Draft Watch: Gonzales outpitches Frazier
The Draft landscape changes drastically, it seems, almost daily. It makes an exercise like MLB.com's Top 100 Draft prospects list interesting, as arguments for changes in the rankings could be made on a regular basis. Draft Watch is here to try and document the shifts, taking a look at some of the players who have impacted their stock in the last week.
Top matchup: Gonzales vs. Frazier
There are far worse places to have to go watch college baseball than the Pepperdine campus in Malibu, Calif. But scouts didn't flock there just for the climate and scenery. On Friday, there was a very good pitching matchup to take in, with both starters in the Top 50 of MLB.com's Top 100 Draft prospects.
At this game, it was Gonzaga lefty Marco Gonzales, No. 19 on the list, who bested Pepperdine's Scott Frazier, who comes in at No. 33. Gonzales, a fine athlete who is also one of the Zags' best hitters, went seven strong innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) on eight hits, walking one and striking out three. He has a 2.57 ERA in 70 innings. While Gonzales doesn't necessarily have "wow" stuff -- though his changeup can be a plus offspeed offering -- he just knows how to pitch. He has a solid three-pitch mix and commands the ball exceptionally well, leading one scout to say that Gonzales is going to pitch in the big leagues for a very long time.
Frazier is a little more enigmatic. The right-hander only gave up three hits over 5 2/3 innings, but because of his six walks, he was tagged for six runs (five earned). Most of the damage came in the sixth, after five dominant innings. He has a 4.92 ERA on the season, as he's walked 3.86 per nine innings. Frazier has a very good arm, one that was firing fastballs into the mid-90s on Friday, but his mechanics were far from sound in this start and others, leaving his Draft stock a little bit up in the air.
Other college arms
Oklahoma State redshirt sophomore Jason Hursh is only a few spots behind Frazier on the Top 100, at No. 38. And in some ways, he's cut from the same cloth as the Pepperdine right-hander.
Hursh won his outing against Kansas State on Friday, allowing two runs on 11 hits while walking two and striking out seven. Hursh had Tommy John surgery in August 2011, and while he's been largely effective (2.62 ERA), it remains to be seen just what he is. He has a lot of arm strength, with a fastball that routinely hits the mid-90s. But his secondary stuff was all fringy -- at best -- on Friday. If Hursh can develop those pitches, he can start. If not, a life in the bullpen might be in the offing.
High school arms
Heading into the 2013 season, one of the more intriguing players in the class was Indiana high schooler Trey Ball.
Ball was perhaps the best two-way talent, high school or college, in the entire class. That's not to say there weren't other talented athletes who both pitch and hit -- like Gonzales -- but Ball was a player who no one was sure which side he'd be looked at by teams leading up to the Draft. He performed well both on the mound and at the plate during the summer showcase tour, and there did seem to be a good debate among scouts about where he was better.
That debate appears to be over, largely because of how good Ball has been on the mound. No. 17 on MLB.com's list, Ball might have to move up a few notches with the way he's been throwing. In his most recent start, Ball was throwing his fastball in the 90-93 mph range, and his solid secondary stuff all projects well. One scout went so far as to say he thought Ball was entering into the top-10 pick conversation.
High school bats
First baseman Dominic Smith has been on radars all season as one of the better high school hitters in the class. Some feel the SoCal area standout, ranked No. 21 on the Top 100, is perhaps the best pure prep hitter in the class, one who was firmly in the first round, with some early projections putting him in the 15-20 range. If Smith keeps performing like he did on Thursday, he could, like Ball, sneak into talk surrounding the top third of the first round.
Smith homered and tripled in that game, which isn't necessarily anything new for him. But there were a good amount of eyes on him, including some higher-up types. Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd was on hand, for instance. Colorado has the No. 3 pick, and that might be a bit too high for Smith, but it does show that teams in the top 10 are making sure they check out the smooth-swinging first baseman. And if he keeps going off in front of brass like that, anything could happen.