|THIS YEAR’S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
Three college players in Pennsylvania have a chance to be drafted in the top five rounds, and there is a significant drop-off after that. Potential first-rounder Kevin Mulvey is the best of the lot, but Lehigh catcher Matt McBride–who won the triple crown in the Patriot League and even stole 21 bases–has climbed draft boards late in the spring as his shoulder has gotten healthy. Pittsburgh second baseman Jim Negrych is the big X-factor. He could sneak up as high as the second round, or slip as low as the 10th. There are some intriguing high school players with upside in the state, but there are no can’t-miss blue chippers.
|National Top 200 Prospects
1. Kevin Mulvey, rhp, Villanova
2. Matt McBride, c, Lehigh
|Other Players Of Note
3. Jim Negrych, 2b, Pittsburgh
4. Nate Reed, lhp, Oley Valley HS
5. Billy Muldowney, rhp, Pittsburgh
6. Matt Zoltak, lhp, Plymouth Whitemarsh HS
7. Miguel Valcarcel, ss/rhp, Perkiomen School, Pennsburg
8. Jeremy Hunt, 1b, Villanova
9. Greg Folgia, rhp, Christopher Dock HS, North Wales
10. Kevan Smith, c, Seneca Valley HS, Harmony
11. Kyle Collina, rhp, Lehigh
12. J.J. Hoover, rhp, Elizabeth Forward HS, Elizabeth
13. Chris Sobota, lhp, Homer-Center HS, Homer City
14. Tom Grandieri, of, Malvern Prep
15. Tyler Scruggs, c, South Park HS
16. J.D. Reichenbach, lhp, Central Bucks East HS
17. Tim Morris, 1b, Radnor HS
18. Harry Austin, of, North Allegheny HS
1. Kevin Mulvey, rhp (National rank: 30)
School: Villanova. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Parlin, N.J.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 5/26/85.
Scouting Report: Mulvey, the top arm in the Northeast, could be a perfect fit for the Phillies, who have made an effort to target top local talent, such as Glen Mills, Pa., native Mike Costanzo-their top pick last year (second round) out of Coastal Carolina. Mulvey, who hails from Parlin, N.J., has been a weekend starter since he arrived at Villanova and has seen his stock rise this season even while posting rather pedestrian 3-7, 3.66 numbers. Scouts are impressed with his command of three average or better pitches: a 90-94 mph fastball, a slider that is effective against righthanded hitters and a curveball that some scouts like even better than the slider. He also has good feel for a changeup that can be used to get lefties out. Mulvey has loose, easy arm action and clean mechanics, and he has learned to eliminate distractions from umpires and defensive lapses behind him that tended to rattle him early in his college career. He always works around the zone and is not afraid to attack hitters. Mulvey doesn’t figure to last past the Phillies at No. 37 overall and could go before that.
2. Matt McBride, c(National rank: 154)
School: Lehigh. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Bethlehem, Pa.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 5/23/85.
Scouting Report: McBride’s strength has always been his catch-and-throw skills, which is why his stock suffered a bit early this season when tightness in his shoulder limited his throwing. By the end of the season he was back to catching every day and showing the plus arm strength that yielded 1.85-second pop times a year ago. McBride has a big, strong frame and athleticism that allows him to move laterally and block balls in the dirt well. He has above-average speed for a catcher (as evidenced by his 21 stolen bases), but needs to clean up his footwork behind the plate. Offensively, McBride hit 37 doubles but just five home runs over his first two college seasons, but he worked on getting more backspin and developing more of a wood-bat, professional swing this season, resulting in 10 home runs. He has at least average raw power, and he is difficult to strike out. Mcbride whiffed just 11 times in 195 at-bats this year after striking out just seven times in 152 at-bats against better competition in the Alaska League last summer. His defensive abilities at a premium position, power potential and offensive approach make for an attractive overall package that could get see him go as high as the third round.
Pair Of Panthers Leads Thin College Crop
There is quality at the top of Pennsylvania’s college ranks, but little depth. Third-team preseason All-America second baseman Jim Negrych lived up to his lofty offensive expectations, leading Pittsburgh in the triple crown categories (.396-11-60). At the same time, Negrych is undersized (he’s generously listed at 5-foot-10), not very athletic, a below-average runner and a poor defender at second base. He plays above his tools to get the job done, and his lone above-average tool is the most important: He can really hit. Early in the year, Negrych was trying to elevate everything, but as the season progressed he returned to his smooth line-drive stroke and his statistics improved. Negrych generates good bat speed and slightly above-average power with his quick hands, but he thrives when he stays in control and drives balls to the gaps or the opposite field. He has improved his approach and pitch recognition this season, becoming a more selective, mature hitter. Defensively, Negrych has below-average arm strength, he plays the wrong hops, and he never has forward momentum when he fields the ball. His bat and makeup will likely carry him to the top five rounds, and the paucity of position players could inflate his stock further, but he would be a reach in the top three rounds.
The other Panther with a chance to go in the top 10 rounds is righthander Billy Muldowney, a bulldog with a good feel for pitching. Muldowney has three usable pitches: an 88-90 mph two-seam fastball with good sink, a changeup with good fade that rates as average or better, and a curveball with good break that can be an average pitch some days and too slurvy on others. He has a durable, stocky frame with strong legs and chest, and his delivery is relatively easy and clean. But Muldowney is maxed out physically. What you see is what you’ll get with him, and he likely profiles as a reliever.
Two other college players have a chance to be drafted on the first day: Villanova first baseman Jeremy Hunt and Lehigh righthander Kyle Collina. Hunt’s best tool is his plus power. He caught fire in the second half of the season and led the Big East Conference with 15 home runs. Collina had touched 93 mph in previous years, but his velocity was down early this year as he battled through mononucleosis. He was back around 90-91 mph with his fastball by season’s end, and he flashed a decent but inconsistent slider. Collina overcame an hour-and-a-half rain delay to retire 18 straight batters in the Patriot League championship game.
Prepsters Are All About Projection
Lefthander Nate Reed emerged late in the 2006 season to become the top high school prospect in the state. He increased his velocity from the low 80s a year ago to the 87-89 mph range this year, and he could throw harder as he fills out his skinny 6-foot-2 frame. Reed is raw and lacks feel for his fastball, so he throws his curveball 80 percent of the time even though he could dominate his weak high school competition on his fastball alone. His curveball projects as a plus pitch, and he has decent action on his changeup, though he doesn’t throw it much. Reed does need to work on his max-effort, high-maintenance delivery. He could be a top-10-rounds pick, but three years at Pittsburgh to mature physically and refine his mechanics and stuff would likely do him good.
Another lefty, Matt Zoltak, could also go in the top 10 rounds on talent, but his commitment to Clemson looks pretty firm. Like Reed, Zoltak throws an 87-89 mph fastball, but he is more comfortable with it than Reed. He has a loose arm and more polish than Reed, but he is smaller and less projectable, and his curveball is decent but does not stand out like Reed’s does. Sometimes Zoltak gets in funks where he starts to get hit and he tends to lose his command.
Miguel Valcarcel is a pure arm-strength righthander who’ll need a big bonus to buy him out of his commitment to St. John’s. He has good arm action and has been clocked as high as 93-95 mph with his fastball, but he is raw and has little feel for pitching. Greg Folgia is a smaller righthander with an 87-91 mph fastball and a good slider. He might be signable despite his commitment to Missouri, but his projectability and durability are concerns because of his slight build. J.J. Hoover is similar to Valcarcel, except he figures to be much more signable. Hoover has a live arm and pitches in the low 90s with his fastball, but he has little feel yet for his curveball and changeup, and he lacks command. He does have some projection to his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame. Chris Sobota was garnering interest thanks to his low-90s fastball, promising breaking ball and projectable 6-foot-5 frame, but Tommy John surgery ended his season early and hurt his draft stock. He would be an ideal draft-and-follow.
Two high school catchers have generated interest: Kevan Smith “has the body of a Greek god,” according to one scout, but he will be difficult to sign because he’s going to Pittsburgh as a football quarterback. He has good bat speed but is a raw hitter with no load in his swing. Smith has soft hands, good arm strength and intelligence behind the plate, but he might never set foot on a baseball field at Pitt. Tyler Scruggs is the grandson of former Pirates lefthander Jim Rooker, who picked up two wins in the 1979 World Series. He’s got a little bat speed and some catch-and-throw skills, but he’s almost certainly bound for West Virginia.