Scouting Reports: Ohio

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Ohio can’t quite match its production from a year ago, when six of its
players went in the first three rounds, including supplemental
first-rounder Emmanuel Burriss (Giants) and Joe Smith, who already has
reached the majors with the Mets. But the Buckeye State isn’t lacking
for talent, with a nice mix of pitchers and position players,
collegians and high schoolers. Righthander Chris Carpenter should
follow Burriss and give Kent State a supplemental first-rounder for the
second straight year.

National Top 200

1. Chris
Carpenter, rhp, Kent State
2. Scott Moviel, rhp, St. Edward HS, Berea,
3. John Ely, rhp, Miami
4. Connor Graham, rhp, Miami
5. Cory Luebke, lhp, Ohio

Other Prospects Of

6. Derek Dietrich, 3b/rhp, St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland
7. Devon Torrence, of, Canton (Ohio) South HS
8. Matt Angle, of, Ohio State
9. Robert Maddox, 1b/lhp, Villa Angela-St. Joseph High, Cleveland
10. Eric Fryer, c, Ohio State
11. Ben Klafczynski, of, Highland HS, Granger Township, Ohio
12. A.J. Achter, rhp, Clay HS, Oregon, Ohio
13. John Baird, rhp, Cincinnati
14. Jake Hale, rhp, Ohio State
15. Scott Boley, 3b, Toledo
16. Brooks Mohr, rhp, Elida (Ohio) HS
17. Justin Gill, rhp, Canton (Ohio) South HS
18. Drew Hoisington, of, Toledo
19. Ross Oeder, ss, Wright State
20. Andrew Davis, 3b, Kent State
21. Dustin Lacy, rhp, Sinclair (Ohio) CC
22. Nick Johnson, rhp, St. John’s HS, Delphos, Ohio
23. Justin Schultheiss, rhp, Hamilton (Ohio) HS
24. Kyle Hallock, lhp, Perkins HS, Sandusky, Ohio
25. Kurt Davidson, c/1b, Akron
26. Tom Belza, ss, Moeller HS, Cincinnati
27. Michael Jefferson, lhp, Clermont Northeast HS, Batavia, Ohio
28. Lou Coppola, rhp, Poland (Ohio) Seminary HS
29. Robert Stegbauer, rhp, Lynchburg-Clay HS, South Lynchburg, Ohio
30. Tony Campana, of, Cincinnati
31. Tyler Johnson, rhp, Bowling Green State
32. Jordan Wolf, c, Xavier
33. Neall French, 1b/c, Cincinnati
34. Josh Hula, c, Miami (Ohio)
35. Tyler Burgoon, c, Defiance (Ohio) HS


1. Chris Carpenter,
rhp (National rank:

Kent State. Class:
B-T: R-R.
Ht.: 6-4.
Wt.: 210.
In a draft short on attractive college
righthanders, Carpenter was surging up draft boards. The
highest-drafted pitcher (seventh round, Tigers) from the 2004 draft
who’s still in college baseball, he has made a strong comeback from a
pair of elbow operations. He blew out his elbow throwing a 93 mph
fastball as a freshman, requiring Tommy John surgery in May 2005, and
had scar tissue cleaned out of the joint last June after missing the
2006 season. He sat out the fall and eased back into the Kent State
rotation this spring, delivering his two strongest outings in his last
two starts of the regular season. Carpenter pitched from 93-97 mph with
a lively fastball and hit 96 mph as late as the sixth inning. He also
flashed a quality curveball and showed feel for a changeup. His command
and secondary pitches are inconsistent, though that’s to be expected
from someone who has pitched 30 innings over the last two seasons. The
effort required to come back from Tommy John surgery has brought out
the best in Carpenter, who previously cruised on his natural talent. He
works harder and is in much better shape than he was as a freshman,
tightening up his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Carpenter had pitched his
way into the sandwich round and could sneak into the first round, with
the Giants (who have multiple early picks) showing the most interest in
him. Though he’s a draft-eligible sophomore, he shouldn’t be difficult
to sign.

2. Scott Moviel, rhp
(National rank:

St. Edward HS, Berea, Ohio. Class:
B-T: R-R.
Ht.: 6-10.
Wt.: 245.
The Andrew Brackman comparisons are obvious.
Product of an Ohio high school? Check. Signed to play in college at
North Carolina State? Check. Huge body that has scouts dreaming of a
monster frontline starter? Check. Unlike Brackman, Moviel doesn’t have
a basketball scholarship, but he has played the sport in high school.
He’s an intimidating 6-foot-10 and 245 pounds and athletic for his
size. He has a 91-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94, and he has
tightened up a curveball that was loopy a year ago. Brackman had
similar stuff when he came out of Cincinnati’s Moeller High three years
ago, though his breaking ball was better. As with any large pitcher,
there are concerns as to how well Moviel will repeat his delivery and
command his pitches. His mechanics don’t have any major flaws, though
he could do a better job of staying on top of his pitches. Because his
older brothers Paul (in the Devil Rays system) and Greg (in the
Mariners organization) went backward in college, Moviel is considered
signable, especially if he goes in the top three rounds as

3. John Ely, rhp
(National rank:

Miami (Ohio). Class:
B-T: R-R.
Ht.: 6-1.
Wt.: 190.
Ely can’t fill out a uniform or light up a radar
gun as well as his Miami teammate Connor Graham can, but he has
outperformed Graham in college and in the Cape Cod League and has a
better chance to be a major league starter. Ely is just 6-foot-1 and
190 pounds, and he has a head jerk in his maximum-effort delivery. His
stuff is hard to argue with, however. His 89-94 mph fastball and his
vastly improved changeup both qualify as plus pitches, and his curve is
an average offering. Though he lacks smooth mechanics, he throws
strikes and has a resilient arm that never has given him problems. His
delivery also gives him deception that makes him harder to hit. Ely
also is an intense competitor who helped his cause by pitching a
complete-game seven-hitter at Texas in
March. Though Graham scores better in what the NFL would call
“measurables,” Ely should get drafted slightly ahead of him, probably
in the second

4. Connor Graham,
rhp (National rank:

Miami (Ohio). Class:
B-T: R-R.
Ht.: 6-6.
Wt.: 223.
For the second straight year, Miami (Ohio)
should have two pitchers selected in the first three rounds. In 2006,
the White Sox took Matt Long in the second round and the Rockies
grabbed Keith Weiser in the third. This June, John Ely and Graham will
go in about the same territory. On the right day, Graham can look like
a first-rounder. He’s 6-foot-6 and 233 pounds, and he can show a 94-96
mph fastball and a swing-and-miss slider. He usually works at 92-93 and
his slider is inconsistent, and most scouts think his stuff will play
up if he’s a reliever, his full-time role as a freshman. His fastball
could creep into the high 90s if he comes out of the bullpen. His third
pitch is a splitter that he uses as a change of pace, but hitters know
Graham is mostly coming at them with hard stuff. He still needs polish,
as he could do a better job with his secondary pitches, command and
conditioning. He’s not soft, but he’s not as tenacious as

5. Cory Luebke, lhp
(National rank:

Ohio State. Class:
B-T: R-L.
Ht.: 6-3.
Wt.: 195.
Thrust into Ohio State’s No. 1 starter role
after Dan DeLucia succumbed to elbow surgery, Luebke has responded by
leading the Big 10 Conference with a 1.95 regular-season ERA–nearly a
run better than his closest competitor, Penn State’s Craig Clark at
2.79. Scouts have been interested in the athletic lefthander since he
was in high school, but Luebke was intent on becoming a Buckeye.
Draft-eligible as a sophomore a year ago, Luebke turned down the
Rangers as a 22nd-rounder and instead spent the summer turning in a
solid performance in the Cape Cod League. He doesn’t have overwhelming
stuff, but his 88-91 mph fastball and slider are good enough,
especially because the throws strikes and competes. He has done a
better job locating his pitches as a junior, and there’s still
projection in his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Luebke could go as high as
the third round to a club seeking a polished college

Top Position Player May Be Better On Mound

The best position prospect in Ohio is Derek Dietrich, a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder who offers lefthanded power and arm strength. He has been productive on the showcase circuit and hit an opposite-field home run at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer. However, some scouts actually prefer Dietrich on the mound, where he has shown a 91-94 mph fastball and the ability to spin a breaking ball. Those in that camp think he swings and misses too much against quality pitching and believe that his well below-average speed may eventually land him at first base rather than at the hot corner. With crosscheckers and scouting directors on hand to watch him against Scott Moviel, Dietrich didn’t help his cause by leaving the game with a cut finger. He could go as high as the third round of the draft, though that wouldn’t represent a consensus opinion of his true worth. The grandson of former big leaguer Steve Demeter, Dietrich has committed to Georgia Tech.

Devon Torrence is one of the nation’s top defensive back recruits and has a football scholarship from Ohio State, but he may be signable if he goes as high as the third to fifth round. He’s a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and there’s no question he’s the best Ohio athlete in this draft. His football instincts are ahead of his baseball instincts, though he did hit 14 homers as sophomore two years ago. He has gotten homer-happy since and will need to refine his approach. While he’ll need time to develop, his only below-average tool is his arm. Torrence’s younger brother Devoe, who already has verbally committed to the Buckeyes, is a premier running back prospects in the 2008 high school class.

Matt Angle is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, and he plays the little man’s game well. He focuses on getting on base, isn’t afraid to do so via the bunt and uses his plus speed well on the basepaths. He uses his hands well in his swing and even has some gap power. He’s a quality center fielder with a very good arm for his position. Angel helped himself by hitting .292 in the Cape Cod League last summer, finishing eighth in the batting race.

Scouts are split on whether Robert Maddox has a better future as a first baseman or as a lefthanded pitcher. As a position player, he has a pretty lefthanded swing and plays a good first base. He also runs well enough that playing the outfield may be a possibility. On the mound, he can pitch in the high 80s. He’s raw in all phases of the game, and has the chance to be a better pick after spending three years at Ohio.

Eric Fryer is one of the most athletic catchers in college baseball, a 6-foot-2, 215-pounder with average speed and arm strength to go with solid gap power. He also has the leadership skills teams want in a catcher. The biggest question with Fryer is his bat. He has a short swing, but he also employs a toe tap and needs a better trigger for his load. A club that believes he can make the necessary adjustments could pop him as early as the fifth round.

Kent State Has More Flashy Recruits

After putting together a banner recruiting class in 2006, Kent State once again has commitments from several of Ohio’s top players. Outfielder Ben Klafczynski is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound athlete with plus power potential and arm strength. He’s not quite ready for pro ball but could be a early-round pick after three years of college. Righthander Justin Gill is a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder who showed an 88-90 mph fastball and a good slider as a sophomore. He broke his foot playing basketball as a junior, but his stuff came back this spring. Lefthander Kyle Hallock is polished for a high schooler, throwing four pitches for strikes and pitching at 85-88 mph with his fastball. He also has lettered in basketball, football and golf and tied a Perkins High record by scoring 40 points in a hoops game.

Righthander A.J. Achter is another multisport athlete, starring in basketball and football as well as baseball. He’s very projectable at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, he’s a sinker-slider pitcher who operates at 86-89 mph. He has signed with Michigan State. His father Rod, who’s also his football coach at Clay High, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and played in the Canadian Football League as a wide receiver.

Righthander John Baird led the Great Lakes League with a 0.97 ERA last summer, but that figure ballooned to 6.44 in his first season at Cincinnati. Baird, who began his college career at Dayton and then spent a season at Birmingham-Southern before that program dropped out of NCAA Division I, still shows a lively low-90s fastball but has trouble controlling it. His slider wasn’t as good as it was last summer and he quickly lost his confidence. Baird’s best outing of the year was a complete-game win over Connecticut, which attracted a lot of scouts to his next start against Villanova–in which he hit the first three batters of the game.

Righthander Jake Hale led Ohio State with 10 saves and completed three of his four starts at the end of the season. His projectable 6-foot-7, 200-pound frame is his best attribute, and he pitches with an 88-89 mph fastball and a Frisbee slider. A draft-eligible sophomore, he’s not considered signable for less than third-round money.

Toledo has two of the best position players in Ohio. Third baseman Scott Boley has a pro body at 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds, along with power and arm strength. He missed last summer after knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Drew Hoisington led the Mid-American Conference with 12 homers, doubling his combined total from his first two seasons. He’s a center fielder with solid speed.

Righthander Brooks Mohr is an athletic 6-foot-4, 195-pounder who’s more of a thrower than a pitcher right now. He has touched 94 mph with his fastball from a high three-quarters arm slot, though he pitched mostly in the high 80s this spring. He’s still working on his command and secondary pitches. Committed to Bowling Green State, he also earned all-state football honors as a punter.

Ross Oeder is just 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, but he plays big. The Horizon League’s 2006 tournament MVP and 2007 player of the year, he hit .408 as a senior. He doesn’t have outstanding tools, but he gets on base, has good instincts on the basepaths and is a surehanded fielder. His grit will earn him the chance to play pro ball, though he’ll likely move from shortstop to second base.

In his first season at Cincinnati after transferring from UNC Asheville, outfielder Tony Campana ranked second in NCAA Division I with 60 steals in 74 attempts. He has plus-plus speed but is seen as more of a senior sign for 2008. At 5-foot-7 and 144 pounds, he’ll have to get stronger.

While Chris Carpenter returned from injury, another of the state’s best college arms didn’t pitch in 2007. Akron righthander Tom Farmer was a Cape Cod League all-star last summer, when he showed an 88-91 mph fastball and promising breaking stuff. He had offseason shoulder surgery and a planned April return to the round never materialized. Farmer could have gone in the first five rounds if healthy.

Ohio State lefthander Dan DeLucia, who led the Big Ten Conference with 10 wins in 2006, would have been a solid senior sign had he not succumbed to elbow surgery in April. Though he’s 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he’s a finesse pitcher rather than a power guy. His curveball is his best pitch, and his fastball sits at 84-87 mph.