State Report: Florida
Prep talent carries Sunshine State
See also: Baseball America's Complete 2010 Draft Map
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||Solid, not spectacular
||Not up to par
||Nothing to see here
Scouts knew the top players coming into the season in Florida. They knew the state was top-heavy in the high school ranks, and the college talent turned out that way too. But the short talent list in college allowed scouts to focus on the high school class, which turned out to be quite deep, even with a dropoff after the top six or seven players.
Florida had talent from one end of the state to the other, from Karsten Whitson in the Panhandle, down the Gulf Coast to Chris Sale in Fort Myers, across the Everglades to Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal and prep infielder Nick Castellanos, and back to the central part of the state in Lakeland's Yordy Cabrera and Orlando area power arm A.J. Cole. The state could produce six or even eight top 50 picks.
The next two years also look strong, especially 2012 when Florida's freshman class—which could carry the Gators to Omaha—becomes draft-eligible again.
|NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS
1. Manny Machado, ss, Brito Private HS, Miami (National Rank: 3)
2. Chris Sale, lhp, Florida Gulf Coast (National Rank: 5)
3. Yasmani Grandal, c, Miami (National Rank: 13)
4. Karsten Whitson, rhp, Chipley HS (National Rank: 15)
5. A.J. Cole, rhp, Oviedo HS (National Rank: 16)
6. Nick Castellanos, ss/3b, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla. (National Rank: 17)
7. Yordy Cabrera, ss/rhp, Lakeland HS (National Rank: 30)
8. LeVon Washington, of, Chipola (Fla.) JC (National Rank: 66)
9. Kevin Chapman, lhp, Florida (National Rank: 81)
10. Daniel Tillman, rhp, Florida Southern (National Rank: 113)
11. Austin Wood, rhp, St. Petersburg JC (National Rank: 114)
12. Tyler Holt, Florida State (National Rank: 124)
13. Luke Jackson, rhp, Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale (National Rank: 126)
14. Kyle Waldrop, of, Riverdale HS, Fort Myers, Fla. (National Rank: 138)
15. Jimmy Hodgskin, lhp, Bishop Moore HS, Orlando (National Rank: 142)
16. John Barbato, rhp, Varela HS, Miami (National Rank: 144)
17. Mason Williams, of, West Orange HS, Winter Garden, Fla. (National Rank: 145)
18. Daniel Gibson, lhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa (National Rank: 148)
19. Sean Dwyer, of, Tavares HS (National Rank: 167)
20. Matt den Dekker, of, Florida (National Rank: 192)
21. Justin Nicolino, lhp, University HS, Orlando
22. Chris Hernandez, lhp, Miami
23. Alex Burgos, lhp, State College of Fla. JC
24. Ben Gamel, of, Bishop Kenny HS, Jacksonville
25. Jose Dore, of, The First Academy, Orlando
26. Max Russell, lhp, Florida Southern
27. Tommy Kahnle, rhp, Lynn
28. Shane Rowland, c, Tampa Catholic HS
29. Wendell Soto, ss, Riverview HS, Sarasota
30. Cameron Greathouse, lhp, Gulf Coast CC
31. Wes Mugarian, rhp, Pensacola Catholic HS
32. Eric Arce, c, Lakeland HS
33. Andrew Morris, rhp, Gulf Coast CC
34. Mike Gipson, rhp, Florida Atlantic
35. Michael Carballo, of, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla.
36. John Gast, lhp, Florida State
37. Tommy Toledo, rhp, Florida
38. Jonathan Crawford, rhp, Okeechobee HS
39. Chris Duffy, of, Central Florida
40. Mike McGee, of/rhp, Florida State
41. David Vidal, 1b/2b, Miami-Dade JC
42. Hunter Ovens, of, State College of Fla.
43. Owen Dew, rhp, Central Florida
44. Wade Kirkland, 3b, Florida Southern
45. Rodney Quintero, rhp, Chipola JC
46. Sean O'Brien, ss/3b, Clearwater HS
47. Jabari Blash, of, Miami-Dade JC
48. Matt Loosen, rhp, Jacksonville
49. Eric Erickson, lhp, MIami
50. Roderick Shoulders, Brandon HS
51. J.D. Williams, ss/2b, Brooks-DeBartolo HS, Tampa
52. Zack Powers, ss/rhp, Armwood HS
53. Carmine Giardina, lhp, Tampa
54. Nick Shaw, ss, Barry
55. Josh Lucas, rhp, State College of Fla. JC
56. Danny Hernandez, rhp, Miami-Dade JC
57. Chris Pelaez, of, Miami
58. Peter Mooney, ss, Palm Beach JC
59. Taylor Ratliff, ss, Taylor County HS, Perry
60. Andrew Barbosa, rhp, South Florida
61. Shane Brown, of/2b, Central Florida
62. Nick DelGuidice, ss/2b, Florida Atlantic
63. Randy Fontanez, rhp, South Florida
64. Justin Poovey, rhp, Florida
65. David Gutierrez, rhp, Miami
66. Glen Troyanowski, rhp, Florida Atlantic
67. Cody Allen, rhp, St. Petersburg JC
68. Josh Bowman, rhp, Tampa
69. Corey Janson, c, Flanagan HS
70. Jake Rogers, 3b, St. Petersburg JC
71. Blake Perry, rhp, IMG Academy, Pendleton
72. Jessie Pintado, ss, Columbus HS, Miami
73. Bryan Radziewski, lhp, Florida Christian HS
74. John Wiedenbauer, lhp, Tampa
75. Julian Santos, of, Kllian HS, Miami
76. Geoff Parker, rhp, Florida State
77. Michael Arencibia, of, Key West
78. C.J. Reifenhauser, lhp, Chipola JC
79. Jake Eliopoulos, lhp, Chipola JC
80. Mike Blancke, c, Tampa
81. Sean Albury, rhp, Nova Southeastern
82. Dylan Brown, of, Tampa
83. Jonathan Cornelius, lhp, Florida Tech
84. Ricky Knapp, rhp, Port Charlotte HS
85. Zach Maggard, c, Florida Southern
86. Sean Green, rhp, Jacksonville
87. Joey Manning, of, Rollins
88. Casey Mulholland, rhp, IMG Academy, Pendleton
89. Thomas Dorminy, lhp, Alonso HS, Tampa
90. Jonathan Kountis, rhp, Embry-Riddle
91. Dustin Lawley, 3b, West Florida
92. Trey Mancini, 1b, Winter Haven HS
93. Taylor Lesch, lhp, East Lake HS, Tarpon Springs
94. Scott Rembisz, rhp, Florida International
95. Zack Houck, of, Eagle's View Academy, Jacksonville
96. Austin Wright, lhp, Chipola JC
97. Brandon Allen, rhp, Milton HS
98. Josh Adams, 2b, Florida
99. Joey Rapp, of, Chipola JC
100. Ozney Guillen, of, Pace HS, Miami
Manny Machado, c
Brito Private HS, Hialeah, Fla.
Machado committed early to Florida International, but the Golden Panthers have long since determined he's not headed for campus. Instead he could be headed for the first five picks. He leapt into first-round consideration at the start of the 2009 summer showcase season and never stopped hitting or fielding, helping lead USA Baseball's 18U team to a gold medal in Venezuela in the Pan American Junior Championship. He's of Dominican descent and is a tall, lanky shortstop in South Florida, attracting inevitable Alex Rodriguez comparisons. Machado is skinny at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds but surprisingly strong and has a swing that produces hard contact. He's familiar with wood bats and has shown a knack for centering the ball on the barrel. Scouts project him to hit for average future power, with a chance to be a .300 hitter. Defensively, Machado will remain at shortstop as a pro and has a chance to be an above-average defender. He's smooth, makes all the routine plays and has a plus arm that allows him to make the play in the hole. Machado's weakest tool might be his speed, though he's an average runner. There are few chinks in his armor, and the Boras Corp. client is in play with single-digit picks.
Chris Sale, lhp
Florida Gulf Coast
An unsigned 21st-round pick of the Rockies out of high school, Sale has developed well at Florida Gulf Coast and gives the program a first-round pick in its first year as a full Division I member. He was hardly good enough as a freshman to get any innings but survived in a relief role thanks to his changeup, which he has always been able to throw for strikes. His velocity jumped in the summer after his freshman season, when he lowered his arm angle to low three-quarters. The switch gave his fastball and change outstanding late life, and he started hitting 90-plus on radar guns. He shined in 2009 showdowns against supplemental first-rounders Rex Brothers and Kyle Heckathorn, then broke into the big time by earning No. 1 prospect status in the Cape Cod League last summer. As a junior, Sale consistently has delivered for scouts, leading the nation with 114 strikeouts while showing excellent fastball command (12 walks in 83 innings). Sale's changeup grades as plus like his fastball, and his slider is a solid-average pitch that's effective against lefthanded hitters. With his low slot, Sale can get on the side of all his pitches, especially his slider, at times leaving them up in the zone. Some scouts are concerned about his durability, due to both his frame (he lost five to seven pounds off his 6-foot-6, 180-pound listed frame due to a bout of food poisoning in May) and upside-down takeaway at the beginning of his arm stroke. But his arm is quick, and Sale repeats his mechanics, as evidenced by his command.
Yasmani Grandal, c
Grandal has been on the radar a long time. He was an Aflac All-American and potential high draft pick whose Miami commitment and fair senior year caused him to fall to the 27th round in 2007, when the Red Sox drafted him. A native of Cuba who moved to Miami at age 11, he started as a freshman in 2008 for the Hurricanes' 53-11 club that entered the College World Series as the No. 1 seed and produced three first-round picks. Grandal didn't hit .300 in either of his first two seasons, though, and struggled at the plate for Team USA last summer, hitting just .182. Grandal has traded his all-pull approach for more contact and an all-fields swing in 2010, and the results have been dramatic. He has dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference, where he was hitting nearly .500 in league games, and he ranked among the national leaders in on-base percentage (.545) and walks (43). A switch-hitter, Grandal has some length to his swing but has shortened up from the left side and has solid-average raw power. Defensively, he plays with energy and is slightly above-average as a receiver. His throwing arm is his biggest concern, as some scouts have seen more 2.1-second pop times (below-average) than would be expected of a top draft pick. Grandal doesn't defend like fellow South Florida product Tony Sanchez, who went No. 4 overall last year, and his offense is not on par with previous ACC catching products Matt Wieters and Buster Posey. He still figures to go in the top half of the first round and was rumored to be in play as high as No. 4 overall to the Royals.
Karsten Whitson, rhp
Chipley (Fla.) HS
A Florida signee, Whitson played on the USA Baseball 18U club that won a gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championship in Venezuela and pitched at all the big showcase events, so national-level scouts have a history with him. They've seen one of the draft's best secondary pitches in a hard, sharp, 80-84 mph slider. The word most often associate with Whitson's slider is "legit." His fastball also earns praise as he can reach 95 mph regularly and pitches at 90-94 mph. Whitson was a fine prep basketball player who gave up a sport he loves for baseball, and his athleticism usually translates to the diamond in terms of control and the ability to repeat his delivery. However, Whitson had a difficult start in early May in front of a large crowd of scouts, crosscheckers and scouting directors. According to one scout, Whitson had thrown 130 pitches in his previous start and then had more than 10 days off, and his stock was falling as BA went to press. He's one of many Florida prep players whose final landing spot in the draft may depend on how they perform at the state all-star games in Sebring at the end of the month.
A.J. Cole, rhp
Oviedo (Fla.) HS
Cole was the shortstop on BA's most recent Baseball for the Ages 12-year-old all-star team, so he has been on the prospect radar for some time. He had a stellar summer showcase circuit in 2009, positioning himself as a potential first-rounder. His spring season started poorly, however, thanks to a bout with the flu and rainy, cool weather that interrupted the high school schedule in the Orlando area. Cole's fastball velocity was down early in the spring but jumped in late April and early May. After sitting 88-93 mph early, Cole was back to sitting at 92-93 and regularly hitting 95-96. He has an athletic, projectable frame and long legs; at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, he should add strength that will help him have more consistent velocity. He has a low-maintenance delivery and projects to have solid command. His curveball at times exhibits hard, late break and can be a plus pitch, though scouts prefer the hard slider of his rival for the title of Best Florida Prep Pitching Prospect, Karsten Whitson. Cole also has a decent changeup that at times has late fade. At his best, Cole is among the best pitchers available in the draft, and his recovery from his poor start means he won't get out of the first round.
Nick Castellanos, 3b
Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla.
Castellanos was already a prospect before last year's Under Armour game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Then he hit four doubles on national television against good competition, and suddenly Castellanos was a "famous guy," a term scouts use for heavily scouted players. He also hit .327 for the 18U USA Baseball team that won a gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championship in Venezuela. He has more than held up under the scrutiny, and in fact has thrived in it, having a stellar senior season. A shortstop in high school, Castellanos projects to move to third as a pro and has the agility and arm strength to play the hot corner. He also should have the bat. He's one of the better hitters in the prep class, thanks to a strong swing featuring good extension and natural loft. He has used the whole field more this year and is a solid athlete with good aptitude. Some scouts question his ability to hit breaking balls, saying they've seen too much swing-and-miss this year to project him as a plus hitter, and have more confidence in his future power. Others debate whether Castellanos has true impact tools or is closer to solid-average. He is an average runner and doesn't have a glaring weakness.
Yordy Cabrera, ss/rhp
Lakeland (Fla.) HS
The Yordy Cabrera story has several themes that all scouts are familiar with. He moved to the U.S. at age 14 from the Dominican Republic and is already 19. In other words, he's a prep senior who's two years older than junior-college freshman Bryce Harper. Cabrera, whose father Basilio is a former player and the Tigers' Rookie-level Gulf Coast League manager, has spent plenty of time around pro clubhouses and wood bats, and has two plus-plus tools. He has excellent raw power and one of the draft's strongest arms for an infielder, and he has the hands, average speed and actions to at least begin his pro career as a shortstop. Most believe he'll have to move to third base eventually because he's already 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, but should be able to stay in the dirt. As a pitcher, he has launched his fastball into the low to mid-90s, and his arm profiles for third or right field if he has to move. His value will depend on his bat, which remains raw and inconsistent despite his bloodlines. Cabrera kills mistakes, especially hanging breaking balls, but at times has trouble gearing up to velocity. He was unlikely to last past the supplemental round, and if his bat doesn't develop he could move to the mound.
LeVon Washington, of
Chipola (Fla.) JC
Washington is one of the biggest enigmas of the last two drafts. Born in Guam to a military family, he entered 2009 as perhaps the fastest prep talent in the country and earned Johnny Damon comparisons for his hitting ability, speed and lack of arm strength. A shoulder injury left Washington with a 20 arm on the 20-80 scale, but the Rays looked past that and his Boras Corp. representation and drafted him 30th overall. Washington failed to sign; he also failed to qualify at Florida and wound up at Chipola JC. The Indians and Washington had disappointing seasons, and scouts still don't know quite what to make of him even after another year of evaluation. Athletic and quick, Washington hasn't shown the explosive speed he once did and doesn't run hard consistently. He also didn't run on fall scout day at Chipola, and some scouts now consider him more of an above-average runner than the top-of-the-scale grades he got in the fall of 2008. His arm has improved, to a 30 grade, but he did play the outfield and should be an average defender. Clubs that like Washington are buying the bat, however. Despite a spread-out stance in which he leans over the plate, he barrels up balls consistently, thanks to excellent hand-eye coordination and quick wrists. He's not a slap hitter and would likely have to change to a more conventional stance to hit for average power. Washington doesn't figure to go as high this year but still fits inside the first two rounds.
Kevin Chapman, lhp
Since playing high school ball with Gators teammate Matt den Dekker, Chapman has been drafted twice, out of high school in 2006 (Tigers, 42nd round) and last year (White Sox, 50th round). Entering this season, he had thrown fewer than 50 innings for the Gators, thanks mostly to having Tommy John surgery in 2008. He pitched just 11 innings coming back from the surgery in the 2009 season and entered 2010 as a wild card. However, he emerged quickly as Florida's go-to reliever, replacing departed Billy Bullock, a 2009 second-rounder of the Twins. Scouts like Chapman's stuff better than Bullock's, and he could go higher if clubs sign off on his medical reports. Chapman attacks hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that has touched 95, and his dastardly slider is a strikeout pitch with two-plane depth. Chapman throws a lot of fastballs, and his changeup works off it well, giving him a solid third offering that he rarely needs. Some scouts wonder if the repertoire and his solid 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame could lead Chapman to a starting role, but his medical history and strong results in relief have most projecting him as a pro closer. Chapman could be the first college closer selected.
Daniel Tillman, rhp
Florida Southern has had back-to-back seasons with a high-profile prospect who thrived in the Cape Cod League the previous summer. Robbie Shields didn't live up to billing last season, though the Mets still popped him in the third round. This year, Tillman figures to go in the same range as he has continued to rack up strikeouts in the nation's best Division II conference. He put up 22 scoreless innings on the Cape for Cotuit last summer and has had consistent stuff this spring. Tillman has a quick arm on his 6-foot-1, 200-pound body, and he consistently sits in the 90-94 mph range, touching 96. He complements it with a quick, hard slider, giving him two plus pitches. Tillman's mound presence gives him an extra edge and he has a closer's mentality. He'll have to hone his command to get a chance to close at the big league level but should have the stuff to reach the majors as a set-up man, going out as early as the third round.
Austin Wood, rhp
St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC
Wood has a big arm and a big-school track record. Drafted by the Astros in the 36th round in 2008 out of high school, he began his college career at Florida State, making five starts as a freshman in 2009 and walking 25 in 23 innings. He transferred to St. Petersburg JC, where he also failed to stick in the rotation. However, he probably had the best arm in the junior-college ranks this season, and garnered first-three-rounds interest even after dropping back into a bullpen role. He wound up going 3-4, 4.81, and control was a problem for him all season as he walked 21 in 43 innings. Worse, he fell behind hitters too often and had to groove fastballs, leading him to get hit around more than he should. His only appearance in the Florida postseason junior-college tournament was a 13-pitch, four-out outing when the game was not in doubt. Wood's 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame and power arm are hard for scouts to walk away from. He lives in the 90-95 mph range as a starter, sitting at 93-94, and hit 96 in a relief stint in the state tournament. His slider also grades out as average at times, and he has flashed a changeup that is better than his breaking ball at times. His arm works well, so scouts believe his control should improve with maturity and professional instruction. His future role likely is as a reliever, though his durable body and three-pitch repertoire will give him a chance to start.
Tyler Holt, of
Two of the nation's most successful college baseball programs, Stanford and Florida State, annually frustrate scouts with their approaches to hitting, which scouts say work with metal bats but not with wood. Holt is one of the latest examples. His open stance and deep crouch don't get him into an ideal position to load up his hands and drive the ball, but for now he stays balanced and uses his hands to spray line drives from pole to pole. He has sacrificed some batting average in trying to hit for more power as a junior, but scouts still project his power as below-average. His offensive profile fits best in center field. He has been one of college baseball's best basestealers over the last two seasons (59-for-65 overall) and has drawn more than 150 career walks, making him an outstanding tablesetter. He's only an average runner, and he'll have to maintain his speed to have the range to stick in center field. Holt's instincts on both sides of the ball help him play above his tools. He's a bigger, stronger version of his Seminoles predecessor, Shane Robinson, who reached the majors with St. Louis in 2009 and is in his third season in Triple-A.
Luke Jackson, rhp
Calvary Christian HS, Fort Lauderdale
Jackson didn't start pitching seriously until his freshman year in high school, and he immediately showed aptitude and a live arm. By his junior season, he earned a spot in the Aflac All-America game. He's athletic and has a quick arm, rivaling bigger-name Florida prep pitchers Karsten Whitson and A.J. Cole in terms of pure velocity. Several scouts have seen Jackson's fastball hit 95-96 mph, and he usually sits in the 90-94 range, a significant jump after sitting 87-91 as a junior. The Miami recruit has room to grow on his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame, and he'll need to get bigger and stronger to harness his quick arm, improve his durability and maintain his mechanics. Jackson has a bit of effort to his delivery and had inconsistent command as the season wore on. His changeup and curveball, while flashing potential, rate as below-average pitches now. Scouts use words like "electric" to describe Jackson's stuff and athletic ability, and at his best he's not far from his peers in the Sunshine State who were expected to go out in the first round. His inconsistency pushes him down draft boards, and his signability will ultimately determine how far down.
Kyle Waldrop, of
Riverdale HS, Fort Myers, Fla.
Waldrop was an all-area linebacker in football, and his football career held back his baseball career prior to this spring. He missed parts of previous seasons with football injuries and wasn't always at his best on the summer showcase circuit. He still entered the season on most scouts' follow lists thanks to his explosiveness and lean, athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound body. Then the South Florida recruit started hitting and shot up draft boards. He has good present strength and a lefthanded swing he repeats. He has bat speed that can't be taught and drives the ball with authority to all fields. Waldrop's other tools are solid-average across the board, and he might run a tick better than average. He probably won't be able to handle center field at the big league level, though he might at lower levels. He could fit in right field, though with his average arm he'll never be confused with Larry Walker. Waldrop's offensive ability could push him into the first two rounds, especially if he has a strong finish in Florida's high school all-star games in Sebring at the end of May.
Jimmy Hodgskin, lhp
Bishop Moore HS, Orlando
Hodgskin could be the highest-profile baseball recruit Troy has ever had, and scouts in Florida were wondering whether it was worth making a run at keeping him from the Alabama school. Hodgskin trains with and plays for coach Joe Logan, who played for Troy coach Bobby Pierce at Chipola (Fla.) JC. The relationship led to Hodgskin's interest in Troy. Hodgskin has a relatively fresh arm, good size at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, broad shoulders that give him room for projection, and an 88-91 mph fastball. He has touched 94 and pitches off his fastball, throwing it to all four parts of the strike zone. His command gives him a chance to step right into Troy's weekend rotation, as he also throws his changeup for strikes. He has a below-average breaking ball that he just started throwing frequently in the last year. Projecting the curveball adds another level of uncertainty for pro scouts, who may just see how it all turns out after three seasons in the Sun Belt Conference. The lack of lefthanded pitching nationally, though, had teams taking long looks at Hodgskin, and they'll get another in Sebring at the state's high school all-star festival. If he's signable, Hodgskin could go in the third or fourth round.
John Barbato, rhp
Varela HS, Miami
Barbato played on a team coached by his father that wasn't competitive in South Florida's tough high school 6-A ranks. He didn't bolt the program for a private school in the area and still showed one of the state's better arms despite not having much help in the field. While Luke Jackson has better present stuff, Barbato could have a higher ceiling because he does it easier, repeats his delivery and throws more strikes. His stuff isn't that far behind, either. Barbato has a loose arm and solid 6-foot-2, 185-pound body that allows him to produce fastballs that have reached 95 mph, after topping out at 92 last year. Barbato's delivery is sound and repeatable, and he throws an average curveball with good shape and plus potential. He's a Florida recruit, and the Gators have done well holding onto top prospects under third-year coach Kevin O'Sullivan. Signability will determine whether Barbato goes out in the first four rounds or winds up in college.
Mason Williams, of
West Orange HS, Winter Garden, Fla.
Williams pitches and plays center field and led West Orange High to its deepest playoff run in school history. While he competes hard on the mound, his slight 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame and sidearm delivery don't get scouts excited. His hitting ability, speed and overall athletic ability do. His build evokes Doug Glanville comparisons, and Williams has some strength and a surprising feel for hitting for a high school outfielder. He's shown polish to his approach and makes consistent, hard contact with a fundamentally sound swing. His speed stands out as well, and scouts have seen him consistently above-average and occasionally even better. He has excellent range in center field as well and has above-average potential defensively with solid arm strength. Power is his only true below-average tool. Williams has the athletic ability and the skill to go out in the first three rounds, and his commitment to South Carolina wasn't seen as a hindrance to his signability.
Daniel Gibson, lhp
Jesuit HS, Tampa
Gibson led Tampa's Jesuit High to the state championship game at Florida's 4-A classification, where they lost to Nick Castellanos and Archbishop McCarthy. Gibson had won his previous four starts in the playoffs, and the Florida recruit kept climbing up draft boards as he pitched well. Prior to the state title tilt, Gibson was 14-0 and had allowed just 13 hits and two earned runs in 21 playoff innings, before giving up three runs in six-plus innings in the title game. Gibson has excellent size at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, and he maintains his solid-average stuff. His fastball usually sits in the 87-91 mph range, but he attracted more scouting attention by bumping up his velocity in shorter outings, at times reaching 94 mph. While his breaking ball and changeup flash potential, the slider ranks ahead of his changeup presently. Gibson isn't afraid to use any of the three and has better pitchability than most of his prep peers in Florida. His competitiveness, body and polished repertoire, as well as his jump in velocity, had some clubs pushing him into the first five rounds, especially in a draft short on lefthanders. Others believe more in the velocity they've seen over Gibson's career rather than the recent spike and see him as a solid, rather than spectacular arm. His signability will likely determine whether he goes in the first 200 picks.
Sean Dwyer, of
Tavares (Fla.) HS
A Florida Gulf Coast signee, Dwyer started rising up draft boards this year when he just wouldn't stop hitting. The 6-foot, 190-pounder also pitches for his high school team, and probably would have played all over the diamond if he weren't lefthanded. Dwyer is a good athlete for the prep level and plays first base and all three outfield spots. Pro scouts who like him believe he could stick in right, but others doubt his athleticism and arm strength and believe he could wind up in left field, or even first base. His best tool is his bat. Dwyer has present strength, good raw power and a sweet lefthanded swing with balance and some polish to his approach. He struck out just six times all spring and was pitched around frequently. He has also worked out a lot with wood for scouts and has shown the same traits. Dwyer is an average runner with a solid-average arm, and he'll have to maintain those to stick in right, where he'd have more value.
Matt den Dekker, of
Den Dekker was recruited as a pitcher and hitter at Florida, and he has a strong arm that helps make him one of college baseball's better defenders in center field. He has plus range, tracks balls well and plays hard. He was a preseason second-team All-American in 2009 after playing for Team USA the previous summer, but he never quite got going for the Gators and wound up falling to the 16th round of the draft after his junior season. He didn't sign and returned for his senior season, and has a chance to be one of the first seniors drafted. As one scout put it, "He still has the tools everyone talked about last year." Den Dekker is an excellent defender with plus speed (he's still a strong basestealer) and center-field range. He has made more consistent contact as a senior, leading Florida in batting (.361 entering the SEC tournament) and ranking second with 11 home runs. He has the bat speed for scouts to project him to have solid-average power as a pro. He still swings and misses more than he should and has some pitch recognition issues, and at times his swing gets choppy. He has played with more confidence as a senior and may just have had a bad case of draftitis in 2009. Den Dekker could go out in the first five rounds as a budget-oriented senior sign.
Something For Everyone In Prep Ranks
If teams considered him signable, lefthander Justin Nicolino
could factor into the first three rounds for some scouts. While it's hard to call Florida prep pitchers projectable because they throw year-round, Nicolino is just growing into his 6-foot-3 frame, having put on 15 pounds since last summer to get up to 175 pounds. Nicolino pitches off his fastball in the 88-91 mph range and has shown a curveball with average potential. His changeup is the better pitch now, and it's easy to see him as a three-pitch lefty with plus velocity down the line. It's also considered hard to buy Nicolino out of a Virginia commitment when scouts have to project on the velocity. A strong showing at the state all-star games in Sebring, though, could prod a team to pop Nicolino.
Righthander Wes Mugarian
made a name for himself early in the year by throwing a no-hitter in front of plenty of scouts to beat Karsten Whitson and Chipley High. Mugarian should be able to make an impact in the Southeastern Conference for Alabama, where he's committed, but his profile isn't as strong for pro ball. He has a lot of effort in his delivery and stands just 6-foot-1, and he has a good arm that produces a 90-91 mph fastball that touches 93 and a solid-average curveball. Mugarian profiles as a reliever in the long term and should be a fourth- to seventh-round pick if he's signable in that range. In contrast, Okeechobee High's Jonathan Crawford
keeps growing at 6-foot-2 and close to 175 pounds, and he has more looseness in his arm. He has reached 93 mph and has a chance for more as he gets stronger. He's a Florida recruit with Top 200 players Whitson, John Barbato and Daniel Gibson, as well as hard-hitting infielder Zack Powers
, whose best tool matches his last name and who has had some success on the mound.
In Florida's strong class of high school hitters, Orlando's Jose Dore
has his advocates. While he plays at a low level of competition, Dore has displayed plus tools and a right-field profile in his strong arm, which earns some well-above-average grades, and his bat, which has earned Cody Ross comparisons. Like Ross, Dore is somewhat squat at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and he has surprising power. Dore hit 16 homers as a junior, tying a state record, after getting stronger and working on his swing with Astros minor league coach Stan Boroski. However, he had a broken arm in the offseason and hasn't quite been as explosive as a senior. Dore has a center fielder's body with below-average speed. While some clubs have him pushing for consideration in the top five rounds, others are less bullish, and his Florida State commitment might make him a tougher sign in later rounds.
Florida State's signing class has several of the state's top bats. Neptune Beach's Ben Gamel
is the younger brother of Brewers big leaguer Mat and has similar hitting tools as his brother. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Gamel isn't toolsy, as he's just an average runner with a fringy arm and modest home run power with wood bats. But he has a compact, fluid stroke from the left side, one of the purest swings in the state, and could challenge the .400 mark at Florida State's Dick Howser Stadium, which is built for lefthanded hitters. Scouts laud Gamel's grinder makeup, and it's conceivable that his bat and makeup could push him into the first five rounds.
Florida produced the first prep catcher drafted in 2009 (Mariners supplemental pick Steve Baron) as well as two players who signed for more than $900,000 (Orioles 11th rounder Michael Ohlman and Yankees second-rounder J.R. Murphy), and two of the nation's top freshmen in the University of Florida's Michael Zunino and Austin Maddox (who has moved to third base). This year's catcher class is much weaker, with little consensus about the top talent. Scouts do agree that Seminoles signee Eric Arce
is the top hitter of the bunch, with a polished approach and good plate discipline, allowing him to get to his solid raw power. Arce's a decent receiver, while his arm rates well-below-average. He's unlikely to catch as a pro, and scouts wonder what other position he could play. At 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, he's an unlikely fit for first base. The 18-year-old also was suspended after he was arrested in April on charges of lewd battery and lewd molestation, in connection with an incident involving an 14-year-old girl. He returned to action when prosecutors dropped the case. The whole package might lead him to Florida State, where he could hit in the middle of the lineup immediately.
In contrast to Arce, Miami recruit Shane Rowland
has excellent catch-and-throw skills, earning some comparisons to Steve Baron. The son of Donnie Rowland—the former Angels scouting director who now is the Yankees' director of international scouting—churns out above-average 1.9-second pop times. He earns praise for his energy, leadership ability and handling of pitchers. After pressing earlier in the season offensively, he came on in the second half and was showing a solid lefthanded swing with a patient approach. Rowland isn't the ideal size for a catcher at just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, and scouts aren't sure if he's physically ready to grind out full seasons in the minors. If he hits velocity in Sebring at the state's all-star games, he could go off the board in the first five rounds.
Staying up the middle, center fielder Michael Carballo
took advantage of the scouts following his Archbishop McCarthy teammate Nick Castellanos and showed average tools with his bat, speed and defense. Some scouts had expressed more interest in him as a catcher. A South Florida recruit, he also intrigued with seven home runs to lead the team.
Up-the-middle talent is always at a premium, and that pushes players such as Wendell Soto
up some draft boards. A shortstop who switch-hits, he was Florida International's backup plan after Panthers recruit Manny Machado became a cinch first-round pick. Soto isn't physical at 5-foot-8 but can swing the bat and is an excellent defender at short. His draft profile rose when he showed improved speed, going from an average runner to a plus runner and turning in 4.05-second times to first base from the left side. Soto has soft hands and first-step quickness at short, though his arm is fringe-average for the position. He's a solid athlete but may not be strong enough to go out and hit with wood. Fellow FIU recruit Jesse Pintado
likely will wind up in college thanks to his fringe-average speed and developing bat. He has arm strength and good footwork, and some scouts like him better behind the plate than at shortstop.
Some scouts and recruiting coordinators were high on Perry's Taylor Ratliff
, a wiry-strong solid athlete who has some strength from the left side of the plate. He's an average runner who plays shortstop in high school but likely will move either to third base or outfield at Jacksonville, where he's committed. He was expected to go to school.
Massive corner infielder Roderick Shoulders
, nicknamed "Rock," has as much raw power as anyone in the state and switch-hits on top of that. He could get himself in better shape but still generates plenty of strength and leverage at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds. He's been on the scene since youth ball and helped lead Brandon High to a deep playoff run as a sophomore in 2008 before missing most of '09 with a torn labrum in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. He has probably outgrown catcher, his former position, and projects more at first base, though he has the arm strength to try third. He's a below-average runner, which probably prohibits a move to the outfield. His Brandon High teammate, outfielder James Ramsay
, is a South Florida signee and a solid athlete who's more of a college factor than a pro draftee.
Speed was the calling card for 2009 Tampa talent Reggie Williams Jr., a raw outfielder who wound up at Middle Georgia JC. His younger brother J.D. Williams
isn't quite as fast as his brother, more of an above-average runner than a true burner, and has a chance to stay in the infield. He has more feel for hitting as well, and some scouts believe he can stay at shortstop. Others see him at second base and like his power potential. He's a better prospect than his brother, who was overrated her a year ago, but is also already 19. The 6-foot, 185-pounder signed with Maryland.
IMG Academy in Pendleton was expecting plenty of attention this spring for righthander Casey Mulholland
, a Mississippi recruit with a projectable, physical 6-foot-3 frame. Mulholland likely will wind up in school after an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery at the end of March. However, IMG teammate Blake Perry
, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound Kentucky native, was attracting attention. Perry, whose older brother Bryce plays at Kentucky and is a Wildcats recruit, sits in the 88-91 mph range, has a loose arm and touched 93 mph in recent weeks.
Colleges Less A Factor Than Preps
No college player in Florida produced this spring like Central Florida's Chris Duffy
, a bad-bodied senior who was an unsigned ninth-rounder out of high school in 2006. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound left fielder has put on weight since high school and hit 22 home runs in his first three seasons, then had an amazing senior year, batting .447/.539/.850 with a school-record 21 home runs. Duffy has excellent strength and enough bat speed to handle velocity and should be a middle-of-the-lineup threat in the minor leagues. His poor defensive tools and lack of speed hinder his big league chances. In fact, righthander Owen Dew,
a sinker/slider pitcher with some projection left in his tall, lean body, will challenge Duffy for being the first Golden Knight off the board, even though opponents hit .318 off him. His fastball has average velocity and good sinking life. Versatile UCF senior Shane Brown
also should go out in the 15th-20th round as a future utility player. He caught in high school, is serviceable at second base and the outfield, and handles the bat.
The Sunshine State Conference annually ranks as among the nation's toughest Division II leagues. Last year, Lynn (Fla.) in Boca Raton won the national championship; this year, despite returning two of its top pitchers, Lynn got eaten up in conference play, going 16-37 overall and 6-18 in league play. The league's second-place team, Rollins, had four wins against Division I teams in seven games, and the league has several solid prospects who should go in the first 10 rounds.
Lynn's poor season didn't drag down Tommy Kahnle's
draft stock. The stocky 6-foot, 225-pound righty has the same 93-94 mph fastball velocity (touching 95 at times after reaching 97 last summer) that he showed last year en route to the national title and in the Cape Cod League. Kahnle was pressed into a starting role this season and just doesn't have the quality offspeed stuff to go through a lineup more than once or twice at this stage. His changeup is his second-best pitch, and his breaking ball was sharper last summer than this spring. He can show periods of control but lacks command and profiles as a bullpen arm. Short college righthanders who go 2-7, 5.06 with 71 strikeouts and 47 walks in 75 innings at the D-II level usually don't fly off the board, but Kahnle's track record in the Cape should still get him picked in the first 10 rounds.
Florida Southern lefthander Max Russell
will challenge Kahnle to be the second Sunshine State Conference player picked, after Mocs teammate Daniel Tillman goes first. Russell won 21 games the last two seasons with 223 strikeouts in 200 innings as the Mocs' Friday starter. He has good mound presence and two solid-average pitches in an 88-91 mph fastball and a slider that lacks depth but has cutter action. His best pitch is a curveball that could use more power but that he throws for strikes. He's able to pitch inside effectively, which should play well against wood bats. When he misses, Russell misses over the plate and is susceptible to hard contact. With good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and the lack of lefthanders nationally, he should go out in the first eight rounds.
Fellow lefty Carmine Giardina
finally should go out to pro ball as a senior, ending a college career that began with him committing to Texas, then going to Central Florida and finally Tampa. As a senior, Giardina showed a better feel for pitching than he had in the past while also retaining his arm strength, reaching 92 mph. Fellow Spartans John Wiedenbauer
, a lefthander who pitches in the upper 80s but lacks command, and Josh Bowman
, who has two average pitches in his fastball and curve, also should be double-digit picks. Physical catcher/first baseman Mike Blanke
likely will be the first Spartans position-player picked, though his defense lags behind his solid bat. Spartans outfielder Dylan Brown
, an Oklahoma State transfer and the younger brother of Athletics prospect Corey Brown, also will get a look thanks to his raw power. His undisciplined approach hinders him offensively.
Florida Southern's best position player prospect should be third baseman Wade Kirkland
, a grinder who can hit and has some power. He runs fairly well and should be able to stay at third. Mocs catcher Zach Maggard
entered the year as a follow after hitting .291 and has solid catch-and-throw skills but batted .194 in the spring. Barry has another potential D-II position draftee in senior Nick Shaw
, a shortstop who walked 49 times this year, the first time he failed to draw 50 walks in a season. Shaw lacks power but can handle the bat and has good offensive instincts. He's a fringy runner and fits better at second base than as at short but should be a nice senior sign.
The need for lefties could also push Florida Tech's Jonathan Cornelius
up some boards, as he has an 85-89 mph fastball and a nice breaking ball that helped him strike out 95 in 91 innings. He's ticketed for the 10th-15th round range.
The Division I clubs in the state, however, aren't at their usual level of draft talent. Miami has first-round catcher Yasmani Grandal, but the Hurricanes' next player drafted likely won't come until at least three rounds later. Lefthander Chris Hernandez
was Baseball America's 2008 Freshman of the Year, when he went 11-0, 2.72 for the Hurricanes' College World Series team. Since then, he has continued to pitch well despite having diminished stuff. He relies heavily on his cut fastball, which is his best pitch. It sits in the 82-86 mph range and helps him get inside hitters' kitchens, avoiding hard contact. Hernandez's velocity is down a tick from earlier in his career, though he will still scrape 90 mph at times. He pitches more at 85-88 mph with his fastball and has to locate it precisely at that velocity. His curveball is fringy, and he's improved late in 2010 by using his changeup more, giving hitters a reason to have to cover the outside part of the plate while still being cognizant of the cutter in. Hernandez holds runners well and pounds the strike zone, helping his stuff play up.
Miami's other likely drafted players include fellow lefty Eric Erickson
and senior righthander David Gutierrez
, and outfielder Chris Pelaez
. Erickson had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2009 season, and he pitches with fringe-average stuff and below-average fastball velocity. However, he has walked just 40 in more than 220 college innings and spins a breaking ball. Gutierrez, also a Tommy John alum, is the younger brother of Twins 2008 first-rounder Carlos Gutierrez and has a good sinker, though with considerably less power than his brother's. Pelaez is an aggressive athlete with gap power and lacks a plus tool.
Florida State doesn't have the power arms the program used to produce in the early 1990s. Its top arm this year was supposed to be John Gast
, whose career never quite got going in the right direction. He had Tommy John surgery after his senior season in high school and came back quickly, pitching in mid-April of his freshman year. His relief worked helped the Seminoles get back to the College World Series for the first time in eight years, and he stayed in a relief role as a sophomore. Early in his junior season, Gast was flashing his high school form, reaching 92-93 mph with his fastball and working with an upper-70s power curveball. However, as the season wore on, he no longer was showing the kind of stuff to go in the first three rounds. His ERA had soared to 6.33, mostly because of his lack of command. When he gets ahead of hitters, he still can finish them off with his curve.
The Seminoles' most valuable player, outfielder/righthander Mike McGee
, doesn't have a plus tool beyond his throwing arm, and at 6 feet, 188 pounds, he lacks ideal pro size as a pitcher. He has been automatic as the Seminoles' closer, giving up two runs in 21 innings while fanning 25 using an average fastball, curveball and slider. He's a solid athlete with a patient approach and solid gap power.
Florida's talent was concentrated in its freshman and sophomore classes, and two intriguing sophomore righthanders are draft-eligible. Tommy Toledo
was an unsigned third-round pick in 2007 and missed the 2009 season after reconstructive shoulder surgery. Then he missed nearly two months this season when he was struck in the face by a comeback liner in a game against Charleston Southern. He returned from a broken cheekbone and broken nose, impressing scouts with his toughness. His velocity had returned to the 89-92 mph range, though his fastball tends to be straight, and he competes well. Eligible sophomore Justin Poovey
has more athletic ability and a better arm but gets his straight 94 mph fastball turned around with regularity. He's adjusted by dropping his arm slot to get some life and sill sits in the 90-92 mph range.
Florida Atlantic was competing for a regional bid despite an injury that deprived it of closer Glen Troyanowski
, who is out until July after labrum surgery. Despite his loss, the team could have a single-digit pick in righthander Mike Gipson
, the Owls' Friday starter who competes with a fringe-average curveball and average fastball. He commands both pitches well and had his moments in the Cape Cod League last summer, striking out 50 in 39 innings. His changeup needs to develop and his curve needs to be tighter for his pitchability profile to play at higher levels.
Junior College Talent Trends Down
Plenty of eyes were on Florida's junior college ranks this year, with three top unsigned draft picks in Chipola's LeVon Washington and Jake Eliopoulos
and Miami-Dade's Jabari Blash
. While Washington performed well enough to go in the first three rounds, Eliopoulos and Blash had disastrous seasons. Eliopoulos, a Canadian lefthander who was the Blue Jays' unsigned second-round pick last year, was at Chipola and never meshed with the coaching staff. He also never got going on the mound, walking 21 in 21 innings while posting an 8.44 ERA. He left the team in April and returned to Canada to pitch in an adult semi-pro league over the summer, but he clearly cost himself a shot at second-round money. Chipola's top arm is now Cuban defector Rodney Quintero
, a freshman who is raw but has intriguing arm strength, touching the mid-90s with his fastball.
Blash, the Rangers' unsigned ninth-rounder a year ago, turned down $250,000 to come back to Miami-Dade and was having a solid season, hitting .341. Despite his raw power, though, he had only one home run. Blash has a premium arm and runs well for his size. However, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Blash was kicked off the Miami-Dade team in April, and as a fourth-year sophomore with big but raw tools and little chance of continuing his college career, he won't approach the money he turned down last year.
Miami-Dade's best hitter has none of Blash's physical gifts, but 5-foot-10, 180-pound first baseman David Vidal
was one of the state's best juco hitters. He'll have to play second base either in college or as a pro and is a below-average runner, making him a better college prospect at first blush. His offense—he hit .401 with 14 homers—was so stout this spring that he was being walked intentionally with the bases empty. Miami-Dade's ace, Danny Hernandez
, is a righthander who threw well at the state tournament, touching 93 mph out of a bullpen role, and he competes well with his fastball, changeup and slurvy slider. His breaking ball is probably a bit short for pro ball.
Florida's junior colleges continue their trend of changing their names to accommodate four-year degree programs academically while remaining jucos athletically. Manatee JC changed its name to the State College of Florida, then changed its nickname to the Manatees to maintain some of its former identity. The Manatees then went out and won the state juco tournament and earned a berth in the NJCAA World Series. The team's top prospects were lefthander Alex Burgos
and outfielder Hunter Ovens
, with Burgos figuring to go out higher with his polish and three-pitch mix. Burgos was the team's top performer, going 13-1, 1.42 with 109 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 95 innings. His fastball can touch 92 mph, but he pitches at 88-89 and lacks projection with his 5-foot-11, 180-pound body. He has picked up a cutter that plays well with his big curveball, and he's throwing all three pitches for strikes. His profile is as a reliever or end-of-the-rotation starter. Ovens started his college career as a football player at Virginia Tech, where he was an undersized linebacker at just 5-foot-11. He's still muscle-bound and tight from his football weightlifting, leading to several muscle pulls during the season, but has big-time bat speed. A wrist sprain kept him out of all but one game of the state tournament. He can catch up to good velocity and has a grinder's makeup, which should suit him well in pro ball. He has the arm strength and speed to play either center field or right field with experience. Already 21, Ovens is a bit raw and is committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Manatees could have a third player drafted in 6-foot-6, 185-pound righthander Josh Lucas
, who is projectable and sits at 88 mph with his fastball.
Gulf Coast CC had a pair of pitchers who could get picked in lefthander Cameron Greathouse
and righty Andrew Morris
. A 44th-round pick of the Brewers in 2009, Morris has an average fastball in the 88-91 mph range, touching 92, and relies on his split-finger fastball as his primary secondary offering. His curveball has some depth and lacks power. Greathouse generates a plus curveball that scrapes 80 mph from an exaggerated delivery that scares off some scouts. He also plays right field, and some scouts believe Greathouse's upper-80s fastball would improve in velocity if he gives up playing a position. He's a South Carolina recruit, while Morris has signed with Auburn.
Diminutive Peter Mooney
of Palm Beach JC, whose older brother Mike was the shortstop for Florida in 2009 and is now with the Orioles organization, may be the best defensive shortstop in the state other than Gators freshman Nolan Fontana, who had made only one error entering the SEC tournament. Mooney has the hands, range and arm for shortstop, just not the body. He's 5-foot-7, 145 pounds and will be hard to keep away from South Carolina, where he's committed.