While we all wait to see what happens with Matt Garza, I decided to write a bit about some of the players I saw in the past two days as Team USA came to visit Kane County for a pair of games against some local all-stars.
The MLB draft is a great passion of mine dating back to 1981 and 1982 when the Cubs selected Joe Carter #2 overall and then Shawon Dunston #1 overall. Since then it's grown into more of a year round thing for me and as always, we'll strive to give you first hand information and observation to go along with scouting reports.
Here are 10 names to watch -- 8 for 2014 and 2 for 2015.
Trea Turner SS, NC State
Turner oozes athleticism and upside at SS. He's still very lean and looks like he has some room to pack on some muscle without losing some of his tremendous speed, which rates as top-of-the line 80 on the scouting scale. He was very quick at SS, ranging well to each direction and showing a strong arm. Turner didn't hit the ball particularly well on these particular days (in fact, he went 0 for 9) but does have a smooth stroke that should hit for average along with a good eye at the plate. He's a top 5 talent and has perhaps even a chance at #1 overall considering position value and his all-around skill set.
Mike Conforto, OF, Oregon State
Conforto has a strong, sturdy build at 6'1, 215" that looks like it's all muscle. He's not going to wow you with his tools the way Turner does but he makes hard contact consistently, including a pair of HRs in the Tuesday game. His bat is his main weapon as he should hit for average that he'll supplement with walks and above average power. Defensively he's probably relegated to LF. He's a little thick legged and doesn't have great range nor did he display good arm strength. That puts a tremendous burden on his bat, but it looks like it's capable of carrying the load.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Cal-State Fullerton
Chapman is not your protoypical 3B at 6'1", 195 lbs but he has a compact athletic build and an all fields line-drive approach at the plate. There wasn't a lot of loft to his swing and that, combined with his modest size, leads me to think he isn't going to hit for a lot of power. He was very good at 3B, showing good lateral movement to both sides, including a tremendous diving play to his left. I wonder if perhaps he can change positions. SS may be a stretch but he looked quick and athletic enough to maybe try 2B, where his bat would profile better.
Kyle Schwarber, C, Indiana
This is a bat that will profile anywhere. The LH hitting Schwarber can flat out mash and he did that in both games, going 5 for 10 with 3 of those hits being doubles, including one deep the opposite way into the left-centerfield gap. He has a thick, stocky build at 6'0, 235 lbs. so as you can imagine, it's not a body that profiles anywhere well defensively. They're trying him at catcher but it was a struggle there for him in terms of mobility, release, and throwing accuracy. If you can get him to stick at catcher, you've got yourself quite an asset but that didn't look likely from what I was able to see. As I said, however, that bat will play anywhere so 1B becomes a legit option.
Austin Cousino, CF, Kentucky
At just 5'10", 185 lbs, I thought this kid was going to slap the ball around but that was not the case at all. He's one of these high energy, quick twitch athletes that generates good bat speed with quick hands through the zone. He pulverized a double into the right-center field gap that could have easily went out had he gotten a little back spin on it. He runs well and should have no problems sticking in CF.
Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Beede has an ideal, athletic pitchers build (6'4", 215 lbs) and was anywhere from 91-96 mph on his fastball, but mostly was working with a two seamer so it was often at the lower end of that range. He also tried to work in curve but had some issues commanding it. He didn't walk a batter but he did hit two of them and didn't seem to locate as well he would have liked. You don't want to get trapped into scouting results here (3 IP, 3 R) because you'd miss the boat. The talent is obvious and it appears Beede may have been working on a few things as he prepares to face Cuba.
Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV
The biggest surprise in the two games was Fedde . He flew in from the Cape Cod League, where he'd been pitching well, and put on a uniform so new that they didn't even have time to sew his name on it yet. Fedde is long, lean and projectable at 6'4", 175 lbs -- but he showed plenty of present stuff, including a 93 mph fastball and a tight slider that looks like it has plus potential. He commanded both pitches well. He got a few hitters to chase on the slider, pitching 3 no-hit, no-walk innings and striking out 5.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
The stadium gun was off on Monday night but it was easy to see Finnegan was throwing heat, blowing his fastball past hitters and recording two strikeouts in his one inning of work. Kevin Gallo tells me he topped out at 96 mph. I mention Finnegan because he's just 5'11", 185 lbs and generates much of that velocity with tremendous arm speed. Obviously there's not a lot of downward plane here and you wonder if his size will relegate him to the bullpen, though I'm told he can sustain that velocity late in games and he has a hard slider and a solid change-up to go with the fastball -- so he does have the necessary tools/skills to stick as a starter. Either way, he's an interesting prospect whether he sticks as a starter or becomes a Billy Wagner type closer.
Alex Bregman, 2B, LSU: Bregman is a polished hitter who saw time at 2B and played the position well. He's a good athlete who runs pretty well but it's all about the bat with Bregman. He has a nice approach at the plate. He's quick and short to the ball, showing good bat speed. Bregman squared the ball up consistently in both games and looks like he should have average power despite his smallish size (5'11", 185 lbs).
Skyler Bolt, CF, North Carolina: The switch-hitting Bolt has a sweet swing and the ball jumps off his bat. He's a good, but not elite athlete who easily runs and throws well enough to stick in CF, where his bat and solid power would be a nice asset. His tools all appear to be average to above average across the board.
Filed under: MLB Draft