Scouting Reports: Florida

2007 MLB Draft Only a year after Florida's amateur talent was near an all-time best, talent in the state has fallen off considerably. Just 16 players from the state rank among Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects, two fewer than made the cut in 2005, a year that was considered the worst of the decade in terms of draft-eligible talent.

Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta's resurgence after a poor showing in 2006 and Florida State second baseman Tony Thomas' rise were two of the few bright spots for the state's four-year college crop. After LaPorta, Thomas and Stetson righthander Corey Kluber, the four-year college talent is barely worth mentioning. Of the state's top 20 prospects, just four are college players.

*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
"The colleges are definitely way down," said a longtime area scout based in the state. "It's the worst I've seen in years."

"Thomas has been a nice surprise at FSU, but after him their best players are underclassmen," said a scout with an American League club. "Miami is young, but there's going to be plenty to see (there) next year, and UF has really struggled."

The high school class is better, but its strength lies in its depth, with an appealing collection of players with second- to fifth-round talent, as opposed to impact potential. Like Thomas on the college side, the emergence of Tampa's Nevin Griffith provided a boost to the prep class. The projectable righthander showed better velocity, an improved delivery and secondary pitches, and his showdowns with crosstown rival Michael Burgess were easily the highlights of the spring, drawing dozens of scouts and hundreds of fans.

The catch with the high school players will be signability. If their bonus demands don't match their perceived value, the number of high school players signed out of the Sunshine State could approach an all-time low. "If they're realistic about signing and not everyone comes out thinking they're a top two- or three-round guy, then you've got a pretty good crop, and that's what we're dealing with," another area scout said. "If not, it could be pretty thin real quick."

Signability is the major reason Matt Latos is still an amateur. Following his senior season at Coconut Creek (Fla.) High in 2006, Latos' request of a seven-figure bonus caused him to fall to the 11th round, and he headed off to junior college under control to the Padres. He's easily the state's best juco prospect this year, and his supporting cast of junior college prospects is better than the crop of four-year college players, but generally underwhelming.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Matt LaPorta, 1b, Florida
2. Michael Main, rhp/of, Deland (Fla.) HS
3. Michael Burgess, of, Hillsborough HS, Tampa
4. Matt Latos, rhp, Broward (Fla.) CC (CONTROL: Padres)
5. Drew Cumberland, ss, Pace HS, Milton, Fla.
6. Yasmani Grandal, c, Miami Springs (Fla.) HS
7. Nevin Griffith, rhp, Middleton HS, Tampa
8. John Tolisano, 2b/of, Estero (Fla.) HS
9. Corey Kluber, rhp, Stetson
10. Jonathan Bachanov, rhp, University HS, Orlando
11. Danny Rams, c/1b, Gulliver Prep, Miami
12. Tony Thomas, 2b, Florida State
13. Denny Almonte, of, Florida Christian HS, Miami
14. Jonathan Holt, rhp, Tampa
15. Tommy Toledo, rhp, Alonso HS, Tampa
16. Daniel Elorriaga-Matra, c, Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla.

Other Prospects Of Note

17. John Gast, lhp, Lake Brantley HS, Altamonte Springs, Fla.
18. Timothy Sexton, rhp, Miami-Dade (Fla.) CC
19. Jeff Schaus, of, Barron Collier HS, Naples, Fla.
20. Sean Koecheler, rhp, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) HS
21. Bo Greenwell, of, Riverdale HS, Fort Myers, Fla.
22. James McOwen, of, Florida International
23. Scott Maine, lhp, Miami
24. Nathan Striz, rhp, Santa Fe Catholic HS, Lakeland, Fla.
25. Sergio Morales, of, Broward (Fla.) CC (SIGNED: White Sox)
26. Jovan Rosa, 3b, Lake City (Fla.) CC (SIGNED: Cubs)
27. Brad Peacock, rhp, Palm Beach (Fla.) CC (CONTROL: Nationals)
28. Mike McGee, rhp, Port St. Lucie (Fla.) HS
29. Chris Salberg, lhp, Florida Atlantic (CONTROL: Orioles)
30. Mickey Storey, rhp, Florida Atlantic
31. Austin Garrett, lhp, Pensacola (Fla.) CC
32. Robert Bryson, rhp, Seminole CC (CONTROL: Brewers)
33. Hunter Ovens, Cardinal Mooney HS, Sarasota, Fla.
34. Luke Green, rhp, Chipola (Fla.) JC (CONTROL: Angels)
35. Bryan Augenstein, rhp, Florida
36. Ryan Acosta, rhp, Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic HS
37. Chris Jones, lhp, Gaither HS, Tampa
38. Evan Chambers, of, Lakeland (Fla.) HS
39. Chris Hernandez, Monsignor Pace HS, Opa Locka, Fla.
40. Tim Bascom, rhp, No School
41. Craig Gullickson, lhp, Palm Beach Gardens HS, Wellington, Fla.
42. Robert Leffler, rhp, Tampa
43. Anthony Rizzo, 1b, Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla.
44. Enrique Garcia, rhp, Miami
45. Scott Robinson, of, Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) CC (SIGNED: Rockies)
46. Johnny Williams, rhp, Tampa
47. Michael Davitt, rhp, Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) CC (SIGNED: Angels)
48. Dan Thomas, rhp, South Florida
49. Caleb Gindel, lhp/of, Pace HS, Milton, Fla.
50. Walter Diaz, ss, South Florida
51. Danny Gil, rhp, Miami
52. Derek Stultz, rhp, Wharton HS, Tampa
53. Joey Manning, of, Bartow (Fla.) HS
54. Chris Turner, of, Brandon (Fla.) HS
55. D'Marcus Ingram, of, Pensacola (Fla.) CC (CONTROL: Cardinals)
56. Steve Vento, rhp, Palm Beach (Fla.) CC (CONTROL: Twins)
57. Bryan Henry, rhp, Florida State
58. Manny Miguelez, lhp, Miami
59. Matt Davis, rhp, Jacksonville
60. Mark Peterson, lhp, Lincoln Park Academy, Fort Pierce, Fla.
61. Richard Lucas, 3b, Wolfson HS, Jacksonville
62. Andy Polk, Webber International
63. Aaron Tullo, rhp, St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC (CONTROL: Brewers)
64. D.J. Swatscheno, lhp, Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
65. Iden Nazario, 1b/lhp, Southridge HS, Miami
66. Josh Bowman, rhp, Northeast HS, St. Petersburg, Fla.
67. Glen Johnson, 3b, South Fork HS, Hobe Sound, Fla.
68. Brandon Bonner, rhp, Lakewood HS, St. Petersburg, Fla.
69. Matt Small, rhp, Lake City (Fla.) CC (CONTROL: Braves)
70. Reynaldo Cortilla, rhp, Miami Springs HS

Scouting Reports

 Matt LaPorta1. Matt LaPorta, 1b (National rank: 20)
School: Florida. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 1/1/85.
Scouting Report: LaPorta led the nation in home runs as a sophomore in 2005, slugging 26 to set a school record. His power binge continued during that summer, when he anchored the heart of the order for Team USA's college national squad. His junior season was another story. He strained an oblique muscle in February, missed 13 games and never got untracked. The Red Sox drafted him in the 14th round last June, but he stuck to his bonus demands, reportedly $1 million, and returned to Gainesville for his senior season, with outstanding results. His .579 on-base percentage led the nation, as did his 1.432 on-base plus slugging. He has improved his approach and kept his hands inside the ball better this year, making better contact, and his plus-plus raw power remains a game-changing tool. When he gets his arms extended, he can launch balls out to all parts of the park. He's a below-average defensive player who is relegated to first base as a professional, but could be taken in the top half of the first round this year nonetheless. His adviser is Scott Boras, which can always be a factor in where a player goes.

 Michael Main2. Michael Main, rhp/of (National rank: 23)
School: Deland (Fla.) HS. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 171. Birthdate: 12/14/88.
Scouting Report: Baseball America's top 15-year-old in the nation in 2004, Main looked like a can't-miss prospect even before he could drive. Tendinitis in his rotator cuff cost him most of his junior season, but he recovered to lead DeLand High to the state final four and did so again this year. He has a lightning-quick arm that generates 97 mph heat, but more importantly he has learned how to pitch this spring. Even Main's jaw-dropping velocity wasn't enough to get outs when he got knocked around in a start at the Aflac Classic and other high-profile events last summer. This year, he has kept his fastball down in the zone, where it has lots of late movement. Main shows solid-average command presently, as well as the ability to spot this two-plane breaking ball where he wants it. His changeup has above-average run and sink. Main's slight build and lively repertoire make him comparable to Tim Hudson, but some teams see him as a safer pick as an outfielder. He's a 70 runner with good bat speed, and has even shown an ability to make contact from both sides of the plate. He's more likely to be drafted in the first round as a pitcher, however.

 Michael Burgess3. Michael Burgess, of (National rank: 30)
School: Hillsborough HS, Tampa. Class: Sr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 10/20/88.
Scouting Report: With huge raw power, inconsistent performance and the legacy of Hillsborough High (the alma mater of Gary Sheffield, Dwight Gooden and Elijah Dukes, among other big leaguers) as a backdrop, Burgess has become one of this draft's most debated prospects. He was a third-team All-American after batting .512 with 12 home runs as a junior, and the power translated with a wood bat last summer. Although his bat speed, strength and leveraged swing remain, Burgess' approach and set-up at the plate have puzzled scouts this spring, and he hasn't made consistent hard contact. He seems to lack focus, perhaps due in part to constant solicitation from hopeful advisers and receiving hitting lessons from former Georgia Tech star Ty Griffin and big leaguer Derek Bell. Late in the season, his timing was better and he showed glimpses of the 40-homer-hittting right fielder he could become. He's an average defender with a plus arm and below-average speed. Burgess could slip into the supplemental round, but the team that weighs his history over his senior year could pop him in the first round.

4. Matt Latos, rhp (National rank: 32)
School: Broward (Fla.) CC. Class: Fr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 12/9/87.
Scouting Report: After big bonus demands and makeup questions drove Latos down draft boards a year ago as a high school senior, he's in the position of being one of Florida's most electric amateur pitchers two years running. The Padres drafted the tall, thin Latos in the 11th round last year and resumed negotiations with him after his junior college season ended in mid-May. They reportedly had offered him a bonus near $1 million, only to have Latos' adviser ask for as much as $3 million, so they were not expected to sign him. Telling were the comments of a scout based in Florida who said, "I hope they sign him so we don't have to deal with it." His stuff--mid-90s fastball, hard, sharp breaking ball, solid-average changeup--profiles in the middle of a rotation or perhaps in a set-up role in the big leagues. His command is at least average, though he struggles at times to spot his breaking ball. His arm action is long and he lacks deception. His fastball lacks life when it's up in the zone. Latos is a premium talent, but if he's adamant about receiving top-of-the-draft money, he might take a tumble again this year.

5. Drew Cumberland, ss (National rank: 38)
School: Pace HS, Milton, Fla. Class: Sr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 1/13/89.
Scouting Report: Separating this year's crop of prep middle-infield prospects hasn't been easy for scouts. Cumberland is one of five high school shortstops who could be drafted in the supplemental round. He has a slight advantage because of premium quickness, speed and athleticism. He was an all-state selection as a defensive back and running back in football and consistently turns in 4.0-second home-to-first times from the left side of the plate, making him a 70 runner. His game is similar to that of Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. Cumberland is an above-average hitter who has enough strength and bat speed to drive balls from gap to gap, though his swing and approach have holes. He's a high-energy player who makes spectacular plays on defense but botches the routine ones. His brother Shaun is in the Devil Rays organization, and he's expected to join him in pro ball soon.

6. Yasmani Grandal, c (National rank: 42)
School: Miami Springs (Fla.) HS. Class: Sr.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 11/8/88.
Scouting Report: Grandal was born in Cuba and moved to Miami when he was 11, and he started catching when he was 13 at the encouragement of his stepfather. He emerged as the country's top prep catching prospect last summer when he played in the Aflac Classic and committed to Miami. He has since been surpassed by Devin Mesaraco for top high school catching honors, and his all-around game is solid but not exceptional. He has soft hands and receives fine, and he has an above-average arm that produces quick throws with carry and accuracy. His ability to make contact from both sides of the plate enhances his value, but his bat speed is fringe-average. He makes sharper contact and drives the ball much more consistently from the left side. Grandal has good makeup and instincts, and should be taken no later than the second round.

7. Nevin Griffith, rhp (National rank: 45)
School: Middleton HS, Tampa. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 3/23/89.
Scouting Report: The quintessential projectable high school pitcher, Griffith showed all the ingredients of a premium prospect as an underclassman and put it all together this spring. He solidified his status as a high-round pick by dominating in two showdowns with crosstown rival Michael Burgess and Hillsborough High, the first of which was the buzz of amateur baseball for weeks. Griffith is long, lean and athletic with a whippy arm action. He has improved his balance over the rubber and better incorporated his lower half in his delivery, and his velocity spiked, touching 96 mph and humming along at 90-92 with sink on most nights. His 80-84 mph slider is a plus pitch at times, and he throws a more traditional curveball as well. He has feel for a changeup that he can keep down in the zone. Outside of inconsistency and fatigue, there isn't much to knock on Griffith, who profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation starter and should be drafted in the supplemental round.

8. John Tolisano, 2b/of (National rank: 85)
School: Estero (Fla.) HS. Class: Sr.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 10/7/88.
Scouting Report: Tolisano's father Michael is a chiropractor who played baseball at Connecticut before moving to Florida, and his amateur career has been well documented. He was named Baseball America's top 14-year-old in 2003 when he played on the same AAU national champion team as Michael Main, and he was considered one of the country's top underclassmen as a freshman and sophomore. Tolisano's performance fell off last summer, however, and he enters the draft as something of an enigma. He has a fair stroke from both sides of the plate, with average bat speed and solid-average power to all fields. He made better contact late in this season, but has struggled to square balls up enough that teams questions his ability to hit for average. He's a 50 runner on the 20-80 scale with flashy actions on defense. He has below-average hands and poor footwork, and some scouts believe he's best suited for the outfield. He could be drafted as high as the second round.

9. Corey Kluber, rhp (National rank: 87)
School: Stetson. Class:
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 4/10/86.
Scouting Report: As one of former Stetson coach Terry Rooney's final recruits before he left for Notre Dame (he's now at Louisiana State), Kluber has developed into a reliable starter. He had a stress fracture in his throwing arm in high school that required surgery, and he still has a screw in his arm. But he has been resilient and holds his velocity late in outings. He pitches at 90-91 mph, touching 94, and his delivery is clean. The strong-bodied Texan has an intimidating presence on the mound, and he pounds the zone with four pitches. His slider is the better of his two breaking balls, and he features an average changeup. He doesn't have a legitimate put-away pitch and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter who could be drafted as high as the third round.

10. Jonathan Bachanov, rhp (National rank: 100)
School: University HS, Orlando. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: 1/30/89.
Scouting Report: Aside from Tampa product Nevin Griffith, Bachanov made the biggest climb among Sunshine State pitchers this spring. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, he offers a strong, durable frame. But Bachanov, whose parents are Russian immigrants, has a max-effort delivery and off-the-field baggage that leaves some teams wary. University High was his fourth high school in as many years and Bachanov's Myspace page--complete with a "countdown 'til I get paid"--was a running joke among scouts this spring. Despite his blemishes, the big righthander shows glimpses of greatness, like his 15-strikeout performance against one of the state's top teams, Winter Springs High, in the 6-A regional quarterfinals in early May. That night his fastball was up to 95, and he showed an ability to place his hard breaking ball down in the strike zone. His control improves when he pitches out of the stretch, and he profiles as a potential closer who could be drafted as early as the second round.

11. Danny Rams, c/1b  (National rank: 105)
School: Gulliver Prep, Miami. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 222. Birthdate: 12/19/88.
Scouting Report: Of the players ranked outside the Top 100, Rams possesses the two most exceptional tools. His raw power grades as a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and one scout says, "Whatever is the highest grade on your scale, that's what his arm is." The dilemma in his evaluation, however, is whether he'll ever get to put those tools to use in professional baseball. Rams' father Eduardo, a Cuban native, died of a heart attack when Danny was 14. At 6-foot-2, 226, he's a giant among most players his age, and his size and lack of flexibility have been the greatest impediments to his development behind the plate. He receives adequately, but lacks the lateral movement and footwork to stick behind the plate. He spent some time in the outfield as a senior, but he might be relegated to first base in the future. He can launch tape measure blasts and is a dead-pull hitter. He'll need to refine his approach in order to maximize his talent, and could be drafted in the top three rounds.

12. Tony Thomas, 2b (National rank: 114)
School: Florida State. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 7/10/86.
Scouting Report: Few players experienced such a drastic turnaround in such a short span as Thomas. He batted .240 and struck out 75 times in 2005, the second-most strikeouts in Division I, and piled up 66 more as a sophomore. This year, Thomas led the nation in hits (97) and doubles (28), ranked second in on-base percentage (.542) and third in average (.449). He had as many walks as strikeouts (36), and had gone from a non-prospect to a potential top 100 talent. He opened his stance, which has allowed him to see pitches a split-second earlier and says that has been the key to his improvement. His swing plane is flat and his up-the-middle approach isn't conducive for power, but he has bat speed and good barrel awareness. Thomas is a below-average defender with a below-average arm, though he's an average runner. Given his improvement at the plate, it's conceivable he plays his way into an adequate second baseman, which would enhance his value.

13. Denny Almonte, of (National rank: 141)
School: Florida Christian HS, Miami. Class: Sr.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 173. Birthdate: 9/24/88.
Scouting Report: Not to be confused with the infamous Danny, this switch-hitting Dominican transferred to Florida Christian prior to his senior season. A toolsy, premium athlete, Almonte made an early push this spring, flashing plus speed, power and center-field skills to grab lots of attention. But each time his name comes up, "boom or bust," "Jekyll and Hyde" and "risk and reward" seem to precede the conversation. At his best, Almonte flies around the outfield with a quick first step and good body control. Balls jump off his bat and he drives them out of the park, evoking Devon White comparisons. He's a 6.8 runner in the 60-yard dash, and while that tool always shows, there have been games when none of the others do. He has strong wrists and forearms, but a rigid swing littered with holes. His swing plane tends to be up the zone rather than through it from the left side, and he swings and misses often. Because of some good performances in front of the right audiences, Almonte could be drafted as high as the supplemental round. Teams less optimistic about his projection would consider taking him in the fifth.

14. Jonathan Holt, rhp (National rank: 148)
School: Tampa. Class:
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 3/10/86.
Scouting Report: Tampa's closer, Holt may have quietly pitched his way into the top three rounds of the draft. His fastball command is among the best in the draft. He had not carved out a defined role with Tampa before this season, but he compiled a 60-4 strikeout-walk ratio and was dependable out of the bullpen all season. He tops out at 91 mph and pitches at 88, but his fastball has heavy sink and armside run. He alters his arm slot, working from a three-quarters release point down to almost sidearm, but he pounds the outer half of the plate no matter which angle he throws from. His changeup and slider are fringy pitches, though his changeup has enough deception to serve as a usable offering against lefthanded hitters.

15. Tommy Toledo, rhp (National rank: 151)
School: Alonso HS, Tampa. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 165. Birthdate: 12/13/88.
Scouting Report: Toledo was long regarded as a high school righthander who was a growth spurt away from becoming a top prospect, but he enters the draft at 6-foot-3, 165 pounds and more of a third- to fifth-round type. At his best, Toledo pitches between 90-93 mph with a fastball that shows good sink and late life. He has drawn comparisons to former Miami first-rounder Cesar Carillo for his ability to spot his fastball to both sides of the plate, as well as his rail-thin frame, which doesn't lend considerable room for growth, making it difficult to project significant improvement. His slider and changeup are fringe-average offerings that he shows some feel for. His slingy arm action is tough to repeat and he tends to drop his elbow, making his slider flatten out. He's committed to Florida, but there could be a team willing to pay him slot money in the third or fourth round. If he falls past the fifth, he'll probably elect to go to school.

16. Daniel Elorriaga-Matra, c (National rank: 179)
School: Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 12/28/88.
Scouting Report: Elorriaga-Matra entered his senior season ranked just a notch below Yasmani Grandal and Danny Rams among Florida's prep catching prospects. He's athletic and limber, shows plus arm strength from behind the plate and occasionally drives the ball well from the right side of the plate. While he has all the tools to become a plus defender, his receiving technique needs work and his low arm slot becomes a problem when his throws tail badly to the first-base side of second base. At the plate, he's spread out in his set-up and has a two-piece swing that's mechanical and makes it tough to make consistent hard contact. He shows solid-average power when he squares up balls. Based primarily on his defensive upside, Elorriaga-Matra should be drafted in the top five rounds.

Farewell, DFE

This marks the final year for the draft-and-follow process after changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, making this the last time players will attend a junior college with the comfort of knowing a professional franchise has a vested interest in them. There are a wide range of theories on how the rule change will affect juco programs, but it's safe to assume the Angels, Braves and Brewers will be three teams that continue to scout junior colleges thoroughly.

Florida area scouts got a good taste of what covering the jucos ranks might be like--in terms of watching a promising pitcher who was not under control--by following Miami Dade Community College righthander Timothy Sexton this spring. Because of an unorthodox delivery and long, thin frame, Sexton draws comparisons to Bronson Arroyo. He transferred from George Washington after one season, opened plenty of eyes this season and could be drafted as high as the third round. His delivery is best described as an exaggerated drop and drive, in which his right knee is almost completely on the ground before he vaults himself over his front side. His fastball ranges from 87-91 mph and he can pitch at 88 deep into games. His fastball has average life with fair downward plane, despite his delivery. Sexton has feel for his secondary stuff as well, especially his changeup, which shows occasional plus movement. His slider has better break that his curve. It's unconventional but effective, as Sexton is able to show average command and plenty of deception. He has committed to Coastal Carolina.

Finding players as good as Sexton who were not under control wasn't easy this year in the Sunshine State. Two of the state's top junior college position players have already signed with the teams that drafted them last year. The Cubs signed Jovan Rossa, even though the sophomore from Lake City Community College didn't perform as well as he did as a freshman. He has all the makings of a power-hitting third baseman or right fielder, with plus bat speed and a knack for driving balls deep to all parts of the park. His feel for hitting is well-below-average, and he'll be somewhat of a player-development project. He has to learn which pitches to take and which ones he should unleash his quick swing on. He's played shortstop at Lake City but is a below-average runner who has plenty of arm strength for a corner.

Matt Latos' teammate, outfielder Sergio Morales, earned conference player of the year honors and has tremendous tools. The White Sox signed him for approximately $180,000, and he reported to extended spring training where he should fit right in with other professional players. He has a quick first step, solid-average bat speed and is a 65 runner on the 20-to-80 scale.

Outside of Rossa and Morales, Florida's juco talent was thin in position players. Pensacola Community College center fielder D'Marcus Ingram has plus speed and a chance to remain in center field. He has above-average bat speed, but needs to tone down swing. His throwback approach, with no batting gloves or set stance, endears him to scouts who recognize his raw ability and appreciate his no-frills attitude. He was a standout running back in high school in Arkansas before enrolling at Pensacola. The Cardinals could still sign him before the draft.

Outfielder Scott Robinson had interest in attending Duke after he played on the same high school team as Georgia prep standout Jason Heyward in 2006. The Blue Devils didn't offer him a substantial scholarship, so instead the articulate, grounded Robinson--a 4.0 student in high school--went to Okaloosa-Walton Junior College. He cashed in a strong season for $105,000 when he signed with the Rockies. He's a plus runner with plus raw power who might have to move to a corner outfield spot eventually.

Robinson's teammate, lefthander Austin Garrett, pitched his way into contention for a spot in the top eight to 10 rounds. Garrett played football and baseball growing up in Tennessee, and is the younger brother of M.J. Garrett, who played football at Vanderbilt but gained national fame when he appeared on an MTV reality show. Austin was named Panhandle Conference pitcher of the year after going 9-2, 1.70 with 104 strikeouts in 102 innings. He has committed to College of Charleston, but because of his advanced feel for pitching he might draw enough interest to sign as a draft choice this year. His fastball sits at 86-90 mph, though at times it lacks life, and his breaking ball is below-average. His changeup could become an average pitch down the line.

Palm Beach Community College righthanders Brad Peacock and Steve Vento were under control and showed enough improvement to warrant interest from the Nationals and Twins, respectively. Peacock, who was taken in the 41st round out of a high school in Palm Beach, where he played mostly shortstop, is more polished and has better present stuff than Vento, a 48th-rounder by the Twins last year. Vento's strengths are Peacock's weaknesses. Vento is big and strong, with a fastball that has been up to 93 mph, while Peacock needs to gain weight and can't overpower hitters with his 87-91 mph fastball. Vento moved to the back of the bullpen after struggling as a starter, and his stuff played up in a relief role. While Peacock was considered a lock to sign with Washington, for as much as fifth-round money, Vento--the brother-in-law of Angels outfielder Tommy Murphy--has committed to Florida Atlantic and could wind up there. Peacock has usable secondary offerings in his curveball and changeup, and his fastball shows plus life at times, as does his changeup.

Two junior college righthanders under control to the Brewers who have shown some arm strength are Aaron Tullo and Robert Bryson. Tullo, a 17th-rounder last year, was still trying to recover the form he showed in high school before Tommy John surgery derailed his progress. He's been up to 94 mph this spring, and his delivery is clean and easy. Bryson, a 31st-rounder out of a Delaware high school, has touched 96, though his secondary stuff and command are inconsistent.

And it wouldn’t be a draft in Florida without at least one juco success story for longtime Angels scout/minor league manager Tom Kotchman. Kotchman has been mining the state's juco ranks for more than a decade, and his name is on the "signed by" line for multiple major leaguers, including Howie Kendrick. Kotchman pleaded for Kendrick in the 10th round of the 2002 draft out of St. John's River Community College, and got him. Don't expect righthander Luke Green to zip to the big leagues in three years as Kendrick did, but he flashed an 88-93 mph fastball and his delivery has improved since he had Tommy John surgery in February 2006. It was a few months before that when Kotchman stopped by the baseball field on his way to watch his daughter Krystal play softball at Chipola Junior College. Green was throwing a bullpen, and showed enough to convince Kotchman he was worth drafting in the 44th round despite not pitching last year. A former Mr. Basketball in West Virginia and a 36th-round pick by the Braves out of high school in 2005, Green is athletic and projectable, and he helped Chipola earn a berth to the Juco World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.

The Angels didn't have to wait as long to sign righthander Michael Davitt, but he hasn't put it all together the way scouts expected when he was coming out of an Alabama high school two years ago. Davitt was roommates with Robinson at Okaloosa-Walton, and he signed shortly after Robinson. He has a good arm and a sturdy frame, but he doesn't have power stuff and he doesn't throw enough strikes to get by on spotting his pitches.

Poor College Performances

It was in junior college that righthander Enrique Garcia's stock was at its highest. He has been drafted twice, first by the White Sox in the 17th round in 2005 after his freshman season at Potomac State (W.Va.) Junior College, and again last year by the Diamondbacks. He opted to attend Miami, where his lack of feel for pitching has been exploited. He looks the part--with a strong, durable, 6-foot-3 frame--but other than arm strength, Garcia doesn't offer much. His fastball has been up to 92 mph, and he's pitched at 87-90. His secondary stuff is below-average.

Righthander Danny Gil and lefthander Manny Miguelez won't garner any more action than Garcia, but all three should be drafted in the top 15 rounds. Gil has some ability to move the ball around the zone and alternate his arm slot, which creates good deception. His fastball sits near 86-87 mph, and he'll mix in a splitter and a fringe-average breaking ball.

Still, lefthander Scott Maine will be the highest-drafted Hurricane. A fourth-year junior who has never fulfilled his potential, Maine could carve out a niche in pro ball because of his low arm slot and deceiving delivery. His fastball ranges from 87-92 mph, and he has a slurvy breaking ball as well as some feel for a changeup. Since being named a third-team BA High School All-American in 2003, Maine had Tommy John surgery and was in a serious car accident. He wore a protective mask most of his sophomore season and pitched fewer than 10 innings before settling into a regular role as a starter last spring. The Rockies drafted him last year in the 23rd round, but Maine elected to return to school.

Injuries and just plain poor performance took a toll on some of the arms in Florida that had potential to be taken in the top five rounds at the outset of the season. South Florida righty Dan Thomas pitched well early this season, including seven one-hit innings with eight punchouts against Manhattan with more than a dozen scouts in attendance to see him and Manhattan first baseman Matt Rizzotti. He went down with a shoulder injury shortly thereafter, and the injury was diagnosed as fraying in his right labrum. He had surgery in May. Command has never been his forte, but Thomas showed feel for three pitches when he was healthy.

Florida Atlantic righthander Mickey Storey was five starts into his junior season when he went down with an elbow injury that cost him the rest of the campaign. He pounds the zone with solid-average stuff and an aggressive mentality, but he has a max-effort delivery, which might have precipitated his injury. His teammate, lefthander Chris Salberg, is a 23-year-old, fifth-year senior who's under control to the Orioles. He originally attended Northern Illinois and planned to walk on there, but a coaching change led him to drop athletics altogether. He ended up at Rock Valley (Ill.) Junior College, where he played both baseball and golf, before transferring to Florida Atlantic. He led the Sun Belt Conference with 116 strikeouts this spring with an average fastball at 87-88 mph and improving changeup. But a nasty curveball is his best pitch. A starter in college, he's probably destined for the bullpen in pro ball.

Righthander Bryan Augenstein took his regular turn in the Gators rotation each weekend and led the team in innings (103) and strikeouts (97), but didn't miss many bats and was generally underwhelming. The regular season came to an unceremonious end when Augenstein was roughed up for 14 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) against South Carolina. He's big and strong, but Augenstein's stuff lacks life and his secondary stuff is fringe-average. A third-team Preseason All-American, if he can rediscover the life on his high-80s fastball and improve his breaking ball, he could have value as a middle reliever.

"There are a lot of guys like that, who you liked last summer and fall but haven't performed that well this spring," an area scout said. "There just hasn't been a lot to get excited about with colleges down here."

While scouts were split on the evaluation of outfielder James McOwen, enough teams believe he will make enough contact to become at least an extra major league outfielder that he could be drafted as high as the fourth or fifth round. He has an unorthodox approach and set-up that is comparable to former Miami center fielder Jon Jay. McOwen, like Jay, is patient at the plate and gets the bat head to the ball with some authority, showing solid-average raw power. He uses the entire field effectively. He's an average runner from home to first but has turned in 6.6-second 60-yard-dash times in the past, and is better under way. He has an average arm and will have to stay in center field to have much long-term value. He's lauded for this hard-nosed approach to the game. He reinjured his shoulder late in the season, though the severity of the injury was uncertain.

Shortstop Walter Diaz transferred from Miami to South Florida and posted an impressive .448 on-base percentage--and a less impressive .421 slugging percentage. He has average bat speed, but the ball doesn't jump off his bat as it did when he was in high school and showed potential to be an offensive threat as a middle infielder. He's more of a spray-and-run hitter at present, and he's just a solid-average runner with passable defensive skills at shortstop.

Florida's lackluster crop of proven pitchers could help righthander Tim Bascom's shot of being drafted in the top 10 rounds. Drafted last year in the sixth round by the Padres after his junior season at Central Florida, Bascom never officially signed, due to an injury, and sought to return to school as a senior. However, Central Florida declared him ineligible due to contact with an agent. Bascom has recovered from surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus damage in his right knee and joined an independent league team in Bradenton three weeks before the draft.

A scout who attended one of Bascom's bullpen sessions this spring said his stuff was similar to what it was last spring before he injured his knee, but wasn't overwhelming. His fastball sat at 87-90 mph with some sink, he has a two-seamer at 87-89 and three fringe-average offspeed pitches in a slider, changeup and curveball.

The crop of college arms was so thin that a converted catcher from Tampa, Robert Leffler, also created interest and could be drafted as high as the eighth round. In his first year as a pitcher, Leffler has shown enough arm strength to bump 94 mph, and he's learning how to command an 85-87 mph slurve. His velocity and control are inconsistent, but his arm works well and his delivery is clean and on line. Teammate Johnny Williams has been slowed by tendinitis, but showed an 88-92 mph fastball and solid-average slider before his arm trouble arose.

Prep Disappointment

While Dan Thomas' injury was a significant loss to the state's thin crop of college pitchers, John Gast's loss was a much greater blow to Florida's talent in the high school ranks.

The thick-bodied lefty had developed a reputation as a strike-throwing machine, with solid to plus stuff that he showed pretty much every time out. He had pitched his way into the top two rounds of the draft before he blew out his elbow in April. He had Tommy John surgery May 1. His out pitch is a nasty curveball that he could spot anywhere he wanted, and he had a tendency to rely on it frequently. Gast was 5-1, 0.58 with 66 strikeouts in 34 innings this season. He has committed to Florida State but could be drafted in the later rounds if he shows interest in signing, albeit for less money than he would have received before the injury.

Sean Koecheler's improvement and Bo Greenwell's emergence helped soften the loss of Gast. Koecheler offers little more than arm strength at this point, but a 6-foot-4 high school righthander flashing 94 mph velocity will get play in the fourth to sixth round, and possibly earlier if a club believes he can improve his breaking ball and create more movement on his fastball. His iron-mike arm action prevents him from getting much life on his fastball and offers no deception, but he has improved the tempo in his delivery. Occasionally he has flashed usable breaking balls.

Greenwell is the son of former major leaguer Mike, but his best sport has been football throughout his high school career, and he opted to skip the showcase circuit. He quietly played his way into consideration as a first-day draft choice thanks to his solid-average tool set that plays up because of great instincts and a passion for the game that endears him to scouts. He's been compared with Mark Kotsay and has a chance to remain in center field, with 60 speed on the 20-to-80 scale. He had surgery on his left knee as an underclassman. He has committed to Miami on a baseball scholarship.

Fellow Gulf Coast prep outfielder Jeff Schaus entered his senior season with much more notoriety and was named most valuable hitter of a World Wood Bat tournament in Jupiter last fall while playing alongside a handful of potential first-rounders on the tournament's championship squad. It's tough to figure out Schaus' profile because he's at his best when he's slapping line drive to the opposite field and up the middle, but he doesn't have the speed or range to play center field. At times this spring he got out of his game and tried to pull the ball for more power, which elicited a towering shot over the right-field fence at expansive Terry Park in his last district game of the season, but also led to less consistent contact. He does a nice job of keeping his hands inside the ball and he could go to Clemson and develop into an outstanding all-around hitter by the time he's a junior.

Outfielder Chris Turner also has potential, but like Schaus was considered a lock to go to college as soon as he committed to Vanderbilt. He's a 70 runner on the 20-to-80 scale and began to hit the top half of the ball and refine his barrel awareness this season. In the past he had a loopier swing that led to too many fly balls. His defense is ahead of his offense, but even in center field he has considerable room for improvement. Fellow Vandy signee Joey Manning has more offensive upside and runs well, but has lots of holes in his swing and is considered more of a raw athlete.

If outfielder Evan Chambers is signable in the sixth- to eighth-round range, his raw power could warrant a selection. He's built like Kirby Puckett and has no projection, but turned around a Michael Main fastball for a long home run last summer at USA Baseball's Tournament of Stars in Joplin, Mo., that showed some indication of his juice. He hasn't shown that power consistently this spring, in part because he has a tendency to flinch at the plate and has a somewhat grooved swing.

Anthony Rizzo also has plus raw power, but lacks fluidity in his swing and is relegated to first base as a professional. He performed well enough on big stages with a wood bat to be a factor in the fifth round, while some other teams have expressed no interest in drafting him.

Hunter Ovens began showing his stuff at showcases as young as 15, and because of his mature body and five-tool potential was pegged as a possible premium outfield prospect back in 2005. He's committed to Virginia Tech, where he could see playing time as a linebacker for the Hokies' football team as soon as his freshman season, and football is his stronger sport. Ovens began to translate his raw tools into better performance this spring and was considered signable for as little as $250,000. He has plus bat speed, plus raw power and a well-above-average arm. He oozes athleticism, but his swing is stiff and he doesn't have much feel for hitting or strike-zone awareness. The team that believes it can shape his raw tools might take a shot at him.

Third baseman Glen Johnson is the opposite of Ovens. The son of former major leaguer Howard Johnson has fringy tools across the board, but strong instincts and a gamer attitude that he comes by honestly. Another son of a major leaguer, lefthander Craig Gullickson, is one more Florida high school product who's best suited for college at this stage of his career. Bill Gullickson's son has a soft body and a solid-average fastball with some feel for his secondary pitches. He pitched well in front of a bevy of scouts as a junior when he matched up against '06 first-rounder Colton Willems, but his stuff has not progressed significantly since.

Righthander Ryan Acosta's father Oscar, who was a Yankees minor league manager, was killed with another Yankees official in a car accident in the Dominican Republic last year. Ryan was lauded for remaining with his high school team after the accident, and could draw interest from teams that like his potential as a pitcher. He played mostly at shortstop as an underclassman and is a good athlete with plus arm strength. His secondary pitches and command are unrefined.

Nathan Striz is more polished but his best asset is also his right arm. He improved his body and has slimmed down this spring, and though his delivery isn't without effort, he can pound the strike zone with a plus fastball, average changeup and a slider that has hard three-quarter tilt at times. He consistently runs his fastball up to 92 mph and the pitch has heavy life when it's down in the zone.

Like Ovens, Mike McGee made a late push into contention for a spot in the first five rounds of the draft. He's lean and athletic, and plays a sound shortstop when he's not pitching. On the mound, McGee sits between 88-92 mph with his fastball and has plus command. His curveball shows plus movement and his changeup grades as a future 55 on the 20-to-80 scale.

Chris Jones, Mark Peterson and D.J. Swatscheno are three prep lefthanders who saw their draft stock slip because of injuries. Swatscheno missed more than two months with a 10 percent tear of a ligament in his elbow. He has a funky delivery and a feel for three pitches with average velocity, and could develop into a weekend starter at Miami if he honors his commitment, as expected. Peterson has plenty of projection, but mechanical flaws hindered his command and consistency of his three-pitch repertoire. Jones broke a knuckle on his pitching hand early in the season, but had returned to the mound. His fastball sits near 87 mph, and he has a loose arm and creates good life on his changeup with a three-quarters arm slot.

Caleb Gindel benefited from the heavy scouting attention Pace High received in the Panhandle because of teammate Drew Cumberland. Gindel doesn't offer much projection, but his best tool is arm strength and he can command two pitches from the left side. He also hits, and has shown raw power and a penchant for making hard contact. His swing has holes, however, and there were a couple of teams that might take a chance on his 88-90 mph fastball and impressive feel for pitching in the seventh to ninth round.

And it wouldn't seem right to have a draft come and go without a member of Tom Duffin's Monsignor Pace program being called. Last year Chris Marrero and Adrian Cardenas were taken in the first 40 picks, and this year Chris Hernandez could go as early as the fourth round, based primarily on his pitchability. He leans on his secondary pitches and doesn't pitch off his fastball, which sits in the 85-88 mph range. He throws a cutter and a slider that tend to blend into each other at 79-83 mph. His cutter has been up to 86 and he likes to run it under the hands of righthanded hitters.