First Round Recap
Scouting reports and stats on everyone taken in the first round
1. Tampa Bay Rays
Tim Beckham, ss, Griffin (Ga.) High
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
Beckham solidified his status as the nation's top high school position player last year when he produced the most impressive overall performance on the summer showcase circuit. He was consistently the best player at each event he attended and capped his performance by winning MVP honors at the Aflac Classic at the end of the summer. A wiry, athletic shortstop, Beckham hasn't produced eye-popping performances this spring, but his track record and projection make him the nation's most coveted high school prospect. He has five legitimate tools. At the plate he has the ability to be an above-average hitter with average power. He's a solid runner and his athleticism is a part of his everyday game. In the field, Beckham has smooth major league actions with an above-average arm. He has drawn comparisons to the Upton brothers, though he has more aptitude in the field and not quite the lightning in the bat. His makeup is a plus, as he displays an enjoyment of the game and energy on the field. He has a commitment to Southern California, but Beckham won't reach campus as he's a likely top 10 pick.
Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Vanderbilt
Alvarez entered the season as the top prospect in this year's draft class, and even after missing the first half of the season with a hamate bone injury, he maintains that status. The New York high school player of the year in 2005, Alvarez was ranked as a top 100 player as a senior and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 14th round that year. He elected to go to Vanderbilt instead, and he hit 22 home runs and drove in 64 runs, earning Freshman of the Year honors from BA. The trend continued into his sophomore year when Alvarez was named a first team All-American after hitting .386 with 18 home runs. He also spent two standout summers with Team USA. Alvarez has been one of the most feared college hitters for all three years he has been in school. Blessed with plus raw power, he is also an advanced hitter with a professional approach. At third base, his defensive skills and footwork have improved since he arrived at Vanderbilt. His arm is plenty for the corner and his athleticism is a plus. He is also known to be a great teammate with strong makeup. His bonus demands and status as a Boras Corp. client could affect his draft stock, however.
3. Kansas City Royals
Eric Hosmer, 1b, American Heritage High, Plantation, Fla.
4. Baltimore Orioles
An Aflac All-American and preseason High School All-American, Hosmer is one of the most decorated prep players in this year's draft class. He played for Team USA's junior squad last summer and this spring is a member of one of the nation's top high school teams, which won a state championship. Regularly compared to fellow Floridian Casey Kotchman, Hosmer is a physical specimen with bat speed to spare. Swinging from the left side, Hosmer has as much raw power as anyone in the draft. His power ranges to all fields, as he is known for letting balls get deep and driving them for opposite-field home runs. While his approach at the plate is advanced, Hosmer's pitch recognition has been a concern for some scouts. In the field, he's a solid defender with athleticism and a well-above-average arm. He is the closer on his high school team, regularly touching 95 mph off the mound. While his actions at first base need refinement, he could be an above-average defender. Hosmer has the tools to be an all-star first baseman and has one of the highest ceilings of any player in this year's draft. As an Arizona State signee and a client of the Boras Corp., however, signability could be an issue.
Brian Matusz, lhp, San Diego
5. San Francisco Giants
Like David Price, the No. 1 pick last year,
Matusz is tall and lanky at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, and scouts have
history with him. He didn't sign with the Angels in 2005 as a
fourth-round pick out of an Arizona high school, and he starred for
Team USA last summer, after ranking second (behind Price) in the nation
in strikeouts. However, Matusz is a much different pitcher than Price.
While he has a fastball that sits at 90-93 mph, Matusz doesn't pitch
off it, instead using his above-average offspeed stuff to set up his
fastball. His curveball is already a plus pitch, and he shows the
ability to locate it to either side of the plate. His slider grades out
as at least average. Matusz also liberally uses his above-average
changeup, one of the finest on the West Coast in years. Mechanically,
he's tight and compact, though his arm action is a bit awkward and
slightly stiff. He also lands on a straight front leg at times, which
some regard as an injury concern and which makes it harder for him to
drive his fastball down through the zone. Matusz profiles as a middle
of the rotation starter at worst, and if he improves his fastball and
mechanics, he can become a staff ace.
Buster Posey, c, Florida State
205. Age: 21.
Posey was recruited out of high school by Florida
State to play shortstop, and he started all 65 games there for the
Seminoles as a freshman. Following the 2006 season, however, Posey was
asked to move behind the plate and catch for the first time in his
life. He took to it naturally and two seasons later is considered the
top catching prospect, both defensively and offensively, in the
country. His offensive numbers this season, including a .471 average,
put him among the national leaders in several categories. His
receiving, footwork and release are all advanced, and his athleticism
is apparent. Posey's arm strength (he reaches 94 mph off the mound) and
accuracy are pluses as well. At the plate, Posey has above-average bat
speed and makes consistent contact. He has power to all fields but will
probably be known more for his batting average than home runs. Drafted
out of high school by the Angels in the 50th round in 2005, Posey is
regarded as one of the safest picks in this year's draft. His
projection as an offensive catcher with Gold Glove-caliber defense has
boosted Posey's draft stock as much as anyone's over the weeks leading
up to the draft.
6. Florida Marlins
Kyle Skipworth, c, Patriot HS, Rubidoux, Calif.
A veteran of two USA Baseball teams (junior and
youth national teams), Skipworth is the best high school catcher in the
nation, and may be the best prep prospect at that position since Joe
Mauer was the first pick in the 2001 draft. Skipworth established
himself as a top prospect last summer by blasting a mammoth home run in
the Aflac Classic in August. His hitting and power both grade out in
the 65-70 range on the 20-80 scouting scale. He set a California state
record by getting 18 consecutive hits in an April stretch, and at
6-foot-3, 195 pounds, he has enough strength to hit well with wood.
Blessed with quick reflexes and superior hand-eye coordination,
Skipworth's bat speed enables him to drive the ball hard to all fields,
and his both his stance and swing are ideal. After struggling
defensively in the summer and fall, he has improved immensely,
particularly on receiving. His blocking and shifting skills also have
improved and he projects as a solid-average receiver. His only
below-average tool is his speed. However, Skipworth moves well for a
catcher and showed his athleticism with a 31-inch vertical leap at one
7. Cincinnati Reds
Yonder Alonso, 1b, Miami
215. Age: 21.
The most dangerous slugger on one of the nation's
top hitting college teams, Alonso has produced consistent offensive
numbers for Miami in each of his three years. As a freshman he led the
team with 69 RBIs, leading the Hurricanes to the College World Series.
As a sophomore, he led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 18 home runs,
and finished the season with a .376 batting average. A native of Cuba,
Alonso came to America at age 9. He was drafted out of Coral Gables
(Fla.) High in the 16th round by the Twins in 2005. Alonso has always
hit for average and power, and he is considered one of the most
professional hitters in this year's draft. Blessed with superior plate
discipline, Alonso has a great strikeout-to-walk ratio and has an
advanced approach. He swings lefthanded and has power to all fields,
making consistent contact. In the field, Alonso is limited to first
base but plays the position well. He is a below-average runner with
adequate arm strength, but he should be an above-average defender.
Alonso's professionalism and makeup are both strengths as well, making
him a safe pick to reach the major leagues.
8. Chicago White Sox
Gordon Beckham, ss, Georgia
185. Age: 21.
After he went undrafted out of high school,
Beckham has improved as much as any player during his three years in
college. He started from his freshman season at Georgia, and hit 12
home runs his first season to help the Bulldogs in the College World
Series and land on BA's Freshman All-American team. His batting average
and power numbers have increased each year since. He won the Cape Cod
League home run title last summer, and has shown it was no fluke by
hitting 22 homes so far this spring. He has been among the Division I
leaders in batting, home runs and slugging percentage all season. At
the plate, Beckham is a home run threat to all fields. He has powerful
forearms and snap in his wrists that lead to his above-average bat
speed. After being known as a hacker early in his college career he is
now regarded as a professional hitter. He makes good contact and
consistently squares up balls and uses the whole field. While no one
questions his ability to hit, scouts are split on whether Beckham has
the hands to stay at shortstop. He has the instincts and is athletic
with enough range and arm strength to stick at the premium position.
9. Washington Nationals
Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri
205. Age: 21.
10. Houston Astros
In three years, Crow has gone from an undrafted
high school senior to the best righthander in the 2008 draft, thanks
largely to the best fastball package available. Other pitchers may
throw harder, but no one can match the combination of Crow's velocity
(92-96 mph with a peak of 98), hard sink, command and ability to
maintain his fastball. He also has a plus slider, though he tends to
rely on it too much. His changeup can become a solid third pitch, but
he has had little use for it in college. He has control and command,
keeping the ball down and throwing strikes to both sides of the plate.
If there's a quibble, it's Crow's delivery, which has some effort but
is cleaner than it was coming out of high school. Some teams wonder if
his mechanics and size (generously listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds)
might make him more of a closer than a frontline starter. Crow led the
Cape Cod League with a 0.67 ERA last summer and was the No. 1 prospect
in the league. He threw 43 consecutive scoreless innings early this
spring, and was tied for the D-I lead with 11 wins. He wasn't as sharp
after the streak and was pulled from a start with back spasms, but he
solidified his place at the top of the first round.
Jason Castro, c, Stanford
215. Age: 20.
11. Texas Rangers
A catcher most of his prep career, Castro entered
this season thought of as a bat first after his strong summer in the
Cape Cod League. He hit just .263 combined in his first two seasons at
Stanford, then hit .341 in the Cape (second-best in the league), but he
played mostly first base or outfield in deference to Florida State's
Buster Posey. This spring, Castro has put it all together, showing he
can hit for average and power while being Stanford's primary catcher.
At 6-foot-3, he's tall but athletic enough to have good lateral
movement and agility, and he's improved as a receiver, where he's
considered fringe-average at worst. His arm also grades as average, and
he's an above-average hitter, particularly for his position.
Offensively, Castro stays inside the ball and has a fundamentally
sound, strong swing. One scout likened his offensive package to that of
former Athletics supplemental first-rounder Mark Teahen, who also
played collegiately in the Bay Area, only with more power. In some
years, Castro would be the best catcher on the board, but this he's
third behind Posey and Southern California prep phenom Kyle Skipworth.
He's not expected to last past the first round.
Justin Smoak, 1b, South Carolina
188. Age: 21.
12. Oakland Athletics
A switch-hitting first baseman with power, Smoak
draws natural comparisons to Mark Teixiera. Drafted out of high school
in the 16th round by the Athletics, he has started every game for South
Carolina since arriving on the Columbia campus, doing nothing but
produce. After batting .303 with 17 home runs, Smoak earned Freshman
All-America honors. He followed that with a .315 batting average and 22
home runs in his sophomore year—enough to be tabbed as a third team
All-American. He also competed for Team USA last summer. As a first
baseman, Smoak has Gold Glove-caliber actions and soft hands. His
footwork and instincts around the bag are advanced and his arm strength
is adequate. As a hitter, he is consistent from both sides of the
plate, and he has superior pitch recognition. A power threat against
any pitch, Smoak has the ability to hit to all fields. Smoak proved his
power translates to wood when he hit 11 home runs in 39 games while
playing in the Cape Cod League following his freshman year, though he
struggled with Team USA last summer. He is thought to be the best
combination of offense and defense at first base in this draft class.
Jemile Weeks, 2b, Miami
175. Age: 21.
13. St. Louis Cardinals
The brother of Brewers second baseman Rickie,
Weeks is an accomplished middle infielder with above-average
athleticism. Drafted out of high school by the Brewers in the eighth
round in 2005, Weeks elected to attend Miami instead. He competed on
the U.S. college national team following his freshman and sophomore
seasons and was named as a preseason All-American by BA coming into the
year. A switch-hitter and plus runner, Weeks has the unique ability to
put pressure on the defense with his speed on the basepaths. Although
he is just 5-feet-9, 180 pounds, he is not limited to small ball as he
has quick wrists and plus bat speed, allowing him to hit for power as
well. Defensively, Weeks has shown flashes of making the spectacular
play but needs to become more consistent with the routine play. Also,
his ability to turn the double play needs improvement. In the pros,
Weeks profiles as an offensive second baseman with less power than his
brother but a better chance to stay in the middle of the diamond. He
and Gordon Beckham are the most athletic college position players
expected to be drafted in the first 50 picks.
Brett Wallace, 3b/1b, Arizona State
235. Age: 21.
Four of the top hitters in the college draft
class—Wallace, Stanford's Jason Castro, California's David Cooper and
South Carolina's Jay Darnell—played together for NorCal Baseball's
travel team in high school. Wallace was a bad-bodied third baseman
then, tipping the scales at close to 260 pounds. Many scouts still see
him as a bad-body third baseman waiting to move to first, but others
see more. Many see the best natural hitter in the West. Wallace has a
strong swing with above-average bat speed; his swing path stays in the
zone a long time and he has outstanding plate discipline. Defensively,
Wallace had made just eight errors at third in 50 games, and he has at
least average arm strength to go with nifty feet. While he's cleaned up
his body, he still has huge thighs that make it hard for him to get low
enough to properly field groundballs. Scouts that think he could stay
at third compare him to 2007 Indians first-rounder Beau Mills, who also
had questionable skills at third. Those that don't care for him cite
his body and the short careers of players built similarly, such as Bob
Hamelin. Wallace's bat should get him drafted in the first round
regardless, and most scouts give him at least above-average raw power
14. Minnesota Twins
Aaron Hicks, of, Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif.
175. Age: 18.
15. Los Angeles Dodgers
A magnet for scouts since his sophomore season,
Hicks is the finest prep outfielder/pitcher prospect in the greater Los
Angeles area since Daryl Strawberry in the early 1980s. He most
resembles Adam Jones, who was a first-round talent as both an
outfielder and pitcher. As an outfielder, Hicks projects as a five-tool
player, and his arm grades out to near 80 on the scouting scale. With
his plus speed (6.6 seconds over 60 yards), Hicks is a daring and
aggressive baserunner. His speed, easy range and arm mean Hicks will
begin his career as a center fielder. Prior to the 2008 season, many
scouts had reservations about his hitting ability. A switch-hitter,
he's shown improvement by lowering his hands. His hitting mechanics and
lightning reflexes permit scouts who believe in him to project him as
an above-average hitter with above-average power. As a pitcher, Hicks'
fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range, and in a mid-May start he was at
94-97. His curveball shows wicked movement and he adds a hard cutter
and a change. Clubs were split on whether Hicks would pitch or hit, but
either way, he's expected to go in the middle of the first round.
Ethan Martin, 3b/rhp, Stephens County HS, Toccoa, Ga.
195. Age: 18.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
Before the season, Martin was thought of as a
power-hitting third baseman with a good arm. His performance on the
mound this spring has led to teams being split on whether he will be a
pitcher or a position player in the pros. Playing his summer ball in
the talent-rich East Cobb program in suburban Atlanta, Martin was
selected as an Aflac All-American in the fall. He was a standout
quarterback in high school, but is committed to play baseball only at
Clemson. In the field, Martin is a plus defender with a plus arm and
athleticism. His best tool, though, is his raw power and strength. On
the mound, Martin offers a fastball in the mid-90s and an above-average
breaking ball with slurve action. His changeup is also advanced for a
high school pitcher and can be a plus pitch. Where in the past he may
have been labeled a thrower, Martin has shown pitchability throughout
the spring. Scouts love the way Martin plays the game, with a country
strong swing and dirtbag mentality. They also love his versatility. The
team that drafts Martin will be have a tough decision to make on his
long-term future, because he offers the versatility and talent to reach
the big leagues either way.
Brett Lawrie, c/3b, Brookswood SS, Langley, B.C.
200. Age: 18.
17. Toronto Blue Jays
Scouts debate whether Lawrie is the best Canadian
hitting prospect since Justin Morneau or Larry Walker, but he's
definitely created buzz in a draft relatively short on high school
bats, drawing some comparisons to Craig Biggio. If he had a more
defined position, he would be a cinch first-round pick. Signed by
Arizona State, Lawrie has too much present hitting ability to wind up
in college. One scout compared him to Marlins slugger Dan Uggla for his
strength, power and muscular, mature build, and several scouts have
graded Lawrie's power as above-average if not 70 on the 20-80 scale.
He's not just strong but also has a keen eye, offensive instincts,
aggressiveness and quick wrists that drive the bat through the hitting
zone. On a spring trip with his Canadian travel teams (Langley, B.C.,
Blaze and the Canadian junior national team), Lawrie went 21-for-30
against extended spring training and college teams, including 14
extra-base hits. He hit doubles off Kyle Davies and Luke Hochevar in a
game against the Royals' extended spring team. Several scouts summed up
his offensive approach by describing him as "fearless." He's also
athletic with above-average speed (6.75 seconds in the 60). Defense is
Lawrie's shortcoming; he plays infield and catcher and also has seen
time in the outfield, where one scout described him as "disinterested."
He's shown the tools to catch, as he's built for the position at 6 feet
and 200 pounds, and he has an average arm at the least. However, his
bat might be too advanced for him to take the time to learn such a
valuable defensive position, and some scouts doubt that he'd have the
temperament to handle it anyway.
David Cooper, 1b, California
210. Age: 21.
18. New York Mets
Another NorCal product, Cooper began his college
career at Cal State Fullerton, helping lead the Titans to the College
World Series. He had hits in seven consecutive at-bats in Omaha,
earning all-tournament honors, but transferred after the season back
closer to home, instantly becoming Cal's best player. He's evolved as a
hitter since that season, going from two homers as a freshman to a
Pacific-10 Conference-best 19 as a junior. Cooper's hitting ability
stems from strong hands and forearms and excellent hand-eye
coordination more than pure bat speed, and some scouts believe he'll be
more susceptible in pro ball to big velocity because of it. Others
believe his smooth, pure swing will let him catch up to any fastball.
He has a polished, patient approach and absolutely mashes mistakes to
all parts of the park. Cooper's value is in his bat; he's a
well-below-average runner who could become a real baseclogger down the
line. Defensively, he flashes average ability at first, but some scouts
label him disinterested at worst and below-average at best. Cooper's
bat could take him into the first round, though an American League club
would be a better fit.
Ike Davis, 1b, Arizona State
215. Age: 21.
19. Chicago Cubs
The son of former big league reliever Ron Davis,
Ike was not a scouts' favorite coming into his junior season. A
decorated high school career that included a star turn with Team USA's
youth national squad and an MVP award at the 2004 Aflac Classic, and
his pitching family pedigree, had most scouts regarding him as a
pitcher out of high school. He decided to go to Arizona State rather
than sign as a Rays 19th-round pick, and he started on the mound and
batted cleanup in his first game as a Sun Devil. He struggled with wood
in the Alaska League in 2006 and in the Cape in 2007, when he cut his
summer short to have right wrist surgery. He returned to the mound as a
closer in 2008 and played first base to keep his arm fresh. He also
worked to incorporate his lower half more and was having a banner
season, leading the Sun Devils in the triple crown categories as well
as saves, before missing time with a ribcage injury. Davis has
excellent raw power, comparing to former ASU star Jeff Larish, but he's
a much better defender with a better swing and better pitch
recognition. Davis is above-average at first base and should be able to
play an outfield corner as well due to his plus arm; his below-average
speed could limit him to left.
Andrew Cashner, rhp, Texas Christian
20. Seattle Mariners
For a while, it appeared that the state of Texas
might get shut out of the draft's first round for the first time since
1977. That's unlikely to happen now, thanks to Cashner, the hottest
pitching prospect to come out of Angelina (Texas) JC since Clay
Buchholz. Cashner turned down opportunities last year to sign with the
Rockies (as a draft-and-follow) and the Cubs (as a 29th-rounder),
opting instead to transfer to Texas Christian. A starter at Angelina,
Cashner has excelled as a reliever for the Horned Frogs. No college
pitcher in this draft can match his consistent 96-98 mph velocity, the
product of outstanding whip in his 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame, and
overmatched opponents have hit just .104 against him. Cashner has
armside run on his fastball, and he backs it up with an 84-85 mph
slider that can be electric. The slider is much better than the
mediocre curveball he threw in the past, though it's not always
consistent. Neither is his command, which may prevent him from becoming
an effective starter, but some clubs are interested in returning him to
that role in pro ball. A team in love with radar-gun readings could
take Cashner as high as the middle of the first round.
Joshua Fields, rhp, Georgia
180. Age: 22.
21. Detroit Tigers
Following his sophomore year at Georgia, Fields
shined in the Cape Cod League, apparently setting him up for a high
draft selection in 2007. However, command of his mid-90s fastball and
low-80s breaking ball was too inconsistent during his junior season,
scaring teams away. The Braves drafted him in the second round, but
Fields opted not to sign and returned to Georgia for his senior season.
When he returned to Athens, so did his command, and he is now
considered the top closer in the country. He holds the Bulldogs' record
for career saves and had struck out close to two batters per inning
this season. His fastball still sits in the mid-90s, peaking at 98, and
his hard downer curveball comes in between 81-83 mph. Scouts are still
wary of command issues because his delivery is upright and has some
effort. When he misses, it's up in the zone due to not being able to
get over the rubber and finish his pitches. Also a concern is
durability because of his slight build. When he's on, though, Fields
has present major league stuff and the potential to be the first
pitcher from this draft to reach the major leagues.
Ryan Perry, rhp, Arizona
200. Age: 21.
22. New York Mets
Arizona coaches started getting excited about
Perry last spring, when his velocity jumped into the mid-90s, but they
had to wait on him after Perry was injured in a motorcycle accident,
falling onto his left (non-throwing) arm and breaking a bone. He
recovered in time to take the Cape Cod League by storm, pushing his
fastball up to 98 mph in the league all-star game and sitting at 94-96
as a starter with a loose arm action. He started his junior season high
on draft boards and in Arizona's rotation but got lit up early as a
starter. Scouts say Perry's fastball, while a plus-plus pitch for to
its velocity, lacks deception and hitters sit on it, especially when
he's starting and struggles to locate his offspeed stuff. When he's
going well, he adds a second plus pitch in a slider that one scout
compared to that of Phillies closer Brad Lidge. Perry's changeup shows
enough potential to make scouts consider him as a starter, but he's
been much more effective out of the bullpen. His fastball lacks life
and needs the extra velocity he gets out of the bullpen. He's still
expected to go in the first round, and most clubs figure to give him a
chance to start because his arm is so good.
Reese Havens, ss, South Carolina
195. Age: 21.
23. San Diego Padres
Coming off a strong showing in the Cape Cod
League last summer when he hit .314 with five home runs, Havens
positioned himself to be one of the top middle infielders in this draft
class. Steady and durable, Havens has been a fixture in the middle of
the diamond for the Gamecocks since his freshman year. His consistency
in always being in the lineup parallels his consistent improvement
offensively and defensively every season since arriving in Columbia.
Drafted out of high school by the Rockies in the 29th round, Havens has
improved his range, hands and agility and now has the defensive ability
and arm strength to stay at shortstop in the professional ranks. He
makes up for his lack of foot speed with proper routes to the ball and
advanced instincts. At the plate, Havens changed his hand position this
season, moving them lower to an unconventional location around the
bellybutton. Scouts have split opinions on his new batting style, but
he he has hit for better power and average and leads off for a strong
South Carolina lineup. He has great makeup and is a prototype "baseball
player" with all the intangibles.
Allan Dykstra, 1b/3b, Wake Forest
230. Age: 21.
24. Philadelphia Phillies
Dykstra adds to the long list of quality first
basemen in this draft, and at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he possibly has
the greatest raw power of the bunch. After leading the ACC with 18 home
runs as a freshman, Dykstra was the ACC rookie of the year in 2006 and
a Freshman All-American. Last summer, Dykstra was named a Cape Cod
League all-star after hitting .308 with five home runs. Due to his
size, Dykstra has an intimidating presence in the batter's box. Dykstra
has an advanced approach but at times can be overly patient. combined
with being on a Wake Forest team light on hitting, Dykstra is often
pitched around and has set the Demon Deacons' career and season walk
records. While blessed with superior lefthanded power, Dykstra has
hitting ability, but some scouts don't like the mechanics in his swing
or his tendency to dive out over the plate. He can be streaky and is at
times susceptible to inside pitches. Although he possesses an
above-average arm and experimented with playing third base this season,
Dykstra is a first base/DH only as a pro. He still has work to do to
become an average fielder. Dykstra was drafted in the 34th round of the
2005 draft by the Red Sox.
Anthony Hewitt, ss/of, Salisbury (Conn.) School
195. Age: 19.
25. Colorado Rockies
Hewitt is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward.
The risk starts with his signability: Any team that drafts Hewitt must
be prepared to open its wallet and buy the academic-minded Brooklyn
native-turned-Connecticut boarding school star out of a commitment to
Vanderbilt. There's also a huge risk that he simply won't hit in
professional ball: his raw bat was overmatched against quality pitching
on the showcase circuit last summer, and though he dominated vastly
inferior prep competition this spring, he still struggles to recognize
breaking balls and can get locked up at times by ordinary fastballs.
But then he'll crush a ball 450 feet and give scouts a glimpse of his
prodigious upside. Several scouts said he was second to Tim Beckham as
the best athlete at the East Coast showcase last summer, and he has
three legitimate above-average tools in his raw power, speed and arm
strength. His muscular 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame evokes Ron Gant, and
his work ethic and charisma stand out. Hewitt plays shortstop for
Salisbury, but his poor footwork, stiff actions and lack of instincts
will dictate a shift to third base or more likely the outfield, where
he has enough speed and arm strength for center or right. Hewitt has
generated mountains of buzz in the Northeast and could sneak into the
supplemental round or even the back of the first round if a club falls
in love with his potential enough to overlook his crudeness.
Christian Friedrich, lhp, Eastern Kentucky
210. Age: 20.
Part of a prospect-studded Falmouth rotation that
also included Aaron Crow and Shooter Hunt last summer, Friedrich struck
out Buster Posey, Jason Castro and Gordon Beckham in his final inning
in the Cape Cod League playoffs. Like Crow, Friedrich operated in the
mid-80s as an undrafted high school senior in the Chicago area before
blossoming in college. He now maintains solid-average 89-91 mph
velocity throughout a game and can touch 94, but his money pitch is an
over-the-top curveball with huge 12-to-6 break. Blisters have
periodically bothered Friedrich this spring, so he has been using his
slider more than he has in the past, and it has become a weapon at
80-82 mph. He also has a decent changeup that he'll need to incorporate
more often in pro ball. While Friedrich throws strikes and can command
his fastball to both sides of the plate, he sometimes leaves it up in
the zone. He gets away with a lot of those mistakes because his
deceptive delivery and the fear of his curveball allow his fastball to
get on hitters quickly. He doesn't have the ceiling of San Diego's
Brian Matusz, but Friedrich is clearly the second-best lefty available
in the draft.
26. Arizona Diamondbacks
Daniel Schlereth, lhp, Arizona
210. Age: 22.
27. Minnesota Twins
The son of former NFL offensive lineman and
current ESPN commentator Mark Schlereth, Daniel Schlereth was an
eighth-round pick last year as a draft-eligible sophomore, having
missed a year due to Tommy John surgery. Schlereth didn't sign and has
come back improved as part of a devastating Arizona bullpen with three
of the nation's best power arms. While teammate Ryan Perry figures to
be drafted higher this year (and sophomore closer Jason Stoffel should
go higher next year), Schlereth was making a case to go in the first
two rounds by showing improved command and stuff from 2007. Schlereth
finds the strike zone more consistently with his 90-94 mph fastball and
at times has more velocity, sometimes sitting 94-96. His power breaking
ball is a swing-and-miss pitch, and he's done a better job of throwing
it for strikes. After a failed bid as a starter earlier in his career,
Schlereth has shown the guts to challenge hitters with his stuff in a
relief role and could be the rare lefthanded closer as a pro. The
biggest question will be whether or not he can maintain his stuff while
improving his control. He'll never have command with the effort he puts
into his delivery, but he still doesn't throw as many quality strikes
as he'll need to at higher levels. He's expected to be drafted in the
first three rounds.
Carlos Gutierrez, rhp, Miami
205. Age: 21.
28. New York Yankees
A casualty to Tommy John surgery, Gutierrez
redshirted at Miami last season. He is back to form this season, and is
considered the top closer in the ACC. Pitching for one of the
top-ranked college teams in the country, Gutierrez has gotten plenty of
chances to show off his low-90s fastball. The pitch has late life with
heavy sink and Gutierrez commands it well, down in the zone, causing
hitters to swing over the top of it. He throws a slider on occasion but
it currently can't be considered average and he does have an arm recoil
that follows his delivery�both of which raise red flags. However, upon
developing and refinement of a second pitch, Gutierrez could be a fast
mover as his sinker is a current major league plus pitch. Gutierrez is
one of many quality college closers in this year's draft. He was not
drafted out of high school as he began playing baseball just before his
Gerrit Cole, rhp, Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High
200. Age: 17.
29. Cleveland Indians
Cole is the best righthander out of Southern
California since Phil Hughes starred at Santa Ana's Foothills High in
2004. Cole's four-seam fastball ranges from 93-96 mph, occasionally
peaking at 97-98. He adds a hard, late-breaking curve which shows bite,
tilt and depth. Cole used his changeup sparingly early in the season,
though he used it more later. Adding to Cole's considerable appeal to
scouts is his tall, lanky and projectable frame, which is nearly ideal
for a prep righthander. Scouts are split over whether Cole profiles as
a starter or closer. He maintains velocity and pitch movement deep into
games, but his inconsistent command and tendency to run up high pitch
counts may move him to the bullpen. Some scouts have compared him to
Mariners closer J.J. Putz. Cole does bring mechanical concerns. He
lands on a stiff front leg, and he recoils his arm during his
follow-through. Both hurt control and raise injury concerns.
Complicating the situation, Cole's adviser is the Scott Boras Corp.,
which may eliminate many clubs from consideration. Cole also hasn't
endeared himself to scouts or teammates with what one scout described
as his immature mound demeanor.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b, Pitt (N.C.) CC.
200. Age: 19.
30. Boston Red Sox
After being drafted out of high school in the
11th round of the 2006 draft, Chisenhall opted to attend South
Carolina, where his ability to hit was quickly noticed. He was
consistently placed third in a Gamecocks lineup filled with Reese
Havens, Justin Smoak and James Darnell and was considered one of the
top pure hitters in the country. However, at the beginning of
conference play, Chisenhall was arrested and charged with larceny,
leading to his immediate dismissal from the team. (He later pleaded
guilty to grand larceny and burglary and was sentenced to six months'
probation.) He resurfaced at Pitt, where he played this season, but
makeup issues from his past still follow him. On the field, Chisenhall
has rebuilt his reputation and is considered one of the best hitters in
this draft class. He possesses a fluid flat swing and a bat path that
stays in the zone, producing consistent line drive contact. His swing
is not conducive to above-average power, but Chisenhall does have
occasional juice. His defensive position is still a question mark.
Offensively, he profiles best at second base, but scouts question
whether he has the hands or range to stick in the middle of the
diamond. Whichever team drafts him will do so for the belief in his bat
and ability to overcome past transgressions.
Casey Kelly, ss/rhp, Sarasota (Fla.) HS.
A tremendous athlete with professional
bloodlines, Kelly is committed to play quarterback and shortstop at
Tennessee. He is the son of Pat Kelly, who played briefly in the big
leagues in 1980 and is a longtime minor league manager, and he is
fundamentally sound on the baseball field. His defensive actions are
advanced and he has the hands and arm strength to stay at shortstop
now. However, as he develops, Kelly may outgrow the position, leading
to a move to third base. At the plate, Kelly is somewhat raw and his
production is still a projection for scouts. He has raw power due to
his size and will need to improve his ability to make consistent
contact. While he prefers playing shortstop, many scouts like his
repertoire on the mound as much, if not better, than his skills as a
position player. With a fastball that sits in the low to mid-90s and
one of the nation's best hammer curveballs, Kelly is a safe pick in
that if he doesn't pan out in the field, he could be successful on the
mound. However, with his commitment to Tennessee and his desire to play
shortstop, signability could become an issue.