardinal completed their sweep on a two-run single by Kenny Diekroeger in the ninth, and they won the finale despite Brett Mooneyham, a top prospect for the 2011 draft, walking nine batters in 5 1/3 innings.

Uncharacteristically, Rice's pitching got battered with no starter lasting longer than the 3 1/3 innings Jared Rogers pitched in the second game. As one would expect, both Stanford and Rice will be factors in the draft, although for different reasons.

The Owls have several players that could go in the first 10 rounds of the draft, including shortstop Rick Hague, a potential first-rounder, but the junior had a tough weekend by going 2-for-14. Outfielder Michael Fuda is also in the mix for the early rounds, and he had a solid showing by going 5-for-10 with a homer and four RBIs.

Toby Gerhart would've been Stanford's best candidate to be a premium-round pick heading into the season, but after an outstanding season on the gridiron, Gerhart is headed to the NFL, although I wouldn't be surprised if a team doesn't draft him in a later round and sign him to control his baseball rights similarly to what the Angels did with Washington's Jake Locker last year.

After bringing in a loaded recruiting class last year, Stanford has a chance to bring in another star-studded class with outfielders Austin Wilson (Ca.) and Brian Ragira (Texas), as well as right-hander A.J. Vanegas, one of the top arms in California all committed to Stanford.

All are candidates to go in the first two rounds, but as is always the case with Stanford recruits, they will be very tough to sign.

Rice has a commitment from the top-ranked pitcher in the country in Jameson Taillon, but he may be a long shot to make it to school due to being projected as a top-five pick in June.

Crank Goes On Home Run Binge

Heading into his sophomore season Michigan catcher Coley Crank had hit just two home runs in 68 at-bats last year, but over the weekend, Crank exploded by going 7-for-15 with four home runs, including three straight homers in Friday's season-opening victory over Jacksonville State.

A sophomore who was drafted in the 47th round of the 2008 draft by Oakland, Crank finished with nine RBIs, as the Wolverines went 2-2 this weekend with both losses coming to Texas Tech.

If Crank can build on his very early success, the sophomore could find himself as one of Michigan's top draft choices next year along with infielder Derek Dennis, who could be a first-rounder as a draft-eligible sophomore.

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

Posted by: JA, 2/22

Bounty in Florida's D-2 Ranks

Although the weather across the majority of the country has been brutal over the last several days, Division I college baseball is only days from starting, but while those schools still have a few more days to fine-tune their squads, I wanted to take a look at some of the top draft prospects from Division II.

With the Tigers set to begin spring training, the countdown will officially begin to their annual exhibition game with Florida Southern. The Moccasins went 41-16 last year, but their season ended on a sour note, as they were routed 19-3 by eventual national champion Lynn in the regional tournament.

Despite losing shortstop Robbie Shields to the draft, the Moccasins have a quartet of players that rank among the best of the D-2 ranks. Right-hander Daniel Tillman had a dominating stint on the Cape last summer, and thus far, he has continued to blow away hitters by racking up 14 strikeouts while starting the year with eight scoreless innings as FSC's closer.

Tillman has the chance to be a premium-round pick, and he presently ranks only behind Georgia Tech's Kevin Jacob among closers should he stay in the role, but he does have a three-pitch mix to work with.

Left-hander Max Russell, who was roughed up in taking the aforementioned loss to Lynn that ended their season, also could go early, but the junior has been pounded for 16 hits and 10 runs (seven earned) in just 10 1/3 innings.

Shortstop Wade Kirkland and catcher Zach Maggard also should go in the first 10 rounds, and the Moccasins have a few seniors that should get their shots in the pro ranks.

One of the few pitchers in the country that can rival Tillman from a stuff perspective is Lynn's Tommy Kahnle, who touched 99 during a relief outing on the Cape last summer. In his first start of the year, Kahnle scattered six hits and allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings of work against Delta State. He walked one and fanned five in picking up a no-decision against Delta State. As a draft-eligible sophomore, scouts will have to bear down on his signability, but Kahnle should be a factor early on in the draft.

Florida Southern may rank as a favorite to win the Sunshine State Conference, but Lynn and Tampa will have plenty of say in who wins one of toughest conferences in the country.

Tampa was the beneficiary of several transfers, including outfielder Dylan Brown, left-hander Sean Bierman and right-hander Austin Evans, all of whom were drafted out of high school, and the Spartans also should have solid drafts in right-hander Josh Bowman and OF/IF Jared Simon, who has already homered twice and driven in six runs in Tampa's first four games.

The Spartans will get a stern test pending the weather this weekend, as they welcome in No. 5 Southern Arkansas. The Muleriders have an experienced pitching staff that's led by junior right-hander Hayden Simpson, who fanned 13 in his season debut.

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

Posted by: JA, 2/12

Hot & Cold Starts

Although the season is just underway, there are a few players who have gotten off to terrific starts. St. Petersburg's (Fla.) Brooks Beisner, an Auburn recruit, got off to a good start by slamming three home runs to go with 13 RBIs in his team's first six games. A sophomore outfielder, Beisner has driven in at least two runs in five of six games.

Although LeVon Washington may get most of the attention at Chipola (Fla.), sophomore outfielder Joey Rapp will also bear close watching after turning down the Angels as a 41st-round pick last year. In the Indians' first three games, Rapp, a Louisiana-Monroe signee, went 6-for-11 with three homers, four RBIs and seven runs scored. Freshman third baseman Michael Revell, who turned down Texas as a 16th-round pick last summer, drove in seven runs with four RBIs coming on a grand slam in the Indians' 17-5 win over Pearl River.

After losing two of their first three games, Chipola will host the Fibercare JUCO National Classic this weekend with a field that includes Walters State (Tenn.), St. Petersburg (Fla.) and Middle Georgia.

A couple of the top arms in the JUCO ranks got off to so-so starts last weekend. Left-hander Jake Eliopoulos started Chipola's aforementioned win, but issued three walks in 2 2/3 innings of work while allowing two hits and a run. He struck out four.

LSU-Eunice right-hander Tony Dischler also fought some command issues by walking three batters in four innings of work. He allowed just two hits, one run and he fanned just one.

It took Howard (Texas) JC just two games to suffer their first loss after winning their first 57 games last year on their way to winning the national championship, and according to a story in the Big Spring Herald, freshman right-hander Damien Magnifico, an unsigned fifth-round pick of the Mets last year, is battling elbow soreness that is keeping him on the sidelines for the time being.

Even with Magnifico's absence, the Hawks still have two of the top arms in the JUCO ranks in right-handers Burch Smith and Blake Barnes, both of whom could go very early in the draft with solid springs.

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

Posted by: JA, 2/5

Baseball Is Back

Although much of the country has been in a deep freeze for the last several weeks, signs of spring will start to be heard this weekend, as junior colleges across the country will get their seasons started this weekend, including three heavyweights that have a chance to find themselves vying for a national championship.

Bryce Harper, the potential No. 1 pick in the draft, will start his season on Friday when the College of Southern Nevada plays host to Arizona Western.

The Coyotes are far from a one-man band, as they have a deep stable of power arms led by right-handers Joe Robinson, Tyler Hanks and former Arizona recruit Donn Roach that will make them a formidable foe all season long.

One of the few teams outside of the Southwest that could match CCSN from a pitching standpoint is San Jacinto (Texas).

Right-hander Tommy Collier and left-hander David Rollins, both of whom have gone unsigned in the last two drafts, as well as freshman left-hander Miguel Pena, an unsigned fifth-rounder from last year, give the Gators a solid trio of arms to build around. The Gators also picked up a high-profile transfer in outfielder Randall Thorpe, an unsigned 29th-round pick of the White Sox two years ago who left Texas A&M.

Interestingly, the Gators will take on LSU-Eunice on Saturday, who has one of the hardest throwers in the entire draft class in right-hander Tony Dischler.

Anchored by Florida State transfer Austin Wood, St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC has a solid group of arms that includes Northern Iowa transfer Colin Rea, Cody Allen and Ryan Kennedy.

Although he is bouncing back from Tommy John surgery, Allen has been working in the 90-93 range, while Rea is 88-91 with a good slider, and he should throw harder in time as he continues to fill out his 6-foot-5-inch frame.

Kennedy, the lone left-hander of the bunch, hails from Canada and works in the 88-90 range. Wood himself though has a chance to be a premium-round pick after being clocked at 97. St. Petersburg starts their season at Central Florida CC on Friday.

Perhaps the only team in the country that can rival CCSN for star power is Chipola (Fla.) JC.

With unsigned premium-round picks in outfielder LeVon Washington and left-hander Jake Eliopoulos on the roster, the Indians will be one of the most heavily-scouted teams in the country, particularly early in the season before the four-year college and high school seasons get underway.

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

Posted by: JA, 1/28

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