UNC's Ackley is the top college hitter, and maybe the No. 2 pick
DURHAM, N.C. -- Everyone assumes that San Diego State's
Ackley's hitting .399 with 20 HRs and 61 RBIs and ranks second in the ACC in on-base percentage (.505) and first in slugging (.759). The 6-foot-1, 184-pounder, praised as an above-average runner who could move to the outfield or perhaps second base in pro ball, is eliminating concerns about his power by tying for the league lead in homers. He smashed three in the ACC tournament, including a deep shot to right and an opposite-field smash against Clemson.
"I've only seen him get three hits all year, and I've seen him a lot," said one national scout with a National League club, "but even though I haven't seen him play great, I'm still impressed. When he leaks out with his front shoulder, he gets out of rhythm a little, but he has such good hands, his bat stays in the hitting zone a long time. And he's more physical than you'd think. He's got solid size and he definitely looks the part."
The Mariners pick second, and general manager
The Memorial Day weekend brings pro scouts out in droves to Division I conference tournaments, especially to those in power conferences. In baseball, that means the Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Southeastern conferences, as the Pac-10 doesn't have a tournament.
The ACC tournament was supposed to be played in Boston's Fenway Park this year, but a scheduling snafu forced a late relocation to the home of the Triple-A Durham Bulls. Several major league scouting directors and dozens of scouts were on hand for most of the action, and every team with a top-10 pick in next month's draft was on hand to watch North Carolina's duo of Ackley and right hander
The Tar Heels went 1-2 on the week (with losses to Virginia and Clemson and a win against Duke), and the 6-foot-3, 200-pound White didn't make it out of the third inning against Virginia in an 11-1 loss on Thursday, throwing just 51 pitches. Some observers speculated that White would have been used in relief on one day's rest had the Tar Heels advanced to Sunday's championship game.
White's fastball touched 97 mph and mostly sat anywhere from 91-96, but command of that fastball remains his bugaboo. His slider has become less consistent this spring, and his split-finger fastball, while a plus pitch, is more of a chase pitch than one he throws for strikes. He has not helped his cause to be the second college pitcher drafted after Strasburg, a near-lock to go No. 1 overall to the Nationals.
Memorial Day was selection day for the NCAA Division I baseball tournament, and it brought surprising good news for Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Bears were swept in their last three Big 12 series and are just 29-24 overall, while the 32-22 Cowboys finished in ninth place in the 10-team Big 12 (Iowa State and Colorado don't play baseball) and didn't even qualify for the league tournament.
However, both teams had high enough RPIs that they were included in the NCAA's 64-team field. That gives scouts one more weekend to see their disappointing crops of prospects, particularly Bears righty
Volz's stock has dropped significantly this spring, after rocketing last summer, when he shined in a relief role for USA Baseball's college national team. Volz was just 3-6 with a 4.67 ERA and has moved to the bullpen late in the season, where his fastball-slider approach might be a better fit. His velocity was up this weekend in the Big 12 tournament, as he hit 93 mph several times.
Oliver, who a year ago was suspended by the NCAA for involvement with an agent, returned to the field this season but hasn't been the same pitcher, helping contribute to Oklahoma State's disappointing season. While he has run his fastball up to 97 mph, his inconsistent secondary stuff has contributed to his fluctuating draft stock and a 5-6, 5.58 ERA season. He still has 91 strikeouts and just 33 walks in 80.2 innings, so he should be drafted high, but he's not impressing scouts like he did in 2008, when he was 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA.
"He's really kind of fallen off the board from where he was," a National League cross-checker told BA earlier in May. "His struggles and inability to throw a breaking ball have dropped him off a little bit. I know guys that have seen him have seen a curveball out of him, and now he's trying to throw a slider. Sometimes it's fair, and sometimes it's a little non-existent. He's still got a good fastball and he's got a good body [6-3, 212 pounds]). But you can't pitch with just one pitch."
On the flip side, scouts won't get to see any more of Kennesaw State's hard-throwing tandem of right-handers,
Scouts won't get to see Cal anymore, either, as the talented Bears finished just 24-29, 9-18 in the Pac-10. The Bears have seven-to-10 players who should be drafted, highlighted by outfielder
Jackson, who draws
"He's got a chance to be a really good defender out there," one national evaluator said. "I think he's got good size [6-2, 220 pounds], obviously he has the arm, and I like the power potential."