|THIS YEAR’S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
Louisiana might have had its best pitching crop ever in 2005, producing two first-round picks, two supplemental first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third-rounder. By contrast, this year the Bayou State offers precious little on the mound. There’s some depth among the position players, but on the whole it’s a down year in Louisiana. Scouting the state’s talent was more difficult than usual in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
|National Top 200 Prospects
1. Jared Mitchell, of, Westgate HS, New Iberia
2. Mark Hamilton, 1b, Tulane
3. Ryan Adams, ss/2b, Jesuit HS, Mandeville
4. Quinn Stewart, of, Louisiana State
5. Ryan Scott, Archbishop Rummel HS, Metairie
|Other Players Of Note
6. Lee Haydel, of, Riverside Academy, Reserve
7. Nathan Southard, of, Tulane
8. Josh Prince, ss, Barbe HS, Lake Charles
9. Matt Liuzza, c, Louisiana State
10. Josh Stinson, rhp, Northwood HS, Shreveport
11. Jason Fernandez, rhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
12. Jeffrey McCollum, rhp, Southern
13. John Anderson, rhp, Captain Shreve HS, Shreveport
14. Toddrick Stevenson, of, Walker HS
15. Chad Beck, rhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
16. Billy Mohl, rhp, Tulane
17. Daniel Latham, rhp, Tulane
18. Mike Epping, of, New Orleans
19. Brandon Richey, ss, Louisiana State JC-Eunice
20. Aaron Loup, lhp, Hahnville HS
21. Eric Callender, rhp, Parkview Baptist HS, Baton Rouge
22. Tony Suarez, of, Southeastern Louisiana
23. Chris Province, rhp, Southeastern Louisiana
24. Justin Robichaux, rhp, Notre Dame HS, Crowley
25. Scott Sumner, rhp, Louisiana College (SIGNED: Indians)
26. Brandon Gomes, rhp, Tulane
27. Matt Gaudet, 1b, Delgado CC (CONTROL: Devil Rays)
28. Matt Jackson, rhp, Haughton HS
29. John Pivach, rhp, Jesuit HS, Belle Chasse
30. Drew Allain, of, Delgado CC
31. Jason Terrell, of, Comeaux HS, Lafayette
32. John McCarthy, of, Louisiana-Lafayette
33. Miles Durham, of, Northwestern State
34. Jefferies Tatford, 1b/c, Louisiana-Lafayette
35. Edgar Ramirez, rhp, Louisiana State
36. Jeremy Mizell, rhp, Southeastern Louisiana (SIGNED: Mets)
37. Ragan Baker, rhp, Evangel Christian Academy, Shreveport
38. Brandon Morgan, 2b, Northwestern State
39. Dillon Guillory, c, Teurlings Catholic HS, Scott
40. Charlie Kingrey, of, McNeese State
1. Jared Mitchell, of (National rank: 51)
School: Westgate HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: New Orleans
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 10/13/88.
Scouting Report: The beauty of Mitchell as a prospect is in the eye of the beholder. Scouts who love him describe him as a premium athlete who will learn to hit, while others think he’s more of a football player with questionable baseball aptitude. The Louisiana 5-A football MVP last fall after rushing and passing for more than 1,500 yards each as a senior, he’s projected to move from quarterback to wide receiver if he follows through on a Louisiana State football scholarship. While football has occupied most of Mitchell’s time and his baseball skills are raw as a result, he does have a quick bat and can drive the ball to all fields. He needs to learn to turn on pitches, and he has shown the ability to make adjustments by incorporating a trigger into his swing. He does have raw power, though he probably won’t hit many homers early in his pro career. A 6.3- to 6.4-second runner in the 60-yard dash, Mitchell is a plus defender in center field. He has a below-average arm but did show an 86-87 mph fastball as a 14-year-old before building up muscle for football. Unlike other top football/baseball prospects such as Washington’s Jake Locker and Mississippi’s Justin Woodall, Mitchell likes baseball and will entertain turning pro out of high school.
2. Mark Hamilton, 1b(National rank: 57)
School: Tulane. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Bellaire, Texas
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: 7/29/84.
Scouting Report: Hamilton doesn’t generate as much buzz as might be expected from a slugger with 16 homers this spring and 13 over the last two summers in the Cape Cod League. Hamilton offers significant power and has been willing to accept walks when other teams opt not to challenge him. Of the rest of his tools, only his hitting ability is close to average. He has come a long way at the plate from his freshman year, when he batted .227 and had laser eye surgery at midseason. Hamilton is a marginal defender at first base, and his arm and speed are below-average. Some scouts believe he won’t handle adversity well, though that’s not entirely fair considering how he has rebounded from a slow start in his draft year. His lefthanded power alone merits second- or third-round consideration, but his choice of Scott Boras as his adviser clouds his signability. If Hamilton seeks more than slot money, he could plummet.
3. Ryan Adams, ss/2b(National rank: 66)
School: Jesuit HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Mandeville, La.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 171. Birthdate: 4/21/87.
Scouting Report: Adams led Jesuit High to the Louisiana 5-A championship in 2005, providing key homers in both the semifinals and finals. After leaving Jesuit last fall in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he returned to help the Blue Jays reach the semifinals this spring. Adams is an offensive middle infielder with outstanding hand-eye coordination, the result in part of playing hours of ping-pong. He uses the entire field, controls the strike zone and should have at least gap power. Currently a shortstop, Adams’ range and arm fit better at second base. He has the hands and instincts to be an above-average defender at that position. His talent should make him a second- or third-round pick, but Adams’ repeated hamstring problems may give teams pause. While he has added strength, he has lost speed (going from 6.7 to 6.9 seconds in the 60-yard dash) and flexibility, and he has been sidelined several times by his hamstring since his junior season. The injuries and the situation in Louisiana have made it difficult to get a good look at Adams this spring, and he can attend Louisiana State if he doesn’t like his pro offer.
4. Quinn Stewart, of(National rank: 133)
School: Louisiana State. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Rowlett, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 8/28/83.
Scouting Report: In mid-May, Stewart was tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 22 homers–after hitting just three last season. He always had tremendous bat speed and plenty of size and strength, but he never could claim a regular job for the Tigers, as his hitting skills were too raw for full-time duty against Southeastern Conference competition. Stewart was held back by a pair of hamate operations, one to repair a break and another to clean out scar tissue, that caused him to redshirt in 2004. Though he’s still not polished, he has made huge improvements against breaking balls. He’ll still chase them at times and will probably always rack up a lot of strikeouts because there’s length to his swing. He runs well for his size and has enough arm strength to play right field in college, but he projects more as a left fielder as a pro. As a fifth-year senior who went undrafted in 2005, he can sign with any team as a free agent if Louisiana State’s season ends by May 29.
5. Ryan Scott, of(National rank: 142)
School: Archbishop Rummel HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Metairie, La.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 3/22/88.
Scouting Report: Jared Mitchell is a premium athlete and Ryan Adams has a quality bat for a middle infielder. While both of them rank ahead of Scott among Louisiana high school prospects, Scott is the best all-around prep hitter in the state. He offers size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), bat speed and lots of power potential. If there’s a knock on him at the plate, it’s that his swing can get a little long at times. A decent runner with a solid arm, he profiles nicely as a right fielder. While Scott has attracted his share of crosscheckers this spring, his draft status remains uncertain because of his commitment to Tulane. If he’s signable, he could go between the fourth and seventh rounds.
Plenty Of Tools, Plenty Of Questions
Outfielder Lee Haydel probably would lose a race to Jared Mitchell–but not by much. He’s another top-of-the-line runner who has been clocked at 6.39 seconds in the 60-yard dash. He has fine instincts and a solid arm in center field, and scouts compare him to Scott Podsednik. Also a wide receiver in football and a star sprinter, Haydel led Riverside Academy to the state Class 2-A baseball title this spring. The big concern with Haydel, as it is with Mitchell, is how much he’ll hit. He’s just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, and he’s so raw at the plate that he might not be ready to start for Louisiana State as a freshman if he attends college. Those who like him say he uses a basic slap-hitting approach only because he has been asked to do so, and that he has the bat speed to be a threat at the plate. A team that really likes Haydel could pop him as early as the third round. He fits the profile of a typical Braves draftee, and Atlanta has monitored him closely.
The catalyst on Tulane’s College World Series team a year ago, outfielder Nathan Southard went undrafted as a junior because of his commitment to finishing his biomedical engineering degree. He’ll be a quality senior sign this June, possibly in the seventh to 10th round. Southard is a gamer in the mold of Eric Byrnes. He has good speed and plays even quicker on the bases and in center fielder. He has some pop in his bat, too, though he can get a little pull-conscious.
Josh Prince is one of the better defensive shortstops in the nation, but questions about his bat knock him down into the sixth-10th-round range. That probably won’t be high enough to sign him away from Texas, where his brother Dooley was part of the 2005 College World Series championship. Prince has a strong arm to go with good hands, range and speed. He’s a baseball rat whose instincts enhance his tools. He helped Barbe win the Class 5-A state championship.
Matt Liuzza came down with draftitis in 2005. Regarded as one of the best catching prospects in last year’s draft, he wilted under the pressure and batted .251 while failing to throw out a single basestealer in 32 attempts. He lifted his average 62 points as a senior this spring while showing an arm that rates as a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Liuzza’s receiving and blocking skills are sound. He doesn’t have much power and his bat profiles him more as a big league backup. The Cubs took him in the 30th round a year ago, and Liuzza should go about 20 rounds higher this June.
The pitchers who would have been the top high school and college arms in Louisiana both required Tommy John surgery this spring. Haughton High righthander T.J. Forrest has a projectable body (6-foot-5, 175 pounds) and was touching 92 mph before his elbow injury. He’s committed to Louisiana State, where Derik Olvey’s elbow gave out shortly after he reached pitch counts of 129 and 151 in back-to-back April starts. Olvey, who missed most of his freshman year at Notre Dame with elbow problems, throws strikes with a good curveball and an 85-89 mph fastball.
With Forrest and Olvey sidelined, the state’s best pitching prospects are a pair of projectable high school righthanders from Shreveport. Josh Stinson is a 6-foot-4, 190-pounder with a 90-91 mph fastball. His velocity and secondary pitches could improve if he cleans up his mechanics and stops falling away from the plate. John Anderson, who helped pitch Captain Shreve to its first Class 4-A state title, is an inch shorter and has a tick or two less velocity on his fastball. He might go ahead of the Stinson in the draft, however, as a draft-and-follow. Anderson has committed to Bossier Parish (La.) Community College, while Stinson signed with Northwestern State.
Louisiana-Lafayette boasts two of the state’s top college pitchers in righthanders Jason Fernandez and Chad Beck. Fernandez is the only draft-eligible member among the Cajuns’ top four pitchers, all of whom finished with sub-3.00 ERAs. He has an 88-92 mph fastball and a good slider. Beck originally signed with Louisiana-Lafayette as a football player and wound up at Panola (Texas) Junior College before joining the Cajuns this season. He has better pure stuff than Fernandez, throwing in the low 90s, but doesn’t have nearly the same command. Beck’s younger brother Casey, a righthander at San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College, is one of the draft’s top juco prospects.
Righthander Jeffrey McCollum pitched just 17 innings and walked more (14) than he struck out (12) as Southern’s closer, but he’s still drawing attention as a draft-eligible sophomore. That’s because he can touch 94 and has the chance to have a plus slider. His velocity and performance weren’t as consistent as they were a year ago, and he spent much of the spring pitching at 87-88.
Outfielder Toddrick Stevenson didn’t play this spring after getting dismissed from the team at Walker High. One of the top running backs in the state, he rushed for 1,570 yards and 21 touchdowns last fall but will focus on baseball either at Louisiana State or as a pro. A strong, compact 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he has a quick bat, speed and athleticism.
Tulane has three righthanders who could go on the first day of the draft. Billy Mohl was a Cape Cod League all-star after his freshman season in 2003 but never added velocity as expected. He gets by with the sink and run on his 86-88 mph fastball and keeps hitters off balance with a changeup. Daniel Latham, the Green Wave’s career saves leader, has an 87-88 mph heater and a decent slider. He could wind up as a senior sign in 2007 if he’s not deemed signable. Brandon Gomes opened eyes when he flashed a 92 mph fastball in his season-opening start at the Houston College Classic in front of a lot of scouts. A redshirt junior who had Tommy John surgery in 2004, he wore down over the course of the spring and worked with more fringy stuff down the stretch.
After hitting .270 with two steals as a part-time starter in 2005, outfielder Mike Epping batted .400 with 42 swipes as a senior this spring. He has a fluid swing, plus speed and good instincts.
The state’s most desirable juco prospect, shortstop Brandon Richey is the leadoff man for a Louisiana State-Eunice team that will play Grand Rapids (Mich.) for the Division II Junior College World Series title on June 2. His offense stands out more than his defense, and he has plus speed. If he doesn’t sign, he’ll attend Northwestern State next year.
Scouts would like to draft-and-follow lefthander Aaron Loup and righty Eric Callender, but both are good students who won’t be swayed from four-year colleges. The best southpaw and most polished prep pitcher in the state, Loup throws strikes with three pitches: a high-80s fastball, a curveball and a changeup that might grade out the best of the three. He signed with Tulane after originally committing to Louisiana State. Callender, ticketed for Southeastern Louisiana, scored the winning run as Parkview Baptist captured its fifth straight Class 3-A state championship. He’s a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder with an 86-88 mph fastball, though his secondary pitches have a long way to go.
Righthander Justin Robichaux is also virtually unsignable, as he’s destined to play for his father Tony, the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. Robichaux shows the aptitude expected of a coach’s son, and he’s refined for a high school pitcher. He gets hitters out with his upper-80s sinker and his curveball, and he’ll also get the chance to play as a corner infielder for the Ragin’ Cajuns.