State Report: New York

Good depth, little star power in Empire 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
The Empire State has a chance to produce a trio of picks in the top five rounds this year, with intriguing high schooler Williams Jerez and college players Joe Panik and Nick Tropeano, but New York boasts no other surefire picks for the top 10 rounds. Several players have a chance to sneak into that range, including Siena's Dan Paolini. The power-hitting second baseman has gotten a lot of buzz with his long-ball displays the lasts two springs, but most of the state's college prospects are pitchers.

Following 2010's strong high school crop that featured first-rounder Cito Culver, this year's group isn't quite as star-studded after Jerez. But with a relatively deep college class, 2011 is a three-star year, just like four of the last five drafts.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Williams Jerez, of, Grand Street HS, New York (National Rank: 53)
2. Joe Panik, ss, St. John's (National Rank: 67)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Nick Tropeano, rhp, Stony Brook
4. Dan Paolini, 2b, Siena
5. Matt Marra, 3b, Le Moyne
6. Elvin Soto, c, Xaverian HS, Brooklyn
7. David Bartuska, rhp, Dominican
8. Michael Gallic, of, Marist
9. Nick Albero, rhp, Dowling
10. Jerry Coleman, rhp, Clarkson
11. Joe Henshaw, 1b, Army
12. Kevin McKague, rhp, Army
13. Zach Kraham, rhp, Albany
14. Tyler Jones, c, Long Island
15. Morgan Phillips, ss, Douglas Academy, New York
16. Chris Bostick, ss, Aquinas HS, Bronx
17. Michael Anarumo, lhp, Le Moyne
18. Tucker Healy, rhp, Ithaca
19. David Kubiak, rhp, Albany
20. Jon Schwind, 2b, Marist
21. Matt Wessinger, 2b, St. John's
22. Matt Pirro, Bishop Ludden HS, Syracuse
23. Matt Duran, 1b, New Rochelle HS
24. Jonathan DeMarte, rhp/of, Lakeland HS, Shrub Oak
25. Glenn Gronkowski, of, Williamsville North HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Williams Jerez, of
Grand Street HS, Brooklyn

Jerez moved from the Dominican Republic with his father two years ago. He originally drew interest as a lefthander, but he has more potential as a center fielder and has generated a lot of buzz this spring after playing in Florida for Hank's Yanks, a team sponsored by Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner. Jerez's 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame is what one scout described as "about as good a body as you could imagine." He has a wiry strong build and should add bulk as he matures. He has average raw power, with loft and leverage in his swing, which has a tendency to get long. Some scouts worry how he will fare against premium velocity, but his bat speed has improved even since March. Jerez has a plus arm and plus speed, but it doesn't play down the line because he's slow out of the batter's box. There's no consensus on Jerez: Some scouts question his background and age and don't like his bat, while others project on his raw tools and athleticism.
 
Joe Panik, ss
St. John's

The phrase scouts use most often when describing Panik says a lot about the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder from Yonkers, N.Y.: "He's just a good baseball player who can hit." His bat is his only plus tool, but he plays the game the right way and makes the most of his ability. Panik thrived in the Cape Cod League last summer and was the circuit's No. 24 prospect after hitting .297 with eight doubles and two home runs for Yarmouth-Dennis. He manipulates the barrel well and has a short, compact lefthanded swing that generates gap power and consistent hard contact. Scouts rave about Panik's disciplined, polished approach and strike-zone awareness. He had labrum surgery after his freshman year, and he has difficulty with throws deep in the hole, but his hands work well. He profiles best as a bat-first second baseman, though he could play short in a pinch because of his instincts. A thin crop of college middle infielders puts Panik in prime position to get popped in the first few rounds.

Small-School College Pitchers Highlight Year For Empire State

Just about everywhere Nick Tropeano has pitched, he has posted gaudy numbers. He was named the top prospect in the Atlantic Collegiate League in 2009, tossed a complete game against Coastal Carolina in NCAA regional play last year and led Cotuit to a Cape Cod League title last summer by pitching seven innings of hitless relief with seven strikeouts in the championship game. He followed all that up with a strong spring as Stony Brook's No. 1 starter, going 12-1, 1.84 during the regular season with 119 strikeouts against 24 walks in 93 innings. Tropeano's statistics are better than his pure stuff, and he uses pitching savvy and competitiveness to get hitters out. His fastball sits at 86-90 mph and touches 92, and he relies heavily on his secondary stuff. He has arguably the best changeup in the college ranks, a plus pitch that he'll throw in any count, and a hard slider. He has worked on a sinker. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Tropeano has a prototypical pitcher's body and is an innings-eater, but if he doesn't boost his upper-80s fastball he'll need to have above-average command throughout his career to advance. Tropeano should get taken between the fifth and eighth rounds.

A pitching prospect for most of his high school career, Dan Paolini sustained a shoulder injury and had labrum surgery before his senior year, but Siena still pursued him as a hitter. As a sophomore, Paolini ranked second nationally with 26 home runs, and the new bats this season only slightly slowed his production, as he walloped another 17. Scouts were more concerned with his numbers in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .200 with four doubles and one home run in 110 at-bats last summer. Power is his only plus tool, and he has a long, uppercut swing, making some scouts wonder whether his bat speed will play against premium velocity. Though he's a good athlete, Paolini bulked up this year and looked stiff. He is a below-average defender with an average arm and likely will move to left field. Paolini should get popped between rounds eight and 15.

Le Moyne shortstop Matt Marra and lefthander Michael Anarumo have sparked scouts' interest for the last two years. Marra, a draft-eligible sophomore a season ago, is a blue-collar gamer with good instincts. He has good hands and an average arm at shortstop, though his future figures to be at second base. At the plate, Marra has a line-drive, gap-to-gap approach. Though he hasn't pitched much, Marra could have a future on the mound, where he shows a low-90s fastball and a decent breaking ball in bullpen sessions.

Anarumo was picked by the Athletics in the 21st round last year, but he didn't have a great spring. A 6-foot-5, 200-pound reliever, he sits at 86-90 mph with his sinking fastball and has a fringy slider. He had Tommy John surgery two years ago.

Marist outfielder Michael Gallic and second baseman Jon Schwind have drawn scouts to Poughkeepsie and put up solid numbers this spring, with Gallic the better prospect for 2011. The rare toolsy senior, Gallic has an athletic 6-foot-2, 210-pound body. He is a plus runner, a good defender in center field and has above-average raw power, though he sells out for the long ball too often. Gallic should get taken in the 15th- to 20th-round range. Schwind is more of a player for next year's draft, but he's a good athlete with quick hands and a slashy swing at the plate. He has an above-average arm that should allow him to be a super-utility player at the next level, and he's a plus runner.

Righthander David Bartuska and lefthander Nick Albero competed throughout the season to earn the honor as the top Division-II prospect in New York, and both should get taken in the top 25 rounds. Bartuska, a slender 6-foot, 175-pounder, has a quick arm and average fastball that reaches the low 90s to go along with a solid slider. He dominated in 2011, going 9-2, 1.59 with 86 strikeouts in 79 innings for the Chargers, but his delivery has raised concerns among scouts. Bartuska suffered a nasty injury while pitching for Lackawanna College in the fall of 2009, when a comebacker struck him in the face and left him with a broken eye socket that required plates and 12 screws to repair, but he has shown no ill effects.

Coming off a medical redshirt sophomore season due to a shoulder injury that did not require surgery, Albero went 4-5, 2.42 with 50 strikeouts in 52 innings through 18 appearances. He works at 90-93 mph with great life, and he has an above-average changeup and a slurvy breaking ball, but he struggles with command. Scouts are worried about Albero's high-effort delivery, and he profiles as a reliever down the line.

Zach Kraham and David Kubiak headlined Albany's weekend rotation this spring, and the duo posted strikingly similar stats. Kraham, at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, has a good pitcher's body and a live arm, though it's a little stiff. His fastball ranges anywhere from 89-94 mph with good plane. He has a curveball, an average changeup and a developing slider, but he struggles to command his offspeed offerings. Kraham is still raw, but his body and velocity offer intrigue as a summer follow.

Kubiak has a massive, durable 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame, but he throws across his body and doesn't repeat his delivery, and the ball doesn't come out of his hand well. Kubiak has a decent changeup and not much of a breaking ball. He'll be a later pick as a senior sign.

The U.S. Military Academy has three draft prospects—Kevin McKague, Joe Henshaw and Clint Moore—though the Army's active duty requirement clouds their pro potential. McKague looked like a possible top-five-rounds selection at the team's scout day and early this spring, as he pumped mid-90s heat and flashed a sharp slider, but a back injury limited him to three appearances. He might get a medical redshirt and come back for a fifth season. Henshaw is a 6-foot-7, 250-pound monster with plus raw power, but he doesn't show it much in games and likes to hit the ball the other way. He has a crouched, wide-open stance and cuts himself off in his swing.

Division-III Clarkson utilityman Jerry Coleman has played all over the field for the last few years, and he fits best as a corner outfielder in the pros. Coleman's athleticism sticks out like a sore thumb in D-III. He doesn't have any loud tools and it's hard to know how his talent set will play at the next level, but Coleman does a lot of things well. He's a plus runner with a good arm, and he's a switch-hitter who's better from the left side. Coleman takes an intellectual approach to the game, and he studies engineering at Clarkson.

Catcher Elvin Soto, from the same high school that produced Rich Aurilia, ranked as the No. 89 prospect on BA's High School Top 100 list last winter after a strong showing on the showcase circuit. But scouts were disappointed with him this spring, as he added weight to his 6-foot, 190-pound frame, and his stock dropped. Soto, who spent time throughout his childhood in the Dominican Republic, is a durable catcher with good receiving skills. He has a below-average arm but a quick transfer, resulting in 2.0-second pop times. Offensively, Soto is a switch-hitter and shows occasional pop from the right side, as he doesn't let his hands get extended on the left. Soto originally committed to Arizona but signed with Pittsburgh in the fall, and though he should get drafted between the 10th and 15th rounds, he could benefit from going to school.

There are a few intriguing, athletic high schoolers who are likely headed to school but are worth keeping an eye on. There's no questioning the bloodlines of Glenn Gronkowski, a two-sport star who has committed to Kansas State for football and baseball. Gronkowski's older brothers Rob, Dan and Chris all play in the NFL, and his oldest brother Gordon played minor league baseball. Gronkowski came on the scene as a baseball player late this spring, and scouts like his physicality. He's a below-average runner with a weak arm, but he flashes plus power potential.

College of Charleston recruit Morgan Phillips looks the part but is raw. He has strong wrists and a slashy swing at the plate, and he shows good hands at shortstop, though he might end up in the outfield. Chris Bostick could step into the St. John's middle infield next year, filling in for Panik and Chris Wessinger. Bostick is a plus runner with good actions at short and a fringe-average arm. He shows potential to be a well-rounded hitter.