2013 Draft LiveBlog - Day 1

Canadian Baseball Network Draft List Final draftee profiles with updated signings

Canadian Social Media Draft List

The MLB Draft: Social media roundup

Writer Date Post
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:01 * * *
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:02 We have a few questions here ... and shall try to answer as this busy night moves on
Dturc 06/06/2013 22:04 Do MLB teams actually draft for need i.e. they need a catcher so they draft a catcher? I would think most teams draft the best player available because it takes so long to draft a player. There are not too many Buster Poseys out there
Canadian Baseball Network 06/06/2013 22:05 Gray No. 1, Zastryzny, O'Neill in PG top 100Rob Zaztryzny 81st, Tyler O’Neill 84th http://ow.ly/lL1f1
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:07 Most teams draft by best talent available. If you wind up with 2 major-league ready Cs like San Diego ( Benito Santiago and Sandy Alomar u trade one). Worst case of drafting by need was the Jays in 1983 when they chose C Matt Stark 9th over-all. The day before the draft asked who was the best player in the draft? The answer was a guy named Roger Clemens, who went 19th over-all to the Boston Red Sox.
Dturc 06/06/2013 22:07 So who are the Jays picking first overall
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:09 Great question ... I'll tell u in 11 picks. Think it will be a HSer one of the GA OFs, Meadows or Frazier, Houston RHP Kohl Stewart, Washington HS C Reese McGuire ... but they all could be off the board by then. SS J.P. Crawford, whose pop played for the BC Lions as a DB and was an AS may wind up there way. Another name I've heard is NC 3B Colin Moran
Canadian Baseball Network 06/06/2013 22:10 Want a complete report on top CDNs in the draft? Bob Elliott & Allan Simpson review the top CDNs on the CBN Podcast: http://ow.ly/lLMA7
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:11 * * *On the Canadian front scouts (11 asked and answered) expect anywhere from 11 to 32 players to be selected
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:12 * * * Reading material
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:12 Canadians Drafted Among the top 200Canucks with six figure signing bonusTop Canucks drafted year by yearDraft FAQ page
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:13 Well let's try that again Top Canadians drafted year by year www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:14 Canucks with six figure signing bonus figures www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:15 Canadians drafted in the top 200 picks over-all www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:29 Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) Missouri, should be the top Canuck drafted ... could LHP Travis Seabrooke (Petervorough, Ont.) be the top HS pick? www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:32 And in other news ... we'd like to congratulate RHP Tom Boleska on his career ... he retired this week at double-A Bowie. Seven seasons ago this week he was drafted in the 35th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates www.baseball-reference.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:36 LIAM McGUIRE -- Who should the Blue Jays pick with the 10th over-all pick www.youtube.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:57 GEORGE FARELLI -- Rene Tosoni was the CBN's POW at double-A Huntsville www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 22:59 GEORGE FARELLI --Updated Canadians in the minors ... 69 with affiliated teams, 29 with Indy league teams and seven in foreign lands ... from Japan to Germany www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:00 Who was the first Canadian drafted -- once Canadian HSers were eligible for the draft?
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:04 Great pick to have Chipper Jones open draft ... he played 19 years for the Atlanta Braves, but on draft day 1990 the Braves were upset they had to take him first over-all-- they wanted Todd Van Poppel, who went 14th to Oakland. Jones 2,499 games, Van Poppel 359 games.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:05 The annual draft of high schoolers and collegians ”or Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft, as guys wearing suits call it“ begins tonight at 7 o'clock (Sportsnet ONE) in Secaucus, N.J.The Houston Astros are on the clock and select first from inside the MLB Network studios.Teams will make their first and second round picks, as well as competitive balance (11 in all for the loss of free agents -- these picks can be traded under the new Basic Agreement) selections ... 73 in all.Who will the Blue Jays select? Will he grown up to make our all-time Blue Jays team of homegrown, drafted talent?Who will be the top Canadian selected?

LHP Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.), slugger Tyler O'Neill (Maple Ridge, BC), RHP Cal Quantrill (Port Hope Ont.), RHP Nic Pivetta (Victoria, BC), INF Malik Collymore (Mississauga, Ont.) or LHP Travis Seabrooke (Peterborough, Ont.).How many Canadians will be selected?Check back here for info on our live blog.Day II goes Friday starting at 12:30 and covers 3-to-10th rounds.And Day III begins Saturday at 1 as they clubs move rapid-fire from rounds 11-to-40.


* * *You probably have seen those commercials about the air freshener, or the soap or the breath mint where everything is new and improved.Never liked them ... but I have to say the Canadian Baseball Network site has a new look and displays an improved product.Why? We're still churning out the copy on Canadians, thanks to our army of passionate writers, but the main reason site has a new look is Peter Bean, or Mr. Bean, as we call him.He operates at Brett Lawrie-like speed when it comes to ideas with twitter; new social media outlets we have joined like Facebook, Google +, Instagram, LinkedIn, Podomatic, YouTube and Twitter. He also has us first in line for the next one which has not been released as of yet. Mr. Bean tweets out the links at different strategically timed moments during the day ... whereas when I was in charge of posting on Faceybook and twitter, it was usually 4 AM or 5 AM.

Opal Gamble, the woman behind the main frame, has changed the look of the site for the better. Thanks to her.

We still have a hard-working gang of scribes like Alexis Brudnicki, Kevin Glew, Todd Devlin, Melissa Couto, April Whitzman (although April has not been filing much lately -- still in the hunt at the MLB Fan Cave), Neil Munro, David Matchett, Jonathan Hodgson, Marc Alexander Blais, Adam Morissette, Devon Teeple, Matthew Ross, Ruben Lipszyc, Rylan Jenkins, Robert Broughton and Allan Simpson, the first member of the media ever elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys.

And the newest entry is Liam McGuire, a five-tool guy, whose best talents are writing, video blogs and tweeting.

And college players Alex Calbick, Chayse Marion, Mattingly Romanin and Maxx Tissenbaum telling about college or minor league life and giving high schoolers pointers on what to look for at university, while minor league pros Andrew Albers and Chris Robinson take us behind the curtain and onto the bus.

Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:05 Day II goes Friday starting at 12:30 and covers 3-to-10th rounds.And Day III begins Saturday at 1 as they clubs move rapid-fire from rounds 11-to-40.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:13 Houston works out deal with hometown guy Appel. Earlier they were worried about getting a deal done at a reasonable price.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:17 I always wondered during expansion draft (Rockies, Marlins) in NY how a team could make a pick and BOOM, TV guys would have highlights ready soon as guy at podium stopped picking. Walked by the ESPN desk in NY ballroom and heard them mention the name there before the podium. Assume the guys at this table get the same heads up
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:23 Great pick by Rockies scouting director Bill Schmidt. They have to draft pitchers.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:28 CJ PENTLAND -- Vancouver Canadians await new crop of players from MLB Draft www.milb.com
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:31 2 of 1st 4 from Houston. Am glad I didn't bet a lunch and a Diet Coke with a Houston pal as I did in 2002. I told him Loewen would go ahead of Kazmir. Finally he yielded 4-5 days before draft. I double up: 2 Canadians (Loewen 4th, Francis 9th) ahead of 2 Texicans (Everts 5th to Expos, Kazmir 15, Mets). Took 2 yrs to get the lunch paid.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:41 Frazier, whom the Jays liked, selected fifth by the Indians, strikes a blow for red heads everywhere. (Old scouts tale: red heads can't play ... like short right-handed pitchers, like blue-eyed hitters having trouble in day games, like the guy I asked "why are kids taller than their parents?" A: "McDonald's, they all grew up eating soy in the burgers.")
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:46 And we have a winner (by phone) in the who was the first Canadian HS ever selected in the draft once Canuck HSers were eligible for the draft ... OF Jason Wuerch (Leamington, Ont.) Windsor Selects, 11th (283rd over-all) to New York Yankees ... selected by Dick Groch, who drafted Derek Jeter.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:46 OK, who was the first Canadian EVER drafted?
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:49 Oh yeah the winning guess was by Ontario Youth Team coach, Marc Picard, who in 1991, was both Wuerch's coach with the Windsor Selects and a New York Yankees scout.
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:51 Scout compare Trey Ball to former Jays Mark Hendrickson. Be patient Red Sox ... slowest position to develop: LHPs, slower than that .... tall LHPs. (See Randy Johnson)
Bob Elliott 06/06/2013 23:53 Brad Horn, former Texas Rangers exec, now with the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, in town with the Texas Rangers this weekend. #TCU
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:00 In a draft week on SSs KC Royals and Lonnie Goldberg, formerly of Guelph, Ont. when he worked for the Atalnta Braves, chose Hunter Dozier of Stephen F. Austin. Royals have 4 of the first 62 picks #$wheelingsanddealings
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:00 So does that mean C Reese McGuire or SS JP Crawford for the Jays?
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:03 There's Fred McGriff on the phone with Cecil Fielder "I didn't bide Cito's gamer glove, it was you." Or maybe he's talking to the people in the war (WAR) room inside the Flounders Club (formerly known as the Founders Club) at Rogers Centre.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:09 Jays take Phil Bickford, Westlake Village, Calif.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:16 Bickford ranked 20th by Baseball America
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:16 Bickford scouting report w/vid
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 0:25 Vid of Phil Bickford from the CIF Championship Game on Saturday, in which Bickford struck out 18 in seven scoreless innings, including 17 strikeouts in a row (Steve Fiorindo of Bullpen Banter): www.youtube.com
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 1:38 ERIC SONDHEIMER -- Bickford performs before large crowd of scouts articles.latimes.com
Daemon Stott 07/06/2013 1:38 Hey Peeks, that's cheating calling in an answer to a trivia question who was your own player.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 1:39 He was the first one to answer -- it was his third guess (: (:
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 1:39 Was on the @CDNbaseball Podcast last night with Allan Simpson of Perfect Game reviewing the top Canadians in the draft. Listen here while you wait for the draft to begin: ow.ly
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 1:46 Jim Callis is the wisest man on TV ... although it would have been entertaining to skip the commercial and see Harold Reynolds debate Money Ball with J. Mayo
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 1:49 First RP Tom Boleska and now Cale Iorg, WBC SS, is retiring ... opening the position for Russell Martin. Iorg was drafted in the 16th round in 2004, went on his mission and made his minor league debut in 2007 www.baseball-reference.com
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 1:55 NL scouting director's quick review from his war room on RHP Phil Bickford: "Good Arm. Protectable kid. We looked at him."
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:01 Memories from when MLB only introduced the first round and the rest was hush-hush for a week so teams could try and sign players before college waded in with scholarships .... It's good that there is this much exposure, but it was more fun back then ...One draft day, we recall rushing back from the bank to find a 10-minute message from a New York Mets scout. He was waiting in a Florida airport for his flight, sifting through round-by-round print out sheets (and in those years teams drafted as long as they wanted, the Dodgers and Houston always going into the 70th round) looking for Canadians and speaking into my message machine:"Here's a kid from la belle province ... here's another player from N.B. ... Is that New Brunswick or Nebraska? I'm not sure, I'll give it to you anyway, check him out ... Here are two back-to-back ... You guys own the 38th round ... Look at these two last names ... I'm going to have to spell them ... Wow, they're not Irish (laughing) ... Hey, Bobby (laughing), I hope your tape lasts longer than a minute ... (announcement: "attention in the gate area") ... There are about five more here."Transcribing that message, looking up hometowns and which arm the drafted Canadians used was a lot of laughs.No more.It's not like 1989, when only five Canadians were drafted.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:08 Another NL scout on Bickford, who has signed a letter of intent to Cal State Fullerton: "Very good!High ceiling type. As my first scouting mentor told me ... be worried about the guys who commit to UCLA, Stanford, USC, but grab those Fullerton guys -- Fullerton guys will sign."
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:12 CONOR GLASSEY, Baseball America -- Review on Jays pick RHP Phil Bickford: 10. TORONTO BLUE JAYS PICK VALUE: $2,921,400PHIL BICKFORD, RHP, OAKS CHRISTIAN HS, WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIF.Area Scout: Jim LentinePICK ANALYSIS: Bickford had as much late helium as anybody. The Blue Jays were continuously linked to high-upside high school players and Bickford fits the bill.SCOUTING REPORT: Bickford intrigued scouts with his projectable 6-foot-4, 195-pound body and 88-92 mph fastball last summer at the Area Code Games, and his velocity has jumped this spring, as has his draft stock. He pitches comfortably in the 90-93 mph range and regularly runs his fastball up to 95-96. He has a clean arm action and a three-quarters slot that gives his fastball good life, and he commands it well to both sides, prompting some scouts to grade it as a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scale. He's a short strider with an upright finish, and sometimes his slot drops below three-quarters, causing him to pitch uphill. Bickford's secondary stuff lags behind his fastball. He shows glimpses of a fringe-average slider, but he needs to do a better job staying on top of it. He tinkers with a changeup but seldom uses it because he can dominate high school hitters with his fastball. Bickford pumps strikes and works quickly, and his upside could get him drafted in the back of the first round, but many scouts are more comfortable with him as a second-rounder because of his underdeveloped offspeed stuff. Bickford could be a tough sign away from Cal State Fullerton.WHERE HE FITS: The Jays are loaded with high-upside pitchers, but Bickford should fit into Toronto's top 10.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:16 Damon Oppenheimer, New York Yankees scouting director/GM in waiting for some one, lands Fresno State OF/giant, the 6-foot-7 Aaron Judge. Compared to Frank Howard ... man when I saw Frank Howard coming I'd put a put or a can of Diet Coke in my right hand ... Big Frank Howard could shake your hand and break both your knee caps ... Dick Gernet would have be No. 2 for strongest fore arms/hand shake in baseball.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:28 Meaghen: Disconnect your phone ... your parents are phoning far too often
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:42 Not a good mock draft for me 4-for-33 (.121, Twins, Reds, Tigers, Rangers) on players going with the exact team. Which is one way pools are run. Other way: total number of first round picks listed in 1st round, who actually went in the first round: 27-for-33 (.818). Will take that.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:45 So, when do you stop calling a 1st round pick? After 10 tries, 15? Recall Deck McGuire's draft nite in 2010. He wasn't pitching, but SID at Georgia Tech said he'd rather stay with his team than talk about the future.
dan 07/06/2013 2:45 what do u think of the jays first pick?
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:49 Well, they were going for a HS kid we knew, they were going for a high-ceiling guy ... knew that they spent a lot of time in Cali but did not know they were watching Bickford. Reviews seem to be all good from other scouting directors, some not real fans or the organization. Guess we'll have to wait and see if he's Aaron Sanchez or Kevin Comer
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:49 Murray Cook of Sackville, N.B. makes the Tigers pick
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:50 Cook is a former GM with the Reds, Expos, Yankees. Should be in the Canadian Baseball HOF. Aso Chad Matolla's father-in-law
dan 07/06/2013 2:50 any idea why the jays are struggling so much this year?
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:50 they didn't lose today
dan 07/06/2013 2:51 baseball is a lot harder to draft then hockey or basketball or football. what do scouts and gm's look for to help increase their chances of drafting well
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:52 Baseball has a farm system. NFL has college football as farm system, same with hoops. !st thing they look for is "will the guy sign?" after establishing ability
dan 07/06/2013 2:52 lolol thats cause they didnt play sherlock
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:53 Elementary Dr. Watson
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:55 Top Canuck LHP Rob Zastryzny Edmonton, Alta. , University of Missouri to Chicago Cubs, 41st over-all in North America
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:57 LHP Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) Missouri, Chicago Cubs, 41st over-all in North America9 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 Ks vs. Mississippi State in 2-1 SEC lossClocked at 88-93 MPH24 BBs, 82 Ks in 90.2 IP2-9, 3.93 ERA in 13 GSOpponents Avg .26676th on Baseball Anerica's top 250 combined list81st on Perfect Game's top 500 combined list
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 2:59 TODD DEVLIN -- Zastryzny top Canuckwww.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
dan 07/06/2013 3:01 so in other words you are just as lost as me as to why they are struggling.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:02 no, it draft nite, will answer when it is over
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:17 Baseball America report on Bickford: Bickford intrigued scouts with his projectable 6-foot-4, 195-pound body and 88-92 mph fastball last summer at the Area Code Games, and his velocity has jumped this spring, as has his draft stock. He pitches comfortably in the 90-93 mph range and regularly runs his fastball up to 95-96. He has a clean arm action and a three-quarters slot that gives his fastball good life, and he commands it well to both sides, prompting some scouts to grade it as a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scale. He's a short strider with an upright finish, and sometimes his slot drops below three-quarters, causing him to pitch uphill. Bickford's secondary stuff lags behind his fastball. He shows glimpses of a fringe-average slider, but he needs to do a better job staying on top of it. He tinkers with a changeup but seldom uses it because he can dominate high school hitters with his fastball. Bickford pumps strikes and works quickly, and his upside could get him drafted in the back of the first round, but many scouts are more comfortable with him as a second-rounder because of his underdeveloped offspeed stuff. Bickford could be a tough sign away from Cal State Fullerton.
Steve Clarke 07/06/2013 3:17 Bob, Johnny Cardona asked me to say hello to you. He made his admiration known as I interviewed him for my book (100 Things Blue Jays Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die). I share the admiration.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:18 Johnny is a good man ... bought Cito Gaston his first pair of cleats
Steve Clarke 07/06/2013 3:26 Mr. Cardona couldn't say enough about you. From what I understand, he also welded some sturdy locks on the doors of a church in San Antonio after misanthropes raided the church safe. Jays fans should really read your articles about his generosity with Cito.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:27 Man that was a while ago ... 1989. Send me your email I'll see if I can find the story ... back to the draft ...
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:29 David Eckstein announces the Angels pick. 1st time I met him was a workout day at Yankee Stadium in post-season. Standing by his locker this kid, a clubhouse kid comes up and sez can I help u? I said sure I'm looking for David Eckstein. "Mister, I'm David Eckstein." He looked about 18.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:40 Paul Snyder of the Braves ... this is like an all-time scout's honour roll. Paul once said "all our minor league pitching coaches have grey hair. You want to know why? Grey hair is a sign is wisdom." He was speaking of Sarnia's Bill Slack and others who helped produce minor leaguers like Tom Glavine, Steve Avery, Mark Wholers, a whole bunch more and a minor-leaguer who came over from the Tigers: John Smoltz.
Steve Clarke 07/06/2013 3:54 Kudos to MLB for recognizing the unsung heroes of the game. Jays fans might think Carter and Alomar did all the heavy lifting, but guys like Don Welke, Al LaMacchia, and so many others were the secret stars in this Toronto organization.
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:56 Could not agree more ... scouting is the backbone of every organization ... many are mentioned in this piece where we pick the all-time drafted team of Jays drafts www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com
dan 07/06/2013 3:56 so if they determine they will be able to sign a player. is it all about potential in the top few rounds?
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 3:58 They have almost $6.4 M to spend on their picks in the top 10 rounds. This is the 2nd yr of this format. What they did last yr was sign college seniors 4th-to-10th they all signed for $5,000 and one guy signed for $1,000. So, they saved money there and they were able to give extra (above slot to the guys they picked in the first 3. Am told they have the same plan this yr.
dan 07/06/2013 3:58 just trying to understand why this pitcher and not another, why you dont draft for need. or in the jays case they keep going for pitchers
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 4:00 Well if they have 2 HS pitchers they like the same and one is going to a jr college and 1 is going to say Vanderbilt (like the guy they drafted 2 yrs ago), they'll take the guy that they can sign. So signability is very important
dan 07/06/2013 4:00 any idea who toronto may be looking at in round 2. will they be picking seniors in college again for 1k to draft more expensive high schoolers again?
Bob Elliott 07/06/2013 4:00 Don't think the sr crush starts until the 4th ... 1 guy rec'd $1,000, the rest $5,000 but they got a chance, which is what they wanted
Bob Elliott 2013-06-07T00:16:29 By David Rawnsley Phil Bickford Perfect Game profilewww.perfectgame.org

Position: RHPHeight: 6-3Weight: 200Bats/Throws: R-RBirthdate: July 10, 1995High School: Oaks ChristianCity, State: Ventura, Calif.Commitment: Cal State FullertonProjected Draft Round: 1-1SThere have been a number of California high school pitchers who have taken major jumps in their ability levels and draft stock this spring, going from strong follows to potential top two round draft picks. We profiled Northern California left handed pitcher Matt Krook a few weeks ago and will take a look at another southpaw, Blake Taylor, next week.But no high school pitcher in the country has moved up as far and as fast as Southern California right hander Phil Bickford.I saw Bickford throw twice last summer, and judging on those two appearances, separated by about six weeks, one could already see the improvement starting to happen. At the Tournament of Stars late last June in North Carolina, Bickford was mediocre at best in the context of being considered a top prospect. He threw from a severe cross-body delivery that kept his hips and lower half locked up and rarely threw a pitch over 88 mph. His 77 mph slurve was flat and he was hit hard when he threw strikes, which wasnt very consistently.Moving forward to the Area Code Games back on his own turf in Southern California in early August, Bickford was a different pitcher. He threw steady in the 90-92 mph range, with lots of 92s, and his fastballs had lots of life down in the zone. Bickford has a very nice athletic 6-foot-3, 200-pound build and with his arm speed and physical projection you could see him throwing harder. The slurvy breaking ball still wasnt much of a pitch, and Id yet to see a changeup leave his hand, even in warm ups, but there was a definite scout buzz following his Area Code Games outing.Based on watching video and talking to scouts this spring, Bickford has moved forward in every area. His fastball has been sitting in the 92-95 mph range for entire performances, topping out at 97-98 at times, and Bickford has shown an impressive ability to dial up his best stuff in tight game situations regardless of the inning or if he is pitching from the stretch. In fact, this mature ability to bear down and dominate hitters when he needs outs the most has been mentioned over and over by scouts this spring. Bickford gets good to very good run and sink down in the zone even in the mid-90s and is a strike thrower with his fastball.His breaking ball has also improved, significant as this pitch is more scrutinized by the scouting community than his fastball. It is still a slurvy pitch stuck between a curveball and a slider in the 78-81 mph range, but Bickford is getting better spin on the ball and has flashed big league average with the pitch at times, something he wasnt close to doing last summer. He rarely throws a changeup in games but has shown promise with the pitch when he does and when he throws it warming up. How his breaking ball and changeup develop will ultimately determine his professional ceiling.Looking at the video, I’m confident that at least part of Bickford’s improved velocity, breaking ball and command is that he is much more directional to the plate this spring that he was last summer. In fact, instead of having his hips locked at release, he is now spinning off towards first base after release from the lower body torque he’s generating. Bickford throws from a tight mid- three-quarters release point and hides the ball very well in his quick, compact arm stroke, making him even harder to hit. The lower release point is sometimes an issue with scouts but doesnt appear to be in Bickfords case.From his long, floppy hair to his pitching mechanics to his Southern California upbringing, the obvious comparison made by scouts is to Angels three-time All-Star Jered Weaver. Weaver was the 12th overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Long Beach State (Bickford has signed with Cal State Fullerton). While it is more comfortable to slot Bickford in the second half of the first round, he has been heavily cross-checked and discussed by numerous teams in the upper half of the first round as well according to sources.It would certainly be ironic, but not too surprising, if he landed at the 12th pick (Seattle Mariners) just as Weaver did in 2004.