MLB draft notebook: Bloomingdale RHP Crouse adds to arsenal

Logan Crouse may have to choose either FSU or pro ball.
Logan Crouse may have to choose either FSU or pro ball.
Published Jun. 2, 2015

Bloomingdale's Logan Crouse, a 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher with a well-commanded slider, may have once been considered a one-trick pony. But this spring, Bulls coach Kris Wilken said, Crouse has proven he has many other tools that could make him a valuable selection in next week's MLB first-year player draft.

Wilken — once a minor-leaguer after being selected by the Orioles in the 10th round of the 2000 draft — said he believes Crouse has raised his draft stock this spring, bringing his fastball to a velocity of 92 mph and further developing his changeup.

And Crouse recently showed off those skills in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association all-star game. Crouse pitched two innings, getting out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out a batter on a 3-2 count with a changeup.

"That's where Logan sets himself apart. Bases loaded, nobody out, he's able to slow everything down," Wilken said. "This is a thing you don't teach … that's what makes him so special, his ability to do that."

Crouse, who also played football and basketball for the Bulls, posted a 1.15 ERA his sophomore year, and that only improved in his junior (0.63) and senior (0.17) campaigns. Perhaps his best season was in 2014, when he struck out 116 in 88⅔ innings pitched, helping lead the Bulls to the Class 8A state championship game.

Wilken said Crouse, a Florida State commit, is prepared to play for the Seminoles if the draft doesn't go his way. Still, he believes there's no doubt professional baseball is in the prospect's future.

"You take everything that kind of makes Logan who he is, and you start thinking about three years, four years of added development, and if that progression takes place, you're talking about a possible frontline guy in the big leagues," Wilken said. "Whether that route goes through Florida State or the minor league, I don't think that really matters."

More prep stars

Bishop McLaughlin pitcher Nate Pearson has a busy week scheduled prior to Monday's draft. Pearson already attended a pre-draft workout for the Rangers in Chicago. He spent the weekend throwing for Texas scouts and also plans to work out for the Marlins in Miami and the Mets in Port St. Lucie this week.

Pearson, who missed all of last season with an arm injury, was 9-1 with a 1.17 ERA as a senior. He is committed to Florida International University.

"I'm not going in the top two rounds or anything, but it could be in the top 10 rounds," he said.

• Jefferson's Nelson Maldonado hit .458 with 20 RBIs, 11 doubles and three home runs. He also finished his high school career with a 4.9 grade-point average. Maldonado, who recently received the Wade Boggs Athletic Achievement Award, signed to play at Florida and would be the first person in his family to attend college. The only thing that could derail that dream is Monday's draft.

"I'll keep my eye on it," Maldonado said. "It's always been my dream to go to college and play college baseball, so it would have to be a pretty high pick."

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Later, Gators?

Richie Martin, a Bloomingdale alum, is having a solid season with Florida. The junior shortstop is batting .291 with four home runs and a .404 on-base percentage.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Martin hit .364/.432 in the Cape Cod league last summer for Bourne, yet some scouts have questioned his short swing and lack of pure power. Martin was a 38th-round pick by the Mariners in the 2012 draft. But according to the latest Baseball America mock draft, Martin is projected as the 29th selection by the Blue Jays.

Local colleges

St. Petersburg College outfielders Trey Amburgey and Duke Stunkel could be drafted in the middle rounds. Both were first-team all-state selections and Stunkel was the Sunshine Conference Player of the Year. Hillsborough Community College right-hander Chase Ingram, a former Wesley Chapel standout, should go by the 10th round.

USF right-hander Tommy Peterson, a River Ridge product, and catcher Levi Borders are probable mid-round selections. The University of Tampa has seniors who had big seasons. Shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo hit .344. Left-handed pitcher Chase Sparkman (Brandon High) was 10-2 in 16 starts and only walked 12 batters in 94 innings.

Staff writers Rodney Page and Antonya English contributed to this report.