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2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Virginia

By Will Kimmey
June 3, 2005


THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The talent has been building in Virginia in recent years, and this year caps off the state's steady surge toward amateur prominence. First and foremost is Justin Upton, the consensus top talent in the draft, and he's closely followed by Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is the exception this year, however, as the only college player among the state's best prospects. Of the top 12 players in the state, 11 come from the high school ranks.

(National ranking in parentheses)
Potential First-Round Picks

1. Justin Upton (1), ss, Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake
2. Ryan Zimmerman (9), 3b, U. of Virginia
3. Brandon Snyder (28), c/ss, Westfield HS, Centreville

Potential Second-Fifth Round Picks
4. Justin Bristow (43), rhp/ss, Mills Godwin HS, Richmond
5. Evan Frederickson (131), lhp, Oakton HS, Oak Lawn
6. Dexter Carter (147), rhp, Greenbrier Christian Academy
7. Daniel Hudson (189), rhp, Princess Anne HS, Virginia Beach
Others Of Note
8. Scott Taylor, rhp, Hermitage HS, Glen Allen
9. Jacob Thompson, lhp, Tunstall HS, Danville
10. Anthony Shawler, rhp, Oscar Smith HS, Chesapeake
11. Brad Kledik, rhp, Robinson HS, Fairfax Station
12. Matt Olson, rhp, Western Branch HS, Chesapeake
13. Matt Avery, rhp, U. of Virginia
14. Chris Rahl, of, College of William & Mary
15. Mike Biannuci, ss, Woodson HS, Annandale
16. Will Inman, rhp, Tunstall HS, Danville
17. Ryan Wood, rhp, C.D. Hylton HS, Woodbridge
18. Jeff Kamrath, rhp, U. of Virginia
19. James Burok, rhp, Old Dominion U.
20. Cory Koliscak, rhp, Radford U.
21. Evan Ocheltree, of, Collegiate HS, Richmond
22. Matt Ballard, lhp, U of Virginia
23. Chris Looze, 1b, George Mason U.
24. Michael Roberts, c, Prince George HS
25. Jared Bolden, 1b/lhp, E.C. Glass HS, Lynchburg
26. Stacen Gant, rhp, George Mason
27. Chris Stanton, 3b/of, Virginia Tech
28. Ryan Kennedy, lhp, Virginia Tech
29. Kyle Dubois, rhp, Old Dominion U.
30. Michael Bowman, rhp, Deep Run HS, Richmond
31. John Phelps, lhp, Deep Creek HS, Chesapeake
32. Beamer Weems, ss, Princess Anne HS, Virginia Beach
33. Mark Fleisher, 1b, Radford U.
34. Jason Mills, rhp, George Mason U.
35. Derek DuClos, rhp, U. of Richmond
36. Kevin Foeman, rhp, Mary Washington U.
37. Duke Acors, rhp, Virginia Military
38. Ben Zeskind, 2b/of, U. of Richmond
39. Marcus Davis, rhp, Virginia Commonwealth U.
40. Alex Peguero, ss, Greinbrier Christian Academy, Riverdale, Md.
41. Will Rhymes, 2b, College of William & Mary
42. Matt Cooksey, of, George Mason U.
43. Travis Miller, rhp, James Madison U.

1. JUSTIN UPTON, ss (National Rank: 1)
School: Great Bridge HS.
Hometown: Chesapeake, Va.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 187. Birthdate: 8-25-87
College Commitment: North Carolina State.
Scouting Report: Upton stands as the favorite to become the draft's first overall pick, which would trump his brother B.J., whom the Devil Rays selected second in 2002. The sibling rivalry doesn't stop there. Justin has proven equally athletic and more advanced offensively than B.J. at the same age, demonstrating excellent patience at the plate and a quick stroke. Upton's well-defined and muscular upper body give a hint to his plus power potential, which he accompanies with equal amounts of speed. His 6.23-second time in the 60-yard dash at a Perfect Game showcase last year rates as the quickest in the scouting service's history. Upton moves well defensively and shows clean actions at shortstop, but again follows in his brother's footsteps because he has trouble harnessing the plus arm strength that has allowed him to hit 94 mph off the mound. The throwing errors come from not maintaining consistent mechanics, a problem that fades when Upton long tosses or makes throws from the outfield. This has led some scouts to profile him as a center fielder, though Upton would prefer to remain at shortstop. He actually played third base late in his senior season, making all the plays there after switching positions with a teammate who struggled to make the long throws from the hot corner. Wherever Upton lands defensively, teams will buy the bat. His character and work ethic often go under-reported, as people tend to focus on the five-tool skills. He's handled the expectations of being tagged 2005's top prospect since his freshman year of high school with aplomb, routinely playing in front of scores of scouts and answering countless questions from scouts and media alike. He continues to back up the hype, with his performance at the World Junior Championship in September as a prime example. He led Team USA in runs (eight), hits (10), triples (four), total bases (21) and slugging (.875).

2. RYAN ZIMMERMAN, 3b (National Rank: 9)
School: Virginia.
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: Sept. 28, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Zimmerman played second base for a high school summer team that featured B.J. Upton at shortstop and David Wright at third base, but he went undrafted out of high school. Teams won't miss out on the opportunity this time around. His bat control and elite defensive ability have the Royals and Expos targeting Zimmerman, and his polish could give them a quick return on that investment. His professional stock soared he earned MVP honors at the World University Championship last summer, leading Team USA to a gold medal in Taiwan while setting a USA Baseball record with a .468 average. Even more impressive to scouts were his team-best numbers in home runs (four) and RBIs (27) with wood bats. That allayed concerns about a lack of power after he finished with only one home run for Virginia in 2004, though he always has shown gap power. He was among the Atlantic Coast Conference batting leaders again this season and had six home runs. Zimmerman rarely strikes out because of his balanced, up-the-middle approach and shows average speed and good instincts on the basepaths. He's always had excellent defensive skills, with hands, feet, arm strength and range that all rate above-average. He has even played at least a dozen games at shortstop for Virginia, allowing the Cavaliers to get more offense in the lineup, and a pro club might try him in the middle infield. One scout called him the best defender he had ever seen--at any position--and said the only question about Zimmerman was how many Gold Gloves he would win. His makeup also gets high marks; he returned from his strong summer playing with the intensity of a walk-on.

3. BRANDON SNYDER, c/ss (National Rank: 28)
School: Westefield HS.
Hometown: Centreville, Va.
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 190 Birthdate: 11-23-86
College Commitment: Louisiana State
Scouting Report: There's a lot to like about Snyder. His father Brian reached the majors as a pitcher, giving him pedigree. He's tough mentally, jumping back and forth between shortstop and catcher, though he moved behind the plate for good late in his senior season. He plays the game hard with a dirt-rat mentality in spite of his premium prospect status. Snyder takes batting practice like a major leaguer, working on driving balls the opposite way and trusting his hands in early rounds before working in his lower body and jolting shots out of the yard once he's loose. And he has performed, putting up good numbers against top summer competition with the Midland Redskins. He showed more polish and feel for the game than Midland teammate Cameron Maybin. Snyder's mature approach, line-drive swing and ability to pull the ball with authority remind scouts of Justin Upton at the plate. He overmatches high school pitching and has rated as the best player in northern Virginia since he arrived on the scene as a freshman. His speed is a tick below-average. His athleticism and arm strength would play at shortstop or third base, and some teams would start him out as an infielder to make sure his offensive development doesn't get stunted. But in the end, Snyder's ability and aptitude to play the premium position of catcher should win out. Limited experience means his receiving skills are ahead of his blocking skills now, but he should develop into at least an adequate defender.

4. JUSTIN BRISTOW, rhp/ss (National Rank: 43)
School: Mills Godwin HS.
Hometown: Richmond.
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-4 Wt.: 205 Birthdate: 3-6-87
College Commitment: Auburn
Scouting Report: Bristow looks to join Matt Moses as the second Godwin first-rounder in three years. Both of their older brothers play for James Madison, and all four played youth baseball with Justin Verlander, the second overall pick last year. Bristow draws attention for his work in both phases of the game. While some scouts like his 91-92 mph fastball and a clean, easy arm strike enough to mark him as a pitcher, most have the feeling he'd rather continue his career as an everyday player. A slider that ranges from plus to soft and a delivery that gets uphill at times might push the scouting consensus in that direction as well. Drafting Bristow as a position player means buying the bat. His bat speed doesn't best that of fellow Virginia prepster Brandon Snyder, and his swing gets around the ball rather than inside it at times, which could trim points off his average. But the strength, leverage and backspin in Bristow's swing should produce more power than Moses. A high school quarterback, Bristow's athleticism would make a shift to third base easy; he displays body control on slow rollers and owns the plus arm that would combine to make at least an average defender. His only below-average tool is speed. Bristow would be an outstanding college shortstop/closer if he doesn’t receive first-round money and heads to Auburn.

5. EVAN FREDERICKSON, lhp (National Rank: 131)
School: Oakton HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Oak Hill, Va.
B-T: L-L Ht.: 6-5 Wt.: 203 Birthdate: Sept. 23, 1986
College Commitment: Virginia Tech
Scouting Report: Frederickson dazzled scouts with a one-hitter and eight strikeouts against Westfield High, spinning around likely first-round pick Brandon Snyder. He has thrown three career no-hitters, including one during his junior season when scouts were tracking teammate Jared Kubin, now a freshman at Florida. He also threw a two-hitter against Snyder's Westfield team in 2003, but one of the hits was a Snyder home run. Frederickson's arm works well and his low, slinging arm slot and lanky build reminds people of Randy Johnson. His fastball works in the 85-87 mph range, but he has touched 91-92 at showcase events and can reach back for that velocity at important spots in games. His frisbee slider plays like a plus pitch at times, and he also has worked on a hard curveball that's more a slider with depth that he runs under righthanders' hands. Sloppy mechanics have proven Frederickson's downfall at times, especially when he battled command issues as a junior. His arm trails his body during his delivery and he throws across his body. If Frederickson can iron out the mechanics flaw, he could develop into a first-round pick as a college junior, but teams might be willing to take a developmental flier this year.

6. DEXTER CARTER, rhp (National Rank: 147)
School: Greenbrier Christian Academy. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Murfreesboro, N.C.
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 185 Birthdate: 2-5-87
College Commitment: Louisburg (N.C.) JC
Scouting Report: Carter transferred to Greenbrier (the alma mater of B.J. Upton) to work with coach Gary Lavelle, who returned to the school this season after leaving it in 1999 to serve as a Yankees pitching instructor. Size, arm strength and easy velocity give Carter one of the biggest upsides of any player in the Virginia this year. He's touched 92 mph with his fastball and generates good leverage and a downhill plane on the pitch, though its velocity has varied wildly. He failed to break 84 mph during his summer action, but hasn't dropped below 88 very often this season. He missed three weeks of play after rolling his ankle during a baseball trip to Myrtle Beach, but has since recovered. Carter showed the makings of a power slider with good tilt, but that pitch must be refined, much like his overall skills as a pitcher. He has shown flashes of greatness, such as a five-inning no-hitter against Brunswick Academy in which he struck out 11 batters, but most teams want him to fill out more and continue developing a feel for pitching. He's likely to head to Lousiburg as a draft-and-follow, but there are a few clubs that would sign him this summer.

7. DANIEL HUDSON, rhp (National Rank: 189)
School: Princess Anne HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va.
B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 185 Birthdate: March 9, 1987
College Commitment: Old Dominion
Scouting Report: Hudson rose up the draft board late in the spring more because of his overall polish and knack for pitching than pure stuff. He owns a classic, strong righthander's frame with broad shoulders and a loose, fluid arm stroke that leads scouts to believe his upper-80s fastball should gain velocity as he fills out. He's touched 90-92 mph at times but won't consistently reach that threshold until he gains more physical maturity and adds strength. Still, the pitch features heavy sinking action and gets on hitters quickly, making it playable at its current velocity. Hudson's ability to locate his curveball and changeup are quite advanced for his age, and the curve should become a plus pitch, something that proved attractive to Old Dominion coach Jerry Meyers. Mental maturity and an aggressive approach also are plusses for Hudson.


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

Cavalier Arms

The resurgent UVa program should deliver plenty of impact, starting with Zimmerman in the first round. Virginia's entire weekend rotation could get drafted. Junior RHP Matt Avery's (13) 5-5, 4.52 record is the third-best of the staff, but his 88-89 mph fastball that has touched the low 90s puts him atop the prospect list. He's mature, shows a good feel for pitching and offers projection with a 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame and long arms. His secondary pitches are soft--especially his breaking ball--and mechanically, a stiff front leg moves his pitches up in the zone.

Fifth-year senior RHP Jeff Kamrath (18) emerged as the team's best pitcher. The Indians controlled his rights after spending a 36th-round choice on him last year, but Virginia's NCAA regional berth means he'll be back in the draft because he couldn't sign before the closed period. Kamrath missed 2004 after Tommy John surgery, and his velocity has been in the mid-80s most of the year. He succeeds by throwing four pitches for strikes, and did that enough to win 10 games and first-team all-ACC honors in 2005. His grandfather was an NCAA tennis champion at Texas.

LHP Matt Ballard (22) also missed the 2004 season because of Tommy John surgery, and his velocity has not yet returned. He sat in the 83-84 mph range as a redshirt junior and will probably return for his senior year to show he can make effective use of his command, polish and ability to move the ball around the strike zone.

Virginia didn't mine the in-state prep talent too heavily, signing only LHP Jacob Thompson (9), but the 6-foot-6 athlete could emerge as a first-rounder in a few years. His fastball reaches the low 90s, but he works mostly in the upper 80s and mixes in a curveball that's a true 12-to-6 hammer at times. He also throws a slider and changeup. He missed four weeks of the season with a strained ligament in his left ankle after landing awkwardly while tagging a base. Thompson's commitment to the Cavaliers is strong; word was that he wanted nearly $1 million to sign. He doesn't yet merit that kind of bonus.

Tigers Grab Preps By The Tail

RHP Will Inman (16), Thompson's teammate at Tunstall High in Danville, actually has enjoyed a more decorated prep career. He broke the state's career strikeout record, passing 500 as a senior. His stocky build at 6 feet, 205 pounds doesn't portend the same projection scouts as Thompson, and many stopped following him because he failed to break 90 mph at the 2004 Commonwealth Games and his delivery showed some effort. That could be a mistake, because Inman hit 90-92 mph regularly as a senior, with his coach saying he might have been worn down last summer following a long postseason run. Inman's curveball isn’t a true power pitch, but generates a lot of swings and misses. He also throws a splitter and a changeup, and will use any of the four offerings in any count.

Inman committed to Auburn, which snagged a nice trio of Virginians, including Richmond's Justin Bristow and Woodson SS Mike Biannuci (15). Biannuci's father owns a gym, and his chiseled 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame serves as a nice advertisement for it. Some say his strength has left his swing and other movements a bit stiff, but there's no questioning the power he offers. He's athletic enough that he could play shortstop or more likely third base at the college level, but could move to left field later. His arm is average.

Tribe Tumbler

William & Mary OF Chris Rahl (14) hit 20 home runs and stole 42 bases as a sophomore, showcasing a power-speed combination that earned All-America honors and put him in position to get drafted in the first five rounds. While he hit 12 homers, slugged .554 and stolen 21 bases (in 30 tries) as a junior, Rahl's .297 average and 27-37 walk-strikeout ratio show how he's tried to do too much in his draft year. Opponents have filled his plate appearances with offspeed pitches, and he has struggled against breaking balls while chasing the rare fastballs he sees--often out of the zone. Still, Rahl's plus speed should put him in the first 10 rounds, and history says he will hit better if he stops trying to impress with his power. A high school second baseman, Rahl doesn’t show true outfield instincts, but he works hard and is helped by his speed and plus arm. He could play center field, but likely settles into a corner.

Rahl's teammate, senior 2B Will Rhymes (41), enjoyed an excellent senior year, setting the table with team-bests in average (.413), on base-percentage (.451) and runs (58) while producing a 16-15 walk-strikeout ratio. Neither his tools nor his stature (5-foot-9, 155 pounds) overwhelm, but Rhymes plays hard and could prove a solid organizational player. Richmond OF/2B Ben Zeskind (38) is essentially a bigger version of Rhymes, with a legit bat from both sides of the plate, a competitive, smart approach the game and speed that's average to a tick above. His arm isn't great for center field.

Rams Recruits

Virginia Commonwealth always has procured solid local talent from Richmond and could have its next standout in Hermitage High RHP Scott Taylor (8). The 6-foot-4 athlete struck out 16 in a 1-0 loss to Justin Bristow and Godwin, and one scout said that while Bristow's polish reminded him of a luxury car, Taylor's bite-your-head-off mentality and raw strength made for a nice SUV comparison. Taylor shows clean arm action with boring life on a 90-91 mph fastball that could jump in velocity down the road. His breaking ball looked good late in the year, but it rolls at times. His changeup might be his second pitch. Taylor also possesses a powerful bat and could emerge as a two-way player in the mold of former VCU start Jason Dubois if he went to college. Taylor should sign, however, if he goes near the fifth round.

Speaking of Dubois, his younger brother RHP Kyle Dubois (29) is a junior at Old Dominion. Being a big, physical pitcher runs in the family. His live fastball reached 90 at times, but was more often in the 86-88 range. He bounced between the rotation and a closing role, and was best when he was locating his slider. He struck out 77 batters in 72 innings.

Back to VCU's class, 6-foot-2 1B/LHP Jared Bolden (25) could also follow the Dubois path. The lanky Bolden reminds VCU coach Paul Keyes of Garret Anderson with the way he always puts the barrel of his bat on the ball. He's still raw as a pitcher, but should improve in that area with a few years in college. VCU also signed Manchester High INF Chris Jackson, the cousin of former Richmond outfielder Nic Jackson, who joined Dubois in the Cubs organization.

East Carolina also does a fine job finding players in Virginia, and this year landed a pair of 6-foot-4 athletes who could end up on campus after looking like top five round talents over the summer. Chesapeake RHP Matt Olson (12) is country strong with a loose arm and fires fastballs in the 90-92 mph range, but the pitch is fairly straight and his delivery features considerable effort. He needs to develop his slow, slurvy curveball into a better pitch and throw it more. He throws the fastball nearly all the time now.

Woodbridge RHP Ryan Wood (17) also features effort to his delivery and a slurvy breaker. His ceiling could be higher than Olson's once he bulks up from 160 pounds and becomes more consistent in his command. His changeup gives him one of the best complements of secondary pitches in this group of prep arms, but his head-snapping mechanics don't allow him to make the most of it. He could emerge as a solid college player, and might develop into an even better shortstop than pitcher.

Plenty Of Depth

RHP Andrew Shawler (10) always displayed good arm strength as a catcher and then after moving to the mound. He has shown a low-90s fastball, but works comfortably in the upper 80s with a slider that has spun as hard as 81-83 mph. His wiry 6-foot-2 frame and relative newness to pitching means he could blossom at Old Dominion, where he might also catch at times because of his bat. Shawler is an energetic player who really enjoys playing the game.

Shawler won't get to play with RHP James Burok (19) at ODU, because the hard worker will prove an interesting senior sign for a club looking to save money in the first 10 rounds. He's cut from a similar mold as ODU's Donnie Smith, a Cardinals fourth-round pick in 2004, but doesn’t possess the same arm strength. Burok showed plus stuff once he moved to a closer's role, reaching 90-93 mph with his fastball and showing a cutter at 84-85 that's a major league pitch. His curveball isn’t a true 12-to-6 offering, but he might not use it much if he remains in the bullpen.

Radford RHP Cory Koliscak (20) could also prove an interesting senior sign. His sidearm delivery and 88-92 mph fastball induces all kinds of ground balls, and he struck out more than a batter per inning. Koliscak also features a decent slider. His classmate, 1B Mark Fleisher (33) displayed intriguing power, bat speed and balance as a cleanup hitter batting .378-11-46.

Virginia Tech 3B/OF Chris Stanton (27) gets to first base as fast as 3.8 seconds on drag bunts, but he doesn’t necessarily hit or field well enough to make good use of that speed. He has holes in his swing, but possesses the ability to put the ball and play, making his feet a factor. Defensively, he would fit best in center field, where he could run down flies. LHP Ryan Kennedy (28) is a fourth-year junior who drew some interest as an innings eater for the Hokies. His numbers don't wow anyone, but he has a good idea how to work with his upper-80s fastball and a decent changeup. He runs into trouble when he tries to impress scouts by overthrowing

George Mason offers a trio of interesting senior signs. The Patriots coaching staff was befuddled when lefthanded-hitting 1B Chris Looze (23) went undrafted as a junior despite .340-17-81 numbers. He hit .309-13-62 and might pursue medical school if baseball disappoints him again. He's athletic at 6-1, 195 pounds, doesn't strike out much and his power plays to the alleys. OF Matt Cooksey (42) stands 5-foot-8 but possesses great speed (34 steals) and can haul in everything in center field. His .527 on-base percentage could also spark late interest. RHP Jason Mills (34) enjoyed a strong summer in the Northwoods League with his 91-93 mph fastball and mid-80s splitter, but the cold spring never allowed him to get going in 2005. He got knocked around early before improving late. He could be a summer follow.

C Michael Roberts (24) will likely honor his Virginia Military Institute commitment. He's an excellent catch-and-throw backstop with an average arm but has a ways to go with the bat. LHP John Phelps (31) comes after hitters with an 87-89 mph fastball, decent breaking ball and changeup but his squatty 5-foot-10 body lacks projection and means he'll end up at William & Mary. SS Beamer Weems (32) stands the same height, and it's the reason this gamer will spend three or four years at Baylor.

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