I really wanted to listen to baseball Thursday night. While certainly not the headliner of the weekend, Notre Dame at Cal Poly was a meeting of Top 25 teams, so I went with it. Cal Poly won 6-3 in a game that was defensively sloppy early, and pitching dominated late. Joey Wagman is a pitcher I'm unfamiliar with, but would be happy if the Cubs reel in anywhere after the top eight rounds. His hometown announcer noted Wagman has fanned at least seven in each start this year. No velocity numbers were being quoted, but the Irish are a legitimate squad, and striking out a dozen is impressive.
One reason I like to check in on Irish baseball these days is their third baseman, Eric Jagielo (pronounced ja-GUY-low). Jagielo was a Cubs 50th (and final) round pick in 2010. I have no idea how solid Jagielo's commitment was to South Bend, but he was the last selection before ownership opened the vault for the 2011 draft. Jagielo will be drafted in 2013. I haven't run it by experts, but as a player ranked eighth in the Big East for prospect status (according to the broadcast), I could see him going in the fifth or sixth round this season. He will make someone a nice third baseman to run through their system. And he wasn't wearing a lime-green uniform Thursday night, either.
The big news of the week was the matchup between prep prospects Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier. Frazier's side won the game 14-4, and Frazier won the sideshow by smashing two homers. While I'll probably be fine with Frazier, Indiana State lefty pitcher Sean Manaea, or Stanford's right-handed ace Mark Appel, I'm glad the Cubs get the second choice.
Manaea faced Minnesota's Tom Windle on Friday. I think the Cubs' scouts had their radar guns in tow, but the Metrodome didn't have velocities posted. Windle pitched a nine-inning no-hitter last time out, and it was a fun listen. Nobody was making solid contact, as both hurlers were spotting their pitches really well. I didn't keep a scorebook, but Manaea and Windle would both look awfully good in the system. Windle won't last until the second round, and Manaea might be the odd-man-out at the second slot.
It was really a fun listen, and I wrote that in the third inning. Manaea's change-up is a work in progress. His defense is a bit less-than-preferred, and for a lefty, his pick-off move is rather generic. He was spotting his pitches where he wanted them all night long. Minnesota's offense isn't all that good, Indiana State won 2-1, and both hurlers threw complete games. I would be happy with Windle in the second round. Manaea fanned nine and walked one, scattering six hits, most of which came late.
Stanford didn't play this weekend, so news on Appel is in a holding pattern. It seemed odd to me to have a scheduled off spot here, but I'm sure the squad found something to do in Palo Alto.
Now, a bit about the Fighting Illini baseball team. In 2011, they had a nice post-season run, making the regional final (last 32 teams, in effect). In 2012, their pitching took a step back, and they struggled mightily. This season, they continued to add decent-sounding arms. after a slow start, they have rebounded winning 10 of 11, to go to an 11-4 mark. The streak includes a sweep in Waco against Baylor.
As far as draft prospects, quite a bit of Illinois' hitting talent would feel right at home in short season ball or in the Midwest League. Few of them would be able to advance to High-A Daytona in the Florida State League. The key, as usual, is pitching. Kevin Johnson is an Illini senior who will, next week, become the fourth ever school pitcher to amass 300 innings pitched. Johnson profiles as an eighth-to-10th rounder in 2013 after not signing when the Yankees chose him late last draft.
Numbers tend to be sketchy on Big Ten baseball, as scouts tend toward following more well-storied programs, but the Baylor radio crew said Johnson was throwing 93 miles per hour. While Johnson, a senior, is the Friday night 'ace',, Kevin Duchene, and John Kravetz are all potential future MLB draftees. I'd rather watch an Illinois baseball game than one of the basketball or football team, as the baseball team seems more team-oriented than the other squads.
A touch light on content this time, as working and ballgames kept me occupied. New Mexico's DJ Peterson and Kris Bryant from San Diego mashed again, and here is a nice piece on the name pitchers this weekend. The draft now stands just three months away.