The Connie Mack World Series is always littered with draftable talent, and first-rounders are in the Series annually. This year has been a little different, though. The first round of this year’s CMWS has seen potentially four first round picks and a handful of guys who should eventually land within the top few rounds (or at least be paid like it). Let’s look at East Cobb’s Daniel Norris, Arizona Firebird Jake Cole, Midland Redskin Dillon Howard, Florida Legend Luke Jackson, Farmington Cardinal Jake McCasland, and DBAT Mustang Dylan Bundy. All seven of these guys were starters in the CMWS opening round, which took place Friday through Sunday.
Let’s start with two guys who presumably will be off of the 2011 board: McCasland and Jackson. These two righties took center-stage in Sunday’s noon game where the StrikeZone Cardinals of Farmington shut the Florida Legends out, 3-0. Both guys exhibited fastballs early in the game that reached as high as 94. Both guys eventually settled a couple of ticks slower and pitched around 90 most of the game, although McCasland flashed 92 a couple of times beyond 100 pitches. Jackson exited early after recording just 12 outs. He was taken by the Rangers with the 45th pick overall and likely will either accept a bonus in the seven figure range or head to the U, where he can continue to surf on the side and between starts. His slim build makes his arm velocity surprising, but it’s real and projectable. The Rangers cannot afford to blow this one because doing so will mean that they failed to sign their first pitcher in consecutive drafts after they were unable to sign Matt Purke in 2009. Jackson’s relatively late ascension into the upper echelons of amateur pitching prospects has left him lacking a third pitch capable of getting both sides of the plate out, which caused him problems against the Cardinals in the form of an Andrew Castillo moon-shot, but his slider has good pace and decent tilt and projects to at least average. When trying to slow it down, though, he slowed his arm speed considerably and lost some command. I expect the Rangers to get a deal done before the deadline. Rumor is $2 million seals the deal.
McCasland showed his typical great command and good tilt on a 12-6 breaking ball as well as the best changeup I have ever seen from him. Leaving the pen Jake was attempting to get a little more speed differential between the two straight pitches by choking a tad harder. It worked. McCasland struck 11 Legends out, a squad that saw 14 kids taken in 2010’s draft in 108 pitches. He was selected in the 38th round by the Giants, and they have been in attendance every start since then. McCasland felt as though he deserved 4th round money or better. Rumor is he earned it on Sunday and will have the papers in front of him ready to sign early this week.
Daniel Norris of the East Cobb Yankees and Jake Cole of the Arizona Firebirds tossed Friday night’s opening game, and Norris came out the victor. He has been ranked as highly as the top prep arm in the nation by a number of scouting services. The lefty’s fastball hit 96, but his off-speed stuff has a long way to go. His curve exhibited bad tilt and worse pace, occasionally dipping into the 60’s. He didn’t need it, because his fastball was good enough to beat Arizona regardless. His body projects very well, and his mechanics exhibited decent polish. That polish paled in comparison to Cole, however. While Cole will not be eligible until the 2013 draft due to his commitment to North Carolina, he is a guy to watch out for then. Currently his stuff only occasionally reaches 90, but he has three average pitches, plus command, good genes, and a projectable body. The only question is whether he will develop into a hitter or a pitcher. He was the best prep player in Tucson this spring, and the southwest is sad to see him leaving.
Dillon Howard of Midland looked like a combination of Cole’s off-speed stuff and Norris’s fastball pace. I would be very surprised to see him fall out of 2011’s first round due to his repeatable delivery, athleticism, arm speed, and projectable frame. The only thing that might keep him out is his command, which is not quite a 50 yet. He ran fastballs into the mid-90’s and will be able to get both sides of the plate out. I have seen him as high as 5th in the prep ranks and third among righties.
First among righties is often DBAT’s Dylan Bundy. Bundy received 10 runs of support in the first inning and was able to cruise to a mercy rule victory against Louisiana’s Bill Hood Broncos. Still, the Broncos are a quality program, and Bundy was never in trouble. While I was not in attendance, I know the stadium gun flashed 96 a few times. Bundy will undoubtedly land in the first round of 2011’s draft after earning Oklahoma’s Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a sophomore and as a junior. He is about the only player who may deserve to be taken before one of the myriad college arms who should be taken before the rest of the high school class. He possesses potentially four average to above-average pitches and may not even be the Mustangs top guy. That honor might fall to Archie Bradley who has not appeared yet in Farmington but is presumed to be taking the hill Tuesday against the winner of the Cardinals matchup tonight with the Illinois Longshots.
That’s all for now, but I will continue to write as I find time between practices and games this week. Headed to BP at the StrikeZone now. Go Cardinals! We are sending righty and Oklahoma signee Adrian Houser to the mound. He will be on a plane to Chicago for the Under Armour game Tuesday. The Longshots are presumed to be throwing either Joe Claver (Illinois State) or Matt Lynch (Maryland). Longshot and Creighton signee Mike Gerber won Sunday afternoon’s homerun derby and will surely be a tough out tonight.