of Southern Nevada
|After Harper skipped out on his final two years of high school to enroll in a wood-bat junior college league, even his biggest supporters probably would have underestimated how he would perform this season. Over his 180 regular-season at-bats, the 17-year-old hit .417/.509/.917. The school record for home runs was 12, set when the school still used aluminum bats. Harper finished with 23. He has top-of-the-scale power, but scouts have differing opinions about what kind of hitter he’ll be. Some believe his exaggerated load and ferocious swings will cause him to strike out 125-140 times a season and
keep his average around .250. Others believe in his exceptional hand-eye coordination and expect him to calm down his swing in pro ball,
figuring .280-.300 isn’t out of the question. Harper also has 80 raw arm strength on the 20-80 scouting scale, but he needs to shorten up his
arm action for it to play better behind the plate. Scouts are also split on where he’ll end up defensively. Some believe he’ll be fine at catcher. Others think he will either outgrow the position or that his bat will be too good to hold back, so a team will want to move him to the position that gets him to the big leagues the fastest—either third base or right field. Harper has done some incredible things on a baseball field, like hitting 500-foot home runs, throwing runners out at
first from the outfield, and scoring from second base on a passed ball.
He’s received more attention and unfounded criticism than any amateur player in years. Perhaps the biggest question now is: Is it possible for
him to live up to the hype? He’s seeking to break Stephen Strasburg’s record bonus, and that certainly won’t reduce the hype or the pressure.
Woodlands (Texas) HS
|There’s no doubt that Taillon has more upside than any pitching prospect in the 2010 draft. The only debate is whether he’s
a better pitching prospect than fellow Texas fireballer Josh Beckett was at the same stage of his career. They have similar stuff, with Taillon having a bigger frame (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) and Beckett possessing a meaner streak on the mound and turning in a more consistent
high school senior season. Taillon gave up 11 runs in a much-anticipated pitching duel with fellow Rice recruit John Simms in mid-March. His fastball command was out of whack, but he solved the problem and threw a 19-strikeout no-hitter a week later. He owns the two
best pitches in the draft: a heavy 93-97 mph fastball that has touched 99, and a hammer curveball in the mid-80s. He throws his heater with such ease that it looks like he’s playing catch. He also has a hard slider and the makings of a changeup, though he rarely has needed more than two pitches to this point. He has a classic pitcher’s body and strong makeup. With the Nationals zeroing in on Bryce Harper, Taillon is
unlikely to become the first high school righthander selected No. 1 overall. He still could match or exceed two draft records shared by Beckett: the highest draft slot for a prep righty (No. 2), and the biggest guarantee ever given to a high school pitcher (a $7 million major league contract).
Miami Private HS
|Machado committed early to Florida International, but the Golden Panthers have long since determined he’s not headed for campus. Instead he could be headed for the first five picks. He leapt into first-round consideration at the start of the 2009 summer showcase season and never stopped hitting or fielding, helping lead USA Baseball’s 18U team to a gold medal in Venezuela in the Pan American Junior Championship. He’s of Dominican descent and is a tall, lanky shortstop in South Florida, attracting inevitable Alex Rodriguez comparisons. Machado is skinny at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds but surprisingly strong and has a swing that produces hard contact. He’s familiar with wood bats and has shown a knack for centering the ball on the barrel. Scouts project him to hit for average future power, with a chance to be a
.300 hitter. Defensively, Machado will remain at shortstop as a pro and
has a chance to be an above-average defender. He’s smooth, makes all the routine plays and has a plus arm that allows him to make the play in
the hole. Machado’s weakest tool might be his speed, though he’s an average runner. There are few chinks in his armor, and the Boras Corp. client is in play with single-digit picks.
|As a junior at Anaheim’s Canyon High, Colon played second base and formed a double-play combo with Grant Green, the 13th overall selection in last year ‘s draft by the Athletics out of Southern
California. Colon was a 10th-round pick of the Padres 2007. Disappointed that he was not chosen earlier, he went off to play at Cal State Fullerton, where the 6-foot, 200-pounder has emerged as one of the
nation’s premier middle infielders. Colon was enjoying a brilliant summer in 2009 when he broke his leg when sliding in a game against Canada. Chosen as Team USA’s captain, Colon still earned Summer College Player of the Year honors, but the injury seemed to contribute to a slow
start to his 2010 season. A three-homer game against Washington in late
March seemed to revive his bat, though, and his numbers were back in familiar territory. One of the nation’s better hitters, Colon uses a distinct upper-cut in his swing, looking to lift and drive the ball. That approach is not typical for a smaller middle infielder, but Colon shows terrific bat speed as his barrel connects with the ball. He also is patient and makes consistent contact; despite his power approach, he’s one of the toughest players to strike out in Division I thanks to excellent barrel awareness. He’s a skilled hitter who hits behind runners, bunts and executes the hit-and-runs effectively. Defensively, Colon’s range is limited, and his speed and arm are below-average for a shortstop. He does exhibit fluid and quick fielding actions and his playmaking ability is outstanding. His frame offers little room for projection, and offensively he can be streaky. For scouts who focus on what he can do, his tremendous hands and footwork, as well as his bat control, make him a future big league regular, best suited as an offensive second baseman.
|Pomeranz, whose brother Stuart was the Cardinals’ second-round pick out of high school in 2003, nearly signed himself out of high school, as a Rangers 12th-rounder in 2007. The deal fell through
and Pomeranz instead embarked on a stellar career with Ole Miss, averaging 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings over nearly 300 career innings. He nearly pitched the Rebels to Omaha himself in 2009 with a 16-strikeout complete-game win on two days’ rest in the regional final, followed by a 10-strikeout, seven-inning, 146-pitch effort the next week
in a super regional. He was no worse for wear last summer with Team USA
or this spring, when the Rebels have used him more judiciously. He even
was removed from a start at South Carolina in a 0-0 game after seven innings. Pomeranz still was slowed in May by a mild pectoral muscle strain, which caused his fastball velocity to dip into the upper 80s in a
start against Arkansas. When he’s right, Pomeranz sits 90-94 mph with his fastball and creates tough angles for the hitter, pitching to both sides of the plate. Coaches assert that he’s nearly unhittable at the college level when he’s throwing his hard curve for strikes, a 12-to-6 downer. His changeup is solid-average as well, as he has shown feel for using it. Control has been Pomeranz’s biggest concern. He walked nine in
a letdown showdown with Louisiana State’s Anthony Ranaudo and was averaging nearly 4.5 walks per nine innings. He said he has fixed the problem with a more consistent takeaway with the ball when he begins his
windup, keeping him a better rhythm.
|The Tigers spent heavily to sign high school pitchers Rick Porcello ($7 million contract in the first round) and Casey Crosby ($748,500 in the fifth) in 2007, and thought they also met the $800,000 asking price of Loux, their 24th-rounder. He changed his mind about signing and instead opted to attend Texas A&M, where his 2009 season was halted by bone chips in his elbow. After having the chips removed, Loux is healthy again and racking up strikeouts with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 95. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder throws with such ease that his fastball appears even harder. If he had a standout second pitch, he’d be a first-round pick, but he may have to settle for the sandwich round because his curveball and changeup are merely effective. His curveball was his best pitch in high school but hasn’t been as sharp since his elbow surgery. He’ll show an average changeup, though not on a consistent basis. Some teams have medical concerns about Loux, who missed two months of his high school senior season with a tender shoulder.|
|Harvey entered 2007 as the No. 1 high school prospect in the country, just ahead of fellow North Carolina recruit Rick Porcello. While Porcello signed with the Tigers as a first-rounder that year, Harvey was an unsigned third-rounder of the Angels. Five days
after Porcello made his big league debut in 2009, Harvey took a loss in
a mid-week relief appearance for the Tar Heels against High Point. That
was probably the low point of Harvey’s career, as he struggled as a sophomore. As a junior, though, he has regained his mojo. Scouts agree that Harvey’s arm action is longer now than it was in 2007 but they aren’t sure why. It affects his command, as it’s harder for him to repeat his delivery and find the same release point. When he does, Harvey has explosive stuff, and he has worked harder than ever, thanks to improved maturity, to improve his balance and tempo. As a result, Harvey has pitched like an ace, with only one clunker start (against Duke) this spring and several gems, including a 158-pitch, 15-strikeout complete game at Clemson. His final pitch was 96 mph, which is usually where Harvey sits when he’s right, in the 92-96 mph range. Once the owner of a power curveball, Harvey now prefers a hard slider that at times sits in the mid-80s with depth and late finish. Some scouts have given it a well-above-average grade. His changeup is just fair, and Harvey’s command is below-average. With his stuff, he just needs control, and he has thrown enough strikes this year to get back into the
Academy, College Park, Ga.
|In 2005, the most recent year Baseball America conducted its Baseball for the Ages survey, DeShields ranked as the nation’s top 12-year-old, beating out Bryce Harper and A.J. Cole, among others. He had just finished seventh grade. The son of the former big leaguer and 1987 first-round pick of the same name, DeShields has had an
up-and-down high school career that included a modest showing at the East Coast Pro Showcase last summer. His loud tools have helped him leap
past his peers and jumped him, for some scouts, to the top of a deep crop of Georgia prep talent. His best tool is his explosive speed, which
has jumped up a grade to earn 80s on the 20-80 scale. Like many big league progeny, DeShields doesn’t play with a ton of energy, and he got off to a slow start, which scared off some clubs. When the weather heated up, DeShields’ bat did likewise. He showcased electric bat speed and present strength, leading to projections of average power in his future. His swing needs some fine-tuning and his defense in center field
is raw. He has enough arm for center, though it’s below-average. Some scouts also had makeup concerns after DeShields changed his mind about his college choice, eventually settling on Louisiana State.
|A Florida signee, Whitson played on the USA Baseball 18U club that won a gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championship in Venezuela and pitched at all the big showcase events, so
national-level scouts have a history with him. They’ve seen one of the draft’s best secondary pitches in a hard, sharp, 80-84 mph slider. The word most often associate with Whitson’s slider is “legit.” His fastball
also earns praise as he can reach 95 mph regularly and pitches at 90-94
mph. Whitson was a fine prep basketball player who gave up a sport he loves for baseball, and his athleticism usually translates to the diamond in terms of control and the ability to repeat his delivery. However, Whitson had a difficult start in early May in front of a large crowd of scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors. According to one scout, Whitson had thrown 130 pitches in his previous start and then had
more than 10 days off, and his stock was falling as BA went to press. He’s one of many Florida prep players whose final landing spot in the draft may depend on how they perform at the state all-star games in Sebring at the end of the month.
|Choice is a lock to eclipse Hunter Pence (second round, 2004) as the highest-drafted player in Texas-Arlington history, and he could be the first college position player drafted this year. He has the best power among four-year college players in this draft class. He starred for Team USA’s college squad last summer, leading all players
with three homers at the World Baseball Challenge, and was chasing the Southland Conference triple crown this spring. Texas-Arlington’s career leader in batting and homers (.398, with 34 homers through mid-May), Choice has a strong 6-foot, 215-pound frame. He lets balls travel deep before unleashing his lightning bat speed and crushing them to all fields, though he can get pull-conscious and lengthen his righthanded swing at times. He racks up strikeouts but also draws walks, leading NCAA Division I with 66. That total is inflated by 17 intentional and several semi-intentional walks, but he’s willing to take a base when pitchers won’t challenge him. Choice has 6.6-second speed in the 60-yard
dash, so some scouts believe he may be able to stay in center field. Others think he lacks the jumps and instincts for center and fits better
on a corner. He may have enough arm strength for right field, and he definitely has the power profile to fit in left. One of the youngest college juniors in the draft, he won’t turn 21 until November.
|McGuire is a Virginia product who was a mid-week starter as a freshman at Georgia Tech before settling in as the Yellow Jackets’ Friday starter the last two seasons. He had more success for the first three-quarters of 2009 than he had at the end of last season, when he was hammered in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and in regional play—he gave up nine runs to Southern Miss in the regional final working on two days’ rest. McGuire’s stuff hasn’t been quite as crisp since then, and scouts have lowered their expectations for the 6-foot-6, 218-pounder, but most still see him as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in the majors. McGuire commands a 90-92 mph fastball that hits 94, and he throws with a good downhill angle to the plate, making it tough to elevate. His fastball has a bit less life than it used to. McGuire also throws strikes with his curveball and harder slurve, and his changeup is average to fringe-average. He’s an excellent competitor who doesn’t fold up with runners on base. He’s a proven college winner with a good track record of performance and durability; similar prospects rarely last through the first half of the first round.|
|Grandal has been on the radar a long time. He was an Aflac All-American and potential high draft pick whose Miami commitment and fair senior year caused him to fall to the 27th round in 2007, when the Red Sox drafted him. A native of Cuba who moved to Miami at age 11, he started as a freshman in 2008 for the Hurricanes’ 53-11 club that entered the College World Series as the No. 1 seed and produced three first-round picks. Grandal didn’t hit .300 in either of his first two seasons, though, and struggled at the plate for Team USA last summer, hitting just .182. Grandal has traded his all-pull approach
for more contact and an all-fields swing in 2010, and the results have been dramatic. He has dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he was hitting nearly .500 in league games, and he ranked among the national leaders in on-base percentage (.545) and walks (43). A switch-hitter, Grandal has some length to his swing but has shortened up
from the left side and has solid-average raw power. Defensively, he plays with energy and is slightly above-average as a receiver. His throwing arm is his biggest concern, as some scouts have seen more 2.1-second pop times (below-average) than would be expected of a top draft pick. Grandal doesn’t defend like fellow South Florida product Tony Sanchez, who went No. 4 overall last year, and his offense is not on par with previous ACC catching products Matt Wieters and Buster Posey. He still figures to go in the top half of the first round and was
rumored to be in play as high as No. 4 overall to the Royals.
|An unsigned 21st-round pick of the Rockies out of high school, Sale has developed well at Florida Gulf Coast and gives the
program a first-round pick in its first year as a full Division I member. He was hardly good enough as a freshman to get any innings but survived in a relief role thanks to his changeup, which he has always been able to throw for strikes. His velocity jumped in the summer after his freshman season, when he lowered his arm angle to low three-quarters. The switch gave his fastball and change outstanding late
life, and he started hitting 90-plus on radar guns. He shined in 2009 showdowns against supplemental first-rounders Rex Brothers and Kyle Heckathorn, then broke into the big time by earning No. 1 prospect status in the Cape Cod League last summer. As a junior, Sale consistently has delivered for scouts, leading the nation with 114 strikeouts while showing excellent fastball command (12 walks in 83 innings). Sale’s changeup grades as plus like his fastball, and his slider is a solid-average pitch that’s effective against lefthanded hitters. With his low slot, Sale can get on the side of all his pitches,
especially his slider, at times leaving them up in the zone. Some scouts are concerned about his durability, due to both his frame (he lost five to seven pounds off his 6-foot-6, 180-pound listed frame due to a bout of food poisoning in May) and upside-down takeaway at the beginning of his arm stroke. But his arm is quick, and Sale repeats his mechanics, as evidenced by his command.
HS, Pasadena, Calif.
|Covey first grabbed the attention of California scouts at a San Gabriel Valley underclassman showcase in Alhambra in the
summer of 2008. A sophomore at the time, Covey unleashed a series of throws from right field that exhibited his terrific arm strength. Not surprisingly, several scouts asked Covey if he was a pitcher and asked when he would be throwing next. Since then, Covey has matured, grown into his frame and improved his conditioning. The results have been sensational. Covey made all the standard showcase appearances in the past year, with uniformly outstanding performances. Covey, solidly built
at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, hammers the strike zone with a 93-94 mph fastball that can touch 96. He adds a wicked 81-82 mph slider and has steadily developed his curve and changeup. Covey’s arm works smoothly and his has solid mechanics, though he will need to fight a tendency to pull his lead shoulder open when tired. Resembling a younger, lighter version of Giants righthander Matt Cain, Covey profiles as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter with four average to plus offerings. A San Diego signee, Covey ranks a notch above the rest in a deep Southern California prep pitching class and figures to take a shorter path to the majors than his
Trinity HS, Roswell, Ga.
|Skole, the younger brother of Georgia Tech sophomore third baseman Matt, has always been a premium talent, but his football commitment to Georgia Tech depressed his draft stock. Skole, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, started the spring a bit slowly, due in part to
an ankle injury, but the further he got from football, the looser he got and the better he played. Blessed with above-average athleticism, Skole has a good swing with strength, power and explosiveness. He made himself a likely top-two-rounds selection by making hard contact and getting two hits in a late May state playoff game against Kaleb Cowart, the state’s top pitcher. He’s far from a finished product on the diamond, which shows up most against breaking balls. He swung and missed
several times against slow, offspeed stuff in the game following his matchup with Cowart. He’s a fringe-average runner who profiles as a corner outfielder. His football scholarship also means teams can go over-slot to sign him and spread the bonus out over five years.
|Southern Arkansas coach Allen Gum found the most successful pitcher in school history literally right next door. Simpson,
his next-door neighbor in Magnolia, Ark., has gone 35-2, 2.39 with 323 strikeouts in 271 innings in three seasons with the NCAA Division II Muleriders. Though he’s just 6 feet and 175 pounds, he has a strong lower half and a quick arm that delivers 91-93 mph fastballs that peak at 96. His fastball is fairly straight and he tends to pitch up in the zone, which could lead to difficulty with tougher competition. He has a pair of hard breaking pitches, an 82-83 mph slider and an 78-80 mph curve. He also has a changeup that he uses sparingly, and he commands his entire repertoire well. His velocity decreased a little toward the end of the season, and some scouts are wary of his size and the fact that he’s never ventured far from Magnolia. Nevertheless, his fastball could get him drafted as high as the fourth or fifth round.
Blanchet HS, Seattle
|Though he works hard, Sale isn’t a great fielder, thrower or runner, but there’s thunder in his bat. And in a year thin on
impact hitters, that’s what teams will be buying with Sale in the first
round. Sale’s father is Samoan and ranks among the best in the nation in drug-free powerlifting. He has inherited his father’s love for working out and has a rock-solid, 6-toot-1, 215-pound frame. With bat speed better than Travis Snider—one scout even called it the best bat speed he has ever seen from an amateur—Sale has raw power that approaches the top of the scouting scale. How much of his power he’ll be
able to use, though, is a question because of a few flaws in Sale’s lefthanded swing. He has a high back elbow and sometimes strides too early, but the biggest concern is that he raises up out of his crouched stance, changing his eye level and leaving him susceptible to breaking balls. Most scouts believe the problems are fixable because he’s coachable and works hard. He also has a great feel for the strike zone and a patient approach at the plate, and he’s so strong that calming down his swing shouldn’t sap his power. He also has great hand-eye coordination, as evidenced by the fact that he golfed with a single-digit handicap until he was 15—as a righthanded player. Scouts rave about Sale’s makeup and work ethic. He is articulate and studies hard in school, but won’t make it to Gonzaga.
HS, Adel, Ga.
|Cowart was in the running to be the High School Player of the Year as a dominant two-way player, evoking comparisons to past Georgia preps Buster Posey and Ethan Martin. Those two examples set
up two different paths for Cowart, who like Posey is a Florida State signee. Posey was more of a third-round talent out of high school and a different type of pitcher than Cowart, who on the mound is all about power. He has arm strength and good sinking life on his plus fastball, which sits in the 91-93 mph range at its best. He also has a hard slider
and scouts don’t seem to mind his split-finger fastball, either. Scouts
prefer Cowart as a pitching prospect with a 6-foot-3, 190-pound pitcher’s body. Like Posey, Cowart prefers to hit; he’s a switch-hitting
third baseman, and while some scouts consider his defense fringy at the
hot corner, he has strength in his swing and some raw power. Scouts hope Cowart is more like Martin, a prep third baseman-turned-pitcher who
signed with the Dodgers as a first-rounder after realizing he was a better prospect on the bump. But Cowart’s signability was in doubt early, as he was asking for close to $3 million in order to spurn Florida State.
(Ill.) Community HS
|Foltynewicz is far and away the best pitching prospect in the Upper Midwest. He opened eyes by sitting at 91-94 mph and touching 96 with his fastball at a preseason showcase in February, and he has shown similar velocity throughout the spring. With his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame, strength and arm speed, it’s easy to project him regularly throwing in the mid-90s down the road. He already has an advanced changeup for a high school pitcher, as it features good sink and could become a plus pitch. He doesn’t consistently stay on top of his breaking pitches, though he was doing a better job later in the spring. He throws both a curveball and a slider, and he’d be best served
by focusing on improving his slider. No Illinois high school pitcher has gone in the first round since the White Sox selected Kris Honel in 2001, but a team that believes Foltynewicz can refine a breaking b all could be tempted to pick him that high. He’ll pitch at Texas if he doesn’t turn pro.
|Vitek has pitched in Ball State’s weekend rotation since he was a freshman, and has been a regular in the Cardinals’ lineup, first as a DH, then as a third baseman and now as second baseman. Yet his professional future is more likely as an outfielder. In
a draft short on premium college hitters, Vitek is one of the best. He ranked as the top prospect in the Great Lakes League last summer, batting .400 and winning the league’s first triple crown. A 6-foot-3, 195-pound righthanded hitter, he’s a more physical version of former Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock, the 17th overall pick a year ago of the Diamondbacks. Vitek could go in the same range, and the Padres, who own the No. 9 choice, have shown interest in him. With quick hands and a
sound approach, he consistently barrels balls and projects as an above-average hitter with average to plus power. On the 20-80 scouting scale, his speed rates as a 55 out of the box and 60-65 under way, leading to hope that he can play center field. If not, he has enough bat
to carry him as a right fielder. Vitek lacks the hands and actions to play the infield in pro ball. He’s also a legitimate prospect as a pitcher, throwing 88-92 mph from a low three-quarters arm slot and locating multiple pitches for strikes.
|Only a hamstring injury has been able to stop Wimmers this spring, as he won each of his first nine starts for the Buckeyes before missing the first two weekends in May. He also starred in 2009, sharing Big 10 Conference pitcher-of-the-year honors before leading Bourne to its first-ever Cape Cod League championship. Scouts said Wimmers had the most polished arsenal on the Cape, and few pitchers
in this draft can match the depth of his repertoire. He has the best changeup in the 2010 draft crop, and one area scout said it’s the best he has ever seen from an amateur. His fastball sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94, and he could add a little more velocity if he builds arm strength by using it more in pro ball. His third pitch is a curveball that he easily throws for strikes. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-2, 195-pounder who holds the record for career batting average (.457) at Cincinnati’s storied Moeller High—the alma mater of Buddy Bell, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.
SS, Langley, B.C.
|As a member of Canada’s junior national team, Deglan has been steadily improving his stock as he has performed well in
games against pro players in extended spring training exhibitions. Deglan has gotten bigger and stronger every year and has worked hard to maintain his balance and footwork behind the plate. He is an advanced receiver and has a strong arm, consistently displaying pop times around two seconds flat. Scouts do have a couple of questions regarding Deglan’s swing. He has long arms, which can lead to a long swing, and he
sometimes swings around the ball and can be attacked inside. But he also has a lot of strength and when he pulls his hands inside the ball, he can use his arms for leverage, which gives him intriguing power potential. When you combine all those things, it’s easy to see why teams
see a lot of potential in Deglan. He also has great makeup and the leadership qualities that teams look for in catchers. Because of his premium position and lefthanded power potential, Deglan could go as high
as the back half of the first round, but grades out as more of a second- to third-round talent.
HS, Westlake Village, Calif.
|Yelich first gained widespread scouting attention in the summer of 2008, when he put on an eye-opening batting practice display with wood bats at a Major League Scouting Bureau showcase at the
Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif. Bryce Harper overshadowed Yelich
that evening, driving several balls off the batter’s eye or into the parking lot, but Yelics held his own and has produced other highlights since then, such as the long, opposite-field homer he hit in 2009 off Tyler Skaggs, an Angels supplemental first-rounder last year. Tall (6-foot-3), angular and projectable and possessing a sweet lefthanded swing, Yelich is far more athletic than the usual lumbering first-base prospect, with above-average speed. He consistently runs a 6.75-second 60-yard dash in showcase events, and shows both range and a nifty glove around the bag. That kind of athleticism usually signals a position change, but Yelich has a below-average throwing arm that limits him to first. A Miami recruit, Yelich does not project to have the profile power organizations prefer in a first baseman, but he should develop into an above-average hitter with fringe-average power, along the lines of a James Loney or Casey Kotchman.
|Grades and stats can be dry and don’t tell the full
story about Brown, one of the most electrifying players seen in Southern California in years. The 6-foot, 180-pounder is one of the fastest players in the nation at any level of amateur play. An early-season game found him blazing down the line from the right side in
3.69 seconds on a bunt attempt. On two separate infield grounders, Brown got down to first base in 3.91 and 3.94 seconds, giving him 80 speed on the 20-80 scale. The rap on Brown since he failed to sign with the Athletics as a 12th-round pick out of high school in 2007 has been his hitting ability, or perceived lack thereof. After slow but steady improvement in his first two seasons, he has exploded as a junior, ranking among the national leaders with a .449 average in mid-May. Brown
has shown interesting pop with a slugging percentage well over .700 as well, and he projects as an above-average hitter as a pro. Brown owes his turnaround to a better stance. He keeps his feet planted to maintain
his foundation at the plate, then simply lets his exceptionally quick hands work to attack the ball. An aggressive hitter, the only drawback in Brown’s offensive game is his miniscule number of walks and below-average home run power. In the field, Brown has found a home in center field after playing the outfield corners, second and third base in previous seasons. He sports an average arm, and his combination of speed and fly-chasing skills permit Brown to project as a plus defensive
|Cox is the best pure hitter and top sophomore-eligible player in the draft. He hit just .266 as a freshman on Arkansas’ College World Series team a year ago, but improved as the season went on and adjusted his pull-happy approach when he arrived in the Cape Cod League. He hit .344 with wood bats and ranked as the top position prospect in the summer circuit, setting the stage for a breakout spring in which he was hitting .446/.532/.631 through mid-May. Cox has very good hands, a short, lefty stroke and nice command of the strike zone. He has an uncanny ability to hit the ball with authority to
the opposite field. There’s some debate as to how much power he’ll have
in the major leagues, but he has the bat speed to do damage once he adds more loft to his swing. He has plenty of strength, as evidenced by a
titanic shot he blasted off the top of a 90-foot-tall scoreboard at the
2009 Southeastern Conference tournament. Six feet and 215 pounds, Cox is a decent athlete with fringy speed and range at third base. Not all scouts are sold on his defensive ability. He does have a strong arm—he threw in the low 90s as a reliever a year ago—and will put in the work to improve his reactions at third base. He also has seen time at second base, and one scout said his actions looked better there, but his athleticism is more suited for the hot corner. Cox turned down an $800,000 offer as a Dodgers 20th-round pick out of high school, and he’s
in line to make two or three times as much as a top 10 choice this June.
|Parker has unique leverage, as he’s a junior in baseball but finished his redshirt freshman football season in January as Clemson’s starting quarterback. He threw for 2,526 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Tigers, and he’s the first player in Division I history to throw for 20 touchdowns and hit 15 homers in the same season.
Parker graduated high school a semester early to join the baseball team
and was a Freshman All-American in 2008, clubbing 14 homers. His plate discipline slipped last year, but he has bounced back with a splendid junior season, hitting .391 with 17 home runs, making more consistent contact and being much more selective at the plate. Parker’s a good athlete but not an elite, fast-twitch one, and his arm strength, like many quarterbacks, is just average in baseball. He may have enough arm for right field but would be a solid-average left fielder with polish. He has tremendous bat speed at the plate as well as good strength. He’s a
grinder on the ballfield, and scouts like his aptitude.
Friends HS, Philadelphia
|Biddle’s stock climbed along with his fastball velocity as the spring progressed. In his first outing of the season against Germantown Academy ace Keenan Kish, Biddle worked at 88-91 mph, but by the end of April he was sitting at 90-92 and touching 93-94 at times, with sinking and cutting action. Biddle’s best assets are his arm
strength and size; his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame is both physical and projectable, and his upside is significant. But Biddle lacks polish and must do a better job staying on top of his secondary stuff. Scouts widely agree that his slider is more promising than his soft curveball, but he seldom deploys the slider in games, relying instead on the curve.
His slider has a chance to be above-average in time. Some scouts say Biddle has shown feel for a tumbling changeup in bullpens and between innings, but he does not throw it in games. Biddle is an Oregon recruit who is regarded as a difficult sign, but he is a top-three-rounds talent
with a chance to land a high six-figure bonus.
|Lee’s status as one of the best quarterback recruits in the nation and a top student will make him one of the most difficult signing decisions in this draft. The perception among area scouts is that Lee might require as much as $3 million—and even that might not be enough to steer him away from playing two sports at Louisiana State. He passed for 2,565 yards and 31 touchdowns last fall, and his arm is just as potent on the mound. He already has a 90-93 mph fastball with room for more projection in his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame.
He also throws a sharp slider and a changeup that needs work but shows promise. Unlike many two-sport stars, he has a lot of polish. Lee has a clean delivery that he repeats, enabling him to throw strikes with ease.
Coweta HS, Sharpsburg, Ga.
|Georgia has plenty of strong bloodlines this spring, with two sons of big leaguers jostling to go in the first two rounds. Besides Delino DeShields Jr., there’s Bedrosian, whose father Steve pitched for the Braves and won the 1987 National League Cy Young Award as the Phillies’ closer. Cam Bedrosian, whose middle name is Rock (as his father’s nickname was Bedrock), could one day wind up a closer, but he has a chance to be a starter as well, which is why he’s a potential first-rounder and a key Louisiana State signee. The only drawbacks with Bedrosian are his size (he’s a 6-foot righty but strong at 200 pounds) and the fact he has some effort in his delivery. Scouts have seen his fastball touch 96 mph, and Bedrosian sits in the 92-94 range all day. He repeats his delivery well enough to have fastball command at the amateur level, and with some smoothing out of his delivery he could have average pro command. He also throws a fringe-average curveball and changeup, as well as a power slider. He has
the potential to have a plus fastball and three average secondary pitches if it all comes together.
|Clarke was one of the highest-profile high school players entering the season, after playing last summer in both the Aflac
and Under Armour all-star games. He has shown outstanding tools, from above-average speed (running the 60 consistently in 6.5 seconds) to hitting ability from both sides of the plate. He started switch-hitting at age 13 and has a smooth stroke as both a righthanded and lefthanded hitter, flashing average raw power. He has present strength and explosiveness, generating good bat speed, and has earned comparisons offensively to Jimmy Rollins. While he has played the infield in the past, the Rollins comparison falls short because Clarke is primarily a center fielder. He has a strong arm, which some scouts grade as plus, and has touched 90 mph off the mound. He even has bloodlines. His father
played at Southern and he’s related to the Hairston family—great uncle
Sam and distant cousins Scott and Jerry all played in the big leagues. So why doesn’t Clarke fit into the first round? Despite his tools, he hasn’t dominated high school competition, and scouts question his instincts. He lacks pitch recognition skills and swings and misses too much for someone with his swing and ability. Clarke has committed to Georgia Tech and could be a tough sign if he’s drafted lower than he was
HS, Muncie, Ind.
|Scouts had been split on whether O’Conner was a better prospect as a power-hitting third baseman or as a pitcher with a 93-95 mph fastball and a hammer curveball. When he began catching at the
end of the showcase circuit last summer and played regularly behind the
plate this spring, though, it settled any debate about his future. He’s
now the top high school catching prospect in the 2010 draft. His standout tool is his arm, which grades as plus-plus and is capable of producing 1.8-second pop times. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is agile behind the plate, though his inexperience shows in his receiving. O’Conner also generates above-average thunder with his tremendous bat speed, showing power to all fields in batting practice. A righthanded hitter, he’s pull-conscious in games and struggled at times against quality pitching last summer, so there’s some question whether he’ll hit
for a high average. Even if he doesn’t, his arm and power could make him an all-star catcher. And if he can’t make it as a position player, he has an attractive fallback option as a pitcher. The Arkansas recruit is unlikely to make it past the first round.
HS, Rochester, N.Y.
|Hidden away in upstate New York—hardly a baseball hotbed—Culver sticks out like a sore thumb. He is the rare Northeast prep product with a legitimate chance to play shortstop in the major leagues. Culver’s best tool is his arm, which rates as a 65 on the 20-80
scouting scale. Some scouts report seeing him up to 94 mph off the mound, but he has no interest in pitching. The game comes easily to Culver, whose actions, instincts and range are all plus at times, though
he has a long way to go to become a consistent defender, and some believe he profiles as a utility player down the road. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Culver is a solid-average runner and a switch-hitter with a loose, whippy swing from both sides of the plate. He projects to have below-average power and is mostly a slap hitter, but he does generate good bat speed and could be an average hitter as he gets stronger. Culver is an excellent athlete who plays basketball in the winter, and he could take off once he focuses on baseball. He could be drafted in the fourth- to sixth-round range, but he is considered a difficult sign away from his Maryland commitment.