Thursday, June 5, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
In lieu of today's Major League Baseball draft, here are a couple quick scouting reports on two of the better college prospects in this year's draft: Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow and Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
You can also see scouting reports on other top prospects in this year's draft by checking the draft preview archives. Now, onto the profiles of Crow and Alvarez...
Aaron Crow is one of the more debated about prospects in this draft. The debate mostly comes from questions about his mechanics. The differences largely stem from competing mechanical philosophies.
You have some who like Crow's mechanics -- they come from the Paul Nyman school of thought.
And you have others who do not like Crow's mechanics -- they come from the Dr. Mike Marshall school of thought.
I mostly come from the Nyman school of thought. However, my philosophy is to maximize the pitcher's stuff in the safest way possible. So I understand the notion where Crow's elbow rises above shoulder's height during his scap load could give people some pause.
With that being said, Crow offers a lot to like. A mid-90's fastball that he commands extremely well, a hard slider many rate as plus, and a change-up that currently rates about average but in which he has shown a pretty good feel for. While his fastball command is better than his command on his breaking stuff, he still has pretty good control of both his off-speed pitches.
Below is a clip of Crow's fastball and in this clip you can see some of the mechanics people question; the wrist wrap; the elbow above the shoulder, but also notice the action of his front leg heading into foot plant:
Another shot of the action his front leg takes heading into foot plant:
Watch as he heads into foot plant; his front foot comes down and then rises up again like he is stepping over an imaginary object. This step-over move is an easy way for a pitcher to add velocity. This step over move allows Crow to kick start an aggressive hip rotation and build up extra momentum into foot plant.
Ideally, at foot plant, you want to have as much separation between your torso and hips as you can, while the arm is in a ready-to-throw position. Crow could improve his efficiency in this area by getting to that ready-to-throw point just a little bit quicker so he maximizes the rotational forces applied as his hips and arm are "unloaded" forward into release.
Maybe this is a point where he could keep the elbow below shoulder's height and hasten the time it takes for his arm to reach its ready-to-throw position. This type of adjustment would need to be made during the offseason due to the difficulty in-season adjustments can be for a pitcher.
Crow's overall athleticism should help him with whatever adjustments he will have to make at the next level. His athleticism will also lower the risk of injury since non-athletes tend to have a more difficult time staying healthy.
I understand people worry about the health of Crow due to some questionable mechanics. Still, a power-pitcher with good command, the ability to generate ground balls (which is what helped him put up amazing numbers in a very difficult park at Missouri, which had a park factor of 136 from 2004 - 2007), and with few weaknesses make Crow the best bet to reach No. 1 starter status in this draft.
Alvarez has what many think is the best bat in the draft and while he may not be the greatest defensive third baseman, the fact that he has potential to be a premium bat at a position that isn't first base, DH, or a corner outfield spot is always a plus.
Before breaking down his swing from recent times, for reference, here is what Alvarez looked like coming out of high school:
Now here is what his swing looks like now:
The stances are roughly similar. You can see Alvarez use a wider base than in high school, which could help his overall balance. He also shortened up his leg kick and appears to have a slightly longer swing, but the clips are synchronized to contact so his overall bat speed is faster
On the whole, Alvarez's swing is pretty simple. His hip rotation is aggressive and forceful; he doesn't let his hands get out in front. Rather, he turns his hips and hands together. He could stand to let the ball travel a little deeper, but that may just be a result of this one particular swing.
The biggest weakness for Alvarez is his propensity to swing and miss though I can't say whether this is because of poor pitch recognition or something else.
If Alvarez can stay at third base, he could be a top-5 player at his position. Move him to first base and he becomes a top-12 or so player at his position.
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