05/18/07 11:00 AM ET
Draft prospects getting last look
Clubs utilizing final opportunities to see players in action
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Many teams will be calling in their area scouts and cross-checkers over the next week to hash out some semblance of a plan for June 7. At the same time, there are plenty of games to be seen, with scouting directors circling their wagons to see guys one last time, and even general managers getting involved in earnest.
Where might they be headed in the coming days? A good place to start might be Southern California, where the high school playoffs are getting under way. There's also the usual slate of college games over the weekend, which lead into conference tournament play next week, giving scouts the chance to see the university-level players perform under a larger spotlight with a lot more pressure. Here's a sampling:
California high school playoffs
There are several games on Friday to choose from, with players who are top-of-the-draft worthy to those who may be taken a little later on.
Canyon Springs at Lakewood: You can bet Canyon Springs won't be running much with Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate for Lakewood. He's one of the better defensive backstops in the draft class and will be drafted largely based on how much people think he'll hit. This will be one of the last chances scouts will have to see him swing the stick competitively this season.
Royal at Riverside Poly: There are differing views about Poly ace Kyle Ocampo. He's got good power stuff with a projectable body, but there is concern about his delivery and his secondary pitches. Go see for yourself. He gets the ball in this first-round playoff game.
Anaheim Canyon at Vista del Lago: AFLAC All-America selection Christian Colon leads his Canyon squad into the playoffs. Colon has always been a solid, yet unspectacular, performer with no one tool jumping out at you. He's kind of dropped on draft charts, but a good postseason could help him.
Servite at El Modina: Another AFLAC alum is playing in this game. Freddie Freeman had a lot more hype early on and perhaps he's headed to college instead. But the lefty swinger can still put on a show.
Bellflower at Gahr: This pits a couple of good high school bats against each other in Bellflower's Reggie Williams and Gahr's Victor Sanchez. Sanchez was, once upon a time, in the same conversation as Matt Dominguez, Mike Moustakas and Josh Vitters. He's dropped a bit, but still is an interesting guy to watch.
Speaking of Moustakas and Dominguez, the schedule for their Chatsworth High School playoff schedule had not been announced. Their division's playoffs get under way on Tuesday and Wednesday, and rest assured, scouts will flock to see the possible top-10 pair play when the matchups are announced.
The college ranks
If high schools aren't your thing, there's plenty on the college docket to whet your whistle, with oodles of draftable talent to watch. Most of the series this weekend run Thursday-Saturday, in preparation for conference tournaments starting next week.
Clemson at North Carolina State: Another chance to see Daniel Moskos start a game came on Thursday, and there are not too many more opportunities. Considering he's being mentioned as high as No. 4, many teams wanted to make sure he can go to the next level as a starter before pulling the trigger. The fact he went just four innings didn't help his cause. Scouts who wanted to stick around an extra day to see Andrew Brackman's start for NC State had to find alternative plans. Brackman was scratched from his start this weekend because of fatigue. The Wolfpack -- and undoubtedly the scouting world -- hopes he bounces back for postseason play next week.
Tennessee at Florida: So many players, so little time. It's not a great class for college bats, so getting to see three of them in one series is a nice catch. Julio Borbon, who can continue to show he's completely healthy following a broken ankle, could be the headliner, but his teammate J.P. Arencibia will be watched carefully as well. A back issue has hampered him much of the season, but there's still time for him to show he's fine. Then there's Florida senior first baseman Matt LaPorta, who might be the best power bat in the college class. Throw in a look at Tennessee lefty James Adkins on Thursday night and this trip was high on many lists.
These weekend games are merely precursors to the conference tournaments that can be crucial near-end pieces to the scouting and evaluating puzzle. The players have been seen all year, but now they get to be examined on a large stage, in front of bigger crowds and with much more at stake. How these players respond to that kind of pressure can help determine how they might respond to the bright lights of the big leagues. Here's a rundown of some of the tourneys and the key players at each:
Southeastern Conference Birmingham, Ala. May 23-May 27
Adkins, Tennessee; Arencibia, Tennessee; Borbon, Tennessee; Josh Donaldson, Auburn; Ed Easley, Mississippi State; Josh Fields, Georgia; Charlie Furbush, LSU; Scott Green, Kentucky; Will Kline, Mississippi; Tommy Hunter, Alabama; LaPorta, Florida; Wynn Pelzer, South Carolina; David Price, Vanderbilt; Nick Schmidt, Arkansas; Casey Weathers, Vanderbilt.
Atlantic Coast Conference Jacksonville, Fla. May 23-27
Brackman, NC State; Brett Cecil, Maryland; Sean Doolittle, Virginia; Josh Horton, North Carolina; Moskos, Clemson; Eric Niesen, Wake Forest; Tony Thomas, Florida State; Matt Wieters, Georgia Tech.
Big 12 Conference Oklahoma City, Okla. May 23-27
Brandon Hicks, Texas A&M; Matt Mangini, Oklahoma State; Kyle Russell, Texas; Tony Watson, Nebraska.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.