State Reports: Upper New England

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Upper New England is a wasteland for professional baseball talent in 2008. Only Franklin Pierce infielder Scott Savastano has so much as a chance to be drafted among the top 10 rounds, and it's hard to find even late-draft fillers elsewhere in the region. New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine are hardly hotbeds of talent even in a good year, but this crop is well below the normal standards in the region.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Scott Savastano, ss/3b, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
2. Billy Cather, of, Maine
3. Kevin Renaud, of, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
4. Damon Wright, of, Dartmouth
5. Joe Serafin, lhp, Vermont
6. Matt Anderson, c, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
7. Curt Smith, of, Maine
8. A.J. Bazdanes, rhp, Nashua (N.H.) South HS
9. Kyle Stilphen, ss, Gardiner Area HS, Pittston, Maine
10. Brad Zapenas, ss, Nashua (N.H.) North HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel

A broken thumb early in 2007 caused Franklin Pierce (N.H.) infielder Scott Savastano to drop to the Indians in the 28th round as a draft-eligible sophomore, but there was talk he could climb into the top five rounds with a solid junior campaign. He continued to perform in the wood-bat Northeast-10 Conference, batting .390/.502/.629 with nine homers and 45 RBIs, and he showed a patient approach, drawing 46 walks while striking out just 18 times in 213 at-bats. But scouts now question his professional profile after he added weight to his upper half, limiting his long-term projection. He plays shortstop for Franklin Pierce but lacks the range and hands for the position in pro ball, where scouts agree he'll have to play third base. He has average raw power but probably won't hit enough for the hot corner at the big league level. His swing has some length to it, and he wraps the bat in his set-up. Savastano does have arm strength and he's not a clogger on the basepaths, stealing nine bases in 14 attempts this spring. He figures to be drafted somewhere between the eighth and 14th rounds.

Two other Franklin Pierce players should be senior signs late in the draft. Center fielder Kevin Renaud, whose twin brother Keith was a 10th-round pick by the Mariners out of Franklin Pierce last year, is an average runner with a plus arm who makes consistent contact with wood and flashes occasional pop. Catcher Matt Anderson missed time with a knee injury this spring but returned for Franklin Pierce's run to the Division III College World Series. His bat is lacking and his 6-foot, 240-pound frame is hardly ideal, but he's a decent defensive catcher with a strong arm.

Maine's Billy Cather is an exceptional defensive center fielder with above-average speed that plays on the basepaths (he stole 15 bases in 19 attempts this spring). He lacks strength at the plate, but one scout said he could play center field in the majors right away.

Fellow Black Bear Curt Smith played the middle infield his first couple of years at Maine but struggled defensively and split time between left field and first base as a senior. He had his best offensive season, batting .403/.498/.722 with 11 homers, 37 RBIs and 12 steals in 14 attempts, but he's undersized at 5-foot-10 and won't ever hit enough to play left field or first base down the line. He does have good gap power and average speed, but his arm is below-average even for a left fielder.

Maine signees A.J. Bazdanes and Kyle Stilphen are headed to school but could be draft prospects in a few years. Bazdanes is a lanky righthander with plenty of movement on his 88-89 mph fastball and a pair of promising secondary pitches, and Stilphen is an excellent athlete with offensive upside who remains raw on the diamond.

Vermont lefty Joe Serafin attacks hitters with an 85-88 mph fastball and an average curve, but he's undersized at 5-foot-11 and needs to get into better shape. Dartmouth center fielder Damon Wright is a good athlete who had his best year offensively as a senior, batting .397/.466/.682 with nine homers and 39 RBIs. He's got occasional power and average speed, but his swing is long and his approach is suspect, despite an 18-17 BB-K ratio in 151 at-bats this spring.