05/26/11 10:00 AM ET
Draft notebook: Last impressions looming
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
Whether it's about the best performers, guys rocketing up the charts, amateurs seeing their stars fading, prospects sitting out because of injury or rumors about the names expected to go at or near the top of the first round, you'll be able to find it all right here.
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
There have been scouts who have talked about Stanford lefty Chris Reed and how good his stuff has been. There's a reason, after all, why he came in at No. 46 on the Top 50 Draft Prospect list.
He's been used as Stanford's closer and has had a good deal of success in that role, using his plus fastball and outstanding slider to finish games. He's been more than a one-inning guy, too, throwing 45 frames in 25 games, all but one in relief. Major League teams may like him as a starter because he's also got a really good changeup, giving him an above-average to plus three-pitch mix. The one thing he hasn't had is a ton of time on the mound, so there isn't a big track record for him to work from.
The way he's pitched lately, it may not matter. Last weekend against Arizona, Reed threw three hitless frames to earn a win in the 11-inning game. He came back on Sunday and picked up another win with two more scoreless innings. He's now thrown eight straight scoreless, allowing just one hit over that span. With the chance to start long-term and the knowledge that as a bullpen guy he could move very fast, Reed's name has popped up in some end-of-the-first-round conversations, and it sounded like he most certainly would be taken in the sandwich round.
Lead balloon update
One start does not a slide make, but when it comes this late in the spring, it can have more of an impact.
Oregon lefty Tyler Anderson has been pretty much as advertised for much of the season, a quality college lefty who maximizes his stuff with excellent pitchability. If his outing Friday had come, say, in late March or early April, chances are it would be chalked up as just one bad outing. But it's that time of year when teams are getting last -- or close-to-last -- looks at potential first-rounders. So Anderson did not pick a good time to give up eight earned runs on eight hits and eight walks -- while striking out just one -- over 4 2/3 innings. (Washington State's Adam Conley wasn't much better, but got the win despite allowing six runs -- five earned -- over seven innings.)
Anderson will get one more chance to leave a better final impression with scouts on Friday. He'll face highly ranked Oregon State in what will be his final start of the year, with the Ducks not headed to regional play with a 30-26 record.
Something to prove
When the 2011 season started, Texas A&M right-hander John Stilson was one of those college starters many felt would be a reliever in the future. But serving as the Aggies' Friday starter has changed some opinions, and he was in the first-round discussion as a guy who at the very least could be sent out as a starting pitcher.
In another instance of final impressions being the most important, Stilson likely raised some questions in a high-profile outing against Texas and Taylor Jungmann last Thursday. Command had been one reason why he was seen as a bullpen guy in the future, and while it had been much better for most of the season, Stilson walked seven in 6 1/3 innings.
Some of it, to be fair, wasn't Stilson's fault. He had missed his start the previous week with a lat strain and perhaps being overworked contributed to that.
On April 29, he started against Missouri, his normal Friday turn in the rotation. Then he pitched in relief on Tuesday against Texas-San Antonio, followed with a start on Thursday against Dallas Baptist. He missed the series against Nebraska and returned with the erratic performance against Texas. Now he's got the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City to prove that it was just the layoff that was the issue and not anything more concerning.
On the shelf
Kent State lefty Andrew Chafin was the subject of the "Something to prove" section in the first Draft notebook two weeks ago. In that entry, it was noted he had missed a start due to arm soreness and then returned, but only in relief, and he needed to prove that his surgically repaired arm was fine.
Previously, it had been a very good story. The southpaw had Tommy John surgery in May 2009 and missed the 2010 season, but came back this year and pitched extremely well to move into the first-round picture. Had he come back from this one small setback, he'd still be there.
But after that relief outing, during which he allowed three runs on seven hits over four innings, there's been little to go on. He did start on May 13 at Bowling Green, earning a win despite allowing five runs over four innings. He didn't pitch the following weekend against Akron due to a lat strain. He supposedly is ready to go for the MAC Tournament, with the chance of some relief work early. If that didn't come to fruition, the belief was he would start on Friday, giving scouts a chance to see just how healthy he is.
Where to be: Conference tournaments
It's conference tournament time in college baseball, so there are a number of places one could go to see a bunch of talent in one place. Rather than pick one in particular, here's a listing of the tournaments and the Top 50 players at each.
ACC, Durham, N.C.: Danny Hultzen, Virginia (3); Jed Bradley, Georgia Tech (8); Levi Michael, North Carolina (34)
Big 12, Oklahoma City: Taylor Jungmann, Texas (7); Stilson, Texas A&M (28)
Big East, Clearwater, Fla.: George Springer (11) and Matt Barnes (14), Connecticut
Big South, Lexington, Va.: Anthony Meo, Coastal Carolina (26)
Conference USA, Pearl, Miss.: Anthony Rendon, Rice (2)
MAC, Chillicothe, Ohio: Andrew Chafin, Kent State (39)
MEAC, Daytona Beach, Fla.: Peter O'Brien, Bethune-Cookman (40)
MWC, San Diego: Matt Purke, TCU (27)
SEC, Hoover, Ala.: Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt (10)