State Report: Florida
Another well-rounded, deep pool of talent in Sunshine State
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||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
Florida entered the spring as the top-ranked team in Division I, and the Gators remain near the top of the rankings as the NCAA tournament approaches. The Gators' top talents are underclassmen such as Southeastern Conference player of the year Mike Zunino, a sophomore catcher, and freshman righthander Karsten Whitson, an unsigned first-rounder from a year ago.
Yet the Gators still could push double digits in players drafted this year, and the talent gap between them and other top college teams in the state appears to be widening. Scouts and college recruiters remark repeatedly on how coach Kevin O'Sullivan and his staff are dominating the state in recruiting, and the depth shows on Florida's pitching staff. "I have never seen a team run dude after dude out there on the mound throwing 90 mph like they do," one rival college coach said.
The state's top-end draft picks for this year, though, aren't Gators, and many of them weren't born and raised in Florida. The top prep players, shortstops Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez, are originally from Puerto Rico. Top prep arm Jose Fernandez is a Cuban immigrant. Juco prospects Cory Spangenberg and Brian Goodwin are from Pennsylvania and North Carolina and played Division I ball last year before arriving as transfers. And the top four-year player picked will be Florida State lefty Sean Gilmartin, who is from California.
|NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS
1. Francisco Lindor, ss, Montverde Academy (National Rank: 7)
2. Javier Baez, ss, Arlington Country Day, Jacksonville (National Rank: 18)
3. Jose Fernandez, rhp, Alonso HS, Tampa (National Rank: 20)
4. Cory Spangenberg, 3b, Indian River JC (National Rank: 29)
5. Brian Goodwin, of, Miami-Dade JC (National Rank: 44)
6. Sean Gilmartin, lhp, Florida State (National Rank: 48)
7. Granden Goetzman, of, Palmetto HS (National Rank: 52)
8. Hudson Boyd, rhp, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers (National Rank: 58)
9. Tyler Marlette, c, Hagerty HS, Oviedo (National Rank: 72)
10. Roman Quinn, of, Port St. Joe HS (National Rank: 73)
11. Michael Kelly, rhp, West Boca Raton HS (National Rank: 76)
12. Tyler Greene, ss, West Boca Raton HS (National Rank: 83)
13. Peter O'Brien, c, Bethune-Cookman (National Rank: 103)
14. Kyle Smith, rhp, Santaluces HS, West Palm Beach (National Rank: 106)
15. Dante Bichette Jr., Orangewood Christian HS, Orlando (National Rank: 108)
16. Dan Vogelbach, 1b, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla. (National Rank: 109)
17. Nick Maronde, lhp, Florida (National Rank: 130)
18. Andrew Suarez, lhp, Columbus HS, Miami (National Rank: 155)
19. Preston Tucker, 1b/of, Florida (National Rank: 167)
20. Nick Rickles, c, Stetson (National Rank: 194)
21. Zeke DeVoss, of/2b, Miami
22. Anthony DeSclafani, rhp, Florida
23. Harold Martinez, 3b, Miami
24. Mike Clevinger, rhp, Seminole State JC
25. James Ramsey, of, Florida State
26. Eric Skoglund, lhp, Sarasota HS
27. Paul Davis, rhp, Florida Atlantic
28. Kevin Quackenbush, rhp, South Florida
29. Rock Shoulders, 1b, State JC of Florida
30. Nathan Melendres, of, Miami
31. Andrew Durden, of, Nova Southeastern
32. Derek Law, rhp, Miami-Dade JC
33. Beau Taylor, c, Central Florida
34. Sean Trent, 3b/1b, Bishop Moore HS, Maitland
35. Mason McVay, lhp, Florida International
36. Tucker Donahue, rhp, Stetson
37. Ronnie Richardson, of, Central Florida
38. Domonic Jose, of, Boca Raton HS
39. Austin Slater, ss, Bolles School, Jacksonville
40. Denny Winkler, rhp, Central Florida
41. Brandon Sedell, c, American Heritage HS, Lake Worth
42. Garret Wittels, ss, Florida International
43. Aramis Garcia, c, Pines Charter HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
44. Tommy Williams, ss, Palm Beach Gardens HS, North Palm Beach
45. Sean Buckley, 3b/of, St. Petersburg JC
46. Lindsey Caughel, rhp, Stetson
47. Jharel Cotton, rhp, Miami-Dade JC
46. Garrett Nuss, rhp, Mount Dora HS, Sorrento
47. Ben McMahan, c, Florida
48. Pablo Bermudez, of, Florida International
49. Ben O'Shea, lhp, Santa Fe JC
50. Tommy Toledo, rhp, Florida
51. Mike Snyder, 3b, Florida Southern
52. Daniel Pigott, of, Florida
53. Corey Stump, lhp, Lakeland Christian Academy
54. Tyler Thompson, of, Florida
55. Terrance Gore, of, Gulf Coast CC
56. Mario Amaral, c, Reagan HS, Hialeah
57. Jon Matthews, of, St. Petersburg JC
58. Dejai Oliver, rhp, Seminole State JC
59. Dean Greene, 1b, Barry
60. Daniel Miranda, lhp, Miami
61. Ozney Guillen, of, Miami-Dade JC
62. Malcolm Clapsaddle, rhp, Santa Fe JC
63. D'Andre Toney, of, Gulf Coast CC
64. Nick Goody, rhp, State JC of Florida
65. Geno Escalante, c, Chipola JC
66. Ryan Harris, rhp/of, Jupiter HS, West Palm Beach
67. Jack Lopez, ss, Deltona HS
68. Brett Lee, rhp, St. Petersburg JC
69. Manny Rodriguez, rhp, Barry
70. Joe Krehbiel, rhp, Seminole HS
71. Mike McGee, rhp/of, Florida State
72. Alex Santana, 3b/rhp, Mariner HS, Cape Coral
73. Zach Tillery, ss, Barron Collier HS, Naples
74. Ryan Meyer, rhp, Oviedo HS
75. Sherman Johnson, 2b, Florida State
76. Josh Delph, of, Bartow HS
77. Josh Adams, 2b, Florida
78. Jarred Mederos, ss, Mater Academy, Hialeah Gardens
79. Dustin Lawley, 3b, West Florida
80. Daniel DeSimone, rhp, Florida International
81. Alex Panteliodis, lhp, Florida
82. Zach Maggard, c, Florida Southern
83. Tyler Wrenn, ss, Tampa
84. Austin Southall, of/rhp, Chipola JC
85. Sam Mende, ss, South Florida
86. Mitch Morales, ss, Wellington HS, West Palm Beach
87. Hugh Adams, rhp, Florida Atlantic
88. Sean Albury, rhp, Nova Southeastern
89. Jonathan Murphy, of, Jacksonville
90. Hunter Scantling, rhp, Florida State
91. Garrett Bush, rhp, Seminole State JC
92. Trey Griffin, of, Santa Fe JC
93. Taiwan Easterling, of, Florida State
94. Tim Kiley, rhp, Tampa
95. Rayan Gonzalez, rhp, Bethune-Cookman
96. Josh Thrailkill, rhp, Tampa
97. Justin Shafer, ss/rhp, Lake Wales HS
98. Jordan Strittmatter, of, Lake Brantley HS, Altamonte Springs
99. Colton Davis, of, Lake Wales HS
100. Ben Carhart, 3b, Stetson
Francisco Lindor, ss
Lindor moved to the United States from Puerto Rico as a 12-year-old, and four years later he captained USA Baseball's 16U club to a gold-medal victory against Cuba in the World Youth Championship in Taiwan. A baseball rat, Lindor has tremendous work ethic to go with above-average tools, and he plays the game with ease and passion. He's a switch-hitter with a line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, and he has excellent hands that work both at the plate and in the field. He has the tools to play shortstop well at the highest level, with smooth actions, fluidity, instincts and good fundamentals. He's a plus runner but not a burner. Lindor's power is the biggest question about him. He has flashed more than just gap power at times, which was pushing him up draft boards. His season ended in April, and he wasn't expected to play in Florida's high school all-star game, instead working out on his own. Scouts haven't scoffed at Omar Vizquel comparisons. Scouting directors said Lindor was a legitimate candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, but more likely he'll slot in just behind that.
Javier Baez, ss
Arlington Country Day, Jacksonville
Baez matched up with fellow Puerto Rican native and Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor in February in the season's most heavily scouted high school game, with as many as 100 scouts on hand. Baez and Lindor have more contrasts than similarities, though. Where Lindor is smooth and lauded for his makeup, Baez is explosive and scouts generally pan his makeup. He lives with his high school coach (who is also his legal guardian), though his mother remains in the picture. His bat is too good to ignore, though, and offensively he has few peers in this year's draft. He has the fastest bat in the draft, and while he has a dead-pull approach at times, he has the bat speed to let balls get deep in the zone. Baez has plus raw power as well, which may serve him well if he has to move to third base. He has the defensive tools to stay at short until he outgrows it, as at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, he doesn't have much range to spare. He has plenty of arm for either position. His tools fit the catcher profile, but his makeup does not. He plays with energy, but it's not always positive, and he turns off some scouts with emotional outbursts and an off-field demeanor some describe as aloof. He's committed to Jacksonville.
Jose Fernandez, rhp
Alonso HS, Tampa
Even in a strong year in Florida last year, Fernandez stood out, and opposing hitters were measured by how they fared against him. He almost didn't get to pitch this season, as he was temporarily suspended pending an investigation into how much high school baseball he played in Cuba. It took two attempts for Fernandez, his mother and his sister to escape the island nation, and he's motivated on and off the field. One scout termed his demeanor as "high-level confidence." Fernandez has those who doubt his age, and he'll be 19 before the mid-August signing date. He throws three swing-and-miss pitches: a fastball that sits 90-95 mph with heavy sink at times and a pair of breaking balls. Scouts aren't sure if Fernandez means to throw both a slider and a curve, but his slider can be sharp and his curve at times has 12-to-6 break. He's shown flashes of a changeup as well and could wind up as a four-pitch workhorse. Sturdy at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Fernandez has a mature body and will have to work to maintain his conditioning.
Cory Spangenberg, 3b
Indian River JC
Spangenberg emerged as one of the draft's best pure hitters and should be the first college player drafted out of Florida. He's a Pennsylvania prep product who raked for one year at Virginia Military Institute in 2010, transferring after winning Big South Conference freshman of the year honors. He's a late bloomer physically, with a body type that defies easy categorization. While he isn't lean and athletic, he's also not stocky at 6-foot, 185 pounds. He produces well above-average speed, earning 70 grades on the 20-80 scale and posting 80 times on drag bunts (3.5 seconds from the left side). He also owns a pure lefthanded swing and is an above-average hitter. Spangenberg has hand-eye coordination, patience and the ability to manipulate the barrel, squaring balls up and lacing line drives to all fields. His swing lacks loft, but he has the feel for hitting to add power down the line, which would improve his profile. He has average arm strength, and scouts are mixed on his future position while often comparing him to versatile Marlins regular Chris Coghlan. He may lack the fluidity and footwork to stay in the infield. He played third base this spring at Indian River, but even those who like him at the hot corner admit he probably lacks the power to profile there. He played second base at VMI and shortstop in the Valley League last summer, where he was the MVP after hitting .399. His speed should allow him to play center field. Heavily scouted down the stretch, Spangenberg wasn't expected to make it out of the first round.
Brian Goodwin, of
Goodwin has been under the microscope this year and has responded well. He was a 16th-round pick out of Rocky Mount (N.C.) High in 2009 but didn't sign and went to North Carolina, where he posted a solid .291/.409/.511 freshman season. Goodwin then went to the Cape Cod League and ranked as the No. 6 prospect after hitting .281/.364/.360. Then he was suspended for a violation of university policy at North Carolina, so he transferred to Miami-Dade JC. He got off to a slow start thanks in part to a tweaked hamstring, but Goodwin came on to earn comparisons to ex-big leaguer Jacque Jones. Goodwin has average to plus tools across the board, starting with his hitting ability. He's patient, draws walks and has present strength, and some project him to have future plus power. A plus runner who's not quite a burner, Goodwin has the tools for center field, but he played a corner spot at North Carolina and doesn't consistently display natural instincts in center.
Sean Gilmartin, lhp
Gilmartin isn't flashy, but his total package should take him off the board in the first 50 picks as one of the draft's safest selections. A two-way talent out of a California high school, he attended a camp at Florida State and wound up being one of the Seminoles' rare cross-country recruits. He has pitched on Fridays for three seasons and helped lead Florida State to the College World Series last season, though he struggled putting hitters away in the second half of the season and last summer with USA Baseball's college national team. Gilmartin has improved significantly in the last year and become a scouts' darling with his combination of good size (6-foot-2, 192 pounds), clean arm action and solid athleticism. He has pushed his fastball into the average velocity range at 88-91 mph, his changeup remains a plus pitch and his slider has improved to average. Gilmartin knows how to use his stuff, particularly his changeup, how to set up hitters and how to keep them off-balance. His 10-1, 1.35 season includes four double-digit strikeout efforts. Scouts compare Gilmartin favorably to Vanderbilt southpaw Mike Minor, who went seventh overall to the Braves in 2009 and reached the majors a season later.
Granden Goetzman, of
Three factors have helped Goetzman jump up draft boards this spring: the thin Florida high school class, a lack of high school power bats and his own sizable talent. Minor shoulder issues kept him off the main showcase circuit, though he was a known commodity among Florida area scouts, so he has really introduced himself to national-level scouts this spring. Primarily a shortstop and pitcher in high school, Goetzman will move to an outfield corner as a pro, and he's gotten comparisons to such players as Jayson Werth and Jay Buhner. Bat speed and leverage help him produce prodigious power, and like Werth, Goetzman is a tall, angular athlete who might even have a shot at playing some center field. He's far from a stiff righthanded hitter, with a loose swing and above-average speed, especially under way. His hit tool is also advanced, as he has good natural timing. Scouts laud his makeup, and if a team thinks he can stay in the infield or play center, he could push his way into the first round.
Hudson Boyd, rhp
Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers
Boyd transferred from South Fort Myers High to Bishop Verot as he teamed with similarly beefy first baseman Dan Vogelbach. Together, they led their team to a state 3-A championship with Boyd 10-0 with 112 strikeouts through early May. His delivery and 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame have elicited comparisons to Jonathan Broxton and Bartolo Colon, and scouts intend those as positives. Boyd projects as a mid-rotation workhorse who will work with two plus pitches. He maintains the velocity on his fastball deep into games, topping out at 95-96 mph and sitting in the 90-94 range. His breaking ball also is plus, a power curve that scrapes 80 mph with tight rotation and sharp break. Boyd's changeup can be too firm at times, but he hasn't needed it much in high school.
Tyler Marlette, c
Hagerty HS, Oviedo
Evaluators like Marlette's fast-twitch athletic ability behind the plate, and his power potential is sending his draft stock higher. He has shown excellent bat speed in past showcase events, such as the Aflac all-star game last summer, when he homered at Petco Park and was the game's MVP. Then he got hot in front of crosscheckers and other high-level scouts this spring, showing power to all fields, an improvement from his past approach. Marlette has above-average arm strength as well, and earns praise for his grinder mentality. He has the makeup to be a take-charge catcher. The biggest concerns center on his size (he's 5-foot-11, 195 pounds) and scouts' views of how well he'll receive. He has a tendency to lose his front side in his swing, opening his hips early and yanking everything to his pull side. A Central Florida signee, Marlette has a chance to jump into the supplemental round and should go in the first three rounds if he's signable.
Roman Quinn, of
Port St. Joe HS
A Florida State signee, Quinn was a must-see at relatively remote Port St. Joe, on the Florida Panhandle. The fastest player in the BA Top 200, he's a true top-of-the-scale runner with game-changing speed. He's a high school shortstop who has the arm strength (solid-average) and hands to stay in the infield. Quinn has the athleticism to play second base, but his speed plays better in center field, which is where more scouts project him to wind up. He's a righthanded hitter who has been learning to switch-hit over the last year. The 2010 East Coast Pro showcase was his first game action hitting lefthanded, and he was overmatched, so he backed off switch-hitting for a time. He resumed it this spring and has improved from the left side. Scouts like his righthanded swing, which produces surprising pop. His 5-foot-9, 165-pound size may drive him down draft boards, but he had helium and was unlikely to get out of the third round.
Michael Kelly, rhp
West Boca Raton HS
Kelly powered West Boca to Florida's state 5-A title with his bat and his arm, throwing an 86-pitch six-hit shutout in the state semifinal in his final appearance. Scouts want him as a pitcher, and his frame is as ideal as any pitcher in the country. He's a fairly fluid athlete who is growing into his 6-foot-5, 210-pound body. Kelly entered the year with great expectations and didn't live up to them early, struggling mechanically to stay tall in his delivery and with inconsistent velocity. His body and stuff elicit comparisons to A.J. Cole, who entered 2010 as the top arm in Florida's prep ranks and wound up a fourth-rounder while still signing for $2 million. Kelly's fastball is a shade below Cole's, topping out at 94 and regularly sitting in the 89-92 mph range. He also throws a curveball and changeup that project to be average pitches but are fringe-average at present. His curve flashes the depth to be a plus pitch if he can firm up his delivery and get better extension out front. Kelly, like Cole, doesn't always attack hitters aggressively like scouts want him to, but he has gotten better as the season progressed.
Tyler Greene, ss
West Boca Raton HS
Teammate of highly regarded righthander Mike Kelly, Greene is one of the draft's bigger enigmas. The younger brother of Mets farmhand Chase Greene, Tyler pushed his brother off shortstop when they played together in 2009, when he was just a sophomore. He's impressive physically and shows well in workouts and showcases with his raw tools. Greene has improved his speed to well above-average over the last year by getting stronger and more explosive. He has a fast-twitch body and athletic ability, and looks the part at shortstop. He's not natural at short, doesn't always get good hops and doesn't have the most accurate arm, short-circuiting his plus arm strength. Offensively, he was erratic on the showcase circuit and again this spring, where he was hitting around .380 in mid May with just five home runs. Greene also could move up boards with a strong workout.
Peter O'Brien, c
O'Brien emerged as a top college catching prospect last year, first when he hit 20 homers for Bethune-Cookman, then when he earned a spot on USA Baseball's college national team. On a team with many of the top hitters in the country, O'Brien hit four home runs and showed premium righthanded power, his best tool. His hitting has regressed as a junior, with more swings and misses and less feel for the barrel. While Bethune-Cookman doesn't have any arms near the quality of Team USA's, O'Brien nevertheless has struggled with his receiving this spring, as he did last summer. He's not a great athlete and struggles to receive breaking balls to his right. He has arm strength but lacks fluid footwork. Many scouts believe he has no chance to be a big league catcher, which would relegate him to first base. He has shown the work ethic and makeup needed to handle a staff, and there's some thought that improved core strength and more flexibility could make him passable as a catcher/first baseman in the Jake Fox mold.
Kyle Smith, rhp
Santaluces HS, West Palm Beach
Smith emerged as a scouts' favorite in South Florida when he was the top performer in the area this spring as a power pitcher and solid hitter. His future will be on the mound, whether in pro ball or in college at Florida. Smith was a showcase regular the last two years and showed average fastball velocity from a quick-armed, small-framed body. He has pushed that heater up to 95 mph at times this spring, though it still sits 88-92. He has good feel for spinning a breaking ball and has depth and some power on the curveball, which at times gets slurvy. Smith could be a tough sell to crosscheckers because of his size—he's listed at 6 feet, 180 pounds—but he does other things to endear him to evaluators. He keeps a quick, aggressive tempo, pitches with swagger, competes hard and has excellent baseball instincts. He's athletic and repeats his compact delivery. Some scouts point to Smith's family and expect him to get more physical. He could go out in the first three rounds.
Dante Bichette Jr., of
Orangewood Christian HS, Orlando
Bichette's father played 14 seasons in the major leagues, earning four All-Star Game nods, collecting 1,906 hits and 274 home runs and even posting a 30-30 season in 1996. His son is cut from similar cloth. He's a righthanded hitter who has solid athleticism and a track record of performance, going back to helping his Little League team reach Williamsport, Pa. The younger Bichette is a high school infielder, but his profile will wind up being that of a power-hitting left fielder. He lacks fluidity defensively, and his best tool when he's not in the batter's box is his throwing arm. Offense is his calling card, and he's a cage rat who often can be found taking extra rounds of batting practice. Bichette has had a lot of movement in his swing but has toned down a bit this season while still producing big power and plenty of bat speed. He has as much raw power as any prep player in Florida and runs well enough to be a corner outfielder if he can't stay in the infield. He's committed to Georgia.
Dan Vogelbach, 1b
Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers
Vogelbach is not a good runner, but he helped Bishop Verot win the Florida 3-A championship for the first time since 1994 when he scampered home from second base with the winning run on a deflected single by Hudson Boyd—a likely top-two-rounds pick as a pitcher. Vogelbach hit 17 homers in 32 games and has some of the best lefthanded power in the draft due to excellent strength and a sound, loose swing. He put it on display last December at the annual Power Showcase—the event made famous by Bryce Harper's 502-foot homer—by launching one 508 feet with a metal bat and won the event. He is more than a masher, with solid hitting ability and a fairly polished approach. But at 6 feet, 240 pounds, Vogelbach has work to do physically and will never be thought of as athletic. He has trimmed up in the last year, particularly since last summer's East Coast Pro Showcase, when he weighed more than 280 pounds. Vogelbach is limited to first base and may be limited to the American League, but he may hit his way into the firs three rounds. He's committed to Florida.
Nick Maronde, lhp
Maronde entered his senior high school season in Kentucky as the No. 19 player on BA's Top 100 high school prospects list. He was a 43rd-round pick by the Athletics in 2008 because of the strength of his commitment to Florida, and he got 11 starts as a freshman, leading the team in strikeouts. He struggled as a sophomore, relegated to a relief role and posting a 6.15 ERA. He found success as a reliever this year, dominating at times with an above-average fastball and aggressive approach. Maronde's fastball has reached 96 and sits 90-94 mph, and he has shown the ability to pitch off it, at times to the exclusion of his other stuff. He had a recent outing with 26 straight fastballs and used no other pitch. His control of his fastball and slider are both better this year, and at times his slider is average. He hasn't used his changeup much, though he threw it as a freshman and in high school. His 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and potential three-pitch mix make it likely he'll return to a starting role once he's drafted, though he could move quickly as a power-armed lefthanded reliever.
Andrew Suarez, lhp
Columbus HS, Miami
Scouts have watched Suarez for some time, and in some ways it seems they only look for his flaws now. He was Dade County's top pitcher as a sophomore in 2009, and scouts noticed his easy arm action and smooth delivery. He hit 92 mph easily, so scouts kept waiting for more out of the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder. Suarez still throws 92 mph and sits in the 88-92 range at his best. Like many prep pitchers, his fastball velocity has fluctuated, and he was up-and-down this spring. He shows a good feel for throwing his curveball for strikes and a solid changeup as well. The biggest question with Suarez is how much is left in his arm. Projecting on Florida high school pitchers can be dicey because they play year-round, and some area scouts question his athleticism. He has a strong commitment to Miami as well. Even if his fastball velocity doesn't improve, Suarez has a chance to be a physical three-pitch lefty, making him a first-five-rounds talent.
Preston Tucker, of/1b
Tucker broke in to college ball with a splash, driving in 85 runs and earning first-team Freshman All-American honors in 2009. He was primarily a first baseman in his first two seasons but has shifted to the outfield as a junior to help Florida get more bats into the lineup and to showcase Tucker's versatility. Most scouts says it has done more to expose Tucker's flaws than highlight his strengths, though, and after he batted .113 in the Cape Cod League he has his detractors. He did rally in the Cape to hit two home runs in the postseason, and he rallied from a slow 2011 start to get back over .300 in Southeastern Conference play while hitting double digits in home runs again. Tucker has solid hitting ability and makes consistent contact, and he's not afraid to work counts. He has solid power, but it's hard for scouts to give him above-average grades for either of his best tools. Defensively, he fits better in left field, where his below-average speed and arm are less of a factor than in right, where he plays for the Gators. Some scouts see him as more of a first baseman. His track record of performance should get him off the board in the first six rounds.
Nick Rickles, c
Rickles was summer-ball teammates in 2009 with Bethune-Cookman's Peter
O'Brien, and while O'Brien is the better pro prospect, many college
coaches prefer Rickles, who has a durable 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. He
struggled as a sophomore before straightening out his swing in the
Valley League last summer, hitting .284 with eight homers. He carried
that over as a junior and has had his best power season, adding loft to
his swing. Using a contact-oriented approach, he had more home runs (11)
than strikeouts (seven). He has excellent balance at the plate and a
professional approach to go with excellent bat control. Rickles is a
decent athlete and runs around 7.0 seconds over 60 yards. Some scouts
have reservations about Rickles' catch-and-throw skills. He has a hitch
in his throwing motion as he transfers from glove to hand, negating to a
degree his solid-average arm strength. Nevertheless, he threw out 35
percent of baserunners in 2011, after throwing out 29 percent as a
sophomore and 26 percent as a freshman. He's a good receiver at the
college level but no better than average. He has been one of the
nation's best-performing college catchers and should sneak into the
fifth to eighth round.
Lots Of Questions With Wittels
Florida International had another strong regular season and finished second in the Sun Belt Conference. The Golden Panthers started the season in the spotlight thanks to Garrett Wittels
, the infielder who emerged last season with a 56-game hitting streak. Wittels handled the spotlight well last year, but the glare intensified when he was charged with rape while vacationing in the Bahamas in December. He was allowed to play while the trial was delayed; the first hearing was held in early May, with more scheduled for June. Wittels maintains that he had consensual sex with the woman who accused him. Through it all, he had a solid but unspectacular junior season, hitting .342. He has played shortstop and is a solid fielder there for the college level. His bat is his best tool, as he employs a contact approach and has excellent bat control. He has below-average power, having hit just two home runs each of the last two seasons, and he's just an average runner. He has above-average arm strength and used to hit the low 90s off the mound. His bat profiles best at second base, while his defense fits better at third. He plays with a lot of energy, and some still talk about him moving behind the plate. As a tweener with off-field issues to deal with, it's tough to tell where he'll be drafted.
Fellow Golden Panther Pablo Bermudez
also is a good college hitter who doesn't fit a classic profile. He was the team's top bat this season and is a solid-average runner. He fits defensively on a corner in pro ball but lacks corner power. Several FIU pitchers also could be drafted, including enigmatic righthander Daniel DeSimone
, a senior with arm strength who has touched 93 mph with his four-seam fastball. Lefthander Mason McVay
may be the team's the most intriguing prospect. A redshirt sophomore, he is a Tommy John surgery alumnus with a 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame and a history of a balky shoulder. The medical history scares teams, though his power arm attracts them. McVay has touched 94 and sits 90-92 with a power slider in the low 80s. He doesn't have great control, and his violent delivery will limit him to relieving.
Florida Atlantic's top draft should be Paul Davis
, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander who transferred in from Pensacola (Fla.) JC after being drafted by the Red Sox in the 29th round last year. Davis has traits that make him a likely reliever, such a velocity (he has touched 94 mph), a solid slider, an emotional nature and excellent competitiveness. He also has shown an ability to maintain his velocity deep in games, touching 93 in the ninth inning of one start, and impressive consistency. He tied for the Sun Belt Conference lead in complete games (three) and wins (seven) in the regular season. Physical closer Hugh Adams
, a 6-foot-5, 215 pound righthander, led the Sun Belt with 10 saves.
Among college closers, the pitcher who improved his lot the most was South Florida senior righthander Kevin Quackenbush
, who came on strong after the addition of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, a former big league pitching coach. Quackenbush found the strike zone more frequently this year with his 90-95 mph fastball and walked just seven this season, about a third of his past walk rate. His secondary stuff isn't special, but he throws his slider with some power and has added a changeup. He's the top draft prospect for the Bulls, who also could have shortstop Sam Mende
go out due to his dependable defensive skills up the middle. Mende had a brutal year with the bat, however, batting .194 in Big East games with 26 strikeouts in 103 at-bats.
Florida is the top team in the state, but most of its best players are underclassmen. The Gators have several veterans who will get drafted, starting with corner bat Preston Tucker and hard-throwing lefthander Nick Maronde. Similar to Maronde are righthanders Anthony DeSclafani
and Tommy Toledo
, who both came in as highly regarded recruits but have found themselves pitching out of the bullpen on a deep 2011 staff. Toledo was a third-round pick in 2007, was in the rotation in 2008 and missed the 2009 season with Tommy John surgery. He came back last year in a sporadic role and has pitched mostly in relief this season, reaching 94-95 mph. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound DeSclafani throws even harder, at 93-96 mph out of the bullpen with surprising feel for a slider. DeSclafani's control is short and his fastball flattens out, and despite his big stuff and loose arm, he gets hit hard.
The Gator bullpen also features 6-foot-2, 230-pound Alex Panteliodis
, a soft-bodied pitchability lefthander who was the Gators' ace in 2010, going 11-3, 3.51. At his best, Panteliodis has an average fastball that he commands to go with a solid curveball and decent changeup. He didn't respond well to losing his starting job this season.
Florida's deep roster also has affected position players. Senior second baseman Josh Adams
hit just .224 last season, then responded with a .340 year this season. He shifted to a contact approach this season and should be a solid organizational infielder. Daniel Pigott
has maintained a job in the outfield, but Tyler Thompson
has not, with just 66 at-bats. Both outfielders are solid athletes, and Pigott would be dangerous if he were more selective. Catcher Ben McMahan
has catch-and-throw skills and a pro body but has been buried behind sophomore Mike Zunino, the Southeastern Conference player of the year.
Miami's top prospect entering the year was supposed to be third baseman Harold Martinez
, who also was highly touted entering his senior year in high school. He has a long performance track record that included two USA Baseball stints. He had a modest senior high school season and wound up at Miami, and he seems to be following a similar path this year. He hit 21 homers as a sophomore to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference. The less-potent bats at the college level this season have affected Martinez, though, and he had as many sacrifice hits (10) as extra-base hits through 53 games. He has timing issues at the plate and doesn't recognize pitches well, and he has yet to hit .300 at the college level. He has raw power but doesn't make consistent enough contact to bring it out. Martinez is a solid athlete who can handle third base defensively, with plenty of arm strength. He has filled in at shortstop when needed and has played some first base. He runs well enough to handle a corner outfield spot. His best-case scenario as a pro could be as a utility player thanks to his glove.
Martinez may have been passed on his own team by center fielder Nathan Melendres
and versatile Zeke DeVoss
. At 5-foot-10, 197 pounds, Melendres has four tools that are average or better. He is a solid-average defender and plus runner who plays the short game well and makes consistent contact. He's a good basestealer whose bat lacks impact potential due to his lack of power. Melendres' average arm helps him profile as a fourth outfielder.
A somewhat polarizing player for scouts, DeVoss is an eligible sophomore who turned down a late-round offer from the Red Sox out of the 2009 draft. He was one of Miami's few impact offensive players in an up-and-down season, teaming with Melendres at the top of the lineup and setting the table ably, though his swing is inconsistent. He's not physical but is a good athlete who is less polished than the average college player in Florida. He's one of college baseball's faster runners, and his speed plays offensively. When he's going right he'll sting line drives to the gaps and put his speed to use on the basepaths. DeVoss played shortstop in high school and has shifted between left field and second base. He hasn't played center field much in deference to Melendres, making it difficult for scouts who think that's his best position. His speed and athleticism figure to make him the first Miami player off the board.
Florida State doesn't have a lot of draft prospects other than ace Sean Gilmartin, with the exception of outfielder James Ramsey
, who has a chance to go in a single-digit round. He's a lefthanded hitter with an uppercut swing who has improved his hitting ability this season, using the whole field more while maintaining his solid raw power. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has solid-average tools across the board. He's an academic all-American who didn't play summer ball the last two years. His father played on Florida State's 1980 College World Series team and his mother played tennis there, so his signability could be tough.
Stetson catcher Nick Rickles
was summer-ball teammates in 2009 with Bethune-Cookman's Peter O'Brien, and while O'Brien is the better pro prospect, many college coaches prefer Rickles, who has a durable 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. He struggled as a sophomore before straightening out his swing in the Valley League last summer, hitting .284 with eight homers. He carried that over as a junior and has had his best power season, adding loft to his swing. Using a contact-oriented approach, he had more home runs (11) than strikeouts (seven). He has excellent balance at the plate and a professional approach to go with excellent bat control. Rickles is a decent athlete and runs around 7.0 seconds over 60 yards. Some scouts have reservations about his catch-and-throw skills. He has a hitch in his throwing motion as he transfers from glove to hand, negating to a degree his solid-average arm strength. Nevertheless, he threw out 35 percent of baserunners in 2011, after throwing out 29 percent as a sophomore and 26 percent as a freshman. He's a good receiver at the college level but no better than average for pro ball. He has been one of the nation's best-performing college catchers and should sneak into the fifth to eighth round.
Stetson stumbled down the stretch with injuries to its top pitchers. Righthander Lindsey Caughel
had come back from an ankle injury that caused him to miss four starts, and he was back on the mound for the postseason. Caughel's 88-91 mph fastball and curveball earn average grades when he's at his best, and he has a pro body at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. Reliever Tucker Donahue
, who also had made eight starts, ranked second on the team in innings and was the Hatters' moment-of-truth reliever. He has excellent life on his sinking fastball, which sits 91-92 and touches 94 mph. His slider is fringy and his changeup is below-average, and for the most part he pitches off his sinker.
Central Florida's top prospect entering the year was supposed to be outfielder Ronnie Richardson
, a speedy 5-foot-7 dynamo and draft-eligible sophomore. He hasn't broken out yet and will be a tough read. He turned down the Twins as an 11th-rounder out of high school and has improved as a switch-hitter with more experience, with his lefthanded swing making great progress. He's a plus runner but not a burner and needs to be more patient at the plate while gaining aggressiveness on the basepaths. Richardson has good arm strength and shows above-average defense in center field at times. His best performances tend to come against better opponents, with his consistency leaving something to be desired.
That's why Beau Taylor
has passed Richardson as the Golden Knights' top prospect, a lefthanded-hitting catcher who has offensive ability. Taylor's hand-eye coordination has helped him produce for three seasons as a regular, and he has solid hitting tools to go with a good profile. Taylor didn't start catching regularly until he got to UCF and remains rough as a receiver. He has a solid-average arm more notable for its accuracy than its explosiveness. Taylor should go out ahead of junior-college transfer Denny Winkler
, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with a solid-average fastball and a slider that at times is a swing-and-miss pitch.
Nova Southeastern has a late sleeper in outfielder Andrew Durden
, whom scouts know well from stints at Florida State (last year) and Indian River JC. At 5-foot-11, 211 pounds, Durden was a two-way player in juco and just pitched at Florida State, then came to Division II Nova to hit. He has tools, with present strength and solid power as he smashed 16 home runs and slugged .721. His inexperience as a full-time hitter showed, with 57 strikeouts in 197 at-bats. Durden has excellent bat speed, an above-average arm and above-average speed, and he switch-hits. The intriguing if raw package should get him drafted in the first dozen rounds. Teammate Sean Albury
, a smallish righthander originally from the Bahamas, has a fastball that ranges from 90-93 mph, and that should get him drafted.
Jacksonville will factor into next year's draft with sophomores Dan Gulbransen and Adam Brett Walker, two of the nation's top hitters. This year, the team's best contribution is outfielder Jonathan Murphy
, the younger brother of Mets outfielder David Murphy. He's a different player from his brother, with athleticism and speed without his brother's feel for hitting. Jonathan is an average runner who's better under way, with wiry strength and solid-average arm strength. His swing needs work, though, and he has played primarily left field despite his athleticism. He may just wind up being a senior sign.
Lots Of Juco Arms Behind Goodwin, Spangenberg
The state's junior-college ranks got a major boost with the transfers of Brian Goodwin and Cory Spangenberg. If not for them, the two-year schools would have been sparse in position players. The more attractive prospects other than those two potential first-rounders were all pitchers, highlighted by reliever Mike Clevinger
. He racked up 52 strikeouts in 32 innings primarily using a 93-95 mph fastball and mixing in a slider that has swing-and-miss potential. Clevinger's delivery is far from smooth and requires plenty of effort, and he had trouble repeating his delivery. He is 6-foot-4, 190 pounds and could be a summer follow, as he was expected to play in the Cape Cod League in the summer.
Seminole State teammate Garrett Bush
, a 6-foot-5 transfer from Auburn who is a Jacksonville native, still has projection as he came to pitching late in high school. For now his stuff is fringy at best and not as firm as the team's ace, Dejai Oliver
. He's a 6-foot-1, 190-pound righthander and the son of ex-big league catcher Joe Oliver, and he has flashed a tight slider and feel for pitching while scraping the low 90s.
Miami-Dade had arms who would have gotten scouting attention with or without Goodwin being on the team. Righthanders Derek Law
and Jharel Cotton
both could go out in the 10th-15th round. Law scares off evaluators with his rough arm action and hard delivery, though he shows a fastball in the 89-93 mph range and holds his velocity. He dominated juco competition (8-5, 2.35, 121/16 SO/BB ratio in 92 innings) with his fastball and power downer curve. Cotton has a stabbing arm action that can be difficult to repeat, but at his best he touches 93 mph, sitting 88-91, and has a plus changeup.
Santa Fe lefthander Ben O'Shea
consistently sat in the upper 80s most of the season, and with his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame teams had enough to dream on. He improved his stock greatly by sitting in the 90-92 mph range at the state juco tournament as his team's No. 2 starter behind Malcolm Clapsaddle
. O'Shea also shows feel for a changeup and a fringe-average slurvy breaking ball. The state pitcher of the year, Clapsaddle has a memorable name and bumped 92 mph in the fall. His fastball velocity was less showy during the season, and his stuff generally earns fringy grades. He began his college career at Georgia and will go to High Point if he doesn't sign. Santa Fe outfielder Trey Griffin
, part of last year's stellar Georgia prep class, continues to tease scouts with an athletic body, solid but not spectacular tools and uninspiring performance.
Gulf Coast outfielder D'Andre Toney
drew scouts to the school with his athletic ability and performance, but he doesn't have a carrying tool to go in the first 20 rounds. That's not the case with his outfield mate, Terrance Gore
, a 5-foot-7 freshman from Macon, Ga., whom one coach compared to Deion Sanders in terms of speed. Gore is listed at 170 pounds and has drawn comparisons to former Chipola JC outfielder Darren Ford as a right-right center fielder with minimal power. His arm is also well below-average, but Gore's top of the scale speed should get him drafted in the first 15 rounds.
St. Petersburg had several intriguing players, including a pair of bats in outfielder Jon Matthews
, a raw athlete with speed and arm strength, and corner bat Sean Buckley
. The son of Reds scouting director Chris Buckley, Sean has interesting righthanded power and a chance to stay at third base, though he may be a better fit in right field. He has present strength and an average to plus throwing arm, and he also could go out in the first 15 rounds.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is slugger Rock Shoulders
of State College of Florida, formerly known as Manatee JC. Shoulders' 14 homers led the state, and he impressed scouts by trimming up his 6-foot-2, 225-pound body. The Red Sox' 20th-round pick a year ago, Shoulders doesn't have the knack for hitting of prep sluggers in the state such as Dan Vogelbach and Dante Bichette Jr., but his pop from the left side should get him picked about 10 rounds sooner than last year. He should go out ahead of teammate Nick Goody
, a solid righty at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds with a 88-92 mph fastball and solid slider.
Thinner Prep Talent Behind Top Group
Scouts routinely described the state's prep class as top-heavy. Several potential premium picks are thought to be tough signs, such as Stanford recruits Austin Slater
and Domonic Jose
, the son of former big leaguer Felix Jose. Slater was banged up all spring and will take his intriguing raw power to school. Jose flashed five-tool ability over the last two seasons without putting them all together at the same time. He has bloodlines, runs well for his size at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, and has oustanding makeup. He's a switch-hitter with a natural swing from the left side. But he has battled draftitis this spring in addition his Stanford commitment. He's signable in the first three rounds but may not have shown enough to go that high.
Third baseman Sean Trent
had a strong spring to follow his intriguing summer. He has an erratic but powerful arm and could wind up behind the plate with his mature 6-foot, 200-pound frame. He runs well for his size in workouts, though his speed will play no more than average down the line. Trent has shown solid bat speed and a compact swing. As a corner guy, power is a crucial part of his profile, and that may be where he falls short.
The state's catchers got plenty of attention, and beyond the top group some evaluators preferred Aramis Garcia
, a Florida International signee. Garcia resembles 2009 supplemental first-rounder Steve Baron, who was a premium defender. He has more power potential than Baron but lacks fluid actions behind the plate. His bat may have to carry him if the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder outgrows catching.
Others preferred Mario Amaral
, who has a similarly strong frame and more arm strength. Like Garcia, Amaral opened eyes with his raw power potential and he performed well this spring. He has signed with Florida State. Still others liked Brandon Sedell
, who has a compact 6-foot-1, 205-pound body and more bat speed than Amaral or Garcia. Sedell is less experienced behind the plate and has shown erratic arm strength, though he has flashed 1.9-second pop times to second base.
Central Florida's revived program was headed for regionals and could get a further lift from incoming recruits such as Eric Skoglund
, a lefthander with a body that resembles that of former Florida Gulf Coast ace Chris Sale, and shortstop Tommy Williams
. Skoglund's stuff was short most of the spring, but he touched 91 mph in early May and held his velocity for five innings. He has an easy delivery and clean arm, and a feel for spinning the ball. A late thumb injury and tough signability might drive him down draft boards. Williams has a good body and decent strength combined with a feel for hitting. He has the arm strength for the left side of the infield but is a tough profile defensively at the pro level.
At the other end of the spectrum from Williams, shortstop Jack Lopez
helped lead Deltona High to the state title game, where it lost to Jose Fernandez and Alonso High. Lopez is the son of Reds bullpen coach Juan Lopez and has the middle-infield actions to stay there in pro ball, with soft hands as his best attribute. He has the feel for the game you would expect from someone who has been a bat boy in big league games and hung around major league clubhouses. At 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, he's built for college ball and is signed with Miami.
Righthander Ryan Harris
is part of another strong Florida recruiting class and had a dominant spring, but scouts slotted him behind area rivals Michael Kelly and Kyle Smith. Harris' fastball can reach 90-91 mph, and he has good athleticism. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, he doesn't have a current plus pitch.