Rosen reports on Luis Cota and Adam Donachie

Lost in all the draft hoopla, Luis Cota had an inspiring start for High Desert at Mavericks Stadium on Monday night. Coming off a seven-inning start against the punchless Lake Elsinore Storm in which he did not allow an earned run, Cota returned home to the high winds and light air and dominated the first place Inland Empire 66ers for 7.1 innings. Cota struck out seven while walking just one batter and scattering four hits.

From the first pitch, he was throwing darts and was helped by his ability to get that first pitch over for strikes. His slider was consistently thrown for strikes as well - and he was able to throw it in any count, at any point in the game. Cota even threw his change-up for strikes, meaning that the experienced batters in this league couldn't just wait back for his fastball.

Luis Cota has been pitching much better lately.

He struck out possible league MVP candidate and acclaimed Mariners' prospect Mike Wilson twice, and also retired Matt Tuiasosopo on a tapper to the mound before Tuiasosopo tried to bunt his way on later in the game, though unsuccessfully as Adam Donachie fielded the bunt, spun towards first base, and gunned down Tuiasosopo by several steps. Cota is yet to make three quality starts in a row, but will have another crack at the inconsistent Lake Elsinore lineup likely on Saturday night.

  • Donachie's defense has always been playable at higher levels, and despite his .294 average and twelve home runs in 2005, doubts were still raised about his offensive ceiling. This year, he has improved at recognizing breaking pitches, and not lunging at sliders outside of the strike zone. He hit a home run to straight away center field Monday night, well over the hitter's backdrop in a blast I would estimate at 410-425 feet.

    Donachie is hitting .291/.380/.419 this season.

    Because he was a former switch-hitter, Donachie feels more comfortable against lefthanded pitching. After batting nearly .450 against lefties last year, he is hitting nearly .350 against them this year. Two of his three homeruns are against lefties, including a mammoth shot off highly touted Diamondbacks prospect Matt Chico, who is now succeeding in double-A.

    Donachie's arm is nearly unrivaled in this league, as he has thrown out 53% of basestealers, many of them from his knees. He forces teams to rework their offensive strategy, as the Mavericks have drawn the fewest stolen bases attempts in the entire league. Catchers don't have to hit .300 to make a major league roster, and with the way his arm has played as a professional, it seems Donachie could find a niche for a couple years in the major leagues as a backup/platoon catcher out of the mold of Jason LaRue. -JR
  • RC Live Draft Tracker -- Day 2

    The Royals have had hours to consider their 19th pick in this year's draft, and RC is standing by to see who they select. The Royals could select as many as 32 players today, and RC will update each pick as it happens.

  • Round 19 (557): Jeffrey Inman, RHP -- Garces Memorial HS (CA)

  • Round 20 (587): Bradley Boxberger, RHP -- Foothill HS (CA)

  • Round 21 (617): Burke Baldwin, LHP -- Elgin CC (IL)

  • Round 22 (647): Romas Hicks, RHP -- Georgia State University

  • Round 23 (677): Aaron Hartsock, RHP -- California Baptist University

  • Round 24 (707): Tyler Moyneur, C -- Arizona Western College

  • Round 25 (737): Rafael Valenzuela, SS -- Nogales HS (AZ)

  • Round 26 (767): Darrell Lockett, OF -- Weatherford HS (TX)

  • Round 27 (797): Colby Killian, RHP -- Warren County HS (TN)

  • Round 28 (827): Michael Wheeler, OF -- Walters State CC (TN)

  • Round 29 (857): Steven Rinaudo, SS -- American River College (CA)

  • Round 30 (887): Tyler Pearson, RHP -- University of Northern Colorado

  • Round 31 (917): Brandon Lance, C -- New Mexico State University

  • Round 32 (947): Fernando Garcia, 2B -- Colegio de la Inmaculada

  • Round 33 (977): Harold Smith, OF -- Palmetto HS (FL)

  • Round 34 (1007): Jared Grace, 1B -- Pensacola JC

  • Round 35 (1037): Anthony Stoval, RHP -- Kailua HS (HI)

  • Round 36 (1067): Manuel Garcia, RHP -- Cochise College

  • Round 37 (1097): Kaleb Harst, C -- St. Thomas Moore HS (LA)

  • Round 38 (1127): Michael Dabbs, OF -- Cowley County CC (OK)

  • Round 39 (1157): Steven Moore, RHP -- Thomasville HS (GA)

  • Round 40 (1187): Christopher Snipes, LHP -- Warner Robins HS (GA)

  • Round 41 (1217): Jeremy Toole, RHP -- Huntsville HS (TX)

  • Round 42 (1247): Todd McBride, OF -- The Dalles HS (OR)

  • Round 43 (1276): Brennan Thorpe, RHP -- Saddleback CC (CA)

  • Round 44 (1305): Bryan Paukovits, RHP -- Southwestern College (CA)

  • Round 45 (1334): Eric Martinez, RHP -- Southwestern College (CA)

  • Round 46 (1363): Chase Lehr, RHP -- Centennial HS (AZ)

  • Round 47 (1391): Ryan Cisterna, C -- Chandler Gilbert CC (AZ)

  • Round 48 (1419): Colby Ho, 3B -- Kaiser HS (HI)

  • Round 49 (1447): Rocky Gale, C -- North Salem HS (OR)

  • Round 50 (1475): Jarrod Dyson, OF -- Southwest Mississippi JC (MS)
  • Tuesday

    RC interviews Luke Hochevar...

    Luke Hochevar today was selected by the Royals with the first overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft. Royals Corner had an opportunity to speak with him this afternoon, and the transcript of our conversation is presented below.

    Royals Corner: Luke, first off we'd like to congratulate you on your first overall selection in this year's draft. It must be quite a rush.

    Luke Hochevar: Thanks. It's been a very humbling experience.

    RC: Luke, what was your reaction when you heard the news today? We're you expecting it...Had you been told that you'd be selected at #1?

    LH: Scott [Boras] called me this morning before the draft, and I was beside myself when I heard. I didn’t even know what to say. I feel like I have a great opportunity to pitch for a for a great organization, and I'm excited to get started.

    RC: You signed a contract to pitch with the Fort Worth Cats this spring as a showcase. How do you think the level of competition you faced in the independent league compared with what you saw in Division I college ball, and what you expect to see in the minors?

    LH: I thought the competition was better due to the fact the guys are older and more experienced. They control the strike zone better and are more disciplined. The competition was more than I was expecting. I will continue to learn and get better in the areas I need to get better in. The people in Fort Worth, the front office, and the coaches were great for giving me the opportunity to pitch.

    RC: Luke, can you give our readers an idea of your repertoire? What pitches do you throw at what speeds, and what would you consider your "go-to" pitch?

    LH: I'm very comfortable throwing any pitch in any count. I throw a four-seam fastball at 93-95 and a sinker at 91-93. My change is usually around 80-83, and my curveball is normally between 78-81. I also throw a slider at 85-87. I feel like I have the confidence to go to any pitch in any count. My best breaking pitch is my curveball, but my out pitch is my slider. And my bread and butter is my sinking fastball.

    RC: What current Major Leaguer would you compare yourself to?

    LH: I really admire Roger Clemens, for his work ethic and the way competes. He is the greatest of all-time -- very professional, and he competes his tail off. Greg Maddux is another guy with a great work ethic. He is a bulldog, and a great pitcher.

    RC: Do you have any personal timetable for reaching the Major Leagues?

    LH: That will be up to the team. I’ll work my butt off give everything I’ve got. After I sign, I’ll bust my tail and help the organization by getting after it.

    RC: Have the Royals given you any idea where you'll start once you sign... Double-A perhaps?

    LH: That too will be up to the team. There will be further discussion about where I will start. I'm just ready to get going.

    RC: Luke, what has been your favorite moment in your baseball career?

    LH: Going to the College World Series with Tennessee, and spending time with guys on team. All the guys were great, and I have made lifelong friends. Also, winning the Roger Clemens award and shaking his hand on stage was an honor in itself.

    RC: Luke, we've taken up enough of your time, and I'm sure there are other people who want to talk to you today. Thank you for speaking with us, and we can't wait for you to sign and get to business in the minors. Good luck!

    LH: Thanks, it was good talking with you.

    RC's Live Amateur Draft Tracker -- Royals select Hochevar with first pick!

  • Round 1 (1): Luke Hochevar, RHP -- Fort Worth Cats (IND)

    Hochevar (HO-Chay-ver) is 6-5, 205. He was widely regarded as the second-best pitcher available in the 2005 draft out of the University of Tennessee, but he slid to the Dodgers in the sandwich round at #40 due to signability concerns. After a heated contract dispute boiled over, negotiations broke down between Hochevar and the Dodgers, and it became clear that he wouldn't sign. He signed a short-term contract with the independent Fort Worth Cats to showcase his talents this spring, and he did very well, registering an ERA of 2.38 with 34 strikeouts and 11 walks in 22.2 IP.

    Hochevar throws a fastball that sits between 90-97 MPH, along with a quality slider, curve, and change-up. He has prototypical size, and word is that he could move very quickly through the system once he signs. There was likely a pre-draft deal, so he could be in a minor league uniform very soon. RC loves this pick, and we can't wait to see what he can do.

  • Round 2 (45): Jason Taylor, SS -- Floyd E Kellam HS (VA)

  • Round 3 (77): Blake Wood, RHP -- Georgia Tech

  • Round 4 (107): Derrick Robinson, OF -- Pk Younge Laboratory School (FL)

  • Round 5 (137): Jason Godin, RHP -- Old Dominion University

  • Round 6 (167): Harold Mozingo, RHP -- Virginia Commonweath University

    To read an earlier RC report on Harold Mozingo, click here. RC loves this pick.

  • Round 7 (197): Brett Bigler, OF -- UC Riverside

  • Round 8 (227): Josh Cribb, RHP -- Clemson University

  • Round 9 (257): Marc Maddox, 2B? -- University of Southern Mississippi

    Maddox was listed in Baseball America as a first baseman. RC will investigate.

  • Round 10 (287): Nicholas Van Stratten, OF -- St. Louis CC Meramec

  • Round 11 (317): William Chambliss, RHP -- Florida State University

  • Round 12 (347): Everett Teaford, LHP -- Georgia Southern University

  • Round 13 (377): Kurt Mertins, 2B -- College of the Desert

  • Round 14 (407): Daniel Best, RHP -- University of Southern Mississippi

  • Round 15 (437): Nicholas Francis, OF -- Pensacola JC

  • Round 16 (467): Tyrone Wilson, SS -- Southern Durham HS (NC)

  • Round 17 (497): Matthew Morizo, C -- Northeastern University

  • Round 18 (527): Chase Larsson, OF -- Kitsilano Secondary School
  • The Final Countdown...Draft just hours away!

    Well, we had planned something of a last hurrah Draft Prospect Update, but it's become increasingly clear that the Royals have narrowed their choices down to two college pitchers -- North Carolina's Andrew Miller and Houston's Brad Lincoln. Both are outstanding young pitchers with Major League stuff, and any team in baseball would be lucky to have either.

    While Miller certainly wasn't very impressive when we saw him on Sunday, it really isn't fair to judge him on the basis of one mediocre outing in an important game. He had some very good starts this season against some quality offenses like Georgia Tech and NC State (although he also got roughed up by NC State in the ACC Tournament), and he certainly has some tools and some size at his disposal. His slider in particular would be an excellent addition to any organization. However, RC still has trouble finding anything -- beyond his height and left-handedness -- that distinguishes him as a clear #1 pick. North Carolina didn't have a terribly difficult schedule, and Miller threw poorly and/or lost against many of the best teams he faced this season. Despite his gaudy numbers, Miller has actually been quite inconsistent with his stuff against quality ballclubs.

    We certainly regret not seeing Brad Lincoln pitch this season. Actually, he snuck up on us, as he didn't even make it into our top 10 until several weeks into the season. Playing his games in the weaker Conference USA, it's tough to put his numbers into context without actually getting a look at him, but all reports we've seen indicate that he holds mid-90s fastball velocity throughout games, and he shows excellent command of a plus curveball. Unlike Miller, he also possesses a third pitch -- a change-up that is reportedly already close to Major League average. Lincoln's most impressive performance this season was a complete game shutout over #1-ranked Rice, an outing that certainly went a long way in quieting our concerns about Houston's weaker schedule.

    Since we must produce a final opinion in the pre-draft hours, RC is backing Brad Lincoln for the first overall selection in tomorrow's draft, but it's certainly not by an overwhelming margin. We'd actually be very happy with either pitcher, and if the rumors are true that the Royals might instead select Luke Hochevar (who was drafted by the Dodgers last season but failed to sign), we'd be pleased as punch with that as well. There just doesn't seem to be a clear-cut #1, so RC is willing to rely on the judgement of the folks who have actually seen all of the players under consideration. We feel kind of wimpy in not taking a stronger position, but we've gone back and forth so many times that it became clear we'd never arrive at an unyielding preference.

    Whatever happens, RC is confident that we're not only going to get a very good pitcher, but that he'll be the guy who the Royals truly believe is the best player available. Truth be told, we're probably just as excited to see who they take in the second round.

    Anyway, be sure to tune in frequently tomorrow throughout the day, as RC hosts a live draft tracker. We'll update each Royals pick as it happens, and we'll do our best to provide you with all the information we can possibly find on the draftees. Draft day is RC's favorite day of the year, and as we write this we can't help but get that feeling we had as a child on the night before Christmas. It will probably be a sleepless night at RC Headquarters.


    RC has long day at the yard, reports on Andrew Miller's final pre-draft start

    Actually, calling today a "long day" is something of an understatement. Before we even saw Andrew Miller and the Tar Heels take the field, RC sat through one of the most amazing games we've ever witnessed. The scoreboard speaks for itself:

    And Maine should have been charged with a few more errors than that...

    The North Carolina sun was beating down on RC's freshly shorn official head, and we just wanted the damned game to end. We even volunteered to pitch in order to speed things along, but we were rudely ordered to return to our seat. Frustrated with the situation, we searched for some shade on the concourse, and we had a chance encounter with the last person we expected to see in Chapel Hill, NC.

    Poz was in the house!

    Yup, RC today met the KC Star's Joe Posnanski, who turned out to be a quite friendly fellow (although to his detriment, we don't believe he had ever heard of Royals Corner). We chatted for a few minutes about the Royals, and RC probed for some inside information, but ultimately all we got was the same information that has already been reported in the Star. Posnanski told us he thinks the Royals' first draft pick on Tuesday will be either Miller or Houston's Brad Lincoln, and he thought it was about 50-50 between those two players. After a few more minutes, Poz excused himself, and the day's first game finally ended shortly thereafter.

    Anyway, enough about all that...People want to know how Miller looked today, and RC came away from the game with a solid opinion.

    Good news -- The porn-stache is gone!

    We first reported on Miller in February, after we watched him make his first start of the 2006 season against a very weak Seton Hall squad. For the most part, we liked what we saw, although we were surprised that his fastball velocity (88-92 mph) was lower than we had expected. He showed us his dynamite slider, which he threw 77-78 mph, and he had no trouble missing Seton Hall's bats all afternoon while striking out nine in six shutout innings. We wondered then how he'd look against a better club, and today's matchup against quality Winthrop team gave us an opportunity to see for ourselves. Winthrop entered the game with a 45-16 record, which included wins against top programs like Miami, Clemson, Alabama, and North Carolina, and Winthrop's team batting average on the season was over .330.

    Miller last pitched in the ACC tournament about 10 days ago, so he wasn't very sharp. His velocity on his fastball was better than in February, sitting at 91-93 and occasionally climbing to 94, but it still fell short of our expectations after reading reports that he was consistently in the mid-90s. He held his velocity fairly well throughout the game, although the average FB velocity dropped to around 91 mph from the fifth inning on. His slider was also up a tick in velocity, with most coming in at 81 mph while ranging from 79-84. It looked like he had good movement, but it didn't miss a whole lot of bats, and the home plate umpire wasn't giving him many calls on the outside corner vs. lefties.

    The thing we found most surprising was how frequently he used the slider. We didn't keep a close pitch count, but it wouldn't surprise us to hear that he actually threw more sliders than fastballs in the game. Indeed, several pitch sequences to left-handed batters began with three or four consecutive sliders, and although many of those sliders turned into Winthrop base hits, RC was surprised they didn't manage to do more damage against what became a very predictable strategy.

    One thing we didn't see much of, however, was Miller's changeup. We saw him throw one change in the first inning that went for an RBI single, and after that, Miller was essentially a two-pitch pitcher throughout the remainder of the game. However, Miller was somehow able to make it work, pitching his way out of trouble and relying on some nice defense behind him.

    On the day, Miller surrendered nine hits and four earned runs in eight plus innings while striking out six and walking three. He was removed from the game to a thunderous ovation from the partisan home crowd in the ninth after giving up a leadoff single. He threw a total of 114 pitches while picking up the victory, and it was actually quite shocking that he was able to last that long, after he labored through 27 pitches in the first inning. We expected him to be removed from the game after the Tar Heels exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Miller came back out and breezed through the seventh and eighth innings.

    All told, it was a quality appearance by Miller, but it wasn't the type of dominating performance in an important game that you'd hope to see from a guy you're considering for the #1 overall selection. Was it enough? We can't say, but we do know that the Royals had four scouts covering the game. We spoke briefly with a Baseball Operations official we recognized, although we knew he wouldn't reveal anything, so we didn't even ask. RC simply wished him luck with the decision, and we hope that today's game gave the Royals enough information to make the right decision.

    Was Posnanski impressed? On the way out, we stopped by and asked him what he thought of Miller's performance.

    "Ehhh, he's competitive," said Posnanski, but he left it at that. It will be interesting to read his next column. As for us, we'll be happy to share our final thoughts on the first pick in our final Draft Prospect Update on Monday. Stay tuned!

    For more photos of Andrew Miller from today's outing, click here, here, here, here, and here.