Scouting Reports: New Jersey




2007 MLB Draft A high school north of the Mason-Dixon Line had never opened the season as Baseball America's No. 1 team, but because of capable underclassmen, a pair of plus runners in the outfield and a pitching staff that stacks up with any in the country, Seton Hall Prep was the preseason No. 1 team. The ranking also was a tribute to the improvement the state's prep players have shown over the last few years.

THIS YEAR'S CROP
*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
Behind the strong arm of Rick Porcello and fellow Aflac All-American Evan Danieli, the Pirates were in contention for a national title, and scouts across the country lauded Mike Shepard's team for its competitiveness, as well as its prospects.

Although the school's college big brother, Seton Hall, had a disappointing season thanks in part to the inconsistency of righthanders Dan McDonald and Dan Merklinger, both players were still likely to be taken in the first six rounds.

Where the Garden State's depth comes in is among its high school class, as the state is showing benefits from the large number of high school underclassmen who have taken their summers seriously, and hit wood bat tournaments and showcases.

"It's been a real good year here," said an American League scout based in New Jersey. "In the past you’ve gone to the ballpark and had to wonder what you were going to get, but this year, every time you head out you know you're going to see a player. It's been a good year, and I think that that will be reflected in the draft with the players taken from the Northeast."

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Rick Porcello, rhp, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
2. Todd Frazier, 3b, Rutgers
3. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Saint Rose HS, Ocean Township, N.J.
4. Evan Danieli, rhp, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
5. Dan McDonald, rhp, Seton Hall

Other Prospects Of Note

6. Dan Merklinger, lhp, Seton Hall
7. Sean Bierman, lhp, Kinnelon (N.J.) HS
8. Jaren Matthews, of/1b, Don Bosco Prep, Teaneck, N.J.
9. Nick Natale, of, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
10. Steven Brooks, of, Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J.
11. Chris Berroa, of/1b, Pennsauken (N.J.) HS
12. Gerald Haran, 1b/c, College of New Jersey
13. Robert Segedin, 3b, Old Tappan (N.J.) HS
14. Frank Meade, c, Rutgers
15. Greg Sherry, 2b, Delbarton HS, Mensham, N.J.
16. Christian Staehely, rhp, Princeton
17. Jimmy Principe, of, Brookdale (N.J.) CC

Scouting Reports

Rick Porcello1. Rick Porcello, rhp (National rank: 4)
School: Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 188. Birthdate: 12/27/88.
Scouting Report: The top pitcher in the long awaited, much anticipated high school Class of 2007, Porcello was tabbed as a can't-miss prospect by the time he was a 15-year-old on the showcase circuit. His maternal grandfather, Sam Dente, played shortstop in the majors, appearing in the 1954 World Series with the Indians. Porcello has shown steady improvement during his prep career, and was pitching at his best heading down the stretch, tossing a seven-inning perfect game for the nation's No. 1 high school team in May. He's long, lean, athletic and projectable with a clean delivery. His fastball sits at 93-95, touching 98. He holds his velocity deep into outings. He throws a tight curveball at 74-76 and a harder, sharp-breaking slider at 80-82. He shows feel for his changeup. He can spot his fastball to both sides of the plate, and mixes his pitches effectively. He tends to finish his delivery across his body, and if he improved his extension, his stuff could have better life, which would make him profile as a true top-of-the-rotation pitcher. He still is likely to be the first high school pitcher selected.

2. Todd Frazier, 3b (National rank: 61)
School: Rutgers. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 2/12/86.
Scouting Report: Todd is the third Frazier brother who will be drafted, following Jeff (Mariners) and Charlie (Marlins) in the legacy of the famed Tom's River, N.J., Little League teams of the late 1990s. He has been a three-year starter at Rutgers and carved a reputation as a solid all-around player with a long track record of performance despite a modest tool set. He raised his profile by showing plus power with wood last summer with the college national team, but scouts are apprehensive about his long-term ability to hit for average because of unorthodox swing mechanics. He's a solid-average runner with adequate hands and an average arm, tools that might play at third base or second, but not at shortstop. His instincts and makeup are outstanding, and if he gets to his power as a pro, he'll play his way into a big league lineup. He should be drafted no later than the second round.

3. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp (National rank: 143)
School: Saint Rose HS, Ocean Township, N.J. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 230. Birthdate: 9/9/89.
Scouting Report: It's a banner year for pitching in the Garden State, and Ranaudo is one of a handful of the state's projectable arms who could be drafted in the top five rounds. Relatively inexperienced as a pitcher, Ranaudo is raw in all phases of the craft. He split time between basketball and baseball and was gradually showing improvement with his delivery and pitches. His fastball sits at 88-91 mph and shows fair life with occasional late movement. He spins a hard, downer curveball that could be a serious weapon if he learned how to command it better. He tends to bury it for a chase pitch. He shows some feel for a changeup, and if he fills out his 6-foot-8 frame he could be a three-pitch workhorse starter. Some scouts don't believe he has the dexterity and athleticism to do that, however, and there was not a consensus on where he would be drafted. Some scouts thought he could go as early as the second round, with others saying they'd prefer to see him head to Louisiana State for more experience and polish.

4. Evan Danieli, rhp (National rank: 157)
School: Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: 8/2/89.
Scouting Report: It isn't often pitchers who are the No. 3 starter on their high school teams, as late as their junior season, are considered top-five round draft choices, but that's the case for Danieli. He's pitched behind the No. 1 pitcher in this year's high school class, Rick Porello, and last year was also behind Michael Ness, who went on to pitch at Duke, when Seton Hall Prep won a state title. As a sophomore, Danieli was limited to DH duty because of an arm injury. His father, Steve, played baseball and lacrosse at Alfred ( N.Y.) University, and his mother, Janet, swam in high school. An avid chess player, Danieli won his eighth-grade chess championship. At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Danieli has a well-built body but lacks fluidity in his delivery. He tends to drop his back shoulder, which causes him to pitch uphill and lose velocity on his fastball. He's been up to 93 mph, but at times this season has pitched closer to 88. His low-80s slider can be a legitimate weapon, but like his velocity it's inconsistent, as is his command. The ingredients are all there with Danieli, but he's considered a tough sign and with all likelihood will honor his commitment to Notre Dame.

5. Dan McDonald, rhp (National rank: 175)
School: Seton Hall. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 4/17/86.
Scouting Report: McDonald entered the spring as a player that many scouts in the Mid-Atlantic had pegged as a potential riser. He'd shown above-average velocity in high school as well as last summer in the Cape Cod League, when he posted a 1.04 ERA and struck out 18 in 17 relief innings. He also has athleticism, another reason scouts were optimistic about him. While McDonald's velocity was climbing back toward 92 mph as the Pirates' season was winding down, but has pitched more in the 88-90 mph range. He'll flash an average slider at times, though he tends to get around it. McDonald has good feel for pitching and solid-average command, but with limited room for additional growth and mediocre success this spring, he probably won't be drafted until the fourth- to seventh-round range.

Lots Of Tools, Lots Of Questions

Although Dan Merklinger has flashed brilliance, he has been inconsistent and most teams had him in the fifth- to seventh-round range on their boards. His fastball has been up to 91 mph, while he doesn't show much feel for pitching or ability to locate his stuff. His curveball is below-average, and he has not been able to develop much feel for his changeup. He pitched much better in the Cape Cod League last summer than he did this spring, so if a team believes it can rekindle that form, it could jump up and take Merklinger as high as the fourth round.

Steven Brooks and Nick Natale have been mainstays on the showcase tour over the past few years. They are both plus runners and have developed into solid-average defenders who can track down fly balls with the best of them. Neither player is terribly instinctive. Natale has a better feel for hitting, while Brooks has more bat speed and pop, although he tends to try to hit the bottom half of the ball, rather than keeping it on the ground and taking advantage of his speed. Brooks has committed to Wake Forest and Natale is bound for Rice, and both players could develop into reliable everyday players in those college programs.

Lefty Sean Bierman is two inches and three miles an hour on his fastball from being a top-five-round pick. He's 6-feet, 185 pounds with a quick arm and a low three-quarters arm slot that can be tough on lefthanded hitters.

Like Brooks and Natale, outfielder/first baseman Jaren Matthews can light up workouts, but he doesn't show much feel for the game. He has a plus arm, solid-average bat speed and plus raw power, but doesn't make consistent hard contact, and his lefthanded swing has holes.

Chris Berroa is a thick, athletic corner outfielder who has enough bat speed to garner interest in the top six rounds. The Phillies were one team that could be intrigued enough by his plus raw power and leveraged swing to take a shot at signing him. He has enough arm for right field, and is an average runner under way.