LOWER NEW ENGLAND **
(Connecticut, Rhode Island)
All the talk in this area focuses on righthander Jon Steitz, who could become the Ivy League's first first-round pick since Penn's Doug Glanville in 1991. Steitz is the only pitcher to develop into a top prospect from a vaunted Connecticut high school class in 1998 that included righthanders Rob Moravek (Georgia), Brian Sager (Georgia Tech) and Mike Wodnicki (Stanford). There's no such talent in this year's Connecticut prep class.
A year after producing Devil Rays first-rounder Rocco Baldelli, Rhode Island's high school ranks are nearly as thin as Connecticut's.
Projected First-Round Picks
Jon Steitz. Former big leaguer Scott Bradley says Steitz has the best stuff he's seen from an Ivy League pitcher in the four years he has been the coach at Princeton. Yale's John Stuper, another former major leaguer, concurs. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Steitz has a live arm with excellent velocity and movement on all his pitches. He is compared to Orioles righthander Scott Erickson, who once had one of the best sliders in the game. Steitz' fastball has been clocked as high as 94 mph, and an 83-85 mph slider with nasty action is his primary strikeout pitch. He also throws a curve and change. As his 2-4 record this spring shows, he still has a long way to go to master his craft, but he shows flashes of brilliance. He struck out 81 in 64 innings while opponents hit just .204 off him. Still, the 2001 season was his best in an underachieving career at Yale. His greatest improvement came in the command of his pitches. It improved noticeably, and he avoided games with high pitch counts that plagued his development in the past. He had one bad outing all year. Typical of most Northeast pitchers, Steitz has a relatively fresh arm.
Projected Second-Fifth Round
Others to watch:
RHP Dan Krines was supposed to be the pitcher to watch at Fairfield this spring after he went 7-1, 2.01 and shared pitcher-of-the-year honors in the Cape Cod League last summer. But Krines stumbled to a 2-6 record as his fastball peaked at 84-86 mph. Scouts turned their attention to 6-foot-5 senior RHP Ryan Holston, a late bloomer who showed the makings of three average pitches, including a fastball that touched 93 mph but was more effective in the 87-90 range . . . Another big RHP, 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jeff Fulchino, also showed above-average arm strength, clocking in at 91-94 mph. But he had little command and no instincts for pitching, and rarely pitched in meaningful games . . . Chris Iannetta is the area's best high school player but projects as a backup catcher. He's a solid defender who can stop a running game with an average but accurate arm . . . Rhode Island's best pitching prospect is 6-foot-4, 170-pound Phil Davidson, a lanky righthander with a loose arm action. He throws strikes, but his stuff is a little short now for pro ball. He could evolve into a solid prospect after three years in college at North Carolina State . . . No Connecticut high school player emerged as a huge prospect, but 6-foot-1, 170-pound LHP Tim Rice generated interest with an 88-89 mph fastball and 81 mph slider . . . Six-foot-5, 225-pound former Wake Forest 1B/OF John Kubachka attracted attention at Division III Eastern Connecticut State with his long home runs. But he lacks a position and his other tools don't play out well enough to warrant early-round interest.
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