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By Alan Simpson
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. BEN COPELAND, of (National rank: 118)
Hometown: Bradford, Pa.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: Dec. 17, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Copeland put himself on the map with a big 2004 season. He set Pitt school records with 63 runs and 37 stolen bases and enjoyed an all-star summer in the Cape Cod League. With the Northeast portion of the country almost devoid of premium position prospects this year, he got more exposure than he may have otherwise, but it may have worked against him in a series against St. John’s when scouts saw him get overmatched by Craig Hansen and Anthony Varvaro, that school’s premium arms. He struck out several times and went on to strike out 47 times in 219 at-bats—a high number for a leadoff hitter. Overall, he hit .384-9-47 with 29 stolen bases and broke his own school record with 65 runs. Copeland has a live, athletic body. He’s not a burner, yet his best tool is his speed, which he uses instinctively on the bases and in center field. He didn’t play baseball his senior year of high school because of an injury and has shown his greatest improvement in three years in college at the plate, driving balls to the gap and using the whole field. He has a line drive stroke with emerging power and hands that are quick to the ball. He projects as a third- or fourth-rounder.
2. JEFF BIANCHI, ss (National rank: 126)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Pennsylvania)
Potential Premium Pick Can't Get On Field
St. Joseph’s RHP/OF Ryan Stadanlick (6) might have been the state’s first pick had he not been ruled academically ineligible for the 2005 season. Stadanlick led his team in home runs and stole 30 bases a year ago, and he was in the process of making a full-time conversion to pitching. The only real look scouts got at him on a mound this spring was in bullpen sessions, where he cut loose with a fastball that was clocked at 92-94 mph and a slider at 77-81. Stadanlick has limited experience pitching as he worked 17 innings as a sophomore, and seven more last summer in the Cape Code League. But he is intriguing because he has a fresh power arm with the potential to throw in the mid-90s one day. New St. Joseph’s coach Shawn Pender, who most recently was a crosschecker with the Orioles, recognized that Stadanlick had a hole in his swing that would be exposed at the professional level, negating his above-average power potential.
The Stidfole twins were the No. 1 and 2 starters at Penn State and enjoyed remarkably similar 2005 seasons, Alan (9), a 6-foot-2, 187-pound junior lefthander, and Sean (8), a 6-foot-3, 193-pound junior righthander, both won six games while averaging almost a strikeout an inning. Sean is viewed as a slightly better prospect. He has a four-pitch mix, including an 88-91 mph fastball and a quality slider.
Rangy 6-foot-4, 190-pound Kutztown RHP Kyle Sadlowski (4) is expected to be the first college pitcher drafted in Pennsylvania. He has a live arm that generates 92-93 mph fastballs and in capable of maintaining his velocity deep into games. He also flashed an above-average curveball on his way to compiling a 9-4, 3.78 record with 73 strikeouts in 83 innings.
Senior RHP Nick Allen (11) outpitched redshirt junior LHP Jim Baxter (7), his Villanova teammate, posting a 2.72 ERA compared to Baxter’s 6.14. But Baxter, who worked only midweek games after missing 2004 with Tommy John surgery, drew more interest with a fastball that touched 91. Allen, a strike thrower, showed flashes of brilliance, no-hitting Norfolk State and three-hitting Florida within a week. But his velocity was mostly 87-88 mph.
Next to Copeland, Penn State sophomore OF Matt Lewis (5) is the best position player in the Pennsylvania college ranks. He has a good line drive stroke and led the Nittany Lions with a .355 average. He also has the potential for power because he has good bat speed and stays inside the ball well. Nagging injuries limited him primarily to a DH role, but he has average speed and outfield skills.
RHP Brandon James (3) left a strong lasting impression when he struck out 20 without walking a batter in his final high school appearance, a game his team lost in extra innings. When it’s working efficiently, his breaking ball is his best pitch, but he also has an average to slightly above-average fastball.