By Michael Levesque
Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, D.C.
(Talent Ranking: ** out of five) This area held considerable promise at the start of the year, with Nick Adenhart the top-rated high school player in the country and Justin Maxwell projected to go in the first round. Maxwell missed the season with a broken arm, however, and Adenhart was injured in May and will have Tommy John surgery.
Projected First-Round Picks
Second- to Fifth-Round Talent
• Nick Adenhart, rhp
Adenhart came into the season as the No. 1 player in this year's high school class and looked every bit the part until May. As a 16-year-old last summer, Adenhart helped the Maryland Orioles to the 21-and-under All-American Amateur Baseball Association title. He also outdueled Florida prep standout Eric Hurley at the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Championship last October in a matchup that attracted 200 scouts. Those accomplishment made Adenhart Baseball America's Youth Player of the Year in 2003, and he roared out of the chute in 2004 with a seven-inning perfect game in his first start, followed by a 13-strikeout one-hitter. He went 5-1, 0.91 with 85 strikeouts in 38 innings and was a lock for the top half of the first round when he left a May start in the first inning with arm discomfort. An examination by Dr. James Andrews led to a recommendation that Adenhart have Tommy John surgery. He continued to DH for his high school team and planned to have the operation in June. At 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Adenhart has a projectable body with lots of room for added weight. He has a whiplike arm action from a high three-quarters slot. His fastball sits in the 90-94 mph range with soft tailing action, while his curve has sharp downer action. He also has command and good feel for a changeup. Some scouts have said his motion, which features a stiff front side, could lead to future arm trouble. He sometimes overthrows and loses his release point, and sometimes lands slightly across his body and on his heel, which can be easily corrected. Some scouts also question Adenhart's competitiveness and said he didn't challenge hitters enough. His injury makes it more likely he'll honor a commitment to North Carolina and pitch there after possibly sitting out next season, but a team will definitely take a shot at him at some point in the draft. The betting is it will be the Orioles, who have an especially close relationship with him and were prepared to spend the eighth pick in the draft on him.
• Justin Maxwell, of
Maxwell entered the year as a preseason All-American and possible first-round pick after bursting on the scene in the Cape Cod League last summer, hitting .307 and showing scouts a solid array of tools. But he ended up missing the season after breaking his right forearm during preseason practice. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound righthanded hitter remains one of the most athletic college players in the draft, however. He is an above-average runner, getting down the line in 4.15 seconds, with solid defensive skills and good range, and above-average arm strength. At the plate he has good leverage and generates above-average raw power. Maxwell's injury forces his draft stock down a bit, but a team could select and then follow him through another summer in the Cape before deciding what kind of bonus to offer. He hit .317-10-43 with 11 steals for Maryland in 2003 and was a 43rd-round pick of the Orioles out of high school in 2001.
• Anthony Raglani, of
Raglani drew notice in the Cape Cod League last summer and has one of the better bats in the region. He has a solid frame with broad shoulders and good strength, and he batted .333-11-46 this spring with a .601 slugging percentage even though he played with a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Raglani has a balanced, upright stance with his hands at shoulder height. He has a short stride and easy stroke with a slight uppercut that produces solid-average power. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefthanded hitter is aggressive at the plate, uses his hands well through the zone and makes consistent, hard contact. He has below-average speed but gets good jumps and takes proper routes in the outfield. He occasionally struggles to get his swing started, and at times tries to pull the ball too much. His arm is well-below-average and profiles best in left field.
• Brett Cecil, lhp
Cecil had crosscheckers and scouting directors in to see most of his starts this spring. He was the No. 1 starter on the top-ranked team in Maryland, and the opportunity to see him gave scouts a chance to check out two or three other players on his team with pro potential. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder has been at 86-91 mph with his fastball, has a good feel for pitching and shows an average curve at times. He also throws a slider and has a good feel for a changeup, but his mechanics are a concern because he wraps his arm in the back. The animated southpaw has limited projection and a soft body, drawing comparisons to David Wells from some scouts. He went 6-0 with 61 strikeouts and a 1.91 ERA as a junior and a near-identical 6-1, 1.59 with 73 strikeouts in 53 innings as a senior. He has signed with Maryland.
Others To Watch
• RHP/1B Kevin Hart played for two seasons at Navarro (Texas) JC before heading to Maryland for his junior season. A two-way star at Navarro, he batted .448-11-42 and went 9-2, 2.54 on the mound with 81 strikeouts in 72 innings while issuing just 12 walks. He wasn't as successful this year, going just 3-8, 5.16, but he struck out 75 in 68 innings. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has a prototype pitcher's body and durable arm. He has a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball, curveball, split-finger and changeup and throws in the 87-91 mph range. Hart has solid mechanics but average arm speed. Some scouts thought his pitching suffered because he was playing all week. His brother Joe plays for Texas A&M.
• LHP Zac Cline, who went 12-3, 3.44 for West Virginia in 2003 and set a school record with 126 innings, didn't throw well early because of a plantar wart on his landing foot. He ended up going 8-3, 2.65 but fanned just 44 hitters in 78 innings. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder will run his fastball in the 86-90 mph range with some movement, but is regarded as a major project by scouts because he has poor mechanics and uses a different arm slot for each of his pitches. His change has good fade and tumble, but he often telegraphs the pitch, and his curve is inconsistent.
• RHP Chris Clem hasn't put up stellar numbers during his college career, going 2-7, 5.76 this year, but has drawn interest with two potentially average offerings. His fastball ranges from 90-92 mph, and he complements it with an above-average curve, decent slider and improving changeup. Clem has solid arm action and throws strikes, but his body has limited projection.
• RHP Clarence Nicely has a lanky, projectable body with a weak upper half that should get stronger as he matures. He has a loose, easy arm from a three-quarters slot, but his arm lacks quickness. His fastball sits in the 86-88 mph range with running action to righthanded hitters, and he flashes the makings of a good curveball, occasionally getting tight three-quarters downer action when he stays on top of the pitch. He has committed to Auburn.
• RHP Keith Moreland has a projectable body, and a fastball in the 88-90 mph range. He throws from a low three-quarters slot with a long arm action and shows some effort in his delivery. He has a big back turn that causes him to over-rotate and lose his balance. He throws a curve now, but his arm action may be more conducive to a slider because he is not able to stay on top of the pitch.
• RHP Shawn Phillips has been clocked in the 92-93 mph range and supplements his fastball with a splitter that he throws for strikes. His curveball is just a show-me pitch. His teammate, RHP Eric Carter, is a bullpen guy who throws with some effort but can touch 93 mph.
• LHP Brent Gaphardt has a mature body with limited projection but can get his fastball into the 86-89 mph range. He has a crossfire delivery and has trouble commanding his curve.
• OF David Minor is a three-sport star, excelling at basketball, football, and baseball. He has a projectable, athletic body and fringe-average tools across the board.
• Most scouts say SS Grant Psomas will have to move to second or third base at the pro level. He is a below-average runner and his swing needs work, but he has average power, good arm strength and is solid defensively.