Rockies, Rays waste no time signing picks

There has yet to be a flurry of signings in what has been a slow first four weeks since the draft in early June, as just six of 32 first-round picks are under contract. The Tampa Bay Rays, who had 10 of the first 60 picks, continue to lead the pack having signed eight of their first 12 selections, including one of their three first-rounders.

Among the most recent signings is Colorado Rockies second-round pick Carl Thomore, an outfielder from East Brunswick, N.J., who inked last week and got his pro career under way this week. The Rockies also signed supplemental first-round pick Trevor Story, a shortstop out of Irving, Texas. Story is expected to join Thomore in short-season rookie-level Casper in the Pioneer League later this week. Colorado now has 26 of their first 36 selections under contract.

&#8226 The Chicago White Sox, who did not select until No. 47 overall, signed that pick Tuesday. Central Arizona Junior College outfielder Keenyn Walker received just under $800,000.

&#8226 Seattle inked fourth-round pick John Hicks, a catcher from the University of Virginia. Hicks is the highest among Seattle's draft picks to have signed, followed by Rancho Cucamonga High School (Calif.) outfielder James Zamarripa, the club's sixth-round choice.

&#8226 M's third-round compensation pick, right-hander Carter Capps out of Mount Olive College in North Carolina, is throwing in the Cape Cod League to improve his value this summer. Capps whiffed 11 in 10 1/3 innings of work, allowing just seven hits. He has not allowed a walk.

&#8226 Baltimore Orioles 12th-round pick Jason Coats, an outfielder out of TCU, has shown well on the Cape, batting .359/.425/.465 with seven doubles entering Wednesday's games. Players selected in round 12 generally receive low six-figure bonuses, but Coats, who had a chance at first-day territory when the spring began, could be earning a half-million or more by proving his worth with the wood bat.

&#8226 Seattle's 16th-round pick Jack Marder, recently converted from infielder to catcher, has shown a solid approach and line-drive stroke on the Cape. He's just a sophomore, however, so he has leverage in negotiations and anything he does positive this summer only drives up the price.

&#8226 LSU might get their shortstop back next season, as Austin Nola, a 31st-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays, is hitting .154 with just two extra-base hits for Harwich. He'd be a senior in next year's class, but since it's not expected to be quite as deep, Nola could help himself to return to school.

Class of 2012

&#8226 Georgia Southern right fielder Victor Roache is tied with Coats for the No. 2 in the batting race in the Cape Cod League at .359, but adds power and patience to the stat sheet. The right-handed hitting Roach is tied for the circuit lead with four home runs, showing early why he could land in the first round next June.

&#8226 Oklahoma State southpaw Andrew Heaney sat 90-93 mph with his fastball last time out, the best velocity he's shown to date. He's whiffed 28 batters in 28 frames and flashes of a decent breaking ball. "There's some pitchability there," noted one scout in attendance. "He's not very big and needs to get stronger, but he's aggressive. I like that."

Early returns on next year's class

The Prospect Classic, several Area Code Games tryouts and several summer collegiate leagues have taken place over the past few weeks and the early returns on the class of 2012 are solid, yet unspectacular. Keith Law scouted the Prospect Classic, pitting Team USA, full of college players, against U-18 Team USA. Arizona State's Deven Marrero was the star of the two-game series, but it doesn't appear he brings star abilities to the table due to a lack of athletic upside.

One scouting director refused to comment on next year's crop except to say: "It's too soon to say how good 2012 will be, but I'll say this: Two years ago I wasn't all that excited about the 2009 group, and that one turned out to be at least average, I think."

Some area scouts who have been out to see the Area Code tryouts are generally down on the class. "I think we were spoiled last year in this area," one AL East club's area supervisor said. "But this compares to '09." I caught the tryout hosted by Kansas City Royals in the northwest and was underwhelmed, as was Christopher Crawford in Chesapeake, Va., last month.

The states of Texas and Florida, however, are expected to be strong, with one adviser suggesting -- and another crosschecker agreeing -- that it's the best the state will put out in the prep ranks in several years. "It's getting ridiculous down here," the adviser said. "I can't keep up. We've been running ragged since May."

"I'm not sure next year's class isn't better than this year's class right now, a year younger," said the crosschecker. "I had to come in early."

The early returns in the northeast are solid as well, and it looks like that region is the fastest growing area for the draft over the past three years, starting with Angels farmhand Mike Trout out of New Jersey in 2009 and including RHP Tyler Beede from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass., the No. 21 overall pick last month by the Toronto Blue Jays.