|THIS YEAR'S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
|National Top 200 Prospects|
|Other Prospects Of Note|
|1. Jonathan Lucroy, c (National rank: 72)|
School: Louisiana-Lafayette. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 206. Birthdate: 6/13/86.
|Scouting Report: Teams seeking an offensive-minded catcher will consider taking Lucroy in the second round. He has hit since he arrived at Louisiana-Lafayette, batting .379 as a freshman and increasing his annual home run totals from five to 12 to 15 and counting. He has strong hands and showed prowess with wood bats last summer, when he ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. Though he has worked hard to improve behind the plate, Lucroy is still just adequate at best. He has slightly below-average arm strength and his throws to second base tend to tail. He's a decent receiver and has strong leadership skills. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner.|
|2. Lee Haydel, of (National rank: 75)|
School: Delgado (La.) CC. Class: Fr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 7/15/87.
|Scouting Report: Haydel was one of the fastest players available in the 2006 draft, but an undeveloped bat and a commitment to Louisiana State made him unsignable. The Brewers took him in the 19th round, a move that may pay huge dividends. Haydel opted to attend Delgado Community College after LSU forced out head coach Smoke Laval, and he has improved so much at the plate that he has become one of this year's prime draft-and-follows. Speed remains his forte, as he's capable of blazing through a 60-yard dash in 6.35 seconds. He has grown two inches and added 20 pounds, giving him more strength at the plate, and he has a quick bat. He still struggles against some offspeed pitches, but he has improved in that regard, and he has hit quality fastballs. He's an above-average center fielder with obvious range, and his solid arm strength is a plus at his position. Haydel would have signed for $250,000 last year, but now is believed to be seeking a seven-figure bonus. Teams often overdraft speedsters, and he could factor into the supplemental first round if he re-enters the draft. (UPDATE: Haydel signed with the Brewers for $624,000.)|
|3. Sean Morgan, rhp (National rank: 88)|
School: Tulane. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 1/15/86.
|Scouting Report: Morgan shared outstanding pitcher honors at the 2003 World Wood Bat Championship with Yovani Gallardo, who's now with the Brewers and is one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. He could have been a third-round pick as a Texas high schooler in 2004 had he not been intent on attending Tulane, and he'll go in roughly the same range three years later. He has one of the best sliders in the draft, along with a solid-average fastball. His maximum-effort delivery isn't pretty but works for him, and he needs to watch his weight. Morgan's fastball has ranged from 88-92 mph and touched 94 mph, and he threw harder as a freshman when the Green Wave used him as a reliever. That's the role he projects to fill as a pro, as he can carve up hitters with his slider and won't have to worry as much about using his changeup. The main concern about using him out of the bullpen is that it often takes him an inning to get rolling. Morgan carried as much as 230 pounds in the fall, but he dropped 15 pounds after getting mono and looks better without the extra weight. Neither he nor Tulane performed well down the stretch, with Morgan struggling with his command, a byproduct of his less-than-smooth mechanics.|
|4. Chad Jones, of/lhp (National rank: 92)|
School: Southern Lab HS, Baton Rouge, La. Class: Sr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 222. Birthdate: 10/5/88.
|Scouting Report: From a pure tools standpoint, Jones is one of the best prospects in the draft. He's a chiseled 6-foot-3, 222-pounder with top-of-the-line lefthanded power and above-average speed and arm strength. The consensus is that he's more attractive as a right fielder, but he's also a lefthanded pitcher capable of throwing 91 mph off the mound. Jones still is raw, both as a hitter and a pitcher. He also has extra leverage because he signed with the Louisiana State football program as a safety, and he's a Parade all-American rated No. 1 at his position by several scouting services. He had 12 interceptions as a senior, returning six for touchdowns, and is a ferocious tackler. Rahim Alem, his older brother, is a defensive end for the Tigers. Jones has indicated to scouts that he wants to play baseball and is signable, though it's probably going to take first- or sandwich-round money. That might be a little steep for a player who's going to need a lot of time to develop. LSU faced a similar situation last year with wide receiver/outfielder Jared Mitchell, who slid to 10th round and turned down the Twins to go to school.|
|5. Taylor Martin, rhp (National rank: 102)|
School: St. Michael HS, Baton Rouge, La. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 4/20/89.
|Scouting Report: Martin has improved his draft stock as much as any high school player in Louisiana this spring. The Major League Scouting Bureau gave him its highest overall grade in the state--a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale--including the college crop. Strong and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he can run his fastball up to 94 mph and has heavy sink on the pitch. His slider is just a decent second offering, and he hasn't had much experience with a changeup. Martin's mechanics need some polishing, as he has some wrist wrap in back and doesn't repeat his delivery well. But the upside gives scouts a lot to dream about, and he could go as high as the second round. He has committed to Louisiana State but is expected to turn pro.|
|6. Charlie Furbush, lhp (National rank: 130)|
School: Louisiana State. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 204. Birthdate: 4/11/86.
|Scouting Report: Following two successful summers in the Cape Cod League, Furbush became one of college baseball's highest-profile transfers, moving from NCAA Division III St. Joseph's (Maine) to Louisiana State. It wasn't a smooth transition, as he struggled to adjust to his new surroundings, not to mention the jump in competition. He went 3-9, 4.95 for a Tigers team that had its worst season in 25 years. Furbush rarely matched the 93-94 mph velocity he showed in the Cape all-star game last summer, instead pitching at 88-91 for most of the spring. At 6-foot-4 and 204 pounds, he has room to add strength. When Furbush had success, it usually came when his hard slurve was working. He improved his changeup, though scouts would like to see him show better command and poise. He hides the ball well with his delivery. While he didn't live up to his reputation as the Cape's top lefthanded starting prospect in 2006, he's still a southpaw with the potential for three solid pitches, which should get him drafted in the third to fifth round.|
|7. Thad Griffen, c (National rank: 152)|
School: Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 8/8/88.
|Scouting Report: Louisiana-Lafayette expects to lose catcher Jonathan Lucroy in the early rounds of the draft this spring but hopes to replace him with Griffen. However, one scout described Griffen as the best signable high school player in Louisiana this spring, and he should go in the first five rounds. He stood out more as a pitcher in 2006, when he helped lead Barbe to a state 5-A championship, but showed this spring that his future is behind the plate. Tall and rangy at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he's much more advanced defensively than Lucroy was coming out of high school. Griffen has plenty of arm strength, as evidenced by the 90-mph fastball he shows on the mound, and he's a clean receiver as well. He also has more raw power than Lucroy had at the same stage, though he's not as polished a hitter. Griffen's swing can get long at times. He's more athletic than most catchers and scouts like his bulldog attitude.|
|8. Carmen Angelini, ss (National rank: 155)|
School: Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 9/22/88.
|Scouting Report: Angelini played third base as a high school junior in deference to Josh Prince (now starting at the University of Texas), and he'll face tough competition with Texas high schooler Rick Hague for Rice's shortstop job next spring if he attends college. Scouts have no question that Angelini can handle the position, as he has a plus arm and solid range. He has no glaring weakness in his game. He's more ready than Hague to contribute offensively at the college level, with superior speed and raw power. As much as scouts like Angelini, some question whether he's going to be more than just a good college player--though that seems to be selling him short. He's not considered as tough to sign as Hague, but it will be difficult to lure Angelini away from the Owls.|
|9. Forrest Moore, lhp (National rank: 163)|
School: Parkview Baptist HS, Baton Rouge, La. Class: Sr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 5/12/89.
|Scouting Report: Moore is reminiscent of Louisiana high school product Wade LeBlanc, who went on to star at Alabama and became a Padres second-round pick in 2006. They have similar builds, below-average fastballs and good curveballs. Moore throws harder than LeBlanc, 86-88 with a peak of 90 mph, and could pick up a little velocity as he fills out his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame. He isn't as polished as LeBlanc, who has a significantly better changeup and command. There's some effort to Moore's delivery and he lands on a stiff front leg, which causes him to leave pitches up in the strike zone. Though he needs some work, there are clubs interested in Moore--but not if his reported second-round price tag is correct. If he doesn't turn pro, he'll head to Mississippi State, where his father Dana was a punter and placekicker. In college, Moore also could see action as a lefthanded-hitting first baseman, but he'll be a strictly a pitcher in pro ball.|
|10. Brian Rike, of (National rank: 185)|
School: Louisiana Tech. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 12/13/85.
|Scouting Report: Rike hit just nine homers in his first two seasons at Louisiana Tech before exploding for 20 homers this spring. Scouts still aren't sure just how much power Rike possesses, however, because the Bulldogs play in a bandbox and he went homerless over the last 12 games of the regular season. Fortunately for Rike, he's more than just a one-dimensional slugger. A self-made player, he added 25 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame and cut his 60-yard-dash time from 7.1 to 6.7 seconds since arriving in college. A lefthanded hitter, he has the swing and the patience to hit for average, and he has enough arm strength to play right field. Rike also proved himself with wood bats in the Jayhawk League last summer, where he ranked as the No. 2 position-player prospect behind Wichita State's Matt Brown. Though his draft stock dipped with his late-season power outage, Rike still should go in the top four of five rounds.|
|11. Kade Keowen, of (National rank: 196)|
School: Louisiana State-Eunice JC. Class: So.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 230. Birthdate: 4/18/86.
|Scouting Report: Louisiana State struggled through its worst season since 1982, and losing two players who have emerged as the best junior college outfielder prospects in the draft didn't help. Speedster Lee Haydel opted to attend Delgado (La.) Community College after LSU forced out former head coach Smoke Laval, and Keowen left for LSU-Eunice Junior College after barely playing in two yers with the Tigers and expecting to ride the bench again in his third. He redshirted in 2005 and got just six at-bats in 2006, but showed a high ceiling after joining the defending Division II juco national champions in mid-term. There's not a better big athlete in the draft. Keowen is a 6-foot-6, 230-pound center fielder with plus speed and raw power and a slightly above-average arm. The big question is how he'll fare when he faces quality pitching on a consistent basis. His huge frame and long arms result in a long swing, though he does generate plenty of bat speed. A 21-year-old sophomore, Keowen is ready to sign and enter pro ball. He's also a good student receiving plenty of interest from top Division I programs should he choose to return to college.|
Province Makes Late Move
Righthander Chris Province went undrafted as a junior in 2006 despite showing a plus fastball. Serving as Southeastern Louisiana's closer this year, he kicked his fastball up to 94-97 mph by the end of the season and will be one of the better senior signs in the draft. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Province also scrapped his curveball for a slider that improved tremendously in May, clocking at 86-88 mph in the last week of the regular season. He came on strong late in the spring and now could go in the second or third round, especially if a team is looking to save money with a college senior.
Righthander Brandon Efferson, who pitched Zachary High to the state 4-A title, flashes three plus pitches. He has an 89-94 mph fastball, a curveball and a changeup with splitter action. The only knocks on him are that he's just 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds and reportedly has a seven-figure price tag, a combination that will knock him down in the draft. Efferson has been likened to Roy Oswalt but hasn't been crosschecked by many clubs. He has a clean delivery and generates his quality stuff with arm speed rather than maximum effort. He has committed to Southeastern Louisiana.
Tulane second baseman Brad Emaus and outfielder Warren McFadden figured to go in the first five rounds after earning all-star honors in the Cape Cod League last summer, but both have had disappointing seasons as Tulane collapsed in the second half of its season. Both had ankle injuries that didn't help their cause. Emaus is a gap hitter with the ability to make adjustments at the plate, but he doesn't fit a true position profile. Second base is his likely spot as a pro, but he's a slightly below-average runner who carries 210 pounds on his 6-foot frame, leading to concerns about his future range. He'd fit better defensively at third base and has enough arm strength to play there, but he doesn't have the home run power teams want in a corner infielder. McFadden's best tool is his power, yet he has just five homers in two full seasons with the Green Wave. His speed and athleticism have regressed, and he still struggles against offspeed pitching. Scouts also would like to see him play with more energy. McFadden redshirted in 2005 after injuring his wrist, and he's one of the oldest draft-eligible sophomores in the draft, as he'll turn 22 in December.
Shortstop Brandon Richey helped Louisiana State-Eunice win the Division II juco national championship in 2006, then made a successful transition to four-year college ball at Northwestern State, setting a school record with a 22-game hitting streak. He's undersized at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, but he's athletic and plays with constant energy. Richey has a strong arm and has improved his speed this spring. He's not the smoothest defender and his hands aren't the softest, but he makes plays at shortstop.
Outfielder Leon Landry and righthander Austin Ross could emerge as early-round picks in 2010 after three years at Louisiana State. Landry, one of the best high school hitters in the state, also offers power, speed and a plus arm. Ross throws strikes and has an 88-92 mph fastball, but needs more consistency with his hard breaking ball. He helped Captain Shreve win the state 4-A championship in 2006 and return to the title game this spring, striking out 11 in the semifinals to finish the season 13-0.
Louisiana's junior colleges never have offered more talent than they do in 2007. Beyond Lee Haydel, Delgado--a New Orleans junior college that had its field heavily damaged during Katrina--has two more interesting position players. Third baseman/righthander Craig Westcott is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, has lefthanded power and a strong arm capable of throwing 93 mph fastballs off the mound. Drew Allain is a raw athlete who caught this spring but is better suited to be a center fielder. Allain, whose two-run single in the eighth inning was the game-winning hit that sent Delgado to the Junior College World Series, probably will be a better pick in 2008 after a season at Tulane.
Louisiana State-Eunice righthander Josh Billeaud has a pro body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), a low-90s fastball and a hard but inconsistent slider. His teammate, righthander Matt Broussard, has similar velocity but is just 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds and missed time with back problems this spring. Billeaud has committed to Southern Mississippi; Broussard to Louisiana-Lafayette.
A 47th-round pick of the Diamondbacks a year ago, righthander David Mixon has cut his ERA from 5.76 in 2006 to 3.39 this year while showing better command. At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, he projects as a reliever in the pros. He has a low-90s fastball and an effective curveball, plus the mentality to pitch with the game on the line.
After helping his Metairie team win the 2006 American Legion World Series, righthander Robbie Broach won the Bob Feller Award as the top pitcher at the event. He joined a distinguished list of recipients that includes big leaguers such as Sid Fernandez, Gregg Olson, Ben Sheets and Chad Billingsley. Broach is just 6 feet and 190 pounds and uses a lot of effort in his delivery, but when he's going well he features an 88-91 mph fastball and a plus curveball. His stock dipped as his stuff faded late in the spring, which combined with a seven-figure price tag make it likely he'll attend Tulane.
Sixth on the all-time NCAA Division I saves list with 43 entering the postseason, righthander Daniel Latham had to wait until his senior year to get drafted because he lacks a dominant pitch. But he does have excellent command (36-3 K-BB ratio in 44 innings) and no one questions his heart. His best pitch is his slider, and he throws an 87-89 mph fastball.
Southern has a pair of righthanders, Baron Short and Jeff McCollum, who have good size and reach 93 mph with their fastballs. But both have little in the way of a breaking ball or a feel for pitching, so they'll be long-term projects. Short has the better body at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, but he went 1-3, 9.17 against inferior competition this spring. McCollum, who's 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, went 4-1, 3.86.