Scouting Reports: Upper New England

***** One for the
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*** Solid, not
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An American League area scout summed up the talent in the three states of upper New England succinctly: “It’s a freakin’ abyss.”

Once you get past a small group of players at Division II Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College, there might not be another player who signs a professional contract out of the region, from the college or high school ranks. A year after New Hampshire lefthander Jeff Locke carried the prep class, there is not a single draftable high school prospect in Maine or New Hampshire. There’s just one high school player worth mentioning in Vermont, and he’s almost certainly heading to Clemson.

1. Keith Renaud, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
2. Steve Shepard, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
3. Brad Hertzler, lhp, Maine
4. Curt Smith, 3b, Maine
5. Scott Savastano, 3b/ss, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
6. Matt Anderson, c, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
7. Vinny Pennell, of, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
8. Casey Harman, lhp, South Burlington (Vt.) HS
9. Greg Norton, rhp, Maine
10. Brian Rembisz, rhp/2b, Vermont


The Franklin Mint

A year
after Franklin Pierce had five players drafted–three of them in the
top 12 rounds, led by fourth-round third baseman Garrett Olson–the
Ravens once again carry the banner for the college crop in upper New
England. Franklin Pierce head coach Jayson King is one of the most
respected coaches in the Northeast, and scouts rave about his ability
to recruit and develop talent.

Keith Renaud
is the latest quality arm to come through the Franklin Pierce pipeline.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Renaud (whose twin brother Kevin also plays for
the Ravens) is an accomplished college hitter (.359 with six homers
this spring), but his future is on the mound. He went 6-2, 3.00 with 84
strikeouts and 26 walks in 63 innings this spring. He has good command
of a 90-93 mph fastball and a 78-79 mph slider, and he’ll mix in an
average downer curveball and an occasional changeup. Renaud has a loose
arm and a simple, smooth delivery that is somewhat unusual for a
pitcher with his straight-over-the-top arm slot. He’s an excellent
athlete who fields his position well. Renaud’s frame lacks projection,
but he’s shown enough promise that he’s likely to be drafted in the top
eight to 10 rounds.

Righthander Steve Shepard
flashes even better stuff than Renaud, but he has struggled to command
it. As a result, he had an 8.35 ERA and a 17-18 strikeout-walk ratio in
18 innings. Still, a team is likely to draft him because of a fastball
that touches 96 mph and a projectable 6-foot-4 frame. He has a quick
arm but there is some effort to his delivery. Shepherd flashes an
interesting low-80s slider, but the pitch is below-average right now
because he can’t command it. He could be an interesting project,

Draft-eligible sophomore Scott Savastano
hit better than .400 as a freshman but broke his thumb at the beginning
of the spring, so scouts got limited looks at him. He’s got pop, speed
and arm strength, and he was hitting .371 through 62 at-bats. Savastano
could go in the top five rounds as a junior if a club doesn’t lure him
away this year. The Franklin Pierce contingent is rounded out by
catcher Matt Anderson, a defender with occasional pop, and senior outfielder Vinny Pennell,
a quality athlete and good baserunner who stole 27 bases in 30
attempts. Anderson could go in the top 20 rounds in a draft starved for
catching, and Pennell could be a solid late senior draft.

Maine third baseman Curt Smith
entered the year with momentum after a strong summer in the New England
Collegiate League, but he had a disappointing season and is likely to
be back for his senior year. Smith is a quality athlete who played
shortstop a year ago, but he lacks a true position because he doesn’t
have the range for short and doesn’t have enough power for third. His
hands work well in the field and at the plate, while he tends to hit
flat-footed, too spread out to generate any leverage.

Lefty Brad Hertzler,
the brother of Red Sox minor leaguer Barry, is a strong, short bulldog.
He commands his fringy 86-88 mph fastball well and gets plenty of outs
with his 82-83 cutter. He’s got some feel for a curveball and can throw
his changeup early in the count as a show pitch.

The region’s lone high schooler worth mentioning, Vermont lefty Casey Harman,
has dominated inferior competition with an 83-85 mph fastball and a
decent breaking ball. Harman is almost certainly headed to Clemson.