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2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Texas

By Jim Callis
May 27, 2005


THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Texas has its usual deep stock of talent. It's not quite up to last year's standard, when the Lone Star State produced eight of the top 40 picks, but Texas has five potential first-rounders and five more prospects who could be supplemental first-rounders. As usual, there's plenty of pitching (led by 2004 first-round pick Wade Townsend), and also several multitooled outfielders (starting with fast-rising Jay Bruce), the draft's best defensive catcher (Taylor Teagarden) and one of the top gamers around (Cliff Pennington).

(National ranking in parentheses)
Potential First-Round Picks
1. Jay Bruce (12), of, West Brook HS, Beaumont
2. Wade Townsend (18), rhp, Dripping Springs
3. Mark McCormick (22), rhp, Baylor U.
4. Taylor Teagarden (26), c, U. of Texas
5. Cliff Pennington (27), ss, Texas A&M
6. Jordan Danks (37), of, Round Rock HS
7. J. Brent Cox (45), rhp, U. of Texas
8. Lance Broadway (48), rhp, Texas Christian U.
Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks
9. Clay Buchholz (51), rhp/of, Angelina JC
10. Craig Italiano (52), rhp, Flower Mound HS
11. Aaron Thompson (59), lhp, Second Baptist HS, Houston
12. Robert Ray (64), rhp, Texas A&M
13. Paul Kelly (68), ss/rhp, Flower Mound HS
14. Kyle Russell (74), of, Tomball HS, Magnolia
15. Austin Jackson (77), of, Denton Ryan HS, Denton
16. Seth Johnston (80), ss, U. of Texas
17. Stephen Marek (83), rhp, San Jacinto JC (CONTROL: Angels—signed)
18. Josh Geer (101), rhp, Rice U.
19. Kevin Whelan (103), rhp, Texas A&M
20. Josh Wilson (124), rhp, Whitehouse HS, Tyler
21. Kevin Roberts (133), rhp/3b, U. of Houston
22. Kyle Hancock (144), rhp, Rowlett HS
23. Daryl Jones (145), of, Spring HS
24. Jarred Bogany (154), of, George Bush HS, Houston
25. Brian Needham (164), rhp, Dulles HS, Sugar Land
26. Mike Bell (174), 3b, Grayson County CC
27. Lance Pendleton (175), of/rhp, Rice U.
28. Johnny Whittleman (183), 3b, Kingwood HS
29. Carlos Hereaud (198), ss, Elkins HS, Missouri City
Others Of Note
30. J.W. Wilson, 3b/of, Midland HS
31. Ben Booker, of, Lorena HS, Bruceville
32. Eric Krebs, rhp, Alvin CC (CONTROL: Royals)
33. Brett Zamzow, rhp, Navarro JC (CONTROL: Rangers—signed)
34. Trey Taylor, lhp, Baylor U.
35. Cameron Blair, ss/2b, Texas Tech U.
36. Preston Paramore, c, Allen HS
37. Ryan LaMotta, rhp, Baylor U.
38. Ryan DeLaughter, of/rhp, Denton Ryan HS, Corinth
39. Bryce Cox, rhp, Rice U.
40. Ryan Crew, ss, U. of Texas-San Antonio
41. Justin Vaclavik, rhp, U. of Houston
42. Chase Phillips, rhp, Monterey HS, Lubbock
43. Lukas Thomason, rhp, Brook Hill HS, Jacksonville
44. Brad Suttle, 3b/rhp, Boerne HS
45. Josh Ford, c, Baylor U.
46. David Welch, lhp, Texarkana JC
47. Derrick Gordon, lhp, Lamar U.
48. Aaron Craig, rhp, Grayson County CC (CONTROL: Twins—signed)
49. Buck Cody, lhp, U. of Texas
50. Trey Hearne, rhp, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
51. Jordan Meaker, rhp, Flower Mound HS
52. Ryan Mitchell, rhp, Magnolia HS
53. Bryan Price, rhp, Marble Falls HS
54. Kyle Walker, lhp, The Woodlands HS
55. Eddie Degerman, rhp, Rice U.
56. Jaime Landin, ss, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
57. Daniel Martin, rhp, Harleton HS, Marshall
58. Jason Vecchio, rhp, U. of Texas-San Antonio
59. Kyle Reynolds, 1b/3b, Baylor U.
60. Riley Boening, lhp, Yoakum HS
61. Abe Woody, rhp, Baylor U.
62. Sam LeCure, rhp, U. of Texas (academically ineligible)
63. Clayton Turner, rhp, Texas A&M (CONTROL: Athletics)
64. Trevor Hurley, rhp, Tomball HS
65. Aja Barto, 1b, Stratford HS, Houston
66. Aaron Luna, 2b, Southlake HS
67. Robert Romero, rhp, Grayson County CC
68. Daniel Berg, 2b/3b, Texarkana JC (CONTROL: Twins—signed)
69. Stuart Musselwhite, ss, Texas Christian U.
70. Ryan Hill, 2b, Texas A&M
71. Luis Flores, c/rhp, Moody HS, Corpus Christi
72. Koby Clemens, 3b, Memorial HS, Houston
73. Michael Griffin, 2b, Baylor U.
74. Andrew Baldwin, of, Texas A&M
75. Jake Pulliam, of, Lee HS, Midland
76. Billy Carnline, rhp, Texas Tech
77. Shawn Ferguson, rhp, Texas Christian U.
78. Kyle Marlatt, rhp, Texas A&M
79. Craig Stinson, c, Texas A&M
80. Jake Baxter, rhp, U. of Texas-Arlington
81. Tim McGough, rhp, Texas Christian U.
82. Clayton Stewart, rhp, U. of Texas
83. Cody Fuller, of, Texas Tech
84. David Wood, 1b/lhp, Temple JC
85. Stephen Farris, rhp, Langham Creek HS, Houston
86. Cody Montgomery, 3b, Dallas Baptist U.
87. Kyle Anson, 3b, Texas State U.
88. Josh Stinson, c, San Jacinto JC
89. Sam Elam, lhp, Poteet HS, Mesquite
90. Jeremy Goldschmeding, ss, Dallas Baptist U.
91. Tanner McElroy, rhp, Texas Tech
92. Gene Flores, rhp, Houston
93. Nathan Newman, rhp, Houston Christian HS, Houston
94. Chris Martin, rhp, McLennan CC (CONTROL: Tigers)
95. Josh Tomlin, rhp/ss, Angelina JC

1. JAY BRUCE, of (National rank: 12)
School: West Brook HS.
Hometown: Beaumont, Texas.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: April 3, 1987.
College Commitment: Tulane.
Scouting Report: Coming into 2005, Bruce was regarded as a solid third-round prospect but the fifth-best member of a deep Texas high school outfield crop, behind Jordan Danks, Austin Jackson, Kyle Russell and Jarred Bogany. He since has shot past all of them and into the middle of the first round, and he could go as high as seventh overall to the Rockies. It's a rise reminiscent of Jeremy Hermida's in 2002, and Bruce has similar skills to those of the Marlins' top prospect. Scouts also compare Bruce to Larry Walker. Though he has average to plus tools across the board and enough athleticism to play center field, Bruce profiles better in right field. His swing can get a little long at times, but Bruce is a polished high school hitter. He centers the ball well and already understands the importance of using the entire field. He also has the strength and skill to eventually hit 30-plus homers annually in the majors. His average speed is probably his worst tool, but he plays quicker than his stopwatch readings on the bases and in the outfield. He has more than enough arm to handle the move to right field in pro ball. At one point, Bruce's signability was questionable because he committed to Tulane and chose Scott Boras as his adviser. Bruce since has dropped Boras in favor of Matt Sosnick and is expected to sign for slot money.

2. WADE TOWNSEND, rhp (National rank: 18)
School: None.
Hometown: Dripping Springs, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: Feb. 22, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Orioles 2004 (1).
Scouting Report: Rice's Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Townsend went in the first eight picks of the 2004 draft, making them the highest drafted trio of teammates ever. Unlike the other two, however, Townsend didn't sign a lucrative major league contract. The Orioles opened negotiations by lowballing him with a $1.6 million offer—$600,000 below Major League Baseball's recommendation for his draft slot—and he eventually turned down $1.85 million before deciding to return to Rice to complete his degree. He gambled that he still could negotiate if he renounced his college baseball eligibility, but MLB ruled against him. Townsend spent April and May working out for clubs, and for the most part showed the same stuff he had in 2004. He wasn't in game shape, so he didn't maintain his velocity past three simulated innings, but he pitched at 90-92 mph with his trademark spike curveball and an effective changeup. Though he has the repertoire to start, most teams project Townsend as a big league reliever because they say his intensity fits best in that role. Because most in the scouting community believe Baltimore botched the negotiations, Townsend's signability isn't a factor held against him. He's expected to sign quickly for close to slot money, and was rumored as high as the top two picks as a budget choice. That talk dimmed when his fastball sat at 85-89 mph in consecutive mid-May workouts, but he's still a polished pitcher with a track record of success.

3. MARK McCORMICK, rhp (National rank: 22)
School: Baylor.
Hometown: Clear Lake Shores, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Oct. 15, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Orioles 2002 (11).
Scouting Report: McCormick showed a first-round arm in high school, when his fastball rarely dipped below 92 mph and reached as high as 98. But he slipped to the 11th round in 2002 because he was primarily a one-pitch pitcher and showed a lack of composure on and off the diamond. The reputation followed him throughout his first two years at Baylor, but he has made strides as a junior. McCormick has the most electric arm in Texas, still pitching at 92-95 mph and often touching 96-98. He peaked at 101 mph last summer in the Cape Cod League all-star game. McCormick got hit hard early this spring before he started keeping his fastball down in the strike zone. His curveball is much improved now that he trusts it and uses it more often, and while it can be inconsistent it also can be an out pitch. He has done a better job of throwing strikes and has made every start after missing one due to a suspension and six with shoulder stiffness in 2004. McCormick does not come without questions, however. Because his command can be sporadic, he doesn't always dominate. Scouts still worry about his makeup and his ability to handle pressure. His adviser, Scott Boras, is always an issue for teams, though he's considered one of the more signable players in Boras' stable. In spite of the concerns, McCormick should go off the board in the second half of the first round.

4. TAYLOR TEAGARDEN, c (National rank: 26)
School: Texas.
Hometown: Carrolton, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 201. Birthdate: Dec. 21, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Cubs 2002 (22).
Scouting Report: The best defensive catcher in the draft, Teagarden has exceptional skills behind the plate. "He's as good a catch-and-throw guy as I've seen since Joe Mauer," one scout said. Teagarden also earns high marks for his ability to block balls in the dirt, call games and manage a pitching staff. The consensus is that he could handle defensive responsibilities in the majors right now. The question with Teagarden always has been how much he'll produce at the plate, and he picked up the tag of a light-hitting catcher in high school. His proponents say that's not fair and believe he can bat .275 with 15 homers in the big leagues. Texas' Disch-Falk Stadium is a bad hitter's park where balls die in the gaps, and Teagarden has just three homers this spring. He also has 17 doubles and borderline average power, including to the opposite field. Southern California's Jeff Clement is the best-hitting college catcher in this year's draft crop, and Teagarden outhit (.309 to .275) and outslugged him (.473 to .435) with wood bats on Team USA last summer. He has a discriminating eye at the plate, ranking among the NCAA Division I leaders with 38 walks this spring. Teagarden has Scott Boras as his adviser, which could cause him to slide out of the first round if teams worry about his signability.

5. CLIFF PENNINGTON, ss (National rank: 27)
School: Texas A&M.
Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: June 15, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Pennington's best attribute is his makeup, which could elevate his draft stock above his pure talent and get him picked in the upper half of the first round. Scouts have loved Pennington's grit and energy since he was in high school, and he won the Cape Cod League's 10th player award for his spirited play last summer. There's no doubt he'll squeeze every last drop out of his ability. Pennington is more than just a gamer, however, offering tools across the board. He can bat at the top of a lineup, making consistent contact and providing gap power from both sides of the plate. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he runs well and his instincts make him a threat on the bases. He led the Cape with 21 steals in 2004. Pennington's savvy also enhances his range at shortstop, where he can make both the routine and acrobatic plays. He has an above-average arm, a quick release and the ability to make throws from any angle. Pennington has gotten better and stronger each season at Texas A&M and has learned to play under control. One scout compares him to Brian Roberts (minus the 2005 power explosion), with a leaner and taller frame, more speed and a better arm. Rumors persist that if the Royals decide to save money with the No. 2 overall pick, he could be their man.

6. JORDAN DANKS, of (National rank: 37)
School: Round Rock HS.
Hometown: Round Rock, Texas.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: Aug. 7, 1986.
College Commitment: Texas.
Scouting Report: Danks has one of the more attractive power bats in the draft, which could have made him a first-round pick were he considered signable. Initially, there was talk that Danks wanted a similar bonus to the $2.1 million his brother John received from the Rangers as the ninth overall pick two years ago. Then he begged out of the draft altogether by telling any team that asked that he planned on attending Texas. If he gets picked at all, it likely will be as a late-round flier. Danks dominated the home run derby at the 2004 AFLAC All-America Game, beating Cameron Maybin by knocking several balls completely out of the park and onto a street behind right field in Aberdeen, Md. Because he's so big, his swing can get long at times, and he still needs to make adjustments against lefthanders and breaking pitches. But it's easy to imagine Danks becoming a big league home run champion one day. He's a fine athlete for his size, and his arm and instincts should make him a good right fielder.

7. J. BRENT COX, rhp (National rank: 45)
School: Texas.
Hometown: Bay City, Texas.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 206. Birthdate: May 13, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Blue Jays 2002 (50).
Scouting Report: Cox is similar to Huston Street, whom he succeeded as the closer for both Team USA and Texas. He's not quite as good as Street, a supplemental first-rounder last June who made Oakland's Opening Day roster this year, but he's close and has put up better numbers in his draft year than Street did. Cox had a 0.96 ERA in 47 innings since a disastrous six-run outing against Stanford in mid-February, a game that taught him a valuable lesson. He can dial his fastball up into the low 90s, but it's far more effective at 88-89 mph because it has more sink and runs in on righthanders. As with Street, a late-breaking power slider is his best pitch. There's some violence to Cox' delivery, but he has been durable and throws strikes with ease. His stuff may be a bit short to be a big league closer, though he might have the moxie to pull it off. The team that selects Cox should get at least a solid set-up man who can move through the minors in a hurry.

8. LANCE BROADWAY, rhp (National rank: 48)
School: Texas Christian.
Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Aug. 20, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Broadway spent the first two years of his college career at Dallas Baptist, where he spun a pair of no-hitters and was part of two National Christian College Athletic Association championship teams. He transferred to Texas Christian after earning top-prospect honors in the Northwoods League last summer, and has put together a superlative season. Broadway was tied for the NCAA Division I lead in wins (12) and ranked among the leaders in ERA (1.94), strikeouts (125) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.1). He succeeds more with polish than overwhelming stuff. His fastball is just average, but he has a plus curveball that he can locate in and out of the strike zone. His delivery and command are solid, and his makeup is a huge asset. He's developing a changeup and is gaining more confidence in the pitch. He has a strong, lean frame and there may be a little more velocity in him. The statistics-oriented Red Sox are believed to be targeting Broadway with one of their three supplemental first-round picks.

9. CLAY BUCHHOLZ, rhp/of (National rank: 51)
School: Angelina (Texas) JC.
Hometown: Lumberton, Texas.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Age: 20.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: No one could tell at the time, but McNeese State had two first-round-caliber pitchers on its 2004 roster. While Jacob Marceaux was going 4-6, 5.71 as a swingman, Buchholz went 3-for-18 as a little-used infielder. He transferred to Angelina (Texas) Junior College as a sophomore to get more playing time, a move that should pay off handsomely. While Buchholz hoped to become a regular shortstop, Angelina coaches saw him pitch at 88-89 mph at a tryout camp and thought he had upside on the mound if he could make mechanical adjustments. They were right. Buchholz' fastball sat at 92 mph and touched 97 this spring. When he's on, his slider grades as a 65 and his curveball as a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Buchholz still needs to improve the consistency of his breaking pitches and his changeup, but it's hard to argue with his pure stuff. He went 11-1, 1.19 with 112 strikeouts in 76 innings as the ace of a prospect-laden pitching staff that also includes Robert Leonhardt, Aaron Odom, Matt Paradoski and Josh Tomlin. Buchholz, who was also batting .387 and led Angelina with a .613 slugging percentage, is a good athlete whose lefthanded power would make him a candidate for the first five rounds as an outfielder. The biggest concern is his makeup, stemming from an incident in high school that has some clubs avoiding him entirely. A rare juco prospect who's not under control from the 2004 draft, Buchholz will attend Texas Tech if he doesn't turn pro.

10. CRAIG ITALIANO, rhp (National rank: 52)
School: Flower Mound HS.
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: July 22, 1986.
College Commitment: Texas Christian.
Scouting Report: Flower Mound is loaded with pitching prospects, including Paul Kelly, Jordan Meaker and Brandon Gaviglio, but it all starts with Italiano, who has lit up radar guns more consistently than anyone in the nation this spring. He has pitched in the mid-90s and touched 97-98 mph on several occasions. "He has thrown bullets every time out," one scouting director says. Italiano also has improved his breaking ball, taking it from a slurve to more of a true slider. He has drawn comparisons to Brad Lidge, and Italiano's future may be in the bullpen because teams worry about his delivery and durability. He short-arms the ball and throws with a lot of effort, and the consensus is that whoever drafts him will have to let him keep pitching that way. Italiano had elbow problems in the past and missed a mid-April start with shoulder inflammation. He pitched well after returning, finishing his season with a shutout in the Texas 5-A playoffs, Flower Mound's lone win in a three-game series.

11. AARON THOMPSON, lhp (National rank: 59)
School: Second Baptist HS.
Hometown: Houston.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Feb. 28, 1987.
College Commitment: Texas A&M.
Scouting Report: Thompson is the most polished high school pitcher in the draft, and he's lefthanded to boot. But where he goes in the draft is uncertain because of major signability concerns. He reportedly will head to Texas A&M unless he gets a seven-figure bonus, more than the going rate for a player regarded as a second-round talent. If he goes to college, Thompson should become one of the nation's top two-way players. Pros prefer him as a four-pitch lefty with an 88-91 mph fastball and a good curveball. He throws from a high arm slot, which allows him to drive the ball down in the strike zone. He's athletic, repeating a smooth delivery with ease, and scores high in the makeup department. When dozens of scouts attended his April matchup with Josh Wall, Thompson responded with 15 strikeouts and a 2-0 shutout—handing Wall's team its only loss this spring. If he joins the Aggies, he'd also see time at first base and the outfield because his lefthanded power is too good to pass up.

12. ROBERT RAY, rhp (National rank: 64)
School: Texas A&M.
Hometown: Lufkin, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Jan. 21, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Dodgers 2002 (28).
Scouting Report: Ray looked like a possible first-round pick based on his performance as a set-up man in the Cape Cod League last summer. But he got off to slow start in Texas A&M's rotation this spring, costing him support from scouts and earning him a temporary demotion to the bullpen. Ray bounced back in April, showing the same 90-93 mph fastball with late, explosive life he had on the Cape. He also flashed a plus curveball and an effective changeup. He needs to avoid overthrowing his curve and continue refining his changeup. There's deceptive strength in his long, lean frame and he throws with little effort, so there's no reason he can't start as a pro. Ray was making a late push for the supplemental first round, but hurt his momentum when he didn't pitch well in a mid-May showdown with Baylor's Mark McCormick.

13. PAUL KELLY, ss/rhp (National rank: 68)
School: Flower Mound HS.
Hometown: Flower Mound, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: Oct. 19, 1986.
College Commitment: Texas Christian.
Scouting Report: Kelly reminds a lot of area scouts of Jesse Crain, who starred as a two-way player at Houston before going to the Twins in the second round of the 2002 draft and rocketing to the majors. Kelly isn't quite as physical as Crain yet, but he has a similar build and the potential to be drafted either as a shortstop or a pitcher. While teams preferred Crain on the mound, Kelly has support in both roles. He's close to a five-tool player at shortstop. He handles the bat well and should hit for average with gap power. He shows good quickness on the bases and in the field. Defensively, he has the actions, range and arm strength to stay at shortstop. If he doesn't cut it as a position player, he could fall back on being a reliever because his stuff is reminiscent of Crain's. After pitching at 88-91 mph in the past, Kelly has jumped to 94-95 this spring while showing a slider that can be a plus pitch at times. Kelly entered the year with a relatively low profile, in part because a blood clot in his shoulder sidelined him last summer. Some teams may not clear him medically, but there's enough interest for him to go in the second round.

14. KYLE RUSSELL, of (National rank: 74)
School: Tomball HS.
Hometown: Magnolia, Texas.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: June 27, 1986.
College Commitment: Texas.
Scouting Report: Russell is a bit of an enigma to scouts. He had a sweeter lefthanded stroke when he was younger, but now he has altered it in an attempt to hit more homers. He was disappointing on the showcase circuit last summer, going 0-for-19 with 12 strikeouts at the Area Code Games, then set a U.S. national team record with seven RBIs in a game at the World Junior Championship in Taiwan in September. Russell has enjoyed a good spring with his new swing, but he previously showed natural power to the opposite field and scouts probably would have been happier had he not made any adjustments. He's trying to turn on more pitches now, and uses his height to generate leverage and loft power. He has a tremendous pro body and the chance to be a five-tool corner outfielder. His fringe-average speed is his worst tool. Russell may not be signable if he doesn't get first-round money, and it's unlikely he'll go before the late second round, so he could join Drew Stubbs and Jordan Danks in a star-studded Texas outfield next year.

15. AUSTIN JACKSON, of (National rank: 77)
School: Denton Ryan HS.
Hometown: Denton, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Feb. 1, 1987.
College Commitment: Georgia Tech.
Scouting Report: Like Zach Putnam, Jackson has been one of the biggest disappointments for scouts this spring. One of the best athletes in the draft, he was twice was the top-rated player in his age group (at 12 in 1999, 15 in 2002) in Baseball America's annual Baseball For The Ages rankings. He's also a gifted basketball player, drawing comparisons to Kenny Lofton (a guard at Arizona before launching his baseball career), and his two-sport aspirations worry scouts. They didn't think they'd have an easy time signing him away from playing hoops at Georgia Tech, and logistics would make it difficult for Jackson to play college basketball and devote much time to pro baseball. He has made that a moot point this spring by rarely showing full effort on the diamond, and it's possible he won't even get drafted. Scouts don't view him as an underachiever so much as making a tacit decision to focus on basketball. When he plays hard, Jackson shows five-tool potential. He has basestealing speed but isn't a burner, as well as gap power, similar to a late-career version of Marquis Grissom.

16. SETH JOHNSTON, ss (National rank: 80)
School: Texas.
Hometown: Boerne, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: March 12, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Orioles 2004 (7).
Scouting Report: Johnston was a surprise seventh-round pick last year by the Orioles after flying low on the scouting radar, and he should go even higher this spring after turning down a $100,000 offer from Baltimore. He's a college senior with little leverage, so that makes him more attractive from a budget standpoint, but he'd go in the third round on merit. His talent and reduced price tag could put him in the supplemental first round. Johnston's best tool is his bat, and he resembles Jeff Kent with less power. Johnston can drive the ball to the gaps, and could hit more homers if he adds strength to his solid frame. He moved from second base to shortstop this year and handled the move with aplomb. He has average speed, range and arm strength to go with good hands and a knack for making plays in the hole. He's probably not a big league shortstop, though he could handle the position on a utility basis. He has tremendous makeup and won't let himself fall short of his potential.

17. STEPHEN MAREK, rhp (National rank: 83)
School: San Jacinto (Texas) JC.
Hometown: Sealy, Texas.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: Sept. 3, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Angels 2004 (40).
Scouting Report: Marek was the outstanding pitcher at the 2004 Junior College World Series, where he went 2-0 and pitched 10 innings without allowing an earned run as San Jacinto finished second. He posted a 0.84 ERA and led the Jayhawk League with eight saves during the summer, then created a lot of buzz when he hit 98 mph with his fastball during fall ball. Marek has continued to display arm strength in 2005, working at 92-94 mph and touching 96. His curveball often gives him a second plus pitch. He has an aggressive approach similar to Wade Townsend's. On pure stuff, he'd fit in the first two rounds. But scouts aren't sure why San Jacinto uses such a talented arm as a closer rather than a starter, which also prevents them from getting an extended look at Marek. Because he redshirted in his first year at San Jacinto, Marek will turn 22 in September, another red flag. In the unlikely event the Angels don't sign Marek as a draft-and-follow after selecting him in the 40th round last June, he'll probably go in the third or fourth round. (UPDATE: Marek has signed with Anaheim for $800,000.)

18. JOSH GEER, rhp (National rank: 101)
School: Rice.
Hometown: Forney, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: June 2, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Devil Rays 2003 (19).
Scouting Report: Rice may have lost three of the top eight picks in the 2004 draft off last year's pitching staff (Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend), but this year's edition is doing just fine, thank you. The Owls' team ERA (3.18) still ranks among the NCAA Division I leaders, and Geer has stepped into the No.1 spot in the rotation. He doesn't have the same power stuff as his predecessors, but he commands the strike zone with four pitches. He has an 87-89 mph fastball that tops out at 92, a plus changeup (his best pitch), a hard slider and a softer curveball. He often works backward, using his offspeed pitches to set up his hard stuff. Geer showed more velocity in junior college and during the fall, and he struggled a little down the stretch when he didn't establish his fastball enough. He wasn't drafted last year out of Navarro (Texas) Junior College after turning down the Devil Rays as a 19th-round draft-and-follow from 2003—teams decided they couldn't buy him away from Rice—but he should go in the third to fifth round this time around.

19. KEVIN WHELAN, rhp (National rank: 103)
School: Texas A&M.
Hometown: Kerrville, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Jan. 8, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Whelan and Texas A&M teammate Robert Ray first emerged as top prospects while pitching out of the Wareham Gatemen bullpen in the Cape Cod League last summer. Whelan had a 0.42 ERA and led the Cape with 11 saves in his first stint as a full-time pitcher. He spent his freshman season with the Aggies as a backup catcher before pulling double duty as a sophomore. Whelan focused on pitching this spring and finished with a surge after a slow start. He pitches mainly with a four-seam fastball that peaks at 95-96 mph and a pair of splitters. He uses a narrow grip that produces the equivalent of a two-seam fastball, and a wider grip that produces an 85-86 pitch that dives at the plate. Though he's not tall, he works from a high arm slot and generates a good angle to the plate. His stuff and competitive makeup should serve him well as a pro reliever, and he should get better as he gets more experience on the mound.

20. JOSH WILSON, rhp (National rank: 124)
School: Whitehouse HS.
Hometown: Tyler, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: Sept. 6, 1986.
College Commitment: Texas.
Scouting Report: Based on his standout performance at the Area Code Games last summer and at Whitehouse High this spring, Wilson was making a case to go in the first two rounds. He pitched at 91-93 mph and touched 94-95 with his fastball, and his curveball showed the makings of becoming a plus pitch. Wilson leveled off a little afterward, working at 88-90 mph and losing command of his curve. Now he appears to be a third- or fourth-rounder. Though Wilson isn't tall, he has long arms that create a good downward plane on his pitches. There's some effort to his delivery, but not to the point that scouts are overly concerned.

21. KEVIN ROBERTS, rhp/2b (National rank: 133)
School: Houston.
Hometown: Pearland, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: May 15, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Lightly recruited out of high school, Roberts has become a two-way standout at Houston. He has hit .359 with a team-high eight homers this spring, while going 6-3, 3.59 as the Cougars' No. 3 starter. He's wiry strong and has some pop at the plate, though he's a little shaky on defense. His future is on the mound. Roberts' stuff hasn't been consistently sharp this spring, mostly because he has been pulling double duty. At his best, he has shown a 90-94 mph fastball, a true 12-to-6 curveball and a good straight changeup. He projects more as a pro reliever, though it has been difficult for scouts to get a feel for him in that role. He looked good coming out of the bullpen in the Cape Cod League last summer, though he pitched just 11 innings for Falmouth. The success of Jesse Crain and Ryan Wagner has teams willing to bank on another Houston reliever, and the feeling is Roberts will have two consistent plus pitches when he focuses solely on pitching.

22. KYLE HANCOCK, rhp (National rank: 144)
School: Rowlett HS.
Hometown: Rowlett, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: Aug. 20, 1987.
College Commitment: Arkansas.
Scouting Report: Hancock's story is similar to Josh Wilson's. Hancock made an even bigger impression than Wilson at the Area Code Games and had a better chance of going in the first or supplemental first round. Texas high schools always are loaded with promising arms, but few in this year's crop are as polished as Hancock's. That remains the case, though his stuff is down slightly from a year ago. He showed an 88-93 mph fastball and a hammer curveball in 2004, but has lost velocity on his heater and sharpness on his curve this spring. Scouts expected more out of him, and wonder if he'll give up a substantial scholarship from Arkansas to sign if he drops to the third or fourth round.

23. DARYL JONES, of (National rank: 145)
School: Spring HS.
Hometown: Spring, Texas.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: June 15, 1987.
College Commitment: Rice.
Scouting Report: As a wide receiver who caught 20 touchdown passes over the last two years and runs a 4.5-second 40-yard dash, Jones had scholarship offers from several prominent NCAA Division I-A programs. He turned them all down to take a baseball scholarship from Rice, and it appears unlikely he'll give it up to turn pro. Jones still is learning how to use his speed on the diamond, and it plays only as a slightly above-average tool right now. His frame and his potential as a basestealer remind scouts of Kenny Lofton, and he has more raw power than Lofton ever had. He's still raw, but he could blossom into a premium draft pick three years from now after focusing solely on baseball. He has the potential to be a power/speed center fielder, and the passion for the game to make that happen.

24. JARRED BOGANY, of (National rank: 154)
School: George Bush HS.
Hometown: Houston.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 199. Birthdate: Jan. 4, 1987.
College Commitment: Louisiana State.
Scouting Report: In terms of pure tools, Bogany ranks just behind Jay Bruce and Jordan Danks. But he's more of a raw athlete than a polished player at this point, so he'll be somewhat of a project for whichever club takes him. He lost three weeks of playing time at the beginning of the season when he fouled a ball off his left big toe in Bush High's first scrimmage. He's a plus runner with a quick bat and lots of power potential. He has a long way to go to hit better pitching, however, as he has an inconsistent swing path and struggles with breaking balls. He plays a fine center field and has average arm strength. One scout compares him to Torii Hunter, who had a similar profile coming out of an Arkansas high school and required six years in the minors before putting it all together.

25. BRIAN NEEDHAM, rhp (National rank: 164)
School: John Foster Dulles HS.
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: Sept. 21, 1986.
College Commitment: Lamar.
Scouting Report: Needham is the most projectable pitcher in the Texas high school ranks. It's not hard to imagine him blossoming into a first-rounder three years from now if he goes to Lamar rather than signing as a third- to sixth-rounder in June. He's 6-foot-6 and 175 pounds with a lightning-quick arm that can deliver 92-93 mph fastballs. Once he puts on more weight, he could reach the mid-90s with regularity. He already has made a lot of progress from last summer, when he usually pitched in the mid-80s. Needham also throws a slurvy breaking ball that's effective, and he can repeatedly command it either in or out of the strike zone.

26. MIKE BELL, 3b (National rank: 174)
School: Grayson County (Texas) CC.
Hometown: Red Bluff, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: March 30, 1985.
Previously Drafted: Giants 2003 (43).
Scouting Report: Bell caused a bit of a sensation when he joined Wareham late in the Cape Cod League season last summer. He had been playing with a junior college all-star team that traveled to Japan, and by the time he arrived on the Cape most scouts had moved on. Bell hit .357 in the final two weeks, earning comparisons to former Gatemen star Aaron Hill. Currently a shortstop, Bell has tried catching at Grayson County and likely will play third base as a pro. His bat is his ticket, and he was hitting .441 in late May while ranking third among national juco players in RBIs (77) and eighth in homers (14). He runs well and has a strong arm, though it can be erratic. One scout calls him a poor man's Cliff Pennington with more strength. Bell has no four-year college option after his juco eligibility expires this year, so he should be quick to sign.

27. LANCE PENDLETON, of/rhp (National rank: 175)
School: Rice.
Hometown: Kingwood, Texas.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Sept. 10, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Padres 2002 (13).
Scouting Report: Pendleton has been an enigma this spring. Scouts projected him as a possible second-round pick after he hit .326 and led Rice with 11 homers as a sophomore, but his average has plummeted 73 points in 2005. He has the tools to hit for average and power, but has run hot and cold all season. There's no one reason scouts or coaches can point to as an explanation. Pendleton is a good athlete with near-average speed and a plus arm, and he should be able to add some more strength to his long, lean frame. Some teams may prefer Pendleton on the mound, where he has shown more consistency as a reliever. He throws a 90-94 mph fastball that's fairly straight, and his breaking ball is a plus pitch when he commands it. Though he won't go as high in the draft as he once figured and Rice players often return for their senior seasons, Pendleton still is considered fairly signable,

28. JOHNNY WHITTLEMAN, 3b (National rank: 183)
School: Kingwood HS.
Hometown: Kingwood, Texas.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Feb. 11, 1987.
College Commitment: Texas.
Scouting Report: The consensus is that Whittleman has the best bat among Texas' high school infielders. He has a solid approach and good mechanics at the plate, and should hit for average with at least gap power. He has equaled Lance Pendleton's school record with 10 homers this spring while leading Kingwood to the state 5-A regional semifinals. A shortstop who doubled as a quarterback for Kingwood's football team, Whittleman will have to move to third base or left field at the next level. He has decent arm strength, though he throws with a funky motion, but he lacks the footwork and speed to stay at short.

29. CARLOS HEREAUD, ss (National rank: 198)
School: Elkins HS.
Hometown: Missouri City, Texas.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 189. Birthdate: Feb. 20, 1986.
College Commitment: Houston.
Scouting Report: While Johnny Whittleman is regarded as the best-hitting high school infielder in Texas, Hereaud has his supporters. Opinion is more mixed on Hereaud than Whittleman, but those who like him say he can catch up to even the best fastballs. Others say Hereaud hasn't matched his Area Code Games performance from last summer and think he has trouble with breaking balls. Like Whittleman, Hereaud probably will have to move off shortstop when he leaves high school, but he usually finds a way to get the job done with his fine instincts. He has average speed, though he has a thick lower half and figures to slow down. His arm is decent, and he may fit better at second base than at third. Hereaud's parents moved their family from Venezuela to get their children a better education, so it may be difficult to sign him away from his Houston scholarship.


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

3B/OF J.W. Wilson (30) and OF Ben Booker (31) are two of the better athletes among Texas high schoolers. Both are shortstops who are going to have to move, Wilson because he doesn't have good actions and Booker because he lacks arm strength. A star wide receiver in football, Wilson has size (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), strength and speed but is raw and needs more discipline at the plate. If he doesn't sign, he'll join his older brother Josh on Texas Tech's baseball team. Booker is one of the quickest players in the state, capable of running the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, he also offers some lefthanded pop to go with his speed. Once he focuses solely on baseball—he also ran track this spring—he could take off as a center fielder. He has committed to Baylor.

Clay Buchholz and Stephen Marek aren't the only power arms in the juco ranks. RHPs Eric Krebs (32) and Brett Zamzow (33) haven't been as consistent as Buchholz and Marek, but both can dial their fastballs into the mid-90s. Krebs is more advanced as a pitcher at this point, showing a 93-94 mph fastball and mid-80s cutter/slider as a reliever. Zamzow has a cleaner arm action and a better chance to be a starter as a pro, though he's mainly just an arm-strength guy right now. Both are under control, Krebs to the Royals and Zamzow to the Rangers. (UPDATE: Zamzow has signed with Texas.) If he doesn't sign, Krebs will pitch at Lamar next year.

LHP Trey Taylor (34) was a second-round pick by the Rockies out of high school four years ago. He threw 92-93 mph as a high school senior but hasn't shown the same stuff since. While he usually works at 87-89 mph now, scouts have been impressed at how much progress he has made learning to pitch. He also has a cutter that's effective against righthanders, and he's an attractive senior sign. He turned down the Cubs as a 20th-rounder in 2004.

Other top senior signs include SS/2B Cameron Blair (35), C Josh Ford (45), LHP Buck Cody (49), RHP Trey Hearne (50) and SS Jaime Landin (56). Blair, who has 47 homers over the last three seasons at Grayson County CC and Texas Tech, projects as an offensive second baseman. Ford hasn't consistently shown the power he did in 2004 (when he hit 14 homers) or the arm strength he had before shoulder surgery in 2003, but he flashes it at times. Cody has posted a 4.12 ERA this spring after putting up a 1.74 mark in his first three seasons. His velocity is from 92-93 mph to 85-87 mph, and he hasn't located his big-breaking curveball as well as he once did. But he's still a lefty who has shown two plus pitches in the past. Hearne rewrote the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi record books this spring, going 8-1, 2.00 with 116 strikeouts in 108 innings. He has good life on an 87-91 mph fastball and also has an effective breaking ball. Landin also put up big numbers at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, batting .427 to break his own school record of .421 set in 2003. He's a gap-to-gap hitter with good actions at shortstop.

Just as Taylor Teagarden stands out among the state's college catching prospects, Preston Paramore (36) is clearly the best of the high school backstops. He's a big (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), strong switch-hitter who stands out more on offense, and there's some fear that he may grow too big to stay behind the plate. He had a chance to go as high as the third round before tailing off down the stretch. If he doesn't sign, he's headed to Arizona State.

RHP Ryan LaMotta (37) has been one of college baseball's top middle relievers this spring. His best pitch is his changeup, and he sits around 90 mph with his fastball. He also has a curveball and has been equally effective against lefthanders and righthanders. He might not get drafted high enough to give up his senior season at Baylor, however.

There's some disagreement about whether OF/RHP Ryan DeLaughter (38) has a brighter future as a hitter or pitcher, but more scouts like his bat. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he can drive balls a long way, though he may need to polish up his hitting mechanics. On the mound, he'll show an average fastball and curveball. He shouldn't be a tough sign because he has committed to Navarro JC rather than a four-year college.

RHP Bryce Cox (39) joined Josh Geer as a blue-chip junior college recruit for Rice, but he hasn't matched Geer's success. A converted third baseman who didn't pitch much before 2004, Cox is a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder who can throw 92-95 mph while generating heavy boring and sinking action from a low three-quarters arm angle. But he lost his confidence and command, so the Owls rarely used him down the stretch. His arm slot also makes it difficult for him to stay on top of his curveball.

Unlike most of the shortstops ahead of him on the list, Ryan Crew (40) has a good chance to play that position as a pro. He's athletic, has plenty of arm strength (he has thrown in the low 90s when used as a pitcher) and good hands. He also showed he can hit with wood by batting .346 in the New England Collegiate League last summer.

The University of Houston has produced standout relievers Jesse Crain and Ryan Wagner in recent years, and the Cougars have another quality bullpen arm in RHP Justin Vaclavik (41). A Bay City High teammate of J. Brent Cox, Vaclavik has a 90-94 mph fastball and an 81-83 mph slider. His 51-9 strikeout-walk ratio in 42 innings also will endear him to clubs that emphasize statistical performance.

RHP Chase Phillips (42) created some early interest when he popped some 94s on the radar gun in February, but he was pitching more at 87-89 mph as the draft approached. He's lean and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 175 pounds, so he should work regularly in the low 90s once he adds more strength. His No. 2 pitch is a slurvy curveball. Phillips originally signed with Texas Christian, but he'll also keep his options open by considering attending Weatherford (Texas) JC as a potential draft-and-follow.

Texas Tech-bound Lukas Thomason (43) is another projectable righthander. An athletic 6-foot-5, 215-pounder, he helped his cause by standing out at the Perfect Game World Showcase in January, helping his cause. He'll throw 90-92 mph at times and also has nice run on his fastball. He throws both a curveball and slider, and his breaking stuff will improve once he develops a more consistent release point.

3B/RHP Brad Suttle (44) and LHP Kyle Walker (54) are two more members of a typical banner University of Texas recruiting class that also includes Jordan Danks, Kyle Russell, Josh Wilson and Johnny Whittleman. Suttle is a gifted switch-hitter with a strong arm, but some teams are wary of him because he's a diabetic. He probably won't pitch at Texas, but he can reach 92 mph on the mound. Walker, who threw three consecutive no-hitters this spring, is a polished three-pitch lefty with an 86-89 mph fastball.

Yet another future Longhorn is 3B Koby Clemens (72). Koby's dad Roger won the clinching game of the 1983 College World Series for Texas before launching a Hall of Fame career in the majors. Though he has thrown two no-hitters and his velocity has climbed into the 90s at times this spring, he projects more as a third baseman. His best tool is his power, and he also has arm strength and decent agility at the hot corner.

Texarkana JC, the state's representative at the Junior College World Series, has a pair of intriguing Australians in LHP David Welch (46) and 2B/3B Daniel Berg (68). Welch's velocity jumped from 84-85 mph in the fall to 88-89 this spring, and there may be more velocity in his 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame. He’ll also show a plus curveball at times. Berg has a quick bat and good speed. He's under control to the Twins, while Welch went undrafted in 2004. If they don't sign, Welch will attend Texas Tech and Berg will join Arkansas. (UPDATE: Berg signed as a draft-and-follow with the Twins.)

LHP Derrick Gordon (47) is the state's top draft-eligible sophomore. He's just 5-foot-9, but his arm works well. He'll pitch in the upper 80s and also flash a plus slider. He hasn't been as dominant as he was in 2004, when he finished eighth in NCAA Division I with a 1.92 ERA after redshirting the previous year.

RHP Eddie Degerman (55) has contributed to Rice's rebuilt rotation by going 7-1, 2.94 and ranking among the NCAA Division I leaders with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings. But his draft status is uncertain because he pitches with a stiff, over-the-top delivery that scouts compare to an Iron Mike pitching machine. He throws an 88-91 mph fastball, a curveball and a changeup all from the same slot, and his unorthodox mechanics throw hitters off.

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