State Report: Louisiana

Pelican State produces another deep crop of talent






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
Louisiana State righthander Anthony Ranaudo and prep third baseman Garin Cecchini are the state's top two prospects, as expected, but both had their springs marred by injury. They set the tone for what's shaping up as a decent year in the Bayou State, but nothing special.

Ranaudo won't be anywhere close to the No. 2 overall pick he once was projected as, after coming down with a stress reaction in his elbow in his first start, while Cecchini's first-round aspirations ended when he blew out his knee in March. Trying to guess where each player would end up became of the state's most popular pastimes this spring.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Louisiana State (National Rank: 26)
2. Garin Cecchini, 3b, Barbe HS, Lake Charles (National Rank: 47)
3. Micah Gibbs, c, Louisiana State (National Rank: 60)
4. Rob Segedin, 3b, Tulane (National Rank: 88)
5. Randy LeBlanc, rhp, Covington HS (National Rank: 92)
6. Leon Landry, of, Louisiana State (National Rank: 100)
7. Tony Dischler, rhp, Louisiana State-Eunice JC (National Rank: 105)
8. Austin Southall, of/1b, University HS, Baton Rouge (National Rank: 195)
9. Chad Sheppard, rhp, Northwestern State (National Rank: 197)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

10. Blake Dean, 1b, Louisiana State
11. Hommy Rosado, 1b, Barbe HS, Lake Charles
12. Chris Franklin, rhp, Southeastern Louisiana
13, Luke Irvine, rhp, Northwestern State
14. Mitchell Hopkins, lhp, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
15. Kurt McCune, rhp, Destrehan HS
16. Boone Whiting, rhp, Centenary
17. Lucas LeBlanc, of, Delgado CC
18. Lee Orr, of, McNeese State
19. Clint Dempster, lhp, Nicholls State
20. Austin Ross, rhp, Louisiana State
21. Zach Osborne, rhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
22. Devin Dageford, of, Louisiana Tech
23. Jeff Nadeau, lhp, Louisiana State-Shreveport
24. Jake Anderson, of, Woodlawn HS, Baton Rouge
25. Bronson Gillam, rhp, Evangel Christian Academy, Shreveport
26. Dakota Robinson, lhp, Centenary
27. Ryan Zimmerman, rhp, Northwestern State
28. Raph Rhymes, 2b, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
29. Mike Jefferson, lhp, Louisiana Tech
30. Dayton Marze,rhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
31. Preston Claiborne, rhp, Tulane
32. Nick Pepitone, rhp, Tulane
33. Robby Broach, rhp, Tulane
34. Cody Hall, rhp, Southern
35. Mitch Mormann, rhp, Louisiana State
36. James Jones, rhp, Louisiana-Monroe
37. Josh Burris, rhp, Scotlandville Magnet HS, Baton Rouge
38. Chance Mistric, rhp, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
39. Brandon Efferson, rhp, Southeastern Louisiana
40. Nick Schwaner, 2b/3b, New Orleans

SCOUTING REPORTS

Anthony Ranaudo, rhp

Louisiana State


After winning the championship game of the College World Series last year and ranking third in strikeouts (159 in 124 innings) and fifth in wins (12) as a sophomore, Ranaudo was the top college prospect and No. 2 overall when 2010 started. But scouts haven't been sure what to make of him since he came down with a stress reaction following his first start in February. He missed a month and has battled his mechanics and command since returning. When he's right, he uses his 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame to leverage a 91-94 mph fastball down in the zone and to both sides of the plate, and he backs up his heater with a plus curveball and solid changeup. But that Ranaudo hasn't been seen this spring. He still has a low-90s fastball, but his delivery has fallen out of sync. His arm action is flatter, preventing him from staying on top of his pitches, causing them to flatten out and rise up in the strike zone. Ranaudo also missed the first two months and worked just 12 innings in his freshman season because of a bout with elbow tendinitis. His medical history, inconsistent spring and choice of adviser (Boras Corp.) could cause him to slide deep in the first round unless he suddenly regains his 2009 form. He generated momentum by performing better during the Southeastern Conference tournament and an NCAA regional start against UCLA, but his fate remained uncertain.

Garin Cecchini, 3b

Barbe HS, Lake Charles


Cecchini established himself as one of the top prep hitters in the 2010 draft class when he led the U.S. 18U national team—which also featured Bryce Harper—in slugging (.708) and on-base percentage (.529) en route to its first-ever gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championship last summer in Venezuela. He might have hit his way into the first round this spring, but he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and required reconstructive surgery in mid-March. It was his second operation under the knife of Dr. James Andrews, who performed rotator-cuff surgery on him when Cecchini was 12. A 6-foot-3, 195-pounder, he has a fluid lefthanded stroke and good pull power. The knee injury isn't a long-term concern, because his fringe-average speed isn't a big part of his game and he already was expected to move from shortstop to third base at the next level. His soft hands and strong arm will play well at the hot corner. He's a baseball rat, no surprise considering his father Glenn is the head coach at perennial Louisiana power Barbe High. His mother Raissa is an assistant coach at Barbe, and his younger brother Gavin is a top infield prospect for the 2012 draft. Though he missed most of the season, it may take first-round money to lure Cecchini away from a Louisiana State commitment. He has enough offensive potential and track record to get that payday, and he isn't expected to make it to the second round.

Micah Gibbs, c

Louisiana State


Gibbs has the best receiving skills among catchers in the 2010 draft, and those and his ability to handle a pitching staff earn repeated comparisons to Jason Varitek. He doesn't have a cannon behind the plate, but his arm strength is average and he enhances it with a quick release and good accuracy. However, he had thrown out just 14 percent of basestealers entering NCAA regional play, down from 32 percent in his first two seasons. His hitting has gone in the other direction, as he was batting .392, up from .306 the previous two years and .212 with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. A 5-foot-11, 207-pound switch-hitter, Gibbs has spread out his stance, added more balance and simplified his swing. He has strength, but his swing can get loopy at times and he doesn't have an abundance of bat speed or power. He may not be more than a .260 hitter with 10-12 homers annually in the majors, but his defensive ability should make him a starter. The scarcity of catchers often enhances their draft status, so Gibbs could sneak into the first or sandwich round.

Rob Segedin, 3b

Tulane


Segedin injured his lower back in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2008, and continued back problems and a shoulder injury led Tulane to shut him down after five games last spring. He was healthy again by the summer, when he helped Bourne win its first-ever Cape championship, and has wielded one of the most potent bats in college baseball this year, hitting .434/.516/.788. Segedin has plenty of strength in his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, and he makes consistent, hard contact. His righthanded stroke is geared more toward line drives than loft, but he does show the ability to lift mistakes out of the park. He's not nimble on the bases or at third base, but he manages to get the job done defensively. He has plenty of arm at the hot corner, and his fastball topped out at 94 mph when the Green Wave used him as a reliever two years ago. Because of his back, he has pitched sparingly since. There aren't many quality bats like Segedin's in this draft, but his leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore at an academically strong program could drive up his price and down his draft position.

Randy LeBlanc, rhp

Covington HS


LeBlanc has gone from unknown to a potential early-round pick this spring. After throwing 87-88 mph last summer and fall, he suddenly jumped to 90-92 mph and topped out at 94. He has a quick arm with more projection remaining in his lean 6-foot-5 frame. He has the makings of a good breaking ball for a second pitch, but he'll need polish. LeBlanc's changeup is in the rudimentary stages and he'll need to clean up his delivery. He flies open and falls off toward first base, giving hitters a good look at his pitches. Scouts agree that he has considerable upside, but they aren't sure whether he's ready for pro ball or would be better off heading to college for the next stage of his development. Originally committed to Louisiana State-Eunice JC, he drew the interest of several four-year schools this spring and accepted a scholarship from Tulane—which could make him a tough sign.

Leon Landry, of

Louisiana State


Landry was a regular on Louisiana State's 2008 College World Series club as a freshman, but he lost his starting job midway through 2009. After helping the Tigers win the national title as a part-timer, he starred in the Cape Cod League, hitting .364 with wood bats. Landry profiles as a potential four-tool center fielder. He's having his best college season to date, reflecting a more mature approach at the plate. He no longer sells out for power and pulls off pitches, and he's doing a much better job of controlling the strike zone. A 5-foot-11, 195-pound lefthanded batter, he projects as a possible .275 hitter with 15 homers in the big leagues. He has slightly above-average speed and keen defensive instincts that allow him to play center field. If he can't stick in center as a pro, his below-average arm would dictate a move to left field, which in turn would put more pressure on his bat.

Tony Dischler, rhp

Louisiana State-Eunice JC


Dischler got strafed for a 9.64 ERA in 19 innings at Louisiana-Monroe as a freshman in 2009, but he caught the eye of scouts with a strong summer in the New York Collegiate League. He opted to transfer to a junior college to become eligible for the 2010 draft, ultimately choosing Louisiana State-Eunice over Chipola (Fla.). Dischler quickly became the ace a Bengals team that would win its third Division II juco national championship, touching 96-97 mph in the fall and working at 91-94 mph this spring. He has a lean 6-foot-3, 198-pound frame and an arm that generates velocity with ease. The key for Dischler will be refining his secondary pitches, and his success doing so will determine if he's ultimately a starter or a reliever. His 82-84 mph slider has depth at times, but it's more often flat. His changeup similarly has promise but lacks consistency. He has committed to Louisiana-Lafayette for 2011 but is expected to turn pro as a third- to fifth-rounder.

Austin Southall, of

University HS, Baton Rouge


Louisiana State could surround current shortstop Austin Nola with three talented freshman infielders next spring—that is, if the pros don't snap up Garin Cecchini (Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.), Jacoby Jones (Richton, Miss., HS) and Southall first. All three made Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects list and may not make it to school. Southall has a polished lefthanded bat. He fared well on the showcase circuit last summer, showing the ability to hit with wood bats and to use the whole field. He has the strength in his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame to hit home runs. Southall has the arm strength to play right field, but his below-average range and speed could limit him to left field or first base. Even if he doesn't provide much defensive value, his bat should make him an asset.



Chad Sheppard, rhp

Northwestern State


Luke Irvine drew more of the early attention at Northwestern State, but scouts came away preferring Sheppard because he has a better body and a better secondary pitch. After redshirting in 2008, Sheppard tied the Demons' save record with 10 as a freshman last spring, then matched that total again this season. He uses his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame and low-90s sinker to keep the ball down in the strike zone and induce grounders. He has given up just two homers in two college seasons. His slider is a solid No. 2 pitch, though it can get slurvy at times. When he has both pitches working and throws strikes, Sheppard can be all but unhittable. His frame would suggest durability, but he has worked exclusively out of the bullpen in college and likely will remain a reliever in pro ball. Though he's a draft-eligible sophomore, scouts don't think he'll be difficult to sign.

Deep In Talent As Usual

Blake Dean was a proven college hitter and a key cog in the lineup that powered Louisiana State to a national title in 2009. He lasted until the Twins took him in the 10th round because he spent most of his junior season as a DH and had a bum throwing shoulder that required labrum surgery. As a senior, Dean has continued to produce, and he has done a better job of not overswinging, letting his lefthanded power come naturally. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has a quick bat and 55 career homers entering NCAA regional play. A below-average runner and outfield defender, he has found a new home and done a creditable job at first base this spring. He should fit somewhere in the first 10 rounds as a cost-effective bat with a proven track record.

With Cecchini sidelined, Hommy Rosado more than picked up the slack for Barbe High. His lightning bat speed give him tremendous raw power, and he set a state record with 26 homers. He does have holes in his swing and is a one-tool player, but his righthanded pop is hard to ignore. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has done some catching, but he's not agile enough to stay there in pro ball and will have to move to first base, where his size is less than ideal. Committed to Louisiana State-Eunice JC, he's considered signable.

Chris Franklin has split time between pitching and playing the infield in four seasons between Jefferson (Ala.) CC and Southeastern Louisiana. The 6-foot, 200-pound righthander has a 90-93 mph fastball and an 83-85 mph cutter/slider, and his stuff could get a little better once he focuses on pitching. His lack of size and pinpoint command, as well as the effort in his delivery, point to a pro future as a reliever. He set a school record with 12 saves in 2009, and responded with three straight complete-game victories when the Lions moved him into their rotation in late April.

Righthander Luke Irvine made an immediate impact at Northwestern State after transferring from Maple Woods (Mo.) CC, going 7-4, 2.91 with 104 strikeouts in 93 innings. He can touch 93-94 mph with his fastball, but scouts aren't in love with his body (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) or his secondary pitches. He projects more as a reliever once he turns pro.

As a lefthander who showed a 90-91 mph fastball to go with a solid curveball and changeup, Mitchell Hopkins had a chance to go in the first five rounds. He didn't pitch after straining a deltoid muscle while lifting weights in late March, however. His 6-foot-3, 184-pound frame has projection remaining, though he's a 21-year-old sophomore. He'll attend Louisiana State if he doesn't turn pro.

Before Randy LeBlanc emerged, Kurt McCune was the best high school pitching prospect in the state. He's 6-foot-3, 170-pound righthander who already has an 89-92 mph fastball and should add velocity as he fills out. His slider has promise as well, and he has command and mound presence. His reported seven-figure asking price makes it likely he'll go to Louisiana State rather than sign.

Entering NCAA regional play, Boone Whiting ranked fifth in Division I in strikeouts per nine innings (12.9) and ninth in whiffs (120). The 6-foot-2, 175-pound righthander relies on his slider to miss bats, and he sets it up with an 88-91 mph fastball and an effective change. The Summit League pitcher of the year also does a good job of commanding his pitches and competing.

Outfielder Lucas LeBlanc is a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder with close to average tools across the board, profiling best as a right fielder for pro ball. He redshirted at Southeastern Louisiana in 2008 before playing the last two seasons at Delgado CC, so he's already 21. He may be difficult to sign away from a Louisiana State commitment.

Redshirt sophomore Lee Orr has hit 31 homers in two seasons at McNeese State, and he has legitimate power to all fields. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder also struggles against breaking balls and struck out 68 times in 224 at-bats this spring, so it's not clear how well he'll be able to handle pro pitching. He also has a plus arm and solid-average speed, though his defense can get rough in right field.

Chance Mistric won the championship game of the Division II Junior College World Series, giving Louisiana State-Eunice its third national title. Mistric, who spent four years in the military and attended McNeese State and Louisiana-Lafayette without pitching in a game, won't be on some teams' boards because he's already 25. However, he's worth a small investment as a 6-foot-4, 254-pound righthander who can touch 93 mph with his heavy sinker.

Several of the state's best pitchers weren't at their best this spring. Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport) righthander Bronson Gillam battled an oblique strain and rarely matched the 90-93 mph velocity he had displayed previously. Fellow Evangel righty Jeff Harvill, who has an 89-91 mph fastball and promising secondary stuff, pitched sparingly after coming down with elbow tendinitis. Northshore High (Slidell) righty Ryan Eades spent the spring as a DH after labrum surgery. He touched 94 mph as a 16-year-old. Gillam and Harvill are expected to attend Arkansas, while Eades should wind up at Louisiana State.

If Chad Jones had stuck to baseball, he was gifted enough to be a potential first-round pick as either an outfielder or a lefthanded pitcher. A 6-foot-3, 220-pounder with super athleticism, he showed strength, speed, an 88-93 mph fastball and a power slider in limited baseball action at Louisiana State, playing a key bullpen role on the Tigers' 2009 College World Series champions. He also won a national title in football as a safety, and the New York Giants took him in the third round of the NFL draft in April. A baseball team will take a flier on Jones in case football doesn't work out.