Florida Notes, Part Five

Florida junior LHP Daniel Gibson

Kiley wraps up his five part notebook on Florida draft prospects with a look into the college ranks. He takes a look at Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF and a recent transfer from one of those schools looking like a top five round prospect at a junior college.

Here's the links in case you missed part one, part two, part three or part four of my rundown on the top draft prospects in Florida.

As I've covered in the previous parts of this series, the state is down as a whole and down a lot from last year's bumper crop. I covered the top college players in the state, Gators RHP Jonathon Crawford and Jacksonville RHP Chris Anderson in part one along with top juco talents 3B Victor Caratini and RHP J.D. Underwood.

Caratini and Underwood are from Miami-area junior colleges (Underwood is committed to Miami) but the Hurricanes and Miami high schools are historically bad. The Canes have a few draft-eligible players worth drafting, but none very high and possibly none in the top ten rounds. CF Dale Carey was a name when he got to campus and even after a poor sophomore year was on some follow lists, but he's been awful in 2013, hitting .192/.308/.293 in 99 AB. He's a long-limbed athlete in center with some tools, but doesn't have the body control or plate discipline to make it work at the plate. Junior LHP Brad Radziewski struck out 17 Hokies in a game I scouted and is putting up gaudy numbers, but doesn't project well into the pros. He's smallish at 5'10, 185 pounds and sat 86-87 and hit 88 mph with a curveball and slider that ran together in the 75-81 mph range. His breaking ball was solid-average at times and he commanded it well along with an 83-85 mph cutter, but nothing is above average and he's a smaller guy with a 30 fastball on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 is major league average.

Lastly, junior RHP Javi Salas has a chance to sneak into the top 10 rounds but isn't a high upside prospect. Salas works with an 88-90 mph sinker, an 81-83 mph slider that flashes above average and a fringy 73-76 mph curveball. He pitches to contact and doesn't use his changeup much. It wouldn't surprise me if all three came back for their senior year to what could be an improved Miami team if some of their solid recruiting class gets to campus.

After losing a number of contributors from last year's regional run (six players drafted), and having a recruiting class gutted by the draft (Padres sandwich pick RHP Zach Eflin the best of the group), UCF is in a bit of a rebuilding year in 2013. The Knights still have some draftable prospects, led by junior RHP Ben Lively. Lively has been up-and-down in Orlando as an underclassmen but has really settled in after as a junior coming off of a strong Cape Cod League. The 6'4, 210-pound righty gives away some of his plane with a long stride and forward-tilting torso, but his velo had been more consistent this season, sitting 90-93 and hitting 94 mph. His breaking ball has also improved some, primarily using an 81-85 mph slider but also occassionally a 75-78 mph curveball. Both pitches will flash solid-average potential but the consistency of the bite is still an issue, along with his near non-existent changeup that he gets under too often. Lively fits in the 4th-5th round range as a big guy with a good arm and a chance to start that's likely a reliever.

UCF's staff has been bolstered by two new Juco transfers right-handers with the same last name, starter Danny Davis and reliever Spencer Davis. Danny is a 6'2, 215 pound pitchability righty with three pitches, an 87-90 mph fastball, 75-79 mph slurve and 79-81 mph changeup. All three grade fringy to average making Danny a swing man type that likely returns for his senior year. Spencer is a much more physical 6'5, 215 pounds that looks like a big leaguer in the uniform. He had been in the low 90's in the fall, with a simple delivery that hides his arm well and lots of plane from a high slot. When I saw him a few weeks ago, scouts looked confused when Davis sat 86-89 touching 90 mph. He showed a slow curve with three-quarters tilt at 73-74 mph that flashed average potential, but Spencer's future relies on his velocity starting with a 9. Among the other draftable guys for UCF are sixth-year senior RF Erik Hempe, senior 1B Jeramy Matos and senior 3B Chris Taladay. Hempe has overcome a lot of injury issues and has a smooth, fluid swing with some feel to hit but has 35 raw power and a fringy arm that limits him to an extra bat in preo ball. Matos will show above average raw power in BP and check the boxes physically, but has a loose sense of the strike zone in game, evident in his .220/.347/.520 line this season. Taladay is another 1B fit in pro ball with some feel to hit from the left side and a productive career (.364/.435/.481 this season) but only a hair more power than Hempe.

Better than any of the players in the previous paragraph is a player that transferred out of UCF this winter, Seminole CC righty Garrett Nuss. Nuss was used in relief as a freshman after being drafted by the Yankees out of high school and transferred to get a shot to start. Scouts told me to go so Nuss and that he had recently hit 95 with a cleaner delivery and I caught him on a tough day. Nuss sat 89-92 and hit 93 mph. He had a lot of trouble spinning a good curveball at 75-79 mph but I had seen the pitch flash above average potential in the past. The surprise came when he was forced to integrate his changeup the second time through the lineup and many scouts had already left, showing a solid-average pitch at 77-80 mph. There were a couple scouting directors at the outing I attended, no doubt chasing the velocity I was told about and let down by a down stuff and command day. The 6'2, 195 pound righty doesn't have much projection left and his command will be limited by the torso tilt at release, but he should be signable and has three average or better pitches depending on when you see him. I could easily seem him getting in the top five rounds, especially if he's willing to cut a deal with a team looking to come in below slot.

The Gators are very down this year in terms of draft prospects after a historic haul last year, including five players in the top three rounds and eight players in the top ten rounds. The two best draft-eligible bats are redshirt sophomore 3B Zack Powers and senior 1B Vickash Ramjit. Powers has some lefty pop but also no reason to sign, with two years of eligibility left and some work to do getting contact and power to both show up in games at the same time. Ramjit is a solid senior sign as a 1B/LF with power that doesn't profile everyday in the big leagues, but some feel to hit that may get him to the upper minors. Transfer from Jacksonville Taylor Ratliff had to sit out the year after losing an appeal to play right away and while I haven't seen him, scouts told me he's a top few rounds prospect as a center fielder. I don't expect him to sign but should get drafted and he has taken BP and infield most weekends for the Gators.

I wrote about Karsten Whitson's situation in part two and there's another draft-eligible Gator arm that's out for the year, RHP Keenan Kish. Kish hasn't shown the same upside or accelerated timetable for recovery before signing day as Whitson from his own shoulder injury, so it's unlikely a club will make a run to sign Kish. The two other solid draft-eligible arms for Florida are sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi and junior LHP Daniel Gibson.

Magliozzi is eligible due to his age, nearly 22 on draft day, and was a rare draft-eligible freshman last year but had a seven figure price tag that scared teams away. If his price tag comes down a good bit this year, Magliozzi is having a solid season as the closer in Gainesville and would go in the top ten rounds. He'll work 90-92 with a curveball and changeup that will flash above average potential. This issue is his lack of plane (5'10, 180 pounds) and there's some effort in his delivery that affects his command. It's a swing man or middle reliever fit that likely brings him back to campus for maybe just one more year. Gibson has a long history with scouts, coming from powerhouse Jesuit HS in Tampa (Lance McCullers the most recent high pick) and staying in their area with the Gators. He'll show three average pitches at times that prompted the coaching staff to try him as starter earlier in the year with the weekend rotation unsettled but it didn't work. Gibson's best weapon in pro ball is a fringy, sweeping breaking ball that gives lefties fits, but he's a middle relief fit as well and may also come back to campus if his asking price is higher that the back half of the top ten rounds.

While they succeed in the win-loss column with a team full of grinders and command-types, Florida State doesn't have much in the way of draft prospects. While I've heard early round buzz on sophomore RHP Luke Weaver (more coming soon) and freshman Jameis Winston is interesting, the Noles consistently lose most of their top tools-type recruits to the draft. Their best 2013 draft prospect is senior SS Justin Gonzalez, who has barely played this year due to injury. He a solid defender that's more of a third baseman in pro ball due to his lack of lateral quickness. His swing is aggressive and there are some contact issues, but he has some power to fit at third in the minors, but is an org guy long-term for me.

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