State Report: Massachusetts




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Massachusetts lacks depth of talent, but the Boston College contingent alone makes it a three-star year for the state. It was a great year for the Eagles, reaching regionals for the first time since 1967, and once they got there playing the longest game in college baseball history, a 25-inning affair that resulted in a 3-2 loss to Texas.

Tony Sanchez is likely to be the first college catcher drafted, and lefthander Mike Belfiore could sneak into the top two rounds as well. Fellow Eagle J.B. McDonald will be a decent senior sign, while outfielders Barry Butera and Robbie Anston are more likely to be senior signs next year.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Tony Sanchez, c, Boston College (National Rank: 32)
2. Mike Belfiore, lhp, Boston College (National Rank: 89)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Kyle McKenzie, rhp, Thayer Academy, Braintree
4. Michael Yastrzemski, of, St. John's Prep, Danvers
5. Ryan Quigley, lhp, Northeastern
6. J.B. McDonald, rhp, Boston College
7. Neifi Zapata, c, Boston English HS
8. Barry Butera, of, Boston College
9. Shawn Carlson, rhp, Andover HS
10. Mitchell Clegg, lhp, Massachusetts
11. Robbie Anston, of, Boston College
12. Jonathan Leroux, c, Auburn HS
13. Mike Baillargeon, 2b, Assumption College
14. Jeffrey Bercume, of, Merrimack College

SCOUTING REPORTS

TONY SANCHEZ, C, BOSTON COLLEGE

Sanchez, who grew up playing with Miami shortstop Ryan Jackson in South Florida, dreamed of playing for the Hurricanes when he was younger, but he was overweight and overlooked by many recruiters out of high school. He's slimmed down by 35 pounds in three years at Boston College and made himself into one of the nation's premier college catchers. Sanchez is a slightly above-average major league defender with soft hands, quick feet and a solid-average to plus arm. He excels at framing pitches and blocking balls in the dirt. Offensively, Sanchez has solid-average power, but his bat is not a sure thing. He punishes fastballs but struggles mightily against breaking balls, though he's an intelligent enough hitter to lay off breaking stuff that he cannot hit. He has a mature approach at the plate and excellent makeup on the field and off.

MICHAEL BELFIORE, LHP, BOSTON COLLEGE

Scouts were mildly intrigued by Belfiore's big frame and loose arm coming out of Commack (N.Y.) High three years ago, when he worked in the 85-87 mph range with his fastball. He has started at first base for three years at Boston College and has thrived as the Eagles' closer the last two. Belfiore now works in the 90-93 mph range and tops out at 94 with a lively fastball. He shows a solid-average to plus slider in the 83-85 range at times, but he tends to push the pitch at other times. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Belfiore is physical enough to start, and he maintained his stuff for five innings in front of a number of scouting heavyweights in late April against Duke. He also has a starter's repertoire, with an average low-80s changeup that dives at the plate at times. He also shows a promising curveball in warmups, though he rarely uses it in games. Belfiore's mechanics need smoothing, and his offspeed command could use polish, but he could take off once he concentrates on pitching full-time.

Top Prospects Likely To Head For College

The lone Massachusetts prep prospect with a realistic shot at signing this year is Thayer Academy righthander Kyle McKenzie, but it won't be an easy sign. McKenzie is committed to Tulane, and he draws comparisons to another Bay State product who went on to play for the Green Wave, Brandon Gomes (now pitching at Double-A in the Padres system). Like Gomes, McKenzie is a smallish righthander with a quick arm. He has worked in the 88-92 mph range this spring, and some reports had him touching 93-94 at times. Last year he pitched more in the 85-88 mph range. His velocity has climbed as his delivery has improved, though he still has quite a bit of effort. His curveball has also made significant strides, and it's close to average now with a chance to be plus in the future. The pitch remains somewhat slurvy but has good bite. Gomes is an eighth- to 10th-round talent who is unlikely to be signable in that range, though a club could take him higher than that and make a run at him.

Another undersized righty, 5-foot-11 Shawn Carlson, attacks hitters with an 88-92 mph fastball and a decent slider. He's still raw and is likely to wind up at San Jacinto (Texas) JC. Another Massachusetts talent likely heading to a junior college power is catcher Neifi Zapata. A sturdy, physical backstop with a strong arm, Zapata has a chance to be a good receiver, though his actions are a bit stiff currently. Zapata's bat is raw, and he'll likely wind up at Miami Dade CC.

Outfielder Michael Yastrzemski has baseball in his blood: His grandfather Carl was a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Red Sox and the last player to win the triple crown (in 1967), while his father Michael was a standout at Florida State and still holds the school record for career games played. Scouts regard Yastrzemski as the most polished prep hitter in New England. He has a balanced set-up and a smooth lefthanded swing that allows him to square up hard line drives consistently. He has a chance to be an above-average hitter down the road, but the rest of his tools do not stand out. He's a gap-to-gap hitter who could hit for average power as he gets stronger. He has an adequate arm for left field, and he's a fringe-average runner. He has good baseball instincts and plays a solid outfield. Yastrzemski is committed to Vanderbilt and is all but certain to head to school, though he's likely to be drafted in the late rounds.

Some scouts are intrigued by Northeastern lefthander Ryan Quigley despite his poor numbers this spring (3-5, 6.35 with 80 strikeouts and 39 walks in 67 innings). Quigley's best assets are his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, deception and hard 1-to-7 breaking ball with good depth. His fastball velocity was disappointing this spring, as he worked mostly in the 85-88 mph range, and he struggles to throw strikes. Clubs that think Quigley could be a lefthanded reliever could look at him in the top 12 rounds and monitor his performance in the Cape Cod League this summer. Massachusetts' Mitchell Clegg is another lefty with good size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and fringy stuff. Clegg pitches with a high-80s fastball and a decent changeup that he uses to get some swings and misses. He could be a solid senior sign in the 12-to-15-round range.

Boston College righthander J.B. MacDonald is another senior who could be drafted in the top 15 rounds. MacDonald's best assets are his competitiveness, savvy and command of his 86-90 mph fastball. He does a good job mixing in a decent mid-70s downer curveball and a changeup, and he dabbles with a slider as well.

BC outfielders Barry Butera and Robbie Anston will both be quality senior signs in 2010, though clubs are unlikely to make a serious run at either this year. Anston leads the Eagles in batting and stolen bases out of the leadoff spot. He's an above-average runner who covers plenty of ground in center field, though his arm is well-below-average. Anston is a gap-to-gap hitter who also led BC in doubles, though he has well-below-average power. Butera is athletic and versatile, and he could carve out a niche as a utility player in professional ball. He is capable of filling in at any outfield position or in the middle infield, and he plays the game with energy and intensity. Butera has some strength in his lefthanded swing and is not afraid to work the count. He's a good bunter who runs fairly well.