State Reports: Ohio




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Ohio is down this year, even with the return to Kent State of righthander Chris Carpenter, who has first-round stuff but will go in the second or third round because of his medical history. The high school ranks are especially thin, as lefthander Greg Williams is the lone prepster with the talent and signability to go in the first 10-15 rounds. Wright State has a pair of offensive-minded infielders in Jeremy Hamilton and Justin Parker, and the college ranks offer a few intriguing southpaws, but there's a steep dropoff behind that group.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Chris Carpenter, rhp, Kent State (National Rank: 61)
2. Jeremy Hamilton, 1b, Wright State (National Rank: 104)
3. Justin Parker, ss, Wright State (National Rank: 125)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

4. Dan Osterbrock, lhp, Cincinnati
5. Ryan Curl, of, St. Francis DeSales HS, Columbus
6. Charlie Leesman, lhp, Xavier
7. Greg Williams, lhp, Moeller HS, Cincinnati
8. J.B. Shuck, lhp/of, Ohio State
9. Travis Shaw, 3b/1b, Washington Court House HS
10. Tony Campana, of, Cincinnati
11. Steven Gruver, lhp, Austintown Fitch HS, Austintown
12. Jordan Petraitis, ss, Miami (Ohio)
13. Josh Harrison, 2b, Cincinnati
14. Matt Stiffler, of, Ohio
15. Dan Remenowsky, rhp, Otterbein
16. Mike Kindel, of, Springboro HS
17. Jake Hale, rhp, Ohio State
18. Mike Nastold, rhp, Elder HS, Cincinnati
19. Ross Oltorik, rhp, Moeller HS, Cincinnati
20. Chris Tremblay, ss, Kent State

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Chris Carpenter, rhp, Kent State (National Rank: 61)

After a couple of false starts, Carpenter's pro career should finally get going this summer. The Tigers made him a seventh-round pick in 2004, but he became the highest-drafted high school pitcher that year to opt for college. He blew out his elbow throwing a 93-mph fastball as a freshman, requiring Tommy John surgery in May 2005 and a second operation in June 2006 to clean out scar tissue. He was surging toward the first round with a strong finish to the regular season last year. But teams wondered about his health and his signability as a draft-eligible sophomore, and no one took a flier until the Yankees popped him in the 18th round. They planned on following him in the Cape Cod League, but he made just two appearances before departing with a tired arm. Carpenter has been healthy all year, topping out at 98 mph and often pitching at 92-96. His hard curveball is tighter and more consistent than it was in 2007, and his command has improved after some early season struggles. His changeup has gotten better too, though he doesn't throw it for strikes as easily he does his main two pitches. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Carpenter has the body to pile up innings—provided he stays healthy. There are clubs that will back away because of his medical history, but he has enhanced his chances of going in the first three rounds by expressing a willingness to sign for slot money.

2. Jeremy Hamilton, 1b, Wright State (National Rank: 104)

Hamilton is one of the best pure hitters in the 2008 draft. The Horizon League player of the year, he ended the regular season batting .413/.516/.738 with more walks (36) than strikeouts (25). He excels at driving balls to the opposite-field gap in left-center. Though he hit .209 as a reserve with Team USA last summer, there's little worry about his ability to hit with wood bats. The concern is whether he'll hit for the power teams want in a first baseman, as he's not very big (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) and doesn't pull many pitches. Hamilton is more in the Mark Grace mold, including the Gold Glove potential. His hands are soft and he may be the best defensive first baseman in the draft. Hamilton lacks the speed and athleticism to play the outfield at the pro level, though that was his primary position with the U.S. national team.

3. Justin Parker, ss, Wright State (National Rank: 125)

Justin's younger brother Jarrod had the most electric arm in the 2007 draft and went ninth overall to the Diamondbacks. Justin has emerged from Jarrod's shadow to become one of the better college middle infielders in this year's draft. He flew under the radar because he skipped summer ball after having shoulder surgery after last season, but no longer. Some clubs prefer him to teammate Jeremy Hamilton, who's chasing the NCAA Division I batting title. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has more raw power than Hamilton and plays a more difficult position, though that might not be shortstop in pro ball. Parker's arm strength has returned, but his range and hands would fit better at second or third base. He's an average runner whose instincts help his speed play up on the bases. Parker could go between the third and fifth rounds.

Southpaws Abound In Ohio

After the top tier of prospects—Chris Carpenter, Jeremy Hamilton and Justin Parker —go off the board, Ohio's next four picks probably will be lefthanders. Either Dan Osterbrock or Charlie Leesman will kick off the run, followed by Greg Williams, easily the most draftable high schooler in the state, and two-way star J.B. Shuck.

Osterbrock finished with a flourish, winning eight of his final nine starts to set a Cincinnati record with 21 career wins. There's projection remaining in his 6-foot-3, 186-pound frame, and he already touches 91 mph while working at 86-89 with his fastball. He has nice feel for pitching, locating his heater to set up hitters for a plus changeup. He throws two different breaking pitches, and his slider is more usable than his curveball. Osterbrock should become the first Bearcat drafted in the top 10 rounds since the Red Sox selected Kevin Youkilis in the ninth round in 2001.

Leesman is stronger than Osterbrock, standing 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and reaching 93 mph with his fastball, but he lacks Osterbrock's feel for pitching. After showing a quality fastball and a hammer curve at Xavier's scout day in the fall, Leesman went 2-6, 5.32 this spring. His heater sat at 88-91 mph, his curveball regressed and his command was inconsistent.

Williams has gone from being regarded as the second-best prospect at Moeller High (behind Ross Oltorik) to the likely top prep pick in Ohio. A projectable 6-foot-4, 195-pounder, Williams went from throwing in the low to mid-80s in the past to 87-91 mph this spring. He has an advanced changeup for a high schooler, though his breaking ball will need work. A scholarship from Marshall isn't expected to deter him from turning pro.

Shuck made the all-Big 10 Conference team as both a pitcher and an outfielder. Some scouts like him as a Sam Fuld-type outfielder, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound gamer who gets the most out of fringy tools. Shuck is a contact hitter who struck out just 24 times in three college seasons, and he can use his solid speed and fine instincts to steal bases. He also plays a quality center field and throws well, though his power is limited. Others prefer Shuck on the mound, where he can locate his high-80s fastball and changeup to both sides of the plate. He needs to be more aggressive rather than nibbling at the corners, and his breaking ball is just a show-me pitch.

Outfielder Ryan Curl has more upside than any high schooler in the state, but he's more of a raw athlete than a finished product. The Rangers sent in a crosschecker to evaluate him, but pro teams probably will let him attend Miami (Ohio) for three years rather than spend a six-figure bonus on him at this point. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has plus speed and arm strength to go with projectable power, but he's not ready to hit pro pitching. Curl has a bat wrap that makes it difficult for him to catch up to breaking pitches, though he can drive balls when he squares them up.

The best high school hitter now is Travis Shaw, the son of former all-star Jeff Shaw. Jeff signed out of community college and is set on having Travis get a college education at Kent State, so he's considered unsignable. He has good size (6-foot-3, 195 pounds), a smooth lefthanded swing and the ability to make consistent sweet-spot contact. He's growing into his power. Shaw doesn't run well, so he'll have to move from shortstop to an infield corner.

Cincinnati has not one but two 5-foot-8 position players who will get the chance to play pro ball in Tony Campana and Josh Harrison. Campana, who spent his first two college seasons at UNC Asheville, led NCAA Division I with 1.07 steals per game in 2007 and swiped 44 more as a senior. He has top-of-the-line speed and knows his job is to make use of it on the bases and in center field. The downside is that he weighs just 151 pounds, has no power and will have trouble handling fastballs with a wood bat.

Harrison was named co-Big East Conference player of the year after hitting .378 with 22 steals, though his feel for hitting is more impressive than his swing and he's just an average runner. He's stronger than Campana but isn't going to have much power with wood bats. Of greater concern is Harrison's defense at second base. He made 19 errors in 59 games and doesn't turn the pivot well, and he doesn't profile at another position. He's the nephew of former big leaguer John Shelby.