2012 Draft Prospects Shine at Fenway

Kevin Gausman

BOSTON, Mass. -- The USA Collegiate team is usually a staple of the summer scouting circuit for the following year's draft class. This year it was all the more interesting to check out the Team USA squad, as they faced off against the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars on Monday afternoon at historic Fenway Park. On this day, Stanford ace Mark Appel stole the show.

Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

Until someone else emerges there is very little doubt right now that Mark Appel is the top pitching prospect in the 2012 draft class. And, I'm sure the case can be made that he's the very early favorite to be next year's number one overall selection. The first pitch out of the tall righty's hand on Monday was a 97 mph fastball. And, this was a fastball that appeared to require very little effort. Appel sat at 96-97 mph against the NECBL All-Stars and looked essentially like he was playing catch. One pitch even registered 98 mph on my gun. This was a short outing for Appel, and obviously he's likely to settle around 94-96 mph, and top out at 97-98 when he needs it over the course of a 100 pitch start. But, like the durable flame throwing aces out there like Justin Verlander, he seems to have very little issue producing this type of velocity. Appel went right at the NECBL hitters and worked very efficiently. He attacked with his fastball and seemed to be able to locate his 84-86 mph true slider whenever he wanted to. This is the combination of size, velocity, command, and feel for secondary pitches scouts dream about. Appel is showing very early this summer that he's a clear number one overall, frontline starter type talent.

Damien Magnifico, RHP, Howard College

Magnifico is no secret in scouting circles. Scouts have long known he has a power arm but he's been slowed by injuries. He appears to be healthy now and throwing the ball with a lot of emphasis. He was the clear cut top pitching prospect the NECBL ran out there on Monday, and was no slouch even in comparison to the USA squad. Reaching 97 mph on a couple guns, Magnifico worked mostly between 93-95 mph, and bumped 96 a couple times. He tends to throw a little uphill and will need to adjust his mechanics, and his breaking ball lacked feel. But, this is the type of power arm that will draw a lot of intrigue. Keep a close eye on Magnifico and his power arm.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, Louisiana State

How Gausman looked on Monday essentially boils down to expectations from the evaluator coming to the ballpark. From this evaluator's standpoint, his performance was somewhat disappointing. Many had dubbed Gausman as clear cut elite arm and that he belonged in the conversation for the top pitchers in the class. Based on Monday's performance, he may be a first rounder particularly considering the perceived lack of college depth in the 2012 class, but he doesn't belong near the conversation with pitchers like Mark Appel. He's going to be a draft eligible sophomore in 2012 so he has plenty of time to develop as well. And, this could also have been just a down performance from him. Things started out well for the big righty as he sat 93-95 mph with his fastball, and pretty steadily pumped 94. But in the following innings he saw his velocity dip to 89-92, and while he still reached 94 again the life and command was really all over the map. His slider at 79-82 mph flashed plus bite, and breaks very late, but his command of this pitch was not there on this day either. There's a lot of raw potential with Gausman, but right now, it's just that, very raw.

Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State

At this moment, it's Marrero that's standing out on a USA squad lacking standout stars like George Springer or Anthony Rendon, or even Alex Dickerson like the 2011 team. Marrero's swing looks very short and compact and he's producing some very hard line drives. At shortstop, he was highly impressive on Monday at Fenway, showing soft hands and smooth actions. He looks particularly sharp on slow rollers to his back hand side, circling the ball nicely and showing off a very strong arm. He's already looking like one of the most well rounded college players in the 2012 draft class.

Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke

I caught a glimpse of Stroman last summer in the Cape Cod League, so it was no surprise how good his stuff looked today for Team USA. Stroman is not imposing on the mound, but his stuff sure is. He sat at 93-94 mph with his fastball, getting it up to 95 a couple times on Monday and featured a dominant 83-85 mph disappearing slider. This is a potential plus-plus pitch at the big league level. Considering his smallish frame, there's a lot of effort that goes into it. So, in terms of profile we're purely looking at a late relief profile for Stroman. But, with two plus pitches, he certainly has the stuff to pitch there at the Major League level.

Tom Murphy, C, Buffalo

Murphy is far from a household name in the prospect world, but in front of a crowd of scouts, he made the most purely eye opening impression of the day for the NECBL all-Stars. Facing USA starter, Kevin Gausman, Murphy first smoked a colossal foul fall down the left field line. On the very next pitch, Murphy got a hanging slider from the righty and didn't pull it foul this time. Instead, he deposited it into the very top row of the Green Monster seats in left-center field. Buffalo is not typically a heavily scouted university, but Murphy just put himself on the map. It was one very big swing in a big game, but it's the type of power that will entrench him on follow lists going into next spring.

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