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Talent becoming secondary to money

3/18/2010

Before I get to the roundup from Wednesday that includes a struggling Top 5 candidate and a red-hot ACC outfielder, I thought I'd share what one scouting director said of the general draft strategy of clubs the past several years and how it may be changing.

The SD, sitting in the stands at the Peoria Sports Complex watching the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners in a Cactus League game, was animated in his thought that clubs are so good at identifying the best talents, that it's become about two things: "Money, and fit."

"I don't mean there are clubs out there drafting purely for positional need, " he said. "But there's no doubt that clubs look at the risks with all the dollars in mind and make an adjustment to their draft boards accordingly.

"It's really to the point now, and it's been this way for a little while, where the battle isn't in the scouting so much. It's in the money available and where the organization is with certain types of talents. I'm pretty sure Pittsburgh takes someone other than (Boston College catcher) Tony Sanchez last year if they already had a franchise catcher in their program."

Interesting, because clubs constantly insist they only draft the best players available, and anyone who has followed the draft for any number of years understands that it's not really the case. But it's new for us to hear a scouting director admit it.

"It's not going to change anytime soon, either. Years ago the money wasn't as much of a problem, but the last several years, as agents have gotten into it more and more, it's just what the draft is."

On the diamond

• The Woodlands High School (Texas) RHP Jameson Taillon struggled Wednesday, giving up six earned runs on seven hits in four-plus innings. He did strike out seven but continues to have problems with command.

• Maranatha High School (Calif.) right-hander Dylan Covey followed up a 12-strikeout performance last week by striking out all four batters he faced Tuesday in a relief appearance. One concern about Covey I have heard over the past few weeks is centered on his delivery. "It's a drop-and-drive situation," said one area scout. "It's not real big, but it's there."

Cam Bedrosian of East Coweta High School (Ga.) went six innings Tuesday, allowing two runs on two hits and five walks, but did strike out 10. Bedrosian is generally considered a first-day talent.

• LSU's Leon Landry went 2-for-3 with his second homer and eighth stolen base Wednesday, and word out of Baton Rouge is that right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, who will not pitch this weekend, is 50-50 to go next weekend at Tennessee. Ranaudo reportedly felt 100 percent after his most recent throwing session. Landry's line is up to .411/.470/.679 with eight extra-base hits, eight steals and a 6-4 BB/K ratio.

• I guess we're going to talk about Clemson's Kyle Parker every day, because he hasn't stopped hitting yet. Three more hits Wednesday, including a double and his eighth home run, will keep him on our radar, as scouts check in to see if he's for real or if he's simply beating up bad pitching. Parker is up to .424/.547/.864 with 10 extra-base hits and a 15-9 BB/K ratio in 16 games.

• Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal went 1-for-3 with two walks Wednesday and threw out the only would-be base stealer. He's only homered once, but scouts insist there is at least medium power in his swing, and he has drawn 17 walks already.

• Alabama SS Josh Rutledge went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk versus Minnesota, pushing his batting average over .400 for the season. His nine extra-base hits and three walks in his last 34 plate appearances are much more respectable than the pace he started the season with and the pace with which he ended last year.

• Boston College 1B Mickey Wiswall hit his fourth home run despite a slow start to his season, hitting just .265 for the year. Wiswall is considered a potential first-day selection, but if he's a first baseman rather than a defender at the hot corner, the bat's going to have to heat up pretty quickly.

• Virginia Tech's Austin Wates had two more hits and two steals Wednesday and is hitting .468/.619/.710 with strong peripherals. The Hokies head to Clemson this weekend, a test for both Wates and the Tigers' Parker.