Team USA had a short and sweet summer. They did not have any international travel and did not have many showcases this season as opposed to in years past. The Cape Cod League All-Star game is coming up next week, signifying the beginning of the end for the rest of the college players this summer. Below is a list of the top five names that have really made a name for themselves over 2011 and put themselves in a position to be very high picks in the 2012 draft:
(The high school All-American games will be played in August and Draftsite will have a top five player list in the coming weeks)
College – Stanford
Position - RHP
Height – 6’5’’
Weight – 190
Strengths – Appel possesses great height for a pitcher, with a frame that has room to fill out, offering plenty of projection down the road. He has a low effort delivery and an extremely quick arm, along with easy arm action that produces 97 MPH heat. His pitches have very good movement; can run his fastball in on righties with terrific arm side run. He has a slider that could partner with his fastball for another out pitch; he also has a change-up. He pitches well out of the windup.
Weaknesses – His mechanics seem more balanced and smooth out of the windup, as opposed to the stretch. He can pitch across his body at times. He can also slow down his arm some for his off-speed pitches – professional hitters will pick up on this.
Summary – Overall it is not hard to see why Appel’s name is in the running for the top overall spot in the 2012 draft. He has the perfect size for a potential front of the line pitcher. He pitched extremely well in a showcase game against the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars at Fenway this summer, causing most scouts to call him the best pitcher in college baseball. Mark Appel is a name to know and follow on a stacked Stanford Cardinal team in 2012.
College – Texas A&M
Position - RHP
Height – 6’6’’
Weight – 195
Strengths – Another arm with great size and, like Appel, has room to grow into his frame. He is a good athlete for a pitcher. He has good mechanics, which he repeats well. He has a balanced delivery, solid arm speed, and his arm action is loose, producing mid to high 90’s heat. He also has a plus change with good sink, along with a curve ball. He uses his frame for leverage, throwing from a good downhill plane. He turns his back slightly in his delivery which causes him to throw across his body from time to time. However, he makes it work for him, adding deception and hiding the ball well from the hitters.
Weaknesses – He could afford to finish more out in front and over his front leg better. There is some effort to his delivery but with the slightest blink you’ll miss its head jerk. Although, it is nowhere near the head movement of Taylor Jungman.
Summary – Wacha has really made a name for himself in his sophomore season and has impressed many scouts in a shortened summer. He has the talent to challenge for the top college pitcher spot and certainly has room for more velocity. There is some effort to his delivery but it does not throw him off as he is usually around the plate.
College – LSU
Position - RHP
Height – 6’4’’
Weight – 185
Strengths - Gausman is long limbed and lean, and, like Appel and Wacha, has plenty of room left to grow into his frame. Really closes his hips, which gives him good torque and produces a mid 90’s fastball – touching 97 mph. His fastball has very good late life and has a very good change-up. His delivery is smooth and balanced and he repeats it well. His mechanics are extremely easy and loose. A quick worker, gets it and goes. He is also a very good athlete and moves well off the mound to field his position.
Weaknesses – He has a slight back turn that can add slight deception but it also causes him to miss the plate and lose command at times and miss up in the zone. Like many other young pitches his secondary offerings could use work; his curve can get loopy at times. At this point he is more of a thrower than a pitcher. His arm action can get long in the back. He will probably need to work more on pitching from the stretch; his leg kick is long and is not exceptionally quick to the plate.
Summary – Pitching at Fenway this summer, Gausman struggled and caused a lot of scouts to question his spot in the first round. It was obviously an overreaction to one sub-par three inning outing because he went on to pitch well in the rest of his outings. He is sophomore-eligible in 2012 and while there are some obvious weaknesses, the talent is not hard to spot.
College – Arizona State University
Position – SS
Height – 6’1’’
Weight – 172
Strengths – Right away you notice his athletic stance at the plate, with his weight evenly distributed. He has a solid set up at the plate, with his hands at shoulder height allowing him to have a short path to the ball. There are not a lot of moving parts to his swing. He has solid hip rotation and a quiet foot plant; He gets his front side firm and gets tall on his back foot. He stands close to the plate, giving him excellent plate coverage. Marrero has very solid bat speed and shows a very good eye. He has a good high finish at the plate and can take pitches the other way, using a solid inside out swing on inside pitches. He should hit for a good average. In the field he is a plus defender, he won Pac-10 defensive player of the year. He is very smooth, with great range and plus actions. He also has a plus throwing arm.
Weaknesses – Don’t see a ton of power; Probably doesn’t hit for anything more than average power. He can be fooled at times and get caught with his weight forward, causing him to roll over some pitches.
Summary – In a summer with no Anthony Rendon or George Springer, Marrero showed he was the best hitter on Team USA. He is a good hitter at a premium position, and although he may not hit for a ton of power, it should be more than enough at short. Right now he is positioning himself as the top hitter in college baseball.
College – Georgia Southern University
Position – OF/1B
Height – 6’1
Weight – 225
Strengths – Power, power, and more power. He is tremendously strong. He has shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate. He went from seven home runs his freshman year to 30 his sophomore year. Roache has shown he can handle wood bats; he leads or is near the lead in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in at the Cape Cod League. He has outstanding bat speed and extremely quick hands. He shows very good patience at the plate. He is a decent fielder.
Weaknesses - Although he is a decent fielder, he has no definite position and will probably only be able to stick at first base as his lower half continues to fill out. His speed is solid right now but will probably lose a step as he gets bigger. Arm is only decent, though it should be more than enough for first base. At the plate he keeps a lot of his weight back and struggled with off speed pitches. Like most power hitters, should strike out some. He could afford to get taller on his back foot, giving him better hip rotation.
Summary – His game is built primarily on power but he has shown the tools to be a good overall hitter. Even with the new wood-composite bats taking over college this year, cutting down on most players' power, Roache has taken off and shown he can handle any bat. As of right now he doesn’t have a permanent position but if he is stuck at first, he has everything needed to be very good there. Roache is a big name to follow in 2012 and has positioned himself to be a top 15 pick right now.