Big matchups loom in tight schedule
Scouts must criss-cross country in 27 days to see prospects
Twenty-seven days. Just shy of four weeks.
That's all the time scouts have to criss-cross the country and see as many players as humanly -- some would say inhumanely -- possible. There will be thousands of miles flown and driven, countless wake-up calls at hotels and as many amateur games as can be crammed into a 27-day period.
At this time of year, scouting directors in particular are going back to see top players a second and, if they are lucky, a third time. If there are two players in one game worth checking out, all the better. If they can get to two games in one day, that's a huge bonus.
Just where are the scouts heading this weekend? While it's hard to pinpoint where all the action will be with so many players still garnering top-of-the-draft buzz, there are few locations that will be sure to draw high-level interest.
Clemson at Florida State
Clemson's Friday night starter Daniel Moskos began the year getting a lot of attention as a closer who could move fast through a system. The Tigers, mostly for team need, moved him into the rotation a month and a half ago. This will be the left-hander's sixth start of the season, and he'll bring his four-pitch mix to the table against the No. 2 ranked team in the country, Florida State. Moskos is being mentioned as a possible top-five pick, so this will be a good test for him with a lot of decision-makers on hand. As a bonus, late riser Tony Thomas, FSU's second baseman who's hitting .439 this year, will take his hacks against Moskos.
North Carolina State at Virginia
Andrew Brackman has been a little tough to figure out. The former two-sport standout who began focusing on baseball only this year has gotten some mixed reviews. His results have been so-so, and he now pitches on Saturday instead of Friday (good news for scouts who can see Moskos on Friday night, then head to Virginia to see Brackman the following day). But the raw stuff is still getting praise from many who predict that while he's no longer in consideration for one of the top couple of picks, he's not going to slide far. Virginia's top draft prospect is Sean Doolittle, a two-way player. Those who like him as a hitter can see how he fares against the Major League caliber stuff the 6-foot-10 Brackman has. Then they can always stick around on Sunday to get a look at Doolittle on the mound.
Seton Hall Prep vs. Newark Academy
There are some terrific pitchers this year from the Northeast, particularly from the high school ranks. The main issue in terms of drafting them is they get such a late start on their season because of the weather, at least when compared the kids in California, Florida or Texas. That being said, Rick Porcello is a legit top pick. With the truncated season in the region, every start is an important one, and you can be sure plenty of scouts will be on hand to watch Porcello and his top ranked high school team take the field at Verona High School on Saturday.
Horizon High School vs. Brophy High School
With a win behind prospect Kevin Rhoderick on Thursday, Horizon advanced to the championship in Arizona, which will be played on Saturday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. On the mound will be Horizon ace Tim Alderson, who could go somewhere in the second half of the first round, facing the second-ranked high school team in the country in Brophy (Seton Hall Prep is No. 1; Horizon is ranked No. 11 according to Baseball America and the National High School Baseball Coaches Association). It's an opportunity, as one scout put it, to "see a kid perform in a situation that's outside the norm, where either the pressure or the stakes are higher. It's a start." It also may be the last time they get to see Alderson throw in a truly competitive setting.
Midland Christian High School vs. Lub. Montery High School
Midland is embroiled in a best-of-three series in the Class 5A playoffs in Texas, and it's still somewhat up in the air when their ace Chris Withrow will throw. There's a chance he could be brought in for relief work for Game 2 on Friday, much to the chagrin of scouts. The best-case scenario for them would be for the series to go that third game and have Withrow start that game on Saturday morning (11 a.m. CT). That way, they'd be able to get in two games in one day. More than one of them will be high-tailing it to this game:
Shreveport Sports at Fort Worth Cats
It's a four-hour drive from Midland to Fort Worth and with the morning game for Withrow, that leaves just enough time for scouts to make it to this indy-league game. Why would scouts of amateur players want to take in an American Association tilt? To see Max Scherzer, of course. Scherzer, if you've forgotten, was taken No. 11 overall by the Diamondbacks last June and is still officially under their control. But Scherzer could be this year's Luke Hochevar and reportedly was clocked as high as 98 mph in his first outing with Fort Worth. There's no doubt scouting directors have added his schedule the rest of the way to their BlackBerries: May 18, May 23, May 28, June 2.
Big Canadian kid at Lynx Stadium
Quebec high schooler Phillipe Aumont has been rising up the charts every time he's taken the mound. The only problem is that he hasn't done it that often because of his location. He made a pair of outings in Orlando that started the buzz and it continued with a longer appearance in Ottawa last Sunday. He's making another one on Mother's Day at 10 a.m. ET. From there, he'll pitch a couple of times in the Dominican, so there will be plenty of visitors going north of the border for this one.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.