Scouting Reports: Lower New England

Connecticut, Rhode Island




2007 MLB Draft There is little in the way of college talent in Connecticut and Rhode Island this year, but the high school crop more than makes up for it. It starts with Matt Harvey, of course--a rare bona fide blue-chipper in Connecticut--but there is decent depth as well. The class is particularly rich in catching, where Connecticut prepsters Curtis Casali, Robert Bono and Michael Bourdon all have intriguing upside.
THIS YEAR'S CROP
*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
There are even a couple of quality college catchers in the region in Brown's Devin Thomas and Rhode Island's Zach Zaneski.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Matt Harvey, rhp, Fitch HS, Groton, Conn.

Other Prospects Of Note

2. Curtis Casali, c, New Canaan (Conn.) HS
3. Jay Monti, rhp, Sacred Heart
4. Robert Bono, rhp/c, Waterford (Conn.) HS
5. Gary Gillheeney, rhp, Bishop Hendricken HS, Warwick, R.I.
6. Devin Thomas, c, Brown
7. Michael Bourdon, c, Northwest Catholic HS, West Hartford, Conn.
8. Jesse Hahn, rhp, Fitch HS, Groton, Conn.
9. Jeff Dietz, rhp, Brown
10. Max Russell, lhp, Amity HS, Woodbridge, Conn.
11. Greg Malley, rhp, Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, Conn.
12. Patrick Dean, lhp, Naugatuck (Conn.) HS
13. Mike Tarsi, lhp, Connecticut
14. Tim Binkoski, of, Quinnipiac
15. Rob Hallberg, rhp, Brown
16. Eric Larson, of, Rhode Island
17. Pat Egan, rhp, Quinnipiac
18. Dennis Donovan, ss, Connecticut
19. Randy Gress, 2b, Quinnipiac
20. Maxx Catapano, rhp, Fairfield (Conn.) Warde HS
21. Matt Greco, of, Staples HS, Westport, Conn.
22. Marc Sawyer, 1b, Yale
23. Zach Zaneski, c, Rhode Island
24. Chris Wietlispach, rhp, Yale
25. Rocco Gondek, c, Glastonbury (Conn.) HS

Scouting Reports

Matt Harvey1. Matt Harvey, rhp (National rank: 11)
School: Fitch HS, Groton, Conn. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 3/27/89.
Scouting Report: Harvey pitched in the same Team USA rotation with Blake Beavan, Michael Main and Jarrod Parker last summer. The top-ranked high school prospect in the nation entering the 2007 season, Harvey has been every bit as good as expected, even though the electric Rick Porcello has passed him as the class of 2007's top prep pitcher. Harvey ran his fastball up to 94 mph in his first outing of the year, though he struggled with his command in the cold weather. Since then, his above-average, heavy fastball has sat in the 91-94 mph range all season and touched 95, and his 74-76 mph power curveball has been a 65 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale at times. He has also flashed a promising 78-81 mph changeup. Harvey has a big, physical professional body, but he has a tendency to be overly deliberate early in his delivery. He then rushes to catch up, causing him to throw across his body. But the North Carolina recruit is more likely to slide in the draft because of his ties to agent Scott Boras than any mechanical concerns.

Backstops In Stock

New Canaan's Curtis Casali headlines a solid group of catchers. Casali, a Vanderbilt signee, has the best catch-and-throw skills in New England, with a plus arm that consistently produces 1.9-second pop times. Offensively, his raw power rates a tick above-average, though some scouts say his bat is on the slow side. A sixth- to eighth-round talent, Casali is almost certainly headed to school.

Kyle Bono is more mobile behind the plate than Casali, but he's not as advanced in any facet of the game. His arm is his best asset, and most scouts like him better on the mound, where he runs his fastball into the 89-91 range and spins a decent breaking ball. But Bono, a baseball rat, wants to catch. He has promise as a receiver, though his bat lags considerably behind. He has some bat speed and line-drive power, but he has a tentative approach and doesn't trust his hands. He's likely to play both ways at Connecticut.

A third high school catcher, Michael Bourdon, is one of the most intriguing sleepers in the region. An outstanding football player who was recruited to play quarterback by mid-major Division I schools, the 6-foot-4 Bourdon looks like Joe Mauer in a uniform. Behind the plate, he's a solid receiver with above-average arm strength, though his footwork needs tweaking. He has raw power but doesn't know how to use it yet, and he's likely to end up at Fairfield, where he could develop into a solid pick in three years.

Brown's Devin Thomas is the top college catcher in the area. A switch-hitter with pop from both sides of the plate, He set Brown single-season records for home runs (16) and RBIs (64) this spring. He has always hit lefthanded pitching well, but he's improved against righties by learning to go to the opposite field from the left side. A good athlete, Thomas runs the 60-yard dash in 6.75 seconds and is mobile behind the plate. His arm is below-average, and he's just an adequate receiver, but he'll be a senior draft in the 10th-20th-round range. Rhode Island's Zach Zaneski lacks Thomas' offensive ability but has a strong arm and decent receiving skills.

Harvey is the only player likely to go in the top five rounds in lower New England, but there are other arms worth noting. The best is righthander Jay Monti, who finished fourth in Division I with a 1.34 ERA and threw a two-hit shutout against Notre Dame in March. Everything Monti throws has sink, and though his 87-90 mph fastball is not overpowering, he never misses up in the zone. He also gets plenty of hitters to flail at his slurvy breaking ball, which he can throw from a variety of arm angles. Monti works fast and doesn't care about strikeouts--he just gets outs and wins. He lacks a true average offering, but his outstanding feel for pitching makes up for it. He could go near the 10th round.

Righty Jeff Dietz was a two-way star for Brown this spring, but his future is on the mound thanks to his arm strength and deception. He throws his fastball in the 86-88 mph range from a sidearm slot, and he can run it up to 92 from over the top to give hitters a different look. He commands his slider well and is tough on righthanded hitters. His Brown teammate, closer Rob Hallberg, is the brother of Astros minor league righty Bryan Hallberg, a 12th-round pick out of Pace a year ago. Rob has good arm strength and has touched 93 mph this spring. He flashes a slider and uses a split-finger against lefthanded hitters. UConn's Mike Tarsi is a 6-foot-8 lefthander with deception and a good downward plane. He could add velocity to his 84-88 mph fastball if he can clean up his sloppy delivery, and his curveball and changeup need refining but have promise. His fastball, which touched the low 90s last fall, usually has good sink and run, though he gets into trouble when he leaves it up in the zone and it flattens out.

Righthander Gary Gillheeney, the younger brother of North Carolina State freshman lefty Jimmy Gillheeney, is the top player in Rhode Island. Projectable and athletic, he pitches comfortably in the 88-90 mph range, and he flashes a slider that has a chance to be above-average. His slow curveball is below-average, and he rarely throws his changeup. Gillheeney needs to work on repeating his delivery and improving his feel for pitching. His signability is a question mark, as he might try to join his brother at N.C. State.

Righthander Jesse Hahn, Harvey's teammate at Fitch, is skinny and projectable. He'll flash an occasional 90-91 mph fastball, but he runs out of gas quickly because of his slight build. His curveball has some depth to it, and he has feel for a changeup. A Virginia Tech signee, he could be drafted in the 10th-12th round. Righty Greg Malley, a Harvard recruit, has been up to 88-91 mph with a promising hard slider, but he's raw and doesn't maintain his velocity. An excellent hockey player, Malley might play both sports for the Crimson. Lefty Max Russell has a loose arm and a clean, smooth delivery. His 86-88 mph fastball has good life, and he flashes a promising curveball. He could add velocity as he fills out, but he compensates for a lack of velocity with his competitiveness. Russell is headed to Division II Florida Southern.