Notes: Rising to the occasion
Demand for catchers, performance puts Mesoraco in good spot
It happens every draft season, a rising and falling as regular as the rising and setting of the sun.
Every year, without fail, several players see their draft stock skyrocket. There are a variety of explanations for the rise (fallers will be handled next week).
Risers usually come about because of breakout performances in the draft season, a lack of depth at their given position or some combination of the two. A prime example of that would be Texas outfielder Kyle Russell.
Russell has a ton of power, shattering the Longhorns' single-season home-run mark. But there is concern from some that his swing won't play at the pro level with wood and he's a draft-eligible sophomore, giving him some negotiating leverage. But with a severe lack of impact bats at the college level, Russell's power outburst has been well-timed and he could see himself going as early as the latter part of the first round.
Another riser is UC Riverside right-hander James Simmons. The college righty class isn't all that strong, and Simmons has shown consistent performance and tremendous fastball command. He might be looked at as a "safe" pick, but that could be enough to get him into the first round.
As much as that pair has moved up, no one in this draft class has seen his stock rise more than high school catcher Devin Mesoraco. To call it meteoric would be an understatement. The backstop from Punxsatawney, Pa., has moved up for a number of reasons. One has been performance, and there's no doubt that he's helped by the constant need for catching.
He also wasn't really on the map early, because he missed most of 2006 following Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery and he hails from a region that's not normally a stopping point for scouts. That made him a bit of a hidden gem for a while, but once the secret got out about how good he looked, scouts flocked to see him and his stock soared.
"He's the best skill position player in the country," one American League scouting director said. "He's got raw talent other kids just don't possess. He can throw, he can catch and he's got ungodly power. Watching him hit with wood, it's like you're watching Major League batting practice.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
"I still think Josh Vitters is the guy in terms of high school hitters, but Mesoraco's not far behind."
Mesoraco has been getting those kinds of reviews all around baseball and, as a result, his name is creeping up the first-round chart.
Sebring special: Scouts are headed to Sebring, Fla., this weekend to check out the best high school talent the state has to offer. Games in the all-star event began on Friday, and the list of players attending was a veritable who's who of draft prospects.
If you want hitters, there are outfielders like Michael Burgess and Denny Almonte coming. Catcher Yasmani Grandal should be there as well, and he should get the opportunity to catch a number of the state's best arms. Michael Main, Nevin Griffith and Jonathan Bachanov, among others, will all be throwing. The timing worked pretty well, with many scouting directors being able to hit the ACC Tournament in Jacksonville first before heading to the high school event. The college players can be seen another time in regional play, but this could be the last shot to see prep players in action.
"If you want a last look at 10-12 high school guys, this is the place to be," the AL scouting director said.
Brackman scratched again: Those who were hoping to see North Carolina State right-hander Andrew Brackman take the mound this weekend will have to wait another week.
He didn't make his last scheduled start of the regular season a week ago, with arm fatigue given as the reason. The hope was he'd be able to take the start on Saturday of the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech.
In the end, there's much more going on than a tired arm. Brackman's girlfriend was killed in a car accident late last week and it was reported he wasn't even with the team when the tournament opened on Wednesday. It was learned on Friday that he would not start on Saturday. It would be extremely understandable if Brackman wasn't mentally prepared to return to the mound just yet.
As of right now, the plan is to have Brackman, who did rejoin the team, throw a side session on Saturday. That would help him get ready to make a start in regional play, most likely next Friday for the Wolfpack's second game. It should be the last time scouts will be able to evaluate him on the mound during a game before the draft.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.