What the 2010 first-rounders are doing

Christian Colon is adjusting well to pro ball at high Class A Wilmington. | Courtesy Photo: Cal State Fullerton/Matt Brown

Here’s a simple rundown of where the 2010 signed first-round picks are and what they’re doing.

Presented in order of selection:

Christian Colon, ss, Royals (Pick 1.4): Colon signed quickly, then started slowly for high Class A Wilmington before discovering his stroke this month.  Batting .359 over his last 10 games, his July slashline now rests at .296/.363/.408.

Chris Sale, lhp, White Sox (Pick 1.13): Sale is on the fast track to the big club’s bullpen and should provide immediate help for the playoff-hopeful South Siders.  He’s already with Triple-A Charlotte and has struck out four of the eight lefthanded batters he has faced there without allowing a hit.

Jake Skole, of, Rangers (Pick 1.15): Skole posted a .286/.394/.357 line across 33 plate appearances in the Rookie-level Arizona League before earning a promotion to Short-season ball.  He has shown vulnerability against lefthanders, going 0-for-12 with five strikeouts against them since arriving in Spokane.

Hayden Simpson, rhp, Cubs (Pick 1.16): Expected to make his pro debut in the Short-season Northwest League, Simpson came down with mono and will instead use the summer to recuperate.

Mike Foltynewicz, rhp, Astros (Pick 1.19): In 14 Appalachian League innings, Foltynewicz is holding a 5.79 ERA with three home runs allowed, seven walks and 13 strikeouts.  He is overmatching righthanded batters (.154 BAA), but he has yet to figure out lefthanders (.385 BAA), who are responsible for all three longballs.

Kolbrin Vitek, 2b, Red Sox (Pick 1.20): Vitek is hitting .267/.368/.383 with an 18-to-37 walk-to-strikeout ratio for Short-season Lowell, and he’s likely in for a promotion to low Class A before the year ends.

Kellin Deglan, c, Rangers (Pick 1.22): Deglan was batting .286 in 31 plate appearances with the AZL Rangers before leaving to join the 18U Canadian national team, which is competing in the IBAF ‘AAA’ 18U Junior World Championship scheduled for July 23 – Aug. 1 in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  He will team with Evan Grills, a lefthanded pitcher selected in the 10th round by the Astros.

Jesse Biddle, lhp, Phillies (Pick 1.27): Despite an impressive 21-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, Biddle is carrying a 5.19 ERA through 17 1/3 innings for the GCL Phillies.  It’s clear that Biddle is still learning the nuances of pitching out of the stretch, as opposing batters are hitting .405 against him with runners on compared to .175 with the bases empty.

Cam Bedrosian, rhp, Angels (Pick 1.29): After a rough pro debut that saw Bedrock Jr. allow four earned runs in one inning of relief, he made his first start on July 20 and hurled two scoreless innings to go along with two strikeouts.

Chevez Clarke, of, Angels (Pick 1.30): Clarke and Bedrosian are taking their rookie lumps together with the AZL Angels.  The 5-foot-11, 180-pound switch-hitter is batting .216/.298/.333 with 17 strikeouts in 51 at-bats.

Justin O’Conner, c, Rays (Pick 1.31): O’Conner began slowly in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, then hit .256/.302/.462 over his last 10 games.  The offensive progress is encouraging, but it’s secondary to his defensive development at this stage.

Cito Culver, ss, Yankees (Pick 1.32): Culver earned a “Not-So Hot” designation on Baseball America’s weekly “Hot Sheet” feature for his recent performance with the GCL Yankees, but it’s too easy to pick on the raw 17-year-old from a cold-weather state who divided his time between baseball and basketball.  His line stands at .244/.320/.311 through his first 25 games, and he has the base tools to become a plus defender at shortstop.

Extended scouting report: Drew Cisco, rhp, Wando HS, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

PLAYER: Drew Cisco, rhp, Wando HS, Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
DOB: 07/29/91     |     HT.: 6-1     |     WT.: 185     |     B-T: L-R     |     COMMITMENT: Georgia
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Cisco's polish stands out among the high school pitchers in the 2010 class. | Courtesy Photo

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

Cisco is nearly maxed out, but he should naturally add more strength as he matures and tightens his physique.  He has the broad, durable body type and compact, repeatable delivery suited to handle a starting pitcher’s workload.  He also shows solid body control and fielding actions.  Conditioning maintenance should not become a problem.

MECHANICS

Cisco’s delivery is smooth and simple, bearing strong resemblance to that of brother Mike, a 36th-round draft pick of the Phillies in 2008.  He gets a full circular arm swing before he reaches his mid-three-quarters release point, but he will raise his arm slot slightly when throwing his curveball.  At the top of his break, his elbows never get higher than his shoulders, minimizing hyperabduction (i.e. rotator cuff and labrum wear).  Cisco throws with little effort, using a strong lower half and good hip-shoulder separation to generate low-90s velocity throughout the duration of the game.  He throws across his body slightly before finishing his motion with a centered glove-side elbow over a bent plant leg.  He wheels his pitching arm-side leg around too far, however, landing him in an awkward fielding position.

PITCH REPERTOIRE

Cisco sits in the 88-91 mph range with his fastball, and he can touch 92 in the early innings.  The pitch gets cut and run, and he exhibits the confidence and command to throw it to both halves of the plate.  Cisco also spots a 74-76 curveball well, which he is comfortable throwing in any count.  Although the offering varies in shape, the pitch gets solid rotation and average depth when it’s on, and he can throw it for a strike or bury it as a chase pitch.  With as good of a feel for a changeup as one could expect from a high-schooler, Cisco shows good arm speed and gets occasional fade on the potential plus pitch, which ranges from 75-78.

SUMMARY

With an advanced feel for pitching beyond his years, Cisco could be the most polished arm in this year’s prep class.  His present pitchability reveals his big-league bloodlines, with grandfather Galen having pitched parts of seven seasons in the major leagues and brother Mike currently working in the upper levels of the Phillies organization.  His physical maturity limits his upside, but he offers a higher floor because of his pitching acumen and sound delivery.  Cisco is similar to Jeff Suppan and has a chance to become a middle-of-the-rotation workhorse if he can maintain his present velocity.

OFP CLASS: Average | DRAFT RECOMMENDATION: 3rd-4th Round

VIDEO

Courtesy: Nick James

2010 positional rankings: top 10 catchers

Over the next few days, I will be rolling out as many positional rankings as possible, although I don’t expect to have every position published by Monday (Day 1 of the draft).  Should that be the case, I will continue posting rankings in the week following the draft.

For those who have followed the goings-on of the draft to this point, you know that Yasmani Grandal is widely considered the best catcher not named Bryce Harper.  This weekend, I will kick off a feature titled “Standing on the table” in which I defend – or, “stand on the table for” – a personal opinion that runs contrary to that of the majority.  For the first edition of said feature, I will explain why I believe Justin O’Conner will have a better major league career than Yasmani Grandal.

** Because it will be difficult for me to gauge a player’s signability in many cases, this list, as well as all future lists, should be interpreted as a ranking of overall talent.  This is not a prediction of who will be drafted the earliest.  Players are color-coded by OFP class (Excellent, Good, Strong-average, Average, Mild-average, Marginal, Fringe):

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Top 10 Catchers

Others Considered (alphabetical)


Short-form scouting report: Casey Harman, lhp, Clemson

PLAYER: Casey Harman
HT/WT: 6-2/200
BIRTHDATE: 03.17.1989
POSITION: lhp
SCHOOL: Clemson
CLASS: Jr.
2009 (So.): 7-3, 3.95 ERA, 86.2 IP, 98 H, 16 BB, 89 SO, .282 BAA
2010: 6-2, 3.98 ERA, 86 IP, 81 H, 26 BB, 70 SO, .247 BAA

STRENGTHS

Easy, repeatable motion . . . craftiness in the delivery . . . fastball (86-88 mph) has natural sink, occasional run . . . changeup (77-79) also sinks . . . pitchability . . . shows good arm speed and slot consistency on offspeed . . . has a good idea of how to get outs . . . composed with runners on.

WEAKNESSES

Physically mature . . . short arms . . . plant foot “pops” on impact . . . slight cross-body finish . . . shows ball behind his body as he begins arm swing . . . below-average fastball velo . . . needs more plane . . . slider (78-80 mph) could be tighter . . . command of slider, changeup could improve . . . overall fringy repertoire.

SUMMATION

Lacking the velocity and quality secondaries to make it as a starter, Harman’s future in pro ball is limited to the bullpen as a sinker/slider middle reliever.

OFP CLASS: Marginal | DRAFT RECOMMENDATION: 10th-14th RDs

VIDEO

Ranking the North Carolina preps

Tar Heels Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Scott Jackson has constructed a stellar recruiting class for 2010. | InsideCarolina.com/Matt Clements

It’s a down year for the North Carolina high school draft class.  Like the 2008 crop, it lacks star potential, as there is no Brian Goodwin (2009), Madison Bumgarner (2007), Lonnie Chisenhall (2006), Alex White (2006) or Cameron Maybin (2005) with which to hang its hat.  The depth of the class is also underwhelming, although there is enough talent and projection to make those words look foolish in a few years.

I have ranked the top six draft-eligible preps below.  The reason for not going deeper is because I have not seen enough of the other players in the state, but I am confident that my top six would not change regardless.  For a later post, I will compile my notes on most of the high schoolers I saw this spring and organize them into short-form scouting reports.  For the purposes of this ranking (and most future rankings), however, I am sticking to players that I saw in-person multiple times rather than forming opinions based only on what I’ve read or seen on video.

** Because it will be difficult for me to determine a player’s signability in many cases, this list should be interpreted as an overall talent ranking.  This is not a prediction of who will be drafted the earliest.

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1. Matt Roberts, c, Graham (N.C.) HS | Commitment: North Carolina | OFP Class: Average

Roberts will be drafted for his catch-and-throw ability, as both his glove and arm grade as future 60 tools.  On talent alone, he would land in the 4th-6th rounds, but a strong commitment to the Tar Heels could cause him to fall out of that range.

2. Connor Narron, ss, Charles B. Aycock HS, Pikeville, N.C. | Commitment: North Carolina | OFP Class: Average

Narron, the son of former Rangers and Reds manager Jerry, profiles best as a third baseman once he fills out an athletic 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame.  He offers above-average power potential and the fluid actions to become a solid defender, but serious questions about his makeup (specifically, on-field demeanor) will push him down some teams’ draft boards.

3. Ty Linton, of, Charlotte (N.C.) Christian School | Commitment: North Carolina | OFP Class: Average

There is plus raw power in Linton’s pull-conscious swing, but he isn’t the fast-twitch athlete that his two-way commitment (football, linebacker) suggests he is.  A 45/50 runner presently (4.3-4.4 run times to first base from the right side) with an average arm, he will only get slower and stiffer as he adds bulk, which will limit him to left field in pro ball.  If a team signs him, it will be because they believe in the bat.

4. Austin Brice, rhp, Northwood HS, Pittsboro, N.C. | Commitment: Appalachian State | OFP Class: Average

After pitching in the high-80s to open the spring, Brice blew up in a midseason start in which he sat 91-92 mph and mixed in several 93s.  Brice has an athletic 6-foot-2 frame that will add lean muscle quickly, but needs to learn to pitch with more plane.  He is signable in the 6th-10th rounds.

5. Joel McKeithan, ss, T.C. Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C. | Commitment: Vanderbilt | OFP Class: Average

McKeithan stands to gain more from going to college than the other five players on this list.  He is very physically underdeveloped and has a strong commitment to the Commodores, making him a very impractical sign, but the talent and tools are easy to project.  The name will be much more popular at this time in 2013.

6. Tyler Barnette, rhp, Hickory (N.C.) HS | Commitment: Charlotte | OFP Class: Mild-average

Barnette carries classic physical projection with his long, lean build that measures 6-foot-3, 180 pounds.  Although his velocity dropped off slightly toward the end of the season – likely due to a combination of the workload and playing shortstop every day he wasn’t pitching – he sat in the low-90s for most of the spring with a curveball that flashed above-average potential.  Like Brice, he will receive 6th-10th round consideration.

Extended scouting report: Matt Harvey, rhp, North Carolina

PLAYER: Matt Harvey, rhp, North Carolina
DOB: 03/27/89     |     HT.: 6-4     |     WT.: 225     |     B-T: R-R     |     CLASS: Jr.
2009 (So.): 7-2, 5.40 ERA, 75 IP, 88 H, 42 BB, 81 SO, .293 BAA
2010 (Jr.): 7-3, 3.10 ERA, 90 IP, 76 H, 32 BB, 93 SO, .227 BAA

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

Harvey pairs obvious strength and a broad, sturdy frame suitable for heavy workloads.  Although physically mature, he already possesses premium velocity that he can sustain deep into games, so a lack of projection is not an issue.  Harvey has gained approximately 30 pounds since high school, and he has proven that the added bulk is functional by maintaining good body control throughout his delivery.  He is limited athletically, but has nonetheless demonstrated the capacity to make mechanical adjustments as needed.

MECHANICS

Harvey generates mid-90s velocity from a high three-quarters release point with relative ease.  Plagued by mechanical inconsistency as a sophomore, Harvey now operates with a simpler and better-paced motion.  Previously, he would rush toward home plate with a forceful stride, causing his arm to play “catch-up”, which produced varying release points and a cross-body finish.  This season, he has shown more consistency in getting his pitching arm-side forearm to a vertical position as his glove-side foot lands.  As a result, he has eliminated that cross-body action, increased his hip-shoulder separation, and improved his tempo, which explains why he is now pitching with the best velocity and fastball command since he arrived on campus.  He has a tendency to pull his shoulder out as he swings his arm into the high-cocked position, making it more difficult than necessary to repeat his arm path, but suggesting that he could improve his command still further.  The adjustments Harvey has made to this point are a testament to his work ethic and aptitude, which have been questioned in the past.

PITCH REPERTOIRE

Harvey’s four-seam fastball sits in the 92-96 mph range and touches 98, but has proven very hittable over his college career because it lacks for life.  This prompted he and pitching coach Scott Forbes to develop a two-seam fastball this spring, a heavy ball that arrives at 91-93 which he keeps in the lower-third of the zone.  Harvey has relied on his two-seamer often – particularly late in games – to consistently generate weak contact and limit his pitch count, which helps explain why he has pitched deeper into games with greater frequency this season.  His breaking pitch of choice is his slider, which comes in at 83-85 and flashes plus right now.  The pitch gets good rotation and tilt when thrown well, but it will occasionally flatten out and give the appearance of a slow cutter.  He has lost the feel for his power curveball, which had plus potential coming out of high school as a third-round pick of the Angels in 2007, often failing to stay on top of it and hanging way up in the zone.  But he has previously demonstrated the requisite hand speed to spin a good one, so this degradation should just be temporary.  Harvey exhibits feel for a changeup, a 79-83 offering with some tumble, although his motion is noticeably more deliberate from a side view.

SUMMATION

Harvey’s combination of physicality, present velocity and potential stuff is tantalizing, but he is considered something of an underachiever because the results over three years in college didn’t match the talent.  His past struggles can be mostly attributed to a lack of command (and at times, control), which, if resolved, could result in him becoming a No. 2 starter at his peak.  Harvey’s track record indicates risk, but there is enough upside to warrant a top-10 overall selection.

OFP CLASS: Strong-average | DRAFT RECOMMENDATION: Top-10 overall selection

VIDEO


Courtesy: Nick James

Rolling out reports from the Carolinas

Over the next few days, I will be emptying my Carolinas scouting notebook from this past summer and spring.  Most of the players will be from North Carolina since that is where I am limited to geographically, although I will be able to mix in some players from South Carolina.  Also, for future reference, please see the About R4R page; you will read that the scope of this site will expand beyond North Carolina and South Carolina when appropriate.

So you know what to expect from this point forward, my scouting reports will take two formats: (1) short form and (2) extended.  Short-form reports will look almost exactly like the notes I take at a ballgame – abbreviated thoughts presented informally – except that I will organize those notes into “Strengths”, “Weaknesses” and a “Summation”.  Extended reports will offer a more in-depth and formal analysis that combine my personal notes and film review.  Additionally, extended reports will feature present and future tool grades, a draft-round projection, and an Overall Future Potential (OFP) classification.  For the most part, I will only bother to write extended reports for prospects that grade as “strong-average” or better.

I will be posting progress updates on my Twitter page: @jesseburkhart.

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