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05/24/07 4:26 PM ET

Advanced arms a hot commodity in draft

Seven of Top 10 college pitching prospects are southpaws

There's that old adage, you know the one, about never having enough pitching. Many teams will amend that to say you can never have enough college pitching.

Those teams are looking for the more advanced arms, the ones who can enter a system and move quickly to help the big league team out sooner rather than later. Even in a year where the college crop is down, like this one, those college hurlers will be in high demand.

"The college pitching isn't as good as in years past," a National League scouting director said. "But there's more midline left-handed pitching depth than there's been in the past. They could be like dominoes."

The first domino, of course, is Vanderbilt's David Price, who's anything but midline. He's expected to go No. 1 overall on draft day, a lefty with plus stuff and the possibility to front a rotation. After that, the list below reflects the scout's sentiment about depth from the left side. Including Price, seven of the 10 highlighted college pitchers are southpaws.

Andrew Brackman, RHP, North Carolina State
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Brackman entered the season as one of the top arms in the draft class, a contender to go in one of the top two or three picks. Now he may be one of the hardest pitchers to get a handle on when they might be selected.

The former two-sport (baseball and basketball) star has focused on baseball for the first time and has thrown more innings, by far, than he has previously in his career. That's resulted in some serious arm fatigue, which caused him to miss a start right before the ACC Tournament.

Draft 2007 | Complete Coverage
Top MLB Draft Picks
Pick POS Name School
1. TB LHP David Price Vanderbilt U
2. KC SS Michael Moustakas Chatsworth HS (Calif.)
3. CHC 3B Josh Vitters Cypress HS (Calif.)
4. PIT LHP Daniel Moskos Clemson U
5. BAL C Matthew Wieters Georgia Tech
6. WSH LHP Ross Detwiler Missouri St U
7. MIL LF Matthew LaPorta U Florida
8. COL RHP Casey Weathers Vanderbilt U
9. ARI RHP Jarrod Parker Norwell HS
10. SF LHP Madison Bumgarner South Caldwell HS
Complete Draft list >

If he can bounce back from that with a strong postseason start -- he's slated to go Saturday against Georgia Tech in the ACC tourney -- the fatigued-caused skipped start won't have a real impact. Even with the uneven results of the season, no one has backed away from his pure stuff, which includes a plus fastball, a nasty curve and an improving changeup that could be a plus pitch when all is said and done, all in an enticing 6-foot-10 package. He's not the typical college pitcher in terms of being advanced and moving quickly to the big leagues, but there also may not be a college arm with more upside.

Brett Cecil, LHP, Maryland
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Cecil began the year as one of the higher-ranked college closers in the game. A move to the rotation at Maryland late in the year has some thinking he can start at the next level.

That's because he has a deeper repertoire than most relievers. He's got an average fastball that sits comfortably in the 89-92 mph range and has touched 94. He's got a plus slider that could be a Major League out pitch now. Those two pitches alone would make him a good setup man in the big leagues and in a hurry, especially considering his excellent command. But Cecil has shown some other pitches, especially in his two starts, including a changeup, that has people believing he has the stuff to be in a rotation.

In some ways, he's got a built-in insurance policy. He can be drafted in the hopes of developing into a nice left-handed starter. If that doesn't work, he should almost definitely reach the big leagues in someone's bullpen.

Ross Detwiler, LHP, Missouri State
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All spring, Detwiler has battled it out with Clemson's Daniel Moskos for "second-best college lefty" status. As one of the more consistent performers this season, he's put himself in position to be among the top 10 picks in the draft.

While some are a little concerned about his frame and lack of physicality -- he's 6-foot-4 and just 175 pounds -- he's appeared durable, with the exception of an apparent blister problem in his conference tournament game on Wednesday. That, obviously, has nothing to do with arm health and it's not likely it will impact Detwiler's draft status.

All year, he's featured a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with a ton of movement and a plus curve he can throw for strikes. Even his changeup, clearly his third pitch, has been greatly improved this year. His command overall has been much more consistent, a big reason why he'll hear his name called early on June 7.

Daniel Moskos, LHP, Clemson
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While dominating as the closer at Clemson, a lot of scouts tried to evaluate whether the lefty could be a starter at the next level. He had the stuff, but would the delivery work in that role?

Then what can best be described as a win-win situation occurred. Clemson, struggling to score runs, found it was leaving its best pitcher -- Moskos -- under-utilized because it wasn't carrying leads late into games. So he was named the team's Friday starter and there was much rejoicing.

He's made eight starts and in his most recent one in the ACC Tournament, he pitched into the eighth inning. Getting stretched out, he's been able to use four pitches: an above-average fastball that still touches 94-95 mph (he was topping out at 96-97 out of the pen), a plus slider, a decent changeup and a show-me curve. He's had pretty good command in either role, so it comes down to the original question about his mechanics and delivery. He's going to get drafted highly regardless, but a team who thinks he can maintain and smooth out what's been a maximum-effort delivery as a starter will really be on him.

David Price, LHP, Vanderbilt
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He began the year as the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in the draft. He's done nothing to change that. If anything, the odds have gotten better.

Price is the complete package on the mound. He's a big, 6-foot-5 left-hander with plus stuff and the ability to command it. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and he maintains the velocity deep into games. He's got a plus slider, a hard slurve and a changeup, which is improving.

As good as his stuff is, his makeup is even better. As the Friday starter for the top college team in the nation and a multiple performer for Team USA, he's already faced plenty of pressure situations and risen to the occasion. If he's not a No. 1 -- scouts are reluctant to put those kinds of expectations on a player -- he'll be a very good No. 2 big-league starter and could get to the big leagues very quickly.

Aaron Poreda, LHP, San Francisco
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It's not often you find a projectable, slightly raw, college left-hander, but that's exactly what Poreda is.

The 6-foot-6 southpaw jumped up on draft charts by consistently clocking in with a mid-90s fastball. It's got good movement and he commands it pretty well. His secondary stuff, a slider and changeup, are way behind the fastball currently, but there is hope that as he gets more comfortable on the mound as a premier pitcher, those offerings will improve.

Even without the breaking or off-speed pitch, Poreda figures to go early. Big, projectable lefties with plus, plus fastballs don't come around very often and someone who feels confident in the ability to teach Poreda the finer points of pitching will call his name.

Joe Savery, LHP, Rice
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If it weren't for a slow return from off-season minor shoulder surgery, Savery would probably be included in the same conversation as the Moskoses and Detwilers of the world.

But it took a while for Savery to look like the lefty who was tabbed a sure-fire first rounder earlier in his college career. When he's 100 percent, he can dial up the fastball into the low 90s with good movement and command. He complements that with an outstanding changeup and a hard curve/slider type pitch.

Even without his best stuff all year, he's managed to go 8-1 with a 2.41 ERA as Rice's Sunday starter. He's also a two-way player who has led the Owls with a .369 average. While the double duty has undoubtedly kept him from focusing on getting back to full strength on the mound, it provides hope that once he becomes a pitcher only as a pro, he'll make a leap forward. He won't go as highly as once thought, so he could end up being one of the early steals in the draft.

Nick Schmidt, LHP, Arkansas
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The epitome of a "pitchability" lefty, Schmidt's name has been all over the first-round map.

His stuff won't blow you away, with a fastball that sits around 91-92 mph, a curve and an excellent changeup, but it's how he uses what he has. He's been Arkansas' ace since he set foot on campus and hasn't shrunk from the pressures of being the Friday starter in the very competitive Southeastern Conference. When he's on, he's got pinpoint command and mixes his pitches as well as anyone at the college level.

While Schmidt is behind the big lefties listed above, it doesn't sound like he's going to have to wait long to hear his name. Especially after carrying a no-hitter into the eighth and finishing with a complete-game, two-hit shutout in front of a lot of scouts at the SEC tournament on Wednesday, the latest word was that Schmidt could go in the first half of the first round.

James Simmons, RHP, UC Riverside
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Any conversation about Simmons has to begin, and probably end, with fastball command.

That he throws his fastball up to 92-93 mph is almost secondary. Simmons can spot his heater as well as anyone in the draft class and he relies on that fastball command to succeed. He's able to move both a two and four-seamer in and out and up and down for strikes at will.

His other stuff lags behind the fastball and his command of it. His changeup is often an above-average pitch and he's at his best when he's able to mix it well with the fastball. He's got a slider that has a chance to be a usable pitch and a slow curve that needs some work. "Pitchability" is a term usually reserved for lefties, but it fits for Simmons because of his fastball command. Teams that like advanced college arms with that kind of control will be interested in taking him, perhaps as early as the end of the first round.

Casey Weathers, RHP, Vanderbilt
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Weathers may be the poster child for the benefits of returning to college for a senior season.

Vanderbilt's closer was taken in the 25th round by the Tigers last season, but as a recent convert to pitching -- he had been a junior college outfielder before making the switch just a couple of years ago -- he felt he needed another year in Vandy's program to learn more about pitching. Looks like he made the right call as he's emerged as the top closer in the college ranks and will almost certainly go in the first round of the draft.

Weathers has the stuff and demeanor to pitch in the back of a bullpen at any level. He routinely hits 96-97 mph with his fastball and commands it fairly well. He backs up the heater with a plus slider, a pitch that improved dramatically this season. He's got a changeup, but rarely needs it. His power two-pitch mix is more than enough to get big league hitters out and as he gets more time on the mound, he should get even better. Even though he's relatively new to pitching, he's a guy who could get to the big leagues very quickly and, as a result, could go as high as the top 15 picks.

Others to watch: James Adkins, LHP, Tennessee; Jake Arrieta, RHP, Texas Christian; Sam Demel, RHP, Texas Christian; Barry Enright, RHP, Pepperdine; Josh Fields, RHP, Georgia; Nick Hagadone, LHP, Washington; David Kopp, RHP, Clemson; Wes Roemer, RHP, Cal State Fullerton; Cole St. Clair, LHP, Rice; Chris Carpenter, RHP, Kent State; Andrew Carignan, RHP, North Carolina; Alan Farina, RHP, Clemson; Nolan Gallagher, RHP, Stanford; Cory Gearrin, RHP, Mercer; Tommy Hunter, RHP, Alabama; Will Kline, RHP, Mississippi; Eddie Kunz, RHP, Oregon State; Dan Merklinger, LHP, Seton Hall; Brad Meyers, RHP, Loyola Marymount; Brad Mills, LHP, Arizona; Sean Morgan, RHP, Tulane; Clayton Mortensen, RHP, Gonzaga; Erik Niesen, LHP, Wake Forest; Luke Putkonen, RHP, North Carolina; Evan Reed, RHP, Cal Poly; Brant Rustich, RHP, UCLA; Daniel Schlereth, LHP, Arizona; Matt Thomson, RHP, Santa Rosa JC; Jess Todd, RHP, Arkansas; Tony Watson, LHP, Nebraska; Duke Welker, RHP, Arkansas; Jordan Zimmerman, RHP, Wisconsin-Stevens Point;

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.