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Pitcher Rankings

By Allan Simpson
May 31, 2002

RIGHTHANDED PITCHER

Never before has one draft featured three high school pitchers with fastballs that have touched 98 mph. Kevin Jepsen, Mark McCormick and Jason Neighborgall have all accomplished that feat and become the standard bearers for a draft that is deep in hard-throwing righthanders. It's so deep, in fact, that the possibility exists that Jepsen, McCormick and Neighborgall won't even be first-round picks. Neighborgall has the highest ceiling of the three--and maybe the highest ceiling of any high school pitcher in the draft. He has outstanding stuff, but concerns about his missing last season because of a nagging back problem, inconcistent command this spring and a Josh Beckett/Gavin Floyd price tag may conspire to knock him out of the first round. Neighborgall and McCormick, whose velocity slipped to the low- to mid-90s, are represented by agent Scott Boras. While the draft status of Jepsen, McCormick and Neighborgall is somewhat unclear, Clint Everts, Zack Greinke and Chris Gruler have surged to the forefront. Greinke and Gruler have performed consistently well with fastballs in the mid-90s while Everts has emerged from the shadows of his more celebrated high school teammate Scott Kazmir to become possibly the first high school righthander drafted. The Expos, picking fifth, have indicated a strong interest in Everts, whose curveball is rated the best in the draft. Bobby Brownlie was ranked as the top college righthander at the start of the season, but he was plagued by tendinitis this spring and his performance suffered. He has been replaced as the top college righty by Bryan Bullington, whose new-found slider has elevated him to the probable No. 1 pick in the entire draft. Jeremy Guthrie may be the most advanced of all the college righthanders and should move quickly through the minor leagues.

Strength of Position (1-to-5 scale): 4
Best velocity: 1. Jason Neighborgall. 2. Mark McCormick. 3. Kevin Jepsen.
Best breaking pitches: 1. Bryan Bullington. 2. Clint Everts. 3. Jason Neighborgall.
Best command: 1. Bryan Bullington. 2. Bobby Brownlie. 3. Zack Greinke.

Player

High School/College

Class

Age

B-T

Ht.

Wt.

1.

Bryan Bullington

Ball State U.

Jr.

21

R-R

6-5

212

2.

Jason Neighborgall

Riverside HS, Durham, N.C.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-5

190

3.

Bobby Brownlie

Rutgers U.

Jr.

21

R-R

6-1

195

4.

Chris Gruler

Liberty HS, Brentwood, Ala.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-3

200

5.

Zack Greinke

Apopka HS, Orlando

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

185

6.

Jeremy Guthrie

Stanford U.

Jr.

23

R-R

6-1

195

7.

Clint Everts

Cypress Falls HS, Houston

Sr.

17

B-R

6-2

170

8.

Joseph Blanton

U. of Kentucky

Jr.

21

R-R

6-2

210

9.

Mark McCormick

Clear Creek HS, Clear Lake Shores, Texas

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

190

10.

Kevin Jepsen

Bishop Manogue HS, Sparks, Nev.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-2

195

11.

Darrell Rasner

U. of Nevada

Jr.

21

R-R

6-2

210

12.

Anthony Reyes

U. of Southern California

Jr.

20

R-R

6-1

200

13.

David Bush

Wake Forest U.

Sr.

22

R-R

6-1

210

14.

Matthew Cain

Houston HS, Collierville, Tenn.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-3

185

15.

Blake Hawksworth

Bellevue (Wash.) CC

Fr.

19

R-R

6-3

180

16.

Brian Slocum

Villanova U.

So.

21

R-R

6-2

200

17.

Blair Johnson

Washburn HS, Topeka, Kan.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

195

18.

Micah Owings

Gainesville (Ga.) HS

Sr.

19

R-R

6-3

205

19.

Derick Grigsby

Northeast Texas JC

So.

19

R-R

6-0

200

20.

Eric Thomas

U. of South Alabama

Jr.

21

R-R

6-8

225

21.

Wardell Starling

Elkins HS, Missouri City, Texas

Sr.

19

R-R

6-4

200

22.

Zach Hammes

Iowa City (Iowa) HS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-6

220

23.

Ben Fritz

Fresno State U.

Jr.

21

R-R

6-4

220

24.

Zack Segovia

Forney (Texas) HS

Sr.

19

R-R

6-2

220

25.

Trevor Hutchinson

U. of California

Sr.

22

R-R

6-5

220

26.

Mike Esposito

Arizona State U.

So.

20

R-R

6-0

185

27.

Jonathan Broxton

Burke County HS, Waynesboro, Ga.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-3

260

28.

Romelio Lopez

Conroe (Texas) HS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-6

245

29.

Brandon Weeden

Santa Fe HS, Edmond, Okla.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-5

200

30.

Steven White

Baylor U.

Jr.

20

R-R

6-4

195

31.

Chadd Blasko

U. of Purdue

Jr.

21

R-R

6-6

205

32.

Kris Harvey

Bandys HS, Catawba, N.C.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

190

33.

Christian Madson

Bloomingdale HS, Valrico, Fla.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-8

225

34.

Jesse Crain

U. of Houston

Jr.

20

R-R

6-1

185

35.

Matt Farnum

Texas A&M U.

So.

21

R-R

6-1

185

36.

Rory Shortell

San Diego State U.

Jr.

20

R-R

6-3

200

37.

Sean White

U. of Washington

Jr.

21

R-R

6-3

195

38.

Alex Hart

U. of Florida

Jr.

22

R-R

6-5

220

39.

Aaron Coonrod

John A. Logan (Ill.) JC

So.

22

R-R

6-4

220

40.

Tom Wilhelmsen

Tucson (Ariz.) HS

Sr.

18

B-R

6-5

210

41.

O.J. King

Northwestern State U.

Sr.

22

R-R

6-3

210

42.

Charlie Morton

Joel Barlow HS, Redding, Conn.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

180

43.

Mitch Talbot

Canyon View HS, Cedar City, Utah

Sr.

18

R-R

6-1

170

44.

Ben Crockett

Harvard U.

Sr.

22

R-R

6-3

210

45.

Steve Kahn

Servite HS, Orange, Calif.

Sr.

18

L-R

6-2

202

46.

John C. Barnett

Florida Southern U.

Jr.

21

B-R

6-2

190

47.

Friedel Pinkston

Hart County HS, Hartwell, Ga.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

190

48.

Lee Gwaltney

Louisiana Tech

Sr.

22

R-R

6-5

210

49.

Matt Clanton

Orange Coast (Calif.) JC

So.

21

R-R

6-2

210

50.

Josh Johnson

Jenks HS, Tulsa

Sr.

18

L-R

6-7

215

51.

Evan Meek

Inglemoor HS, Bothell, Wash.

Sr.

19

R-R

6-1

180

52.

Randy Frye

Lake Orion (Mich.) HS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

205

53.

Matt Pender

Kennesaw State (Ga.) U.

Jr.

20

R-R

6-5

215

54.

Jared Burton

Western Carolina U.

Jr.

20

R-R

6-5

220

55.

Mike Pelfrey

Wichita Heights HS, Wichita

Sr.

18

R-R

6-7

190

56.

John Maine

UNC Charlotte

Jr.

21

R-R

6-4

185

57.

Khalid Ballouli

Texas A&M U.

Jr.

22

R-R

6-2

195

58.

Kevin Correia

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Sr.

21

R-R

6-3

185

59.

Anthony Pearson

Jackson State U.

Jr.

20

R-R

6-5

200

60.

Hector Ambriz

Valencia HS, Placentia, Calif.

Sr.

18

L-R

6-2

205

61.

Josh Rupe

Louisburg (N.C.) JC

So.

19

R-R

6-2

180

62.

Robert Ray

Lufkin (Texas) HS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

190

63.

Eduardo Baeza

Poly HS, Sun Valley, Calif.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-0

175

64.

James Holcomb

U. of Nevada

So.

21

R-R

6-5

190

65.

Chris Garcia

Xaverian HS, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-1

190

66.

Justin Gee

Sarasota (Fla.) HS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

200

67.

Adam Simon

Bishop Amat HS, La Puente, Calif.

Sr.

18

R-R

5-10

170

68.

Kiki Bengochea

U. of Miami

Jr.

21

R-R

6-2

195

69.

Kyle Edens

Baylor U.

Sr.

22

R-R

5-9

180

70.

Chad Pleiness

Central Michigan U.

Sr.

22

R-R

6-6

235

71.

Joel Zumaya

Bonita Vista HS, Chula Vista, Calif.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-3

200

72.

T.J. Beam

U. of Mississippi

Jr.

21

R-R

6-7

210

73.

Jensen Lewis

Anderson HS, Cincinnati

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

180

74.

Jake Baker

Holtville HS, Wetumpka, Ala.

Sr.

18

B-R

6-3

200

75.

Jesus Maldonado

Manuel M. Villa HS, Humacao, P.R.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

180

76.

Steve Obenchain

Evansville U.

Jr.

20

R-R

6-5

200

77.

Jon Papelbon

Mississippi State U.

So.

21

R-R

6-3

218

78.

Casey Aguilar

Franklin HS, Portland, Ore.

Sr.

17

R-R

5-11

210

79.

Glenn Woolard

Kutztown State (Pa.) U.

Jr.

21

R-R

6-1

200

80.

Alan Bomer

U. of Texas

Jr.

22

R-R

6-3

195

81.

Nick Tisone

Mandeville HS, Covington, La.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-0

180

82.

Kris Krise

Crescenta Valley HS, La Crescenta, Calif.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-6

230

83.

Jonah Bayliss

Trinity (Conn.) College

Jr.

21

R-R

6-2

215

84.

Hayden Penn

Santana HS, Santee, Calif.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-3

180

85.

Allen Ponder

Lee Scott Academy, Auburn, Ala.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

220

86.

Jimmy deMontel

Bellevue (Neb.) College

So.

21

R-R

6-4

245

87.

Sean Tracey

UC Irvine

Jr.

21

L-R

6-3

215

88.

Adam Elliott

Clayton Valley HS, Concord, Calif.

Sr.

18

R-R

6-2

205

89.

Ryan Warpinski

Texas A&M U.

So.

20

R-R

6-3

200

90.

J. Brent Cox

Bay City (Texas) HS

Sr.

18

L-R

6-3

188

91.

Brian Grant

C.B. Aycock HS, Goldsboro, N.C.

Sr.

 

R-R

6-4

190

92.

Chance Douglass

Randall HS, Amarillo, Texas

Sr.

18

R-R

6-1

195

93.

Scott Mathieson

Aldergrove (B.C.) SS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-3

185

94.

Aaron Parker

Sonoma State (Calif.) U.

Jr.

22

R-R

6-3

210

95.

Chris Goodman

Georgia Tech

Jr.

20

R-R

5-11

170

96.

Erik Thompson

Pensacola (Fla.) JC

Fr.

19

R-R

5-11

170

97.

Sean Rierson

U. of Arizona

So.

21

R-R

6-3

190

98.

Billy Mohl

John Foster Dulles HS, Sugar Land, Texas

Sr.

18

R-R

6-4

200

99.

Jonathan George

Camden Catholic HS, Pennsauken, N.J.

Sr.

17

R-R

6-3

220

100.

Billy Petrick

Morris (Ill.) HS

Sr.

18

R-R

6-6

220

LEFTHANDED PITCHER
This position is the strength of this year's draft. As many as five lefthanders have been mentioned prominently as possibly going in the first 10 picks, with another four or five slated to go later in the first round. Pound-for-pound, Scott Kazmir is the best pitcher in the draft. The 6-foot Houston lefthander has been compared to Astros fireballing southpaw Billy Wagner. Kazmir has the same lightning-quick arm and command of three pitches, including a mid-90s fastball. Scouts say he could move to the big leagues quicker than any high school player and faster even than most of the top college players. But no lefthander has a greater upside, Kazmir included, than 6-foot-6 Canadian lefty Adam Loewen, who is still on Pittsburgh's short list and may go to the wire as a contender to be the No. 1 overall pick. If Cole Hamels can convince the Brewers or Tigers to overlook his medical history--he missed last year after suffering a broken arm following his sophomore year--he could be a prime candidate to go No. 7 or 8. Beyond the big three of Kazmir, Loewen and Hamels, lefthanders will continue to roll off the table with a frequency rarely seen in past drafts.

Strength of Position (1-to-5 scale): 5.
Best velocity: 1. Scott Kazmir. 2. Cole Hamels. 3. Scott Hindman.
Best breaking pitches: 1. Cole Hamels. 2. Justin Maureau. 3. Scott Kazmir.
Best command: 1. Joe Saunders. 2. Scott Kazmir. 3. Cole Hamels.

Player

High School/College

Class

Age

B-T

Ht.

Wt.

1.

Scott Kazmir

Cypress Falls HS, Houston

Sr.

18

L-L

6-0

170

2.

Adam Loewen

Fraser Valley Christian HS, Surrey, B.C.

Sr.

18

L-L

6-6

210

3.

Cole Hamels

Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego

Sr.

18

L-L

6-2

185

4.

Jeff Francis

U. of British Columbia

Jr.

21

L-L

6-5

195

5.

Joe Saunders

Virginia Tech

Jr.

20

L-L

6-3

195

6.

Luke Hagerty

Ball State U.

Jr.

21

R-L

6-7

225

7.

Royce Ring

San Diego State U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-0

215

8.

Jon Lester

Bellarmine Prep, Puyallup, Wash.

Sr.

18

L-L

6-3

195

9.

James Loney

Elkins HS, Missouri City, Texas

Sr.

18

L-L

6-3

190

10.

Greg Miller

Esparanza HS, Yorba Linda, Calif.

Sr.

17

L-L

6-5

190

11.

Nick Bourgeois

Tulane U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-4

210

12.

Rich Hill

U. of Michigan

Jr.

22

L-L

6-4

190

13.

Bill Murphy

Cal State Northridge

Jr.

21

L-L

6-0

185

14.

Jon Felfoldi

Glendale (Calif.) JC

So.

 

L-L

6-1

185

15.

Dan Meyer

James Madison U.

Jr.

20

L-L

6-3

180

16.

Justin Jones

Kellam HS, Virginia Beach, Va.

Sr.

17

L-L

6-4

200

17.

Mark Romanczuk

St. Marks HS, Newark, Del.

Sr.

18

L-L

6-1

180

18.

Jesse English

Rancho Buena Vista HS, Vista, Calif.

Sr.

17

L-L

6-2

220

19.

Brett Nyquist

College of Saint Scholastica (Minn.)

Jr.

21

L-L

6-8

210

20.

Forrest Beverly

Conway (S.C.) HS

Sr.

18

R-L

6-3

195

21.

Clay Dirks

Hernando (Miss.) HS

Sr.

17

L-L

6-3

200

22.

Justin Maureau

Wichita State U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-0

175

23.

Chris Leonard

Miami (Ohio) U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-0

195

24.

Danny Christensen

Xaverian HS, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sr.

18

L-L

6-2

185

25.

Mark Rosen

Salisbury (Conn.) Prep

Sr.

17

L-L

6-0

200

26.

Scott Hindman

Princeton U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-3

210

27.

Alex Merricks

Oxnard (Calif.) HS

Sr.

18

L-L

5-11

180

28.

Jared Doyle

James Madison U.

Jr.

21

R-L

6-1

185

29.

Tim Cunningham

Stanford U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-3

175

30.

Kendall Bergdall

Cimarron HS, Layhoma, Okla.

Sr.

19

L-L

6-3

195

31.

Daniel Haigwood

Midland HS, Batesville, Ark.

Sr.

18

L-L

6-3

205

32.

Camilo Vazquez

Hialeah (Fla.) HS

Sr.

18

L-L

5-11

170

33.

Brandon Perry

Graham (N.C.) HS

Sr.

 

L-L

6-1

175

34.

Kelvin Garay

Santa Cruz HS, Trujillo Alta, P.R.

Sr.

 

L-L

6-4

223

35.

Ricky Barrett

U. of San Diego

Jr.

21

L-L

6-0

185

36.

Danny Forrer

Jeff Davis HS, Montgomery, Ala.

Sr.

18

R-L

6-3

195

37.

Tyler Pelland

Mt. Abraham HS, Bristol, Vt.

Sr.

 

L

5-11

185

38.

Sean Thompson

Thunder Ridge HS, Denver

Sr.

19

L-L

5-11

185

39.

Mark McLemore

Oregon State U.

Jr.

21

L-L

6-2

215

40.

Chad Decker

Valley View HS, Moreno Valley, Calif.

Sr.

18

L-L

6-2

170

41.

Garrett White

Round Rock (Texas) HS

Sr.

18

R-L

6-5

230

42.

Ryan Rodriguez

Keller (Texas) HS

Sr.

 

L-L

6-4

205

43.

Ryan Schreppel

Lincoln HS, Stockton, Calif.

Sr.

17

L-L

6-3

180

44.

Brad Halsey

U. of Texas

Jr.

21

L-L

6-2

179

45.

Marshall Looney

La Pine (Ore.) HS

Sr.

18

L-L

6-4

245

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