State Reports: Pennsylvania




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The pickings are slim in the Keystone State in 2008. Prep outfielder Peter Hissey and college pitchers Drew O'Neil and Matt Wright spare Pennsylvania a one-star ranking, but there is little high-end talent and little depth. The strength of the crop, such as it is, is pitching.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Peter Hissey, of, Unionville HS (National Rank: 136)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Drew O'Neil, rhp, Penn State
3. Matt Wright, lhp, Shippensburg
4. Cory Mazzoni, rhp, Seneca Valley HS, Harmony
5. Zak Sinclair, rhp, West Allegheny HS, Oakdale
6. Jordan Ellis, rhp, Villanova
7. Jason Buursma, rhp, Bucknell
8. Philip Rummel, rhp, Kutztown
9. Joe Blackburn, c, Penn State
10. Cory Wine, 1b, Penn State
11. Derek Shunk, ss, Villanova
12. Arshwin Asjes, rhp, Temple
13. Ray Black, James M. Coughlin HS, Laflin
14. Mike Wanamaker, rhp, Penn State
15. Joe Erconalo, of, Lehigh
16. Tyler Bream, 3b, Seneca Valley HS, Harmony
17. Elliot Byers, rhp, Scranton Prep

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Peter Hissey, of, Unionville HS (National Rank: 136)

Hissey's brother and father played college baseball, so he had no trouble dropping basketball even though he could have played shooting guard for a mid-major college hoops program. An above-average runner with good instincts, Hissey has added about 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot frame in the past year, and though his power is below-average currently, he projects as average or slightly better. He's an aggressive hitter who has a good feel for the strike zone, stays on breaking balls well and hits hard line drive to all fields. He's a promising defender in center field but needs to improve his routes. One scout projected him as a right fielder down the line and compared him to Paul O'Neill for his game as well as his hard-nosed approach. Hissey is an excellent student, and a club will likely have to take him in the top three rounds to buy him out of a commitment to Virginia.

Nifty Nittany Lion

Penn State closer Drew O'Neil was one of the most dominating pitchers in the Big 10 Conference this spring, going 0-2, 1.88 with 11 saves in 26 appearances. O'Neil threw from an over-the-top arm slot when he arrived at Penn State, but he messed around with a sidearm delivery in a bullpen session early last spring, and the Nittany Lions decided to keep him there. O'Neil's fastball velocity is unusual for a sidearmer: he sits at 89-92 with boring, sinking action and touches 93-94. His slider can be effective against righthanded hitters when he stays behind it, which he has done more consistently as a junior. Sometimes he gets underneath it, causing it to flatten out and spin harmlessly across the zone. He has a changeup that he seldom throws, but he figures to rely on his fastball and slider in pro ball. O'Neil draws comparisons to Mets reliever Joe Smith, who was drafted in the third round out of Wright State in 2006, and O'Neil could be drafted as high as the third himself, but his upside is limited. He could move quickly in pro ball and reach the majors as a reliever.

Lefty Matt Wright led Shippensburg to the Division II College World Series, where he struck out 15 in a masterful 166-pitch, four-hit win against Franklin Pierce (N.H.). A 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior, Wright lacks upside but has decent stuff, including a fastball that tops out at 91-92 mph early in games but drops to 87-88. He has good command of his fastball and an excellent changeup that fades and sinks against righthanded hitters. His curveball is below-average, though he occasionally flashes a decent one.

Villanova righthander Jordan Ellis has battled arm injuries during his career and struggled as a senior, going 3-6, 5.72. Still, he could be a senior sign in the top 15 rounds thanks to a fastball that reaches 93 mph, a fringe-average slider and feel for a changeup. He has a physical 6-foot-2, 198-pound frame.

Bucknell's Jason Buursma won Patriot League player of the year honors for his two-way prowess, and he won all four of Bucknell's Patriot playoff games out of the bullpen, working 10 combined scoreless innings. Buursma throws from a low-three-quarters slot that isn't quite as low as O'Neil's, though he doesn't have O'Neil's velocity, working in the 85-88 mph range with his sinker. He also commands a fringy slider that gives him another weapon against righthanded hitters. Buursma is a winner who knows how to pitch, and he should get a look after the 15th round.

Kutztown's Philip Rummel went 7-5, 3.11 as a senior this spring and should get a look late on the merits of his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame and feel for pitching. Rummel's fringy fastball sits in the 87-90 mph range, and he complements it with a decent split-finger and a show-me curveball. He's old even for a senior, but his frame is enticing.

Pittsburgh signee Ray Black might have been the state's top high school pitcher, but he had Tommy John surgery in April and is almost certain to head to school. When healthy, Black's live arm produced a 91 mph fastball and promising breaking ball. Black's injury leaves North Carolina State signees Cory Mazzoni and Zak Sinclair as the undisputed top high school pitchers in the state. Mazzoni has a cleaner, looser arm action and a better breaking ball, though it still needs work. He also has feel for a changeup. Mazzoni runs his fastball up to 92 despite his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame. Sinclair has the better frame (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and an excellent athletic pedigree as a standout high school quarterback, but he lacks a breaking ball. Sinclair's fastball tops out at 91 but has room for projection.