Draft Watch: California southpaws duke it out
Clarkin-Gonsalves matchup draws scouts; Krook on display in Dante Benedetti Classic
In last week's Draft Watch, the buzz was around a marquee Georgia high school hitter matchup. This week, attention turned to the West, where a pair of SoCal prep lefties faced off. So that's where MLB.com, in its weekly look at amateur baseball action, begins this week's Watch.
Top matchup: Clarkin vs. Gonsalves
Both Ian Clarkin and Stephen Gonsalves have been discussed before. A breakdown of Clarkin came in Week 2 of Draft Watch, while Gonsalves threw in the Major League Scouting Bureau's Southern California Draft Showcase. But when two top lefties like this square off, it's going to get attention -- as one area scout put it, "That's a scouting director game" -- and warrants checking out how each did.
Interestingly enough, the duo reversed roles in terms of how they had been throwing this spring. Clarkin had largely been sharp, with good stuff and command, while Gonsalves had struggled on both fronts. But they flip-flopped a bit last Thursday.
Clarkin's stuff was still pretty good, with a fastball in the 90-93-mph range, showing an average curve and a very good changeup. But his command was off, working a lot of deep counts and only lasting 4 1/3 innings.
Gonsalves, on the other hand, had better command than usual. He was at 88-91 mph, and some felt he was able to relax on the mound a bit more as his team scratched out a few runs for him. Gonsalves' secondary stuff -- the splitter he uses for his offspeed pitch and his breaking ball -- still remain a work in progress. But on this day, Gonsalves came out ahead as his Cathedral Catholic team beat Clarkin and James Madison, 4-1.
Other high school pitchers
Scouts also spent a good amount of time over the weekend in Northern California, with many checking out another interesting high school southpaw in Matt Krook.
Krook and his St. Ignatius team took part in the Dante Benedetti Classic at AT&T Park on Saturday. The 6-foot-2 lefty showed why scouts want to see him, and also the work he needs to do, all in one outing. He came out of the gate extremely well, firing his fastball up to 94 mph in the early going. But Krook wasn't able to maintain his velocity. He struggled with his delivery and his breaking ball wasn't consistent. Krook did get the victory, but he gave up five runs in the fourth. Still, a big lefty with a good arm won't be ignored, and a team that feels they can help him with his delivery issues might give it a shot.
That Dante Benedetti Classic was a two-for-one deal for scouts. It was a doubleheader, with the one high school game and one college game. So many stuck around to see not only Krook, but University of San Francisco starter Alex Balog.
While the right-hander got the loss, allowing five runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings, some felt it was a bit of a bounce-back effort after a poor outing against Gonzaga the previous week. Balog was up to 94 mph and showed glimpses of four usable pitches. But one scout felt his stuff didn't really jump out, with below-average secondary pitches, and pegged him as more of a back-of-the-rotation type at best.
Scouts not in the San Francisco area may have been in Tennessee for a really solid University of Florida vs. Vanderbilt weekend, including Saturday's game to see Florida's Jonathon Crawford. The right-hander, initially thought to be one of the better college arms in the class, has struggled for much of the spring, and he continued to do so Saturday. His pure stuff is still there, with plenty of arm strength. But Crawford's mechanics -- and as a result, his command -- are way off. He allowed six runs on 12 hits over six innings against Vandy.
As a quick aside on the 2014 Draft, however, Tyler Beede threw very well on Saturday. The 2011 first-rounder already has scouts buzzing about his top-of-the-Draft potential a year from now.
It can't all be arms, right? There aren't a ton of college bats to talk about, especially at the top of the Draft. The good ones do tend to rise as a result. And some scouts think New Mexico first baseman DJ Peterson will be gone before the first half of the first round is over.
Peterson went 3-for-12 against Nevada over the weekend, with a double and two RBIs in Friday's contest. But he nevertheless impressed with both his ability to hit and his plus power. There are some college hitters with power (Kris Bryant) and some who can hit (Colin Moran), but some feel Peterson has the best combination of the two tools in this class.
High school hitters
Going from a big bopper to more of a table-setter type, Draft Watch finishes off back in the Georgia high school ranks. Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier may get most of the publicity, but there's a lot to like about Parkview's Josh Hart.
Hart profiles as a top-of-the-order type, a guy who will use his speed on both sides of the ball to be a basestealing threat and a good defender in the outfield. He's a slashing, slap-and-run hitter, an outstanding athlete who reminds some of a Denard Span or Ben Revere-type player.