State Report: Ohio

Kent State props up lackluster group




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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
If it weren't for Kent State, scouts wouldn't have had much reason to travel to Ohio this spring. The Golden Flashes won the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament championships, featuring the three best prospects in the state: lefthander Andrew Chafin, righthander Kyle McMillen and third baseman Travis Shaw. Chafin and McMillen should go in the top three rounds, but the quality drops off quickly after them. There may not be a signable high school player worthy of going in the first 15 rounds.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Andrew Chafin, lhp, Kent State (National Rank: 38)
2. Kyle McMillen, rhp, Kent State (National Rank: 94)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Travis Shaw, 3b, Kent State
4. Jon Berti, ss, Bowling Green State
5. Matt Wisler, rhp, Bryan HS
6. Chris Bassitt, rhp, Akron
7. Kyle Hallock, lhp, Kent State
8. Cameron Hobson, lhp, Dayton
9. Ben Klafczynski, of, Kent State
10. Drew Turocy, of, Akron
11. John McCambridge, of, Xavier
12. Nick Johnson, rhp, Cincinnati
13. Phil Klein, rhp, Youngstown State
14. Dan Jensen, rhp, Cincinnati
15. Burny Mitchem, rhp, Dayton
16. Ryan Rua, ss, Lake Erie
17. Austin Cousino, of, Dublin Coffman HS, Dublin
18. Ross Gerdeman, rhp, Bowling Green State
19. Brian Clark, lhp, Stow HS
20. Arthur Warren, rhp, Napoleon HS
21. Drew Rucinski, rhp, Ohio State
22. Kyle Hart, lhp, Sycamore HS, Cincinnati
23. Adam Weisenburger, c, Miami (Ohio)
24. Tristan Moore, of, Wright State
25. Ben Thomas, 1b, Xavier

SCOUTING REPORTS

Andrew Chafin, lhp

Kent State


After missing all of 2010 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Chafin has bounced back so well that he should become the fourth Kent State pitcher (following Dustin Hermanson, Travis Miller and John Van Benschoten) selected in the first or sandwich round. Chafin dominated as a reliever in 2009 and has done the same as a starter this spring, going 6-1, 2.14 with 91 strikeouts in 71 innings through mid-May. His 81-83 mph slider can be unhittable and earns some 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he commands a 90-95 mph fastball to both sides of the plate. When he was unable to throw a breaking ball during his rehab, he worked on a changeup, which now shows signs of becoming an average pitch. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder repeats his delivery well and throws strikes. Chafin developed a tired arm after he made nine consecutive starts and took a week off. He eased back into the rotation and threw a shutout in the Mid-American Conference tournament semifinals, though his stuff wasn't as crisp as it had been earlier in the year. He has the stuff and makeup to become a No. 2 starter or a closer.

Kyle McMillen, rhp

Kent State


Andrew Chafin isn't the only Kent State arm attracting early-round attention. The Golden Flashes used McMillen as a two-way player in his first two seasons—he showed impressive raw power as a first baseman—but he has concentrated on pitching as a junior after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand last fall. He touched 94 mph in the Cape Cod League last summer and has done so repeatedly this spring, working at 91-94 mph. Kent State's Mike Birkbeck, a former big leaguer who's regarded as one of the top pitching coaches in the Midwest, has helped McMillen refine a slider that's a wipeout pitch at times. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is a good athlete but needs to do a more consistent job of throwing strikes. With the Flashes' starters dominating Mid-American Conference opponents all season long, scouts have had a hard time getting to see McMillen in action. But they've seen him enough that he should go in the first three rounds of the draft, possibly as high as the sandwich round.

Shaw Offers Power, Bloodlines

Travis Shaw has the size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and lefthanded power that scouts want in a third baseman, plus good bloodlines. His father Jeff made two all-star teams and saved 203 games in a 12-year major league career. He gets pull-happy and doesn't always catch up to quality fastballs, so how much he'll hit in pro ball remains in question. To his credit, he batted a solid .260/.378/.402 in the Cape Cod League last summer. Though Shaw has the hands and arm strength for the hot corner, he lacks quickness and agility, so he'll probably have to move to first base as a pro.

Jon Berti has hit .368, .423 and .356 in three seasons at Bowling Green State. He's a 5-foot-10, 175-pound sparkplug with a line-drive righthanded swing and well above-average speed. He has a knack for squaring pitches up and using the opposite field, though he doesn't have much pop and struggled with wood bats last summer in the Cape League. His hands and arm aren't quite up to snuff at shortstop, where he made 17 errors in 46 games this spring, so he'll likely shift to second base in pro ball.

Righthander Matt Wisler stands out as easily the best high school prospect in Ohio, but scouts don't think they can sign him away from Ohio State. The 6-foot-3, 175-pounder flashed a low-90s fastball on the showcase circuit last summer, but more often pitched at 86-88 mph for much of the spring before a strong finish. He also has shown a promising curveball and slider in the past, but both breaking pitches regressed in the early going. If he adds strength and consistency, he could be an early-round pick in 2014.

Scouts didn't know much about righthander Chris Bassitt prior to this spring, because he redshirted in 2008 and made just one appearance while focusing on academics in 2010. He's no longer anonymous after posting a 1.42 ERA and averaging 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings as a fourth-year junior. The 6-foot-5, 195-pounder lives off his 90-93 mph sinker, which he delivers from a low-three-quarters arm angle. His second pitch is a slider, which grades as an average pitch at times.

A Kent State lefthander was named Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year, but it wasn't Andrew Chafin. It was Kyle Hallock, who returned for his senior season after the Phillies drafted him in the 49th round last June. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is a craftsman who gets outs by throwing four pitches for strikes. He excels at pitching off his fastball, working both sides of the plate at 87-88 mph and peaking at 90. His changeup and slider are solid offerings, giving him a chance to remain a starter when he gets to pro ball.

Outfielder Ben Klafczynski is another solid senior sign for Kent State. He helped his cause by opening the season by going 7-for-13 with three straight multi-hit games against Georgia Tech's strong pitching staff. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound lefthanded hitter has been a starter for most of his four years with the Golden Flashes. While he's a good athlete, it doesn't quite translate to the diamond, where his tools are fringy to average across the board. A right fielder for Kent State, he may not provide enough offense to profile as a regular there in the major leagues.

One of three brothers to play for Akron, outfielder Drew Turocy has led the Zips in most offensive categories in each of the last two seasons. A 6-foot-3, 185-pound lefthanded hitter he's similar to Klafczynski in that he's a tweener with decent but not standout tools. Turocy may not have the range or routes to play center field as a pro, and he may not have enough power for an outfield corner. He was a two-way player in his first two seasons at Akron, which were sandwiched around a redshirt year in 2009 after he had Tommy John surgery.

Lefthander Cameron Hobson set Dayton records for single-season (105) and career (256) strikeouts this season. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder usually pitches around 91 mph and touches 93 with his fastball. He improved his slider and filled the strike zone, but he still carries the reputation of being very good when he's on and easy to hit when he's not. The Yankees selected him in the 37th round as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2010.

John McCambridge's above-average speed and center-field defense will get him an opportunity as a senior sign. He ranked fourth in NCAA Division I with 42 steals in 2009 and improved his average in each of his four seasons at Xavier, batting .360 with a school-record 86 hits this spring. Though McCambridge was the player of the year in the Great Lakes League last summer, scouts wonder if the 6-foot-2, 210-pound righthanded hitter will have enough on-base ability or pop to make an impact with wood bats.

Though righthanders Nick Johnson and Ross Gerdeman hit 94 mph with their fastballs this spring, neither has had consistent success in college. Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 182-pound senior, has the better breaking ball of the two, spinning a solid-average curveball. Gerdeman is more physical (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and has better command.

Scouts love the lefthanded swing and hustle of outfielder Austin Cousino, but they see him as a good college player who's destined to play at Kentucky. He was named MVP of the 2009 World Youth Championship after leading the tournament with 18 RBIs and sparking Team USA's game-winning rally in the ninth inning of the gold medal game. He has a quick bat and slightly above-average speed, but the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder lacks power and has had a below-average arm since labrum surgery in December 2009.