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C of C’s Brandon Sizemore will be drafted. But who else?

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The College of Charleston’s baseball season is over.

During their late season playoff run, the Cougar’s usually potent bats went dead. The Citadel Bulldog’s swept them in a regular season series and then Furman beat them in the first round on May 21, effectively ending their run at the SoCon Championship. It was a disappointing end for the league’s most dominating offense, but it was perhaps deserved: the team was entirely too focused on slugging for a good chunk of the season.

For C of C, next year will be all about rebuilding. The team will lose eight seniors, most of which formed the team’s everyday roster, including Southern Conference first team second baseman Brandon Sizemore and second team selections Jesse Simpson and Joash Brodin. The team will still have several promising players, including SoCon co-player of the year Joey Bergman, but will have noticeably depleted depth.

I’ve spent a good amount of time watching College of Charleston games over the past year. Every game I go to, I sit in the front row behind the home plate. It allows me to see the movement on pitches and also to steal radar gun readings from the opposing team. I hate being behind the net, but there’s something to be said for being within an earshot of amateur umpires.

I’ve sat next to the same guy for most of the year. He’s an older man, probably in his 60’s. He brings his own gun and pad of paper and he usually leaves around the 4th inning, only to return around the eighth.

For a while I thought he was Charleston’s statkeeper. For a while I thought he was someone like me, someone keeping score and scouting so we can someday say, “I saw so-and-so and knew he was going to be good in ’99, three years before anyone else.” Then I realized a) they usually have an off-duty pitcher or first-year player do the stats thing and b) he’s doing something during the time he leaves in the middle of the game.

At the Charleston versus Citadel game last week, I finally broke down and asked him what his deal was.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what organization are you doing this for?”

“Atlanta,” he said back.

As in the Atlanta Braves. I’ve been sitting next to a professional scout for an entire baseball season and not said a single word to him until the last series of the regular season? Nice move, Dylan.

Still, it got me thinking. Who is he watching? Over the last four seasons, 24 Cougars have been drafted by MLB teams. Atlanta, despite its relatively close proximity to Charleston, has yet to draft from the school. There’s someone they’re watching closely enough to have a scout attend every game, but who is it?

Obviously there’s Sizemore. As a junior, he was drafted in the 46th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He chose to return to school and it’s probably a good thing he did. After an impressive senior year, which saw him get promoted to the Golden Spikes watch list, there’s no doubt Sizemore will be drafted in a higher round.

I don’t think it’s Sizemore though.

With Atlanta’s first ten picks last year, they took eight pitchers. Unlike 2007, when they drafted bats, this tends to be the team’s draft focus. I don’t think it’ll be any different this year.

For that reason, I think Atlanta is looking at Jesse Simpson.

Could RHP Jesse Simpson become a Brave?

Could RHP Jesse Simpson become a Brave?

Simpson acted as Charleston’s ace in 2009 and bolstered what was never truly a great starting rotation. He stands at 6’0″, 175 pounds, and throws right. This is an unofficial scouting report (done myself at a game versus Appalachian state):

Fastball: It sits routinely at 86-88 mph and looked to have good movement. It tails in on righties and dips away from lefties. I think it was of the two-seam variety, but it could also just be a straight fastball with good movement.

Changeup: At the two games I saw him pitch, Simpson’s changeup sat at 79 mph. He throws it consistently and gets swings and misses. Obviously a 79 mph change will be a meatball at higher levels, but it’s a good pitch.

Curveball: Thrown in the high-70’s, Simpson throws it overhand, but it tends to be more of a power-curve. Of all the college games I’ve been to this year, I’ve yet to see a good 12-6 curve and Simpson’s is something like 11-5, or 10-4.

Simpson has a good pitcher’s body that’s compact, lean, and built. From the games I saw him pitch, his motion look extremely repeatable and fundamentally sound. There didn’t appear to be any added wear-and-tear on his elbow. I do not remember much about his makeup.

I am hesitant to comment on how Simpson’s stuff would translate at a higher level because I need to learn more about added velocity, the tangible differences between college and the minors, and the like. He doesn’t appear to have anything dominating, but hey, what do I know?

The Brave’s scout was also at the Appalachian State game on April 16 where Simpson truly impressed by going 7 innings, striking out nine, walking three, and giving up three earned runs. Simpson’s pitching during this game was particularly dominating and he showed amazing control of all his pitches.

Of the pitchers that Charleston trotted out this year, Simpson is the only one I can picture Atlanta taking a flyer on.

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