|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. Brooks Brown, rhp (National rank: 31)
School: Georgia. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Portal, Ga.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 6/20/85.
Scouting Report: After two up-and-down seasons, pitching primarily in relief, things began to fall into place for Brown as a junior this spring. He was beginning to hit his stride as a freshman in 2004 when he unintentionally hit Georgia Tech's Wes Hodges in the face with a pitch. The accident unnerved Brown, and it seemed to affect his confidence. He made some subtle adjustments in his delivery last summer while pitching in the Cape Cod League, and established himself as the top prospect in the state this spring. Brown's athletic ability is his best asset. He has a sound delivery, working from a three-quarters arm angle, which he varies to high three-quarters at times. His fastball has nice downward plane and sits between 90-93 mph, touching 95. His curveball is an above-average offering, though it's inconsistent because he tends to get around it, especially later in outings. The improvement of his changeup has helped his success against lefties. Brown's stuff tends to taper off after the middle innings, but his feel for pitching allows him to start in college. He'll probably wind up near the back of a bullpen as a pro.
2. Wes Hodges, 3b (National rank: 52)
School: Georgia Tech. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Ooltewah, Tenn.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 207. Birthdate: 9/14/84.
Scouting Report: When Hodges injured his wrist as a high school senior, he taught himself to bat lefthanded and still hit .400. The White Sox drafted him in the 13th round, but he chose to attend college and looked like a cinch first-rounder entering his junior season. His stock has steadily slipped this spring, and some scouts wonder if he is healthy. He missed a series in May with a calf injury, and his defense had regressed. Hodges has outstanding eye-hand coordination and makes consistent contact. He has shown above-average bat speed in the past, though it wasn't as impressive this season. He doesn't project to hit for considerable power, yet he has a penchant for finding holes and has a good hitter's mentality, with good plate discipline and pitch recognition. He's a below-average runner. He has shown above-average arm strength in the past, but many of his throws lacked carry this spring. Clubs placing an emphasis on his track record could still take Hodges as early as the sandwich round.
3. Cedric Hunter, of (National rank: 81)
School: Martin Luther King HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Decatur, Ga.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 3/10/88.
Scouting Report: In a draft bereft of polished hitters, Hunter is a commodity. He has proven his mettle while playing in the East Cobb summer league program in suburban Atlanta, and made a positive impression in 2005 when he held his own against Kyle Drabek, showing the ability to make adjustments at the plate. He plays with zeal and a quiet confidence scouts love. Hunter has a high leg kick that serves as his trigger, but he gets it down in time and loads his hands well in the process. He has a good feel for the strike zone and can lash line drives to all fields. His power isn't overwhelming, but he makes enough hard contact to project to hit 15-20 home runs annually in the big leagues. He has a slight loop in his swing and a slight uppercut, but nothing that draws significant concern. He doesn't run well enough to handle center field, though his range is average and plays up because of good instincts. His arm is slightly below-average. It's not clear he'll have enough power to profile as a corner outfielder, but scouts aren't likely to watch his bat slip past the top four rounds.
4. Brent Brewer, ss/of (National rank: 152)
School: Sandy Creek HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Fairburn, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 12/19/87.
Scouting Report: Scouts recall Brewer stepping out of a batting cage at last summer's East Coast Showcase to answer cell phone calls from college football recruiters. He was obviously distracted, as the swing and approach scouts previously saw was nonexistent. Brewer committed to Florida State to play wide receiver as well as baseball, but he rediscovered his stroke this spring and could find his way in the top five rounds. His pitch recognition and plate discipline have improved, but he has a pull approach and swings and misses frequently. When he squares balls on his barrel, he shows above-average power. Combine that with 4.2-second home to first times, and it's easy to understand why clubs are reluctant to write him off. Comparisons range from Brian Jordan to Reggie Sanders, though his choppy swing looks more similar to Greg Golson's presently. Brewer's hands are solid and he has enough arm for shortstop, but he's best-suited forcenter field.
5. Tim Gustafson, rhp (National rank: 156)
School: Georgia Tech. Class: So.
Hometown: Lilburn, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 208. Birthdate: 12/29/84.
Scouting Report: Since an impressive start against North Carolina in March, Gustafson threw just 38 pitches the remainder of the regular season and had not pitched since late April. An impingement in his throwing arm led to discomfort and clouded Gustafson's draft stock. Early in the season he flashed a low-90s fastball, a power slider and well-above-average changeup. His high three-quarters arm slot enables him to pitch downhill, creating heavy sink on his fastball. Gustafson has an aggressive approach with a feel for pitching, working his stuff to both sides of the plate. His straight changeup has screwball-like action at 80-82 mph and his slider has been up to 85. Gustafson shows good competitiveness on the mound and the demeanor to pitch near the back of a bullpen. His endurance and durability are concerns, but if he recovers from his injury he could perform in a starting role.
6. Torre Langley, c (National rank: 164)
School: Alexander HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Winston, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: 10/9/87.
Scouting Report: During a rain delay last summer, Langley helped pass the time by wowing his Team USA teammates when he threw balls over the left-field fence from the right-field foul line. His arm strength is remarkable, and this spring he threw out 22 of 23 basestealers thanks to sub-2.0-second pop times and clean exchanges from glove to throwing hand. Despite his strength, his 5-foot-8, 170-pound frame hinders his stock and Langley doesn't figure to get much taller. His catch-and-throw skills are among the best in the draft class, although he has some fine-tuning to do, especially with his receiving. Offensively, Langley has some pop, although his power is primarily gap-to-gap. His swing can get long. He has good bat control and a feel for situational hitting. His confidence borders on cockiness, though scouts like the flair he shows with snap throws and impressive performances on big stages. Others wonder how he'll mesh with a professional pitching staff, however, and suggest he'll need to tone down his attitude. He has committed to Georgia Tech, and is considered signable in the first five rounds.
7. Dustin Evans, rhp (National rank: 167)
School: Georgia Southern. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Taylorsville, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 9/24/84.
Scouting Report: Evans enrolled at Georgia Southern with impressive credentials. He won the Connie Mack World Series while playing for an East Cobb, Ga., team, and went head-to-head with No. 1 pick Matt Bush and the U.S. junior national team in an exhibition game in the summer of 2003. He compiled a 2.27 ERA in seven starts for Orleans last summer in the Cape Cod League, helping it claim the league title. His success did not carry over into his junior season at Georgia Southern, however. He missed a month with a stress fracture in his right elbow, and although he's regained his velocity his command and stuff have been underwhelming. Evans' fastball touched 95 mph but it's flat and lacks life. His 84 mph slider has potential to be a plus pitch, but he frequently leaves it up in the zone. He also will show a below-average changeup. Evans' delivery needs to be tweaked. He lands on his heel with a stiff front leg, preventing him from pitching downhill effectively.
8. Michael Demperio, 2b (National rank: 174)
School: Kell HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Marietta, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 2/17/88.
Scouting Report: Demperio missed most of his junior high school season after an ankle injury, but he has received plenty of exposure as a mainstay in the middle infield for teams sponsored by the East Cobb (Ga.) amateur powerhouse. He's the type of player some clubs compare to Dustin Pedroia or Cliff Pennington, saying his instincts and feel for the game could make him a premium pick after three years at Texas, where he has committed. Demperio is undersized but has spring in his step and live, loose actions in the field. He's a well-above-average runner and an aggressive baserunner. He has exceptional hands and makes accurate throws on the run and on the backside of the double play, though his arm strength doesn't play as well at shortstop. He likes to pull the ball, but has a fair approach at the plate and makes consistent contact with average bat speed.
9. Whit Robbins, 1b/3b (National rank: 177)
School: Georgia Tech. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Calhoun, Ga.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 208. Birthdate: 9/24/84.
Scouting Report: While most of the attention this season in Atlanta was on Georgia Tech third baseman Wes Hodges, Robbins was climbing draft boards with his best season. He led Tech in batting, on-base percentage, home runs and RBIs, almost doubling his home run total from his first two seasons combined. He made himself some money in late March when he held his own against North Carolina's Andrew Miller, then chased Daniel Bard with a towering home run to cap his weekend. Robbins has surprising athleticism and looseness in his swing. He generates good bat speed and feasts on fastballs on the inner half of the plate. He's pull-conscious, but otherwise has a sound approach, with good pitch recognition and plate discipline. He also offers versatility defensively. Scouts believe he can handle third base and left field. He has excellent hands, and enough arm strength to handle throws across the diamond. He could sneak into the top five rounds.
10. Nick Fuller, rhp (National rank: 180)
School: Kell HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Marietta, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 1/9/88.
Scouting Report: Fuller transferred from Marietta's Kell High across town to Lassiter High and then back to Kell in less than two years. He missed more than a third of his senior season while Georgia's high school athletic association sorted out his eligibility, but when he pitched he was often dominant, and helped Kell make a run deep into Georgia's playoffs. Fuller turned in an awe-inspiring performance at the East Coast Showcase in Wilmington, N.C., last summer, drawing comparisons to Brad Lidge because of a fastball that has been up to 95 mph and a filthy, if inconsistent slider. He missed some time last fall with an arm injury, but did not require surgery. His stuff is electric, but his max-effort delivery draws concern. Fuller throws across his body with a violent arm action. His arm is quick, however, and if he can tone down his delivery his below-average command should improve. He hasn't absorbed instruction effectively as an amateur, but has the makings of a closer with the proper tutelage and an improved attitude. He could receive it at South Carolina, but he's considered signable in the top five rounds and should land in that range.
11. Josh Morris, 1b (National rank: 195)
School: Georgia. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Cartersville, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 230. Birthdate: 5/11/85.
Scouting Report: Morris was finishing up a productive three-year stint at Georgia, where he set a freshman record for RBIs in a season (71) in 2004 and set the school's all-time career home run mark with his 46th in May. He was drafted in the 20th round by the Red Sox in 2003 out of Cartersville (Ga.) High, where he played on three state championship teams. His power is his best tool but it doesn't translate effectively with wood, as his swing has some length. He's described as country strong, and he can muscles balls out of the park. He's a pull hitter with an aggressive approach who can drive balls deep when he gets his arms extended. Morris is vulnerable to hard stuff in on his hands, and will chase offspeed pitches down and away. He tends to press at the plate, but his all-out attitude should serve him well as he matures and learns to handle failure. His actions are a little stiff defensively. His footwork and range are average and his hands are adequate at best. He's a below-average runner but shows some instincts on the basepaths.