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With 24 days to go, a big weekend looms

5/14/2010
Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Harvey and Yasmani Grandal are always looking to prove themselves. Icon SMI

Friday looks to be a solid night in terms of MLB draftees matching up. Let's take a look:

Pitching matchup:

Matt Harvey (North Carolina) vs. Danny Hultzen (Virginia)

Harvey -- a potential first-round pick this spring -- is 6-2 with a 2.68 ERA and 80-27 K/BB ratio in 11 starts, and is ranked No. 22 on today's update of the top 100. Hultzen, a southpaw, is a potential first rounder next year. Harvey is coming off a decent but unspectacular outing versus Wake Forest last week where he allowed eight hits and two earned runs in six innings.

Pitcher-Hitter:

Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech) vs. Yasmani Grandal (Miami Hurricanes)

McGuire is among the top five college starters in the class and enters the game 6-3 with a 3.05 ERA and 90-21 K/BB ratio in 85 2/3 innings. Grandal, a better hitter from the left side, which is where he'll be against McGuire , is batting .421/.545/.732 with 30 extra-base hits and 43 walks overall. Good left-handed bats have given McGuire problems this season, so Grandal presents a good test for the Yellow Jackets' ace.

Redemption:

Both Anthony Ranaudo (LSU) and Drew Pomeranz (Ole Miss) have questions to answer and both get the ball tonight with a chance to get back on track. Ranaudo faces Kentucky in Lexington and Pomeranz faces Alabama on the road.

For Ranaudo, anything beyond three or four frames with decent results is a step up, but in order to regain some of the value he's lost he'll need to post a string of vintage starts on the board between now and the end of the season.

Scouts saw Pomeranz sit 86-90 mph last weekend, but word out of Oxford is that the left-hander has a strained pectoral and was backing off his fastball by design. There was a possibility that Pomeranz might skip a start to let it heal, but the school's site has him on the docket for Friday.

Alex Wimmers, who injured a hamstring before his start two weeks ago, is not scheduled to pitch this weekend, but threw off a mound Tuesday. The OSU staff, according to the school's Web site, says the ace right-hander will be reevaluated on a game-to-game, series-to-series basis.

Notes On The MLB Draft From May 14, 2010

• College of Southern Nevada ace right-hander Donn Roach tossed a gem in the Region 18 Tournament Thursday, allowing an earned run on five hits and striking out 12. Roach came in at No. 87 in the Top 100 and could make a run into the Top 75.

Bryce Harper went 0-for-4 with a walk and two punchouts in the same game.

• Catching up some stats from the prep pitching world: Oviedo High School (Fla.) right-hander A.J. Cole finished the season 6-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 60 1/3 innings. He struck out 84 and walked just eight while inducing more than twice as many ground ball outs as fly ball outs. He averaged just over 13.5 pitches per inning -- pretty darned efficient -- and threw 69 percent of his pitches for strikes. Cole did not allow a batter to get a hit all season after working the count to 0-2.

DeAndre Smelter of Tatnall Square Academy in Georgia -- one of my personal favorite prospects in the draft after seeing a collection of video on the right-hander -- posted an impressive 87 punchouts in 49.2 innings this season. A live arm from a three-quarter slot with some deception? Yes, please.

• A reader asked recently what a club might do with a pitcher like Georgia's Justin Grimm, who has struggled with command and the consistency of his secondary offerings. Different organizations will handle such a pitcher in their own way, but I caught up to one AL club's minor league pitching coordinator to get his thoughts.

"I don't know about Justin Grimm in particular," he began, "but when a kid has stuff but isn't getting the results to go with it, you have to look at everything. The delivery; too fast, too slow, inconsistent release points, (arm) slot, you name it. Any one or more of them can be the answer. Sometimes you can create some deception that wasn't there to begin with or get more strikes by changing up his mechanics. We had a college arm not long ago that threw hard but that was it. We changed the grip and the arm slot, and he's using a slider now instead of a curveball and he's been great ever since.

"As a coach, you always love to get the big velocity, because he can become a star if you do your job. There's pressure there, but that's why we're here. "

Grimm can reach the mid-90s with his fastball, but there's not a lot of movement to it, which pressures the right-hander to locate it well. It's a high-effort delivery, but necessarily violent enough to shove him into a relief role on its own. The problem is, he tends to open up his front side early, which contributes to the below-average command and problems with release point on his low-80s curveball and changeup.