State Reports: North Carolina




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The Tar Heel State again offers a deep crop of draftable talent, which is becoming an annual event, with the college programs contributing most of the talent this year. The only thing the state lacks this year is an elite prospect likely to be taken in the first round. Wake Forest's Allan Dykstra is an accomplished hitter in the Atlantic Coast Conference and has the best shot of being the first player selected from the state.

It's a great year for college baseball in the state all the way around, with both North Carolina and North Carolina State hosting NCAA regionals, and four other schools from the state—Charlotte, East Carolina, Elon and UNC Wilmington—earning regional berths. North Carolina has reached the national championship game two years in a row and is the No. 2 national seed this year, though most of the team's best pro talent is in the freshman and sophomore classes.

While the college roots grow deep, the high school talent in North Carolina is shallow, and it's possible no prep player will be selected from the state in the top 10 rounds.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Allan Dykstra, 1b, Wake Forest (National Rank: 38)
2. Lonnie Chisenhall, 2b, Pitt CC (National Rank: 74)
3. Brad Holt, rhp, UNC Wilmington (National Rank: 98)
4. Aaron King, lhp, Surry CC (National Rank: 145)
5. Steven Hensley, rhp, Elon (National Rank: 156)
6. Tim Federowicz, c, North Carolina (National Rank: 169)
7. Clayton Shunick, rhp, North Carolina State (National Rank: 170)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

8. Tim Fedroff, of, North Carolina
9. Justin Bristow, rhp, East Carolina
10. Eric Surkamp, lhp, North Carolina State
11. Nate Freiman, 1b, Duke
12. Ryan Wood, 2b, East Carolina
13. David Rubinstein, of, Appalachian State
14. Garrison Lassiter, ss, West Forsyth HS, Clemmons
15. Marcus Jones, of, North Carolina State
16. Jerry Sands, of, Catawba
17. Alan DeRatt, rhp, UNC Asheville
18. Jimmy Messer, rhp, South Caldwell HS, Hudson
19. Jason McEachem, rhp, St. Stephens HS, Hickory
20. Marc Carver, c, UNC Wilmington
21. Adam Warren, rhp, North Carolina
22. Alex Sogard, lhp, North Carolina State
23. Sam Brown, rhp, North Carolina State
24. Zach Rosenbaum, rhp, Charlotte
25. David Thomas, of, Catawba
26. Rob Wooten, rhp, North Carolina
27. Chris Taylor, c, Charlotte
28. Shawn Armstrong, rhp, West Craven HS, Vanceboro
29. Brian Litwin, of, St. Stephens HS, Hickory
30. Chris Dove, of, Elon
31. Paul Clemens, rhp, Louisburg CC
32. Daniel Hargrave, 2b, UNC Wilmington
33. Kevin Mattison, of, UNC Asheville
34. Chad Flack, 3b, North Carolina
35. Brad McElroy, of, Charlotte
36. Blake Murphy, c, Western Carolina
37. Eryk McConnell, rhp, North Carolina State
38. Evan Ocheltree, of, Wake Forest
39. Jeremy Synan, of, North Carolina State
40. Cameron Conner, of, Fuquay-Varina HS
41. Ryan Schlect, rhp, Mount Olive College
42. T.J. Hose, rhp, East Carolina
43. Seth Williams, of, North Carolina
44. Shayne Moody, ss, Charlotte
45. Kyle Shelton, of, North Carolina
46. Chris Pecora, of, North Carolina Wesleyan
47. Jason Appel, of, UNC Wilmington
48. Matt Gaski, ss, UNC Greensboro
49. Tyler Sexston, lhp, Western Carolina
50. Jamall Kinard, of, Gardner-Webb
51. Rick Orton, 1b, UNC Greensboro

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Allan Dykstra, 1b, Wake Forest (National Rank: 38)

Dykstra adds to the long list of quality first basemen in this draft, and at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he possibly has the greatest raw power of the bunch. After leading the ACC with 18 home runs as a freshman, Dykstra was the ACC rookie of the year in 2006 and a Freshman All-American. Last summer, Dykstra was named a Cape Cod League all-star after hitting .308 with five home runs. Due to his size, Dykstra has an intimidating presence in the batter's box. Dykstra has an advanced approach but at times can be overly patient. combined with being on a Wake Forest team light on hitting, Dykstra is often pitched around and has set the Demon Deacons' career and season walk records. While blessed with superior lefthanded power, Dykstra has hitting ability, but some scouts don't like the mechanics in his swing or his tendency to dive out over the plate. He can be streaky and is at times susceptible to inside pitches. Although he possesses an above-average arm and experimented with playing third base this season, Dykstra is a first base/DH only as a pro. He still has work to do to become an average fielder. Dykstra was drafted in the 34th round of the 2005 draft by the Red Sox.

2. Lonnie Chisenhall, 2b, Pitt CC (National Rank: 74)

After being drafted out of high school in the 11th round of the 2006 draft, Chisenhall opted to attend South Carolina, where his ability to hit was quickly noticed. He was consistently placed third in a Gamecocks lineup filled with Reese Havens, Justin Smoak and James Darnell and was considered one of the top pure hitters in the country. However, at the beginning of conference play, Chisenhall was arrested and charged with larceny, leading to his immediate dismissal from the team. (He later pleaded guilty to grand larceny and burglary and was sentenced to six months' probation.) He resurfaced at Pitt, where he played this season, but makeup issues from his past still follow him. On the field, Chisenhall has rebuilt his reputation and is considered one of the best hitters in this draft class. He possesses a fluid flat swing and a bat path that stays in the zone, producing consistent line drive contact. His swing is not conducive to above-average power, but Chisenhall does have occasional juice. His defensive position is still a question mark. Offensively, he profiles best at second base, but scouts question whether he has the hands or range to stick in the middle of the diamond. Whichever team drafts him will do so for the belief in his bat and ability to overcome past transgressions.

3. Brad Holt, rhp, UNC Wilmington (National Rank: 98)

Holt emerged this spring as the ace of a surging Seahawks baseball team. His fastball has improved since arriving in Wilmington and now sits between 92-94 mph, touching 96. Not only does he have a big arm, but he is able to maintain his velocity deep into games. However, the major difference between this year's Holt from the past is his vastly improved command. Holt at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, has a perfect pro body with a clean delivery and a first-round arm. He is coordinated and athletic on the mound, attacking hitters with his fastball. The only thing holding him back is the lack of a usable secondary pitch. He offers a slider with loose spin and tends to slow his body and arm down when throwing it. Even though his secondary stuff is in need of refinement, teams will not walk away from the pro body, strong arm and life on the fastball.

4. Aaron King, lhp, Surry CC (National Rank: 145)

King has all the things scouting directors love, as a 6-foot-4 lefthander who pitches in the low to mid-90s. Possibly the best lefthander in the junior college ranks, King is a strikeout pitcher, pitching off his fastball and putting hitters away with his slider. He also throws a changeup. He's athletic on the mound and still has projection. His delivery is somewhat unconventional and causes him to be erratic at times. The question with King, at it is with most juco pitchers, is whether he will throw enough strikes. His K/BB ratio this season was close to 3/1. He will at least be given a chance as a starting pitcher in the pros. He's a freshman at Surry and relatively new on the scouting radar, and he wasn't drafted out of high school.

5.  Steven Hensley, rhp, Elon (National Rank: 156)

Drafted in the 44th round of the 2005 draft by the Nationals, Hensley chose college and over the past three years has made a solid case to be considered the best pitcher in Elon's baseball history. The career strikeout and wins leader for the Phoenix, Hensley also has a chance to be the highest-drafted Elon player since the school moved up to Division I in 2000 (Lefthander Brad Pinkerton was a fifth-round selection of the Angels in the 2001 draft). He attacks hitters with a four-pitch mix, including a low-90s fastball, fringe-average changeup and curveball, and average slider. At his best, Hensley throws from a high three-quarters arm slot, and has both late life and tight spin on his fastball and secondary pitches. At times he's inconsistent, dropping his arm angle and causing his pitches to flatten out. Hensley also has experience pitching the Cape Cod League, going 4-2, 3.52 for the Bourne Braves last summer.

6.  Tim Federowicz, c, North Carolina (National Rank: 169)

Undrafted out of high school, Federowicz arrived on the North Carolina campus as a freshman and quickly gained a reputation for being a clutch-hitting catcher with a great arm who knows how to win. He has been a fixture behind the plate and in the middle of the Tar Heel lineup during the three most successful seasons in the school's history. Federowicz also won a gold medal in the World University Games with Team USA in the summer of 2006. Scouts are split on Federowicz's pro potential, however. Behind the plate, his leadership skills, experience and plus throwing arm are undeniable. His receiving style, with a high elbow, concerns some scouts. But the biggest questions for Federowicz are at the plate. While he has been consistently productive for the Tar Heels, his offensive numbers have declined each year. He's strong at the plate but has below-average bat speed. His power is to the opposite-field gap, and he struggles pulling inside fastballs. He projects as a below-average hitter with below-average power, but at catcher his bat might be good enough. His track record of success alone makes him one of the top five college catchers in this year's draft class.

7. Clayton Shunick, rhp, North Carolina State (National Rank: 170)

Shunick began his college career at Georgia State but transferred to N.C. State after one year. After an all-star season in the Cape Cod League in 2006, Shunick pitched mainly as a reliever in his sophomore season for the Wolfpack. As a junior, he took over the Friday night starter role and has pitched well against the ACC's best. Offering a fringe-average fastball between 89-91 mph, he gets outs with his command, deception and above-average split-finger pitch. With a slider to keep hitters off-balance, Shunick has a solid three-pitch mix and a good feel for his craft. The split-finger has late downward and lateral movement and is his out pitch, as he is able to command it and throw it in any count. Shunick pitches downhill and can locate down in the zone. At 6-foot-1, he has a slight frame and durability is a concern. His size and reliance on a split-finger pitch profile him as a middle reliever at the pro level.

Tar Heels Talent Will Have To Wait

While most of North Carolina's stellar sophomore class is not eligible for this year's draft, right fielder Tim Fedroff turned 21 early this season and is a prospect for 2008. At 5-foot-11, 182 pounds, Fedroff is not an imposing figure, but he has strong forearms and wrists and packs a powerful punch at the plate. With a compact lefthanded swing, Fedroff has hit for average and power this season, leading the Tar Heels with 12 home runs in the regular season. An above-average runner out of the box, Fedroff can put pressure on the defense with his speed, as he consistently posts sub-4.0-second times to first base. In the outfield he has a fringe-average arm, making him more of a candidate for left field at the pro level.

North Carolina also offers a group of four seniors who should get a shot at the next level, led by third baseman Chad Flack, who has been a cornerstone through the  most successful four years in the school's baseball history. His value is in his bat, as he's the school's all-time hits leader. Rob Wooten, Seth Williams and Kyle Shelton should also be good senior signs.

North Carolina State also offers a solid group of prospects beyond Clayton Shunick. Eric Surkamp is a tall, projectable lefthander with fringe-average stuff and a great feel for pitching. His fastball is in the upper 80s and has touched 91 mph, and he throws a curveball and changeup that he mixes well but sometimes struggles to command. Surkamp has inconsistent but pitched better later in the season, boosting his draft stock.

Alex Sogard gives the Wolfpack another draftable lefty, presenting an opposite profile from Surkamp. Like Surkamp, he has a pro body, but he offers more velocity with less pitchability. He also throws a downer curveball with plus life, though he rarely throws it for a strike. Sogard is a draft-eligible sophomore, as is righthander Sam Brown. Brown has the most projection of any of the Wolfpack pitchers. He pitches in the low 90s with a clean delivery, and was a seventh-round pick of the Nationals coming out of high school in 2006.

Marcus Jones is an intriguing prospect in center field for N.C. State. With a prototypical athlete's body, Jones runs well and looks the part on the baseball field. Defensively, Jones is an above-average defender with an average arm. The question is whether he'll hit enough at the professional level. Jones has good plate coverage and the ability to hit for power, and he has room to add strength.

Duke's program is improving, but its underclassmen will provide more draftable talent in the next couple of years. This year's best prospect is first baseman Nate Freiman. At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, he led the team with a .381 average, 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. He has huge raw power and the ability to hit for average. Freiman also plays a solid first base defensively.

A transfer to East Carolina from Auburn, Justin Bristow has been a two-way prospect ever since high school but focused on pitching and put together his best collegiate season. He pitches between 90-92 mph with a fastball that can be too true. He keeps hitters off balance with a cut fastball and curveball. Bristow finished 8-2, 3.22, including two shutouts. The Pirates' best position prospect is second baseman Ryan Wood, who hit .300 with 12 home runs in the regular season. An above-average defender, Wood is athletic and runs well, with a plus arm in the field.

UNC Wilmington has dominated the Colonial Athletic Association in recent years, thanks in part to fifth-year senior catcher Marc Carver. Carver broke out this season by batting .353 with 21 home runs in the regular season. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Carver is athletic and isn't limited to first base if he isn't able to stay behind the plate. He has an average arm but below-average receiving and transfer ability. His bat should play anywhere, though, and he has more projection in his body. Wilmington has two other quality senior signs in second baseman Jason Appel and Daniel Hargrave. Appel is a plus runner who hits lefthanded and batted over .400 this season.

The top high school prospect in North Carolina is debatable, but we'll go with Garrison Lassiter, a lefthanded-hitting shortstop. Lassiter has plus bat speed and the ability to hit for both power and average, but he's raw at the plate and in the field. He has a plus arm at shortstop but needs refinement on his defensive instincts. Righthander Jimmy Messer, who pitched with 2007 Giants first-rounder Madison Bumgarner at South Caldwell High, is the state's top prep pitching prospect. Messer is undersized at less than 6 feet tall but pitches around 90 mph. He also has a hard downer curveball that grades out as a plus pitch when he commands it. Both Lassiter and Messer are committed to North Carolina, and they're unlikely to get picked high enough to be bought out of their scholarships.

Shawn Armstrong was the top high school pitching prospect in the state entering the season but battled a sore arm this spring. His fastball velocity dropped from 93 to 87 mph, and his curveball lacked the bite it had in the summer. Armstrong is committed to East Carolina.