|THIS YEAR’S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
A decent year for the state of New Hampshire atones for empty cupboards in Maine and Vermont. Hard-throwing lefthander Jeff Locke will be the highest-drafted player in the region, thanks to his big-time potential. Led by infielder Garrett Olson, Division II Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College has as many draft prospects (five) as the rest of the Upper New England colleges combined.
|National Top 200 Prospects
1. Jeff Locke, Kennett HS, Center Conway, N.H.
2. Garrett Olson, ss/3b, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
|Other Players Of Note
3. Daniel Fournier, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
4. Shane Presutti, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
5. Josh Faiola, rhp, Dartmouth
6. Kevin Nolan, ss, Nashua (N.H.) South HS
7. Phil Negus, rhp, Phillips Exeter Academy
8. Will Bashelor, of, Dartmouth
9. Joe Hough, of, Maine
10. Kyle Brault, of, Vermont
11. Elliot Shea, of, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
12. Mike Chambers, 2b, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
13. Jared Lemieux, of, Bowdoin
1. Jeff Locke, lhp (National rank: 60)
School: Kennett HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Center Conway, N.H.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: 11/20/87.
Scouting Report: Locke is a classic raw but projectable high school lefthander. He has been dominant against far inferior competition in New Hampshire but hasn’t really tested his mettle against better hitters. The cold weather in northern New Hampshire has kept his arm fresh, but it has also prevented scouts from seeing him often. That makes it tough to predict where he’ll be drafted, though someone figures to take him in the second round or so, especially because he is regarded as signable. Locke’s best pitch is a plus fastball that has reached 93 mph, and he showed better feel for his curveball as the season has progressed. His changeup is raw but could become workable down the line. Locke is all about projection, anyway: His big frame and loose arm make scouts drool, even though his delivery can be a bit twitchy. He has a confident swagger and loves to pitch, which bodes well for his chances to refine his exceptional talent.
2. Garrett Olson, 3b(National rank: 175)
School: Franklin Pierce (N.H.). Class: Jr.
Hometown: Norway, Maine
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 3/10/85.
Scouting Report: Olson has a tools package similar to that of Wake Forest’s Matt Antonelli, another New England native who figures to be drafted a few rounds higher than Olson because he owns a plus tool–speed–that Olson lacks. Olson is an excellent athlete with four average tools and an above-average arm. He was versatile enough move from third base, where he played his first two seasons at Franklin Pierce, to shortstop this year, and he played center field for Keene in the New England Collegiate League in the summer of 2004. Olson has also served as Franklin Pierce’s emergency catcher, where his short arm action and plus arm strength have intrigued some clubs. Most scouts see him at second base or third base, but he could remain at short until he proves he can’t handle the position. Offensively, Olson has shown average power in the Northeast-10 Conference, which uses wood bats. He controls his hands and upper body well at the plate, although he can get caught diving out over the plate now and then because his stance places most of his weight on his back leg, and he taps his left toe like Dwight Evans used to. Still, Olson has good bat speed, a good approach and makes consistent line-drive contact to the gaps with occasional home run pop. His total package is greater than the sum of its parts.
Franklin Pierce reached the Division II World Series largely on the strength of its pitching. But while a couple of crafty seniors carried the Ravens through the postseason, junior righthander Daniel Fournier and sophomore-eligible righty Shane Presutti are the intriguing draft prospects. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Fournier has a better professional body and more potential, but he was a little inconsistent this season. He racked up 88 strikeouts in 62 innings with a nasty 76-77 mph curveball that rates as a plus pitch at times. He struck out 18 batters in a no-hitter against Southern Connecticut State in late March, but biceps tendinitis slowed him down in the second half and he struggled in limited work in the postseason. Fournier wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he ratchets his fastball up from 88-89 mph to 92 mph when he gets mad.
Presutti was more consistent with a three-pitch mix, but his delivery has more effort than Fournier’s. He pitched at 88-91 mph with his fastball, touching 92, and complemented it with a decent slider and a solid changeup. Presutti needs to work on his command–particularly with his slider, which has promise if he can harness it–and refining his delivery, but he is wiry strong. Both Fournier and Presutti could be drafted in the top 15 rounds.
The rest of the Franklin Pierce haul looks more like second-day material. Center fielder Elliot Shea is a good athlete with plus speed and a decent arm, but his swing tends to get too long and he is a longshot to hit in the professional ranks. The same goes for second baseman Mike Chambers, another hard-working gamer without a high ceiling. Chambers makes contact and has some line-drive power, but he is undersized and lacks defensive tools.
Dartmouth righthander Josh Faiola has seen his stock drop considerably since he impressed scouts by going 3-2, 1.14 with 40 strikeouts and four walks in 24 innings in the Cape Cod League in 2004. He dropped a dresser on his pitching hand helping a friend move last season, and the injury ultimately hurt his draft stock. Faiola throws three pitches for strikes: a two-seam fastball in the 87-89 mph range that bumps 90, an 82 mph slider and a developing changeup. His fastball and slider are not as good as they were two summers ago, although the slider remains his out pitch. He induces plenty of ground balls from his low three-quarters delivery, although he struck out just 38 batters in 70 innings this year. Faiola has a 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame but not much projection, and his college workload is a concern–he threw 145 pitches over 12 innings in one start this season.
Faiola’s teammate Will Bashelor leads a group of fringy college outfielders with his plus speed and athleticism. His bat is a question mark, as is his signability because he is just a junior at an expensive Ivy League school. Seniors Joe Hough, Kyle Brault and Jared Lemieux are more likely to sign. Hough has decent all-around tools, especially defensively, where he is a good runner with a solid arm in center field. He has some strength but is not a power hitter, despite his tendency to swing for the fences. Brault was the America East Conference player of the year, and he showed a little pop with 11 home runs this season, but his best tool is his strong arm. Lemieux, the best small-college player in New England, is a plus defender and good basestealer thanks to his above-average speed, but like the others, his bat is a major question mark.
The prep ranks are even thinner than the college ranks. Kevin Nolan might have attracted more attention from scouts and other college programs if he hadn’t signed early with Winthrop. Nolan is raw offensively, with a flat, awkward swing, but he consistently makes contact. He makes a lot of plays at shortstop with his good hands and solid arm. Like Nolan, righthander Phil Negus figures to be a tough sign because of his commitment to Wake Forest. He throws an 87-89 mph fastball and has flashed a plus breaking ball with good depth and run. But Negus tends to run out of gas after five innings, and his body lacks projection.