Scouts compare the current crop of Louisville high school pitchers to a 1994 trio--righthander Matt Anderson and lefthanders Scott Downs and Jimmy Osting--that went on to pitch in the big leagues. Anderson wasn't drafted that year but became the No. 1 pick in 1997 after three years at Rice. Catcher/first baseman Jeff Derickson, the grandson of late Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall, is the lone position player among the state's top eight prospects. Such domination by pitchers should continue into 2002 as the University of Kentucky has an outstanding crop of sophomores.
Projected First-Round Picks
Jeremy Sowers. Slightly built at 6 feet and 160 pounds, Sowers was the most dominating high school pitcher in the country over the last two years. He went 13-0 in 2000 while allowing only two earned runs. This season, he was 7-0, 0.25 through his first 56 innings, with 109 strikeouts and seven walks. In a duel this spring with crosstown rival Butler and Travis Foley, the state's second-best prospect, the two went toe-to-toe for nine innings and were lifted with the game knotted at 0-0. At the time, Sowers had 20 strikeouts, Foley 16. Both had allowed one hit and received a standing ovation from attending scouts. Ballard went on to win the game 3-0 in 11 innings and is among the nation's top high school teams. Sowers is a bright kid with a calm, cool mound presence, and he's a master at his craft. His fastball has jumped 2-3 mph every year in high school, up to 90-91 mph this spring with a high of 94. He complements it with an outstanding 12-to-6 curve and a plus changeup. He has command of all three pitches. Despite his small frame, several teams consider Sowers the best lefty in the nation. He has an almost unwavering commitment to Vanderbilt. His stepfather, a doctor, wants him to go to school, no matter what his signing bonus may be. Sowers' twin brother Josh, who pitches and plays shortstop on the same team, has committed to Yale.
Projected Second-Fifth Round
Travis Foley. Fifty scouts saw the matchup between Foley and Sowers. Foley threw harder that day, challenging hitters with a fastball that peaked at 93 mph. His other pitches were a notch below Sowers', but he showed a live arm and effortless delivery. In addition to his fastball, Foley throws a slider, curve and circle change, but lacks command of all of them. Foley, who had 103 strikeouts through his first 55 innings, is considered the easiest sign among the state's top high school players. He has committed to Kentucky.
Others to watch:
If Kentucky loses Foley to pro ball, as expected, it will still have a good shot at keeping RHP James Rodriguez and LHP Craig Snipp. Rodriguez' stuff is similar to Foley's, but his fastball is 1-2 mph shorter and he's not as polished. Snipp is built like Sowers and exhibits a lot of the same advanced pitching skills, but his fastball is around 87 mph. Both Rodriguez and Snipp should be solid college pitchers . . . Powerful RHP Landon Helm, a Louisville signee, has a live arm with a fastball in the 88-90 mph range. His herky-jerky motion concerns scouts . . . No college player projects in the first 10 rounds. Ryan Hutchison is a solid college righthander with command of three pitches but isn't overpowering . . . Vince Harrison has acceptable power for a college shortstop but faces a move to third base in pro ball. None of his tools grades out above-average at that position.
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