Prep Prospects for 2011 MLB Draft Impress at Wrigley Field
With impressive young talents like Bubba Starling, Hudson Boyd among others on display, the action in Chicago served as a good opener to this two-act weekend of All-American action. Here is what I saw from the first set of All-Americans on Saturday in Chicago.
Bubba Starling, OF/RHP -- Starling is an exciting player in just about every facet of the game. He's crude but there are very few things he can't do on a baseball field. He's an above-average runner and showed tremendous raw power to the deepest parts of Wrigley Field in batting practice. Starling also showed off his strong and accurate throwing arm from the outfield.
And let's not forget the young man can pitch as well. Although I think, given the raw nature of his delivery and tools elsewhere on the field, his future is likely in the outfield, there's a lot to like on the mound as well. The 6-foot-5 right-hander worked at 90-92 mph with his fastball on Saturday and topped at 93 a few times. He also showed the ability to throw his potentially plus curveball for strikes on a consistent basis at 73-75 mph.
Dante Bichette Jr., 3B -- You may remember this name. Bichette's father was a long-time productive big leaguer and it appears his son may have the same type of future ahead of him. Unlike his father, Bichette has a complex swing with a pronounced leg kick and hip turn during his load. But to his credit, as complex as it looks, he continues to make it work. Bichette showed off big power potential in batting practice and a relaxed, patient approach in game action.
Jacob Anderson, 1B -- Anderson was among my favorites following the PG National and he continued to impress at Under Armour, showing off plus bat speed and big-time power and sending a couple shots completely out of Wrigley during the home run derby. He's lanky and athletic, so I'd like to see how he looks at other positions aside from first base, but he showed good hands and quick feet around the bag. At the plate, Anderson has the look of a 30-home run bat from the right side.
Rookie Davis, 1B/RHP -- Scouts are likely to be split on where Davis should be, as he's another player who also impressed on the mound. But, based on Saturday's action his potent bat is awfully tempting. He has a thick frame and probably will be limited to first base as a position player. Even with that said, the bat more than makes up for his lack of defensive versatility. Many players showed power on Saturday, but it was Davis who hit the most shots and had the swing that most closely resembled that of a big-league slugger. He has the ability to hit the ball out even on his front foot and drove the ball as consistently as any player at the event. So despite his 90-91 mph fastball on the mound, his light-tower tower power and big-league size make him very intriguing as a position player.
Nicky Delmonico, C -- Perhaps the most refined hitter at the event, Delmonico showed off a professional approach at the plate and a compact swing that produced consistent line drives. Right now his swing is more geared toward hitting line drives, but the lefty-swinging Delmonico also flashed above-average power to right-center field.
Addison Russell, INF - An exciting all-around talent, showing off athleticism and speed, Russell was most impressive with his bat. He hits from a strong base and uses his hands exceptionally well. That quick swing produced some of the hardest shots of the day in BP and some of the longest drives into the bleachers. His hands are a little busy in game action and his patience will have to come around, but there are some fantastic offensive skills to work with here.
Nick Burdi, RHP -- Working from a slinging delivery, Burdi looked like one of the tougher at-bats of the day. And his raw stuff was clearly among the best as well. Burdi worked at 93-94 mph in a dominant and brief one-inning stint. He showed outstanding life and movement on that fastball, as well a sharp, short low-80s slider. He went right after hitters, challenging with mainly fastballs and showed a good feel for his secondary pitches around the edges of the plate.
Hudson Boyd, RHP -- Boyd continues to convince me he is one of the more complete prep pitchers in the 2011 class, as he stood out again on Saturday among the best arms in the nation. He worked at 91-93 mph with his fastball, touching 94 a handful of times. Boyd repeats his delivery as well as any prep arm I've seen this summer and the ball comes out very clean. He continued to show that he's a three-pitch pitcher, as he mixed in a sharp curveball with good downer action at 75-77 mph and a solid-average changeup at 81-83. With this three-pitch attack, clean mechanics, and above-average command he proved to be the day's most complete pitcher.
Brandon Woodruff, RHP -- Yet another player with two-way potential, Woodruff is a bit more of a clear case for me, as he showed off some impressive skills on the mound. Woodruff has a large, thick frame and uses his strong lower half to his advantage in his delivery. The big righty worked at 90-92 mph with his fastball, but what stood out the most was his secondary attack. He has the potential to have both an above-average changeup and curveball. Working at 76-80 mph, his curveball had some late 11-5 action and big depth. And he showed an above-average feel for his changeup at 80-81, which nicely matched the two-seam spin on his fastball.
Lance McCullers, RHP -- The only downside to McCullers' outing on Saturday was that we'll have to wait until 2012 for him to be eligible for the draft. He was far and away the best arm on display in Chicago, sitting 95-97 mph with his fastball. McCullers has a lightning-quick arm and was able to maintain his velocity throughout a lengthy inning of work. As his long one-inning stint would indicate, command is still a bit of an issue for the young righty. He tends to fall in love with his plus low-80s breaking ball as well. But at his age you just have to be excited about the outstanding raw stuff.
Spenser Linney, LHP -- Despite a strong showing of talent overall, Under Armour was lacking a bit in left-handed arms. But Spenser Linney did his best to make up for that lack of depth. He's a bit crude but his snappy, high-3/4 arm action and 89-91 mph fastball from the left side make him one of the more interesting southpaws in the country. His velocity plays up, and his tall, extra-thin frame makes me think we're going to see a couple more ticks when he fills out and the delivery gets cleaned up.
Other Players Of Note
Chris McFarland, SS -- Continued to show plus raw power and good feel with the bat during game action.
Kyle Smith, RHP -- Best feel for pitching at the event, Smith showed better raw stuff this time around than in previous events, working at 89-91 mph with the fastball.
Mason Robbins, OF -- Showed an average outfield arm, but impressed in a big way at the plate. Smooth lefty swing produced big power to the gaps.
Bryan Brickhouse, RHP -- Entered the game pumping fastballs at 92-93 before seeming to lose it. Later was examined by the trainer for what appeared to be some discomfort in his arm.
Frankie Piliere spent the last three seasons working as a scout, most recently in the professional scouting department for the Texas Rangers in 2009. He now serves as the National Baseball Analyst here at FanHouse.