Kyler MurrayTom Hauck for Student SportsTexas A&M football commit Kyler Murray also has great skills on the baseball diamond.
The Under Armour All-American Game took place Saturday at Wrigley Field, featuring many of the top high school prospects for the 2015 draft, with Bill Ripken and Sean Casey serving as managers. It was dominated by pitchers, as these showcase games usually are, but a handful of hitters stood out, including one whose name you're going to hear a lot in the next few years, even if he doesn't sign out of the draft in June.

• Allen, Texas, infielder Kyler Murray was the star of the game, in part because of how he got there; his flight from Texas was delayed and he was coming in late to begin with because of his football commitments, so he arrived at Wrigley Field after the first pitch.

Scouting a pair of all-star games 

August, 12, 2014
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Here are some notes on a number of players I saw over the weekend.

  • Lefty Kolby Allard of San Clemente (California) High School was the breakout star of this year's Perfect Game All-American Classic, played once again at Petco Park in San Diego. The game was dominated by pitching, but nobody was as impressive as Allard, who punched out all three batters he faced on just 12 pitches, and showed a plus fastball and curveball along the way. The heater sat at 92-95 with easy velocity, while the curveball was 78-79, sharp with depth and tight rotation.

  • Left-hander Justin Hooper started for the West team and showed premium stuff, too, tossing darts at 93-96 with some life, and a changeup at 83 that was absurd. He couldn't finish his curveball at 73-74, however, and he might end up better suited to a slider if his current breaker continues to pose problems. His delivery is funky, which provides deception but may not be as easy to repeat 100-plus times a game.

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RodonAP Photo/Mark CrammerHard-throwing lefty Carlos Rodon leaps to the top of the White Sox's system.
Law's 2014 draft archive: Winners and questions Insider | AL analysis Insider | NL analysis Insider

The 2014 Rule 4 Draft is over, which means every club just got an influx of top talent into its farm system. Assuming all these top picks sign, here are five teams who just acquired a new No. 1 prospect as well as notes on two other teams' first overall picks and where they might slot into the prospect rankings of each organization.

Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon, LHP

The White Sox's top two prospects coming into 2014, Erik Johnson and Matt Davidson, have disappointed thus far.

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Indians' system among 5 most improved 

June, 10, 2014
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videoThe 2014 MLB draft has come and gone, and although plenty of teams did well over the three days, here’s a look at the five teams that improved their systems the most. (Of course, this assumes the teams are able to sign the players they drafted.)

1. Cleveland Indians

In terms of process, I’m not sure any team did better than Cleveland did over the draft's first 72 hours.

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Complete NL draft breakdown 

June, 9, 2014
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videoFollowing up on my American League recaps from Saturday, here is my team-by-team draft breakdown for every National League club.

Note: We often use the 20-80 scouting scale when discussing prospects.


Arizona Diamondbacks

I liked the D-backs' draft from the get-go. At 16, they took high-upside right-hander Touki Toussaint (Round 1), an athletic, loose-armed prep pitcher who will show a plus fastball and curveball, but this spring showed better command and a new changeup. Cody Reed (Round 2) could be a steal if the Snakes can keep his weight down.

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Complete AL draft breakdown 

June, 7, 2014
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videoLaw's winners and questions | Pick-by-pick analysis | Best, worst of Round 2


Here are my team recaps of the drafts so far, through 10 rounds, for all 15 American League teams. I'll have a similar piece up on Monday for the National League.

Note: We use the 20-80 grading scale for all MLB prospects.


Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles didn't pick at all on Day 1; their first selection was Brian Gonzalez at 91st overall (Round 3), a lefty from Florida's Archbishop McCarthy High School, at which his pitching coach was former big leaguer Alex Fernandez. Gonzalez is very interesting for a third-rounder, built like a big league starter already and showing three pitches. His velocity is mostly in the 89-93 mph range, and he has a plus changeup in the upper 70s that he just needs to hide a little more out of his hand. Fernandez’s curveball is developing but has good shape, and his command is solid for his age.

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MLB draft: Best and worst of Day 2 

June, 6, 2014
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Law's winners and questions | Pick-by-pick analysis | Best, worst of Round 2

Day 2 of the MLB draft has come and gone. It’s not a day that gets a lot of respect, but scouts will tell you that this is a day that can either make or break an organization. That might seem hyperbolic, but that’s how important the draft can be to the success -- or lack thereof -- of a MLB team.

Here’s a look at the best and most questionable selections of Day 2 of the 2014 MLB draft. We'll break it down by division.

AL East

Highest upside: Austin DeCarr, RHP, Salisbury (Connecticut) School
New York Yankees (Round 3)

His stock shot up over the past few weeks after touching 96 mph with his fastball, but he was always on scouts' radars because of his ability to throw strikes with all three pitches, the best of which is a curveball that’s a plus offering right now.

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Pick-by-pick analysis | Best, worst of Round 2 | Top 100 prospects

The new slotting system in baseball has made Day 1 analysis more difficult, as many teams approach the draft with a more holistic, top-down approach designed to spread money around to specific picks. With that in mind, here are some preliminary thoughts on eight teams' Day 1 selections: four I really liked, four I didn't really get. You can also find my list of the 10 best players available at the bottom.

I'll have team-by-team reports after Day 2, with AL reports on Saturday and NL reports on Monday.

The approved list: Four teams I thought got good value

The Cleveland Indians had my favorite Day 1 batch of picks, landing four players I had in the top 50.

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Round 2 highlights and lowlights 

June, 6, 2014
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Law's winners and questions | Pick-by-pick analysis | Best, worst of Round 2

Day 1 of the MLB draft is behind us, and while most of the attention will go toward the first round, there were plenty of interesting picks that made the second round just as intriguing as those first 34 selections.

Here’s a look at the highlights -- and possible lowlights -- of the picks made after the first round of the 2014 MLB draft.


AL East

Highest upside: Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood High School (Jacksonville, Florida) -- Reid-Foley was an arm I thought would go in the first 20 to 25 picks, but for whatever reason, his stock fell over the past few days. The Toronto Blue Jays should feel fortunate to pick up a right-hander with this kind of talent this late, though, as he has two plus pitches in his 90-94 mph fastball and quality slider.

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Live pick-by-pick analysis 

June, 5, 2014
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Law's winners and questions | Pick-by-pick analysis | Best, worst of Round 2
On the evening of the first round of the 2014 MLB draft, expert Christopher Crawford will provide pick-by-pick analysis in the opening round. Before diving into the analysis, here are some key resources related to the 2014 MLB draft:

Note: We use the 20-80 grading scale for all MLB prospects.

1. Houston Astros: Brady Aiken | LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego


Aiken as the first overall pick shouldn't be a huge surprise, and yet hearing someone other than Carlos Rodon selected after all of the (justified) hype of the past few years is still a bit disarming.

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Newcomb emerges as elite prospect 

June, 4, 2014
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HARTFORD, Conn. -- Sean Newcomb says the pressure doesn't get to him. Pitching each weekend in front of dozens of scouts and executives -- including an occasional MLB general manager -- is just normal now. Fun, actually.

That's how it was for the Hartford left-hander's final home start of the year against UMBC. Despite the bleachers packed full of fans and a multitude of men holding radar guns behind home plate, the Hawks' ace threw nine scoreless innings while giving up just two hits and striking out nine batters. Newcomb's mid-90s fastball caused continuous swings and misses and he utilized a strong curveball and changeup throughout.

It was a performance that, once unheard of, is now typical for the 6-foot-4 Newcomb. And it's why he's projected as a likely mid-to-high first-round pick in Thursday's MLB draft. (In fact, Keith Law has him going to the New York Mets with the No. 10 pick in his most recent mock draft.)

"It's exciting and feels a little surreal," he said. "But I'm not going to get too caught up in [playing professionally] until it actually happens."

There's no need to rush the moment, Newcomb admits, because it wasn't supposed to happen in the first place.

Unlikely emergence

Coming out of Middleborough HS in Massachusetts, he had only one total scholarship offer: Hartford. It was actually the only official visit given to him at the time. Some bigger schools showed interest, but just the Hawks decided to take a gamble on Newcomb.

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Newcomb rising, Gatewood falling 

June, 2, 2014
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Here we are, just three days until the 2014 MLB draft begins. Teams are beginning to finalize their boards, but there's still a lot of work to be done for clubs, and while a general range can be hypothesized, a player's stock will move up and down until commissioner Bud Selig announces that their club is on the clock.

"You can't finalize anything," an NL Central scout said. "Of course you have a general idea of what it is you want to do to attack [the draft], but you have to stay open minded really up until draft day about who really is the best player and best fit for your team.

"I've worked for clubs that just set a list of best-player available, and while I admire the principle, I know now that it's not nearly that black and white, and that's why you see so many players have their stock move up and down so late."

Keeping in mind that it only takes one team to fall in love with a player -- or several to not love him enough -- here's a look at some players who have seen their stock rise or fade over the past few weeks, and some teams that could target them on Thursday or Friday.

College pitchers

Stock up: Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford
Newcomb's stock has been steadily rising over the past few weeks, as the left-hander has shown improving command of all four of his offerings including a fastball that sits 92-94 mph and can touch 97, not to mention more consistency with his curveball and change.

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Six teams that need a good draft 

May, 29, 2014
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No matter how many picks a team has or how strong a farm system is, every draft is important for every club, as it's a chance to replenish the farm system with depth and address needs without having to give up anything but cash.

That being said, there's also no question that a draft can take on added significance, be it because of where a team is selecting, how often it's selecting, and how its prospects have developed in the respective systems.

"No draft is created equal," an American League scout said. "You place importance on it every year, but it'd be foolish to say there aren't years where it becomes more important than others. The danger is that you recognize that and change your process, and in the many years I've been doing this, I've never seen that work. Just like any other year, you have to trust your scouts and talent evaluators and hope that everything works out."

And so with just one week to go until draft day, here's a look at six teams this year's draft is particularly important for, and some potential targets that could make it a draft to remember.


Houston Astros

You can't leave the team with the first pick in the draft off this list, even if this is the third time in a row that the Astros have had this selection and there's a pretty good chance that they'll have it again in 2015.

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Pivot points of the 2014 first round 

May, 27, 2014
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No matter how good a draft class is, there are always going to be pivot points in the first round; points in the draft where groups of similar talents and skill-sets begin to thin out and a team must move on to the next tier of players, however far the drop may be.

"We always have a straight draft board," an AL Central team executive said. "But you can’t help but say 'if we get one of these four players’ or 'if these two pitchers are still on the board’ we’ll still be in good shape. Even in the strongest draft classes you always have a group with OFP [overall future potential] that drop at some point. You just have to hope that the other clubs that pick ahead of you don’t feel like those players belong in the same group."

For better or worse, this year the talent is as grouped together as it has been in some time, but here’s a look at four "pivot points" in the first round that will help shape the draft in 2014.


Pick No. 4: Chicago Cubs

If the Miami Marlins select Alex Jackson (Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego) with the second pick in the draft, the pivot point would change to the Minnesota Twins at pick No. 5.

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Aaron NolaJohn Korduner/Icon SMILSU right-hander Aaron Nola was strong against Arkansas on Thursday night.
The SEC tournament started on Tuesday this week with a day of play-in games to accommodate the conference's expansion, putting 12 teams in Hoover, Alabama, to start the event, with only eight surviving to the second day. I arrived Wednesday morning and took in seven games over the two days, focusing on the top 2014 draft prospects in the event, led by a couple of pitchers with first-round aspirations.

• LSU right-hander Aaron Nola threw in the third game Thursday against Arkansas in front of a ton of heat, with at least four general managers in the house and several other top execs. The Marlins, White Sox, Cubs and Twins were all very well-represented behind the plate. Nola didn't have much to prove, but he only helped himself with a strong outing that ended early just because the plate umpire decided to shrink the strike zone in the eighth inning of a non-elimination game.

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