State Reports: Illinois




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Illinois isn't as deep as it was in 2007, especially on the high school side, where six players received six-figure bonuses. Yet righthander Jake Odorizzi has a chance to become the state's first prep first-round pick since the White Sox drafted Kris Honel 16th overall seven years ago. The Prairie State is on the upswing in terms of college position players, especially with athletic outfielders and catchers.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Jake Odorizzi, rhp, Highland HS (National Rank: 32)
2. Cody Adams, rhp, Southern Illinois (National Rank: 120)
3. Kyle Hudson, of, Illinois (National Rank: 187)
4. Aaron Barrett, rhp, Wabash Valley CC (National Rank: 188)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

5. Kevin Dubler, c, Illinois State
6. Dan Brewer, of, Bradley
7. Cory White, rhp, Rend Lake CC
8. Danny Jimenez, lhp, St. Charles North HS, St. Charles
9. Otto Roberts, rhp, Belleville West HS, Belleville
10. Austin Wright, lhp, Conant HS, Hoffman Estates
11. Kevin Coddington, c, Illinois-Chicago
12. Jonathan Weaver, rhp, East Leyden HS, Franklin Park
13. Braden Kapteyn, 3b, Illiana Christian, Lansing
14. Tony Zych, rhp/ss, St. Rita HS, Chicago
15. Tyler Cox, lhp, Illinois State
16. Mike Eifel, rhp, Dominican
17. Bobby Stevens, ss, Northern Illinois
18. Rob Scahill, rhp, Bradley
19. John Ruettiger, of, Joliet Catholic Academy
20. Mark Kelly, c, Southern Illinois
21. Toby Matchulat, rhp, Wabash Valley CC
22. Collin Brennan, rhp, Bradley
23. Kyle Stroup, rhp, Grant Community HS, Fox Lake
24. Joe Devine, rhp, Wabash Valley CC
25. Seth Hood, ss, Moline HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Jake Odorizzi, rhp, Highland HS (National Rank: 32)

Scouts have flocked to see Odorizzi this spring, and some teams have rated the athletic righthander as the top high school pitcher in the draft. After pitching at 90-91 mph last summer, he has kicked his fastball up to 91-93 mph with consistent armside run this spring. A half-dozen scouting directors witnessed a May start in which he sat at 92-93 mph in the late innings. Odorizzi operates with a clean delivery that he repeats well, and the ball comes out of his hand so easily that his fastball appears even quicker. The teams that believe in him like his slider, while others think it needs more refinement. An outstanding athlete at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Odorizzi is also a star shortstop with speed and power, but his future is definitely on the mound. He also excels in football as an all-conference wide receiver, though he missed part of his senior season after spraining a knee ligament. That's the only ding on his medical record, and it's not a concern. It's anticipated that he'll forgo a Louisville scholarship once he's drafted somewhere between the mid-first and second rounds
.

2. Cody Adams, rhp, Southern Illinois (National Rank: 120)

Adams hasn't been as good or as consistent as he was in 2007, when he won 11 games as a sophomore, but he has showed arm strength every time out, which will get him drafted somewhere from the third to fifth round. He operates in the low 90s, tops out at 96 and will show some 93s and 94s in the late innings. He throws strikes easily, but he hasn't been more dominant because his mechanics have been off. Six-foot-2 and 180 pounds, he overstrides and pitches uphill, flattening out his pitches and leaving them up in the strike zone. His slider hasn't been very effective, leaving his changeup as his most reliable No. 2 option. Whoever signs him will try to get him to stay on top of his pitches and stride more directly to the plate. He may move to the bullpen, where he could show even more velocity.

3. Kyle Hudson, of, Illinois (National Rank: 187)

Hudson was better known for his exploits as a wide receiver in his first two years at Illinois, leading the football team in receptions as a freshman and again as a sophomore. Relegated to a supporting role on the gridiron last fall, he has taken out his frustrations on opposing pitchers this spring. He ended the regular season among the NCAA Division I leaders in batting (.411), on-base percentage (.511), runs (60) and steals (39). He also set Big 10 Conference records for runs (40) and steals (25) in league games, and tied a school mark when he swiped his 40th base in the opening round of the league tournament. Hudson is a 5-foot-11, 165-pound burner whose games revolves around his top-of-the-line speed. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and uses his quickness well on the bases and in center field. He's an outstanding athlete who once won the Illinois state high school high jump title with a mark of 6-foot-10 and earned 15 letters in four sports. Hudson offers little power, but he understands his limitations and concentrates on getting on base. He uses a slap approach at the plate and is a good bunter. His arm is well-below-average, though he compensates by getting to balls quickly. A team that loves speed and values athletes at a premium position could take Hudson as early as the third round.

4. Aaron Barrett, rhp, Wabash Valley CC (National Rank: 188)

Barrett surprisingly went undrafted in 2007, a victim in part of the now-defunct draft-and-follow system. The Dodgers controlled his rights after taking him in the 44th round in 2006, but changed area scouts in Illinois and didn't pursue him heavily. Other teams interpreted Los Angeles' lack of interest as an indication that he'd be a tough sign, and they didn't bear down on Barrett. He won't get ignored again in 2008, though his commitment to Mississippi might still give clubs pause. Barrett is a 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who works both sides of the plate with an 88-91 mph fastball that touches 94. His slider is a quality second pitch, and he has made nice progress with a circle changeup. Barrett's arm works well and he has no major delivery issues, though he does need to refine his control and command.

Dubler Sticks Out With Bat

He's not quite in the same class as former Illinois catcher Lars Davis, whom the Rockies drafted in the third round a year ago, but Kevin Dubler is an offensive-minded catcher who should go somewhere between the fourth and seventh round. The lefthanded-hitting Dubler batted .358 this spring, set an Illinois State record with 23 doubles and walked nearly twice as much (44) as he struck out (23). He has a strong approach and consistently drives balls to the gap. He even runs well enough to have stolen 15 bases in 18 tries. Dubler moves well behind the plate, where he's a fringy defender. He already shows the aptitude to call his own game, however, and he got invaluable experience last summer, where he handled a loaded pitching staff with the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League.

Dan Brewer stood out on the Cape last summer, batting .297 (12th in the league) with seven homers (fourth) while playing five positions. In three years at Bradley, he has made the all-Missouri Valley Conference team at three positions: second baseman as a freshman, shortstop as a sophomore and outfield this spring. Scouts aren't sure where he profiles best. The optimal situation might be to make him an offensive second basemen, but his hands are a little stiff and he's better suited defensively for the outfield. He's a solid runner but doesn't have prototype speed for center field, and his opposite-field, line-drive approach doesn't provide the power desired on an outfield corner. His arm is slightly above-average.

He wasn't always consistent with his delivery or his command, but Cory White flashed as good an arm as anyone in Illinois. Though he's just 6 feet and 180 pounds, White has a quick arm that delivers 93-95 mph fastballs and hard sliders. He has committed to Indiana State for his junior season, but White is expected to turn pro.

Lefthander Danny Jimenez has emerged as the second-best high school pitching prospect in Illinois. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder threw 88-89 mph as a sophomore before dipping to 83-85 as a junior. He was back up to the high 80s this spring thanks to improved conditioning, which can be partially attributed to playing for the St. Charles North basketball team. Jimenez shows good command of four pitches, though none of his secondary offerings is particularly impressive. He's considered signable and will play at Logan (Ill.) CC if he doesn't turn pro.

Righthander Otto Roberts threw a low-90s sinker early in the spring, but he was operating in the high 80s and not maintaining that velocity for long as the draft grew nearer. He has a projectable 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame and flashes a hard slider and intriguing changeup, but scouts worry about his commitment to Creighton and his medical history. He has injured his right shoulder, elbow and knee in the past, and he broke his right hand when he punched a dugout wall in late May.

After pitching in the 2007 Aflac Classic and winning the finale of the World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship, lefthander Austin Wright entered the year as the state's top pitching prospect. But his stock has slipped as his command has deteriorated. While the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder can throw his fastball at 88-93 mph, his delivery is stiff and he leaves his heater up in the zone. He struggled to throw his curveball for strikes as well. Some scouts wonder if he'd fare better in pro ball as a lefty power hitter at first base or an outfield corner. Though he has a scholarship to attend Arkansas, he's not expected to be a tough sign.

At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Kevin Coddington is huge for a catcher. Despite his size and leverage, he employs a short swing and contact approach and thus doesn't offer as much power as he might. A transfer from Chemekata (Ore.) CC, he's agile behind the plate and has a slightly above-average arm, though his throwing accuracy wavers.

Like Jimenez, righthander Jonathan Weaver has a projectable frame and hasn't signed with a four-year school. The 6-foot-3, 185 pounder has an easy, fluid delivery. His fastball sits in the upper 80s and touches the low 90s, and his breaking ball shows promise. He has committed to Heartland (Ill.) CC.

Righthander Wade Kapteyn, now a draft-eligible sophomore at Evansville, rated as the state's No. 2 prospect in 2006, and now his younger brother Braden Kapteyn is Illinois' top prep position player. Currently a shortstop, he'll probably move to third base after he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. His size, arm strength and power potential all profile well at the hot corner. Part of a banner Kentucky recruiting class, he could see double duty if he joins the Wildcats because his fastball has been clocked as high as 93 mph. He's a maximum-effort player, both as a hitter and on the mound, and he'll have to prove he can hit against better competition.

Righthander Mike Eifel signed a one-day contract with the independent Southern Illinois Miners so he could showcase himself for scouts in a Frontier League exhibition game. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Eifel, who began his college career at NCAA Division III Dominican as a catcher, reached 93 mph with his fastball and backed it up with a late-breaking 79-80 mph curveball in two innings of work. He also showed a changeup, though he struggled with his command as he opened up too quick with his delivery.

Outfielder John Ruettiger is the nephew of Dan "Rudy" Ruettiger, the famed walk-on of Notre Dame and movie fame. John quarterbacked Joliet Catholic to the state 6-A football title last fall, but his future is in baseball. A 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, he uses a slash-and-dash approach at the plate to take advantage of his plus speed. He also covers a lot of ground and has a strong arm in center field. Also a lefthanded pitcher, he threw a complete game to beat Braden Kapteyn in the state 3-A sectional final. The consensus among scouts is that until he gets stronger, he projects as more of a good college player than as a true pro prospect, making it more likely that he'll attend Arizona State.