Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feelin' a draft (April edition)

Carlos Rodon's draft stock
has apparently slipped in the
past few months, but he's still
expected to be a high pick in June.
Baseball's amateur draft is a bit less than two months away. The Twins have the fifth overall pick. What's the outlook?

The issue of Baseball America that showed up in my mailbox Tuesday has BA's "midseason update" on draft prospects. As was the case when the college season began in February, this year's crop appears heavier on pitchers than on position players.

But the guy who was expected to top everybody's draft list has apparently sagged.

The word last summer was that if Carlos Rodon, a left-handed pitcher for North Carolina State, had been eligible, he would have been the first overall selection. He was the preseason consensus as the top prospect for this year.

But his fastball velocity has dropped off — 89-92 now, compared to 92-96 as a freshman and sophomore for the Wolfpack, according to BA. His command has diminished as well. He's throwing his slider more, and scouts probably weren't pleased when he threw more than 130 pitches on shorter-than-usual rest last weekend.

BA's current ranking of the top 50 prospects has Rodon third, behind a pair of high school pitchers, Brady Aiken (lefty from San Diego) and Tyler Kolek (righty from Shepherd, Texas).

No high school right-hander has ever gone 1-1, but Kolek is said to have hit 100 mph on the radar guns repeatedly. (This is not necessarily a good thing; an 18-year-old's arm is probably not capable of handling that kind of exertion, Bob Feller being the exception.)

There is only one position player in BA's top eight. Odds are that the Twins will be taking a pitcher with that fifth pick. Which one? Well, there are four teams that have something to say about that before the Twins get to speak their piece, and a lot of baseball to be played (and pitches to be thrown) before that.

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