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Last push needed for Jed Bradley

5/13/2011

In light of Keith Law's Top-10 Mock Draft and updated Top 100 Prospects from Thursday, much of the talk is centered on whether or not Rice's Anthony Rendon will be a worthy selection at No. 1 or 2 overall, and who might take his place if the answer is no.

But Rendon isn't the only player that has major questions to answer in order to maximize their draft stock. And time is running out.

Taylor Guerrieri, RHP -- Spring Valley HS (SC)

Guerrieri didn't finish his season as strong as he started it, but he may need to show scouts more during a workout or two between now and draft day to crack the top 10. Dylan Bundy of Owasso HS (OK) is considered the top prep arm in the class, but Broken Arrow's Archie Bradley has also surged late to put himself in the mix for the top 10 and perhaps ahead of Guerrieri.

Side by side, Guerrieri could win out over Bradley, however, thanks to his athleticism, four pitch arsenal and the potential for a plus changeup to go with a promising curveball that flashes as a plus offering already.

Jed Bradley, LHP -- Georgia Tech

Bradley could overtake Kentucky's Alex Meyer and Connecticut's Matt Barnes with his best two starts of the regular season and a strong showing in the ACC Tournament. The breaking ball is what's lacking, but he's a left-hander with plus velocity and some projection thanks to a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame.

He's firmly in round 1, and while it might be a little late for him to convince clubs that he's a better pick than some of his counterparts, the opportunity is still there.

Sonny Gray, RHP -- Vanderbilt

Gray still reminds me of Tim Lincecum, and not at all for the lack of ideal stature. The effort in the delivery is part of why at least a few clubs are concerned that he'll need to pitch relief, along with his overall control problems. Lincecum walked 63 batters in 125 1/3 innings his junior season, but since starting his professional career has found a way to keep his walks-per-nine to more than manageable rates.

There's no reason to believe Gray can't do the same and one AL crosschecker believes the spotty control isn't really even a major red flag."I'm just not all that worried about that," he said."I'm more wanting to see him command the fastball within the zone, and he's not behind any other starter I have seen this year in that department except for (Danny) Hultzen."

Gray has two regular season starts remaining, before hitting the SEC Tourney late this month.

Bubba Starling, CF -- Gardner-Edgerton HS (KS)

The questions with Starling aren't about anything but evidence and signability. His season started late in the spring and he missed some time early with a minor injury so clubs haven't been able to see him as much as some of the other players being considered for the top 10.

His commitment to Nebraska to play quarterback is an issue, though I find it hard to believe he'd pass up the money he can get this year and risk the 2014 draft with a hard-slotting regulation in place or looking more at a future in football.

Scouting directors, however, have to take that into serious consideration and unless there are strong indications that he will sign and not stick to a potential demand of $10 million or more, Starling is likely to slip further than his skills suggest he should.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., CF -- South Carolina

Bradley not only needs to get back on the field after suffering a wrist injury he needs to show a better hit tool and some consistency. The problems is, he hasn't played in a few weeks already and the Gamecocks have but seven regular season games left before postseason play begins, leaving little chance for Bradley to significantly improve his status.

He's still a potential first-round pick, but if he misses the rest of the season and cannot get in front of scouts again before draft day, he could slip into the sandwich round or later.

Matt Purke, LHP -- TCU

Purke has not pitched since April 9 due to shoulder bursitis and as a draft-eligible sophomore is already a threat to return to school for another year and hope for a top-10 selection in 2012. Whether he chooses to do so or not could depend on what happens the rest of this season. If he doesn't pitch, his draft stock may not surpass the bottom of the first round, and that may be an optimistic scenario for the left-hander.

Purke could still net a solid bonus from a club such as Boston or Toronto who have shown they will spend in the draft for the right players and have extra picks. The Red Sox did so a year ago with Anthony Ranaudo, who went in the compensation round but signed for top-10 money.

Jack Armstrong, RHP -- Vanderbilt

Armstrong has pitched exclusively in relief this season after sitting out the first part of the year with an injury. He's missing bats and throwing hard, but his control has been poor. He impressed on the Cape two years ago but hasn't been the same since. His future may be in the bullpen, but his 6-foot-7, 225-pound frame suggests giving him a shot to develop a more consistent set of mechanics might be a good idea.

A late push, which will come in relief for nationally-ranked Vanderbilt, could catch the eye of scouts enough to get Armstrong a look early in the compensation round, but probably not any higher than that.

Tyler Beede, RHP -- Lawrence Academy HS (MA)

Beede, who tossed a gem Wednesday -- perhaps his best outing of the season -- in front of nearly three dozen scouts, including at last a handful of senior evaluators, striking out 15 in a seven-inning no-hitter. He threw 69 of his 82 pitches for strikes, did not walk a batter and sat 90-94 mph for the game, including a 93-mph heater on his final four-seamer of the night.

Beede brings projection, present stuff and control to the table, and could land in round 1, and is at least a top 50 talent. How far up the first day he can get depends on a combination of what he shows them between now and draft day and whether or not scouts believe his stuff matches the results he's getting versus below-average competition.