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Pirates and Blue Jays ink prospects

7/24/2009

The Toronto Blue Jays has signed their fifth-round pick, LSU second baseman/outfielder Ryan Schmipf, for slot money. Schimpf led the College World Series champs with 22 home runs, hitting .336/.449/.668 on the spring. He's an offense-oriented second baseman who shifted to the outfield when the Tigers moved D.J. Lemahieu from shortstop to second, but given more experience at the keystone he should be fine.

The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to terms with their seventh-round pick, Trent Stevenson, paying him somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000. They're also close to a deal with their eighth-round pick, Colton Cain, for a high six-figure bonus, and are still negotiating with sixth-rounder Zach von Rosenberg.

Stevenson looked like a potential second- or third-round pick coming into the spring, but his velocity slipped to the upper 80s and he fell out of favor with area scouts. He's a skinny kid with some room to fill out and recover the lost velocity, although the Pirates are going to have to try to get his arm slot up a little higher so he can get some downhill plane on the fastball and more depth on his breaking pitch.

Cain was a two-way guy in high school who took a step forward on the mound this spring. His fastball is 89-92 mph with some life, and he throws a soft curve from 74-76 mph with some two-plane action but slow rotation; it fools high school hitters, but he'll either need to tighten it up or switch to a slider to get good pro hitters out. Like most two-way guys, he's a great athlete, although his delivery, like those of most two-way guys, needs some work. He has timing problems that start with his leg kick and tends to get his elbow out in front, putting him under his breaking ball and making him push the ball out of his hand on most pitches. He's a good project for player development because of his arm strength and athleticism.

Von Rosenberg was ranked No. 98 on my top 100. He has a chance to throw three average pitches, and he throws plenty of strikes. Right now, his fastball, at 87-90 mph and with a touch of arm-side run, is fringe-to-average, while his best pitch is a 78-80 mph changeup with good arm speed and some late, downward fade.