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How far could Anthony Rendon drop?

5/9/2011

It's late enough in the season to believe that any poor performances from here on out could hurt a prospect's draft stock. With that said, it wasn't a good weekend for Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann, Rice's Anthony Rendon or Oregon's Tyler Anderson.

Rendon finished the weekend 1-for-13 with two walks, dropping to .333/.535/.532 for the season, a solid yet unremarkable line for the player that started the campaign as the No. 1 overall talent. I wrote in March that if Rendon's injury concerns didn't subside and his performance pick up that it's not out of the question that the pre-season player of the year in college baseball could slip down to the Chicago Cubs at No. 9.

Scouts are not seeing much evidence that the shoulder or ankles are bothering him at the plate or on the bases. But at some point clubs may start to believe in what they are seeing now more than what they saw a year ago.

Anderson has not been the same pitcher in recent starts that he was early on and it's not purely statistical. His velocity has been inconsistent and the breaking ball has not shown enough bite to be considered an above-average offering. Against UCLA's Gerrit Cole and a weak Bruins lineup Friday, Anderson needed 117 pitches to get through 16 outs. En route, the left-hander allowed four earned runs on six hits and four walks, managing just 65 strikes.

A month ago it seemed that Anderson was a surefire top 40 selection, but that may be a tough sell at this stage. Good thing for Anderson that there is enough time left for him to regain some steam.

Jungmann, for the first time all season, was wild and tossed an inordinately number of pitches -- 130 -- in his eight innings of work. He did strike out nine Nebraska Cornhuskers, but walked five batters and threw 51 pitches out of the strike zone.

It's one hiccup, so Jungmann's stock isn't going anywhere, but he may have a firm enough grasp on a top 20 pick that he can struggle and avoid dropping down in the first round.

In the Alex Meyer - Sonny Gray matchup, the Vanderbilt right-hander came away the winner on the field but a scout in attendance was much more impressed with the pure stuff Gray brought to the table. "There were times when he was as good as any pitcher I have seen this year," said one club's area scout. "And I'm lucky this year, there are several in my region. Gray was very, very good; he showed polish and an understanding of the situations and who he was throwing to. He had a game plan and executed it."

Gray whiffed nine over eight innings while needing but 84 pitches -- 59 strikes -- to get 24 outs. He did not walk a batter.

Meyer was nearly as impressive, throwing nine shutout innings against a solid Vandy lineup, flashing his plus slider, but staying down in the zone more with his fastball. "That can be a heavy ball he throws," the scout said of the Kentucky ace. "If that's who he is every time out, I'll take him and never look back."

Meyer threw 110 pitches in the complete game, 72 for strikes, including several spotted on the corners, something he's not necessarily known to do regularly.

Elsewhere

George Springer continues to hit, homering for the 10th time this season and raising his average to .379 with a .689 slugging percentage n 47 games. There are still concerns about the swing, but it appears at least a few clubs are on him in the first half of the first round.

• Springer's teammate, right-hander Matt Barnes, struck out 10 against two walks, three hits and an earned run in eight innings Saturday, flashing what one crosschecker called "a pitch that can get a lot of big leaguers out." Barnes may be a better version of North Carolina right-hander Matt Harvey from last year's class who went No. 7 overall.

• Despite Cole's solid line -- one earned run on six hits, one walk and five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings -- he struggled with his control and didn't have his good stuff for the fourth straight start. Oregon hitters staved off the strikeout and made Cole work, as he threw 125 pitches. He did throw strikes consistently, however.

Bubba Starling walked three times and singled Friday and added two stolen bases to show off his plus speed.

• Owasso High School star right-hander Dylan Bundy struck out 17 in a shutout victory Friday, a regional final game for Bundy's Rams. He yielded three hits -- which is more than opponents have averaged off Bundy this season -- but touched the upper 90s with his fastball and once again displayed solid-average command of his slider and cutter.