SOUTH CAROLINA ***
For the first time since 1995, South Carolina should produce a first-round high school pick, with outfielder Roscoe Crosby following in the footsteps of outfielders Reggie Taylor (Phillies) and Corey Jenkins (Red Sox). The state doesn't have much prep talent beyond him and may not have another player chosen until the fourth round. South Carolina righthander Kip Bouknight, the 2000 Golden Spikes winner, hasn't been as effective this year. He could go around the 10th round as a senior sign, or possibly last longer than the 21st round, where the Athletics took him in 2000.
Projected First-Round Picks
Roscoe Crosby. Crosby is arguably the best outfielder in the draft and one of the top 10 overall prospects. He also happens to be arguably the best wide receiver entering college football and one of the top 10 overall recruits. He led Union High to consecutive state 3-A titles in 1999-2000, catching a combined 49 touchdown passes, and was named South Carolina's Mr. Football last fall. Though an elbow injury limited him to DH all spring, Crosby still will go high enough and be offered enough money to bypass Clemson. He runs a 6.7-second 60-yard dash and had a huge season with the bat, hitting .516 with 16 home runs. Crosby may not be quite as polished as those numbers would indicate because his level of competition wasn't the strongest, and some scouts question his swing. His power-speed combination is the best available in the draft. He moves well in center field and showed a decent arm before getting hurt while weightlifting, an injury that isn't considered serious. Teams were struggling to gauge the depth of his desire to play college football, a factor that could cause him to slide in the first round.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Matt Coenen. Coenen figures to go in the third or fourth round, more because he's a 6-foot-6, 230-pound lefthander who pitched well in the Cape Cod League last summer than because of what he showed this spring. He did have 100 strikeouts in 90 innings, but he also allowed 109 hits and went 5-7, 5.60. Scouts think he has the frame to consistently throw in the low 90s, but he was worked hard and was down to 86-88 at season's end. He has a hard cutter he works inside against righthanders, a pitch that was very effective against wood bats on the Cape.
Marcus McBeth. McBeth is one of the best center fielders in the draft. His 6.6-second speed in the 60-yard dash allows him to cover lots of ground. He might have the best outfield arm in the nation and has made just three errors in three years. He's a talented athlete who returned kicks for South Carolina's football team as a freshman. McBeth had 15 homers entering regionals after swatting just 10 in his first two years. His one drawback is his bat. He hasn't approached .300 as a collegian because he lacks plate discipline and pitch recognition. Some scouts believe he should try pitching, speculating he could throw 92-94 mph.
Dallas McPherson. Based on his pitching in the Cape Cod League last summer, McPherson had the potential to develop into a first-round pick. He had size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), a fastball that touched the mid-90s and a nice slider. After a disastrous junior season on the mound he still has appeal, but more as a third baseman. McPherson is a strong hitter with plenty of power, and he's athletic for a big man. In a draft short on catchers, he intrigues teams as a backstop possibility because he has arm strength and hits lefthanded.
Others To Watch:
RHP Kip Bouknight won the 2000 Golden Spikes Award after going 17-1, but he hasn't overmatched hitters this spring. His size (6 feet) and fastball (84-85 mph) work against him. He does throw four pitches for strikes, though none is an out pitch at the pro level . . . Another player whose draft status is hard to determine is OF Patrick Boyd. Boyd entered 2000 as one of the most coveted prospects for that draft, then had a bad junior year and went in the fourth round. He returned to Clemson only to suffer a stress fracture in his back and get just three at-bats. Boyd has tremendous physical tools but plays too passively for scouts' tastes. He could return to college as a medical redshirt in 2002 . . . Khalil Greene moved to shortstop from third base this year. He doesn't have the glove for short or the power for the third, and his best fit might be as an offensive second baseman . . . RHP/3B Jason Colson had the best two-way season in the state. Scouts prefer him as a pitcher and think his average velocity will improve once he focuses on the mound . . . LHP Brett Price pitched middle relief for South Carolina, but he touched 92 mph and showed a good curveball . . . Bouknight might not be the Gamecocks' top senior draft. C Tim Whittaker has good receiving skills and led the club with 19 homers and 70 RBIs entering NCAA tournament play. RHP Lee Gronkiewicz, the Division I saves leader with 16 at the same point, has a good approach and a nice breaking ball . . . Besides Crosby, the state may not have a high school player selected in the first 10 rounds. Matt Campbell is a projectable lefty (6-foot-3, 160 pounds) with an 85-88 mph fastball and a promising curveball. C Charlie Lisk is athletic and should hit for power and average. He's not a strong receiver. RHP Wade Jordan is 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds and has touched the low 90s this spring. All three are committed to the Gamecocks . . . College coaches who have seen RHP Steve Reba have no doubt he'll succeed as a pro despite an 82-85 mph fastball. His fastball dances and his breaking ball is a plus pitch . . . RHP Randy Corn led Division I with 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings entering the NCAA playoffs, though no one is quite sure how he does it. He has a 90 mph fastball and an overhand curveball, and he's not particularly deceptive. Something obviously is working . . . Coastal Carolina senior RHP Scott Sturkie helped himself by beating Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA regionals. He throws strikes and pitches at 87-88 mph.
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