NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ***
Stanford's reputation as a pitching factory is well deserved, with recent drafts yielding premium picks like Jeremy Guthrie (2002), Mike Gosling (2001), Justin Wayne and Jason Young (2000), and Jeff Austin and Chad Hutchinson (1998). The Cardinal has no one this year with the pure stuff those pitchers had, and the high school ranks don't have a pitcher like righthander Chris Gruler, the third overall pick in last year's draft.
1. Carlos Quentin, of, Stanford
2. Conor Jackson, 3b/1b, California
3. Nick Pesco, rhp, Cosumnes River JC (CONTROL: Indians)
4. Greg Reynolds, rhp, Terra Nova HS, Pacifica
5. John Hudgins, rhp, Stanford
6. Jason Donald, ss, Buchanan HS, Clovis
7. Sam Fuld, of, Stanford
8. Ryan Mattheus, rhp, Sacramento CC (CONTROL: Rockies)
9. Chris Kinsey, rhp, Sacramento State
10. Sean Henry, ss/of, Armijo HS, Suisun City
11. Brandon Morrow, rhp, Rancho Cotate HS, Rohnert Park
12. Matt Brown, rhp, California
13. Chris Errecart, of, Lincoln HS, Stockton
14. Josh Butler, rhp, San Ramon Valley HS, Danville
15. Tim Cunningham, lhp, Stanford
16. Ryan Muller, rhp, Live Oak HS, Morgan Hill
17. Graham Harrison, c, Tulare Union HS, Tulare
18. Johnny Woodard, 1b, Cosumnes River JC
19. Ryan Garko, c, Stanford
20. Matt Pulley, 3b, Woodland HS
21. Dennis Dixon, of, San Leandro HS
22. Ryan Coultas, ss, UC Davis
23. Phil Coke, lhp, San Joaquin Delta JC (CONTROL: Yankees)
24. Blair Erickson, rhp, Jesuit HS, Fair Oaks
25. Brandon McConnell, rhp, Foothill HS, Redding
26. Danny De le O, lhp, Fresno CC (CONTROL: Padres)
27. Casey McGhee, 3b, Fresno State
28. Shane Buschini, 1b, California HS, San Ramon
29. Brandon Fromm, 1b, Beyer HS, Modesto
30. Brian Montalbo, rhp, California
31. Josh Tamba, rhp, Rancho Cotate HS, Rohnert Park
32. Kurt Koehler, rhp, Sacramento CC (CONTROL: Marlins)
33. Mikel McIntyre, of, Antioch HS
34. Zach McCormack, lhp, Sacramento CC (CONTROL: Reds)
35. Scott Dierks, of, Santa Clara
36. Romeo Neuman, of/rhp, West HS, Tracy
37. Bill Rhinehart, of, Casa Robles HS, Citrus Heights
38. Armand Gaerlan, ss, San Francisco
39. Mark Rodriguez, lhp, Los Medanos JC (CONTROL: Athletics)
40. John Wiebe, rhp, Fresno State
Projected First-Round Picks
Carlos Quentin, of
Quentin has been a high-profile player since early in his high school days in San Diego. He's been a three-year starter in right field at Stanford and starred with Team USA the last two summers. He'll finally be drafted for the first time this year, possibly late in the first round. There were mounting concerns leading up to the draft that he may need treatment for elbow problems that had bothered him most of the year, though he didn't miss a game. He's had a breakthrough season with the bat, riding a 26-game hitting streak to improve his average by more than 100 points. He's been much better at hitting breaking balls and walked twice as often as he struck out. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Quentin's power has been slower to develop. After hitting 10 balls out of the park in preseason intrasquad games, he went through a 20-game drought to start the season. That prompted him to alter his approach at the plate, ditching a Gary Sheffield-like bat wrap in favor of a flatter, calmer approach. His power returned in the second half. Quentin is a warrior. He plays hard day-in and day-out and should be well suited for the pro game. Veteran Stanford coach Mark Marquess has called him the best practice player he's ever had.
Conor Jackson, 3b/1b
Jackson has had a tough year physically. He injured his right ankle rounding second base in the first game of the year and later was shelved with an arm injury. He started slowly at the plate but lifted his average to almost .400 by May, even though he was pitched around. He hasn't shown the consistent power he did in 2002, when he homered 16 times. But a big weekend against Stanford was seen by a lot of influential scouts. Jackson takes huge hacks at the plate and can put a charge in the ball, though not quite like Xavier Nady, his predecessor at third base. He is one of the draft's top power hitters, and yet leads the Pacific-10 Conference in on-base percentage. He walks almost three times as often as he strikes out--stats that are sure to endear him to a team like the Athletics, who have three of the first 33 picks and value plate discipline. Where Jackson plays is another matter. Though he makes throws on the run exceptionally well at third base, his actions and range are just average. He'll likely end up at first base, where he spent most of his sophomore year. Jackson's father John is an actor, and has portrayed "JAG" leader Admiral A.J. Chegwidden on the CBS drama. Jackson himself has had bit parts growing up.
Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
Nick Pesco, rhp
Lefthanders Adam Loewen and Nick Markakis have become two of the most celebrated draft-and-follow prospects of this or any year, but the 6-foot-7, 190-pound Pesco is also in demand. He was Cleveland's 25th-round pick in 2002, and is expected to get second-round money to keep him from reentering the draft. His situation is almost identical to that of another Sacramento righthander, Sean Smith--an Indians 2001 draft-and-follow who signed a seven figure bonus a year ago. Pesco has four projectable pitches, including a 94-95 mph fastball and above-average changeup. He has better mound presence and cleaner mechanics this year, and yet posted only an 8-5 record. Cosumnes River coach Tony Bloomfield had future big leaguers Bud Smith and Justin Miller on his staff at Los Angeles Harbor JC when he coached there, and says Pesco is the best pitcher he's ever coached.
Greg Reynolds, rhp
Big league clubs are always wary of the signability of Stanford recruits, and Exhibit A this year is the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Reynolds. The Devil Rays, Padres, Reds and Yankees have shown interest in the second round, and his stock has surged this spring as he's mastered three pitches and shown better mechanics and a more compact delivery. He throws a 90-92 mph fastball almost effortlessly, and complements it with a solid curve and change. He dominated high school hitters, going 9-3, 1.06 with 159 strikeouts in 86 innings. Reynolds chose not to commit to Stanford until April so he could keep open his option of playing football for the Cardinal. He plans to play only baseball as a freshman, but was recruited as a quarterback by several Division I schools.
John Hudgins, rhp
As Stanford's No. 1 starter, Hudgins has put up numbers comparable to those of Cardinal aces of recent vintage. Hudgins led the Pac-10 in innings and strikeouts. His success comes from his ability to compete, work hitters and throw strikes, however, not his raw stuff. His fastball touches 90 mph but works at 88. He has no plus pitch and throws on a flat plane because of a low arm slot. "He's Guthrie without the fastball," Marquess says, comparing Hudgins to Cleveland's first-round pick in 2002. Hudgins has a similar style and four-pitch repertoire but lacks the same life and velocity. He'll appeal to teams that emphasize college players with a track record of success, and may well be an overdraft in the second or third rounds.
Jason Donald, ss
Most clubs view Donald as a third- to fourth-round pick, but he could be drafted much higher, possibly in the first round. His tools don't play out yet, but could after a college career at Arizona, where he's projected to step in at shortstop as a freshman. At this point, his greatest strength is his makeup. He plays for his father Tom at nationally ranked Buchanan High and plays the game hard. He has good power for a middle infielder, solid shortstop actions, average speed and sound hitting mechanics. He has the strength to hit with wood and batted .516 with nine homers this year. His athletic ability is unquestioned, as he was Buchanan's offensive player of the year last fall in football, excelling at four positions including quarterback. With Scott Boras as his adviser, signability could become an issue if he slides out of the early rounds.
Sam Fuld, of
Fuld doesn't have a power tool in his arsenal, but he's likely to be drafted in the first five rounds by a team that values plate discipline and thinks he could be another Lenny Dykstra. Fuld, a New Hampshire native, is a proven college player with excellent instincts. He's mastered some of the less-appreciated aspects of the game like center-field defense, baserunning, working counts and bunting. But he's not a burner, has little power and an average arm. He also has a checkered history swinging the bat. Last summer with Team USA, he was last on the team with a .190 average and fought to get his average above .300 this spring. Given that, some teams see him as no more than a fifth outfielder.
Others to Watch
Off a dominant performance in the Cape Cod League last summer as a closer, RHP Matt Brown had aspirations of being a first-round pick. But the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder pitched poorly this spring in a starting role. He had trouble putting hitters away and struggled with his mechanics and command. His fastball, mostly 88-90 mph but occasionally touching his more familiar 94, was up in the zone and he got hit hard, leading to a 3-8, 6.36 record. Brown, a former American Legion World Series MVP, is best suited to be a closer, a role he filled as a freshman when he led the Pac-10 in saves.
Six-foot-5, 225-pound RHP Brian Montalbo became the highest draft pick ever out of Alaska when he was selected in the fourth round in 2000. He has made limited progress in three years in college. His fastball hovers in the 88-91 range and touches 93 with good movement, but he's had chronic control problems. He's never gotten in a consistent rhythm or developed much of a feel for pitching. His size and arm strength are intriguing, and he could still picked before the 10th round. Athleticism runs in the Montalbo genes; his father Mel played for the NFL's Oakland Raiders.
LHP Tim Cunningham has three major league pitches but trouble repeating them, leading to control problems. A regular starter and 10-game winner a year ago, he was bumped from the Stanford rotation early this year.
RHP/1B Chris Kinsey is a legitimate two-way college player, but scouts see his future on the mound. He challenges hitters with an 87-92 mph fastball and an above-average slider and changeup.
C Ryan Garko has been a solid college hitter for four years at Stanford and enjoyed his best season as a senior, hitting .380 with team-leading home run and RBI totals. He's always hit for average and power, but defense has been an issue and the main reason he's never been drafted. Garko lost 15 pounds before this year, however, and it has resulted in better quickness and more energy. He's thrown out more runners could be an eighth- to 10th-round pick.
SS Ryan Coultas ranks among the nation's premier defensive shortstops. He has excellent hands, arm strength and fielding actions. A suspect bat will hurt his draft position.
Though he hasn't hit with the power scouts wanted to see, 3B Casey McGehee has been a bright spot for a Fresno State team that struggled this year. He's a solid defender, but his tools and lack of consistent power may prompt a team to put him behind the plate. He would be suited for the position because he has soft hands and arm strength, and is a tough, gritty competitor.
OF Scott Dierks was one of the biggest surprises on the West Coast this spring. A former walk-on at Santa Clara, he wasn't even a starter to begin his senior year but led the West Coast Conference with a .426 average and 18 home runs. He has no defined position, and scouts aren't sure how his power will translate to wood.
OF Joe Jacobitz hasn't hit as well as expected at San Francisco, but SS Armand Gaerlan has been a find for the Dons. He's been injured again this year, but scouts see arm strength, average speed and hitting ability, and good shortstop actions.
Few high school players in the region have improved their stock more than switch-hitting OF Chris Errecart, now regarded as the best hitting prospect in the area. His other tools all play: an above-average arm, and average speed and outfield skills. Errecart has committed to California and may be a sixth- or seventh-rounder, possibly higher.
Switch-hitting C Graham Harrison wasn't well known at the start of the year, but could be a solid draft. He does everything well, especially swinging the bat.
SS/OF Sean Henry, a San Diego State signee, has above-average speed and arm strength and a demonstrated ability to hit with wood. Scouts are mixed on his draft status, seeing a high of the third to fifth rounds and more likely eighth to 15th.
Six-foot-3, 210-pound 3B Matt Pulley has a good lefthanded bat and above-average arm strength. A Nevada recruit, he's projected to go between the eighth and 10th rounds.
OF Dennis Dixon has more tools and upside than any high school player but hasn't made a full commitment to baseball. An outstanding high school quarterback, he signed to play football at Oregon, which doesn't have a baseball program. Scouts say he could have been a second- or third-rounder if he concentrated on the diamond. His arm, speed and raw power all rate above-average, but he doesn't produce consistently enough with the bat. He needs a lot of repetitions in all phases and likely would be a two-year Rookie-ball player if he chose baseball. OF Mikel McIntyre's raw tools, athleticism, speed and background are similar to Dixon's, and would be best suited to pro ball.
Six-foot-4, 220-pound 1B Shane Buschini has outstanding power potential. He is too inconsistent with the bat to warrant going in the first 10-12 rounds. He's also been clocked at 85-86 mph.
San Jose State signee Brandon Fromm is a powerful lefthanded-hitting first baseman.
OF Bill Rhinehart lacks the speed and arm strength to warrant a premium pick, but his powerful lefthanded bat and fundamentally sound approach should play well in college at Arizona.
Two high school position players who have attracted marginal interest are St. Francis High SS Josh Lansford, son of ex-big leaguer Carney; and Salinas High 1B Thomas Incaviglia, nephew of NCAA all-time home run king Pete. Like his uncle, Incaviglia is headed to Oklahoma State.
RHP Blair Erickson was the top high school pitcher in Northern California before he broke his ankle in a pickup basketball game in February. He was seen at his best in the Giants' Area Code Games tryout last summer, when he showcased a fast, fluid arm, 90-93 mph fastball and 81-82 mph slider. A possible second- or third-rounder at one time, Erickson will now go to a team willing to take a flier and see how he rebounds this summer. He is a UC Irvine recruit.
RHP Romeo Neuman also had high expectations but missed the first half of the season after he dropped a calculus class he thought he didn't need to get into Long Beach State. Instead, he received an F and wasn't allowed to play until April 15. Thirty scouts attended his first game, and he didn't show his normal 90-91 mph fastball or effortless arm stroke. He has been slow to regain form. Projectable at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Neuman could throw in the mid-90s one day. Neuman's father was an outstanding cricket player in Jamaica.
RHPs Brandon Morrow and Josh Tamba, teammates at Rancho Cotate High, have moved up as Erickson and Neuman have slipped. Morrow found out he has diabetes earlier this year, explaining why he could never add weight to his 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame. Stronger now, his fastball has been clocked up to 92-93 mph; his breaking ball and control remain inconsistent. Morrow has committed to California and is a possible fifth- to eighth-rounder. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Tamba, a Long Beach State recruit, has an above-average fastball and curve.
Six-foot-5, 205-pound RHP Josh Butler has as much upside as any pitcher in the region. His fastball, normally 88-89 mph, touches 92 and he has the makings of a plus slider. Some scouts see the San Diego signee as high as a third-rounder.
RHP Brandon McConnell and batterymate Ricky Bambino have attracted solid interest at Redding's Foothill High. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound McConnell is erratic, but his fastball touches 91 mph and his curve is a potential plus pitch. He has committed to Fresno State and is a possible fourth- to eighth-rounder. Bambino has an outstanding arm but struggles at the plate.
RHP Ryan Muller attracted attention with a 20-strikeout game this spring. He has a power arm, with an 88-90 fastball that reaches 92 on occasion, and a hard curveball.
LHP Phil Coke, a 25th-round pick of the Yankees in 2002, rivaled Nick Pesco as the state's best junior college prospect entering the season but has not played up to expectations. He's been passed by 6-foot-3, 210-pound RHP Ryan Mattheus, a 34th-round pick of the Rockies last year. Mattheus was the top arm at Sacramento City College, a traditional state power. He burst out of the gates with a 90-93 mph fastball that touched 95, and a plus slider. RHP Kurt Koehler, a Sac City teammate, missed the first half with a strained forearm muscle. A Marlins draft pick in 2002, he has excellent control of an 87-90 mph fastball and power sinker. RHP Paul Keck, a 19th-round pick of the White Sox a year ago, might have been one of the top draft-and-follows this spring but was kicked off Sac City team. He is athletic and has a power arm. LHP Zach McCormack has three solid pitches and wasn't expected to sign with the Reds before the draft. Cincinnati did, however, make a serious run at RHP Derek Hawk and signed him in mid-May. He would have been a third- to sixth-rounder if Cincinnati hadn't signed him.
LHP Danny De la O is one of several juco players the Padres want to sign. De la O's fastball was in the low 80s last year and is up to 87-88 mph. He signed with Fresno State. Another Bulldogs signee, Mike Pierce, is a polished defensive catcher. He was a 10th-round pick of the Giants last year, and his situation is similar to Dayton Buller, a Fresno CC catcher who signed with the Giants for $400,000 as a draft-and-follow a year ago.
The Athletics have kept close tabs on LHP Mark Rodrigues, who controls an above-average fastball and slider. He was a 37th-round pick in 2002.
Most of the junior college focus has been on players under control, with the surprise being lefthanded-hitting 1B Johnny Woodard, undrafted a year ago. A true freshman, he was the No. 7 hitter on his high school team a year ago and emerged as a top power hitter this spring. He could be drafted in the top eight rounds.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ***
While Delmon Young is a candidate for the No. 1 pick and Ian Stewart is one of the nation's top power prospects, injuries, off-field issues and a disappointing performance by righthander Jared Hughes have hurt this traditional high-profile area. Even as Big West Conference rivals Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State have enjoyed outstanding seasons and may have as many as 20 players drafted between them, there isn't a consensus first-rounder from the college ranks. The first college players drafted may come from two obscure Christian schools: The Master's College and California Lutheran.
1. Delmon Young, of, Camarillo HS
2. Ian Stewart, 3b, La Quinta HS, Garden Grove
3. Jared Hughes, rhp, Santa Margarita HS, Laguna Niguel
4. Chuck Tiffany, lhp, Charter Oak HS, Covina
5. Jo Jo Reyes, lhp, Poly HS, Riverside
6. Adam Jones, rhp/ss, Morse HS, San Diego
7. Jerry Owens, of, The Masters's College
8. Wes Littleton, rhp, Cal State Fullerton
9. Anthony Gwynn, of, San Diego State
10. Shane Costa, of, Cal State Fullerton
11. Jason Hirsh, rhp, California Lutheran
12. Abe Alvarez, lhp, Long Beach State
13. Daric Barton, c, Marina HS, Huntington Beach
14. Ian Kennedy, rhp, La Quinta HS, Huntington Beach
15. Chad Cordero, rhp, Cal State Fullerton
16. Josh Muecke, lhp, Loyola Marymount
17. Kyle Boyer, of, Cal State Fullerton
18. Matt Vasquez, rhp, UC Santa Barbara
19. Jeff Flaig, 3b, El Dorado HS, Placentia
20. Brian Schroeder, lhp, Christian HS, El Cajon
21. Peter Stonard, 2b/of, San Diego State
22. Dana Eveland, lhp, JC of the Canyons (CONTROL: Brewers)
23. Cody Collet, c, Newbury Park HS
24. Brant Rustich, rhp, Grossmont HS, El Cajon
25. Zech Zinicola, rhp, Arlington HS, San Bernardino
26. Cole Garner, of, La Quinta HS, Lakewood
27. Tommy Hawk, rhp, Cabrillo HS, Lompoc
28. Fraser Dizard, lhp, Southern California
29. Darric Merrell, rhp, Cal State Fullerton
30. Josh Cowles, c/rhp, Redlands East HS, Redlands
31. Scott Robinson, 1b/of, Palomar JC (CONTROL: Astros)
32. Travis Ingle, rhp, Cal State Fullerton
33. Chris Kelly, 1b, Pepperdine
34. Brennan Boesch, 1b, Harvard-Westlake HS, Los Angeles
35. Joe Woerman, rhp, San Diego CC
36. Josh Whitesell, 1b, Loyola Marymount
37. David Huff, lhp, Edison HS, Huntington Beach
38. Anthony Reyes, rhp, Southern California
39. John Peabody, of, Rancho Bernardo HS, San Diego
40. Todd Jennings, c/3b, Long Beach State
41. Vince Cordova, rhp, Loyola Marymount
42. Jim Rapoport, of, Chaminade Prep, Westlake
43. Brian Wahlbrink, of, UC Riverside (CONTROL: Padres)
44. James McDonald, rhp, Golden West JC (CONTROL: Dodgers)
45. Tim Dorn, rhp/1b, East Los Angeles JC
46. Matt Chico, lhp, Palomar JC
47. Rob Johnson, c, Saddleback JC (CONTROL: Marlins)
48. Jordan Abruzzo, c, El Capitan HS, La Mesa
49. D.J. Lewis, c, San Fernando HS, North Hollywood
50. Jason Vargas, lhp, Cypress JC
51. Matt Lincoln, rhp, Santa Ana JC
52. Steven Wright, rhp, Valley View HS, Moreno Valley
53. Adam Heether, 3b, Long Beach State
54. Mike Moat, rhp, San Diego State
55. Brian Bannister, rhp, Southern California
56. Craig Baker, rhp, Hemet HS
57. Nathan Faulkner, of, Temecula Valley HS, Temecula
58. Brandon Villalobos, lhp, Glendora HS
59. Carlos Muniz, rhp, Long Beach State
60. Jesse Chavez, rhp, Riverside CC (CONTROL: Rangers)
61. Chad Corona, 3b, San Diego State
62. Bryan Harris, ss, Santa Ana JC
63. Jose Hernandez, c/rhp, Oceanside HS
64. Brad Barragar, rhp, Upland HS
65. Justin Smyres, ss, Cal State Fullerton
66. Tim Hutting, ss, Long Beach State
67. Kenny Maiquez, rhp, La Serna HS
68. Bo Ashabraner, rhp, Long Beach State
69. Casey Janssen, rhp, UCLA
70. Ron Prettyman, 3b, Cal State Fullerton
71. Chad Clark, rhp, Azusa Pacific College
72. Kevin Estrada, ss, Pepperdine (CONTROL: Cardinals)
73. Drew Jenson, lhp, San Diego State
74. Anthony Lunetta, ss, Southern California
75. Leo Rosales, rhp, Cal State Northridge
76. Daniel Perales, of, Mater Dei HS, Anaheim Hills
77. Larry Robles, rhp, Cal State Dominguez Hills
78. Brandon Rauch, of, El Capitan HS, El Cajon
79. Justin McClure, ss, Canyon HS, Anaheim
80. Michael Moon, 3b/of, Southern California
81. Mike Hofius, 1b, Long Beach State
82. Chris Cordeiro, rhp, UCLA
83. Charles Kessler, of, Claremont HS
84. Taylor Bills, rhp, Paloma Valley HS, Menifee
85. Joe Gault, rhp, Canyon HS, Canyon Country
86. Jose Cortez, c, Pomona-Pitzer College
87. Justin Cassel, rhp, Chatsworth HS, Northridge
88. Mark Davidson, rhp, Esperanza HS, Yorba Linda
89. Gary Gallegos, lhp, Biola College
90. Jason Windsor, rhp, Cal State Fullerton
91. Case Dahlen, lhp, Peninsula HS, Palos Verdes
92. Randy Blood, 2b/ss, UC Riverside
93. Mike Davern, rhp, UC Irvine
94. Travis McAndrews, of, Southern California
95. Jaymie Torres, rhp, UC Riverside
96. Eddie Solis, 3b, Eastlake HS, San Diego
97. Tony Perez, lhp, San Diego
98. Matt Cunningham, of, UC Riverside
99. Jeff Stimpson, rhp, Redondo Union HS, Redondo Beach
100. Cody Campbell, rhp, Santa Margarita HS, Trabuco Canyon
101. Tyler Morrison, rhp, Glendora HS
102. Chris Vitters, ss, Cypress HS, Anaheim
Projected First-Round Picks
Delmon Young, of
Young has been one of the most celebrated youth baseball players ever. He starred in national showcase events even before he attended high school, and was Baseball America's Youth Player of the Year in 2002 when he shattered the tournament home run record at the World Junior Championship. He has excelled in high school and summer league play as both a hitter and pitcher. He has dominated his competition much like his brother Dmitri, an eight-year major league veteran, did when he was a Southern California high school hero himself before signing with the Cardinals in 1991 as a first-round pick. Young is an outstanding hitter, particularly for his age. He routinely puts on a show in batting practice and carries his power into games, often hitting balls 450 feet or better. He has quick hands and the ball jumps off his bat. Young also has a powerful arm and has been clocked up to 95 mph on the mound. He elected not to pitch this spring because of a basketball-related ankle injury that delayed the start of his season and some nagging shoulder soreness. Even with his obvious arm strength, Young projects as a left fielder in pro ball. He's shown average speed and there's some stiffness in his running, limiting him to a corner. Young will be one of the first two or three players drafted; he has a commitment to Arizona as a bargaining chip.
Ian Stewart, 3b
Even though he was the star player on the nation's No. 1 high school team in the preseason, Stewart has actually improved his stock. He was a borderline first-round pick coming in and now ranks as a possible top 10 pick overall. He has exceptional bat speed and more power even than Delmon Young, according to some scouts. Though his swing is flat and lacks tilt, he projects to hit 35-40 homers a year in the big leagues. His power is to all fields. On the season, Stewart was hitting .473-13-55. A Southern California recruit, Stewart's bat compares favorably to two past lefthanded-hitting third-base Trojan recruits: Eric Chavez and Sean Burroughs, both former first-rounders. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Stewart would be a certain top 10 pick if scouts were sure he could play third base down the road. He will likely get every chance to play his way off the position but may end up at first base or left field.
Jared Hughes, rhp
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Hughes moved to the head of the class among prep pitchers last fall with a dominant showing at the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat championship in Jupiter, Fla., which followed an equally impressive display at the Area Code Games. He showed excellent command of a lively mid-90s fastball, which topped out at 97. He also displayed a plus breaking ball. Projected as a top 10 pick entering this season, Hughes has not lived up to expectations and may slip out of the first round. He has not thrown strikes consistently and has had to throw his fastball more than he wants to because he's had little feel or command of his secondary stuff. He shows an average curve and slider at times, but doesn't dominate with any of his stuff. He's gone just 3-3, 3.30 while allowing a hit an inning. Questions have been raised about Hughes' makeup, with scouts asking whether he's tough enough mentally for the rigors of pro ball. The Santa Clara signee will be just 17 on draft day. For all the questions, though, there are a lot of positives and he'll still be an attractive target. Few pitchers have his size, arm strength and upside.
Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
Chuck Tiffany, lhp
Tiffany has been on the radar screen since he was named MVP of the PONY League World Series as a 14-year-old. He's matured into a powerfully built, 6-foot-1, 205-pounder with velocity up to 93 mph. His fastball is normally two or three mph slower and has good life at the lower speed. He also has a nasty breaking pitch, a 73-75 mph, old-fashioned 12-to-6 curveball. He needs to develop command of that pitch, as well as his changeup. Tiffany also has violence to his delivery that will need to be refined. As a fringe first-rounder, Tiffany is the most likely Cal State Fullerton recruit to be lost to the draft.
Jo Jo Reyes, lhp
Reyes has enough qualities to warrant first-round consideration, but his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame may get in his way. He's built along the lines of David Wells and Dennys Reyes and will need to watch his weight. For some scouts, he's a what-you-see-is-what-you-get player. What you see is a pitcher who has a free and easy arm, is very competitive, knows how to pitch and is athletic enough to play an everyday position in college (Southern California). His fastball sits at 89-90 mph and tops out at 93. He has two other fringe-average pitches, a curve and a changeup, and commands his pitches well. Some clubs see him as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, but there's interest in the supplemental first-round--particularly by the Braves, who have two such picks and have made lefthanded pitching a priority.
Adam Jones, ss/rhp
Jones warrants interest as both a pitcher and position player. He was scouted more as a shortstop early in the season, and then he touched 96 in late April and generated first-round attention while becoming the most talked-about player in talent-rich San Diego. Jones has limited skills beyond raw stuff, and little feel for pitching. He prefers to be an everyday player and is athletic to play almost any position on the field. He is a potential five-tool talent, though his bat is a bit suspect. Makeup is also an issue with Jones, who has had a tough upbringing. Mission Bay High's Matt Bush, a top prospect for the 2004 draft, has been considered the best pitcher/shortstop in San Diego, and scouts say Jones is bigger, faster and has a better arm, though Bush is more refined.
Jerry Owens, of
In an age of sophisticated scouting, Owens is the rare college player who was on no one's radar at the start of the year and has emerged as a possible late first-round pick. For many, he's become the best college prospect on the West Coast. A former wide receiver at UCLA, Owens transferred to The Master's College two years ago--in part to deepen his faith, in part because he didn't want to get hurt playing football (he'd already redshirted one season with a broken foot), and in part because he wanted to resume a baseball career abandoned since high school. He wanted to be a pitcher, but it was apparent his blazing speed would be wasted on the mound. In his first year back, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Owens hit a modest .330, but he turned it up this year, hitting .451-6-31. He also learned how to utilize his speed at the plate and on the bases. He's been timed at 3.85 seconds to first base and stole 30 bases. Primarily a left fielder in college, Owens will land in center field, where his speed will be maximized. He projects along the lines of Kenny Lofton or Tom Goodwin.
Wes Littleton, rhp
Littleton might be the surest bet of anyone in Southern California to play in the big leagues. He's a proven college pitcher with a no-nonsense approach. Few can match his knack for pitching. He has excellent command of three pitches, including a fastball that tops out at 92 mph. He gets good movement, which will give him an edge against hitters using wood. His slider and changeup are also solid pitches, but he doesn't have a surefire weapon to get lefthanded hitters out consistently. He also doesn't get a lot of strikeouts because he uses his fastball so much. A seventh-round pick of the Expos out of high school, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Littleton struggled with his command as a freshman. It has been the strength of his game the last two years. He walked 11 in 72 innings this season. Littleton's chances of going in the first round were damaged when he was suspended for six weeks in midseason for an undisclosed off-field incident. He did not pitch well in his return, and was bumped from the Titans' weekend rotation late in the year.
Anthony Gwynn, of
With any other name, Anthony Gwynn might be a fourth- or fifth-round pick. But he's squarely in the mix in the second round, with pressure on San Diego to take him there. Gwynn is the son of the greatest Padres player ever and one of the greatest hitters of all time. Though there are similarities in their swings and approach at the plate, Gwynn has shown few signs of putting up the same numbers as his father Tony, now his coach at San Diego State. He struggled with the bat throughout the season and might not have hit even .250 if he hadn't beaten up the lower-rung pitching staffs in the offensive-oriented Mountain West Conference. He showed no power this year, failing to hit a single homer. He infrequently made hard contact and was primarily a singles hitter who sprayed balls to all fields. Some scouts, though, believe the 6-foot, 185-pound Gwynn will be a much better pro than college player. Beyond his bat, all his other tools play well, and his approach is better suited for the daily grind of the pros. He's been around the pro game all his life and knows what to expect. He already plays center field like a big leaguer. He can chase down balls with anyone and his instincts are off the chart. Though scouts never saw the home runs or stolen bases (24) this year they expected, some have cut him some slack because they know that few college players performed under more pressure this year.
Shane Costa, of
Costa has an outside shot of going in the first round. He's a solid lefthanded college hitter, much like Tulane's Michael Aubrey and Rice's Vince Sinisi--both surefire first-rounders. Costa has a similar track record of success. He has played well for three years in college and had a solid tour of duty with Team USA last summer. He's been near the top of the Big West Conference in average, RBIs and stolen bases all season, but not home runs and the knock is that he hasn't shown consistent power--at least not in games. Though he shows plus power in batting practice, questions about his game power may knock him to the second round, especially because he plays a corner outfield position. He has center-field actions but has been primarily a right fielder throughout his career at Cal State Fullerton. Costa is a baseball rat and plays the game hard.
Jason Hirsh, rhp
The first thing that catches your attention about Hirsh is his size. He's 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds--and understandably throws hard. He's been clocked up to 97 mph this spring. Pitchers with that kind of velocity rarely get out of the second round. Unrecruited by a Division I college out of high school, Hirsh threw 86-88 when he entered Cal Lutheran and added velocity by lifting weights and adjusting his arm angle. He is learning how to pitch and shows little confidence changing speeds off his fastball. His breaking ball is suspect, though he flashes an 86 mph slider. He's been used as a starter this year and had an 18-strikeout game on his way to a 9-1, 3.68 record, but he projects as a power reliever in pro ball.
Abe Alvarez, lhp
Alvarez is a third-round pick for most teams, but don't be surprised if a team that emphasizes successful college players takes the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder late in the first round. Alvarez is a crafty lefthander who won his first 10 decisions and had a 4-1 strikeout-walk ratio. He doesn't have plus stuff, but understands how to work to hitters' weaknesses, rarely allows hitters to get good swings off him and has a knack for pitching out of trouble. His fastball ranges from 84-88 mph and he has an average major league curve and changeup.
Daric Barton, c
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Barton might have been a candidate for the first round if his body didn't resemble that of short, squatty big leaguer Matt Stairs. Barton can flat-out hit. He has one of the best lefthanded bats in the draft and can hit for both average and power. He is short to the ball and balanced throughout his swing. His skills behind the plate are only fringe average, and he has spent most of the season at third base--his coach's son has claimed most of the playing time behind the plate. Barton profiles as an American League player, and the Rangers have reportedly focused on him in the second round.
Ian Kennedy, rhp
Few high school pitchers are as polished or efficient as the 6-foot, 180-pound Kennedy. He's seen as a better version of smallish RHPs Seth Etherton (Southern California) and Jeff Austin (Stanford), who dominated in college on their way to becoming first-round picks. He went 13-0, 0.40 in 2002 and was the ace pitcher on the nation's No. 1 team entering 2003. Kennedy has a bulldog approach and cuts hitters down to size with excellent command of four pitches: an 89-92 mph fastball, an 82 mph slider, a 75 mph curve and an 80 mph changeup. His delivery is free and easy, and he has a quick arm. Four things may keep him from going early: a broken kneecap that shelved him for most of the 2003 season, his association with Scott Boras, his commitment to Southern California, and questions about how much better he'll get. There's talk, though, that the Cardinals have targeted Kennedy in an early round, possibly even the first.
Chad Cordero, rhp
The 6-foot, 195-pound Cordero has been a high-profile closer at Fullerton since he was a freshman. He led the Big West Conference in saves his first two years, racking up a total of 26, while averaging 2.1 walks and 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Despite his slight frame, he has a durable, resilient arm and projects as a closer in pro ball. His save opportunities have been more limited this year because of his team's dominance, and scouts have had a difficult time getting a read on him because of his role. But he has quality stuff. He has command of three pitches that he can throw from different arm angles, including a fastball that ranges from 91-94 mph.
Josh Muecke, lhp
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Muecke did not perform up to expectations this spring, going just 3-3, 4.50. Projected to be Loyola Marymount's Friday starter, he pitched poorly and lost his spot in the rotation altogether. He showed little command of his fastball, curve and changeup, and routinely needed 20 or more pitches to get through an inning. Still, teams are intrigued by his body, arm speed, velocity and action on his changeup. He has a lot of projection left in his arm. If a team is willing to overlook his performance this spring, he could be a solid third- to fifth-round gamble.
Kyle Boyer, of
A 24th-round pick of the White Sox out of high school, Boyer played sparingly in his first two years at Fullerton. He came on this spring and had a breakout season. His hitting approach was questioned in the past, but he's made better contact this year and better ability to handle breaking balls. The rest of his tools all play. He's a true center fielder with speed and arm strength. Compactly built along the lines of Jeff Bagwell, he shows outstanding power in batting practice but often cuts down on his swing in games to insure better contact. Some clubs see Boyer as a better prospect than Costa because he has better overall tools and more trigger to his swing--meaning an easier adjustment to wood bats. But Costa's track record probably will give him the edge over Boyer in the draft.
Matt Vasquez, rhp
An eighth-round pick in 2000, Vasquez had an up-and-down junior season at UC Santa Barbara yet still may end up being drafted in an earlier round than out of a local high school. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder has a free and easy power arm with a fastball that reaches 93 mph, though normally registers 88-90. He's been only a .500 pitcher, though, going 4-4, 5.09 this year, but has pitched well on occasion. He has been vulnerable to a big inning and his breaking ball is inconsistent. He tends to tip off his curve by slowing down his arm speed.
Brian Schroeder, lhp
Schroeder is the son of Jay Schroeder, the third overall pick in the 1979 draft who gained greater fame as a quarterback for the Washington Redskins after he failed to make it out of Class A. Brian was a quarterback himself his first three years at San Diego's Christian High, where his father serves as an assistant baseball coach, though he didn't play last fall to devote all his attention to baseball. A 6-foot-3, 180-pounder, Schroeder is an intelligent pitcher who throws from a lot of different arm angles. His fastball touches 90 mph with good movement, and he has a solid curve and a feel for a changeup. He has committed to UCLA, where his father played football while also playing in the Blue Jays system. Teams have been advised it will take a seven-figure bonus to sway him from college.
Jeff Flaig, 3b
Flaig starred for Team USA as it won the 2001 World Youth championship in Mexico. He was the dominant player on a team that included Lastings Milledge, Chris Lubanski and Jay Sborz, who are expected to be first-round picks in this year's draft. Flaig, then a shortstop/righthander, led the team in all triple-crown categories and saved a critical medal-round game. His stock dropped a year later when he had a torn rotator cuff. He still has been unable to air out throws across the diamond, and may not be able to for several more months. He once threw 90 mph as a pitcher. There's no mistaking his bat. He has power and outstanding instincts, and he has been compared to a young Troy Glaus. He has had an outstanding senior season, with an all-star performance in April at the National Classic, the nation's premier high school tournament. If teams are convinced his arm strength will return, he could be drafted as high as the second or third rounds. While his game plays like Glaus, his situation is similar to that of Tony Torcato, an outstanding hitting prospect who had a damaged shoulder when he was drafted by the Giants in the first round in 1998. The injury robbed Torcato of his power and forced him to move to the outfield.
Peter Stonard, 2b/of
Stonard may have cost himself a lot of money when he failed a midseason drug test and was suspended for the rest of the year. It wasn't the first such occurrence for the 2002 Cape Cod League batting champion. Stonard also failed two tests at Alabama, resulting in his dismissal from the team last November and leading to his transfer to San Diego State. It also prompted him to send a letter to all 30 major league clubs, saying he had made a bad choice and vowing it would never happen again. It did, less than five months later. It's hard to say how much it all affects his draft standing. On talent, he would have gone in the top two or three rounds. Though he has a cocky demeanor, Stonard plays hard and has sound instincts. He's a Todd Walker type at second base with advanced, aggressive hitting skills. He has a knack for getting the sweet spot on the ball, hits line drives with off-field power and is an expert at fighting off tough pitches. He's a solid runner, faster even than Anthony Gwynn, and is more than adequate at second base. He has good hands and turns the double play with quick hands.
Others to Watch
It's been three years now since RHP Anthony Reyes was at his dominant best for Southern California. Late in his freshman year, Reyes' stuff was so electric that he outpitched teammate Mark Prior. He looked like a cinch first-rounder in the 2002 draft, but that didn't happen as his magic stuff disappeared and Reyes lasted until the 13th round. He returned for his senior year and only occasionally showed flashes of his previous ability. A fastball that once topped at 93 mph is just 89-90 now; the depth and nastiness of his breaking stuff are no longer evident. The easy, effortless delivery is there still, just not the stuff. Reyes has never had surgery but nagging elbow injuries have taken a toll. He was shut down again this year after two starts with tendinitis, and had a 1-3, 5.18 record with two starts left. Scouts admit they aren't sure what to make of Reyes. They see him as an eighth- to 12th-rounder but know he would be a steal if he gets back on track.
Reyes' teammate, LHP Fraser Dizard, also is a mystery to scouts. He missed last season with an elbow injury and has had an inconsistent junior season, prompting a move to the bullpen. His command has come and gone, and he only occasionally has flashed the low 90s velocity and nasty changeup that tantalized scouts last summer in the Cape Cod League and in scrimmages last fall. His mechanics have often been out of whack. The result has been a 5-2, 6.30 record. He's also been dealing with a difficult personal situation as his father is fighting brain cancer. Dizard may still be USC's best draft this year, but he isn't likely to go before the sixth round.
Former USC LHP Matt Chico also has people wondering where he'll be picked. A Red Sox second-rounder out of a San Diego high school two years ago, Chico flunked out of school in the fall semester of his sophomore year at USC because he didn't attend classes, and he wasn't even eligible to play at Palomar JC when he transferred there after Christmas. He spent this spring pitching on Sundays in a San Diego semipro league. He has attracted as many as 15 scouts a game, but he hasn't shown the same 92-93 mph velocity or command that he had in high school. He's also put on weight and is out of shape. Chico turned down almost $700,000 out of high school because his father wanted him to go to college, and he'll be offered only a fraction of that amount this time.
RHP Matt Harrington kissed away a lot more money than Chico when he turned down a $4 million offer from the Rockies as the seventh overall pick in 2000. The former California high school star has been drafted every year since while trying to regain his high school form in independent leagues. He remains under control to the Devil Rays, who picked him in the 13th round last year. Harrington was again pitching for Fort Worth of the independent Central League.
A number of high school players could ease into the first five rounds. Chief among them is 6-foot-1, 190-pound C Cody Collet, who has been hotly pursued by the Braves, among others. He has sound makeup, above-average arm strength, good raw power and average speed. He is just starting to figure out how to hit, though he holds his school career record with 18 home runs. Like Collet, RHP/C Josh Cowles has committed to Fresno State. It will be interesting to see how that plays out if both show up. Cowles has generated more interest this spring as a pitcher. He has the arm strength to go either way, but is not a particularly good receiver and his bat is suspect. On the mound, Cowles has been up to 90-92 mph and flashed an above-average slider.
OF Cole Garner transferred to La Quinta High for his senior year, knowing he would get maximum exposure with Ian Kennedy and Ian Stewart on his team. He took advantage of his opportunity by outhomering Stewart, regarded as one of the best power hitters in the draft. Garner has a pro ball persona and his tools profile well. He has committed to Cal State Fullerton and is projected to be drafted in the fourth to sixth rounds.
Six-foot-7, 215-pound RHP Brant Rustich, a UCLA signee from San Diego, has as high a ceiling and as live an arm as almost any high school pitcher in California. His fastball peaks at 91 mph. He has trouble repeating his delivery and was plagued by inconsistent outings this spring. Rustich also swings the bat well enough to play two ways in college, but his future is on the mound.
RHP/3B Zech Zinicola, an Arizona State recruit, has been a noted two-way talent in the Riverside area for years. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, he does not have an ideal pitcher's frame. He has advanced pitching skills and plenty of arm strength. His velocity was mainly 88-92 mph, but peaked at 96 mph. He also has an above-average slider. As a third baseman, Zinicola's arm grades as a top-of-the-scale tool. He's an accomplished hitter (.422-3-23) with good bat speed and a good approach at the plate.
RHP Tommy Hawk has a four-pitch repertoire and improved his stock this spring by bumping up his velocity to 93 mph. He is physically mature at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds and still projectable. Hawk, a possible sixth- to eighth-rounder and considered signable if he is drafted in that range, has committed to Cal State Fullerton.
Brennan Boesch entered the season as the nation's top prep first baseman, based on impressions he made with his bat at showcase events last year. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Boesch projects above-average power, but he rarely showed it in games this spring. Lack of arm strength and speed will limit him to first base, further depressing his appeal. Boesch is academically oriented and considered unsignable if not picked in the first two rounds. He has signed to California.
Cal State Fullerton, which spent several weeks atop the national college polls this spring, has the potential for four picks in the first two or three rounds. Overall, the Titans could have as many as 10 players drafted. Off a strong freshman year, RHP Darric Merrell gave every indication of becoming Fullerton's best draft prospect this year. Things soured in 2002 for the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder as he became burdened with expectations, and he did little to reverse his slide this year. He did not pitch until midseason because of a strained tendon in his elbow. While he has worked more aggressively this year and shown a more consistent breaking ball, opponents have hit well over .300 against him. He still throws his fastball up to 93 mph, but often has tended to be his own worst enemy. Rather than just pitch, he overanalyzes situations. Six-foot-3, 200-pound RHP Travis Ingle has been injured so much of his career that he has scared off scouts. He didn't pitch as a high school senior or college freshman and missed more time this spring with an unspecified arm injury. He's been healthy of late and his fastball has been clocked at 94 mph. He supports it up with a power curve. Ingle was selected in the 22nd round by the Devil Rays a year ago as a draft-eligible sophomore.
Not to be outdone by Fullerton, rival Long Beach State will also make a significant impact on the draft. With the exception of Alvarez, the 49ers can't match Fullerton's frontline talent, but C Todd Jennings is expected to be taken in the first 10 rounds. Jennings is so athletic and versatile that he has seen extensive time at second base, third base and the outfield, in addition to behind the plate. He has above-average arm strength He has not had a productive year at bat but came on late after he was moved to the leadoff position in the batting order. Senior RHP Carlos Muniz, one of the nation's saves leaders, should be a 10th- to 15th-round selection. He has an excellent sinking fastball that touches 91-92 mph and a solid 84 mph slider. Adam Heether, drafted twice at Modesto JC, has the best raw tools on the 49ers roster. He is an athletic third baseman with an above-average arm, but might not have the power to play on a corner. He may be better suited at second, or even behind the plate. SS Tim Hutting was one of Long Beach State's most dependable players until he went down in mid-April with a partial tear of the patellar tendon in his knee. He's a solid but unspectacular defender with average speed. Six-foot-2, 210-pound 1B Mike Hofius was overdrafted as a ninth-round pick in 2000. A lefthanded hitter with occasional power, he has never distinguished himself with the bat, even after having his swing reworked since high school. Senior RHP Bo Ashabraner has average stuff across the board and will get a chance because he perfomed better this year than in the past; 6-foot-4, 210-pound RHP Steve Shoemaker, who was drafted three times previously, has been clocked up to 92-93 mph.
UC Riverside has had a breakout season in its second year in Division I, and has a number of potential draft picks. The Highlanders best prospect is OF Brian Wahlbrink, who is not only one of the fastest players in the draft but also leads the Big West Conference in home runs--as a leadoff hitter. A fifth-year senior, his rights are controlled by the Padres, who selected him in the 42nd round last year. Wahlbrink won't have a chance to sign with San Diego if the Highlanders advance in NCAA regional play and are still playing after June 3. His stock has improved considerably as his batting average increased by almost 100 points from a year ago. Wahlbrink has been clocked at 6.35 seconds over 60 yards and is a top-notch defensive center fielder, though his arm is considered just average. OF Ryan Harvey helped Riverside CC win the first two of three consecutive state junior college crowns before transferring to Old Dominion as a junior. He returned to his roots this year, spending his senior year at UC Riverside. He led the Big West in hitting most of the season. A third UC Riverside outfielder, Matt Cunningham, also is a prospective draft pick. Like Harvey, he transferred back home after spending his first two years at Rice. Senior 2B/SS Randy Blood has the hands, bat and instincts to become a middle infielder in pro ball but lacks speed. Senior RHP Jaymie Torres was one of the top winners in the Big West this spring. He is not overpowering at 89-91 mph, but commands a sinker and slider.
SS Kevin Estrada, a fifth-year senior under control to the Cardinals, is a solid, steady player with below-average tools across the board. But his instincts are so good that he plays above his tools. He led the West Coast Conference in stolen bases. With him likely to sign before the draft, 1B Chris Kelly is expected to be Pepperdine's highest pick. Despite holes in his swing, he has outstanding righthanded power--evidenced by 15 home runs this spring.
Another West Coast Conference first baseman, Josh Whitesell, is Kelly's answer from the left side. He has above-average power and also pitched for Loyola Marymount, a year after coming off arm surgery. Like his teammate Muecke, RHP Vince Cordova did not pitch to expectations this year, a reason Marymount lost 18 of its final 21 games. Cordova had three solid pitches in the fall, including a fastball that peaked at 92, but they didn't work together this spring as his velocity fell off to 87-89.
Southern California, ravaged by injuries and unfulfilled expectations, was one of the most disappointing college teams in the country. RHP Brian Bannister, son of ex-big leaguer and 1976 No. 1 pick Floyd Bannister, was counted on as a starter for the Trojans after a rash of injuries decimated the staff. But he was more effective out of the bullpen. He added 2-3 mph to his velocity, though his 78 mph curveball remained his best pitch. Few pitchers understand pitching more than the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, who'll need to stay healthy after undergoing surgery a year ago. Senior SS Anthony Lunetta is at full strength again after Tommy John surgery as a sophomore. His range at shortstop is so limited that he'll be forced to move to second base. He led the Trojans in hitting, but his role in pro ball is more of filler player. 3B Michael Moon had a down year in all phases for the Trojans, and his draft stock has plummeted. Senior OF Travis McAndrews will get a shot. A lefthanded hitter, he can run and play defense. OF David Gordon would have been a solid pick but blew out his right knee when he hit first base awkwardly.
Ex-Trojan RHP Chad Clark, who transferred to Fresno State and then to Azusa Pacific in his senior year, will finally get a shot to play pro ball. At 6-foot-6, he has a great pitcher's frame and teases scouts with his stuff. He has never thrown strikes consistently. He was drafted in the 17th round a year ago and went just 2-4, 6.87 this spring against NAIA competition with more than a walk an inning.
UCLA normally is a major player in the draft, but not this year. RHPs Casey Janssen and Chris Cordeiro, both of whom had losing records, will be the team's best picks.
RHP Mike Davern, who transferred to UC Irvine after two disappointing seasons at UCLA, worked less than 10 innings after being sidelined with elbow tendinitis. He lacks command and a breaking pitch, but someone may take a flier on his fastball, which has been timed at 93.
San Diego State's impact was expected to be considerably greater, but RHP Mike Moat, an 11th-round pick out of a Colorado high school, and 3B Chad Corona, a 16th-rounder, performed below expectations. Moat lost velocity on his fastball, while Corona slumped offensively and defensively, though he made up some ground toward the end of the season. Corona has big batting practice power, but rarely showed it in games. LHP Drew Jenson, a 19th-round pick out of high school, moved to the bullpen when he failed to win the first-base job for the Aztecs. Scouts are intrigued by his arm strength. RHP Joe Carque has three workable pitches and was San Diego State's best starter.
Two-way player Tony Perez is the best draft candidate on a lean San Diego squad. He projects as a lefthanded closer with a fastball that touches 90.
RHP Leo Rosales has been one of the lone bright spots in a dismal season at Cal State Northridge, which was ravaged by the draft a year ago. He has two plus pitches: an 88-92 mph fastball and a 78-82 curve.
The rich Southern California junior-college ranks normally produce several early-round picks, but this year could be an exception--especially if the top prospects sign before the draft. LHP Dana Eveland, a 16th-round pick of the Brewers last year out of a Texas junior college, could be a fourth- or fifth-rounder if he re-enters the draft. Once a teammate of Harrington's at Palmdale High, Eveland has command of a running 88-91 mph fastball and 12-to-6 curve. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Eveland resembles David Wells and will need to keep his weight in check.
RHP James McDonald was drafted in the 11th round a year ago, primarily as a first baseman. Improved arm strength has the Dodgers looking at him now more as a pitcher.
1B Scott Robinson, son of ex-big leaguer Bruce Robinson, is expected to sign with the Astros. He was drafted in the seventh round in 2002 and elevated his stock with a banner summer season in Alaska. He was one of the few high school players ever to excel in that league. Robinson is an above-average hitter with Mark Grace qualities at first base, but he lacks power for the position.
RHP Jesse Chavez has a slight frame at 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds, but few amateur pitchers have been as successful. He was closing in on the career record for wins at Riverside CC, while trying to pitch the school to a record fourth straight state juco title. A 42nd-round pick of the Rangers in 2002, Chavez has exceptional command of three pitches, including a fastball that peaks at 91 mph. Chavez' batterymate, Brett Martinez (Angels, 19th round) has few peers as a defensive catcher, but his bat is a work in progress.
C Rob Johnson, a Montana native, has exemplary catch-and-throw skills. His bat showed sharp improvement, sending his stock soaring. He was picked by the Marlins in the 41st round a year ago.
OF Daron Roberts (Devil Rays, 41st round) is the son of ex-big leaguer and 1972 No. 1 overall draft pick Dave Roberts, now a crosschecker with the Devil Rays. He had an erratic spring and no longer appears to be as heavily in demand as in the fall.
Six-foot-8, 245-pound RHP/1B Tim Dorn appears to be the most desirable juco talent not under control. The Cal State Northridge transfer has a chance to go out as a pitcher or hitter. He has exceptional raw power potential but struggled against better pitching.
Santa Ana JC LHP Matt Lincoln and SS Brian Harris, both undrafted high school players a year ago, are now on the radar. Lincoln's fastball, normally 86-88,touched 90. Harris, who missed the 2002 season with an injury, became one of the better juco hitters in the area, leading his conference in RBIs.
RHP Joe Woerman is the best of a thin crop of junior college players in San Diego. His fastball was inconsistent but was clocked at 93 on his best day.
LHP Jason Vargas, who spent the 2002 season at Louisiana State, has a feel for three pitches, including a 91 mph fastball.
Stanford-bound OF Jim Rapaport and USC-bound OF Daniel Perales are similar players. Neither is physically ready for the grind of pro ball, but both project to be solid college players. Speed is Rapaport's best tool; Perales' bat is his ticket.
OF John Peabody is the best prospect this year from San Diego's Rancho Bernardo High, which has churned out more premium talent than any high school in the nation over the last five or six years, including numerous first-rounders. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Peabody has a big league body and big-time power when he makes contact, but he looked overmatched at times. He has committed to San Diego State, along with 3B Eddie Solis and OF Brandon Rauch, two other San Diego high school players. Solis was expected to be a high draft pick, but was one of the state's more disappointing players this year. He added a lot of weight, which hurt his speed and ability to play third, and scouts never saw the power he showed as a junior. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Rauch also went backward after he projected above-average power.
Jordan Abruzzo and Jose Hernandez, both catchers from San Diego high schools, committed to the University of San Diego. Abruzzo's older brother Jared was a second-round pick of the Angels in 2000 and is considered a more polished receiver and better hitter at the same stage of their careers. Hernandez has above-average arm strength, but rebuffed efforts to move him to the mound.
C D.J. Lewis has some of the best power among high school hitters in Southern California, but scouts aren't certain how it will play against better competition. There is also uncertainty over whether the stocky Lewis can catch or is better suited to be a left fielder.
OF Nathan Faulkner, a Santa Clara signee, is a solid player in all phases though no tool jumps out. There is projection in his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame.
SS Justin McClure is an average hitter, runner and thrower, and he reportedly wants a lot of money to forgo playing in college at Washington State.
Chris Vitters, who played third base alongside SS Scott Moore, the eighth overall pick in the 2002 draft, filled Moore's shoes at shortstop this year. He has a solid lefthanded bat, though it's not quite in Moore's class.
LHP David Huff, a UC Irvine recruit, didn't show the velocity or stuff to warrant being a high-round pick, but he has a solid pitching foundation with an easy, projectable body (6-foot-2 and 180 pounds). Scouts have described him as a poor man's Barry Zito.
Another UC Irvine recruit, RHP Justin Cassel, was the ace for Chatsworth High, the nation's third-ranked high school team. He relies on command because his stuff is a little light. He comes from good stock. His brother Jack pitches in the Padres system and a second brother, Matt, is the leading candidate to step in at quaterback at USC for departed Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer.
RHP Steven Wright, a Hawaii recruit, has a solid 89-91 mph fastball but his best pitch is an above-average slider.
Glendora High might have had three pitchers drafted, but 5-foot-11 LHP Brandon Villalobos, an 11-game winner in 2002, missed almost all season with a sprained elbow. RHP John Noonan went down with an injury as well. Five-foot-10 RHP Tyler Morrison was forced to carry the load this spring. He has two plus pitches: a slider and an 88-92 mph fastball.
LHP/OF Case Dahlen was one of the nation's top prospects two years ago but his talent leveled off. In all likelihood, he'll move on to a college career at California.