By Jim Callis
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. JOSH LINDBLOM, rhp (National rank: 54)
School: Harrison HS.
Hometown: West Lafayette, Ind.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 222. Birthdate: June 15, 1987.
College Commitment: Tennessee.
Scouting Report: For a while Lindblom was generating more buzz in the Midwest than Michael Bowden, though Bowden eventually looked like he would move into the supplemental first round, while Lindblom looks like a second-rounder. Lindblom offers a little more size and a better delivery, but Bowden is more athletic and has better secondary pitches. Like Bowden, Lindblom has shown a plus fastball throughout the spring. He has pitched at 90-93 mph in every outing and peaked at 95. Scouts have mixed opinions on his breaking ball. It's more of a slider than a curveball, and its velocity varies from 74-82 mph. Some like his ability to spin the ball and envision it becoming a true slider, while others see it as shaky and becoming average at best. Lindblom needs to trust his changeup, and while he has clean mechanics, he's not deceptive pitching from a high arm slot. His lower body is not athletic, a mild concern.
2. LANCE LYNN, rhp (National rank: 199)
OTHERS TO WATCH
Brett Summers (3) and Sean Stone (4) are two more promising prep righthanders, but both have been a little disappointing this spring. Summers has the most projectable body at 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, but he may not be signable away from Virginia. He has been flying open in his delivery, costing him leverage, velocity on his fastball (he has pitched mostly at 85-89 mph) and sharpness on his curveball. The Indiana State-bound Stone also has a projectable body (6-foot-4, 190 pounds) and his arm works well. He'll reach 90 mph but needs more life on his fastball. He spins his breaking ball OK.
1B Matt Edwards (5) is one of the few college players in the state to assert himself this spring. A full-time first baseman after seeing time at third base last year, Edwards leads the Big East Conference with 63 RBIs. He has hit for average (.366) and power (19 doubles, 13 homers) while controlling the strike zone (43 walks, 27 strikeouts). He has some arm strength but doesn't run well enough to play the outfield. OF Craig Cooper (7), Edwards' Notre Dame teammate, is the second-best position player in the state after recovering from a slow start. He runs well and is a better athlete, though he lacks Edwards' power.
RHP Fred Jones (6) has been inconsistent, but a club that saw him on the right day could pop him in the first 10 rounds. He no-hit Northern Iowa and has been up to 93-94 mph while also flashing a big league slider. On other days, he'll pitch at 88 mph with below-average command.
Last summer, 1B Eric Lis (8) was the Texas Collegiate League player of the year, RHP Joe Ness (10) was the top-ranked prospect and pitcher of the year in the Great Lakes League and 1B Brad Miller (11) was the GLL player of the year. None lived up to that billing this spring. Lis tried to do too much at the start of the season and struggled at the plate, though to his credit he finished better. Power is his best tool and he plays a good first base, but his bat may be a little slow. Ness, a 6-foot-5 righthander, had no problem pitching in the 90s in the Great Lakes but has worked at 85-88 mph this year. While his changeup is effective, he hasn't shown aptitude for throwing a curveball or slider. A 49th-round pick of the Blue Jays as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2004, Miller is 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds but hasn't shown the consistent power scouts hoped for. He has a long swing that generates more line drives than deep fly balls.
Scouts also were expecting more out of RHP Ryan Doherty (13), who has generated a lot of hype for being 7-foot-1 but hasn't dominated college hitters as he did his first two years. Despite adding 55 pounds (he's now up to 255) since arriving at Notre Dame, he doesn't consistently show an average fastball. He works anywhere from 84-91 mph, and his slider isn't an average pitch either. He's still struggling to repeat his mechanics, no surprise for someone who would be the tallest player in big league history if he makes it.
Indiana's top high school position players are all catchers. Kyle Day (9) is athletic for his position but may not be ready for pro ball--he has committed to Michigan State--or signable outside of the first five rounds. He has a nice lefthanded stroke, a slightly above-average arm and average speed. His receiving needs some work. Greg Yersich (12), who transferred from an Illinois high school, stands out more defensively. He has above-average arm strength, though he needs to improve his footwork, and is a good receiver. He has some pop in his bat, but his long swings have scouts wondering how much he'll hit. He's a draft-and-follow candidate who has signed with Eastern Oklahoma State Junior College. J.B. Paxson (14) was generating late interest when it became known he's willing to sign despite a football scholarship at Purdue. He's 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, giving him obvious power potential. He's still figuring out the nuances of catching and might be more of a first baseman.
RHP Erik Morrison (15) leads NCAA Division I with 15 saves and was Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year. Eligible to sign before the draft as a fifth-year senior, he inked a deal with the Yankees for a $15,000 bonus. He relies on a tough 89-90 mph sinker and a slider from a low three-quarters angle. RHP Chris Toneguzzi (16) is another low three-quarters closer having a good spring. He throws a little harder than Morrison but can't match his breaking ball..
RHP John Axford (17) flashed first-round potential in the Cape Cod League in 2003, but had Tommy John surgery that December. He has been slow to come back, missing all of 2004 and working just three innings this spring. He had a low-90s fastball and a plus curveball before he got hurt, though his command was sporadic. Because he's a redshirt junior, a team could take him as a draft-and-follow.