Originally posted on Friday, March 28th at www.RockChalkTalk.com
Let me begin by saying that the Aggies have a great offense (.304 team average) with a lot of consistent power through their entire lineup (72 extra base hits and 22 HR thus far). They score a lot of runs (about 7 per game) and steal a lot of bases (38). They really put the pressure on the pitching staff and on the defense. Along with that great offense comes even better pitching (2.97 ERA with almost 9 K’s per game). They are a staff of strikeout pitchers and the bullpen follows suit (2.23 ERA). The Aggies have a nice collection of players that have been drafted and /or will be drafted. Some of them may get late round fliers in the draft but i would say quite a few of them will wind up in the top 10 rounds with a few possibly in the top 3-5 rounds. This is a tough team to beat and should be a fun weekend to really get a close look at some of these future pros and prospects. I will offer a recap with my findings and scouting information on Sunday/Monday evening to discuss what i took from this series.
2B Blake Stouffer – 6’1, 190, SR
Stouffer probably was more deserving of the Player of the Year award last year than Kyle Russell from Texas, but people love the long ball so Russell won out. Stouffer put up a ridiculous line of .398, 12 HR and 85 RBI. He led the nation in runs batted in and he wound up being selected in the 4th round by Cincinnati only to return for his senior year. Like Russell’s decision to come back, Stouffers decision was somewhat of a head-scratcher for some and like Russell it appears to have been the wrong decision. He has gotten off to a horrendously slow start and still isnt finding a way to get his bat going. He is batting .213 with 1HR and 17 RBI thus far. He has stolen 7 bases and i guess with 17 RBI, one could say he hasnt been worthless by any means, but if he is going to be drafted again, anywhere near the 4th round, he is going to have to figure things out quickly. He is still a deadly hitter, so lets hope the Jayhawks take him seriously or his season beginning slump will officially be over this weekend. I will really be watching close to see what is ailing Stouffer.
FUN FACT: Stouffer is in the little league Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
TAKE: Stouffer went 3-12 with 5 runs, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K and 3 SB. Stouffer is not an imposing figure at the plate but does have a very nice cut. He continued in his current slump although i have to say that Stouffer doesnt act like he is in a slump and missed out on 4th round money. He just seems to be hitting the ball where the defense is. He only got ahold of a couple pitches and drove them with any meaning but he isnt really striking out or taking really bad swings. I think he might be swinging at a few pitches that he doesnt necessarily want, but thats kinda what happens while in a slump of this magnitutde. I still think that Souffer is on the verge of figuring this out and breaking out of this funk he is in, but if it continues much longer, im afraid it might get to him and start to show. Stouffer is still doing a great job of fighting through this rough time with the bat as he walks and steals and scores runs and still does a decent job of helping his team win. Obviously his numbers wont be anywhere near what he put up last year, but id guess him to figure this thing out and still be drafted in the top 7-10 rounds.
3B Dane Carter – 5’9, 165, SR
Carter has kind of come out of nowhere this year. He really battled injuries most of last season after transferring, therefore hasnt really had the statistics to get much attention as a prospect, but this year he has burst onto the scene in a serious way. Carter transferred from Vernon College where he did put up some nice numbers but nothing like what he is doing so far this year. He is batting .457 with 5 HR, 22 RBI and 10 SB so far this year. He has hit 4 doubles and 5 triples as well, giving him a slugging percentage of .772. I would say he is one of the top 10 third basemen in the country at this point. Whether he gets drafted high or not will completely be determined by how he continues in his senior season. If he can stay on a pace similar to what he has been doing, his chances will be good to be drafted in the top 5 rounds. Im not sure he has the power to play 3B in the pros, but he has the stick to play somewhere, maybe even 2b or OF? I will really be watching him close to see if he has any future power development in his swing.
TAKE: Carter is a very small guy. I was shocked to see how small he was, both in height and in weight. The 3 games i saw, Carter struggled at the plate going 3-13, 2 Runs, 5 RBI, 6 K’s and 1 Walk. He has a nice and controled swing and i can see why he is batting with such a high average, although i do expect that average to come back down to earth and i could see Carter finish in the mid .300′s by years end. He made some great defensive plays and has quick hands and a nice arm from third. I definitely dont think Carter can play 3b at the next level for lack of size and power and his size may really hurt his draft slot also. I do think he would make an excellent second basemen however and i definitely think he will get drafted and my guess would be somewhere near the 10th round. Carter is definitely a fun player to watch and root for.
SS Jose Duran – 5’11, 190, JR
Duran is a transfer from North Central Texas College where he went for .347, 10 HR, 53 RBI and 20 SB. He has a good glove and good arm with the occasional error as most shortstops have from time to time. This year he is more than doing well, he is tearing it up, batting .392 with 2 HR, 22 RBI and 6 SB. He is one of the top 20 middle infielders in college ball this year. His brother is German Duran and is a very nice prospect with the Texas Rangers. German has a chance to really step up to the elite status this year. I would definitely guess his brother Jose will be drafted fairly high as well. Im anxious to see Duran play defense and see what his bat looks like as well.
TAKE: Duran impressed me a lot. He is a line drive hitter and hits to all fields. He hits the ball hard every time. In the series he was 8-15 with 4 runs, 5 RBI, 2 Doubles and only 1 K. He has very quick hands and showed a nice arm from shortstop. Duran plays hard and was very fun to watch. I think he could wind up being one of the top middle infielders in the nation by years end. I think Duran will be taken in the top 5 rounds. I was very impressed.
LF/1B Brian Ruggiano – 6′, 180, JR
Ruggiano is a transfer from Temple College and already made an impact for the Aggies last year as a sophomore batting .255 with 1 HR, 14 RBI and 9 SB. He is a big part of the offense this year batting .329 with 2HR and 14 RBI. His brother, Justin Ruggiano is a good prospect for Tampa Bay and I would expect Brian to get some respect in the draft if he can continue to improve those numbers. I would expect him to come back for his senior year before entering the draft. I will be watching to see if he has any power development in his future in a similar fashion to his brother who had 20 HR in AAA last year.
TAKE: Brian doesnt have the same size and build as his brother Justin. I dont think he will have as much power but i do like his bat. I definitely think he will benefit from staying around for his senior season. In this series he was 5-13 with 4 Runs, 2 Walks, 3 K’s, 1 double and he made a couple errors in the field. He has a nice cut but i dont see a lot of power potential in that bat at this point. He might be more of a doubles guy with a decent average. I could see Ruggiano as a 25th round pick or somewhere in thet general vicinity.
1b/OF Darby Brown – 6’4, 230, SR
Brown had a broken hand last year and never really got to put together the year he is capabale of. He had 1 HR and 17 RBI in 118 at bats but is capable of much much more, as he has shown so far this year. He is batting .273 with 4 HR and 18 RBI and the past 13 games he has been on fire. He was drafted in the 46th round in the 05 draft by Cincinnati and with his size, i would expect a similar draft slot this summer if he can continue to hit well and show some power. I will be watching to see what kinda of athleticism he has and if his swing translates to future power or if it will end up as a high strikeout type swing.
TAKE: By far the most impressive performance i have seen this year. Brown is a monster at the plate. He is a big kid with a thick build, yet very athletic. He has an open stance with a rhythmic toe tap and closes up as he receives the pitch. Brown has tons of power and i dont think he has even tapped into it to the full extent. He continued his absolute tear going 8-15 with 2 HR, 1 Double, 4 Runs and 11 RBI. He doesnt walk much but he also doesnt strikeout much. He is on the field to mash and thats what he does. He may profile as a RFer or 1B in the pros but im not sure what his defense and arm look like as he DHed in this series. I think Brown has an opportunity to be a monster at the next level and possibly be a top prospect a couple years from now. Im guessing a top 5 round pick this summer for Brown.
DH/OF/1B Luke Anders – 6’6, 225, JR
Anders has an awesome story as he was recruited under the past coaching staff to pitch and he didnt get much playing time and that whole story. The new coaches decided they liked his swing and moved him into the batting lineup last year and the rest is history. He batted .336 with 11 HR and 46 RBI. And the rich keep getting richer. So far this season, Anders is batting .328 with 3 HR and 15 RBI. With his size and having a year left, id say he is a prospect if he can continue to show some pop and good hitting skills.
TAKE: Anders looks like a basketball player. I have no doubt he was a decent pitcher when he came to A&M but his bat has proven to be the big ticket. Anders has a nice stroke for a big lanky guy. He shows good pitch recognition at times and manages to get the bat on the ball. Anders, like Stouffer, seemed to usually find a defender with his hits. He went 3-12 with a HR, 1 Double, 3 Runs, 4 RBI and only 2 K’s. I think Anders would be one to benefit from staying for his senior season and really making himself one of the top hitting first basemen in the country next year. Right now i would guess him to be a 15th rounder.
LF Ben Feltner – 5’11, 185, SR
Feltner is a small guy that is blazing fast and works his tail off. Last year he was 34 of 37 in steals and he also had 28 bunt singles. Those numbers are unheard of. He also batted .304 with 1 HR and 24 RBI so hes no slouch with the bat either. He is off to a slow start this year batting .214 with 6 RBI and 6 SB. He was drafted in the 26th round in the 07 draft by Milwaukee and in the 38th round in 06 by the Cubs. With his speed, id say he should be drafted somewhere in the 20th-30th rounds again, even if he has a statistically worse season this year.
TAKE: Feltner doesnt play a lot right now. His strength and his game is all built around speed. He is lightning fast. He went 2-7 with a run scored and 1 K in the series but you could definitely see his speed on defense and running the bases and i see why major league teams are taking a flier drafting this hard working speed demon. My 20th – 30th round guess above still stands.
INF Phil Carey – 6′, 185, JR
Carey is a transfer from Winthrop where he did very well with the bat. He was drafted in the 25th round of the 05 draft by Toronto and only has 3 at bats so far this season. Im not sure if he is injured or if he just isnt playing much yet but he obviously has some talent to get him to the next level.
TAKE: Did not play. Im guessing he is injured.
RHP Barret Loux – 6’5, 195, FR
Loux is a stud. Hes a tall pitcher who got drafted in the 24th round last year out of HS by Detroit. He hasnt disappointed as a freshman either with a 3.76 ERA and 26 K’s in 26.1 innings. He will be going up against Nick Czyz tomorrow afternoon and should provide for some good pitching to watch. In 3 years id expect Loux to be a an early round draft pick.
TAKE: Loux didnt fare all that well in the game i saw, but nonetheless, he impresed me a lot. Loux is a dominating figure on the mound with a delivery of all arms and legs flying at the batter. He works very fast and seems to have a presence on the mound as a no-nonsense type pitcher. He threw a 93-94 mph fastbabll, 81-83 mph slider and a 78 mph curve. In the game i saw, he went 5.2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 6 earned runs, 2 walks and struck out 8. As with most freshman, his command was a little shaky. He left some pitches up in the zone and got hit at times but also showed signs of brilliance and racked up the strikeouts. Once he figures out how to pitch and get ahold of his command, this kid is going to be special. I liked him a lot. With his velocity and the fact that he wont be draft eleigible for 3 years makes me want to say this kid can be a first round pick if he can continue to improve and find his command.
RHP Kyle Thebeau – 6’1, 195, JR
Thebeau is purely a strikeout pitcher. Last year he had a 4.67 ERA but struck out 92 in only 79 innings. That is an extremely good ratio. This year he has a 1.12 ERA in 24 innings with 25 K’s. He will be a tough pitcher to hit and im anxious to see his pitches and see how fast he is throwing.
TAKE: Thebeau is a tough pitcher to scratch a run across against. He doesnt let up and rarely gives the hitter something worth swinging at. He works with a plus fastball in the 93-94 mph range, touching 95 a few times. He combines that with an 83-84 mph slider and gets a lot of strikeouts. He does groove a pitch from time to time and when he does that, he is hittable, but its no fun day at the park for the hitters that have to face him. He pitched 4.2 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 Walks and struck out 4. He will be drafted this summer but if he can stay for his senior year and either move into the rotation or be the shut-down closer next year, i think it would benefit him. It all depends on how high he is drafted this year. Right now, my guess would be top 10 rounds but this is a tough one for me to judge.
LHP Brooks Raley – 6′, 170, FR
Raley is another very nice freshman starter for the Aggies. He has started 3 games and made 7 appearances so far and has a 2.89 ERA with 27 K’s in 28 innings. Those are good numbers for a senior, let alone a freshman. He also plays OF and has a decent bat and some good speed. He will face off against Wally Marciel this evening. Im very anxious to see what kind of stuff this kid is dealing.
TAKE: Raley is another young starter for A&M. He was the Friday starter and did a very nice job. He is a skinny kid that throws with all he has. His fastball was 91-93 mph with a nice slider (81-83 mph)and offspeed pitch. Raley is just a good athlete with a very nice arm and a lot of poise. he went 6.2 innings, giving up 10 hits, 4 earned runs, walking none and striking out 6. He is very hittable when he is up in the zone and looses his command, but when he is in his zone, he is tough to get a good swing against. I think Raley will be a very fine pitcher 3 years from now and could easily be a top 5 round draft pick.
RHP Jordan Chambless – 6’2, 200, JR
Chambless has gone through a rough injured past with a stress fracture, broken foot, sprained ankle and an arm issue. He missed last year with a medical red shirt. But when he is healthy, he is quite simply unstoppable and one of the best arms in the country. He was drafted in the 50th round last year by the Reds, 43rd round by the Dodgers in 06, and the 12th round by Cleveland in 04. His injuries have really caused him to slip in the draft from year to year but a strong junior/senior campaign would push him right back to the top. He too is a strikeout pitcher and has only pitched a couple innings this year, so im not sure of his status for this weekend.
TAKE: Did not pitch and im guessing the injury bug is existing.
RHP Carson Middleton – 6’3, 200, SO
Middleton is another big young pitcher for the Aggies. He is a transfer from McLennan College and was drafted in the 49th by Pittsburgh. Middleton will probably pitch Sunday against Sam Freeman. So far he has been very dominant with a 2.37 ERA and 18 K’s in 19 innings. I dont know much about this kid, so if we dont get rained out on Sunday, i will be anxious to see what he has to offer.
TAKE: Middleton works 90-92 mph with his fastball, touching 94 at times. His breaking pitch came in around 77-78 mph. He had good mound presence but really struggled with his command and the A&M coach had a short leash with the kid and yanked him at the first sign of trouble. He pitched 1 inning, giving up 4 earned runs with 2 hits, 1 walk and no strikeouts. He definitely didnt have much control on this day, but i can see a lot of potential with this kid and id expect him to have a good 2 more years of Aggie baseball before being a top 20 round draft pick.
Other talented pitchers i want to mention but will cover a little more later and as i see them pitch this weekend:
Kirkland Rivers – DID NOT PLAY
Scott Migl – TAKE: Migl had a 91 mph fastball with an 80-81 mph off speed pitch and a slider about 85-86 mph. He went 4.1 innings, giving up 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 4 K’s. Another good pitcher that is hittable at times but showed sign of having very good stuff. He was a Freshman All American last year and was drafted in the 41st round of the 06 draft by Baltimore. I would guess him to go womewhere in the 20th round in a couple years.
Blake Rampy – DID NOT PLAY
Travis Starling – TAKE: Starling is a smaller guy but has some good stuff on the mound. He pitched 2.3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk and sturck out 3. I need a bigger sample to get a true feeling for this kids stuff but his numbers are ridiculous so far this year.
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AMAN REAKA