05 April 2012

2012 Draft Coverage: Finding 1:4, Weekly Pref List (April 6, 2012)

Apologies for the delay in updating the pref list -- I had an extended trip in Louisiana followed by an avalanche of work at the office. The good news is that, in addition to it being opening day, we have first hand updates on Kevin Gausman (rhp, LSU), Gavin Cecchini (ss, Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.) and Stryker Trahan (c, Acadiana HS, Lafayette, La.).

Stop one on my Bayou baseball bender was Gavin Cecchini in action against Carencro High School in Lafayette, La. Cecchini was clean in the field and, as always, had a focused approach. He oozes confidence and comfort, and was effortless when tested. Most impressive on the day was his ability to turnover two difficult double-plays while registering solid velocity readings on the throw to first. It was far from an impressive display at the plate, as Cecchini struggled to square-up well below-par pitching, keeping open that bit of doubt that his offensive profile is top ten worthy (even at the shortstop position). Still, he remains one of the best make-up kids in the top of the class and should have no trouble sticking at short. He hit and hit well throughout the summer showcase circuit and in Jupiter, so his struggles on Thursday were more of a disappointment than a red flag.

Friday night saw Kevin Gausman take the mound for LSU against Arkansas. Gausman has shown some inconsistency throughout the first month of the season, but for the better part of 6.2 innings threw like a potential 1:1 arm last Friday. The LSU ace climbed to 98 mph with his fastball in the first and generally sat 94-96 mph for the remainder of the game. The biggest growth in Gausman's game since he was drafted out of high school in 2010 has been in his secondaries. Each of his breaking balls and his change-up all had above-average moments, and four of his final six strikeouts (he totaled twelve) came on sliders that he set-up beautifully with his fastball. Gausman has the highest ceiling of the top three college arms in this draft class, and is a legit option for Houston with the first overall pick. Over the next two months he'll look to show consistency and try to avoid the temporary lapses in command that can cause his stuff to hug too much of the plate.

The final pref list target I took in while in Louisiana was Acadiana catacher Stryker Trahan. Trahan was one of the most impressive performers this past summer, showing plus raw power and enough athleticism and arm strength to project at catcher, long term. Saturday's showing was not a strong one for the Ole Miss commit, and he showed an inability to corral almost anything in the dirt behind the plate, and had difficulty handling throws from the outfield. He flashed multiple pop times on the north side of 2-seconds -- primarily as a result of inconsistent footwork that cut-off his release -- but did manage to break off a 1.85 before the day was out. At the plate, Trahan was generally pitched around, but was able to show off his raw pop and ability to let the ball travel with a monstrous opposite field homerun. There is a lot to like about Trahan, but he struggled enough behind the plate to at least raise a question as to whether he has the feel to stick at catcher, long term.

One unfortunate note before jumping to the current preference list: Ohio prep southpaw Matt Smoral may be out the rest of the season after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot. I've made the decision to drop him off the list, as it looks like he will likely not be able to throw prior to the draft, and had enough questions surrounding his game that I don't think it makes sense to consider him at 1:4 with no opportunity for him to show advances in his development. I'm still very much a believer in his ability, but he should no longer be considered a viable candidate for Baltimore. I've added Florida prep righty Zach Eflin in his place -- more on Eflin in the coming weeks.

Below is my updated preference list for 1:4 targets. In two weeks we will narrow to ten targets; the first week of May we will narrow to five targets.

Current Preference List (April 6, 2012)
1. Mark Appel, rhp, Stanford Univ.
2. Byron Buxton, of, Appling County HS (Baxley, Ga.)
3. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana St. Univ.
4. Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Univ. of San Francisco
5. Mike Zunino, c, Univ. of Florida
6. Albert Almora, of, Mater Acad. (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
7. Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
8. Gavin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS (Lake Charles, La.)
9. Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona St. Univ.
10. Max Fried, lhp, Harvard-Westlake HS (Studio City, Calif.)
11. Carlos Correa, ss, Puerto Rico Baseball Acad. (Gurabo, P.R.)
12. Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS (Lafayette, La.)
13. Zach Eflin, rhp, Hagerty HS (Chuluota, Fla.)
14. David Dahl, of, Oak Mountain HS (Birmingham, Ala.)
15. Walker Weickel, rhp/1b, Olympia HS (Fla.)

Dropped-out: Matt Smoral, lhp, Solon HS (Solon, Ohio)

For today's draft video, here's the new addition to the pref list (Zach Eflin) in action at the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter this past October:

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