Even for a state accustomed to churning out talent, this is a banner year in Texas. Pitchers Scott Kazmir and Clint Everts are expected to become the fourth set of high school teammates to go in the first round of the same draft, and both could be gone by the middle of the first round. Another pair of teammates, James Loney and Wardell Starling, should be gone by the end of the second round. Mark McCormick has one of the best arms in the draft, while Brent Clevlen is one of the best athletes. And that's just the high schoolers. Righthander Derick Grigsby could be the first junior college player drafted, while Chris Snyder could be the first catcher picked. There's no shortage of college arms either, as 23 of the state's 27 best prospects will pitch as pros.
1. Scott Kazmir, lhp, Cypress Falls HS, Houston
2. Clint Everts, rhp/ss, Cypress Falls HS, Houston
3. Mark McCormick, rhp, Clear Creek HS, Clear Lake Shores
4. Brent Clevlen, of, Westwood HS, Cedar Park
5. James Loney, lhp-1b, Elkins HS, Missouri City
6. Derick Grigsby, rhp, Northeast Texas CC
7. Wardell Starling, rhp/of, Elkins HS, Missouri City
8. Zack Segovia, rhp, Forney HS
9. Romelio Lopez, rhp, Conroe HS
10. Chris Snyder, c, Houston
11. Steven White, rhp, Baylor
12. Jesse Crain, rhp/ss, Houston
13. Matt Farnum, rhp, Texas A&M
14. Wes Bankston, of, Plano East HS
15. Jon Slack, of, Texas Tech
16. Khalid Ballouli, rhp, Texas A&M
17. Robert Ray, rhp, Lufkin HS
18. Kyle Edens, rhp, Baylor
19. Alan Bomer, rhp, Texas
20. Garrett Mock, rhp, Grayson County CC (Control: Indians)
21. Ryan Warpinski, rhp, Texas A&M
22. J. Brent Cox, rhp, Bay City HS
23. Garrett White, lhp, Round Rock HS
24. Todd Deininger, rhp, Texas A&M
25. Ryan Rodriguez, lhp, Keller HS
26. Chance Douglass, rhp, Randall HS, Amarillo
27. Brad Halsey, lhp, Texas
28. Lance Pendleton, of, Kingwood HS
29. Mark Schramek, 3b/rhp, Texas-San Antonio
30. Billy Mohl, rhp, John Foster Dulles HS, Sugar Land
31. Eric Arnold, 2b, Rice
32. Terry Trofholz, of, Texas Christian
33. Hunter Brown, 3b, Rice
34. Matt Albers, rhp, San Jacinto JC (Control: Astros)
35. Dan Ortmeier, of, Texas-Arlington
36. Cliff Pennington, ss, Carroll HS, Corpus Christi
37. Matt Goebel, rhp/of, Austin HS
38. Steven Ponder, rhp, Texas A&M
39. Ryan Hubele, c/of, Texas
40. Gera Alvarez, ss, Texas Tech
41. Jared Theodorakos, lhp, Baylor
42. Taylor Teagarden, c, Creekview HS, Carrollton
43. Lance Broadway, rhp, Grand Prairie HS
44. Billy Hogan, ss, Newman Smith HS, Carrollton
45. John Meloan, rhp, James E. Taylor HS, Katy
46. Dana Eveland, lhp, Hill JC
47. Matt Manship, rhp, Ronald Reagan HS, San Antonio
48. Jamaal Hamilton, lhp, Monterey HS, Lubbock
49. Rusty Meyer, c, Texas A&M
50. John Smith, rhp, Navarro JC (Control: Yankees)
51. Phillip Tribe, rhp, Rice
52. Adam LaRoche, ss, Grayson County CC
53. Ben Himes, of, Texas A&M
54. Josh Boop, of, North Central Texas JC
55. Zach Duncan, rhp, Marshall HS
56. Jarrod Plummer, rhp, South Garland HS, Garland
57. J.P. Duran, rhp, St. Mary's
58. Chris Durbin, of, Baylor
59. Jesse Estrada, rhp, Socorro HS, El Paso
60. Travis Chick, rhp/3b, Whitehouse HS
61. Mike Huggins, 1b, Baylor
62. Zach Gallenkamp, rhp, Westlake HS, Austin
63. Steven Herce, rhp, Rice
64. Tyler Bullock, c, Paschal HS, Fort Worth
65. Kevin Jordan, of, Texas Tech
66. Brandon Fusilier, of, Navarro JC (Control: Mariners)
67. Travis Wong, 1b, Texas A&M
68. Ben King, of/lhp, Texas
69. Adam Rogers, c, Grayson County CC
70. Reese Baez, rhp, Northwood
Projected First-Round Picks
Scott Kazmir, lhp
If Kazmir were a few inches taller than his listed 6 feet, he would be the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick. He's still in the mix for the Pirates and could go as high as No. 2 to the Devil Rays. Even if he's not big, his stuff is, as his lightning-quick arm reminds scouts of Ron Guidry. His lively fastball, which reaches 96 mph, and slider are both well above-average pitches, and his hard curveball gives him a third plus offering. His huge hands and long fingers help him throw his quality breaking stuff. Kazmir also shows a feel for a changeup, and he has easy command of all of his pitches. The lone question is whether he'll have the durability to take the ball every five days instead of every seven as a pro. With his ability and the way he dominated every time out this spring, it will be hard for teams at the top of the draft to pass on Kazmir.
Clint Everts, rhp
Kazmir and Everts should become the fourth pair of high school teammates to be selected in the first round of the same draft. With his switch-hitting ability, plus speed and stellar defensive play, Everts might be the second-best shortstop in the nation after Virginia high schooler B.J. Upton. Yet he'll almost certainly be taken as a pitcher, and one scouting director with an early pick says Everts could be the best arm to come out of the draft. He can't match the quality of Kazmir's stuff, but Kazmir can't equal Everts' projectability or the ease with which he throws. Everts is just 17 and could get much stronger as he adds to his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. His curveball is the best among high school pitchers, and he has a 91-94 mph fastball and above-average changeup. Scouts dream about pitchers with his kind of quick arm action. "He's the sleeper of the whole draft," one scouting director said. "He's going to make someone very happy."
Mark McCormick, rhp
Few pitchers in the draft can light up a radar gun like McCormick, who has touched 98 mph and rarely has been below 92 mph this spring. But like many of Scott Boras' players in this draft, McCormick's stock is dropping--and it's not just because of Boras. McCormick lacks a quality second pitch. His curveball and changeup are just so-so offerings, and he tends to stick with fastballs and splitters. For all his velocity, McCormick gets hit more often than he should and doesn't have the smoothest arm action. More troubling to scouts has been a tendency to lose his composure on and off the field. While McCormick has raised red flags, it's still hard to imagine him lasting beyond the first round. Neither he nor Everts is likely to follow through on scholarship offers from Baylor.
Brent Clevlen, of
Clevlen is a possible signability pick for the Marlins at No. 11 and should go no later than the sandwich round. He was the star of the 2001 Area Code Games, impressing with his bat speed, power potential, arm strength and 6.75-second time in the 60-yard dash. He hasn't quite performed at that level this spring, which, granted, would have been a nearly impossible task. He outdueled Everts with a 3-2 complete-game victory in the Texas 5-A regional semifinals. A rock-solid 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Everts is a fine athlete who was an all-district quarterback for his high school football team. Like Kazmir, he's a Texas recruit who doesn't figure to make it to college.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
James Loney, lhp
Loney made a name for himself by eliminating Houston Bellaire in the state playoffs in both 2000 and 2001, and he has surpassed Wardell Starling, his more heralded teammate. The pair has led Elkins High to a 30-1 record and a No. 1 national ranking in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25. Loney also plays first base and has power in his bat, but most teams prefer him as a big, strong lefthander. He gets good arm-side run on an 88-93 mph fastball, and his breaking ball and changeup give him the chance to have three plus pitches. As his velocity increased this spring, Loney's command wasn't as good as usual, and he faltered a little down the stretch, taking Elkins' first loss. Following in the footsteps of former Elkins star Kip Wells (a 1998 White Sox first-round pick), Loney has committed to Baylor. At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and still growing, the Bears see him as the next Jason Jennings (a 1999 Rockies first-round pick) if he comes to school.
Derick Grigsby, rhp
Grigsby is the top junior college prospect in the nation who isn't under control to a major league club. He spent 2001 at Texas, pitching just 11 innings before leaving school when his mother died during routine surgery. He's a product of Marshall (Texas) High, the same program that spawned fireballer Colt Griffin last year. Grigsby also has a big-time arm and threw 95 mph this spring. He's a short righthander with an inconsistent slider, but some team that buys into arm strength could take him as a sandwich pick.
Wardell Starling, rhp/of
As much as any two-way prospect, Starling produces a split among scouts whether he should pursue pitching or hitting as a pro. He rates slightly higher as a pitcher, thanks to a fastball that reaches 95 mph and shows outstanding life at times, as well as an advanced changeup for a high school pitcher. As an outfielder, he offers huge power potentialhe homered off a 94 mph fastball from McCormick this springand a plus arm and speed. First and foremost he's a 6-foot-4, 200-pound athlete who also starred as a wide receiver in football. Keeping him out of the first round are his inconsistency and his approach. He doesn't have much of a breaking ball and doesn't repeat his delivery, making him more thrower than pitcher at this point. At the plate, he has a long swing and doesn't have eye-grabbing bat speed. As a result, he'll be great one game and disappointing the next. Starling's lackadaisical attitude also turns some team off. He expressed interest in playing college football and drew no interest, and he didn't sign to play baseball at San Diego State until April.
Zach Segovia, rhp
On the U.S. junior national team last summer, Segovia was the most effective pitcher who wasn't headed directly for college. Team USA finished second at the world junior qualifying tournament in Cuba, and Segovia worked eight innings without allowing an earned run, fanning 15. He's always had a large body and is listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, but he has done a better job of staying in shape this year. He throws up to 93 mph with nice life on his fastball, and he'll flash a plus slider from time to time. His delivery will need a little smoothing out.
Romelio Lopez, rhp
Lopez has one of the more intriguing backgrounds among the draft's top prospects. He reportedly turned down $800,000 to sign out of his native Venezuela two years ago. He moved to Texas last summer and was ineligible to pitch this spring until one of his parents established residency. He made just two starts, showing a huge body (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) and huge fastball (94-97 mph). He's all arm strength right now, but those numbers got him noticed. He went to the Perfect Game predraft workout in mid-May and threw more in the low 90s, but he starred at the plate and showed tape-measure power. There's some question about how old he is, and a four-year college isn't an option.
Chris Snyder, c
Snyder profiles as a third-round talent, but he could go as high as No. 28 to the Mariners, who drafted him in the 43rd round out of high school. That's a testament to this draft's catching, and to Snyder's catch-and-throw skills, which might be the best in the country. He handles a staff well and has some power in his bat. He has made improvements this year with his swing and his body (6-foot-3, 224 pounds). Some scouts think his swing is too long and leaves him vulnerable to inside fastballs, and he didn't help his cause by batting .175 with wood for Team USA last summer. Others think he's overrated and needs to be more active and agile behind the plate.
Steven White, rhp
White is another potential first-rounder associated with Scott Boras who has slid, though again it's not because of his choice of agents. He has a perfect body (6-foot-4, 195 pounds), a 91-94 mph fastball with good movement and a 12-to-6 curveball that's unhittable at times. His command has been off for most of the year, so White's fastballs often arrived at the plate straight and high, while his curveballs haven't caught the strike zone with consistency. Some teams haven't seen White throw harder than the high 80s, and when he overthrows his fastball it loses its sink. He now figures to go in the third round.
Jesse Crain, rhp
Crain is one of the best players in college baseball. He's a steady shortstop who has been one of Houston's better hitters, and he has been outstanding as a closer, allowing just one run (unearned) in 22 regular season appearances. He's just 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, but the transfer from San Jacinto JC has power stuff, with a fastball that has reached 97 mph and a nasty slider. Crain also throws a knuckle-curve as a changeup and can command all three of his pitches for strikes. He could be another Trevor Hoffman, a big league closer with shortstop on his résumé.
Matt Farnum, rhp
Despite pitching most of the year in relief, Farnum led Texas A&M in both wins and saves at the end of the regular season. A draft-eligible sophomore, he has succeeded by relying almost solely on a 91-95 mph fastball that he throws on a downward plane that belies his 6-foot-1, 185-pound size. Even with a curveball that's average on its good days, Farnum could go as high as the second round. There's word that he wants first-round money, so he could fall out of the early rounds altogether.
Wes Bankston, of
Bankston has been described as a stronger athletic version of Clevlen, a fellow Texas recruit and high school quarterback, which is saying something. He hasn't performed as well this spring, so Bankston probably won't go earlier than the fourth round. He has nice size at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, a right-field arm and the ability to drive the ball a long way. His swing is inconsistent, however, so he doesn't always make contact. His speed isn't quite in Clevlen's class, though Bankston runs well once he gets going. He could be a tough sign because he reportedly wants second-round money and is more likely to go a couple of rounds later.
Jon Slack, of
Slack hit .448 with 20 steals as a freshman and .420 with 32 swipes as a sophomore at the JC of Southern Nevada, and moving to the Big 12 this year barely slowed him down. He hit .349 with 26 steals in 29 attempts during the regular season, further solidifying his reputation as a leadoff prospect. He uses a short, quick stroke and a patient approach to get on base any way possible. Slack not only has speed but also knows how to use it well on the bases. He's just ordinary as a center fielder, in terms of both range and arm.
Khalid Ballouli, rhp
Texas A&M has plenty of talented pitchers, but they don't always find their way to the mound. Ballouli and Ryan Warpinski missed almost all of 2001 because of elbow surgery, while Todd Deininger and Steven Ponder starred in the Cape Cod League last summer but haven't been able to get batters out in 2002. The grandson of former big leaguer Dick Fowler, Ballouli has a 91-94 mph fastball, a good slider and a decent changeup. He has a lean, loose 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, and while his delivery is a bit herky-jerky, it doesn't hinder his command. Ballouli does a good job of working both sides of the plate and of competing. He started the season strong but has been up and down since early April.
Robert Ray, rhp
Ray opened his high school district season with a no-hitter, then tossed a perfect game in his next start. He still needs to tighten his mechanics because he flies all over the place with his delivery, but there's plenty to like. He has a classic pro body at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds and a quick arm that delivers plus fastballs and sliders. His talent has been evident since he was throwing 91-92 mph as a sophomore. Ray might not get drafted as high as his talent warrants because he seems intent on attending Texas A&M.
Kyle Edens, rhp
Edens is a short closer in the mold of Crain, though he's not as big or athletic (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) and doesn't throw quite as hard. While he's not projectable, Edens doesn't have to be because he has the best fastball in the Big 12 at 94-97 mph and a hard slider that destroys righthanders. He keeps lefthanders at bay with a changeup that sinks, and he'll show hitters a plus curve at times. Edens does have effort to his delivery, but not as much as might be expected given his size and velocity, and it doesn't prevent him from throwing strikes.
Alan Bomer, rhp
When Iowa State disbanded its baseball program after last season, Bomer transferred to Texas rather than sign as a ninth-round pick of the Cubs. He offers good size (6-foot-3, 203 pounds) and arm strength (fastball to 95 mph). The Longhorns have tried to make him more of a pitcher, lowering his arm angle and encouraging him to change speeds more often, but it hasn't worked. Bomer's 4.20 ERA is the highest on the staff, he has struggled against lefthanders and hasn't made much progress with his slurvy breaking ball or changeup. There still will be no shortage of teams willing to try to turn him into a finished product.
Others to Watch
Unlike Derick Grigsby, many of the states top junior college prospects are under control to major league teams. The Indians will make a full effort to sign RHP Garrett Mock, who has been outstanding this spring. He has a strong body (6-foot-4 and 215 pounds), an 88-92 mph sinker, a good curveball and a decent changeup . . . RHP Matt Albers (Astros) helped pitch San Jacinto to the Junior College World Series. Scouts say his 6-foot frame is a little dumpy, but his fastball can reach 95 mph and runs in on righthanders, and his slider works as a second pitch . . . RHP John Smith (Yankees) has thrown 92-93 mph this year . . . OF Brandon Fusilier (Mariners) is an exceptionally strong athlete with plenty of raw power potential . . . As mentioned with Khalid Ballouli, Texas A&M has a deep stable of arms who dont always make it to the mound. RHP Ryan Warpinski didnt pitch last year after having Tommy John surgery in 2000 and having his elbow arthroscoped in 2001. Used as a swingman this year, he throws three plus pitches for strikes: an 87-91 mph sinker, plus curveball and plus changeup. Hes also 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds. RHP Todd Deininger, who showed incredible arm speed and 94-95 mph heat in the Cape Cod League last summer, has been buried in the bullpen because he hasnt had the same velocity or any command this spring. Built along the same lines of Warpinski, Deininger was a fifth-round pick out of high school by the Cubs. LHP Steven Ponder also hasnt worked much for the Aggies after a strong summer in the Cape. Hes similar to former Texas A&M ace Casey Fossum because hes short (6 feet tall), lefthanded, doesnt have stunning velocity and lives off his curveball. But Ponders control and velocity have been off this year as well . . . RHP J. Brent Cox was better at the Area Code Games last summer than he has been this spring. He still gets nice run on an 87-89 mph fastball, and his potential is obvious when you look at his projectable 6-foot-3, 188-pound frame. A team that was sold by his showcase performance could take him in the fourth or fifth round . . . LHP Garrett White has a huge body (6-foot-5 and 230 pounds) but isnt particularly athletic. Hes a project, but theres a 92-93 mph southpaw in there if he develops as expected . . . Ryan Rodriguez is another big lefty (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and hes more athletic than White. Though he has good life on a fastball that reaches 91 mph, scouts wonder why he doesnt throw his curveball more often. He tapered off after a good start this spring . . . RHP Chance Douglass has a Ben Sheets-like body (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and like Cox threw very well at the Area Code Games. Hes had a shoulder problem this spring, so his velocity has fluctuated from 84 to 94 mph. He doesnt have much of a breaking ball, and hell be tough to sign away from Rice . . . Previously cut by Southwest Texas State and undrafted out of Hill (Texas) JC last year, LHP Brad Halsey emerged as a solid No. 2 starter for Texas. He dominated Stanford with a 10-inning, five-hit shutout in March and has thrown 88-92 mph with a good splitter. A draft-eligible sophomore, it may be expensive to buy him away from returning to the Longhorns . . . OF-RHP Lance Pendleton was really coming on as the draft grew closer, though scouts were divided on whether he was better as a hitter or pitcher. He has a long, loose build (6-foot-3, 185 pounds). He also has a compact lefthanded swing, power potential and some speed. On the mound, he throws in the high 80s with good life on his fastball . . . The two best college hitters in the state are 3B Mark Schramek and OF Terry Trofholz. Schramek, the Southland Conferences MVP and defensive player of the year, hit .416-11-49 during the regular season. He has a plus arm, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during last years conference tournament. Scouts worry he might have to move across the diamond to first base as a pro. Trofholz ranked ninth in NCAA Division I with a .446 average entering the postseason. He might have to make adjustments to his swing to hit with wood, and his arm will make him a left fielder as a pro, but he can run and bunt and is a line-drive machine. He was solely a pitcher as a Creighton freshman . . . RHP Billy Mohl was fabulous at the Baseball America/Perfect Game World Wood Bat Showcase last fall, but he never matched that performance this spring. Hes 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, but his heavy 88-91 mph fastball hasnt added velocity, his curveball is loopy and he has been slinging the ball. Its unlikely hell go high enough to divert him from Tulane, but if he develops there he could be a first-rounder in 2005 . . . The same is true of RHP-OF Matt Goebel, a fellow Green Wave recruit. Hes not as projectable because hes two inches shorter than Mohl, but his pitchability is off the charts. He throws 86-89 mph with a big league average curveball and a decent changeup . . . Rice was ranked No. 1 in late May despite not having a prospect projected to go in the first five round. 2B Eric Arnold, a former shortstop, has the best tools on the team. Hes an offensive player with a quick bat. 3B Hunter Brown batted just .300only five points higher than he hit with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. He needs to take better advantage of his strength after homering just seven times this year. RHP Phillip Tribe is 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds and has touched 94 mph, but that hasnt happened consistently and he doesnt throw his curveball for strikes. Arnold, Brown and Tribe are all seniors. The Owls best junior is RHP Steven Herce, who pitches inside well with an 88-92 mph fastball. He has command of three pitches, including a curveball and changeup, and has come back strong after missing two starts with shoulder tendinitis . . . OF Dan Ortmeier is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound switch-hitter with speed and some power . . . SS Cliff Pennington is considered the best pure baseball player in the state, though his raw tools are a little bit short across the board. Just 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, he looks more like a great college player than an early draft pick at this point, and he probably wont get picked high enough to keep him away from Texas A&M. In occasional forays to the mound, Pennington has thrown 92-93 mph . . . Theres some catching depth in Texas beyond Chris Snyder. Ryan Hubele has a short stroke and bat speed, but he didnt have a big year at the plate for the Longhorns. He has some arm strength but isnt always accurate with his throws. Taylor Teagarden is the best catch-and-throw guy among the high schoolers, but he didnt hit much either and is very committed to Texas. Some Big 12 Conference observers believe that sophomore-eligible Rusty Meyer is better behind the plate than Snyder, but his bat isnt in the same class. Tyler Bullock has power in his bat and arm (91-92 mph when used as a pitcher), but hes a top student who probably wont get away from Baylor. Adam Rogers helped himself with a good showing at the Perfect Game predraft showcase in mid-May . . . SS Gera Alvarez projects as a utility player who should go in the first 10 rounds. Hes a solid defender who can handle the bat and has basestealing instincts . . . Jared Theodorakos is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound lefthander who can get to 92 mph on the right day. But he has a head-jerk delivery that scares scouts and makes it difficult for him to throw strikes . . . Grand Prairie High, Kerry Woods alma mater, has an interesting prospect in RHP Lance Broadway. Hes oh so projectable at 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, though he hasnt been at full strength this year while battling mononucleosis. He has touched 90 mph in the past . . . Speaking of Texas legends: Marshall High, where Colt Griffin was such a sensation last year (and also the home of Derick Grigsby), has RHP Zach Duncan. At 5-foot-10 and with a fastball that tops out around 90 mph, hes not in the class of Griffin and Grigsby, but he has a solid curveball and could get a look . . . A huge Major League Scouting Bureau grade made RHP John Meloan a must-see for all 30 teams. The Bureau saw him throw 92-93 mph during a 20-strikeout no-hitter, while clubs saw him at 88-89. Meloans fastball comes out of a high arm slot and is straight, so his 12-6 curveball actually may be a better pitch. He blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last fall, and has mechanical problems related to the knee. He also missed time with a strained back muscle this spring . . . RHP Matt Manship committed early to Stanford and had arm problems in the summer and fall, so teams may not bother to draft him high--if at all. He worked at 90-91 mph this spring, and his 6-foot-4, 185-pound body has plenty of room to add strength. Scouts dont like his arm action and believe his brother Jeff, a junior who reminds some of Mike Mussina, will be a better draft in 2003 . . . SS Adam LaRoche, whose father Dave was a big league reliever, graduated early from a Kansas high school in December and played at Grayson County CC this spring. LaRoche has a big league arm and has shown some power, but he has been slowed by knee problems . . . OF Ben Himes hurt his knee last summer. He worked out with Texas A&M for two days this spring, but when the knee wasnt responding he quit to rehabilitate it on his own. He has a live 6-foot-5, 220-pound body, a quick bat from the left side and average speed. He looked good at the Perfect Game predraft showcase and should get drafted . . . 1B Travis Wong was absent from the Aggies for a while as well, the result of an academic suspension. A 13th-round pick in 1999 out of an Idaho high school, he has tremendous raw power but never has hit for average or made much contact against breaking stuff . . . OF-LHP Ben King missed the season after Tommy John surgery, but theres word that a team may draft him. He was an 11th-round pick out of high school by the Diamondbacks . . . 1B Jeff Ontiveros broke Brooks Kieschnicks Longhorns career home run record, but hes very pitchable and isnt considered a top prospect. Neither is Texas A&M OF Eric Reed, the 2001 Cape Cod League batting champion at .36579 points higher than his regular-season average this spring. Reed can run and is similar to former Aggie Jason Tyner, but Tyner was a better hitter and quicker down the line.
Oklahoma doesn't always get its due as one of the better baseball states, but for the second consecutive year it's chock full of pitching. As in 2001, the high schools are deep in arms, and this time the junior colleges have a pair of stalwarts in Humberto Sanchez and Ryan Blackburn. High school first baseman Cory Shafer is a gifted slugger, while the colleges offer some depth in hitters and pitchers.
1. Humberto Sanchez, rhp, Connors State JC (Control: Tigers)
2. Brandon Weeden, rhp, Santa Fe HS, Edmond
3. Cory Shafer, 1b, Choctaw HS
4. Josh Johnson, rhp, Jenks HS, Tulsa
5. Kendall Bergdall, lhp, Layhoma Cimarron HS, Layhoma
6. Nick Blackburn, rhp, Seminole State JC (Control: Twins)
7. Anthony Reed, rhp, Central Oklahoma
8. Jeff Salazar, of, Oklahoma State
9. Michael Brown, rhp, Owasso HS
10. Daylon Monette, of, Oklahoma State
11. Jason Fransz, of, Oklahoma
12. Michael Rogers, rhp, Oral Roberts (Control: Indians)
13. Nebasset Brown, 2b, Oklahoma State
14. Rocky Cherry, rhp, Oklahoma
15. Troy Pickford, rhp, Oral Roberts
16. Jordan Renz, of, Tulsa Union HS
17. Nick McCurdy, rhp, Oklahoma State
18. Stockton Davis, rhp, Oral Roberts
19. Denver Kitch, ss, Oklahoma
20. James Boone, ss, Clinton HS
21. Curtis White, lhp, Oklahoma
22. Justin Meccage, rhp, Oklahoma State
23. Wilton Reynolds, of, Oral Roberts
24. Chris Reilly, rhp, Oklahoma State
25. Dusty Barnard, rhp, Moore HS
Projected First-Round Picks
Humberto Sanchez, rhp
A 31st-round pick out of Rockland (N.Y.) CC by the Tigers a year ago, Sanchez decided to transfer rather than sign. The decision will pay off handsomely, whether Detroit lands him before the draft or he enters it and goes in the first two rounds. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Sanchez, a native of the Bronx, looks and throws like Jose Mesa. He reached 94 mph this spring and showed a plus-plus curveball. If he picks up a changeup he could be a quality starter, and at worst he should be a late-innings reliever.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Brandon Weeden, rhp
A multitalented athlete, Weeden played quarterback for his football team, forward for his basketball team and pitcher/shortstop for his baseball team. He's 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, and he has quick arm action, so there's a lot of room for projection on his live 88-92 mph fastball. He also has a hard slider and sound mechanics. He surpassed Kendall Bergdall and Josh Johnson as the state's top high school pitcher this spring because he was far more consistent than they were. Weeden solidified his standing at the Perfect Game predraft showcase in mid-May.
Cory Shafer, 1b
Shafer has one of the best lefthanded power bats in the draft, surpassed only by Florida's Prince Fielder and Iowa's Jeff Clement among high school players. Shafer generates his pop with a strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame and an aggressive and fluid stroke. His bat will have to carry him, and it should be able to. He's not a baseclogger but he's not much of a runner either, and he'll probably have to play first base.
Josh Johnson, rhp
Johnson's season was marked by inconsistency. His velocity fluctuated from 88-92 mph to the mid-80s, and both his breaking ball and slider would come and go in the same fashion. He helped himself by finishing on a high note in the Oklahoma 6-A championship game, throwing 91 mph and beating Weeden's team with a complete-game five-hitter. (Weeden didn't pitch but did homer for Santa Fe's lone run.) With Johnson's 6-foot-7, 215-pound frame, it's easy to project him throwing in the mid-90s down the road. If he doesn't sign, he'll join his brother Tyler, an outfielder at Oklahoma.
Kendall Bergdall, lhp
Before a disappointing spring, Bergdall was Oklahoma's best prep pitcher. After touching 94 mph last summer and fall, he had minor arm soreness and worked in the upper 80s. When he's on he'll show a decent curveball, but he wasn't on often enough. He comes from a small school and will need refinement. For all his recent struggles, he's still a projectable (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) lefthander.
Nick Blackburn, rhp
Drafted in the 34th round out of Del City (Okla.) High by the Devil Rays in 2000 and again in the 29th round out of Seminole State by the Twins last year, Blackburn will go higher in 2002 if he doesn't sign with Minnesota. He helped himself in a head-to-head matchup with Sanchez, throwing a 90-94 mph fastball with plus life and an 84-85 mph slider for strikes. His size (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) is another asset.
Anthony Reed, rhp
Reed could get six figures on the open market as a fifth-year senior who wasn't drafted in 2001, which makes him a free agent. Though he was drafted out high school by the Orioles, Reed flew under the radar in two years at Western State (Okla.) JC and his first season as a starter at Central Oklahoma. He missed all of 2001 after cutting a tendon in his hand the previous fall, and has taken off since being converted to the bullpen upon his return. He has thrown 94-95 mph with life on his fastball, drawing interest from several clubs.
Jeff Salazar, of
Like many of the center fielders in the Big 12 Conference this year, Salazar is a speedy tablesetter. The difference between him and the others is that he provides punch from the left side of the plate. Oklahoma State coach Tom Holliday calls Salazar the best center fielder the program has had in his 25 years. He makes Jim Edmonds-like highlight plays and could be a nice fourth- or fifth-round pick for someone.
Others to Watch
RHP Michael Brown doesnt have quite the same body (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) or fastball (88-89 mph, peak of 93) that Brandon Weeden and Josh Johnson do, but he has more pitchability. He started the 6-A championship game in his freshman through junior years, and Owasso won state titles in 1999 and 2001 . . . A seventh-round pick of the Indians in 1999, OF Daylon Monette should go in roughly the same area in June. He has a nice swing and is a switch-hitter with a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame . . . Oklahoma State should have several picks beyond Jeff Salazar and Monette. Next up is offensive 2B Nebasset Brown. RHP Nick McCurdy has been drafted twice and pitches at 88-91 mph. He has touched 94 mph and sometimes shows a hard slider, but he needs to stop trying to blow fastballs by everyone. RHPs Justin Meccage and Chris Reilly are huge guys, 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7 respectively, but dont usually reach 90 mph. Meccage has the better breaking stuff between the two . . . Scouts love OF Jason Fransz body (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and raw power, but he has holes in his swing and is a below-average defender . . . RHP Michael Rogers couldnt quite duplicate the 14-1, 2.37 season that made him Mid-Continent Conference pitcher of the year in 2001, but he still peaks in the low 90s and commands three pitches. A fifth-year senior, hes under control to the Indians . . . RHP Rocky Cherry would have been more of a factor had he not come down with elbow tendinitis. He hasnt pitched since beating Arizona State in mid-March. When healthy, hell get plus movement on a 90-91 mph fastball and flash a very good slider. He has added a changeup this year, but probably will go around the 10th round, where the Phillies drafted him in 2001 . . . Oral Roberts has lots of players with pro builds. RHP Troy Pickford (6-foot-8, 220 pounds) has an 88-93 mph fastball and an 80-84 mph slider. He has lowered his arm slot to add movement to his pitches. RHP Stockton Davis (6-foot-4, 205), who has started more games at DH than he has appeared in on the mound, has the same kind of stuff: 86-92 mph fastball and 82-85 mph slider. OF Wilton Reynolds (6-foot-4, 196) is a toolsy player who will have to hit more as a pro. RHP David Humen can reach 94 mph and show a decent curveball when he finds his rhythm, but that hasnt happened often this spring . . . OF Jordan Renz (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) has a good body, too, and some power, though his swing is very hit or miss . . . Sophomore-eligible SS Denver Kitch plays nifty defense thanks to his feet and arm. He has a ways to go offensively, though he has some projected pop and he has worked on shortening his swing . . . SS James Boone is a similar player at the high school level. He hasnt gotten much attention because he hasnt attended many showcase events . . . LHP Curtis White should get drafted for the fourth consecutive year. Though he stands just 5-foot-11, he can pitch in the low 90s and show a power breaking ball.