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2005 Draft Scouting Reports: California

By Allan Simpson
May 24, 2005


THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
It's an average year for a state than annually produces more draft picks than any other. It's also a study in contrasts. While the four California members of the traditionally strong Pacific-10 Conference offer three potential first-round picks, it's possible the next pick from those teams won't come until the sixth or seventh round. The strength of the college crop this year comes from the Big West Conference, particularly at Cal State Fullerton, which could threaten the draft record (Arizona State, 1982) of 14 selections from one school in a single draft. The rich San Diego prep ranks could produce the three top high school picks in the state, but likely no more for several rounds after that. The northern half of the state may have its richest and deepest high school crop in 10 years but isn't likely to see anyone go in the first round. And an unusually lean year for draft-and-follows at the junior college level is offset by transfers from four-year schools such as Rio Hondo JC righthander Kenny Maiques, who pitched two perfect games this spring.
(National ranking in parentheses)
Potential First-Round Picks
1. Troy Tulowitzki (4), ss, Long Beach State U.
2. Jered Weaver (7), rhp, Camden/Atlantic League
3. Ricky Romero (13), lhp, Cal State Fullerton
4. Jeff Clement (15), c, U. of Southern California
5. John Mayberry (24), 1b, Stanford U.
6. Henry Sanchez (31), 1b, Mission Bay HS, San Diego
7. John Drennen (32), of, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego
8. Cesar Ramos (33), lhp, Long Beach State U.
9. Jed Lowrie (41), 2b, Stanford U.
Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks

10. Sean O’Sullivan (50), rhp, Valhalla HS, El Cajon
11. Ryan Mount (56), ss, Ayala HS, Cino Hills
12. Trevor Bell (57), rhp, La Crescenta HS, Crescenta Valley
13. Matt Garza (60), rhp, Fresno State U.
14. Ryan Tucker (61), rhp, Temple City HS
15. Garrett Olson (65), lhp, Cal Poly
16. Vance Worley (70), rhp, McClatchy HS, Sacramento
17. Jeff Lyman (87), rhp, Monte Vista HS, Alamo
18. Kenny Maiques (90), rhp, Rio Hondo JC
19. Stephen Kahn (110), rhp, Loyola Marymount U.
20. Diallo Fon (112), of, Las Lomas HS, Walnut Creek
21. Chris Nicoll (121), rhp, UC Irvine
22. Tyson Ross (130), rhp, Bishop O’Dowd HS, Oakland
23. Mike Colla (138), rhp, Clovis West HS, Fresno
24. David Huff (148), lhp, Cypress JC
25. Jared Lansford (149), rhp/2b, St. Francis HS, Santa Clara
26. David Cooper (153), of/lhp, Tokay HS, Stockton
27. DeSean Jackson (159), of, Poly HS, Long Beach
28. Mike Durant (160), 3b/1b, Berkeley HS
29. Matt Nevarez (166), rhp, San Fernando HS
30. Justin Blaine (168), lhp, U. of San Diego
31. Charlie Cutler (169), c, Lowell HS, San Francisco
32. Mark Wagner (186), c, UC Irvine
33. Brad Barrager (187), rhp, Golden West JC
34. Reid Hamblet (191), rhp, Biola College
35. Brett Wallace (192), 3b, Justin Siena HS, Sonoma
36. Justin Sellers (194), ss, Marina HS, Huntington Beach
37. Andrew Lopez (195), of, Elk Grove HS
38. Brandon Crawford (200), ss, Foothill HS, Pleasanton

Others Of Note
39. Neil Jamison, rhp, Long Beach State U.
40. Tanner Scheppers, rhp, Dana Hills HS, Laguna
41. Tim Murphy, lhp-of, Rancho Buena Vista HS, Vista
42. Anthony Claggett, rhp, UC Riverside
43. Greg Cain, of, Gahr HS, Cerritos
44. Eric Massingham, rhp, De la Salle HS, Benicia
45. Andy Underwood, rhp, Fresno CC (CONTROL: Royals)
46. Jason Ray, rhp, Azusa Pacific U.
47. Mark Romanczuk, lhp, Stanford U.
48. Omar Aguilar, rhp, Merced JC (CONTROL: Giants)
49. John Holdzkom, rhp, Rancho Cucamonga HS
50. Sergio Pedroza, of, Cal State Fullerton
51. Brandon Roberts, of, Cal Poly
52. Ronnie Prettyman, 3b, Cal State Fullerton (CONTROL: Brewers)
53. Ryan Babineau, c, Etiwanda HS, Alta Loma
54. Jimmy Shull, rhp, Cal Poly
55. Justin Wilson, lhp, Buchanan HS, Clovis
56. Danny Dorn, of, Cal State Fullerton
57. Michael Anderson, rhp, Woodbridge HS, Irvine
58. David Hernandez, rhp, Cosumnes River JC (CONTROL: Diamondbacks)
59. Nick Pereira, rhp, U. of San Francisco
60. Josh Romanski, lhp, Norco HS
61. Ryan Schreppel, lhp, Cal State Fullerton
62. Jeff Stevens, lhp, Loyola Marymount U.
63. David Quinowksi, lhp, Riverside CC (CONTROL: Giants)
64. Hector Ambriz, rhp, UCLA
65. Brian Kirwan, rhp, Santa Fe Christian HS, Del Mar
66. Daniel Cortes, rhp, Garey HS, Pomona
67. Steve Alexander, 1b, Sacramento CC
68. Bryan Byrne, 1b/3b, St. Mary’s College
69. John Hester, c, Stanford U.
70. Steve Morlock, rhp, UC Santa Barbara
71. Mike Paulk, of, Cal State Northridge
72. Marco Estrada, rhp, Long Beach State
73. Bryan Shaw, rhp, Livermore HS
74. Kevin Bunch, rhp, Serrano HS, Phelan
75. Nick Romero, ss, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista
76. Bryan Anderson, c, Simi Valley HS
77. Jarrad Page, of, UCLA
78. Blake Davis, ss, Cal State Fullerton
79. Ryan Cook, rhp, Clovis HS
80. Brett Pill, 1b, Cal State Fullerton
81. Ryan Paul, lhp, Los Angeles Pierce JC (CONTROL: Mets)
82. Adam Gold, rhp, U. of California
83. Roman Pena, of/lhp, Montgomery HS, San Diego
84. Brok Butcher, rhp, Oxnard JC (CONTROL: Blue Jays)
85. Billy Hart, 3b, U. of Southern California
86. Xavier Scruggs, 1b, Poway HS
87. James Guerrero, ss/2b, San Diego State U.
88. Bobby Andrews, of, Cal State Fullerton
89. Paul Coleman, lhp, Pepperdine U.
90. Matt Kretschmar, rhp, Rio Hondo JC (CONTROL: Brewers)
91. Curtis Leavitt, rhp, Vasquez HS, Acton
92. Dominic Foster, rhp, Fresno CC (CONTROL: Rockies)
93. Chance Chapman, rhp, Cuesta JC
94. Jermaine Williams, of, Los Angeles HS
95. John Curtis, c, Cal State Fullerton
96. Brendan McNamara, rhp, Palomar CC
97. Frank Lonigro, c, Fullerton JC
98. Zack Kalter, rhp, U. of Southern California
99. Travis Becktel, of, San Jose State U.
100. Doug Fister, rhp, Fresno State U.
101. Steve Hammond, lhp, Long Beach State U.
102. Matt Swanson, rhp, U. of California
103. Rollie Gibson, lhp, Fresno CC (CONTROL: Mariners)
104. Matt Daly, rhp, Esperanza HS, Yorba Linda
105. Alex Hinshaw, lhp, San Diego State U.
106. Kea Kometani, rhp, Pepperdine U.
107. Sean Boatright, of, Long Beach State U.
108. Eddie Baeza, rhp, Los Angeles Valley JC (CONTROL: Diamondbacks)
109. Bret Berglund, 1b, Cal Poly
110. Garet Hill, rhp, Biola College
111. Trayvon Robinson, of, Crenshaw HS, Los Angeles
112. Michael Cooper, rhp, U. of California
113. Ty’Relle Harris, rhp, Armijo HS, Fairfield
114. Tommie Hanson, rhp, Riverside CC
115. Shane Peterson, of/lhp, Chaparral HS, Temecula
116. Jim Gilbert, rhp, Chabot JC (CONTROL: Dodgers)
117. Pete Eberhardt, rhp, Cal State Northridge
118. Joe Dickerson, of, Esperanza HS, Yorba Linda
119. Brett McMillan, 1b/of, UCLA
120. Blake Sharpe, ss, U. of Southern California
121. Brandon Barnes, of, Cypress JC
122. Grant Theophilus, lhp, Golden West JC (CONTROL: Devil Rays)
123. Chase D’Arnaud, ss, Los Alamitos HS, Long Beach
124. Andrew Lamontagne, rhp, Righetti HS, Orcutt
125. D.J. Lewis, of, Los Angeles Valley JC
126. Matt Wallach, c, Cypress JC
127. Jack Spradlin, lhp, U. of Southern California
128. Quentin Cate, c, San Luis Obispo HS
129. Matt Falk, rhp, U. of San Diego
130. Jimmy Shull, rhp, Cal Poly
131. Travis Becktel, of, San Jose State U.
132. Dominic Foster, rhp, Fresno CC (CONTROL: Rockies)
133. David McKae, rhp, UC Davis
134. Jermaine Curtis, ss, A.B. Miller HS, Fonatana
135. Stefan Gartrell, of, U. of San Francisco
136. Andy Suiter, lhp, Menlo HS, Woodside
137. Keith Thompson, rhp/1b, California HS, Whittier
138. Jordan Swaydan, c, San Diego State U.
139. Jeff Gilmore, rhp, Stanford U.
140. Chris Jones, c, Long Beach State U.
141. Justin Turner, 2b, Cal State Fullerton
142. Luke Massetti, rhp, U. of the Pacific
143. Casey Neimeier, rhp, Woodland Christian HS, Woodland
144. Doug Thennis, ss, American River JC
145. Jake Renshaw, rhp, Ventura JC (CONTROL: Red Sox)
146. Mark Triolo, rhp, Patrick Henry HS, San Diego
147. Mike Hacker, lhp, Cosumnes River JC
148. Matt Anderson, 3b, UC Irvine
149. Chris Denove, c, UCLA
150. Jesse Costa, rhp, Magnolia HS


1. TROY TULOWITZKI, ss (National Ranking: 4)
School: Long Beach State.
Hometown: Sunnyvale, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: Oct. 10, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Tulowitzki compares favorably to Bobby Crosby, his predecessor as shortstop at Long Beach State who was a first-round pick in 2001 and the 2004 American League rookie of the year. They're about the same size and have similar speed and bat speed at the same stage, but scouts say Tulowitzki is a better athlete and should be a better player. He has more arm strength and range, and more power to all parts of the park, while Crosby was more automatic on routine plays and had more pull power. Crosby helped Tulowitzki by showing scouts that players built like Crosby and the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Tulowitzki can be effective everyday shortstops. Tulowitzki has also won over scouts with his approach to the game. He plays with exceptional intensity and an unrivaled passion for the game. He broke the hamate bone in his hand and missed 20 games early this spring, and the 49ers slumped in his absence. He has no holes in his game and all his tools are close to big league-ready. He is a top defender who has adjusted well to the speed of the game. He has an above-average arm and good footwork, unlike as a freshman when he relied on his raw arm strength. He has added 35-40 pounds since enrolling at Long Beach, giving him a stronger body and the chance to be an offensive shortstop. He now projects to hit 25-30 homers a year in the big leagues. He has just 19 in three years at Long Beach State but plays his home games at Blair Field, one of the best pitcher's parks in college baseball. He hit four with a wood bat last summer for Team USA, tied for the team lead. Tulowitzki is regarded by most teams as a safe pick who almost certainly will return the investment a team makes in him.

2. JERED WEAVER, rhp (National Ranking: 7)
School: None.
Hometown: Simi Valley, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: Oct. 4, 1982.
Previously Drafted: Angels 2004 (1)
Scouting Report: Weaver was an early favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2004 draft, but he fell due to signability issues and will find himself back in this year’s pool if he doesn’t come to terms with the Angels, who selected him with the 12th pick. He has until midnight May 31, the start of the closed period, to sign. Weaver is represented by Scott Boras, who contends the Angels agreed to give Weaver a deal in the neighborhood of the $10.5 guaranteed major league contract Mark Prior received from the Cubs as the second pick in 2001. The Angels say otherwise, and have reportedly offered a standard minor league contract with a $4 million bonus—which would be the largest bonus for a 2004 draftee but far short of what Boras was seeking. As a junior in 2004 at Long Beach State, Weaver posted numbers—15-1, 1.62 with 213 strikeouts in 144 innings--that were roughly equivalent to Prior’s spectacular 2001 season at Southern California. But Weaver’s stuff is a step below Prior’s. As a junior for the 49ers, Weaver was an intense competitor with an excellent feel for his craft. He could throw strikes with precision--in, out, up, down. He was so advanced in all areas of pitching that scouts said he could hold his own in the big leagues immediately. Like everyone at Long Beach, Weaver pitched off his fastball, which was clocked as high as 95 mph. He normally threw it at 91-92, but even at that speed it looked like 95 because of the deception in his delivery and his ability to locate it. His curve is just average. He throws two kinds of sliders, one with greater depth. While his brother Jeff, a 1998 first-rounder of the Tigers who now pitches for the Dodgers, is a sinker/slider pitcher and generates more armside movement with his pitches, Jered uses his whole repertoire much better. Because of the protracted holdout, Weaver hasn’t pitched in almost a year. His only activity has been working out with a personal trainer and throwing bullpens at Long Beach State in April and May. He had not faced live hitters, so teams aren’t sure whether he’s the same guy with the same stuff and command.

3. RICKY ROMERO, lhp (National Ranking: 13)
School: Cal State Fullerton.
Hometown: Los Angeles.
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: Nov. 6, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Red Sox 2002 (37).
Scouting Report: Cal State Fullerton could approach or even top the draft record of 13 players from one school this year, but Romero is the only one assured of going in the first five rounds. In fact, he is the favorite to be the first lefthander selected overall, possibly in the first 10-15 picks. Romero has three solid, major league-ready pitches that he can throw for strikes almost at will, including a fastball that sits at 90-91 mph and touches 93-94. He also has an excellent curveball and a better feel for a changeup this year after he reduced his reliance on his curve. But Romero gets his highest grades for his makeup, temperament and competitive zeal. He is an excellent student of the game who understands the science of pitching, and is a master at controlling the tempo of a game. He often has one poor inning a game, gets mad at himself and responds by pitching better the rest of the way. He also holds runners well and fields his position as well as any college pitcher. He has improved by leaps and bounds since being a lightly recruited player from a suburban Los Angeles high school. He was the top prospect in the Great Lakes League after his freshman year and quickly established himself as one of the aces on last year’s College World Series championship team, going 14-4, 3.37 before becoming one of Team USA’s most effective pitchers last summer. He has posted similar numbers this year, but has considerably boosted his strikeout ratio from 7.3 per nine innings to 10.0.

4. JEFF CLEMENT, c (National Ranking: 15)
School: Southern California.
Hometown: Marshalltown, Iowa.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: Aug. 21, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Twins 2002 (12)
Scouting Report: Clement enjoyed a storied high school career in small-town Iowa, setting the national career high school home run record with 75. He generates light-tower power with a short, compact lefthanded swing. He stays inside the ball well and gets excellent backspin. After hitting 21 home runs as a freshman at USC, he slumped to 10 in an injury-plagued sophomore season and struggled to top that total this spring as teams pitched around him. The Trojans hit him in the No. 2 spot in the order in hopes that he would see better pitches. He has become a better overall hitter in the process, improving his average to a team-high .368 after two sub-.300 seasons. He has used the whole field and demonstrated better plate coverage, walking 39 times against 25 strikeouts. As a major league hitter, he projects to hit .270-.280 with 30-35 home runs. Clement has outstanding makeup and has worked hard to shore up his weaknesses. He has shown his biggest improvement behind the plate, working on his defense with former big league catcher and USC volunteer coach Chad Kreuter, the son-in-law of head coach Mike Gillespie. His set-up, mechanics, blocking and arm quickness are all much improved. He still has only a 40-50 arm on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, but threw out almost 50 percent of basestealers this year. Unlike former USC catcher Eric Munson, a powerful lefthanded-hitting catcher who was the third overall pick in 1999, Clement won’t require a position switch. Munson immediately moved to first base for the Tigers, who have the 10th pick this year and shown a strong interest in Clement.

5. JOHN MAYBERRY JR., 1b (National Ranking: 23)
School: Stanford.
Hometown: Kansas City.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 230. Birthdate: Dec. 21, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Mariners 2002 (1)
Scouting Report: The most recent first-round draft pick to go unsigned, Mayberry has an excellent shot of becoming one of the few players in draft history to be picked in the first round twice. It last happened last year, when Vanderbilt lefthander Jeremy Sowers was picked by the Indians after spurning the Reds three years earlier. Mayberry hit .333-16-62 as an all-Pacific-10 Conference performer in 2004, but was hitting a more pedestrian .307-6-45 this year—numbers that belie his considerable tools and upside. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Mayberry has considerable power potential but launches a tape-measure home run only occasionally in games. He shows excellent power in batting practice, but generally has been handled by quality college pitching. Most of his power is to the opposite field, reflective of the hitting style preached at Stanford. Scouts say he needs to shorten his swing because he can be busted inside--something he has worked to correct in the last year. All his hitting flaws are correctable, but it may take him 1,500 at-bats in the minor leagues. Mayberry has the athletic ability and arm strength to be an average corner outfielder, but he is a superior defensive first baseman—not to mention an inviting target for infielders. He runs well. Mayberry’s father was also a first-round pick, going sixth overall to the Astros in 1967. He played in the big leagues from 1968-82 with the Astros, Royals, Blue Jays and Yankees, and is a member of the Royals hall of fame.

6. HENRY SANCHEZ, 1b (National Ranking: 31)
School: Mission Bay HS.
Hometown: San Diego.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 260. Birthdate: Nov. 29, 1986.
College Commitment: San Diego State.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, Sanchez could become the biggest first-round pick in draft history. He physically resembles a larger Andres Galarraga, and naturally draws comparisons to Brewers prospect Prince Fielder, who was a more compact 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds when he was the seventh overall pick in 2002. Sanchez isn’t quite as athletic as Fielder but has the same explosive, raw power and ranks as the top power prospect in this year’s draft. Exceptionally strong, he can crush balls with a short stroke that generates bat speed well beyond his years. Sanchez first drew national attention for his slugging in 2004, when he hit .557-11-52 as a high school teammate of No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush. Last summer, he went 11-for-20 at the Area Code Games and put on a power show rarely seen in that showcase’s nearly 20-year history. Not all scouts are sold on Sanchez as a first-round pick, however. The prevailing thought is that he could hit 35-40 home runs in the big leagues or just as easily flame out in Class A. His weight, which has reached nearly 300 pounds in the past, is a concern. It limits him to first base, though he has decent mobility around the bag and adequate arm strength for the position. He’s a below-average runner. He would be more appealing to an American League club. He hasn’t put up the numbers he did last year in part because he broke the hamate bone in his hand at the start of the season and was slow to come around.

7. JOHN DRENNEN, of (National Ranking: 32)
School: Rancho Bernardo HS.
Hometown: San Diego.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Aug. 26, 1986.
College Commitment: UCLA.
Scouting Report: San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo High has churned out more premium prospects over the last decade than any high school in the country, and Drennen is the latest phenom. Scouts say he has a striking resemblance to Danny Putnam, who wasn’t drafted out of Rancho Bernardo after hitting 20 home runs as a senior but became a supplemental first-round pick of the Athletics last year out of Stanford. Both players have small, powerful builds (Drennen is listed at 6 feet, but scouts say is closer to 5-foot-10), both have explosive bats, both are limited to left field and both play the game with passion. With a .440 average and 15 home runs, Drennen has also had a big senior year. But unlike Putnam and more in keeping with RB alum Hank Blalock, he has a strong desire to get his professional career started. He should go late in the first round but could earlier if a team works out a below-market predraft deal. Though he is small, Drennen is extremely strong, and he can flat-out hit. He has excellent bat speed and the ball jumps off his bat. He leaves nothing in the tank. The rest of his tools are just ordinary. He runs OK and gets good jumps in the outfield, but his arm is short, limiting him to left field.

8. CESAR RAMOS, lhp (National Ranking: 33)
School: Long Beach State.
Hometown: Pico Rivera, Calif.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: June 22, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Devil Rays 2002 (6).
Scouting Report: With three starters who have been drafted in the top two rounds the last two years—Abe Alvarez in 2003, Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas in 2004—Ramos has struggled for attention at Long Beach State. He was an effective No. 3 starter both years, going 18-8, 2.51 after entering the program as a sixth-round pick out of high school. This year, Ramos has taken over the No. 1 spot in the 49ers rotation and become the winningest lefthander in school history, surpassing Alvarez, who has already debuted in the big leagues with the Red Sox. Both pitchers have similar styles, but scouts say Ramos uses his stuff better than Alvarez. Ramos has excellent command of four pitches and walked 13 in his first 116 innings this spring. He’s not overpowering with a four-seam fastball that sits at 85-88 mph and touches 90. His two-seamer has even less velocity, but more movement. But he’s sneaky fast, throwing on a downhill plane with pinpoint accuracy. He has a knack for burying his fastball under the hands of righthanded hitters. He also has an effective slider and curve, and a serviceable changeup he uses early in the count. Ramos is frequently compared to Cal State Fullerton lefty Ricky Romero, who should be the first lefthander drafted this year. Romero has better stuff across the board, but Ramos has better command and is more consistent. He could be one of the rare lefthanders drafted in the first round with a below-average fastball.

9. JED LOWRIE, 2b (National Ranking: 41)
School: Stanford.
Hometown: Salem, Ore.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: April 17, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: After going undrafted out of an Oregon high school in 2002, Lowrie emerged as a potential first-round pick a year ago when he won the Pacific-10 Conference triple crown with a .399 average and 17 homers, and tied for the lead with 68 RBIs. But he raised a red flag with scouts during the summer when he hit a team-low .230 with only one homer using a wood bat for Team USA. The previous summer in the Alaska League, also using wood, he hit .224. He hasn’t performed well this spring, either, as he was hitting .328 with 12 homers—most of which came in a two-week spurt in February. In fairness, Lowrie has been pitched around in a depleted Stanford lineup and has gotten few good pitches to hit, making him impatient. Though he stays balanced throughout his swing and takes a big cut for his size, Lowrie has an unorthodox approach at the plate. He keeps his hands low and has a high leg kick. A switch-hitter, he is a much better hitter from the left side. He is also a solid defender with good footwork and enough arm strength to fill in at shortstop in a pinch. Scouts have compared Lowrie to current big league second basemen Chase Utley and Adam Kennedy, who were both first-round picks from California colleges, but they say Lowrie is a better defender than both.

10. SEAN O’SULLIVAN, rhp (National Ranking: 50)
School: Valhalla HS.
Hometown: El Cajon, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: Sept. 1, 1987.
College Commitment: San Diego State.
Scouting Report: O’Sullivan has been one of the elite players for his age since Baseball America recognized him as the nation’s best 12-year-old in 2000. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong year to have a slump. Projected at the start of the year to be the first high school pitcher drafted, O’Sullivan instead has taken a step back. Before regaining velocity down the stretch, he was one of this year’s biggest mysteries. His velocity had not only fallen off significantly early in the season, but he also delivered his pitches with more effort, without the free and easy arm action he had shown in the past. Where his fastball had been a steady 93 mph, it was more commonly in the 86-88 range this year, while occasionally touching 90. His hammer curve, an effective pitch in the past, also hasn’t been as crisp. He was a big disappointment to a throng of more than 50 scouts who came to see him in April at the National Classic, the nation’s premier high school tournament. Many left after an inning or two. O’Sullivan’s problems prompted myriad explanations, from his use of sometimes-controversial Tom House as a pitching instructor, to bulking up too much in his upper body, particularly in his shoulders. He could also be pressing, but didn’t outwardly show it to scouts. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound O’Sullivan has always been a physically mature player for his age, and scouts were wondering if he might have peaked. But he was back up over 90 in mid-May and some of the apprehension had subsided. O’Sullivan is also a talented hitter and actually enjoys hitting more than pitching. He led California high schools in home runs in 2004, with 16, and was San Diego’s high school player of the year—ahead of Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick overall in the draft. He has not swung the bat as well this spring, either. Because he has not performed particularly well, has limited projection and had high expectations coming into the year and may be unwilling to sign for lower-round money, teams weren't sure where to place O'Sullivan on their draft boards. He likely will still be drafted in the first couple of rounds because of his track record of success. If not, there’s a chance he could slide right out of the early rounds--and possibly out of the draft altogether--and end up at San Diego State, where he would play both ways.

11. RYAN MOUNT, ss (National Ranking: 56)
School: Ayala HS.
Hometown: Chino Hills, Calif.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: Aug. 17, 1986.
College Commitment: Cal State Fullerton.
Scouting Report: Mount wasn’t at the top of any follow lists entering his senior year at Ayala High and didn’t attend any of the major national showcases last summer. Just two colleges—UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton—recruited him. His stock has taken off this spring, rising faster than any high school player in California. But he’s been a tough player to get a read on. Some teams swear he’s a second-rounder, at worst, while others haven’t bought into the hype and see him more as a fourth- or fifth-rounder. The teams that like him see a fundamentally sound baseball player, a lefthanded-hitting shortstop with offensive upside. They also see better than average speed and arm strength suitable for the left side. His detractors don’t believe he can play shortstop and don’t believe he will have the power for third base, unless he gets bigger and stronger. No matter where he’s picked, Cal State Fullerton coaches are resigned that a player who once seemed a certain bet to head to college won’t be coming.

12. TREVOR BELL, rhp (National Ranking: 57)
School: La Crescenta HS.
Hometown: Crescenta Valley, Calif.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Oct. 12, 1986.
College Commitment: None.
Scouting Report: Baseball America’s pick as the best 14-year-old baseball player in the nation in 2001, Bell has been a marked man since the day he arrived in high school. His progress leveled off as a sophomore and junior before surging again this year. He’s been a solid two-way player throughout his prep career, generating pro interest as both a power-armed righthander and lefthanded-swinging outfielder. It wasn’t until this year, though, that he began to separate himself as a pitching prospect. He’s thrown well, posting a 7-2, 0.87 record with 99 strikeouts and seven walks in 69 innings. His fastball routinely touches 94-95 mph, and he complements it with a solid 75 mph curve. Bell projects as a solid second-rounder on the basis of talent, and could jump into the sandwich round for a team looking for a bargain. He is one of the more signable high school players in California because he lacks the grades to get into a Division I school.

13. MATT GARZA, rhp (National Ranking: 60)
School: Fresno State.
Hometown: Fresno.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Nov. 11, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: After surviving a rocky 1-6, 9.55 freshman season and leading Fresno State in wins and saves in a swing role last year, Garza went into this season as the team’s ace. He struggled in the early going when a young offense didn’t score for him and he had trouble getting hitters out because of inconsistent command. But he pitched and competed much better down the stretch, and his draft stock surged the better he pitched. Some teams even were considering the 6-foot-4 righthander as a late first-round or sandwich pick. Garza had only a four-seam fastball and a slow, lazy curveball when he enrolled at Fresno State, but he now has plus stuff with a four-pitch repertoire. His fastball ranges from 90-94 mph and touches 95, and a hard 82-84 mph slider is an effective second pitch. A 72-78 mph curve has the makings of a solid third pitch, while his changeup has been slower to develop. He’s projected to be a starter in pro ball but could move into relief if his curve and changeup don’t progress or he lacks the stamina to be a starter.

14. RYAN TUCKER, rhp (National Ranking: 61)
School: Temple City HS.
Hometown: Temple City, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Dec. 6, 1986.
College Commitment: Cal State Fullerton.
Scouting Report: With righthander Sean O’Sullivan taking a step back this spring, Tucker now could be the first high school pitcher drafted out of Southern California. That kind of designation usually means you're virtually guaranteed a spot in the first round, but Tucker is a longshot to go that high because he lacks an acceptable breaking ball. He’s never had to worry about having one before because his fastball has been so dominant. It’s a lively 92-95 mph pitch that touches 96, and he commands well. Tucker had struck out 69 in 43 innings this spring, while posting a 0.65 ERA. But he struggles to win consistently because good hitters can sit on his fastball. One of his two losses came against a strong Santa Margarita Catholic High team that touched him for eight runs and 11 hits in five innings, even though Tucker was consistently in the mid-90s. Tucker is athletic and has a loose, fluid delivery. He isn’t afraid to come inside on hitters.

15. GARRETT OLSON, lhp (National Ranking: 65)
School: Cal Poly.
Hometown: Clovis, Calif.
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Oct. 18, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Olson positioned himself as a premium draft pick with a sparkling summer in the Alaska League last year, following in the footsteps of first-rounders Jeff Francis (Rockies, 2002) and David Purcey (Blue Jays, 2004), and projected 2005 first-rounder Mike Pelfrey as the league’s No. 1 prospect. Olson went 7-0, 0.88 for the Anchorage Bucs, striking out 53 in 51 innings and walking just eight. He did not allow a home run and then worked 16 more scoreless innings at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita. His breakthrough continued this season as he went 10-4, 2.69 with 116 strikeouts in 120 innings at Cal Poly. He has a feel for three pitches: an 88-90 mph fastball, a 12-to-6 hammer curveball and a changeup that he has worked hard to refine. He now ranks as the third-best lefthander in California, behind fellow Big West Conference southpaws Cesar Ramos (Long Beach State) and Ricky Romero (Cal State Fullerton). A mechanical engineering major at Cal Poly, Olson has designs on joining the FBI if a career in professional baseball doesn’t pan out.

16. VANCE WORLEY, rhp (National Ranking: 70)
School: McClatchy HS.
Hometown: Sacramento.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Sept. 24, 1987.
College Commitment: Long Beach State.
Scouting Report: Worley hails from the same Sacramento high school that produced big leaguers Larry Bowa, Dion James and Nick Johnson. The premier pitching prospect in northern California, he was a third- to fifth-round projection at the start of the year, but his stock has been on the rise this spring. He had one string of 23 straight scoreless innings. Worley has the potential for four legitimate pitches and works with an easy, efficient and fluid delivery. He rates a slight edge over Monte Vista High righthander Jeff Lyman, the No. 2 arm in the area, because his delivery is a little cleaner. Worley’s fastball was 87-88 mph in 2004 but has been consistently 91-93 mph this spring, while touching 95. The ball explodes out of his hand and has good riding action, and he works the pitch to both sides of the plate. He also has good command of a slider, which ranges from 77-81 mph. His team’s shortstop when he doesn’t pitch, Worley is more athletic and displays better baseball actions than most pitchers when he takes the mound. He is considered more signable than most of the elite high school prospects in northern California, but scouts are split on his worth, ranging from a sandwich pick to the third or fourth rounds.

17. JEFF LYMAN, rhp (National Ranking: 87)
School: Monte Vista HS.
Hometown: Alamo, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: Jan. 14, 1987.
College Commitment: Arizona State.
Scouting Report: A physical righthander with a bulldog approach, Lyman can pump mid-90s fastballs and maintain his velocity deep into games. He has a quick arm and gets good run on his ball when he throws his two-seam fastball, but he tends to favor his four-seamer –a faster but straighter pitch. He also has two other quality pitches, a sharp 76-78 mph curve that scouts often confuse for a slurve, and a split-finger pitch that he uses as a changeup. Northern California area scouts who have seen both he and Sacramento righthander Vance Worley generally say Worley has a higher upside and should be drafted a few picks earlier than Lyman. Lyman’s delivery is not as smooth as Worley’s because his high school pitching coach taught him some built-in funkiness to create deception. And where Worley is more of a pitcher and projects as a starter in pro ball, Lyman is a power arm and a potential closer. Lyman would prefer to sign rather than attend Arizona State, particularly if he’s drafted in the first two or three rounds, as expected.

18. KENNY MAIQUES, rhp (National Ranking: 90)
School: Rio Hondo (Calif.) JC.
Hometown: Whittier, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: June 25, 1985.
College Commitment: South Carolina.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Young and undersized on a Long Beach State staff that included Jered Weaver, Jason Vargas and Cesar Ramos—all first- and second-round talents—Maiques pitched sparingly as a freshman in 2004, with an 8.18 ERA in 12 appearances. After showcasing a 95 mph fastball in the Alaska League last summer, he planned to return to the Dirtbags but at the last minute elected to enroll at Rio Hondo Junior College. His timing couldn’t have been better. He has been the most dominant junior college pitcher in the country, and now he's eligible to be drafted. He pitched seven-inning perfect games three weeks apart, fanning 17 and 14 in those games, and went a stretch of 49 innings without giving up an earned run. He led California juco pitchers with a 0.66 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 82 innings, while walking just 16. Maiques has two above-average pitches: a 91-94 mph fastball that touches 96 and a power slider. He also has been working on a curve, but hasn’t used it much as he relies on his slider almost exclusively as his breaking pitch. The big knock on Maiques is his size. Though he’s strong and in excellent shape, his frame probably will keep him out of the first two rounds.

19. STEPHEN KAHN, rhp (National Ranking: 110)
School: Loyola Marymount.
Hometown: Anaheim.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: Dec. 14, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Brewers 2002 (8).
Scouting Report: A big, strong and athletic power pitcher with an exploding 95 mph fastball, Kahn was the West Coast Conference pitcher of the year in 2004 and a member of the Team USA squad that won the World University Championship. He had every expectation of being a first-round pick in this year’s draft but underachieved this spring, going just 4-5, 5.23. A year after being the only Division I pitcher with at least 12 starts not to allow a home run, he had served up 10 this year. He also surrendered 92 hits in 86 innings in a mid-major Division I conference. Scouts say the biggest difference was not in his velocity, which slipped marginally, but in his fastball command. He simply left too many balls over the heart of the plate and was hit hard. A maximum-effort pitcher who generally likes to go right at hitters, Kahn always had trouble mastering a breaking ball, but that pitch actually improved this year.

20. DIALLO FON, of (National Ranking: 112)
School: Las Lomas HS.
Hometown: Walnut Creek, Calif.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Oct. 3, 1986.
College Commitment: Vanderbilt.
Scouting Report: Fon, who also goes by the name of Diallo Achu, has an interesting background in that his parents divorced when he was two, and his father moved back to Africa. He keeps in contact with him by e-mail. Fon’s style and approach remind scouts of Twins outfielder Jacque Jones. He has similar tools, a similar batting stroke and similarly good power for a player with a slight build. On the 20-80 scouting scale, Fon’s power grades as a 45 now and 60 down the road. The ball jumps off his bat and he has a history of hitting with wood as a longtime member of the Norcal youth travel team, one of the nation’s best youth programs. Fon is a slightly below-average runner with a slightly below-average arm, but he compensates for those shortcomings by getting good jumps in center field and having sound baserunning instincts. Fon’s mother would like for him to honor his college commitment to Vanderbilt, but he reportedly wants to sign—especially if he’s picked in the first three or four rounds, as expected.

21. CHRIS NICOLL, rhp (National Ranking: 121)
School: UC Irvine.
Hometown: Santa Maria, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Oct. 30, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Blue Jays 2002 (43).
Scouting Report: Nicoll has drawn favorable comparisons to Jason Windsor, who led Cal State Fullerton to the 2004 College World Series title and was the event’s Most Outstanding Player. There is a parallel between the two because new UC Irvine coach Dave Serrano worked with Windsor as the pitching coach at Fullerton before he took the Irvine job. Like Windsor, Nicoll has an excellent feel for pitching. He commands an 88-90 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and has a knack for making hitters swing at pitches out of the strike zone. Overall, his stuff is a little short. His slider is inconsistent but he gets good deception. Tall and lanky with a refined delivery, Nicoll projects to throw harder. He is coming off a fine season last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he went 4-1, 1.70 for Orleans. After being used in a swing role his first two years, he has been the ace of the Anteaters staff this spring, going 6-3, 2.34 with nine-inning averages of 9.2 strikeouts and 1.9 walks. Like Windsor, he has a chance to go as high as the third round but also could go as late as the fifth or sixth.

22. TYSON ROSS, rhp (National Ranking: 130)
School: Bishop O’Dowd HS.
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: April 22, 1987.
College Commitment: California.
Scouting Report: Ross has barely scratched the surface of his ability, yet that has been enough to make him the No. 1 pitcher on one of the nation’s undefeated high school teams. Through his first 55 innings, he was 8-0, 0.38 with 88 strikeouts and only 14 walks. Ross throws his fastball in the 88-92 mph range now, but will gain velocity as he fills out his lean 6-foot-6 frame and revamps his mechanics. He has the highest ceiling of any Northern California high school pitcher, and scouts say he could throw 100 mph one day if it all comes together. He needs to incorporate his legs and lower half in his delivery and not rely so much on his arm, though he has an easy, quick arm action from a funky three-quarters slot. He has a sharp slurve for a breaking pitch, and it has similar upside as his fastball. Where Ross will hone his craft is a matter of debate, however, because his father is a doctor and wants his son to attend college.

23. MIKE COLLA, rhp (National Ranking: 138)
School: Clovis West HS.
Hometown: Fresno.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: Dec. 23, 1986.
College Commitment: Arizona.
Scouting Report: The Fresno area has its best crop of high school arms in years. Colla is the best pitcher of the bunch and possibly the most complete pitcher in the northern half of the state. As the ace for Clovis West High, one of the nation’s top-ranked high school teams, he has gone 10-2, 1.17 this spring with a strikeout-walk ratio of 5-1. A year ago, he went 9-2, 1.60 and spun a no-hitter in the game that clinched the sectional championship, the pinnacle of competition in California because the state doesn’t play a state championship. An intense competitor, Colla is polished and poised for a high school pitcher. He has command of two solid average pitches: a 90-91 mph fastball with room for growth and a tight slider. He’s also physically mature for his age. Scouts say he’s as prepared as any high school player in the entire draft for the daily grind of professional baseball, but he’s not expected to be an easy sign because of a strong commitment to Arizona. He could go as early as the second round or as late as the sixth.

24. DAVID HUFF, lhp (National Ranking: 148)
School: Cypress (Calif.) JC.
Hometown: Huntington Beach, Calif.
B-T: B-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Aug. 22, 1984.
College Commitment: UCLA.
Previously Drafted: Angels 2003 (31).
Scouting Report: Huff instantly became one of the marquee pitchers at the junior college level when he dropped out of UC Irvine after his freshman year and transferred to Cypress, a perennial California power. He went 3-0, 3.00 in 31 appearances at Irvine last year and dominated the Cape Cod League last summer, posting the league’s fourth-best ERA at 1.09. He was expected to be even more dominant this spring, but a lack of run support and a loss of velocity, blamed on tenderness in his forearm, contributed to a disappointing 2-2, 3.17 record, though his secondary numbers were still impressive. His fastball, clocked at 87-88 mph early in the season, eventually dipped to 82-85. Huff’s signature pitch, however, is his changeup. It’s such an impressive offering that scouts say it resembles the one thrown by Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. Huff also has an exceptional feel for pitching and locates all his pitches well. He’s reportedly asking for first- or second-round money, which may cause clubs to steer away and clear the way for him to rejoin former Irvine coach John Savage, now at UCLA. Huff strengthened one of the nation’s top recruiting classes when he became the Bruins 14th recruit in late April.

25. JARED LANSFORD, rhp/2b (National Ranking: 149)
School: St. Francis HS.
Hometown: Santa Clara, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Oct. 22, 1986.
College Commitment: Santa Clara.
Scouting Report: The Lansfords have been one of the first families of baseball in the Santa Clara, Calif., area for two generations. Carney Lansford, Jared’s father, played 15 seasons in the big leagues and won the 1981 American League batting title for the Red Sox. Carney’s brothers, Phil (Indians, 1978) and Joe (Padres, 1979), were both first-round picks. His older son Josh, a Rangers draft pick in 2003, plays third base at Cal Poly and should be drafted again next year. Jared was expected to be a solid mid-round pick as a second baseman, but that was before his fastball was clocked at 93-94 mph. Suddenly, interest in Lansford as a pitcher took off, to a point that scouts say he could be picked as early as the second or third rounds. Lansford had pitched a lot prior to this year, but had only touched 90 and had a fringy breaking ball. Not only did his velocity spike this year, but his command, breaking ball and changeup have also been substantially better. The biggest quandary scouts have faced is that Carney wants Jared to be considered only as a position player—something every other Lansford has been—or he’ll steer his son to college, either at Santa Clara or a junior college, where he would have the flexibility to both play and pitch.

26. DAVID COOPER, of/lhp (National Ranking: 153)
School: Tokay HS.
Hometown: Stockton, Calif.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Feb. 12, 1987.
College Commitment: Cal State Fullerton.
Scouting Report: Cooper is one of the nation’s best two-way talents, and his versatility led USA Baseball to select him to the team that participated in the World Junior Championship in Taiwan last fall. It turned out that he played in the outfield only and hit .319. There is a split camp among pro scouts whether he profiles better as a hitter or pitcher. Most scouts say his greater upside is with the bat, and he would be selected a couple of rounds earlier in that role. He was hitting .529-11-44 this spring, while he had struck out 71 in 40 innings and walked five. He’s not overly athletic but wins universal praise for being a pure baseball player. Some even have compared his style and tools to former Cal State Fullerton outfielder/lefthander Mark Kotsay, and not because he has committed to the Titans. He has learned to drive balls better as he has gotten stronger, but his speed is below-average. On the mound, Cooper works between 86-88 mph, while touching 89—velocity that is acceptable in college, but a little short for pro ball. Nothing he throws is straight, however, and he gets good depth on his curveball.

27. DeSEAN JACKSON, of (National Ranking: 159)
School: Poly HS.
Hometown: Long Beach.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: Dec. 1, 1986.
College Commitment: California (football).
Scouting Report: One of the top two-sport athletes in the draft, Jackson has made more of a name as a football player and is regarded by football scouts as a future NFL player. He was the most valuable player in a high school all-America game in December, when he caught seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, and was the Los Angeles Times player of the year in 2004 for a Poly team that won its district championship. Jackson considered Southern California and all the other top college football programs but committed to play football at California in part because of its strong academics. He scored 1,280 on the SAT. While he professes to like football more, a big bonus may steer him to baseball. He reportedly has put out a $1 million price tag. Scouts worry, however, that like many other baseball/football stars he’d take his bonus money and run back to football at the first sign of struggle, which he’s almost certain to do because of his limited time on the baseball field. While his superior athletic ability, blazing speed and above-average arm strength are attractive tools, Jackson has difficulty hitting with wood. Breaking balls have eaten him alive at times. He also lacks instincts for the game, particularly in the outfield. With so many variables, Jackson could go in the first few rounds, or not at all.

28. MIKE DURANT, 1b (National Ranking: 160)
School: Berkeley HS.
Hometown: Berkeley, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 250. Birthdate: Jan. 27, 1987.
College Commitment: Fresno State.
Scouting Report: Six-foot-3, 260-pound Henry Sanchez of San Diego would be the undisputed favorite in a home run derby among the nation’s top high school power hitters in this year’s draft, but Durant would be right on his heels. He launched a number of tape-measure shots this spring while hitting .435-11-30 in his first 46 at-bats. He’s a better, more versatile athlete than Sanchez because he plays third base and pitches for his high school team, but he’s not as polished as a hitter. The ball jumps off his bat, but he gets beat on inside pitches, swings and misses too often and has difficulty hitting a breaking ball. He’s surprisingly mobile around the bag but will be limited to first base. The Dodgers surprised a lot of people by picking 6-foot-1, 230-pound first baseman Cory Dunlap in the third round last year, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone this year if Durant was selected about the same time. He is considered easier to sign than the average high school player.

29. MATT NEVAREZ, rhp (National Ranking: 166)
School: San Fernando HS.
Hometown: San Fernando, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: Feb. 26, 1987.
College Commitment: None.
Scouting Report: The draft isn’t always about selecting players where their talent warrants. Some players go earlier because they have little leverage and won’t cost teams much to sign; others slide because of their price tags or college commitments. Nevarez is an example of the former. A big, strong pitcher capable of throwing 92-93 mph, he has no four-year college options and should be a prime target for a team looking for value in the first five rounds. Nevarez has makeup issues that concern some clubs, but he has good athletic ability. He played football and basketball for four years in high school, and was an all-city quarterback and punter in Los Angeles. He also plays in the outfield when he doesn’t pitch. His pitching skills are unrefined. He averaged almost a walk an inning and struggles with his control, but scouts are intrigued with his arm strength and projection because he’s tall and loose.

30. JUSTIN BLAINE, lhp (National Ranking: 168)
School: San Diego.
Hometown: Westlake Village, Calif.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: March 12, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Blaine is the top college pitcher in San Diego eligible for this year’s draft, even though he ranks as no better than the third-best pitching prospect on his own staff. A year from now when they become eligible, USD teammates Nate Boman and Josh Butler are expected to be premium picks. Blaine carried much of the pitching load this year, however, after Boman was lost to arm surgery. He was the first college pitcher to reach 100 innings and he may have tired down the stretch as his performance was inconsistent and his stuff flattened out. In 117 innings, he had struck out 106 and walked 58. His fastball touched 91 mph, but more commonly registered in the 87-89 range late in the year. His other stuff is considered just fair, but he can be tough on lefthanded hitters. A .500 pitcher at the college level prior to this season, Blaine had a big summer in the Cape Cod League in 2004, which elevated his stock. He has drawn mixed interest this spring; some teams see high as a fourth- to sixth-rounder while others see him closer to a 10th-rounder.

31. CHARLIE CUTLER, c (National Ranking: 169)
School: Lowell HS.
Hometown: San Francisco.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: July 29, 1986.
College Commitment: California.
Scouting Report: In terms of sheer performance, no one in this year’s draft can match the numbers Cutler has compiled the last two years. He hit .636 in 2004 and set a California high school record with 71 RBIs. He may have been even better this year, batting .622-7-58 and posting a walk-to-strikeout ratio of 23-3 and a 1.153 slugging percentage. He had also stolen 39 bases in 41 attempts. Cutler has natural hitting skills but he has overmatched his competition in a weak league in San Francisco, where many pitchers throw as slow as 75 mph. Scouts said he began to develop bad habits in his frustration about not being pitched to. Cutler gave scouts a truer indication of what he’s capable of doing with the bat when he handled superior pitching at last year’s Area Code Games. He has gap power and is an average runner with average arm strength, though is considered raw behind the plate. He is a smart kid and could be a special player with two or three years of quality instruction. He is leaning heavily to college, so his signability could cause him to plummet in the draft.

32. MARK WAGNER, c (National Ranking: 186)
School: UC Irvine.
Hometown: Lakewood, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: June 11, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Braves 2002 (29).
Scouting Report: As a 29th-round draft pick of the Braves out of high school and a member of the 2002 Connie Mack World Series champion Long Beach Cardinals, there were high expectations for Wagner when he entered UC Irvine. But he hit a combined .279 his first two years and struggled behind the plate. This year, he has been one of the most improved college players in the state. He shortened his swing, was hitting .362 with a lot of quality at-bats, and had struck out 11 times in 185 plate appearances while settling into the No. 3 hole in the Irvine lineup. His improvement also carried over to the defensive side, as he has caught the ball much better and had thrown out more runners. His arm strength isn’t what it was in high school, but he has compensated with a quicker release. Wagner has lost some athleticism as his lower half has thickened, but he is durable behind the plate and built for the daily grind of catching.

33. BRAD BARRAGER, rhp (National Ranking: 187)
School: Golden West (Calif.) JC.
Hometown: Upland, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: Nov. 5, 1985.
College Commitment: None.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Barrager, a redshirt freshman, is a longshot to be picked in the early rounds because he pitched only a handful of innings this spring after Tommy John surgery in February 2004, just as he was to start his career at Cal State Northridge. He created a lot of buzz among Southern California scouts when his fastball was clocked at 92-94 mph in one- and two-inning stints this spring. He also showed the makings of a plus slider. Before his surgery, Barrager’s fastball peaked in the high 80s. He may not be ready for professional baseball yet but he could be a premium draft-and-follow. With a 6-foot-4 frame and above-average velocity in a fresh arm, his upside is considerable and teams may be reluctant to pass on a pitcher who might be worth seven figures a year from now.

34. REID HAMBLET, rhp (National Ranking: 191)
School: Biola (Calif.).
Hometown: Olympia, Wash.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: Sept. 11, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Todd and Tim Worrell are tiny Biola University’s most famous major league alumni, and former big league pitcher John Verhoeven continues to churn out professional prospects. Biola had three players drafted in 2004 and will have at least two more this year in Hamblet and 6-foot-5 junior righthander Garret Hill. Hill (8-2, 2.04) outpitched Hamblet (6-3, 2.71) this year, but Hamblet is considered the better prospect because he has command of four pitches, including an easy 89-90 mph fastball that touches 93, and he commands his stuff to both sides of the plate. He also has an exceptional changeup. Verhoeven has reworked Hamblet’s delivery, converting him from a drop-and-drive approach to a more stand-up pitcher with a longer stride. Almost 100 scouts—a rare sight at a small-college game--were on hand earlier this spring to see Hamblet hook up with Azusa Pacific righthander Jason Ray, whose fastball was clocked at 95 mph.

35. BRETT WALLACE, 3b (National Ranking: 192)
School: Justin Siena HS.
Hometown: Sonoma, Calif.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: Aug. 26, 1986.
College Commitment: Arizona State.
Scouting Report: He doesn’t have the prettiest approach and isn’t the most athletic player, but few players in this year’s draft can hit rockets like Wallace can. “In my 17 years of coaching, he’s the best player I’ve coached as far as swinging the bat,” Justin Siena coach Alan Rossi said. “When he comes to the plate, everyone stops what they’re doing.” Scouts concur, saying Wallace is the best pure high school hitter in Northern California. In leading Justin Siena to wins in its first 19 games, Wallace was hitting .577-11-32. A lefthanded hitter, he has little trouble hitting lefthanded pitchers—a rare feat for a high school player. The rest of his tools are below-average, except for his arm, so he could move across the diamond to first base. He has limited mobility around the bag because of a thick lower half, and he runs the 60-yard dash in just 7.1 seconds. But he can really juice it and his bat should earn him strong consideration in the first four or five rounds.

36. JUSTIN SELLERS, ss (National Ranking: 194)
School: Marina HS.
Hometown: Huntington Beach, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 160. Birthdate: Feb. 1, 1986.
College Commitment: Cal State Fullerton.
Scouting Report: Sellers is a tremendous baseball player in a small package. His tools, instincts and style of play compare to former Arizona State All-America shortstop Dustin Pedroia, who pound-for-pound may have been the best player in college baseball in 2004 and is rapidly climbing the ladder in the Red Sox system. Scouts say Sellers is the best defensive shortstop in Southern California, combining sure, soft hands with excellent range. At the plate, he’s wiry strong and swings the bat well, but his power potential is negligible, especially with wood. He was hitting .407-4-16 in 86 at-bats this spring. Beyond his tools, his greatest strength is an advanced knowledge of how to play the game—not surprising because his father is former big league pitcher Jeff Sellers, who played for the Red Sox from 1985-88. Sellers is considered signable in spite of his commitment to Cal State Fullerton.

37. ANDREW LOPEZ, of (National Ranking: 195)
School: Elk Grove HS.
Hometown: Elk Grove, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Jan. 18, 1987.
College Commitment: Long Beach State.
Scouting Report: Lopez wasn’t even considered one of the three best players on his high school team at the start of the 2005 season, but has improved so dramatically that he’s now considered the premier position player in the entire Sacramento area, and a possible fourth- or fifth-round pick. He has improved his average in three years from .284 as a sophomore to .407 as a junior and .479 as a senior, and has become a feared power hitter in the process. He also has developed a good eye at the plate and had posted a .646 on-base percentage this year. Besides power, Lopez’ other big tool is his arm. He was bothered by a bad elbow in 2004 but now has an above-average right-field arm. Like McClatchy High righthander Vance Worley, the top pitching prospect in Sacramento, Lopez has committed to Long Beach State, but the 49ers might not get either because both are expected to be early-round picks.

38. BRANDON CRAWFORD, ss (National Ranking: 200)
School: Foothill HS.
Hometown: Pleasanton, Calif.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Jan. 21, 1987.
College Commitment: UCLA.
Scouting Report: Few players have generated a more split opinion than Crawford, who is a solid third- to fifth-round talent on some boards while being a longshot to be drafted on others. Those who like him say he’s the best shortstop in Northern California, and the best to come out of the Bay Area since Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was a second-round pick in 1996. They see Crawford as an outstanding athlete with no weaknesses. He put up big numbers as the quarterback on his high school football team, runs the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds and has a quality lefthanded bat capable of turning around 93-94 mph heat. He was hitting .351 with six homers and 17 stolen bases. Others are less convinced he can stick at shortstop because he doesn’t have the arm or legs for the position, and see him landing at either second or third base. Either way, he’ll be a tough sign because he is a strong student who has committed to UCLA. The Bruins believe he can become another Chase Utley, who entered UCLA as an unsigned second-rounder and departed three years later as the Phillies' first-round pick.


OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in California)

Titans Thrive With Deep Roster

Defending College World Series champion Cal State Fullerton has been ranked No. 1 much of the spring, even if it has only one player projected to go in the first five rounds. The secret to the Titans’ continued success is their depth, and they could have 12 to 15 players drafted including all nine regulars and a couple of part-time players.

3B Ronnie Prettyman (52) remained eligible to sign with the Brewers before the draft as a fifth-year senior, after being picked in the 29th round a year ago. But with Fullerton likely to still be playing on June 7, he’ll be required to go back into the draft—costing him leverage. His profile compares to Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg, who was a valuable senior on Southern California’s 1998 College World Series championship team, became a ninth-round pick in that year’s draft and moved quickly to the big leagues. Prettyman’s tools are a little short, but he has excellent instincts and all the baseball skills to play in the big leagues. Defensively, he could play there now. He’s not especially fast, but he has excellent range at third and comes in well on slow rollers. The knock on Prettyman is he lacks the power demanded in his position. Scouts say he could become a valuable swingman, capable of playing second and shortstop in addition to third.

OF Sergio Pedroza (50) is one of the best college hitters on the West Coast. At .341-12-46, he led the Titans in all three triple-crown categories. He has a nice, loose swing with quick hands and power to all fields. But at 5-foot-10, he's not tall enough to be an early-round pick and his other tools are below-average, except his arm strength.

Pedroza’s outfield mates, center fielder Bobby Andrews (88) and left fielder Danny Dorn (56) should also be selected in the first 10-12 rounds. Andrews has the most tools and athletic ability of the three, but offers little power potential. Dorn would have been a better pick as either a freshman or sophomore because he had better years at the plate. He has seen his average dip from .348 to .318 to .263, with no appreciable increase in power. He reminds scouts of Angels outfielder Garret Anderson. He’s lefthanded, has a long, lanky body, is a solid defensive outfielder, can run and he knows the strike zone.

The Titans have three sophomore-eligible players who could be solid first-day picks, but all may slide because of signability concerns. Switch-hitting SS Blake Davis (78) has solid actions in the field and can swing the bat for his size, but his 5-foot-11, 155-pound frame is a concern to scouts. 1B Brett Pill (80) has an impressive bat. He stays inside the ball well and takes good at-bats, but he doesn’t project enough power yet in his thin 6-foot-4 frame. He has a high price tag, but it’s unlikely a team will spend what’s necessary to but him out of two more years with the Titans. C John Curtis (95) spent his first two years as an understudy to regular catchers P.J. Pilittere and Kurt Suzuki and needs more experience before he’s ready to go out. But he’s a 6-foot-3 lefthanded hitter with above-average catch-and-throw skills.

2B Justin Turner (141) has the potential to be a shortstop at the professional level, even though he’s spent his college career with the Titans almost exclusively at second. The Titans say he’s too valuable a defender at second to move him.

LHP Ryan Schreppel (61) had expectations of being a future first-round pick as a freshman, when his fastball was clocked at 94 mph. But he’s been plagued by injuries and bouts of wildness. He injured one knee as a freshman and spent most of this season on the disabled list after surgery on his other knee. He decided to have the surgery when his velocity dipped to the mid-80s. His fastball and changeup are plus pitches at times, but he lacks a workable breaking ball. How he bounces back just before the draft will determine whether he goes in the first five or 10 rounds, or slides and returns for his senior year.

Draft Day At The Beach

Long Beach State has produced more premium pitching prospects in the last two drafts than any college in the country. With a 2.30 team ERA, this year’s staff may be the most effective yet.

Senior RHP Neil Jamison (39) passed up an opportunity to go pro last year when he rejected an eighth-round offer from the Mets. He may not have hurt himself by returning to Long Beach for his senior year. As one of the nation’s premier closers, he didn’t allow an earned run in his first 24 innings this year. He saved 11 games, posted a 4-0 record and had walked just two batters while striking out 21. He is loose and athletic with two quality pitches: an aggressive 88-92 mph fastball and a 79-82 slider with depth. He has a feel for a changeup, but rarely used it in his current role. He has the makeup to close and could be effective in that role in the low minors, but projects as a big league set-up man because he doesn’t have a pitch to put away quality lefthanded hitters. As a senior sign, he’ll be attractive to a team that values performance over raw stuff.

RHP Marco Estrada (72) posted a 7-2, 2.32 record with 101 strikeouts in 101 innings as Long Beach State’s Saturday starter. He has four solid pitches, with a fastball that touches 93 and the best curveball on the staff. But at 6 feet with little downhill plane, he is not expected to be picked before the sixth or seventh rounds.

Every team in the Big West Conference has at least one player who could go in the first 10 rounds. For a time, it didn’t appear that UC Riverside would make the cut, but RHP Anthony Claggett (42) was one of the finds of the spring in Southern California. Primarily a backup middle infielder his first two years in college, Claggett began pitching in the fall and as a part-time closer he didn’t allow his first earned run until deep into the season. Overall, he was 1-1, 2.08 with three saves in 17 appearances. He has two above-average pitches, an 88-90 mph fastball that touches 93 and a lively 83-84 mph slider. He has a loose, live arm.

Like Jamison, Cal Poly senior RHP Jimmy Shull (54) was an unsigned eighth-round pick from the 2004 draft. A converted shortstop, he came on last year, showcasing an 88-92 mph fastball with good sinking action and a plus slider, but didn’t sign because he thought he could improve his draft position this year. He was hot and cold most of this season before again turning it on down the stretch with a fastball that peaked at 94. His late surge could improve his draft position by two or three rounds.

OF Brandon Roberts (51) is a third Cal Poly player who could be drafted in the top seven or eight rounds. Speed and hitting for average are his best tools. A slap hitter who makes regular contact, he led the Alaska League with a .373 average last summer. He’s been clocked in the 60-yard dash in 6.41 seconds and from the left side of the plate to first in 4.0. But his speed is often wasted in the outfield because he doesn’t get good enough reads on balls to play center, and his arm is better suited for left. His poor instincts have often relegated him to DH, which creates a problem for scouts because he lacks the raw power to play anywhere but center.

UC Santa Barbara RHP Steve Morlock (70) has shown signs of greatness at times, with a fastball that tops at 93 mph, along with two other plus pitches. But with a 5-7, 6.59 record this spring, he has been inconsistent, often losing his stuff and command in the middle innings. Cal State Northridge’s best draft pick should be lefthanded-hitting OF Mike Paulk (71), who led his team with 12 homers and 42 RBIs. He has impressive bat speed but doesn’t have a great feel for the game.

Slim Pickings in Pac-10

With Arizona and Oregon State dominating the standings, it's clearly an unconventional year in the Pacific-10 Conference. One of Stanford’s weakest teams in years will still produce potential first-rounders in Jed Lowrie and John Mayberry Jr., while Southern Cal’s Jeff Clement should be the first catcher drafted. But it could be another 150-200 picks before the next player goes.

All of Stanford’s projected early-round picks have underachieved. Junior LHP Mark Romanczuk (47) entered Stanford as an unsigned fifth-round pick of the Devil Rays after being clocked at 92-93 mph at a Delaware high school. His fastball now tops out at 89-90 and is more commonly 85-87. He lacks a true out pitch and relies now mainly on command to win. His best pitch has become a hard slurve, and he mixes it with a big, slow curve and a decent changeup. He’s a master at exploiting a college hitter’s weaknesses and won more games than any pitcher in school history in his first two years, going 23-5. He also went 8-1 over the last two summers for Team USA. But he was 5-5, 4.11 this year, raising the possibility that he might not even be drafted. Teams are always reluctant to buy a pitcher out of Stanford eligibility—let alone one with below-average stuff who is represented by Scott Boras.

After playing sparingly his first two years at Stanford, C John Hester (69) had an all-star season in the Alaska League last summer. But he didn’t build on his success this spring, struggling with breaking balls and hitting just .295-5-35. He had a reputation as a solid defender with a suspect bat, but didn’t develop a great rhythm behind the plate either, boxing balls and showing just average arm strength.

Like Romanczuk, UCLA redshirt sophomore OF Jarrad Page (77) was an unsigned fifth-round pick out of high school. Almost all of his success since has come on the football field, where he was an all-conference defensive back last fall. He didn’t play baseball at all as a freshman and has played sparingly since, with fewer than 200 at-bats in three years. He struggled at the plate this season, hitting just .149-1-9, striking out at a high rate and showing little aptitude to hit a breaking ball. Still, scouts say he could go anytime after the third round strictly on his tools. He’s an outstanding center fielder, with excellent range and an above-average arm. He has the kind of live, athletic frame that suggests he'll hit, but he would need four or five full seasons in the minors to tap into that potential. He has indicated a willingness to give up football to give professional baseball a try.

Redshirt sophomore RHP Hector Ambriz (64) produced UCLA's best ERA (3.77) and batting average (.333) this season, but his stock slipped nonetheless. A potential third- to fifth-rounder at the start of the year after missing 2004 with an arm injury, he was hampered by a knee injury as he tried to feel his way back. His velocity peaked at only 88-89 mph and he didn’t show an average pitch. He now projects as a middle reliever.

Junior 3B Billy Hart (85) may be the best of USC’s potential draft picks after Clement. A backup quarterback on the Trojans' back-to-back national championship football teams, Hart hasn’t played a lot of baseball in his college years but his bat is a projectable.

California has little to offer in this year’s draft, but should be a major player in 2006 when OF Brennan Boesch and RHP Brandon Morrow, both sophomores, become eligible. RHPs Adam Gold (82) and Matt Swanson (102) could go in the top 10 rounds, Gold as a junior righthanded specialist with an 87-89 mph fastball and a sweeping 78-79 breaking ball. The 6-foot-7 Swanson, a senior closer with an 88-93 mph fastball, went 6-2, 1.34 this spring but projects as a set-up man in pro ball.

Pereira Rights USF Ship

San Francisco enjoyed one of its best seasons in years, on the strength of a pitching staff with a sub-3.00 ERA.

The staff was led by 6-foot senior RHP Nick Pereira (59), who went 10-3, 2.21 with 93 strikeouts in 106 innings. A converted middle infielder who didn’t begin pitching until his sophomore year in junior college, Pereira confused hitters with a deceptive delivery, a sinking fastball that touched 92-93 mph and a hard, late-breaking slider.

Elsewhere in the West Coast Conference, Loyola Marymount junior RHP Jeff Stevens (62) outpitched Stephen Kahn, his more celebrated teammate, though he went just 6-7, 3.97 himself with 76 strikeouts in 100 innings. He has good stuff, gets good deception on a 90-91 mph fastball and improved breaking ball, and demonstrated better command and competitiveness than Kahn.

Pepperdine’s best pitcher was junior LHP Paul Coleman (89), who went 9-1, 2.51 with 86 strikeouts in 97 innings. His success stemmed mainly from the deception he gets on an 86-90 mph fastball. His slider was a tough offering against righthanded hitters.

St. Mary’s junior 3B Bryan Byrne (68) has been compared throughout his career to his predecessor, Mark Teahen, a defensive whiz and a supplemental first-round pick of the Athletics in 2002. Byrne’s stock dropped this spring when a suspect arm action forced him from third to second to first, and finally to DH. Byrne compares favorably to Teahen as a hitter, and has demonstrated better pull power, though it may not be consistent enough for him to play first—if a position switch is in order.

Santa Clara’s best draft probably would have been senior OF Nic Crosta, an unsigned 17th-round pick of the Rangers in 2004. But he was dismissed from the team in early April for violating a team rule. He was hitting .234-2-10 at the time while pressing to duplicate last season’s .341-11-46 effort. Scouts remain intrigued by his above-average power potential.

Fresno State junior RHP Doug Fister (100) started at first base on Fridays and Saturdays and took the mound on Sundays in most Western Athletic Conference series this year. Though his velocity was normally 88-91 mph, he has a ways to go to fill out his 6-foot-8, 195-pound frame, and scouts believe he will add velocity as he puts on another 20-30 pounds.

Fourth-year junior OF Travis Becktel (99) is San Jose State’s best draft pick. He has solid tools and a style of play reminiscent of Athletics outfielder Eric Byrnes. San Diego State’s best pick figures to be 5-foot-7 junior SS James Guerrero (87), who has excellent baseball skills but profiles more as a filler in the middle infield.

Better Days Ahead At UCLA

UCLA hit bottom this year, with the worst season in school history in John Savage’s debut as coach. At one point, the Bruins lost a school record 19 straight games. But the respected Savage should get the program turned around. His incoming recruiting class could be one of the nation’s best, even if John Drennen, a potential first-rounder, is lost to professional baseball.

LHP/OF Tim Murphy (41) is a solid two-way prospect who scouts believe has more upside on the mound. Because of his preference to be an everyday right fielder--and his desire for second-round money--he will probably end up at UCLA, however. He had more success at the plate this season, hitting .446-4-12 from the left side, but he may be doomed in the long term as a position player by a lack of speed. His performance on the mound was encouraging but erratic. He can generate 92-93 mph fastballs, but does not throw a lot of strikes and doesn’t have a lot of control unless he takes 3-4 mph off his velocity. His breaking ball is raw.

RHP Brian Kirwan (65) had high hopes of being an early-round pick after flashing above-average velocity at last summer’s Area Code Games. But he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last November playing quarterback for his high school football team and didn't take the mound again until late April. He was brought along slowly, but his velocity was back in the low to mid-90s by mid-May. The 6-foot-4 Kirwan looked like a good bet to end up at UCLA, but his late surge may cause a team to take a flier on him, monitor his rehabilitation over the summer and make a run at signing him before classes start in the fall.

C Ryan Babineau (53) is reportedly asking for third-round money to pass on his UCLA commitment, but teams may be unwilling to meet his asking price because of questions about his bat. He has a suspect swing that may not translate to wood, though he has power potential. Babineau is one of the most athletic high school catchers in the country, however, and has excellent catch-and-throw skills. His arm is his best tool.

UCLA rival Southern California's best in-state recruit is RHP Ryan Cook (79). He’s not expected to be drafted high enough to pass up college, though his fastball topped out at 94 mph this spring—a sharp increase from last year when he pitched sparingly on his high school team.

A strong Cal State Fullerton recruiting class should take a significant hit, as Ryan Mount and Ryan Tucker should be picked in the first two rounds, and David Cooper could go two or three rounds later. That’s why 6-foot-5, 205-pound RHP Michael Anderson (57) became a pivotal recruit when the Titans signed him in April. Anderson, a high school quarterback of note, had hoped to sign with a high-profile college football program. When none came calling in the February signing period, he turned his attention back to baseball. Though raw, he’s come on this spring and impressed scouts with a fastball that peaked at 94 mph.

Fresno State will have to sweat out two significant recruits on draft day, RHP Tanner Scheppers (40) and LHP/1B Justin Wilson (55). Scheppers was primarily a shortstop until last year and took up pitching seriously just last summer. The next thing he knew, his fastball was touching 93 mph and he drew attention from recruiters and scouts. He showed electric stuff this spring, flashing an 83-84 mph slider to go with his big fastball. He was 1-2, 1.81 with 29 strikeouts in his first 27 innings on a weak team. He had no one who was capable of catching him and often had to back off his velocity. His best days are ahead of him. He has a live, projectable body to go with an easy arm stroke. He projects to go from the fourth to the 10th round and has indicated a willingness to sign. Wilson, meanwhile, was clocked at 88-90 mph while touching 92. He can match Mike Colla, the best pitching prospect in the Fresno area in velocity, but lacks his command. Wilson is an accomplished enough hitter to play both ways at Fresno State.

Gwynn Keeps His Fingers Crossed

San Diego State coach Tony Gwynn continues to rack up commitments from some of the premier high school players in California, with Sean O’Sullivan and Henry Sanchez his top catches this year. He hasn't hung on to one yet, and that isn't likely to change with with O'Sullivan or Henry.

He’s got a better than average chance to hang on to RHP Dan Cortes (66) and SS Nick Romero (75), however. Cortes has a raw approach to pitching because he had little instruction until this year, but his fastball ranges from 89-93 mph and he has learned to throw a spike curveball to complement it. Scouts are divided on Romero’s worth. His supporters say he’s a sound defensive shortstop with a cannon arm and the overall ability to go in the first five rounds. His detractors say he’s no better than a 10th- to 15th-rounder, his arm will push him to second base at the next level and his speed may push him out of the middle infield altogether. He has bat speed from both sides of the plate and should hit with wood, but may lack the power to play on a corner.

Former big leaguer Ed Sprague Jr. is slowly building at Pacific and is counting on RHPs Ty’Relle Harris (113) and Casey Neimeier (143) to take a big step forward. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Harris is a Lee Smith look-alike whose fastball touches 90 now and should get harder as he concentrates on one sport, after playing three throughout his high school career. The 6-foot-7 Neimeier has divided his time between two sports as well, and may never tap his full baseball potential because he committed to college on a basketball scholarship.

RHP Eric Massingham (44), a Cal Poly recruit, ranked among the state’s top high school pitching prospects as a sophomore and junior, but a shoulder impingement at the start of his senior season caused his velocity to drop to the high 80s. He was still 7-1, 0.92 in his first 38 innings without his best stuff. In the past, Massingham showed a 91-92 mph fastball with excellent run, a plus changeup and average breaking ball.

Scouts say 5-foot-10, 165-pound LHP Josh Romanski (60) could be a first-rounder if he were two or three inches taller. He’s similar to Braves lefthander Mike Hampton, one of the best athletes among big league pitchers. Romanski dominated small-school competition this spring with command of a sinking fastball in the upper 80s that touched 90 and an above-average curve. His signability will determine his fate in the draft; he's a good student who has committed to San Diego.

Six-foot-2, 170-pound RHP Bryan Shaw (73), a St. Mary’s recruit, has been one of the biggest surprises of the spring. Scouts like his wiry, athletic build and have been impressed with a fastball that has touched 93.

Six-foot-5, 210-pound RHP Kevin Bunch (74) raised his profile when he made the decision to switch from catching to pitching, tapping into his arm strength. His fastball has been up to 90 mph, the ball comes out of his hand easily and he has the makings of a plus curveball. Bunch still catches for his high school team, and scouts predict he will show even more velocity when he gives up catching altogether.

California is recognized as a recruiting hotbed throughout the west, and colleges from neighboring states have come calling on some second-tier recruits. Lefthanded-hitting C Bryan Anderson (76), an Arizona recruit, had expectations of going in the top five rounds, but his offensive production fell off as he had little protection in the Simi Valley High lineup. Scouts say his throwing mechanics also regressed this spring—even as he threw out almost every basestealer. Anderson can swing the bat well enough if a position switch is in order, but his lack of speed may limit his options.

Esperanza High, a traditional Southern California power, will send its two best players to out-of-state colleges: RHP Matt Daly (104) to Hawaii, OF Joe Dickerson (118) to Texas. The 5-foot-8 Daly’s size and maximum-effort delivery work against him, but he has three impressive pitches, including a 92-94 mph fastball. Dickerson’s most marketable tool is his speed.

1B Xavier Scruggs (86) is the best talent at Poway High, possibly the state’s most talented high school team. He can swing the bat with enough power to warrant being drafted in the first 10 rounds, but his inconsistency, especially in his inability to make regular contact with breaking stuff, may push him to Nevada-Las Vegas.

Limited Options

While a majority of California’s top high school players have legitimate college options that will cause teams to pay close attention to their signability, several top prospects have limited options.

Among the most signable players in the state is 6-foot-7, 230-pound RHP John Holdzkom (49), who was academically ineligible to play for his high school team until late April. Even when he was reinstated, he pitched sparingly because of issues with his coach and control problems. In his first game back, he gave up nine runs in two innings while hitting three batters and making three wild pitches. Much like his brother Lincoln, who also came with makeup questions when he signed with the Marlins as a seventh-round pick in 2001, he has considerable upside. He has touched 93-94 in limited outings and workouts, and scouts believe there is more in there. A team will have to believe in its player-development department to warrant taking him in the first 10 rounds.

OF Roman Pena (83) has been lost in the shuffle in San Diego, with Drennen, O’Sullivan and Sanchez garnering most of the attention. But he has line-drive power to all fields, has been clocked from 85-88 mph on the mound, patrols center field with average speed and is eager to sign.

Fresno Monopolizes Juco Ranks

Fresno City College, a perennial state and national junior college power, has a significant talent base but may not play much of a role in the draft if some or all of its top prospects elect to sign as draft-and-follows.

The Rams' top player is 6-foot-5 sophomore RHP Andy Underwood (45), who was the California juco pitcher of the year as a freshman and was in line to win the award again. Under control to the Royals, who selected him in the 21st a round a year ago, he could re-enter the draft as a sixth- to 10th-rounder if he doesn’t sign. Though his velocity has dipped slightly from a year ago, he is polished for a juco pitcher. His best pitch is a 12-to-6 curveball at 76-78 mph that he can throw consistently for strikes. Should he elect not to sign, he will attend Fresno State.

Sophomore LHP Rollie Gibson (103) and freshman RHP Dominic Foster (132) also created a buzz among scouts. Gibson, an Oral Roberts recruit who is under control to the Mariners, throws harder than Underwood and has two other solid pitches, but he works with more effort and lacks Underwood’s command. Foster pitched sparingly at the start of the year as he tried to break into a veteran staff, but he was soon up to 93-95 mph when he began pitching more toward the end of the year.

Sacramento City College is renowned for producing pitchers and may have as many as four signed as draft-and-follows, though none is a premium talent. The best talent is power-hitting sophomore 1B Steven Alexander (67), a transfer from Santa Clara. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he has hit some of the longest home runs ever seen at Sac City. He didn’t strike out as often this spring as he learned how to harness his stroke and stay balanced with a compact swing.

Merced JC sophomore RHP Omar Aguilar (48) was the highest pick from last year’s draft to enroll in a junior college. An eighth-round selection of the Giants in 2004, he touched 98 mph in the fall and complemented it with an 84-85 mph power slider. But things went awry this spring when Aguilar came down with a sore elbow and worked just 20 innings. Doctors found no problems, but he was told not to throw for four weeks and go on a throwing program for another four weeks. Scouts say Aguilar could throw 100 mph one day.

With Sac City and Aguilar disappointing, the focus in Northern California turned to Cosumnes River JC, where RHP David Hernandez (58) and LHP Mike Hacker (147) enjoyed strong seasons. Hernandez, drafted by the Diamondbacks in 2004 after setting a school record for strikeouts as a freshman, has one of the quickest arms in the area with a fastball that has touched 93 mph. The 5-foot-8 Hacker went undrafted in high school but came on so fast this spring that he attracted national crosscheckers to his games. His fastball, only 84-86 mph in the fall, was clocked as high as 93 this spring.

Southern Jucos Short On Talent

The junior college ranks elsewhere in the state are dominated by draft-and-follows, but the cream of the crop in the southern part of the state is transfers from four-year colleges like Kenny Maiques, David Huff and Brad Barrager who will definitely go into the draft.

The most attractive draft-and-follow candidate in the area was LHP David Quinowski (63), who was drafted in the 46th round by the Giants a year ago. As expected, the Giants signed him before the draft. Quinowski’s fastball has been clocked up to 90 mph and he has shown the makings of a quality breaking ball. Like many smallish lefthanders in this draft, he has the same body, arm angle and aggressive style as Mike Hampton.

Quinowski’s teammate, freshman RHP Tommie Hansen (114), made even bigger strides this spring after not being drafted out of high school. Hansen originally enrolled at Sacramento State before transferring to Riverside. His best pitch is a sinking 86-87 mph fastball that tops out at 92.

C Matt Wallach (126), son of ex-big leaguer Tim Wallach, wasn’t drafted in 2004 but has made substantial strides in his conversion from third base after breaking his hamate bone in the fall. Wallach has excelled at throwing out runners and handling pitchers. His swing is similar to his fathers’s, though from the left side.

Reid Hamblet and Azusa Pacific junior RHP Jason Ray (46) are California’s top small college prospects and they hooked up in a game this spring that attracted nearly 100 scouts. Ray, a Farmington, N.M., native and a former New Mexico sharpshooting champion, was unheralded in two years at San Diego City College. He was a right fielder his freshman year, but his big arm led to his taking the mound on occasion as a sophomore. Used strictly as a pitcher this year after he transferred to Azusa Pacific, his velocity soared to 93-95 mph, touching 96. Though there’s effort to his delivery, he showed respectable command of his fastball for someone so new to pitching and generally held his velocity deep into games. His curve and circle changeup also made progress, but were inconsistent.

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