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Stanek shines, Eades sputters in SEC duel

4/15/2013
Ryne Stanek is hoping to reestablish himself as a potential top-five draft pick. Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY Sports

This weekend saw a matchup of two first-round arms that didn't quite live up to the hype; Colin Moran continued to kill baseballs, and the debate over where Trey Ball will play at the next level raged on.

• You don't generally see potential top-10 picks matchup on Saturday, but we saw just that in Fayetteville this weekend when LSU's Ryan Eades took on Ryne Stanek and Arkansas.

Stanek got the better of Eades, going 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, while striking out five and walking three in an 8-3 victory for Arkansas.

Eades, meanwhile, struggled for the first time in SEC play. The Tigers right-hander gave up gave up eight hits and five runs over his four innings but also struck out five and walked three.

"Stanek clearly was the better pitcher today," said an AL scout. "He's not the same guy I saw this summer, but today was a step in the right direction. He commanded all four pitches pretty well and I still see a No. 2 starter. [Eades] just didn't have it today, I've had him mostly 93-95 this year and Saturday he was 90-92 and he didn't command it very well. The curveball was fine, but this was easily the worst I've seen him this year."

• Once again Stanford's Mark Appel wasn't spectacular, but there is little reason for concern. Appel went eight innings against a very poor Washington club, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks, striking out seven. While the Stanford right-hander hasn't been as sharp in April as he was during his ridiculous March, scouts have had high praise for his makeup on the mound and his ability to battle.

• Meanwhile, Oklahoma's Jonathan Gray was his usual dominant self against Texas on Friday. The Sooners right-hander hit 99 mph in the first inning and was in the high-90s all day, giving up just one run and striking out 10 in his eight innings of work. The way Gray has thrown, we might have a "1A/1B" situation developing between him and Appel at the top of the draft.

• At the beginning of the year, most scouts believed that New Castle (Ind.) High School's Trey Ball was a better outfield prospect than on the mound. Now, it seems to be scouts are leaning the other way. Ball was very good on the mound Friday, striking out seven in three innings while only giving up an infield single on 34 pitches. Ball also went 2-for-2 with a homer on the day. But 6-foot-6 left-handers do not grow on trees, and his projection on the mound will likely be too difficult to pass on.

"I like [Ball] as an outfielder, but I'd put him on the mound," said an NL West scout. "The issue I have is with his height, if he fills out, he's likely going to have to play first base, and I don't see the bat playing there. He's got a long way to go as a pitcher -- and you have to dream on most of it -- but I can see a frontline starter. He's a heck of an athlete, but I don't think he's got star power with the bat, especially if he's at first."

Hitters

• After middling power numbers to start the year, North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran has come on strong over the last few weeks. Moran picked up seven hits in the Tar Heels' weekend sweep of Virginia Tech. He also hit his ninth homer of the season on Saturday. Over his last 20 games, Moran has posted a .584 on-base percentage and an .864 slugging percentage, good for a 1.448 OPS.

"I'm still not sure he's a top-10 guy, but I'm getting there," an AL East scout said. "I don't see the upside of some of the other bats, but he might be the safest bat in the class. If he can play third, he's an All-Star, but I don't think that's a lock, which is why I have some reservations. He's the best left-handed hitter in the class, though."

• No one has had any doubts about Kris Bryant's power, and his ability to get on base has drawn rave reviews this year as well. Bryant hit leadoff for San Diego this weekend, walking twice on Friday and Saturday. He added a long homer Saturday afternoon.

One executive told me that he doesn't see Bryant getting out of the top five, and there's a good chance that he doesn't make it out of the top three.

Austin Wilson continues to play catch-up after his injury, and this weekend we finally saw the Stanford athlete play in the outfield. Wilson played right field on Friday and Sunday. He hit his first homer of the season on Saturday as a DH. He'll need to have a huge end of the season, but there's still a chance we see Wilson go in the top 10 of this year's draft.

• Prep first-baseman generally don't go early in the draft, but an exception might be made for Serra High School's
Dominic Smith. Smith has impressed many with his bat speed and power potential, though he wasn't at his best this week. Against a rebuilding Bishop Amat program, the left-handed hitting first baseman went 1-for-5 with two walks, and he hasn't picked up an extra-base hit in four of his last six games.

"The problem [with Smith] is that if you're going to take a guy who's going to play first that high, he better have 70 [on the 20-80 scouting scale] power, and I don't think he does," an AL scout said. "I'm not in love with the swing, either. He doesn't transfer his weight very well, and I think he's a long-term project. I'd be surprised if he's still on the board when day two starts, but I think there's a ton of risk taking him that early."