I had the opportunity to just a couple days ago have a phone interview with the Executive Editor of Baseball America Jim Callis. Jim is one the best guys out there for draft info so it was cool to get to chat with him. He produced two mock drafts so far for Baseball America. Both times he has given the Mets Barbe High School (Louisiana) short stop Gavin Cecchini. Click play below to listen to my chat with Jim Callis.
I had the chance to exchange an e-mail Q+A with Solon HS (Ohio) left handed pitcher Matthew Smoral. Coming into the season Smoral was considered a potential top 10 selection but suffered a stress fracture in his foot that took out his season. He stands at a massive 6’8″ and I have heard comparisons to San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner. He has a strong commitment to play at The University of North Carolina that may make him a tough sign. Without further ado here is my Q+A with Matthew Smoral.
St Lucie To Flushing: You have missed most of your final high school season due to a stress fracture in your foot. Explain exactly how the injury occurred and how is the rehab coming?
Matthew Smoral: The injury occurred after my first start in Myrtle Beach, SC. I was just walking like normal and i bent down to pick something up and i felt something in my foot and i had a good idea that it was a Stress Fracture. This is an injury i had before and we decided to get it fixed and i am on track for a full recovery and no limitations in the future. I have been rehabbing it as well as working with my trainers to do as much i can in the gym.
St Lucie To Flushing: I know there were a lot of players that were invited to the MLB Network studios for the draft. Were you invited? Do you have any intention to go?
Matthew Smoral: I was not invited to the MLB network studios for the draft. I did not have any intention to go especially after what has happened this year. However i am very excited for it and know i will have a very difficult decision to make.
St Lucie To Flushing: For the fans that don’t really know about you, can you give them a scouting report of yourself as a pitcher?
Matthew Smoral: If i were to give a scouting report of myself i would say i throw a four-seam, two-seam, slider, and changeup. My fastball is my best pitch and has good action on it, my slider is my out pitch i have breen throwing it for about 9 months now and it keeps improving. I look for it to be a very goof pitch in the future. My change-up is a good pitch with good action i just need to get more comfortable throwing it in any count for strikes.
St Lucie To Flushing: Who were some of your idols growing up? Who have you tried to model your game after?
Matthew Smoral: Without a doubt my idol is Randy Johnson. I feel that i have a lot in common with him with our arm slot and hieght. I loved watching him pitch and how much tenacity and energy he had. He found a way to use those emotions to benefit him on the field and have na long succesfull hall of fame career, which is exactly what i want to do.
St Lucie To Flushing: You appear to have a strong commitment to the University of North Carolina. Right now how open are you to signing with an MLB team? Is it dependent on where you are drafted? What steered you to UNC over other colleges?
Matthew Smoral: The University of North Carolina is great in every aspect from academics to baseball and everything inbetween. That is why i choose to go there. There was no doubt in my mind that it was the place for me and i knew it on my first visit. As far as the draft goes i feel that i cant make a wrong decision and i am just blessed to be in the situation that i am in. But this spring my family and i have been preparing for UNC and we will see what happens in June. Both my family and i believe that this injury has not affected the way i throw one bit i am still the pitcher i was before this and i will be even better after it, and thats how we plan to approach the situation.
St Lucie To Flushing: Name your favorite of the following: Food, Band/Genre of Music and hobbies when you’re not playing baseball
Matthew Smoral: My favorite food has to be steak, i love steak and theres nothing better than a new york strip. My favorite genre of music has to be Country especially in the summer when its nice out, and my favorite artist is Luke Bryan.
St Lucie To Flushing: Last question. At 6’8 you can throw down a pretty mean slam dunk in basketball, right?
Matthew Smoral: To answer your last question i can throw it down for sure!! Enough to make our basketball coach cringe for all the years i didnt play
I would like to thank Matthew for his time and wish him the best of luck regardless of what he chooses to do. You can follow him on Twitter @MSmoral23
In the first two parts of my MLB Draft series I had interviews with lock first round picks Lance McCullers and Courtney Hawkins. Given the depth my site typically goes into when it comes to the Mets minors, why shouldn’t it be the same with my draft series? I am dipping down a little more and will be talking to likely the fastest kid in the draft or close to it (3.6 seconds down the first base line from the left handed batters box and a 6.31 second 60 yard dash) who should probably go around round 10-15 in this years draft.
He is on Twitter (@DLEEitzME) and is a good follow for anyone who wants to know more about him. I think everyone who reads this article and listens to this interview should send him a tweet wishing him in a Happy Birthday as he turns 18 years old today. He is a very nice kid who I was very happy to interview and I think if he decides to sign with a professional team that team will be getting an exciting ballplayer who can do some things for them long term. Click the play button below for my exclusive interview with Daniel Lee.
I am going to start some weekly changes here at the site up until the draft, specifically a big board and mock drafts. I am making my initial big board 15 players and next week I intend to expand it bigger and then more so the week after in hopes of having a pretty good sized board come draft day for readers to use. I also will have an updated version of my mock draft up on Thursday with changes throughout the first round. Here is the initial St Lucie To Flushing Big Board:
1. OF Byron Buxton – Appling County HS (GA)
2. RHP Kevin Gausman – LSU
3. SS Carlos Correa – Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
4. RHP Mark Appel – Stanford
5. C Mike Zunino – Florida
6. LHP Max Fried – Harvard Westlake HS (CA)
7. RHP Lucas Giolito – Harvard Westlake HS (CA)
8. RHP Lance McCullers Jr – Jesuit HS (FL)
9. OF Albert Almora – Mater Academy (FL)
10. RHP Kyle Zimmer – San Francisco
11. OF Courtney Hawkins – Carroll HS (TX)
12. 3B Richie Shaffer – Clemson
13. RHP Marcus Stroman – Duke
14. LHP Andrew Heaney – Oklahoma State
15. RHP Zach Eflin – Hagerty HS (FL)
A couple days ago I had the chance to set up an interview with a big time rising prospect in the 2012 MLB Draft in Courtney Hawkins. Hawkins is a high school outfielder from Carroll High School in Texas who has a commitment to play collegiate baseball at the University of Texas. Keith Law of ESPN.com has rated Hawkins as the 10th best prospect in the draft while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has him ranked 12th.
In the interview below we touch on what strides he feels he made that have helped him fly up draft charts, he gave a scouting report of himself and even discussed how he pitches too. Courtney is a very nice kid who has a good head on his shoulders and a great work ethic that will benefit him in the future. Wherever he goes I am sure he will succeed. If you do not follow him on Twitter already you should (@CHawkins10). He loves interacting with fans and even the pundits. Click the play button below to listen to my discussion with Courtney.
I had the pleasure of arranging for a phone interview with Jesuit High School (Florida) pitcher Lance McCullers Jr a couple of days ago. You may recognize the name as his father Lance McCullers was a Major League pitcher for 7 years. He spent time with the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and finished off with the Texas Rangers.
McCullers Jr however is quite the prospect himself. He stands 6’2 at about 200 pounds right now and has a fastball that has reached 100 mph to go along with a slider, 12-6 curve and change-up. Around this time last year he was considered the favorite to go #1 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Lance is a very good kid who was very open with me about a range of topics including talking about the debate over his size and his change-up, the influence his father has had on his growth as a pitcher and his favorite food, type of music and hobbies outside of baseball. Click the play button below to play my interview with highly touted draft prospect Lance McCullers Jr.
I’d like to thank Lance for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @LMcCullers_23