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2015 MLB Draft Prep Looks For A Usable Field

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Weather issues, including snow, affected last weekend's college baseball games.

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This past weekend's baseball schedule was a work in progress. Everyone was scheduled, but that didn't mean every field scheduled for a game was usable. Many fields were under snow. The UCLA at North Carolina series was moved to Florida. UCLA needed to take five different planes to get back home after the three-game set. Fans expecting to watch games saw the locales moved. Some games were called off, some were moved, and some of the games that were played were in conditions unfit for baseball. Nonetheless, there were games to monitor.

The Friday game I settled on was the Louisville's game against Arkansas State. Cardinals right-handed starter Kyle Funkhouser was the attraction here. He figures to be gone well before the Cubs select in the ninth spot. The first hitter punched the first pitch into right for a single, in a precursor what was going to happen for Funkhouser. A blooper and a walk loaded the bases with one out. A clean single put Arkansas State up a run.

In the third inning, Funkhouser plunked two of the first four hitters, and pitched around another. (He walked the same hitter twice. I'm not sure why a likely top-five pick is avoiding a hitter from Arkansas State, but that's how it sounded.) A single to center, an error by the shortstop, and a single to the first baseman made the score 7-0. His ERA will look worse than hoped, despite a good outing last week.

Funkhouser was throwing as high as 95 miles per hour, and the temperatures were around freezing, and it started snowing in the six-run third. His velocity should move up a tick in later outings in more baseball-like weather. On one stretch, he fanned five of six hitters, retiring all six. It was a mixed bag for Funkhouser, and my two takeaways come from that venue.

What Funkhouser's fastball tops out at is not the primary concern for scouts. In scouting, the goal is rarely "right now, today." It's far more likely to be: "After our coaches have improved him as we hope, what will he be in three years?" Yes, it is helpful if Funkhouser throws 95 now. If it were mostly about velocity, Cal Poly Pomona's Cody Ponce would be ranked higher than Funkhouser, as Ponce throws the ball at 100.

Whatever Funkhouser does this season, if he stays healthy, he should go off the draft board early. His scouting profile will be based on whether his secondaries progress. Not only that, but if they look to be able to progress further. His curve is good enough to impress scouts, despite giving up seven against Arkansas State.

The other intrigue about that series is the venue. Perfect Game is a scouting service that provides facilities for prep games during the summer. They have fields in Iowa, Georgia, and Florida. They may have more than that. As games started getting unplayable in the Carolinas, Perfect Game (and, frankly, anyone with a playable diamond) got calls from college Athletic Directors. The field in Emerson, Georgia hosted the above Louisville game. Here was the schedule at the Emerson site this past weekend.

That looks like a smorgasbord for baseball scouts. I hope the Cubs had about three or four on site. With that many kids playing, someone likely did something to merit a second look. Whether it was the Friday starter for the UT-Martin Skyhawks, the best arm for the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks, or a hitter for the Longwood Lancers, one of the guys at that Lollapabaseball probably should get tabbed in June, in part, due to getting noticed in Emerson this weekend. Even though it was really cold.

Duke's Michael Matuella took the weekend off due to forearm tightness. DJ Stewart struggled to an 0-3 with two walks and two strikeouts outing on Friday against Georgia starter Robert Tyler, who I'm not familiar with. Illinois fought through for a Sunday tie. They had a travel-based-curfew on Sunday, and were only able to play nine innings. The game was tied at four after regulation. At 6-0-1, they are up for the "Team Most Likely To Reach The Top 25" Award.

Aaron Fitt continues to cover college baseball very well with his Ten Thoughts articles thrice a weekend. If you want to know names from college to be ready for in June, you might as well read all of his columns. Some of this selection's topics involve starting baseball later in the calendar.

I'm not judging much of anything off of the weekend, but Santa Barbara right-hander Dillon Tate is moving up the rankings boards rather quickly. He's hitting 95-97 per Kendall Rogers on Twitter, holding 93-95 late. Perhaps I should listen to a Gauchos game before the minor league games start. It looks like they get Oregon next weekend. That might be possible, as it looks like audio will be available. He has had three starts already this season, and nobody seems to be doing much with him. But his games have been in warm weather.

Maybe I'm the jinx he needs.