|THIS YEAR'S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
|National Top 200 Prospects|
|Other Players Of Note|
1. Tim Lincecum, rhp (National rank: 2)
School: Washington. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Renton, Wash.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 165. Birthdate: 6/15/84.
Scouting Report: Lincecum claims two important distinctions--he was the nation's most dominant strikeout artist in 2006, and its most unusual pitcher. As a freshman, he became the first player ever to be named both the Pacific-10 Conference's freshman of the year and pitcher of the year. Eligible for the draft as a sophomore, Lincecum didn't live up to the expectations he set for himself, which included a seven-figure signing bonus demand. The Indians took a flier on him in the 41st round, and made a run during the summer, when Lincecum led the Cape Cod League with a 0.64 ERA as a reliever, but did not sign him. After walking more than 150 batters in his first two seasons, Lincecum has adjusted, adding a slider and changeup to his repertoire. His fastball, already a plus pitch, improved a grade as he added nearly 15 pounds of muscle and has reached 98 mph this season, often sitting between 91-96. His power curveball already was one of the best in the country and has become more effective now that he also shows a slider he can throw for strikes. His changeup also has improved. Lincecum has a resilient arm; he throws constantly, often long-tossing the day after his starts. His unorthodox delivery has been described as resembling a pinwheel as he rocks back, makes his body do most of the work and seemingly brings his lightning-quick arm along for the ride. His father helped him develop his unusual mechanics, which give him deception and tremendous stuff. He has never complained of soreness or pain, nor has he missed a start. His delivery, resilient arm, size and stuff remind many scouts of Angels set-up man Scot Shields, and most scouts think Lincecum will thrive in a relief role. His present stuff rivals any pitcher in the draft, and he should move quickly.
2. Travis Snider, of (National rank: 18)
School: Jackson HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Everett, Wash.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: 2/8/88.
Scouting Report: Grady Sizemore sets the standard for hitters drafted out of high school from Washington state, and Snider appears to be the best hitter to come through the state since Sizemore got $2 million from the Expos in 2000. He's mature physically with a strong frame that once made him a top football running back, though he quit after his sophomore season when he broke his right ankle on the last play of spring practice. Snider's powerful lefthanded swing generates above-average bat speed and raw power, and he's become noted not just for hitting lots of home runs, but for hitting lots of long home runs. He does a good job of hanging in against lefthanded pitchers and staying back on breaking balls, trusting his hands. His work ethic earns raves from scouts; he organizes practices three times a week for his Jackson High team, which was undefeated through 21 games, and gives hitting lessons to local children as a senior class project. While he's a solid student, Snider, an Arizona State recruit, is considered signable. Snider's value rests almost completely in his bat, as he's a below-average runner and fringe-average defender due to his modest throwing arm.
3. Jake Locker, of/rhp (National rank: 79)
School: Ferndale HS. Class: Sr
Hometown: Ferndale, Wash.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: 6/15/88.
Scouting Report: Locker might be the best athlete in this draft class--and he'll be one of the toughest to sign as well. He's a University of Washington football recruit, which in the recent past has been a $2 million lottery ticket. The Expos gave Grady Sizemore that amount in 2000, and the Mariners gave Matt Tuiasosopo $2.29 million, and both were third-round picks. More than one scout agreed Locker is a better athlete than even Sizemore, and said he's the best prep athlete who plays baseball in the country. He's a 6.4-second runner over 60 yards with enough arm strength to throw 93 mph off the mound with ease. He could be an above-average defender and has the strength to generate plus raw power, though his hitting skills are rudimentary at best. Locker has given scouts no indication he wants to play pro baseball, however, starting last summer when he backed out of a trip to the Area Code Games. He rarely cooperated with baseball scouts this spring, and he explicitly ruled pro ball out--for now--in May by telling the press he wanted to go to school and play football, though he also may play for the Huskies' baseball team. Scouts appreciated the honesty and will check in again in three years.
4. Steve Englund, ss (National rank: 105)
School: Bellevue HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Bellevue, Wash.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 6/6/88.
Scouting Report: A third-team preseason All-American and key recruit for Washington State, Englund has all the tools scouts could want in a high school hitter. Like many of his peers, he just didn't show the most important tool--hitting--often enough as a high school senior. Englund is an excellent athlete and passes the "eye test"--he looks like a player in uniform. The same is true in batting practice, when Englund can put on a show with long home runs thanks to his excellent bat speed and a swing with plenty of leverage. Englund also impresses during infield practice, showing off a plus arm that should help him make the transition to third base from his prep position of shortstop. But in games, the tools just haven't played consistently. As one scout put it, his high school career just has involved too much drama, including being kicked off the team once and reinstated. Englund's inability to close up holes in his swing points to his inability to make adjustments, and even his advocates warn that Englund's bat could take five years to reach its potential. Scouting directors and organizations that covet high-end tools are likley to be too tempted to let Englund slide out of the first five rounds, however.
5. Steve Marquardt, ss/3b (National rank: 135)
School: Columbia Basin (Wash.) CC. Class: So.
Hometown: Kennewick, Wash.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 6/11/86.
Scouting Report: For the last three drafts, Marquardt has been considered one of the best hitters in the Pacific Northwest. He was an Aflac All-American in 2004 and a two-time state player of the year in Washington during his high school career. The Phillies drafted him in the 37th round in 2004, and the Rangers took him in the 23rd round last year and hold his rights as a draft-and-follow. The more scouts see him, the more holes they see in his game--and yet the bat keeps them coming back. He was MVP of the West Coast Collegiate summer league in 2005, and in 206 Marquardt led his wood-bat conference in home runs (11) and RBIs. He's shown he can hit and hit for power, though scouts are mixed on whether his set-up and trigger will allow him to hit for power against good velocity in pro ball. He also has a power arm well suited for third base. Marquardt has lost athleticism over the years and has tried the patience of scouts, who have questioned his desire to play professionally as well as his maturity. If he fails to sign with the Rangers, Marquardt has committed to play at Oregon State.
6. Curtis Dupart, of (National rank: 140)
School: Woodinville HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Woodinville, Wash.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 9/4/87.
Scouting Report: Most areas have "pop-up" players, draft prospects who move from potential draft-and-follows into the first few 10 rounds. Dupart was such a player who benefited from a mix of circumstances to rise up many draft boards in May. He performed (hitting .511-7-29) in front of plenty of scouts. Many area scouts brought crosscheckers or scouting directors to see the athletic Dupart play at night after watching Travis Snider, the state's top high school prospect, or Washington's Tim Lincecum. Dupart also blossomed as a hitter, showing a strong swing with loft power and leverage after pitching more earlier in his high school career. Repeated arm problems had forced him off the mound the previous summer, but his arm had bounced back enough to be above-average and have some scouts profile him as a classic right fielder. Dupart's timing also helped, as few prep hitters around the country were taking advantage of increased exposure. He even drew recruiting visits from Atlantic Coast Conference schools such as Georgia Tech and Virginia, clouding his signability. In the end, scouts have to decide how much it's worth paying a player like Durpart, a righthanded-hitting prep outfielder from the Pacific Northwest small on track record and long--but not too long--on tools.