Scouting Reports: Lower New England

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There is little in the way of college talent in Connecticut and Rhode Island this year, but the high school crop more than makes up for it. It starts with Matt Harvey, of course–a rare bona fide blue-chipper in Connecticut–but there is decent depth as well. The class is particularly rich in catching, where Connecticut prepsters Curtis Casali, Robert Bono and Michael Bourdon all have intriguing upside. There are even a couple of quality college catchers in the region in Brown’s Devin Thomas and Rhode Island’s Zach Zaneski.

National Top 200

Matt Harvey
, rhp, Fitch HS, Groton,

Other Prospects Of

2. Curtis Casali, c, New Canaan (Conn.) HS
3. Jay Monti, rhp, Sacred Heart
4. Robert Bono, rhp/c, Waterford (Conn.) HS
5. Gary Gillheeney, rhp, Bishop Hendricken HS, Warwick, R.I.
6. Devin Thomas, c, Brown
7. Michael Bourdon, c, Northwest Catholic HS, West Hartford, Conn.
8. Jesse Hahn, rhp, Fitch HS, Groton, Conn.
9. Jeff Dietz, rhp, Brown
10. Max Russell, lhp, Amity HS, Woodbridge, Conn.
11. Greg Malley, rhp, Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, Conn.
12. Patrick Dean, lhp, Naugatuck (Conn.) HS
13. Mike Tarsi, lhp, Connecticut
14. Tim Binkoski, of, Quinnipiac
15. Rob Hallberg, rhp, Brown
16. Eric Larson, of, Rhode Island
17. Pat Egan, rhp, Quinnipiac
18. Dennis Donovan, ss, Connecticut
19. Randy Gress, 2b, Quinnipiac
20. Maxx Catapano, rhp, Fairfield (Conn.) Warde HS
21. Matt Greco, of, Staples HS, Westport, Conn.
22. Marc Sawyer, 1b, Yale
23. Zach Zaneski, c, Rhode Island
24. Chris Wietlispach, rhp, Yale
25. Rocco Gondek, c, Glastonbury (Conn.) HS


Matt Harvey1. Matt Harvey, rhp
(National rank:

Fitch HS, Groton, Conn. Class:
B-T: R-R.
Ht.: 6-4.
Wt.: 190.
Harvey pitched in the same Team USA rotation
with Blake Beavan, Michael Main and Jarrod Parker last summer. The
top-ranked high school prospect in the nation entering the 2007 season,
Harvey has been every bit as good as expected, even though the electric
Rick Porcello has passed him as the class of 2007’s top prep pitcher.
Harvey ran his fastball up to 94 mph in his first outing of the year,
though he struggled with his command in the cold weather. Since then,
his above-average, heavy fastball has sat in the 91-94 mph range all
season and touched 95, and his 74-76 mph power curveball has been a 65
pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale at times. He has also flashed a
promising 78-81 mph changeup. Harvey has a big, physical professional
body, but he has a tendency to be overly deliberate early in his
delivery. He then rushes to catch up, causing him to throw across his
body. But the North Carolina recruit is more likely to slide in the
draft because of his ties to agent Scott Boras than any mechanical

Backstops In Stock

New Canaan’s Curtis Casali
headlines a solid group of catchers. Casali, a Vanderbilt signee, has
the best catch-and-throw skills in New England, with a plus arm that
consistently produces 1.9-second pop times. Offensively, his raw power
rates a tick above-average, though some scouts say his bat is on the
slow side. A sixth- to eighth-round talent, Casali is almost certainly
headed to school.

Kyle Bono
is more mobile behind the plate than Casali, but he’s not as advanced
in any facet of the game. His arm is his best asset, and most scouts
like him better on the mound, where he runs his fastball into the 89-91
range and spins a decent breaking ball. But Bono, a baseball rat, wants
to catch. He has promise as a receiver, though his bat lags
considerably behind. He has some bat speed and line-drive power, but he
has a tentative approach and doesn’t trust his hands. He’s likely to
play both ways at Connecticut.

A third high school catcher, Michael Bourdon,
is one of the most intriguing sleepers in the region. An outstanding
football player who was recruited to play quarterback by mid-major
Division I schools, the 6-foot-4 Bourdon looks like Joe Mauer in a
uniform. Behind the plate, he’s a solid receiver with above-average arm
strength, though his footwork needs tweaking. He has raw power but
doesn’t know how to use it yet, and he’s likely to end up at Fairfield,
where he could develop into a solid pick in three years.

Brown’s Devin Thomas
is the top college catcher in the area. A switch-hitter with pop from
both sides of the plate, He set Brown single-season records for home
runs (16) and RBIs (64) this spring. He has always hit lefthanded
pitching well, but he’s improved against righties by learning to go to
the opposite field from the left side. A good athlete, Thomas runs the
60-yard dash in 6.75 seconds and is mobile behind the plate. His arm is
below-average, and he’s just an adequate receiver, but he’ll be a
senior draft in the 10th-20th-round range. Rhode Island’s Zach Zaneski lacks Thomas’ offensive ability but has a strong arm and decent receiving skills.

is the only player likely to go in the top five rounds in lower New
England, but there are other arms worth noting. The best is righthander
Jay Monti, who finished fourth
in Division I with a 1.34 ERA and threw a two-hit shutout against Notre
Dame in March. Everything Monti throws has sink, and though his 87-90
mph fastball is not overpowering, he never misses up in the zone. He
also gets plenty of hitters to flail at his slurvy breaking ball, which
he can throw from a variety of arm angles. Monti works fast and doesn’t
care about strikeouts–he just gets outs and wins. He lacks a true
average offering, but his outstanding feel for pitching makes up for
it. He could go near the 10th round.

Righty Jeff Dietz
was a two-way star for Brown this spring, but his future is on the
mound thanks to his arm strength and deception. He throws his fastball
in the 86-88 mph range from a sidearm slot, and he can run it up to 92
from over the top to give hitters a different look. He commands his
slider well and is tough on righthanded hitters. His Brown teammate,
closer Rob Hallberg, is the
brother of Astros minor league righty Bryan Hallberg, a 12th-round pick
out of Pace a year ago. Rob has good arm strength and has touched 93
mph this spring. He flashes a slider and uses a split-finger against
lefthanded hitters. UConn’s Mike Tarsi
is a 6-foot-8 lefthander with deception and a good downward plane. He
could add velocity to his 84-88 mph fastball if he can clean up his
sloppy delivery, and his curveball and changeup need refining but have
promise. His fastball, which touched the low 90s last fall, usually has
good sink and run, though he gets into trouble when he leaves it up in
the zone and it flattens out.

Righthander Gary Gillheeney,
the younger brother of North Carolina State freshman lefty Jimmy
Gillheeney, is the top player in Rhode Island. Projectable and
athletic, he pitches comfortably in the 88-90 mph range, and he flashes
a slider that has a chance to be above-average. His slow curveball is
below-average, and he rarely throws his changeup. Gillheeney needs to
work on repeating his delivery and improving his feel for pitching. His
signability is a question mark, as he might try to join his brother at
N.C. State.

Righthander Jesse Hahn,
Harvey’s teammate at Fitch, is skinny and projectable. He’ll flash an
occasional 90-91 mph fastball, but he runs out of gas quickly because
of his slight build. His curveball has some depth to it, and he has
feel for a changeup. A Virginia Tech signee, he could be drafted in the
10th-12th round. Righty Greg Malley,
a Harvard recruit, has been up to 88-91 mph with a promising hard
slider, but he’s raw and doesn’t maintain his velocity. An excellent
hockey player, Malley might play both sports for the Crimson. Lefty Max Russell
has a loose arm and a clean, smooth delivery. His 86-88 mph fastball
has good life, and he flashes a promising curveball. He could add
velocity as he fills out, but he compensates for a lack of velocity
with his competitiveness. Russell is headed to Division II Florida