Scouting Reports: Michigan

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Michigan isn’t as empty as it was in 2006, when Western Michigan lefthander Dan O’Brien (eighth round, Blue Jays) was the state’s only selection in the first 15 rounds. But it still has been a disappointing spring because most of the college prospects have taken a step backward, especially a once-promising crop of sophomore-eligibles led by Michigan State catcher Kyle Day.

The University of Michigan upset Vanderbilt in the NCAA regionals, but the Wolverines’ most talented players (most notably, righthander Zach Putnam) won’t be eligible for the draft until 2009.

National Top 200

1. D.J. LeMahieu, 3b, Brother Rice HS, Bloomfield Hills,

Other Prospects Of

2. Josh Collmenter, rhp, Central Michigan
3. Dan Killian, c, Chippewa Hills HS, Remus, Mich.
4. Jeff Fischer, rhp, Eastern Michigan
5. Kyle Day, c/of, Michigan State
6. Ryan Sharpley, rhp, Marshall (Mich.) HS
7. Jeff Hehr, ss, Eastern Michigan
8. Doug Pickens, c/of, Michigan
9. Ryan LaMarre, of, Lumen Christi Catholic HS, Jackson, Mich.
10. Ben Humphrey, 1b, Central Michigan
11. Trevor Borsak, rhp, Henry Ford HS, Utica, Mich.
12. Tyler Stovall, of/c, Central Michigan
13. Jon Kessick, rhp, Lake Michigan CC (CONTROL: Braves)
14. Mark Sorensen, rhp, Michigan State
15. Andrew Hess, rhp, Michigan
16. Ben Jenzen, rhp, Michigan
17. Nate Recknagel, 1b, Michigan
18. Brandon Hubbard, 2b, Hillsdale (Mich.)
19. Garrett Stephens, 3b, Davison (Mich.) HS
20. Jeff Richard, rhp, Central Michigan


1. D.J. LeMahieu, 3b
(National rank:

Brother Rice HS, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
B-T: R-R.
Ht.: 6-4.
Wt.: 190.
LeMahieu’s calling card is his power potential,
as he uses his 6-foot-4 frame and uppercut stroke to launch balls great
distances. There’s still plenty of room to add strength on his
190-pound build, though he will have to cut down on his swing and do a
better job of staying back against better pitching. LeMahieu performed
well on the showcase circuit last summer but hasn’t dominated inferior
competition this spring. A high school shortstop with soft hands and a
strong arm, he’ll have to find a new position because he has
well-below-average speed. If he’s not quick enough to handle third
base, he’ll have to move to right field. LeMahieu figures to be a
higher pick in 2010 if he proves himself in three seasons at Louisiana
State than he’ll be this year, when teams are unlikely to meet his
second-round price

Collmenter Keeps Hitters Guessing

Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year Josh Collmenter
isn’t pretty, but he is creative. A 6-foot-4, 235-pound righthander
with a stiff body and an over-the-top delivery, he spent much of the
spring pitching at 85-88 mph before reaching the 90s more regularly
toward the end of the season. Velocity isn’t the key to his fastball,
as it misses bats because of its natural cutting action. Collmenter
also throws a big, looping curveball at 69-75 mph and a changeup that
he sometimes tips off by reducing his arm speed. He’s also been known
to mess with an eephus pitch and a knuckleball. Collmenter throws
strikes, changes speeds, competes hard and has a deceptive delivery,
all of which help him pitch above the level of his pure stuff. Scouts
don’t believe he has a consistently average pitch and wonder how his
package will play in the higher levels of pro ball, but he could go as
high as the fourth round to a club that believes in his feel for
pitching and track record.

Catcher Dan Killian’s
brother Billy was a Padres third-round pick in 2004 and his father Bill
is a part-time scout for the Reds. Some scouts preferred Killian to
D.J. LeMahieu until he missed much of the season while recuperating
from a meniscus tear in his knee. Killian has an athletic catcher’s
build (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) and a strong arm capable of producing
1.8-second pop times from his mitt to second base. He has bat speed and
plus power potential, and he runs well for a catcher. That said, there
are questions about his ability to make consistent contact and his
receiving skills. Some scouts think he’d have a brighter future on the
mound, where they project he’d throw 93-94 mph. A couple of teams are
high on Killian and he could sneak into the fourth or fifth round. He
has committed to Kentucky.

Righthander Jeff Fischer
was the MAC 2006 pitcher of the year, and scouts eagerly awaited his
matchup against Collmenter in early May. Collmenter got the best of him
that day, fanning 14 in a 10-0 victory, but the difference between the
two is minimal. Fischer has a better body (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) and a
more conventional arm slot, though he has a wrist wrap in his delivery.
His changeup is his best pitch, though he relies on it too much at
times and hitters sit on it late in games. Fischer’s fastball ranges
from 85-91 mph and he also throws a slider.

Three draft-eligible sophomores had a chance to get picked in the first five rounds, but Michigan State catcher Kyle Day and Central Michigan righthanders Jeff Richard and Chris Kupillas
didn’™t live up to their billing this spring. All were standouts in
summer leagues a year ago but suffered from draftitis in 2007. Day
became too pull-conscious, muting his power, and his receiving skills
regressed to the point where he wound up spending time in the outfield.

a combined 705 pounds, Collmenter, Richard (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) and
Kupillas (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) may have formed the heftiest weekend
rotation in college baseball. Richard could throw only one pitch (a
cutter) consistently for strikes while losing the velocity on his
fastball (down to 85-87 mph) and splitter. Kupillas, who led the Great
Lakes League with a 1.47 ERA last summer, made progress with his
curveball but lost the command and zip on his heater, which dipped to
84-86 mph. Both Richard and Kupillas touched the mid-90s last summer.

The state’s top prep pitching prospect, righthander Ryan Sharpley
has been too inconsistent to warrant a high enough draft pick to steer
him away from Notre Dame, where his brother Evan is a reserve first
baseman and quarterback. Sharpley is athletic and projectable at
6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, but he’s still raw. His fastball has sat at
88-89 mph after touching 93 in the past, and he’s still figuring out
how to throw strikes and spin a breaking ball.

Jeff Hehr
is an athletic shortstop and sound defender. Though he led Eastern
Michigan with nine homers, he batted just .299 and hit .240 as a
sophomore. Scouts aren’t convinced his swing is conducive to hitting
with wood bats, which will hurt him if his average arm and range lead
to a move to a less challenging defensive position.

Doug Pickens
was Michigan’s 2004 high school player of the year as a catcher, and he
returned behind the plate this spring after two years as an
outfielder/second baseman for the Wolverines. Staying at catcher will
be crucial for Pickens in pro ball, because he lacks the home run power
to start on an outfield corner. He has more of a line-drive approach.
Pickens has a strong arm, though his exchange and footwork are still
rusty after his two-year hiatus from catching.

Ryan LaMarre
is one of the best all-around athletes in the state. He’s a linebacker
who won a state football championship as a sophomore, and a center who
had offers to play junior hockey. As a pitcher, he threw two no-hitters
this spring. But his future is brightest as an outfielder. He’s a
6-foot-2, 190-pounder with plus speed and power potential. He’s
ticketed for Michigan.

First baseman Ben Humphrey
went undrafted last June after setting a school record with 72 RBIs in
his first season at Central Michigan, but he’ll get a chance as a
senior sign this time around. The former Olney (Ill.) Community College
slugger has a powerful 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame and enough bat speed
to catch up to good fastballs. He tends to get pull-happy.

The Great Lakes League pitcher of the year last summer, righthander Mark Sorensen
was at his best in a game against Pittsburgh on Michigan State’s spring
trip to Florida. A crowd of scouts saw him throw three plus pitches in
a 91-94 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup. The son of former big
league all-star Lary Sorensen, he pitched just 11 innings this spring
before coming down with shoulder problems. He has avoided surgery and
may be taken as a summer follow by a team that will monitor him in the
Northwoods League.