State Report: Indiana




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
This is shaping up as one of Indiana's strongest draft years ever. Hoosier State colleges haven't produced a first-rounder since Ball State outfielder Brad Snyder in 2003, but should have two this year in Indiana righthander Eric Arnett and Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock. Arnett's teammates, lefty Matt Bashore and catcher Josh Phegley, should be gone by the end of the second round, and fast-rising Ball State outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker could sneak into the third round. The high schools can't keep up with the colleges, with the talent dropping off quickly after catcher Tucker Barnhart.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Eric Arnett, rhp, Indiana (National Rank: 18)
2. A.J. Pollock, of, Notre Dame (National Rank: 23)
3. Matt Bashore, lhp, Indiana (National Rank: 51)
4. Josh Phegley, c, Indiana (National Rank: 77)
5. Jeremy Hazelbaker, of, Ball State (National Rank: 107)
6. Tucker Barnhart, c, Brownsburg HS (National Rank: 170)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

7. Nick Ciolli, of, Indiana State
8. Jeremy Barnes, ss, Notre Dame
9. Matt Bischoff, lhp, Purdue
10. Kipp Schutz, of, Indiana
11. Evan Crawford, of, Indiana
12. Zach Dygert, c, Ball State
13. Cory White, rhp, Indianapolis
14. Dan Black, 3b/c, Purdue
15. Mike Pericht, c, St. Joseph's
16. Wade Kapteyn, rhp, Evansville
17. Brady Shoemaker, of, Indiana State
18. Cameron Perkins, 3b, Southport HS, Indianapolis
19. Ryan Strausborger, 2b/of, Indiana State
20. Reid Spitaels, of, Bethel
21. Adam Norton, ss/rhp, Andrean HS, Merrillville
22. Justin Blinn, of, Vincennes JC
23. Pat Veerkamp, rhp, Homestead HS, Fort Wayne
24. Bronco Lafrenz, c, Indiana State
25. Sam Elam, lhp, Notre Dame

SCOUTING REPORTS

ERIC ARNETT, RHP, INDIANA

Indiana University produced just one first-round pick in the first 44 drafts, shortstop James DeNeff (No. 8 overall, Angels) in 1966. Forty-three years later, the Hoosiers should have their second—and it's not preseason All-America catcher Josh Phegley. After pitching mostly out of the bullpen and having only sporadic success in his first two seasons at Indiana, Arnett got stronger and tightened his slider, allowing him to equal school records for wins (12-2) and strikeouts (109 in 108 innings). He flashed a 92 mph fastball as a freshman, and now he's sitting at 92-94 mph, touching 96 and maintaining his velocity into the late innings. His mid-80s slider gives him a second strikeout pitch. He also is doing a better job of using his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame to leverage the ball down in the strike zone. He's a workhorse who has held up well while averaging nearly eight innings per start. His athleticism helps, and it led Indiana's shorthanded basketball team to suit him up for games (but not play him) last winter. Arnett will need to improve his changeup to remain a starter in pro ball, and some scouts think he lands too hard on his front leg in his delivery. Others say his mechanics are fine, and enough teams like him that he should go in the second half of the first round.

A.J. POLLOCK, OF, NOTRE DAME

Pollock hasn't performed as well this spring as he did last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was the MVP after finishing second in hitting (.377) and first in slugging (.556). While there's debate as to whether he's a true first-round talent, with a shortage of quality college hitters he should get selected in the bottom third of the round. He's also in the mix to go 10th overall to the Nationals. Six-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Pollock stands out most for his athleticism and pure hitting ability from the right side. He has a simple approach, a quick bat and strong hands. Scouts do say he'll have to stop cheating out on his front side and stay back more on pitches in pro ball. Those who like Pollock say that the rest of his tools are solid, while those who don't say he doesn't have another plus tool and question his power. He projects as a 30 doubles/15 homers threat in the majors, and he's a slightly above-average runner who has plus speed once he gets going. Pollock also has good instincts and a solid arm in center field.

MATT BASHORE, LHP, INDIANA

Bashore piqued the interest of scouts when he hit 94 mph last spring, but then he came down with a tender arm and pitched out of the bullpen in the Cape Cod League during the summer. He started slowly this spring but finished strong, pitching himself into the verge of first-round consideration before getting knocked around by Vanderbilt in the NCAA regionals. He's attractive because he's a lefty with size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), velocity (his fastball sits at 90-91 mph and has peaked at 95 this year), a pair of solid breaking pitches and an effective splitter/changeup. Bashore has an easy delivery and has improved his control this year. His 244 strikeouts in 248 innings are tied for the most in school history.

JOSH PHEGLEY, C, INDIANA

No college catcher has done more at the plate over the last two seasons than Phegley, who has hit .400 with 32 homers. He ranked second in Division I with a .438 average as a sophomore and had 17 home runs this spring. Phegley packs a lot of strength in his 5-foot-11, 215-pound frame and has the patience to draw walks and wait for pitches he can drive. Scouts aren't sold on his future production or his defense, however. Some think his bat is a little slow, and he didn't look impressive with wood bats during Team USA tryouts last summer or Indiana's scout day last fall. He bats out of an exaggerated crouch, which makes it difficult for him to catch up to velocity at the top of the strike zone. Phegley bulked up after batting .232 without a homer as a freshman, and his thicker build has cost him defensively. He has plus arm strength but a slow release, leading to average results in shutting down the running game. He has caught 31 percent of basestealers over the last two years. He is a below-average receiver who has been exposed this spring by Eric Arnett's explosive fastball and Matt Bashore's breaking pitches. He does block balls well. Phegley profiles only as a catcher, so he'll have to improve behind the plate. Scouts do rave about his makeup and believe he'll put in the work to do so. Phegley should be the second college catcher drafted (after Boston College's Tony Sanchez) and go off the board before the end of the second round.

JEREMY HAZELBAKER, OF, BALL STATE

Hazelbaker hit .246 with 31 errors at second base in his first two seasons at Ball State, but earned all-star honors as an outfielder in the Great Lakes League last summer. Even then, no one expected him to rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in batting (.429), runs (77), hits (87), triples (nine), total bases (147), walks (48), on-base percentage (.550), slugging percentage (.724) and steals (29). He's a totally different hitter now, as he has stopped trying to pull everything and focused on using the entire field and letting his considerable speed work for him. A 65 runner out of the box on the 20-80 scouting scale—he grades as a 70 once he gets going—Hazelbaker is adept a bunting, a skill that helped the lefty hitter bat .419 against southpaws. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder also has deceptive strength, hitting for the cycle against Kent State (doing most of the damage off prospect Brad Stillings) and driving some balls out of the park to the opposite field. Despite his strength, he understands his primary role as a leadoff hitter is to get on base and create havoc. His speed also allows him to chase down balls in center field, where his arm is playable. He made seven errors this spring, though it was his first year as a full-time outfielder. His limited track record bothers some scouts, but there aren't many college prospects in this draft who are legitimate up-the-middle players and have performed, so he could get picked as high as the third round.

TUCKER BARNHART, C, BROWNSBURG HS

Brownsburg High has churned out more than its share of prospects in recent years. Lance Lynn, a 2005 graduate, went on to Mississippi and became a supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals last June. Drew Storen, a 2007 graduate, now attends Stanford and is a projected first-rounder for 2009. Barnhart won't go as high as those righthanders, but he could be a fourth- or fifth-round pick for a club that isn't scared by his commitment to Georgia Tech. He's a switch-hitter with a good stroke from both sides of the plate and some power as a lefthander. He's strong for his size (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) and very athletic for a catcher. His speed is below average but he moves well behind the plate and is capable of playing the middle infield. He has soft hands and solid arm strength, and scouts laud his aptitude, instincts and work ethic. Some worry about his size and think he may be maxed out physically, while others think he has enough tools to eventually become a big league regular.

Ciolli Gets The Job Done

Scouts don't love outfielder Nick Ciolli's set-up at the plate, as he's too spread out and has a long, funky swing. But he makes it work and batted .401/.431/.577 from the left side this spring. He has more gap power than home run pop, though, which could work against him as a corner outfielder in pro ball. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has solid speed and a fringy arm.

Jeremy Barnes may be more of a utilityman than a shortstop at the next level, but he's a good senior sign who will get the most of his ability. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder has some righthanded pop and led Notre Dame with 15 homers and 70 RBIs this spring after totaling 11 longballs in his first three seasons. He spent his first three years with the Irish at second base, and he has sure hands and good instincts.

Lefthander Matt Bischoff's stuff dropped this spring, when he went 4-5, 5.54 after starring in his first two years at Purdue. He used to add and subtract from an 88-91 mph fastball with good life, but he has lost velocity and movement. He's not big at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, and he lacks a standout secondary pitch. When he's at his best, he mixes and locates four offerings.

Along with Eric Arnett, outfielder Kipp Schutz walked on to Indiana's basketball team last winter, and he scored six points in 26 minutes of action. He's a 6-foot-4, 195-pounder who should have the leverage for good power, but he hit just five homers this spring. He did bat a team-high .392 from the left side. Schultz doesn't run or throw particularly well, so he's a liability in left field. A 26th-round pick out of high school by the Orioles in 2006, he's a redshirt sophomore who missed most of 2007 when he broke his collarbone crashing into an outfield wall.

Former infielder Evan Crawford looked more comfortable as an outfielder in his junior season, but his athleticism still has yet to translate well to the diamond. He makes good use of his plus speed on the bases but not as much in the outfield. He has yet to fill out his 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame, doesn't have much pop from the right side of the plate and doesn't control the strike zone.

Catcher Zach Dygert doesn't have an outstanding tool but has a lot of decent ones and plays the game hard. He's a sturdy 6-foot-3, 215-pounder with average arm strength that would play better if he shortened his release. He has some righthanded power but not an especially quick bat.