State Report: New York

Empire State deilvers four Top 200 prospects






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
The Empire State boasts the top two prospects in the Northeast in prep righthander Robbie Aviles and Oneonta State righty Dave Filak, and prep shortstop Cito Culver offers premium arm strength and true middle infield actions that are rare commodities among Northeast high scholars.

St. John's reliever Daniel Burawa gives the state a fourth Top 200 prospect—its most since BA instituted the Top 200 in 2003. Prep shortstop Mike Antonio and Adelphi righty Keith Couch give the state two more top-10-rounds talents. All of that adds up to a better than average year in New York, and the state's first four-star rating in the last decade.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Robbie Aviles, rhp, Suffern HS (National Rank: 58)
2. Dave Filak, rhp, Oneonta State (National Rank: 73)
3. Cito Culver, ss, Irondequoit HS, Rochester (National Rank: 168)
4. Daniel Burawa, rhp, St. John's (National Rank: 172)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

4. Mike Antonio, ss, George Washington HS, New York City
5. Keith Couch, rhp, Adelphi
6. Bruce Kern, rhp, St. John's
7. T.J. Pecoraro, rhp, Half Hollow Hills West HS, Dix Hills
8. Jesse Bosnik, ss, St. Bonaventure
9. Chris Edmondson, of, Le Moyne
10. Matt Marra, ss, Le Moyne
11. Brendan Rowland, of, Albany
12. Steve McQuail, 2b/3b, Canisius
13. Henry Dunn, of, Binghamton
14. Esteban Gomez, 1b, Bishop Ford HS, Brooklyn
15. Colin Moran, 3b/1b, Iona Prep HS, New Rochelle
16. Ryan Cole, rhp, St. John's
17. Ryan Pennell, lhp, Rye Neck HS, Mamaroneck
18. Corey Taylor, of, Binghamton
19. Corey Pappel, rhp, Cornell
20. Luke Nellis, lhp, Le Moyne
21. David Kubiak, rhp, Albany
22. Kevin Nieto, of, Manhattan

SCOUTING REPORTS

Robbie Aviles, rhp
Suffern (N.Y.) HS

Scouts have been impressed with how Aviles has performed in the face of adversity. In late March, two of Aviles' Suffern High teammates were killed in a car accident. The two were honored before Suffern's game the following week, and Aviles took the mound and got the win. He struck out 11 in a perfect game in his next start, then whiffed 15 in a no-hitter in his subsequent outing. Aviles sat at 91-92 mph for most of his perfect game but reached back for 93-94 in the seventh inning. Aviles' 6-foot-4, 193-pound frame is athletic and projectable, and his arm action is loose, but he has a tendency to cut off his finish and needs to fine-tune his command. His curveball has good three-quarters break and projects as an average or better pitch. Some scouts say he flashes a plus changeup, but he rarely uses it against overmatched high school competition. Down the stretch, Aviles struggled to repeat his release point—especially on his breaking ball—and started working exclusively out of the stretch. Aviles needs some polish, but his upside is significant, and he is overwhelmingly regarded as the top prospect in the Northeast this year. A Florida signee, Aviles is a supplemental first-round or second-round talent and is considered signable.

David Filak, rhp
Oneonta State (N.Y.)

Filak has a fresh, explosive arm; he did not pitch in high school and walked on at Oneonta State as a catcher. He was quickly converted to the mound, where he led all Division III pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings (14.86) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.07) as a sophomore last year. Scouts were buzzing about Filak after he ran his fastball up to 95 mph and flashed a plus-plus 83 mph spike curveball in his 2010 debut in Vero Beach, but he exited his third start of the season after just two innings because of elbow stiffness, which caused him to miss his next outing. He did not show quite as much velocity after returning to action, but he still posted a dominant season, going 8-0, 1.82 with 96 strikeouts and 16 walks through 59 innings. Filak's fastball settled in at 90-93 mph, and he still regularly flashed a plus curveball with 12-to-6 break in the 77-80 range. Filak did not learn to throw a changeup until last fall, and the pitch is a work in progress. Filak has a physical, athletic 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame, and he could still add velocity as he learns to make better use of his lower half in his delivery.

Cito Culver, ss
Irondequoit HS, Rochester, N.Y.

Hidden away in upstate New York—hardly a baseball hotbed—Culver sticks out like a sore thumb. He is the rare Northeast prep product with a legitimate chance to play shortstop in the major leagues. Culver's best tool is his arm, which rates as a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Some scouts report seeing him up to 94 mph off the mound, but he has no interest in pitching. The game comes easily to Culver, whose actions, instincts and range are all plus at times, though he has a long way to go to become a consistent defender, and some believe he profiles as a utility player down the road. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Culver is a solid-average runner and a switch-hitter with a loose, whippy swing from both sides of the plate. He projects to have below-average power and is mostly a slap hitter, but he does generate good bat speed and could be an average hitter as he gets stronger. Culver is an excellent athlete who plays basketball in the winter, and he could take off once he focuses on baseball. He could be drafted in the fourth- to sixth-round range, but he is considered a difficult sign away from his Maryland commitment.

Daniel Burawa, rhp
St. John's

After posting a 3.13 ERA in seven appearances at Suffolk County (N.Y.) CC as a freshman in 2008, Burawa transferred to St. John's after the following fall, so he had to sit out 2009. He has been a revelation as a draft-eligible sophomore this spring, going 1-0, 1.02 with eight saves, 27 strikeouts and eight walks through 18 innings over 23 appearances. Burawa has a loose, wiry frame at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, but he has a long, funky arm action that one scout likened to an Iron Mike pitching machine tipped on its side. He pumps fastballs in the 93-95 mph range with good armside run, and he flashes an average 75-78 mph slurve with some tilt and bite, though more often the pitch breaks too early and he struggles to command it. His changeup is in its early stages of development. Burawa's limited track record causes scouts to be cautious, but his fresh arm is also an asset—one scout called his arm "a very loose cannon." He figures to be drafted somewhere between the second and fourth rounds.

Empire State Of Mind

Shortstop Mike Antonio, from the same high school that produced Manny Ramirez, ranked as the No. 56 prospect on BA's High School Top 100 list last fall after a strong showing on the showcase circuit, highlighted by an MVP performance at the Summer Rivarly Baseball Classic Invitational last August at Fenway Park. But scouts were disappointed with him this spring, and his stock dropped. On the right day you'll see him hit well and square balls up, but often he has a big swing with a pull-happy approach. He has a wide open set-up and a big leg kick, and his righthanded swing is longer than it was last year. His 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame generates solid raw power, but he is still learning to tap into it. Scouts say he also has become thicker and slower than he was last year. He was an average runner in the past, but scouts clocked him up the line as slow as 4.6 seconds this spring. He has a tendency to be a little too flashy at short, at the expense of making the routine play. He has good hands but tends to get himself in the wrong position to field the ball, and his arm is fringe-average. He's probably good enough to play shortstop in college but figures to outgrow the position in pro ball. A St. John's recruit, Antonio projects as a sixth- to 10th-round pick.

Division II Adelphi righthander Keith Couch has carved up the wood-bat Northeast-10 Conference for three years and went 5-2, 2.24 with 83 strikeouts and 11 walks in 76 innings as a junior this spring. He mixes four pitches but profiles best as a sinker/slider reliever. He works in the 88-91 mph range with his sinker and has touched 93. His slider can be average at times, and his curveball and changeup are below-average but serviceable. Couch has an upright finish to his delivery, but some looseness in his 6-foot-2 frame. Couch has a chance to be drafted inside the top 10 rounds.

The talent in the Empire State drops off after that, though a number of players could be drafted in the top 15 to 25 rounds. St. John's senior righthander Bruce Kern has decent stuff and feel for pitching but has posted ERAs above 6.00 in back-to-back years in the Johnnies' weekend rotation. His four-pitch mix includes an 88-91 mph fastball, a changeup with good depth and arm speed that he uses as an out-pitch, a slider and a 12-to-6 curveball. His curveball has good break, but he does not command it as well as the fringy slider. Because of his changeup, Kern has more success against lefthanded hitters. Kern is undersized at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and is likely to wind up in the bullpen, where his fastball could play up. As a senior sign, he could be drafted as high as the 10th- to 15th-round range but is more likely to go around the 20th. He helped himself against Louisville in the Big East tournament, working at 89-92 with good life.

A few college players upstate have attracted interest. Albany outfielder Brendan Rowland had a solid all-around senior year, hitting .328/.439/.525 with seven homers and 22 stolen bases in 26 tries. A good athlete with slightly above-average speed, Rowland can fill in at all three outfield positions in pro ball, and he has advanced baserunning instincts. His righthanded bat is a question mark. St. Bonaventure shortstop Jesse Bosnik hit .387/.445/.696 with 11 homers, 20 doubles and 62 RBIs as a junior this spring, leading his team in each category. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Bosnik has strength in his lefthanded swing, but it also gets long and his approach is pull-oriented. He projects as more of a doubles hitter at the next level. Bosnik committed 20 errors this spring and will not stick at shortstop in pro ball, though he has fringe-average arm and could find a home at third base. He's an average athlete with average speed.

Canisius junior infielder Steve McQuail slugged his way onto scouts' radars last summer, when he led the Valley League in home runs. He followed it up with a stellar spring, hitting .409/.486/.781 with 19 homers, 21 doubles and 80 RBIs—all team bests. A bit undersized at 6-foot, 213 pounds, McQuail generates decent power with a righthanded uppercut swing. He has a bat wrap in his set-up and does not have a particularly loose swing. McQuail is a decent runner, but he's stiff defensively in the infield and projects as a corner outfielder. Scouts are skeptical that he'll hit enough at that position in pro ball.

Le Moyne shortstop Matt Marra and outfielder Chris Edmondson could both be drafted in the top 20 rounds. Marra, a draft-eligible sophomore, is a hard-nosed gamer with good defensive skills and a decent line-drive, gap-to-gap bat. He has good hands and an average arm at short, though his pro future figures to be as a second baseman or utility player. Edmondson was the centerpiece of Le Moyne's lineup this spring, hitting .348 with 12 of the team's 37 homers and 50 RBIs. A fringy runner who profiles as a left fielder, Edmondson will go as far as his lefthanded bat carries him. His compact swing produces average power.

Binghamton junior outfielder Henry Dunn packs athleticism and strength into a 5-foot-7, 175-pound frame. He followed up his good summer in the New England Collegiate League with a solid spring, hitting .344/.408/.626 with 10 homers, 51 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. Dunn's plus-plus speed plays well in center field, where he has good range and instincts. He's a line-drive hitter with occasional pop, but he'll have little home run power at the next level. He tends to get pull-happy and could benefit by learning to use the opposite field better. Teammate Corey Taylor had an even bigger season, batting .370/.440/.679 with 14 homers, 66 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. A slightly above-average runner with decent power and a fringe-average arm, Taylor lacks a carrying tool for a corner outfielder.

New York has a few other noteworthy high school prospects. Righthander T.J. Pecoraro is just 6 feet, 155 pounds, but he has a quick arm and advanced feel for pitching. He flashed 93-94 mph heat at the Area Code Games last summer but has worked in the 86-91 mph range this spring. His curveball and changeup can be inconsistent, but both project as average offerings, and he has good command down in the strike zone. Durability is a question and leads some scouts to project Pecoraro as a middle reliever, but he is wiry strong. Pecoraro considered attending San Jacinto (Texas) JC to be eligible for the draft again in 2011, but he will instead honor his commitment to Vanderbilt. Brooklyn first baseman Esteban Gomez, though, will head to San Jac. Scouts question Gomez's defensive profile, but he shed 15 pounds in the offseason in an attempt to approve his agility and defense at first. His 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame offers power potential, but he stands out most for his smooth line-drive swing from the left side. He'll need to develop more power to play first base in pro ball.

Corner infielder Colin Moran will follow older brother Brian and uncle B.J. Surhoff to North Carolina. The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder has power potential in his lefthanded bat, but he's raw in all facets and will need to improve his agility and coordination. Lefthander Ryan Pennell is also headed to the Tar Heel State—he's an Elon signee. He's big and physical, but scouts question his arm speed. He throws strikes with an 84-88 mph fastball and a soft curveball that needs a lot of work.