State Report: New York




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
A pair of high-upside lefthanders headline an otherwise average New York crop. Steve Matz and James Jones could both be drafted in the top three rounds, and righthanders Kyle Hansen, Robert Whitenack and Kyle Morrison give the Empire State three more top-10-rounds talents. That puts the class of 2009 in line with each of the last two years, when New York produced five picks in the top 10 rounds.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Steve Matz, lhp, Ward Melville HS, East Setauket (National Rank: 115)
2. James Jones, lhp/of, Long Island (National Rank: 128)
3. Kyle Hansen, rhp, St. Dominic HS, Oyster Bay (National Rank: 176)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

4. Robert Whitenack, rhp, SUNY Old Westbury
5. Kyle Morrison, rhp, Wagner
6. Kevin Mahoney, 3b, Canisius
7. Marcus Stroman, rhp/ss, Patchogue-Medford HS
8. Matt Tone, lhp, Cortland State
9. Bruce Kern, rhp, St. John's
10. Tim Morris, 1b, St. John's
11. Chris Edmondson, of, LeMoyne
12. Jeremy Baltz, of, Vestal HS
13. Brian Kemp, of, St. John's
14. Kevin Nieto, of, Manhattan
15. Nathan Ford, 3b, Cornell
16. Murphy Smith, rhp, Binghamton
17. Matt Nandin, 2b, LeMoyne
18. Zach Anderson, rhp, Buffalo
19. Jeff Dennis, lhp, Binghamton
20. John Mincone, lhp, Suffolk-Brentwood CC
21. Mike Avery, of, Cortland State
22. Brian Witkowski, of, Stony Brook
23. Kevin Mailloux, 2b, Canisius
24. Sean Hagan, lhp, Mamaroneck HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

STEVE MATZ, LHP, MELVILLE HS, SETAUKET, N.Y.

The consensus top prep pitching prospect in the Northeast, Matz offers plenty of projection as well as good present stuff. For most of the spring, he sat in the 89-91 mph range, but he routinely ran his fastball up to 93-94, and the pitch has some glove-side life. Scouts particularly like the way he attacks hitters inside with his heater. He also shows a solid-average changeup with good deception that sometimes rates as plus. He began throwing a slider midway through the season, but most scouts prefer his 73-75 mph three-quarters curveball, which flashes average to plus but more often rates as a below-average offering at this stage. Matz has a big, projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, but there are some questions about his durability because he had trouble staying healthy for a full season until this year. He also needs to work on his delivery, as he tends to cut himself off and has a head jerk. There is some risk with Matz, but he has enough upside that some team is likely to take him in the top three rounds and buy him out of a commitment to Coastal Carolina.

JAMES JONES, LHP/OF, LONG ISLAND

After a standout fall, Jones entered the season as a potential top-two-rounds pick as a lefthander, but he struggled mightily in the Northeast Conference, going 1-9, 7.40. He still earned all-conference honors as an outfielder/first baseman, batting .364/.453/.618 with nine homers, 32 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 23 tries. Most scouts still prefer Jones as a pitcher, but some consider him a third- to fourth-round talent as a corner outfielder. A gifted athlete with a lanky 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame, Jones garners physical comparisons to Mike Cameron and Adam Jones. He has quick hands and projects to hit for power down the road, and he shows good pitch recognition and plate discipline. He also has good instincts in the outfield. Jones' athleticism also makes him intriguing as a pitcher, despite his poor numbers. Multiple scouts have said Jones has one of the quickest arms they have ever seen, and everyone agrees that his arm action is exceptionally clean and loose, though his mechanics need plenty of work, as he tends to overstride, causing his stuff to flatten out. Jones ran his fastball up to 94-95 in the fall but pitched mostly in the 88-93 range this spring, usually sitting around 91. He throws a curveball and a slider, and both rate as below-average pitches, though he flashes an average breaking ball every once in a while. The consensus is that he'd be better off scrapping the curveball and concentrating on developing the slider. Jones tends to slow down his delivery on his changeup, but he does have some feel for the pitch. Scouts unanimously laud Jones for his makeup; he works hard both on and off the field and is widely regarded as a great person. Few players in this draft are as intriguing as Jones, but he's very much a boom-or-bust prospect. He figures to be drafted in the third to fifth round, more likely as a pitcher.

KYLE HANSEN, RHP, ST. DOMINIC HS, OYSTER BAY, N.Y.

Hansen's older brother Craig was a first-round pick by the Red Sox out of St. John's in 2005 (later dealt to the Pirates in the 2008 Jason Bay trade). The consensus among scouts is that Kyle has better stuff than Craig did at the same age. Hansen works in the 88-93 mph range and has touched 94 with a lively fastball. It's easy to project him to add velocity as he fills out his gangly 6-foot-7, 190-pound frame. It's no surprise that Hansen has a funky, upright delivery, and he tends to stride open and drop his elbow. Hansen's high-70s to low-80s slider fluctuates from a 35 offering to a 50 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, but some scouts project it to be above-average in the future. He has some feel for a changeup and a split-finger but throws both sparingly, and it's difficult to distinguish between the two. Hansen's upside is huge, but most scouts believe he's likely to honor his commitment to St. John's, where he could easily blossom into a first-round pick in three years.

College Righties Highlight Average Crop

Old Westbury righthander Robert Whitenack had a solid spring, going 5-2, 2.81 with 79 strikeouts and 25 walks in 67 innings. Whitenack has been heavily scouted and could be drafted anywhere from the fifth to the 10th round. His best pitch is an 80 mph knuckle-curveball with tumbling 12-to-6 action that some scouts rate as plus and others rate as plus-plus. Whitenack had scouts buzzing by running his fastball up to 92 mph early in the season in Florida, but he's pitched mostly in the 87-89 range down the stretch. Some scouts have seen Whitenack flash an average slider and an average change as well. He has a loose arm and a skinny 6-foot-5, 185-pound build that leaves room for projection, though some scouts aren't enamored of his narrow frame. The son of a retired New York City police officer, Whitenack shows tenacity on the mound.

Wagner's Kyle Morrison ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Atlantic Collegiate League last summer and had a solid but not spectacular junior season, going 8-2, 4.16 with 55 strikeouts and 22 walks in 67 innings. He was better early than he was down the stretch, but he still has a good chance to go in the top eight to 10 rounds. Morrison's fastball sits around 90 mph and touches 92-93, and his 79-81 slider can be an average pitch at times. He also has good feel for an 80 mph changeup that rates as a below-average pitch now but flashes average action.

Scouts love two-way talent Marcus Stroman, but he's a Duke signee and stands just 5-foot-9, so don't expect a club to make a serious run at him this year. A switch-hitter with plus speed and good hands at shortstop, Stroman will play both ways for the Blue Devils; scouts prefer him on the mound. He has an electric arm and throws strikes with a 90-93 mph fastball and an excellent hammer curveball.

Stocky Cortland State lefty Matt Tone earns physical comparisons to Mike Stanton. He posted dominant stats in 2008 and solid numbers this year, going 8-0, 3.07 with 84 strikeouts in 64 innings. Some scouts have seen Tone reach 93 mph, but most report seeing an 87-90 mph fastball. He also leans heavily on an 83-86 mph pitch that some scouts call a cutter and others label a slider. His changeup is below-average, and he projects as a reliever in pro ball.

Righthander Bruce Kern did not have a great spring for St. John's, going 5-4, 6.09, but he showed decent stuff at times, especially early. He's worked mostly in the 87-91 range and has touched 92, and he showed an average slider. His changeup is underdeveloped. Kern needs to improve his feel for pitching, and he's athletic but not physical at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, so most scouts project him as a reliever in pro ball.

New York's position player crop is led by a pair of college corner infielders. Canisius third baseman Kevin Mahoney went undrafted in 2008 despite batting .369 with 12 home runs, but he opened eyes last summer in the Coastal Plain League, which he led in homers (13), runs (43), RBIs (43), slugging (.586) and total bases (112), ranking as the circuit's No. 2 prospect. He hit for even more power this spring, leading the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in homers (22) and RBIs (62). Scouts grade Mahoney's raw power as a 55 to 60 on the 20-80 scale, and his current power as a 50. He's a smart, disciplined hitter with a compact lefthanded stroke, and he never gives up an at-bat. Mahoney is a below-average runner, but he has good baserunning instincts and just missed posting a 20-20 season, stealing 19 bags in 20 tries. He works hard at his defense and is serviceable at third base, with decent hands and adequate arm strength but below-average range. Mahoney could be a cost-saving senior sign in the top 10 rounds.

First baseman Tim Morris began his collegiate career at Clemson, where he was just 1-for-17 as a freshman in 2007 before transferring to St. John's. After a quiet sophomore year, he broke out last summer in the Atlantic Collegiate League, where he ranked as the No. 4 prospect. He carried that momentum over to this spring, batting .415/.492/.677 with 12 homers and 62 RBIs (all team bests). Despite his power surge and his professional build (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), many scouts aren't sold on Morris' raw power. He does have a good feel for hitting from the left side, and he's a solid defensive first baseman with an average arm, but he might not have the power to be a big league regular at the position.

Morris' St. John's teammate, Brian Kemp, ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the New England Collegiate league in 2007, but his stock has tumbled this spring as his legs have slowed down. Once regarded as a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, Kemp has slowed to a 40 runner this spring as he added bulk to his 5-foot-11 frame. He still stole 16 bases in 21 attempts and hit .379/.470/.507, but it seems likely he'll be back at St. John's for his senior year in 2010.

St. John's recruit Jeremy Baltz is a strong student and is considered a tough sign, but he could develop into a good draft prospect with the Red Storm. Baltz's best tool is his above-average raw power from the right side. He's a good athlete who still needs to add strength to tap into his offensive potential. Baltz is a decent runner with a below-average arm who profiles as a left fielder.

Le Moyne's Chris Edmondson got off to a slow start this spring but recovered to hit .322 with 13 homers. His best tool is his bat: He has a short, compact lefthanded swing with good rhythm, and he has the ability to use all fields. Edmondson has good bat speed but has yet to really unlock his power. He's a fringy runner with a below-average arm, so he profiles as a left fielder. He seems likely to return to Le Moyne for his senior year, and could climb into the top 10 rounds next year, as Kevin Mahoney did this year.

Manhattan's Kevin Nieto put together a big junior season, batting .396 with 13 homers, 54 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in 28 tries, yet has generated little interest from scouts because of his 5-foot-9, 182-pound build. An excellent defensive center fielder with above-average speed, Nieto has worked hard to add strength, but scouts are likely to wait until he's a senior to try to sign him.