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Regional Scouting Report: Midwest

By Jim Callis
Additional reporting: Bill Ballew, John Manuel, Alan Matthews, Allan Simpson

May 26, 2003

Click a region to jump directly to its report:
Arkansas | Illinois | Iowa | Kansas | Louisiana | Minnesota | Missouri | Nebraska | North Dakota | Oklahoma | South Dakota | Wisconsin

Each state or area is graded on a five-star scale, with one star indicating a particularly weak crop and five stars a particularly strong one. The ratings are based on the level of talent a place generally produces, so Southern California isn't graded on the same scale as Alaska.

OKLAHOMA ***

Oklahoma has another bumper crop of pitching and is light on position players, continuing a four-year trend. Scott Baker should become the state's first first-rounder since Matt Roney in 1998. Mike Rogers would have a good chance to join Baker if he were three inches taller.

1. Scott Baker, rhp, Oklahoma State U.
2. Mike Rogers, lhp/of, Del City HS
3. David Purcey, lhp, U. of Oklahoma
4. Shane Hawk, lhp, Oklahoma State U.
5. David Castillo, c, Oral Roberts U.
6. Dom Laurin, ss, Eastern Oklahoma State JC (CONTROL: Dodgers)
7. Matt Kemp, of, Midwest City HS
8. Jose Virgil, of, Oklahoma State U.
9. Justin Garza, rhp/ss, Seminole State JC
10. Brian Walker, c/3b, Union HS, Tulsa
11. Ben Himes, of, Oklahoma City U.
12. John Urick, 1b, Oklahoma State U.
13. E.J. Shanks, rhp, Oklahoma City U.
14. Dusty Barnard, rhp, Connors State JC (CONTROL: Athletics)
15. Matt Hancock, lhp, Seminole State JC
16. Blake Hendley, rhp, Oklahoma City U.
17. Aaron Ivey, of, Putnam City North HS
18. Clay Collier, rhp, North HS, Edmond
19. Joe Brennan, rhp, Santa Fe HS, Edmond
20. George Kottaras, c, Connors State JC (CONTROL: Padres)

Projected First-Round Picks

Scott Baker, rhp
Baker lacks a dominant pitch but is very steady and has four average or better offerings. He also has good size (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) and athleticism, throws strikes and did very well against wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. The combination should make him a supplemental first-round pick. He throws 88-93 with life on his fastball and backs it up with an advanced changeup and a slider with cutter action. He also has a knuckle-curve that hitters chase out of the strike zone. Baker profiles as a solid No. 3 starter on a big league contender. He's a proven winner who has survived pitching at Oklahoma State's Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, one of college baseball's more difficult environments.

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Mike Rogers, lhp/of
A two-way star who's part of a loaded University of Texas recruiting class, Rogers profiles a little better as a pitcher. With his athleticism, big league curveball and 88-92 mph fastball, he'd be a possible first-rounder if he were taller than 6 feet. Because he's not, he'll probably have to settle for going in the second or third round. His exposure on the mound has been limited this spring because of the weather and a brief period when he had a stiff arm. Rogers also has a nice lefthanded stroke and runs well, and the Longhorns will use him both ways if they get him.

David Purcey, lhp
Purcey has first-round potential but won't realize it this June. The draft is loaded with lefthanders and he has pitched so poorly that Oklahoma has relegated him to the bullpen. He pitched well for the Sooners in 2002 and then led the Alaska League in strikeouts over the summer, but seems to have fallen prey to draftitis as a draft-eligible sophomore. He tried to overthrow at the start of the season, then tried to aim his pitches when his command evaporated. Purcey has a pro build (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) and a fastball that ranges from 91-96 mph. But that's the only pitch he can count on throwing over the plate, and he doesn't located it well. He has a low-80s slider that he rarely puts in the strike zone, and he takes a little off his fastball rather than using a true changeup. The raw materials are there, but Purcey might do better to return to Oklahoma and straighten himself out before the 2004 draft.

Others To Watch

• Several opponents expressed surprise that Oklahoma State kept LHP Shane Hawk in its bullpen all season. Hawk throws 88-91 mph and reaches 93 when fresh, and his slider is tough when he's on. Hawk has a workable changeup, so if he improves his command he could success as a pro starter.

• C David Castillo repeated as the Mid-Continent Conference player of the year, the first two-time winner in the league's 20-year history. He has gap power, outstanding plate discipline (41-18 strikeout-walk ratio entering the NCAA playoffs), athleticism and good catch-and-throw skills.

• SS Dom Laurin could go in the first 10 rounds if the Dodgers don't sign him as a 29th-round draft-and-follow. He's more of an offensive player because he doesn't have typical shortstop speed, but he does have the hands and arm for the position.

• OF Matt Kemp created a buzz among area scouts as the draft approached and could go as high as the third round to a team that prizes sheer athleticism. But there's as much risk as reward, because he's not close to being ready to contribute to an NCAA Division I program. A 6-foot-5 basketball player, Kemp has an enthralling speed/power combination. He has few baseball instincts as he's just learning the game.

• Oklahoma State's two best hitting prospects for the 2003 draft both have big league relatives. OF Jose Virgil's grandfather Ozzie Sr. was the first Dominican to play in the majors, and his father Ozzie was a two-time all-star catcher. 1B John Urick is the grandson of Whitey Herzog, who has Hall of Fame managerial credentials. Virgil hits for a little more average and speed, while Urick has more pop and plate discipline. A center fielder for the Cowboys, Virgil could be a pro second baseman.

• Seminole State JC, which produced Ryan Franklin, Eric Gagne and Robert Person, has two more pitching prospects—neither of whom is under control. RHP/SS Justin Garza was a juco preseason all-American as a position player, but showed a 90-94 mph fastball as a closer and will be drafted as a pitcher. He swings the bat well and is more polished as a shortstop, and the University of Oklahoma will use him both ways if he stays in college. LHP Matt Hancock has command, an 88-89 mph fastball, a low-80s slider and room to grow at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds.

• Connors State JC advanced to the Junior College World Series behind two draft-and-follows. RHP Dusty Barnard (Athletics) boosted his fastball to 92-93 mph and improved his slider. C George Kottaras (Padres) can catch and throw and offers lefthanded power potential, though his bat is questionable.

• Scouts became more interested in C/3B Brian Walker, an Arizona State recruit, once he moved behind the plate. He was sluggish at the hot corner but has the strong arm and receiving skills required to catch. He's also a strong lefthanded hitter, but his bat may be a bit slow. Walker's Union High teammate, OF Stephen Robison, was a wide receiver on the state 6-A football champions. He's a speedster who might be more of a college player than a pro prospect.

• Oklahoma City, the top-ranked NAIA team entering the NAIA World Series, has three prospects in OF Ben Himes and RHPs E.J. Shanks and Blake Hendley. Himes is 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds and has all-around tools, most notably lefthanded power. But he hasn't been able to stay healthy. After transferring from Virginia to Texas A&M, he hurt his knee in summer ball during 2001 and missed all of last season. When he returned in the Cape Cod League last summer, he broke a bone in his hand. Back problems also affected him in 2003. Shanks was the top prospect in the Shenandoah Valley League last summer, showing a 92-93 mph fastball and posting a 68-2 strikeout-walk ratio in 48 innings. He has maintained that velocity and has a pro body at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, but scouts want him to raise his arm slot. Hendley, who lost the championship game against Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) in 2002, won the Stars' World Series opener this year. He has an 88-92 mph fastball and knows how to pitch and locate. He may be a tough sign because he's intent on completing his business degree and has set up a summer internship.

• OF Aaron Ivey is a standout wide receiver with blazing speed. He led the state with 57 catches, 1,257 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior, but at 5-foot-8 and 168 pounds his body is better suited for baseball. He's still learning to hit.

• Oral Roberts RHP Rene Recio, who played with Castillo in high school as well, was poised to be an early-round pick. But after having minor elbow surgery in the offseason, he came down with a more serious stress fracture this spring and redshirted. He showed a 93-mph fastball and mid-80s slider before he got hurt.

• Oral Roberts 1B Andy Hargrove's father Mike was the 1974 American League rookie of the year and currently manages the Orioles. Andy has bat speed and power to all fields, but after hitting .255 in his first season at the Division I level he needs to come back for his senior year.

KANSAS **

It's a down year in Kansas, where Wichita State is having a lackluster season and the high schools don't feature any standouts. The best prospect is Josh Wahpepah, a full-blooded Native American with a low-90s sinker. He'll probably go between the seventh and 10th rounds.

1. Josh Wahpepah, rhp, Cowley County CC
2. David Sanders, lhp, Wichita State U.
3. Casey Spanish, of, U. of Kansas
4. A.J. Lloyd, of, Bishop Carroll HS, Wichita
5. Cody Clark, c/3b, Wichita State U.
6. Ryan Baty, 1b, U. of Kansas
7. Drew Moffitt, of, Wichita State U.
8. Eric Thornton, 3b, Cowley County CC
9. Kyle Touchatt, rhp, Wichita Heights HS, Wichita
10. John Maier, rhp, Augusta HS

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others To Watch

• RHP Josh Wahpepah's emergence took some of the sting out of a mediocre year for talent in Kansas. Wahpepah originally committed to the University of Arkansas out of high school but wound up at Cowley County CC, where he immediately attracted attention with his low-90s sinker and 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. He mostly threw in the mid-80s in high school, so he could sneak into the fifth round if a team believes his velocity will continue to grow. He's a full-blooded Native American.

• LHP David Sanders was the ace for Cape Cod League champion Wareham last summer, then got shelled to the tune of a 6.84 ERA during the regular season. His velocity fluctuated from 82-84 mph to 88-90. His changeup and curveball, which were plus pitches at times on the Cape, were inconsistent. He seemed to lose his confidence, though he boosted it and his draft stock by shutting out Southern Illinois with a four-hitter in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final.

• The University of Kansas has a pair of 6-foot-4, 215-pound sluggers available. Casey Spanish played a variety of positions for the Jayhawks before settling in left field this year. A career .286 hitter with six homers in his first three seasons, he batted .383 with 12 long balls as a senior. He's strong and runs well, and he'll show more power if he adds some lift to his swing. 1B Ryan Baty isn't quite as versatile or offensively gifted as Spanish. As a fourth-year junior, he can be draft-and-followed. His younger brother Matt also plays for the Jayhawks.

• Three Wichita State recruits, OF A.J. Lloyd and RHPs Kyle Touchatt and John Maier, are the state's best high school prospects. Lloyd, who went 2-for-2 against the U.S. junior national team in an exhibition game last summer, also played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back for his high school football team. He runs a 6.7-second 60-yard dash. Touchatt is a projectable 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, and he already throws 87-90 mph with little effort. Maier has a strong 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame. He threw 88-91 mph in the fall but just 87-88 this spring as he battled his herky-jerky delivery.

• Two current Shockers, C/3B Cody Clark and OF Drew Moffitt, could go in the first 10 rounds. Clark improved as a receiver after transferring from Arkansas, where his dad Doug was a longtime assistant under retired coach Norm DeBriyn. Moffitt led the MVC in homers (18) and RBIs (76) entering NCAA regional play.

• 3B Eric Thornton played with Wahpepah at both Dale (Okla.) High and Cowley County. Thornton, who spent 2002 at Oral Roberts, makes contact and has gap power. He'll likely move to second base as a pro.

NEBRASKA ***

As usual, the University of Nebraska monopolizes most of the state's talent. Besides Aaron Marsden and his teammates listed below, the Cornhuskers also have commitments from the top high school hitter (Omaha outfielder Al Smith) and junior college player (Western Nebraska outfielder Francisco Leandro). There may not be a Nebraska prep player taken in the first 15 rounds.

1. Aaron Marsden, lhp, U. of Nebraska
2. Jeff Leise, of, U. of Nebraska
3. Matt Hopper, 1b, U. of Nebraska
4. Tom Oldham, lhp, Creighton U.
5. Jason Burch, lhp, U. of Nebraska
6. Steve Grasley, rhp, Creighton U.
7. Frank Smagucz, lhp, Westside HS, Omaha
8. Al Smith, of, Westside HS, Omaha
9. Marcus Johnson, of, Omaha South HS, Omaha
10. Francisco Leandro, of, Western Nebraska CC

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Aaron Marsden, lhp
Subbing for injured Nebraska ace Shane Komine last year, Marsden one-hit Texas A&M in his first start. He has replaced the departed Komine as the Cornhuskers' No. 1 starter this year and more than lived up to the task, earning Big 12 Conference pitcher-of-the-year honors. Marsden gives hitters fits because he's a 6-foot-6 lefthander who comes at them from an unusual angle with a plus-plus slider. He also gets good life on his 86-89 mph fastball and tops out at 91. He can get outs with his changeup and will show a curveball at times. Marsden fills the strike zone with all his pitches, and his 101-17 strikeout-walk ratio apparently has attracted the attention of the Red Sox. He could get drafted as early as the third round.

Jeff Leise, of
An Angels seventh-round pick a year ago, Leise could move up as a quality senior sign. Few college center fielders can cover the ground that Leise can. "He's college baseball's version of Andruw Jones," Missouri assistant Sean McCann says. Offensively, Leise's best tool is his speed. He has been clocked at 3.85 seconds from the left side of the plate to first on a drag bunt. He makes contact and has a little pop. At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds Leise won't be a power hitter with wood, so he'll need to draw more walks to be effective.

Others To Watch

• After an injury-plagued 2002 that necessitated one surgery on his left hand and two on his right shoulder, 1B Matt Hopper made the most of his senior season. He was the Big 12's player of the year, led the conference with 18 homers entering the NCAA playoffs and set Nebraska career records for runs, hits, homers, RBIs and total bases. He has shortened his swing without compromising his power. As a fifth-year senior who wasn't drafted a year, he can sign as a free agent before the draft.

• Creighton's two best pitching prospects weren't as effective as expected while the Bluejays endured their worst season since 1969. LHP Tom Oldham tried too hard to impress scouts and achieved the opposite, as he lost his last five decisions and his fastball dipped from 88-91 mph to 85-87. His curveball also wasn't as sharp and he lost the feel for his changeup. RHP Steve Grasley might have gotten overconfident after leading the Northwoods League with 19 saves last summer. He has a good slider but challenged hitters too often with his 84-87 mph fastball.

• RHP Jason Burch has worked just 81 innings in three seasons but scouts know all about him. He's 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, runs his power sinker into the low 90s and backs it up with a solid slider.

• The state's best high school talent is concentrated in Omaha. LHP Frank Smagucz, whose best pitch is his changeup, and OF Al Smith, a power hitter, led Westside to the state title. OF Marcus Johnson is a raw athlete. None of them will go early in the draft.

• The Cornhuskers signed OF Francisco Leandro in hopes that he can replace Leise next season. He has a similar build and similar speed.

THE DAKOTAS **
North Dakota, South Dakota

The Dakotas' best prospect is Jeremiah Piepkorn, a shortstop built along the lines of Derek Jeter. The region won't have a high school player drafted in 2003.

1. Jeremiah Piepkorn, ss, North Dakota State U.
2. Owen Hoegh, lhp, Augustana (S.D.) U.
3. Todd Sather, lhp, North Dakota State U.
4. Mike Peschel, lhp, North Dakota State U.

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others To Watch

• North Dakota State features most of the players in this region with a chance to get drafted. SS Jeremiah Piepkorn is 6-foot-3 and has some pop in his bat. As a redshirt junior, he can be draft-and-followed. LHP Todd Sather pitched just 16 innings this spring-his career high in five years with the Bison. A Tommy John surgery survivor, he'll throw 90-91 and show a hard curveball when he's sound. He's only a junior, so he's another draft-and-follow candidate. LHP Mike Peschel is a rare sixth-year senior, as well as the school's career leader in wins and strikeouts. He tops out at 88 mph and throws his curve for strikes. After struggling in 2003, he may have to settle for signing with an independent league club.

• LHP Owen Hoegh is the top prospect in South Dakota. His body (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and athleticism are more impressive than his mid-80s fastball. He has some potential if his mechanics are cleaned up.

MINNESOTA ***

RHP Josh Oslin came out of nowhere to become the state's top draft this spring. He prompted comparisons to Minnesota native Ben Hendrickson, who has blossomed into one of the Brewers' best prospects. There are more attractive high schoolers than collegians, a rarity, though Luke Appert should be able to perform right away at the Class A level.

1. Josh Oslin, rhp, Mora HS
2. Luke Appert, 2b, U. of Minnesota
3. Sean Kommerstad, of, Minnetonka HS
4. John Gaub, lhp, South St. Paul HS
5. Cole Devries, rhp, Eden Prairie HS
6. Tim Battaglia, rhp/of, U. of Minnesota-Duluth
7. Eli Tintor, c, Hibbing HS
8. Bill Mauer, rhp, Concordia U.-St. Paul
9. Scott Welch, ss, U. of Minnesota
10. C.J. Woodrow, rhp, U. of Minnesota

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others To Watch

• RHP Josh Oslin was an unknown before this spring, but not any longer. He topped out at 90 mph at the Perfect Game pregame showcase and should go higher as he fills out his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. Not only is he compared to Brewers prospect Hendrickson, who like Oslin signed with University of Minnesota, but he has a better curveball at the same stage-and Hendrickson has one of the better breaking balls in the minors.

• The Golden Gophers have corralled all of the state's top high school talent. In addition to Oslin, OF Sean Kommerstad, LHP John Gaub and RHP Cole Devries have committed to Minnesota. Kommerstad was the second-leading hitter on the state's Excelsior team that lost in the finals of the 2002 American Legion World Series, and one area scout says he's a lock to be the 2004 Big Ten Conference freshman of the year. He's 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds with power, speed and arm strength. At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Gaub is built like Eric Milton. He already throws 89-92 mph but lacks a second pitch. Devries is more polished than Oslin or Gaub, throwing a power curveball and an 86-88 mph fastball with command. Gaub is the most signable of the four players.

• The Big Ten player of the year in 2002 and 2003, 2B Luke Appert joined Barry Larkin as the only repeat winners ever. Appert might be the first player drafted from the state because he's ready to succeed in Class A immediately. He has worked hard to improve his speed and defense, and he always has hit for average and gap power.

• RHP/OF Tim Battaglia is one of the top wide receivers in NCAA Division II, finishing among the leaders last year with 55 catches for 1,166 yards and 19 touchdowns. He put up big numbers in baseball again this spring, ranking seventh in D-II with a .455 average and setting Minnesota-Duluth records for homers (15), RBIs (65) and hitting streak (22). Scouts actually like him better on the mound, where he went 7-4, 4.53, because he can hit 91-92 mph and has a projectable 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. Battaglia won't give up football, where he has an outside shot at the NFL and definite Canadian Football League potential. That will hurt his draft chances, because teams are reluctant to take a pitcher who's going to get hammered on crossing routes over the middle.

• If he doesn't sign, C Eli Tintor could throw passes to Battaglia this fall because he has signed with Minnesota-Duluth as a quarterback. It's also possible he'll go to a Florida junior college and focus solely on baseball. Tintor has raw strength and athleticism. He may get drafted by the Twins, as his father Rick works for the club as an associate scout and was Minnesota GM Terry Ryan's catcher in Class A.

• Another Twins possibility is RHP Bill Mauer. Two years ago, Minnesota took his younger brother Joe with the No. 1 overall pick in 2001 and his older brother Jake in the 23rd round. Bill is 6-foot-5 and throws an 87-88 mph sinker from a low three-quarters angle.

• Appert's double-play partner, SS Scott Welch, hits line drives to all fields and is a steady defender. He'll probably move to second base as a pro.

WISCONSIN ***

There are plenty of arms but not many position players in Wisconsin this year. With a good body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and an 87-90 mph fastball, Ryan Zink could sneak into the first 10 rounds.

1. Ryan Zink, rhp, La Follete HS, Madison
2. Cal Stanke, rhp, St. Mary Central HS, Neenah
3. Tony Harper, c/rhp, Oak Creek HS, South Milwaukee
4. Jordan Timm, lhp, U. of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
5. Dan Grybash, rhp, Carthage U.
6. John Stocco, rhp, U. of Wisconsin (CONTROL: Twins)
7. Brady Endl, lhp/1b, U. of Wisconsin-Whitewater
8. Daryl Maday, rhp, Westosha Central HS, Bristol
9. Nick Johnson, of, Ripon College
10. Brooks Bollinger, 3b, U. of Wisconsin

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others To Watch

• RHP Ryan Zink's draft stock was increasing as the draft approached and could carry him into the first 10 rounds. He has a strong body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) that allows him to maintain the velocity on his 87-90 mph. He also has a very good high school curveball, an 11-to-5 breaker at 75 mph.

• RHP Cal Stanke also was finishing strong, touching 92 mph in multiple outings. His curveball and changeup also will become solid average pitches, and the only knock on him is that he's 5-foot-10.

• C/RHP Tony Harper was another Wisconsin player on the rise, in part because he didn't play in 2002 because he was academically ineligible for high school and off-field issues kept him out of summer ball. He showed a strong arm behind the plate and on the mound at the Perfect Game predraft showcase, reaching 92 mph. He also has lefthanded power.

• LHP Jordan Timm, the best college player in the state, ranked among NCAA Division III leaders in wins (11-0), ERA (2.09) and strikeouts (85 in 77 innings). Though Timm has a terrific body (6-foot-6, 230 pounds), he mostly sits at 88 mph and is more notable for his command than his stuff. He missed the D-III College World Series with a viral infection.

• Another Division III all-American, RHP Dan Grybash, won each of his nine starts and posted a 1.37 ERA. He can throw 90-93 mph for most of a game and has improved his splitter.

• Because Wisconsin doesn't have a baseball program, Badgers quarterback John Stocco is draft-eligible and also remains under control to the Twins as a 45th-round pick from last year. Stocco, who succeeded Joe Mauer as the top high school quarterback in Minnesota, is very athletic at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds and topped out in the low 90s in 2002. He redshirted last fall and is fourth on Wisconsin's depth chart, so he might consider signing.

• The Badgers are searching for a replacement for Brooks Bollinger, who won a school-record 30 games as a quarterback and is the second-leading passer in the program's history. Bollinger, a sixth-round pick by the Dolphins in the 2003 NFL draft, is a marginal pro football prospect. Though he hasn't played baseball in years, he showed a strong arm and powerful bat as a high school third baseman. The Dodgers drafted him in the 50th round in 2000 and 2001, and someone could take a late-round flier on him in case the Dolphins release him.

• Like Timm, LHP/1B Brady Endl has a tremendous pro body (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), but he didn't have a good season. Scouts like him more as a pitcher, but he worked at 85-86 mph for much of the year and his curveball wasn't good enough to compensate.

• The state's top prospect entering the year, RHP Daryl Maday added weight and lost his status. After throwing 91-92 mph last summer and fall, he has lost arm speed and pitched in the mid-80s.

• OF Nick Johnson's .545 batting average led Division III entering the postseason, but scouts say he has holes in his swing that will be exposed at higher levels.

IOWA ****

Iowa continues to be an underrated talent source. Though the state never has produced a high school first rounder, Joel Hanrahan, Matt Macri and Jeff Clement nearly broke through in the last three years. The latest to try is Ryan Sweeney, one of the nation's best two-way players.

1. Ryan Sweeney, of/lhp, Xavier HS, Cedar Rapids
2. Adam Boeve, of, U. of Northern Iowa
3. Joe Bisenius, rhp, Iowa Western CC
4. Tony Watson, lhp, Dallas Center HS, Grimes
5. B.J. Wierzbicki, rhp, Iowa Western CC
6. Tyson Hanish, 3b, U. of Northern Iowa
7. Brian Joynt, of/rhp, Knoxville HS
8. Nathan Johnson, rhp, U. of Iowa
9. Justin Sokol, rhp, Iowa Central CC
10. Adam Miller, rhp, Knoxville HS
11. Kyle Thousand, of, U. of Iowa
12. James Peterson, 1b/lhp, Indian Hills CC
13. Matt Lane, rhp, Iowa Western CC
14. Nick Klusaw, 1b/of, Iowa Western CC
15. Reed Pawelk, rhp, U. of Iowa

Projected First-Round Picks

Ryan Sweeney, of/lhp
Sweeney has an opportunity to go in the latter part of the first round, but his lackluster performance at the Perfect Game predraft showcase may knock him down into the second. With a 6-foot-5, 200-pound build, high-80s fastball and promising curveball, he has plenty of pitching potential. But the consensus is that his future is as an outfielder. Besides his size, his bat, power potential and arm strength are all plus tools. He's comparable to Brewers minor league slugger Brad Nelson, a fourth-round pick out of an Iowa high school two years ago. Sweeney doesn't have quite as much juice in his bat and can get more pull-conscious, but he's more athletic and looks more fluid at the plate. He also can play right field, while Nelson is most likely a first baseman. Sweeney's best chance to become Iowa's first prep first-rounder may come from the Twins, who like big, strong Midwest players, or the Braves, who have two supplemental picks.

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others To Watch

• OF Adam Boeve was a baseball/football/track star in high school and originally came to Northern Iowa on a football scholarship. He began his baseball career with the Panthers as a catcher. The Missouri Valley Conference player of the year, Boeve has solid tools across the board. As a redshirt junior, he can be draft-and-followed.

• Iowa Western CC has three huge righthanders who all throw 88-93 mph: Joe Bisenius (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), B.J. Wierzbicki (6-foot-6, 220) and Matt Lane (6-foot-8, 220). Bisenius is the most polished and his slider is an effective secondary pitch. Wierzbicki threw 92-94 mph while warming up at the Perfect Game predraft showcase but pitched at 86-87 and bounced pitches during game action. Another Reiver, 1B/OF Nick Klusaw, broke the school record for homers held by Dan Johnson, who's now starring in Double-A in the Athletics system.

• LHP Tony Watson has a lot going for him. He's ultraprojectable at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, commands a 85-88 mph and reaches 90 and has good feel for a curveball with which he can changes speeds. He has a whippy arm action and also plays football and basketball.

• After barely playing in his first year at Northern Iowa after transferring from McLennan (Texas) CC, 3B Tyson Hanish established himself as a good senior sign this spring. He has speed and gap power, and his glove plays anywhere in the infield.

• Indian Hills, which advanced to the Junior College World Series, lined up reinforcements for next year in Knoxville High teammates OF/RHP Brian Joynt and RHP Adam Miller. Joynt is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound three-sport athlete with power potential. He throws only 82-84 mph from the mound but has been clocked at 88-89 from the outfield. He hit well at the Perfect Game predraft showcase. Miller can hit 94 mph, but he throws with maximum effort and is believed to be closer to 5-foot-9 than his listed 6 feet. The Falcons' best current prospect is 1B/LHP James Peterson, the second-leading career home run hitter in national high school history.

• Indian Hills transfer RHP Nathan Johnson was the University of Iowa's best pitcher this spring. Johnson, who threw three complete games in four starts after moving to the rotation in late April, has an 88-91 mph fastball that reaches 93. He doesn't have a second plus pitch, but he throws his curveball, slider and changeup for strikes.

• The Hawkeyes have two late-round possibilities in OF Kyle Thousand and RHP Reed Pawelk. Thousand runs well and improved at the plate late in his redshirt junior year. Pawelk has size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) but threw better in 2002.

ILLINOIS *

Illinois' four-year colleges and especially its high schools are fairly barren this year, but the junior colleges have picked up the slack. LHP Tom Gorzelanny has pitched himself into the first five rounds and RHP Jesse Smith is right behind him. A third juco standout, Triton OF Nick Ewen, was the state's top hitting prospect before signing with the Marlins as a 46th-round draft-and-follow.

1. Tom Gorzelanny, lhp, Triton JC
2. Jesse Smith, rhp, Illinois Valley CC
3. Brock Till, rhp, Bradley U.
4. Dan Konecny, rhp, Northwestern U.
5. Caleb Fields, rhp, Fenwick HS, Oak Park
6. Dave Mazurek, rhp, U. of Illinois
7. Jim Paduch, rhp, Concordia College
8. Joe Mazzuca, ss, Northern Illinois U.
9. Sal Frisella, of, Southern Illinois U.
10. John Juergens, c, Bradley HS, Bourbonnais
11. Sean Walker, c, Carmel HS, Mundelein
12. Ryan Rote, rhp, Kishwaukee JC (CONTROL: Angels)
13. Brandon DeJaynes, rhp, Quincy U.
14. Ben Zobrist, 2b/rhp, Olivet Nazarene U.
15. Matt Weber, rhp, Boylan HS, Rockford
16. Brian Shust, of, Stevenson HS, Long Grove
17. Toby Barnett, c, Southern Illinois U.
18. Brad Pahs, c, Triton JC (CONTROL: Marlins)
19. Glenn Kamis, rhp, Elgin CC (CONTROL: Reds)
20. Ricky Spivey, rhp, Illinois Valley CC

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth Round Picks

Tom Gorzelanny, lhp
The White Sox drafted Gorzelanny in the 18th round out of an Illinois high school three years ago, and then he all but disappeared from the baseball map. He redshirted at Kansas in 2001 and went 3-7, 5.90 as a freshman in 2002. He started to make major strides with the Jayhawks in fall practice but also flunked out of school, prompting his transfer back home to Triton JC. Gorzelanny threw great at the beginning of the year, reaching 91-94 mph with run and sink to both sides of the plate. He didn't maintain his arm slot or his mechanics throughout the year, which cost him velocity and effectiveness at times. He's not just a 6-foot-3, 195-pound lefty with a strong arm. His low-80s slider will be a plus pitch if it becomes more consistent, and he also has shown an average changeup. The White Sox have shown interest in Gorzelanny, and he'd be an option if they wanted to go cheap in the first round and spend more money on later picks. Most likely, he'll be a third- to fifth-rounder.

Jesse Smith, rhp
Smith's path to the 2003 draft was even more circuitous than Gorzelanny's. Smith pitched at Barton County (Kan.) CC in 2000, then took two years off before trying out for a team in the independent Frontier League. Illinois Valley CC coach Bob Koopman spotted Smith and learned he had eligibility left. He has attracted attention this spring with a plus curveball and an 88-92 mph fastball. He's still needs refinement, especially with his changeup and mechanics. He should be an easy sign as a third- to seventh-rounder.

Others To Watch

• RHP Brock Till, who has come back from 2002 elbow surgery, is the best of a lean four-year college crop. He's a 6-footer with a maximum-effort delivery, though he can get to 93-94 mph. His splitter has its moments, and if he can refine it he might be another Cliff Politte. He should come cheap as a senior sign.

• RHPs Dan Konecny and Dave Mazurek rank right behind Till among the college group and are built more like scouts want. Konecny (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) pitches at 89 mph and induces bad swings with a cutter/slider. Mazurek (6-foot-5, 235) had early-season arm soreness but can reach 92 mph and get outs with his splitter. As a fifth-year senior, he can sign as a free agent.

• The top high school prospect is RHP Caleb Fields, who is athletic and projectable at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds. He already throws 90-91 mph and has a good curve. He's also a strong student who's committed to Northwestern.

• Illinois' small colleges have more than their usual share of draft prospects. Concordia RHP Jim Paduch, who resembles Brandon Duckworth, has an 87-91 mph fastball. He needs to add life to that pitch and refine his curveball and changeup. Quincy RHP Brandon DeJaynes was the NCAA Division II pitcher of the year after leading that level with a 0.71 ERA and finishing second with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings. DeJaynes, a full-time outfielder for two years after injuring his arm, makes scouts cringe with his arm action but throws 86-90 mph and uses his curveball as a strikeout pitch. 2B/RHP Ben Zobrist led Olivet Nazarene to the NAIA World Series with his line-drive bat, steady glove and strong arm. Editor's note: DeJaynes, a fifth-year senior, signed as a free agent with the Cardinals.

• The state may not have a position player taken in the first 10-15 rounds. The best Illinois has to offer is SS Joe Mazzuca, who has three average tools: power, speed and arm strength. He probably fits better at second base as a pro. A fourth-year junior who previously played at St. Joseph's and Creighton, he may be taken as a draft-and-follow.

• Southern Illinois has three decent senior signs in OF Sal Frisella, C Toby Barnett and RHP Jake Alley. Frisella has a quick bat and a right-field arm. Barnett, a veteran of Australian youth national teams, has a sturdy frame (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), some power and some defensive ability. Alley has a heavy 87-91 mph fastball but no true pro out pitch. Both Barnett and Alley are 23, which hurts their stock.

• The two best high school position players are catchers who are much stronger offensively than defensively. John Jeurgens has enough arm to catch but needs to improve his receiving skills. Sean Walker is more of a first baseman.

• RHP Ryan Rote is the grandson of former NFL quarterback Tobin Rote and maintains Kishwaukee's baseball website. On the diamond, he throws an 87-90 mph fastball that sinks and runs. He's 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and he'd improve his slider if he raised his low three-quarters arm slot. The Angels control his rights after popping him in the 29th round last year. Kishwaukee has another player with good bloodlines: SS Anthony Manuel, the son of White Sox manager Jerry. Chicago drafted Anthony in the 48th round a year ago.

• C Brad Pahs and RHPs Glenn Kamis and Ricky Spivey add to Illinois' juco depth. Pahs moves well behind the plate and has some bat speed. Kamis has battled elbow problems but he's 6-foot-6 and can reach 92 mph. Spivey is six inches shorter and has the same peak velocity. Pahs and Kamis are under control, to the Marlins and Reds, respectively.

• OF Brian Shust starred at running back for Stevenson High before breaking his fibula in the state playoffs. He has average tools across the board and has thrown 86-90 mph in his first taste of pitching. He could use some college seasoning and may be tough to lure away from Wake Forest.

MISSOURI ****

Missouri may have its deepest group of pitchers ever in 2003, with them spread through every level of baseball. Most of them are tall, projectable types, though one of the most intriguing is Jon Barratt, a diminutive lefthander capable of reaching 93 mph. He may be the state's top high school pick because Scott Carrol is a Purdue-bound quarterback and Kris Johnson also is considered a tough sign.

1. Justin James, rhp, U. of Missouri
2. Bob Zimmerman, rhp, Southwest Missouri State U.
3. Mike Mitchell, rhp, St. Charles CC (CONTROL: Indians)
4. Scott Carroll, rhp, Liberty HS
5. Kris Johnson, lhp, Blue Springs HS
6. Jon Barratt, lhp, Hillcrest HS, Springfield
7. Shaun Marcum, rhp/ss, Southwest Missouri State U.
8. Andy Sides, rhp, DeSoto HS
9. Chad Mulholland, lhp, Southwest Missouri State U.
10. Brad Ziegler, rhp, Southwest Missouri State U. (CONTROL: Athletics)
11. Bill Clayton, rhp, Southeast Missouri State U.
12. Max Scherzer, rhp, Parkway Central HS, St. Louis
13. Phil Sobkow, rhp, Central Missouri State U.
14. Tony Mandel, rhp, St. Louis CC-Forest Park (CONTROL: Angels)
15. Scott Kelly, rhp, St. Louis CC-Forest Park
16. Jay Marshall, lhp, Jefferson County CC (CONTROL: White Sox)
17. Ian Kinsler, ss, U. of Missouri
18. Zach Borowiak, ss, Southeast Missouri State U.
19. Jayce Tingler, of, U. of Missouri
20. Jesse Cornelison, rhp, Pleasant Hope HS, Brighton
21. Grant Kohlstaedt, rhp, Kearney HS
22. Derek Roper, rhp, U. of Missouri
23. Dant'e Brinkley, of, Southwest Missouri State U.
24. Erik Dessau, rhp, St. Louis CC-Forest Park
25. Matt Mammen, lhp, St. Charles CC
26. Jeremy McIntire, c, Maple Woods CC
27. Brad Flanders, c, U. of Missouri
28. Josh Kohrs, rhp, Maple Woods CC
29. Tim Alvarez, lhp, Southeast Missouri State U.
30. Corey Lawson, rhp/of, Saint Louis U.

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Justin James, rhp
A 2001 sixth-round pick by the Red Sox, James is draft-eligible again as a sophomore. He doesn't have the pure arm strength of Southwest Missouri State's Bob Zimmerman, but he's a better pitcher. Six-foot-3 and 200 pounds, James usually pitches at 88-92 mph and has touched 94. His changeup is his second-best pitch, and he also has a good hard curveball. He's athletic, throws strikes and challenges hitters. If there's a knock on James, it's that his pitches are easy to follow because he lacks deception and that he's around the plate almost too often. He could go as high as the third round, and his best days are ahead of him.

Bob Zimmerman, rhp
After setting the Southwest Missouri State career saves record in his first two seasons, Zimmerman moved to the rotation this spring. That didn't fit his aggressive mentality, as he focused on pitching strikes and wound up throwing 90-92 mph with little movement. Since returning to the bullpen, he has been throwing 94-96 mph with more life. Relieving likely will be his ticket as a pro, because he doesn't repeat his slider and changeup and can't spot those pitches as well as his fastball. It's quite possible that there will be a team that will value Zimmerman's body (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and velocity and take him ahead of James.

Mike Mitchell, rhp
There are several interesting arms in the Missouri community college ranks, none moreso than Mitchell. He was under control to the Indians as a 14th-rounder but appeared headed toward re-entering the 2003 draft as it approached. Mitchell, who began his college career at the University of Missouri before transferring after one semester, has two big-time pitches in a 90-95 mph fastball and a sharp, low-80s slider. He doesn't have much of a changeup, and a sore elbow early in the spring limited his innings. He has some polish to him and could be effective as either a starter or a reliever once he turns pro. Mitchell is a potential third-round pick, in the same range as James and Zimmerman

Others To Watch

• RHP Scott Carroll is the most accomplished high school athlete in Missouri. He's an all-state quarterback and one of Purdue's top football recruits, and he went to two state final fours as a basketball forward. In baseball, he led Liberty to the state 4-A title in 2002 and a 28-1 record entering the playoffs this spring. Carroll is very projectable because of his size (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) and arm action. He currently throws 84-88 mph. If not for his football scholarship, he'd be a third- to fifth-round pick.

• LHP Kris Johnson is another tough sign, because he wants to pursue an engineering degree at Wichita State. His pitchability exceeds most anyone's in this high school draft class, and he'll throw in the low 90s once he fills out his 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame. He usually pitches in the upper 80s now and has a good curveball. There's a slight hitch in his delivery but it's not a major concern.

• LHP Jon Barratt is listed at 5-foot-10 and some scouts say he's no bigger than 5-foot-8. But that hasn't stopped him from putting up big numbers with a lightning quick arm. Barratt fanned 20 in his first start of the spring and has won all six of his starts through the district playoffs, not allowing an earned run while surrendering 11 hits and seven walks and striking out 101 in 45 innings. He's a complete pitcher with five workable pitches, the best of which are his low-90s fastball, a hard curveball and a mid-80s splitter. He maintains his velocity and throws without effort. If Barratt were 6-foot-2, he'd be an easy first-round pick.

• RHP/SS Shaun Marcum is another short pitcher (6 feet) with big stuff. He has a plus slider and sits at 91 mph with his fastball, and his stuff should get better once he turns pro and gives up being an everyday shortstop. He has good defensive actions though not enough bat to be a position player at the next level. Marcum also has fine command plus a decent curveball and changeup, so he could get a look as a starter. He certainly has enough stuff to succeed out of the bullpen, as he thrived in the Cape Cod League last summer and owns Southwest Missouri State records for single-season and career saves. The latter mark previously belonged to Zimmerman.

• RHP Andy Sides earned all-state honors as a basketball forward after leading DeSoto High to the state Class 4 final four. He's still raw because he hasn't focused entirely on baseball, but it's hard to miss the potential in a 6-foot-7, 215-pounder who can touch 93 mph at times. He pitches more in the high 80s and needs more movement on his fastball. He's committed to Arkansas, strictly for baseball.

• After helping John A. Logan (Ill.) CC reach the 2002 Junior College World Series, RHP Chad Mulholland has become Southwest Missouri State's series-opening starter. He has outpitched the Bears' established ace, RHP Brad Ziegler, and has better stuff. Six-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Mulholland pitches at 88-91 and has touched 94. He commands five pitches for strikes, including a sweeping curve he'll have to tighten in pro ball.

• Disappointed by his 31st-round selection by the Athletics last June, Ziegler came back to Southwest Missouri State for his senior season and was named Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the year. He set school records for career wins, starts, complete games, innings and strikeouts and tied the single-season victory mark before the Bears began NCAA regional play. Ziegler keeps batters off balance by throwing a variety of pitches from a variety of angles. Either his slider or his changeup is his best pitch, and he also employs an 87-89 mph fastball and a curveball. He showed off his control last summer, when he set a Cape Cod League record by opening the season with 32 2/3 innings without a walk. Unless SMS advances to the super regionals, Oakland will get a short window to sign Ziegler as a fifth-year senior.

• RHP Bill Clayton hit 92 mph in high school, where he tied a national record by hitting three homers in one inning (and pitched a no-hitter in the same game). Though he still lights up radar guns, he hasn't made any progress since the Marlins drafted him in the 10th round in 2000. He can reach the mid-90s but has a career 7.66 ERA in two years at Southern Illinois and one at Southeast Missouri State. Whoever drafts Clayton will have to teach him to pitch.

• RHP Max Scherzer opened scouts' eyes in March, when he beat Florida 5-A state champion Lakewood Ranch, led by certain first-round pick Lastings Milledge, with 10 strikeouts in five innings. Six-foot-3 and 195 pounds, he tops out at 93-94 mph and usually pitches in the high 80s. He's inconsistent and still learning to pitch. Considered a tough sign, he could blossom into a top 2006 pick after three years at Missouri.

• RHP Phil Sobkow has shown velocity similar to Scherzer's in his first season at Central Missouri State after two at Fresno CC. He's even bigger at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds and has been downright unhittable. Sobkow won his first eight decisions, including his first start at the NCAA Division II College World Series, while shackling opponents with a .157 batting average.

• St. Louis CC-Forest Park has three righthanders who can reach the low 90s in Tony Mandel, Scott Kelly and Erik Dessau. Mandel, a transfer from Chipola (Fla.) JC, is the most athletic of the three. Kelly has the best curveball, Dessau the best slider. Mandel, an Angels 17th-round pick in 2002, is the only one of the three under control.

• There's plenty more juco talent beyond Marshall and the Forest Park trio. The White Sox have the rights to Jay Marshall, and the last time they draft-and-followed a Jefferson County southpaw they got Mark Buehrle. Marshall has an 87-88 mph fastball and a good changeup, plus he's projectable at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds. LHP Matt Mammen has similar size and velocity but isn't as polished. Maple Woods C Jeremy McIntire and RHP Josh Kohrs are both physical players. McIntire has power in his bat and arm, while Kohrs owns an 89-92 mph fastball and hard curveball.

Ian Kinsler and Zack Borowiak are fine defensive shortstops with strong arms. Both have improved at the plate this year. Kinsler, who hit .230 as a part-time player at Arizona State last year, carried a .337 average into the NCAA playoffs. Borowiak hit .372 with 16 homers after batting a combined .312 with 11 homers in his first three seasons.

Jayce Tingler and Dante Brinkley are little big men who serve as center fielders and leadoff men for NCAA regional teams. Both are solid runners but their scrappy makeup stands out more than any particular tool. The 5-foot-7 Tingler will get picked first because he's more of an on-base machine. He led the Cape Cod League with a .456 on-base percentage last summer while finishing second in runs (32) and third in batting (.311). This spring, he was hitting .390 with a .515 OBP and more walks (44) and hit-by-pitches (12) than strikeouts (nine). The 5-foot-9 Brinkley, who previously batted third for Southwest Missouri State, broke Bill Mueller's school record for career stolen bases. He uses a split grip a la Hall of Famer Mel Ott and it didn't work as well with wood bats. He hit just .184 on the Cape last summer. The Giants drafted Brinkley (48th round) and Borowiak (49th) with consecutive picks last year.

Jesse Cornelison and Grant Kohlstaedt are athletic 6-foot-1 righthanders who played guard on their high school basketball teams. Both throw in the high 80s, and Cornelison has the better breaking ball (a hard slider).

• RHP Derek Roper will get drafted despite his 6.36 ERA in two years at Missouri. He's 6-foot-6 and 202 pounds, and threw 92 mph with a mid-80s slider in an April start against Nebraska. He led Alaska League starters with a 0.87 ERA last summer. He can be draft-and-followed as a fourth-year junior because he missed all of 2001 with a shoulder injury at Hutchinson (Kan.) CC. Brad Flanders caught Roper at Hutchinson and joined him at Missouri this year. He has sound plate discipline and some pop in his bat. Coaches credit his receiving and game-calling ability as major factors in the Tigers reducing their ERA from 7.09 in 2002 to 5.06.

• Senior LHP Tim Alvarez concluded his college career in style, throwing a no-hitter against Austin Peay State in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament for his 14th victory—tying him with Rice's Jeff Niemann for the NCAA Division I lead. Alvarez, who came to Southeast Missouri State as a first baseman after stints at The Master's (Calif.) and Eastern Arizona CC, went 2-for-23 at the plate and was converted to a full-time pitcher last year. He's a 6-foot-4, 215-pound submariner who baffles hitters with his delivery and his command. 2B Justin Christian is another decent senior sign from the Indians. An Auburn transfer, Christian covers the plate very well and is very steady in the field.

• RHP/OF Corey Lawson transferred from Southwest Missouri State to Saint Louis after 2001 because the Bears wanted him to concentrate on pitching. That's his likely destiny in pro ball, though someone might give him a shot as a third baseman. Though he's 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Lawson throws 87-88 with little movement on his fastball. His curveball is a better pitch.

• Avila University RHP Brett Reid, a two-way player on Bellevue's (Neb.) 2002 NAIA World Series club, is 23 but may have pitched himself into the draft at the Perfect Game predraft showcase. He pitched into the low 90s and showed a hard breaking ball. Reid began his college career at Kansas State but was dismissed from the team in January 2000 after being charged with two separate counts of attempted rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery.

ARKANSAS *

Arkansas has been in a down cycle ever since Reds first-rounder Dustin Moseley and Expos fourth-rounder Cliff Lee (now with the Indians) came out of the 2000 draft. This year's top prospect, Rick Guarno, is a catcher with a strong arm and gap power. He could be a seventh- to 10th-rounder.

1. Rick Guarno, c, U. of Arkansas-Little Rock
2. Ryan Fox, of/rhp, U. of Arkansas
3. Derik Drewett, rhp, Watson Chapel HS, Sherrill
4. Blake Ring, rhp, Arkansas State U.
5. Scott Roehl, rhp, U. of Arkansas
6. Matt Rogelstad, ss, Arkansas State U.
7. Hudson Smart, ss, Pine Bluff HS
8. Andrew Wishy, of, U. of Arkansas
9. Haas Pratt, 1b, U. of Arkansas
10. Landon Leach, c/rhp, Russellville HS

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others To Watch

• In a down year for catchers, Rick Guarno is a sleeper for the first 10 rounds. A transfer from Maryland-Baltimore County, he wowed opponents all season long. He homered off Florida International ace Josh Banks and showed good gap power, ranking third in NCAA Division I with 27 doubles. Guarno also showed good strike-zone discipline, strong catch-and-throw skills and quick feet behind the plate. He threw out 49 percent of basestealers this spring.

• OF/RHP Ryan Fox was chasing the Southeastern Conference home run title with 19 and had pitched just six innings entering NCAA regional play, but a pro team may want to move him to the mound full-time. He throws 92-93 with a good slider, not typical stuff for a senior sign. His strong arm, power and body (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) also profile well for right field.

• RHP Derik Drewett is the class of a nondescript high school crop. He's very much a work in progress, however. He's 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds and touches 90-91 mph while throwing on a nice downward plane. But he also needs to improve his command and the rest of his repertoire.

• RHPs Blake Ring and Scott Roehl have the best arms in Arkansas. Both are capable of touching 96 mph and backup their heat with a hard (albeit inconsistent) breaking balls. Ring, draft eligible as a redshirt sophomore, is just 5-foot-10 and has a maximum-effort delivery. Roehl isn't much taller at 6 feet but has significantly smoother mechanics.

• SS Matt Rogelstad, who played with the Canadian national junior team in 1999 and 2000, is one of the best contact hitters in college baseball. He whiffed just five times in 208 at-bats. He doesn't have much pop and he may not throw well enough to remain at shortstop, but he could be a Bill Mueller without the same arm strength. His body (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) and age (20) are positives. If Rogelstad signs, he could be replaced by Arkansas State's top recruit, SS Hudson Smart. Smart has a live body, arm strength and quickness, but he's underdeveloped at 6 feet and 160 pounds.

• OF Andrew Wishy (6-foot-1, 218 pounds) and 1B Haas Pratt (6-foot-2, 213) have strong bodies but never have hit as much as scouts expected. Wishy, an accomplished pianist, has more athleticism and a better swing.

• C/RHP Landon Leach is attractive behind the plate because he's an athletic 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, has a strong arm and offers switch-hitting pop. But his signability is compromised by his prowess as a quarterback. Signed to a football scholarship by Arkansas, he holds the state's 5-A career passing yardage record (9,062) and accounted for 42 touchdowns as a senior. He plans on playing both sports for the Razorbacks.

• Arkansas-Fort Smith LHP/1B Trey Holloway is the state's best juco prospect and has a better future as power hiter than on the mound. Another Lion with a chance to get drafted is steady SS Toby Gardenhire, whose father Ron manages the Twins. Minnesota selected him in the 38th round last year.

LOUISIANA *****

Perennially-strong Louisiana is as loaded as ever. Rickie Weeks is a possible No. 1 pick, and he, Michael Aubrey and Aaron Hill could be the first three college position players selected. Weeks is far from the only prospect on Southern, as 10 of his teammates could be drafted, most of them in the first 10-15 rounds. Even with Louisiana State's pitching staff getting riddled by injuries, there are plenty of good arms available.

1. Rickie Weeks, 2b, Southern U.
2. Michael Aubrey, 1b, Tulane U.
3. Aaron Hill, ss, Louisiana State U.
4. Xavier Paul, of, Slidell HS, New Orleans
5. Tony Giarratano, ss, Tulane U.
6. Jeffries Tatford, 3b/c, St. Thomas More HS, Lafayette
7. Jordan Mayer, rhp/3b, Alexandria Senior HS
8. Brandon Belcher, lhp, Ruston HS
9. Wade LeBlanc, lhp, Barbe HS, Lake Charles
10. Billy Sadler, rhp, Louisiana State U.
11. Marcus Townsend, of, Southern U.
12. Justin Brashear, c, Barbe HS, Lake Charles
13. Dewan Day, rhp, Southern U. (CONTROL: Blue Jays)
14. Robert Lane, ss, Neville HS, Monroe
15. Corey Coles, of/lhp, U. of Louisiana-Lafayette
16. Cain Byrd, rhp, Southwood HS, Shreveport
17. Jonny Kaplan, of, Tulane U.
18. Damian Ursin, rhp, Southern U.
19. Josh Rainwater, rhp, DeRidder HS
20. Michael Schubert, 1b/lhp, Holy Cross HS, New Orleans
21. Andrew Toussaint, of, Southern U.
22. Derrick Thomas, rhp, Captain Shreve HS, Shreveport
23. Chris Provence, rhp/3b, Slidell HS
24. Anthony Garibaldi, 3b, Southeastern Louisiana U.
25. Alex Presley, of, Neville HS, Monroe
26. Chuck Hickman, ss, Nicholls State U.
27. Josh Boop, of, Northwestern State U.
28. Antoin Gray, 3b, Southern U.
29. Kevin Vital, 1b, Southern U.
30. Alfred Ard, of, Southern U.
31. James Stevens, rhp, Neville HS, Monroe
32. Cory Hahn, rhp, Tulane U.
33. Jordy Templet, rhp, U. of Louisiana-Lafayette
34. Matt Overman, rhp, Nicholls State U.
35. Daniel Latham, rhp, Covington HS
36. Bo Pettit, rhp, Louisiana State U. (CONTROL: Rockies)
37. Jake Tompkins, rhp, Louisiana State U.
38. Fernando Puebla, ss, Southern U.
39. Cody Poche, c/rhp, Slidell HS
40. Jim Miller, rhp, U. of Louisiana-Monroe
41. Matt Varner, rhp, Louisiana Tech
42. Jose Lado, lhp, Delgado CC (CONTROL: Rockies)
43. Vince Davis, lhp, Southern U.
44. Rusty Begnaud, rhp, McNeese State U.
45. Walt Nolen, rhp, McNeese State U.

Projected First-Round Picks
Rickie Weeks, 2b
Southern could join Arizona State as the only schools to produce multiple No. 1 overall picks. Weeks would follow Danny Goodwin (1975, Angels), though the Devil Rays were undecided whether they would take Weeks or California high school OF Delmon Young; the odd-man out likely would go third to the Tigers. Weeks has the best tools and is the purest hitter in college baseball. His hands are so quick that he generates amazing bat speed and can turn around any inside fastball. With back-to-back .495 and .493 seasons, he's virtually assured of becoming only the second repeat batting champion in NCAA Division I history. His career .469 average is the best Division I mark ever. Though his quality of competition is suspect, scouts think Weeks will only have to develop a little more pitch recognition to mash as a pro. Besides hitting for average, Weeks also has plus power and speed. After scuffling at shortstop earlier in his career at Southern he has settled in at second base. He's still a little raw there, but he has more than enough arm strength and athleticism to play there in the majors.

Michael Aubrey, 1b
He may have to take a back seat to Weeks in Louisiana, but Aubrey is a better pure hitter than any other college player in the nation. He projects as a .300-plus hitter with lots of doubles and 15-20 homers in the majors. He has a great approach at the plate and rarely gets fooled. He also has solid average speed and tremendous baseball instincts. He projects as a possible Gold Glove first baseman, though he also played the outfield and threw 90-92 off the mound when he was Baseball America's 2001 Freshman of the Year. Some teams will try to move him to a corner outfield spot, but he doesn't show the arm strength he once did. The Conference-USA player of the year, Aubrey will go in the upper half of the first round, probably between No. 6 (Cubs) and No. 13 (Blue Jays).

Aaron Hill, ss
In a draft thin on shortstops, Hill is one of the few with legitimate offensive potential. There are questions as to whether he can handle that position all the way up to the majors, but he'll get the shot to prove he can't. His instincts and gritty makeup get the most out of his tools—which aren't lacking. He has enough arm to make plays from the hole, along with range and quickness. He's not flashy but gets the job done. At worst, the Southeastern Conference player of the year will be an all-around second baseman. Offensively, he has a beautiful swing, above-average speed and control of the strike zone. He doesn't have plus home-run power, but he can hit the occasional longball and line balls into the gaps. In a lot of ways, he is similar to former Clemson star Khalil Greene, who went 13th overall to the Padres last year. Hill could go in the same spot to the Blue Jays and won't make it past the Athletics, who choose 25th and 26th.

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
Xavier Paul, of/rhp
Paul would have been an early-round pick as a high school sophomore in 2001, and being under the microscope for that long has diminished him in the eyes of scouts. He hasn't grown bigger than 5-foot-9 and he didn't run well this spring, and while he's a polished two-way player he's not appreciably better than he was two years ago. Paul has been throwing in the low 90s since he was a freshman, but he'll be an outfielder as a pro. He's a gifted hitter with a quick bat and some juice in his 195-pound frame. He has the instincts but maybe not the speed for center field, and he's more likely to play in right. Paul is now more of a third-round choice than the first-rounder he figured to develop into, and that might not be enough to sign him away from Tulane.

Tony Giarratano, ss
While Hill may have to switch positions, Giarratano is a pure shortstop. Among the college players who can make that claim, he may have the best all-around package of tools. Defensively, his hands and arm rate a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He made just nine errors during the regular season and used his agility to make several outstanding plays. After a disastrous 2002 in which he batted .238 for Tulane and .187 in the Cape Cod League, Giarratano has remade himself offensively. After gaining weight a year ago, he got into better shape and batted .347 during the 2003 regular season. He should be a contact hitter who can hit in the .270 range while providing a few doubles and stolen bases. With his glove, that would be enough to earn him a big league starting job. Because he's a college player and can stay at shortstop, Giarratano could be overdrafted in the late second round.

Jefferies Tatford, 3b/c
Unknown as a baseball player before this year, Tatford has the best body among Louisiana prospects: 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds of pure muscle. He could be a third- to fifth-round pick for a high school-oriented team looking for power. Tatford uses a short lefthanded stroke to punish baseballs, though he's still raw at the plate. He's a tremendous athlete who quarterbacked his football team to the state quarterfinals. He has touched 92 mph on the mound, and also has good hands and quick feet. He should be able to play third base and possibly even catcher.

Jordan Mayer, rhp/3b
Mayer is a raw, strong 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who has put on batting-practice shows at national showcases for the last two years. He also has a strong arm that throws heavy fastballs in the low 90s, though he's still learning to pitch and his curveball is only marginal at this point. While Mayer can make all the throws from third base, he's not the most agile fielder and may wind up at first base. There's also talk of converting him into a catcher when he turns pro. He's Louisiana State's top recruit.

Brandon Belcher, lhp/of
Belcher is the best lefty in Louisiana but scouts backed off of him as the draft approached. His 6-foot-0, 175-pound frame turns them off and makes it unlikely he'll get the money to lure him away from the University of Alabama. Belcher is a quality pitcher, however, with a plus curveball, 86-89 mph fastball and solid changeup. He also swings the bat well and could be a two-way impact player in the SEC. Belcher's versatility extends to the gridiron as well. After starting at quarterback for Ruston High as a junior, he moved to wide receiver last fall to accommodate former Pro Bowl passer Bert Jones' son Beau.

Wade LeBlanc, lhp
With LeBlanc and Justin Brashear, Barbe High has the best all-prospect battery in the nation. LeBlanc won his first 16 decisions this spring before losing on three unearned runs in the state 5-A quarterfinals. He's very comparable to Belcher and has similar stuff. LeBlanc has a better body (6-foot-3, 185 pounds), more projection and is more signable, while Belcher has better secondary pitches and command. LeBlanc is more raw and will need more time to develop.

Billy Sadler, rhp
Louisiana State lost Lane Mestepey to shoulder surgery during the offseason, then Brian Wilson (Tommy John surgery) and Brandon Nall (torn labrum) during the spring, leaving Sadler as the Tigers' best pitching prospect. He had Tommy John surgery himself while he was at Pensacola (Fla.) JC. Sadler has electric stuff at times, showing a 94-96 mph fastball and a hard slider. But his mechanics aren't the best-he's just 6 feet tall and throws with maximum effort-so his command comes and goes. When he's on, he has the weapons to be a major league closer.

Marcus Townsend, of
Weeks isn't the only Southern player with a huge ceiling. Townsend is a chiseled 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, and his speed and power are both plus-plus tools. His arm strength is another positive. He gets compared to Fred Lewis, a Giants' second-round pick off the Jaguars last year, but is much more raw. Townsend barely played in two years of junior college at Texas-Brownsville, in part because he broke his hamate bone last year. Though he was one of six Southern regulars batting at least .360 entering NCAA regional play, he's still learning to hit. Judging fly balls in right field can be an adventure for him at times. But he has improved over the course of the spring, giving glimpses of his huge upside.

Others To Watch

Justin Brashear, LeBlanc's catcher, has played better at showcases than he has in high school. Power is his best tool, and he turned a 94-mph fastball from projected first-rounder Jeff Allison into a line-drive homer at last June's USA Baseball Tournament of Stars. Brashear's swing is a little long and slow, but catchers with lefthanded pop and arm strength are hard to find.

• Tightness and a pinched never in his arm limited RHP Dewan Day to 17 innings in 2002 after he transferred from Jackson State. Healthy again this spring, he has pitched anywhere from 87-95 mph and become Southern's ace. His curveball and condition are improved, and he can be intimidating at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds. The Blue Jays took a 26th-round flier on him last year and control his rights as a fifth-year senior.

• Southern is known for its potent offense, which led NCAA Division I with a .360 average and 10.6 runs per game heading into the regionals, but could have as many as four pitchers drafted. RHP Damian Ursin, who's shorter than his listed 6 feet and resembles Tom Gordon, has a 92-95 mph fastball. LHP Vince Davis usually pitches in the mid-80s but has lots of life on his pitches and projection in his 6-foot-6, 235-pound frame. RHP Justin Sanchez, who transferred from Texas-Brownsville with Townsend, has pitched just two innings because of tendinitis but attracted interest during fall practice.

• As for the Jaguars' hitters, a total of seven should get picked. OF Andrew Toussaint, a sophomore-eligible draftee who was a 10th-round pick out of high school by the Dodgers, has power, speed and hands almost as quick as Weeks'. 3B Antoin Gray finished fourth in Division I with a .449 average last year and projects as an offensive second baseman. 1B Kevin Vital is a bad-bodied (6 feet, 245 pounds) slugger who bats cleanup between Weeks and Toussaint. Recruited as a pitcher, he has enough arm strength to give catching a try. OF Alfred Ard has a raw package of tools that includes more speed than Townsend and the aptitude to play center field. He also caught 20 passes for Southern as a wide receiver last fall. SS Fernando Puebla is built like Luis Sojo, but he handles himself well defensively and makes contact at the plate.

• SS Robert Lane was also the nation's third-rated quarterback recruit. He signed with Mississippi after accounting for more than 9,000 yards and 106 touchdowns in four years of high school. There may be a club or two that covets his raw tools, but most didn't even bother crosschecking him after he looked stiff and slow in front of area scouts early in the season. The consensus is that Lane's impressive physical tools don't translate well for baseball and won't unless he gives up football, which likely would take a seven-figure bonus. He has great power potential but also a long, sweeping swing. He runs well for a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder but takes a while to get going on the diamond. He obviously has a cannon arm but negates it somewhat with a slow release. While Lane moved to shortstop as a senior, he'd have to play third base as a pro. Josh Booty, another ballyhooed Bayou State quarterback who failed miserably after the Marlins gave him a then-record $1.6 million as a 1994 first-rounder, remains a cautionary tale that few teams want to buck.

• Scouts disappointed by Lane didn't come away empty-handed, however, as they spotted two other prospects on the Neville roster. OF Alex Presley is a plus runner whose lefthanded swing reminds scouts of Mike Fontenot, a Louisiana State project drafted in 2001's first round by the Orioles. RHP James Stevens, who's 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, has an 87-91 mph fastball and low-80 slider.

• OF/LHP Corey Coles has had a few standout performances this season. He batted .417 during the season-opening Astros Classic at Minute Maid Park, belted three homers in one game against New Orleans and hit .400 in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. His best tools are his line-drive bat and his speed. He throws 88-89 from the mound but doesn't show the same arm strength as an outfielder.

• RHP Cain Byrd positioned himself as the state's top prep pitching prospect coming into the year after showing a low-90s fastball and mid-80s slider last summer. But he didn't prepare well for his senior year and strained a forearm muscle. His velocity has dipped to the mid-80s at times and his drafting team may want to see how he performs this summer before signing him.

• Entering regional play, OF Jonny Kaplan ranked second in Division I with 47 steals in 52 attempts. A Chad Curtis type of grinder, he has shown more pop this year and plays a stellar center field. As a fifth-year senior, he can sign as a free agent.

• RHP Josh Rainwater's season began with consecutive 1-0 losses to top pro prospects LeBlanc, Byrd and Kelly Shearer (Elkins High, Missouri City, Texas). But he established his credentials by fanning 17 and 18 in back-to-back starts against national high school powers Barbe and Elkins. He topped out at 95 mph against Elkins, the defending national champion, and competes well. Rainwater needs to firm up his 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame and refine his slider. His finish was happier than his start, as he led DeRidder to its first-ever state 4-A championship. He tossed a no-hitter in the semifinals and struck out six of the seven batters he faced to close out the finals the next day.

• 1B/LHP Michael Schubert, RHP Derrick Thomas and RHP/3B Chris Provence all have pro bodies and emerged as prospects this spring. Schubert's lefthanded power is more promising than his mound prowess, which is compromised by a maximum-effort delivery. Also a quarterback at Captain Shreve, Thomas is very projectable (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and getting better now that he's dedicating himself to pitching. He commands three pitches, including a 90-92 mph fastball. Provence, who benefited from the exposure Paul brought to Slidell High, showed a lively 88-89 mph in his first extended trial on the mound.

• 3B Anthony Garibaldi was the Southland Conference newcomer of the year after transferring from Sacramento CC. He probably will have to move to first base at the next level and may have enough bat to pull it off. He has very quick wrists.

• SS Chuck Hickman opened 2003 with a 21-game hitting streak-a comedown from 2002, when he hit safely in his first 31 games. Though undersized at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, he makes contact, runs well and has a strong arm.

• OF Josh Boop is Northwestern State's best prospect. He has leadoff skills but would be better off as a senior sign in 2004 if he learns to draw more walks. Boop helped North Central Texas CC win the 2001 Junior College World Series as a freshman, batting .419 with a school-record .595 on-base percentage.

Cory Hahn, Jordy Templet and Matt Overman all are solid college righthanders. They're all about 6 feet tall, compete hard, work in the high 80s and throw a breaking ball for strikes.

• RHP Daniel Latham could blossom into an early 2006 pick after three years at Tulane. A top student who probably won't go high enough this June to warrant signing, he's 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds with the potential for a plus fastball and curve. He already throws strikes and has life on his 88-89 mph heater.

• RHPs Bo Pettit and Jake Tompkins pitched much better in 2002 than in 2003. At their best, they both flash a low-90s fastball and a 12-to-6 curveball. More often than not, they've been in the high 80s without much command or breaking stuff. The Twins control Pettit as a fifth-year senior after drafting in the 13th round a year ago. The Rangers took Tompkins in the 28th round but relinquished his rights when he returned to school.

• Slidell High has a third two-way talent in C/RHP Cody Poche. His best tool is his arm, which erases basestealers and delivers 87-90 mph fastballs. His bat is questionable, however, and at 6 feet he doesn't have desirable size for a pitcher.

• The best prospects from Louisiana-Monroe (RHP Jim Miller), Louisiana Tech (RHP Matt Varner) and the state's junior college ranks (Delgado LHP Jose Lado) are all 6-footers with arm strength but little pitchability. Miller and Varner both have touched 94 mph. Lado is under control to the Rockies as a 28th-round pick from 2002.

• McNeese State RHPs Rusty Begnaud and Walt Nolen have high-80s fastballs and plus curves. Begnaud earned two victories in four days to give the Cowboys the Southland Conference tournament championship and an automatic NCAA playoff berth.

• A number of the state's best college pitching prospects were waylaid by injuries. Wilson, who was throwing 93-95 mph with his fastball and 82-86 mph with his slider, would have gone in the first two rounds had he not blown out his elbow. Mestepey and Nall also would have been solid picks from Louisiana State. McNeese State RHP Ronnie Baron, who can reach the mid-90s, worked just four innings before needing Tommy John surgery.

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