|THIS YEAR’S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
It’s not a great year for Texas prospects, and the college depth is thinner than usual. Nevertheless, the Lone Star State will be its usual factor on draft day with three college players who should go in the first 20 picks–Houston righthander Brad Lincoln, Texas outfielder Drew Stubbs and Texas righty Kyle McCulloch–an independent leaguer who should as well (righty Luke Hochevar), and the two best high school prospects in the nation (lefty Clayton Kershaw and righthander/shortstop Kyle Drabek). Righthanders Casey Beck (San Jacinto) and Jess Todd (Navarro) are two of the best junior college prospects in the draft whose rights aren’t controlled by major league clubs.
|National Top 200 Prospects
1. Brad Lincoln, rhp, Houston
2. Clayton Kershaw, lhp, Highland Park HS, Dallas
3. Luke Hochevar, rhp, Fort Worth Cats (American Association)
4. Drew Stubbs, of, Texas
5. Kyle Drabek, rhp/ss, The Woodlands HS
6. Kyle McCulloch, rhp, Texas
7. Jordan Walden, rhp, Mansfield HS
8. Aaron Miller, of/lhp, Channelview HS
9. Dustin Dickerson, 3b, Midway HS, McGregor
10. Zach Britton, lhp, Weatherford HS
11. Brandon Belt, lhp, Hudson HS, Lufkin
12. Matt Sulentic, of, Hillcrest HS, Dallas
13. Nathan Karns, rhp, Martin HS, Arlington
14. Casey Beck, rhp, San Jacinto JC
15. Jess Todd, rhp, Navarro JC
16. Jordan Craft, rhp, Dallas Baptist
17. Brad Furnish, lhp, Texas Christian
18. Kevin Angelle, lhp, Bridge City HS
19. Russ Moldenhauer, 3b, Boerne HS
20. Jeremy Barfield, of, Klein HS, Spring
21. Cory Van Allen, lhp, Baylor
22. Eddie Degerman, rhp, Rice
23. Preston Claiborne, rhp/3b, Newman Smith HS, Carrollton
24. Nick Papasan, ss, Granbury HS
25. Josh Rodriguez, 3b, Rice
26. Chad Huffman, 1b/2b, Texas Christian
27. Steve Macfarland, rhp, Lamar
|Other Players Of Note
28. Austin Creps, rhp, Texas A&M
29. Tyler Henley, of, Rice
30. Kendall Volz, rhp, Smithson Valley HS, Bulverde
31. Drew Holder, of, Dallas Baptist
32. Aaron Baker, 1b, Denton HS
33. Randy Boone, rhp, Texas
34. Jeff Mandel, rhp, Baylor
35. John Touchston, rhp, Kingwood HS
36. Taylor Rogers, rhp, McNeil HS, Austin
37. Dustin Richardson, lhp, Texas Tech
38. Carson Kainer, of, Texas
39. Chris Davis, 1b/rhp, Navarro JC (CONTROL: Angels)
40. Teddy Hubbard, rhp, Hooks HS
41. Jordan Chambless, rhp, Texas A&M
42. Seth Fortenberry, of, Baylor
43. Brandon Hicks, ss, San Jacinto JC
44. Ryan LaMotta, rhp, Baylor
45. Ricky Ibarz, lhp, Texas-Pan American
46. Brian Steinocher, rhp, Stephen F. Austin State
47. Zach Oliver, lhp, Paris JC (CONTROL: Braves)
48. Josey Parker, rhp/3b, Panola JC
49. Stephen Hill, c, Stephen F. Austin State
50. Adam Moore, c, Texas-Arlington
51. Zach Dillon, c, Baylor
52. Brandt Walker, rhp, St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, Austin
53. Keith Conlon, of, Texas Christian
54. David Wood, of/lhp, Texas State
55. Cody Montgomery, ss, Dallas Baptist
56. Mike McKennon, of, Texas-San Antonio
57. Matt Weston, of, Houston
58. Josh Tomlin, rhp, Texas Tech
59. Elionel Diaz, rhp, Texarkana JC (CONTROL: Devil Rays)
60. Chase Vacek, rhp, Angelo State
61. Zachary Harwood, rhp, Port Neches Groves HS, Orange
62. Scott Migl, rhp, St. Pius X HS, Houston
63. Norm Wittkamp, rhp, Clear Creek HS, League City
64. Adrian Alaniz, rhp, Texas
65. William Delage, lhp, Lamar
66. James Russell, lhp, Navarro JC (CONTROL: Mariners)
67. Ryan Jenkins, rhp, Cypress Falls HS, Houston
68. Brad Depoy, rhp, San Jacinto JC (CONTROL: Cubs)
69. Jon Edwards, of, Keller HS
70. Kevin Cravey, rhp, Klein Oak HS, Spring
71. Justin Walker, 3b/rhp, Highland Park HS, Dallas
72. Blake Williams, rhp, Sweeney HS
73. Greg Buchanan, 2b, Rice
74. Jimmy Bailey, ss, Mary Carroll HS, Corpus Christi
75. Shane Minks, rhp, Columbia HS, West Columbia
76. Donald Williams, rhp, Newman Smith HS, Carrollton
77. Clayton Ehlert, rhp, Little Cypress-Mauriceville HS, Orange
78. Drew Zizinia, rhp, Bellaire HS, Houston
79. Brad Cuthbertson, rhp, Midland JC (CONTROL: Giants)
80. Jeremy Goldschmeding, 3b, Dallas Baptist
81. Clint Stubbs, of, Atlanta HS
82. Abel Gonzales, lhp, St. Thomas HS, Houston
83. Bryce Cox, rhp, Rice
84. Craig Crow, rhp, Rice
85. Gary Campfield, rhp, Navarro JC
86. Austin Goolsby, c, Coppell HS
87. Willie Kempf, rhp, Medina Valley HS, Castroville
88. Ryan Berry, rhp, Humble HS
89. Derrick Gordon, lhp, Lamar
90. Brody Greene, ss, Bullard HS
91. Donte Bean, of, North Garland HS, Garland
92. Mitch Nelson, lhp, Tomball HS, Magnolia
93. Scott Schafer, rhp, Pasadena Memorial HS, Pasadena
94. Darby Brown, 1b, Howard JC (CONTROL: Reds)
95. Louie Alamia, of, Texas-Pan American
96. Kyle Lusson, of, McCallum HS, Austin
97. Kevin Gonzalez, c, Mayde Creek HS, Sugar Land
98. Cody Fuller, of, Smithson Valley HS, Bulverde
99. Isa Garcia, 2b, Houston
100. Brent Allar, rhp, Texas Christian
1. Brad Lincoln, rhp (National rank: 3)
School: Houston. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Clute, Texas
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 5/25/85.
Scouting Report: Always a talented two-way player, Lincoln began building momentum as a possible 2006 first-rounder with a breakout performance in the Cape Cod League last summer. He has continued improving and made himself a candidate to go to the Royals with the No. 1 overall pick. Lincoln raised his arm slot while on the Cape and became more confident challenging hitters. He’s throwing more downhill, making his size (6 feet) less of an issue, and locating his pitches better in the strike zone. He sits at 91-93 mph with good life on his fastball, touches 95-96 most games and has peaked at 98. He holds that velocity throughout games. His curveball is equally as impressive, and he can throw it for strikes or break it out of the zone as a chase pitch. He also shows feel for a changeup that’s close to an average pitch already. Lincoln is close to big league ready and his competitive makeup means he’ll get everything out of his considerable ability. A lefthanded hitter with power to all fields, Lincoln led the Cougars in RBIs as a first baseman/DH. He conceivably could move to third base or the outfield as a pro, but he’s too good on the mound to consider that option.
2. Clayton Kershaw, lhp(National rank: 6)
School: Highland Park HS. Class: Sr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 3/19/88.
Scouting Report: The draft’s best high school prospect, Kershaw projected as only a second- or third-round pick before blossoming as a senior. He had gotten exposure as a member of the USA Baseball national junior team and had a solid fastball for a lefthander at 88-92 mph. Now he has grown into his strong, athletic 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, and his stuff has taken a leap. He has pitched at 90-96 mph all spring while continuing to pound the bottom of the strike zone. His curveball has improved even more than his fastball and now ranks a legitimate second plus pitch. He also has done a better job of repeating his delivery, giving him more control and command. Kershaw has dominated every time out, striking out 18 in Highland Park’s district opener and breaking the school’s career record for victories by earning No. 32 in his next outing. The only blip came when he strained an oblique muscle in his regular-season finale, knocking him out of the first round of the playoffs. The injury won’t affect his draft status-he could go as high as No. 6 overall to the Tigers-and he was expected to return to action in the second round of the playoffs.
3. Luke Hochevar, rhp(National rank: 8)
School: None. Class: —
Hometown: Fowler, Colo.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 198. Birthdate: 9/15/83.
Scouting Report: Rated the second-best college starter in the 2005 draft, Hochevar tied for the NCAA Division I lead with 15 wins and led Tennessee to the College World Series. He was a candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Diamondbacks, but his signability dropped him to the Dodgers at No. 40. On Labor Day weekend, Hochevar switched agents from Scott Boras to Matt Sosnick and agreed to a $2.98 million bonus. Then he switched back to Boras, reneged on the deal and accused the Dodgers of trying to force him into a bad deal. Aiming to re-establish his worth for the 2006 draft, Hochevar has joined the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association. His first two starts drew a flock of scouts, and he lit up the radar guns from 90-97 mph with his fastball. Hochevar also showed his mid-80s slider, and he can turn to a curveball and changeup. His command isn’t as sharp and his stuff starts to drop by the fourth inning, both products of his long layoff. He has had trouble repeating his delivery, but overall he has looked just as he did early in 2005. The Dodgers still control his rights through May 29, but it’s unlikely they can sign him to a deal in which both sides could come out as winners.
4. Drew Stubbs, of(National rank: 11)
School: Texas. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Atlanta, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 201. Birthdate: 10/4/84.
Scouting Report: Stubbs was considered a borderline first-round talent coming out of high school in 2003. He would have signed with the Astros for $900,000 as a third-rounder if Major League Baseball hadn’t persuaded Houston owner Drayton McLane not to exceed its bonus recommendation. Had he turned pro then, scouts wouldn’t have to fret over his bat now. The best athlete in college baseball, Stubbs is a potential Gold Glove center fielder with plus raw power, plus-plus speed and an average arm. Though he has improved his approach and is using the whole field more as a junior, scouts believe his bat is far from a sure thing. He has struck out roughly once a game throughout his Longhorns career, and his contact rate hasn’t improved this spring. He also hit a soft .304 with wood bats while on Team USA last summer. He still ranks second behind only Evan Longoria among position prospects in 2006. In last year’s draft, which was much deeper in hitters, Stubbs would have lasted until the late first round. But with a scarcity of position players this year, he could go as high as No. 6 overall to the Tigers and probably won’t get past the top 10 picks.
5. Kyle Drabek, rhp/ss(National rank: 12)
School: The Woodlands HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: The Woodlands, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 12/8/87.
Scouting Report: There may not be a more gifted player than Drabek in this draft, but he also comes with makeup concerns. On the mound, he shows better stuff than his father, former Cy Young Award winner Doug. Though he’s 5-foot-11, he has the arm speed to deliver 94-95 mph fastballs and top out at 97. His best pitch may be his 78-82 mph spike curveball, which is all but unhittable. The lone knock on the pitch is that he relies on it too much. “He has as good an arm as anyone,” an American League scouting director said. “When his fastball and curve are on, he has the best two-pitch combination in the draft.” Drabek has a decent slider and feel for a changeup, though he rarely needs to use either at this point. He finishes a bit upright in his delivery, but his mechanics are otherwise sound and the ball comes out of his hand easily. He could also make a case for being the best high school position player in the draft, as he’s a comparable hitter to New Jersey’s Bill Rowell and would have a better shot at playing shortstop as a pro. Yet some teams are backing away from Drabek. He’s high-strung on the field, and there are off-field issues as well, but he’ll still go in the middle of the first round.
6. Kyle McCulloch, rhp(National rank: 16)
School: Texas. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 3/20/85.
Scouting Report: McCulloch’s stuff isn’t as sexy as the pitchers ahead of him on this list, though he’s a better bet to reach his ceiling as a No. 3 or 4 starter than most. “He’s a safe pick,” a regional crosschecker said. “You know he’s a big leaguer. Maybe you get Brad Radke out of him.” The Longhorns initially signed McCulloch as a shortstop out of Houston power Bellaire High, where he played both ways but first emerged as an infielder. He’s a good athlete for a pitcher and quite consistent. McCulloch’s velocity has been down a little this year, as his fastball has sat at 88-90 mph, compared to 89-92 in 2005, when he won the deciding game of the College World Series. His best pitch is his plus changeup, and both his curveball and solid are effective if not spectacular. Early in the spring, he struggled when he relied too heavily on his secondary stuff, but righted himself when he returned to working off his fastball. Besides winning at premier high school and college programs, McCulloch also has proven himself against top summer competition. He held his own as a reliever in the Cape Cod League in 2004 and tied for the Team USA college team lead with four victories in 2005.
7. Jordan Walden, rhp(National rank: 25)
School: Mansfield HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Mansfield, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 230. Birthdate: 11/16/87.
Scouting Report: Walden entered 2006 as Baseball America’s top-rated high school prospect on the strength of his performance last summer, when he touched 99 mph with his fastball in a Connie Mack game and was named the best pitching prospect at the Aflac All-American game. He hasn’t been as spectacular this spring, pitching at 91-94 mph and topping out at 96. On his good days, Walden inspires visions of a big, tall pitcher who could have three plus offerings. His ability to repeat his mechanics fluctuates, as does his command and the quality of his curveball. He has good rotation on his curve but needs to throw it with more power. His changeup has improved and he has good feel for it. A matchup with projected second-round pick Zach Britton drew a horde of scouts, but Walden pitched at just 85-88 mph due to a groin injury. He did rebound to throw 92-93 mph in his next outing, so his draft status is secure. He doesn’t hold his velocity as well or have as much polish as fellow Texas prep pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Kyle Drabek. Walden should go no lower than the second round, making it unlikely he’ll follow through on a scholarship to Texas.
8. Aaron Miller, of/lhp(National rank: 43)
School: Channelview HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Channelview, Texas
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 9/18/87.
Scouting Report: Miller emerged as a pitching prospect as a sophomore two years ago, when he threw 90-91 mph. Because teams have looked at him on the mound for so long he hasn’t quite gotten his due as a hitter, but that’s where his future lies. Miller can become a solid big league right fielder in the mold of Paul O’Neill. He has a pretty lefthanded stroke that should produce both power and average. He’s still a little pull-conscious, leaving him vulnerable to pitches on the outer part of the plate, though he’s learning to use the whole field better. His speed and defense are fine, and his arm strength is a plus. Miller still likes to pitch, but he works more at 86-88 mph now and his curveball is inconsistent. His body is mature, so there isn’t much projection left. A top student who finished second in his high school class, Miller has a strong commitment to Baylor. It will take first-round money to sign him, and a handful of teams will consider meeting his price.
9. Dustin Dickerson, 3b(National rank: 54)
School: Midway HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: McGregor, Texas
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 9/30/87.
Scouting Report: One of the top high school hitters in Texas this spring, Dickerson should go off the board somewhere between the second and fourth rounds. He incorporates his hands well into his swing and employs a sound whole-field approach. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, he offers plenty of strength and raw power. He also has displayed an aptitude for making adjustments at the plate. While Dickerson isn’t one-dimensional, he’ll be drafted mainly for his bat. He has good athleticism and speed for his size, and he played wide receiver on Midway High’s district champion football team. But he has just adequate arm strength and glovework at third base, so he might move to an outfield corner or first base down the road. He’s a good student committed to Baylor, but he should sign if he gets drafted as high as expected.
10. Zach Britton, lhp(National rank: 59)
School: Weatherford HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Weatherford, Texas
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 12/22/87.
Scouting Report: Clayton Kershaw isn’t the only Texas high school lefthander who has shot up the charts this spring. After sitting at 86-87 mph in 2005, Britton’s fastball shot up to 92-93 for much of this spring. He further helped his cause by outpitching the more ballyhooed Jordan Walden when scouts swarmed to their matchup in early April. Britton’s velocity has tailed off slightly this spring, but his arm works well and he’ll have a consistent plus fastball once he fills out. There’s plenty of room to add strength to his athletic 6-foot-3, 180 pound frame. As he matures physically, he should add power to his curveball, which should become a solid-average pitch once he learns to stay on top of it better. Walden’s delivery isn’t deceptive, so refining a changeup to keep righthanders off balance will be important. Texas A&M did a nice job of identifying Britton’s potential, but he started to achieve it so quickly that it’s now unlikely he’ll turn down pro ball for college.
11. Brandon Belt, lhp(National rank: 67)
School: Hudson HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Lufkin, Texas
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 188. Birthdate: 4/20/88.
Scouting Report: If the draft were held in February and not June, Belt would have been a first-round pick. A lefthander, he was showing an 88-93 mph fastball with good life and a promising curve with bite and depth. There’s lots of room for more projection with his 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame. He also was showing feel for a changeup and fine athleticism. Because he’s young and not physically developed, Belt hasn’t maintained that velocity, pitching more at 85-88 mph as the draft drew closer. His arm works well, so scouts have no doubts that it will come back. Belt has continued to dominate Texas 3-A competition without his best stuff, throwing no-hitters in the district clincher and the opening round of the playoffs. Committed to Texas, Belt should sign if he goes in the second or third round as expected.
12. Matt Sulentic, of(National rank: 70)
School: Hillcrest HS. Class: Sr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: 10/6/87.
Scouting Report: Texas A&M has endured a rough season in the Big 12 Conference, and its strong recruiting class may also take major hits. Lefthanders Clayton Kershaw and Zach Britton are unlikely to make it to College Station after improving significantly this spring, and Sulentic fits into that category as well. He hit .676-19-58 to win the Dallas area triple crown, and the only 4-A or 5-A player in the Metroplex who has matched his numbers in the last decade was Jason Stokes, who hit 19 homers in 2000 and now plays in Triple-A for the Marlins. Sulentic is a pure lefthanded hitter with power to all fields. He’s an average runner with a decent arm, and his instincts allow his tools to play up in all aspects of the game. Scouts love his makeup, perhaps more than any high school player in Texas. His chief drawback is his size. He’s built along the lines of Lenny Dykstra but is more suited for left field than center. Sulentic has played shortstop, and if a team believes he could handle second base he could get picked as early as the second round.
13. Nathan Karns, rhp(National rank: 92)
School: Martin HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: 11/25/87.
Scouting Report: Like fellow University of Texas recruit Brandon Belt, Karns created a lot of excitement with the way he was throwing the ball early in the season. Coming off a summer when he helped lead the Midland Redskins to the Connie Mack World Series semifinals, Karns opened 2006 by working at 92-95 mph. He’s a power righthander with a strong 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, but he didn’t hold that velocity throughout the spring. He often loses something off his fastball by the third inning, and there were games where he pitched more at 87-88. His arm action is long in the back, which costs him consistency with his velocity, breaking ball and command. The Longhorns have a better chance of holding onto Karns than Brandon Belt, who’s lefthanded and more polished, though Karns still may go as high as the third round.
14. Casey Beck, rhp(National rank: 103)
School: San Jacinto (Texas) JC. Class: Fr.
Hometown: Woodville, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 197. Birthdate: 3/28/87.
Scouting Report: Despite being the Texas 2-A state player of the year, Beck went undrafted out of high school in 2005 because his mechanics and command were rough. Now he’s the top juco prospect in Texas. Succeeding Angels draft-and-follow Stephen Marek as San Jacinto’s closer, Beck has helped pitched the Gators to the Junior College World Series. His fastball sits at 92-93 mph and touches 95, and he backs it up with a big league slider. His delivery and control are still less than smooth, as he tends to overthrow when he gets amped up with the game on the line. Scouts who saw him pitch as a starter during the fall wonder if he could succeed in that role. He didn’t try to throw as hard, dropping down to 88-91 mph and hitting both sides of the plate. He also showed some aptitude for a changeup. Beck will return to San Jacinto for his sophomore season if he doesn’t sign.
15. Jess Todd, rhp(National rank: 104)
School: Navarro (Texas) JC. Class: So.
Hometown: Kilgore, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 4/20/86.
Scouting Report: Todd signed with Texas Tech out of high school but transferred to Navarro after a semester. Though he wasn’t drafted in 2005, he has stood out the most on a loaded Navarro pitching staff that includes seven legitimate pro prospects. Todd, who finished his season with a 1-0 shutout in a regional playoff game, also dominated in the West Coast Collegiate League last summer. He attacks hitters with two pitches, an 88-92 mph that features plenty of sink and a nasty slider. He can touch 95 mph when he goes to a four-seam fastball, and he throws strikes with relative ease. The knocks against Todd are his size and his maximum-effort delivery, leading to concerns as to how long his stuff will hold up when he pitches every five days in pro ball. He may be better suited to be a reliever. On pure stuff, Todd could go in the third round. His stature and mechanics may knock him down further than that, and if he slides too far he’ll attend Texas in 2007.
16. Jordan Craft, rhp(National rank: 119)
School: Dallas Baptist. Class: So.
Hometown: Wrightwood, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 6/5/85.
Scouting Report: Craft barely pitched in his first two seasons in college, redshirting in 2004 at Pepperdine and working just 10 innings last year after transferring to Dallas Baptist. This spring, he has emerged as the best prospect on a Patriots roster full of pitchers who can top 90 mph. Craft relies on two pitches, a hard sinker and a slider. His two-seam fastball usually ranges from 90-93 mph. There’s still some projection left in his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. Both Craft’s performance and his control have been inconsistent this spring, but he won over scouts with an early May outing against Texas. Pitching in relief, he allowed just two hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings, striking out four while topping out at 94 mph. The Longhorns torched the rest of the Dallas Baptist staff for 15 runs in 10 2/3 innings during a doubleheader. A draft-eligible sophomore, Craft could go as early as the third round.
17. Brad Furnish, lhp(National rank: 126)
School: Texas Christian. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Allen, Texas
B-T: B-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 1/19/85.
Scouting Report: Texas Christian’s trio of weekend starters has the chance to pull off the rare feat of each topping 100 strikeouts, and pro teams can’t wait to get their hands on any of them. But Jake Arrietta and Sam Demel are sophomores, leaving Furnish as the rotation’s lone draft pick in June, a likely third- to sixth-rounder. Furnish, who spun a seven-inning no-hitter with 13 strikeouts against Texas-Pan American in February, leads the Horned Frogs with 112 strikeouts in 90 innings. He began his college career at Nebraska before transferring after the 2004 season, and has pitched well in the Cape Cod League the last two summers. He’s a lefty with two solid pitches, an 88-92 mph fastball and a solid overhand curveball. Furnish likes to change hitters’ eye levels by throwing high fastballs to set up his curveball. He probably will have to pitch more down in the zone with his fastball as a pro, and refining a changeup would improve his chances against righthanders.
18. Kevin Angelle, lhp(National rank: 136)
School: Bridge City HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Bridge City, Texas
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 2/27/88.
Scouting Report: Along with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Britton, Angelle is another Texas high school lefthander whose stuff has taken a big step forward this spring. Angelle has been Bridge City’s ace since his sophomore year, when his fastball sat at 82-84 mph. His velocity climbed to the mid-80s in 2005, and now he’s pitching at 88-90 mph and topping out at 92 mph. He has good arm speed and room to add strength to his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame, so his fastball could continue to improve. Angelle also throws a late-breaking, sweeping curveball and has some feel for a changeup, and he has the potential for three average or better pitches. His delivery isn’t the smoothest and could use some cleaning up. His velocity was inconsistent down the stretch, though he struck out 17 in a win in the opening game of the state 3-A quarterfinals. Like Kershaw and Britton, Angelle originally signed with Texas A&M. But he’s eager to enter pro ball, and he would likely attend San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College if he doesn’t sign.
19. Russ Moldenhauer, 3b(National rank: 138)
School: Boerne HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Boerne, Texas
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 9/24/87.
Scouting Report: Moldenhauer has been one of the top high school hitters in Texas since he was a sophomore, when he led Boerne to the Texas Class 4-A title and was the state 4-A player of the year. He has a strong 6-foot, 200-pound build, uses his hands well and drives balls from gap to gap. The two questions are what position he’ll play and whether he can be signed away from the University of Texas. Moldenhauer has played a variety of positions for Boerne, including catcher, and he continues to pitch. Though he has been versatile and was an all-district wide receiver in football, he’s not a tremendous athlete. He’s a below-average runner with a mature body. While he has average arm strength and catchers are always a prized commodity, he doesn’t receive well enough to stay behind the plate. He’ll probably begin his pro career at third base, though his range is questionable at the hot corner. Moldenhauer reportedly wants top-two-round money to sign and he projects more as a third- to fifth-rounder.
20. Jeremy Barfield, of(National rank: 141)
School: Klein HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Spring, Texas
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 7/12/88.
Scouting Report: Barfield has excellent bloodlines. His father Jesse won an American League home run crown and two Gold Gloves with the Blue Jays in the 1980s, and his brother Josh is a rookie second baseman with the Padres. Jeremy had focused primarily on pitching before 2006. Though he’s a 6-foot-6 lefthander, he had a low-80s fastball and just a fair curveball. Barfield has a lot more power in his bat than in his arm. His size gives him leverage to drive pitches, and he has emerged as one of the best high school hitters in Texas. Barfield’s bat will have to carry him, because his other tools don’t stand out. He has below-average speed and arm strength, and he may have to move to first base as a pro. Scouts like his makeup and confidence, and his stock was rising as the draft approached. Though he’s a good student, he wants to turn pro. Jeremy has passed on four-year schools and has committed only to San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College.
21. Cory Van Allen, lhp(National rank: 144)
School: Baylor. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 12/24/84.
Scouting Report: Van Allen was the third-highest unsigned pick from the 2003 draft, following earlier third-rounders Andrew Miller (Devil Rays) and Drew Stubbs (Astros). While Miller and Stubbs are lock first-rounders three years later, Allen looks more like a fifth-rounder because he hasn’t progressed. He’s still a lefthander with good velocity, but he hasn’t developed his secondary pitches or his command as much as scouts would like. Van Allen has an 89-91 mph fastball that reaches 93, but it doesn’t have much life. His changeup has its moments, though he doesn’t locate it well on a consistent basis. He also has a slider that needs a lot of work. Van Allen mostly works up in the strike zone, which makes him more hittable. The raw ingredients are there, but the team that drafts Van Allen will have to teach him a breaking ball and add movement to his fastball.
22. Eddie Degerman, rhp(National rank: 153)
School: Rice. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Granada Hills, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 9/14/83.
Scouting Report: Degerman ranked among the top NCAA Division I pitchers in wins (9-1), ERA (1.37) and strikeouts (119 in 92 innings). Not bad for a guy who couldn’t get on the mound in two years at UC Irvine. He transferred to Rice after the Owls won the 2003 national title. Degerman has a stiff, over-the-top delivery that, while unorthodox, also allows him to stay on top of his pitches and drive them to the bottom of the strike zone. His best offering is a high-70s curveball, and his fastball has improved from 87-90 to 89-92 mph during the last year. He can subtract velocity from his breaking ball, using the slower version of his curveball as a changeup. He repeats his mechanics well, and the different look is tough on batters. Just a 41st-round pick a year ago, the Red Sox still control his rights, but Rice’s season should extend beyond the period when Boston could sign him, and he should become a nice bargain pick as a fifth-year senior.
23. Preston Claiborne, rhp/3b(National rank: 155)
School: Newman Smith HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Carrollton, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 1/21/88.
Scouting Report: Tulane has had a nice run of two position players in recent years, with first-round picks Michael Aubrey and Brian Bogusevic among them. Claiborne could be the next in line if he decides to attend college. Scouts are split on whether he should pursue pitching or hitting as a pro. As a pitcher, he has an 88-89 mph fastball that reaches 92 mph, plus a hard slider and good command. As a hitter, he has a short stroke, bat speed and a lot of power, including to the opposite field. His strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame is an asset either way. Claiborne obviously has the arm strength for third base, but he may fit more as a corner outfielder in pro ball. The two factors working against him in the draft are that he struggled on a national stage at last year’s Area Code Games, and that Tulane recruits are notoriously difficult to sign.
24. Nick Papasan, ss(National rank: 157)
School: Granbury HS. Class: Sr
Hometown: Granbury, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 165. Birthdate: 3/14/88.
Scouting Report: Papasan is the infield version of outfielder Matt Sulentic, a Texas high school hitter (and Texas A&M recruit) who would be a premium draft pick if he were bigger. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, he may be closer to 5-foot-9, and his size could push him out of the first five rounds. There’s little not to like about his offensive game, however. He has strong hands and surprising pop for his size, and he has been the top hitter in the Fort Worth area since transferring from Midland High after his sophomore season. He missed Granbury High’s first eight games this spring with a muscle strain, then returned to terrorize pitchers as usual. The rest of Papasan’s tools are average, though he plays above them because he has good instincts. Most scouts project him as a second baseman rather than a shortstop in pro ball.
25. Josh Rodriguez, 3b(National rank: 163)
School: Rice. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 12/18/84.
Scouting Report: Rodriguez came into the season as one of college baseball’s best shortstop prospects, but he has been supplanted there at Rice by sophomore Brian Friday. Rodriguez had elbow problems that bothered him during fall practice and early in the spring, so he opened the season as a DH and since has moved to third base. He has played second, third and short in three years at Rice, and his arm is a plus at any position. He’s a slightly below-average runner, however, so he’ll have to move to second or third as a pro. He’s a streak hitter with gap power, and he has a penchant for drawing walks. Rodriguez hit .326 with wood last summer for Team USA, the highest average among 2006 draft-eligibles on the club. There’s talk that a couple of teams could take him in the second or third round, but he’s more of a consensus fifth-rounder.
26. Chad Huffman, 1b/2b(National rank: 178)
School: Texas Christian. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Missouri City, Texas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 206. Birthdate: 4/24/85.
Scouting Report: Huffman is third of three brothers to double as college baseball and football players. Scott played linebacker and got a handful of at-bats at Rice, while Royce (now in Triple-A with the Astros) was a quarterback and infielder at Texas Christian. Chad has followed in Royce’s footsteps in both sports for the Horned Frogs, and broke his school record for hits in a season as a freshman in 2004. A third-string quarterback, Chad appeals to baseball scouts solely for his bat. He should hit for average as a pro, and his power continues to develop. The question is what position he’ll play. Though he has arm strength and athleticism, Huffman’s footwork and range were lacking when he tried to play second base earlier this spring. Scouts aren’t confident he can play third base, which would limit him to an outfield corner or first base–and require a lot more offense out of him than if he could handle second. His overall profile is similar to that of Royce, a 12th-round pick in 1999. Chad should go about seven rounds higher, and maybe as early as the third round to a team that believes he can adapt to the hot corner.
27. Steve Macfarland, rhp(National rank: 186)
School: Lamar. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Marlboro, N.Y.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 8/17/85.
Scouting Report: Macfarland opened his college career at Pace (N.Y.) in 2004, then transferred to Lamar when the Setters dropped to NCAA Division II. He spent most of his freshman and sophomore seasons as a reliever before making the transition to starting this spring. Macfarland won his first three decisions but has been inconsistent ever since. He pitched in the low 90s and touched 94 coming out of the bullpen in the Cape Cod League last summer, but has sat mostly in the high 80s in 2006. His fastball lacks life and his command wavers, so it’s hittable when he leaves it over the plate. His slider can be a plus pitch at times, clocking in at 80-83 mph. He projects better as a reliever in pro ball, and he’s going to have to improve his control in any case. A team that liked his arm strength on the Cape could pop him in the fifth round.
Running Down The Rest Of The Talent In Texas
Texas A&M posted its worst Big 12 Conference record ever (6-20) and faces a battle to keep many of its top recruits (as mentioned above) after several of them surged up draft boards this spring. The good news for the Aggies is that they may keep the two best prospects currently on their team, as righthanders Austin Creps and Jordan Chambless both figure to get picked earlier in 2007 than they will in 2006. Creps had a chance to go in the first five rounds this year before he slipped fielding a chopper, spraining his medial collateral ligament and tearing the meniscus in his knee. Creps gets tremendous sink on his fastball when he pitches at 87-90 mph, and he can dial his fastball up to 94. He also has a solid slider and throws strikes. A draft-eligible sophomore, Chambless also is coming back from a knee injury after tearing an anterior crucial ligament in the fall as a defensive back/punt returner for the Aggies football team. He’s still raw, especially in terms of command, but he has a good curveball and a low-90s fastball. He relies on the curve too much, however.
Outfielder Tyler Henley’s package of all-around tools is one of the best in Texas. He makes consistent contact and has gap power and average speed. Defensively, he’s an above-average center fielder who takes good routes on fly balls and has an average arm. But scouts question how easily it will be to sign a draft-eligible sophomore away from Rice. That may not be possible if he doesn’t go in the first three rounds.
Righthander Kendall Volz has the mentality of a middle linebacker, the position he played for Smithson Valley’s 5-A district football champions. He has a thick 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and a power arm. Volz has flashed 94-95 mph velocity in the past, but has sat more at 88-92 mph this spring. His fastball is still plenty effective because it features plenty of armside life and run. He also has a hard breaking ball that’s more of a slurve than a true slider or curve, and he uses it too much rather than pounding hitters with his fastball. There’s some effort and length in his delivery, so he projects more as a reliever than a starter as a pro. He may not be signable away from Baylor.
Outfielder Drew Holder had one of the best statistical seasons in NCAA Division I, ranking first in runs (73), second in RBIs (75), fifth in homers (20) and eighth in slugging (.755) at the end of the regular season. Holder is also a decent athlete who gets the job done in right field. After going unpicked in 2005, it’s possible he could sneak into the fifth round to a team looking to save money with a college senior.
First baseman Aaron Baker stands out for his power. A 6-foot-3, 220-pound lefthanded slugger, he put on a show at the Area Code Games last summer and reached the middle deck during a workout at Minute Maid Park. One scout said his raw power might deserve a 7 on the 2-8 scouting scale. Baker will strike out a lot, and he’ll have to move from catcher to either first base or left field. He has committed to Oklahoma.
Righthanders Randy Boone and Adrian Alaniz were part of Texas’ national championship rotation in 2005, but neither has been as impressive this year. Boone, who’s now a set-up man for the Longhorns, battled a sore elbow early in the spring. His slider is a quality pitch, but his fastball has been inconsistent, sitting at 86-88 mph at times and at 90-92 at others. There’s some effort to his delivery as well. Boone might have a better chance at starting again as a pro–on a staff that will be less loaded than the Longhorns’. Alaniz, who earned two victories at the College World Series last June, pitches mostly at 85-87 mph. As with Boone, his best pitch is also a breaking ball, a curve in Alaniz’ case. He wasn’t drafted as a rare eligible redshirt freshman a year ago.
In addition to Cory Van Allen, Baylor has four seniors who could go in the first 10 rounds. None of the four was drafted a year ago. Righthander Jeff Mandel profiles the best of the group, as a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with an 87-91 mph sinker and a decent slider. He’ll also flash a good changeup at times. Outfielder Seth Fortenberry has good bat speed and foot speed, and he can handle all three outfield positions. He’ll need to make more contact and develop more power as a pro. Righthander Ryan LaMotta was headlining Baylor’s weekend rotation at the end of the regular season, but he showed better stuff as a reliever in 2005. Back then, he showed a 90-92 mph fastball and a good slider. He also has a feel for a changeup, a clean delivery and the ability to locate his pitches. Catcher Zach Dillon ranked fourth in Division I with a 51-17 BB-K ratio entering the NCAA playoffs. He’s a line-drive hitter with good leadership skills, but his arm strength is a short for a big league catcher. Dillon’s father Matt is the head football coach at Cornell (Iowa) College.
Righthander John Touchston had a chance to be an early-round pick because he has a strong frame (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and threw 90-94 mph last summer. But he has pitched at 88-91 mph for most of the spring. He also throws a slider more notable for its velocity than its break or consistency and is raw overall. If he attends Houston, he could blossom into a premium choice in the 2009 draft. Tulane-bound righthander Taylor Rogers has similar potential. He’s projectable at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, and his fastball has jumped from 87-88 mph last summer to as high as 93 this spring. His slider and changeup will need work.
Lefthander Dustin Richardson nearly made Texas Tech’s basketball team as a walk-on and was featured prominently in ESPN’s related reality show, “Knight School.” His 6-foot-6, 208-pound frame is also effective in baseball, as he uses it to throw on a steep downward plane. Scouts credit Red Raiders pitching coach Lance Brown for improving his control and delivery, which weren’t nearly as polished when he was at Cowley County (Kan.) Community College. Though he’s a senior, Richardson is still somewhat of a project. His fastball velocity ranges from the mid-80s to the low-90s, and he gets under his curveball too often, causing it to flatten out.
Several of Texas’ opponents fear outfielder Carson Kainer more than Drew Stubbs at the plate. While Kainer is a better pure hitter than Stubbs and has outstanding makeup, the rest of his game is fringy. He’s strictly a left fielder because he has a below-average arm and defensive skills, and he doesn’t quite have the power teams want at that position. Some clubs also have concerns that he has just one functional kidney, though he’s able to manage the condition with medication. Kainer’s uncle Don pitched for the Longhorns’ 1975 national championship team and briefly in the majors with the Rangers.
In 2004, Joe Savery and Chris Davis were the two best high school two-way players in Texas. While Savery has gone on to star at Rice and should be an early first-round pick in 2007, Davis has toiled in comparable obscurity. He transferred from Texas to Navarro Junior College before his freshman season and was taken by the Angels in the 35th round of the 2005 draft. Davis ranked among the national juco leaders with 17 homers this spring, and his kind of lefthanded power is always in demand. Bulldogs coach Skip Johnson compares him to another former Navarro star, Brad Hawpe. Davis also has shown a 90-92 mph fastball and a decent breaking ball on the mound, though his back bothered him and limited him as a pitcher. If he doesn’t turn pro this summer, he’ll attend Arkansas.
Righthander Teddy Hubbard raised his profile this spring by repeatedly throwing in the low 90s. At a projectable 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he signed with Oklahoma after originally committing to Seminole State (Okla.) Junior College. Hubbard’s last high school outing was a memorable one, as he threw 170 pitches and struck out 19 in nine-plus innings in a 2-A regional playoff game.
Shortstop Brandon Hicks is Texas’ best juco position player who’s not under control to a big league club. He’s a good athlete with size (6-foot-2, 190 pounds), arm strength and solid speed. He also shows fine instincts that help him play above his tools. If scouts were sold on his bat, he’d easily go in the first five rounds. Hicks, who homered and drove in three runs in San Jacinto’s opening-round victory at the Junior College World Series, also has flashed a low-90s fastball and quality secondary pitches on the mound. He has committed to Texas A&M. The Aggies also signed Josey Parker, another two-way juco standout not under control. Though he batted .439-16-73 this spring, he may have a brighter future on the mound. When he pitched in relief, Parker touched 96 mph.
After helping New Mexico Junior College win the Juco World Series in 2005, Ricky Ibarz had little trouble making the transition to NCAA Division I this spring. He averaged 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings at Texas-Pan American, a figure that ranked 10th among draft-eligible players at the end of the regular season. (Five other Texas college prospects for the 2006 draft–Eddie Degerman, Dustin Richardson, Brad Lincoln, Brad Furnish and Steve Macfarland–ranked ahead of Ibarz.) Ibarz is a 6-foot-3 lefthander with three usable pitches: a plus changeup, an 88-90 mph fastball and a little slider. A native of Venezuela, he’ll need a visa to play pro ball.
Stephen F. Austin State resuscitated its baseball program after a decade-long absence, and the Lumberjacks have a pair of pro prospects. Righthander Brian Steinocher, a transfer from Texas A&M, set a school single-season strikeout record with 75 in 102 innings. He has an 88-92 mph fastball and a solid slider. Catcher Stephen Hill, who hit 31 homers at Eastfield (Texas) Junior College in 2005, made a run at the SFA home run mark and finished with 14. He not only has legitimate power, but he’s also an adequate defender with a chance to stay behind the plate.
Grayson County’s Collin Carter looked like a premium draft-and-follow during the fall, but after arm problems this spring he’s not even the top Texas juco lefty in the Braves’ plans. Atlanta took Carter in the 10th round in 2005 but is more likely to sign 18th-rounder Zach Oliver, who has an 87-90 mph fastball and throws his curveball for strikes.
Catcher Adam Moore has rebounded after missing all of 2005 at Nebraska after he tore the meniscus in his left knee just before the season started. After transferring to Texas-Arlington, he became the Mavericks’ best hitter and led them to the Southland Conference tournament title. His power may have to carry him, as he grades out as slightly below-average in hitting, throwing and receiving.
Besides Chad Huffman, there are two other Lone Star State prospects with notable baseball relatives. Lefthander James Russell, the son of former all-star closer Jeff Russell, throws three pitches for strikes, including a plus changeup and an 84-90 mph fastball. Russell, who missed the fall with elbow trouble, was a 17th-round pick of the Mariners in 2005. Outfielder Clint Stubbs is the younger brother of Drew and out of the same mold. He’s athletic but more raw than Drew was coming out of high school. Stubbs probably won’t get taken high enough to forego attending Texas.
A sixth-round choice of the Giants a year ago, righthander Brad Cutherbertson is the third-highest-drafted draft-and-follow from 2005. But he has disappointed scouts this spring, showing nothing more than arm strength and rarely holding his velocity for more than an inning or two. Undersized at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, he’ll touch 93-95 mph in his first inning of work but drop down to 86-89 by his third frame. His second-best pitch is a splitter.
Allen High righthander Shawn Tolleson had the talent to go in the second round until he succumbed to Tommy John surgery in February. His delivery, which puts pressure on his elbow, was the culprit. Before he got hurt, he threw a heavy 88-94 mph sinker and a plus slider. He’ll attend Baylor. Two other promising prep pitchers also have seen their draft stock drop because of arm problems. Angleton lefthander Taylor Hammack was shut down for most of the spring with shoulder issues. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who displayed an 86-88 mph fastball and a good slider last summer. He opted to rehab his shoulder instead of having labrum surgery. Clear Creek High (League City) righthander Norm Wittkamp strained his elbow, which has taken its toll on his power sinker/slider combination. Hammack has committed to Texas, Wittkamp to Houston.
In a down year for catchers, Lamar’s Michael Ambort would have been an early-round draft pick thanks to his bat. But the Southland Conference’s hitter of the year in 2005, when he led the league with 18 homers and 65 RBIs, played just six games as a junior before needing Tommy John surgery. Already below-average as a receiver, Ambort will likely have to switch positions if he loses any arm strength.