State Report: Lower New England

Connecticut, Rhode Island offer little beyond UConn campus






See also: Baseball America's Complete 2010 Draft Map


THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
UConn had its best season in decades, carrying an otherwise weak crop in Connecticut and Rhode Island. The Huskies set a school record for victories and will make regionals for the first time since 1994. The team's top two pro prospects are underclassmen who are not draft-eligible (outfielder George Springer and righthander Matt Barnes), but they also have a solid group of veterans led by Mike Olt.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Mike Olt, 3b, Connecticut (National Rank: 98)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Elliot Glynn, lhp, Connecticut
3. Pierre LePage, 2b, Connecticut
4. Mike Nemeth, 1b, Connecticut
5. Greg Nappo, lhp, Connecticut
7. Rob Gariano, rhp, Fairfield
8. Tim Kiene, 1b/of, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms HS
9. David Mahoney, lhp, Bacon Academy, Colchester, Conn.
10. Jeff Vigurs, c, Bryant
11. Thomas Bourdon, of, Northwest Catholic HS, West Hartford
12. Colin O'Keefe, lhp, Waterford (Conn.) HS
13. Brian Ward, lhp, Foran HS, Milford, Conn.
14. Sean Allaire, ss, Central Connecticut State
15. Tim Boyce, rhp, Rhode Island
16. James Wood, of, Trinity (Conn.)
17. Chris King, c, Portsmith (R.I.) HS
18. Pete Greskoff, 1b, Brown
19. Nick Naradowy, lhp, North Smithfield (R.I.) HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Mike Olt, 3b
Connecticut

Olt followed his older brother Brad to UConn and made an immediate impact as the starting shortstop as a freshman, hitting 13 home runs and setting a school record with 61 RBIs. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the New England Collegiate League that summer but was hampered by a sprained ankle in 2009, when he also missed 22 games after being hit on the wrist by a pitch. Olt moved to third base as a sophomore, and his soft hands, smooth actions and strong arm will make him at least a solid-average defender there, and some scouts believe he has Gold Glove potential. He got off to a slow start offensively this spring, struggling against pitches on the outer half and breaking balls, but midway through the season he went to a narrower stance and worked to shorten up his swing. The adjustment paid off, and he was hitting .342/.407/.668 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Olt has good leverage in his swing and above-average raw power, but his swing has holes and scouts still question his pitch recognition. His work ethic garners rave reviews, giving reason to hope he can become an average major league hitter. He's also a good athlete with fringe-average speed. Olt's stock was on the rise down the stretch, and he could be drafted as high as the second round.

UConn Territory

Mike Olt is clearly the cream of the Lower New England crop, but several Connecticut teammates have helped their stock with solid springs. Junior lefthander Elliot Glynn spent his first two seasons at UConn as a two-way player before concentrating solely on pitching this spring. He has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the Big East, going 7-2, 2.12 through 12 starts. Glynn relies on his moxie and feel for pitching more than his stuff, as his fastball is below-average. He typically works at 86-88 mph and touches 89-90 early in games, but his velocity often drops into the 83-86 range in the middle innings. The pitch plays up because he can cut it, and he mixes in a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup that can be effective against righties. Glynn has a smallish 6-foot-1, 175-pound build, but he makes up for his stature with a nasty competitive streak. He profiles best as a reliever and is likely to be drafted between the 10th and 20th round, with a chance to sneak into the top 10 rounds.

Fellow lefty Greg Nappo is a fourth-year junior with a bit more velocity than Glynn. Nappo can reach 89-90 mph regularly, but his fastball is straight, his breaking ball needs tightening, and his changeup is too firm at times. He figures to be drafted later than 5-foot-7 second baseman Pierre LePage, a high-energy grinder who plays above his tools. LePage's best asset is his ability to handle the bat and make consistent contact; he was the nation's toughest player to strike out this spring, with just two strikeouts through 205 at-bats in the regular season. LePage lacks power but has above-average speed and solid baserunning instincts, helping him swipe 26 bags in 30 attempts. He is an average defender who makes all the routine plays.

And junior first baseman Mike Nemeth put himself on scouts' radars with a huge spring, batting .396/.480/.660 with 12 homers and 70 RBIs through 212 at-bats. Scouts aren't wild about Nemeth's lefthanded swing and project him to have gap power in pro ball, but he has looseness to his hands. He's a below-average runner who is limited to first base defensively, and he might fit best as a senior sign in 2011, but a team could make a run at him inside the top 15 rounds.

The rest of the region's thin college crop is highlighted by a handful of decent senior signs who project as organizational players. Fairfield senior righty Rob Gariano put up better numbers as a junior (5-4, 3.43 with 88 strikeouts an 19 walks in 84 innings) than he did this spring (4-5, 4.29 with 74 strikeouts and 31 walks in 94 innings), but his stuff has been similar. Gariano is undersized at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, but he attacks hitters with an 88-91 mph fastball that has reached 94 at times in the past. He profiles as a reliever because he does not hold his velocity deep into games. Scouts appreciate his tenacity and energy, which earned him the nickname "Red Bull" in the Cape Cod League last summer. His three-pitch mix also includes a fringe-average changeup and a fringe-average slider.

Rhode Island senior righty Tim Boyce improved from his junior year to his senior year, going 5-3, 3.63 with 84 strikeouts and 21 walks in 94 innings this spring and carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his final regular-season start. Boyce's  medical history and violent arm action give scouts pause, but his 87-91 mph fastball has life, and he competes with a four-pitch mix.

Senior catcher Jeff Vigurs helped lead Bryant to the Northeast Conference title in its first year in the league. His defense stands out more than his questionable lefthanded bat, though he has a disciplined approach and uses all fields. Vigurs is a good receiver with a strong arm, quick release and good footwork.

Central Connecticut State shortstop Sean Allaire ranked third in the nation in batting (.456) at the end of the regular season to go along with 13 homers, 22 doubles and 70 RBIs. He profiles as an organization utilityman who can fill in all around the infield and in the outfield, but at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he lacks upside.

The high school crop in Lower New England is weaker than it has been in years. The headliner is Maryland signee Tim Kiene, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound ox with plenty of raw lefthanded power. The son of a former professional hockey player, Kiene himself played hockey until his junior year of high school before focusing on baseball, and his aggressive, blue-collar hockey mindset translates well to the diamond. Kiene has played left field for Avon Old Farms, but he's a well-below-average runner with a weak arm who will be tied to first base in college and beyond. Some scouts think Kiene's swing is stiff and slow despite his power potential, and he's almost certain to wind up at Maryland.

Lefthander David Mahoney, a UConn recruit, goes after hitters with a mid- to upper-80s fastball that has touched 90. He has a wiry 6-foot-3 frame, long arms, good hand speed and intriguing projection, but his command is inconsistent and he lacks feel for pitching at this stage. He flashes a tight downer curveball, but it is very much a work in progress. He also has a high-intensity delivery that needs refinement. In three years, Mahoney could develop into a good pro prospect, but no club figures to make a run at him this spring.

Outfielder Thomas Bourdon, whose older brother Mike is a catcher for Division II power Tampa, has a loose, projectable swing and a strong outfield arm, though he's a fringy runner. He's a Boston College signee who also figures to wind up on campus. Coastal Carolina signee Chris King, the top prep prospect in Rhode Island, has a flat lefthanded swing with some strength in it. He needs to clean up his footwork behind the plate, but he has solid hands and a good release.

A trio of prep lefthanders bear monitoring over the next three years in college. Virginia Tech recruit Collin O'Keefe throws an 87-89 mph fastball with armside run and sink and flashes a tight downer curveball. Brian Ward, another Connecticut signee, has a mid- to upper-80s fastball that spiked to 91 mph at times this spring, and it plays up because he hides it well. Some scouts question his sweeping slider, but others think it has potential. He slows his arm action on his changeup.

Rhode Island commitment Nick Naradowy had a strong showing at the Summer Rivarly Baseball Classic Invitational last August at Fenway Park, showing an 87-88 mph fastball with good sink, a promising curveball and feel for a changeup. Also a standout hockey player for North Smithfield High, Naradowy's velocity dipped into the low 80s this spring, and scouts were turned off by an arm action that had become inverted. He's physical and athletic, and he figures to blossom under the tutelage of Rhode Island's highly regarded coaching staff.