State Reports: Alabama




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
A state that saw six players drafted in the first 200 picks last June might see only half that number selected this year. Alabama's traditionally strong four-year universities had young squads this season, and Auburn offers more draftable prospects this year even though the Tigers went 11-19 in Southeastern Conference play.

The state's real strength is in the junior college ranks, as schools such as Wallace State, Shelton State and Calhoun Community College each have multiple draft prospects. High Schoolers Destin Hood and Tyler Stovall each have a chance of landing in the first 50 picks on draft day, but after them the prep prospects drop off markedly.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Destin Hood, of, St. Paul's Episcopal HS, Mobile (National Rank: 54)
2. Tyler Stovall, lhp, Hokes Bluff HS (National Rank: 55)
3. Mike Bianucci, of, Auburn (National Rank: 176)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

4. Craig Kimbrel, rhp, Wallace State CC
5. Michael Marseco, ss, Samford
6. Evan Crawford, lhp, Auburn
7. Alex Avila, c/3b, Alabama
8. Buddy Boshers, lhp, Calhoun CC
9. Taylor Thompson, rhp, Auburn
10. J.J. Hoover, rhp, Calhoun CC
11. Miers Quigley, lhp, Alabama
12. Blake Billings, rhp, Tuscaloosa HS
13. Jade Todd, lhp, Shades Valley HS
14. Austin Graham, rhp, Alabama
15. Ray Kruml, of, South Alabama
16. Kent Matthes, of, Alabama
17. Ryan Keedy, 1b, Alabama-Birmingham
18. Austin Adams, rhp/ss, Faulkner
19. Ryne Jernigan, 2b, South Alabama
20. Wayne Dedrick, 3b, Hillcrest HS, Tuscaloosa
21. Robert Brooks, ss, Wallace State CC
22. Clay Whittemore, of, Jacksonville State
23. David Doss, c/3b, South Alabama
24. Adam Purdy, rhp, Pell City HS
25. Luke Greinke, rhp, Auburn
26. Matt Hall, ss, Auburn
27. Adam Scott, rhp, Shelton State CC
28. Casey Rasmus, c, Russell County HS, Phenix City
29. Beau Brooks, c, Troy
30. Kevin Nabors, rhp, South Alabama
31. Steven Upchurch, rhp, Faith Academy HS, Mobile
32. Johnny Gunter, rhp, Chattahoochee Valley CC
33. Brian Woodall, rhp, Auburn
34. Justin King, rhp, Jacksonville State
35. Michael Rutledge, 3b, Samford
36. Zak Blakney, rhp, Montevallo
37. Josh Copeland, rhp, Alabama
38. Jeff Green, rhp, Troy
39. Charley Williams, of, Troy

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Destin Hood, of, St. Paul's Episcopal HS, Mobile (National Rank: 54)

Hood showed his raw power and lightning-quick bat speed when he tied for the home run derby title at the Aflac Classic last fall. Raw and electric are two words scouts use to describe Hood. He has four raw tools but each with above-average projection. An exceptional athlete with a combination of strength and speed, Hood is signed to play football (wide receiver) and baseball at Alabama. At the plate, Hood has bat speed and raw power to rival anyone in this draft class, but his hit tool is currently lacking as he often swings and misses. A shortstop in high school, Hood will most definitely be moved to the outfield due to his below-average arm strength. He is a plus runner, and although his instincts are under-developed, could be an average defender in the future. The team that drafts Hood will believe in his ability to eventually hit. Upon reaching high ceiling, Hood projects as a middle of the order impact bat.

2. Tyler Stovall, lhp, Hokes Bluff HS (National Rank: 55)

The top high school pitching prospect from Alabama, Stovall is a projectable lefthander who has dominated competition. Stovall set the Alabama state record for wins (18) and strikeouts (227) in 2007, and he already had 12 wins and 170 strikeouts this season. He is a U.S. Junior National Team alum and is committed to play at Auburn. While his fastball sits between 89-91 mph, Stovall's go-to pitch is his curveball. He also has an advanced changeup. While his curveball is a plus pitch, he sometimes uses it too often. Scouts would like to see Stovall pitch more off his fastball, and if he doesn't, scouts could see him settling into merely a setup or relief role as a pro. However, with added velocity and reliance on his fastball, Stovall could be a starter in the big leagues. His makeup is a plus, and academically, he will graduate at the top of his high school class.

3. Mike Bianucci, of, Auburn (National Rank: 176)

Bianucci has been a solid college outfielder and consistent middle-of-the-order contributor for the past three seasons at Auburn. He hit eight home runs as a freshman and 14 as a sophomore, and was selected in the 23rd round of last year's draft by the Angels as a draft-eligible sophomore. He returned to Auburn and hit 13 more homers this season, though his stock did not jump appreciably. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Bianucci is a strong, muscle-bound athlete. An average runner and thrower, he should be adequate defensively in the outfield. He's a free-swinger at the plate, taking vicious cuts with an all-or-nothing mentality. His raw strength makes him a home run threat to all fields, but he also swings and misses often. Bianucci's athleticism and home run capability will get him drafted, but he'll have to improve his approach to have success as a pro.

Jucos Try To Fill In Gaps

Craig Kimbrel leads the list of junior college players in the state. At 6 feet, Kimbrel is an undersized righty with a lightning-quick arm, producing velocity in the mid- to upper 90s. Kimbrel has worked as a starter and closer and profiles to pitch out of the bullpen at the pro level. His slider is still developing as is his command. Kimbrel has overmatched juco hitters this spring, and with each strong performance it became less likely he'd be following though on his commitment to Alabama.

Calhoun CC has an impressive duo in lefthander Buddy Boshers and righthander J.J. Hoover. Boshers pitches between 88-92 mph with a big breaking ball and a projectable 6-foot-3 frame. He is committed to Troy but fits the pro mold better. Hoover throws in the low to mid-90s. He is a strikeout pitcher, mixing his vastly improved slider, curve ball and changeup with his above-average fastball to create a solid four-pitch arsenal. Hoover has a pro body at 6-foot-4, and is committed to West Virginia.

Mike Bianucci leads the talent at Auburn, but lefthander Evan Crawford isn't far behind. After starting 27 games—most on the weekends—in his first two years, Crawford pitched out of the bullpen this season, finishing 3-0, 2.42 in 44 innings. He offers a fastball between 88-92 mph and a big breaking curveball that is at times an above-average pitch. Crawford pitches downhill with an over-the-top delivery and creates plane with his 6-foot-2 frame. Command has been his biggest issue in the past, but this year he walked 25 against 42 strikeouts.

After Crawford, righthanders Taylor Thompson and Luke Greinke should be the next Tigers off the board. Thompson is a draft-eligible sophomore who pitches in the low 90s with sink, but his secondary pitches are lacking. His slider can be fringe-average at times, and he also offers a split-finger fastball. Greinke was impressive in the Shenandoah Valley League last summer and was named league MVP. He was bothered by shoulder tendinitis this spring, however, and has not pitched up to expectations. His fastball sits between 88-90 mph, and his slider and changeup have flashed as above-average pitches. Greinke is an athlete on the mound and is a two-way player for Auburn.

Alabama's best prospect is Alex Avila, who is a catcher for the Crimson Tide but may not be able to stay there as a pro. Wherever he is defensively, Avila's game will always be on offense. He has a professional approach with power, especially to the opposite field, and advanced hit instincts. He's the son of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila.

The Tide's top pitching prospect is lefthander Miers Quigley. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Quigley has a pitcher's body and throws his fastball between 89-91 mph. His curveball is average and changeup has improved this season. After being a highly touted draft prospect out of high school, Quigley struggled with command and pitchability in his first two seasons at Alabama, but this year has shown signs of putting it all together.

Alabama also offers righthander Austin Graham, who has been healthy this spring for the first time since arriving on campus, Graham is a redshirt sophomore who pitches around 90 mph with an above-average split-finger pitch and a promising curveball. At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Graham has a projectable frame with room for added strength. In the outfield, Alabama has speedy Ray Kruml, who transferred in from Indian Hills (Iowa) JC two years ago. Kruml is a gap-to-gap hitter who uses his speed to put pressure on defenses and take away runs in the outfield.

The state's high school crop is thin this year. Following Destin Hood and Tyler Stovall, the only two prospects of note are Blake Billings and Jade Todd. Billings is a 6-foot-5, 200 pound righthander who pitches in the high 80s. He is known for throwing strikes and having command of his fastball, slurvy breaking ball and changeup. He has plenty of room to fill out physically and could be a better prospect down the road. Todd is lefthanded and committed to Alabama. He throws his fastball at 90 mph, with a true downer curveball.