5 for Friday: A weekly look at 5 amateur baseball players
1) Dominic Smith– The Facts: 1B/P/RF 6â€™0, 200, L/L, Los Angeles, CA (Serra HS â€™13) Committed to USC
The Stats: Hit .551 with a .644 OBP, 49 RBI, 9 HR, and just 2 walks in 78 at bats. He also stole 14 bases and walked 22 times. He also pitched going 7-1 with a 1.22 e.r.a.
Rain Delay Chatter: His high school is in Gardena, CA full name is Junipero Serra High School. But, most refer to it as Serra. It is a private, Roman Catholic school 14 miles SW of downtown Los Angeles. It is a diverse school culturally with many in the student body from areas like Compton, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Manhattan Beach, and others. Famous alumnus include former NFL player Deon Figures, R&B artist Montell â€œthis is how we do itâ€ Jordan, former N.W.A member Arabian Prince, former Royals infielder Dave Nelson, and Kings Point Guard Pooh Jeter. It costs 27K a year to attend but many of the students are kids that are given an opportunity to succeed thru academics and athletics. The kids attend school through waivers and scholarships.
The baseball program is run by Wil Aaron who stresses the fundamentals of the game telling The LA Sentinel â€œwe teach and we train. Our kids know how to run the bases. When you leave Serra you will be able to go D1, you will be able to play professional baseball. We do certain things right.â€ He has surrounded himself with an excellent staff that includes a former professional player and also college talent. Each one of them stresses the methods of the main guy Coach Aaron.
Serra HS is doing excellent things for the multi-cultural community that is Los Angeles. In the 3 years with Aaron as the coach he has worked well with ball players giving them a chance to learn the game the right way while developing such talents as Ron Miller (drafted in 10th round Marlins last year) and high school All American Sophomore 2B Duncan McKinnon and Junior CF Denzâ€™l Chapman who stole 60 bases last year. They also have transfer student (from Hamilton) Marcus Wilson a junior who will be a top pick in 2014.
The Skinny: This kid is a 90 on the scouting scale in terms of character says Todd Gold of Perfect Game. He is the #10 prospect in the country per Perfect Game. â€œSolid in RF but elite at 1Bâ€ Gold added. He has drawn interest as a P where he can dial it up to 92 but his calling card is the elite glove at 1B and the bat. One scout said â€œhe is a game changer and at 1B that is not said often. He is such a great kid that loves the game and his school. I hear he helps recruits guys to come to his program. I could see him as a union chief someday that is the type of guy he is.â€Â Best 60 time recorded by PG was 6.89
Royals chances: Very good, He should be available at the time of their pick. The type of kid you want in your organization with a very high ceiling.
The Eye of the Scout Don Olsen: (With permission from Bullpen Banter (link to Video) A real throw back type that has impressed me with his versatility, a definite two-way player in college and it would not put it past me to think 80 years ago he would have been a two-way professional. He is simply a gifted athlete that makes everything look easy; a kid that has been on the map for ages and no one can find harsh warts in his game to throw him off a high-grade. I recently watched him behind the dish and boy he can do it all, left-handed! Not overall tall or wide, but frame and present muscular development are solid, real athletic build and body type, from a body standpoint he reminds me a lot of Danny Tartabull. Decent overall development, could fill out nicely into a solid 225 frame, maybe more because you see a ton of fast twitch in him. Good development in the BryceÂ level w/Â forearms and wrist, show solid strength. Defensively he is smooth and effortless, sound footwork around the bag, good movement and strong-arm/accuracy is solid for cutoff, etcâ€¦ real strength is the glove and response, could be a solid defensive option at first. Arm has plus strength and good carry that he could provide solid value in RF, enhancing versatility. Batting is a slightly open and upright stance, bat is a touch noisy, hands in solid starting position up and out. Dominican hitch type of trigger, solid foundation that sometimes shows a leaky drift, but minor. Overall nice rotation swing, but drift and slight head level from time to time iron out. His bat speed is elite and path for spray contact, driven well, ball has distinct pop off the bat head. Good control of the bat head, hands are always up and shows the ability to take anywhere with power. Solid dual threat bat with contact potential to a solid No. 3 type hitter at a power premium position.
The Skinny: He has been rated as high as #10 best prep player by Perfect Game. Perfect Game best 60 is 7.19 with a best â€œpopâ€ time from catcher at 1.89. He was clocked at 81 from behind the dish. He really put himself on the radar at the Area Code games when he launched a 431 foot HR that left the bat at 106.8 mph. He is solid defender with a plus arm. Fundamentally sound with solid instincts.
Royals chances: I don’t see him worth the first pick right now and I doubt he last to the second pick. He should go somewhere between 12-20.
The Scouts Eye with Don Olsen: â€œHe continues to display quality ability behind the plate. He showcased plus arm strength with good carry. Really like his setup and footwork behind the dish; works a good game and framing is impressive for pedigree. Hands were a bit softer in the most recent showing I saw him in. He shows good overall defensive game, pushing best in HS prep class.Â
Patience at the plate has dramatically improved. He was not overly aggressive, as he showed in the summer. Solid, easy, and balanced line drive swing with the bat speed and quick hands, really controls the bat head well and ball jumps off the bat. Very projectable dual threat. Solid 4 tool C with speed that is solid for the position. Slot: Early to middle of 1st round. Perez or not, worth it to bring his potential into the fold.â€
3- Sean Manaea– The Facts: LHSP, 6â€™5 235, Junior at Indiana State University, Wanatah, Ind (Andrean HS)
The Stats: 2011- 15 GS, 5-5, 4.32, 82 K, 83 IP
2012- 17 GS, 5-3, 3.34, 115 K, 105 IP,
Cape Cod 12-Â 8 GS, 5-1, 1.22,Â 85 K, 57 IP
The Skinny: He was not highly recruited out of high school throwing in the mid 8â€™s. He chose the non traditional baseball school in Indiana State because he was not highly recruited and it was near home. He saw his fastball get into the low 9â€™s last year before blasting teamâ€™s radar with video game numbers on the Cape pitching for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. His velocity touched 96 and settled around 93-94 while flashing a plus slider and solid change. He set a modern-day Cape Cod record for strikeouts with 85 (previous best was 82 by Josh Bard)
Royals chances: Not good as he should be gone before their pick…If he is there I would definitely take him
The Scoutâ€™s Eye Don Olsen: (with permission from Bullpen Banter)Â 6â€™5 and looks 220 pounds. Â Tall, decent muscular development, good foundation for lower half development that should continue to fill out. Â Longer limbs gives him a taller approach, more 6â€™7â€³ feel on the mound.
Sean shows the pedigree of small programs with a bit of inconsistency that will be ironed out down the road. Â He tends to short his stride a bit at times, landing is off, routinely pushes to first base side. Â His landing tends to ride and squat, combine with the landing, he can cross his body on throws. Â At times he whips himself and shows collapsing delivery, getting a bit too stiff and not enough weight over the front side. Â I tend to think the squat and action is done with the height, could benefit from a sound professional program getting him down the line. Â These are not uncommon big man traits, it is the reason why taller pitchers tend to take a few years to fully maximize their potential.
Sean has to clean up some arm action as he places some stress on the elbow and front shoulder. Â There are times that he tends to get whip action and should be a piece of the delivery worth monitoring down the line. Â I do see a bit of hope that at toe touch there is a nice load set for his delivery, so all of the stress factors in pre-loading are easily correctable. Â The arm slot generally sits around 1 Oâ€™Clock, but fluctuates where it comes out very close to 3 Oâ€™Clock at times. Â His general slot shows natural tailing movement over his entire arsenal.
He has a strong tuck, arms speed comes through the zone. Â I would like to see a better hip/torso separation, but this is also tied to his landing. Â If he toes the rubber a bit off to his left a bit more and comes down the line, he could see a better separation and un-coiling to increase his speed over a longer duration, help use his massive size to his advantage. Â For a guy who sits 220 pounds, he does not sustain speed and loses it early in an outing. Â Additional strength and certain refinements could help to improve his stamina.
At his best, you see the solid push, the elongated stride, the slot, arm path at toe touch, the downward plane when he can ride his pitches low, all to be an enticing pitcher. Â Some minor tweaks and consistency would improve a good deal of aspects of his game and make him a safer delivery for starting pitching.
This lefty with his low and high 3/4 slot combination shows nice tailing hand action with a laterally moving 4S that runs up to 94 mph, others have seen him 95-96 mph recently, mainly sits 91-93 mph with 4S and 89-91 with the 2S into the later innings. His 4S comes out heavy and shows good deception. Â The 2S tends to show more lateral movement than horizontal, but the little late drop makes this a difficult pitch to square up effectively. Â He tends to pitch away from contact and rarely inside to the right-handed batters, even with a powerful arsenal at his disposal. Â I would see him work both sides of the plate to both parties; his type of stuff should not have to fear working away from contact as often as it is seen. Â His release is a bit inconsistent and command can waiver at times of the offering. Â When he can get that extend off the release down pat, the pitch rides off low in the zone and the plane of the pitch becomes that much more difficult to maintain solid contact. Â His long limbs make the pitch ride quicker than it registers.
- â–ª 4S Grade: 6.0 (6.0/7.0)
- â–ª 2S Grade: 5.0 (6.0)
Throws a solid straight change that looks more split finger fastball that holds steady 84-86 mph. I did like the deception in the pitch, and with the drop action, it should be an effective offering that could play well as he continues to develop. Â He does fall in love with the pitch to left-handed batters and since his release can waiver, the pitch can float up in the zone. Â For his arm path and natural tail tendencies, it does not hold much lateral movement and is slightly surprising. Â I would like to see him get a bit more coverage on the ball and drop the speed into the 81-83 mph range, it would likely see better fade and the desperation would go a long way giving him a nice off speed offering.
- â–ª Grade: 4.5 (5.0/6.0)
He throws a curve that tends to show more of a slurve feel type feel seeing the release and path, this is due to the slot and showing crossing his body, the wide arc sweeps through the zone at times. Â His confidence in the pitch wavers a great deal, but it has a nice path when it tightens up. Â It is just a flash offering at the moment and really the next hurdle to iron out in his junior year. Â I wonder out loud if he could pull off a non-traditional slider grip and get more lateral movement and tighter spin because the lower slot will show natural action.
- â–ª Grade: 4.0 (5.0/5.5)
For a big man with moving part and inconsistencies, it is rather sound when he does not over throw. Â I like his ability to spot it low and away, has the ability to spot both the fastball and change-up on occasions. Â The command can waiver, but overall it is a strength for his game, considering his size it is quality. Â Getting the ability to work the corners when you need it is a strong foundation for success. Â It would be nice to see better overall plate coverage, but 6â€™5â€³ kid that can sling it low/away is a high mark in my book for his stage of development.
- â–ª Grade: 4.5 (4.5/5.5)
He will not walk many, but he does let some pitches fly and can get caught with higher pitch counts than you would expect for someone with his potential and ability to locate it low in the zone. Â There is some benefit that you see him show stuff that forces guys to stretch the zone, but I feel this is not a thing to worry about long-term, a rarity for a big pitcher with long moving parts.
- â–ª Grade: 5.0 (5.0/5.5)
Sean Manaea has the rare blend of size, arm speed, and potential that will make him a sought after commodity next summer. Â He has a nice three pitch mix that I feel will take a jump. Â Given his pedigree, I think he has the foundation for at least two plus grade pitches and there is more in the back pocket that he has not even grasped. Â I would like to see him attack more hitters and play the role of the left-handed power pitcher next spring. Â He has the goods, but tries to consistently play the corners and his stuff is a bit better than it at this stage of development. Â Left handed with a 7 arm strength potential do not grow on trees and he may continue to grow a tad with the longer limbs. Â If he can clean up a few aspects, he could have a serious plane fastball that has natural movement.
- â–ª OFP: 62 (67)
- â–ª Ceiling: No. 2 starter
- â–ª Floor: 7th/8th inning set up
- â–ª Likely: No.3 type starter
- â–ª Projected: Round 1
- â–ª Comparisons: Jed Bradley, (poor mans) Chuck Finley
4- Jason Jester- The Facts: 5â€™11 185, R/R, (RS) Junior, Spring, Texas (Hallsville, Tyler JC)
The stats: He was one of the premiere JC arms in college from 2010-11. His first season at Tyler he was 9-2 with a 1.82 e.r.a and a 87/17 K/BB ratio in 78 IP.. His sophomore season he recorded 4 saves with a 2.49 e.r.a and 23 K in 22 IP. He pitched for the Pump Jacks after that first season saving 9 games with a 44/7 k/bb ratio in 34 IP. After sitting out last year when he did not qualify he made up time with the Pump Jacks saving 20 games and striking out 46 while walking just 3 in 33 IP. He had a 1-1 record and a 1.09 e.r.a.
Rain Delay Chatter: Twitter @JasonJester20
The skinny: Simply has an electric arm that can dial it up in the mid to upper 9â€™s. He gets plenty of late life and works with a solid change and slurve that he uses to keep hitters off-balance. He is a big upside guy and we have seen a run on college relievers lately.
Royals chances: Good if he goes into the 3rd-6th rounds.
The Scoutâ€™s Eye by Don Olsen â€“ Easily the biggest prospect in terms of professional baseball on the roster. The compact flame thrower who sits 93-95 mph and can touch 96 mph from time to time, reports from Texas Summer League scouts have him hitting 97-98 mph. Because of size and lower leg drive makes some fear â€œmax effortâ€, he is logical to sit in the back of the bullpen. He delivery is a bit upright, due to size, but clean arm that is from a higher slot, so if he could refine a solid change-up there is no reason to not try him out in the rotation. Serious bite on the curve, gets some horizontal movement, especially when he snaps it off 81-82 mph. Clean two pitch mix that could have him picked somewhere in round two if the 97-98 mph is caught over multiple guns.
5- Jacoby Jones– The Facts: 6â€™3 200, R/R. Junior at LSU, Richton, Miss (Richton HS)
- â€¢ The Stats: Freshman HS: 6,30..482,27 SB
- â™£ Sophomore HS: 8,33,.520,33 SB
- â™£ Junior HS:Â 7,40,.517,30 SB
- â™£ Senior HS: 9,46,.503,42 SB
- â™£ Freshman LSU: 4,32,.338,12 SB
- â™£ Sophomore LSU: 4,29,.253,11 SB
- â™£ Cape 2012: 4,13,.278, 5 SB
The Skinny: One of the most decorated baseball players in the history of Mississippi High School Baseball. He was the 2010 HS Player of the Year for his state. He was an All-American and holds the state record for most career hits. He has started 110 games at 2B in his LSU career with 8 more starts in CF. He also saw time at SS on the Cape. He really struggled with the bat as a sophomore but settled in after moving back to 2B. He is a terrific athlete who was a strong safety and wide receiver in football. He is considered the best athlete on the LSU team. He is my favorite college position player because of the energy he brings to every game between the lines. I look at him and I see a ton of potential and the statement before this makes him a solid choice for the Diamondbacks (you get it?) The power will come and he was the winner of the 2012 Cape Cod HR hitting contest. I see him as a CF in the future.
Royals chances: Good, if he makes it to their 2nd pick
The Scoutâ€™s Eye with Don Olsen: A top shelf athlete that passes any eyeball test, gifted with speed and power to spare. Â The tools are all present, the bat speed and path, his ability to get leverage, the sound off the bat, every single facet has massive potential. Â He has a heavy pull swing, gets rolled over a lot on outside off speed, pitch recognition on off-speed is an overall concern to this point, as he stretches the zone with them. Â Quality speed on the outside fastball can cause problems, some of the long extension through the zone, but he can connect with power to all fields. Â If he catches it, he will ride it. Â Overall, a bit of collapsing in the swing. He can showcase power, but his contact and eyes must improve to showcase it long-term. Â He is not an elite runner, but should maintain above average ability. Â Defensively, I think he has the range, quick twitch, and footwork to play second base at the next level, but power profile could shift him to third, and enough athletic chops to play the outfield to enhance his versatility. Â He is a top round athletic talent that most teams think compensatory or round two guy. Â If he can improve his contact this spring, the sky is the limit with his skill set and his stock could soar into round one.