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MASSACHUSETTS **

With no first-round pick this year, the Red Sox can resist the temptation of overdrafting a New England player, more specifically someone from Massachusetts. No team in recent draft history has stuck as close to its roots as much as the Old Towne Team. Harvard righthander Ben Crockett will probably be there for the taking by the third round, as will Boston College High outfielder Mike Conroy two or three rounds later.

Overall, the talent in this state is not as plentiful as usual. Harvard, with two players projected to go in the first 10 rounds, and Boston College High are notable exceptions.

1.Ben Crockett, rhp, Harvard
2.Mike Conroy, of, Boston College HS, Dorchester
3.John Birtwell, rhp, Harvard
4.Nick Tucci, rhp, Medford HS
5.Jed Rogers, rhp, Boston College
6.Andrew Cleary, 3b, Belmont HS, Weston
7.Josh Bateman, rhp, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
8.John Toffey, rhp, St. Sebastians HS, Barnstable
9.Ryan Morgan, ss, Boston College HS, Weymouth

Projected First-Round Picks

None.

Projected Second-Fifth Round

•Ben Crockett. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Crockett served notice that he was a prospect to watch by sharing pitcher-of-the-year honors last summer in the Cape Cod League. He ended this season with an exclamation point, striking out 14 in a no-hitter against Dartmouth. He is compared to Yale righthander Jon Steitz, a projected first-rounder, and generally earned higher grades for better mound presence and greater polish, though Crockett's overall stuff isn't at the same level. He has command of five average pitches, including a 91-93 mph fastball and a hard slurve. A lingering concern is that Crockett missed the end of the Cape Cod League season and all of the offseason with elbow tendinitis, but he showed no signs of distress this spring.

•Mike Conroy. Conroy was the state's top-rated high school player at the start of the season and retains that status. All his tools grade out average or above except for his speed, which is only fair. At 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he has the projectable body scouts like. He also has a sweet lefthanded swing. He made adjustments this spring to make it more compact, but he has a tendency to swing and miss a lot. A center fielder in the past, he has moved to right field, which suits his above-average arm strength. A Miami signee, he's the best of three prospects at Boston College High. SS Ryan Morgan and 3B Jason Delaney benefited from scouts coming in to check out Conroy.

Others to Watch

Senior RHP John Birtwell had a lower ERA and generally was more effective this spring than his teammate Crockett, but his overall stuff isn't as good. More of a sidearmer, Birtwell has an 88-90 mph fastball and below-average breaking pitches. Scouts are intrigued by his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame . . . RHP Nick Tucci projects after the 10th round and may slide further because of a commitment to Connecticut. He has a projectable body (6-foot-2, 192 pounds) that will enable him to add velocity. He was clocked in the high 80s this spring . . . RHP Jed Rogers showed little command of a 91-93 mph fastball this year at Boston College. As a result, he didn't start Big East Conference games until the end of the season. His above-average arm strength interests scouts, who say he'll be a better pro than college player . . . RHP John Toffey has been clocked up to 89 mph but has gained more acclaim as a Division I hockey prospect and as the son of prominent baseball agent Jack Toffey.

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