Scouting Reports: Michigan

2007 MLB Draft Michigan isn't as empty as it was in 2006, when Western Michigan lefthander Dan O'Brien (eighth round, Blue Jays) was the state's only selection in the first 15 rounds. But it still has been a disappointing spring because most of the college prospects have taken a step backward, especially a once-promising crop of sophomore-eligibles led by Michigan State catcher Kyle Day.

*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
The University of Michigan upset Vanderbilt in the NCAA regionals, but the Wolverines' most talented players (most notably, righthander Zach Putnam) won't be eligible for the draft until 2009.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. D.J. LeMahieu, 3b, Brother Rice HS, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Other Prospects Of Note

2. Josh Collmenter, rhp, Central Michigan
3. Dan Killian, c, Chippewa Hills HS, Remus, Mich.
4. Jeff Fischer, rhp, Eastern Michigan
5. Kyle Day, c/of, Michigan State
6. Ryan Sharpley, rhp, Marshall (Mich.) HS
7. Jeff Hehr, ss, Eastern Michigan
8. Doug Pickens, c/of, Michigan
9. Ryan LaMarre, of, Lumen Christi Catholic HS, Jackson, Mich.
10. Ben Humphrey, 1b, Central Michigan
11. Trevor Borsak, rhp, Henry Ford HS, Utica, Mich.
12. Tyler Stovall, of/c, Central Michigan
13. Jon Kessick, rhp, Lake Michigan CC (CONTROL: Braves)
14. Mark Sorensen, rhp, Michigan State
15. Andrew Hess, rhp, Michigan
16. Ben Jenzen, rhp, Michigan
17. Nate Recknagel, 1b, Michigan
18. Brandon Hubbard, 2b, Hillsdale (Mich.)
19. Garrett Stephens, 3b, Davison (Mich.) HS
20. Jeff Richard, rhp, Central Michigan

Scouting Reports

1. D.J. LeMahieu, 3b (National rank: 190)
School: Brother Rice HS, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 7/13/88.
Scouting Report: LeMahieu's calling card is his power potential, as he uses his 6-foot-4 frame and uppercut stroke to launch balls great distances. There's still plenty of room to add strength on his 190-pound build, though he will have to cut down on his swing and do a better job of staying back against better pitching. LeMahieu performed well on the showcase circuit last summer but hasn't dominated inferior competition this spring. A high school shortstop with soft hands and a strong arm, he'll have to find a new position because he has well-below-average speed. If he's not quick enough to handle third base, he'll have to move to right field. LeMahieu figures to be a higher pick in 2010 if he proves himself in three seasons at Louisiana State than he'll be this year, when teams are unlikely to meet his second-round price tag.

Collmenter Keeps Hitters Guessing

Mid-American Conference pitcher of the year Josh Collmenter isn't pretty, but he is creative. A 6-foot-4, 235-pound righthander with a stiff body and an over-the-top delivery, he spent much of the spring pitching at 85-88 mph before reaching the 90s more regularly toward the end of the season. Velocity isn't the key to his fastball, as it misses bats because of its natural cutting action. Collmenter also throws a big, looping curveball at 69-75 mph and a changeup that he sometimes tips off by reducing his arm speed. He's also been known to mess with an eephus pitch and a knuckleball. Collmenter throws strikes, changes speeds, competes hard and has a deceptive delivery, all of which help him pitch above the level of his pure stuff. Scouts don't believe he has a consistently average pitch and wonder how his package will play in the higher levels of pro ball, but he could go as high as the fourth round to a club that believes in his feel for pitching and track record.

Catcher Dan Killian's brother Billy was a Padres third-round pick in 2004 and his father Bill is a part-time scout for the Reds. Some scouts preferred Killian to D.J. LeMahieu until he missed much of the season while recuperating from a meniscus tear in his knee. Killian has an athletic catcher's build (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) and a strong arm capable of producing 1.8-second pop times from his mitt to second base. He has bat speed and plus power potential, and he runs well for a catcher. That said, there are questions about his ability to make consistent contact and his receiving skills. Some scouts think he'd have a brighter future on the mound, where they project he'd throw 93-94 mph. A couple of teams are high on Killian and he could sneak into the fourth or fifth round. He has committed to Kentucky.

Righthander Jeff Fischer was the MAC 2006 pitcher of the year, and scouts eagerly awaited his matchup against Collmenter in early May. Collmenter got the best of him that day, fanning 14 in a 10-0 victory, but the difference between the two is minimal. Fischer has a better body (6-foot-5, 200 pounds) and a more conventional arm slot, though he has a wrist wrap in his delivery. His changeup is his best pitch, though he relies on it too much at times and hitters sit on it late in games. Fischer's fastball ranges from 85-91 mph and he also throws a slider.

Three draft-eligible sophomores had a chance to get picked in the first five rounds, but Michigan State catcher Kyle Day and Central Michigan righthanders Jeff Richard and Chris Kupillas didn’t live up to their billing this spring. All were standouts in summer leagues a year ago but suffered from draftitis in 2007. Day became too pull-conscious, muting his power, and his receiving skills regressed to the point where he wound up spending time in the outfield.

At a combined 705 pounds, Collmenter, Richard (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) and Kupillas (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) may have formed the heftiest weekend rotation in college baseball. Richard could throw only one pitch (a cutter) consistently for strikes while losing the velocity on his fastball (down to 85-87 mph) and splitter. Kupillas, who led the Great Lakes League with a 1.47 ERA last summer, made progress with his curveball but lost the command and zip on his heater, which dipped to 84-86 mph. Both Richard and Kupillas touched the mid-90s last summer.

The state's top prep pitching prospect, righthander Ryan Sharpley has been too inconsistent to warrant a high enough draft pick to steer him away from Notre Dame, where his brother Evan is a reserve first baseman and quarterback. Sharpley is athletic and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, but he's still raw. His fastball has sat at 88-89 mph after touching 93 in the past, and he's still figuring out how to throw strikes and spin a breaking ball.

Jeff Hehr is an athletic shortstop and sound defender. Though he led Eastern Michigan with nine homers, he batted just .299 and hit .240 as a sophomore. Scouts aren't convinced his swing is conducive to hitting with wood bats, which will hurt him if his average arm and range lead to a move to a less challenging defensive position.

Doug Pickens was Michigan's 2004 high school player of the year as a catcher, and he returned behind the plate this spring after two years as an outfielder/second baseman for the Wolverines. Staying at catcher will be crucial for Pickens in pro ball, because he lacks the home run power to start on an outfield corner. He has more of a line-drive approach. Pickens has a strong arm, though his exchange and footwork are still rusty after his two-year hiatus from catching.

Ryan LaMarre is one of the best all-around athletes in the state. He's a linebacker who won a state football championship as a sophomore, and a center who had offers to play junior hockey. As a pitcher, he threw two no-hitters this spring. But his future is brightest as an outfielder. He's a 6-foot-2, 190-pounder with plus speed and power potential. He's ticketed for Michigan.

First baseman Ben Humphrey went undrafted last June after setting a school record with 72 RBIs in his first season at Central Michigan, but he'll get a chance as a senior sign this time around. The former Olney (Ill.) Community College slugger has a powerful 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame and enough bat speed to catch up to good fastballs. He tends to get pull-happy.

The Great Lakes League pitcher of the year last summer, righthander Mark Sorensen was at his best in a game against Pittsburgh on Michigan State's spring trip to Florida. A crowd of scouts saw him throw three plus pitches in a 91-94 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup. The son of former big league all-star Lary Sorensen, he pitched just 11 innings this spring before coming down with shoulder problems. He has avoided surgery and may be taken as a summer follow by a team that will monitor him in the Northwoods League.