State Report: Upper New England

Things are looking up in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont





THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Rating compares this year's group to what a state typically produces, not to other states
Upper New England has been a one-star region since 2006, the year that produced Top 200 prospects Jeff Locke, a New Hampshire prep lefthander who was a second-round pick of the Braves, and third baseman Garrett Olson, a fourth-round pick of the Twins out of Franklin Pierce. But for the first time in the last five years, the area's talent pool showed improvement, and as many as five players have a chance to be drafted in the top 15 rounds. Still, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine are hardly hotbeds of talent.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Jordan Cote, Winnisquam (N.H.) HS
2. Ryan Thompson, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
3. Mike Dowd, c, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
4. Kyle Hendricks, rhp, Dartmouth
5. Taylor Lewis, of, Maine
6. Joey Maher, rhp, Benford (N.H) HS
7. Brian Maloney, lhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
8. Keith Bilodeau, rhp, Maine
9. A.J. Bazdanes, rhp, Maine
10. Brook Hart, lhp, Yale
11. Pat Ludwig, rhp, Yale
12. Joe Sclafani, ss, Dartmouth
13. Nick Poore, lhp, Salem (N.H.) HS
14. Kyle Turner, rhp, Nashua (N.H) North HS
15. Josiah Hartley, of/rhp, Bangor (Maine) HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Franklin Pierce Continues To Churn Out Prospects

Division II Franklin Pierce head coach Jayson King is one of the most well-respected coaches in the Northeast, as he has produced 17 draftees since 2001 to carry the banner for Upper New England. This year features more of the same.

The first Raven off the board should be redshirt sophomore righthander Ryan Thompson, who played at UConn for two years before transferring to Franklin Pierce last fall. Thompson, who is originally from Canada and learned how to play baseball in the Bahamas, hadn't pitched much before this season, but he went 11-1, 1.23 with 114 strikeouts in 95 innings through 13 starts in the wood-bat Northeast-10 Conference. Thompson's fastball sits at 88-92 mph with occasional sink, though scouts want to see him work off it more often, and he throws an average slider and a developing changeup. He holds velocity deep into games, which should give him a chance to start at the next level, but he profiles better as a sinker/slider reliever. Thompson could get taken in the top eight rounds, but he's more likely to go somewhere between rounds 10 and 15.

Thompson should be taken shortly before catcher Mike Dowd, a 5-foot-9, 210-pound backstop with pure arm strength that receives 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. Dowd has average receiving skills and doesn't move well behind the plate, but he makes up for those deficiencies with his throwing ability and churns out 1.85-second pop times. Scouts question how Dowd's bat will play at the next level, as he struggled in the Cape Cod League, hitting .238 with one extra-base hit in 44 plate appearances last summer. Using wood for the last three years should ease his professional transition. A Division-II Preseason All-American, Dowd has a contact approach and shows raw power at times. He profiles best as a big league backup.

Thompson's rotation-mate Brian Maloney has put up gaudy numbers for the last few years and shattered the school's strikeout record early in his senior year, and he whiffed 115 batters through 13 starts this year. A 6-foot, 185-pound pitchability lefthander, Maloney has a fastball that tops out around 88 mph and pitches off his secondary stuff, including an average curveball and changeup. Maloney will be taken late as a senior sign.

Scouts made the trip to Orono to see Maine's trio of draft prospects, led by center fielder Taylor Lewis, a scrappy lefthanded hitter. Lewis, at 6 feet and 200 pounds, was primarily a football recruit in high school and had an offer to play at Boston College. He is still raw with baseball, but he ran a 6.5-second 60-yard dash at Maine's scout day and has impressive forearm and wrist strength that results in gap-to-gap, line-drive power in batting practice. In games, Lewis takes a scrappy slap-and-run approach, which scouts think can be corrected through player development. Lewis is a good defender with a well below-average arm. He hasn't had a great spring, but some scouts see him as a top-10-round talent, especially if he can tap into his power potential, while others view him as a senior sign.

Fellow Black Bear pitchers Keith Bilodeau and A.J. Bazdanes also attracted attention. Bilodeau is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound righty with a decent curveball and an 89-91 mph fastball, though scouts think he could add velocity. Bilodeau spent the last two summers pitching in the Cape Cod League. Bazdanes has filled out since he was a lanky high schooler, and he has an 87-89 mph fastball, but he has struggled with command.

A few Ivy League pitchers from the region have a chance to get taken, headlined by Dartmouth's Kyle Hendricks, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound righty from California. Hendricks was taken in the 39th round by the Angels in 2008, and he still shows the 90-95 mph fastball that piqued scouts' interest, though the pitch doesn't have much life. Hendricks has three offspeed pitches in his repertoire, including a curveball, hard slider and changeup. He could get taken in the top 15 rounds.

In the high school ranks, righthander Jordan Cote, at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, has a projectable frame that scouts dream about. His fastball sits at 88-90 mph and touches 92, and adding strength and pitching in warmer weather should help bump his velocity, especially because he has great hand speed. His arm action is clean, but his mechanics need to be refined, as he has long levers and is still growing into his body. Inability to repeat his delivery restricts him from throwing a consistent breaking ball. Cote has better feel for his curveball than his slider, though he shows the ability to spin the ball. He hasn't needed to throw his changeup and it's a work in progress. For his size more than his stuff, Cote has drawn comparisons to Chris Carpenter, who grew up about an hour from Cote's high school in New Hampshire. Cote is committed to Coastal Carolina, and though the high school arms from Massachusetts have gotten more attention, one scout said Cote has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Northeast. He should get taken between the eighth and 12th rounds, with late-spring buzz that he could be going higher.

Righthander Joey Maher has a similar frame but isn't quite as physical as Cote. Maher, 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, offers an interesting projection package too, though his velocity hasn't taken a jump in the last few years. His fastball ranges from the mid- to upper 80s with good sink, and he reminds one talent evaluator of Derek Lowe. Maher's secondary stuff is developing. He figures to be a late-round selection and summer follow before a team decides whether to buy him out of his Northeastern commitment.

Boston College signee Nick Poore has good life on his 84-85 mph fastball that touches 88, and scouts think there could be more to come as he adds strength to his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame. Poore has feel to spin a breaking ball, but his curveball and changeup need improvement. St. John's recruit Kyle Turner offers intriguing projection in his 6-foot-3, 220-pound build, and he works downhill with an 86-88 mph fastball.