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Insider

Buzz: Travis Harrison's stock is rising

4/18/2011

If it seems like the number of potential first-round picks has grown each week, it's not a hallucination. The number of prospects that have helped their cause this season dwarfs those who have struggled to impress the scouting world. While only 33 players will be selected in the initial round come draft day, many others are worthy of such consideration, which makes things interesting well into the compensation round and beyond.

A handful of clubs have extra picks, including the Tampa Bay Rays, who have 10 selections -- three in the first round. Arizona, San Diego, Boston, Milwaukee and Washington each have two first-round choices and the Toronto Blue Jays have four supplemental picks. All seven organizations have a chance to do some serious damage it terms of filling their farm system with impact talent. Whether or not they take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen.

Here's a rundown of how some of the top prospects fared this weekend:

Travis Harrison, 1B/3B -- Tustin High School (Calif.)

Harrison is among the top position players at the prep level in California, hit homers in back-to-back games last week and is hitting .468/.638/.979 with six home runs for the season. The right-handed batting corner infielder is likely headed for first base in pro ball, but the bat may play there, as those six long balls have come in just 69 plate appearances and 47 official at-bats.

Harrison will get consideration on the first day, starting as high as the late teens, but he appears to fit best in the 25-40 range.

Josh Bell, OF -- Dallas Jesuit High School (Texas)

Bell went 2-for-4 with two walks over the weekend, one of the hits being home run No. 12 on the year. The outfielder, who was impressive in front of our own Keith Law last month, is hitting .586/.707/1.186 with 18 extra-base hits and a 29-4 BB/K ratio this season. He's hitting a home run every 5.83 at-bats, or 12 percent of his trips to the plate.

Bell's bat will have to carry him, as he's not a centerfielder and doesn't profile as the prototypical athletic corner outfield prospect, thanks to fringy arm strength. But his hitting ability and raw power may be enough to earn him a spot in the first round.

Tyler Beede, RHP -- Lawrence Academy (Mass.)

Beede's season is still very young, but the right-hander has already opened eyes. Last Thursday, the 6-foot-4 Beede went the distance allowing just two hits and run. He walked one, struck out 16 and was fairly efficient finishing with 98 pitches.

For the year, Beede has punched out 31 in 16 frames and has yielded just seven baserunners and an earned run.

He is a bit more physically projectable than fellow prep arms Joe Ross and Robert Stephenson, and the Vanderbilt commit could find his way into the top 25 with a strong spring. He sat 90-92 mph Thursday but touched 94 as late as the sixth inning, an improvement in velocity from the last time scouts got a look at him over the summer.

Dylan Bundy, RHP -- Owasso High School (Okla.)

Bundy has separated himself from the rest of the prep pitching crop and may have solidified his spot among the top few prospects in the entire class. The right-hander threw his fifth straight one-hitter Saturday, striking out all but four of the 20 batters he faced in a complete-game shutout.

Bundy was scheduled to go toe-to-toe with Broken Arrow right-hander Archie Bradley Friday but that game was canceled due to rain. Bundy has allowed more than one hit in a start just once this season and boasts a 0.44 ERA for the year. He's fanned 111 batters in 48 innings of work and with performances like that all spring, it may not be out of the question for Bundy to be taken off the board in the top 3.

Anthony Rendon, 3B -- Rice

Rendon, still serving as the DH for Rice, is still not getting pitches to hit and went 2-for-9 with four walks and a double over the weekend. His ankle injuries appear to be a thing of the past, however, as Rendon swiped a bag Sunday, his 10th of the season in 13 attempts.

One club's assistant scouting director believes Rendon could play third base right now if he had to and that clubs will get a chance to see him do it enough between now and the draft. His bat gets all the attention, but there are no long-term questions about Rendon's defense -- as long as the shoulder isn't a problem. Rendon enters the week with a .349/.553/.547 line that includes 57 bases on balls.

Kolten Wong, 2B -- Hawaii

Wong may be the top pure second base prospect in the college ranks and has been consistent all season, showing good bat speed and a strong arm at the top of his tool box. He went 3-for-11 versus Lousiana Tech this past weekend, drawing three walks and punching a double and a triple to the gaps.

Wong is hitting .389/.483/.587 with five homers and 14 stolen bases for the year, but may have problems breaking through to the first round unless a club is looking for a slot sign.

C.J. Cron, 1B -- Utah

Cron, a former catcher, is a bat only with limited fielding skills at present, but he's certainly playing the part just fine this spring. Versus second-level D-I competition, Cron is hitting .478/.541/.805 with eight home runs and 13 doubles in 28 games.

Cron lacks plus bat speed but has shortened his swing since last spring and punishes fastballw. He will expand the strike zone at times, is often aggressive early in the count and his two-strike approach is unrefined.

Considering the depth of the 2011 class, Cron is most likely a comp-round pick, but he could also find his way to Day 2.

Danny Hultzen, LHP -- Virginia

Hultzen cruised Friday versus Duke, prompting an area scout to call it "his worst start of the spring, which might be the biggest compliment I can give the kid right now." He went seven shutout innings and struck out nine, but has been sharper in previous outings.

The left-hander did touch 93 mph on the radar gun, again proving that his fastball is above average and a consistent weapon.

Late in March, Law wrote that Hultzen, the No. 4 prospect in the most recent Future 50, isn't likely to be ranked that high when draft day comes, but there's buzz that even the Seattle Mariners may consider Hultzen at No. 2. It's still more likely that Seattle takes Gerrit Cole or Rendon, whichever Pittsburgh leaves on the board, but the more Rendon fails to wow, the more speculation will grow about potential alternatives for the Mariners, and even the Diamondbacks at No. 3.