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By Alan Simpson
(National ranking in parentheses)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Upper New England)
At least two scouting directors made a point of seeing Franklin Pierce’s Shawn Hayes (1), a 6-foot-4, 215-pound lefthanded-hitting shortstop. The verdict is split whether he has the hands or footwork to remain at shortstop or may need to move to third base or right field, but he has the arm strength and runs the 60-yard dash in 6.8 seconds. His coach Jayson King says Hayes is the most talented player he’s had at Franklin Pierce, but scouts say he will struggle initially in pro ball because the competition he faced at the Division III level is so weak. Hayes has the potential to be an offensive player. He led his team with a .395 average this spring, while hitting seven homers and stealing 16 bases.
Vermont LHPs Chris Blazek (2) and Derek Miller (4) dominated the America East Conference this spring, Blazek with his bulldog approach and Miller with his finesse. Blazek opened the season by fanning 14 in six innings and went on to strike out 94 in 67 innings—a nine-inning average of 12.6 that ranked among the best in Division I. His velocity topped out at 90 mph and his slider was inconsistent, but he gets good deception with his delivery and misses bats when he throws strikes. Though his command was significantly better this year, Blazek walked 43 and his success as a pro will depend on his ability to harness his control. Miller signed with the Brewers before the draft as a fifth-year senior. He was picked in the 47th round a year ago despite missing the 2004 season after Tommy John surgery. Miller has just fair stuff, with a fastball that ranged from 84-89 mph, but he was dominating at times this spring, going 7-3, 2.35 with 103 strikeouts and only 25 walks in 88 innings.
RHP Josh Faiola (3) had high expectations of being an early-round draft pick after pitching brilliantly in the Cape Cod League last summer, going 3-2, 1.14 with nine saves and a strikeout-walk ratio of 40-4. He also earned co-MVP honors in the playoffs for league champion Yarmouth-Dennis. But Faiola had a difficult time dealing with the pressure and had an inconsistent spring, going 3-3, 4.96. His strikeout-walk ratio was still an impressive 49-8, but he was hit hard at times as his fastball rarely topped 90 and he didn’t offer a pitch that could neutralize righthanded hitters.
RHP Greg Norton (8) led Maine to a berth in the NCAA regionals by going 9-3, 2.93, but scouts say his stuff hasn’t gotten any better since he was a freshman. He threw strikes consistently but his fastball was a fringy 87-88 mph.
As a 5-foot-9 freshman, RHP Tip Fairchild’s
(7) fastball was clocked at 82-84 mph. Now an imposing junior with command
and a quick arm, Fairchild’s fastball ranged from 88-92 this spring.
He fanned 66 in 50 innings while walking only seven. Fairchild was coached
by Ed Flaherty, who was selected to the American Baseball Coaches Hall
of Fame earlier this year and whose son, SS Ryan Flaherty
(5), should also be drafted. Flaherty, Maine’s top high school
player, was a key member of Portland’s 2004 American Legion national
champions that became the first Northeast team to win the title in 67
years. Flaherty also has starred for Deering High, which had lost only
one game in two years. A 6-foot-3 lefthanded-hitting shortstop, Flaherty
has a good arm and is rangy in the field but may end up at third base
as he learns to drive balls. Both Flaherty and C Andrew Giobbi
(6), his high school teammate, are committed to Vanderbilt, which could
cloud their chances of being drafted. The powerfully built Giobbi has
power and arm strength, but is considered rough around the edges behind