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Mark Prior, rhp
Southern California

All the superlatives come out when Prior's name is mentioned in coaching and scouting circles, including "best college pitcher ever," and "could be a No. 3 starter on a lot of big league clubs right now." The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander has been dominant from his first pitch and led the Pacific-10 Conference in wins, ERA and strikeouts entering regional play. That he could reach 200 strikeouts before walking 20 batters says it all about his stuff and command. He dominated hitters with a 94-97 mph fastball with exquisite location on both sides of the plate, and outstanding command of his quality breaking ball. And it all happens with a free, easy, effortless delivery. His success this season is a culmination of hard work, maturity and experience. Prior, a supplemental first-round draft pick of the Yankees in 1998, struggled with command in his first two years in college. He put it all together last summer with Team USA. He has significantly improved his control and his breaking pitch. He also has a solid changeup, but rarely threw it this year. For all his physical attributes, Prior's makeup is one of his greatest strengths. Those who know him say he wouldn't be intimidated by going directly to the big leagues--a feat that has happened only 18 times in draft history.

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