Florida Scouting Reports

THIS YEAR’S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here

Florida’s
pool of talent is easily the best and deepest of any state in the
country this season. Although the 2006 draft class has received poor
reviews overall, Florida’s crop of talent significantly enhances the
class’ strength, and was viewed as one of the few places scouts were
assured of finding a quality prospect.

“If it weren’t for Florida this draft would be truly rotten,” said a scouting director with a National League club.

The
talent was concentrated in the heart of the state and was deepest in
high school players. From Gainesville to Orlando and east to Tampa and
Sarasota, if there was a high school game being played there was
probably a player worth watching. Scouts had the benefit of seeing
dozens of matchups that featured a top hitter against a top pitcher,
making evaluation somewhat easier because of the competitive balance
the state offered.

South Florida’s talent pool was not as
impressive, but Miami’s powerhouse high school scene produced the
nation’s biggest riser this spring in Adrian Cardenas. The senior
middle infielder led Monsignor Pace High to Florida’s Class 4-A title
and a No. 8 national ranking with a .630 batting average and a Dade
County-record 18 home runs. His teammate, third baseman Chris Marrero,
came on strong in the postseason as well, and the left side of
Monsignor Pace’s infield should be drafted in the first three rounds,
with Marrero going as high as the first.

National Top 200 Prospects



1. Pedro Beato, rhp, St. Petersburg JC (CONTROL: Mets)
2. Chris Marrero, 3b, Monsignor Pace HS, Opa Locka
3. Derrick Robinson, of, P.K. Yonge HS, Gainesville
4. Colton Willems, rhp, John Carroll Catholic HS, Fort Pierce
5. Max Sapp, 1b/c, Bishop Moore HS, Orlando
6. Matt LaPorta, 1b, Florida
7. Stephen King, ss, Winter Park HS
8. Matt Latos, rhp, Coconut Creek HS
9. Chris Perez, rhp, Miami
10. Adrian Cardenas, 2b, Monsignor Pace HS, Opa Locka
11. Dylan Brown, of, Plant HS, Tampa
12. Steve Evarts, lhp, Robinson HS, Tampa
13. Cody Johnson, 1b, Mosley HS, Lynn Haven
14. Adam Davis, 2b, Florida
15. Jon Jay, of, Miami
16. Carmine Giardina, lhp, Durant HS, Plant
17. Justin Edwards, lhp, Olympia HS, Orlando
18. Sergio Perez, rhp, Tampa
19. Ken Herndon, rhp, Gulf Coast CC (CONTROL: Twins)
20. Marcus Lemon, ss/2b, Eustis HS, Sanford
21. David Christensen, of, Douglas HS, Parkland
22. Riley Cooper, of, Central Catholic HS, Clearwater
23. Alex Cobb, rhp, Vero Beach HS
24. Jacob Brigham, rhp, Central Florida Christian Academy, Ocoee
25. Shane Robinson, of, Florida State
26. Chase Fontaine, ss, Daytona Beach CC (CONTROL: Rangers)
27. Mike Mehlich, rhp, Bishop Moore HS, Orlando
28. Tim Bascom, rhp, Central Florida
29. Austin Hudson, rhp, Boone HS, Orlando
30. Mark Sobolewski, ss, Sarasota HS
31. Bryant Thompson, rhp, Pensacola JC
32. Brian Jeroloman, c, Florida
33. Brandon Holden, rhp, Douglas HS, Parkland

Other Players Of Note



34. Erik Erickson, lhp, Sarasota HS, Miami
35. Jonathan Pigott, of, Seabreeze HS, Daytona Beach
36. Sam Dyson, rhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa
37. Chris Duffy, 1b/3b, Cypress Creek HS, Orlando
38. Billy Bullock, rhp, Riverview HS, Valrico
39. Ryan Jackson, ss, Florida Christian HS, Miami
40. Luke Tucker, rhp, Florida State
41. Kevin Clark, of, Manatee JC
42. Casey Hudspeth, rhp, South Florida
43. Bryan Morgado, lhp, Florida Christian HS, Miami
44. Tyler Chambliss, rhp, Florida State
45. Clint Sorce, rhp, Pace HS, Milton
46. Steve Clevenger, ss, Chipola JC
47. Chris Johnson, 1b, Stetson
48. Mike Crotta, rhp, Florida Atlantic
49. Danny Valencia, 3b, Miami
50. Leonardo Calderon, lhp, Lake City CC
51. Mike Freeman, ss, Edgewater HS, Orlando
52. Ryan Lockwood, of, Jesuit HS, Tampa
53. Michael Dubee, rhp, Okaloosa-Walton JC (CONTROL: Royals)
54. Jeremy Haynes, rhp, Tallahassee CC (SIGNED: Angels)
55. Tyler Flowers, 1b/c, Chipola JC (SIGNED: Braves)
56. Matt Fairel, lhp, Winter Haven HS
57. Kevin Chapman, lhp, Westminster Christian Academy, Fort Lauderdale
58. Nick Hernandez, lhp, Hialeah HS
59. Scott Maine, lhp, Miami
60. Tommy Giles, of, Miami
61. Ryan Butner, rhp, Hialeah HS
62. Alex Koronis, rhp, Bishop Alemany HS, Miami
63. Adam Veres, rhp, Dwyer HS, West Palm Beach
64. Caz Piurowski, 1b, Land O’ Lakes HS
65. Kyle Snyder, rhp, Wellington HS
66. Yan Gomes, c, Southridge HS, Miami
67. Clay Caulfield, rhp, Pensacola JC (CONTROL: Braves)
68. Ricky Orta, rhp, Miami
69. Chase Lirette, rhp, South Florida
70. Chase Anderson, rhp, Mandarin HS, Jacksonville
71. Devin Gonzales, 3b, Fletcher HS, Neptune Beach
72. Eddy Rodriguez, c, Miami
73. L.V. Ware, of, Okaloosa-Walton JC (CONTROL: Cubs)
74. Travis Jones, 2b, Lake City CC (CONTROL: Phillies)
75. Christian Marrero, of, Broward CC (CONTROL: White Sox)
76. Gabby Saade, 2b, Gulliver Prep, Miami
77. Jet Butler, 3b, Tate HS, Cantonment
78. Ryne Malone, 3b, Florida State
79. Paulo Espino, rhp, IMG Academy
80. Spencer Nagy, 2b, Tallahassee CC
81. Gavin Dickey, of, Florida
82. Hasaan Pena, rhp, Palm Beach CC
83. Jacob Dixon, rhp, North Florida
84. Bryan Henry, rhp, Florida State
85. Jeremy Papelbon, lhp, North Florida
86. Brian Leclerc, of, Florida
87. Tyler Beranek, 1b, Lake City CC (CONTROL: Indians)

1. Pedro Beato, rhp (National rank: 13)
School: St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC. Class: Fr.
Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 10/27/86.
Scouting Report:
Beato was considered an attractive, projectable pitcher as a high
school underclassman at Xaverian High in Brooklyn, then had Tommy John
surgery in April 2004. He returned for his senior season and showed
enough to persuade the Mets to take a flier, drafting him in the 17th
round last year as a draft-and-follow. They were expected to sign him,
and he could command as much as $1 million. He lacks polish but flashes
mid-90s heat from a clean, quick arm action. On scout day at St.
Petersburg Junior College, he asked to run the 60-yard-dash and turned
in a 6.7-second time, which speaks to his athletic ability. Beato
features four pitches, with his fastball, slider and changeup all
showing potential to be plus pitches. His fastball sits near 90 mph,
touching 96. It has good, late life and sink. His 84-85 mph slider is a
power pitch that he doesn’t command consistently, but has sharp bite.
He has feel for his changeup and will show a curveball that isn’t the
swing-and-miss offering his slider is. Beato has trouble repeating his
delivery, which leads to erratic control. But his arm works well, and
when he finds a comfortable, three-quarters slot, he can be dominant.

2. Chris Marrero, 3b (National rank: 23)
School: Monsignor Pace HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Miami
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 7/2/88.
Scouting Report:
Marrero entered his senior season with high expectations, and by most
accounts did not live up to them. He held down the starting third base
job since his sophomore season at Monsignor Pace, and asserted himself
as the nation’s top prep position player in the fall, displaying
remarkable power at a showcase in Orlando. Marrero has the look scouts
savor. Tall, strong, lean and loose, he shows average to plus tools in
all five categories, with 70 power on the 20-to-80 scale. His swing has
good leverage and he can drive balls out to all parts of the park. He
has adequate plate discipline and good pitch recognition. He hasn’t
shown an ability to make consistent hard contact, but remains high on
draft boards based on projection and power. He needs to improve his
plate coverage, as he prefers to pull the ball, and tends to fly open
and miss pitches on the outer half. He has well-above-average arm
strength and shows some ability to make accurate throws from different
arm angles and on the run. Some scouts envision him moving to first
base or left field, developing into a player the ilk of Pat Burrell.
Marrero’s power potential won’t let him slide out of the first round.

3. Derrick Robinson, of (National rank: 33)
School: P.K. Yonge HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Archer, Fla.
B-T: B-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 9/28/87.
Scouting Report:
One of last summer’s highlights was Robinson strapping on his bright
red track shoes to run the 60-yard-dash at showcases, especially after
he was clocked last June in 6.19 seconds. Also a top football recruit,
Robinson committed to Florida, but he has told scouts he wants to sign
to play baseball. The club that believes in Robinson’s ability to hit
could pop him as early as the supplemental round. He’s an 80 runner on
the 20-80 scouting scale, but he’s more than just an athlete. He has a
feel for the game and impressed scouts with his instincts, considering
he’s split time between two sports. He has improved his pitch
recognition, though he has additional room for improvement. He tends to
get out on his front foot too early, especially from the left side of
the plate, but when he stays back he has gap power and good bat speed.
He needs to get stronger, but he knows how to use the whole field and
bunts well. His defensive skills are average, with a below-average arm.

4. Colton Willems, rhp (National rank: 34)
School: John Carroll Catholic HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Fort Pierce, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 7/30/88.
Scouting Report:
Willems surfaced as an elite arm last summer, garnering most valuable
pitcher honors at the Cape Cod Classic in July. His velocity spiked
this spring, and he came out pitching at 92 mph and bumping 97 in a
relief outing. He is compared to Matt Latos, another hard-throwing
righthander from southeast Florida, and Willems holds the edge entering
the draft because of better makeup and fastball command. Willems
pitches off his fastball and spots it to all four quadrants of the
strike zone. He has thrown both a curve and a slider, and both pitches
are inconsistent. His slider will likely be his best secondary option.
His changeup isn’t a put-away pitch, but he does have a feel for it.
While he’s not muscular, he should be able to log innings as a
back-of-the-rotation starter. He could be drafted as high as the back
of the first round.

5. Max Sapp, c/1b (National rank: 36)
School: Bishop Moore HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Windermere, Fla.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: 2/21/88.
Scouting Report:
Scouts in Florida are split on whether Sapp’s catch and throw skills
play behind the plate, but his bat should play anywhere. He’s big and
strong, but his body doesn’t exude athleticism and agility. He’s
barrel-chested and thick, and he elevated his stock considerably this
spring when he came out in good shape. He has above-average arm
strength and his hands are adequate, but he’s not nimble, doesn’t block
balls well, and rates as a below-average receiver. He struggles with
his footwork and exchange on throws to second base. But even those
scouts who predict he’ll have to move to first base like his bat. He
has plus raw power, good plate coverage and a fair approach at the
plate. He reduced a high leg kick he uses as a trigger, but still has
too much of an uppercut swing. He has made consistent, hard contact in
high school and performed well in big games. He has good makeup and has
worked to improve defensively. He could become a prolific college power
hitter if he winds up at Florida State, but he’s expected to sign if
he’s chosen in the top three rounds. His power potential makes it
likely a club will take him in that range.

6. Matt LaPorta, 1b (National rank: 38)
School: Florida. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Port Charlotte, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 1/8/85.
Scouting Report:
LaPorta led the nation in home runs as a sophomore, slugging 26 to set
a school record. His power binge continued during the summer, when he
anchored the heart of the order for Team USA’s college national squad.
His junior season was another story. He strained an oblique muscle in
February, missed 13 games and never got untracked. He got pull-happy,
chased breaking balls in the dirt and shifted his feet in the box,
leading to a change in his eye level. LaPorta was a more confident,
efficient hitter last summer, and his track record has to be
considered. He has huge raw power, rating 70 on the 20-80 scale. When
he gets his arms extended, he can launch balls with backspin and carry
to all fields. He arrived in Gainesville as a catcher but moved to
first base to make room for Brian Jeroloman. LaPorta is adequate
defensively at first base, though he has little range, and has an
above-average arm. LaPorta’s adviser is Scott Boras, further
complicating his status. Consensus among scouts is that his overall
package fits in the third round, but he won’t come cheap, and a club
desperate for power could take him as early as the back end of the
first round.

7. Stephen King, ss (National rank: 42)
School: Winter Park HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Orlando
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 10/27/87.
Scouting Report:
A mediocre senior season and leg injuries hurt King’s stock, but his
potential to develop into a five-tool shortstop in the mold of Bobby
Crosby or J.J. Hardy is why he should be drafted in the first three
rounds. He easily passes scouts’ eye test, with a strong, slender body
and tapered waist. He’ll have to make some adjustments in his swing and
approach, which currently keep him from getting a good load and trigger
in his swing. Good fastballs tend to tie him up, but he has the bat
speed and feel for the strike zone to become an above-average offensive
player with at least average power. He has good actions up the middle,
good hands and above-average arm strength. He’s a solid-average runner.
The club that buys into King’s future with the bat could take him as
early as the supplemental round. He’s considered signable in the top
three rounds.

8. Matt Latos, rhp (National rank: 44)
School: Coconut Creek HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Margate, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 208. Birthdate: 12/9/87.
Scouting Report:
Florida’s most electric high school pitcher, Latos became a household
name in scouting circles last summer when he touched 96 mph and
performed well at showcase events. He’s often compared to Colton
Willems, another high school righthander from Florida’s southeast
coast. Both flashed 97 mph heat this spring and could be drafted among
the first 50 picks. Latos has good command of electric stuff, though he
lacks the feel for pitching and fastball command Willems possesses. He
throws a curveball and slider, which are inconsistent, but the curve is
at times a two-plane pitch with excellent depth and the slider could
become a reliable third or fourth offering. He also has a feel for his
changeup. Latos has a tall, slender frame, but his delivery isn’t
picture perfect. His stock slipped after he matched up against Douglas
High of Parkland, Fla., and righthander Bandon Holden. Latos lost his
cool with his teammates after some errors were made, and detractors say
his makeup and mound presence need work.

9. Chris Perez, rhp (National rank: 46)
School: Miami. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Holmes Beach, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: 7/1/85.
Scouting Report:
Perez bounced between relief and starting roles in his first two
seasons at Miami. He was arrested in 2005 on drunken-driving charges,
which were eventually dropped. After he returned from suspension, he
permanently inherited the closer job. He profiles as a reliever in
professional ball, although his stuff fits best in a set-up role. He
was gaining momentum this spring, as he did last year, and his fastball
velocity climbed to 95 mph. His fastball command is below-average, and
Perez often pitches behind in the count. He relies on a wipeout slider
at 83-87 mph, giving him two potentially plus pitches and the
ingredients to be an effective reliever if he can improve his overall
control. He has a repeatable delivery and his arm works well. Scouts
are wary of Perez’ body, and he was heavy in high school and appeared
to gain some weight this season, as well.

10. Adrian Cardenas, 2b (National rank: 62)
School: Monsignor Pace HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Miami Lakes, Fla.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 10/10/87.
Scouting Report:
No player in Florida took a bigger leap forward this spring than
Cardenas, a hard-nosed throwback player with good makeup and feel for
the game. He’s savvy and bright, and he even plays the piano. He made
the most of hitting in front of Chris Marrero in his high school lineup
by putting together one of the most impressive high school seasons in
South Florida in years. He hit safely in 29 of his first 37 at-bats
with eight home runs, broke a Dade County record for home runs and was
batting .630-17-56. Cardenas has good strength and a short, compact
lefthanded swing. He allows balls to get deep in the hitting zone
before driving them to all fields. He should hit 10-15 home runs
annually in the big leagues with a .275-.295 average. He won’t make it
there as a shortstop, however, which hinders his value. He’s a
fringe-average runner, and his lower half has some stiffness. Most
scouts believe he profiles at second base fine, though others insist
he’ll wind up in left field. His hands are average, as is his arm at
second base.

11. Dylan Brown, of (National rank: 73)
School: Plant HS. Class: Sr
Hometown: Tampa
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 10/21/87.
Scouting Report:
Brown was Hillsborough County’s male athlete of the year after
impressive football and baseball seasons. He hammered three home runs
and nine RBIs in his final home game of the season to break his school
home run record, which had stood for 21 years. He hit .457-13-40 and
climbed into consideration among the top three rounds. He has
reportedly floated a bonus demand in excess of $1 million, due in part
to his desire to attend Oklahoma State, where one of his four brothers
(Cory) is an outfielder. Brown has good strength and an intriguing
package of speed and power. His swing is a little grooved and stiff,
but he has plus raw power and can muscle balls out to the deepest part
of the park. He’s an adequate outfielder and should improve with more
instruction, but he’s not a true center fielder. He had labrum surgery
in 2002, and lacks the arm strength for right field. He’s a 60 runner
on the 20-80 scouting scale. There was a lot of interest in Brown late
in the season, and he could sneak into the top two rounds, but his
signability could play a major part in where he’s ultimately picked.

12. Steve Evarts, lhp (National rank: 75)
School: Robinson HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Tampa
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 10/13/87.
Scouting Report:
Not unlike his high school coach at Robinson High, 10-year minor
leaguer Sal Urso, Evarts has made a name for himself thanks to an
excellent changeup. He emerged as the top prep lefty in Florida,
surpassing Carmine Giardina and Justin Edwards when his fastball
climbed from the mid-80s last summer to 88-92 mph, bumping 93 this
spring. He has a good feel for pitching and throws strikes. He can cut
his fastball and uses it effectively to set up his changeup, which
grades as a 70 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale. He uses an
unconventional grip that gives it late tilt, diving away from
righthanded hitters with screwball-like break. He throws it for strikes
and in any count. Evarts’ breaking balls are barely usable. He tried
out a slider later in the season that showed promise, but he needs to
improve its break. His arm works well and he has an athletic,
repeatable delivery. Evarts should be drafted in the third- to
fifth-round range, and he’s expected to sign rather than attend junior
college.

13. Cody Johnson, 1b (National rank: 82)
School: Mosley HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Panama City, Fla.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 8/18/88.
Scouting Report:
One veteran Florida area scout summed up sentiment on Johnson, saying,
“I don’t know if he can hit or not. One day he’s Ryan Howard and the
next he’s Eddie Pearson,” making reference to the White Sox’ first
round pick in 1992 who never fulfilled his potential. Johnson was the
talk of last summer’s showcase circuit, picking up MVP award in
Marietta, Ga., at Perfect Game wood bat events. He was Aflac’s Jackie
Robinson Award winner in August, which was around the same time he
started to slump. Johnson has a hitch in his swing that hinders his
ability to catch up to good fastballs, especially above his hands. His
pitch recognition is below-average, as is his defense in the outfield.
What makes him intriguing is his plus raw power. He drives balls with
loft and carry to all parts of the park, and when he extends his long
arms he can really mash. He performed better this spring, but his holes
remain glaring. He has above-average arm strength but lacks feel and
doesn’t take good routes in the outfield. His hands are stiff and he’s
not fluid at first base, either. He has turned in sub-7.0-second
60-yard dash times, although his times from home to first are typically
around 4.2 seconds. Johnson has a good work ethic and age on his
side–he doesn’t turn 18 until mid-August–but signability could come
into play if he isn’t drafted in the first two or three rounds. He has
committed to Florida State.

14. Adam Davis, 2b (National rank: 85)
School: Florida. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Fort Myers, Fla.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 10/15/84.
Scouting Report:
Following a third-team All-American campaign as a sophomore at Florida,
Davis batted .313 for USA Baseball’s college national team last summer.
He thrived in a Gators lineup that had Jeff Corsaletti in front of him
and Matt LaPorta behind him. Florida’s 2006 season was a different
picture. LaPorta got off to a bad start, and the slump seemed to spread
to Davis and junior catcher Brian Jeroloman, who all watched their
draft stock plummet. Davis has the ability to be a switch-hitting
sparkplug, with plus speed and some looseness in his swing. He doesn’t
work counts as effectively as he needs to in order to profile as a
leadoff man, and he needs to improve his contact and stay inside the
ball more. He has a slight uppercut in his swing, and shows more pop
from the right side but better contact from the left. He can hit the
ball to all fields, though his power is limited. He shows average range
at shortstop, but he’ll move to second base in pro ball, where his
footwork and arm strength fit better.

15. Jon Jay, of (National rank: 102)
School: Miami. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Miami
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 197. Birthdate: 3/15/85.
Scouting Report:
In a weak college outfield crop, Jay was a second-team preseason
All-American after holding down the leadoff spot for Team USA in the
summer of 2005. He’s a classic tweener outfielder who doesn’t profile
as an everyday player on a championship club. He posted a .408 average
as a sophomore at Miami, and has a patient, mature approach to hitting,
but his range is just average in center field and he doesn’t hit for
power. He had 11 home runs in 503 career at-bats. His set-up and swing
are unorthodox. He has a wide stance and pumps his hands as a trigger.
He makes consistent contact when pitches are down in the zone and uses
the whole field, but lacks leverage and loft. He’s a 50 runner on the
20-80 scale, although his speed plays up on the basepaths. He’s got
good feel for the game, makes good reads and takes good routes in the
outfield. His arm is accurate but his throws lack carry.

16. Carmine Giardina, lhp (National rank: 107)
School: Durant HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Valrico, Fla.
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 212. Birthdate: 2/20/88.
Scouting Report:
Giardina played alongside a bevy of prospects with Chet Lemon’s Juice
travel team, and was the talk of many of the high-profile showcases
last summer and fall. He ranked as the No. 2 prospect at the World Wood
Bat Fall Championship in Jupiter, Fla., in November, but it was evident
his grueling workload had taken a toll. Giardina was a potential
first-rounder entering the spring but his command and mechanics weren’t
as good as a senior. Against Sarasota High’s Erik Erickson he struck
out 15, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning in front of a throng
of scouts, and could be taken as high as the second round based on a
good track record, excellent makeup and his mature, athletic pitcher’s
body. Giardina works from a high three-quarters arm slot, although at
times he was more over the top this spring. His inconsistent arm angle
hindered the break oh his curveball, which has potential to be a plus
pitch. Giardina’s fastball sits near 89 with late life. He pounds the
bottom half of the strike zone. He’ll flash a slider and changeup as
well, both of which are average offerings.

17. Justin Edwards, lhp (National rank: 108)
School: Olympia HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Orlando
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 9/7/87.
Scouting Report:
Edwards and Carmine Giardina fronted Chet Lemon’s Juice rotation, and
Edwards won over scouts last summer when he repeatedly performed well
on big stages on the summer showcase and tournament tour. He’s
undersized and his stuff isn’t overpowering, but he was dominant at
times against top prep hitters because of deft command and feel for
above-average offerings in his curveball and changeup. Edwards, who has
committed to Georgia, didn’t fare as well this spring. Despite his 81-9
strikeout-walk ratio, his command wasn’t as sharp as it had been,
especially with his fastball. He maintains good arm speed on his
changeup, which has late fade and sink. Edwards’ breaking ball is a
true curveball that isn’t a present plus pitch but has lots of
potential. His fastball was up to 90 mph last summer, but sat 84-87 mph
most of the spring. He has a clean arm action, smooth, repeatable
delivery and athleticism.

18. Sergio Perez, rhp (National rank: 109)
School: Tampa. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Tampa
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: 12/5/84.
Scouting Report:
After winning the Division II south regional and advancing to the
College World Series in Montgomery, Ala., Tampa should graduate its top
pitcher, Perez, to the draft, perhaps as early as the third round. He
threw the Spartans’ first no-hitter in a decade and dominated at times
this spring, posting a .180 opponent average. Perez works off a lively
fastball that has been up to 95 mph and sits near 92. He complements
his heater with a hard, short slider. When he stays on top of it, he
drives it down and away from righthanded hitters. He has a quick arm,
but his arm action is violent, somewhat similar to that of Orioles
closer Chris Ray. Perez struggles to repeat his delivery, which hinders
his fastball command, although he has average control. He gets under
his slider, showing it early and causing it to hang in the strike zone.
His wide, thick frame doesn’t offer much projection.

19. Ken Herndon, rhp (National rank: 114)
School: Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC. Class: Fr.
Hometown: Southport, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 9/4/85.
Scouting Report:
A 23rd-round draft-and-follow from 2005, Herndon was expected to garner
a six-figure signing bonus from the Twins after performing well in his
second season in junior college. Herndon’s bread and butter is a hard,
heavy fastball that he throws at 90-93 mph. He stays on top the pitch
well and throws it on a downhill plane. He pitches aggressively,
pounding the strike zone and working off his fastball with
solid-average command. His secondary stuff is less reliable. He’s shown
a slider and a curveball, but neither has true break. His slider is the
better of the two pitches presently, but he needs to stay down and
through it upon release. His changeup is a show-me offering with
potential for improvement. He struggles against lefthanded hitters.
Herndon needs to improve his mental toughness on the mound. He could be
drafted as high as the fifth round if he re-enters the draft, and
sentiment among scouts is he wants to sign rather than continuing his
college career.

20. Marcus Lemon, ss (National rank: 120)
School: Eustis HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Sanford, Fla.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 6/3/88.
Scouting Report:
There isn’t a player in this year’s class scouts want to see succeed
more than Lemon, the son of former major leaguer Chet. He’s a throwback
who puts his best effort into everything. To go along with his
championship makeup, Lemon  has played through his senior season
with his dad extremely ill. Lemon works counts, makes consistent
contact and uses the entire field, but he doesn’t have much load in his
swing and lacks looseness in his hands and wrists at the plate. He has
some pull power but because he’s a fringe-average runner, he can’t rely
on a slap approach. He has good hands and enough arm to make plays in
the hole at short. His remarkable feel and instincts for the game allow
him to make spectacular plays. His ceiling isn’t considerable, which
could lead him to slide outside the top three rounds. Signability could
become a question at that point for the Texas signee.

21. David Christensen, of (National rank: 128)
School: Douglas HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Parkland, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 2/11/88.
Scouting Report:
Christensen was a preseason third-team All-American and received plenty
of exposure on one of South Florida’s top prep teams. When scouts heard
the family threw out a $1 million signing bonus target, however, some
teams decided they were willing to let him head off to Miami. But the
bonus target may have been overstated, and Christensen could be taken
as high as the second round by the club that buys into his ability to
hit. He doesn’t make consistent contact, and needs to improve his pitch
recognition. He generates good bat speed, and when he squares balls he
can drive them out to all parts of the park. Christensen’s arm strength
is as impressive as his raw power, which helps him profile as an
everyday right fielder. His waist is high and he’s athletic, though
some scouts worry about his ability to maintain his body as he matures.
He’s presently an average runner.

22. Riley Cooper, of (National rank: 161)
School: Clearwater Central Cath. HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Clearwater, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 9/9/87.
Scouting Report:
While Cooper’s prowess on the football field was well known, his stock
as an outfielder spiked the summer before his senior year. He committed
to Florida to play football, and set state prep records for punt and
kickoff return yards as a defensive back/wide receiver. With the
makings of five above-average tools, he was considered a potential
high-round draft pick until he put his fist through a car window less
than five games into his senior baseball season, according to a
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office report. He needed surgery to repair
severe cuts on his right arm, and was on the sidelines as Clearwater
Central Catholic make it to the Class 3-A state semifinals. Cooper
turned in a 6.29 60-yard-dash time at Perfect Game’s National Showcase
in Atlanta last summer. He generates good bat speed and gets nice
extension on his swing, showing the potential for power. His approach
is unrefined, at the plate and defensively. He needs to improve his
pitch recognition and his swing often lacks balance. He has an
above-average arm. Because of Cooper’s commitment to play football and
makeup questions, some clubs had no interest in drafting him at all,
but at least a few others might be willing to use a late pick and try
to sign him.

23. Alex Cobb, rhp (National rank: 162)
School: Vero Beach HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Vero Beach, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: 10/7/87.
Scouting Report:
Cobb made a name for himself as a junior in 2005 when he matched up
against Wellington (Fla.) High’s Tyler Herron and competed well. This
spring it was his turn to climb draft boards, and he came on strong
after spending the fall playing quarterback. He offers less projection
and more present ability than the prototypical high school pitcher.
While athletic, his frame isn’t big and strong, creating questions
about his durability. He doesn’t pitch off his fastball, mostly because
he features a well-above-average curveball. It’s a power out pitch with
11-to-5 break that he throws in any count. His fastball sits between
87-91 mph, though he endured a heavy workload this spring and his
fastball velocity tailed off late in the season. He also throws a
split-finger fastball. His overall command is above-average. Cobb has
committed to Clemson, and is considered signable in the top three
rounds.

24. Jacob Brigham, rhp (National rank: 165)
School: Central Florida Christian HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Ocoee, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 2/10/88.
Scouting Report:
Few players in the high school class took a bigger step back from last
fall to this spring than Brigham. He has shown a feel for pitching, a
pair of potential plus pitches in his fastball and breaking ball and a
fluid, easy delivery in the past. His delivery looked more mechanical
this spring, and his control and velocity suffered. At his best,
Brigham features a low-90s fastball, which has been up to 94 mph, and a
hard-biting 82 mph slider. His arm works well from a high
three-quarters slot that allows him to pitch downhill. He has shown
good command and a feel for pitching, though he isn’t as aggressive as
he should be. Brigham played at a small high school, and some scouts
said he played down to his poor competition. He regained his command
and velocity later in the year, with only a handful of scouts at some
of his starts. Based on his past performance, he could still be drafted
in the top three rounds, and a good performance at the Florida high
school all-star game in Seabring could rekindle interest right before
the draft.

25. Shane Robinson, of (National rank: 169)
School: Florida State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Tampa
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 165. Birthdate: 10/30/84.
Scouting Report:
Evaluating Robinson divides scouts. One might say the productive
outfielder is the best pound for pound player in the United States,
while another tags him as a lefthanded Steve Stanley, saying Robinson’s
size and lack of strength will keep him from succeeding in pro ball. A
football/baseball star at Tampa’s Jesuit High, Robinson had started
every game in his three seasons at Florida State. As a sophomore, he
had a school-record 40-game hitting streak and became the only college
player with 100 hits and 40 stolen bases in the same season, finishing
with 122 hits, a .427 average and .532 on-base percentage to go along
with a .987 fielding percentage. Robinson centers the ball
consistently, spraying line drives to all fields with
well-below-average power. He has good plate discipline and works counts
well. He has good bat control and bunts well. He doesn’t have
exceptional bat speed and lacks the plate coverage to handle pitches on
the outer half. He’s a solid-average runner, with good instincts on the
basepaths and in center field, where he’s a solid-average defender. His
arm is fringe-average but accurate, and his good technique upgrades his
overall defensive package. Predictions of where Robinson will be
drafted are as divergent as the opinions on how good he’ll be. He won’t
likely be taken higher than the fourth round, in any case.

26. Chase Fontaine, ss (National rank: 173)
School: Daytona Beach (Fla.) CC. Class: So.
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 10/22/85.
Scouting Report:
Fontaine’s route has been a circuitous one. He slumped badly late in
his senior season at Nease High in St. Augustine, Fla., in 2004, went
undrafted and headed to Texas. He never played for the Longhorns and
transferred to Dayton Beach when Seth Johnston decided to return for
his senior season. The Rangers drafted Fontaine in the 18th round in
2005, but after he spent the summer in the Cape Cod League he returned
for his sophomore season. He was among the state’s top five juco
hitters in average (.407), runs (57) and homers (10) and capped his
sophomore season with an impressive display of hitting in the state
tournament. He has committed to Florida, and reportedly was seeking at
least $500,000 to sign with the Rangers. He is a good all-around player
without a plus tool. He generates good bat speed with a short, compact
swing. He will use the whole field and shows good plate discipline.
Fontaine has good hands and an above-average arm, but lacks the range
to profile as a true shortstop. Scouts doubt he’ll develop more than
average power, making third base a difficult spot for him to profile,
too.

27. Mike Mehlich, rhp (National rank: 182)
School: Bishop Moore HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Orlando
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 9/5/87.
Scouting Report:
When he threw in the mid-90s last fall, Mehlich was one of several high
school pitchers in Florida who came out flashing significantly higher
velocity than they had before. He took advantage of his exposure,
pitching for one of the state’s top teams alongside catcher Max Sapp.
Mehlich played quarterback at Bishop Moore, and offers plus arm
strength with a rudimentary feel for pitching. He works exclusively out
of the stretch, and while his arm works well his mechanics need
refinement. His pitched with his fastball between 88-94 mph this spring
and complements it with a power curveball at 77 mph. His command is
average. Mehlich’s show-me changeup is a distant third pitch, and
scouts believe he has a chance to develop into a back-of-the-rotation
starter.

28. Tim Bascom, rhp (National rank: 184)
School: Central Florida. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Dunedin
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 1/4/85.
Scouting Report:
Bascom hoped to parlay a solid sophomore season into a spot in the top
two rounds of the draft but didn’t overwhelm scouts with his junior
season. He had a knee injury last fall that lingered into the spring.
Scouts praised his makeup and competitiveness, and they loved the way
he was willing to pitch through the injury even though his performance
didn’t measure up. His final regular season outing was the briefest of
his career, as he was lifted after one inning after allowing six runs
at Southern Mississippi. Bascom’s fastball sits between 87-89 mph but
lacks movement. He didn’t show the 94 mph heat he flashed previously,
more often topping out at 91-92. He has a feel for three secondary
offerings. His curveball has better action than his slider. Bascom is a
strike thrower and attacks the zone with all four of his pitches. He
has a tendency to leave the ball up in the zone and profiles as a
back-of-the-rotation starter.

29. Austin Hudson, rhp (National rank: 191)
School: Boone HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Orlando
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 1/6/88.
Scouting Report:
Hudson opened the spring showing an 84-87 mph fastball, but a month
into the season he was pumping his fastball in at 93 mph. He has a good
pitcher’s build and some projection, and he has drawn comparisons to
Rockies righthander Aaron Cook for his heavy, sinking fastball. Hudson
was shelled in a showdown with Orlando’s Bishop Moore, primarily
because he has little feel for a breaking ball and must keep his
fastball down in the zone to succeed. In another outing against Justin
Edwards and Olympia High, he retired 14 batters on ground balls in a
five-inning stint. He has a loose, quick arm, but doesn’t repeat his
delivery well. His mid-70s curve lacks depth and snap. He shows some
feel for a changeup.

30. Mark Sobolewski, ss/2b (National rank: 192)
School: Sarasota HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Sarasota, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 12/24/86.
Scouting Report:
Sobolewski’s stock climbed this spring when he homered off
hard-throwing righthander Billy Bullock with more than a dozen scouts
on hand. He helped lead Sarasota High to a national ranking and the
Florida Class 6-A championship game. He has good tools across the
board, without any that are plus, and he’s 19, which makes him an old
senior. He’s an offensive-minded middle infielder who won’t likely
remain at shortstop in pro ball because he’s heavy-footed and lacks the
lateral quickness for the position. He has an average arm and good
hands, making second base a more likely destination than third. He’s a
fringe-average runner. He has an unrefined, pull approach with average
power, but he projects to hit for average and power once he learns to
use the entire field. Sobolewski has committed to Miami, and could be a
difficult sign for slot money beyond the fourth round.

31. Bryant Thompson, rhp (National rank: 193)
School: Pensacola (Fla.) JC. Class: So.
Hometown:
B-T: . Ht.: . Wt.: . Birthdate: .
Scouting Report:
Based purely on his present stuff and makeup, Thompson has second-round
value, but there are several question marks about him. He transferred
to Pensacola from North Alabama after an injury led to surgery, when he
had two pins inserted in his right elbow. He was aggressive in his
rehab and came out this spring flashing a fastball with life at 95-96
mph. He has average command of his fastball and changeup, which also
has potential to be a plus pitch. Thompson’s slurvy breaking ball has a
ways to go, as do his mechanics. He pitches from a low three-quarters
arm slot, and his elbow is too low on its way back through to his
release. He profiles as a set-up man unless he can develop a usable
slider, as opposed to trying to throw a curveball from an arm slot that
is more conducive for a slider.

32. Brian Jeroloman, c (National rank: 194)
School: Florida. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Wellington, Fla.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 5/10/85.
Scouting Report:
Jeroloman was always considered a defense-first backstop, but even
without big expectations offensively he took a step back this spring.
The slump that affected Florida teammates Matt LaPorta and Adam Davis
hit Jeroloman as well, though all three are considered better players
than their performances this spring. His poor hitting seemed to carry
over to his defensive play at times, as well. He showed sure hands,
sound footwork and above-average receiving skills as an underclassman,
and played well for Team USA last summer. Jeroloman has
well-above-average arm strength and has turned in 1.9-second pop times
in games. He has agility and good lateral movement behind the plate and
is adept at blocking balls in the dirt. He has good rapport with
pitchers and calls a good game. At the plate, he showed a feel for the
strike zone and an ability to keep his hands inside the ball in the
past, but showed an impatient, pull approach as a junior. Scouts also
question his bat speed. He has below-average power and running speed.

33. Brandon Holden, rhp (National rank: 200)
School: Douglas HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Coral Springs, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 1/1/88.
Scouting Report:
Holden came on strong early in the spring, helping Douglas High to a
national ranking and flashing improved velocity in front of lots of
scouts who were also evaluating teammate David Christensen. He was
lifted from a late March outing with a sore triceps muscle and had at
least one MRI, and he never returned to the mound in game action. It
was uncertain if he would be healthy enough to pitch in the Florida
high school all-star game right before the draft. Holden has a loose,
quick arm and a projectable body. His mechanics require some cleaning
up. He often misses up in the zone, but when his delivery is online his
fastball has good life at 88-92 mph. His hammer curveball is an
above-average offering, though he gets around it occasionally. He had
potential to be taken as high as the second or third round, but his
inconsistent fastball command and health could cause him to slip to
fourth or fifth round.

Prep Work

Florida’s
high school class of 2006 has proven worth the wait. As early as 2004,
college recruiters and scouts recognized the group’s talent and depth
when it was making an impact on the high school landscape, even though
the players were just sophomores. Chris Marrero, Max Sapp and Derrick
Robinson were considered three of the top prep players in the state
entering their senior seasons, and all remained potential high-round
selections. There were other players who lacked similar track records
and moved up follow lists because of their performance this spring.

Nagging
injuries left scouts unsure about Stephen King’s ability entering the
season, but he got off to a strong start and established himself as a
premium pick. Alex Cobb and Mike Mehlich were two pitchers who took a
big step forward this season, as was lefthander Erik Erickson.
He benefited from playing on one of the state’s top teams with
shortstop Mark Sobolewski, and Erickson’s advanced feel for pitching
helped carry Sarasota to Florida’s Class 6-A title game. He struck out
11 in the state semifinals, carving up hitters with outstanding
fastball command and an average to slightly above-average changeup.
Erickson’s fastball velocity isn’t as attractive as his command, as the
Miami signee pitches at 84-86 mph. He drew comparisons to Indians
prospect Jeremy Sowers for his savvy and approach on the mound, though
he lacks the arm strength that made Sowers a first-rounder out of high
school in 2001. Because of his reported bonus request and below-average
fastball, Erickson figures to slide out of the top five rounds, but a
club that believes in his projection could be compelled to pop him
sooner.

Like Erickson, righthander Clint Sorce
carried his team deep into the postseason, and Pace High (a school in
Florida’s Panhandle, not to be confused with Monsignor Pace High in
suburban Miami) won the Class 5-A title. Unlike Erickson, Sorce lacks
polish but has a big arm and is considered signable in the top 10
rounds. He’s undersized and has limited projection, but pitched near 88
mph and showed signs of developing his slider and changeup. He also
throws a curveball, which he’ll likely scrap for his harder slider.

At 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, first baseman Caz Piurowski
is hard to miss, and it’s no surprise that he was known primarily for
his prowess on the football field before this season. The son of former
Florida State linebacker Paul Piurowski, Caz has committed to FSU,
where he would be reunited with his former high school teammate,
quarterback Drew Weatherford. He garnered interest from baseball scouts
for his plus raw power and consistent performance this spring, when he
fell a home run shy of the state record with 18.

Scouts already knew about Mike Freeman
coming into his senior season, and he improved his stock by showing a
good approach at the plate, looseness and life in his hands and
above-average hands and actions in the infield. He’s a fringe-average
runner and needs to get stronger, but he’s young for his class and has
good work ethic, which bodes well for his ability to improve. He has
committed to Georgia and could become a premium pick after three
seasons in the Southeastern Conference. He’s not expected to be taken
in the first five rounds this year because at this point, he
profiles as a steady utility player with a nice lefthanded swing. Duke
would love to find infielder Gabby Saade
in its uniform next season. He has good hands and a solid all-around
defensive package that plays best at second base because of his
fringe-average range.
 
Inevitably, Florida’s prep class offered its share of disappointments this spring. Lefthander Kevin Chapman
made an impressive showing in front of dozens of scouts at the World
Wood Bat Association Fall Championship in Jupiter, Fla., last November,
pitching at 86 mph from a clean, three-quarters arm slot. Chapman was
slowed this spring by elbow tendinitis, pitched approximately 50
innings and failed to match his form from last fall. His velocity was
down and his delivery had changed, making him more likely to honor his
commitment to Florida.
 
Righthander Kyle Snyder
appeared on the same Braves scout team as Chapman in Jupiter, and he
similarly had a disappointing spring. In fact, he had pitched his way
out of Wellington High’s rotation by the playoffs. He was up to 89 mph
at last summer’s East Coast Showcase and has a loose, quick arm.
Snyder, the brother of Athletics minor leaguer Brian, saw his stuff
back up this spring as he struggled to repeat his delivery and showed
below-average command.

Chris Duffy and Jonathan Pigott
are the typical high school prospects who offer intriguing upside and
significant deficiencies. Pigott showed potential as a five-tool
talent at the East Coast Showcase last summer, but followed up that
performance with a pedestrian one at the Area Code Games. He has
average raw power, above-average arm strength, athletic ability and
speed. His swing is long, however, and he tends to work around the ball
as opposed to inside and through it. Duffy’s raw power is even better
than Pigott’s, and he has better bat speed and a shorter stroke. But
he’s built like a young Dusty Baker and doesn’t have the range, hands
or footwork to handle third base, depressing his value. He has
tremendous makeup and could go in the first five rounds on his makeup
and power potential, but his reported bonus parameters could push him
down.

Ryan Lockwood is
another hard-working, gritty position player who is well known in
Florida baseball circles. He doesn’t profile as an everyday center
fielder because of his fringy speed, and his gap-to-gap power won’t
play on the outfielder corners. His makeup and feel for the game help
his tools play up, and he could slip inside the top five rounds to a
club willing to settle for a modest ceiling that high in the draft.

Hialeah High came up just one win shy of playing for the state championship, thanks in part to a pair of senior hurlers, lefty Nick Hernandez and righthander Ryan Butner.
At 6-foot-4, 145 pounds, the rail-thin Butner isn’t strong enough now
for a team to draft him in the first eight rounds. He has some arm
strength, with a fastball that touches 90 mph, and a feel for his 72-74
mph curveball. Hernandez also touches 90 mph with his fastball and
complements it with an above-average changeup, and he does it from a
wiry frame that has more projection than Butner’s. Hernandez’
fluctuating velocity–at times this spring he pitched at 84 mph–and a
strong commitment to Tennessee figured to keep him out of the top six
rounds.

Florida Christian High has produced a wealth of talent
recently, including Tennessee junior righthander Sean Watson, and the
Miami private school had a pair of seniors on the map this spring in
lefty Bryan Morgado and shortstop Ryan Jackson.
Morgado has significant upside, but mechanical imperfections lead some
scouts to question whether he’ll fulfill it. Jackson is one of the
country’s best defensive players, with remarkable hands, outstanding
instincts and nice actions at shortstop. He’s a fringe-average runner
and doesn’t make consistent hard contact, hindering his stock, but he
has good makeup and a strong work ethic.

The club that believes it can teach Sam Dyson
how to create better movement on his mid-90s fastball might pop him as
early as the third or fourth round. He has been up to 96 mph this
season, but he pitches up in the zone and his fastball lacks life. He
has a good body and his arm works well. Dyson needs to improve his
mound presence and his tempo is too slow, and he lacks a consistent
secondary pitch.

Conversely, Billy Bullock
operates with better feel for pitching and a potentially plus changeup.
He’s 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, but he doesn’t maximize the leverage in his
frame and pitches across his body from a dead lower half. He pitches
between 86-91 mph and has been up to 93, though his velocity has been
inconsistent. Lefty Matt Fairel generates above-average velocity on his fastball and has a big, physical body as well, but he also has a max-effort delivery. Chase Anderson’s also has effort in his delivery and offers above-average arm strength.

Adam Veres
did not perform as well as expected as a senior. He flashed low-90s
heat and a hammer curveball on the showcase circuit last summer. Alex Koronis
is yet another high school righthander who could sneak into the top 10
rounds, though his commitment to Miami will be a factor. He doesn’t
have a physical frame, but his arm works and he has dialed his fastball
into the low 90s.

Pedro And Co.

Righthander Pedro Beatowas
universally acclaimed as the state’s top junior college talent, an
impressive achievement in a year with depth and balance in the juco
ranks. Some of the state’s top junior college players, like Beato
(Mets), Ken Herndon (Twins) and Chase Fontaine (Rangers), were under
control to teams after being drafted in 2005, while others like Bryant
Thompson emerged as interesting players who were not under control.
 
Chipola’s duo of Tyler Flowers and Steve Clevenger
offer offensive upside. Flowers, a 33rd-round pick by the Braves last
year, hit 16 home runs this season, and his raw power is his most
outstanding tool. It doesn’t translate exceptionally well to wood, as
his swing has some length. His plate discipline and approach are poor.
He spent most of the season behind the plate, where his defense is
below-average. He might have to move to first base, where he played at
times down the stretch for Chipola and showed adequate footwork and
hands. The Braves signed him before the closed period. Clevenger was an
all-conference selection last year at Southeastern Louisiana, and he
was bound for Texas before hitting a snafu with his credits
transferring and wound up at Chipola. He’s a below-average runner and
will likely move from shortstop to third base, where he doesn’t profile
well because of fringe-average power. Clevenger has a good, balanced
swing and uses the entire field.
 
Thompson’s teammate Clay Caulfield
has twice been drafted by the Braves, in 2004 out of high school in
Canada and again last year following his freshman season at Chipola.
His velocity climbed into the mid-90s early this season before he
injured his arm and had season-ending surgery. He has committed to
Clemson.

Lake City had a pair of prospects make significant strides this spring in Puerto Rican lefty Leonardo Calderon and second baseman Travis Jones.
Calderon racked up 89 strikeouts in 66 innings, touching 93 mph with
his fastball to go along with a potentially plus breaking ball. He
struggled with command, walking 51, but has a quick arm and clean
delivery. Jones has improved dramatically since his days in high
school, when he played alongside Rockies’ 2004 first-rounder Chris
Nelson. He’s shortened up his swing, improved his approach and made
better contact. He’s below-average defensively and has a poor throwing
motion. Lake City’s Tyler Beranek played against Nelson as an Aflac high school all-American, but has never met his potential with the bat.

Kevin Clark
took home Florida juco player of the year honors after slugging 18 home
runs from the left side of the plate. He has outstanding bat speed,
with the ability to turn around fastballs in on his hands. He’s
adequate defensively with an average arm that plays in right field.
He’s lauded for his makeup and could be taken as early as the sixth
round this year after going undrafted as a freshman.

L.V. Ware
doesn’t have the feel for hitting Clark has, but he does have plus bat
speed. His plate discipline and pitch recognition are raw, but he can
hammer good fastballs, preferring to pull them to left field. He’s an
above-average runner with below-average arm strength. Okaloosa-Walton
teammate Michael Dubee was a
32nd-round pick for the Royals who faded as the season went on, but he
has an advanced feel for pitching and a four-pitch repertoire. The son
of Phillies pitching coach Rich, Dubee’s fastball was up to 94 mph last
fall, though he pitched around 87 mph this spring. He has a good
curveball that he’ll throw in any count. He uses his changeup
effectively against lefthanders.

Jeremy Haynes
pitched his best late in the season. He has an athletic frame and a
loose arm. His fastball is flat at 90-94 mph. Haynes’ improved as the
season went on. The White Sox drafted the brother of Miami high school
stud Chris Marrero, Christian,
in the 22nd round last year. He has not made significant progress with
the bat, however, and some scouts suggest he should move to the mound
at Clemson next year.

A pair of Latin pitchers who showed arm strength this spring, but not enough to be taken in the top 10 rounds, were Hasaan Pena, a Cuban defector, and Panamanian righty Paulo Espino.
Pena was returning to the mound as the draft drew closer after an arm
ailment shelved him during the spring. His fastball has been up to 93
mph. Espino is smaller and less durable but has better pitchability
than Pena and a solid-average breaking ball to complement his 89 mph
fastball.

Power Shift

Miami’s
Ryan Braun and Cesar Carrillo supplemented an otherwise weak crop in
Florida a year ago, and while the college class in the Sunshine State
this season is deeper this year, it’s thin in impact potential. Neither
of the Hurricanes’ top two prospects–Jon Jay and Chris Perez–profile
as frontline players. Florida’s trio of Adam Davis, Brian Jeroloman and
Matt LaPorta had forgettable seasons, which spread throughout the
Gators roster. And Florida State boasted a bevy of draft-eligible
pitchers, none of whom were considered top-five-round picks.
 
Righthander Tyler Chambliss
led the Atlantic Coast Conference in wins with an 11-4, 2.87 showing a
year after moving from the bullpen to the Seminoles rotation. His track
record and durability–he led the league in saves with 15 and ranked
third with a 2.06 ERA as a sophomore in 2005–should enhance his stock
enough for him to be taken in the top eight rounds. Chambliss repeats
his delivery well, has plenty of poise on the mound and has an
above-average breaking ball. His fastball velocity is fringe-average,
as is his control. Luke Tucker
took over from Chambliss as FSU’s closer this season and could be taken
ahead of his better known predecessor. Tucker transferred from
Okaloosa-Walton, where he didn’t have an ERA under 4.00 in two seasons.
He allowed just four earned runs in 29 innings this spring, however,
and has a legitimate put-away pitch in his 80-84 mph slider. His
fastball sits between 89-91 mph and he needs to learn to pitch off it
more effectively, as he has a tendency to fall in love with his slider.
Tucker’s durability is also a concern. Dennis Guinn could be a
top-five-round selection next season, but Shane Robinson is Florida
State’s top draft-eligible position player this year. Ryne Malone was tied for the team lead with 12 home runs, but he’s a defensive liability and lacks a true position.

Former Florida reserve quarterback Gavin Dickey
was the only regular to hit at least .300 for the Gators this season.
His athleticism is his most outstanding attribute on the baseball
field. He also has an above-average arm. Dickey’s approach and strike
zone discipline need refining. He struck out 42 times and walked six
this season. Brian LeClerc had
his share of big hits as a sophomore during Florida’s run to Omaha last
spring. He doesn’t profile in the outfield because of fringy tools
across the board.

As many as five Miami players could join Jay and Perez in the draft, with Danny Valencia
offering the most upside of the group. He was reportedly seeking
top-eight-round money, and he could get it thanks to a bat that has
some pop. He needs to change his approach because he gets out on his
front foot early and is susceptible to breaking balls in the dirt.
Senior Tommy Giles has value as a reserve who can play all three outfield positions. He had a good season, tying catcher Eddy Rodriguez
for the club lead with nine home runs. While Rodriguez made
improvements offensively during his college career, his catch-and-throw
skills haven’t followed suit. His throws to second base and receiving
are average at best. Since being named a third-team High School
All-American in 2003, Scott Maine
has had Tommy John surgery and was in a serious car accident. He wore a
protective mask most of his sophomore season and was limited to less
than 10 innings before settling into a regular role as a starter this
spring. He was at his best in the ACC tournament, holding his velocity
at 90 mph late into the game. His command is erratic, a product of a
delivery he struggles to repeat from a low three-quarters arm slot.
Reliever Ricky Orta has been up to 94 mph but doesn’t pitch off his fastball and has been inconsistent.

Evaluations of Stetson slugger Chris Johnson
run the gamut. He has attractive raw power, with the ability to drive
balls deep to all fields. His body has gotten thick, especially in his
lower half, and he could be limited to first base as a pro. The Red Sox
drafted him in the 37th round out of high school in 2003 and could take
a run at him again this year in the top 10 rounds.

Righthanders Casey Hudspeth and Mike Crotta
feature a nice mix of pitches and some arm strength. Hudspeth’s
tenacious approach and demeanor serve him well on the mound. His
fastball touches 93-94 but his breaking ball was not as sharp for South
Florida this spring as it had been in the past. He has some feel for
his changeup. Crotta’s changeup is a 60 pitch on the 20-80 scouting
scale, and he mixed in a split-finger fastball for Florida Atlantic.
His fastball sits between 88-92 mph.
 
Chase Lirette
made a good showing in the Cape Cod League last summer and ranked in
the top 10 nationally in appearances for South Florida this spring. He
pitches near 89 mph with a good split-finger fastball. Jacob Dixon missed time with an injury, but showed some feel for pitching and an average fastball. Jeremy Papelbon
is the younger brother of Red Sox reliever Jonathan. Jeremy’s fastball
velocity was better last summer when he ranked among the top 10
prospects in the New England Collegiate League. This spring he sat near
86 mph. He has some deception from the left side. He relies on command,
which was not as sharp this spring as it was last summer.

Draft | #2006

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