Once upon a time, I kept score at every baseball game I went to, without fail. Need a memory? Look back into old scorecards of Albert Pujols as a Peoria Chief, or a Norberto Martin walk-off home run in Comiskey Park.
Slowly, my habit started to die, and I stopped keeping score. Needing something to stay into the game, I've made sure to have a notebook nearby in every stadium I've been to in 2006. Glancing over the pages, I have a lot of thoughts that didn't turn into articles this summer, a lot of lists that are in danger of going unread. Today we'll remedy that problem, as I begin to empty out my 2006 notebook...
After watching Team USA multiple times this summer, I posted a synopsis of my thoughts on SI.com Friday. The article breaks down the top 11 players on the team, but with my notes, I realized I should probably touch on the team's other players. Some quick thoughts on each:
Sean Doolittle (Virginia/So./1B): The ACC Player of the Year took the summer off pitching despite a great spring off the bump. His bat struggled a bit compared to last year (when he led the team in hitting), but Doolittle was still impressive. His defense at first base is almost Major League caliber, touted by Coach Tim Corbin as the best at the college level. He'll never hit more than 15-20 home runs in a season with wood, but he has impressive gap power and a good approach at the plate. At this point it's hard to tell where he’ll be drafted at (first or mound?), but either way, a high selection is a given.
Ross Detwiler (Missouri St./So./LHP): One of the roster's bigger surprises, Detwiler was the first of the original starters to move to the bullpen. A relief role is where he projects best, as scouts do like his 92-94 mph fastball that offers solid projection. However, Detwiler's a bit of a project at this point, with poor command and a raw breaking ball. He has high bust potential, but as a hard-throwing southpaw, a lot of teams will be interested in attempting to refine his stuff.
Brandon Crawford (UCLA/Fr./SS): Very close to making my top 11, Crawford might have been the team's most athletic player. A gifted shortstop, Crawford combined good range with an infield cannon. His bat is a question mark at this point, and he really struggled with a move to wood. He should be back on Team USA next summer, where he'll profile as 2008's Zack Cozart.
Cole St. Clair (Rice/So./LHP): A closer at Rice this spring, St. Clair's stock took the biggest bump in Omaha where he showed a lot of versatility. His ability to pitch multiple innings could lend a starting spot next spring, but his future is relief, where he seems (to me) similar to Gregg Olson.
Nick Hill (Army/Jr./LHP): Intangibles were a large part of Hill's selection to the team, but make no mistake, the kid can pitch. His fastball won't light up radar guns (84-88 mph), but he had as much pitchability as any non-Roemer on the pitching staff. I like Hill's breaking ball some, and while he faces an uphill battle as a pro pitching prospect, I wouldn't bet against him.
Darwin Barney (Oregon St./So./SS): Listed at short, Barney rarely got a chance to play up the middle with Cozart and Crawford on the roster. Instead, he showed versatility this summer, proving able in left field. If he can add 2B and 3B to his resume, Barney will be able to sell himself as a utility player in the Mackowiak/Freel sense, which I always thought he profiled best as. A true tweener.
Roger Kieschnick (Texas Tech/Fr./OF): Brook's cousin, Kieschnick seemed to come up with the big hit late in every game. While there is juice in both his bat and his arm, I did not like Kieschnick. The left-handed right fielder looked really bad against advanced pitching, swinging and missing often. There's a hint of great potential there, but Kieschnick's a long way from achieving it.
Tommy Hunter (Alabama/Fr./RHP): Quite simply, Hunter's stock has limited potential thanks to his bad body. While Hunter has good control of a low 90s fastball and a good slider, he's large in every area. If Tommy doesn't lose weight in the fall, he faces the risk of a serious drop in the draft as a eligible sophomore next year.
Preston Clark (Texas/Fr./C): Clark seems to be a good college player without a ton of potential as a pro prospect. However, his status as a solid receiving catcher should help him land a spot with an organization, and he could be a back-up catcher at the pro level. However, I just didn't see enough hitting ability to like him much.
Tim Federowicz (UNC/Fr./C): A surprise freshman season ended in big fashion, as Federowicz made the team to help Arencibia in the late innings. However, the catcher also found a lot of action on the mound, where he flashed a fastball that touched 90. A good defensive catcher, Federowicz has enough contact ability to be listed as a good '08 prospect.
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After mentioning in last Friday's column that I attended the East Coast Showcase last week, I got a few e-mails asking me who I liked from the event. I won't go into too much detail, because I'm far from being able to properly read players from such limited exposure, but here's a few players to look out for that shined:
Matthew Harvey: A big right-hander from the Northeast, Harvey should have a huge senior season in 2007. In his first outing at the showcase, Harvey struck out the only six batters he faced, showing a fantastic low-to-mid 90s fastball and a big, slow curveball he could throw for strikes. A likely top 15 pick.
John Tolisano: Apparently, Tolisano has been around the block, competing on the showcase circuit for years. His comfort level was apparent, and Tolisano had a fantastic batting practice, hitting multiple home runs. I think he's a third baseman at the pro level, but his bat will be enough to handle the position switch.
Hunter Morris: An Alabama shortstop, Morris will also likely move positions, probably to left field. He showed the most power of any hitter I saw, hitting 4-5 home runs in batting practice. He's a mess defensively, but his bat is first round caliber.
Michael Main: The top-ranked prep player next year, I only saw Main hit and take outfield practice, I wasn't there to see him pitch. However, Main's outfield practice blew away everyone else, and he showed fantastic speed down the lines. With an 80 arm and good speed, it was easy to see why Main is valued as a future top-5 pick.
Drew Cumberland: I'll end with a sleeper, as Cumberland is hardly valued in the same breath as these other players. However, I thought the world of Cumberland, who showed soft hands and a big arm at short, where I think he'll stay at the next level. He also took a good batting practice, showing projectable power and a good offensive approach.