2005 Draft Scouting Reports: South Carolina
By John Manuel
June 1, 2005
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||Solid, not spectacular
||Not up to par
||Nothing to see here
South Carolina is sending six teams into NCAA regional play, a testament
to the fervor for baseball in the state, and the talent beyond the flagship
programs of Clemson and South Carolina shows why so many teams have been
successful. The high school crop does not measure up, with the exception
of good friends Justin Smoak and Reese Havens, both of whom are committed
to South Carolina if they don't start their pro careers.
(National ranking in parentheses)
|Potential First-Round Picks
|1. Daniel Carte (46), of,
|Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks
2. Kris Harvey (84), rhp/dh, Clemson
3. Justin Smoak (95), 1b, Stratford HS, Goose Creek
4. Reese Havens (96), ss, Bishop England HS, Sullivan’s
5. Kevin Slowey (107), rhp, Winthrop
6. Mike Costanzo (123), 3b/rhp, Coastal Carolina
7. Stephen Tolleson (150), ss, South Carolina
8. Michael Campbell (157), of, South Carolina
|Others Of Note
| 9. Brett Gardner, of, College of Charleston
10. Brett Harker, rhp, College of Charleston
11. Chris LeRoux, rhp, Winthrop
12. Arik Hempy, lhp, South Carolina
13. DeAngelo Mack, of, West Columbia HS
14. Ricky Shefka, rhp, Coastal Carolina
15. Robert Rohrbaugh, lhp, Clemson
16. Steve Pearce, 1b, South Carolina
17. Alex Farotto, lhp, Riverside HS, Greer
18. Jon Wilson, rhp, Winthrop
19. Zac McCamie, rhp, South Carolina
20. Antonio Sabatini, of, Erskine
21. Aaron Rawl, rhp, South Carolina
22. Ben Blumenthal, c, Erskine
23. Ryan Hinson, lhp, Northwestern HS, Rock Hill
24. Casey Smith, 1b, Erskine
25. Michael DeJesus, 2b, Coastal Carolina
26. Forest Beverly, lhp, South Carolina
27. Conor Lalor, rhp, South Carolina
28. Keith Hill, c, Abbeville HS
29. Byron Binda, rhp, Coastal Carolina
1. DANIEL CARTE, of (National rank: 46)
: Hurricane, W.Va.
: R-R. Ht.
: 6-0. Wt.
: 190. Birthdate
: May 18, 1984.
: Carte, who led Hurricane High to its first West Virginia state title in any sport in 2002, emerged as one of the safer college picks in the draft after his dominating performance in the Cape Cod League last summer. Showing tools that are at least average across the board, Carte was BA’s Summer College Player of the Year after hitting .301-11-38 and becoming just the sixth player in Cape history to reach double figures in homers and stolen bases in the same summer. His strong hands and forearms generate excellent bat speed, giving him power to all fields. Carte battled a strained oblique muscle in his torso this spring that affected his plate coverage, causing him to swing and miss more than usual. As he got healthier toward the end of the season, he showed more of his Cape form and was expected to go in the second round. He runs well enough (4.2 seconds to first) that scouts think he could play center field, and he has enough power to play a corner if he can’t. He has flashed a plus arm at times as well.
2. KRIS HARVEY, rhp/dh (National rank: 84)
Hometown: Catawba, N.C.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Jan. 5, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Braves 2002 (5)
Scouting Report: The son of former all-star closer Bryan Harvey, Kris Harvey presents a tough case for scouts as a two-way college player who has great tools but remains raw even after three years at a high-level program. With his father’s background and guidance, Harvey looks like a pitcher to most teams, and he has two pitches that should grade out as above-average. His fastball has touched 97 mph this year, and his slider is usually in the high 80s--and some say it has touched 90. Scouts consider the slider his best pitch. If he adds the split-finger fastball that made his father an all-star, as some scouts expect him to do, he could be a devastating closer. Yet Harvey remains hittable (65 hits allowed in 60 innings) with a college career ERA of 5.34. His delivery lacks deception and his fastball comes in straight. Many scouts prefer his bat, as he has as much raw power as any college hitter. He was leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in home runs with 18 while splitting time between the mound and the batter’s box. He’s strictly a DH when he hits, though, and scouts aren’t sure what position he’d play as a hitter. He’s athletic and could give third base or right field a shot, though he’s a below-average runner. His power tools in both roles figure to get him drafted highly.
3. JUSTIN SMOAK, 1b (National rank: 95)
School: Stratford HS.
Hometown: Goose Creek, S.C.
B-T: B-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: Dec. 5, 1986.
College Commitment: South Carolina.
Scouting Report: Smoak played with Matt Weiters at Stratford High last season and has taken over as the team leader now that Weiters, who wasn’t drafted, has become one of the nation’s top freshmen at Georgia Tech. Smoak doesn’t have the standard profile of a prep first baseman who gets drafted high because he’s not a masher. He has a lean, athletic build that reminds scouts of Chipper Jones, and one scout said Smoak would have a chance to be a middle infielder if he threw righthanded. He’s a polished defender around the bag at first base, leading scouts to compare him to Doug Mientkiewicz and J.T. Snow. Smoak has more present power than fellow South Carolina prep product Reese Havens, hitting 18 homers this spring, and projects to have at least average power in the big leagues if he makes consistent contact. His swing works well from both sides, though he has more loft power from the left side. Like Havens, Smoak led his team to a state championship in 2005, loves the game and has a strong commitment to South Carolina.
4. REESE HAVENS, ss (National rank: 96)
School: Bishop England HS.
Hometown: Sullivan’s Island, S.C.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: Oct. 20, 1986.
College Commitment: South Carolina.
Scouting Report: Scouts and college recruiters can’t seem to agree about Havens, who figures to be one of the tougher signs in the draft and could go in the first two or three rounds or not be selected at all. He had a decorated career at Bishop England, helping the Bishops win two state championships in the last three years. Because Rangers farmhand Drew Meyer went to Bishop England, comparisons between the two are natural, but they’re different players. Havens’ swing is much more polished and advanced than Meyer's in 1999, when the Dodgers picked him in the second round out of high school. Havens wasn’t showing present power, but he uses the whole field and has even earned comparisons to the likes of Eric Chavez and Hank Blalock. He’s a below-average runner who won’t have a shot to play shortstop in pro ball, but he has good hands and plenty of arm. Havens is a baseball rat who loves the game and spends much of his free time in the batting cage. Havens is committed to South Carolina, and it’s thought to be a strong commitment that might require a seven-figure bonus to trump. For some scouts, Havens doesn’t show enough present power to merit such a bonus.
5. KEVIN SLOWEY, rhp (National rank: 107)
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Birthdate:
May 4, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Few pitchers had improved their draft stock
as much as Slowey, who burst on the scene with a 19-strikeout game as
a freshman but didn’t emerge as a candidate for the first three rounds
until this year. His 11-1, 2.26 season included an opponent average
of .171 (which ranked fifth nationally) and just 10 walks in 103 innings.
Slowey has always had solid stuff and excellent control that scouts
rate at least a 60 on the 20-80 scale; now his stuff has improved as
he’s become stronger. He’s an excellent competitor who challenges hitters
with a fastball in the 87-92 mph range that touches a bit higher. He
complements it with a solid-average slider, which was his best secondary
pitch this year, while his changeup was his best secondary offering
in his first two years. He has a knack for missing bats, leading to
his 317 strikeouts, a career record at Winthrop. Slowey impresses scouts
with his makeup and intelligence on and off the field (he has a 3.96
GPA thanks to one B, in business calculus). Scouts liken his ceiling
to that of Cory Lidle or Jeff Suppan, as an innings-eating third or
6. MIKE COSTANZO, rhp/if (National rank: 123)
School: Coastal Carolina.
Hometown: Springfield, Pa.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Birthdate:
Sept. 9, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Costanzo’s two-way prowess was a major reason
why Coastal Carolina worked its way into Baseball America's Top 25 for
the first time in the program’s history. He mirrors Clemson’s Kris Harvey
in that scouts are split over he'll be better on the mound or at the
plate. Because he has lefthanded power and enough arm to profile for
third base, most clubs like Costanzo better at the plate. If he’s drafted
as a pitcher, it will be because of his closer’s demeanor, durable arm,
fastball in the low 90s and power slider in the 80-83 mph range that
can be a plus pitch. At the plate, Costanzo has shown raw and usable
power, both with metal (21 homers in 2004) and wood, hitting six homers
to rank fourth in the Cape Cod League last summer. His homers stem more
from overpowering the ball than bat speed, though, and he’s not expected
to hit for a consistently high average. He has excellent plate discipline
and is working on his second straight year of 50-plus walks. Costanzo
doesn’t play much third anymore to save his arm for pitching, so scouts
aren’t sure if his feet and hands will be good enough at third.
7. STEPHEN TOLLESON, SS (National rank: 150)
School: South Carolina.
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 172. Birthdate: Nov. 1, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: The son of former big leaguer Wayne Tolleson, Stephen has tried to live up to South Carolina’s recent shortstop tradition. The players who preceded him at short included three first-round picks: Adam Everett, Brian Roberts, Drew Meyer. Tolleson seems unlikely to go that high, though he has enough athletic ability and savvy to go in the first five rounds. Tolleson’s father was a defensive stalwart who hit .241 in his eight seasons in the big leagues, and most scouts expect Stephen to be a better hitter. He has wiry strength and uses the whole field. He’s also patient and has adapted well to hitting toward the top of the Gamecocks lineup, drawing more walks and becoming an efficient basestealer despite his average speed. He has too much power for his own good sometimes and loses sight of the fact he’s not a power hitter, selling out in his swing trying to hit home runs. Tolleson’s glove isn’t as good as his father’s, especially at shortstop, where he usually doesn’t have enough arm to make the play in the hole. Most scouts believe he profiles better as a second baseman (where he could be an above-average defender) or utility infielder.
8. MICHAEL CAMPBELL, OF (National rank: 157)
School: South Carolina.
Hometown: Winchester, Va.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 172. Birthdate: Nov. 14, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Campbell was the rare South Carolina player who got playing time as a freshman, and like Tolleson is essentially a three-year starter. Like Tolleson, he’s become a better college player, but not necessarily a better prospect, and his modest junior season failed to catapult him into the first three rounds. He had surgery on his right shoulder last fall to relieve a blood clot, but it didn’t seem to affect him this season. Campbell doesn’t have a tool that stands out and grades out as average in most areas. On the plus side, he hit .285 in the Cape Cod League last summer and doesn’t have a glaring weakness. He hasn’t shown the instincts or raw speed to play center field, relegating him to the outfield corners, and his arm is better suited for left field in pro ball. His line-drive swing doesn’t produce enough power to profile him for either corner spot, however. Campbell’s sum adds up to an extra outfielder.
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in South Carolina)
Unheralded Colleges Supply Talent
Havens and Smoak are the best prep players South Carolina has had in several years. They're also likely to be the only Palmetto State prep players drafted well. The next-best bet is athletic OF DeAngelo Mack (13), who reached double-digits in home runs and is an average to plus runner. Mack is committed to South Carolina, which has been successful at keeping in-state recruits such as Wynn Pelzer, a hard-throwing lefthander who could be a premium pick in 2007.
The college ranks are much more fertile--even though Clemson's roster is young and South Carolina has just a decent team by its own recent standards--because College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop were all having excellent seasons, with Coastal earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA regionals.
Clemson's top picks after Harvey are pitchers, such as LHP Richard Rohrbaugh (15), who has flashed an 88-91 mph fastball and command of an average curveball and changeup. Rohrbaugh's draft stock has fluctuated with his inconsistent performance this spring, but a strong outing in the ACC tournament should get him picked in the first 15 rounds. RHP Jason Berken, who has not pitched all season, would have been Clemson's next-best draftee but is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He could be a target of a team that wants to take a flyer late in the draft.
South Carolina's roster has at least six pitchers who could be drafted, with draft-eligible sophomore LHP Arik Hempy (12) and RHP Zac McCamie (19) the best bets to go high. Hempy was emerging as a top prospect in the spring of 2004, showing 91-93 mph heat and a power curveball, before biceps tendinitis slowed him. He has not regained consistent arm strength since then but was creeping back to the 90s and had worked his way back into the Gamecocks rotation. Hempy has a physical frame but needs to keep his weight in check, and he'll command a decent price as a sophomore.
Two other redshirt sophomores, Forest Beverly (26) and Conor Lalor (27), are Tommy John alumni on the South Carolina staff. Both were touted prospects out of high school. Lalor has regained his ability to throw strikes for short stretches. He had not shown the ability to hold his 87-90 mph velocity or go through a lineup more than once. Beverly hasn't shown his 92 mph fastball from the left side that scouts saw in the past, sitting mostly at 86-88 mph, though his curveball has come back. He can spin it and throw it for strikes. They both have higher ceilings than strike-throwing senior RHPs Jason Fletcher and Aaron Rawl (21), but Rawl's curveball, moxie and successful track record should get him drafted in the first 15 rounds.
College of Charleston was one of the nation's most explosive offensive clubs, owing chiefly to leadoff man Brett Gardner (9), who should go in the first 10 rounds. Some scouts consider him a true leadoff threat because he has top-of-the-line speed, rating an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Gardner used his speed to rank among the national leaders in hits, batting and stolen bases. Gardner has first-step quickness and is at top speed after one or two steps, and he reminds scouts of Devil Rays prospect Joey Gathright with his explosiveness. He also stays within himself offensively with a flat swing that sprays line drives and hard ground balls; he rarely flies out. His instincts are solid and he has room for improvement defensively and with his bunting.
RHP Brett Harker (10) is the next Cougar likely to be drafted. Strictly a reliever, he's got a major league out pitch in his low-80s power curveball, which he throws as hard as possible and with maximum effort. He's shown above-average fastball velocity as well, but mostly uses it to set up his killer curve, which he can throw for strikes or bury in the dirt. Harker has shown he can still throw hard and throw strikes on back-to-back nights as well.
Winthrop could have two second-round picks in Carte and Slowey, but the Eagles also could contribute several other players to the draft. The best bets are RHPs Chris LeRoux (11), a former catcher, and John Wilson (18). LeRoux was supposed to be a weekend starter or a closer for the Eagles before an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. The Canadian has not had sustained success in college but has touched the mid-90s with his fastball. Wilson, who went 11-0, 1.88 with six saves as a junior but was not drafted last year, emerged as Winthrop's closer while LeRoux was struggling in 2004. Wilson thrives with excellent command of average stuff.
Coastal Carolina's top draftee is Costanzo, but there's talent behind him as well. 2B Michael DeJesus (25), the younger brother of Royals outfielder David, has a polished bat and is a run producer who has some speed and athletic ability. Three Chanticleers pitchers could be picked on the draft's first day, with RHP Ricky Shefka (14) having an excellent season as a sinker/slider pitcher with excellent command. The Old Dominion transfer has an injury history that gives scouts pause, however.
The state's most interesting story is the great season at Division II Erskine, powered in part by a pair of Division I transfers. Three Erskine players should be first-day drafts, in part because they're seniors and they'll come cheap. OF Antonio Sabatini (20), formerly of Louisiana Tech, has solid-average tools and has refined his raw approach at the plate. He's a 6.8-second runner over 60 yards, his arm is average if not a tick above, and he has a chance to be a solid center fielder in pro ball. The bat's the biggest question, as is the case with C Ben Blumenthal (22), who went 21-for-105 in three seasons at Lipscomb as it made the transition to D-I. He has solid catch-and-throw skills and an above-average arm with an athletic frame for a college catcher. Slugging 1B Casey Smith (24) has put up the best numbers of the trio and has strength in his large if somewhat sloppy frame. His bat speed is just average and he's limited to first base.