Notes: Matuella scratched, Tate sparkles 

February, 23, 2015
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Michael MatuellaRichard C. Lewis/Icon SMIDuke pitcher Mike Matuella was scratched from his weekend start due to forearm tightness.
The story of this weekend in terms of MLB draft prospects was not who performed well or who played poorly, but who didn't participate at all. Duke right-hander Mike Matuella was scratched for the weekend because of forearm tightness -- that might explain why his velocity dipped after the first inning when I saw him last week -- for precautionary reasons; Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler was held out again for elbow tightness; and Miami left-hander Andrew Suarez missed his start Friday with what appears to be a strained oblique.

"Thankfully, it's so early [in the season]," an NL East front-office member said. "That said, it doesn't matter if it's May or February or October, you never want to see arm troubles. It's a very talented group, but there are serious durability issues with a large portion of the top arms in the class."

Fortunately, we did see some impressive performances this weekend, including a West Coast right-hander putting up dominant numbers, an American Conference outfielder who might have the best hit tool in the class, and a prospect written off by many who has started the year on the right foot.

Tate sees stock rise

There's still a long way to go, but in these first two weeks, no prospect has seen his stock rise like UC Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate.

Notables from college baseball openers 

February, 16, 2015
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VanderbiltAP Photo/Wade PayneWalker Buehler is Vandy's top prospect, but the Commodores are loaded with depth again this year.
You never really know what to expect from the first weekend of the college baseball season, but despite some less-than-spectacular conditions in several areas of the country, we saw quite a few of the draft’s top prospects start the year in solid, if unspectacular, fashion.

This weekend we saw a potential top-10 southpaw start off on the right foot, why scouts will be spending lots of time in Nashville this spring, and two of the SEC’s best prospects start the year in opposite directions. Here are my notes.

Kirby shines in frigid conditions

Virginia left-hander Nate Kirby is a favorite

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Top storylines for 2015 MLB draft 

February, 9, 2015
Feb 9
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Brady AikenLarry Goren/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesAll signs point to lefty Brady Aiken being the top talent again in this year's draft class.
If there is such thing as a draft season, it begins this week. College baseball will begin its season Friday, and high schools in warm-weather states will get their campaigns started as well.

And like every year, there are several intriguing plotlines that scouts and teams will be following over the next three months. These storylines will help shape the class and shape how the draft will play out come June.

Here are five of the most intriguing storylines fans of the MLB draft should be following this spring.

1. Is Brady Aiken the best player in the draft class -- again?

It's sort of an odd question to ask right now, as we aren't 100 percent certain Aiken will even be eligible for the 2015 draft. Signs point to yes, however, and assuming he shows the same type of stuff and command he did last spring, he's a borderline prohibitive favorite to be the top player in this year's class.

"I don't know how you don't have him at No. 1, especially in a fairly weak draft class," one AL scout said.

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Top 30 prospects for the 2015 draft 

October, 27, 2014
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Brady AikenLarry Goren/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesPitcher Brady Aiken, the top pick in the 2014 draft, profiles as the top option in the '15 draft as well.
The 2015 draft class is about average, certainly not among the better classes, but weak only in specific areas such as college position players and catchers at any level. It's deep in college starters, solid in prep bats and middle-of-the-road for high school arms, although it could end up better than that due to some very projectable guys under the top tier of hard throwers.

It's very early for this sort of exercise, but Christopher Crawford and I have put together a ranking of the top 30 prospects in the 2015 class. It's not a projection of where they'll be picked, mind you, but an attempt to put some of the names in a logical order based on present talent and long-term outlook.


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Scouting the Under Armour All-Americans 

August, 17, 2014
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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.

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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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Five teams with new No. 1 prospects 

June, 12, 2014
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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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video
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
6/06/14
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video
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
6/05/14
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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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