Typically a major factor toward the top of the draft, Georgia figures
to be less prominent this time around, as most of the high-profile players
in the territory regressed or merely held their place, rather than improving
significantly in the spring. Pitchers particularly struggled this spring
in Georgia, from college talents such as Jason Neighborgall and Will Startup
to preps like Miers Quigley and Buster Posey. (National ranking in parentheses)
13. Bo Lanier, rhp, Georgia
14. Will Startup, lhp, Georgia
15. Michael Hyle, rhp, Georgia
16. Blake Nation, rhp, Starr’s Mill HS, Brooks
17. Luke Murton, 1b, Eagle’s Landing HS, McDonough
18. Brandon Monk, ss, LaGrange HS
19. Chris Hicks, rhp, Milton HS, Alpharetta
20. Trevor Pippin, 1b/lhp, McIntosh HS, Peachtree City
21. Geoff Vandel, lhp, Shaw HS, Columbus
22. Ben Rulon, lhp, Georgia State
23. Bobby Felmy, of, Georgia
24. Josh Smith, ss, Georgia
25. Nathan Moreau, lhp, Parkview HS, Lilburn
26. Matt Clark, lhp, Henry County HS, McDonough
27. Nick DeSilvio, lhp, Etowah HS, Woodstock
28. Eddie Rush, of, Westlake HS, McDonough
29. Greg Lindsey, of, Henry County HS, McDonough
30. Brett Strickland, rhp, Georgia State
30. Stephen Blackwood, of, Georgia Tech
31. Danny Davidson, rhp, Sprayberry HS, Marietta
32. Ben Jeffers, rhp, Madison County HS, Danielsville
33. Brantley New, rhp, Mercer
34. James Payne, of, Georgia Southern
35. Austin Chamblis, of/rhp, South Effingham HS, Bloomingdale
36. Craig Pfautz, lhp, Darton Junior College
37. Andy Hawranick, c, Georgia Tech
38. Sean Ruthven, rhp, Georgia
39. A.J. Gilbert, lhp, Kell HS, Marietta
40. L.V. Ware, of, North Atlanta HS
41. Romas Hicks, rhp, Georgia State
42. Flint Wipke, c, Georgia Southern
43. Nick Montgomery, rhp, Young Harris JC
44. Tyler Musselwhite, rhp, Gainesville HS
45. Phillip Robinson, rhp, Fayette County HS
46. Chase Childers, ss, North Cobb Christian, Kennesaw
47. A. J. Battisto, rhp, Georgia Southern
48. Tyler Allen, lhp, Kennesaw Mountain HS
49. Jon Love, of, Kennesaw State
50. Jacob Breen, ss, Sprayberry HS, Marietta
1. TYLER GREENE, ss (National rank: 40) School: Georgia Tech.
Hometown: Plantation, Fla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 188. Birthdate: Aug. 17, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Braves 2002 (2).
Scouting Report: The latest Georgia Tech shortstop to wear No. 5, Greene falls somewhere between Nomar Garciaparra and Victor Menocal, now the Yellow Jacketsí first-base coach. Greene has had a roller-coaster college career, struggling defensively as a freshman (31 errors) but surprising with the bat. As a sophomore, he made just 11 errors but hit .273. In the last two summers, Greene showed aptitude with wood, hitting a team-best .431 with four homers for Team USA in 2003, then batting .296 in 2004 in the Cape Cod League, where he was the No. 2 prospect. Greeneís junior season was delayed by an offseason broken jaw. When he came back, he showed scouts the tools to be drafted again in the second-round range, as he was out of high school. Green is a 60 runner (some say 70 under way) on the 20-80 scouting scale, with good instincts on the basepaths and elsewhere. A plus arm and good range make him at least an average defender at short. The question is offense. His hands are just OK both at the plate and in the field. Greeneís swing has evolved to a metal-bat, inside-out style that doesn't incorporate his hands, short-circuiting his power and leaving him with several holes. His aptitude with wood, however, reminds scouts of Cubs prospect Matt Murton, who also hit better in summers on the Cape than with Georgia Tech.
2. P.J. PHILLIPS, ss (National rank: 58) School: Redan HS.
Hometown: Stone Mountain, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: Sept. 23, 1986.
College Commitment: Scouting Report: The younger brother of Indians infielder Brandon Phillips has little of the flash his brother showed coming up through the minor leagues. His former Redan High teammate--Chris Nelson, the Rockiesí first-round pick last year--was more similar to Brandon in temperament and tools than is the lanky P.J. At 6-foot-3 with broad shoulders, Phillips could have trouble staying at shortstop. Heís just an average runner (6.9 seconds over 60 yards), and scouts arenít sure if his range will be sufficient as he matures physically and gets stronger. He has a strong arm, registering in the high 80s when he pitches, and is athletic enough to move to an outfield corner if needed. Itís his bat that makes him the top prep senior in Georgia. Phillips regularly takes batting practice with wood bats and shows plus power potential, using his long arms to flick the barrel of the bat through the zone quickly. One scout went so far as to compare his bat to that of B.J. Upton, though others called that a stretch. His makeup also is a plus. Phillips knows what pro ball is about thanks to his brother and is quietly confident in his abilities.
3. BRANDON DURDEN, lhp (National rank: 78) School: Georgia College.
Hometown: Adel, Ga.
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Age: 21.
Previously Drafted: White Sox 2002 (34).
Scouting Report: Teams that use college stats as a guide in the draft wonít be interested in Durden, who went 3-5, 4.60 this spring with 72 strikeouts and 104 hits allowed in 88 innings. He was benefiting from the interest teams showed in teammate Matt Goyen (9-1, 1.99), who emerged as a prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer. Durden has much more stuff than Goyen, and a lefthander with a fastball that sits in the 88-92 mph range and touches 94 will get drafted well. Durdenís velocity increased from the fall, as he continued to get stronger and was able to maintain his mechanics better this spring. Durdenís slider also has velocity, sitting between 80-83 mph. Durden has little of the polish Goyen offers, and his breaking ball remains inconsistent. Even in Division II, hitters who got ahead in the count could wait on his fastball and punish it. Durdenís changeup has a ways to go, but his velocity made him the exception this spring in Georgia, and scouts flocked to see him.
4. MIERS QUIGLEY, lhp (National rank: 79) School: Roswell High.
Hometown: Roswell, Ga.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Jan. 27, 1987.
College Commitment: Alabama.
Scouting Report: Quigley has had a rough year. At this time in 2004, had he been draft-eligible, he would have been at worst the second player picked from Georgia and was the top pitcher in the state. Since then, he was cited for underage drinking and kicked out the windows of a police car, saw his velocity drop and came down with biceps tendinitis. Quigley was recently shut down due to recurrent pain in his arm, leaving his draft status in doubt. Clubs that believe his brush with the law was merely a youthful indiscretion will have to see a clean bill of health for his arm for Quigley to be drafted in the first three rounds. At his best, Quigley dominates. His fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range in his first start this spring, and he commanded the strike zone with his fastball and hard curve. After that, he lost the feel for his mechanics, over-rotating in his delivery, a problem that cost him arm speed and velocity. He lost confidence in his fastball, which fell into the high 80s, and started throwing it less, which compounded the problem. Quigley is motivated to sign, and his problematic year has done nothing but drive his price down.
5. JASON NEIGHBORGALL, rhp (National rank: 100) School: Georgia Tech
Hometown: Durham, N.C.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: Dec. 19, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Red Sox 2002 (7)
Scouting Report: The draftís biggest enigma, Neighborgall shows first-round stuff and not-drafted stuff, sometimes in the same inning. Neighborgall (advised by Scott Boras) was looking for a Josh Beckett deal ($7 million) coming out of high school. Three years later, he has gotten limited work at Georgia Tech, and he has more career walks (110) than innings pitched (101). Neighborgall has an amazing arm with as much arm strength as any pitcher in the world. His fastball has broken 100 mph in one-inning stints in the Cape Cod League. This spring, he was at 95-97 mph at his best with an upper-80s slider with two-plane depth, and his changeup earns praise from scouts, who consider it an above-average pitch. The obvious problem is command. Clearly part of his problem is mental; he lacks confidence, particularly after an ugly start at Miami in a 20-1 loss. His mechanics are shot, as he flies open with his front shoulder, short-circuits the long arc of his arm and lands awkwardly, pushing himself away from home plate. Neighborgallís ceiling is higher than that of any pitcher in the draft, but his likelihood of reaching his ceiling is perhaps lower than any pitcherís. The Boras relationship complicates matters when trying to figure out where heís selected; heís expected to go anywhere from the sandwich round (to a team with extra picks and a history with Boras clients) to the fifth round, or to go completely undrafted.
6. BUSTER POSEY, rhp (National rank: 109) School: Lee County HS.
Hometown: Leesburg, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: March 27, 1987
College Commitment: Florida State
Scouting Report: Posey, who pitched for Team USA juniors last summer on a team that included probable first-round picks Andrew McCutchen, Justin Upton and Brandon Snyder, has attracted as much attention from Florida State coach Mike Martin as from scouts, and most people think heís headed to college. Heís been a fine shortstop and leadoff hitter in high school, but heís expected to focus on the mound for the Seminoles or pro clubs. One scout called Posey a high school version of Greg Maddux when heís on, a pitcher with a knack for throwing four pitches for strikes. Posey has average if not above-average stuff. His velocity last summer was in the 92-94 mph range, as opposed to the 87-90 heís shown most of this spring. His best pitch is his changeup, which has excellent run and sink in the Maddux mold, but he rarely throws it against overmatched high school hitters. He throws both a slider and curveball for strikes at times. With a better spring, Posey might have been a second-round pick, but his strong college commitment, size and velocity make his draft position tenuous.
7. IAIN SEBASTIAN, rhp/1b (National rank: 115) School: Columbus HS.
Hometown: Columbus, Ga.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 230. Birthdate: April 21, 1987.
College Commitment: Georgia.
Scouting Report: Two years ago, Sebastian ranked near the top of the 2005 high school class. He matured physically early and used his size and strength to be a two-way power threat. Now heís settled into his body and most scouts feel heís locked in as a pitcher in the future. If he heads to college, Georgia wants him as both a hitter and pitcher, feeling the short right-field porch at Foley Field will allow him to take advantage of his pull power. Pro scouts say Sebastianís swing is too long and slow to project him as a power hitter with wood and like him much better on the mound. His velocity has fluctuated the last couple of years, as his fastball will sit in the 92-94 mph range at times and 87-88 at others. The difference stems from his delivery; when he over-rotates and lands on a stiff front leg, he cuts himself on and doesnít follow through. When he does, he has a plus fastball to go with a solid slider and changeup. Sebastianís competitiveness, size and velocity have some scouts pegging him as a reliever, while others see a three-pitch workhorse.
8. MATT GOYEN, lhp (National rank: 127) School: Georgia College.
Hometown: Athens, Ga.
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: Jan. 19, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Devil Rays 2004 (27).
Scouting Report: Reminding scouts of Tom Browning, Goyen was the story of the first month of the Cape Cod League last summer. He had 18 strikeouts in one start (three shy of the league record) and recorded 26 straight outs. He led the league in strikeouts with 80 in 57 innings. Goyen is a redshirt junior who has a year of eligibility (and therefore leverage) remaining, but he annoyed scouts last year when he turned down more than $125,000 from the Devil Rays after his outstanding summer. He didnít hurt his status this spring, but he didnít enhance it much either. Goyen is what he is, a physical lefthander with a mature body and solid-average stuff: a fastball that peaks in the 88-90 mph range, a decent curveball and a plus changeup. Several scouts doubt he will get much past Double-A without much-improved command of his fastball, while others likened him to John Halama and see him as a back-of-the-rotation starter. Still, he figures to go in the first five rounds based almost solely on his performance last summer.
9. JONATHAN EGAN, c (National rank: 143) School: Cross Creek HS.
Hometown: Hephzibah, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: Oct. 12, 1986.
College Commitment: Georgia
Scouting Report: A veteran of Georgiaís East Cobb program, where he played on a team featuring Posey and Quigley, Egan was an AFLAC All-American and had a lofty profile coming into his senior season. He then had an up-and-down campaign that cast some doubts on his draft status, starting with a loss of some of the athleticism that made him so attractive. One scout said he thought Egan was closer to 225 pounds than his listed 210, saying Eganís lower half had lost life. He questioned whether Egan could remain a catcher, where he had shown defensive polish the previous summer. His quiet demeanor doesnít particularly suit him for catcher. Eganís bat has a chance to play either at first base or behind the plate. He has long arms and some holes in his swing, but when he connects, the ball makes a different sound coming off the bat. His raw power was the best in the state, leading to speculation he could be drafted in the first three rounds.
10. KIERON POPE, of (National rank: 156) School: East Coweta HS.
Hometown: Gay, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: Oct. 3, 1986.
College Commitment: Georgia.
Scouting Report: Pope began to emerge as a prospect as a junior when he led East Coweta to the state 5-A finals, where his team lost to Rockies draftee Dexter Fowler and Milton High. Pope joins Egan, Phillips and Sebastian, as well as lefty Nathan Moreau and righthander Ben Jeffers, in a potentially potent Georgia recruiting class. Phillips is unlikely to come to school, but Pope, Egan and Sebastian were all 50-50 in their likelihood of becoming Bulldogs. Popeís greatest attribute is his frame, a body that looks like a corner outfielder in the big leagues right now. He has pro makeup to go with a pro body, working as hard on his game as any prep in the state. Pope has work to do, though, because while he has good hands, he swings and misses too much and lacks much of an approach at the plate. His instincts leave something to be desired. His arm is adequate and probably better suited to left field.
11. MITCHELL BOGGS, rhp (National rank: 161) School: Georgia.
Hometown: Dalton, Ga.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: Feb. 15, 1984.
Last Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Boggsí physical nature was evident in high school, when he was a football/baseball star. He committed to play baseball only at Georgia, then had regrets and transferred to Chattanooga (which doesnít have a baseball team) to play football in the fall of his sophomore year. After playing in three games as a quarterback (he rushed three times for nine yards), he returned to Georgia as a sophomore to focus again on baseball. Boggs hasnít been consistent as a baseball player, struggling to throw consistent strikes, but took off as a closer late in 2005 for the Bulldogs. Boggs has topped out at 94 mph and sits in the 90-93 range. Heís still raw due to his inexperience in baseball, leaving his secondary stuff short, and he is still learning how to compete. His stuff and size, though, should make him the first player drafted off a disappointing Georgia team.
12. JEREMY SLAYDEN, of (National rank: 173) School: Georgia Tech.
Hometown: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 196. Birthdate: July 28, 1982.
Last Drafted: Athletics 2004 (18)
Scouting Report: Slayden has had little good luck on the field since bursting on the scene as a freshman in 2002, when he helped Georgia Tech reach the College World Series by hitting .348-18-66. He has hit just 20 home runs in the last three years since then, struggling with injuries and working to harness his extreme uppercut swing. Slayden missed all but nine games in 2004 with a right shoulder injury that required surgery, and the injury has cost him significant arm strength. Once a right fielder with at least an average arm, Slayden has shown a below-average arm this season, and scouts arenít sure how much it will come back in the future. His swing evokes comparisons to Jeromy Burnitz, though Slayden is less athletic and a poorer defender at the same stage. Heís also been slowed by an ankle sprain this spring, and he had surgery in early May to remove a cyst on his right foot, which might end his season. Slaydenís above-average lefthanded power once seemed to fit toward the back of the first round. Now he should go in the fourth to sixth round.
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Georgia)
Disappointing Bulldogs Have Plenty Of Talent
While Georgia went to the College World Series last year, it struggled to a 12-17 record in the Southeastern Conference this season, good for 11th place in the 12-team league. The Bulldogs should still make a strong impact in the draft, especially on the mound. Aside from Boggs, three other Georgia pitchers should be drafted highly, starting with LHP Will Startup (14) and the only pitcher on the staff who throws harder than Boggs, RHP Bo Lanier (13). RHP Michael Hyle (15) also should be a first-day draft.
Startup was throwing in the low 90s with a power slider at times late last season, but his stuff has been a grade lower this year as he pitched without the same adrenaline rush he got in the postseason. His most attractive traits are his competitiveness (which some scouts say was better last year) and durable arm, which got a workout in a dual starting/relief role this spring. Startupís rough junior year could lead to come back for a shot at redemption as a senior. Lanier got lots of looks last spring as a sophomore-eligible, but he hasnít improved since then. His breaking ball and changeup remain unremarkable, but his quick arm continues to pump 95-96 mph. Heís also considered motivated to sign after struggling this season, as is Hyle, a fourth-year junior and Tommy John survivor who uses a steady diet of high-80s sinkers to pound the strike zone. Senior RHP Sean Ruthven (38), son of ex-big leaguer Dick Ruthven, also could be a budget senior sign on the draftís first day if teams are satisfied with his recovery from 2003 labrum problems. His velocity tops out in the upper 80s, with a solid-average curveball being his best pitch.
The Bulldogs could also contribute a couple of position players to the draft, most likely OF Bobby Felmy (23), the teamís top hitter this season and a scrappy player with average tools. Heís a fourth outfielder at best. Athletic SS Josh Smith (24) hasnít hit enough this year to merit a high pick, but has solid tools across the board.
The rest of the college ranks offer less than usual from the state. Georgia Techís talent is crowded in its freshman and sophomore classes, and juniors Andy Harwanick and Steven Blackwood are considered by most scouts better values as senior signs.
Georgia State has a trio of pitchers who should be drafted, with LHPs Ben Rulon (22) and Romas Hicks (41) and smallish RHP Brett Strickland (30).Hicks has the most intriguing stuff andbackground, having pitched 26 impressive innings in the Cape Cod League last summer. He struck out 29 and posted a 1.71 ERA, then failed to make the Panthers rotation this spring and moved to the bullpen, where his 88-92 mph fastball and fringy slider have been more effective. Rulon has good size (6-foot-3) for a lefty and used his average fastball (87-89 mph) and changeup to score wins against both College of Charleston and Georgia Tech, two of the top five offensive teams in college baseball. Strickland tops out at 91-92 mph at times and sometimes throws his curveball and changeup for strikes, though not with enough frequency.
Another small-college pitcher who may have made some money against a big-name opponent was Mercerís Brantly New (33), who usually sits in the 85-88 mph range but was up to 90-92 in a strong outing against Georgia. At his best, New throws his fastball to both sides of the plate and has a solid-average curveball and changeup. His inconsistent mechanics have limited his velocity and command.
Light Prep Crop
Itís a down year in Georgia for high school players, as most scouts agreed that no player stepped forward. One exception was 1B Luke Murton (17), the younger brother of Cubs farmhand (and 2003 Red Sox supplemental first-rounder) Matt Murton. Like Matt, Luke Murton has big power and flashed a good swing with wood bats in a mid-May Perfect Game showcase in Iowa. Murton resembles his brother in several ways, though he has better size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and doesnít run quite as well. He has shown excellent raw power and an ability to make consistent contact against good competition. Heís limited to first base. Like his brother, he has committed to Georgia Tech, which may keep him from being drafted highly.
Projectable RHP Blake Nation's (16) inconsistent spring has the 6-foot-7 stringbean expected to attend Georgia Southern. Nationís stuff has fluctuated too much this spring to be drafted highly; heís topped out at 88-89 mph but has lots of projection as he grows into his long frame.
The rest of the prep ranks feature players who are better suited for college. Some still could be drafted highly, such as athletic OFs Greg Lindsey (29), L.V. Ware (40) and Eddie Rush (28), whose name is appropriate because heís one of the draftís fastest runners. Rush has run a 6.36-second 60-yard dash at a Perfect Game showcase, and his overall offensive approach has improved. He remains raw offensively, though, after splitting his time between baseball and track, and he doesnít have a consistent swing that would allow him to drive the ball. Heís committed to Clemson, and most scouts think he needs three years of college to work on his swing.
RHP Chris Hicks (19) was the early choice as a breakout candidate, and he came out of the gates throwing 90-94 mph. When his velocity declined to 84-88 the rest of the spring, scouts fingered a lack of strength in his 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame. A club that wants to bank on the projection will have to challenge Hicksí Georgia Tech commitment.
Two high school players who did make a move for scouts this spring were LHP Geoff Vandel (21), who has been inconsistent with his velocity and might be a draft-and-follow candidate, and 1B Trevor Pippin (20), who has gotten stronger as a senior and started driving the ball. Still lean at 6-foot-3 but now 190 pounds instead of 170, Pippin has a smooth lefthanded swing that keeps his bat head in the strike zone a long time and some athleticism, which might allow him to play outfield. He also has arm strength and has pitched, though heís more of a thrower than a pitcher. Heís also considered more signable than most other Georgia preps.