State Reports: Massachusetts




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The 2008 draft crop in Massachusetts lacks both the depth and impact talent of a year ago, when lefthander Jack McGeary (who went in the sixth round and signed with the Nationals for a $1.8 million bonus) highlighted a decent haul in the Bay State. This class has a few good arms, led by projectable prep lefthander Keith Landers and Boston College junior righty Dan Houston, but offers little else.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Keith Landers, lhp, St. Peter-Marian HS, Worcester
2. Dan Houston, rhp, Boston College
3. Scott Weismann, rhp, Acton-Boxborough HS
4. Nick Asselin, rhp, Boston College
5. Eric Campbell, 3b, Boston College
6. Mike Lyon, ss, Northeastern
6. Kurt Hayer, rhp, Boston College
7. Terry Doyle, rhp, Boston College
8. Blaine O'Brien, rhp, Scituate HS
9. Brendan Akashian, c, Holy Cross
10. Shawn Haviland, rhp, Harvard
11. Kris Dabrowiecki, rhp, Northeastern
12. Keith Bilodeau, rhp, Bourne HS
13. Matt Vance, ss, Harvard

SCOUTING REPORTS

Dear Keith Landers

St. Peter-Marian lefthander Keith Landers burst onto the national prospect landscape with an impressive performance last fall at the Perfect Game/World Wood Bat Championships in Jupiter, Fla., but he has seldom duplicated that performance this spring. As a 6-foot-7, 200-pound lefty with decent stuff, Landers is a tantalizing package. His delivery has some effort right now, but most scouts think he projects to add velocity if he can clean up his mechanics—he flies open and his arm drags behind, causing his release point to be erratic. As a result, he struggles with his command, particularly with his slurvy breaking ball, though he does have some feel for the pitch. He pitched in the 87-90 mph range most of the spring, topping out at 91, and his fastball has good sink. He has feel for a changeup, but like everything with Landers it remains raw. He could sneak into the top three rounds if an organization loves his upside, but he seems more likely to honor his commitment to Louisville, where he could develop into a premium draft pick in three years.

Righthander Dan Houston leads a group of five Boston College players who could be drafted. Houston is the closest thing to a late pop-up guy in New England this year, pitching well in a win against Clemson in March, then shutting out Duke for seven innings in April and striking out nine in a win against Maryland on May 2. By that point in the season, scouts in the Northeast were buzzing about Houston's ability to hold his 91-93 mph velocity deep into games and touch 94. He complements his solid-average fastball with an average overhand curveball with good depth, an average changeup that he gained confidence in down the stretch, and a hard slider that can be above-average at times. He has a durable 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame and a sound delivery. Houston was hit hard in his last start against Wake Forest, and he finished 3-4, 5.03 with 72 strikeouts and 32 walks in 73 innings. Despite the poor finish, some scouts believe he profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues, and he could sneak into the fourth or fifth round.

The rest of the draft-eligible Eagles have significant flaws. Fifth-year senior righthander Nick Asselin went 2-1, 3.22 with 47 strikeouts in 45 innings mostly in relief this spring. He's undersized at 6 feet, 195 pounds, but he throws strikes with a fringe-average 89-91 mph fastball that touches 92 and a decent changeup. Another undersized righty, Kurt Hayer, has more arm strength and generated interest by running his fastball up to 95 mph in early March against Miami, but he finished the year 0-1, 8.40 with 24 walks and 19 strikeouts in 15 innings. He pitches at 92-94 mph and flashes a sharp curveball, but his severe lack of control are major concerns.

Righthander Terry Doyle shared pitcher-of-the-year honors in the Cape Cod League in 2006, when he ranked as the league's No. 18 prospect, but a number of scouts wondered where that pitcher had gone this spring. Despite a prototype 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, Doyle works in the 84-87 mph range with his fastball, his delivery has effort and his arm is slow. He pitches off a high-60s curveball and doesn't throw strikes consistently enough, and he went just 3-8, 6.96 as a senior this spring. Third baseman Eric Campbell has some raw power and a decent approach but has holes offensively and is likely to fare better as a senior sign in 2009.

Northeastern shortstop Dan Lyon and Holy Cross catcher Brendan Akashian have both garnered moderate interest as late senior signs. Lyon slugged 14 homers while batting .357 for the Huskies this spring, but he struggled against breaking balls and generates more interest for his decent hands and average arm; he profiles as an organizational middle infielder. Akashian has shown home run pop in the New England Collegiate League, but he hit just three homers this year while battling a knee injury. He has an unorthodox hitting approach with an extreme crouch, but he has adequate catch-and-throw skills.

The high school crop after Landers is thin, but smallish righthander Scott Weismann has a quick arm. His mid-three-quarters arm slot helps him get sink on his 88-91 mph fastball, his slider is a work in progress and he seldom utilizes his changeup. Weismann is committed to Clemson and seems all but certain to head to school.

Scituate righthander Blaine O'Brien has considerably more projection in his 6-foot-7 frame, but he's mostly a one-pitch guy now, relying on an 87-88 mph fastball that touches 90 occasionally. O'Brien could add velocity as he fills out a lanky frame that one scout compared to that of Tom Hanks' Woody character from "Toy Story." O'Brien is unlikely to be bought out of his commitment to Georgia.