Scouting Reports: Upper New England

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont

2007 MLB Draft An American League area scout summed up the talent in the three states of upper New England succinctly: "It's a freakin' abyss."

Once you get past a small group of players at Division II Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College, there might not be another player who signs a professional contract out of the region, from the college or high school ranks.
*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
A year after New Hampshire lefthander Jeff Locke carried the prep class, there is not a single draftable high school prospect in Maine or New Hampshire. There's just one high school player worth mentioning in Vermont, and he's almost certainly heading to Clemson.

1. Keith Renaud, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
2. Steve Shepard, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
3. Brad Hertzler, lhp, Maine
4. Curt Smith, 3b, Maine
5. Scott Savastano, 3b/ss, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
6. Matt Anderson, c, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
7. Vinny Pennell, of, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College
8. Casey Harman, lhp, South Burlington (Vt.) HS
9. Greg Norton, rhp, Maine
10. Brian Rembisz, rhp/2b, Vermont

Scouting Reports

The Franklin Mint

A year after Franklin Pierce had five players drafted--three of them in the top 12 rounds, led by fourth-round third baseman Garrett Olson--the Ravens once again carry the banner for the college crop in upper New England. Franklin Pierce head coach Jayson King is one of the most respected coaches in the Northeast, and scouts rave about his ability to recruit and develop talent.

Keith Renaud is the latest quality arm to come through the Franklin Pierce pipeline. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Renaud (whose twin brother Kevin also plays for the Ravens) is an accomplished college hitter (.359 with six homers this spring), but his future is on the mound. He went 6-2, 3.00 with 84 strikeouts and 26 walks in 63 innings this spring. He has good command of a 90-93 mph fastball and a 78-79 mph slider, and he'll mix in an average downer curveball and an occasional changeup. Renaud has a loose arm and a simple, smooth delivery that is somewhat unusual for a pitcher with his straight-over-the-top arm slot. He's an excellent athlete who fields his position well. Renaud's frame lacks projection, but he's shown enough promise that he's likely to be drafted in the top eight to 10 rounds.

Righthander Steve Shepard flashes even better stuff than Renaud, but he has struggled to command it. As a result, he had an 8.35 ERA and a 17-18 strikeout-walk ratio in 18 innings. Still, a team is likely to draft him because of a fastball that touches 96 mph and a projectable 6-foot-4 frame. He has a quick arm but there is some effort to his delivery. Shepherd flashes an interesting low-80s slider, but the pitch is below-average right now because he can't command it. He could be an interesting project, however.

Draft-eligible sophomore Scott Savastano hit better than .400 as a freshman but broke his thumb at the beginning of the spring, so scouts got limited looks at him. He's got pop, speed and arm strength, and he was hitting .371 through 62 at-bats. Savastano could go in the top five rounds as a junior if a club doesn't lure him away this year. The Franklin Pierce contingent is rounded out by catcher Matt Anderson, a defender with occasional pop, and senior outfielder Vinny Pennell, a quality athlete and good baserunner who stole 27 bases in 30 attempts. Anderson could go in the top 20 rounds in a draft starved for catching, and Pennell could be a solid late senior draft.

Maine third baseman Curt Smith entered the year with momentum after a strong summer in the New England Collegiate League, but he had a disappointing season and is likely to be back for his senior year. Smith is a quality athlete who played shortstop a year ago, but he lacks a true position because he doesn't have the range for short and doesn't have enough power for third. His hands work well in the field and at the plate, while he tends to hit flat-footed, too spread out to generate any leverage.

Lefty Brad Hertzler, the brother of Red Sox minor leaguer Barry, is a strong, short bulldog. He commands his fringy 86-88 mph fastball well and gets plenty of outs with his 82-83 cutter. He's got some feel for a curveball and can throw his changeup early in the count as a show pitch.

The region's lone high schooler worth mentioning, Vermont lefty Casey Harman, has dominated inferior competition with an 83-85 mph fastball and a decent breaking ball. Harman is almost certainly headed to Clemson.