Georgia may be the strongest state in the draft, offering a mix of position players and pitchers, high schoolers and collegians. Georgia Tech could have more players chosen than any other college in the nation, and Southeastern Conference champion Georgia will have several taken as well. As the draft approached, a pair of small-college pitchers were moving up charts. The high school ranks are equally deep, especially in pitching.
Projected First-Round Picks
Mark Teixeira. Breaking his right ankle in a February outfield collision cost Teixeira the chance to be the first player to repeat as Baseball America's College Player of the Year, but he'll still be a top five pick. The only way he won't be the first college hitter drafted is if his signability (he may want an eight-figure deal) and adviser (Scott Boras) scare off clubs. Teixeira already was established as the best batting prospect in the draft, offering power from both sides as well as a sweet stroke and plate discipline. Even after missing most of three months, he immediately found his stroke, going 12-for-29 with his customary pop in his first seven games back. Any question that he'd play third base in the big leagues was erased before he got hurt. He improved his speed and lateral movement to the point that all five of his tools are considered average or better. He's comparable to the Phillies' Pat Burrell, who went No. 1 overall in 1998, except he's a switch-hitter and more athletic. Teixeira may need time before he's ready to play in the field on a regular basis, but the ankle injury isn't a long-term concern. His makeup draws universal praise, as he hastened his return to the lineup in order to help Georgia Tech try to reach the College World Series. He had no trouble hitting with wood last summer with Team USA, batting a team-best .385 with five homers in 117 at-bats. Teixeira won't need much time to adjust to the pros and should reach the majors within a year of signing.
Macay McBride. McBride is listed as 6 feet and might be closer to 5-foot-9, but his size won't prevent him from becoming a first-round pick. After all, he's lefthanded and throws 93-96 mph with life to match his velocity. His heavy fastball has exceptional action, as it both tails and sinks. He also has a hard breaking ball and a changeup, changes speeds and knows how to pitch. He has maintained his stuff throughout the spring, fanning 14 in seven innings in late May to clinch Screven County High's third consecutive state regional 2-A title. McBride is stocky but athletic and showed hitting ability as a first baseman. He's committed to Georgia, and scouts compare his body to that of former Bulldogs star Derek Lilliquist, though Lilliquist never threw as hard. While McBride isn't projectable, his stuff doesn't need to get any better—just more consistent—for him to succeed as a pro.
Josh Burrus. If signability causes Iowa's Matt Macri to slide, Burrus could be the first high school middle infielder drafted. The cousin of Brewers outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, he's just as athletic. A product of the dominant East Cobb amateur program that went 90-11 last summer, he also knows how to play the game. He's the perfect size (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) for a shortstop and has above-average potential both offensively and defensively. Some scouts wonder if he'll outgrow shortstop, but his improved throwing mechanics increase his chance of staying there. He always had plenty of arm strength, and someone may convert him to catcher, as the Expos did with Michael Barrett, another Georgia high school shortstop. Burrus is gifted enough to play just about anywhere on the diamond, and his speed and batting stroke make him dangerous at the plate. He's part of a banner Clemson recruiting class but is considered signable.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Kyle Davies. Baseball America ranked Davis as the top 14-year-old player in the nation in 1998, and the best 15-year-old in 1999. He earned honorable mention as a 16-year-old in 2000, when he went 15-1, 1.30 on the mound for East Cobb and hit .534 with a program-record 127 RBIs. Georgia Tech will use him as a two-way player if he comes to college, which is unlikely. The pros envision him as a pitcher because he works at 88-91 mph and has touched 94. He also has an advanced slider. He's listed at 6-foot-2 and may be closer to 6 feet, and that's the only thing not to like.
Jason Bulger. Bulger was a third baseman and DH in his first three seasons at Division II Valdosta State, and he continued to DH this year, leading the Blazers with a .345 average and 48 RBIs. He was used extensively as a pitcher for the first time, and scouts flocked to see the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder's fastball, which was regularly 93-94 mph and reached as high as 97. Bulger lacks feel on the mound, and he has little going for him at this point besides velocity and size, though that was enough to post a 1.49 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 49 innings. It's also enough to get him drafted in the third or fourth round, or even as a supplemental first-rounder if a team with extra picks wants to save money on a senior.
Jeremy Brown. Brown went 8-7, 6.94 in 1998-99 at Tennessee, then missed all of 2000 with a back injury before transferring to Georgia. He began the spring as a starter, moved to the bullpen, then returned to the rotation. He worked four complete games in five starts as the Bulldogs surged to win their first regular season Southeastern Conference title since 1954. Brown isn't the hardest thrower, usually working around 90 mph, but he maintains his velocity for nine innings. He has a hard slider and a changeup, and uses a three-quarters delivery that gives him deception. He also earned a reputation throughout the SEC as a tough competitor.
Richard Lewis. While Teixeira was sidelined, Lewis was the glue that held the Georgia Tech offense together. He moved to shortstop from second base, allowing the Yellow Jackets to get a better bat in the lineup, and emerged as the team's best all-around hitter. His hands are his best tool, giving him bat speed on offense and reliability and a quick pivot on defense. He's intelligent and runs well, and he could develop more power as he matures. Lewis probably lacks the arm to play shortstop as a pro, but he should be an above-average second baseman, both offensively and defensively.
Steve Kelly. One of the most effective and highly regarded pitchers in the Cape Cod League last summer, Kelly wasn't quite as effective this spring. He has been Georgia Tech's most consistent starter, and he showed two above-average pitches in an 88-92 mph fastball and a curveball. He has more feel for pitching than teammates Rhett Parrott and Brian Sager, though he struggled with his location in the strike zone and won just one of his last five starts entering regional play.
Nick Long. Georgia has signed both Nick and his older brother Brandon, a Jefferson Davis (Ala.) CC outfielder, but it's becoming less likely that Nick will make it to Athens. After throwing 86-88 mph as a junior, he's up to 90-92 now and has room for plenty of projection at 6-foot-2 and 178 pounds. He throws from a three-quarters arm angle and has a good breaking pitch. He's athletic, having played right field for the Brooklyn team that won the Continental Amateur Baseball Association High School World Series last summer.
Jay Mitchell. Mitchell has yet to focus on baseball because he's an all-state basketball player. He has never played summer baseball because of hoops, so his potential on the mound is untapped. He has so much potential that a team probably will pop him in the first three rounds. His velocity was up to 91-92 mph by May, and because he's 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, scouts can see more. He has a loose, fresh arm and throws on a good downward plane. His hard slider also shows promise.
Jamie Tricoglou. Major League Scouting Bureau numbers can be misleading, but Tricoglou drew attention in March when he got a 57 grade on the 20-to-80 scale—the highest mark in the state, three points ahead of Teixeira. After spending a season each at Jefferson State (Ala.) CC and Cleveland State (Tenn.) CC, he limited opponents to a .194 average and struck out 43 in 35 innings in his first year at Division II Kennesaw State. He features a 93-94 mph fastball and a plus slider, projecting as a closer in the Mark Wohlers mold.
Rhett Parrott. Like Kelly, Parrott hasn't pitched as well for Georgia Tech as he did in the Cape Cod League last summer. He has a higher upside than Kelly because he's a little bigger (6-foot-2, 196 pounds) and has a little more on his fastball (90-93 mph, with nice life). He doesn't have Kelly's approach, however. Parrott showed improvement toward the end of his season, as he grew more accustomed to his curveball, for which he scrapped his slider.
Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger reminds scouts of Brian Roberts, a 1999 supplemental first-round pick by the Orioles. He has hit .365 or better in each of his three seasons at Georgia, and his 40-14 walk-strikeout ratio entering NCAA tournament play is a testament to his eye at the plate. He isn't expected to have much difficulty making the transition to wood. While Keppinger's hands are solid, he only has average speed and may have to move from shortstop to second base.
Vinny DeChristofaro. If the draft had been held in April, DeChristofaro might have been a first-round pick. A lefthander who has room to grow at 6-foot-2 and 167 pounds, he was throwing in the low 90s. By the time scouting directors came in to see him, he had dropped down to 86 mph. At times DeChristofaro shows a dazzling curveball, but he generally lacks consistency. He hasn't shown much aptitude for repeating his delivery or moving the ball around the strike zone. There's mixed interest on him, though some team will take him in the first five rounds.
Brad McCann. McCann's brother Brian, a catcher, is an even better prospect for the 2002 draft. Brad is solid, especially at the plate. He has quick hands and raw power, and he should become even more effective once he gives up pitching and becomes a full-time position player. McCann has a strong arm, though he may lack the quickness to play shortstop as he continues to grow. He figures to be a third baseman or corner outfielder. He's committed to Georgia, where his father Howard was an assistant coach who recruited the players on the 1990 College World Series championship team.
Clint Frost. Frost is projectable and raw. He's 6-foot-7 and just 180 pounds, and he can throw as hard as 93 mph. But he more often works at 86-88, lacking command and an effective second pitch. He has no feel for pitching, and scouts think he's immature. He has been sidelined during his high school career by a tender arm. He'll attend the College of Charleston if he doesn't turn pro.
Doc Brooks. Scouting directors voted Brooks to Baseball America's preseason All-America team, in part because they hoped he could be a catcher. That won't happen because he consistently shows he lacks the arm to play behind the plate. He gunned down just 13 percent of basestealers over the last two seasons. He does run well enough to play left field. He has the bat for the position, too, and might be better with wood than aluminum. Brooks is two shy of Georgia's career home run record, and he has shown tremendous power with wood in two years in the Cape Cod League, though his swing may be a bit long. He tends to punish even the hardest fastballs but struggles against breaking stuff.
Others To Watch:
RHP Aaron Sheffield, Baseball America's top-rated junior college prospect entering the season, abruptly quit Young Harris JC without explanation. He threw 92-94 mph in his last start, touching 96, and his curveball was his best pitch in high school. He left North Carolina last season after pitching seven innings, and scouts don't believe he's committed to baseball . . . Sheffield's former catcher, Ryan Fry, could be the first juco player drafted in the state. He offers opposite-field power, arm strength and agility behind the plate . . . Two high school shortstops come from families that have produced a combined three first-round picks. Stephen Drew once was hyped as better than his brothers J.D. (Cardinals) and Tim (Indians), but one scout called Stephen the most overrated player of the last 15 years. He doesn't run well, has been inconsistent at the field, doesn't have good throwing mechanics and has a limited offensive ceiling. He also has Scott Boras as an adviser and there's talk that he wants $1.4 million, so it's almost a lock Drew will wind up at Florida State. SS Eric Patterson signed to play at Georgia Tech, where his father Don was a football captain before moving on to the NFL. Eric's brother Corey committed to the Yellow Jackets before he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1998 draft. Eric lacks Corey's strength, but his athleticism and speed are similar. He projects as a second baseman or outfielder down the line . . . Another Georgia Tech recruit, OF Brandon Boggs, has many of the same strengths as Eric Patterson. He's not big and needs to develop physically, but he has all-around tools and instincts. He's a switch-hitter with more power than Patterson . . . Last spring, then-Stanford RHP Brian Sager looked like he'd be an early first-round pick in 2001. Then he got bombed in the Cape Cod League, transferred to Georgia Tech, pitched poorly for the Yellow Jackets and missed the bulk of the year with stiffness in his arm. His size (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) remains appealing, and his fastball and slider are big league pitches when he's healthy. But that has been rare the last two years, as he also had shoulder problems last year at Stanford. A 13th-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 1998, he turned down a $1 million signing bonus to go to college . . . Sager still should be one of several Georgia Tech players selected. SS/3B Victor Menocal is an athletic 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, but as a pro he'll have to stay at third base, where he filled in while Teixeira was hurt. He has wiry strength but hasn't hit for power, which he'll have to do at the hot corner. RHP Kevin Cameron is developing consistency and maturity, but he throws 88-92 mph with a promising breaking ball. OF Jason Basil, C Bryan Prince and OF Brad Stockton all will be good senior signs, though none was drafted in 2000. Basil may not have enough power to play on an outfield corner as a pro, but he throws well and has caught a few games in college . . . Archrival Georgia won't have as many early picks as Georgia Tech, but the Bulldogs do have depth in righthanders behind Brown. Rob Moravek wasn't able to match his Cape Cod League success this spring, but he did finish strong. He throws 88-91 mph, touches 93 and has been durable for three years. Scott Murphy, a transfer from Alabama, has the most pitching savvy on the staff. Though he's 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, he only pitches at about 87 mph, though some people have seen him around 90 mph. His hard slurve is his best pitch. He didn't get to boost his stock in the postseason because he was declared academically ineligible. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Moorhead has recovered from 2000 shoulder surgery and thrown in the low 90s with a good breaking ball. He's not projectable (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) and did miss three weeks with an inflamed elbow . . . RHP Michael Hyle, part of Lassiter's 1999 national championship team as a sophomore, has been restricted this spring by a ribcage injury. He knows how to pitch and has a high-80s fastball, nasty breaking ball and a funky arm action that makes his pitches tough to pick up . . . OF/SS Garrett Groce will have five tools once he becomes more consistent with the bat. A Georgia Tech recruit, Groce can run and throw, and he crushes balls in batting practice . . . OF Chris Colton is athletic but hasn't run as well as expected and has a hitch in his swing. He reminds scouts of Al Shirley, which can be interpreted as good (he was a first-round pick of the Mets in 1991) or bad (he batted .213 and had a 208-strikeout season as a pro). Colton could go as early as the seventh round . . . RHPs Adam Wheeler and Tim Smith emerged this spring. Wheeler is 6-foot-5 and throws 90-92 mph with a tough slider. With no college options, he should be signable. Smith is a lanky 6-foot-3 and has touched 93 mph and shown a decent curveball . . . OF Reggie Fitzpatrick had a rough senior season, but he's a raw athlete who can run a 6.5-second 60-yard dash. If he doesn't turn pro, his speed could be devastating on the artificial turf at Arkansas' Baum Stadium . . . Clint Sammons passed Clay Wehner as the top high school catching prospect in Georgia. Sammons, who also played quarterback at Parkview High, has shown 1.9-second glove-to-glove times between innings. He's still developing as a hitter. Both guys are 6-foot-1, but Wehner is 40 pounds bigger at 220. He has more power but doesn't throw as well . . . Well-traveled RHP Tim Fries is at Savannah State after stints at Georgia and Middle Georgia JC. He's throwing 90 mph, down from 94-95 in the fall of 1999, and has much better command now . . . Converted catcher Kellen Ludwig caught scouts' attention with his size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and fastball (up to 92 mph) . . . Berkmar High (Lawrenceville) LHP Jason Fellows won't be a high pick now because he only throws 84-85 mph. Keep an eye on him for 2004, however, because he's projectable at 6-foot-3 and 168 pounds . . . Bowdon High RHP/1B Tyler Meigs is one of the state's best two-way talents. He's a 6-foot-6, lefthanded power hitter who has reached 90-91 mph with his fastball . . . Stephens County High (Toccoa) OF Dustin Smith has enticing tools but isn't refined.
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