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Five Dirtbags Among Baseball America's Top 50 Southern Californians In Major League Draft Next Week


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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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Thursday, June 03, 2004

Five Dirtbags Among Baseball America's Top 50 Southern Californians In Major League Draft Next Week

Baseball America today ranks the top 100 southern California ball players eligible for the Major League Draft, which begins Monday, June 7. There are five Dirtbags on their list:

Projected First-Round Picks:

1. Jered Weaver, rhp, Long Beach State
5. Jason Vargas, lhp, Long Beach State

Second- to Fifth-Round Talent:

15. Brad Davis, c, Long Beach State

Others To Watch:

29. Neil Jamison, rhp, Long Beach State
49. John Bowker, of, Long Beach State

Here's what BA had to say about each:

"Jered Weaver, rhp

Cubs righthander Mark Prior set the standard for excellence in college pitching at USC in 2001, but not even Prior was as consistently excellent as Weaver has been this season. The 6-foot-6, 200-pounder won his first 14 decisions while averaging 13.8 strikeouts (against 1.1 walk) per nine innings, before he slipped up against Miami in his final start before NCAA regional play. He twice struck out the first 10 hitters in a game and didn't have a bad outing all year, extending a streak that began last spring when he went 14-4, 1.96 for Long Beach and continuing through the summer when he reeled off 45 2/3 scoreless innings for Team USA. Weaver is an intense competitor with an excellent feel for his craft. He can throw strikes with Prior-like precision--in, out, up, down. He is so advanced in all areas of pitching that he could hold his own in the big leagues right now. He may already be better than his brother Jeff, a starting pitcher for the Dodgers. On raw stuff, though, Weaver is a step behind Prior--and even Justin Verlander, a teammate last summer with Team USA. Like everyone at Long Beach State, Weaver pitches off his fastball, which has been clocked as high as 95 mph. He normally throws it at 91-92, but even at that speed it looks like 95 because of the deception in his delivery and his ability to locate it. His curve is just an average offering. He also throws two kinds of sliders, one with greater depth that he added just this year. While his brother is a sinker/slider pitcher and generates more arm-side movement with his pitches, Jered uses his whole repertoire much better. He also holds his velocity deeper into games and keeps his emotions in check better. Both throw from the same three-quarters arm slot. Weaver is a heavy favorite to be the first pick in the draft because he could help a big league team immediately. But he won't come cheap. He reportedly is seeking more than the $10.5 million deal Prior received in 2001....

[Jason] Vargas, lhp

Vargas has been overshadowed at Long Beach State by Jered Weaver, the projected No. 1 pick, but has commanded plenty of interest himself. In fact, his velocity has often topped Weaver's. He has been clocked up to 95 mph, a vast improvement from 2003 at Cypress JC, where his fastball ranged from 86-90. Scouts said Vargas was always capable of throwing harder, but it didn't happen until he took extra measures to tone up his 6-foot, 215-pound frame. Also an accomplished hitter, he was used more in a DH role this spring to conserve his energy. He was hitting .368-5-32 while going 7-6, 4.25 with 81 strikeouts in 97 innings on the mound. Vargas, who spent his freshman year at Louisiana State, doesn't have an especially fast arm, and there are questions whether he profiles better as a reliever or starter because he lacks a dominant second pitch. But he's a lefthander with a mid-90s fastball, and that alone should make him a sandwich pick or high second-rounder....

Brad Davis, c

As the catcher for projected No. 1 pick Jered Weaver, Davis has had ample opportunity to showcase his defensive skills. His opportunity to catch a year ago was limited because he was an understudy to Todd Jennings, a second-round pick of the Giants. He spent most of the 2003 season at first base and in right field and was the utility player on the all-Big West Conference team. Given a chance to catch regularly this season, the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder evolved into an above-average receiver. With a better exchange and quicker release, his arm improved significantly and now ranks as his best tool. He hit a respectable .332, second-best on the team, but has a ways to go with the bat, and it will ultimately determine if he becomes an everyday big leaguer or a backup. Cal State Fullerton catcher Kurt Suzuki has gotten more notoriety for his superior bat, but some scouts prefer the more athletic Davis....

As experienced college closers, RHPs Neil Jamison and Ryan Schroyer could make immediate impacts in the minor leagues.... Jamison was a setup man before this year, when he became Long Beach State's closer. He has a bit more fastball velocity (89-92 mph) than Schroyer and has a true strikeout pitch with a plus slider. But he's pencil thin, so durability may be an issue...

Long Beach State OF John Bowker has power potential and good bat speed, and led the 49ers in hitting most of the season, though hit just six homers. His power numbers are masked a bit by spacious Blair Field. He's a redshirt sophomore due to a right wrist injury that ended his freshman season after three at-bats. He's also limited to left field, so teams that like him are drafting him for his bat..."

Read the entire article here.

posted on 6/03/2004 by Jeff Agnew

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