Independent League Top Prospects
Some years are better than others. In many ways 2014 was the year of the independent league prospect. John Holdzkom went from indy ball in May to the big leagues […]
2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Mississippi
By John Manuel
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. STEPHEN HEAD, 1b (National rank: 36)
Hometown: Raymond, Miss.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: Jan. 13, 1984
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Head has had one of the best careers in Mississippi and Southeastern Conference history as a two-way star for three seasons. He falls into the next tier behind the all-time great two-way SEC players such as Tennessee’s Todd Helton and Florida’s Brad Wilkerson because he’s not as athletic as those lefthanded sluggers. He has similar raw power, though, thanks to a big, strong frame. Head’s body isn’t great, but some scouts expect it to firm up as he focuses on hitting as a pro and eschews the mound, where he gets by on a high 80s fastball, guile and competitiveness. Still, he’s two saves away from tying the Rebels’ career record. Head’s average has tumbled this year as SEC coaches worked around him to keep him from beating them, and he’s become more impatient and tried harder to hit home runs. He has enough strength to hit them with a more patient, level approach, and profiles to hit 20-30 homers annually in the majors. Most scouts expect him to become a better hitter after he gives up pitching, and he should fill out in his upper body. Head is also a good fielder at first base with soft hands.
2. CODY SATTERWHITE, rhp (National rank: 39)
3. MATT MALONEY, lhp (National rank: 106)
4. BRIAN PETTWAY, of/rhp (National rank: 129)
5. MARK HOLLIMAN, rhp (National rank: 141)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Mississippi)
Head's status as a premium pick was expected, but the emergence of Satterwhite brought even more scouting directors and crosscheckers to Mississippi. That some of them turned up at Division III games was a stunner to area scouts, but the bigwigs came to Millsaps College to check out intriguing SS Garner Wetzel (8). At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Wetzel will move either to third base or elsewhere as a pro, and his competition made him difficult to scout. He has shown raw power in his swing, which can get long and sweepy. He's strong and has athletic ability, and his good makeup means he'll at least be an organizational player. Some teams like him better than that, and Wetzel--who attracted little attention in his prep career in Biloxi--could be picked in the first 10 rounds.
Wetzel surpassed another small-school player in the state with big numbers--Alcorn State 2B Corey Wimberly (18), a slight, speedy player who led Division I in batting. His size keeps him out of the top of the draft, but Wimberly should go on the draft's first day. The same can be said for Division II power Delta State's top players, LHP Brant Leach (16) and C Craig Newton (17). Leach is the better prospect as a lefty with 88-92 mph heat and secondary stuff that is average at times. His inconsistency has kept him from even pitching consistently in the Delta State rotation, however.
Mississippi's strong season was built on more than just four players. LHP Eric Fowler (10) was a member of the rotation all season and has solid-average stuff that should get him drafted on the first day. Fowler's velocity improved from the mid-80s to the upper 80s this season. His slider comes and goes, and when it's on he can be a strikeout pitcher. He hasn't responded well to past moves to the bullpen, though that's what scouts consider his better future role.
Mississippi lost to streaking Mississippi State in the SEC tournament finale, and the Bulldogs' hot streak might help players' draft stock. The two best bets to go are C/IF Thomas Berkery (7) and OF Brad Corley (6). At the outset of the season, Corley was a candidate to be a first-round pick, but he'll be lucky to go in the first five rounds. He's as toolsy as any player in the state, with a power arm suited for right field and enough juice in his bat to profile for the spot. He hasn't shown much power after coming back from a broken thumb last summer, however. After hitting 19 homers as a sophomore, he had just three homers this spring. Scouts were concerned about the lack of a power load in his swing for the move to wood bats.
Berkery has improved his stock as the Bulldogs' most consistent hitter, and his versatility makes him attractive to clubs who see him as a safe pick who could be a utilityman. He's athletic enough for spells at second or third base, is a solid catch-and-throw option behind the plate and has a consistent, line-drive approach that allows him to make consistent contact.
Southern Mississippi made regionals again and might have had an early pick if not for injuries that cost them their top two pitchers, Cliff Russum (before the season) and Mike Cashion (eight starts, Tommy John surgery). 1B Marc Maddox (11), more athletic and less of a slugger than the average profile for the position, might be a tough sign as a junior who is academically motivated.
Mississippi's junior colleges are consistent sources of talent, and another raw player emerged this spring in RHP Jared Koon (9). Koon has signed with Mississippi State, meaning he was good enough for Bulldogs coach Ron Polk to break his personal rule of only signing Mississippi juco players after they've completed two years of school. Koon is still maturing into his 6-foot-4, 210-pound body, and when he harnessed all the moving parts, he touched the mid-90s at times with his fastball. He was previously known as a pitcher who threw consistent strikes with an 84-85 mph fastball and a solid curveball. Now he has velocity to go with his approach and breaking ball, but his Mississippi State commitment might make him expensive.
Two other juco players who will get a look are Southern Miss signee Toddric Johnson (14), an athletic outfielder who has started to smooth out the rough edges on his offensive game; and 1B Andy Rice (15), who has plus raw power but not enough of an idea of how to use it consistently.
Aside from Satterwhite, the state's high school ranks will contribute little. C Kyle Maxie (13) failed to dominate despite a power bat and strong, mature body. He's expected to be a tough sign as a Florida State recruit and may not be drafted. RHP Wade Broyles (12) has an average curveball that at times is a plus pitch and an average fastball. He also has some projection, but his command hasn't been consistent this season. A club that saw him throw strikes consistently could take him in the 10th to 20th round.