COLUMBIA — Several members of the Missouri baseball team are waiting to see what team will select them Tuesday in Major League Baseball's amateur draft.
Kyle Gibson, this season’s Friday night starter for the Tigers, has been predicted to be chosen as high as the top five, but that became questionable after Gibson’s last start of the season. In an eight-inning, shutout performance in an NCAA regional game against Monmouth, Gibson threw his sinking fastball in the mid-80 mph range, a far cry from the 91-to-93 mph range Gibson displayed throughout the 2009 season. The speculation came after Gibson mentioned forearm soreness, a common precursor to elbow problems. Gibson went in for an MRI, and found a stress fracture in his right forearm.
“It’s a good thing, it’s not an elbow problem, and I’ll be fine in six weeks,” Gibson said by phone Monday night.
Though the injury is short term, its proximity to the draft has done Gibson no favors. Not every organization can bring him in to see team doctors. The lack of certainty about the injury from each team’s standpoint has caused several teams to take Gibson off their draft board all together, according to Keith Law an ESPN baseball draft expert.
Gibson, a 2009 Golden Spikes award semifinalist, said he is confident despite the lack of confidence in his arm.
Gibson, despite being 11-3 with a 3.21 ERA this season, might fall farther than he would like, but has no intention to follow the path of former Fresno State pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who faced a similar situation to Gibson’s a year ago and was drafted in the second round by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Scheppers did not sign with the Pirates, instead opting to pitch for the St. Paul Saints of the independent American Association, hoping to increase his draft status for 2009. Scheppers is expected to be a early pick on Tuesday.
“The best thing for me is to play with the team that drafts me, and to prove people who passed on me wrong,” Gibson said. "I’ve had to prove people wrong before. I’d like to do it again."
Another standout Missouri pitcher did follow Scheppers' route. Aaron Crow was selected with the ninth pick in the 2008 draft by the Washington Nationals, but Crow refused their contract offers, and played for the Fort Worth Cats, also of the American Association, this past season.
Crow and his agents Randy and Alan Hendricks were looking for a deal worth $4 million. The Nationals offered $3.3 million, and no agreement could be made before the Aug. 15 signing deadline. Crow said he is looking for a similar contract to the one he asked for last year, but would not delve into specifics at the request of his agents.
Crow said he is convinced that his time in Fort Worth has made him a better pitcher and more desirable to Major League teams, despite his contract demands.
“I’ve been working on my changeup, and it has gotten a lot better from my time at Mizzou," Crow said by phone Monday. "I’ve been attacking hitters different ways, and throwing different pitches in different counts, and I think it’s made me better.”
Tigers catcher Trevor Coleman should also be selected over the course of the draft. A switch-hitter, Coleman missed three weeks with a broken throwing hand in 2009 and experienced a season long funk at the plate before the injury. But he has always been solid defensively and was a Baseball America preseason second-team All-American in 2009 with a .295 batting average in 2008. Coleman has been predicted to go as high as the third round, but is far more likely to be selected on the second day of the draft.
It is unknown precisely where 2009 Tigers like Michael Liberto, Ryan Lollis, Kyle Mach and Aaron Senne, as well Tiger recruits Eric Garcia, Eric Anderson and Dane Opel, will be selected in the draft, but each could be chosen in any of the 50 rounds over the draft’s three days.