"The early signs say it's a pretty good class," said one regional scouting supervisor. "It's probably both better than the past two years and certainly the talent -- when we're talking about legitimate prospects to pitch at the top (of the rotation) or hit in the top five of the lineup -- it's a class with a lot more depth, too."
At the MLB draft blog we've been covering the Cape Cod League, we're monitoring the other summer leagues for new players to watch and there's Team USA in full swing, too. But the summer showcases are coming up as well, including the Aflac All-American game on August 15.
The rosters were set earlier this month -- have a look -- and a few of the names to track include right-handers Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley and Christian Montgomery, infielder Christian Lopez and outfielder Shawon Dunston, Jr. The East roster includes lefties Daniel Norris and Andrew Suarez and shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The Area Code Games tryouts ended this past week, though rosters have yet to be finalized and announced. The games will take place at Blair Field in Long Beach, California August 5-10.
The Under Armour All-American Game and the showcase in Jupiter, Florida are also slated to take place in August, though rosters have yet to be finalized.
Cape Cod standouts
Anthony Ranaudo continues his assault on the Cape, going six shutout innings last Thursday with ESPN Insider's Keith Law in attendance. Ranaudo allowed just three hits and a walk and punched out nine. He's now 3-0 in five starts and has yet to yield an earned run in 29 1/3 innings of work. Cape batters have managed just 10 hits off the right-hander -- only two for extra bases. It appears the Red Sox are going to have to pay up if they want Ranaudo in their system, and they wouldn't have drafted him if they weren't hoping he'd prove his value was much better than the 39th best player in the class.
Florida catcher Ben McMahan has put up strong numbers for Brewster, hitting .389 with four doubles and a homer in 14 games. The right-handed hitter leads the circuit in slugging percentage at .583, albeit from a small sample size. He's the third backstop on the Gators roster, suggesting that perhaps he's nothing to write home about defensively, but his showing this summer may put him on the map somewhat, since the wood-bat transition is a legitimate and prominent concern for clubs.
Oregon State sophomore-eligible catcher Andrew Susac, who went in Round 16 to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, figures to improve his stock if he gives signals next spring that he will sign. Susac is hitting .300/.429/.520 for Falmouth in 16 games.
Vanderbilt's Aaron Westlake may return to school for his senior season -- there is word from multiple sources that he began the summer leaning in that direction -- but the 22nd round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays could conceivably do better for himself by using his strong showing with Chatham on the Cape -- .316/.361/.474 -- to earn a large enough bonus to sign before the August 16 deadline.
Westlake, as a senior next spring, may find it extremely difficult to land more money next June considering the depth of the draft and the lack of leverage he'd have without the threat of returning to school.
Fresno State first baseman Jordan Ribera, who went undrafted last month after a strong statistical season at the plate, leads the Cape in homers with four and despite a .218 average has shown some skills this summer in terms of patience and pitch recognition. "He's limited when it comes to physical tools," said one talent evaluator who scouted Ribera this past spring. "The swing needs work -- he reminds a little bit of Olmaedo Saenz, only Jordan swings it lefty."
Notre Dame right-hander Brian Dupra, an 11th round selection of the Detroit Tigers this past June, has looked OK on the Cape, judging by the results. He's allowed 35 hits in 33 1/3 innings, but has posted a 30-9 K/BB ratio. He allowed 11 home runs in 82 2/3 innings for the Irish this past season but has limited Cape opponents to two long balls thus far.
Prior to jumping into the statistical roundup of who is who for College Team USA, it's imperative to note the competition of the opposition. Many of the early-round matchups aren't exactly considered top notch, including this past week's opponents from Korea.
Team USA went undefeated in their five games versus Korea and a Monday victory over the Fayeteville Swamp Dogs of the Coastal Plain League, a second-tier collegiate summer circuit. Jackie Bradley, Jr. has hit .368/.429/.421 in five games, and Indiana's Alex Dickerson sits at .333/.474/.400.
Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes, who's been impressive this summer in time split between the Cape and now with Team USA, went six strong innings Friday, allowing three hits and a run while walking one and piling up nine strikeouts. Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray went six hitless frames last Tuesday, walking two and fanning nine.
The collection of talent was depleted somewhat this past week when Rice third baseman and top prospect Anthony Rendon went down with an injured ankle Wednesday. Initial speculation is that Rendon suffered a fracture and dislocation of the joint but nothing has been made official, including a timetable for his return.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Rendon will have the ankle examined once the swelling subsides. This is the second time the star's right ankle has been seriously injured after torn ligaments sidelined him a year ago.
Owls head coach Wayne Graham told the Chronicle that "word is, guys do completely recover from these types of injuries."
That's good news for the Baltimore Orioles, who sit three games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the race for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft where Rendon is the favorite to hear his name called at the top.