Draft Watch: Dodgertown Classic the place to be
Oklahoma's Gray has strong showing; San Diego's Bryant brings power to USD tourney
Welcome to Week 2 of the Draft Watch, MLB.com's look at amateur baseball action after each weekend to see who is standing out and potentially moving up Draft boards. Scouting staffs are laying the groundwork now in order to have a better idea of who to hone in on for the top of the Draft later on in the spring. And there are many players who are making a name for themselves.
Best place to be: Los Angeles
There were scouts aplenty at the Dodgertown Classic, with four big-time college teams meeting, this year at UCLA, over the weekend. Any time scouts can get four for the price of one -- in this case, talent from UCLA, USC, Notre Dame and Oklahoma -- it's going to attract a lot of attention.
No one drew more rave reviews than Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray. Pitching on Saturday against UCLA, Gray threw seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out eight. Now four starts in (3-1, 2.03 ERA, 26 2/3 innings, 27 strikeouts, .187 batting average against), Gray appears to be getting better with each outing. On Saturday, he was hitting triple digits, sitting -- that's right, sitting -- at 98-100 mph. Gray used a plus-power slider as well, and mixed in a changeup. One scout felt he was better, at least in this outing, than 2011 top overall pick Gerrit Cole was during his junior year.
Lefty Dillon Overton, Gray's rotation mate, did not throw as well as his counterpart. Facing a USC team on Friday that's not particularly strong, Overton did go all eight innings, but he allowed five runs (four earned) on 13 hits. He threw his fastball in the 88-91 mph range and was very inconsistent with his breaking ball, while only using his changeup minimally. Overton is 4-1 on the season and has a 3.30 ERA. He is striking out a batter per inning, while opponents have hit .252 off of him.
There's an interesting development at Cal State Fullerton with Michael Lorenzen. He's known mostly as an outfielder, and teams will continue to evaluate him as such. But Lorenzen has also served as Fullerton's closer, and there are some scouts who don't think he'll be a productive enough hitter and would rather develop him on the mound.
Whether Lorenzen is willing to go that route remains to be seen, but he was pretty good over the weekend against Texas A&M. He closed out Saturday's game for his fourth save of the year, and was up to 96 mph with a good slider and a solid feel for the strike zone. Lorenzen came back on Sunday and wasn't as sharp -- throwing 91-93 mph -- and allowed three hits, though he did manage to finish the game for his fifth save.
Notre Dame has some good Draft talent this year, with outfielder Eric Jagielo being the best of the group. He has some serious power, but he had a rough Dodgertown Classic weekend. Jagielo struck out three times in the opener against UCLA, and while he did homer on Saturday against USC, his fourth of the year, it was on a hanging breaking ball. He added his fifth homer on Sunday against Oklahoma, but largely had trouble finding his rhythm at the plate.
More impressive was the University of San Diego's Kris Bryant (scouts could just shoot down the road to see him over the weekend at the USD Tournament). The best college power bat in the Draft class, Bryant went 5-for-12 with homers in each of the first two games of the tournament. One thing to note is that he no longer is a third baseman. Bryant is playing right field for San Diego, and that's where he might end up. He's a pretty good athlete for his size, and his power profiles very well at either an outfield corner or first base.
High school pitchers
There are a good amount of high school left-handers in this Draft class, and it remains to be seen where they land on Draft boards as high school seasons are really getting cranking now.
SoCal is always a hotbed, and this year is no different. Southpaw Ian Clarkin is from the San Diego area, and he showed some very good stuff. His command and control weren't as good as the pure stuff, and there is a little concern about some effort in his delivery. Still, Clarkin has good power stuff from the left side (he was up to 93 mph). In a class that isn't overly strong in high school arms, that is going to get a lot of attention.