State Reports: New Jersey




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Unlike just about any other state in the Northeast, New Jersey can boast 10 or 12 quality prospects, but the talent drops off significantly after that. The state also lacks an elite talent along the lines of 2007 New Jersey products Rick Porcello and Todd Frazier. But there's a good mix of players with intriguing upside and safer, lower-ceiling prospects. The high school crop is the strength of the class, as the college ranks are very thin after lefthanders Corey Young and Ryan Kulik.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Quinton Miller, rhp, Shawnee HS, Medford (National Rank: 158)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Jason Knapp, rhp, North Hunterdon HS, Annandale
3. Mike Dennhardt, rhp, Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey
4. Corey Young, lhp, Seton Hall
5. Matt Marquis, of, Immaculata HS, Somerville
6. Ryan Kulik, lhp, Rowan
7. Steven Proscia, 3b, Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey
8. Eric Pfisterer, lhp, Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey
9. Anthony Desclafani, rhp, Colts Neck HS
10. Greg Miller, rhp, Seton Hall
11. Charlie Law, rhp, Mainland Regional HS, Linwood, N.J.
12. Steven Miller, rhp, Princeton
13. Kyle Higgins, ss, Monmouth
14. Michael Russo, rhp, Hun School, Princeton
15. Ryan Flannery, rhp, Fairleigh-Dickinson-Florham
16. Ken Monteith, rhp, Morristown-Beard HS
17. David Putnam, rhp Hun School, Princeton
18. Tom Edwards, 1b, Rutgers
19. Spencer Lucian, 3b/of, Princeton
20. John Dennis, rhp/c, Monmouth

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Quinton Miller, rhp, Shawnee HS, Medford (National Rank: 158)

A shoulder impingement in his junior year made Miller tough for scouts to see last summer and fall, and his velocity has been up and down this spring. His injury history, slight build (he's generously listed at 6-foot-3) and a delivery that has some effort raise questions about his long-term durability, but at his best he's a top-three-rounds talent. Depending on what day you see him, Miller can show an average or better fastball in the low 90s that reaches 93-94, or he can work in the 86-90 range. The pitch is straight, though, and his arm slot is inconsistent. He flashes a plus hard slider and an average change. He is aggressive and has a good feel for pitching, though he still needs to refine his command. Unless a team makes a run at him in the first three rounds, Miller figures to wind up at North Carolina, where he should be a high-impact pitcher immediately.

Don't Sleep On Knapp

There is no scouting consensus on righthander Jason Knapp. Some scouts believe he's the top prospect in the Garden State, destined to throw 100 mph in the big leagues, while other scouts see nothing more than arm strength—and one even called him "the most overrated guy in New Jersey." Late in the spring, Knapp was pitching at 94-96 mph in short relief outings, and he could add velocity thanks to his loose arm and projectable 6-foot-5 frame, which started to shed some baby fat this spring. But the rest of Knapp's stuff needs work, as so does his delivery. He tries to throw a three-quarters curveball from a lower arm slot that might be better suited for a slider, but the pitch shows decent depth from time to time. His changeup is also a work in progress but has good arm speed and fade. Knapp has fundamental flaws in his delivery, yet for all that, he could go in the top three rounds—or even rocket into the first round—if a club falls in love with his upside. Like Quinton Miller, he's committed to North Carolina but is considered an easier sign.

Three Don Bosco Prep players boosted their stock with strong springs. Some scouts prefer righthander Mike Dennhardt to either Quinton Miller or Jason Knapp. Last summer, Dennhardt's fastball sat in the 87-88 mph range, but his velocity jumped into the low 90s this spring, topping out at 93. He flashes three legitimate average pitches, including a hard 12-to-6 curveball and a developing changeup. Dennhardt has a stocky, durable build, an excellent feel for pitching and a hard-nosed mentality. He's committed to Boston College but could sneak into the top five rounds, though the seventh or eighth round is a safer bet.

Teammates Eric Pfisterer and Steven Proscia are also committed to Atlantic Coast Conference schools: Pfisterer to Duke and Proscia to Virginia. Pfisterer is a projectable 6-foot-4 lefthander who works in the 86-92 mph range with his fastball and spots it to both sides. He has an advanced feel for pitching and the makings of a good changeup and decent curve. Pfisterer is considered a tough sign and figures to head to Duke, where he could be a two-way player in the mold of Virginia's Sean Doolittle.

Proscia has a physical 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame and was a standout wide receiver/defensive back for the national powerhouse Don Bosco football team in the fall. His bat is raw because he's never concentrated on baseball, but his swing has plenty of leverage and he could hit for plus power down the road. Proscia's speed and arm strength are also average or better tools, and he's got enough agility to play in the middle of the field. Scouts are intrigued by Proscia's upside, but he figures to wind up at Virginia, where he might replace David Adams at second base. He projects as a third baseman as he fills out.

There are a few other interesting New Jersey high schoolers with big-school commitments. Outfielder Matt Marquis will be tough to lure away from Vanderbilt, where he would be an impact power bat immediately. Marquis has plus raw power and puts on shows in batting practice, but he's a dead pull hitter and his swing has some rigidness to it, though it's short and compact. Marquis is an average runner with an average arm, but he projects as a corner outfielder. As a 5-foot-11, righthanded-hitting corner outfielder, he'll have to hit an awful lot to profile as a big leaguer, and right now his hit tool lags behind his power.

Righthanders Anthony Desclafani owns the best changeup in New Jersey and has an excellent feel for pitching. His fastball is fringy at best, sitting in the 88-90 mph range, and he needs to improve his curveball, but he can spin it. Scouts like Desclafani's body (6-foot-3, 175) and his clean, easy delivery, but his current stuff isn't good enough to warrant buying him out of a commitment to Florida.

Likewise, righthander Charlie Law's frame stands out more than his stuff, though he lacks Desclafani's feel for pitching. Law is growing into his 6-foot-7, 225-pound frame, and he has boatloads of projection, but his attentions have been split between baseball and basketball in high school, so he remains raw. Law works in the 87-89 mph range and shows feel for a changeup and curveball, but he could use quite a bit of seasoning in college at Rutgers.

Lefties Lead College Crop

The top college player in New Jersey is lefthander Corey Young, who went 8-4, 3.52 with 78 strikeouts and 25 walks in 79 innings as Seton Hall's ace this spring. Young stands out for his feel for pitching, competitiveness and deception from a high three-quarters arm slot. He pounds the zone with a solid three-pitch mix, including an 86-90 mph fastball with sink and armside run, an average 11-to-5 curveball and an average changeup. He knows how to add and subtract from his stuff and he sometimes drops his arm slot to get even more movement on his fastball. Young is not overly physical at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, and he profiles as a middle reliever in pro ball. He could be drafted anywhere from the seventh to the 12th round.

Rowan lefty Ryan Kulik dominated Division III competition as a senior this spring, going 10-2, 1.72 with 144 strikeouts and 24 walks in 94 innings. Kulik is undersized but strong at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds. He has an average 89-91 mph fastball that touches 93, and he maintains his velocity deep into outings. Some scouts believe he could throw 94-95 in short stints in the bullpen, making him more attractive than Corey Young to some. His curveball and changeup are fringy, but he makes up for it with his competitiveness and ability to pound the zone. Like Young, Kulik should be drafted between the seventh and 12th rounds.

A pair of raw Millers with arm strength round out New Jersey's candidates for the top 20 rounds. Seton Hall's Greg Miller led the Pirates in batting as a right fielder this spring, but his future is on the mound, where he went 3-4, 3.63 before taking a line drive off his face against Rutgers, breaking his nose. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Miller has a better pro frame and more arm strength than teammate Corey Young, but he lacks Young's feel for pitching. Miller's fastball sits in the 88-92 mph range and touches 94, but it's straight. His low-80s slider is a good pitch at times but is more often below-average, and his changeup is well-below-average. Miller needs a lot of work on his control—he issued 36 walks while striking out 37 in 45 innings this spring. He's a good athlete but has a rigid, overhand delivery and a stiff front side.

Princeton senior righty Steven Miller went 3-2, 4.36 with 55 strikeouts and 21 walks in 54 innings this spring, and he threw a seven-inning no-hitter in his final start of the year against Cornell. He runs his fastball up to 93 mph at times but pitched most of the year at 87-91. He flashes an adequate slider, but sometimes it gets big on him and he struggles throwing it for strikes. He attacks hitters and throws strikes with his fastball, and he profiles as a reliever in pro ball.