Notes from UCF Scout Day

UCF junior LHP Eric Skoglund

Kiley shares notes and videos of the top prospects in the UCF program from yesterday's Scout Day, along with some thoughts about the program's talent level.

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Junior LHP Eric Skoglund is a super lanky, 6'7 ball of potential and is slowly bringing it together, but can still add a good bit of strength to his frame. That's the key to a velocity spike and becoming a #GUY, but there's plenty of stuff here already. I had heard he was more 87-90 mph this summer and had been used irregularly at UCF due to command issues, but neither of those were concerns in his Scout Day outing. Skoglund sat 89-92 mph with two-seam life and kept the pitch down pretty well. He threw a few slurves at 78 mph that were below average but then broke off some true sliders at 81-83 mph that were at least solid-average with hard bite and three-quarters tilt. Skoglund had good arm speed and deception to his 79-81 mph changeup but just okay action on it, though I think there's an average pitch in there with a little work.

His size, left-handedness and projection will have scouts giving him the benefit of the doubt most of his career, and with good reason as Skoglund could take off at any point. His average stuff plays up a bit with his plane and extension and the delivery/arm action aren't bad. He fits in rounds 3-5 for me right now with a chance to move higher if that velo spike comes this spring.

Junior 1B James Vasquez ran a 7.26 time in the 60 (40 speed on the 20-80 scale) and is just okay at first base, so the bat has to carry him here. He's got 50 grade power and shows it to the opposite gap and center field at times but it's most natural to his pull side. His swing isn't without effort to create this power and yesterday he showed more carry/loft than I've seen from him before while his bat path looked a little closer to uppercut than before, which probably isn't a coincidence. He struck out more than you'd like last year and only hit .248 but drew his share of walks. If the hit tool develops a little during the spring, there's rounds 7-10 potential, but until I see that, he's a notch below for now as a low double digit round org bat that's a little interesting.

Junior SS Tommy Williams also didn't put up great numbers last year due to some contact issues but will obviously get a little more tolerance in that area given his position. Williams isn't a slam dunk to stay at the position long term as he doesn't have elite lateral quickness and just solid-average speed but has good hands/actions and an average arm that makes him a good fit professionally as a utility type that can play a number of positions well. He's a little bigger than most shortstops at 6'2/175 and also has a little more pop, hitting a few out to left field in BP: he's got grade 45 raw power but his game power is at least a notch below that. Williams has a simple, sound swing with quick hands and a high finish. There's enough bat that, with a strong spring at the plate, you can project Williams as a utility guy and those types start coming off the board in rounds 6-8, so Williams draft upside is similar to Vasquez's but Williams is the better prospect for me right now.

Others Of Note

A scout told me he'd unfollow me on twitter if I wrote up anyone at scout day beyond the three listed above, but I'll hand over my notes on some of the fringier types (from a pro perspective) that are worth monitoring for fans of the program. Freshman RF Dalton Duty is more of a modest tools grinder but can be a solid college contributor with a pro future while fellow freshman RF Eugene Vazquez has some tools but is still having problems at the plate. The lineup is full of new Juco transfers and the best of that bunch is CF Derrick Salberg, who is an above average runner with an average arm but he'll have to hit a lot this spring to be more than a late round type.

On the mound, RHP Spencer Davis was the best of the rest of the draft eligible arms and as a strong, athletic 6'5/225 righty with good plane, there's some here to dream on. There's effort to his delivery and he leaves almost everything up in the zone but there's projection left, so if can improve his 90-91 mph fastball velocity a tick or two and keep his 87-88 mph cutter down in the zone we'll have something as he flashes an average or better changeup and slider at times. That's a lot of ifs and I'm clearly stretching a little here, but weirder things have happened and size/athleticism are always good things to bet on. Two arms that didn't throw at scout day, sophomore RHP Zac Favre (2015 eligible) and redshirt sophomore RHP Ryan Meyer (recovering from Tommy John but will be ready for spring) are the two others to keep an eye on here from a prospect perspective.

Thoughts On The Program

The talent is down a bit at UCF and there's a few excuses, like de-commits, including a few in the current draft class (that could still re-commit) and a notable one from last year's class, current Florida freshman 3B John Sternagel, one of the top freshmen in the country who flipped late in the process from UCF. The program has also lost it's share of recruits to the pros in the last few years: RHP Zach Eflin (Padres, $1.2 million bonus), C Tyler Marlette (Mariners, $650k), OF Connor Lien (Braves, $375k), 2B Max Moroff (Pirates, $300k), LHP Ian McKinney (Cardinals, $227k), along with RHP Garrett Nuss (Angels, $167k) who left the program after his freshman year and was drafted out of a nearby junior college.

Rooney is known as a good recruiter and has three elite commits from the 2014 class (#82 RHP Kyle Marsh, #95 SS Dylan Busby, top 100 near miss RHP Cre Finfrock), along with the #34 prospect in the 2015 class, local LF Ryan Mountcastle. There's some clear excuses listed above for dimished pro prospects in the program (though every program deals with these) along with a recent shift to junior college help. This win-now approach could lead to an improved record in 2014 (29-30 record last season), but getting and keeping the majority of those elite commits on campus could go a long way to improving the talent base.

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