Talent-mining in Northern California
May, 1, 2009
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider
Sacramento State center fielder Tim Wheeler projects as a first-round pick with a very good chance to land in the top 20 due to the dearth of college position players in this draft and the fact that he can stay at a position in the middle of the field. As a hitter, he has good bat speed but some mechanical issues that player development will have to iron out. He bars his front arm briefly, but compensates somewhat with good wrist acceleration. His plate coverage is pretty good considering the bar, and he has a good idea of the strike zone. He doesn't utilize his lower half much and turns his hips early, opening his front side and lessening his ability to use his lower half to drive through the ball. He's slightly above average as a runner. In the field, Wheeler has very good range and reads balls well; he has some arm strength, no worse than average, but tends to throw off his back foot and isn't always accurate. I'd like him better in the sandwich round or even the high second round. He can play center and has bat speed, but the mechanical issues create some risk for his future development.
Stanford reliever Drew Storen is likely to be one of the first college relievers off the board in the draft because, unlike most members of that group, he has two above-average pitches and actually commands them. Storen works primarily off his two-seam fastball, 90-94 mph (touching 96 in some outings earlier this month), with tremendous life, as the pitch has a hard tail down and away from a left-handed hitter. His slider and curve run together a little, with the slider clearly defined at 86-87 mph with a hard tilt and the curve more like a short, softer slider in the low 80s. Storen's command is already solid-average and his control well above that, with just four walks in 28 innings, three of them coming in one outing on April 18 when he retired one of eight batters he faced. Storen throws from a three-quarters slot and gets on top of the ball to generate some downhill plane. There's some recoil after his delivery because his stride isn't long and he lands stiffly. He also gets his arm well behind his body during his delivery, which usually isn't a great thing for one's pitching shoulder, although none of this is noticeably affecting his command. He's a draft-eligible sophomore, so signability may be an issue if he falls past the first few rounds, but that doesn't seem likely to happen given how well he's pitched and how he stacks up against other top college relievers.