State Report: Massachusetts

Standout high school talent in the Bay State





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
Boston College has carried the Bay State's banner for several years, producing three Top 200 talents and an average of five draft picks a year since 2008. But the Eagles struggled in 2011, especially after Friday starter Mike Dennhardt suffered a season-ending injury, and they finished the regular season at 17-33. Outside of Chestnut Hill, the college ranks don't offer much.

Still, there's a lot to be excited about in Massachusetts, particularly in the historically deep high school class, which alone makes it a four-star state. Lawrence Academy righthander Tyler Beede highlights the best prep crop in recent memory, and Beede has a chance to be the state's first high schooler to be taken in the first round since 2003 (Jeff Allison, Marlins).

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Tyler Beede, rhp, Lawrence Academy, Groton (National Rank: 35)
2. Pat Connaughton, rhp, St. John's Prep, Danvers (National Rank: 170)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Jack Leathersich, lhp, Massachusetts-Lowell
4. John Magliozzi, rhp, Dexter HS, Brookline
5. John Pedrotty, lhp, Holy Cross
6. Adam Ravenelle, rhp/ss, Lincoln-Sudberry HS
7. Mike Dennhardt, rhp, Boston College
8. Andrew Chin, lhp, Buckingham Browne & Nichols HS, Cambridge
9. Brent Suter, lhp, Harvard
10. John Leonard, rhp, Boston College
11. Garrett Smith, rhp, Boston College
12. Devin Perry, rhp, Buckingham Browne & Nichols HS, Cambridge
13. Barrett O'Neill, rhp, Dexter HS, Brookline
14. Robert DeCosmo, rhp, Cathedral HS, Springfield
15. Joe Napolitano, 3b, Lawrence Academy, Groton
16. John Gorman, rhp, Catholic Memorial HS, West Roxbury
17. Matt Gedman, 3b, Massachusetts
18. Max Pearlman, rhp, Harvard
19. Drew Leenhouts, lhp, Northeastern
20. Les Williams, rhp, Northeastern

SCOUTING REPORTS

Tyler Beede, rhp
Lawrence Academy, Groton

Beede won a state championship as a sophomore at Auburn (Mass.) High, and then transferred to Lawrence, one of the top prep schools in the state. Since then, he has been all over the showcase circuit and developed into New England's best prep prospect. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Beede has an ideal pitcher's frame. Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, he pitches at 88-93 mph and touches 95. He has good arm speed on his changeup, and he has a firm curveball that's average but has good shape. Beede is also developing a slider, though he hasn't used it in game action. There were concerns about his mechanics and arm action in the past, but he has smoothed them out this year, repeating his delivery well and getting good extension out front. His father, Walter, was a 13th-round pick of the Cubs out of a Massachusetts high school in 1981 and had a short stint in the minor leagues, when he played with Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid. Beede has advanced command, feel and offspeed stuff, and scouts are impressed with his approach to the game. He has committed to Vanderbilt and could be a tough sign.

Pat Connaughton, rhp
St. John's Prep, Danvers

Connaughton starred as a basketball player during his career at St. John's Prep, averaging nearly 22 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists per game, but he might have a brighter future in baseball. At 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, it isn't surprising Connaughton had success on the hardwood, but those same dimensions make him projectable on the mound, as he's physical and athletic. He has committed to Notre Dame, where he would play both sports, similar to Yankees' 2007 first-round pick Andrew Brackman, who played basketball for two years at North Carolina State. If Connaughton concentrates on baseball, his potential is significant. He shows easy velocity, sitting anywhere from 87-94 mph with his fastball that has good run and sink. He throws both a curveball and a slider, the latter showing more promise, along with a changeup that flashes plus. His secondary stuff and command need refinement because he hasn't fully dedicated himself to baseball and hasn't pitched many innings. Connaughton's arm action is deep in the back, but he has good hand speed and the ball comes out well in front on release. Connaughton is regarded as a difficult sign, but he is a top-six rounds talent with a chance to land a big bonus.

Yankees Area Code Crew Yields Stout Pitching Crop

The Area Code Games team sponsored by the Yankees has had success producing Northeast position player prospects in recent years, like first-round picks Mike Trout, Cito Culver and Anthony Hewitt. But it was the summer of 2010's crop of pitchers—particularly in Massachusetts—that stood out, with outstanding quality and depth. One talent evaluator called this "The High School Arms Race of Massachusetts," and another added that the state may never again see a year of pitching like this. In addition to Tyler Beede and Pat Connaughton, the Yankees Area Code team included righthanders John Magliozzi, Adam Ravenelle, Devin Perry and lefty Andrew Chin. Also on that roster were New Hampshire's Jordan Cote and Joey Maher, Connecticut's Sal Romano and New Jersey's Kevin Comer. "Those are all real physical kids with serious potential," one scout said.

Magliozzi is a 5-foot-9 righty who sits in the low 90s and can rev his fastball up to 95 thanks to great arm speed. Magliozzi comes from an athletic family of hockey players, and scouts loud his competitive attitude on the mound, saying he pitches like a bulldog. Magliozzi drops his arm angle on his secondary stuff to help create plane on his pitches. His changeup shows good fading action and he can spin a curveball, and both might be average offerings. Magliozzi repeated his sophomore year of high school and will be a draft-eligible freshman if he attends Florida. Because of his size and stuff, Magliozzi profiles as a back-end reliever, but he'll consistently have to command the ball and prove doubters wrong throughout his career.

Ravenelle might have the highest ceiling of any Massachusetts pitcher not named Beede or Connaughton. Ravenelle has a 6-foot-4, 185-pound build and throws in the low 90s, but he has struggled with consistency. He throws from a three-quarters slot and has funkiness with his arm action, and he needs to repeat his delivery better by staying closed longer and more in line with the plate. Ravenelle has shown a fringe-average breaking ball and decent changeup in the past. A Vanderbilt recruit, Ravenelle likely will end up at school, though someone should take a flier on him as a summer follow.

Both Perry and Chin go to the school known locally as BB&N, and both probably will end up at Boston College. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, Perry is an athletic righty with long levers and an easy arm action, producing an 86-90 mph fastball that touches 92. He has feel for an upper-70s breaking ball but hasn't shown much of a changeup. Scouts have some questions about Perry's makeup, but he has serious potential and is a player to watch for the next three years.

After showing solid stuff on the showcase circuit for the last two summers, Chin was in discussion to be a top-15 rounds pick, but he had Tommy John surgery in late April. When healthy, Chin sat at 86-90 mph and touched 92 with his fastball, threw a fringe-average curveball and showed feel for a changeup. He had a deceptive delivery with a three-quarters release point and impressed talent evaluators with his ability to compete. Chin won't be able to throw for about 10-12 months, and it would be surprising if a team took him and tried to nurse him through the recovery process. He could develop into a top-flight college arm in a few years.

Boston College righthander Mike Dennhardt was considered the region's premier college pitcher before he also had Tommy John surgery early in the season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder spent time in the Eagles rotation as a freshman in 2008, pitching for the first BC team to make regionals since 1967, and he had success in the Cape Cod League last summer. When healthy, Dennhardt sat at 92-94 mph with good plane on his fastball. He had an above-average curveball and a fringy changeup. Dennhardt, a 17th-round pick out of high school, could have been taken in the top five rounds this year, but now he'll likely return to Chestnut Hill.

With Dennhardt sidelined, John Leonard has been Boston College's most reliable starter, going 4-7, 5.38 with 38 strikeouts in 75 innings through 13 starts. A pitchability righthander, Leonard works at 86-90 mph and moves his fastball around the zone. He has a slurvy curveball, a fringy slider and a show-me changeup. Leonard had weakness in his shoulder at the start of his junior season, but an MRI showed no structural damage and he hasn't had any problems since. Leonard was drafted by the Giants in the 36th round last year, and he figures to be a solid senior sign.

Garrett Smith played shortstop in his first two years at Boston College, but moved to catcher as a junior and profiles best as a reliever in the pros. As the Eagles' closer, Smith lit up radar guns with his lively mid-90s fastball from the right side. He also has a sharp, late-breaking curveball. Smith should get taken late, but one talent evaluator said it wouldn't surprise him if he pitches in the big leagues.

UMass-Lowell's Jack Leathersich has been in the Riverhawks rotation since his freshman year, but he's best suited to pitch out of the bullpen, which is where he had success in the Cape Cod League last summer. An arm-strength lefty, Leathersich struck out 31 batters in 21 innings of relief for Orleans, running his fastball up to 95 mph, while he works at 88-92 as a starter. He shows two fringe-average breaking balls, a slurve and a curveball, but he slows everything down in his delivery on secondary offerings. Scouts have concerns about Leathersich's mechanics, as he throws across his body with recoil and often loses his arm slot. Some talked him up as a potential top-five-rounds selection, but he'll probably be taken in the eighth- to 12th-round range.

Lefty John Pedrotty mostly played first base for Portsmouth (R.I.) HS, one of the Northeast's top prep teams in 2008, alongside Ryan Westmoreland, the Red Sox's fifth-round pick that year. When Westmoreland got hurt toward the end of the season, Pedrotty was forced to pitch more often, and he has improved significantly since then. Now the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has an 88-92 mph fastball with an easy delivery and smooth arm action. Pedrotty also has an average changeup and below-average curveball that he throws for strikes. Scouts like Pedrotty's upside and think he'll have a chance to start if he can improve his breaking ball. Pedrotty should get taken between rounds 15-20.

Matt Gedman, the son of former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman, had a solid spring, hitting .397/.436/.571 for UMass. Also a backup goalie on the school's hockey team, Gedman is an athletic, scrappy third baseman who plays above his tools. He should get taken late as a senior sign, possibly by Boston, where he would get a chance to play for his father, who's also the hitting coach for the short-season Lowell Spinners.