■ Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com looks in his Crystal Ball and projects the first 20 picks:
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: Aaron Crow, RHP, Fort Worth Cats■ The Latest on Crow (Baseball America)
The Pirates aren't definitely taking a pitcher, but with the strength of the Draft being on the mound, it does make some sense. Their general manager was at Crow's last outing, along with some other GMs who will be picking in the top 10. The other side of that coin, of course, is that the Pirates could take a bat here, thinking the pitching depth will extend to their sandwich-round pick and beyond. If that's the case, USC shortstop Grant Green is in the mix.
11. Colorado Rockies: Kyle Gibson, RHP, University of Missouri
A year ago, the Rockies picked at No. 25 and were pleasantly surprised that college lefty Christian Friedrick dropped in their laps. They won't have to wait for as big of a slide this time at No. 11, but they could take advantage of a similar scenario. That could mean Mizzou's Gibson or North Carolina's White. For now, the thinking is Gibson. If one of those two doesn't fall, someone like lefty Rex Brothers could be considered and ASU's Leake probably enters into every conversation from this spot forward.
Crow hasn’t allowed a run in his first two starts for the Fort Worth Cats, striking out 13 in 11 innings and retiring 31 of the 38 batters he’s faced. His stuff has been nearly as good as it was when he starred at Missouri last spring—and good enough that he could go as high as No. 3 to the Padres or No. 4 to the Pirates. He’s believed to be seeking at least the $4 million his advisers, the Hendricks brothers, asked for at the Aug. 15 signing deadline last year.
"He looks just a tick behind 2008, almost like he’s in the middle of spring training," an American League front-office official said. "I’ve seen him flash 95 mph with his fastball, and I’ve seen him flash a hard, 87 mph slider. He’s just a little inconsistent, but he’s not far away. And physically, he looks better than ever."
■ Departing, emerging players spark Cats (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Crow is expected to be drafted in the first round of next month’s Major League draft after being selected ninth overall in 2008.■Draft Preview: Kyle Gibson (McCovey Chronicles)
He opened the game with a three-pitch strikeout. The second inning turned on Crow as a pair of walks and a single left him facing a one-out bases loaded scenario. However, Zach Goldberg hit into a double play.
Crow ended the night after six innings with six hits, two runs, three walks and four strikeouts in what was the least effective of his three outings with Fort Worth. Crow gave up the lead atop the fourth inning when Wichita scored two runs.
"It was good," Crow said. "We played good baseball. The whole time I pitched really well, so I’m really happy with how I did. The team’s doing great and this has been a really fun experience."
■ Winners and Losers at the NCAA Regionals (baseballrumormill.com)
The long-winded intro is all to introduce Kyle Gibson, the Missouri right-hander with the draft's shiniest "safe" label. In order to earn that label, Gibson had to have
• above-average control
• a good-not-great fastball
• a couple of developed off-speed pitches
• and a certain je ne sais quoi package of gritty bulldog gamer grittiness
Gibson has it all. So he's the safe pick that should remind folks of Grilli or Reynolds -- a mid-ceiling guy whose polish and proximity to the bigs is one of his more attractive
And I'm kind of hoping he falls to the Giants.
. . .
But he's not a safe pick. Don't hope for the Giants to draft Gibson because he'll be up soon, or because he'll bring back a shiny hitter in trade soon. Hope for the Giants to draft him because you have wild visions of a Brandon Webb with less sink, more slide, and plus control, even if he has a 10% chance of ever being that pitcher.
Undecided: Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri: The outing was fine (8IP, 0R, 6H, BB, 8K) but his velocity (82-86mph) was suspect. Interestingly, Churchill was not concerned about Gibson's velocity and listed him as improving his draft stock.■ Regional wrap-up -- AKA the Money Round (mlbblogs.com)
Kyle Gibson, RHP, Missouri: On the results side, it looked just fine. He tossed eight shutout innings against Monmouth on Saturday, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out eight. Perhaps he should have pitched Friday, but the plan was to have him for Saturday against Ole Miss. But since Mizzou lost on Friday, it had to play Monmouth. But the real reason for the question mark are reports coming from that start that had the right-hander throwing in the 82-86 mph range. Is he overworked? Perhaps. But if the velocity reports are true -- and I've heard they are from two different national scouts (who, granted, weren't at that particular start) -- teams are going to be concerned.
■ MLBDraftSite.com has Aaron Senne being drafted in the 3rd round, #82 overall, to San Diego. Nothing on the site indicates when this mock draft was conducted.