Last summer, Brandon Nimmo jumped on the scene
as one of the more interesting stories in the Class of 2011.
Nimmo hails from Wyoming, where his high school doesn't have
a baseball team and the weather cooperates for only a very
short time of the year for baseball to be played in the
Nimmo, an outfielder, played for an American Legion team
without much fanfare until his coach, who was working with
USA Baseball, got him an invite to the Tournament of Stars.
Although Nimmo didn't make Team USA, he showed enough to earn a
trip to the UnderArmour All-American Game at Wrigley Field,
where he promptly earned co-MVP honors.
Of course, Nimmo had to go back to Wyoming, where getting to
see him was a lot easier said than done. He had some early
workouts in Arizona but wasn't at full strength due to what
was believed to be tendinitis in his knees.
Scouts were out in full force last week, however, and Nimmo
was at full strength, showing off all of his tools, starting
with one of the best left-handed swings in the class.
Sometimes it's those final impressions that are the most
important leading up to the Draft, and with so many on hand
to see Nimmo at his best, his name was rising up the charts
and came in at No. 30 on the Top 50 Draft Prospects list. Teams in the
middle of the first round are now being mentioned as
potential suitors to sign him away from his University of
Lead balloon update
Georgia Tech lefty Jed Bradley is not the Yellow
Jackets' Friday starter. That responsibility has gone to
Mark Pope. But Bradley is the better of the two in
terms of Draft prospect status, as evidenced by his No. 8
standing on the Top 50 list.
There's still much to like about the second-highest ranked
southpaw in the class, with a four-pitch mix, all of which
he's typically been able to throw for strikes. His name was
being mentioned prominently in top-10 pick discussions,
perhaps as high as No. 4 to the Orioles.
But the junior's performances have been a little more uneven
as the stretch run approaches. Yes, he pitched well against
Boston College and had a complete-game victory at Clemson to
close out April, then opened May with a victory against
Illinois-Chicago. But earlier in April, he had a two-start
stretch that saw him get beat up by Virginia and Wake Forest
to the tune of 10 earned runs and 12 hits over just 9 2/3
innings. Then, in his most recent start against North
Carolina last weekend, Bradley gave up six runs in six
innings on five hits and four walks.
There's time yet for Bradley to turn it back around and
perform like he did earlier in the year, with one regular-season start, the ACC Tournament and a likely regional bid
to come. But remember that lesson about last impressions
being the most important in the Draft game? It could really
play a role here and force Bradley to slip down and out of
the top 10.
Something to prove
Texas Christian lefty Matt Purke last pitched on April 16 at San
Diego State. He left that start after four innings,
following a big dip in velocity. As chronicled in last
Notebook, it turned out he had bursitis in his left
shoulder, putting the Draft-eligible sophomore on the
The 2009 first-rounder was thought to be perhaps the top
left-hander in this class, but the questions about his
shoulder have led to his stock plummeting (he came in at No.
27 in the Top 50). He's got a little time to reclaim his
standing, starting with a Thursday-Saturday series at New
Mexico. All signs were pointing to Purke starting against
UNM on Thursday, and there's sure to be plenty of eyes on how
he throws. If all goes well there health-wise, he'll get
another shot to show decision-makers his shoulder is fine in
the Mountain West Conference Tournament, held in San
Diego, May 24-28. The Horned Frogs are ranked No. 10 by
Baseball America, so a regional start could be the
final opportunity for Purke to move back up Draft boards.
On the Shelf
University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley
Jr. clearly is an optimistic sort. The No. 29 prospect
on the Draft Top 50, Bradley hurt his left wrist on April 23
against Mississippi State. It required surgery, which he had
on April 29, anchored a ligament and tendon together so the
tendon wouldn't pop out.
He's expected to make a full recovery and most don't feel it
will ultimately ruin his chances of being drafted fairly
early. It has cost him the chance to turn around what had
been a fairly lackluster offensive performance this
But while most assume his career as a Gamecock is over,
Bradley isn't ready to give up on a return. Known for
his ability to shake off injuries and heal quickly in
previous seasons, the outfielder was holding out hope he
could be back for some postseason play. Doctors had said
he'd likely need six to eight weeks to be able to hit again. That
would take him to June 10, Super Regionals time. Even if he
can't swing the bat in time, there has been talk about him
returning to help his team make a run as a defensive
replacement and pinch-runner.
It's not the kind of return that's likely to boost or hurt
his stock much, but his desire to come back at less than
full strength does speak to the outstanding makeup he gets
Where to be: Austin, Texas
A case could be made to head out West to the Cal-UCLA
series. Any time a potential No. 1 pick is throwing, it's
worth checking out. And Gerrit Cole will be facing
California ace, and a Draft prospect in his own right,
As tempting as that might be, however, it does not trump the
Thursday matchup in Austin, home of the Texas Longhorns. Texas
ace Taylor Jungmann (No. 7) has yet to lose in 2011,
going 11-0 with a 0.86 ERA and holding hitters to a .162
average. There may not be a more consistent performer this
year in the college game.
His mound opponent on Thursday is no slouch, either. No. 28
prospect John Stilson has really stepped up as A&M's
Friday ace. Many thought he was a very good bullpen arm when
the season began, but he's likely convinced some that he at
least should begin his pro career as a starter. Stilson has a
1.59 ERA on the season, striking out a batter per inning.
Jungmann's name has been mentioned in the upper tiers of the
college pitching crop, a guy who could go in the Top 10.
Stilson is a step behind, but still very much figures into
the first-round picture.