Saturday, July 15, 2006

Stealing Away

At this point, we have six draftees from my territory that haven't signed. Not good. Two of the six are out of the question as they have already committed to 4-yr schools and are packing their bags as I type:

OF Dustin Wood uses an unorthodox stance but makes consistent contact when pitches are down in the zone and can muscle balls out to the deepest part of the yard. Led his team in HRs. For a HS senior he showed great patience and maturity in his approach at the plate. A slender body type with room to fill-out. He's a 60 runner on the 20-80 scale. Decent accuracy but lacks the arm strength for right field. He'll be on my radar screen in two years. His father really pushed him towards 4-yr college when Dustin fell into the 20+ round.

C Tommy Hill was probably one of the cockiest kids in my territory let alone the entire draft. In his senior year he threw out 25 of 26 basestealers with POP times that rarely exceeded 2.0 seconds. I loved his snap throws down to first and third. He's a genuine leader, but he did have a tendancy to ride his teammates too much. Especially the pitchers. At 5'9", 165 lbs, not too many pitchers are gonna tolerate his harsh words. His offense was primarily gap to gap with an excellent feel for situational hitting. Unfortunately, he said if he wasn't picked in the first five rounds, he was off to 4-yr college. We took him after the fifth but prior to the tenth round thinking we could stear him into signing, but I was wrong. We'll see how he does with a veteran college staff.

Two others have committed to JCs and will become draft and follow prospects:

LHP Chase Lewis was looking to be picked somewhere in between rounds 3 and 6. This HS senior was keen on going the JC route if picked any later. When he fell out of the sixth round, we figured the worst that could happen was that he'd become a draft and follow prospect. We tried on at least four occasions to sign him after the draft but he and his family would have nothing of it. His 90 MPH fastball will only get faster. He can also cut his fastball making him one of my personal favorites. But his standout pitch is clearly his changeup. He grips it awkwardly which gives it a late tilt, diving away from righthanded hitters. He can throw it for strikes on any count. I've enjoyed watching him freeze batters between his changeup and the fastball. Only downside is his lack of repeatable delivery. But when he gets them guessing, it's all over.

RHP Lee Strong set himself apart by easily handling top prep talent at several national tournaments last year. But his cheese started to mold towards the end of his HS season. It went from 90 mph in January to 84-85 mph. His mechanics also seemed to look more labor intensive. His above average curveball and changeup were the only things that kept him on the radar screen. Both are plus pitches. Not that it matters but Carson (PC Geek) was extremely high on this kid simply because of his 92 - 7 strikeout-walk ratio. Anyhow, the sudden drop in velocity and a perception that his 5'10" 160lb frame was done growing, caused him to slip past the 15+ round. Lee and his "trusted advisor" (girlfriend that will be going to a local community college) agreed that he should attend the same local communty college to regain his velocity and hopefully increase his draft value to somewhere in the top five rounds. This wasn't the first time "love" got in the way of one of my signings. It will be interesting to see how he responds. On the mound that is.

The last two are undecided. I'll hit them up in the next post.


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