Next to Georgia and possibly Tennessee, Virginia is one of the more talent-filled states in the East this year. As many as eight players, including four lefthanders, could go in the first five rounds.
Projected First-Round Picks
David Wright. Wright has been compared to Michael Cuddyer, a fellow Tidewater product who was the ninth overall pick in the 1997 draft. Both have excellent makeup and work ethic, qualities that endear them to scouts. Their tools are similar, though Wright swings the bat a little better and has better overall mechanics at this age. If Wright were a little bigger and projected better, he'd be a candidate for the first 10 picks. Few players in the country swing the bat as well. Wright has developed more extension with his swing, giving him more power, but he still projects just 20 home runs a year in the big leagues. That's a marginal output by today's third-base standards, though he has settled in nicely at the position. He's at the heart of a strong Georgia Tech recruiting class. College won't be an issue if he's drafted in the first 30-50 picks, where he's projected.
Projected Second-Fifth Round
Allen Baxter. A virtual unknown at the start of the year, Baxter made more strides this year than almost any teenage pitcher on the East Coast. His raw arm strength, 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame and easy signability make him a solid candidate to go in the second or third round. Baxter's fastball has been clocked at 92-93 mph, but it's his only plus pitch. He hasn't developed command, though that should come as he smoothes out a raw delivery. He has no college options and has made it clear he wants to play pro ball.
Bobby Basham. Basham projects among the draft's first 100 picks, though he posted a horrific 0-7, 6.39 record for Richmond. He's a radar-gun pitcher all the way, and Colonial Athletic Association coaches acknowledge his raw stuff was the best in the conference. He has shown spurts of pitching ability but generally is erratic. Everything he throws is hard, including a fastball clocked as high as 95 mph and a slider at 84. Basham lacks confidence in his stuff because he's had little success as a college pitcher. He went to Richmond as a quarterback and has limited baseball experience. He also nursed a muscle strain this spring. Because he can't sustain his stuff for long periods, he projects as a closer. He has the right mentality, as he's an intense competitor who welcomes pressure situations.
Jake Glanzmann. Scouts debate whether Glanzmann or Baxter is the more attractive prospect. Glanzmann supporters point out that he's lefthanded with a projectable 6-foot-4, 210-pound body and the makings of three average or better pitches. Baxter has one pitch, a fastball. Glanzmann's fastball has been clocked at a more pedestrian 85-87 mph, with a high of 91. He should add velocity as he irons out a funky delivery that has been compared to that of Terry Mulholland. He throws a curve and splitter, but his high school coach restricted their use in games. Glanzmann has indicated he'll attend George Mason if he's not picked in the early rounds.
Brendan Harris. Scouts called Harris the toughest out in the Colonial Athletic Association this spring. He has a quick bat, his best tool, and surprising power. A shortstop at William & Mary, Harris can play all three infield positions, making him an ideal utility player. He lacks the speed and arm strength to be an everyday shortstop as a pro, and probably will start at second base once he signs. He played the position last summer in an all-star season in the Cape Cod League.
Josh Brey. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Brey had a breakthrough season in the Cape Cod League last summer that stamped him as one of the top lefthanded closer prospects in the 2001 draft class. He came down with a tender elbow in the Cape, was shut down last fall and was slow getting out of the gates this spring. He came on hard at the end of the season but was tough to see because he pitched just 34 innings. Comparisons to Astros closer Billy Wagner, another undersized lefthander from a small western Virginia college, are a stretch. At his best, Brey has two plus pitches--a 94 mph fastball and a solid straight change--but he didn't throw a breaking ball most of the spring for fear he would aggravate his elbow. Liberty pitching coach Randy Tomlin, a former big leaguer, eased him back into using the pitch late in the season. Brey may have to begin his pro career as a starter to make up for the innings he missed this spring. He could go anywhere from the second to sixth round.
Adam Wynegar. Wynegar had high expectations at the start of the year but struggled with his command much of the spring. He was bothered by a groin pull and tried to pitch through it. He got the ball up in the strike zone too often and didn't throw quality strikes. As he modified his delivery, his curveball disappeared, leaving him with only his fastball. That pitch settled at 88-90 mph and touched 92-93 on occasion. Healthy again, he came on strong in the final weeks of the season and should be a third- to fifth-rounder.
Tyler Lumsden. A 6-foot-4, 190-pound lefthander, Lumsden started slowly but showed improvement with every appearance. He often lost velocity on his lively 88-91 mph fastball by the third inning of games, but after a mechanical defect in his delivery was corrected he began maintaining his velocity deeper into games. He still has a lot of work to do at improving the command and quality of his breaking pitches, though scouts see a lot of projectability with him. He has committed to Clemson but has indicated a desire to sign.
Others to watch:
Another Clemson signee, Garrick Evans, runs well and has power potential but lacks the arm strength to remain at shortstop. That will knock him out of the early rounds . . . OF Steve Baker was a 15th-round pick by the Expos out of school and projects to go around there again. He showed power and arm strength, but had difficulty getting the barrel of the bat on the ball consistently and struggled with breaking pitches. Liberty has more of a sleeper in 6-foot-4 3B Matt Hagan, a draft-eligible sophomore with power potential and arm strength. Scouts envision moving him behind the plate . . . 3B Jeff Eure should be a later pick than originally expected because he struggled with the bat this spring. His arm is his best tool and some teams have entertained the idea of moving him behind the plate to make better use of it. He caught in fall practice, but not in games this spring.
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